WARMER MIXTAPES #1307 | by Billy Mays III [Infinite Third]
1. Mogwai | Hunted By A Freak
If I had to pick only one band to listen to for the rest of my life, it would undoubtedly be Mogwai. There is just something about them. They are a living thing. They change, they grow, and yet they're always Mogwai. Hunted By A Freak is the opening track to their album Happy Songs For Happy People and it never gets old for me. Something about its slowly-progressing emotional impact and its unintelligible just-another-layer vocal melody are just a few elements that make up the complex entity that is Mogwai. This song almost single-handedly taught me the value of continually-rising chord tension with Rock instrumentation.
2. Dredg | Triangle
It has always surprised me that Dredg is not more widely-known than they seem to be. Their second album El Cielo is just an all-around masterpiece. If I had to sum them up, I'd probably just use words like Alternative, catchy, Art Rock or something. But this song Triangle is probably the best example of familiar sounds being used in completely unique ways. Its progression is something that didn't make sense to me at first, but quickly became an addictive journey. Noteworthy lyric: Watch it explode - while it's not impossible for flowers to bloom and grow - next to graves - And babies are born - in the same buildings where people go - to pass away...
3. Darkest Hour | Tranquil
Darkest Hour's entire Undoing Ruin album is a sonic achievement. It was produced by one of my favorite artists Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Ziltoid, Devin Townsend Project). One thing I like about Darkest Hour is that, although their vocals are essentially screams, they are more melodic and intelligible than most growls. Another thing I like about this era of Darkest Hour is the quality of the guitar riffs and songwriting. But on top of all these things, Devin Townsend's textural production put this song way over the top. It's the closing track to the album and, about halfway through, it turns into this epic instrumental buildup groove of guitar-riff-walls layering and harmonizing until fading into atmospheric feedback (which, in a brilliant production move, is the same texture as the intro to the album).
4. Eluvium | The Motion Makes Me Last
Eluvium put out this record called Similes and it was his first to heavily feature vocals. Before this album, I was unaware that singing could work so well in the Ambient setting. The soft voice of Matthew Cooper is inspiring in its honesty and inspires me to use my own more. Also, this track features one of my favorite lyrics of all time: I'm a vessel between two places I've never been.
5. Imogen Heap | Hide And Seek
This is a really famous song and it became even more famous when it was sampled by some Popstar rapper a few years ago. But this vocoder A Capella track by Imogen Heap hit me hard when I first heard it. Something about Pure, Articulated Emotion being filtered through the potential Coldness of Electronic Manipulation just works here. I had never heard such an unorthodox track that could be so inviting and memorable before. At one point in my life, I clearly recall singing this song all the way through during my morning shower EVERY DAY.
6. Jónsi | Go Do
I love Sigur Rós. Jónsi is the lead singer of Sigur Rós. Jónsi put out a beautiful solo album that was a near perfect 9 tracks of ethereal otherworldly Pop. The opening track Go Do is an incredibly uplifting song that always makes me feel good about things. It helps that one of the more understandable lyrics is We should always know that we can do everything. Bonus: Since my Sigur Rós pick didn't fit on this list, I will just say my quick piece about their song Flugufrelsarinn. This song introduced me to the idea that the Musical Quality of a voice is where the Art is, the words themselves are secondary. In fact, the meaning of a sentence (or lyric) is entirely up to the listener, not the one speaking (or singing). The same goes with conversation. How you say something is all that matters in connecting with someone.
7. Burst | (We Watched) The Silver Rain
This almost-10-minutes-long epic starts with an amazing buildup and takes you on a wild and heavy ride from start to finish. Unfortunately, after releasing this album, Lazarus Bird, the Swedish band Burst stopped making Music together. (We Watched) The Silver Rain is one of the final tracks from their final album and, when taken in that context, means even more to me. This song surprises me by how effectively it makes unusual structure choices that end up making perfect sense.
8. Mastodon | The Last Baron
I wanted to include a Mastodon track because they're one of my favorite bands, but the only one that could stand alone for this list is the 13-minute closing track of their album Crack The Skye. This epic song pretty much hits every aspect of Mastodon's sound. I've always loved Heavy Music, but there aren't many bands that could be considered Metal that innovate to my taste the way these guys do.
9. Pelican | Autumn Into Summer
Ah, Pelican... Their sludgy first album Australasia pretty much destroyed my pre-conceived notions about what was Heavy. But their second full-length, The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw, reminded me that Emotional Heaviness is just as important. The second track, Autumn into Summer, is a 10:45 Progressive masterpiece. The thing about it that blows my mind is how natural it all sounds. Pelican always makes me feel like I'm discovering new territory WITH them. It's amazing how many different terrains this song ties together by the end.
10. Hammock | Mono No Aware
I wanted to include a Hammock song no matter what, but couldn't figure out which song from their vast catalog to choose. They have affected my life in such a profound way. I ended up going with Mono No Aware from the album Maybe They Will Sing For Us Tomorrow because it is the perfect example of the reversed guitar texture I've come to discover as a big part of my own Musical toolbox. Besides that though, Hammock's Music can be equally sorrowful and uplifting which is a balance I admire and seek to create in my own way.