Category Archives: mixtape MONDAYS

My Mixtape Monday – Best of…2005

Continuing our annual tradition, below is a mixtape playlist rounding up the best songs of the year….just not this year. Let’s flashback a decade and relive the excitement (Tom Cruise on Oprah’s couch), pain (Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston getting divorced) and triumph (Carrie Underwood winning American Idol) of 2005 with a playlist put together by me and my buddy Kate!

First Names: Kate & Alex
Twitters: in 2005 there was no Twitter, but you can try to find us on MySpace!
Ages in 2005: 14 & 28

Mixtape Name: Million Dollar Mixtape

Side A – High School Freshman by Kate
1) Breathe (2 AM) by Anna Nalick
It is not 2 a.m. It is not even midnight. It is around 3:30 p.m. and I’ve been out of school for less than an hour. I’m freshly 14 years old, I’m listening to the first half of this song on repeat, and I am in LOVE. Bad love; crazy love; the kind of love that hits you the hardest when even the smallest bra in the juniors’ department leaves little convex pockets of air under your shirt.
The unfortunate blond object of my affection seems to be aware of me in a vague way; that is, we once bumped shoulders in the hallway and he expressed a mumbled realization that a sentient block of carbon was passing on the left.
After I shoved a tortured confession of my feelings into his locker (signed Your <3 Secret <3 Admirer <3), he started dating my neighbor, who was at LEAST a B-cup. Oh, how I wept. Just breathe, Anna sang. Just breathe. I wiped the tears and snot trails off my face and I did my best.
2) Crooked Teeth by Death Cab for Cutie
Ah, indie rock. I remember one of my first encounters with that intoxicatingly twee aesthetic – a girl in my algebra class was wearing a Death Cab for Cutie t-shirt.
She wore it most days, because she was a Cool Girl. She had Cool Dyed Hair and wore Cool Ripped Jeans and smoked Cool Menthol Cigarettes. She had probably never worn a blanket to school or suffered an allergic and very puffy reaction to sparkly gel eyeshadow or staple-gunned her own leg for a paltry $5 in art class, unlike your friend the author. She just hung around listening to music, her pin-straight hair dropped in a perfect geometric slash across her face, and boys hung around listening to her.
After my first run-through of Plans, though, I’d forgotten all about my jealousy. Ben Gibbard KNEW ME. Crooked Teeth was WRITTEN ABOUT ME PERSONALLY. Specifically, it was about the time I almost asked a boy to a dance in middle school but totally didn’t. It was also about my recently deceased dog. It was also, improbably, about the time my mom wouldn’t let me go to Club Zoo Under-21 Night with my friends. There was no doubt about which side I was on. (Uh-huh.)
3) The First Day of My Life by Bright Eyes
Death Cab was, of course, a gateway drug, and it dragged me with inexorable, black-eyelined force toward the pained whine of the patron saint of Sad Boys: Conor Oberst. My God, I loved Bright Eyes. The lyrics! The truth! The beauty! The constant folksy little hammer-ons! Ben Gibbard didn’t know me. Ben Gibbard didn’t know shit. How could I have been so blind? It was Conor, waiting just beyond the horizon holding all the answers in his super-cool guitar-strumming arms, the whole time.
I practiced dropping Bright-Eyes-inspired witticisms here and there, my eyes shielded by cheap off-brand Ray-Bans.. In my mind, I was speeding down California One, beautifully and tragically alone, an open bottle of gin in the passenger’s seat, while a bevy of scorned lovers called my Razr flip phone to no avail. Until then, I decided, I would just keep the door to my room shut so my mom wouldn’t ask me why I spent all my time whispering at my reflection in the mirror.
4) My Doorbell by The White Stripes
If my MySpace page from 2005 still existed, somewhere, by some miracle, in the annals of the Wayback Machine, and you were brave enough to give it a click, you’d be barraged by dozens of photos of Jack White messily embedded in the HTML code. To say I loved the White Stripes would have been an understatement.
When Get Behind Me Satan came out, I practically receded into a singularity. The poppy rhythms of My Doorbell in particular snagged my attention. It was wistful, cheery and just a tad insistent. I imagined Jack and Meg’s tour van breaking down, fortuitously, in front of my parents’ house.
They’d come right up to the porch and I’d ask them in for a cup of tea while Triple-A made its way over. We’d talk, we’d laugh, we’d write Grammy-winning tunes. We’d discuss marriage prospects. It’d be a very eventful 20 minutes. I’m thinking about my doorbell, Jack. When you gonna ring it?
5) Lose Control by Missy Elliott ft. Ciara
The year? 2005. The time? 8:00 p.m. The location? Brittany’s house. The event? A dance party. I was huddled over an iPod in the living room with several other girls as we created the perfect playlist. Remember that Club Zoo underage night I was bitching about earlier? We’d decided to go (gasp) WITHOUT PERMISSION.
“I’m sleeping at Brit’s,” I told my mom cheerfully. “I’m sleeping at Kate’s,” she told her mom. “Whatever,” our moms said. We pulled out the box of club clothes from under our friend Rachel’s bed – she’d methodically been sneaking belly-baring shirts and pleather skirts from her older sister’s closet for months. We were ready. But first, we had to practice our moves. And what better song than Lose Control?
At 14, sexiness was a too-big costume we were trying on out of curiosity, but with a beat like this in the background and sips of deliciously illegal Smirnoff Ice between awkward flailings, we felt almost like adults.
6) Heart in a Cage by The Strokes
There are a lot of reasons that this is my favorite track on First Impressions of Earth, but the fact that it features the f-word was its sticking point for me in the good old days of 2005. I loved the anger boiling behind the recurring guitar riff, and I loved the edge to Julian Casablancas’ voice when he shouted about fighting through the crowd to find someone who wasn’t even there. I, myself, had felt the exact same way when I showed up to Language Arts wearing my cute new blue-striped shirt and my crush was out sick. (A likely story.)
The Strokes made their first appearance in my life during an art class, when the art teacher, who I was also in love with (think of ninth grade me as Tina Belcher with a drinking problem), popped Room On Fire into the CD player. It was transcendent. And, of all the songs on this list, Heart in a Cage is the one that I revisit the most often.
7) Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall
You can say what you want about the long and oft-ridiculed catalogue of catchy bubblegum pop, but this song is everything a radio hit should aspire to be. Listening to it is like knocking back a shot of espresso.
And in 2005, anytime I felt like it was about time to crawl into my grave and wallow around in my despair for a few centuries, I’d pull out my trusty silver iPod and search for KT Tunstall. All worries would dissipate for about two minutes, and I would bop around, feeling light and free and maybe even moderately attractive, which is a rare feat for a 14-year-old girl.
It didn’t matter that I’d embarrassed myself past the point of no return in gym class once again, or that I’d turned in a half-blank algebra test. It didn’t matter that my date for the winter formal had gotten arrested and would no longer be able to escort me. Suddenly I saw — I was everything I wanted to be.
8) John Wayne Gacy, Jr. by Sufjan Stevens
When I was in 6th grade, my friend and I spent days poring over something entitled, as I recall, The Big Book of Serial Killers. We were obsessed. We’d seen lots of horror movies, but this was it; the real thing. These were the real monsters who stalked the world and plucked people just like you and me right out of their lives and dropped them into a nightmare. It was like a car wreck — you’re disturbed, but you just can’t look away.
I’ve always had a passion for the morbid, and with the release of Come On Feel the Illinoise, it intersected squarely with my budding love of soft-voiced indie rockers. I read everything Gacy-related I could get my hands on. I stared at his seemingly innocuous paintings. I tried to put myself in the head of his unfortunate victims; I tried to put myself in my own head. It was all very disturbing, and the last few lines of the song have always stuck with me: “And in my best behavior, I am really just like him. Look beneath the floorboards for the secrets I have hid.”

