Category Archives: MIX TAPE

Fiancé Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Experimental pop quartet Fiancé started in the small town of Newark, Del., among close longtime friends who just wanted to make music. There were no definite plans, but what came out was indie-rock gold. The five tracks on their debut, EP 1, were written over the course of last summer and fall, and the band succeeded in making a name for itself in its local music scene. Now, the band has been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape. Check it out below.

George Harrison “Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)
Tyler: Continuing a musical career after being in a band as prolific as the Beatles could not have been an easy task. George Harrison’s first solo LP, All Things Must Pass, is one of the most important albums to me on many levels. Song by song, he proves himself as an independent entity, especially on this track. All of Harrison’s lead tracks are ducked in the background, soaked in reverb, and the rest of the song is driven by an “eyes-closed-slow-head-bang-rhythm.” I love how the piano drives on one chord only to quickly resolve and repeat the melody in a very addicting manner. Video

American Football Honestly?
Andrew: This whole album is perfect to me. And it is also the best autumn-y album ever.This song has so much going on emotionally for me, especially at the end portion with the droning guitars and constant melody. It’d be hard for me to explain why the songs on this album mean so much to me so I won’t try. Video

The Cure Close To Me
Octie: This is my favorite production on any song. And I shouldn’t even say this because I play drums, and this is all a drum machine. It’s so minimal but so full. When the horn lines come in, they are perfect. The little trumpet solo gives me chills. Video

Liars Mess On A Mission
Tyler: One of the most impressive things to me is art that is genuinely dark and makes me feel uneasy. It is not like you can pick up a guitar or synthesizer and start playing a bunch of minor chords and get the same effect. Liars have covered a lot of territory, but I love the dancy-industrial vibe of their new album, MessVideo

ILOVEMAKONNEN Featuring Drake Tuesday
Andrew: I have a tendency to obsess over random songs, and this one has been on repeat. I think I made the band listen to it over and over for an hour the other night after practice. For some reason, it quells my anxiety. Beyond that, it is really a perfect tune, bound to be a classic. Video

Descendents Myage
Octie: I love playing in my band. But there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I was in the Descendents. It would be too much fun to play in this band. Video

Weezer Across The Sea
Andrew: Weezer is my favorite band. I keep going back to this song lately because of how open Rivers is lyrically. You can tell he means what he wrote. Weezer has a lot of songs that maybe weren’t so sincere, and you can tell. I’m trying to get to the point of being more comfortable being sincere and honest when it comes to lyrics, so this album is always inspiring to me. Video

GOAT Det Som Aldrig Förändras/Diarabi
Tyler: I caught a live set from GOAT this year and it was one of the most wild musical experiences I’ve ever witnessed. Driving, primitive and original, this group was only missing a live-animal sacrifice to make it look and feel like a beautifully constructed bad acid trip. This band is helping to take psychedelic music in new direction. Video

The War On Drugs Red Eyes
Tyler: As a musician who grew up obsessing over prog and math rock, one of the most interesting learning curves I have run into is learning when to hold back. I feel that this song completely embodies the idea of playing when necessary and allowing a band as a whole to develop a song together. Every instrument helps to push this perfectly constructed melody forward, creating a very human experience. Not to mention that these guys are from Philadelphia, and it makes me proud to know such great music is being written so close to where I live. Video

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins I Put A Spell On You
Octie: It was just Halloween, so I had to pick this one. First time I heard this song was in the movie Hocus Pocus, and Bette Midler was singing it. I probably didn’t hear this version until a few years ago. Screamin’ Jay is off his rocker. The rest of this album is fucking crazy. Video

Röyksopp Remind Me
Andrew: My girlfriend showed me this song one morning driving me to work. It was on a commercial a while back I think, too. I’ve had it on repeat a lot, and it makes me think of her whenever I hear it. Video

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Anabot Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

As Analise Nelson’s name is a combination of “Ana” and “Elise,” Nelson also created Anabot by combining “analog” and “robot,” which is quite fitting when paired with the sound of her music. It has a strong electronic base, and it’s altogether a very catchy and well-composed. As Nelson prepares for her upcoming EP, Kiss Like A Knife, due out December 2, she has been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape of songs from her favorite year in music: 1979. Check it out below.

