WARMER MIXTAPES #1399 | by Benedict Kupstas (Blushing, Future Wife), Jamie Reeder (Weird Mirror, Helado Negro, Tarantula, Bonfire Madigan, Halifax Pier), Phillip Pantuso, Tim Simmonds (Ex Extract, Future Wife, The Actual Facts), Matthew Evans (Tigue, Rokenri, Private Elevators, Bearthoven) and Madeline Caldwell of Field Guides

SIDE A | by Benedict Kupstas

1. Peggy Lee | Is That All There Is? (Georgia Brown Cover)
I first heard this song when it was covered by this strange band called The Hix at a show in Trumansburg, NY. I was in College in Ithaca and I had really dived into the local Music scene, which has this rich tradition of bent Folk and weird Americana Music (Johnny Dowd is the epitome of this, and is excellent!). They really captured the Existentialism and menace of this song and turned it into a dark Bluegrass number. I remember finding the Peggy Lee LP on vinyl at a thrift shop a week or so later and it felt serendipitous. (That was before you could just find any song on YouTube or Spotify or whatever... Such a bygone era.) So I remember taking the album home and listening on my shitty turntable, hearing her devastating voice emanate from this dusty, well-scratched record. So perfect. It's one of those songs that has always stayed with me. The lyrics by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller are just so unlike anything I'd ever heard and the arrangements by Randy Newman are so terrific. There's something clearly nihilistic about the song, and I'm usually really turned off by Nihilism, but her voice bends Nihilism into something so haunting and mesmerizing. I think it's probably all within that question mark? Or maybe the if that comes after it. There is something ultimately hopeful or triumphant in the sentiment; it's about always wanting more from ostensibly profound experiences, wanting to feel always more alive, never being satisfied with the surfaces of things. To me, it's about persevering and not letting the inevitable accumulation of Life's disappointments congeal into cynicism... I wrote the last song on our album about the dissolution of a very intense relationship, and the chorus to this song kept echoing in my mind, so I borrowed that line (Is that all there is to a fire?) as a coda to my song. It was maybe a little hubristic, but I sort of wanted to insert my own personal chapter into Peggy's inquiry... So I changed the title of the song from The Four Corners to Peggy Asked A Question & The Answer Is 'Yes' & 'Let's Keep Dancing'...

2. Jeff Buckley & Elizabeth Fraser | All Flowers In Time Bend Towards The Sun (Unreleased)
While working on our album, I fell really deeply in Love with someone, and she sent me this song one day last Spring. I had never heard it. Before we got together, I had sent her a bunch of duets that I thought we could either sing together one day or take as inspiration for collaborations (Lee & Nancy stuff, Serge & Jane, etc.). This song leaves me crumbling when I listen to it now. It's absorbed all the weight of that failed Love. She and I shared a sort of deification of Cocteau Twins, and Elizabath Fraser's laugh at the beginning of this recording—which I believe was just an unfinished demo—reminds me so much of her and of our brief time together. The lyrics feel all the more heartbreaking because they read as incomplete, inarticulable sentiments. I read somewhere that Elizabeth Fraser was upset that this recording got leaked, so there's this added layer that makes listening to this song feel voyeuristic or invasive. I still struggle so much with sharing some of my songs that are excessively personal or diaristic (interesting how similar that word is to diarrhea, isn't it?). There's obviously an impulse to share the emotions and ideas or else I probably wouldn't be writing songs, but it still feels so terrifyingly vulnerable. With this song, everything is so clearly charged... Listening to it really does feel like a violation, like you're hiding behind some amps in the studio while they're recording this idea of a song, sharing these private moments and having a conversation through Music, like those minutes never should have been captured. It's almost too heavy to even think about how Jeff Buckley's tragic end relates to this song. All the unrealized potential of a Song, of a Relationship, of a Life...

3. Arvo Pärt | Für Alina (Performed by Alexander Malter)
This piece has reached an extreme degree of cultural saturation, having been used in so many film trailers. It's become this shortcut to evoke a certain profundity. But its ubiquity is understandable given just how heart-wrenching it is with such an economy of notes and movement. This is my go-to if I need something to calm me during a bout of insomnia. Those slow arpeggios conjure such vivid memories, mostly somnambulant early-AM half-dreams.