Side B – First Marriage by Alex
9) Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson
I got married to my first wife* in September 2005. All the pomp and circumstance surrounding that event was enjoyable and exciting at the time, but since things didn’t work out, it’s hard to look back and feel much joy.
Since U Been Gone is a fitting leadoff to my side of the mixtape since its bittersweet sentiment echoes many of my own feelings about that time period. The song also is a significant harbinger of the paradigm shift in mainstream music that’s occurred over the past decade.
The composition incorporates elements of R&B and indie rock, whilst the soaring chorus is pure anthemic pop. Combine that with a knockout vocal performance from an artist promoted via a televised talent show, and you have the recipe for half of the songs that make up the iTunes Top Ten list today.
* I’m now happily married to my second (and hopefully last) wife!
10) King Without a Crown by Matisyahu
It’s been almost exactly ten years since Howard Stern left terrestrial radio and I’m still sad about it. I would listen to it religiously during my morning commutes and would frequently find myself going into work late since I just couldn’t turn the radio off and get out of my car after parking.
Howard’s show aired locally on 93-7 K-Rock in 2005, and I’d usually keep the station on during the ride home since it played a decent mix of alternative rock. One night I heard the live version of King Without a Crown, fell in love with it, and spent the night searching Kazaa Lite for a copy of it.
I’ve always had a soft spot for reggae-ska-rock (which helps explain my love for Sublime), and this song continues to be one of my all-time favorite examples of the genre.
11) Dance, Dance by Fall Out Boy
12) The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide Is Press Coverage by Panic! at the Disco
Two more songs that I discovered via 93-7 and then downloaded illegally. I was a little too old to get enraptured by the emo-punk scene of the early aughts, but these songs burrowed their way into my head and found a permanent place.
13) Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Jack Johnson
Nowadays, Jack Johnson’s brand of easy listening dad-rock is more likely to be referenced in a meme for “Stuff White People Like” than to be lauded as credible music. But I say “F dat!”. I don’t care how much of my hipster cred it costs me, Jack Johnson is awesome.
I first became aware of his music via Rodeo Clowns off of G. Love’s 1999 album Philadelphonic*. Mr. Johnson’s debut Brushfire Fairytales soon followed, and is still one of my favorite albums from the early-00s. After the uneven On & On, he released In Between Dreams in March 2005. From the first song (Better Together) to the last (Constellations), this album perfectly captured the charm of his straightforward songwriting.
To coincide with the plaintive theme of this retrospective, I went with the anguishing love ballad Sitting, Waiting, Wishing. It distinguishes itself from the rest of the album by not shying away from the ugly side of life and ruminating on the resentment associated with moving on from a failed relationship.
* I might as well throw away all of my hipster cred and state for the record that I love G. Love & Special Sauce as well. Do yourself a favor and check out Philadelphonic, as well as their eponymous debut from 1994.
14) Go Crazy (Remix) by Young Jeezy feat. Jay-Z
Every few years, Jay-Z will jump on a remix and remind everyone why he’s the GOAT. Being paired with hot newcomer Young Jeezy and a crazy (no pun intended) Don Cannon beat brought out the best in Jigga with lyrics like:
“See, I’m a hustler’s hope, I’m not his pipe dream.
So when they speak of success, I’m what they might mean.
Attract money, my worst color is light green.
My favorite hue is Jay-z blue.”
15) 1 Thing by Amerie
The beautiful cacophony of horns and drums on this Meters-sampled track are still undeniably catchy to this day.
16) Gold Digger by Kanye West feat. Jamie Foxx
“Now I ain’t sayin’ she a gold digger”…but…actually there isn’t any “but”. Thankfully my ex-wife had a good job so our conscious uncoupling did not entail any financial hardship for moi. Further mollifying the situation was the fact that she was a lawyer and handled all of the associated legal paperwork herself. At far as divorces go, I can’t imagine it going any easier than what I went through. Regardless, I still don’t recommend it if you can help it!
The antagonists of Mr. West’s breakthrough hit are not portrayed as magnanimously as what I described above. Thankfully his disdain is more tongue-in-cheek than outright vitriolic, and his playful delivery is a perfect match for the lively beat.

