Tuesday, 8 March 2011

DOWNLOAD: Ghost Animal Guest Mix (NFR Mix 08, March 2011)

Fall In Love/Let Me Go

a mix for Not For Resale by Michael Avishay of Ghost Animal

The second of this year's mixes is another guest mix from a current obsession - Ghost Animal. The LA based boy/girl two piece mine a blown out noise blasted seam of Spector haunted West Coast pop music - high on class, decadence and all that comes with that kind of lifestyle too - both sides to the street, glamour on the inside and filth on the floor beneath the high gloss heels.  So here's the influences and up-to-date infatuations of lead man Michael Avishay with some hugely insightful descriptions and reasonings for each of these 21 tracks in this massive double disc of a mix.

Artwork is again by my man Chris Prewett - needs to get himself a website, should be doing so any day now.

Take it away MA!

Fall In Love/Let Me Go
punk, goth, power pop, and new wave
Tracklist & explanations

01. Las Robertas - Tele (Cry Out Loud - Art Fag, 2010)
I've been listening to Las Robertas for a while now and have been excited about them since stumbling across their Phil Spector-referencing "Street Feelings" on Myspace several months ago. Since then, I've become good friends with Mercedes, who plays guitar, and we've been keeping up with each other ever since, sharing new songs, talking about SXSW, and fantasizing about a Costa Rican summer tour. Their entire album, out on Art Fag, is fantastic, but "Tele" really stands out to me, mainly because of the quick reference to Nirvana's teen-fuck anthem "Smells Like Teen Spirit": twice in the song you hear what sounds like "hello, hello, hello, hello, hello," echoing Kurt's build-up to the chorus of "Teen Spirit." I really love it when songs reinvent, recycle, and reference powerful and influential songs from the past, and borrowing that little grunge snarl gives this track all the more attitude as it shines through fistpunching its way past layers of scuzz and reverb. A keeper for sure.

02. The Cigarettes - The Bore
(Happiness, Glory, and Calmness - ?)
I don't really know that much about this band, and have only been able to find about fifteen tracks of theirs online. I came across them while trolling YouTube, trying to find bands similar to The Nerves or the Rocking Ramrods (I can't remember). From what I can tell, their sound never really stayed the same - the songs on Happiness, Glory, and Calmness sound like an early Gin Blossoms or something, while the other album of theirs I found is a lot more power pop/punk. I'm pretty sure Yuck has listened to this song on repeat. I just love the balance of the overdriven fuzzy guitar and the clean, jangly guitars hidden in the background. And those almost-whispered vocals ("It will be the same again") are perfect. Fuck it, this song is pretty much perfect. Wish I knew more about this band. Any help is greatly appreciated.

03. Yuck - Georgia
(Yuck - Fat Possum, 2011)
This song is just pure pop perfection. Bouncing and jangly, it carries echoes and traces of 90s guitar pop laced with an obsession with the early Slumberland catalogue. Yuck are one of the rising stars of rock n roll, there's no question about it.

04. Mika Miko - I Got A Lot (New New New)
(We Be Xuxa - Post Present Medium, 2009)
Mika Miko got big in L.A. right before I was really old enough to go to the Smell, so getting into them for me has been more of an educational experience, teaching myself the punk rock history of my hometown, which really rose to prominence in the late 70s with Gun Club, Flesh Eaters, and X and reached its peak with the rise of No Age and Mika Miko around 2004-5. I didn't really understand how much Mika Miko meant to L.A. until we played our first show at the Smell in January: on your right as you walk in, there's a giant Misfits reference painted onto the wall ("WHERE EAGLES DARE") and above it a sentiment that I feel perfectly captures what the Smell has meant to the L.A. DIY punk scene over the last ten years or so: "We love you Mika Miko!" While it's great to see Jen Clavin doing well in Cold Cave, I wish Mika Miko was still around - never mind that Jen and I, as I found out one night, both went to the same high school, are from the same area code, and share a feverish love of everything Jeffery Lee Pierce laid his hands on. Mika Miko - all of them - are punk rock goddesses.

05. Youthbitch - Straight to Hell
(No Coast Word + Dreams, 2011)
The Willamette Weekly, Portland's hip local weekly (or whatever), recently expressed hope that Youthbitch will be the next big thing, putting Portland on the map. Never mind that Stevie & Nico, Youthbitch's mainstays, lead singers, and sole songwriters, are both midwest transplants - they are slowly taking over the Portland scene. Oh, they're also both good friends of mine, so maybe I'm a little biased/hopeful. Their entire cassette No Coast (their first release despite causing riots since 2007) is fucking amazing. The production is stellar, the songwriting is top-notch, and the performance is as lively and energetic as tape can capture (nothing beats seeing them live, though). Imagine if The Sonics, The Sex Pistols, and The Nerves had a lovechild and it was raised by Mick Jones. And grew up in the middle of nowhere pissed off in skinny jeans and crushed velvet blazers. Now you're getting the idea. I love every song on their cassette, but Straight to Hell, for some reason, stands out to me.

