We’ve turned a bit of a corner with these mixtapes.
There’s about 18 separate tapes left to listen through and talk about, but from here on out there’s a unifying quality to all that remain. You see, the tapes that came before this were recorded during different stages of my life, in different locations, and were made for different reasons. There were road trip mixes, ex-girlfriend mixes, be-my-girlfriend mixes and you-must-hear-this-band mixes. Even the physical tapes themselves were a mix-and-match hodgepodge of what was available. A Memorex here, a Maxell XL there. You didn’t know what to expect from one tape to the next. Every part of it was going to be a surprise.
But eventually, a routine started to fall into place.
I started thinking long term about my mixtapes. I wasn’t happy begging and borrowing for blank cassettes, so I invested in multiple TDK CDPower 10-packs. And aside from the occasional gift mixtape, these remaining mixes were all put together for my car– for my rides to and from work, and for those folks that would be sitting in the passenger seat. I sat at the same desk using the same tape deck every time. The routine of these tapes was coming together and it felt comfortable and right. I was even using the same pens to document the titles and song lists.
A lot of things were starting to feel like longterm investments.
After moves from Boston to Los Angeles to home and then back to Boston, I was finally settling in to my new old home– L.A. After jobs in video stores, convenience stores, financial call centers and retail, I was starting a gig in post-production that would last me for years.
There wouldn’t be a lot of surprises going forward. Many routines started to fall into place. Jobs, cars, apartments– they would go unchanged for years, sometimes decades. Taco Tuesdays. Pizza Wednesdays. Antacid Thursdays. Repeat. Every month or two, I would make a new mixtape. And after relationships new, renewed, long-distanced, flinging and one-night-standing, I was now with a woman I moved across the country for. There was no longer a hodgepodge mix-and-match of people in my life. There was Carrie. And Carrie was enough. She was my TDK CDPower 10-pack.
But routine doesn’t mean boring. There’s nothing wrong with the familiar. Because as much as things may stay the same, there are always new and different things passing through. Fine, maybe I kept making mixtapes at the same cadence, with the same cassettes, sitting at the same desk, with the same tape deck for years and years. But the songs don’t remain the same.
Even in routine, the new melodies of life would now be soundtracking my days.
THAT’S GREAT, BUT HOW’S THE MIX?:
- “Every Single Day” – Dodgy
- “Spread Your Love” – Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
- “The Sky is Falling” – Owsley
- “That Ole Sun” – The Sunshine Fix
- “Play It Cool” – Super Furry Animals
- “World Class Fad” – Paul Westerberg
- “Battle of Who Could Care Less” – Ben Folds Five
- “Girl From Mars” – Ash
- “Hazy” – Shack
- “Slight Return” – The Bluetones
- “No Static at All” – 3rd Bass
- “Standing By” – The Actual Tigers
- “It’s My Shadow” – Ocean Colour Scene
- “Never Die Young” – The Anniversary
- “Start!” – The Jam
- “Fell in Love With a Girl” – The White Stripes
- “Sugar Blaster” – The Starlight Mints
- (Oasis radio clips)
- “Modern Age” – The Strokes
- “She’s A Star” – James
- “Give Me Strength” – The Minders
- “Circles” – Soul Coughing
- “Remote Control” – Beastie Boys
- “Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand” – Beulah
- “Die, All Right!” – The Hives
- “Can’t Get a Line” – Old 97’s
- “True Love Waits” – Radiohead
- “The Rainbow” – Apples in Stereo
- “Sing” – Travis
- “History of a Boring Town” – Less Than Jake
- “Caught by the Fuzz” – Supergrass
- “AMPs of Sugarland” – Cotton Mather
- “Veronica” – Elvis Costello
- “Song 2” – Blur
- “Joe Rey” – Fountains of Wayne
- “Let Forever Be” – The Chemical Brothers
- (Oasis radio clips)
I’ve got nothing against surfboarders. In fact, I wish I knew how to surf. The title of this mix comes from one of the Oasis radio interview clips I used to play out each side of the tape. (Yes, I have Oasis radio interview clips on CD.) The clips are very random, often just Liam and Noel answering unheard questions. There was no conscious choice on my part what section of clips I picked, no great planning. I just wanted something interesting to fill the tape through the end.
