Wait a minute? Isn’t it supposed to be Vol. II? Well, I did create that disc, but it wasn’t as cool as my more recently created Vol. III. And today, with the release of Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs, all songs on Volume III are now officially available.
I am a strong believer of balance on a mix tape/disc/playlist or what have you. You can’t just slap together the hippest or most popular tracks of the day and call that a mix. It has to have flow, and it’s not just in the songs you pick, but in how you arrange them. Another thing you have to account for is the technical sound quality when you are mixing tracks from an array of sources, across many years of mastering techniques. CDs have simply grown louder over the years.
That said here is the ideal track list for this compilation, which spans the late 60s to today:
Pete and the Pirates – Jennifer
Broken Social Scene – Texico Bitches
The Clean – Drawing to a Hole
Stereolab – Jenny Ondioline (single edit)
Radiohead – Bodysnatchers
Broadcast and the Focus Group – How Do You Get Along Sir?
Mercury Rev – Senses On Fire
Pulp – Like A Friend
Broadcast and the Focus Group – The Be Colony
The Jesus and Mary Chain (Featuring Hope Sandoval) – Sometimes Always
Serge Gainsbourg with Brigitte Bardot – Bonnie and Clyde
Portishead – The Rip
The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
Charlotte Gainsbourg with Beck – Heaven Can Wait
Grizzly Bear – Fix It
Arcade Fire – Ready To Start
Fanfarlo – Luna
Trans Am – Television Eyes
Starflyer 59 – First Heart Attack (Old Album Version)
Stereolab – Narco Martenot
And here is where you can download it all.
Some thoughts on the song order:
When I started this mix, it sprang from where all my mixes come from: catchy songs. The first five tracks definitely fulfill that. But then something magical happened as I continued to arrange the songs. I slipped in a strange, angular piece from Broadcast and the Focus Group, only because of a brief musical bit that appears and slips away before you hardly notice. The din then gives way to the dreamy swell of Mercury Rev’s “Senses On Fire,” which really lifts the compilation to a more interesting realm of music.
Randomness does account for an important springboard to creativity, no matter what you are sculpting. When creating a mix, I begin with that, throwing certain songs I like into a folder and seeing how my computer arranges them. That was the starting point here, but I almost threw out the late sixties era track from Serge Gainsbourg with Brigitte Bardot, “Bonnie and Clyde” because the mix was so weak next to some tracks, it killed the flow, but it sounded just right behind the low 90s-mixed era song– another duet– this one from the Jesus and Mary Chain featuring Hope Sandoval, “Sometimes Always.” That song also appeared behind another Broadcast and the Focus Group track, this time with vocals, “The Be Colony,” which had an appropriate retro vibe and faded quite softly, though suddenly.
The Gainsbourg duet went on to inspire the inclusion of his daughter’s new song featuring Beck. So, indeed, there is a good mix of new songs in here too, some very buzzy like “Bloodbuzz Ohio” from the National and Arcade Fire’s “Ready To Start” (which sounds amazing in the context of their new album as well, as it swells out of the fade out from the opening title track). In this mix, Fanfarlo appears right after the Arcade Fire song because they definitely provided the cure for the three-year wait between Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible and the Suburbs. Then I also chose the obscure single “Fix It” from Grizzly Bear ‘s first full-length. I think in some ways it is a better song than what they have composed recently, some of which has been whored out to sell stuff on TV, including an original new song for Canada’s lottery.
The mix ends with the quiet noise of what sounds like an operating room that closes Starflyer 59’s “First Heart Attack (Old Album Version),” which suddenly cuts to the swooshing layers of more old school Stereolab on “Narco Martenot,” which seems to capture what it might sound like to slip away into the after world.
OK, so I’m proud of this mix, as I am most proud of the musicians who came up with this music, so download the tracks and follow the playlist order. Also, don’t hesitate to follow-up on the appropriate albums where some of these tracks came from. Finally, let me know if the track listing really flows or not.