06. Gin Blossoms - Come On Hard 
(Major Lodge Victory - Hybrid Recordings, 2006)
I hadn't listened to Gin Blossoms until someone made a reference to them in a recent Cloud Nothings record review. I'm a huge fan of Dylan Baldi's stuff, so I figured I should look up Gin Blossoms, if they were at all an influence on him. Turns out the reference was a pretty weak one, and Gin Blossoms can lean a little hard on the alt-country side at times, but "Come On Hard" is a seriously fantastic song. They may not have been a huge influence on Cloud Nothings, but their shadow looms heavily over other 90s revival favorites (Yuck). I'm just a sucker for tight, perfect songwriting, and that's exactly what this song is. And lyrics like "I promise I won't hurt you anymore" are so direct, honest, and, though understated, somewhat magical. It's hard to hear sincerity anymore, but Gin Blossoms serve as a reminder that not everything is ironic.

07. The Plugz - Better Luck
(Better Luck – Fatima, 1981)
The Plugz are another band I found while browsing "related" Youtube videos. I don't know much about this band except that they formed in 1978, are Latino, and are from L.A. This song is just fantastic. Tito Larriva's vocals are amazing, always on the verge of breaking wild, just barely restraining. And I love the lyrics: "When things look closer that's when they're furthest away." I want to hear more bands like this, I'm serious. The ideal mix of everything, I think.

08. Hausu
- She's A Babe (EP - Highfives and Handshakes, 2011)
Hausu is one of those next-big-thing bands. Led by Seattle DIY mainstay Ben Funkhouser, Hausu is made up of four friends of mine here at Reed. Their tunes are amazing, a perfect blend of the gothy pop sensibilities of the Cure and the off-beat attitude of Orange Juice. They've only recorded a few songs and played as many shows, but they've got a 12" EP in the works (coming out in October on High Fives and Handshakes). They're young, they're talented, and they're about to take over. "She's A Babe" is my favorite of the three songs they've released so far, but just barely (early demo "The Haze" and "Weaving Spiders" are both killer as well). I think it's the combination of the lyrical hesitancy and subtle pain of the verses matched with the blasé simplicity of the chorus ("It's so cold in the rain/I won't last till the summer", "She's a babe and there's nothing left to say") that really gets me. That, and the song as catchy as hell.

09. Minks - Juniper (By The Hedge - Captured Tracks, 2011)
By The Hedge took a while to grow on me. I was a huge (bordering on obsessive fan) of their first single "Funeral Song" and was hoping for an album full of instant hits akin to their first two 7"s. But By The Hedge is delicate, careful, and intelligently composed, balanced equally with catchy goth-like pop tunes and songs that dance just this side of meandering experiment. "Juniper" stands out to me because Marisa and I have been trying to figure out how to balance our voices in the new songs we're writing, and "Juniper" is a perfect example of that striking shared middle ground of male/female vocals. It's beautiful.

10. The Nerves - Gimme Some Time
(One Way Ticket - Alive, 2008)
The Nerves are the ultimate power pop band. "Hanging On the Telephone" might be the best song of the 70s. Hell, Blondie covered it (and Blondie fucking rules). But there's something about "Gimme Some Time" that kills me. It's my favorite song of theirs. I can't really think of much else to say. I wish I could write songs like simple and this catchy.

11. Cloud Nothings - Forget You All The Time (Cloud Nothings Carpark, 2011)
I've been a fan of Cloud Nothings since the beginning, when the home-recorded mega-lo-fi
Turning On first started floating around. But like Wavves before him, Cloud Nothings mastermind Dylan Baldi proved that the move from the bedroom to the studio can be beneficial rather than compromising. His first proper LP is a full realization of a finely tuned (and rare) pop sensibility that owes as much to the Clash as it does to Cap'n Jazz. "Forget You All The Time" is the mellow, slow, sad song of the record, but it's also, I think, the highlight. Baldi can write fast, fuck you spit in your face pop songs but "Forget You All The Time" proves too that he's got plenty more in his arsenal than a two-minute scuzz banger. I'm a sucker for pretty songs, and this one is gorgeous.

12. The Soft Moon - When It's Over
(The Soft Moon - Captured Tracks, 2010)
I fucking love The Soft Moon's self-titled debut. It's dark, brooding, goth as fuck, and full of haunted barely-whispered vocals. But it's not all atmosphere: it's feeling, it's depth, and, honestly, it's brilliant songwriting. Not ever good song has to have verse/chorus/verse all hook-laden and relentless. "When It's Over" is a slower, more introspective song than most of the album, and for that alone it stands out, not to mention it's incredibly beautiful in that dark, depressive kind of way.

13. Foxes in Fiction - Fifteen Ativan (Alternate Version)
(Alberto EP - Orchid Tapes, 2011)
Warren Hildebrand has been a close friend and inspiration since the beginning, even co-releasing our first cassette Summertime in Heaven with Mat Cothran of Coma Cinema. A slower, more ambient version of "Fiften Ativan," an elegy to a friend of his who died of an overdose, appeared on his first album Swung From the Branches. This version, which is on his most recent release, the Alberto EP, exposes the melancholic pop sensibilities underlying the song itself. It's sad, it's beautiful, and it's really an elegy in the truest sense of the word, right down to the chanted "Here she comes, here she comes," accompanying the song's fade-out, turning the song from an inward-focused introspective lament of a lost friend to the possibility of memory as eternally recurring, inside and outside of the young, crooning Hildebrand.

