Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Seeking to Believe

(pic: lisa alisa)

I spent the past weekend snowboarding and drinking whiskey in a cabin in the woods in NH. Snowboarding is a funny sport, because it involves long periods of downtime. Driving to the mountain (or the house the night before) is always a road trip. You generally snowboard during the day, so at night you're relaxing around a table or a fire with your friends (or alone). And you spend a lot of time on chair lifts. These are all prime mixtape listening opportunities, and we here at La Moda strive to service the whole spectrum of your listening needs. The following mix is perfect for that first ride up the lift, first thing in the morning, when only a few people are on the slopes, and the 4 lifts in front of and behind you are empty, and the sun hasn't yet touched the side of the mountain, and the cold air has that extra-clean morning bite, and the snow below you hasn't yet been carved up and snowplowed and it's all perfectly groomed, and the mountains behind you remind you how tiny and insignificant you are, and how lucky you are to be alive on that particular morning...

1. juana molina - que llueve
I have such a crush on Juana Molina, just because her voice is so soft and warm and pretty. I think she's like some sort of Argentine Alanis Morissette, in that she was on tv as a kid and grew up to be a sensitive, serious artist. My Spanish has gotten so rusty that I only understand about half of this song, but Juana Molina could sing me her grocery list and I'd enjoy it...

2. four tet - everything is alright
This song got used in a commercial a few years back. I'm definitely one of those "go for yours however you can get it" people with respect to artists/musicians licensing their work for commercial purposes. If licensing your song to Bud Lime gets you that much closer to making art or music your full time job, or keeps you making art or music as a living, go for yours. "Selling out" is so 20th century. Do your thing, Moby...

3. bebel gilberto - august day song
This is another singer who could sing me test questions from the SAT and I'd enjoy it...

4. lemon jelly - kneel before your god

5. soulstice - color me blue
I am a sucker for any song with that "Mardi Gras" sample behind it (or any variation/recreation thereof). Soulstice put out some great music in their day, and always lined up the killer remixers too.

6. nightmares on wax - finer
Nightmares on Wax make weed music. No two ways about it. Hell, his first downtempo album is called Smokers Delight. This track is off of Carboot Soul, the following album, though as you can tell, it's no less smoked out.

7. nash - keep rising
Nash didn't release a ton of songs, but the ones they did release were good. Izzi Dun, who appears later in this mix, played cello in Nash...

8. groove armada - tuning in (rewritten)
Groove Armada has been turning out high-quality music for over a decade (not to mention the amazing compilations and remixes Tom Findlay and Andy Cato have been involved in). It is both a blessing and a curse that they are famous for one of the more annoying songs ever made (don't front, you want to gouge out your own eyeballs whenever "I See You Baby" comes on), because I'm sure they got paid for it, but it's not at all representative of their body of work. "Superstylin," "Wholemeal," "Easy," "At the River," those are timeless tracks. This is Groove Armada's "Beatles" song. It sounds really good on nice, loud headphones...

9. groove armada - suntoucher
I loved Jeru's first album, but I have to say I think he must have gotten a LOT of help from Premier, because nothing he ever did after that was that good. This song is not Jeru's finest hour, but the beat is so damn hot that I'll let it slide. I played this for someone once and they said, "Jay Z's gonna be pissed." But this song came out in 2001, "What More Can I Say" came out in 2003. Just another example of rappers borrowing from electronic artists ("Stan," Kanye's "Stronger," etc.)....

10. massive attack - protection
The term "trip hop," as cringe-inducing as that might be today, was practically INVENTED for Massive Attack. Massive Attack is another one of those groups that can do no wrong. Everything they do is a masterpiece. And Tracey Thorn's vocals on this track are hauntingly beautiful. This song is right near the top of my "all-time downtempo greats" list...

11. izzi dunn - big picture
Samples "Protection," so the mix fits very nicely.

12. ms. dynamite - dy-na-my-tee
Dynamite got her start in the UK Garage pirate scene back around the turn of the century (I still love saying that). This track is off her first album, which was fire. Dynamite was one of those acts that just missed her window. She won a Mercury prize, had a hit album, and was getting ready to tour stateside. I think she could have been M.I.A.-big with the right promotional push. But she got pregnant, and took time off from music to have her son. While an admirable choice (versus the ever-rotating nannies, odd hours, and non-stop travel), the oh-so-fickle public quickly moved on. Her follow up release a few years later wasn't as warmly received, and then she was arrested for assaulting a cop outside a nightclub, and her label sort of backed off. File under "What Might Have Been"...

13. pepe deluxe - beat experience
Killer Donna Summers sample from Finnish downtempo producers...

14. imonster - daydream in blue
I think AT&T used this song on a commercial recently. Get that money, iMonster! We ain't mad atcha...

15. zero 7 - up with people
I absolutely adore Zero 7. Not only do they make some of the warmest, fullest, beautiful music, but their albums have introduced me to such vocalists as Sia and Jose Gonzalez. This song has a soaring, lush string arrangement and a very "age of aquarius" vibe to it.

16. freeland - physical world

17. weekend players - jericho
More turn of the century downtempo...

18. zero 7 - destiny
This is the song that made me fall in love with Sia. Her voice is so amazing (as anyone who has heard live versions of this song can attest to), and when she talks about watching porn in her hotel dressing gown, you KNOW she's a cool chick. The video for this song is also one of those cool rotoscope animations, like Waking Life or Scanner Darkly (both amazing movies, BTW)...

19. lemon jelly - ramblin' man
This is the second Lemon Jelly track on this mix, so you can tell I like them. Lemon Jelly was one of those groups that got a lot of shine from the vinyl purist heads, because the EPs they dropped were such well thought out packages. Colored vinyl, limited edition pressings, beautiful hand printed album art.

20. mazzy star & chemical brothers - asleep from day
DJ Triple A and I have spoken at length about our mutual love of the Chemical Brothers (his "Kut 2 Kill" mix is practically a tribute, I highly recommend it). I remember hearing singles by the Dust Brothers (before they changed their name to the Chemical Brothers) at illegal raves in Boston before Exit Planet Dust was even released. And they have held onto their own signature sound now for 15 years! The Chemical Brothers always had that downtempo psychedelic tune on every album, and this is the one from Surrender, which came out in 1999. "Fade Into You" was Mazzy Star's biggest hit, and it still sounds good today. Hope Sandoval is another woman with one of "those" voices, and it works very well with the swirling psychedelia that the Chemies were going for on this song.

1 comment:

  1. Amen to that my "Mound Shrink". There's no better place than the mountains in the winter. The beauty on a cold winter morning is incredible. No matter how cold it is, even in NH where it gets damn cold, your first carve down the mountain makes it all worth it.

    BTW-you should've played mixes before I pitched, I think I could've been in the zone more and not a mound freak. HAHAHHA! The good ol' days.

    Fraser in Seattle