Saturday, June 21, 2008

Summer Jamz #1: Alfred Soto and Dan Weiss

The irony is, we're in the thick of winter here in Australia. It's cold, wet, and, as I type these words, I'm trying to prevent little icicles from forming on the tips of my fingers. Maybe that's why I've always enjoyed the series of annual summer-inspired mixtapes the sadly defunct Stylus Magazine would present at this time of year, starting in 2002 and continuing right until it closed its doors in 2007. These playlists, which would encompass a variety of styles and perspectives on the season never failed to warm my short winter days.
Although Stylus no longer publishes, summer continues to shine, and so this year, as June approached, I called up some of the old Stylus writers and asked them to contribute a mix of songs to soundtrack their summer. Amazingly, they agreed, even the ones who are getting married, hate summer or live in places like Miami and Los Angeles, and, by all rights should be too busy picking up models and partying to be constructing mix tapes.
Starting today, the first day of summer, and continuing each day for the next week or so, Screw Rock 'n' Roll, The Passion of the Weiss and What Was It Anyway? (along with a few other locations across the Internets) will be posting these Summer-inspired mixes for your listening pleasure. Working or partying, relaxing or vacationing, these are the sounds of our summer. Join us and enjoy.
-- Jonathan Bradley

And while you do so, check out Stylus's archived Summer Jamz:
Stylus Summer Jamz '02
Stylus Summer Jamz '03
Stylus Summer Jamz '04
Stylus Summer Jamz '05
Stylus Summer Jamz '06
Stylus Summer Jamz '07

* * * * *

Download Summer Jamz #1:

1. The Reputation - Face It
2. Arthur Russell - That's Us/Wild Combination
3. Cut Copy - So Haunted
4. Yo La Tengo - Today is the Day
5. The Cure - A Japanese Dream
6. Be Your Own Pet - Super Soaked
7. Lil' Wayne - I Feel Like Dying
8. Belinda Carlisle - Heaven is a Place on Earth (Heavenly Version)
9. Mike Doughty - Like a Luminous Girl
10. Hercules & Love Affair - Shadows
11. Pet Shop Boys - Minimal
12. Katy Perry - Waking Up in Vegas
13. Wussy - Soak It Up
14. Kathleen Edwards - The Cheapest Key
15. Jens Lekman - A Sweet Summer's Night on Hammer Hill
16. Bryan Ferry - The In Crowd
17. Weezer - Everybody Get Dangerous
18. Al Green feat. John Legend - Stay With Me (By the Sea)
19. Duran Duran - Meet El Presidente (7" Remix)
20. The B-52s - Eyes Wide Open
21. We are Scientists - After Hours
22. Liz Phair - Lazy Dreamer
23. Rosanne Cash - Hold On
24. Bob Dylan - Clean-Cut Kid

Mixing this was a necessary challenge. I'm in constant worry that the constant tide of new sounds to parse will eventually swallow my instinct for putting music together or catching the hairpin logic of a loop in potentia. I'm really proud of these results, though. Alfred is a natural collaborator for me because he's one of the few critics of my time who zeroes in on melody, rhythm, songwriting...the boring essentials that some people will go as far as SunnO)))) records to avoid. I can count on him to present me with a new way to hear E-A-B-C# again (Kathleen Edwards' brilliant Amy Rigby stunt "The Cheapest Key") or discern visceral arguments of longevity from inscrutable favorite-band-ism (Pet Shop Boys' "Minimal," as exciting as they've ever been in 20+ years). I was delighted by his picks, nearly all of them unknown to me. In fact, his choices set the bar so high I went back and redacted a few of mine that I fear relied too much on my weakness: classic alt-rock comforts. Even still, no summer can jam without Weezer, Weezy or Belinda Carlisle. Thanks for luring me out of the cheapest key.

-- Dan Weiss

After studying our mix, I noticed that we were most concerned with space -- how artists and shrewd remixes suggest vastness. In the context of summer, vastness suggests the abrogation of responsibility: school and relationships, mostly, and the moral sinecures they provide by necessity, against which we strain with some success, and towards which we return as the days start to shorten, and bank balances begin to shrink. These songs are guideposts: towards danger and release.

-- Alfred Soto



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