#107 – 2012 in Repose

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Jim and I return from extended hiatus with a swift (for us) overview of our favorite music from 2012. In a triumphant return-to-form, we illuminate some little known music geekery and go off on tangents.

Aaron's notebook with a Protomen sticker is ironic as he didn't put them on his best-of list.

Aaron’s notebook with a Protomen sticker is ironic as he didn’t put them on his best-of list.

Tracks featured:
The House That Heaven Built” by Japandroids
45” by Gaslight Anthem
I’m Gonna Try” by The Maldives
True Thrush” by Dan Deacon
I Want to Break Free” by The Protomen
WAVIP” by The Coup (with Das Racist and Killer Mike)
Watch the Corners” by Dinosaur Jr.

Show Notes:
Jim’s favorite albums of 2012
Paper Bag Records vs. David Bowie
Aaron’s Best-of-2012 Playlist

#0106 – Jim’s favorite music of 2011

Jim

It’s well into 2012, and I have been too lazy on this, but I’m finally ready to post my best of 2011 mix. Hoo-ray? Hoo-cares? Who knows? but it’s something I’ve been doing every year for the past several and I enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it too, and what the hell, free music, right?

So how was 2011, musically? I made a commitment early in the year to try to listen to as much new music as possible, to make the year-end list the best it could be. Unfortunately, I think the more new music I listen to in a year, the harder it gets to go through it all and come up with a coherent and accurate picture of what my favorites were. I worked on this list through the last half of November and all of December, and spent most of January picking tracks for this list and fretting over whether this or that album really belonged on it.

But eventually I decided that second-guessing myself was a mug’s game, and here you go. My favorite albums of 2011.

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Russian Circles - Empros20. Russian CirclesEmpros 
Song: Mladek (00:00-07:20)

Russian Circles is a Chicago-based band who plays heavy instrumental rock in the vein of Pelican, but with a more melodic feel. I’ve been following them for several albums, but I think this is the first time they’ve appeared on my year-end list. This album is interesting in that their sound has grown to incorporate some more extreme elements but also quieter interludes, and the songwriting is as good or better than on any of their previous albums. The song I’ve selected highlights their typical heavy and heavily layered yet melodic sound.
http://russiancirclesband.com/

Deer Tick - Divine Providence19. Deer TickDivine Providence
Song: Let’s All Go To The Bar (07:20-10:30)

Deer Tick are among a group of bands (like Blitzen Trapper) working a certain corner of Americana with a smirk and a stomp and an ironic mustache. They’re not typically my favorites, though I do enjoy listening to them. But this album is a bit more muscular than previous efforts, and makes it into my list almost entirely on the strength of the meathead anthem I’ve selected for this mix. Its simplistic call and response structure may not belie deep thoughts behind, but its frantic energy is a clear an homage to the Replacements as I’ve heard in years. And yes I’m probably a bit of a meathead, so the song itself appeals to me on an entirely unironic level.
http://www.deertickmusic.com/

Charles Bradley - No Time For Dreaming18. Charles BradleyNo Time For Dreaming
Song: No Time For Dreaming (10:30-13:19)

I was late getting into the whole Daptone thing. Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have been putting out some great records for a while now and were never on my radar until a friend of mine brought them up to me almost a year ago. See, I listen to a lot of new music but almost completely at random, whatever strikes my fancy on a given day. And I miss a lot that way, especially since I tend not to check a band out at all if I find the hype annoying. But after dropping the ball on SJ&tDK I was on the lookout for some good throwback R&B, and this Charles Bradley album came along at just the right time. Also a Daptone artist, his James Brown-inspired sound could have been recorded in 1970 and saved in a time capsule until now.
http://thecharlesbradley.com/

Hunters - From Birth To Soil17. HuntersFrom Birth To Soil
Song: Engine of Deceit (13:19-18:11)

