Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributor Laura Jane Brubaker shares some essential mixtape tracks.
2k13 has come and [almost] gone, and if there’s one thing I can say I really nailed this year it would be the art of the mixtape. “But LJ,” you may say, “your 2k13 proved overwhelmingly to be a laundry list of failed romantic endeavors.” And right you may be, but rest assured that not a smidge of that was the fault of my meticulously crafted, amatoriously motivated mixtapes – of which there were two For Tom’s (different Toms), one for a crush who promptly came out as gay, and a Mixtape for Horoscope Fulfillment which, needless to say, didn’t fulfill squat. But there were also plenty of platonically-minded mixes and I still have friends, so ha.
Through all this I came up with a few good rules for crafting an excellent mixtape. First: don’t awkward yourself out of a good song. 89% of music alludes to love in some way so if you’re trying to avoid anything that mentions feelings because you’re wicked anxious about creeping someone out, you’re gonna have a crap mixtape. Second: be original, but don’t be afraid to recycle yourself. I got really good at trolling through my expansive Google Play library, which has served as theft/water-proof repository for all my musical holdings since 2010 and is a treasure trove of songs I don’t remember downloading or even hearing ever. New songs make for more interesting listening, I think, and some of my favorite musical discoveries have come while digging for mix material. Keep in mind, it’s also cool to use the same song a bunch if you think it works and you’re making lots of mixtapes anyway for some reason. Heck, that’s how I came up with this list. Finally: if you can pull it off, use a cassette. It’s old school, it’s unique, and while it may prove to be tricky for the recipient to play, the effort that goes in to a legitimate mixtape (versus a CD) makes the whole thing a lot more meaningful for everybody.
Here are the tunes I hold in the highest esteem for mix-craft. You can thank me when you’re married.
1) “One True Love” by Ben Seretan
This one comes out of the box first because, despite what I already said, using a song with the words “true love” in the title may be TOO bold a move depending on your situation. Nevertheless, Ben’s song is a lush and spacious landscape of a track, perhaps abstract enough in its construction to help you get away with the directness of the title. But if that’s what you’re going for then hey, don’t let me stop you. Continue reading →
After a dazzling performance at Firefly Music Festival last weekend, violinist Kishi Bashi is bringing his soaring, uplifting indie-pop to Philly on September 14th. The singer and multi-instrumentalist has worked and performed with of Montreal, Alexi Murdoch, and is a founding member of indie band Jupiter One. His 2012 solo album 151a was self- recorded and self-produced himself (who goes by K Ishibashi in his other musical endeavors). His live performances feature loops of notes, vocals and sounds, carving out room for solo playing and lots of experimentation. Tickets for the First Unitarian Sanctuary show go on sale Friday, June 28th. More information can be found here. Check out Kishi Bashi’s techniques in his Tiny Desk Concert from NPR Music, and watch a video of him playing Firefly below.
The Firefly Music Festival wrapped up its second year in a giant field off of the Dover International Speedway with some rain, considerably more mud, an army of inflatables and a lot of fun.
Haim‘s poppy, percussion heavy set greeted us as we entered the grounds, followed by LA singer LP early on – she had a bright blue suit, a ukelele, a voice reminiscent of Chrissie Hynde, a stylish 90s alt-pop sound and a great command of the crowd; when the skies opened up for the first time in the afternoon in the middle of her set, folks kept dancing. The second rainstorm happened a little later during Matt and Kim‘s set, but their insanely catchy songs and practically mandatory crowd participation won out over the storm clouds just as handily (check out a video of a balloon / beach ball release here). That said, holy cow those are two ridiculously perky people, and not necessarily in the best way.
Thankfully Kishi Bashi was a nice comedown – the versatile indie violinist (Of Montreal, etc) and sound loop artist created a portable chamber orchestra show on the festival’s backyard stage. He worked through his 151a album and shouted out the fan in the crowd waving a Ron Swanson flag apropos of nothing. Next, California band Trails and Ways played an impressive set of wandering, worldly pop-rock on the festival’s (unfortunately) under-promoted Coffeehouse Stage. Through the woods and across a field, Toro y Moi delighted their crowd with a set of synth-groove disco as the clouds broke and the sun beamed in.
Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos bounded on the mainstage with tremendous energy, determined to atone for the band’s cancellation at Firefly 2012 (when, he explained, “I was in the hospital, it was fucked up, I didn’t think I’d ever play a show again”). He grumbled a bit about allergies, then went on to tear across the set, sounding great but maybe overdoing it a bit since his voice blew out near the end. He explained this, and said “I’m really going to need you to sing along on these last few.” Though it initially seemed like gimmick to drum up singalongs, by the ending notes of “Little Secrets,” you could hear his falsetto straining and wheezing. But Angelakos kept pushing it further – poor dude.
Providing the perfect wrap-up before we hit the road, Vampire Weekend played a 90-minute set on the festival’s Lawn Stage, hitting the old favorites (“A-Punk,” “Cousins”), the vibey deep cuts (“Diplomat’s Son,” “Ladies of Cambridge”) and a good portion of the excellent new Modern Vampires of the City (“Everlasting Arms” sounded incredible, “Hannah Hunt” was sweet too). We’re pretty excited for their return to Philly in September. More photos from the festival after the jump, and earlybird preorders for Firefly 2014 (June 20 through June 22) go on sale Wednesday. Continue reading →
Violinist, singer and composer Kishi Bashi performs at the First Unitarian Church tonight. Using his violin as a starting point, Bashi creates entirely new universes in his compositions with swirling loop sequences, layered vocals and atmospheric synth backdrops. In addition to touring and collaborating with of Montreal, Regina Spektor, The Barr Brothers and Sondre Lerche, the Seattle native takes his sonic creations to new heights with occasional solo recordings like 2012′s 151a LP. Tickets and information for tonight’s all-ages show with Plume Giant can be found here. Watch Kishi Bashi perform “Manchester” from 151a below.
Indie rock violinist and songwriter Kishi Bashi is getting in the holiday spirit with a new Christmas single, and a string of winter concert appearances. A touring member of Regina Spektor’s band, as well as Of Montreal, Kishi Bashi premiered “It’s Christmas, But It’s Not White In Our Town” this afternoon via NPR Music. The song is woozy, melancholic, and vaguely reminiscent of Mercury Rev’s Deserter’s Songs, but undeniably seasonable at the same time. Get serenaded here, and get ready for Kishi Bashi’s appearance at the First Unitarian Church on February 6. Tickets go on sale this Friday at Noon, more information at the WXPN Concert Calendar (powered by The Swollen Fox).
Seattle-born musician K Ishibashi, who goes by the stage name Kishi Bashi, is a singer and multi-instrumentalist. He has toured and recorded as a violinist with Regina Spektor, of Montreal, and Sondre Lerche and started performing as a solo artist in 2011. The experimental indie pop artist put out an EP in 2011, followed by his first full-length solo release, 151a, in 2012. Kishi Bashi (along with bandmates from of Montreal) is playing The Fire tonight with openers Tall Tall Trees and Archer Sounds. The 21+ show is presented by Sunny Day Music and starts at 9PM. Tickets are available here for $10. Listen to the first track off Kishi Bashi’s new album in the player below.
Pissed Jeans are a hardcore/noise rock band from Allentown, PA who have released two full-length albums on Sub Pop Records. The band is playing a free 21+ show tonight at Morgan’s Pier with Brooklyn band A Place to Bury Strangers. The show starts at 6PM and is the last in the R5 Free Saturday Summer Concert Series. Download tracks from Pissed Jeans on Sub Pop’s website here.
The Sun Ra Arkestra, which formed under the leadership of Sun Ra in 1958 and now lead by Maestro Marshall Allen, is a Philly avant-jazz improvisation collective. They are playing a free show at 40th Street Field as part of the 40th Street Summer Series that starts at 6PM.
Philly rock band Blood Feathers have toured with The Walkmen and AA Bondy, now the group is playing a 21+ show at Milkboy tonight with Quiet Corral and St. James & the Apostles. Doors open at 8:30PM and the show starts at 9:30PM. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased here. The band’s album, Goodness Gracious is available for purchase here.
Finally, local indie two-piece group Safari Dudes are playing at Fergie’s Pub with Austin band Good Field and Philly’s Ghost Craters. The show starts at 7:30PM and there is a recommended $3 to $5 donation for the touring band. Download Ghost Craters’ album for free here. Check out Good Field’s video for their song “When You Walk” below.