The best part of seeing these volumes put together at their end is to trace a line through 15 tracks and see how different the last is from the first. We travel a lot of musical ground in these volumes, so the beauty always comes when the little changes between tracks cascade through the rest of the mix, creating a new line that travels in a new direction we weren’t anticipating only a couple of tracks before. We end up crossing our own tracks sometimes, but always in pursuit of the next great song out there. I guess that means it’s a silly straw more than a line, but weren’t those always more fun to drink out of?
It’s been a blast spending a lot of time in the ‘80s, then picking that line back up 30 years later and seeing what had changed. It’s made this volume maybe the most cohesive so far, and certainly one that demonstrated why Mr. Smigielski and I love music so much.
01. Dance Stance by Dexys Midnight Runners
02. Love -> Building on Fire by Talking Heads
03. Be Stiff by Lene Lovich
04. Rattle My Bones by The Suburbs
05. What People Do For Fun by Martha & the Muffins
06. Warrior in Woolworths by X-Ray Spex
07. Mack the Knife [live] by The Psychedelic Furs
08. Inconvenience [12” version] by The Au Pairs
09. Funky Instrumental by Bush Tetras
10. Watch the Lines by Mother & the Addicts
11. Year of Explorers by The Magnificents
12. In Fact, You’re Just Fiction by Robocop Kraus
13. The Architect by dEUS
14. Atlantis to Interzone by Klaxons
15. Dawn of the Dead by Does it Offend You, Yeah?
Honestly, I think the new format for the NEIMT has finally found it’s stride. It’s been more than a year since we relaunched the blog and in that time we’ve been able to create six volumes of never-ending mixtopia. You may have noticed (or may not) but the mix has been moving at a record pace, fueled with rediscovered passion for musical influence peddling and hit-curating-one-ups-manship. Vol 06 is probably the most cohesive and thematically dedicated yet. But that’s not denying it’s diversity, with it’s forays into everything from garage racketeering to wink wink (and actual) nostalgic pining. Stay tuned to where we go from here.
01. Le Responsible by Jacques Dutronc
02. Drive My Car_The Word_What You’re Doing by The Beatles
03. Go Home by Ty Segall
04. Excedrine Headache #265 by Reigning Sound
05. B-B-Bicycles by Bicycles
06. Pedestrian by Spiral Beach
07. Boys are Boys and Girls are Choice by Monks
08. Honey Bee (Let’s Fly to Mars) by Grinderman
09. Make Up is Lies by The Make Up
10. What To Do by The John Spencer Blues Explosion
11. Get Down by The Delta 72
12. 108 Battles (of the Mind) by Kula Shaker
13. Before I Was Caught by Jay Reatard
14. Ride Ride Ride by Vetiver
15. Ghosts by The Jam
It’s an unspoken rule between Mr. Joosse and myself, that we are attempting to next-to-never repeat artists in this never-ending musical tennis-match. I don’t know if either of us know how hard that is going to be once we get farther into the overall string. The main implication to this strategy/limitation is that one has to really consider which song they use for any given artist—as it is likely to be the only representation of that artist on the NEIMT. So we can’t afford to waste it.
So Mr. Joosse will probably be irked that I have played The Jam card. Truth be told, I actually expected it from him in the last round because this whole mix really seemed to be constantly referencing them. So in my mind he left it wide open for me. I am posting one of my favorites, a less rocking but wonderfully layered and melodic affair.
I also feel it captures that slight-country, lilting 70s AM gold quality the Ride Ride Ride brought. Plus, I love the mariachi horns.
Ghosts also nicely ends this amazing mix on a reflective, hopeful note. The sun sets of Volume 6, but will rise again on number 7.
As always, the entire volume plus cover art will be posted for download shortly. Thanks for listening.
Mr. Smigielski surprised me with that Jay Reatard track—mainly because Jay Reatard surprised me with it too. As clean and bright as an Apple Store before opening time, it shows little of the chaos and feedback I associated with his earlier works. I got a little sad knowing that I had given up on his music before his final album, and he’d given up that path too.
“Before I Was Caught” is brimming with a sense of optimism that I kept coming back to, trying on dozens of songs in response. Nothing seemed quite joyful enough, until I poked my head into a folder I keep called “Best of 2011” and pulled up this track. Vetiver has a lot of low-key charm, which means their albums are mostly pleasant but a little blurry. But this is a true standout on their newest, Tight Knit, a muscular but uncluttered gem. I love everything about “Ride Ride Ride,” especially how it takes a minute for the tambourine to kick in and how the background singers—hinted at towards the end of “Before I Was Caught”—spring forward at the end. It seemed like the perfect penultimate track, relaxed and spacey, an acknowledgement of how far we’ve come and how far we have left.
As Mr. Joosse instructed, I am going with my gut. Despite having a whole handful of amazing tracks in my pocket as potential closers for this mix, I am replacing it at the last minute with something that just feels right. Here we have Jay Reatard in one of stellar tracks from his final LP—stripping away a little bit of his sonic fuzz assault to make room for some nuanced melodic layers. But it’s still classic Reatard. RIP.