That’s a bit how this tape feels. No great plan here, just some interesting sounds to fill the tape through the end. And this makes sense after a string of very purposeful mixtapes. (Go back and read about them. You can start with this one.) No big mission statements here, just some likable music to get me to work and back… every… single… day.
Man, I hope you took the time to play that YouTube clip. I love that song. Such a great way to start a mix. It’s one of the few go-to hits this mix contains. Or a “Me Hit.” Meaning a song I often use on said mixes. But there are a few actual hits on this mix, too. The White Stripes “Fell In Love With a Girl” finally makes an appearance after several tapes highlighting deeper cuts. “Song 2” from Blur is here. Oh, hello nasty, it’s the Beastie Boys!
But other than that handful of tracks, this cassette is filled with either new bands/albums or less-used tracks from mixtape regulars. I don’t know if I ever go back to most of these. “Joe Rey” from Fountains of Wayne is never the first Fountains of Wayne song I think of, but it’s a suitable little rocker. I also didn’t use The Bluetones’ “Slight Return” that often, despite its melodic ease. And “Play It Cool” from Super Furry Animals is, in fact cool.
Another “not-so-often” song from an oft-heard band is “It’s My Shadow” from Ocean Colour Scene. This song is an epic in disguise. It clocks in under five minutes, but feels at least twice that. There are loud/soft movements throughout as the song builds to a repeated refrain that doesn’t quite mean anything, while still being the most meaningful thing you’ve ever heard.
PLEASED TO MEET YOU:
Kill All Surfboarders has a deluge of new-to-me bands and music. In fact, at least six tracks here came from the same single day of purchases at the now defunct Burbank Virgin Megastore. I still have the visual memory of perusing the aisles, examining the CD covers and holding a stack that included The Actual Tigers, The Sunshine Fix, Radiohead, The Hives, and The Anniversary,
By this time, I had an easy ear for the music I liked, and The Anniversary checked off so many of my favorite musical boxes. Beatlesesque? Check. Boy/girl harmonies? Check. Singing? Check. I had the same quick reaction to The Actual Tigers. Their acoustic guitar led jams were fun, folky rockers. Simon and Garfunkel with a backbeat. “Standing By” is a great example of the sound of this band. But it’s not on YouTube, so you’re shit out of luck. Here’s The Hives instead.
Yes, that’s the first appearance of The Hives on a car mixtape. It shan’t be the last. I really dug The Hives. They were my favorite of the garage-rock revival groups that followed The Strokes and The White Stripes into the mainstream. They were goofy and cool and could fucking rock. The Sunshine Fix were nothing like that. Led by Olivia Tremor Control’s Bill Doss, The Sunshine Fix had a more laid back, flower child kind of feel. It’s that kind of juxtaposition that I love when putting these song in sequence.
WAIT. WHAT? WHY?:
When you’re collecting upbeat tunes to inspire you through your doldrum drive to work and back, you should not include a tale of an aged, forgotten, Alzheimer-suffering grandmother.
No matter how peppy the melody.
THE SUPER ULTRA MEGA SONG:
Oh, man. Sometimes it pains me to known how unheard a band is. And right along with that, how unheard a song is. Beulah and “Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand” are exactly what I’m talking about. The music this band makes is going to show up on almost every mix from here on out. They’ve already been on the last two. But it’s this song, this gorgeous little trumpet-fueled toe-tapper of a song about a life that’s passed by that I a.
Listen to this song. Hit play and close your eyes and take in the two-minute wordless intro. Hear how the horns kick in, but remain subdued and welcoming. Hear the lyrics paint a picture of a woman’s life from childhood to “when all you know foreshadows a ghost.” Don’t let it scare you away.