Category Archives: Monthly Mixes

Bebe ’67 Mix

I was recently invited to contribute to the monthly mixtape site, The Mixtape Club. I started with a mix I called “Girls Who Wear Black” and dug out all my darkest, moodiest girl group records (The Whyte Boots’ “Nightmare,” Jamie Carter’s “The Boy With the Way,” Betty Barnes “Requiem (For a Girl Born of the Wrong Times)”) but couldn’t really connect with such heavy gloom. So instead I picked out the records I felt like listening to at that moment—the Ann Cole 45 I just scored on eBay, Claudine Longet’s wintery “Run Wild, Run Free” (David Whitaker’s original instrumental is worth seeking out as well), and Little Joe & the Thrillers’ “Peanut,” first introduced to me by my friend Bob Stanley. This song is featured on his latest compilation for Cherry Red—Songs For a Central Park Picnic. It has become one of my favorite compilations, and when I first played it for my mom, she demanded I order her five extra copies pronto! I’m hard at work on a holiday mix as well, so will post that next week! In the meantime, you can have a listen to my “Bebe … Read more

All Cried Out Mix

Minor chords and melodrama. Stories of heartache and loss. Sad songs require few ingredients to reach full effect, and often less is more (although sweeping string arrangements are always appreciated). I  like my sad songs devastating– the ones that REALLY floor you. Here are 25 of my most heart-wrenching favorites. Unsurprisingly the list leans heavily on the females, although a few men have been thrown in for good measure (couldn’t leave out the Cryin’ Shames “Please Stay,” possibly the saddest song on record). I’ve included Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now” for its flawless, tear-inducing verse, but I’m always disappointed that it loses its sorrowful way soon after. I always keep a devastating mix handy, incase the mood turns blue and I really want to immerse myself in sadness. I often did this as a teenager. When I found myself alone at home, I’d grab all my saddest records (Kix “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” Skid Row “Quicksand Jesus,” Ozzy Osbourne “You’re No Different,” metal bands were masters of melodrama!), sit by the window sill and listen in the dark. A few weeks ago a bunch of friends rented a house near Woodstock, and … Read more

Nippon Girls: Japanese Synth-pop, Bubble-gum, and Ballads Mix (1971-1985)

Disco, new wave, punk, power ballads. Japan continued to mimic the musical moods of the West into the ’70s and ’80s, albeit with a larger helping of sugar. Japanese chart pop came heavily candy-coated, melodies almost extreme in their sweetness, back by ultra-corny synth sounds and super-slick productions that require treble adjustment. It’s a genre that has yet to garner interest outside of Japan, and has little of the cool lavished upon J-pop from the ’60s. I can’t think of many Western records that sound as un-hip as say “Sentimental Journey,” and I sometimes find myself dashing for the volume control, worried about my neighbors over-hearing such peculiar selections. But if you’re a sucker for magic melodies and quality pop songwriting, no matter if delivered via a wall of sound or Casio keyboard, I think you’ll be surprised by just how damn catchy synth-driven J-pop can be. Tsutsumi Kyohei, master songwriter and producer, is behind a good majority of the best pop written in Japan from the ’60s through the early ’90s. I’ve starred all the songs with Tsutsumi Kyohei’s involvement. And have also noted songwriter Eiichi Ohtaki, another songwriting prodigy who had … Read more

On the Beach Mix

I’ve been spending the past week at the beach, mixing and matching music to the sparkling sand n’ sea. I’ve whittled down the 135+ song list to 29, quite a cumbersome process given the excess of very fine summery songs from practically every year since the birth of music. I would’ve loved to include Will Smith’s “Summertime” and Aaliyah’s “Rock the Boat,” two of my favorite summer singles from the ’90s, but they stick out like sore thumbs amongst the bossa nova, Beach Boys, and Polynesian-styled J-pop. Somehow the ’80s summer hits offer a smoother blend. I’ve spared you “Careless Whisper,” Carribean Queen,” and “Cherish” (Kool & the Gang, not the Association) although they’ve been beach-tested and I can assure you they sound brilliant amidst the palms. As per usual with my mixes, I don’t like to restrict myself to only songs with beach/ sea/ sand titles and themes, so I’ve chosen the Beach Boys “I Do” and “I Can Hear Music” instead of the more obvious surf hits and “All Summer Long” just because they work so damn well in a tropical climate. Have a wonderful summer! 1. Marc … Read more

