Campfire Songs

Hello folks, welcome back to a brand new year of Art of the Mixtape.  To help kick it off I bring you a nice bucolic little mixture of some great songs.

1. Greatest Show On Earth- The Felice Brothers

On their eponymous debut, The Felice Brothers very much earned their label of following in the tradition of Bob Dylan and The Band.  Perhaps what is most impressive is their narrative ability, delivering slices of Americana in a world weary mood.  However, “Greatest Show On Earth” stands out with its jaunty New Orleans infused melody.  Come for the story, stay for the music.

Greatest Show On Earth- The Felice Brothers

2. Fables-  The Dodos

The Dodos burst onto the San Francisco music scene with a unique drumming centric sound, but don’t let that scare you, they’re very much a rootsy rock band with a percussive twist.  Many of their other songs showcase a more daring aesthetic but “Fables” is a very endearing acoustic standout with a nice vocal to boot.

Fables- The Dodos

3. Jackhammer- The Spinto Band

This song has a bag full of production tricks around every corner, and it’s done very well. I love songs that continue to surprise their listener.

Jackhammer (Slim Version)- The Spinto Band

4.  Oslo Campfire- Port O’Brien

You’ll be hooked from the very beginning of this number by the unfortunately little known Port O’Brien, very much a cousin to The Shins output circa “New Slang”, the guitar/vocal/drum hook is amazing.

Oslo Campfire- Port O’Brien

5. Snake- Frightened Rabbit

A nice little lilting acoustic number.

Snake- Frightened Rabbit

6. Stepping Stones- G. Love and Special Sauce

A delightful little modern blues number with a very catchy chorus

Stepping Stones- G. Love and Special Sauce

7. Ruminant Band- Fruit Bats

Hearing this song, you’d be very surprised to learn that it was not recorded in the 70’s, but in a good way.

The Ruminant Band- Fruit Bats

 

8. I’ll Be Back- The Beatles

One of the oft-overlooked numbers from a tremendous album,  A Hard Day’s Night

I’ll Be Back- The Beatles

 

9. The Cave- Mumford & Sons

A very energetic number from an up-and-coming folksy band out of England.

The Cave- Mumford & Sons

 

10. Hiroshima- Blake Mills

Blake Mills came out with a very under-promoted debut and his number “Hiroshima” is delightful ear candy that grows from the likes of worthy predecessors such like the homegrown material of Paul McCartney’s McCartney and Ram, absolutely beautiful melody, before a slide guitar solo comes out of nowhere sounding like Duane Allman coming from the dead.

Hiroshima- Blake Mills

11. Mightiest of Guns- A.A. Bondy

One of those perfect songs.

Mightiest Of Guns- A.A. Bondy

 

12. Steel On Steel- J. Tillman

A very charming and upbeat number, with a great horn melody and diverse instrumentation.

Steel On Steel- J. Tillman

 

13. I Summon You- Spoon

Spoon has been hard pressed to beat the overall feeling of this song and for good reason, it’s a straight up classic.

I Summon You- Spoon

 

14. All Day Day Light- The Morning Benders

Great production, arrangement, vocal, on “All Day Day Light” The Morning Benders do everything right.

All Day Day Light- The Morning Benders

 

15. Timshel- Mumford & Sons

Detractors would say that they took this directly out of the book of previous acts like Fleet Foxes, they would be right, but they do it so well that its hardly an insult, their harmonies are gorgeous.

Timshel- Mumford & Sons

16. Let The Distance Keep Us Together- Spoon/ Bright Eyes

Spoon can create a great melody out of anything, but when they write great lyrics to go with it, there’s hardly a modern band that can compete with them.

Let the Distance Keep Us Together- Spoon/Bright Eyes

17. Change of Time- Josh Ritter

Perhaps no man is better qualified to write a finger-picked acoustic piece of Americana than one who went to Oberlin and graduated with a self made major in “American History through Narrative Folk Music”

Change of Time- Josh Ritter

18. Frankie’s Gun- The Felice Brothers

If you had any doubts about the following in the footsteps of Bob Dylan and The Band label, well here’s your proof.

Frankie’s Gun!- The Felice Brothers

19. Ain’t No Tellin’- Mississippi John Hurt

This beautiful little ending number is reaching your ears all the way back from 1928.

Ain’t No Tellin’- Mississippi John Hurt

Mixtape Monday 2010 vol. 2

Lives of Crime- Fruit Bats

Remember how Garden State made the little known band The Shins smash hit indie darlings, how exciting it was to be hearing, discovering this new band along with Zach Braff’s character when he put on those huge headphones.  Well the Fruit Bats just might be next with one of there songs (When U Love Somebody) featured on the soundtrack of Youth in Revolt the new Michael Cera vehicle, which is bound to attract the indie masses because it’s Michael Cera.  Fruit Bats are from the same mold as The Shins, refreshingly inventive and retrospective at the same time.

