July 2006: CD-R
01. Tompaulin, "Slender"
02. Ivy, "Get Out of the City"
03. Jen Trynin, "Better Than Nothing"
04. Black Box Recorder, "The Facts of Life"
05. Nellie McKay, "Ding Dong"
06. Stew, "Giselle"
07. Sufjan Stevens, "Chicago"
08. The Shins, "Saint Simon"
09. Weakerthans, "One Great City!"
10. Marit Bergman, "Tomorrow is Today"
11. Andrew Bird, "Fake Palindromes"
12. Belle and Sebastian, "Dress Up In You"
13. Sam Phillips, "I Wanted to Be Alone"
14. TV On the Radio, "Young Liars"
15. LCD Soundsystem, "Losing My Edge"
16. Goldfrapp, "Number 1"
17. The New Pornographers, "The Bleeding Heart Show"
18. Saint Etienne, "Teenage Winter"
19. The Futureheads, "Hounds of Love" (listed as "BONUS TRACK")
I have a friend named Bruce in New York City who always puts me up whenever I visit. I met him in my film group, and he's probably one of the few people I know who sees more movies than I do. He also used to be on top of new music, but hasn't listened to a whole lot in the past decade. Earlier this year, Bruce asked me to make a mix for him, and this is what I came up with.
Before I began gathering selections, he sent me an e-mail impressively detailing his tastes, dividing favorite songs into categories representing what he responds to in a piece of music (such as "clever lyrics", "complicated lyrics", "unique instrumentation", or just plain "sexy"). I skimmed through his e-mail twice and then went to work. I limited the selections to the previous decade or so (the oldest song is from 1994) to get him up to speed on what he's been missing. It also seemed natural for me to stick with the past decade because that's when my musical tastes blossomed and matured.
The title comes from a line spoken in LCD Soundsystem's epic, music-obsessive minimalist masterpiece--clocking in at nearly eight minutes, it sets a knowing tone that reverberates most strongly in Black Box Recorder's emphatic yet unsentimental ode to burgeoning adolescence. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, it's also present in Saint Etienne's poignant reflection of youth wistfully fading away.
Other than those slight echoes, there's no particular theme. Most of these songs are personal favorites that I remember falling in love with the first time I heard them: Tompaulin's gradually-building-in-momentum opener (also the first track on my introduction to the band), Ivy's breezy road trip anthem, Marit Bergman's exuberant, wall-of-sound proclamation, TV On the Radio's irresistible clash of soulful, guttural vocal and icy, sterile soundscape.
As I wrote last year, the first mix you make for someone is always risky. Fortunately, Bruce liked this one; apparently, so did a few of his friends and neighbors, as I found out when I visited him two months later. His favorite track ended up being the one by Belle and Sebastian. Probably my own favorite track of this year so far, I love its intricate lyrical twists, rich chord changes, and still classic-sounding (for a decade-old band) trumpet solo. Yet, I wasn't sure Bruce would-- you see, it was a last minute addition.
*(By the way, I've never actually worked in a record store.)