A Mix for the 2010 NEDoD Music Swap
- Kaki King,
- King Crimson,
- Kelly Bailey,
- The J. Geils Band,
- Béla Fleck & the Flecktones,
"Sojourn of Arjuna"
- Watson & Company,
- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole,
- Ladysmith Black Mambazo,
- Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice,
- Jonathan Coulton,
"Time Stand Still"
- Lil Wyte,
- Todd Edwards,
- The Verve & Jay-Z,
"Bittersweet Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
- The Movement,
- Ying Yang Twins feat. Wyclef Jean,
- The Boss Hoss,
- Gaelic Storm,
"Me & The Moon"
- mc chris,
"fette's vette (Badd Spellah remix)"
As described at The 2010 NEDoD Music Swap, people taking part in this CD exchange were "to put together a mix CD of music that they like & don't think others on the list will have heard."
With more than three dozen friends participating, spanning at least a 30 year age range, this was pretty open-ended and it has been interpreted in different ways. One looked at it "as a desert island CD", pulling together tracks from the five or so CDs he'd want if he were stranded on a desert island. Another put together a mix of uncommon tunes but with a consistent overall theme.
I've always been terrible at picking favorites of anything and didn't find the inspiration for one coherent theme. My personal goals were:
- To introduce some artists that a lot of people in the group had probably not heard;
- To encourage a new way of looking at some of the artists most people did know;
- To give the feeling of what listening to my eclectic collection on random play is like, but hopefully not quite so cognitively dissonant as jumping from Zydeco to Metal to Gospel to Punk.
That I was able to find videos on YouTube for most of this probably signifies that I've failed in some meaningful way, but I hope you still find something new to enjoy here.
You can find links to other people's track lists at The 2010 NEDoD Music Swap.
Kaki King, "Bari Improv",
Soundtrack, 2007, 1:35
- King Crimson, "Sleepless",
Three of a Perfect Pair
Progressive Rock, 1984, 5:22
- Kelly Bailey, "Adrenaline Horror",
Game, 1998, 2:12
- The J. Geils Band, "River Blindness",
Progressive Rock, 1981, 6:06
- Béla Fleck & the Flecktones, "Sojourn of Arjuna",
Left of Cool
Jazz, 1998, 5:28
- Watson & Company, "The Dream",
New Age, 1993, 2:48
- Israel Kamakawiwo'ole, "Hawai'i 78",
Hawaiian, 1993, 5:16
- Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "Nomakanjani",
Journey of Dreams
Isicathamiya, 1988, 3:23
- Andrew Lloyd Webber & Tim Rice, "Pilate's Dream",
Jesus Christ Superstar
Rock Opera, 1973, 1:27
- Eminem, "Mockingbird",
Hip hop, 2005, 4:11
- Jonathan Coulton, "Creepy Doll",
Thing a Week Four
Geek rock, 2006, 4:00
- Rush, "Time Stand Still",
Hold Your Fire
Progressive Rock, 1987, 5:10
- Lil Wyte, "Crazy",
Southern hip hop, 2004, 3:52
- Todd Edwards, "Tree Critter",
Rock, 2005, 2:54
- The Verve & Jay-Z, "Bittersweet Dirt Off Your Shoulder"
Alt-rock/Rap Mashup, 2006, 5:05
- The Movement, "Jump!",
Techno, 1992, 3:57
- Ying Yang Twins feat. Wyclef Jean, "Dangerous",
Crunk, 2006, 4:20
- The Boss Hoss, "Word Up",
Internashville Urban Hymns
Country, 2005, 3:34
- Gaelic Storm, "Me & The Moon",
Bring Yer Wellies
Celtic Folk, 2006, 4:24
- mc chris, "fette's vette (Badd Spellah remix)",
mc chris remixes
Nerdcore, 2001, 4:33
Kaki King is an incredible fingerstyle guitarist, the first woman
named a Guitar God(dess) by Rolling Stone. She also plays lap
steel and among the many fine tracks she did for the movie August
Rush is this short slap piece played on an acoustic guitar
laid flat like a lap steel. In the film it's played when August
first discovers and experiments with a guitar, percussing its strings
with joy. Though the movie might be a bit too predictably sentimental
for many people, Sarah and I enjoyed it and would recommend it
for the music. See more of Kaki on
"Bone Chaos in the
Following the guitar slap with this bass slap seemed a natural
fit. A lot of people have heard of King Crimson but fewer can name
even one of their songs. Despite their significant influence on bands
from Genesis to Iron Maiden to Nirvana, and the artistic talents of
its members, the group's albums have rarely charted well. Guitarist
Robert Fripp has been the only continuous member of King Crimson from
its founding in 1969, backed since '81 by Tony Levin's strong bass and
Chapman Stick work. Alternative tracks:
"Frame by Frame",
both of which have Tony on the Stick.
