So, after several years of Letters With Mixtapes, I'm calling it quits. It's been a good run and the response to the site has been overwhelming. Much more than I ever expected.
Many thanks to Alexis Wolf and Danielle Rodeo Warhola for holding down some of the posting over the last year or so. I knew it'd become a back-burner project for a while now, but I just realized it was done in the last few days. The time had come to say it.
Thanks for reading what I've had to say about my lifelong obsession over the past few years. I really appreciate that and I hope it turned you onto some sounds that helped you out in some way.
In other news: I just started a label called Antiquated Future Records and I'm really excited about the first couple releases. They just came out on Friday and I can't stop listening to them. I posted some songs from them below. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
I turn 30 years old in exactly one minute, so here goes some kind of future I cannot imagine.
I saw Mount Eerie for the first time in (i think) late 2003 or early 2004. It was in Olympia at a venue called the Yes Yes (RIP!). The project hadn't been announced, as far as I knew. The flyers just said 'Mount Eerie' and, since that was the last Microphones album, I guessed it was the new name for The Microphones and went. There were only a handful of people there and I assume we all just kind of had gone hoping we were right. We were basically right, I guess (the project ended up having a different feel), and it was just Phil and an acoustic guitar. Not the elaborate Microphones shows I'd been having the pleasure of watching for the last few years. But it was still really great. After the show, I talked to Phil a little while he loaded up his beat up pickup truck. I think he might have been doing a little tour down the coast, I can't remember. I walked home, thinking about how brave it was for him to change his project's name at the height of its popularity. I thought to myself, "gee, he must not want a following, must just want it to be a real personal thing." Looking at it now, eight years later (!?!), I think about how I misjudged this one and how this music will attract followers just through its sheer existence. No promotion needed. That said, here's some promotion: the first single from the upcoming Clear Moon album, due out May 22nd. Mount Eerie - "House Shape"
As a side note: I've finally come around to realizing how great Soundcloud is; especially for finding interesting experimental stuff and the weird sides of artists that don't always get weird. If you need a place to start, here's the people we follow on Soundcloud and some of our favorite tracks.
Today, the new single from Olympia's own Broken Water came my way, getting me all excited for their upcoming album. The album's called Tempest and will be their first release with Seattle's very fine Hardly Art label. It's been pretty amazing seeing Broken Water evolve over the last few years and I always love seeing their combination of sublime noise and odd pop beauty. And, while their sound is easily comparable to a bygone era of Seattle music and various buzz clip era bands, they've taken it to a place where few of those bands went. It's a little mystical and feels connected to the earth in a way that's pretty different from the genre that inspires them. Broken Water- Drown (off Tempest, coming out March 29th on Hardly Art)
The first few bars of 'Cuckoo' will confuse your senses with a familiar
warmth if you are a fan of Zola Jesus and/or Broadcast, but when Tessa
Murray's soft and hypnotizing voice begins to coo in a tone that implies
the transmission of delicate secrets, you will realize that you are
making a fresh connection to an important new band producing dream pop
with their own finely tuned twist. The London-based Still Corners, who
recently put out their first full length record with Sub Pop, Creatures of an Hour, blend pitch perfect electronic pop with a taste of
psychedelic memorabilia. The result is a mind-expanding feeling made all
the more potent if you are able to catch their live show, during which
Tessa's slowly swaying body and knowing dreamlike expression are framed
by eerie video projections compiled for the songs by the band's
guitarist, Leon Dufficy. Their new album has something for everyone,
from the frolicking melodies of 'The White Season' to the trippy percussive frenzy on 'Into the Trees', or the lovely and creepy ballad
'I Wrote in Blood'. Still Corners manage to combine all of the desirable
aspects of the '60s with a modernity that scans the horizon, looking
towards a haunting hallucination of the future. (Alexis Wolf) Still Corners- Cuckoo
We stumbled across this wonderful songstress late at night when the lights were dim and the shadows could have been interpreted as either cordial or dismaying, dependent upon the tilt of our head or the squint of our eyes. Luckily, a push of the play button allowed Emilie Lund's childish yet refined voice to fill up the entire room with a familiar sentiment brought back from the realm of nuanced comfort. The contrast of her simple layered vocals and subtle yet perfect instrumentation carried us away to another realm and helped us to forget that we had ever been nervous of the dark. Her lovely music reminds us of the perfect combination of near-romantic feelings that can be found in the company of friends -- moments when the heart is quiet and full to the brim with a special combination that is impossible to replicate and worth holding onto. (Alexis Wolf)
Emilie Lund- Something is Eating Me (off her Self-Titled EP)
Best of 2011? I can't totally say. In 2011, I didn't hear a lot of albums that I thought were great. I heard a lot of interesting albums and a lot of pretty good albums, but it wasn't the flood of 2010 (for me). I also wasn't up on it. I was on tour for big chunks, listening to mixtapes and audio books, hearing interesting local music around the country. I was obsessing over's Prince's catalog and collecting soul songs from bygone eras. I was working on albums, arranging compilations, and putting my friends' songs on repeat for days on end. I was going through every New Yorker Fiction Podcast, listening to Mudd Up every week. I could honestly just come up with three albums that I listened to front to back enough to know their greatness.