Liner Notes: Now that we finished up recapping our decade-old favorites, let’s get on to our selections for the top songs of 2015:

Alex – Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins) by Father John Misty, Lean On by Major Lazer and 100 by The Game feat. Drake

Kate – The Ballad of Bull Ramos by The Mountain Goats, Hotline Bling (Drake cover) by Sufjan Stevens, High by the Beach by Lana Del Rey

YouTube Playlist Link: Million Dollar Mixtape

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My Mixtape Christmas – December 25, 2016

First Names: Gingerbread Jinglespice (Kate) and Fudge Twinklelog (Alex)
Twitter: @chromaticjones and @alexanderFIV
Sex: female elf and male elf

Occupation: building toys in Santa’s workshop

Mixtape Name: Merry X-Mix(tape)

Side A by Gingerbread Jinglespice
1) Christmas Isn’t Safe for Animals by of Montreal
Have you ever awoken to the soft snowfall of a late December morning, rolled over in bed and wondered to yourself: is Christmas really safe for animals? Your favorite moderately disturbing indie friend Kevin Barnes is here to answer that age-old question: No. No, it is not.
2) Must Be Santa by Bob Dylan
The New York Times review of Dylan’s joyously raspy holiday album included the timeless line “His version of I’ll Be Home for Christmas makes you want to lock your doors.” That being said, the music video for this soon-to-be classic includes feathered hats, broken glass and Richard Nixon, and you should watch it. Immediately.
3) Holy Shit, It’s Christmas by Deer Tick
There’s something about the holidays that makes us all want to bathe in gasoline and drop a match on ourselves. Or is that just me? This rollicking, rockabilly Deer Tick tune will make you want to pick yourself up and spike your eggnog. Holy shit, indeed.
4) Christmas Unicorn by Sufjan Stevens
Is this a light comical tune? A quick peek over the lid of the void into the mass of despair that makes its nest in every human heart? Or a statement of some political and/or socioeconomic weight? Like many Sufjan songs, it’s all three. Merry Christmas, you capitalist pig.
5) Happy Xmas (War is Over) by John Lennon & Yoko Ono
“So this is Christmas,” John Lennon sneers, “and what have you done?” Ostensibly, this is a tune to express joy and love with a heaping spoonful of anti-war sentiment, but the tone betrays the lyrics. Let’s hope it’s a good one, PAUL.
6) Christmas at the Airport by Nick Lowe
We’ve all been stuck at an airport for longer than we’d like. On the holidays, though, it seems like a particularly cruel fate. Lowe expresses this perfectly with the last line of this demented little tune: “Don’t save me any turkey. I found a burger in a bin.”

Side B by Fudge Twinklelog
7) Carol of the Bells by Shawn Lee’s Ping Pong Orchestra
A funky treatment of the classic four-note ostinato.
8) The Lights and Buzz by Jack’s Mannequin
A sing-along rock song with a nice celebratory vibe.
9) Santa’s Beard by They Might be Giants
The chorus of “I saw my baby wearing Santa’s beard” is impossible to not get stuck in your head.
10) Please Be Patient by Feist
Feist’s beautiful voice belays a cheeky sentiment about being stuck on call waiting in heaven.
11) Auld Lang Syne by Andrew Bird
12) The Christmas Waltz by She & Him
Because hipsters love Christmas too!!!

Liner Notes: Christmas music for those who don’t like Christmas music!

YouTube Playlist Link: Merry X-Mix(tape)

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The Best of Winter Part I…Music

Welcome to the initial installment of a series of posts celebrating the Best of Winter. First up is music. My buddy RJ has selected an eclectic group of songs that capture the mood of a season that’s long on wistfulness and introspection. Enjoy!

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First Name: RJ Kozain
Twitter: @Twenty20k
Sex: Male

Occupation: Musician, writer, occasional on-air host at 91.3 WYEP

Mixtape Name: Why’s It Warm in December?