New Kind of Love- Plants and Animals

Few bands have the skill to make a song 6 + minutes entirely listenable.  Plants  and Animals are one of the few, this song comes off like a mellowed Arcade Fire meeting with an ethereal Nick Drake, the arrangement is vast but at the same time endearing and homespun, and an absolute blast with headphones.

The Bed’s Too Big Without You- The Police

The Police weren’t entirely unknown at the time, Roxanne and Can’t Stand Losing You and So Lonely had guaranteed that on their previous debut effort.  Regatta de Blanc showcased their new signature sound and pushed them into stardom and this song is an oft forgotten highlight of the album.

Witness Blues- A.A. Bondy

Bob Dylan affected his audience so well due to his direct approach and wonderful narrative lyrics, A.A. Bondy may just be the closest comparison to the Dylan mystique and he well deserves it.

La Mar – The Beautiful Girls

Achingly introspective and beautifully understated, this song reaches into your emotions and doesn’t let go.  The lo-fi production and simple acoustic arrangement only make this song better.

Anne- John Frusciante

Sans the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante is a wholly new animal.  Featuring a Cat Stevens-esque croon, Anne starts out stark with beautiful acoustic accompaniment before expanding into a full blown creative arrangement.  A wonderful talent.

Joe’s Waltz- The Dodos

Many bands have their own sound, but the Dodos go even further, there is no other band that features their musical DNA, inventive in their arrangements and deceptively simple, they make a waltz sound like an entirely new style.

The Danger Zone- Susan Tedeschi

Susan Tedeschi isn’t the only country and blues styled guitar slinging singer but she’s one of the best, with a voice that belongs in a category alongside Bonnie Raitt, Etta James, and Aretha Franklin.

Willow Tree- G. Love and Special Sauce

I dream for the day that Beck and G. Love collaborate for they both have their own genius touch on blending musical styles, for now this is the closest I’ll get. Creative, laid back groove and tight soulful harmony.

Caught by the River- The Doves

The song you wished Coldplay and Oasis had written so you wouldn’t feel so guilty for saying you liked them, vast and beautifully arranged.

Help Yourself- Sad Brad Smith

Featured in Up in Air, this song harkens back to the best of CSNY and Simon and Garfunkel with beautiful harmonies and acoustic guitars going back and forth and yet with an arrangement that’s completely original, just one of those songs where beautiful seems to be the only word that fits perfectly. I don’t care if Up in Air wins any awards for its film merits, but it should for this song.

Please Be Patient With Me- Wilco

As great of a full band Wilco is, they have a magical quality when they tone it down to just guitars and vocals.

For No One- The Beatles

Eleanor Rigby gets a lot of credit for it, but mark my words; in terms of arrangement, production, lyrics and delivery, For No One is simply one of the best songs in the entire Beatles catalogue and is Paul McCartney’s lonely masterpiece and its over far too soon.

Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it Roll)- George Harrison

Simply put, the best all around song on All Things Must Pass the arrangement is full of mystical and haunting beauty and proves once and for all George’s ability as a songwriter.

Futures- Zero 7

Wonderfully unique in its arrangement and production with a beautiful voice to boot.  One of those melodies that will just keep rolling around in your head, a brooding kind of song.

American Hearts- A.A. Bondy

The most beautifully written piece of Americana this decade, Dylan himself would be green with envy.

Take Me Out of the City- Dawes

Not many bands can tone down their arrangement and let their harmonies dominate to create a song of utter beauty.  Dawes is one of them and it would be hard to find a band who does it better.

Hey Hey

A new one for you all, this is a light hearted good jams kind of mix

Robert Palmer-Addicted to Love

Suave meets power rock, awesome combination

Monsters of Folk- Say Please

This is a super group of Jim James, M. Ward, and Conor Oberst, Say Please is a Beatlesque tune, the guitar solo is a nice touch

The Shaky Hands- The Sleepless

Nice bouncy groove on this one, fans of Modest Mouse will like this one

My Morning Jacket- Golden

One of the prettiest acoustic melodies you will ever hear, if gold had a sound it would be this

The Dodos- Fables

Great melody and drumming on this one and the singing is in fine form too

Donovan Frankenreiter- These Arms

Just a nice light-hearted acoustic tune, nice touches with the organ

Geto Boys- Straight Gangstaism

I could swear Tupac was on this, great sample, great flow

Harper Blynn- Centrifugal Motion

It’s like E.L.O. and Billy Joel decided to have a musical baby and this was the result, catchy melody, great vocal performance and great bridge

Pete Willett- Something

Most of the time, Beatles covers are like heresy in my book, but the laconic way he delivers the lyrics brings the song to a different place, dreamy and wistful, perfectly conveying the feeling Harrison was getting at by not being sure.

