Impressed by Dan‘s decision to make a mixtape based around colours but not so impressed by all of his song choices I decided to have a go myself. Dan’s been using 8tracks, a website for creating playlists very much like the now deceased Muxtape except that they claim to be legal and so haven’t been hounded out of existence by the RIAA/major labels. They uphold this claim by imposing certain restrictions such as requiring a minimum of 8 songs in each “mix” that you create and they pay a license similar to more traditional online radio stations. You can search for songs you want to include in your mix that have been uploaded by others. Failing that, you can upload them yourself.
Anyway I created my own colour-based playlist as a way of trying it out. You can listen to it from this embedded flash player or from the 8tracks site here.
In shinyhappydan style here’s the rundown of my choices.
The Strokes – Red Light
Casablancas’ lyrics are often pretty oblique as he veers schizophrenically between elation and desolation. This one is no exception, starting with the sentimental and sweet “Two can be complete without the rest of the world” and ending with the ominous “Get yourself a lawyer and a gun“. I always felt that “First Impressions of Earth” is the album where The Strokes decided to try something new on each song. In this case Julian’s uncharacteristic staccato delivery lends a welcome spin to their familiar sound.
Other “Red” contenders:
- Kings of Leon – Red Morning Light
- Loretta Lynn – Little Red Shoes
The National – Pretty in Pink
I’ve long been a fan of the Psychedelic Furs, particularly their sophomore “Talk Talk Talk”. So when I noticed the National cover of their song that spawned that John Hughes movie in the track list for their Daytrotter session (sadly no longer available) I was eager to hear it. It doesn’t disappoint, substituting the Furs very’ eighties guitars for organs and Richard Butler’s Bowiesque sneer for Matt Berninger’s smouldering baritone.
Other “Pink” contenders:
- Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots
Johnny and the Moon – Green Rocky Road
Typical folk fare from the band fronted by Dante DeCaro; typical in that it sets traditional folk song lyrics to original music but still great fun. Who knew Dante had such an interesting voice when he was letting Steve Bays do all the singing in Hot Hot Heat.
“Hooka, tooka, soda cracker/ Does your mamma chew tobacco?”
Other “Green” contenders:
- Baby Calendar – Green Tea
- Dinosaur Jr – Green Mind
Bright Eyes - Gold Mine Gutted
Digital Ash in a Digitial Urn, Bright Eyes’ “electronic” offering, is one of the those great records where at a given time any of the tracks on it could be my favourite. If pushed I’d often choose this one though as Oberst sums up high school counter culture with Don Dellilo, whisky, smoking, “the sorrowful Midwest”, “grass stain jeans” and “a girl from class to touch”
Other “Gold” contenders:
- Pretty Girls Make Graves – Bring It On Golden Pond
- Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion
The Crimea – Bombay Sapphire Coma
Sapphire’s are blue right? And so are the gin bottles. I couldn’t make my first playlist without something from this band formed from the ashes of the Crocketts.
Albert Hammond, Jr. - Blue Skies
The coolest Stroke singing one of his coolest songs. “Yours To Keep” is a sublime album, sounding somewhat like The Strokes themselves if they allowed more influence from the Beatles or the Beach Boys.
Other “Blue” contenders:
- Band of Horses – Windows Blues
- Mazzy Star – Blue Flower
- Wilco – Sky Blue Sky
- Joanna Newsom – This Side Of The Blue
- The Walkmen – Blue Route
The Hey Chinaskis – Whitechapel
A band I used to be a member of (I was the lead guitarist) so I won’t talk this one up.
Other “White” contenders:
- er … Bing Crosby – White Christmas?
Baby Calendar - Lemon Snaps
Again barely a colour but one of those small bands you can never remember how you stumbled onto but are forever grateful you did. Baby Calendar blend elements of some of my favourite bands such as the precocious riffs of early Death Cab and Pretty Girls Make Grave’s frenetic energy and guitar lines. Think Mates of State but charmingly naive and audacious rather than earnest and conservative.
Spoon - You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
Whilst cherry is definitely more of a tone than a proper colour I could not resist including this. Singer Britt Daniel’s vocals always hold an air of casual aloofness without seeming snotty or conceited, his guitar lines are always on the right side of the hooky/cheesy spectrum and often they churn out little pop gems like this one from “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga”.
Jenny Lewis – Black Sand
I had the pleasure of seeing Jenny at Austin City Limits this year and she sounded and looked fantastic. Acid Tongue is definitely a record that comes across better live but this is a nice safe ballad that avoids the dodgy lyrics of some of the other tracks.
Other “Black” contenders:
- Death Cab for Cutie – Blacking Out the Friction
- The White Stripes – Black Math
Final Fantasy – Peach, Plum, Pear
Dan already snagged this Joanna Newsom song that covers three “colours” in one title so I went with the Final Fantasy cover.
Bright Eyes – Lime Tree
I also saw Conor Oberst at ACL performing with his Mystic Valley Band and this lead me to get back into an album I’d all but overlooked, his previous release “Cassadaga”. More of a fruit than a colour but this songs pensive, haunting charm rounds off the playlist well.