Hunters are another Chicago-based band (I do like to check out the local talent) that play a kind of groovy, almost stoner-like sludge metal informed by the intensity of death metal. Comparisons could run the gamut from High on Fire to Mastodon to Carcass with a line running back through Pantera to a heavy 70s Sabbath-style groove. I’ve elected to focus on the stoner/groove aspect with the song I’ve selected, but even there it takes a break to delve into pure sludge partway through the track.
http://www.huntersmetal.com/blog/

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Here We Rest16. Jason Isbell and the 400 UnitHere We Rest
Song: Never Could Believe (18:11-22:14)

Jason Isbell, formerly of Drive-By Truckers, still writes probably the best Truckers songs out there. Unfortunately, the band he’s playing with now, as good as they are, don’t quite have the same balls as DBT, so the songs don’t have the same raunchy immediacy that I think the boys would have given them, even if the songs’ subjects are as down & dirty as anything Isbell has written previously. But the songs themselves are of course still the strength here, with the focus on Southern characters and their troubles. Never Could Believe is a funky little honky tonk number with great interplay between the guitar and piano that I dig.
http://www.jasonisbell.com/

Symphony of Science - Symphoney of Science Bundle15. Symphony of ScienceSymphony of Science Bundle
Song: We Are All Connected (22:14-26:20)

OK, so I guess I’ve finally gotten around to cheating a little bit. I have certain rules with these year-end lists–no compilations, no rereleases, no EPs, just full-length albums initially released that year. Symphony of Science has been putting together these amazing songs out of autotuned snippets of voiceovers by some of the great minds in science (among others), sourcing them from science shows, lectures, etc., for a few years now, with accompanying youtube videos. But I believe this year is the first time they’ve released them as a downloadable MP3 album, which technically–technically–qualifies it for this list. I’ve selected a song containing some great quotes from some favorites of mine, including Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
http://symphonyofscience.com/

Larry And His Flask - All That We Know14. Larry And His FlaskAll That We Know
Song: Blood Drunk (26:20-29:53)

Larry And His Flask are an Oregon band playing the same kind of punk-rock breakneck bluegrass that seems to find its way onto my list every year in one form or another. These guys have energy and chops and a great sense for melody. The song I’ve selected has a bit of darkness to it, but tempered by a singalong chorus and a sense of fun.
http://www.larryandhisflask.com/

Absu - Abzu13. AbsuAbzu
Song: Abraxus Connectus (29:53-33:44)

Absu’s Abzu, the second in a planned trilogy of records, is a psychotic onslaught of thrashy chaos. The opening 20 seconds or so may mislead you into thinking you are listening to a bad 80s hair metal throwback, but once the girlish wail subsides and the band gets to its business, the pummeling your gut takes from the lightspeed riffing will convince of the wrongness of that initial impression. I’ve selected the 3rd of six songs for this mix, and it represents this album at its best.
http://absu.bandzoogle.com

Tombs - Path of Totality12. TombsPath of Totality
Song: To Cross The Land (33:44-39:37)

Tombs plays a depressive style of metal that definitely draws on the influences of Neurosis-style post-metal, but has its own blend of black metal and sludge and a half-dozen other subgenres as well. The sound can range from a patient sparsity to an enveloping shroud of downtuned guitars and blastbeats but the remarkable thing about the album is the emotionality of it–oppressive, paranoid, despairing, claustrophobic… I have to admit that I’m not a guy who can really pick out lyrics in most metal, especially with harsh vocals (can anybody? I guess so but it’s hard to believe sometimes)–the emotions I’m talking about, I’m getting strictly instrumentally. The song I’ve chosen builds slowly, starting with a repeated figure that builds in frantic intensity into a blastbeat-punctuated pronouncement of doom.
http://www.filledwithsecrets.com/

Original Cast Recording - The Book Of Mormon11. Original Cast RecordingThe Book Of Mormon
Song: Hasa Diga Eebowai (39:37-43:59)

