Tag Archives: mixtapes

#Friday Finds: New Stuff From Nickel Creek, Big Stuff from Small Speakers, etc

Nickel Creek
photo courtesy Nonesuch Records

A little something to wrap up the week. It’s been a wild one to say the least, and I’m looking forward to the leisure and low key lounging that the weekend brings. As tough as this week was at times, here are three little musical moments that kept things moving along the right track.

1. New Album from Old Favorite = Bliss

This week Nickel Creek released A Dotted Linetheir first album in almost 10 years, and it’s fantastic. Surely they’ve all grown artistically and personally since their hiatus in 2005, and no doubt they’ve kept themselves busy in the intervening time in which each of the three bandmates taking on various solo and side projects that reflect of varying colors of folk, rockalternative, and even classical soundscapes. But a large part of what makes this album so refreshing is how, with perhaps the exception of the tune “Hayloft,” the album eschews those influences in favor of a more simple, crisp, and nonetheless rollicking bluegrass flavor. A Dotted Line is a lovely little ride and one that I plan to take over and over for a good long while.

2. Big Sound from a Little Speaker

You know that wonderful feeling you get when you find $20 in your pocket you didn’t know you had? Well multiply that 10 fold and instead of cash make it a Verizon Wireless giftcard. Okay so it’s not as gratifying as, say, winning the lottery, but it’s pretty cool nonetheless. Maybe you’re still not impressed, but it’s a lesser-known fact that Verizon has a decent assortment of fun audio accessories for the devices it offers, and one of those is the Logitech UE Mini Boom portable bluetooth speaker. When they say “mini,” take them at their word, and when they say “boom”– ditto. This thing packs a punch for its preciously diminutive size. It’s no longer or wider than your smartphone and no taller than a beanbag frog, but this thing rocks. I’m looking forward to getting some good mileage out of this thing this summer. And for the price, I might just go back and get a second one. Could be crazy.

3. Getting the Lead Out By Putting it in the Mix

One unexpected side-effect to all the silliness and craziness of the week: it seemed to be a lovely little boon to my creative side. I found myself writing more, playing guitar more, and making playlists for friends more. I love a good mixtape from friends and I love making’em. It’s great for starting and continuing conversations, setting the mood, and catching up with friends you’ve been meaning to get back in touch with. While these benefits may seem obvious, they’re worth recognizing. I’ve got a few more up my sleeve before the weekend’s out. Maybe there’s one in there for you if you ask nicely.

What are you guys listening to these days? What’s on your recent playlists?

Hope all’s well with you guys. Have a great weekend.

Monday Mixtape – Top 5 Side 1, Track 1s

To quote Rob Gordon, “I’m feeling kind of basic today.” Not to mention tired. It’s been a fantastic weekend full of wine, women, and song (but mostly song), late nights, early mornings– because it’s in my genes and because i’m a bit of a sadist– and the week’s looking good ‘n long ‘n busy with no signs of letting up. And that’s all right by me.

I’m also honestly intrigued and curious about the concept of a mix derived from only such material. Say what you will about the need for going deep and understanding an album as the sum of all of its parts– side one, track ones set the tone for what’s to come, giving them the power to make or break whatever album experience you were hoping to have. Whether you’ve been lured to the record by the wildly successful single you’ve heard on the radio all week and are hoping to hear more of the same, or, as is more often the case these days, you stumbled upon the artist through related artist categories on your streaming music player of choice– that first song will determine whether you’re in it for the long haul or jumping ship by side one, track one, minute two.

And heaven help you if you believe that having that shiny new single on there as the pivotal track one is enough to carry you through an otherwise bland and colorless record. There’re definitely some examples of where it works, and likely a few of the following tracks will be among those examples, but generally speaking, if you’re leading off with your barnburner of a single, you better believe with all your soul and down payment on your yacht in Maui that the rest of your album is sold gold. Nay, diamond platinum.

With this in mind, I humbly submit my Top 5 Side 1, Track 1s.

1. Mike Doughty – Looking At The World From The Bottom Of A Well
Haughty Melodic – ATO, 2005

Starting off with a fantastic example of a side one, track one that, although being the first single from Doughty’s 2005 album, not to mention his first solo major label release (ATO), serves as a nice warm up for the rest of the record. In fact, as strong a song as it is, greater depth and all-around wonderfully hearty sonic goodness is still to come in the tracks that follow. Continue reading Monday Mixtape – Top 5 Side 1, Track 1s

8 Songs for a Better Commute

Starting tomorrow I’m paying attention more. To street signs. And traffic patterns. And potholes. And mood swings. And mercurial changes in weather and season that manifest themselves everyday. All of that important, profound, get-to-the-root-of-it-all stuff.

But most importantly, I’m going to pay attention to what I’m listening to. To gauge just what sort of reaction or 2-way interaction really takes place each time I sit down in the car to drive to work, or to home, or to the store, or what have you.

This idea came to me after reading an article about good songs to listen to whilst commuting to work. What surprised me wasn’t that it got me thinking of what my own list would look like as in fact I began cultivating one the moment I read the title; instead, what surprised me was the realization that I never really paid attention to how I felt after listening to any grouping of songs regardless of occasion or otherwise.

Good music– mood appropriate music rather– makes a noticeable impact on our daily mood and perspective, I’m told. So I begin to put this idea to the test.

8 Songs for a Better Commute (and Possibly a Better Day)

1. Good Old War – Over And Over

This song kicks off the drive at a good, rolling pace, but doesn’t over do it- perfect for getting into a refreshed, amiable morning mind even when contemplating a hard day’s work ahead.

2. Hall and Oates – You Make My Dreams

Every trailer for every decent romantic comedy in the last 20 years has employed this song in some way. And for good reason: it’s peppy, it’s flirty, and Hall’s vocals are immensely enjoyable to imitate. 3 of every 10 people dancing in their cars today are most likely listening to this song. Continue reading 8 Songs for a Better Commute

Monday Mixtape – Baseball on the Brain

For the record, I’m a lifelong Baltimore Orioles fan. Though we haven’t had the misfortune that other teams have of not having been to the World Series in a century (Chicago Cubs), half century (Cleveland Indians), nor the inability to bring home the title since our team’s founding (Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, and a handful of others close behind)– we’ve had our troubles.

Now we find ourselves in September with a white-hot American League wildcard race on our hands, and although the Orioles are balancing on the brink of elimination from October’s  contests, I still believe there is a World Series trophy in store for Baltimore this fall which would, incidentally, be a fitting tribute to the 30th anniversary of their triumphant 1983 victory.

I believe in Orioles Magic.

Continue reading Monday Mixtape – Baseball on the Brain

Monday Mixtape – Off to a Good Start

And just like that we’re in September. Even though I haven’t done all too much in that time, I feel the summer has been a whirlwind and that I’ve had hardly enough time to catch my breath.

All silly, minced cliches aside, it’s been a busy August. I took in some baseball, some great outdoors, and, of course, some good music. In particular, I saw one of my favorite artists, Josh Ritter. It was a fantastic show, and I’ll be sharing more about it later on, but for now I wanted to check in with a simple mix tape of melodies that have been taking repetitive paseos through my brain lately and popping up on heavy rotation on my Spotify and iTunes playlists.

I think I’ll call it my “Fall Good Vibes Kick-off Mix.” Continue reading Monday Mixtape – Off to a Good Start