I really enjoyed this interview with Vampire Weekend from NPR’s All Songs Considered. There are a lot of interesting bits on their creative process, their approach to their new album, Modern Vampires of the City that releases this month and some stories behind the songs.
My favorite story is the genesis to a song called “Step” that turns out to be a response to one of their favorite songs, Souls of Mischief’s “Step to my Girl”:
Souls Of Mischief I’ve always loved. I kind of associate them with the first time that I really started become a music fan as a young teenager. This song apparently was recorded around the time of their first album, which was called 93 ‘til Infinity, but it never made the record and it floated around as a bootleg for awhile. I only discovered it five or six years ago but it always really stuck with me, especially the chorus. I didn’t know where it came from but they’re kind of like scratching somebody saying, “Every time I see you in the world, you always step to my girl.” Slowly as I listened to this song, I found myself kind of writing this alternate song based on that phrase. Later we found out that that in of itself is a sample from a rapper called YZ. We didn’t know that at the time. This was kind of the inspiration to write this other song that became “Step.”
Not only did it serve as inspiration, the band decided to research where Souls of Mischief gathered the samples for their song and layered those same samples into their own song, making for a kind of musical history hidden in the music:
You can also hear how the vocal melody of our chorus kind of riffs on that saxophone sample that you hear on the Souls of Mischief song. We had to go clear the samples, and we had to find out where Souls of Mischief gathered all their pieces from. Like I said, that line, “every time I see you in the world, you always step to my girl,” comes from this rapper YZ. But that saxophone melody is actually a cover by Grover Washington Jr. of a song by Bread called “Aubrey,” which I had never heard before. So in the end, if you compare “Step” to “Aubrey,” you can see the connection. They’re pretty different, but you can see how the melody kind of changed and morphed through these different versions.
I wore shorts for the first time this year yesterday. This California air has inspired me since my plane landed almost a month ago welcoming me as it welcomes a new season. I made a little mix celebrating Spring, but also celebrating California, being outside, wearing shorts, and new life. It’s called Like Change in the Daylight. I hope you like it.
I’m completely obsessed with the latest Frightened Rabbit album. Listening to it takes me back to Nashville the summer of 2010, when I first discovered them and their previous album The Winter of Mixed Drinks became my soundtrack for that year. This album seems like it will be the same way.
If you are like me, you’re spending this morning snowed-in from the effects of the snow storm. This past week, I’ve been putting together a new mix of winter songs and today—snowed-in and bundled up—the mix seems like the perfect soundtrack.
It’s that time of year again! This year, I found myself spending more time with a lot of older music (Talking Heads, Fleetwood Mac, Phil Collins) but that didn’t stop me from enjoying some of these fantastic albums released in 2012:
Gossamer – Passion Pit
Love this Giant – David Byrne & St. Vincent
Babel – Mumford and Sons
The Heist – Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Some Nights – fun.
Not Quite Yours – Barcelona
The Peace of Wild Things – Paper Route
Making Mirrors – Gotye
Sweet Heart Sweet Light – Spiritualized
Tramp – Sharon Van Etten
Honorable Mentions: Swing Low Magellon – Dirty Projectors, Bloom – Beach House, The Quiet Life – Anchor and Braille
As soon as Passion Pit released Gossamer in July, I knew it’d be my favorite album of the year and now, five months out, my love for it hasn’t waned. If feels quieter than the band’s previous efforts, more introspective and reflective, but what really got me was the strange nostalgia I felt listening to it. I could hear these songs for the first time but they connected with me in profound way that felt like they were tied to my life. There are a lot of great moments in the album, but the second to last song, “It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy” is a stunning emotional journey, and easily my favorite song on the album.
Continuing my tradition of making annual Christmas playlists, the 2012 addition to the set is now complete and available to download. This year’s mix is called A Christmas Miracle and clocks in at just under an hour. This year’s songs are a bit more subdued, almost melancholy, and ring in the season with a thoughtful and introspective feeling—a perfect soundtrack for a late night sipping eggnog, wrapping gifts, and eating gingerbread.
“I think most of the blah-blahing about MP3s versus records (or printed books vs. e-books) is a mix of honest-to-God personal preference and sheer sentimentalism. I think we all need to shut up about this, because nothing anyone writes or says is going to change any minds. Most of the drum-beating amounts to snobbery for being part of a grand tradition or arrogance for being an early adopter. Both are equally foolish things to be prideful about. Find what works for you, and be happy with it. Music is fun and nourishing. Let it be.”
The temperature finally dropped this past weekend in New York. The leaves in the park are starting to fall. I drank apple cider and a pumpkin spice latte. I’ve worn a sweater everyday this week. Fall is finally here. I made a little mix to celebrate the new season and it’s called This Heaven Where You Hold Me. It’s for listening to around a campfire, drinking a pumpkin ale, wearing flannel. I hope you like it.
The Guardian has a great little feature on classical pianist Glenn Gould and how he is viewed today. His thoughts on recording and consuming music are especially interesting:
His ideas on editing were decades ahead of their time: he dreamed of a true democracy of recordings, when listeners would be able to edit their own versions of tracks, as we can now all do at the click of a mouse.
Gould was thinking about these things—that his recordings could be remixed by his fans—back in the 70s and 80s, long before anyone else. Stephen Hough, a member of the BBC Symphony orchestras notes Gould’s special (and sometimes tough) relationship with the LP:
Although Gould seemed to be ahead of his time - a prophet even - when he saw people preferring to listen to music on recordings rather than in the concert hall, what he didn’t see was that technology would make recorded music so available and anarchic. The LP record’s hi-fidelity made it possible for him to live comfortably on the profits of his royalties. It would be impossible for him to do this in today’s higher-fidelity, streaming, reproducing marketplace where questions are being raised about the ability to maintain copyright control on any level. Nevertheless he created a new way of thinking about recorded music where the LP became an art form in itself - not just a replica of a live performance.
This is even more interesting to think about today, when the idea of the LP is waning. How do you make that package of songs unique? How do you create an experience that is unique to that medium that is more than a replica of a live performance? The same think can be applied to books: how do we create digital packages that are unique? How do we create digital books that aren’t just replicas of their physical counterparts but unique experiences?
I’ve included songs that are about nostalgia and memories and childhood as well as songs that are forever tied to specific times in my life; Forget and Not Slow Down takes me back to my first semester at Kutztown, Devil Town takes me back to the summer commuting into New York, Change of Time reminds me of Nashville. Then there are songs that, for a reasons I’ll never understand, the first time I heard them, a wave a nostalgia swept over me as if these songs were from my past. The mix closes with two of these songs: Souvenirs by Switchfoot and It’s Not My Fault, I’m Happy by Passion Pit.