I Like London In the Rain Mix

Actually I don’t like London in the rain (the constant drizzle was partly responsible for my moving back to NYC). But I remember being caught in a heavy downpour on a leafy street in King’s Cross, without an umbrella or wellies. There was nowhere to take cover, so I turned up the volume on my ipod and walked home in the rain, resigning myself to getting soaked and feeling oddly liberated. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, there’s nothing like music to enhance the mood of a rainy day.  I actually tried making a summertime mix a couple days ago, and it just wasn’t coming together. It was pouring outside, and Annette’s “Muscle Beach Party” didn’t exactly fit with the cozy feeling being inside during a torrential rainstorm. So I switched to the Satisfactions “Bring It All Down” and took it from there…….. 1. The Chiffons: Up On the Bridge2. Eiichi Otaki: Ame No Wednesday3. Shapes & Sizes: Rain On My Face4. Barbara Chandler: How Can I Say No To You?5. Jacqueline Taieb: Le Printemps A Paris6. The Sweet Things: Don’t Come Looking For Me7. Blossom Dearie: I Like London In … Read more

Alan Parsons Project + Mix

When Alan Parsons first heard “Eye in The Sky,” he hated it. “I was ready to drop it,” Parsons recalled. “Eye In the Sky,” written and sung by Parsons’ partner Eric Woolfson, turned out to be the Alan Parsons Project’s most successful single to date, and their only US top ten hit. Parsons was no more supportive of Woolfson’s voice. He thought it worked fine as a guide vocal for the demos, but insisted on an ever-changing array of vocalists and brought in Allan Clarke of the Hollies, Colin Blunstone of the Zombies, Procol Harum’s Gary Booker, and a string of lesser-known singers. Parsons later admitted that his dismissals of Woolfson were some of his biggest mistakes. Woolfson’s talents had been recognized years before he met Parsons. After a failed attempt at an accounting career, Woolfson left his Scottish home for London, and paid a visit to Rolling Stones manager and Immediate Records label-boss, Andrew Loog Oldham. Oldham called him a “fucking genius,” gave him a publishing deal, and paired him with Immediate act Chris Farlowe (Woolfson wrote the B-side to his #1 single “Out of Time”), Two of Each, the Poets, Frank … Read more

Breakfast In Bed Mix

I recall pissing off an ex-boyfriend with deafening dance-pop at 7:30am. He said it was far too early for such brash sounds. Now I agree. I would’ve loved to include the Neon Philharmonic’s “Morning Girl” (at least for the line “Put your dreams away and read your box of Cheerios”), but that damn keyboard intro is an instant mellow-killer. Morning music should ease you into the day, gently. Cozy, warm, ethereal. No sudden thuds of a kick drum. A tempo slow and easy. Never too loud a chorus. Basically the opposite of those “Wake Up Boo!”-esque, shouty “gett outta bed and get to work!!!” motivational monstrosities. I took extra special care to ensure that the mood is mellow throughout. And by the time you get to the Byrds’ “Draft Morning,” you’ll be awake enough to enjoy the fuzzy psych-rock breakdown. I avoided a few obvious ones (The Commodores “Easy”) and didn’t want to strictly choose songs with “morning” in the title. The Bee Gees “Charade” references summer nights, but I think it works equally well in the early hours. And I’ve always thought the Pixies “Ana” sounds best at sunrise. I … Read more