The Cars “Candy-O”
From the opening guitar line, you get this strange sense you’ve been here before. And perhaps we have! The rhythm feels uncannily reminiscent of the classic 1965 Strangeloves tune, “I Want Candy.” (And how appropriate!) I haven’t read or heard anything that could support this little theory of mine, but it’s almost as if somewhere along the way, “I Want Candy” went on a bender and came out as “Candy-O.” From the pulsing synth to that killer guitar solo that clearly tells us we’re not in new-wave territory anymore, I adore this track. It’s always seemed just slightly off-kilter in the most delicious of ways. Video

XTC “Making Plans For Nigel”
In my second chapter of new wave, we go more classic in terms of style. There’s something beautifully hypnotic about the guitar riff that carries over a great deal of the song. Certain things I could just listen to all day, and for whatever reason, I’ve always felt drawn to this tune. It might be its seemingly contradictory nature with the choppy and layered guitar patterns, pleasant major harmonies and incessant cymbal crashes. You’re meant to really question if Nigel could ever really be happy. It’s equal parts hopeful and dreary. “In his wooooorrrrld … ” Video

Joe Jackson “Look Sharp”
I’ll admit that the first time I heard this song was in one of my favorite episodes of Freaks And Geeks, and every time I listen to it, I get that image of Sam Weir in his Parisian Night Suit walking into school, his confidence sharply waning as more and more people stare, snicker and laugh. It’s a painful moment to behold (because I think each of us has been Sam at one point or another in our lives), but it’s accompanied by the perfect song. I think what I really love about this song is how simple it is. There really isn’t that much going on in terms of instrumentation here: a funk-tastic bass line, fast strummin’ guitars, a solid beat and those brilliant Joe harmonies in the chorus. It’s the perfect example of how a “well-produced song” needn’t be overbearing or over-layered. Guitar riff. Bass riff. Beat. Hit! Video

Supertramp “Gone Hollywood”
The opening track off of a classic record. I visit Breakfast In America quite often and am always entranced by “Gone Hollywood.” It truly plays as an overture to the record with the verse/chorus structure acting more open ended, both lyrics and orchestration playing hand-in-hand to the narrative of the lost Angeleno. I love that only a minute in, the grandiose guitars give way to that hauntingly beautiful piano ostinato and sax with that line that just hits so many close to home, “Ain’t nothin’ new in my life today … ” The idea that the purposeful guitars cut out to what seems like a lost moment is so perfect. I could really pick this song apart piece by piece, but I’ll refrain and just say that there are so many hidden treasures here that I’m always eager to discover more each time I return. Video

Electric Light Orchestra “The Diary Of Horace Wimp”
I’m an ELO fan through and through, and had a very, very difficult time trying to pick my favorite song off of their 1979 release, Discovery. I went back and forth between this tune and a few others, but ultimately, I couldn’t deny how much I adore this song and its charm. I’ve always thought it felt like a semi-futuristic Magical Mystery Tour b-side. The vocoder use here is great, and almost acts as its own instrument with its more ambient/rhythmic properties, rather than a way to change the voice for melodic purposes. And really, who doesn’t love a song about the awkward lad who gets the girl? (Also, I continue to gleefully sing the “Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday, Monday … ” refrain at random times during my day-to-day life). Video

B-52′s “52 Girls”
There have already been loads of people who have written about the genius of this song, so instead I’ll just say this: No song that is just listing the names of girls has the right to be this good. But the B-52′s managed to do just that. Addictive and driving, this one stands the test of time. Video

The Clash “Guns Of Brixton”
There was zero chance that I could do a 1979 mix tape without mentioning something from London Calling (debated just sending in a track-by-track play-by-play of the whole album, to be honest). So when I sat down to figure out what song I really couldn’t do without, “Guns Of Brixton” came into my mind immediately. I was a high-school kiddo heavily into 2 Tone and reggae when I fell in love with London Calling, so the fact that this song would be my “desert island choice” should come to no surprise. Interestingly enough, what always comes to mind when I think fondly back to this tune is that use of the “boing” sound effect. Really, it seems like a bizarre thing to focus on, but it plays so delightfully with the guitar’s tremolo bends that it somehow works with the lyrical frustrations of the chaotic police brutality. And the classic bass line? I could truly listen to that on a loop forever. A truly fantastic piece, this one, and the only appropriate way for me to end my little mix. Video

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Gwyneth Moreland Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Singer/songwriter Gwyneth Moreland readies for the release of her new album, Ceiling Floors And Open Doors, out November 14. Her music is beautifully simple folk/rock that’s calm and relaxing. It tells a familiar story, but does so in a subtle and entertaining fashion. Now, Moreland has been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape. Check it out below.

