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!)
Alice & Interiors by Manchester Orchestra- Wow. Wow. I just…I’m in love. A little bit Death Cab for Cutie but not as lyrically murky. (I like lyrical murkiness, for the record, but it’s not a requirement for me.) This is really damn good.
I’m still a crank though so let me say the 30 or second wind down of the song was not to my taste.
Next Obsession by nLannon- Speaking of murky, this one is all about the sonic murkiness. It gives the song a slightly askew, creepy feeling, which fits well with the lyrical content. It casts a spell on the listener that is, unfortunately, a little bit unwound by its lengthy running time that devolves into repetitiveness by the song’s end.
One Last Time by Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians- This entry is…ok. I appreciate Brickell’s voice and can understand why people bemoan her output having tanked post-Paul Simon marriage in light of this. The song, though, feels dated. And not dated like “released 7 years ago” dated but dated like “was dated the moment it was recorded.” It just didn’t move me.
We’re from Barcelona by I’m from Barcelona- This song sounds like it was a lot of fun to record. Bright voices, big horns, everybody joining in. Much like OCEAN’S THIRTEEN though, their enjoyment of what they’re doing does not reach me. I didn’t feel invited to this hangout song.
Break Your Momma’s Back by Slow Runner- I found myself wondering, as I listened, if Fall Out Boy heard this song before they recorded their latest album and just decided, “Yes, this. All over the place. But louder and a pitch darker.” This is a compliment, coming from me. I’m quite taken with this one.
Let’s Go Surfing by The Drums- Grating.
Rubber & Soul by Ane Brun- Well, that opening line will get your attention, won’t it? A beautiful voice emoting over a stripped down guitar and piano line? Yeah, that hits a sweet spot very nicely. Add in relationship gone bad anguish and I am fully onboard.
Galaxies by Laura Veirs- Even though she studied at my wife’s rival college, Carleton, I still find myself liking Laura Veirs’ offering here. It’s not a perfect song to my ears, but I enjoy the lyrics that are not afraid to go for odd analogies to describe the strength of emotion the person she is singing to elicits in her.
All in Good Time by Ron Sexsmith- It’s a solid mix song, but it doesn’t stand out on its own. It’s a perfect filler song. It won’t disrupt the flow of your mix for good or ill and passes without lingering much. I’m not trying to be dismissive of it, but I find myself with little else to say about it.
With You by Stars of Track and Field- For the first 14 seconds of this one, I was excited. I liked the music, I was trying to guess what lyrics would be married to them and how it would sound. Then, things go all drum machine and electronic-y and I’m less onboard. Then both approaches blended together and the lyrics came in and I was a bit more in again. Then 2:48ish hit and I was fully sold. Love the building of sound and voice, the layering, the integration of it all. And then stripping it back down to the component parts at the close of song? Yep, that does it for me. Great.
Skeleton Key by Margot & the Nuclear So and So's- First, great band name, right? Second, so fun!
I mean, it is a song about break-ups, drinking too much, tearing down your ex, and so on, but, really truly fun while covering the subject matter. And musically, it is rich and full with vibrating strings, nice not drum related percussion work and a quickness.
The Ride by Joan the Police Woman- Lyrically, I was taken with the song out of the gate, but I was prepared to ding it vocally, until about 1:45 when emotion begins to creep into Wasser’s voice and we get so crests and valleys and it just gets so much more expansive. Why does it end with 25 seconds of what I guess is old plane noise though?
Midlake by Roscoe- I kept waiting for this song to convince me to like it and it just never did. It isn’t bad, per se, but it never really reaches good either.
Bully of New York by Ana Egge- Feels like a spiritual cousin of some of Paul Simon “stories of New York songs.” Except I love those and this one just sort of….nodded me off.
Rise Above by Brindley Brothers- Did you need more Springsteen in your life? Of course you did! But Springsteen’s just one man, right? Well, here are Brindley Brothers to help him share the load.
I would also accept someone observing that this song seems like a less self-conscious track from The Wallflowers’ debut album.
Seventeen Dirty Magazines by Modern Skirts- Not the most substantial of offerings, but it’s poppy. Think of it as a Fountains of Wayne cousin, perhaps? Not as rich as most of their catalog but that kind of composition and sense of bounce.
Hymn #101 by Joe Pug- This is definitely a “I have to be in the mood for it” song. It isn’t that I dislike it or think it is bad, it’s just some days I know I’ll like this song with it’s simple guitar chords and the gritty story song approach and other days I just won’t have the patience for it.
Springtime Can Kill You by Jolie Holland- Reminds me a bit of Nataly Dawn’s solo work, but I am less enamored.
Nerves of Nightmind by Frontier Ruckus- There’s a lot here. A banjo, a piano, a horn section, a rapidly speak-singing lead singer with a bit of affected accent, harmonizing with a female background vocalist, some pretty reaching lyrics, to name some of the elements. I wouldn’t get rid of any of it.
Liza by Wrinkle Neck Mules- More country that I tend to go for these days, but undeniably a strong example of it. Nice bluegrass notes, good scene of place and time within the song. I appreciate the craftsmanship of it.
Obstacles by Syd Matters- I like the theme, the nostalgia for times past, and the way it is evoked with a simple repeating motif. The music though…oof, aggravating.