14. The Radio Dept - Ewan
(Lesser Matters – XL, 2003)
My friend Justin sent me this song a few months ago to coax me into an appreciation of The Radio Dept., a band which I had sadly neglected up until then. Though Lesser Matters is far more lo-fi and guitar driven than the excellent follow-up, Clinging to a Scheme, there's something about this song that really gets me. It's very much the kind of song I'm always trying to write: catchy and upbeat but melancholic, elegiac, and introspective. "You can feel the sunshine fading."

15. Big Troubles - Bite Yr Tongue
(Worry - Olde English Spelling Bee, 2010)
I don't have much to say about this song except those fuzzy, woozy guitars make me swoon. This is just a really really good fucking song. Their whole album is phenomenal. It might be lo-fi, but you can tell its an aesthetic choice with a purpose or sound in mind rather than just lazy recording. Plus, that chorus! "You know I'm a fool." I love that. It's just dripping with hopeless young love on the brink of fuck-you.

16. Selebrities
- Time (Ladies Man Effect EP - Cascine, 2010)
This song is just so fucking good and so fucking catchy and so fucking New Order, I love the fucking shit out of it. Don't need to say any more.
17. The Lemonheads - Bit Part (It's a Shame About Ray - Atlantic 1992)
Another song Marisa introduced me to (which I've subsequently tried to rip off a million times). Short and perfect, aching and yearning, a broken-hearted man's plea for the slimmest shred of a woman he's loved and lost. I think. One of the best songs from the 90s.

18. Summer Camp - I Want You
(from their forthcoming debut LP)
I know this song just dropped about a week ago (on gorilla vs. bear) but I've listened to it upwards of 20 times a day since them. I'm obsessed. Liz's vocals are unparalleled and she stands out and outshines most if not all of her contemporaries. Never has a song about stalking sounded so romantic, so necessary, so compelling. Not since Sting, at least. There's just something about simple, repeated chorus lyrics that can really make a song pop. It's that repetitive obsessiveness conveyed that, I think, is essential. And those synths! And those drums! I just wanna grab the cute shy girl at the dance that I've been watching conspicuously out of the corner of my eye and kiss her full on the mouth right then and there. Oh and I have a total fanboy crush on Liz Sankey, too.

19. Cocteau Twins - Heaven or Las Vegas (Heaven or Las Vegas – 4AD, 1990)This song is perfect. It's beautiful, luscious, gorgeous; hopeful and hopeless at the same time. Spot on production, incredible vocals, impeccable songwriting. It doesn't really get much better than the Cocteau Twins in general, and "Heaven or Las Vegas" is by far my favorite track of theirs. Fucking hell I miss the 80s.

20. Craft Spells - You Should Close the Door
(Idle Labor - Captured Tracks, 2011)
What can I say about Craft Spells? It really all started with Justin when we first started talking almost a year ago when both of us were unknown and unsigned (he, of course, is now signed to esteemed Brooklyn label Captured Tracks while we, sadly, remained unsigned) about forming a New Order cover band and touring the world. Our friendship aside, I'm a very strong admirer of Justin's incredible pop sensibilities and songwriting abilities, not to mention his freaky wizard-like self-production abilities (
all of Idle Labor, except for a few back-up vocals done by bassist Jack Doyle Smith, was recorded by Justin in his bedroom). "You Should Close the Door" is the ultimate heartache, the final plea of a heartache-ridden man disabused of all notions of true love or intimacy, the ultimate anthem of the lovesick introvert, forever running away, forever shutting himself in. Yet beneath all of it still shines the hope and longing for love, for connection. "This is me in my sorrow," Justin sings, low, uncertain, vulnerable. The last cry to be left alone ends up being a suggestion - "you should close the door" - beneath which is hidden a desperate plea to stay. This is without question one of my favorite songs I've ever heard. It's just too fucking beautiful. It really makes me cry, breaks my heart, and tears me apart.


21. The Chameleons - John, I'm Only Dancing (David Bowie cover)
(Strange Times Free (bonus tracks) – Geffen, 1986)
Kickass band The Chameleons covering David Bowie WHAT THE FUCK! I inherited some 20-odd Chameleons tracks from Marisa (or downloaded them on her recommendation) and discovered weeks later that this Bowie cover was tucked away as a bonus track. Holy shit! I love the original (obviously) but I think I might like this one even more (can I say that? Is that acceptable?!). Takes Bowie's original and gives it that goth tinge that I love so much. I don't know how well-known this track is, but it's gotta rank up there with one of the best covers ever recorded. They just fucking nailed it. Also every time I listen to this version I hear "John, I'm only Danzig," which makes it even more awesome.

1 comment:

  1. more songs from The Cigarettes: