Friday Mixtape (7.17.15)

Big Huge

(Big Huge @ Shea Stadium 7.9.15)

Throughout the week I keep track of all the new songs I hear and love and every friday I put them all here. Most of these songs are brand new, but sometimes I’ll miss a song from before and finally hear it this week.

New to this week: A new name (now Friday Mixtapes instead of Week In Review) and I’ve learned how to make GIFs!

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Music Video Theater: Smashing Pumpkins – “1979”

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Nostalgia.

That wishful affection for the past in which we’re removed from long enough to choose what we want to remember. We romanticize the few great events and tuck away the few terrible times, and all the so-so in-between moments that make up the majority of our lives are blurred into something vague – If you’re many years out of school and trying to recite your teenage years, you’ll probably reduce an entire set of years to “it was alright”.

Our memories are not so much records of past events but rather self-created mirages that fit into our own interpretations, which change as we get older. When I was 16 and growing up in Indiana, I thought everything was lame and that there was nothing ever to do. But I’m older and about to graduate college, and I already look back at my high school years and think how nice it was when my only responsibility was to get through high school, and I know I will feel the same way for college pretty soon.

Nostalgia then is the kind of memory that’s distorted to the point when we can only see the fragment remains of what we think we miss, and the mundane moments become extraordinary events that we’re sure that, if we had a time machine, we would go back and not take those moments for granted.

Nostalgia is tricky because it makes us believe in a past that might have never existed, but it makes for some great inspiration for music.

The music video for Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979” is all about nostalgia. The video follows a single day of a group of teenagers driving around a city, going to parties, and doing what kids do when they’re restless and have nothing else to do. Nothing about this video is extraordinary, but when you put these memories to music (and what sweet music we have here) you long for those simpler times when you had the freedom and will to tee-pee houses, hook up in showers, and vandalize convenience stores.

Billy Corgan was 12 years old in 1979 growing up in the Chicago suburbs. Though I cannot speak on his behalf on what his childhood was actually like, I’m sure the inspiration for this song and music video came from that every now and then feeling of missing those days giving his home the bird and just hanging out at home with no career and no one to depend on him. But in the video he smirks when he remembers being one of those bored kids. He remembers that growing up wasn’t that fun, but he also knows now that it’s not so bad compared to what follows.

So to me, this music video is an ode to the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia – a wishfulness for something we know was not as special as we want to believe it was.

Oh – and this is just a great fucking song.

 

P.S.

The band makes some great cameos in this video. In addition to the entire band playing in a house show, the convenience store clerk is James Iha, the annoyed neighbor is D’arcy Wretzky, and Jimmy Chamberlin and “Gooch” (the band’s manager) play the policemen.

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Classics In The Making: The Perks of Being a Wallflower Movie Soundtrack

The-Perks-soundtrack

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a popular coming-of-age novel written by Stephen Chbosky in 1999 and is slowly reaching Catcher in the Rye status as an essential tale of the highs and lows of high school. I didn’t read the book, but I did see the 2012 movie adaption starring Emma Watson (which was actually written and directed by Chbosky).

The movie was great, and I – as probably most of us would quietly admit – felt a strong connection with Charlie, a quiet kid who was nice and meant well and liked The Smiths (ok maybe not that) and hated high school and fell in love and had that one teacher you actually liked and all that  jazz. I’ve been told that Chbosky changed a lot of the book’s story for the sake of making the movie more “watchable”, so everything I’m talking about concerns the movie plot.

But the best thing about the movie wasn’t the movie itself — it was the music.

“Over many years, I have collected songs…Some of the songs are popular. Some of them are not known by a whole lot of people. But they are all great in their own way. And since these songs have meant a lot to me, I just wanted you have them as a soundtrack for whatever you need them to be for your life.”  — Chbosky in the album’s linear notes

For a movie dealing with the awkwardness that is our teenage years, the music had to reflect that isolated part of our lives, and Chbosky nailed it with his selection of tunes.

Here’s the album:

1) The Samples – “Could It Be Another Change?”
2) Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come On Eileen”
3) Galaxie 500 – “Tugboat”
4) New Order – “Temptation”
5) The Innocence Mission – “Evensong”
6) The Smiths – “Asleep”
7) Cracker – “Low”
8) Sonic Youth – “Teen Age Riot”
9) XTC – “Dear God”
10) Cocteau Twins – “Pearly-Dewdrops’ Drops”
11) David Bowie – “Heroes”
 

The movie also includes the following:

Simon & Garfunkel – “Scarborough Fair/Canticle”
Procol Harum – “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”
Nick Drake – “Time Of No Reply”
Misfits – “Where Eagles Dare”
Ride – “Vapor Trail”
Suzanne Vega – “Gypsy”
The Moody Blues – “Nights In White Satin”
Smashing Pumpkins – “Daydream”
Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”
 

To save you some time, frustration and money, check out this awesome Spotify playlist for all these songs from the movie.

To Charlie, these songs were sources of comfort and reminders, for better or worse, of life in high school. For any rock and indie loyalist, these songs form a fantastic mixtape of nostalgic songs written before many of us were born.

