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Myxomatosis #18: Keep Yourself Warm

Myxomatosis edit‘Tis the season!

Thanksgiving? Beginning of the holidays? No, of course not. Here in Winnipeg, winter has set in with full bone-chilling force and I, among many others I’m sure, have retreated to the warmth of my little apartment and a bottle of whiskey. It’s not a bad way to spend a Friday evening, or even a whole winter, but it has its consequences.

Many of my friends and favourite musicians feel the same way. I certainly turn to both for company during these times when the days become dark just as I’m walking home from work in drifts of glittering snow or patches of treacherous ice. However, sometimes friends’ houses are a too forbiddingly frigid walk away and I am happy to content myself with music for company. There’s something about winter that’s just conducive to drinking alone and wallowing in contemplation.

The inspiration for this mixtape came about during one of my aforementioned walks home from work. At this time of year, the city is still beautiful and we’re only two weeks into snow and cold, so there’s a kind of quiet appreciation that comes over me when I listen to sad songs while walking in the dark. I also feel alone even when surrounded by people and busyness – there’s so many layers of coats and scarves and sweaters separating everyone, and people are in such a rush to get where they’re going, which is back indoors – anywhere indoors – and separated from the perpetual chill.

Once indoors, the drinking songs can begin. (Up until then, they can’t be accompanied by actual drinking, which is important, not to say imperative.) Granted, these are definitely not all straight-ahead drinking songs, but there’s a loose theme of pensive introspection. This includes the stupidity of the destructively drunk; those who want to forget everything, including the workweek, everyone they know, and all of their bad decisions. It’s also about the worn-in habits of the terminally lonely and isolated, the promise of a new night or a new weekend or a new year, and the painfully sharp focus of the morning after, as yet more bad decisions solidify and in addition to dealing with them there’s also the problem of a pounding headache. We’ve all been there.

It’s not all bad, though. It helps us feel like there’s something keeping us together after the time apart. It’s soothing, and winter is a time for a little extra comfort and indulgence.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m about to venture outdoors again. But it’s okay, because the promise of a manhattan on a Friday night is worth it. And besides, I have tunes to keep me warm.

Download Myxomatosis #18: Keep Yourself Warm

Art Brut – Alcoholics Unanimous

Frank Turner – Dan’s Song

British Sea Power – Waving Flags

Depeche Mode – Black Celebration

McCarthy – The Drinking Song of the Merchant Bankers

Augustines – New Drink for the Old Drunk

Japandroids – The Nights of Wine and Roses

Hefner – The Hymn for the Alcohol

The Afghan Whigs – Fountain and Fairfax

Black Flag – Six Pack

LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls

Associates – Party Fears Two

Jeff Buckley – Lilac Wine

Lightspeed Champion – Galaxy of the Lost

The Smiths – Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before

Patrick Wolf – Vulture

Elvis Costello – I Can’t Stand Up (For Falling Down)

Manic Street Preachers – A Design for Life

Frightened Rabbit – Keep Yourself Warm

The Replacements – Here Comes a Regular

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Myxomatosis #16: Happy 1st Birthday From a High Horse!

Here’s to another year of sporadic posting!

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Altered Images – Happy Birthday

Andrew Bird – Happy Birthday Song

Blur – Birthday

Cibo Matto – Birthday Cake

Imperial Teen – Birthday Girl

Junior Boys – Birthday

Microdisney – Birthday Girl

Modeselektor – Happy Birthday!

Pet Shop Boys – Birthday Boy

Spearmint – Happy Birthday Girl

Sufjans Stevens – Happy Birthday

The Desperate Bicycles – It’s Somebody’s Birthday Today

The Smiths – Unhappy Birthday

The Sugarcubes – Birthday

The Twilight Sad – That Birthday Present

The Von Bondies – 21st Birthday

They Might Be Giants – It’s Not My Birthday

Ween – Birthday Boy

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Myxomatosis #10 – Summer Road Trip

I’m pretty attached to the platonic ideal of the summer road trip.  My dad has never been a big fan of air travel, so when I was a child our family summer vacations were often spent, at least partially, in the car on the way to a destination.  We took in much of Canada this way; I’ve seen the East and West coasts of Canada as part of summer car trips that stretched up to four weeks in length.  My family, however, are not big music fans, so this time spent in the car, gazing at mile after mile of highway, was also used to listen to a lot of audiobooks and children’s tapes (does anyone else have fondest memories of the Classical Kids series?  My favourites were the Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi stories!).  Nowadays a road trip for me is not complete without a pile of CDs, an FM transmitter to connect my iPod to the car’s stereo, or even just the radio, but the way I listen while driving hasn’t really changed.  Music still seems to sound more transcendent on the road, so much so that I have been know to occasionally drive the car (I don’t own one, but I sometimes borrow them from family) around parts of town I’m unfamiliar with, especially if there’s an exciting electrical storm happening, as a soothing way to spend part of a summer evening.

In my mind, summer songs, too, are slightly different from other songs.  The ones I’ve chosen for this week’s mixtape are sweetly happy, nostalgic, loose and casual, or even just best enjoyed during some time outdoors with friends and drinks.  I picked these songs because they sound to me like the hopefulness of spring dissolving into summer, the promise of more time spent in the company of friends, more moments shared, fewer stresses, and feeling things more intensely.  While I actually am emphatically not a fan of the heat or sun, there’s still something about this season that smacks of freedom and well-being, especially after coming off an infamous Winnipeg winter.  Please enjoy, and maybe under a dusky sky while driving.

