(Belated)Mixtape Monday: Former Glories and Darker Days

copyright arthur leipzig 1954

This weather is something else isn’t it, rain everywhere and with no sign of stopping, well lucky for you, you can stay in and enjoy the latest edition of Mixtape Monday chock full of more energy than a cup of Maxwell’s Coffee, and damn good to the last drop.  Also please note that now the full mp3 previews are on the top of the song description, and the downloadable link at the bottom

This mixtape features mostly new artists (new is a relative term) among them being; The Broken West, Blitzen Trapper, Robert Pollard (of GBV fame), Family Portrait among many others

Big Star and Eddie Floyd head up the dust off your vinyl collection, contributing three songs total (two for Big Star, one for Eddie Floyd)

And for something completely different, stay tuned for a wonderful Notorious B.I.G. remix later.

The Mix after the Jump

1.  Down in the Valley- The Broken West

These guys handled the McCartney cover extremely well last time around, but they aren’t without songwriting chops of their own.  Down in the Valley is a power pop sun drenched chock full of hooks rock and roll song, perfect for the sunny days and driving in the car with the windows down.

Down in the Valley- The Broken West

2.  Heaven on Earth- Blitzen Trapper

Blitzen Trapper has never been a band to fall into clear-cut categorization.  Heaven on Earth, a single on their upcoming album is something we’ve never heard out of the indie band from Portland, an arrangement dominated by somber piano and strings and a single tracked lead vocal.  It’s a beautifully crafted melody, and this upcoming album is said to be influenced by Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls and John Steinbeck’s East of Eden among others.

Heaven and Earth- Blitzen Trapper

3.   Silk Rotor- Robert Pollard

I’ll be damned if this doesn’t sound like 70’s era David Bowie, albeit with a little more punk power chord progression, It’s a great upbeat song, full of energy and very catchy.

Silk Rotor- Robert Pollard

4.  Mega Secrets- Family Portrait

Bands nowadays are starting to rediscover the qualities of homespun sounding recordings, and organic reverb, Family Portrait is no different when it comes to this categorization but it doesn’t make their song any less well crafted and fun to listen to.  It’s so off the cuff in sound that you just can’t stop listening to it.  If Family Portrait knows one thing, it’s that there’s an inescapable beauty in the simple song.

Mega Secrets- Family Portrait

5.  The Ballad of El Goodo- Big Star

I never had really given Big Star much of a chance before hearing about the death of their lead singer, but I’m glad I sought out their music.  Ballad of El Goodo sounds all at once like solo George Harrison, The Byrds, and The mid 60’s era Beatles, good company by any measure whatsoever.  It doesn’t hurt that they are strong lyricists as well.

The Ballad of El Goodo- Big Star

6.  Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke)- Britt Daniel

I love Sam Cooke’s original, and I’ve always been a fan of Britt Daniel’s work so I had a feeling going into this I would like his cover.  It’s a wonderful listen.  Multi-tracked vocals with a demo kind of feel, the reverb bright and watery and the guitar slowly building into the arrangement, one of the best uses of maracas I’ve heard in a long time.

Bring It On Home To Me- Britt Daniel

7.  Bring It On Home To Me (Sam Cooke)- Eddie Floyd (remixed by Hot Chip)

A remix of a cover, but it never the less works perfectly and Eddie Floyd has one of the most underrated voices of the soul era.  The build-up, the bubbling bass line, the horns, the call and response harmonies and that organic piano backed by soulful organ, it’s just a wonderful mix of sound.

Bring It On Home To Me- Eddie Floyd

8.  Sleeping In- The Morning Benders

If The Morning Benders felt they needed to prove they could match not only songwriting ability, but harmonies as well with the likes of Bon Iver and Fleet Foxes, they succeeded in this number.  And the feel of the song matches the title, a lethargic dreamy song that wakes up mid-way through.