One thing I’ve commented on in a past volume is how sometimes there’s a song that makes the most sense to post, and other times there’s a song that instinctively feels like the better—though maybe not smarter—choice. “(108 Battles) of the Mind” is definitely the latter, and in the second consecutive volume where we’ve moved at a breakneck speed, our instincts seem to be trumping everything else.
So the mix takes a cloverleaf back into the ‘60s, with this track’s shades (or full-on primary colors) of the Beatles, the Who, and the Zombies. It incorporates the “Scooby-Doo organ” from the Bicycles and Spiral Beach but merges it with the confident Western European sound of Jacques Dutronc and heavy rhythmic backing of the American garage bands we’ve loved here. Though it’s much more acoustic and much less sex-obsessed, I see “(108 Battles)” as something of a natural progression of the whole volume—deftly and lovingly combining rock, soul and garage into one pounding, frantic, layered juggernaut. Kula Shaker were never traditionally cool, but this song remains their high watermark and an epic tribute to the psychedelic decade that inspired them most.
And trust me, when you listen to the complete volume, “Get Down”’s feedback buzz going right into the thunderclap will be truly killer.
Back when dischord records briefly toyed with expanding their stylistic repertoire, there was Delta 72, a group of hardcore kids playing the blues. Or something they though sounded like the blues.
For me, this song was the only logical follow up to JSBX. Because I have a soft spot for songs that largely forgo lyrics, just repeating a single phrase over and over. Plus it frickin’ rocks and makes you want to get down.
If it’s energy we’re seeking, the mighty JSBX has enough to power a small country. Here’s an alternate version of one of their earlier songs, recorded live in a basement by the master of simplicity himself, Steve Albini. He manages to help turn the ragged guitar and echoed vocal up to 11, and gets Jon Spencer to hit a brief falsetto, though more in an Otis Redding style.
I love the little fakeout at the beginning, even though if you’ve ever heard any JSBX song ever in history, you know that it would never turn out to be a quiet or slow number.
Ah Grinderman. I’ve actually been waiting a while for this mix to get me to a place where I could unleash the Grinderman. I guess I left that window open for Joosse and I am perfectly happy with that. Because it actually left the window wide open for The Make Up. Sure it leaves behind the organ, but swells with the recklessness and raw energy needed to follow Mr. Cave.
Special moment that gets me every time, Ian Svenious’ prince scream :10 from the end. Perfect.
That wonderfully frenzied organ and wordplay from the Monks led me to Nick Cave and his Bad Seeds. Right around 2003, when they started upending their methods and recording whole albums in a week, they also started incorporating an organ into their palette. When they shifted into their Grinderman project in 2007, that raw, instinctive recording style loosened up their sound and pushed the organ to the fore. Grinderman is full of deranged, debauched tracks like this one, which pulse with squalling organs, feedback bursts, ribald lyrics, and pounding drums. It sounds alive, like the combination of raw thoughts and throbbing heartbeats—like the best garage rock.
I took to heart several loveable things from the wonderful Pedestrian. But I am simply not ready to leave the garage.
This little ditty from Monks, a bunch of German-stationed American GIs who cut their hair in monk-like tonsures and wailed on banjos, organs and drums, is fantastically weird and danceable. It definitely captures that B-52′s inspired weirdness within an undeniable pop context that Mr Joosse was channeling.
It’s rather short and one dimensional, and I predict that will make it almost feel like a transition or message-from-our-sponors type break in the mix. Which I wholeheartedly welcome.
Was it just me, or did that Bicycles track sound a hell of a lot like the B-52’s? Not that I would’ve minded; I’ve had a soft spot for them my whole music life. Especially based on the first few seconds of that track, it took extreme effort not to upload “Rock Lobster,” write 200 words on it, and dance crazily around my living room.
Anyway, there was much to latch onto there: a “whodunit?” organ, guy-girl harmonies, a general sense of twinkle-eyed mischief. I could stay in the garage for a while longer, but I thought using another track that reminded me distantly of the B-52’s would be a more fun direction to go. Also, both Spiral Beach and Bicycles are from Toronto, and I get a real kick out of the way both have approximated what I would consider a very American sound.
Jesus, I really hated Mr Joosse’s song at first. He insinuated Ty Segall was “a racket”, but damn “Excedrine Headache” was literally delivering on it’s title. Having listened to it a few more times now, I’ll say it’s really growing on me. And I am one who generally loves noisy music. So I am perplexed as to the nature of my immediate dislike. Which brings me to an interesting observation about music in general—the role of familiarity in aesthetic judgement.
When I first graduated college, I was completely fixated on grunge. All I listened to were bands from Seattle. It was ridiculous. Then I got a retail job that mostly involved sitting around all day listening to music with my other coworkers. They openly belittled me for my singular musical focus.
They would try to open my musical mind with all kinds of genres and seminal bands like Fugazi, Meat Beat Manifesto, Ministry, James, Misfits, Tribe Called Quest and on and on. With everyone of those artists (now all personal favorites) my immediate reaction was either utter distaste or ambivalent “meh”. Only after repeated listening did my ears adjust. As if the newness of a style to the ear directly contributes to it’s ability to communicate. Ever since, I have payed special attention when my initial reaction is negative. I almost always come around. Along the way, I have discovered that there is much more good music out there than bad.
