The Serpico Mixes: The Concert Disc

In a joint collaboration with my weekday roommate and Bronx ally Skip Serpico, I’ll be discussing a mix CD a week. He makes them, I listen to them and provide my in the moment commentary. You, hopefully, read said commentary and maybe open up your musical horizons. You can come here every week for The Serpico Mixes. And you should also visit Skip’s site, Fission Spaghetti , for his musings on food and Saturday Night Live (and more!)

 Not actually Skip...probably.

Not actually Skip...probably.

Mix #1

Theme: Concerts Recently Attended

  (photo from

 (photo from

Scissor Runner by Jenny and Johnny- Sounds like very early REM guitars paired with an almost Shins-y sounding male vocalist. Big thumbs up. Fun, bright, poppy.

Commerce, TX by Ben Kweller- Feels like high school, in a great way. I detect bit of Fountains of Way, Cake, and Spoon in its DNA. Again, good power pop.

Boyfriend by Best Coast- Heard this song prior to this mix and resisted it for a bit but by now I’ve fallen hard for it. I officially love me some Best Coast.

Frank Sinatra by Cake- Somehow I knew the song but had avoided the knowledge of the name of it until now. The older I get, the more Cake appeals to me. I have no idea what that’s about.

There’s a lyric in this one that goes, roughly, “a faintly glimmering radio station,”… it really hits me. I just love the image that conjures.

Hang You from the Heavens by The Dead Weather- Like, don’t love, this entry although I’m not entirely sure why. With more listens, I could see me going either way—tipping over to loving it or being totally done with it. Given that I’m normally a Jack White fan in whatever incarnation I encounter him I’d put my money on loving it, but who knows.

Obstacle 1 by Interpol- I’m a sucker for good “this woman is going to be the ruin of me” tune and this one fits that bill. I’m not sure if that’s exactly what it is about, but it feels like it to me.

Shadowboxer by Fiona Apple- I am suspicious of people who don’t love Ms. Apple. So damn good. The build to the first “Shadowboxer, baby” it is undeniable every time.

Upward Over the Mountain by Iron and Wine- In addition to being a song I just like I appreciate where this is placed on the mix. It does a nice job of sort of cooling the first half of the disc, giving it a (musically pleasing) break.

Bible Days by Jessica Lae Mayfield- Very different in tone, but something of a spiritual cousin (if you can forgive that unintentional pun) to XTC’s “Dear God.” That ache of disappointment when your deity (or worldview, really) lets you down is present in both.

The underlying musical track is a little repetitive, but the occasional symbol crash or change in the piano strokes distracts from that. I’m fairly unfamiliar with Mayfield but I like her voice quite a bit.

Strange Condition by Pete Yorn- Another song I knew and had affection for. Another keeper.

Stars 4-Ever by Robyn- People love Robyn but I’ve never warmed to her. This offering convinces me that maybe I need to give her another shot. If I could find a club that just played music like this I might go to dance clubs more.

That said, I think the song wears out its welcome around the 3 minute mark.

Come Pick Me Up by Ryan Adams- There’s not a lot that makes me long for my heartache days, but music is the surest route. And this song is one such tune. There’s just such sweet sadness and nobility in the suffering, at least musically—in real life it is often just awful and a bit pathetic –that there’s something appealing to it. Like how a sacrificial hero in a movie makes me think, “Yeah, that’s a way to go,” before my logical voice says, “Yeah, but living is preferable, yes?”

My dad and I share a love of Adams as well so it makes me think of him and, well, he and I are pretty great team so…I’m not saying hold our opinion above all else, but you could do worse, you know?

Black Balloon by Kills- Kind of a non-starter. Again, this is one that suffers from repetition. Plenty of pop songs do, but with the generally stripped down music, I couldn’t not notice here.

Wolf like Me by TV on the Radio- There’s an overall fuzzy feel to the track, everything just covered by the slightest layer of distortion, that really works for me on this one.

Sometimes I Still Need You by The xx- I feel dumb saying it like this, but… it’s just really good. I’m a sucker for a great male/female duet and this is one.