Side A
1) California Dreamin’ by Bobby Womack
2) Rill Rill by Sleigh Bells
3) Just For Now by Imogen Heap
4) Aberdeen On New Year’s Eve by Jonna Lee
5) Coldest Winter by Kanye West
6) Hidden Place by Bjork

Side B
7) River by Joni Mitchell
8) Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence by Ryuichi Sakamoto
9) Child I Will Hurt You by Crystal Castles
10) XMAS_EVET10 [120][thanathon3 mix] by Aphex Twin
11) Somewhere Only We Know by Lily Allen
12) Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas by Frank Sinatra

Liner Notes: Pittsburgh’s 2015 December has been an interesting one. We’ve been in the 60’s a few times, haven’t seen a spot of snow, and locals walked outside in shorts and flip flops on its warmest day.

Outside of the band name, “Rill Rill” by Sleigh Bells has nothing to do with winter (it’s arguably a summer jam), but its curious placement on my Best of Winter playlist sums up the Western Pennsylvania Holiday Season climate, so there it is.

Bjork’s “Hidden Place” can seem a bit out of place as well, but its micro-beat introversion and longing to seek refuge in the warmth of a lover recalls a stretched metaphor for winter, and I’ve also always thought of the choir in the song to be a sonic equivalent to a cold wind.

Woven in and out of these songs are themes of winter blues and holiday celebration. “Just For Now” by Imogen Heap perfectly captures both sides of the spectrum, lyrically discussing tense holiday dinners over a fluffy beat. Kanye West’s “Coldest Winter” is a soul wrenching goodbye to his mother and ex-girlfriend and balances in complete opposition with Aphex Twin’s quirky “XMAS_EVET10 [120[thanathon3 mix].”

What’s winter without dreaming about California while you’re waiting for the roads to clear of snow or wishing you had a river (Pittsburgh has three of them, you know) to skate away on?

Whether the themes of winter are as clear as a reference to Christmas or as elusive as the Crystal Castles song, this Best of Winter playlist has a mood for every occasion. Bundle up, grab your hot chocolate, and let this best of guide you through the winter season’s ups and downs.

Spotify Playlist Link: Why’s It Warm in December?

YouTube Playlist Link: Why’s It Warm in December?

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My Mixtape Monday – 2015 Rewind

Below is a recap of the forty-one original mixtapes that were posted in 2015. Please enjoy checking them all out!!! #MixtapeMondaysRewind

Can you please play something that doesn’t sound like the Cure by Carla (@carlamilo)

Ruby’s Indie Baker’s Dozen by Ruby (@rubyjnkie)

I’m Already Over This Can It Be Summer Now? by Jennifer (@jl_jarrell)

Typical Monday (Emotions) by Deitrick (@deifrankone)

Untitled by Terri (@freshgratedparm)

Untitled (Somebody’s Getting Pregnant…) by me (@alexanderFIV)

Movement by Adam (@AdamWHermann)

Sing it With Me! by Deanna (@wesadeanna)

The Get Movin’ Mix by Rachel (@YelpPittsburgh)

“Brace Yourself as the Beat Hits Ya (Explicit)” by Jackie (@Jvesci)

I Can See The Sun by Chris (@chance_second)

Average Day at Work Mix by James (@pghtacotruck)

What’s In A Name Anyway? By Kerriann (@lucydrigby)

#WomanCrushWednesday for #MixtapeMonday by Shannon (@shannonplush)

The Ultimate Walk-up Mix by Jenn (@jennstrang)

12 Good Songs by Joe (@CoffeeAndPuns)

Caught in the Moment by Rachel (@RachelBro_ski)

I’m not training to be skinny. I’m training to be a badass. by Beth (@bethquevli)

The Stars Tell of Spring Returning by Chelsea (@chelseancummins)

A Millennial Lindy Hops into the ‘90s by Marissa (@marissaburdett)

Who and What I Love by Jaci (@thejacim)

Untitled by Barb (@thebitchdesk)

Bartender, Can you Make Me Something Fruity? by RJ (@Twenty20k)

Car Songs 2015 by Dawn (@redpenmamapgh)

The Education of Miss Dana Bee by Dana Bee (@toastismyjam/@yay_toast)

Long Days, Hot Nights by Giulia (@miss_donato)

What’s New to me and What I Can’t Live Without by Bree (@Librarian_Bree)

On the side by Amanda (@spots87)

Moon Moods by Matt (@althistories)

Kate’s Mix by Kate (@mikybiky42)

Best of Kanye Guest Spots by me (@alexanderFIV)

Work Hard and then Chill Out by Bree (@StarkRavingChic)

Forlorn Fall Feelings with Alex B. (@fakeplsticmango)

Transfer by Kate (@chromaticjones)

Mashup Mixtape Momento Monday by Goob (@Goob)

New York, New York by Natalie (@NatalieCerino)

Forever Favorites by Niki (@nikiwhittle)

Dead can dance (and sing and rap too) with Kate (@chromaticjones)

Remixtape with Natalie (@NatalieCerino)

Untitled by Nick (@SexCpotatoes)

Kickin it with KU by Kards Unlimited (@Kardsunlimited)

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My Mixtape Monday – December 7, 2015

First Name: Kards Unlimited
Twitter: @KardsUnlimited
Sex: We are a wonderful mix of all genders/identities
Age: 25-50!

