In college, my friends and I had a tradition of making each other mixes for every vacation–fall break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, and summer. I still have every single mix my girls made for me, and I treasure them–listening to them not only takes me back to very specific moments in my life, it also draws me closer to each of them, because a Kristin mix sounds like Kristin, and a Liz mix sounds like Liz (and so on).
While we don’t all make mixes for each other anymore, I have carried on this little tradition by making seasonal mixes to share with them and all the new friends I have made since. Spotify has made this infinitely easier (you can subscribe to this mix there!) and has also opened up the wonderful world of mix-making to so many more people. I love finding great new mixes, and listening to what other friends are enjoying.
So this is my mix for Spring 2012, with my “liner notes” detailing how each song found its way onto the mix. I really hope you enjoy it, and find something new to love!
I have already written extensively
about this song, but to reiterate: I love “Festival.” It is a glorious, glorious song that makes me not only excited about the possibilities of music but excited about the reality of heaven! Is there more one could possibly ask of a song? Milano is playing at Beat Kitchen next Saturday, and you should really do your best to be there.
“We Are Young” (feat. Janelle Monae), fun.
Last weekend I got to see fun. live at the Vic, and they were…wait for it…so fun. I am glad I am finally far enough from it that I don’t have to keep describing the show to people because I am tired of having to apologize for all the unintentional “puns.” Fun. seems to be the heir apparent to the anthemic-pop-rock title Freddie Mercury’s death and David Bowie’s “retirement” have left vacant.
“Lost Somewhere,” Tanlines
It happens every year. All fall and winter I obsess over folky singer-songwriters and Americana bluegrass bands, only to trade them all for dancey pop as soon as the flowers start poking their little heads out of the unthawed ground. Tanlines is the PERFECT summer band (as their name would suggest). Case in point: can you listen to this song and NOT picture yourself poolside, sipping a pina colada and laughing while you playfully kick a beach ball back to the children splashing in the water?
“Watching You Watch Him,” Eric Hutchinson
Oh Eric my Eric. The first time I saw him, at Schubas in 2005, there were about 30 people in the room. I stood about ten feet away from him. On Monday he is playing a sold-out show at Lincoln Hall, and his songs have been featured in movies, in commercials, at Target. Here is another example of a love I rediscover every spring.
“In Your Light,” Gotye
After a quirky cover of their song “Somebody That I Used to Know” went viral, Gotye parlayed their buzz into a successful stint on SNL, and now they have the #1 album in the country. “Somebody” is a GREAT song, but it’s also a bit of a downer…not what I was going for with my spring mix. Spring is about sunshine and smiles and new love, right? “In Your Light” proves that their big hit will just be the first of many.
MORE AFTER THE JUMP!
“I’ve Got a Feeling,” The Secret Sisters
I can thank The Hunger Games soundtrack for introducing me to The Secret Sisters (and thankful I am!). They have such an old-school sound, as in, 60s motown girl groups, with a dash of country.
“Stay By My Side,” Good Old War (with Claire and Allison Wadsworth)
Swoon. That is exactly what I would do if a guy ever sang me this song. Harmonies not optional.
“Emmylou,” First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit first gained attention for their YouTube cover of Fleet Foxes–you may have heard of them as “the Swedish girls in the woods.” Their flannel-covered harmonies have carried over into their second wonderful album, and I have been obsessed with this song ever since “The Lion’s Roar” came out in January. The chorus–“I’ll be your Emmylou and I’ll be your June / If you’ll be my Gram and my Jonny too / I’m not asking much of you / just sing little darling, sing with me”–is just about the most simplistically romantic statement I can imagine.
“Annmarie,” Anais Mitchell
Another song I have already written about at length. I saw her perform it last night and it made me feel something so deep inside me it actually hurt.
“Lonesome,” Dr. Dog
Ugh, this song just hits me right in the gut. It’s the groovin’ beat, the call-and-response, the catharsis released by shouting back the refrains, and the memories of getting down to this song when I got to see them live last month (as you are probably perceiving, this list is very informed by the shows I have most recently attended).
“Hold On,” Alabama Shakes
Brittany Howard, the lead singer of Alabama Shakes, is only 22. After you listen to this song, you will understand why that is such a crazy statement. Soul is back, baby, and I could NOT be happier. Sadly, once I finally got to listen to their entire album I was not as impressed as I was with this song. But if they did it once, they can do it again, right?
“I Am Trying to Break Your Heart,” JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound
A few friends have told me they can’t get into this cover version because they love the Wilco original so much. I cannot relate. This song is so radically different from it’s source material that it’s a struggle to remember that it is, in fact, a cover. Whenever I hear this song I picture myself in a snappy suit, standing on stage and just WORKING a stand-up mic at a swanky club.
I cannot put my finger on what it is, exactly, that I like so much about this song. But like it I do. It’s a, dare I say, simple pleasure.
“Calamity Song,” The Decemberists
This song is so similar to the previous song, not only in style but also in title and band name syntax, that I couldn’t resist pairing them. The video for this song is inspired by Infinite Jest, which is what I like best about this song. Obscure, I know.
“To Travels and Trunks,” Hey Marseilles
This song reminds me of strolling through town at dusk on a late-spring night. Strings, accordions, cymbals, tambourines…just lovely.
“This Girl,” Punch Brothers
It is a truth universally acknowledged that Chris Thile is the best mandolin player in the country, if not the world. He left Nickel Creek to do his own thing, and Punch Brothers is the result. It’s moodier, broodier, and even more wonderful and unique. The real attraction of PB is the musical arrangements, but it’s the lyrics of this song that grab me most. He’s begging God to let things work out with this girl–it seems that she won’t date him because he’s not a Christian. But he’d like God to tell her it’s his will that she date him anyway. Which is not something I endorse! But, it makes for a very interesting song. And interesting is a good thing for a song to be.
“Known for Possession,” Hoots & Hellmouth
See if you can follow this–my brother’s bass teacher from middle school played bass in a band called Pilot Round the Sun, which eventually broke up, and many of the members (not my brother’s bass teacher) formed a new band called Hoots & Hellmouth. I love Hoots & Hellmouth. Not only are they from my hometown and (distantly) connected to my PA life, but they rock pretty hard. In a banjo-and-washboard kind of way. Which is, in my opinion, the best way. I saw them live last month and it was an experience I would recommend to absolutely anyone!
I first heard of Churchill via my friend Lindsay, who knew some of the band members in college. As is my unfortunate tendency, I did not expect to like a band made up of “friend of friends”–I need to shed this musical snobbery I seem to have developed unconsciously! Anyway, I was happily surprised when she played me some of their songs! Especially this one! Seriously, every time it comes up in the mix, I have to check and remind myself who it is, because it seems like this band should be much, much bigger than they are.
“I Know There’s an Answer,” The Beach Boys
This selection is borne out of both my love of the the Beach Boys (seriously, one of the best bands of all time) and my love of symmetry. The third song on this mix (“Lost Somewhere” by Tanlines) references this song in its lyrics, so it seemed like a natural conclusion. And how apropos is the final lyric: “I know there’s an answer/ I know now but I have to find it by myself.” Don’t we all.