To celebrate reaching 5,000 Twitter followers we decided to do what we did when we hit 4,000: select a follower at random and let him/her make a guest playlist! Big ups to one-time music journalist and OG Epitonic fan Thomas Prindle for putting together a great playlist and for being a forever fan. Enjoy!
When Epitonic asked me if I wanted to submit a playlist, it felt like I won something. Unbeknownst to them, in my past, music was more than just something to listen to. Music was a passion, an opportunity to gain experiences, and a community, because for a short time I was a contributing writer for a now defunct Boston-based music magazine called Instant. The position never paid, but it did get me college credit, a library of music, interviews with and opportunities to get to know artists I admired, on guest-lists at shows, and experiences working with record labels and publicists that I still use today (trust me, there are many aspects of marketing any product or service where you can position and think of it as an up-and-coming rock band).
At that same time, the “worldwide web” was fast becoming a medium for bands and artists to further their reach and Epitonic was right there pioneering the availability of music and editorial content online. My “mixtape” playlist here ties in with my past. Thank you Epitonic for being part of that past -- and congratulations on being part of my present and future.
I used to date a girl whose parents lived in a sleepy part of Western Massachusetts that bordered the town where Lou Barlow grew up and where he would eventually form Sebadoh. Simply because it was part of the route from the suburbs of Boston, on visits we would drive by a street address in Westfield that appeared in the liner notes of an earlier Sebadoh release. It's fall, I'm in college, I'm listening to Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Lou Barlow cassette releases, and there's this address and a house I'm driving by where I'm imagining all that creativity, early 4-track and lo-fi discovery, and shouting “Just Gimme Indie Rock!” possibly began.
Buffalo Tom: “Mineral”
I still clearly remember the house party where I heard Buffalo Tom for the first time; it was their song “Birdbrain” and I can't tell you how many times that song has been played at volume 11 since then. But it was their album Let Me Come Over (where “Mineral” appears) that will likely remain the touchstone for me when referencing one of Boston's more captivating three-piece rock bands.
This is off topic, but long before social networking meant everybody and their mothers on Facebook -- and, yes, even before that MySpace account you killed some years ago -- there was this “social network” called Makeoutclub where kids were updating profiles, forming bands, going to shows, and hooking up. I'm pretty sure this is what that scene sounded like.
Cat Power: “He War”
One night in the backseat of a Cadillac parked outside of The Middle East club in Cambridge, I interviewed Chan Marshall (along with a friend of hers who rode shotgun). The Cadillac, an early 2000's Seville or STS model, was Chan's; I assumed she was using it to get from point A to point B for a series of regional solo-performance show dates to promote Covers. The interview did appear in print, but the audio that I still have on tape reveals a lot more about Chan's humor and feelings on her notorious live shows than words do.
Helms: “The Kindness of Automatic Doors”
Helms were an integral part of the Boston indie rock scene and more so than any other band I knew at the time, the brothers McCarthy and Tina Helms were headlining or supporting a night's bill somewhere...always. In addition to the tempos and song shifts that appealed a bit to the math-rock fan in me, the Helms had an overall aesthetic with Helms I measured other bands against.
Blonde Redhead: “Missile ++”
When in doubt, tell them you like Blonde Redhead and watch the eyebrows raise and approving nods acknowledge your good taste. Well played, sir.
The Good Life: “A Dim Entrance”
This space was initially reserved as :insert Saddle Creek artist here." I kid you not, after having interviewed Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes and Tim Kasher of Cursive in early 2000, and other revolving band, label, and recording personnel, I had gone so far as to say Omaha was the next Seattle. Go ahead and laugh, but at the time, it seemed true. Anyway, I ended up picking Tim Kasher's side-project band The Good Life. This song appears on Novena On A Nocturn (released by the LA-based label Better Looking Records), because this release still floors me from start to finish.
Elliott Smith: “Between the Bars”
There is simply no other artist whose songs, words, and performances affected and continue to move me as much as Smith's did. There was the quiet, intimate show I witnessed upstairs at The Middle East when a room full of attentive listeners remained quiet to hear the accomplished and soft-spoken Smith play his guitar and sing. But there was also the loud, rocking, full-band treatment of songs from XO and Figure 8 that I saw at Higher Ground in Vermont -- a show where Smith seemed to beam with energy and enthusiasm. I miss him.
This band's release Quiet Games for Hot Weather had been sent to me for review and it appropriately accompanied me on a “real job” related trip to Sacramento. Lucky for me, while I was in “Sac” Pinq happened to be playing a small club within walking distance. The show was your typical indie rock affair -- too many PBRs and a standing crowd of shoegazers and head-nodders -- but thereafter, every time I hear this album I recall various senses of that evening and the warm breeze that felt and smelled uniquely "California."
There is something so simple about the tracks that appeared on Pinback's self-titled release, you have to wonder why it is more bands don't follow this formula, It's so unpretentious and elemental that I might question the band's abilities if I didn't know that Armistead Burwell Smith IV and Rob Crow are unbelievably talented. Sometimes less is more.
Your playlist is lookin' mighty bare, hoss.
Click the '+' and add some tracks.
Click the '+' and add some tracks.
John Cage 4'33"