This week’s Mixtape Monday mixes some great up and coming bands (Cotton Jones, Field Music, The Dutchess and the Duke, and Robert Francis to name a few) established new acts (The Morning Benders, Josh Rouse, Fleet Foxes) with some old (Elliot Smith) and even older classics (The Beatles, E.L.O., The Four Tops, The Impressions). As always downloads are encouraged to promote the artists and raise awareness of all the great music out there.
The great thing about these two remixes is that they don’t do too much, rather they add to the song ever so subtly, tinkering with the rhythm here, adding bits to the song there, it does what a remix should, which is highlight the original work, and avoids taking anything away from it. These two should be listened to in succession.
The full mixtape after the jump
This track opens soft and slow, with a melody that seems equal parts My Morning Jacket and George Harrison. It’s hard to imagine that at the time of recording, Robert Francis was only 19 (he’s only 21 now), as such all the instrumental duties and recording production fell on him. Yet he cultivates a sound that many spend their entire careers establishing. A great melody, open and airy production and a sweet song.
As much as the Robert Francis track was expansive in its production, Sonny & the Sunsets is a much more close to the heart ramshackle recording. Featuring an immediately ear catching guitar hook, this song is made for the freedoms of youth, of campfires on the beach, of running around while the sunsets without a care in the world.
Don’t be fooled by its simplistic beginning, with its muted Motown guitar hook, the arrangement on this song is perfectly played with tight harmonies and great guitar lines.
A grandiose organ into guitar intro, this song sweeps into form, “I lost my drawl in California, was there ever one at all, Came out here with the promise, that’s when I found a light coming on, Venture out new direction, every once and a while, i think about the next one, then i just smile.” A rambling, traveling tune, ever so slightly dipped into country sound with a vocalist who has no drawl at all.
The Impressions had a magical quality to the clearness of their sound and three-part dynamic harmony, featuring two of the most distinctive voices in their genre, Curtis Mayfield with his falsetto and Fred Cash with his deep baritone, and Curtis Mayfield was of little equal when it came to melody making and arrangements.
An almost Eels meets Beck like tune, the arrangement here is great and the vocals are perfectly understated, a very catchy sunny and hazy melody.
About to release their second LP, Big Echo which promises to deliver; this is the song that first put them on the map, and like Maxwell House its damn good to the last drop. Perfect song structure with youthful energy and great harmonic dynamics.
Not many people have heard of Shuggie Otis and thats unfortunate for he had a true talent with the guitar and at age 19 was set to take up the mantle of guitar god after Jimi Hendrix met his demise. Yet Shuggie would fade from the spotlight, deciding to focus more on producing than writing music. On this track his talent for both shows, a very bright production with swelling organ and harmonies and some sweet guitar lines going back forth, a great song to chill out to.
Another song from the Mondo Boys Mix the transition is perfect and the song is so uplifting, you almost wish it wouldn’t end.
You can hear sounds of the city in the background in the intro, but the highlight of the track is their homespun tight boy-girl harmony and it’s just a great song in general.
This womans got soul, and the bands got the smarts to keep the groove smoldering in the right places, but damn, that voice.
Something about nylon stringed acoustic guitars makes you think warm thoughts, and this is quite the endearing melody. Starting from simple acoustic guitar backing before going into a full bossa nova.
While Taxman is more cynical in its relation to The Beatles financial situation, this song, written in their later period by McCartney is equal in mood, only more veiled by his melodic tendencies. As such, his work by this time was at its peak, and arguably in terms of pure melodic arrangements, without equal. That is not to say his lyrics (which often are criticized for their lack of depth) are at a lacking here, rather its one of the finest lyrics in his entire catalogue. Beginning with an attack on the bands current financial situation, McCartney expands the song into reminiscing about the old times and their simplicity and seeing their dream realized before ending with a children’s nursery rhyme. The lyrical subject of veiled criticism combined with images of youth is only matched in complexity by its musical backing. This is one of the songs that always comes to mind when people say The Beatles were unskilled with their instruments, because this is just a song that’s played with tremendous skill and dynamics and it would be hard for a band to simply cover it. It starts with a beautiful piano intro, which implies both the mood and melody of the piece, something not very easy to do, especially for a man who called piano his third instrument. The song then opens up into an old 50’s style boogie woogie piano before building into a ringing guitar solo. The guitar work is also top-notch, featuring great lead interplay between both Lennon and Harrison. Just an all out great song that is distinctly The Beatles, with a melody mashup that was one of McCartney’s finest work.
Compared to You Never Give Me Your Money, the production here is much more raw but no less endearing. featuring another boy-girl harmony dynamic only; like the name, much more southern than the dynamic that the Dutchess and the Duke feature.
Upon stumbling across this band, i found myself at a lack of words to describe them. In all my experience with listening to music, I couldn’t find discernible influences for their elusive and yet familiar and sonically pleasing aesthetic. Their arrangements are so diverse and varied that they make even Grizzly Bear seem simple to the ears (and that they ain’t). Astonishingly beautiful and tight harmonies and great instrumental dynamics and interplay, and seemingly fueled by boundless creativity and energy, Field Music is not just a great band, they’re an amazing band.
Another band with great energy, though not as lush or dynamic as Field Music, Retribution Gospel Choir is a misnomer, for they aren’t a roots gospel choir, rather they’re a great rock and roll band.
Another great song, albeit with a much more active backing track, fueled by strings and a warm vocal, this song immediately catches your ears with its melody and it just creates such a happy feeling.
A solo outfit by one of the members of Field Music, its just as creative and yet held back just a little bit. Still the strong harmonies dominate and its arrangement just keeps you guessing with its majestic scope. A melody that Pink Floyd would have been proud to call their own and boasting a guitar solo that Phish would have salivated to create before the songs end, its just that good.