WARMER MIXTAPES #288 | by John McGrew of Apollo Run

Photo by Zan Mcquade

1. Stevie Wonder | As
When I was six years old, I watched Stevie Wonder sing with Theo, Rudy and the rest of the Huxtables on The Cosby Show. It changed my life. Jammin' on the one. Ja-Ja-Ja-Jammin on the one. In As, Stevie digs deep to sing some of the most heartfelt music I've ever heard. By the end of the song I am exhausted.

2. Led Zeppelin | Since I've Been Loving You
When I hear those first 5 guitar notes, followed by the 1 snare and 2 Bonzo bass drum kicks, I am immediately transported to the Ohio/Indiana border circa 1997. My buddies and I would drive out from our hometown in Ohio to the border of Indiana. There, the local police wouldn't follow, so everyone would meet out there to wax philosophical and listen to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and The Doors. It was the never-ending high school party in the middle of flat nowhere. This tune is the one that tore at my gut (in a good way) the most. Bonzo and John Paul Jones are so pocket that the song almost falls behind itself.

3. Elton John | Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Apollo Run just came off the road from a little jaunt around the US East Coast and the Mid West. Jeff, our bassist, threw in Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road somewhere in the middle of Maryland. We got halfway through this track and I had an amazing sense of relief; this was the song that I had heard over and over again but could never find out who it was or what it was called. My Elton John knowledge was lacking prior to this. Needless to say, that has all changed since I got back from the tour. Now I am keeping an eye out for as many pairs of large-framed and ornately decorated sunglasses as I can find.

4. Morten Lauridsen | O Magnum Mysterium
My parents met in a choir. Listening to (and singing) choral music has always been a huge part of my musical upbringing. No one composes better choral arrangements right now than Morten Lauridsen. I am working on music for Apollo Run right now that will feature choral music. I love the sound of a great choir.

5. Queen | You Take My Breath Away
I have a fireplace in my tiny apartment here in Brooklyn. Every winter, we buy some Eagle Rare whiskey, light the fire, and listen to records with friends. Without fail, every time we listen to Queen's A Day At The Races, I make everyone shut up when You Take My Breath Away comes on. And every time, without fail, everyone enjoys it.

6. Antonín Dvořák | Four Romantic Pieces, Op.75, I. Allegro Moderato
This song says more with two instruments than any song I have ever heard. The piano is the man who is leading his woman (the violin) on the dance floor. At least that is how I have always seen it. I have often caught myself listening to this track on repeat for hours. When it is on, I can think clearly. College kids: play Dvořák in the background when you write your papers. Thank me later.

7. Antony And The Johnsons | What Can I Do? (feat. Rufus Wainwright)
I wanted to include Antony And The Johnsons and Rufus Wainwright on this list, and with this here, we kill two birds with one stone. Pay attention to 0.40 seconds to 1.00 minute. I once blasted this 20 seconds of this song to my drummer, Graham. He smiled, nodded, and said, do that again. Antony's dissonance tells more stories than his words.

8. Sia | Soon We'll Be Found
Why is it that I hear this song come up on my iPod and play it over and over again? Is it because of how sexy her voice is? (It is so god damned sexy.) Is it because the chorus is some of the best pop music out there right now? Is it because the music video is incredible? Is it because this is our generation's Total Eclipse Of The Heart? I don't know, I don't care. I just love it.

9. Kanye West | Monster
This track came into my life so I could hear Nicki Minaj for the first time. First thing's first I eat your brains... My sister, Lady Grew, is in Ireland and doing her own take-no-prisoners, growl-louder-than-the-boys music. Hearing Nicki Minaj made me miss her. The world needs more of this growling.

10. Anthony Hamilton | Can't Let Go
A couple of years ago I went out to play some shows in LA and this track was on the mix we had in our rental car. I hear this track and I think of palm trees, In & Out Burger, one particular ex-girlfriend, and cheesy clubs. But the real reason I love this song is because of Anthony Hamilton's voice. There is nothing clean about his gospel and R&B music. Besides the beats, there is nothing quantized, autotuned, or cleaned up. It's real and it's got feeling.

+11. Blur | The Universal
I heard this song in high school and realized that I would have a future writing for horns and strings. I still put this song on when I am in a bad mood. There is a lazy-lounge pop quality about it that seamlessly turns anthemic. And who can deny those Burt Bacharach style horns?