Jeffrey Martin “Old Good Friend”
We all have loved someone who just can’t seem to get ahead. This sweet song is written by one of my favorite West Coast songwriters. Video

Guy Clark “Dublin Blues”
One of my favorite Guy Clark tunes, it is a timeless song of longing. Video

Gillian Welch “I Dream A Highway”
The first thing you may notice about this song is that it is 14 minutes long, so needless to say you have to be in the right place and time to listen to it and fully absorb it. I first started loving this song when it would pop on my iPod shuffle during those epic midnight drives on tour. I would feel like I was actually a part of the song. “I dream a highway back to you love, a winding ribbon with a band of gold.” Video

Cat Power “Silver Stallion”
As always, Charlyn really makes this cover totally her own. Originally done by the Highwaymen, it really has a different impact coming from the feminine point of view. Video

Hazel Dickens “West Virginia, Oh My Home”
Hazel was just a small-town girl at heart, and I can truly identify with that. This song has been known to pull my heart strings more than once while far away from home. Video

Billie Holiday “Fine And Mellow”
This is a live video/recording that starts off with a great quote from Lady Day: “Blues is kind of a mixed up thing, you just have to feel it. Anything I do sing, it’s a part of my life.” Billie wrote this jazz standard. “Love is like a faucet, it turns off and on, sometimes when you think it’s on, baby, it has turned off and gone.” Video

Jesse Fuller “San Francisco Bay Blues”
The amazing one-man band. Video

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The Rural Alberta Advantage Make MAGNET A Mix Tape

The Rural Alberta Advantage formed in 2006 and put out its self-titled debut EP that same year. Since, the Toronto trio has gained popularity in the music world with the release of two full-length albums. The music itself has a definite country twang, but at its core it’s energetic and enjoyable rock ‘n’ roll played excellently. Vocalist/keyboardist Amy Cole has been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape. Enjoy it below.

Tom Petty American Girl”
This is my go-to jukebox song. A great band we used to play shows with all the time, the Wooden Sky, does a fantastic cover of it as well. They once dedicated it to me at a show, and I swooned. You would, too! Video

Alvvays Adult Diversion
My favorite new band of the year. And they’re from Toronto! Video

Dennis Wilson Dreamer
I love every choice the horn section makes in this song. Video

Doves Pounding
This song brings back memories of U.K.-themed dance nights at Toronto’s finest dive bars in the early 2000s. It never fails to make me smile. Video

Charles Bradley Lovin’ You, Baby (Live On KEXP)
We saw Charles Bradley play an after-party at a festival last summer, and it was just an incredible experience. If you ever get the chance to see him live, do it. Video

Hayden Bad As They Seem
I saw Hayden play at a tiny all-ages club when I was 15. It was my first concert ever. I bought a T-shirt, and I asked Hayden to sign it and he said yes, and I just about died. Now we have mutual acquaintances, but I’m still nervous to meet him again. Video

The Hold Steady Constructive Summer
This song brings me right back to our first summer on tour. It captures the “what the hell is going to happen next” kind of exhilaration we had when we first started crossing the border and playing shows (legally). Video

The National Don’t Swallow The Cap
There are a lot of songs I would like to choose from this band, and I went through a few before narrowing it down, but this is my favourite off the newest record. I love the vocal layers, the simple piano, the lyrics: all of it. Video

Pepper Rabbit The Annexation Of Puerto Rico
We had the good fortune of touring with this late, great band. The boys have gone on to bigger and better things, but I miss them very much. Video

CSNY Suite Judy Blue Eyes” (Live At Woodstock)
This is a great performance, but my favourite thing about it is the end, when they confess to the crowd that it’s their second gig ever! Woodstock! Can you imagine? Video

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The Belle Sounds Make MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Indie pop/rock group the Belle Sounds is the creation of singer/songwriter Noëlle Hampton. Thee band’s new EP, Black Stone, is out now, and the Belle Sounds just released the title track, which reaches back to Hampton’s roots. Now Hampton has been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape. Check it out below.

“Black Stone” (download):

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The The (Featuring Sinéad O’Connor) “Kingdom Of Rain”
I love the drama of many of the songs from the ’80s. There was so much unapologetic emotion; it was almost theatrical at times. Matt Johnson’s voice is stunning, and Sinéad O’Connor takes this song to a whole other level. Video

The Spring Standards “Only Skin”
We met them years back in Austin during SXSW. They gave us an advance copy of this record, and I fell head over heels in love. When we were recording our first record for the Belle Sounds, we referenced this album for all of its sonic bliss. Heather takes lead on this one, but they all switch off on lead vocals. Their live show is incredible as well. Video