4. Vic Chesnutt | Flirted With You All My Life
Vic Chesnutt is one of my all-time favorite songwriters. This song devastates me every time I hear it. I am a man... I am self-aware... And everywhere I go... You're always right there with me. Sorry to spoil it if you haven't heard it, but it turns out to be a Love song to Death. Considering that it was one of the last songs he recorded before killing himself, it's fucking heavy. I've struggled with severe depression for much of my adult life, so Vic's words resonate all too well. I don't know many other artists as honest as he was. There is nothing remotely uplifting or triumphant about this song, no silver lining to the dark cloud of Loss and Desperation. Even when he sings Really I'm not ready, the line is imbued not with Hope or Perseverance, but with a frustration at the delayed inevitability. A heart-wrenching resignation. That isn't to say that the song flirts with self-pity, though. It's just honest. So much of the conversations about suicide end up revolving around Selfishness or Narcissism. I really think only someone fortunate enough to be unfamiliar with true depression could have the opinion that suicide is fundamentally selfish. I remember reading Jonathan Franzen's tribute to David Foster Wallace in The New Yorker after his suicide and being so infuriated. Franzen went so far as to imply that it was Wallace's final strategic move to secure his place as a canonical troubled artist. He took Wallace's suicide as a personal affront, and came off looking so selfish himself—petty and clueless and without empathy. I would love for Franzen to hear this song.

5. Desmond Dekker | You Can Get It If You Really Want (Jimmy Cliff Cover)
I'm not sure why I prefer Desmond Dekker's version of this song over Jimmy Cliff's original. Both are superb. An old band of mine was once driving upstate to play a couple shows and we were blasting Desmond Dekker and singing along at the top of our lungs, and I guess I got carried away because we got pulled over going the speed of Ska, which is apparently illegal in New York State. But we got off with a lesser violation because we told the cop we were a famous band and gave him a t-shirt for his daughter.

6. Michael Hurley | O My Stars
Michael Hurley is a heroic man. I first encountered his Music when I heard Yo La Tengo's cover of his song Griselda on their album Fakebook. Years later I saw him perform at my favorite NYC venue, Zebulon (which tragically no longer exists), while the members of Yo La Tengo sat mesmerized at an adjacent table. I played this song from my phone one night while walking in the pitch-black with a beautiful woman and a nightmare of a dog under the starriest sky in upstate New York.

7. Ben Seretan | Light Leaks
Ben is like a brother to me. His voice is always such a sweet salve. I love him immensely.

8. Arthur Russell | A Little Lost
I'm not even sure what to say about Arthur Russell. So many people share my adoration for him with such a depth that it sometimes feels cultish. He clearly hit upon something that so many artists strive toward, a Purity and Fearlessness and Curiosity that make his Music so endlessly compelling. It's hard to select just one song by him. World Of Echo is monumental. I remember the first time I listened to that album. I discovered him right after I moved to New York City, and people were beginning to drop his name like a secret handshake. I remember it was snowing outside and I turned off all the lights and the yellow streetlights outsides were casting these shimmering shadows across the walls and his voice and cello just washed over me like a baptism.

9. Yo La Tengo | Our Way To Fall
This band is such an inspiration. Serious without ever being pretentious; experimental without succumbing to self-indulgence; funny one moment, heartbreaking the next. This song still gives me chills every time I listen to it. It is so simple and direct and describes the sort of love for which I'm a total sucker.