Occupation: Being awesome, sellin’ cards and gifts, keepin’ it real

Mixtape Name: Kickin’ it with KU

Side A

1) I’m a Girl Watcher by The O’Kaysions
Un-subtly creeepy, but fun!
2) Rebel Rebel by David Bowie
David BOWIE! We’re obsessed with him!
3) Prologue (The Sorcerer’s Stone soundtrack) by John Williams
Harry Potter brings all the feels.
4) Ramble On by Led Zeppelin
This song mentions Lord of the Rings!
5) You Ain’t Nothin’ but a Hound Dog by Elvis Presley
We love Elvis! You ain’t never caught a rabbit and you ain’t no friend of mine.
6) Dominick the Donkey by Lou Monte
Certain employees favorite Christmas song!
7) Hit Me Baby One More Time by Britney Spears
The 90’s are alive in our hearts, always.

Side B
8) 4 Simple Words by Frank Turner
Frank Turner is awesome!
9) Funny Valentine by Frank Sinatra
We’re everyone’s funny valentine.
10) Baby. It’s Cold Outside by Dean Martin
Arguably offensive, but irresistibly catchy.
11) We Built This City on Rock ‘n’ Roll by Starship
WE BUILT THIS CITY!
12) Ghostbusters by Ray Parker, Jr.
WHO YOU GONNA CALL? Try not to sing along.
13) All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey
Seriously one of the best Christmas songs ever.
14) Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Soundtrack by Dr. Horrible
We couldn’t pick just one!

YouTube Playlist Link: Kickin’ it with KU

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My Mixtape Monday – November 30, 2015

First Name: Nick
Twitter: @SexCpotatoes
Sex: Male
Age: 34
Measurements: Just Kidding

Occupation: Sponge Mixer at a large commercial bakery

Mixtape Name: Untitled

Side A
1) Winter by Lail Arad
2) Sterilize by Drag The River
3) Dr. Frank/Jill by Mr T Experience
4) Good Old Girl by Marian Call
5) Dr. Bernice by Cracker
6) Going To Marrakesh by The Extra Glenns

Side B
7) Raindrops and Diamonds by Kingbenny
8) Student Loans Prologue & Student Loans by Pro Audio
9) National Disgrace by Atmosphere
10) Hell Yes by Alkaline Trio
11) Wine In A Box by Black Cat Music
12) Don’t Pray On Me (Bad Religion Cover) by William Elliot Whitmore
13) I’ll Get There by All

Liner Notes: Good morning, people at my auditory mercy,

To try to make a playlist that explains ME would be an exercise in futility, a slipshod dissertation on the duality of man, and a sonic disaster of epic proportions. Plus, can anyone ever truly explain themselves? So instead, enjoy this eclectic bunch of hand-picked tunes that only somewhat flow well into each other, with some rationalizations thrown together about them masquerading as a blog post.

The reason I picked Lail Arad’s Winter to start off with is because it is a great song, and the lyrics are perfect for this time of year as The Time Change has just had its wicked way with us. Also, people don’t like to be alone during the approaching holidays, and they like to stay warm and spread disease.

Drag The River is one of my favorite bands and Sterilize is one of their tracks that just kind of stands out as different from all the rest, with cryptic lyrics and moaning guitars throughout, it asserts that there are hidden depths to plumb in the most mundane of playlists. Check out Amazing G., Death of the life of the party, and the punk songs they covered like All-In-All which works really great as a slower country-like song.

I love The Mr T Experience, all those songs about heartbreak and/or standing together against the world, “A sex-alliance against society” as Dr. Frank put it in his book King Dork (“High School is the penalty for transgressions yet to be specified.”) and in King Dork Approximately, the sequel. I highly recommend everyone read them both, you’re in for a hell of a treat. I also recently bought the live-track album ‘The Way It Sounds Like‘ and it’s on semi-permanent repeat right now for my on-the-way-to-work listening.

What can I say about everybody’s favourite Alaskan, Marian Call? I have all her songs, the album ‘Got To Fly‘ is a great introduction to her stylings and has all sorts of Battlestar Galactica (Good Old Girl) and Firefly (It’s good to have Jayne on your Side)-inspired songs. There’s also a really good Thanksgiving Vs Christmas special I’ve been listening to that’s seasonally appropriate and fun (link here).

Also, don’t put Christmas In L.A. on the holiday shuffle list unless it’s an adult party. Not that kind of adult party.

The Extra Glenns (Also see The Extra Lens) is a Mountain Goats side project (I could have seriously done an all-MG playlist deeper than whaleshit for this thing). John Darnielle, like Dr. Frank, has been writing, and I must say this lyricist-cum-author shtick is one of the best ideas ever invented in the history of mammal-kind. Everyone should read Wolf In White Van. Also, his latest album is Old-School Professional Wrestling Themed/Inspired. Amazing stuff. Plus, at in the abstract, who doesn’t want a love that refuses to die?

Ah, Bad Religion, the cover album Germs of Perfection is pretty great, and while the anti-Christian message is in full effect on Don’t Pray On Me, you have to love that most brilliant of lines — I mean seriously, you can literally shut down and shit all over just about any Conservative argument ever just by saying — “Everybody’s equal, JUST DON’T MEASURE IT.” Try it at Thanksgiving, if any of the nut-bar relatives try to talk politics.

Finally, All. NO ALL! Worst name for a band ever, try searching ALL on the internet without prefacing it with ‘The Descendents’ and you’ll never find anything by them (on any music service either). I really see this as a hopeful song, and I hope everyone remembers that Christmas is in the dead of summer in the southern hemisphere (like Australia). Their Santa goes surfing in shorts.