Shearwater “You As You Were”
I could have chosen any Shearwater song, because they are all insanely amazing, but I believe this was the first song Andre and I ever heard them play live. We are friends with a few of the guys in the band, but had no idea what to expect until we saw that first show. Shearwater is the kind of band that pisses you off because they are so damn good, it just breaks your heart. And Jonathan’s voice calls back to all of my favorite male voices of the ’80s. Video

Tupac “Keep Your Head Up”
I was friends with Tupac during the time he was at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley. We used to drive every weekend up to this shitty little under-18 dance club in Coatati where he could rap. Sometimes, he would call me to run new material by me, or read me a poem that he had just written. He was a true gentleman, one of the kindest people I have ever known. This song reminds me of his positive, sweet nature, and his respect for women, which he wrote numerous songs about. Video

Tom Waits “Tom Traubert’s Blues”
When Andre and I first started dating, Tom Waits was one of the only things we were both obsessed with musically. Living in the Bay Area, we were in close proximity to him, but never imagined crossing paths. I saw him live one time in Oakland, and he nearly blew my head off with his powerful voice. When Andre and I transitioned from our pagers (yes, we had pagers) to cell phones, we were freaked out when Andre’s phone rang for the very first time. It was Tom Fucking Waits, calling my husband. He was interested in having Andre engineer a record for him, and Andre got to go hang with him and Kathleen in the studio a few times. I am still jealous. This is the first Tom Waits song either of us ever heard. Amazing. Video

Joseph “Cloudline”
I went to a small house concert in Austin earlier this year with this band playing. Holy crap! Three sisters who sing the perfect sibling harmonies, and are absolutely in tune with each other. I took the record home, and it has been a regular in my player lately. Watch out for these Portland up-and-comers. They are crazy talented. Video

Kristin Hersh “Your Ghost”
When I was asked to make this mix tape, this song kept appearing in my head. It was so haunting and hypnotic. I saw her perform this at Slim’s in San Francisco, solo, and it was just as mesmerizing. She gave me courage to write these kinds of songs every once in a while. Video

Cocteau Twins “Heaven Or Las Vegas”
I recently looked up the words for this song, which only magnified the fact that I have been singing all the wrong words for 20-plus years. Who cares what she is saying? Her melodies are perfection. God I love this woman, and I love this band. This particular record has been a mainstay in my musical life since it came out. I never let it get too far away. Video

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Eli August And The Abandoned Buildings Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Singer/songwriter Eli August is known for his darker brand of Americana. When backed by the Abandoned Buildings, August is a force to be reckoned with. The music they play is both catchy and driving, as well as an introspection of life and memories. Now August and his band have been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape. Check it out below.

Dolly Parton “Jolene”
August: This track is one of my favorites, because it handles the familiar subject of “the cheating man” in a very different way, and from a different angle. Dolly is reaching out to the mistress and begging her not to steal her man away. There is no anger, only pleading and desperation. She packs a lot of story and a catchy chorus all in less than three minutes. Video

Bend Sinister “Time Breaks Down”
Robare Pruyn: I’m a sucker for old-school electric-piano tones, a little bit of Brian May-ish guitar and surf-rock vocal harmonies. This track is frenetic and high energy and combines a lot of disparate elements to create a tune that takes you places you don’t expect. I love that in a song. Video

Beatles “Something”
Molly Hebert-Wilson: I’ve always loved George Harrison’s transitions throughout his songs, particularly in this one, where he opens up the last chord of the verse to give a more emotionally demanding chorus. Video

Led Zeppelin “Gallows Pole”
Alex Bell: Zeppelin’s version of this one makes mandolin and banjo sound so much cooler than they actually are. Video

The Goat Rodeo Sessions “Here And Heaven”
Matt DeBlass: This is one of my current favorites. The quality of musicianship is, of course, amazing, but the sound is unlike anything else out there, and the song’s hushed intensity sucks me right in every time I hear it. Video

Renaissance “I Think Of You”
Melissa Perry: I can’t remember who first showed me Renaissance, but I know it was not my father, as he was surprised when he caught me listening to them in my teens. They opened my eyes as to what a band could sound like. This song is more stripped down than a lot of their other tunes as well as shorter, but I always loved the genuine and intimate quality of it. Video

John Miller & Ruthie Dornfeld “Dolor y Gusto”
Noam Berg: A lovely tune, effortless playing by two masters who have absolutely nothing to prove. You can hear how much fun they’re having in their performance. Audio

Radiohead “Hearing Damage”
Rebekah Griffin Greene: This is my favorite song ever. The words spoke to me about unconditional grace at a time a few years ago when I really needed it. Video