Show tunes? Well, I do have a little bit of a theatrical background but I don’t keep up too much. This new musical though, from Matt and Trey of South Park fame, piqued my interest, as I do tend to enjoy a good laugh (even if I don’t watch too much South Park anymore) and they can always be counted on to raise a few eyebrows. This show is… it’s just so slick; the people they teamed up with to bring it to the stage really knew their Broadway musicals, and it shows. As profane and offensive as you might expect, this soundtrack shows a real love for musical theater, with homages to everything from the Lion King to Sound of Music to bad Bono-led celebrity charity albums and a real affection for its characters, no matter how goofily it portrays them. Regarding the song I’ve selected for this mix: odds are it will offend you, but there’s also a lot to be said for the way it upends the cheeriness of the Lion King’s Hakuna Matata in favor of a darker (but funnier) look at conditions in Africa and the way people react to them.
http://www.bookofmormonbroadway.com/home.php

Necrocomiccon - Hot Dog Cart Hunger10. NecrocomicconHot Dog Cart Hunger
Song: Everybody Wants To Rule The World (43:59-46:36)

Necrocomiccon is a black metal band that plays black metal versions of pop songs from the 1980s. They are absolutely brilliant, and they’ve released an EP and another full-length since this album without a dud among them. I’ve selected their version of a classic Tears for Fears song; it’s amazing, so is the rest of the album, look them up on Facebook and check them out because they are a couple of geniuses.
https://www.facebook.com/Necrocomiccon

Yuck - Yuck09. YuckYuck
Song: Get Away (46:36-50:11)

Shortly after this album came out, I considered it a lock for the #1 spot on this list. Something about the Dinosaur Jr. guitar tone they use liberally (though if you listen to the whole album they do veer away from the Dino Jr. formula quite a bit, most notably on a Burt Bacharach inspired number that made me think of Butch & Sundance riding bicycles) just seems to grab directly onto my spinal cord and make me do its bidding. But I think I burned myself out on it early, and truth be told there’s not much else on the album as strong as this opening song. Still top 10 material though.
http://yuckband.blogspot.com/

Low - C'mon08. LowC’mon
Song: Especially Me (50:11-55:37)

Low, though they’ve been around forever, first came to my attention with a fantastic (silly but fantastic, and it could hardly be otherwise) version of Toto’s song Africa that they did for the AV Club, and I checked out this album on the strength of that performance. Consistently mellow, and lyrically not always the strongest, still these 10 tunes present a solid wall of mesmerizing vocal harmonies. Probably the overall best song from the album (aside from the hypnotically repetitive Nothing But Heart) is the one I’ve chosen for this mix, which features Mimi’s enchanting vocals and the dreamlike sound that characterizes much of the album.
http://chairkickers.com/

Elliott Brood - Days Into Years07. Elliott BroodDays Into years
Song: Hold You (55:37-60:14)

Elliott Brood are a perennial favorite of mine, and this album features their “death country” sound with improved songwriting. I’ve had them on my year-end list before and don’t know how much new I can say about them. Hold You is a great thumbnail of their sound; if a song can be simultaneously plaintive and anthemic, this is it.
http://www.elliottbrood.ca/

Fucked Up - David Comes To Life06. Fucked UpDavid Comes To Life
Song: Life In Paper (60:14-64:50)

Fucked Up’s album David Comes To Life is an epic work that I admit, I haven’t fully been able to wrap my head around yet. But that’s not a knock on it–there’s a lot to come to grips with. Musically speaking, I’ve found it analogous to The Hold Steady in certain ways; instrumentally, you’ve got a style of music (in Hold Steady’s case it’s classic rock, in this case it’s indie punk) that I find enormously pleasing, when vocally I find both bands grating. But whereas I never really fully was able to reconcile Craig Finn’s drunken sneer with the bar band stylings of his cohort, I’ve come to appreciate the way Damian Abraham’s hardcore screaming works with the wall-of-noise guitars Fucked Up brings. The album’s epic length, daunting as it is, has presented another barrier to my understanding. But more and more, I find myself pleased with the prospect that I will probably still be wrestling with this album through the remainder of 2012.
http://www.myspace.com/epicsinminutes