Most fans of Kelly Bailey don't even know his name. As the
composer for Valve Software's pioneering Half-Life video game
series he's written dozens of ambient pieces to evoke a variety of
different moods and helped video game music leave the era of simple
tone generation. Now instead of light ditties that are sometimes
adapted by orchestras, there are often complex pieces recorded by
orchestras directly for the games. The production crew of a first
tier game can be as large as that for a major motion picture and
the music is used similarly. When "Adrenaline Horror" starts, you,
the protagonist, have just emerged from an underground research
facility in which an experiment went terribly awry — only to
discover soldiers from your own government swarming to kill you. With
many opponents and little opportunity for cover the aggressively pounding
soundtrack increases tension and pushes you to quickly find a path to
safety. It would be just as apt covering one of the vignettes in
Run Lola Run.
Alternative considerations for the video game slot:
"One Winged Angel",
Chris Vrenna (of Nine Inch Nails),
"Doom 3 Theme",
Mention The J. Geils Band and most people will tend to think only of
the '80s pop tunes
New Englanders might reach a little deeper and remember the blues
roots of this group from Worcester, and Magic Dick's whammin' and
jammin' on the harmonica. Fewer would recognize this piece; I once had
an avowed fan insist to me that the song didn't even exist, despite it
being on their best selling album. A bit more experimental than their
other work, "River Blindness" features Danny Klein's bass coming
out of the mid-song break. I hear they used to put on a great live
show. J. Geils himself now lives in Groton, MA, and founded KTR
European Motorsports in Ayer.
Another New England connection with a penchant for skillfully mixing
genres and instruments, Béla is a jazz banjoist from Boston.
He's picked with Chick Corea, Phish, Dave Matthews and others. This
piece has several engaging riffs but unfortunately the version on the
CD suffers from weak mixing of the vocals for the original recording;
if you really want to pick up all of the science that Krishna drops on
Arjuna you'll probably have to read the lyrics. The vocal mixing is
an anomaly though and Left of Cool is a
solid all-around album covering a variety of styles, and well worth
adding to a music collection. Alternative tracks with more prominent
jazz banjo: "Big
I spent a couple of weeks in Boulder, Colorado, back in 1990 and
frequently found myself down at the Pearl Street Pedestrian Mall,
where a duo of musicians called Watson & Edge were busking on
their violin and guitar. Years later when I looked for a CD to
upgrade the cassette I'd bought there on the street, I discovered
Edge (of course not that Edge) had taken his guitar and moved
on, but that Watson was still playing his violin in duets with guitars.
Most of the album is like this lilting tune, including a pleasing take
of Pachelbel's "Canon in D", so it's good background music to have on
while doing other things. Also recommended: Christmas with Watson and Edge.
I'm not sure anyone was expecting a ukelele to appear in this swap.
A lot of people have heard the beautiful voice of Iz for
"Over the Rainbow
(What a Wonderful World)".
What most don't know is that the voice came from an enormous man,
6'2" tall and nearly 800 pounds. Unfortunately his weight would
be his undoing; he died at just 38 years old in 1997 and was mourned
widely in Hawaii. Although "Hawai'i 78" is a slow track like
"Rainbow", and a little maudlin, he also has up-tempo songs, some more
traditionally Hawaiian, to help round out Facing
Future as a nice album.
Sure I can't understand most of what they're saying, but I don't
really understand a lot of the words in (supposedly) English songs
either. They're an a cappella men's chorus from Ladysmith, South
Africa, who were introduced to the western world by Paul Simon for
Graceland. Sarah tells me people will also
know them from some Life Savers commercial they did. Though I'd heard
them on Graceland, I first took an interest
in the group after hearing an interview on NPR back in the
mid-nineties. Founder Joseph Shabalala recently retired from the
group after nearly 45 years but the chorus continues on. I couldn't
turn up a video for Nomakanjani, so here's
with words you probably can't understand, and
The Lion Sleeps
Tonight, with words you can.