Anything not explicitly mentioned above is included just because it’s a good song. I tried to fit in songs and artists that would be new and hopefully interesting to listeners. You can find more than a few gems on the Netlabels Internet Archive section.

Thanks for listening, and thank you Alex for having me. (Not that way.) -SexC

YouTube Playlist Link: Untitled

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My Mixtape Monday – Hip-Hop Remixes

Originally, a remix was literally just that – a re-leveling (or re-mix) of the components of a recording intended to improve the fidelity or highlight certain frequency ranges. Then disco exploded in the late seventies and new mixes of popular songs were created to increase dance-ability with extended instrumental breaks and vocal solos.

Hip-hop took this concept one step further. The term began to encapsulate everything from fresh lyrics, the addition of guest artists to completely new instrumental tracks. My rap-loving buddy Natalie (@NatalieCerino) and I complied some of our most favorite hip-hop remixes below, and we hope that you enjoy playing them at a high volume preferably in a residential area.

Mixtape Name: Remixtape

Side A – Natalie’s Joints

1) I Shot Ya (Remix) by LL Cool J feat. Prodigy, Keith Murray, Fat Joe and Foxy Brown
Before LL Cool J was playing a hunky field agent on CSI, he produced I Shot Ya, one of the most recognizable beats in hip-hop. Then added some friends for good measure in the remix.
2) In Da Club (Woody’s Produce Remix) by 50 Cent
The 2013 remix that brought the 2003 original back. The remix that might be better than the original.
3) Million by Tink
The classic Aaliyah jam, remixed by Timbaland, with lyrics by up-and-comer Tink. Get to know this song (and her).
4) Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang (Metic’s Summertime Bootleg) by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg
You can almost feel the California weather when you hear it.
5) Empire State Of Mind (Pretty Lights Remix) by Jay-Z and Notorious B.I.G. Take New York’s two biggest hip-hop artists and mix two of their biggest hits about New York in a song.. about New York. So meta. (ICYMI: Pretty Lights mixes music of every genre. Most of it is really fun.)
6) Pass The Courvoisier (Part II) by Busta Rhymes, P. Diddy and Pharrell
The remix was so much bigger (and better) than the original that you can only find the original in a YouTube vortex now.
7) Lean Back (Remix) by Fat Joe feat. Lil Jon, Eminem, Mase, Remy Martin
“Stop! It’s the muthaf*ckin’ remix!”
8) Unfoolish (Foolish Remix) by Ashanti feat. Notorious B.I.G. Ashanti’s Foolish was already a sample of B.I.G.’s One More Chance; this one simply adds him in for the perfect remix.

Side A Bonus Track: Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly
No rap on this track, but let’s be honest: this is the ultimate remix. So remixy that ‘remix’ is right there in the hook to remind you.

Side B – Alex’s Jams
9) Shut ‘Em Down (Pete Rock Remix) by Public Enemy
Soul Brother #1 lends his unparalleled jazzy vibe to this PE classic.
10) Next Level (Nyte Time Mix) by Showbiz and AG
DJ Premier’s remix is a rather straightforward loop of Maynard Ferguson’s soothing Mister Mellow posited over a simple drum pattern. Though far from fancy, few songs encapsulate the jazzy-yet-gritty aesthetic of East Coast hip-hop as much as this joint.
11) The Things That You Do (Bad Boy Remix) by Gina Thompson feat. Missy Elliott
More proof that sampling Bob James’s “Take Me to the Mardi Gras” is never not a good idea.
12) Drivin’ Down the Block (El-P Remix) by Kidz In The Hall feat. El-P
Whereas a Premo track embodies the Golden Era of 90’s boom-bap, El-P’s music evokes the dystopian cyberpunk future pictured in Blade Runner and The Matrix. A driving funk groove anchors an otherwise cacophonous affair of turgid sirens and electro-stabs and provides a nice connecting thread to the laidback swag of the Kidz In The Hall.
13) Kawl Me (90’s Remix) by Joell Ortiz feat. Novel
The pastiche of classic beats (’93 ‘Til Infinity, T.R.O.Y., Party and Bullsh*t) stitched together by Static Selector marry perfectly with Joell Ortiz’s throwback tale of teenage love.
14) Not Tonight (Ladies Night Remix) by Lil’ Kim feat. Angie Martinez, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, Da Brat and Missy Elliot
Female emcees are all-too often overlooked in hip-hip. This posse cut showcases four leading ladies at the peak of their powers (Lil’ Kim, Missy, Da Brat and Left Eye), along with a few lines from popular radio personality Angie Martinez thrown in for good measure.
15) Let Nas Down (Remix) by J. Cole feat. Nas
Quick synopsis: Nas made some comments criticizing J. Cole’s efforts at putting out “radio records” in lieu of more conscious fair. This prompted Cole to pen an apology in song form to his hip-hop idol (as denoted in the title “Let Nas Down”). Nas then jumped onto the instrumental to clarify his comments with some words of solidarity to Cole, and along with that, he basically sums up his twenty-year career in the rap game in a verse that’s demonstrates rap at its highest level of storytelling artistry. It’s basically Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in hip-hop form.
16) Get It Together (A.B.A. Remix) by The Beastie Boys feat. Q-Tip
This Ill Communication standout is funked-up by replacing the original’s more subdued production with a classic Average White Band sample.

