So, I make these birthday mix tapes (yes, I still call them mix tapes even though they're CDs, just to put on the affect of a cranky old man who will not change his ways regardless what you crazy kids are calling them these days!) each year. I've been doing it for a few years now and usually I hand them out for a while after my birthday, until I don't feel like doing it anymore. I add an insert with the track list and some sort of cover art, just to make it kinda snazzy, but that's usually all people ever know about it.
The crazy thing is the ridiculous amount of time and thought that I put into putting these things together. Really it's just my stupid brain making it hard for me to decide A) which songs I'm going to use and B) the order they're going to appear. It should be a lot simpler than I make it, but that's just the process I've come up with up to now. The final part of the whole thing is that even with a year between each CD, I'm always up late the night before my birthday burning discs and printing inserts.
The criteria for choosing songs are relatively loose, but besides it being a song that I like, they are often songs that are new in the last year, are bands that I've seen live in the last year, have something to do with me (at least in my head I think they're about me), September, summer, Los Angeles and/or California.
So, here's this year's track list with a little bit of commentary:
01 - Har Mar Superstar
Saw Har Mar Superstar open for Ben Lee
at the Troubador earlier this year. It'd be easy to dismiss this guy as a joke or novelty act, but the fact is he can sing and his songs are good. You really have to see him live to get it.
02 - Dogs Die In Hot Cars
Heard this band either on KCRW or Indie 103 in the last year. Saw them play at Avalon with Phoenix
. Picked "Lounger" because much of last year was spent living the life described in the song.
03 - Kaiser Chiefs
- Born To Be A Dancer
Heard the Kaiser Chiefs first on Indie 103. They played "I Predict a Riot" and I was instantly hooked. That song is so super catchy. The whole album's good. Picked "Born to be a Dancer" because it reminded me of Adam Goldberg's line in Dazed & Confused
and because I enjoy dancing and used to go out dancing relatively frequently, but haven't of late. The idea of me saying that I was born to be a dancer kinda made me laugh. Yeah... that's pretty much all it takes for me to pick a song.
04 - Tsar
- Conqueror Worm
First heard of Tsar back when my desk was next to Tony Pierce's. Saw them once at El Cid and once at Spaceland, the latter being part of their record release tour. I could have picked one of many songs from this album. This one just jumped out.
05 - Bloc Party
Can't recall when or where I first heard Bloc Party. Chad was nice enough to take me to see them at the El Rey. Sadly, they couldn't find us on the list, so we didn’t actually get in to see the band, but we did go to the El Rey with the full intention of seeing them. He's making it up by getting us into the Hollywood Palladium show later this month. This song's only slightly less catchy than "I Predict a Riot."
06 - The Donnas
- Fall Behind Me
Saw The Donnas play an in-store record release show at the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco in October or November of last year. Them girls has growed up real good. Their music has growed up good too. The whole album's great. Choosing one song from it was hard.
07 - Sleater-Kinney
Caught the Sleater-Kinney show at the Fonda Theatre a few months ago. A very good show. A very good album. Again, hard to choose just one of the songs from this album. Like the song that follows, I just really enjoy the vocals in this song.
08 - Garbage
- Bleed Like Me
Saw Garbage at the Wiltern right before their new album was released. (Side note: Had never heard of The Dead 60s before seeing them open for Garbage at this show and was immediately hooked, even if they don't show up on this mix.) You really have to see Garbage live at least once, then you can say that you've seen the sexiest front person, bar none, in rock & roll. Shirley Manson takes the stage and you know who's going to be in charge for the next 90 minutes. No disrespect to Butch, Steve and Duke; Shirley surely does not stand alone in this band, but her presence is so overpowering that it's hard not to go on and on about her.
09 - Billy Corgan
- The Cameraeye
Saw Billy Corgan at the Fonda Theatre this year. I'm a big Pumpkins fan, but wasn't big on the solo album until seeing the live show. It really turned me around. It's no "Mellon Collie" or Zwan, but it's still awfully good and so much better than most of the dreck out there.
10 - VHS or Beta
- No Cabaret
Again, another KCRW or Indie 103 discovery. These guys have a sound like the bastard child of Duran Duran and The Cure but a little more grindy and a little more rockin'. Saw them play the El Rey and they were really good live.
11 - Röyksopp
Vs. Erlend Øye
- Poor Leno/There Is A Light That Never Goes Out
I find that I often like covers. Maybe that's why there are four on this mix. There are quite a few good Smiths covers out there. Heard this one during one of the KCRW pledge drives and enjoyed it, so here it is.
12 - Butterfly Boucher
& David Bowie - Changes
Another KCRW find. Another cover, which also features the original artist as well... some kid named "Bowie"? He's pretty good. He may have a future.
13 - Petra Haden
The third cover in a row. Check out my post about Petra
's performance of "The Who Sell Out" at the John Anson Ford Theatre.
"I Can See for Miles" seemed too obvious...and I have a tattoo.
14 - The Lascivious Biddies
- Head Over Heels
Heard these ladies through the miracle of podcasting. Adam Curry talked them up enough that I subscribed to their podcast an purchased a bunch of songs from iTunes. Oh yeah, it's another cover. Love the Go-Go's... love the Biddies.
15 - John Doe
- Hwy. 5
It's John Doe... from X... what else do I have to say? Well, I guess I could also say that Hwy. 5 cuts through California and the rest of the West Coast from north to south and back again.
16 - Beck
- Earthquake Weather
A great show at the Gibson (formerly Universal) Amphitheatre a little while back. Not your typical Beck song... as if there was one. Some people think that when it gets hot that it's more likely for an earthquake to hit. Thus earthquake weather.
17 - Chet Baker
It's Chet Baker. It's "Summertime." I like to include something classy and what's more classy than jazzman/junkie who died in obscurity?
18 - Green Day
- Wake Me Up When September Ends
I enjoy the melancholy tone of this track by an otherwise punky band. Plus, it's a September song.
19 - U2
- City Of Blinding Lights
Another classic show at the Staples Center. This is a great song. It's about New York, but it could be any city, like yours for example.
Buy the iMix, sans two tracks, here