Where did all the birds go? And more importantly, where did all the skirts go? Fall is probably the most confusing time of year for me. While a part of Summer’s celebrations linger on, Winter’s doldrums are also starting to set in. While I haven’t become a total recluse and curled up into hibernation mode via cable TV and hot cups of coco just yet, I did pass up an opportunity to grab an ice cream cone by the waterfront in favor of a rerun of How I Met Your Mother last week, and I love the Harbourfront! Things aren’t looking good. I’m cold and contemplative and in search of soul food. I think I might either have H1N1 or schizophrenia, and I blame it on the damn season. As I do with all seasons, I’ve put together a mixtape that I hope might capture some of these feelings, and help you cope with them by enabling your transition from synth-filled Summers to Bon Iver-filled Winters. And Fall, I only ask of you, be kind.
Download | The ‘Fall Be Kind’ Mixtape
The Hood Internet, who were featured prominently on my Summer in Synths mixtape, have continued on their sweltering streak with at least a couple mashups this Fall which have made me want to bust out the sandals and have a MuchDance. On ‘Anyway You Want It’ they take a mediocre (at best) song by Consequence and Kanye West, speed up the vocals and place them over one of the most infectious beats of the year from Ducksauce. Ducksauce, by the way, is a project to keep an ear on the grindstone for. A collaborative effort between Armen Van Halen and DJ gold medalist/Kanye’s on-tour DJ/Chromeo’s brother, DJ A-Trak, they’re inevitably going to be making fire together, and their first video is proof in the pudding.
One of my best friends told me recently that he’s starting a new playlist entitled Happy Songs and that this song was the inspiration for it. Escape the fall of Fall, share a hug with a friend and dance your face off to this infectious Avalanches-meets-TV on the Radio style banger from Canadians Think About Life.
Pogo is an Australian DJ whom I can’t find much information on outside of his/her YouTube page under the name “Faggotron” – no I’m not directing you to illicit content of the same-sex transformers variety, I assure you it’s all SFW. Matter fact, it’s also FFK (fun for kids) or the kid in you. Pogo represents a new trend in DJing which I’m quite sure could save the music video format from its state of current decay (commercial decay that is – not artistic). Pogo samples vocals from old films – in the case of this track Marry Poppins – and uses these vocals almost instrumentally over original electronic beats. The result is highly danceable and fun music, but more impressive is Pogo’s video editing skills. As you’ll see in the video for ‘Expialadocious‘, Pogo not only samples vocals, but also splices film bits from Mary Poppins and creates a feast for the eyes. It’s the Discovery to Christian Marclay’s Animal Collective and I dig it.
Louis plugged Washed Out a few months back and I haven’t been able to get this EP out of my heavy rotation list since. I swear you could play this song in the thick of Winter and instantly be transported to the most tranquil of beaches, bathing in the sun and smell of colladas. Enjoy escapism for the 2 minutes and 52 seconds that Washed Out provides you with, and don’t be surprised if you feel like Jodie Foster at the end of Contact when it’s over. You went somewhere, I believe you.
05. The Diogenes Club – Do You Know How to Feel It?
Despite its light synth-driven backing track, this track from The Diogenes Club leaves me on the heavy pensive side. It’s also somehow got a lazy weekend vibe to it which should be a nice companion for a season-inspired jaunt. The lead singer’s use of subliminal messaging via his repetition of the word “fall” dozens of times through the song was probably the reason it’s ended up on the mix. Listen and you probably won’t question it either.
Oh, the strings. All of a sudden things are starting to sound like Fall, and boy do I love the looped strings on Field Music’s fantastic ‘Measure’. In 2007, Brewis, Brewis & Moore (the band mates, not the law firm) saddened more than a couple of fans with news that they were going on hiatus to focus on “getting back to real music.” By this they were probably referring to their side projects School of Language and The Week That Was, which has all been great, but it was fantastic to hear that the band would be returning in 2010 with a full album. ‘Measure’ is the lead track from this album and if it is any indication, it should be a pretty great comeback indeed.
07. New York Style Yoga – Dancing With Shiva
The idea of dancing with Shiva (the Hindu goddess of destruction) makes me uncomfortable. This song, however, does not at all. New York Style Yoga was a music project from earlier this decade, with only one album, and as their name suggests, attempted to fuse classical Indian music with modern electronica to create something that Timbaland and Missy Elliot would have listened to in bed after getting their freak on back in ‘04. The basterdized interpretation of traditional ragas and classical structure works in parts, and fails in others on the album. That being said, this song is one that works really well. Enjoy irresponsibly with a healthy dose of downward dog and sun salutation.
African folk and tribal pop are different from some other genres of music like, say, Hip Hop. In Hip Hop calling yourself “The God MC Jay-Hova” for example, is common place. So if a Malawian roots singer, and his British band call themselves The Very Best – after your conceited alarm has stopped going off – your expectations will probably be quite high. I’ll tell you right away in that case, that you will not be disappointed. Esau Mwamwaya and his troupe have managed to capture the ears and hearts of the indie community with their latest album Warm Heart of Africa and amongst collaborations with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig and M.I.A., a little gem called ‘Yalira’ encompasses the spirit of the album for me. Squash banana, asante sana.