10. Arrested Development | Mr. Wendal
Nostalgia is a weird thing. I don't have a good memory for lyrics (not even my own!), but for some reason I can remember every word to this song. The first Music I sort of discovered independently as a kid was early-90s R&B and Hip Hop (A Tribe Called Quest, TLC (whose Waterfalls should probably be on this list as well!), Boyz II Men, Janet Jackson, De La Soul, Digable Planets, Nate Dogg and Warren G, etc.). I didn't have any siblings to introduce me to cool Music, but I had MTV and was drawn to that Music more than Grunge or anything else happening at that time. There was a strain of Hip Hop emerging in the late 80s and early 90s as a reaction to Gangster Rap that emphasized this sort of New Age-y Positivity and progressive politics that probably felt less intimidating to a young white kid going to Catholic School and living in a largely conservative, homogenous area. I didn't understand that at the time of course. Like so many middle class white people, I was oblivious to the brilliant vitality and warranted aggression of the Music that was being avoided as confrontational or angry by the Mainstream in favor of friendlier African American Music like Arrested Development and Boyz II Men. I later caught up and developed a broader and deeper love of Hip Hop, but I still have such a fondness for a lot of these songs from my childhood. I remember feeling so earnestly connected to the ethics extolled in this song. In 1992, I hadn't yet slipped out from under the grasp of a religious education (it would still be another few years before I came out as an atheist), but I think I was already trying to formulate my own personal ethics and politics in contrast to the close-mindedness and bigotry that made all the folks at church seem so phony. I was trying to be a little crusader, still cloistered from any truly dire injustices, making pamphlets about global warming and getting into fights with classmates when they'd make racist remarks. So, yeah, Mr. Wendal really spoke to my adolescent idealism. I've always been really cognizant when making lists like this of the racial or gender makeup of my selections, which is admittedly problematic. But I think it's important to own up to our anxieties about these issues, not to let them idly fester into complacency or apathy. I saw my friend Young Jean Lee's new play, Straight White Men, the other day, which in a way explores the transition of the straight white male into a labeled minority demographic and all the loaded identity politics that come along with that. She has definitely encountered what a charged topic that can be. White liberal guilt is a complicated and problematic thing. As a clueless kid, there's this perceived innocence in our connections to Music, but there are all these politics and mechanisms behind the scenes exerting such an influence. But I've totally derailed here... I liked this song a lot and still do!

+11. Jonathan Richman | That Summer Feeling (Jonathan Richman And The Modern Lovers Cover)
I couldn't stop at 10 because I cannot in good conscience omit Jonathan Richman. (And because I'm pretty lousy with brevity or boundaries, if you hadn't noticed.) Richman is another hero, and probably the one whom I emulate more than any other. I think my best buddy Nate first introduced me to JoJo and The Modern Lovers. It was an epiphany. He manages to combine this childlike naïveté and directness with these universal sentiments of Affection and Longing in a way that's somehow never cloying. Such an inspiration.

+12. Brian Eno | 1/1 (from  Ambient 1 (Music For Airports))
I love nearly everything Brian Eno does: the Ambient stuff, the Pop stuff, his production work (especially Bowie's Berlin Trilogy), the Oblique Strategies, the collaborations...

+13. Brian Eno | St. Elmo's Fire
Let's bring the tally up to a lucky 13! He's just so ridiculously erudite and finds ways to bridge so many disciplines in such a cohesive and conceptually rich way.

SIDE B | by Jamie Reeder

1. Steely Dan | Haitian Divorce
So in Love the preacher's face turned red. When I get a divorce, I want it to be a Haitian divorce.

2. Sharon Van Etten | Tornado
It's so slow and sleepy and at the same time so powerful. And I love the bells.

3. Palace Music | Lost Blues
I listen to this when I'm sad in a bad way and it makes me sad in a good way.

4. Sublime | Mary
One of the most beautiful melodies paired with some of the grossest lyrics.

5. She Keeps Bees | Gimme
I love the vocal rhythm and I think this is one of the sexiest songs of all time.

6. Patti Smith Group | Pissing In A River
This song is so desperate. The piano is so slow and so good. This song is how I feel when I'm in Love.

7. Elvis Costello & The Attractions | No Action
I don't wanna see you 'cause I don't miss you that much is one of my favorite lyrics ever. And I love how this song starts super quiet especially when I play the record.

8. Helado Negro | Dance Ghost
It's hard to pick just one Helado Negro song. He is kind of a hero. This song makes me feel safe, like someone is watching over me. I like to listen to it on repeat when I'm driving alone.

9. Devendra Banhart | First Song For B
I love the arc of this song, the way it rushes in and grabs you and then gets quiet again. My favorite part is the refrain: Please destroy me, please destroy me, please destroy me... I think there is no better way to describe how it feels to be left by someone you love.

10. Bikini Kill | Suck My Left One
Kathleen Hanna's voice is so astounding and powerful. This was my anthem through High School. It's a perfect Punk song. I wrote suck my left one on everything. It's so much better than suck my dick.
SIDE C | by Madeline Caldwell

1. John Prine | Angel From Montgomery
I grew up in Wyoming and many of my earliest Musical experiences were Country and Bluegrass. I'm always drawn to Music that reminds me of open spaces and moments of pure Solitude. Every year, John Prine came to town. For the first eighteen years of my life, my family would caravan to sit in a small room full of cowboy boots, patchouli and ski goggles—my neighbors—and listen to this man who was gruff, old and felt like my friend sing the most heartbreaking song. So, in some ways, this song is my home.

