Summertime

It’s been a while but Art of The Mixtape is back in action with a mixtape for these good old summer days whether its lying on a beach, grilling dinner, or just relaxing in your own home, these grooves should put you in the perfect mood for the summer months.  This mixtape features classics from artists like George Harrison, Bruce Springsteen, Warren Zevon, Little Feat, Bob Marley, and Miles Davis, as well as some artists you may not have heard of. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the tunes.

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Mixtape Monday!: European Oils, Pretty Wings, and Stranger Things

Pretty Wings- Maxwell

Maxwell dominates the song with a Marvin Gaye like croon and the backing is excellent, soft but not too soft (a problem that most neo soul suffers from) and well crafted and placed vocal harmonies.  Some nice Curtis Mayfield styled horn work on this one too.

European Oils- Destroyer

In prior days, I wouldn’t have listened to the song on the assumption from the name alone that it was some average metal band but whether it was out of ironic intention or not this band sells itself short by its name.  Take Marc Bolan’s singing (from T-Rex…Bang a Gong) with a little of David Bowie and song structure and back it with absolutely beautiful (Pink Floydesque) instrumentation and you might have an idea what these guys are like.  Best use of a pitch bender i’ve ever heard.

Impressions of the Past- Megafaun

In this day and age instrumental, or in this case mostly instrumental songs are few and far between in rock bands, whether its because everyone’s focused on producing a hit single or they don’t have the instrumental ability its hard to say, however this song is nothing short of masterful. Pastoral and vast and never predictable.

What Light- Wilco

Wilco is a grower of a band, the more songs you hear by them, the more you like them.  This one? think of Bob Dylan dipped in country.

O Children- Nick Cave

When those backing gospel singers come in, this track goes from good to spectacular.

Stranger Things- Local Natives

Remember this name because they’re gonna be big in 2010 because as a emerging band they have all the pieces in place.

Black- Okkervil River

A band that should be recognized more than the fan base it has, cohesive arrangements and a good dynamic lead singer, they’re a band you can put on at anytime.

Neon Filler- Howie Gelb

A beautiful slow beginning and a voice that is unmistakable, spoken like a poem.

Ramble On Rose- The Grateful Dead

The Dead as much as they have their rabid following, also have their numerous detractors saying they often weren’t cohesive as a live band, noodling on drug fueled jams that didn’t always work, however all parts are in fine form here, taken from the Europe ’72 Double LP and Jerry Garcia contributes a fine succinct guitar solo along with it.

Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken- Camera Obscura

Is anyone really ready to be heartbroken? The music will certainly make you think so.

Chicago At Night- Spoon

Spoon already has that night atmosphere to them, their arrangements always hiding their surprises in the shadows and Britt Daniel just has enough grit in his voice to make things more interesting.

Two Tickets To Paradise (Eddie Money Cover)- Eef Barzelay

Once in a great while there comes a cover that breathes a new life into the song, an interpretation that makes you think about the song in ways you hadn’t before, this is one of those.

We Talk Like Machines- Savior Adore

A driving beat to perk your interest and an interesting harmony dynamic to keep you going.

They Never Got You- Spoon

They really know how to nail down that something’s lurking feeling don’t they.

What I Mean To You- Justin Townes Earle

Country is so often overdone in lyrical themes, drinking and heartbreak, but this organic production brings a new interest to this listener, the lyrics are understated, not overwrought and its one of those melodies that will keep with you for weeks.

When I Said Goodbye- Mayer Hawthorne

Outstanding harmonies with a classic soul vibe, not bad for a white guy from Detroit, in fact its nothing short of fantastic.

Mixtape Monday: In Ears

In Ear Park- Department of Eagles

The intro to this song is a beautiful weave of guitars and pianos going in and out like waves crashing into the shores that leads into an ethereal vocal and beautiful backing instrumentation, a lament on loss, the beauty of this song just speaks volumes

So Far Around the Bend- The National

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Boxer nor did I see the big attraction to the National until this song came out.  The lyrics are perfectly understated and performed, with a creative arrangement and a sentiment that everyone can identify with, it doesn’t hurt that the melody is so damn catchy as well

Fine For Now- Grizzly Bear

Veckatimest, the latest album by Grizzly Bear is full of songs that range from the sweet to the bizarre, Fine for Now starts off with a strangely beautiful vocal arrangement before turning into an otherworldly meld of guitar and drums and vocals, truly a song worth multiple listens