Bonus Side B track: Pink Matter (Remix) by Frank Ocean feat. Outkast
Big Boi jumped on this joint after the fact and re-demonstrated just how perfect his and Andre’s contrasting styles sound together.

Liner Notes: Hot and fresh out the kitchen!

YouTube Playlist Link: Remixtape

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My Mixtape Monday – Halloween 2015

Welcome to our third-annual Halloween-themed mixtape. If you’re not familiar with the past two “terrifyingly awesome” playlists, I highly recommend that you load them into your Spotify, put some headphones on, and wander deep into the woods alone for a listening session (2013 and 2014 links). I promise that the experience will be almost as disturbing as watching an episode of “19 Kids and Counting”.

This year’s mixtape highlights some seriously lively tunes from some very deceased performers. Helping me out on this one is my buddy Kate, who loves music and all things macabre. Now please enjoy these tunes and remember to never invite a vampire into your house….unless he’s carrying buffalo chicken dip.

First Name: Zombie Kate & Zombie Alex
Twitter: @chromaticjones & @alexanderFIV
Sex: only in graveyards underneath a full moon…
Age: undead

Occupation: misanthropic lycanthropes…

Mixtape Name: dead can dance (and sing and rap too)

Side A
1) Mood Indigo by Dinah Washington (Barbiturate OD, 1963)
“When I get that mood indigo, I could lay me down and die.”
One cold December morning, jazz crooner Dinah Washington’s seventh husband tried to shake her awake to no avail. She had died in the night, the casualty of a lethal mix of downers. Her take on Mood Indigo swells and rises like a swan song for her troubled life.
2) Seabreeze by Frankie Lymon (Heroin OD, 1968)
“When you find peace of mind, you won’t want to leave.”
Frankie Lymon was a star at 13 and a burnout at 25. In 1968, he was approached by Harlem-based Roulette Records for another chance. The night before the session, he scored some heroin and died on his grandmother’s floor. Seabreeze, which takes the listener drifting through an eerie utopia, is the last song he recorded.
3) Dandy in the Underworld by Marc Bolan of T. Rex (Car crash, 1977)
“Change is a monster and changing is hard, but he’ll freeze away his summers in his underground yard.”
After rising to fame at the helm of legendary psych-rock group T. Rex, Bolan’s career — and life — came to an abrupt halt when his girlfriend accidentally drove the couple into a sycamore tree in Southwest London. Dandy in the Underworld is a waltzing glam-rock masterpiece that celebrates death and the possibility of what comes after.
4) In a Station by Richard Manuel of The Band (Suicide, 1986)
Once upon a time, they used me, indeed. Tomorrow never came.”
After the death of his mentor Albert Grossman and the slow slipping of The Band’s hold on the world of rock composition, Manuel turned back to alcohol and cocaine. Not long after, he hanged himself in an Orlando hotel room. In a Station, first recorded at Big Pink in Saugerties, NY, was written by Manuel and sheds some haunting light on his struggle with depression.
5) It All Dies Anyway by Mia Zapata of The Gits (Murdered, 1993)
“Is death the only way to get attention?”
Seattle punk rocker Zapata’s love of music may have been the death of her. After leaving a bar one night, she put on her headphones and tuned the world out with her Walkman. Unfortunately, this prevented her from hearing her killer approach. It All Dies Anyway asks a question that is particularly pertinent after the fact; would her band, The Gits, have risen to notoriety without her violent death?
6) My Ride’s Here by Warren Zevon (Mesothelioma, 2003)
I was staying at the Marriott with Jesus and John Wayne. I was waiting for a chariot. They were waiting for a train.”
On his last Letterman appearance before his death, Zevon admitted, “I might have made a tactical error in not going to a physician for twenty years.” After a lifetime of vices, the session-musician-turned-solo-artist was paying for his sins. He kept his sense of humor about it, though, as evidenced by the playful lyrics in My Ride’s Here.

Side B
7) What’s Beef by The Notorious B.I.G. (Drive-by shooting, 1997)
“What’s beef? Beef is when you need 2 Gats to go to sleep.”
The “Rap Alfred Hitchcock” presciently details the perils and paranoia associated with dealing with one’s enemies on this Hitmen-produced track. Biggie met his violent end soon after this song was recorded and passed away just two weeks prior to it being released along with his seminal sophomore album Life After Death.
8) Hail Mary by Makaveli (Drive-by shooting, 1996)
“When they turn out the lights, I’ll be there in the dark. Thuggin’ eternal through my heart.”
Similar to Big, 2Pac foreshadowed his own violent death in enough songs to fill up their own playlist. Hail Mary earns its spot here due to Pac’s murderous flow and the religiously infectious chorus of “Come with me, Hail Mary. Run quick speed. What do we have now? Should we ride or die? Die die die die die die.”
9) Letha Brainz Blo by Heltah Skeltah (Sean Price – Unknown, 2015)
“Might lose his life, cause I’m trife in the night.”
The combination of an eerie orchestral loop and Ruck’s repeated refrain of “let the madness begin” makes this a must-add to any grisly hip-hop mix.
10) Tres Leches (Triboro Trilogy) by Big Punisher feat. Prodigy and Inspector Deck (Big Pun – Heart attack, 2000)
“Remember Pun, I snatched away the moon and blew away the sun.”
I skipped straight to track 21 as soon as I ripped the plastic off of the Capital Punishment CD back in 1998. Not only was Big Pun joined on this joint by two of the East Coast’s top lyricists at that time, but they were also spittin’ over a filthy track by the RZArector himself. The scratched-Rakim hook was also the perfect complement to the menacing soundscape – “Wake you up and as I stare in your face you seem stunned…”
11) All 4 Tha Cash by Gang Starr (Guru – Heart attack, 2010)
“Don’t wanna end up like the last man”
Guru delivers a depressing tale of a botched robbery over what just may be the grimiest Primo beat ever.
12) Transitions by The Beastie Boys (MCA – Cancer, 2012)
MCA’s soulful bass work on this Ill Communication-instrumental can make even the dead nod their head.