I figured chances were good that something from a musical wasn't
going to make anyone else's mix CD either, but probably didn't
give sufficient consideration to the possibility of
showing up. Even though ripping on Lloyd Webber and Rice is
fashionable, I will confess that I enjoy their music. Sappy as it is,
I have fond memories of my mother and I singing along together to the
movie soundtrack as we traveled between college and home. We enjoyed
many musicals and in high school I acted in several. This is one genre
where I actually know the full lyrics to many songs, which comes in
handy when I'm bored on the highway on a long motorcycle trip with
nothing but the wind to hear in my helmet. Belting out a few show
tunes works wonders. Though many shows were considered for the
musical theatre slot of the mix,
Superstar was settled on for the first cut, originally with the
"King Herod's Song"
Philosophy question: how much should the foibles of an artist
impact how you feel about his art? Are Roman Polanski's films any
less masterful because he was a pedophile? Is Marshall Mathers' flow
any less fine because he's a bit of a dick and proud of it,
particularly working in a genre that celebrates confrontation? Can
you enjoy music at the same time as you disagree with its message?
Eminem's skill is undeniable, but so is the controversy that surrounds
him for the misogyny, homophobia and violence in his lyrics. He's
almost certainly known by everyone getting this mix, but was included
to have people consider the questions above, and because Sarah and
I both really enjoy his music. This track in particular was picked
because it's sad and it's sweet; it's dysfunctional and it's full of
pathos. I've also long pictured singing "Hush, Little Baby" to my own
children. If you haven't really listened to Eminem before, check out
"Just Lose It",
(feat. Dido), and of course
"The Real Slim Shady".
Alternative consideration for illustrating the philosophical
questions: Kanye West,
Jonathan Coulton challenged himself to write and record one song a
week for an entire year. He succeeded and although every one wasn't a
winner there were quite a few good pieces. The author behind "Still
Alive", mentioned above, he was a computer programmer before finding
commercial success in music. Despite much of his work being freely
available under Creative Commons licensing it has also sold very well
on iTunes, helping demonstrate a new model for music production.
"Re: Your Brains",
"Baby Got Back".
I was reluctant to include Rush in the mix for a variety of reasons.
How could a band that's been around for over 40 years and that has
dozens of gold and platinum albums possibly be considered interesting
for this swap? Everyone seems to already have an opinion about Rush
— love them or hate them. Their fan base has traditionally been
a curious amalgam of burn-outs, geeks, burn-out geeks, and Canadians;
Rolling Stone once called Rush fans "the Trekkies of rock". No wonder
I feel embarrassed to tell people I'm a fan. Sarah doesn't much care
for them herself and when I searched for her approval of my mix, on
which I included
off of Exit Stage Left for one of Neil
Peart's legendary live drum solos, I was already anticipating removing
the track. She encouraged me to keep Rush in, though, in no small
part because they represented a significant part of the formative
years of my musical taste. I dropped "YYZ" for this song
because it's shorter, it isn't from their best selling album,
Moving Pictures, and Sarah actually
likes it. Aimee Mann is on backing vocals, the first
time they used another singer. The Rush style has varied a lot over
the years so if your whole opinion of Rush is based on
try a different period. I had considered using
"Test for Echo"
from 1996 or
from 2007. By the way, Neil's an active BMW motorcyclist.
When we were planning the music for our wedding reception I flirted
with the idea of a block of Crazy — a half dozen songs titled
I wanted to see if people would notice.
The madness of dominating the reception with that passed but I didn't
completely let go of the basic idea, convinced that I could fill an
entire CD with tracks named "Crazy" as a surprise present for Sarah.
I succeeded, and this was one of the songs I found to do it. (Getting
a good flow for that mix was a fun challenge too.) After hearing the
song I was surprised to discover he was a southern rap artist; for
this I would have put him in more with the likes of Drowning Pool
("Let the Bodies Hit
the Floor") or System of a Down
His other pieces are much more rap.
Sarah and I really enjoyed Hoodwinked, a
2005 animated feature film that was unfortunately easily overlooked by
most people since it didn't come from Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks.
Admittedly the animation wasn't top flight, but it was a fun story set
in the fairy tale land of Little Red Riding Hood, Granny and the
Wolf. "Tree Critter" plays when Granny, who is secretly a
snowboarding star, arrives for an X Games competition. The lyrics
made me want to get the whole song, which annoyingly could not be
purchased as a single track. Fortunately it is full length
on the album, and there are several other good full length songs there
"Great Big World"
sung by Anne Hathaway,
"Red is Blue"
performed by Ben Folds,
and Todd on
Not to be confused with the Garage House DJ Todd Edwards, the
Todd Edwards who wrote (nearly?) all of the music for Hoodwinked founded and plays for the rock band
Blick Van Glory. I probably would have never heard of them if
not looking for more information for these notes. Now after hearing
"Eskimo Love Song"
I grabbed their album The Search for Quest
from iTunes and am enjoying it very much.