Chinese Translation- M. Ward

M. Ward has a knack for great studio production and melody, and this has a great chorus, and no theres no chinese in a single second of the recording, just a great overall song

Lost Coastlines- Okkervil River

I love the vocalist in this band, his range is affecting and his lyrics are well written, and i can hear glimmers of Paul Simons Graceland and the Jam’s Town Called Malice woven in

We Were Sick- The Thermals

Like Blink 182, fun upbeat and catchy, but better because you don’t get tired of the nasal voice and the chord progression is classic

Race You- Elizabeth and the Catapults

Little known bands often provide the most happiness to the listener when they make great catchy songs, because you feel like you’re the one discovering them, it’s a little feistish and happy and just puts you in a good mood

Wilco (The Song)- Wilco

Love this song, a little weezerish but with less pop culture reliant lyrics

Take A Walk Around the Table- White Rabbits

This song is so delightfully weird that you can’t help but listen to it over and over again

Metal Detektor- Spoon

Of all the great Spoon songs there are to choose from, this is one of, if not their finest songs ever put to record

Golden- My Morning Jacket

Beautiful acoustic guitar, beautiful singing, beautiful lyrics, need i even say more

The Golden Age- Beck

Great progression and arrangement, both of which Beck has an undeniable knack for and this is one of his finer songs

Songs for the Fireflies- Josh Ritter

This is one of those songs that feels as if the performer is right in front of you not in some far off studio and the buildup is wonderful

The Honeymoon Song- The Beatles

It’s hard to find a Beatles song that the whole world hasn’t heard millions of times.  This one comes from Live at the BBC and the arrangment lets Paul McCartneys voice take front and center, and how sweet and young he sounds, the only bad thing is the song ends so soon

Honeymoon- Phoenix

Love every part about this song, the bass, the guitar, the singing, the build up, it works perfectly

Everything Hits At Once- Spoon

Another early Spoon song, undeniably their own, from the arrangment to the melody and the buildup as well the great guitar and piano hooks

Fernando Pando- The Virgins

this son builds from intimate guitar and vocals to a great energetic arrangement.  Terrific vocal performance throughout

Changes- David Bowie

Because this song is undeniable in its classic status, love the progression and the lyrics

A Day in the Life- The Beatles

Arguably the greatest song Lennon and McCartney put together from the arrangement to the lyrics to the orchestra build up and McCartneys part.  Also the interplay between the musicians is great, McCartney’s piano and Lennon’s guitar and Ringo’s drums couldn’t have fit any better

You Got the Silver- The Rolling Stones

this song goes a long way in saying that Keith Richards was as underrated a singer and songwriter as Harrison was in The Beatles.

Echonational

Its time for a new mix, unfortunately I’ve been far too busy to remember to constantly update my site but i hope this makes up for it

echonational

1.  Black Like Me- Spoon

Spoon to me is a band that perfectly captures the sound of the Beatles circa Revolver and the White Album.  Britt Daniels doesn’t exactly have a beautiful voice but its perfect for rock.  Black Like Me is a song off of  Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and it builds perfectly from the opening duet of guitar and a faded compressed piano to when the full band drops in, its a song that fully describes the starkness of the situation and how things go on whether you want to or not.

2.  When U Love Somebody- Fruit Bats

Don’t be fooled by the Prince like title or the strange synthesized opening, this song opens into a beautifully harmonized love song by an under-appreciated band.  The guitar line is very Simon-Garfunkel, rhythmic and natural with hand claps and foot taps to boot.  Then the synthesized line comes back in and it all makes sense.  Just like how when you love somebody you might not understand it at first, but when you recognize it and it keeps coming back it only fits more and more

3. Lola Stars and Stripes- The Stills

I’d like to say that this would be U2  if they were just a little more experimental, but I hate U2.  Dynamics rule supreme in this song with crazy guitars sweeping in and out of the picture fading to let the vocals stand out.  Tim Fletcher is very tuneful and the band flits in between soothing and energetic.  Very catchy and beautiful song

4.  Unless It’s Kicks- Okkervil River

Swagger.  Its what you’d expect to accompany the Rolling Stones, The Faces, Jim Morrison of The Doors, not a band named Okkervil River.  But Will Sheff delivers, with a great guitar riff that accompanies him and a band that knows exactly when to put the oomph in.