Ryuichi Sakamoto “Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence”
Michael Wolf: Through all my studying of classical music, this contemporary composer remains my absolute favorite, and this is my favorite piece of his. Very much in tune with minimalism, it manages to take a simple melody and, rather than developing it through alterations or closely related keys, restates it in slightly different settings. Video

Gift To The Greedy “Grease”
Brennan Kuhns: This band was one of the most exciting live bands I’ve ever seen; I went to countless shows of theirs in the ’90s and on. This is about as random a three minutes of music can be, but still connects to itself. Audio

Buddy Holly “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”
John Wheldon: This is a great example of musical evolution. Buddy Holly started in country before going into rock ‘n’ roll, but this song (the last he recorded before his death) shows he was beginning to experiment with different instrumentation. It’s so good, and it showcases how tragic his death was. We will never get to know where he would have gone next. Video

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David Poe Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Singer/songwriter David Poe makes it a point to bring more to the table than just a smooth voice and catchy melodies. He recently released God & The Girl via the Charming Martyr label, and it’s a landmark record for his career. Now, Poe has made MAGNET a mix tape. Check it out below.

Gavin Bryars Featuring Tom Waits “Jesus’ Blood Has Never Failed Me Yet”
Gavin Bryars takes a field recording of a homeless man singing 13 bars of hymn, loops it, and for the next 20 minutes surrounds it with an ever-growing orchestra, then choir, until finally Tom Waits chimes in. Later this piece served as score for choreographer William Forsythe’s magnificent dance Quintett, which is how I first heard it. Doubt I’ll ever hear anything quite like it again. Video

Chocolate Genius “My Mom”
Chocolate Genius, Inc. is the brainchild of visionary/provocateur Marc Anthony Thompson, whose songs, scores and singing have appeared in lots of films (including a cover of the Beatles’ “Julia” in I Am Sam), won him an Obie (for A Huey P. Newton Story) and spiced up proceedings with Bruce Springsteen and Me’Shell Ndegeocello. “My Mom” is wrenching, sweet and brave, and is probably the best song ever written about Alzheimer’s. Check out how John Medeski’s Hammond subtly defines this story’s turn from reminiscence to present, and how the lyric uses details to show not tell. They don’t call him a genius for nothin’. Video

T Bone Burnett “Kill Zone”
T Bone Burnett is an American hero who has come to the rescue of the culture so many times that to imagine contemporary music without his contributions would be akin to some sci-fi dystopia in which Dylan’s career went no further than that of Llewyn Davis. Part of the reason the records T Bone produces for others are so compelling is that he’s a great songwriter himself, and this tune, co-written with Roy Orbison and Bob Neuwirth for Sam Shepard’s play Tooth Of Crime, is one of his many masterful marriages of lyric and melody. Video

Oh Land “Love You Better”
Oh Land is Nanna Øland Fabricius, a Danish singer/songwriter/dancer whose recombination of song, film, motion, art and spectacle is sure to delight us for years to come. She and I wrote this one day and recorded it the next in one take. Then Nanna methodically added layers of harmony to create the “angel’s muted choir.” Love this recording, but I can’t wait to hear Mavis Staples sing this song. Or Beyoncé. Video

Chris Whitley “Dirt Floor”
Chris Whitley was a visionary songwriter, player and poet whose work nods at tradition while looking into the future, and into the abyss. Restless and virtuosic, he redefined so-called roots music, introduced it to EDM and, when he chose to, rocked as ferociously as any band of the era. But to me Whitley was never more visceral than when he performed solo, as he does on his record Dirt Floor and in this video from a show we played at CBGB in the summer of ’98. He died in 2005. Video
Chris’s daughter Trixie toured with him when she was a young girl; now, she’s creating her own musical world. Trixie Whitley is one to watch. Trixie Whitley and Daniel Lanois on NPR All Songs Considered: Video

Ana Moura “Thank You”
From Portugal comes fado music, a 100-year-old genre of songs traditionally about fate, the sea, poverty and loss. Most fado songs are marked by a sense of longing—in Portuguese, saudade. So I dig it. Ana Moura is her country’s preeminent fado singer, and I was thrilled when she sang this song of mine on her record Desfado, produced with love by Larry Klein (Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock, Melody Gardot, Tracy Chapman.) Excellent guitarist/violinist Freddy Koella guests on this track. Video