Sleeping In- The Morning Benders

9.  Hundred/Million- The Whigs

Man last time I checked out the Whigs their sound was somewhat energetic, but nowhere near as powerful or heavy as their latest incarnation, think a heavier Spoon, or a much less experimental Nine Inch Nails. One thing is for sure, their drummer is one of the best in his field.

Hundred/Million- The Whigs

10.  It’s Been So Long- AM

The percussion of Curtis Mayfield, the bubbly bass of Cake, and strong melodic and lyrical tendencies of Steely Dan make this band very intriguing to listen to, not many have been able to be compared to the Steely Dan label but these guys just may be the ones to inherit the throne.

It’s Been So Long- AM

11.  I Don’t Know- The Sheepdogs

No this isn’t some long-lost mp3 of CCR playing with Steppenwolf.  The Sheepdogs are a modern band who capture the old sound perfectly.  Love the guitar break in the bridge.

I Don’t Know- The Sheepdogs

12.  Former Glory- Ron Sexsmith

The vocal melody is very McCartney-esque, wistful and tuneful.  But the song is all Sexsmith’s own, and his craft is among the best of his generation.

Former Glory- Ron Sexsmith

13.  Gable Arch- Blame Ringo

Besides their great name, this band also harks back to the sounds of old, starting out like a Simon/ Garfunkel tune before opening it up to their own touches, a very catchy number.

Gable Arch- Blame Ringo

14.  Darker Days- AM

I liked this band’s sound so much I had to put it on twice.  Love the touch of the nylon acoustic and how perfect their live sound is.  The singer takes on a Neil Young type timber in the chorus, but it isn’t irritating, rather it adds a whole new depth to the song.

Darker Days- AM

15.  Vampire- Pink Mountaintops

A very organic recording of multi-tracked acoustic guitars, strings and harmonies, very beautiful in its melancholy with a cinematic quality that almost begs for a movie deserving of its powerful melody.

Vampire- Pink Mountaintops

16.  Thunder (feat. Caroline Polacheck)- Sebastian Blanck

If this song reminds you of Elliot Smith you’re not alone, only I think Sebastian’s voice may be even better.  A self-produced artist out of New York, he shows a lot of promise and I wouldn’t be surprised if he makes it big.

Thunder (feat. Caroline Polacheck)- Sebastian Blanck

17.  Hallelujah- Martin Sexton

No this isn’t another retread of Leonard Cohen’s famous song rather, as well as sharing the title, Martin Sexton’s song is almost as powerful lyrically and certainly as powerful vocally, its short compared to the Cohen song, but it doesn’t drag on, and Martin Sexton has one of the most beautiful and talented voices you will ever hear.

Hallelujah- Martin Sexton

18.  Warning Sign (Talking Heads)- Local Natives

I was surprised to find out that this is cover of a Talking Heads song, it comes off as something so like their own that you don’t even question it (much like how many didn’t realize Twist and Shout was not originally by the Beatles) , strong harmonies and percussive elements and bright guitars and you can just tell they’re having fun with it, a great listen and the Talking Heads would be proud.

Warning Sign- Local Natives

19.   Back of the Room(Somewhere in Mississippi)- Charlie Mars

This song is from an Esquire feature where a handful of songwriters were asked to perform a song with somewhere in Mississippi mentioned in the lyrics, this doesn’t come off as kitschy though, it’s strong enough to stand on its own.

Back of the Room- Charlie Mars

20.  Dirty D- The Futurebirds

Another great song backed with an organic reverbed arrangement and strong unison harmonies, with an inescapable campfire quality to it.

Dirty D- Futurebirds

21.  Islands Is The Limit (Notorious B.I.G. vs the xx)- Wait What

Notorious B.I.G.; legend, hard-hitting rapper, indie collaborator? The xx’s arrangement some how matches up perfectly with Biggie’s lyrics on this one, one of those mash-ups that goes beyond just the original curiosity into stand-alone likeability.

Islands Is The Limit (Notorious B.I.G. vs the xx)- Wait What

22.  I’m In Love With A Girl- Big Star

A sweet song to end the mix, simple, short and beautiful.

I’m In Love With A Girl- Big Star

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