Liner Notes: R.I.P.

YouTube Playlist Link: dead can dance (and sing and rap too)

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My Mixtape Monday – October 19, 2015

First Name: Niki
Twitter: @nikiwhittle
Sex: Female
Age: 35

Occupation: Personal style consultant (nikiwhittle.com) textile designer, style blogger (stylestudsandlace.com).

Mixtape Name: Forever Favorites

Side A
1) No Rain by Blind Melon
2) I’m Just a Girl by No Doubt
3) The Mob Goes Wild by Clutch
4) Kill Your Own by Hundred Reasons
5) Alive by Pearl Jam
6) Cosmic Love by Florence and the Machine

Side B
7) Paranoid by Black Sabbath
8) Blessed Hell Ride by Black Label Society
9) Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac
10) Kashmir by Led Zeppelin
11) Stone the Crows by Down
12) Crown Of Thorns by Mother Love Bone

Liner Notes: My husband and I have quite a lot of CD’s between us and it’s quite an eclectic mix too (James Brown, Ugly Duckling, Tori Amos, Clutch, Talvin Singh, Down, Fleetwood Mac kind of eclectic) so I’ll often struggle to choose what to listen to.

I’ll walk up to the shelves where they’re stacked and start reading through the albums but despite my best efforts, 80% of the time I’ll just give up and grab one of the CD’s from the pile on the floor – the ones we listen to the most. My forever favorites.

I was trying to think what it was about these tracks that I love so much, and then I realized that each one carry’s a memory with it. I made the best of friends through a shared love of music, music is what brought me and my husband together and we listen to it all the time wherever we are in the world so most of my memories are linked to a particular album.

These tracks carry my happiest memories, they move me in some way, they make me dance, they make me happy and sometimes they make me cry. They will forever be my favorites and I could listen to them over and over again.

YouTube Playlist Link: Forever Favorites

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My Mixtape Monday – October 12, 2015

First Name: Natalie
Twitter: @NatalieCerino
Sex: Female
Age: 32

Occupation: Unknown

Mixtape Name: New York, New York

Side A: Where Are They Now
1) Shook Ones Pt. II by Mobb Deep
2) Flava in Your Ear (Remix) by Craig Mack feat. Notorious B.I.G., Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J
3) New York by Ja Rule ft. Fat Joe and Jadakiss
4) Deja Vu by Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz
5) I’ll Be by Foxy Brown ft. Jay-Z
6) Crush On You by Lil’ Kim ft. Lil’ Cease

Side B: Heavy Hitters
7) Made You Look by Nas
8) Get By by Talib Kweli
9) I’m Not A Player by Big Pun (not to be confused with Still Not A Player, which is fun, but this is the better song)
10) Ms. Fat Booty by Mos Def
11) C.R.E.A.M. by Wu-Tang Clan
12) All About the Benjamins by Puff Daddy ft. Lil’ Kim, The LOX, Notorious B.I.G.

Liner Notes: I grew up in the southernmost part of Connecticut, in a semi-urban area on the water that doubled as a suburb of New York City—a fact that we who lived there had a chip on our shoulders about.

My friends and I started middle school in 1995, undoubtedly the time when hip-hop hit its stride, and we started listening to it as if doing so was some act of rebellion inherent to it. It was altogether different from our parents’ ‘rebellious’ music, or the music we listened to in our younger years, and that severance between generations and time is what made it so appealing.

Of course, the ‘fun’ part of New York’s hip-hop culture had its own appeal – the parties, the cars, the endless flow of money – but we were far removed from the neighborhoods and experiences that culture sprang from.

WQHT in New York, or Hot 97– where Funkmaster Flex, DJ Clue, and Wendy Williams, among others, got their start – was the only local radio station that played hip-hop all day. It blared over the airwaves from The City through shitty speakers, in beat up cars we financed with birthday money and part-time jobs. It was the station back then, and we’d sit in those cars late, late at night – doing things we shouldn’t have, no doubt – listening to rap battles between unknown artists who might next year become millionaires.

We didn’t know it then, but we grew up during a special era of music that has not been recreated or duplicated since. It’s a lot like adolescence in that we didn’t know how good we had it, until we were adults and it was already over.

Noticeably missing from this list: tracks from Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z, who should both invariably make it, but there’s simply too many to mention. Plus, who hasn’t been in a bar on a recent Friday night and heard one (or both) of them come on the jukebox? Their music is still a part of what we listen to and very much so (though they both had a hand in producing many of these tracks and cameo in a few of them).

This mixtape is a tribute to that era, that City, the people who experienced it and made music about it. It was music we could relate to, but couldn’t, in many ways, but unreservedly immersed ourselves in anyway. I still do.

YouTube Playlist link: New York, New York

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