Forest Fire- Fortune Teller

Great vocal performance, great arrangement, a new band that more people should know about

The Clash- Guns of Brixton

London Calling is a fantastic album for a number of songs, and this is one of the best, fantastic arrangement, snide vocals, a powerful song through and through

The Shaky Hands- Sunburns

Just a sunny day tune, a happy song, good backing harmonies and easy going arrangement

Liam Finn & Eliza Jane- Honest Face

Tight harmonies with a wild arrangement

The Generationals- When They Fight, They Fight

Great homage to beach boys/ motown girl group style, this song is amazingly catchy and it is hard to believe it was recorded this year

Portugal The Man- The Home

Oasis meets Dispatch, these guys have a great sense of dynamics and melody and they’re a pleasure to listen to

Pete and J- No More One More Chance

This song could easily have been straight out of the CSN &Y songbook, great acoustics and singing performance

Arcade Fire- Haiti

Very nicely done arrangement on this one

The Explorer’s Club- Do You Love Me

The Beach Boys 2.0, catchy, strong harmonies and a summer melody

The Dutchess and the Duke- Reservoir Park

Similar to House of the Rising Sun but good in its own right

Dean Martin- Gentle on My Mind

Great upbeat country arrangement and Dean Martin shows his considerable vocal chops on this one, this is a hard melody to get off your mind.

Mixtape Monday: Theme #1: Escapism

As I’ve been awfully bad at updating this old blog of mine for the past couple weeks I’ve decided to start a new kind of weekly post, a mixtape not dedicated to showcasing new artists all the time, but getting back to the roots of what a mixtape meant, which is to hold a theme through a variety of different artists and songs.  This inaugural mixtape theme is Escape.

The feeling of escape in music is one of the strongest themes in rock and roll, we find ourselves transfixed by the places it can bring us to, the painful emotions it can mute, the happy emotions it can bring out in sad times.  This mix doesn’t count on containing unknown songs by artists you’ll hopefully like, rather I composed it to enhance the feeling, to get lost in the world of music and somehow through it all the songs meshed together perfectly, as if the order was supposed to be this way.

  1. Born to Run- Bruce Springsteen

One of the most perfect escaping anthems ever put on paper, Bruce Springsteen was writing more than just a song when Born to Run came to be.  He had been the unknown maverick, a little known musician compared to the likes of Bob Dylan and Van Morrison in his poetry and story telling but had yet to find his sound.  But from the snare intro till the end, this song provides the escape he needed to make it big, and the escape of the American Dream that’s in all of us

  1. Son of a Preacherman- Dusty Springfield

From the beginning the guitar transfixes you, her voice takes you away

  1. September- Earth, Wind, and Fire

Sometimes escape isn’t always about going somewhere but about remembering the good times, and September is just that a remembrance of good times you had

  1. Midnight Train to Georgia-  Gladys Knight and the Pips

Because dreams don’t always come true, but sometimes its just making the effort that makes it all worthwhile

  1. Friend of the Devil- Grateful Dead

For the literal escape from our lives (if you’re a criminal)

  1. Tighter, Tighter- Alive N’ Kickin

For the escape that love can provide, even when its done by a bond that brings people closer

  1. Octopus’s Garden-  The Beatles

No matter how many years have passed by, this song will always bring you back to the innocence of your childhood and how you can take comfort in your imagination

  1. Take the Money and Run-   Steve Miller Band

For even if you do something bad once in a while, live a little, just live in the moment and have fun

  1. Hungry Heart- Bruce Springsteen

Sometimes you just want to take that wrong turn out of your driveway forget it all and never come back, it’s the essence of youth, the young and the restless

  1. Strawberry Fields Forever –  The Beatles

For escaping the barriers of your own perception

  1. Let’s Take the Long Way Home-  The Beautiful Girls

Sometimes the quickest way is not the most satisfying, theres always the road untaken waiting for you, when the time comes

  1. Bet You Never Thought-  Brighton, MA

Because sometimes it isn’t what you’d think, Life especially

  1. Rebel Rebel- David Bowie

For the inner rebel in all of us

  1. Romeo and Juliet- Dire Straits

Some songs in their stories become almost surreal in how real they feel, how you identify with the characters and the beauty within

  1. Fables- The Dodos

The story isn’t just in the words, but in the music that surrounds it as well

  1. All She Wants- The Kooks

When an artist covers another, it gets deeper because it shows where they escape to, outside of their own music, and what really influences them

  1. Heart it Races- Dr. Dog

Another escape, a mental journey expressed as physical

  1. Castles Made of Sand- Jimi Hendrix

Because no matter how great the escape, everything is fleeting

  1. Simple Twist of Fate- Bob Dylan

Because the change you want, the escape you long for, is sometimes just up to fate

  1. A Change is Gonna Come- Sam Cooke

Because the message is so powerful, and the voice just carries over everything, it’s no longer an escape, it’s an escape realized