5.  It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me- Billy Joel

A change of pace, but this is Billy Joel at his sarcastic new wave best.  Very catchy and I wouldn’t be surprised if he was influenced by John Lennon writing this.

6. No Matter What-  Badfinger

Badfinger never had the album that proved themselves to be a classic band but their singles were among the best the 70’s came out with in the classic rock genre.  Great hook, good harmonies and it doesn’t feel overdone, a perfect single.

7.  Arrow Through Me- Paul McCartney and Wings

Don’t get me wrong I was one of those people who had a disdain for the Wings purely because it wasn’t The Beatles and they certainly had their share of cheesy songs.  But this song won me over because the melody is beautiful and who knew Paul McCartney could write a late night soulful song.  His delivery perfectly matches what he’s saying,  a gruff pained edge that is very moving and its very pleasing to hear him sing without being velvety smooth like most of his 70’s output.  I’d love to hear a woman cover this though like a Bonnie Raitt or Susan Tedeschi, its tailor-made for their soulful vocals.

8. Bit of Wind- The Fruit Bats

If I didn’t know this was the Fruit Bats, I’d have said it was the best Beach Boys song I’d never heard, the similarities are that striking, and yet this would be among even the best of the Beach Boys output.

9.  Run Run Run-  Phoenix

There was a band once upon a time in France, they ended splitting up into two groups, one became Daft Punk, the electronic duo, and the other became this band Phoenix who manage to take the electronic influences and mix them perfectly with rock influences, they’re big now, but alot of their previous albums, like the one this song is from, Alphabetical, are hidden gems that shouldn’t be slept on.

10.  Bring it On Home to Me- Sam Cooke

Simply put, one of the best soul songs of all time, if not the best, and also among the first.  This song has two of the greatest singers on it, Sam Cooke (with Lou Rawls backing him) and even with the strings it comes out more heartfelt than sappy.  This song just reinforces the fact that Sam Cooke died way to young for the good of music, his influence is felt, but imagine the possibilities had he lived.

11. Long Circuitous Path- Winechuggers

Best Wilco song they never made, unfortunately this band never made another album which is a shame because they make very enjoyable music and the melody on this is very tuneful, with a great old time piano in the background mixed perfectly with an acoustic guitar and a good back beat.

12. Since I Left You-  The Avalanches

A fun song, if theres a song that expresses innocence and childhood happiness better than this I haven’t heard it.  Dreamy harmonies abound with a jazz flute thrown in and the best use of a disco beat I’ve heard outside of disco.  The Avalanches are a mashup band from Austrialia and this song sounds natural, which is a great compliment.

13. To Go Home- M. Ward

One of the better build up intros I’ve heard to a song in a long time.  M. Ward happens to possess a Bob Dylan, albeit more tuneful voice and this is one of his most accessible songs in his entire catalogue.  Great drumming and a great sense of a full sound.

14.  I Summon You- Spoon

Spoon manages to be experimental in their arrangements but still sound like a great forgotten song and this is one of Britt Daniels best.  Off of Gimme Fiction.

15.  I’d Have You Anytime- George Harrison

Forget My Sweet Lord, Isn’t It A Pity, What Is Life.  I’d Have You Anytime is the best George Harrison song on the double album classic All Things Must Pass.  Harrison has a way with song structure thats undeniably identifiable as his and incredibly satisfying progressions. The lead guitar tone is also among the sweetest most soulful I’ve heard, but the jury is out on whether its Clapton or Harrison doing it, and as an added bonus, the lyrics were co-composed by one Robert Zimmerman, more commonly referred to as Bob Dylan.

16. Let’s Roll- The Stills

Nirvana meets Coldplay in a good way.  And certainly tremendously better than the Neil Young song by the same name.

17. One Time Too Many-  Phoenix

I’ll be damned if this doesnt stick in your head after one listen.  A wonderfully crafted melody and a perfect vocal performance by Thomas Mars.

BONUS

Kings of Convenience is a band out of Norway making some of the most beautiful and well recorded music today.  Think Simon and Garfunkel meet Nick Drake only more jazzy, their arrangements are sublime, especially the guitar and piano interplay.

18. Misread- Kings of Convenience

19.  I’d Rather Dance With You- Kings of Convenience