There are a lot of bad mash-ups out there, but a good DJ can make one
feel inspired, particularly when it goes cross-genre. This one was
done by DJ Frosty for MTV Mashups. DJ Earworm does some quality beats
too, for example
"If I Were a Free
Fallin' Boy" (Beyonce vs Tom Petty) and
One (U2, The Beatles, Mariah Carey and Diana Ross). Also worth a
look are Robin Skouteris for
"Tone Loc vs Yes
vs Kylie Minogue"
("Wild Thing", "Owner of a Lonely Heart" and "Can't Get You Outta My
on Another Day"
(Eurythmics, Madonna and Faithless), and
(with 10 artists). I totally need to make a disc of pure mash.
Like "Crazy", you can make a whole disc of tracks titled "Jump";
at least, you can if you fudge a little and include things like "Jump
On It", "Jump to the Rhythm" and "Jump Around".
When I was putting that CD together I came across this radio-safe
version of a song that was a mainstay of 90s techno clubs.
Back when I lived in northern Virginia, my best friend loved to go out
clubbing and a pulsing techno beat is what kept us going through five
hours of high energy dancing like nothing else could. Personally I
prefer the foul-mouthed
of "Jump!" but, even though Tale's Spin includes several other
songs that warrant an RIAA Explicit Content sticker, that
mix just seemed too over the top to foist on everyone without warning.
Techno sort of peaked in the 90s, but it is still pretty big in
eastern Europe and its influence on the modern American club sound is
strong. For an album covering a lot of the top beats of the period
pick up Rave 'til Dawn. It has the "Mutha
I wanted to include Wu Tang or Mos Def but wasn't feeling it, and
Sarah couldn't fit this in her mix, so rather than go with the
hardcore rap here's the hip hop/techno fusion that is crunk. Ying
Yang Twins helped Lil Jon and the East Side Boyz bring crunk out of
the Atlanta hip hop clubs to a wider audience with
Even though they haven't achieved the prominence of crunkers like
or Chris Brown
which gives the Twins a shout-out), they're still a core fixture on
the scene, which features classic synthesizers and 808 drum beats from
the techno world. You might have also heard
Up & Get Crunk)" recently, since it's become the unofficial anthem
of the New Orleans Saints.
The sweet serendipidty of YouTube's Related Videos box is what led
me to The Boss Hoss when I was looking for Korn's
of Cameo's 1986 hit
They're a German band that does country & western covers of pop
songs and seem to have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. Complete with
washboard, cowbell and bass fiddle, on Hymns
they make over artists as varied as OutKast
("Hot in Herre"),
Beck, ("Loser"), Billy Idol ("Eyes Without a Face") and Britney Spears
("Toxic"). I don't have any regrets about plunking down 28 dollars
for the import CD. For Rodea Radio they
cover some older ground with Tom Jones
("It's Not Unusual"),
("I Say a Little
and Rodgers & Hammerstein/Elvis ("You'll Never Walk Alone")
to name a few, and provide a half dozen tracks of original music.
Sarah discovered Gaelic Storm when her friends took her to the
Albany Irish Festival for her bachelorette party; she had such a good
time that she bought Tree. In 2008 they
were playing at TCAN in Natick and we were so there. It was a great
time with a very interactive and hilarious show. We really enjoyed
talking with the band afterward; they said it was one of the smallest
spaces they played but that they really liked the intimacy the room
brought. There were several live versions of this song on YouTube that
show how much fun the crowd can have, but unfortunately I couldn't
find one where the the video was decent and the audio wasn't terrible,
so I picked this one for its acceptable audio over boring video. Some
"Don't Go for the One",
Sarah told me after we shipped everything that "fett's vette" actually got a lot of radio play back when Attack of the Clones came out. Seriously? ... Seriously?! Sigh. Anyway, nerdcore. It's a thing. More specifically, it's a sub-genre of hip hop with a geeky focus, so geeky that it is explicitly opt-in — you're only a nerdcore artist if you declare yourself to be one. It deals with ultradweeb topics like sci-fi, fantasy, math and Linux, and true to the culture the music is often made available for free by the artists. Though mc chris sounds like a ten year old he's really in his 30s. He's been fairly prolific, with 10 albums out since 2001. He's also written bits for Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and Aqua Teen Hunger Force. For a sampling of more nerdcore check out his "Nrrrd Grrrl" and "Hoodie Ninja", MC Frontalot's "It Is Pitch Dark (You are Likely to be Eaten by a Grue)", and "Nine-Fingered Frodo (and the Ring of Doom)" by the Lords of the Rhymes.