Ever since the CDP Nationwide Mix-Tape Trade ended a couple months ago, people have been harping on me about reviewing their mix. Time constraints were getting in the way at the time, but while I’m waiting for my book to go to publication, I have a week or two to really sit down and pick apart these works that CDP readers were kind enough to mail to me.
I set the rules for listening to and reviewing the assorted mixes as follows: I would write in complete stream-of-consciousness mode while each song played (hence the poor grammar and possible spelling errors), and stop writing as soon as the song was over. Any pausing or skipping tracks was not allowed. I was listening for songs that I liked, along with the general flow and mood you’d expect from a decent mix-tape. I listened to every mix through headphones and without outside distraction.
My third reviewed mix belongs to one of about three reasons why Milwaukee is tolerable in the least, Domsar. Here we go.
1. Kid On My Shoulders – White Rabbits
The theme of Domsar’s mix is ‘Musical Apocalypse In 16 Steps.’ Clearly, this guy knows what all entails a themed mix. Right away, I get the image of a gritty, damp urban atmosphere in this mix, complete with shady characters, dive bars and exhaust fumes. This opening track is cold, paranoid and frantic, which is exactly what Domsar was trying to get at in the first place.
2. Move By Yourself – Donovan Frankenreiter
Again, this mix has a very distinct ‘Milwaukee’ feel to it. Smoking cigarettes on ancient fire escapes, snapping blurry photographs of traffic lights and whatnot. This funky track is both uplifting and somber at once, which is exactly what the genre entails, in my opinion.
3. 7/4 (Shoreline) – Broken Social Scene
An amazing track by an amazing band, I’m instantly reminded of falling asleep in the backseat of a friend’s car, driving back home on a humid Summer night. Leslie Feist is a big star now, but her work with Broken Social Scene is just unforgettable.
4. Fast As You Can – Cold War Kids
This bootleg-sounding recording of a Fiona Apple song brings to light the vocal mastery of Nathan Willett. I didn’t care too much about Cold War Kids until I heard this track. While I can’t say I’m a fan of the covered song (or original) in general, Willet’s voice is just wildly on display here.
5. As You Wish – Aqueduct
This was a good time to throw a quirky song in to break up the mood a little bit, and that’s exactly what As You Wish does. I’ve heard this song three times now, and only now did I finally understood the Princess Bride inspiration. Wow, that’s some good, bizarre stuff right there.
6. Don’t Push – The Exit
Quick side story about The Exit. My band played a show with them back in the day, and we’ve seen them on a few separate occasions, none of which were positive. These guys might know how to tour like crazy and write some interesting tunes, but they’re assholes, plain and simple. Still though, this song is exactly where it needs to be in the mix, and pushes the theme along nicely.
7. Hold On – Magnet
There’s a lot of positivity mixed with bleakness on this mix, which is clearly done on purpose. This track drags on a bit; I found myself drifting off while trying to listen to it. A very sweeping, layered and dreamy track that can slip you into a trance if you’re already tired to begin with.
8. Multiply – Jamie Lidell
I can’t say I normally listen to bluesy/soul music, but I really enjoy the upbeat groove in this track. While I think it goes on for a minute too long, it’s a decent halfway point to the album.
9. Ramalama – Roisin Murphy
This one isn’t working for me. A little too tribal, a little too scene and a little too silly. Maybe I don’t get it, I don’t know. It just turned from grating to annoying in record time. I think it’s the overbearing and snooty tone of Murphy’s voice that did me in.
10. Gin ‘N Juice – Unknown To Me
This spoken-word, Richard Cheese-style rendition of Snoop Dogg’s Gin ‘N Juice is a real black sheep in this mix, but good comic relief and surreally bizarre. If I had this in my record collection, I’d be throwing it on every mix I could, too.
11. First Wave Intact – Secret Machines
Nine minutes, wow. I don’t see what the fuss is about these guys; they sound pretty much like every other band in this vein. Heavy synth, falsetto vocals, buzzing bass; you know the drill. Really though, this would have been a pretty good 3 minute song, but 9 is inexcusable. Perhaps I’m bitter because of all the buzz these guys have received; I should listen to their album before I start pooping on their parade.
12. Wraith Pinned Me To The Mist And Other Games – Of Montreal
Okay, back to business. Kevin Barnes will make everything better, even if he is making money to shill Outback Bloomin’ Onions to already-overweight Americans. Screw it, this song makes me dance! WHOOO!
13. Roscoe – Midlake
This is one of those rare tracks that almost loses you with it’s monotony, and catches you off-guard with a beautiful hook. Before you know it, five minutes have passed and you’re completely relaxed and in a different mindset than when you were when the song started. Good work.
14. Armchairs – Andrew Bird
Wow, another 7 minutes. I don’t know too much about Domsar, but I can surmise that he listens to a lot of music at home, and doesn’t have Attention Deficit Disorder. On a side note, I’m boycotting Andrew Bird because he beat out Arcade Fire for the 2007 Mercury Prize. It doesn’t matter if this song is amazing or not.
15. See Her, Seer – Inlets
This has a serious Sufjan Stevens vibe to it, which is fine by me. By this point in the mix, the apocalypse is upon us, and we’re dealing with the aftermath. At least I’m assuming, by the triple-shot of lengthy, depressing epics.
16. Swans – Islands
Brilliant. The 10 minute opening track to the amazing Return To The Sea is now the closing track for Musical Apocalypse In 16 Steps, and it makes absolutely perfect sense when heard. Islands are featured on at least three different mix-tapes mailed to me, and with good reason. A great end to a great mix.
Domsar had a vision, he had a theme, he knew how to get there and he pulled off a very impressive and expressive mix. With the exception of a wrist-slashing 3 songs in 24 minutes, it was a near-great execution of theme and flow. Time for stats.
Total Number Of Tracks – 16
Number Of Above Average Tracks – 7
Number Of Average Tracks – 6
Number Of Below Average Tracks – 3
Number Of Tracks That I Own – 4
Best Track(s) – Swans (Islands are forever)
Worst Track – Ramalama (Not feeling it, yo)
Total Score – 8.1/10
Tomorrow, I’ll have another mix on the chopping block. Will it be yours?