Kara's Mix - Winter 2004

So I made this mix CD for my friend Kara for Christmas, but as I was testing it out in the car on the way to her house last night (while I had some long overdue stop-n-go fun with the 405 freeway), I realized that it's a pretty good mix for being hurriedly thrown together at the last minute. Kara currently enjoys the latest releases from Snow Patrol and the Killers, and she's also a big fan of Muse and Brand New, so each selection on the mix was made with her influences in mind.

1. "Fortress" Pinback

*I once thought Pinback was boring. This song kind of reverses that trend by being fascinating. Overlapping nonsensical vocals, jolly and jumpy feel to the music. "Stop...it's too late. I'm feeling frustrated." The only song I've known to wuss out in the middle and be totally okay with it.

2. "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" Green Day

*"Do you have the time to listen to me whine...about nothing and everything all at once?" Okay, so Green Day has made some money. But they also rocked against Bush, and the lyrics of American Idiot are full of stellar lines. Those blinded by the name brand should look closer.

3. "Pure Of Heart" Dealership

*Taking the Postal Service trend one step further. Ear candy. Synth-beats with bounce. Whiny wistful Ben Gibbard replaced by a truly feminine indie voice that's not as distracting as Joanna Newsom's.

4. "The One You Love" Rufus Wainwright

*This fellow has got a beautiful voice. The way he keeps crooning along with the ebbs and flows of the music, connecting the bridge to the chorus to the verse...

5. "Killamangiro" Babyshambles

*So Pete Doherty is probably still doing heroin and the Libertines are probably never going to get back together, but it's kind of comforting to know, without overtly wishing Doherty ill will in his addiction, that struggles with drugs and inner demons still produce songs like "Needle in the Hay," "Cold Turkey," "Heroin," and this number.

6. "Rebellion (Lies)" The Arcade Fire

*Finally! Indie rock is getting original! It had to rip off every decade along the way, but it has finally arrived. One of two things I thought would never happen in music this year (the other is Modest Mouse becoming a household name and people coming up to me and saying, "Didn't you used to like them back in college?")

7. "Girl And The Sea" The Presets

*This song is a cleansing, soothing breath of fresh air. Good to listen to while hungover or frustrated.

8. "Lover I Don't Have To Love" Bright Eyes

*It's all about placement. Immediately follow a chill, dance-y song with one so convoluted with mixed-up musings and overblown emotions that you need a good, hard, silent look in the mirror to sort it all out. Good thing the next track is a pretentious, mindless sing-along rocker.

9. "Misfit - Remix" Elefant

*Pretentious, mindless sing-along rocker.

10. "It wasn't the same somehow" Casiotone for the Painfully Alone

*Bruce Springsteen has a power of empathy that few musicians can match. He is the master at really articulating a single feeling in a song so well that you think to yourself (regardless of whether it's actually true), "wow, it really DOES feel that good to get off work ("Out in the Street")," or, "wow, the best days of my life really WERE in high school ("Glory Days")." I'm not saying Casiotone is anywhere near Boss territory, but in this song he uses his pounding synth-drum machine, heavy, slightly churchy organ, and that indie rock nerd voice of his to really articulate the feeling of what it's like to fall out of love with someone.

11. "Make Right With You" Luke Temple

*If you didn't already know, I'm kind of indifferent to God. But I respect his power over others. When this little acoustic power ballad refers quietly to diety, I can't help but believe in the faith that friends and family around me so unquestioningly embrace. This song is a little too close to home for me, with a reference to a car flipping sideways...intensely thought-provoking lyrics, a bit too coincidental, but beautiful all the same. "Old NY" is another good Temple song for those of you who love the Big Apple too much to actually live there.

12. "Retour a Vega" The Stills

*This song is in French. The lyrics could be shit and I wouldn't care. That's not just the best part about it. It's actually better than all the songs on their latest US release, with the possible exception of "Lola Stars and Stripes."

13. "Isn't the Sun" Cordalene

*Pure indie guilty pleasure. I put this on for Kara. Stinks of emo poster child potential. I love it, but I can see how Cordalene could become as household as Brand New, Death Cab, Jimmy Eat World, and (gasp) Modest Mouse. Please send note to the producers of the OC.

14. "May Banners" Tree Wave

*See #7

15. "Unintentional Tape Manipulations" Earlimart

*Unintentionally manipulating! Not to mention amazing! This song fucking rules, just listen to it! See post on blog entitled "Be Careful, Or Else," a couple paragraphs down, for more raves.

16. "Twilight" Elliott Smith

*"You don't deserve to be lonely. But those drugs you got won't make you feel better. Soon you'll find it's the only part of your life you're keeping together." Just listen to these lyrics sting. The WAY this man has with words. God damn.

17. "Looked Around" Frank Jordan

*The only possible follow-up to Elliot. A wayward rocker that winds through a maze going anywhere but here, dwelling on reactions rather than reflections.

18. "Slow Hands (Britt Daniel Remix)" Interpol

*Who knew Spoon frontman Britt Daniel (the man who brought us "Fitted Shirt" and other classics) could construct a remix that gives a fresh, sorely-needed makeover to the best indie radio hit to close out 2004? Undress the guitars off "Slow Hands," and you can really celebrate the independently thinking bass line and the bored yet intensely romanticized lyrics like never before. I feel so lucky to hear it naked like this, I almost forgive Britt Daniel for failing to release the next Spoon album in my lifetime.

19. "If It's Not With You" Phoenix

*Appreciating music like Phoenix is really fun. I don't like Sinatra, Bennett, or even Jimmy Buffet, but I enjoy Phoenix. That voice is like butter, lyrics borderline cheesy but refreshingly tasteful, not going overboard but not restraining, either.

20. "Everybody's Gotta Live" Love

*"I had a dream the other night, baby...I dreamt that I was all alone...but when I woke up I took a look around myself, and I was surrounded by 50 million strong." Arthur Lee has a great, powerful voice that could've been paired with Jimi Hendrix's musical genius...think about it. Buddy Miles on "Changes" (from Band of Gypsys) was pretty amazing...but think about Arthur Lee in his place. Wow.


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