WARMER MIXTAPES #777 | by Alexander Shields [A Grave With No Name]
1. Rich Boy | Throw Some D’s
Some songs are so inexorably entwined with moments in your Life, they are inseparable from each other. The moments are the song; the song the moments. Whenever the slightly sped-up sample of I Call Your Name by late 70’s R&B group Switch ripples through by my synapses they surge with a refracted glimpses of a summer in New York – late night record shopping; a missed flight; too much Tequila. The glow of the memories humming in my brain, a near match for the colour-grading of the song’s video which endlessly rotated on the hotel’s TV for those two weeks we lay hot, hungover, but content in bed each morning.
2. The Proper Ornaments | Drop Off
Over the year I was making my most recent album Whirlpool, I spent a lot of late nights with these guys, drinking until the Sun came up, listening to The Beatles, Neil Young and geeking out over lost albums from the 60’s and 70’s. We’ve both released records on No Pain In Pop, and I there’s a Family feeling between some of the bands on the label, especially as we all live pretty close to each other. Drop Off is easily the song I have listened to the most over the past year. It’s 1 minute 44 seconds of Byrds-ian Perfection. In fact I might like this song more than any the Byrds wrote.
3. R.E.M. | At My Most Beautiful
I’ve always been obsessed by albums by Popular artists where they tentatively start to experiment with their Sound and more often than not, begin to shed both their more fair-weather fans, and the Hardcore early-adopters who feel they are pulling away from what made them interesting in the first place. Don’t Tell A Soul by The Replacements, Adore by The Smashing Pumpkins, 8 Diagrams by Wu Tang Clan, etc. Up is one of those albums. It was the first LP they made after the departure of drummer Bill Berry, and there’s a downbeat feeling of resignation that permeates the entire album. It’s a bruised, dour record, meaning the overt Beach Boys homage of At My Most Beautiful is like a beacon of Light bobbing amidst its murky waters. I’m glad R.E.M. broke their rule to never write a Love song because when Michael Stipe sings I save your messages, just to hear your voice it gets me every single time.
4. Blues Control | Iron Pigs
After hearing so many good things about Blues Control from other musicians I respect, I picked up their most recent LP Valley Tangents, and it gradually became one of my favourite records of the past few years. It’s incredibly hard to synthesize a New Music by explicit reference to its existing forms, but Blues Control somehow manages it. Jazz Improv isn’t the most Inclusive Music at the best of times, but Blues Control yield it in such a way that it becomes Fun and Futuristic. I had the pleasure of meeting them some weekends ago and they were super cool people too, and it also gave me an opportunity to pick up every single record they have made.
5. Beanie Sigel | Feel It In The Air
Beanie Sigel’s The B. Coming is a slept-on classic. He recorded it just before he was incarcerated for three years on gun charges, and you can feel the weight regret and self-loathing hanging heavy in every word of I can feel it in the air. It’s like a beautiful open-wound.
6. Mickey Newbury | Heaven Help The Child
Picking up An American Trilogy by Mickey Newbury, a reissue by Drag City set containing his Classic albums Looks Like Rain, Frisco Mabel Joy, and Heaven Help The Child is probably one of the best things I have done in recent years. This is deeply, deeply Spiritual Music which reaches far beyond the Physical World we inhabit. The title track from Heaven Help The Child, is a contender for the best song ever written. Although, Mickey Newbury wrote, and arranged hits for the likes of Tom Jones, Kenny Rogers and Elvis, success as a Solo artist seemed to elude him, but for me that just adds to the Sadness and immensely Personal Nature of this Music.
7. Papa M | Krusty
Dave Pajo seems to be known more as a collaborator or (understandably) for his time in Slint, but for me his Solo records are his best. Krusty is taken from the Papa M album Whatever Mortal which is in my top 10 or 15 favourite records of All Time. If you listen carefully to this, you can hear an episode of The Simpsons playing on the TV in the background, hence the song title. I’m also a huge fan of his self titled Aerial M LP, which is a big influence on so many of the Instrumental A Grave With No Name jams.
8. Roy Montgomery | Departing The Body
I only discovered the music of New Zealand guitarist Roy Montgomery recently. Departing The Body is taken from his album Temple IV which was put-out by one of my favourite labels Kranky in 1996. Some of the Guitar work on the album reminds me of Cryptograms by Deerhunter (one of my All-Time favourite albums), only this was made ten years earlier. There’s a world of Beauty, Dissonance and Transcendence living within the Noise of this record, which is why I keep coming back to it, time and time again.
9. Trailer Trash Tracys | Candy Girl
Trailer Trash Tracys have also released records on No Pain In Pop in the past and we’ve played together a whole bunch of times. Their guitarist, Jimmy Lee, is someone I consider a genius and visionary, and I am honoured to consider him a friend. Candy Girl is that rare thing – the perfect song. Over the three years it took for them to record their debut LP Esther (which I am listening to as I type), they refined the spooked-out Twin Peaks vibe they emerged with into truly Original and Peerless Music. For their uncompromising vision and commitment to Perfection, I respect and Love this band more than any other around right now.
10. Natural Numbers | Eighteen Candles
Natural Numbers was the recording moniker of Trevor Fitzhugh between 2008 and 2011, which he began when he was around 13 or 14 years old. His earliest material took the form of these Visceral, Noisy, Haunted Shoegaze tracks before he developed into one of the best Songwriters on the Planet, ploughing early Emo bands like American Football for inspiration. He’s retired the project now, but is making Equally Incredible Music under the name Cobwebs. The first A Grave With No Name release was a split cassette with Natural Numbers back in 2008, so his Music will always be close to my heart. Eighteen Candles was one of the last things he released under the name, and it’s amongst the most Emotive songs I’ve ever heard.