2. Lyle Lovett | If I Had A Boat
Another old Country tune. I think I've held on to my whimsy because, if I had a pony, I'd ride it on my boat. I live with an unshakable sense of Wonder. It might be crazy to admit, but I still absolutely believe in Magic.

3. Patricia Morison | So In Love (Kiss Me, Kate Original 1948 Cast Recording)
I used to listen on repeat to these beautiful recordings of Cole Porter singing his own songs. Of course, they've been recorded by some of the best singers of all time, but I still love listening to his reedy, tenuous, vulnerable voice.

4. Dinosaur L | Go Bang! #5
This song makes me smile and think of friends and parties and sparkly dancing fish.

5. Carole King | Will You Love Me Tomorrow? (The Shirelles Cover)
Maybe it says something about me that I think this is the most romantic song ever written, but I don't quite believe that Love can be permanent.

6. Erykah Badu | Tyrone (Live)
If some monster told me I could only sing one song for the rest of my life, this would probably be it. Or R. Kelly - The World's Greatest (can #6 be two songs?)...

7. Robyn | Call Your Girlfriend
There are very few songs that I'll dance to. There is only one song that I can't not dance to. Yes, that's a very serious double negative. I've danced-off to this song and won.

8. Belong | Come See 
So I think everyone has a walking around song, and this is mine. I'm in New York. I'm dodging folks on the sidewalk. My knees are practically buckling from the pace. A lightening bolt could strike and I'd probably not even notice. And this is the song in my head.

9. Dark Dark Dark | Daydreaming
I listened to this song many times with a person I loved. It still feels like it was written about us.

10. The Caretaker | In The Deep And Dark Hours Of The Night
This album is the most dreamy, haunting thing I've ever listened to. In many of my dreams, I'm waltzing in a ballroom spinning until I can't see the floor and always this song is playing.
SIDE D | by Phillip Pantuso

1. Thomas Wayne With The DeLons | Tragedy
Once, while going through a breakup, I accidentally left this song on repeat before I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night, and it was pitch-black except for the luminescent glow of my computer screen, and quiet but for the faint strains of this song. Thomas Wayne was the brother of the guitarist in Johnny Cash’s band, and while on Tragedy he sounds like a man well acquainted with heartbreak, he was only 19 when the song it came out. It was his only hit.

2. New Order | Lonesome Tonight
This is the song I listen to when I want to remember how to carry my Fatalism. There’s Hope in that Peter Hook bassline.

3. My Bloody Valentine | Come In Alone
Listening to Loveless is like staring at the Sun; the album sounds completely otherworldly to me, elementally alien from anything else I’ve ever heard. It remains a mystery, better experienced than analyzed. But occasionally it cracks open, just a little bit, and you hear something you hadn’t before—a whispered vocal that materializes into English, a guitar line surging amidst the dense churn. In those moments, it’s like you’ve peered behind a veil. One of my fondest memories was taking acid with a girl I love, lying down on the hardwood floors of her house, and listening to this record, and in particular this song, as loud as we could. I heard something new that day.

4. Cocteau Twins | Fotzepolitic
I never quite know what Elizabeth Fraser is singing, but I hear the first line as My dreams are low... They’re sick and must be dressed. That is a good description of Melancholy, isn’t it? This song (the whole album, really) is so supersaturated, all indigos and reds and violets, overwhelming and airless. From that shuttle-launch intro you’re just along for the ride.

5. Chris Bell | Speed Of Sound
This is such a huge, raw song, with a subjugated Meanness fading at the cold heart of it. Every time that rattled-bones chorus comes around, it surprises me. Bell wrote this song in either 1974 or 1975, not long after leaving Big Star, where he felt overshadowed by the more famous Alex Chilton. He was battling Depression, a heroin addiction, and the growing sense that he wasn’t fit for the World, which he tried to reconcile with a strong belief in Christ. He was either 23 or 24 when he recorded it, already a fading light outshone by other, brighter lights, and it wasn’t released until 1992—fourteen years after he’d died, at age 27, in a car crash in Memphis.

6. Bob Dylan | Love Minus Zero/No Limit
I’ve given many, many hours of my life to Dylanology. I’ve got stacks of live bootlegs, where I think Dylan was really at his best. But for my money, this is the best song he put to wax.