09. Rusted Root – Send Me on My Way
Full disclosure: Yes, I did find this song on the Matilda (yes – that Matilda) soundtrack. From the time I first saw Roald Dahl’s classic in live-action form, I’ve always enjoyed the sequence where this Rusted Root track plays. It captures Ms. Honey’s warmth and giving nature and Matilda’s innocence and fun-loving personality and can’t help but leave you feeling giddy on the inside. One day I decided it was time for me to stop popping in my VHS cassette and fast forwarding to the right spot just to hear the track weekly, so I found it on iTunes, and now, here it is for you.
Remember when Merriweather Post-Pavillion first came out way back in January and all these critics kept calling it the best album of the year? Looks like they were right. It shocks me to listen to that album 11 months later and still enjoy every moment of it like I did the first time I heard it. I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if Animal Collective never makes an album quite this accessible again. If their festival sets were any indication, they seem to hate their new-found popularity. In the meantime, I’ve partially dedicated this mixtape to those animals while they’re still in everyone’s hearts. They’re releasing an EP in December called Fall Be Kind and it promises to fuck with your mind in ways you didn’t know possible. This cover has everything I like in covers. It’s not at all trying to be the original, while being clever and respectful. It’s a cut off Victoria Bergman’s second solo album since leaving The Concretes, East of Eden, and features Pakistani musicians and guest vocals from Animal Collective’s Panda Bear. It may remind you of a previous plug I made for a cover – maybe I’m becoming too predictable, at least Animal Collective isn’t though.
Islands are a great Canadian band, descended from the late-great Unicorns, and new friends from the Canadian music scene such as members from Arcade Fire. Their first album Return to the Sea is still my favourite by them, and one of my favorite Canadian albums of the decade, but this cut off their new album shows growth, transformation, playfulness and an acute awareness of pop sensibilities. I dig the use of auto-tune despite the fact that it’s been released posthumously to Jay-Z’s declaration of the vocoder’s death. No matter – well done Islands.
12. Owl City – Tip of the Iceberg
Now we’re getting into the deep Fall cuts. So I know that liking Owl City is seriously unfashionable, especially in the oft-pretentious music blogging community. I mean, he’s being played on Top 40 radio, and his song ‘Fireflies’ was sticking-it to Britney and the Black Eyed Peas on the iTunes top songs chart. So I sat back and thought real hard about whether this was the kind of artist that I’d want to admit to listening to and singing along to in the shower. I guess maybe it’s the void that Ben Gibbard and Dntel left in my young pure heart back in 2004 that needed filling. Rip off or not, sometimes pop that doesn’t take itself too seriously, can be something to appreciate. ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ is a perfect example of this. It starts as a ballad about the onset of Winter, and transforms unexpectedly into an anthem for the ginos of Woodbridge. Dear Postal Service, this will do for now, but please make another record.
A balmy Sunday afternoon spent stitching together memories from a hazy Saturday, and a hazy Summer. Drums and organs are seasonally appropriate and also keep the song from taking you into lullaby land.
In early September, I wrote to a friend asking how their travels to England were going. I got a message back a week later which read “I met a bird, and he whispered this into my ear.” Attached was this gorgeous track from King of Convenience’s brilliant new album Declaration of Dependence. The entire album is a comfortable and easy listen and represents an atmosphere in music which hasn’t been tapped into for me since Fleet Foxes’ debut last year. What I would do to meet that bird and whisper back, “Thank you.”
The Where the Wild Things Are soundtrack seems to have become about as controversial as the film itself. A chorus of hype music haters has risen, insisting that Karen O was the wrong choice for the soundtrack, and that the film could have been better scored in another artist’s hands or through the use of licensing. Regardless of what you may think of the soundtrack’s appropriateness for the film, I think most people would recognize ‘Hidaway’ as an emotional peak in both the film and stand-alone soundtrack. For me, the film and soundtrack are a perfect reminder of childhood, and this song is a reminder of how much we actually did understand as children. Enjoy with a box of tissues.
Afie Jurvanen is Bahamas, a folksy singer-songwriter from Toronto. The astute Feist bandaid might recognize Afie as a member of Leslie’s touring band, and you may even hear a little Feist-assisted guitar picking here and there on his debut record Pink Strat, named after his favourite guitar. On his own, he may not be as experimental or adventurous as some of the artists he has worked with, like Hayden, The Stills, The Great Lake Swimmers and Jason Collett, but his brand of comfy-folk still sounds gosh darn good.
Produced by Yeasayer’s Anand Wilder and Chris Moore (the man behind the boards for Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio), Suckers’ first EP lived up to and beyond expectations. Another sign that despite the ridiculous hype surrounding them, Brooklyn buzz bands are still capable of delivering. The song’s lyrics couldn’t be more simple, yet they tap into the universal theme of finding that something or someone that helps you escape lethargia – a feeling that all too many lonely Winter souls may relate to in their quest for hibernation company. Can’t knock their hustle or their lead singer’s falsetto as what sounds like a marching band led by Adam Glambert takes over in the last verse. This song will get your body moving.
Bon Iver put out my favorite album of 2008, and against the odds of critical media skepticism, put out one of the best albums of 2009 with his pals Colony of Bees under the moniker Volcano Choir. ‘Still’ is a song which first surfaced on Justin Vernon’s Blood Bank EP in all its auto-tuned glory under the name ‘The Woods’. Volcano Choir’s interpretation of the track is more flush with instrumentation and texture, and is the prettiest way I know of to embrace Winter.
Download | The ‘Fall Be Kind’ Mixtape