Brendan Hines “Miss New York”
Brendan Hines is both actor and songwriter, for which he apologizes profusely but needn’t because he is so great at both. Somehow simultaneously rollicking and poignant, this list song (from his first record and the soundtrack to the film Happythankyoumoreplease) will strike a chord with any New Yorker decamped to Los Angeles. Full disclosure: I co-produced Brendan’s most recent effort Small Mistakes, and also I follow him on Twitter. Video

Otis Redding “Respect”
Everyone knows Aretha Franklin’s version, a feminist anthem that has never been topped. But check out how the song’s writer Otis Redding rips it up in this live version from the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. When Otis sings about getting his “propers,” it’s a completely different vibe from Aretha’s version, and the frenetic ending here is like a hardcore punk drummer taking it to church. Video

All Spots To Black “Baby”
The songs of guitarist/pianist/singer Philip Krohnengold hang-glide in the appealing chasm between craggy despair and defiant vulnerability; his band All Spots To Black falls somewhere between the moody roar of Mark Kozelek’s Red House Painters and Tonight’s The Night-era Neil Young. Brainy, but mellow, but loud. This live-in-studio video, directed by Ronnie Smith, features singer/songwriter Holly Conlan and drummer/producer/composer Al Sgro. Video

Joseph Arthur, Kraig Jarret Johnson & Gary Louris “September Baby”
Here’s three of my favorite guys. Between his excellent records, art and poetry, Joseph Arthur may now be the hardest working man in show business; with the Jayhawks, Golden Smog and writing songs for others, Gary Louris has made some of my favorite music in the last 20 years and is one of the great rock singers; Kraig Jarret Johnson has played with both of them, as well as with Run Westy Run, Iffy, O Geez, Angela McCluskey and his own project the Program. Ed Ackerson and I produced a record for Kraig that were some of the most fun and creative recording sessions ever. It comes out in 2015. Video

Curtis Stigers “Everyone Loves Lovers”
No contemporary jazz singer can tell a story the way Curtis Stigers can and, like Miles, he curates his repertoire with great aplomb (when he’s not writing the songs himself.) “Rock ‘n’ roll and jazz share so many of the same artistic bloodlines that it’s remarkable the two don’t fuse more often into the kind of inspired marriage of visceral clout and intellectual savvy conjured by the singer, songwriter and saxophonist Curtis Stigers,” says the New York Times, and it’s true—unlike a lot of jazz cats, Curtis gets how contemporary songwriters (e.g., Elvis Costello and Steve Earle) are writing the standards of today and how their work can live right alongside classic tunes, as they do on his superb record Let’s Go Out Tonight. I wrote this one for Curtis after he and his band (which features trumpet player John “Scrapper” Sneider) blew me away at the Blue Note in New York. Video

Kristen Toedtman “Precious Lord”
She’s an accomplished singer who performs regularly with enormous orchestras and choirs, sings backup on countless records (notably, on performance artist Amy Raasch’s upcoming project Girls Get Cold) and moonlights as music director of the St. Michael & All Angels church in Los Angeles, but most nights you’ll find Kristen Toedtman knocking one back at the piano and singing songs with decidedly more secular themes. Like Aretha, Sam Cooke and Ray Charles, her performances are buoyed by a spiritual, gospel-infused passion even when she’s singing about whiskey and sex. Video

Grey Reverend “Little Eli”
I first heard Grey Reverend when DJ Jeremy Sole played this song late one night on his excellent radio show and immediately pulled my car over, bought it online and tweeted @greyreverend how I would be honored to write one with him. Seems strange now that this sweet little guitar instrumental was my introduction to his work, as Grey Reverend’s vibey voice and lyrics are what I have come to love about his most recent release, A Hero’s LieVideo

Thomas Dybdahl “I Never Knew That What I Didn’t Know Could Kill Me”
Norwegian singer/songwriter Thomas Dybdahl’s falsetto is otherworldly, his writing is pure and organic and his most recent effort, What’s Left Is Forever, is his finest yet. He and I wrote this song with Larry Klein, who produced this recording. Tchad Blake mixed it. The band is stellar: bassist David Piltch, drummer Jay Bellerose, guitarist Dean Parks and keyboardist Jamie Muhoberac. This deep string arrangement is by Vince Mendoza. Video

Gustafer Yellowgold “Pterodactyl Tuxedo”
Songwriter/cartoonist Morgan Taylor’s children’s project Gustafer Yellowgold is a growing universe of charming oddballs designed to teach early readers life lessons about friendship, acceptance and nonconformity via a “moving, musical book” format. Parents and hipsters seem to enjoy it too—he’s opened for Wilco and the Polyphonic Spree. Best of all, Gustafer never talks down to kids, just speaks to their inherent humanity and emotional intelligence, and that is a beautiful thing. Also, he jumps on cake. Video