And there lies the beauty of this soundtrack — it manages to make you miss high school, or at least remember it more fondly. Music has that strange power to make us remember a past memory or emotion, and this soundtrack nails the high school feeling. It reminds you of a great John Hughes soundtrack for a movie he might of made if he were making movies today (and wasn’t so charming as he was cheesy).

Ok, maybe you didn’t grow up loving Smashing Pumpkins or Fleetwood Mac or maybe you were actually popular in high school, why care? Because this is still a killer mixtape of great songs. The bulk of these songs are plucked from the nostalgic late 80s and early 90s but go as far back as the 60s. From classic rock to goth to new wave, the best selections from various genres are represented here for your enjoyment. Because of this album, I’ve started listening to more Nick Drake, Ride, and Suzanne Vega — there’s a new artist waiting for you within this soundtrack.

I’m trying very hard to stay away from a Garden State comparison, though that soundtrack (and maybe movie) is the closest thing my generation has to something that speaks true to our times (even if we mistake clinical depression for modern fears of our early 20s). But if that soundtrack is for our post college years, then The Perks of Being a Wallflower soundtrack should be for our high school years. Because even if you didn’t go to high school in the 90s, these songs speak universally for those four years that everyone remembers.

And if nothing else, maybe you’ll start listening to The Smiths?

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Playlist: 15 Songs For June 2012 (Via Spotify)

It looks like 2012 will be known as the year Rock music officially became the underdog genre again, and I’ve got some tracks to prove it. In addition to newer tunes from Japandroids and The Henry Clay People, I’ve got some old school rock from Guided By Voices, Blur, Smashing Pumpkins, and more. And oh yeah, I threw in a dance song because I could (and because it’s actually a great song).

Here are my 15 songs for June 2012.

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Music Video Theater: Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”

You gotta love the nineties, especially the music videos.

It was during the nineties that music videos seemed to matter the most, and some of MTV’s greatest videos hail from the flannel decade.  Of my favorites of these nineties videos also comes from one of my favorite nineties bands Smashing Pumpkins.  The video shows Billy Corgan as a ice cream man who drives into the desert to paint his truck and…..actually I’m not sure what this video is about.  But it’s still awesome, so you should watch it.

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My Pandora Stations: Moody Atmosphere

I’m introducing a new mini-series called “My Pandora Stations”.  I have multiple customized stations on Pandora that I enjoy, so every now and then I’ll show you the secrets on how to make them, what to expect, and when to use them.

My Station Name: Moody Atmosphere

Made Of: Bon Iver, Smashing Pumpkins, and The National

When I Listen To It: When I need to get a lot of studying done or if I’m reading.  Mostly atmospheric music that lets you focus on other activities.

What To Expect: Moody folky music with some instrumentals every now and then.

Have an important paper to write?  Want to stay in your room with all the lights dimmed and release your inner folky?  Do you have Bon Iver stuck in your head all day?

Well then my Moody Atmosphere station is perfect for you.

I like to listen to this station whenever I want to sit back and let my mind relax or to have something playing while I do homework or if I simply want to enjoy the music.  The songs that usually come up tend to be more on the acoustic and slow side, though I’ll get a popular upbeat song every now and then.  Highly recommended for those long nights/winder days where times moves all so slow, and it’s not all that bad.

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Playlist: (Good) Songs about America

4th of July weekend is upon us!  This is a glorious time of cookouts, fireworks, and great tunes, and I can provide at least one of these. Here are some songs to celebrate (for the most part) our glorious nation that is America.

“American Saturday Night” – Brad Paisley

“American Girl” – Tom Petty

“American Baby” – Dave Matthews Band

“American Pie” – Don McLean

“American Idiot” – Green Day

“North American Scum” – LCD Soundsystem

“Little America” – R.E.M.

“Do Miss America” – Ryan Adams

“America” – Simon & Garfunkel

“Ashes Of American Flags” – Wilco

“Born In The U.S.A.” – Bruce Springsteen

“I’m So Bored With The U.S.A.” – The Clash

“R.O.C.K. In The U.S.A.” – John Mellencamp

“Geek U.S.A.” – Smashing Pumpkins

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Playlist: Songs To Celebrate Graduation

Well today I have graduated from high school.  This is such an eventful time and I always try to find the perfect songs to fit the mood.  Here are some of my favorite songs to celebrate the end, and the beginning, of one of the many stages of life.  I tried to find songs that leaned more towards graduation and moving on, but all these songs on this list are about big changes in life and reflecting on it.

Head Automatica – “Graduation Day”

Green Day – “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)”

Alice Cooper – “School’s Out”

Smashing Pumpkins – “Today”

The Beatles – “In My Life”

John Mayer – “No Such Thing”

Eagle Eye Cherry – “Save Tonight”

Eve 6 – “Here’s To The Night”

Foo Fighters – “Times Like These”

Semisonic – “Closing Time”

Steely Dan – “Reelin In The Years”

Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”

Wilco – “What’s The World Got In Store”

LCD Soundsystem – “All My Friends”

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