 

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Evans the Death – I’m So Unclean

Cloud Nothings – Fall In

Pavement – Summer Babe

Jonathan Richman – I Was Dancing in the Lesbian Bar

Spearmint – Isn’t It Great To Be Alive

Boxed Wine – Feral

Japandroids – Younger Us

The Velvet Underground – Sweet Jane

Toots & The Maytals – Pressure Drop

Liechtenstein – Passion For Water

Cheap Girls – Ft. Lauderdale

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Voodoo Chile

Ween – Ocean Man

The Zombies – Time of the Season

Metric – Stadium Love

Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – Shimmer

Those Dancing Days – Fuckarias

Yeasayer – 2080

The Pastels – Worlds of Possibility

Young Galaxy – We Have Everything

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Myxomatosis #8: On Our Band Could Be Your Life

American hardcore punk icon Henry Rollins was in town about a week and a half ago, and Larissa and I were there.  Originally known as the singer with legendary hardcore band Black Flag, Rollins spent the ’90s working as frontman of the Rollins Band and has spent most of his 30-plus year career writing and publishing his words not just in the form of lyrics, but in tour diaries and spoken word poetry performances and collections as well.  When his Winnipeg date was announced a couple of months back without any specifics as to what kind of show it would be, Larissa and I weren’t sure what to expect: music, poetry, or some impassioned ranting could all possibly be on the menu and in any combination.  It turns out the third option was what we were in for that night, and what delightful ranting it was.  Rollins told stories about his Black Flag days (once, when knocked out by a serious kick to the cranium, he remembers Greg Ginn waving at him after he came to, not to see if he was alright, but to alert him to the fact that they had to continue with their set despite the fact that their singer had just been knocked unconscious), his letters from fans, his longtime friendship with Ian MacKaye (they went to Aerosmith shows together when they were really young, something I can’t quite wrap my head around, especially knowing what MacKaye would come to stand for in a few short years), seeing the mausoleum of Kim Il-sung in North Korea, and his addiction to the road and to touring, among many other things.  He also spent plenty of time mocking his own country and (perhaps somewhat misguidedly) praising ours.  All in all, though, he was on amazing form and full of the legendary energy and passion that I’d heard and read about for so many years.

One of the more recent places I’d read (my reading it is recent; it was published in 2001) about Rollins and the music scene from which he emerged was in Michael Azerrad’s excellent book, Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991.  While he begins with Black Flag and the hardcore scenes in California and Washington, D.C., Azerrad’s central thesis is that when Nirvana seemingly exploded into popular consciousness with the release of Nevermind in 1991, what actually brought that event to fruition was the slow, steady workup of significantly more underground, indie bands during the preceding ten years.  When grunge “broke” in the early ’90s, it was because of the work of American bands who refused to let go of punk when it dissolved in the late ’70s, instead morphing into hardcore and, later, college rock, before hitting critical mass with the advent of grunge.  In Our Band Could Be Your Life, Azerrad focuses on thirteen bands who carried that punk ideology through their influential but ultimately still obscure work in the ’80s.  From the overtly political post-punk of San Pedro’s Minutemen to the art rock scene in New York City that gave birth to Sonic Youth, the bands profiled by Azerrad are incredibly important to the way we understand American punk and alternative rock music today.  He explores the crushing ennui and restlessness that made and then ultimately destroyed The Replacements, the strident activism of Ian MacKaye and his two bands, Minor Threat and Fugazi, and the educated and curious urge to experiment that drove Mission of Burma’s music.

While I was familiar with most of the thirteen groups that are featured in Our Band Could Be Your Life, there were a couple bands that the book prompted me to investigate further, like Mudhoney and the Butthole Surfers.  His writing is excellent in the way that it brings together and finds similarities in scenes and genres happening all over the country over the course of more than a decade.  One of those uniting features of these bands is the hard work put in by them, the relentless touring, and DIY, often working class approach to financial decisions, from choices in record labels to the ultimate in economy touring.  Think of this week’s mixtape as the musical accompaniment to Azerrad’s book, offering a glimpse into the power, enthusiasm, and success of these bands.

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Beat Happening – Angel Gone

Fugazi – Waiting Room

Big Black – Bad Penny

The Replacements – Unsatisfied

Minutemen – Sell or Be Sold

Mission of Burma – Fame and Fortune

Sonic Youth – Expressway to Yr. Skull

Butthole Surfers – Dum Dum

Black Flag – Thirsty and Miserable

Minor Threat – Look Back and Laugh

Mudhoney – Touch Me I’m Sick

Big Black – Kerosene

Dinosaur Jr. – Sludgefeast

Black Flag – Nervous Breakdown

Beat Happening – Bad Seeds

The Replacements – Androgynous

Mission of Burma – Mica

Sonic Youth – Death Valley ’69

Minutemen – Maybe Partying Will Help

Hüsker Dü – Reoccurring Dreams

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Myxomatosis #6 – ReMyxomatosis

Some favourite remixes, past and present.  Does what it says on the tin, basically.  Enjoy!

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Azealia Banks – 212 (Derrick Carter Remix)

Boys Noize – Let’s Buy Happiness (Proxy Remix)

DFA 1979 – Romantic Rights (Marczech Makuziak Remix)

Feist – 1234 (Van She Remix)

Gossip – Standing In The Way Of Control (Le Tigre Remix)

IAMX – Spit It Out (Designer Drugs Remix)

Janelle Monáe – Tightrope (Wondamix)

Le Tigre – Deceptacon (DFA Remix)

Manic Street Preachers – This Joke Sport Severed (Patrick Wolf’s Love Letter To Richey Remix)

Metronomy – The Look (Camo & Krooked Remix)

Robyn – Call Your Girlfriend (Feed Me Remix)

Santigold – You’ll Find A Way (Switch and Sinden Remix)

Simian Mobile Disco – Hustler (Joakim Remix)

Siouxsie – Into a Swan (Weatherall Remix)

Thom Yorke – Black Swan (Cristian Vogel Spare Parts Remix)

 

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