But really none of that has anything to do with my selected track. I just felt like this track by the Bicycles captured another side of late era Beatles, where they were still open to having fun within a bluesy riffs, strong backbeats and hummable melodies.
My friend Beau told me once long ago about the collective unconscious—the idea that there are things that unite humanity in ways we can’t put a finger on. Things that, when we discovered them, felt very familiar even as they were inherently new. He believed the Beatles were somehow able to tap into the collective unconscious and that’s why their songs feel so immediately familiar and so immensely loved.
The word “Beatlesque” gets thrown around a lot in music criticism, and can refer to a basic pop song with melodies, the same way “Dylanesque” refers to anything wordy and acoustic. But I tend to take that word in stride—a ton of bands get called Beatlesque because the Beatles sounded like a ton of bands over their career. So you can do an easy, loping “Love Me Do” or a reverb-drenched, hard-driving “Helter Skelter” and be said to be influenced by the same band. I like to think that speaks to the greatness of the Beatles, and to why this track is what it is.
We could spend the next six volumes exploring what it means to be Beatlesque in all its different meanings. At the very least, it feels like a crime of ignorance to skip past the ocean of tracks we consider to be similar to the Beatles. So I can’t in good conscience push on from Ty Segall and his racket. I searched long and hard for something that could meet halfway between the previous two tracks yet still provide a clear path forward. It bears an awesome title and some almighty reverb, with a similar combination of garage noise and heavy melody as “Go Home,” yet manages to be at one end of that spectrum of you-know-what.
Let’s just call this the track 2 “WTF” moment. It happens with almost every mix. I believe I did it to Mr Joosse with that William S. Burroughs track. And now he does it to me. With The Beatles. It’s almost like the author is not quite sure which direction the lead track is going, so many options being viable, that it will never feel quite right. Perhaps no choice is actually better than another, given the open possibilities the existence of the opening track creates. The second track always ends up feeling like a speed bump along the way of us figuring out where the string is going.
Granted there is absolutely nothing wrong with that song, remix, or The Beatles. But how do you follow that up? It’s like reacting to oxygen or water. It’s great and all. It’s the life-force and all. But where next?
Perhaps I put too much on shoulders of the fab four, but I can’t help think you’re better off leaving them out of most discussions of music. But now that I said that, it just seems equally as wrong to suggest.
I digress. Sticking within a sixties-garagy-back-beat-and-hip-shaking aesthetic, I give you Ty Segall. This has a ripped vocal melody from the great Jackie Wilson but puts a modern twist on things with it’s cynically maxed-out production and off kilter rhythms.
Man, that was one awesome track to start a mix. So awesome, in fact, that I consider this post a small failure—I can’t call it better than its predecessor, which was just perfect.
So with that admission out of the way, I’ll say that I was seeking something that was rhythmically similar but with some small odd charm, like how “Le Responsable” is like a long-lost American #1 from 1969, only in French. This track is my favorite from Love, the Cirque du Soleil-sponsored remix album, because it seems to flow effortlessly between three songs (with elements of two more blended in) from the less-well-tread side of their catalog. Add in some wonderful little background touches, don’t let it overstay its welcome, and it’s like discovering something brand new that’s been there all along.
Mr Joosse and I have agreed, that in order to make the mix sets more enjoyable, we would avoid jarring stylistic departures from song to song. With exception of the first song of a new set. While we want to maintain the “never ending” status of the mix blog, we want to take opportunities to move things along a little more dramatically. The first song of a mix is the best time to do that.
So I choose this ditty from Jacques Dutronc. I don’t know where I got it. I don’t care. It’s mystery is one of the best things about it. I rediscovered it as I searched for tracks somewhere in the middle of the last mix. I was like “what the hell is this? It’s awesome!”
It’s insanely familiar. And equally fun. Sitting uncomfortably in between Satisfaction and Dancing in the Streets. I just can’t get it out of my mind. It’s the perfect summer jam. The kind of song that could get a street full of people to suddenly dance in unison, Ferris Bueller style.
Every couple of days, one of the NEIMT authors will post a song that is in some way a reaction to the previous song posted by another author. Every 15 songs will be packaged up with cover art and presented for download as a complete mix. The only rule is that no artist can appear more than once in the same volume.
The best way to be informed of NEIMT posts is to subscribe in the field in the upper right. You can also follow the page on facebook. We longer maintain an email list. Email is dead to us. We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments of this blog, but if you'd like to contact the NEIMT directly, email to: robb (at) agrayspace (dot) com.
You can still see the old mixes at neimtarchive.blogspot.com. Some of the old download links might still even work.
We freely admit that this blog is probably a violation of artistic copyright law. We put together these mix "tapes" as way to share great music in a way that encourages artist support and utilizes grassroots promotion by purposefully violating those copyrights. We would like to imagine that no artist in their right mind would oppose such altruistic intentions despite its bureaucratic insubordinance.