Pilobolus “Transformation” (From Shadowland)
Shadowland is the first-ever full-length shadow dance piece by Pilobolus, the American dance company you may have seen performing on Oprah, Conan, 60 Minutes, the Oscars and a command performance for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Shadowland, for which I wrote a score that is one-half pop song, one-half orchestral and electronic music, has a narrative conceived by Steven Banks (Spongebob Squarepants) about a young girl who goes into a dreamworld populated by heroes and villains, half-animals, man-eating flowers and an undulating landscape, where she is transformed into a dog. Hard to explain, but visually stunning and a total innovation in dance theater. Video

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Abbie Barrett Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Abbie Barrett is the core of her band Abbie Barrett & The Last Date, who have an album due for release this month. The music they play has a tough rock edge but also stays very pop oriented. Barrett’s voice and lyrics make the songs emotionally gripping, while the instrumentation make the music fun. Now, Barrett has made a mix tape for MAGNET. Check it out below.

CSNY “Country Girl/Whiskey Boot Hill/Down Down Down”
I’ve always been a fan of Neil Young. His music served as the soundtrack to my high-school years, and I think the way he writes song has influenced me the most—albeit somewhat subconsciously. He changes time signatures, he’s daring, and he doesn’t seem to give a fuck about what anyone else thinks of him! This song includes Crosby, Stills and Nash. It’s not my favorite Neil Young song—who can really choose?—but it tells an epic, sweeping story without ever leaving the confines of some bar (at least as pertains to the lyrics). In fact, it’s a three-part suite. (I read somewhere that Neil collects three separate royalties for the song. Not sure if that’s true, but I like the idea of him sticking it to the man.) Video

Syreeta Wright “Cause We’ve Ended Now As Lovers”
Jack Hamilton, our keys player, introduced me to this song, and it really defines what “captivating” means. The song moves so slowly, and both the music and Syreeta’s voice are so controlled, and yet it just crushes you with emotion. Syreeta sings about her ending marriage to Stevie Wonder—and yet he’s the songwriter and producer of this song. It’s a collaboration that’s so strange, sad and also wonderful. Video

Sly & The Family Stone “Que Sera”
Sly covering Doris Day. I will never not sing along to this song at full volume. Video

Radiohead, “Idioteque” (Live Version From I Might Be Wrong)
I heard this song playing in a Tower Records (remember those?), and I bought it on the spot. I hadn’t really listened to Radiohead at that point, but this song just grabbed me and took me down a Radiohead rabbit hole. Thom Yorke sings the shit out of every song, but here he gets particularly angsty and yarbly (is that a word?). It reminds me a little bit of Roger Waters, whom I also love for his yell-y (another new word) singing quality. Video

Feist “Secret Heart” (Ron Sexsmith Cover)
I became enamored with this particular performance of the song. I’m a huge fan of Feist. In general, she writes amazing hooks and melodies, without compromising her smart lyrics and down-to-earth production. With that said, she didn’t write this song (and I digress). But I love songs that go from quiet and sparse to rockin’. I’m really a sucker for it. It’s an old trick, and I embrace it every time. Video

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Wannabe Jalva Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Wannabe Jalva, from Porto Alegre, Brazil, recently announced the release of their new EP Collecture, coming out October 15. Their energetic sound paired with dreamy pop passages and smooth vocals may remind you of Cage the Elephant or The Black Keys, but with more originality. Wannabe Jalva have been so kind as to make MAGNET a mix tape. Check it out below.

Kurt Vile “Wakin On A Pretty Day”
To begin our mix tape, here’s a very mellow and beautiful tune. Stop whatever you’re doing, open a bottle of beer, sit back and relax. Video

White Denim “Pretty Green”
One of the best “new” rock ‘n’ roll bands, which released with one of the best albums last year. They have such a great taste in chasing tone in the studio. They make a very nice balance between a more old-school recorded sound, full of fuzzy guitars and doubled vocals, with a modern twist that I really love. Video

The Doors “Peace Frog”
A classic is always a classic. When I was a kid, I used to prefer the Doors to the Beatles, and I remember the very first time I heard this intro, Krieger’s funky guitar and Jim’s beautiful lyrics were (and still) amazing. Video

Beck “Peaches And Cream”
One of the things I like the most about Beck is his possibility of being such a different artist from album to album. This song is from one of my favorite records of the 90s, Midnite Vultures. It’s hard to pick only one track from this guy. A true artist. Video