1. Barren Nieces- Lascivious Occupations- never would have come across this had we not been sharing a bill together in Phoenix this summer. I am baffled at why Barren Nieces isn't an indie sensation and am set on trying to help change that (so far, not much luck, but these things take time). Since I've already posted the single a time or two, here's the opening instrumental that is up for free on their Bandcamp. Barren Nieces- Wicked Wicked Whisper
2. Jordan O' Jordan- Drawn Onward- such a good album. It's so nice to have an album that finally shows this man's genius to others without them needing to see him play live to understand. This is an earlier version of a song from the album. It's fun. Jordan O' Jordan- Introducing the Scientific Method
3. EMA- Past Life Martyred Saint- to my dismay, Gowns called it quits a year or so ago. One night I saw that Erika from Gowns was playing in downtown Olympia in a new project called EMA, I got excited, but decided I was too tired to go out. Turns out this was a huge mistake. This album is so amazing and EMA will probably never come back Olympia. But at least I have the album. EMA- The Grey Ship
There were a lot of albums that I came to late, or just can't totally say how much I like them because I didn't give them that test of obsessive listens. PJ Harvey- Let England Shake, Shabazz Palaces- Black Up, Bjork- Biophilia, Ducktails- III, Twilight Singers- Dynamite Steps, French Quarter- Desert Wasn't Welcome, Tom Waits- Bad as Me, and Mega Bog- Freaky Dawn come to mind.
Mega Bog has that magic. I can't describe what's so good about them. They just have that something special that happens sometimes. And maybe that's the best reason you should listen to them- not that many groups have that. I picked up their new-ish Freaky Dawn (quite randomly) last weekend in Seattle and it's been on repeat in my tape player. The below track is my favorite from last year's Okay Human. To me, it's one of those times that a recording captures a moment of people in a room and it feels like people in a room and you know what celebrating with other people feels like and knowing that feels good. Mega Bog- Ocean Weeze (from Okay Human)
In brief: free compilation. In detail: a few years ago (three and half, to be exact), there was nothing better to me than the music that people were making out of the Pacific Northwest. While that hasn't really changed, the degree to which it was being generally ignored by a wider audience was heart-wrenching and endlessly baffling to me. So, I got ahold of my favorite folks making music at the time and asked they be part of this compilation. I called it Well, I Don't See Why Not: A Compilation of Unsigned/Barley Signed NW Artists, got the ever-amazing Ariel Birks to do the art for it and burned (oh, how quickly times have changed!) a hundred copies. Surprisingly, it sold out really fast and I kept burning copies until one day I realized I should get somebody to professionally duplicate a bunch, then other volumes came out, it continues, life is good. Definitely never a big money maker, but always infinitely satisfying, Well, I Don't See Why Not has been the best excuse I've ever had to get my favorite artists to play me their new songs (and, often, make new songs!). So, the one that started it (and i thought would be the only one) just sold out and I decided to stop reprinting it. Now it's free. Hope you enjoy. Twig Palace- Wicker Frames
Digging through our household pile of music yesterday, I came across the three volumes of the Baron Mixtape Adventures Series, a free dj mixtape project I used to do a few years back. I'm guessing they came out in in the 2006-2008 period of time, but I'm not totally sure on release dates. I listened to them and rather liked them and thought posting them might motivate me to do another. The first leans more toward IDM-ish trip hop, hip hop, and smatterings of weirdness; the second volume is an all ambient mix; and the third is all mash-ups, with some of the individual mash-ups posted below.
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