Mixtape Monday: Charlemagne and the Silver Bells of Harlem

Listen in this order

You Got the Silver- Susan Tedeschi

A voice of pain that soothes, a song that is one of the sweetest odes to a lover, written by Keith Richards no less.

Guitar- Cake

An upbeat song about destroying a guitar/relationship, pulled off in Cake’s typical catchy style.

Seven Years- The Impressions

The song, the harmonies, the lyrics, are so uplifting and inspiring, this was Curtis Mayfield’s gift and its over far too soon.

Peace Like A River (Paul Simon Cover)- Spoon

The original was perfect, and yet Spoon still breathes new life into it, the bass plays the melody now, the guitar and piano the rhythm, and Britt Daniel brings along his cynical touch to the lyrics.

Jesus, Etc.- Wilco

Jesus, don’t cry
You can rely on me, honey
You can combine anything you want
I’ll be around
You were right about the stars
Each one is a setting sun

Tall buildings shake
Voices escape singing sad sad songs
tuned to chords
Strung down your cheeks
Bitter melodies turning your orbit around

The lyrics say it better than I ever could

How Long Do I Have To Wait For You- Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings

The lyrics cry longing, the instruments dance and the band grooves pay attention to that little guitar lick (you’ll see what I mean) Sharon Jones’s performance, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call her the female James Brown, and sax solo is worth the download alone.

When I Get Home- The Beatles

Ah, The Beatles in their youth, a whole different polished animals, the guitars and drums burst with energy, the harmonies are tight and John Lennon proves himself as one of rocks greatest vocalists.

Tired of My Tears- Susan Tedeschi

Take Sharon Jones earlier song, dip into a Southern Gospel groove and this is what will come out, Susan Tedeschi’s vocals blur the color line on this one and the guitar work is flawless.

Bells of Harlem- Dave Rawlings Machine

From the soft pitter patter of the snare drum to the golden acoustic guitar and the warm vocal harmonies this song just breathes beauty at its most effortless.

Multiply (In A Minor Key)- Jamie Lidell

That squeak at the beginning is the opening of a door into a club where both the voice and piano shine and dance, and all anybody else can do is watch.

Breaking All The Ground- Joe Firstman

she’s swinging from my heartstrings
singing that she’s climbing up.
she drinks bourbon from her daddy’s favorite coffee cup.
and she’s flying down the highway
crying that she won’t confess.
she’ll walk to charlotte like a princess
in her mama’s wedding dress.
and i watch her break away
more and more every day.

thats just the opening verse, some people have a way with words, and heck he’s gotta thing for melody and arranging too.

Where Did Our Love Go (Live) (Supremes Cover)- J. Geils Band

J. Geils was the ultimate bar band, they had fun, they didn’t get bogged down by ambition, they rocked a dirty gritty sound anchored by Peter Wolf’s gruff vocals, you can tell they’re just having fun here, and the slide solo in the middle is absolutely euphoric.

Ragoo- Kings of Leon

The dynamics are fantastic on this, with a Police styled arrangement but more nitty gritty earth bound vocals.

Book of Moses- Beck’s Record Club

If for just one reason, get the song for its beat, because shit it is heavy.  Another? Beck is a hell of a producer and arranger, this one plays out like an updated Bill Withers song, funky, soulful and full of power.

Remember- Jimi Hendrix

Everything about this song is wonderful, youthful yet reminiscent.

Minding My Own Business- Coconut Records

Its hard to figure this guy was an actor before a musician, add the fact he plays all the instruments as well, the natural feel of the song goes even more to prove his talent, great songwriting.

Lenin- Arcade Fire

A song off of Dark Was the Night, by Arcade Fire, like you need any other reason to download it.

Gold Mine- The Union Line

I wish this band existed on iTunes because this song actually makes me want to buy more of their stuff, and buy isn’t a word i like to throw around alot.

Charlemagne in Sweatpants- The Hold Steady

From the organ to the guitars to the vocals and lyrics, The Hold Steady just grip you from the get-go.

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.

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.