7. Fleetwood Mac | I Know I'm Not Wrong
I’m a sucker for upbeat sad songs—there are a few on our record. This is probably the purest Pop song on my mix, three perfect minutes that encapsulate an affair and a breakup.

8. Galaxie 500 | Ceremony (Joy Division Cover)
This song unfurls like a harrowing opiate experience. The audacity of Dean Wareham’s performance here—it’s like a dare. I feel like he’s staring right through me. When the tambourines and the root note on the bass come in near the end—what a moment.

9. Robert Palmer | Woke Up Laughing
I’m a constant worrier, often up to my eyeballs in anxiety. I worry about money, my career, my family, whether or not I’m doing the right thing at the right time, if I’ve made the right plan, or if I should make no plan at all. Only occasionally do I feel like very little of that stuff isn’t Life-or-Death important. But of course, none of it is. Life is an absurd theatre, and you should have fun, right? For me, this song is the soundtrack to that feeling.

10. Pale Saints | A Thousand Stars Burst Open
The girl I mentioned earlier? Some years ago, driving in my car in Texas, we decided we felt the exact same way about this song, and about each other. Decided—that’s not the right word. The best and worst things impel themselves. They make the decision for you.
SIDE E | by Tim Simmonds

​1. Soltero | Pure Joy
This song climbed inside my head weeks ago and has been bouncing around in there ever since. It wants to tell me about Joy. Apparently, it has something to do with Sam Cooke at the Apollo.

2. Pharoah Sanders | The Creator Has A Master Plan
Or maybe it has something to do with this. The restaurant across the street from my apartment blasts this song out into the street on weekends. When that happens, I keep my windows open.

3. Randy Newman | Marie
Randy Newman taught me everything I know about America, my adopted home. I think it's safe to say there is no more beautiful Love song than Marie.

4. Case Studies | From Richard Brautigan (Demo from Todo Muere Volume 3)
Field Guides are not the only band to appropriate Richard Brautigan for their own wicked ends. Case Studies remade this song for their album, but I like this demo version the best. It’s distant and mournful.

5. My Bloody Valentine | You Made Me Realise
Time hasn’t softened this one, and never will. You cannot do Yoga to this.

6. Nick Drake | Road
The first Nick Drake song I ever heard, and still the one I come back to. So unbearably sad.

7. The Shangri-Las | Out In The Streets
Almost as unbearable as the Nick Drake song. The drama of this song always gets to me.

8. Orange Juice | Flesh Of My Flesh
I’ve always had a touch of Glasgow envy. So many great bands. I don’t think I could have made it there, though. I’m a touch too delicate. This was on my first mixtape made for me by my High School girlfriend. I remember every song and this was my favorite.

9. Melody Dog | Futuristic Lover
This band barely existed, and the song itself seems to be hanging by a thread the whole way through, but there’s such sweetness.

10. The Fall | Fantastic Life
There’s a Fall song for every day of the year. This one is for today.
SIDE F | by Matthew Evans

1. Nick Drake | One Of These Things First
Such simple and powerful songwriting with elegant orchestration and voice.

2. Lower Dens | I Get Nervous
Like the Nick Drake song, there is an intimacy to this track that I love.

3. Nico | It Was A Pleasure Then (with Lou Reed and John Cale)
I'm drawn to the Abstraction in this song.

4. Women | Can't You See
There's a sense of Freedom and Experimentation in the individual parts of this song; blankets of Sound that surround the song itself.

5. Steve Reich | Four Organs
I'm drawn to methodical compositions as much as I'm drawn to songs. I constantly search for Music that is about its Construction and Form. I've studied and performed a lot of Reich's work and his Music was a strong part of my youth.

6. Horse Lords | Macaw
Horse Lords bring a similar Meticulousness to their compositions but in slightly different context, not to mention their live show is unbelievable.

7. Suicide | Che
This song is extremely simple in its construction. It is anxious yet anthemic.

8. Yo La Tengo | Last Days Of Disco
Here is a different form of Persistence. This song is nostalgic and warm. They're very different songs but I'm magnetized to their repetition.

9. Eno | Needles In The Camel's Eye
Catchy riffs, a depth of Production, and a fearless vocal performance. This is one of my favorite tracks from Here Come The Warm Jets, an album full of studio experiments.

10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | Heavy Metal
CYHSY's self-titled album is packed with layers—the first 10 seconds of Heavy Metal, for example—and riffs that get stuck in my head for days.