William Onyeabor “Fantastic Man”
This compilation that David Byrne put together from William Onyeabor is one of the coolest pieces of music that appeared in recent years. The first time I heard the whole album, I thought the songs were a little bit too long and repetitive, but after a while I realized that this was the best of it, and African music in general knows it all. It is perfect to forget about everything around you and only dance. Video

Gilberto Gil “Back In Bahia”
Gil is the father, nothing further. Video

Curumin “Compacto”
Curumin is one of the best artists in Brazil nowadays, but I really think his work is underrated by the Brazilian audience. If “Compacto” could reach the ears of the massive public in our country, it would be a major hit. Video

Tony Allen “Every Season”
Tony is the greatest drummer in the world, I keep on wondering how much groove he can make seated with those drumsticks in his hands. “Every Season” also has the voice of Damon Albarn doing a beautiful melody line. One of the best songs I’ve heard recently. Video

Sabotage “Mun-rá”
This Brazilian rapper had a very brief career due to a tragic and early death while he was leaving home to a concert. His work has been very influential to the rappers that came after him. Video

N.A.S.A “Money”
N.A.S.A. (that means North America/South America) is a project by the Brazilian DJ Zegon and the North-American Squeak E Clean. They have only one full-length recorded material, and “Money” is one of the best tracks in it. It has the always amazing vocals sang by David Byrne, and the whole album has a lot of nice collaborations from guys like Chuck D, Kanye West, John Frusciante, Tom Waits and Karen O. Video

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Joshua Worden Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

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Joshua Worden is an indie/alternative singer/songwriter from Atlanta, Ga. He’s a schooled jazz guitarist (although he later switched his major to English literature) who uses his education to create some of the most soothing and relaxing music you’ll ever hear. In September, he’s set to release his latest work of art, Into Fog. He also made MAGNET a mix tape, which you should check out below.

Elbow “New York Morning”
You’ve probably heard this song, but you should listen to it again. The chorus just builds and builds and builds, and it feels so goddamn good. It just makes me want to shout, “Raaaaa.” Guy Garvey has some serious pipes. Video

Robert Glasper “Dillalude #2″
Robert Glasper has been doing some really great things for jazz lately. This particular cut is special. They’re playing some of my favorite J Dilla beats as a live band and smashing the shit out of them. The pocket is so deep that even grandma would bob her head if she were still around and heard it. Listen to the whole thing when you have time. It’s nine minutes long, but they get to some great spots. Video

Plaid “Oh”
For me, hearing Plaid is instant nostalgia. This is from their brand-new album, but thankfully it is still unmistakably Plaid. I see late nights, yellow street lights, driving too fast, windows open, faded. Good feels. Video

Bombay Bicycle Club “Home By Now”
There’s something about this song that gets me every time. I can’t desensitize myself to it. Spine shivers and a blank stare. The chorus melody/harmony is impeccable. Video

Kendrick Lamar “Sing About Me, I’m Dying Of Thirst”
Kendrick is my favorite dude out right now. For me, in hip hop there’s a very clear line between music that’s timeless and music made for short-term consumption. Honestly, I like both, but the former is infinitely more rare. I’d put Outkast, Wu-Tang, Nas and a few others in that category. And Kendrick has joined their ranks. Music that comes from a deep well and addresses real shit but doesn’t take itself too seriously. A fine line. Video

Wye Oak “Logic Of Color”
There’s a lot to like here. Technically, I love the dynamics in the mix: the panned drums, subdued pre-chorus, the tasteful synths. Musically, it’s just a great song. Her voice has the perfect level of husk. Video

Blctxt “Blue Collar Anthem”
Anthony (blctxt) was one the first good friends I made when I moved to Atlanta, and he is ATL through and through. Great artist, always on the grind. Great photographer as well. He captures these amazing candid moments on the MARTA every morning and posts them on his Instagram. Video

Sea Cycles “Tomahawk”
These guys, besides being some of my best friends, embody completely unbridled creativity. I’ve always looked up to them for their seemingly bottomless wellspring of awesome artistic ideas. They’ve got a new album coming out soon, and it’s going to be amazing. Video

Hundred Waters “Sonnet”
This is a band of some seriously talented individuals. I caught them live before I really knew who they were, here in Atlanta a year or two ago (at 529, a small and perfectly shitty venue). They’re playing sold-out shows in front of thousands now, but when I saw them, it was me and maybe five other people watching. And they slayed it. The way the girls harmonize and get that weird flute-ish vibrato interaction going on is unique and very cool. Clever songs, odd time signatures, great musicianship. Video

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