I was driving home one day last week, really tired after several days of late nights, and I needed a playlist of very calming, down-tempo, melancholy-type songs. And I liked what I came up with so much I decided to hammer it down into a mix. I’ve called it the Melancholia Mix because that most closely approximates the sound I was going for, but really, it’s not morose or depressing music – most of it honestly makes me smile. It’s the type of music that you’d listen to in the fall or winter when it’s raining softly outside and you have a fire in the fireplace and you’re curled up with a book or just staring into the flames with a cup of hot cocoa. It’s a very easy-going, very comforting mix. Which is pretty different for me, since I usually tend to pick upbeat songs for mixes. It’s cool, though, because I’ve gotten to choose a few songs from bands that normally do upbeat songs but this particular one happens to fit the theme – like Babyshambles and Mates of State.
Grab the whole mix in this zip file, or stream and download individual songs below (if you’re reading on Facebook, click through to my blog to stream the music). You can right-click > save on the artist/song title to download each song. Clicking on the album title will take you to Amazon.com [disclaimer: through my affiliate link] to buy the album (in MP3 format when available, on CD when not). If there’s no link on the album, it’s out of print or otherwise not available. If you like the music, please support the artists by buying their music and going to their concerts. If you are or represent one of these artists and would like the files removed, please contact me.
One day later and I’ve mostly recovered. Physically, that is. It was probably noon today before I could walk and be sure my legs would hold me up, but that’s also because of the actifed I took when I got home last night to combat being-outside-all-day-in-the-dust-and-dry-grass allergies. Still, everything was totally worth it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Here’s a sampling of who I saw and enjoyed. Though there were three stages at the festival, I pretty much hung out at Stage 1, since that’s where all the bands I’d heard of were playing, and thus I suspected that I would have a good chance of liking the other bands there as well. Generally, that was right. I could hear the bands on Stage 2 any time Stage 1 bands weren’t playing, and they were playing really LOUD punk rock over there. Far too heavy for my tastes. I couldn’t hear Stage 3 very much, but the one time I wandered over there, there was a rapper up, so I wandered back pretty quickly. Thankfully, most everybody on Stage 1 was listenable to one degree or another. If you saw my Twitters during the show, you’ll know I didn’t care for the first four or so on Sunday, but they still weren’t awful. Anyway, here are the eight or nine I enjoyed the most, with my very favorites at the top.
edit: Great photos here, from photographer Chad Wadsworth.
I’m giving Headlights the number one spot mostly because I was pleasantly surprised by how great they were. I’d been sitting in the back through four bands that I mostly disliked (far too screamy; fine if you like that sort of thing, but I don’t), and then Headlights came on, and they were somewhere about four bars in before I was up by the stage totally into it–and not just because they were so much better than the previous bands. I hadn’t heard of them before, and in addition to the music being good, they were also adorable. Erin Fein, the lead singer, seemed taken by surprise that we liked them so much. That was also a nice change from the earlier bands, who were convinced they didn’t suck, even though they kinda did. I’m sorry, that was biased. Anyway, I fell in love with them, and headed straight up to their merchandise table and bought their album. And I’m not usually an impulse buyer. But I figure, buying things at concerts gets more money to the artist, so if there’s ever a time to impulse buy, that’s it.
PEOPLE IN ST. LOUIS: Headlights is actually playing St. Louis this Wednesday (November 7th), at the Bluebird on Olive Street downtown. See http://bluebirdstl.com for more info. It’s only like $7-9, so you should totally go.
I’ve liked the New Pornographers for a few months now, but have held off posting their stuff because, yes, of their name. But you know what, I can’t help what they call themselves, and they make some really great music (which is not at all pornographic in nature). And they were basically the biggest drawing card for me going to the festival in the first place. The only reason they’re not at the top of this list is because I expected them to be good, whereas Headlights surprised me. Anyway, I was five feet from the stage! They did all my favorite songs off “Challengers” as well as a lot I liked but didn’t know (must be off “Twin Cinema,” which I haven’t heard). Interestingly, “Myriad Harbor” (my current all-time favorite song) doesn’t work as well live as it does on the album; I think because in the recorded version, Dan Bejar is so very introspective and quiet in parts, almost like we’re overhearing something we shouldn’t be, and that’s one of my favorite things about it. But you can’t do that in a live show, you’ve gotta be forceful enough to be heard, and it came out harsher. But it was still good. And the other songs, “Challengers,” “My Rights Versus Yours,” etc., were awesome. Plus, they were more comfortable playing with the crowd than some of the other groups. At one point Neko Case got a serious craving for Rice Krispie Treats (they had a huge sign straight in front of her at the food stand where they were selling them), and said she wanted a mattress of them. Next song break, a stagehand brought a handful of them to her and Carl Newman, so we had a brief snack break. It was fun. I enjoy stuff like that at concerts.