Liturgy - Aesthethica05. LiturgyAesthethica
Song: Tragic Laurel (64:50-68:55)

It’s my understanding that Liturgy often faces the epithet of “Hipster Metal.” As if metal is a ghetto undergoing gentrification, and Liturgy are the skinny tattooed white kids rolling through on tall bikes and smoking American Spirits. I don’t know about that. I dig metal, and while it’s true that I tend to lean more toward certain types of metal, that flows from the way something sounds and how that affects me more than from the application of some outside aesthetic. I have a friend who absolutely hated this album. I know there have been multiple internet bitch fights about this album. I guess I cared enough to notice, but not to keep it from being my highest-rated metal album of the year. Because it’s just so damned interesting. I’ve tried to explain it using phrases such as “it’s like somebody took pieces from a puzzle labeled ‘black metal’ and ended up putting together a math rock album with them instead” but apart from being a clumsy simile it’s not quite right either. I’m not always the best at articulating what I like about music, and honestly I’m not a guy who always goes for the most challenging fare, but something about the way that they took black metal sounds and did something completely different with them appealed to me.
http://www.myspace.com/liturgynybm

The Red Hills - I'm A Nightmare04. The Red HillsI’m A Nightmare
Song: News And Bombs (68:55-73:09)

Here is a random Bandcamp download that ended up captivating me for a good portion of 2011. It started with the song San Diego, and eventually the whole album just got under my skin. I can’t really find out too much about these guys other than that they are from Portland Oregon and are related to the (fantastically named) band I Can Lick Any Sonofabitch In The House. This is dark alt-country, touching on dark subjects, and without much to break that mood. But it’s compelling stuff.
http://www.theredhillspdx.com/

Amerigo Gazaway - Fela Soul03. Amerigo GazawayFela Soul
Song: Stakes Is High (73:09-78:25)

Is this a cheat? I guess I’m not familiar enough with the original works to tell how involved the work was that went into these mashups. But the concept is great, and the outcome is even better, and this list is more about my favorite new music than the most technically accomplished. Fela Soul is a mashup of works by famed Afrobeat artist Fela Kuti with songs by De La Soul and related projects, and I’ve spun it compulsively enough this year to land it high on my list.
http://www.amerigomusic.com/

White Denim - D02. White DenimD
Song: Burnished (78:25-81:01)

I heard these guys on turntable.fm one day and immediately sought out this album. It’s indie rock with a jazzy/mathy sound and a bit of Southern flair (the band is from Austin if I’m not mistaken). Some songs are more straightforward, but the one I’ve chosen showcases their love of complexity, with shifting time signatures and noodly, intertwining dual guitars.
http://whitedenimmusic.com/

The Joy Formidable - The Big Roar01. The Joy FormidableThe Big Roar
Song: The Everchanging Spectrum Of A Lie (81:01-88:03)

This Welsh band’s full-album debut is sort of a companion piece, in my mind anyway, to the previously-mentioned Yuck album. Where that album reprised the noisy early-90s sound of indie bands like Dinosaur Jr., this one incorporates the early 90s shoegazy sounds of a My Bloody Valentine, but with a bigger crunch and a louder thump and an urgency that demands my attention.
http://www.thejoyformidable.com/

2011 Music In Review (by @jaehoyer)

First of all, Happy New Year!!!! As is tradition since time in memoriam, the first mixes of a new year tend to be reflections on the best of what we heard in the previous year.  Our first mix of 2012 comes from Justine Hoyer, who gifted us with this excellent mix of her faves from 2011. Hard to argue with any of these. Earlier this year, Justine gave us our 100th mix (The Spring Mix) and it was pretty awesome, as well.

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Whirring – The Joy Formidable
Post Break Up Sex – Vaccines
Abducted – Cults
Born Alone – Wilco
Nothing But Our Love – Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr
How Deep is Your Love – The Rapture
Lonely Boy – The Black Keys
Miss You – Foster the People
Midnight City – M83
Novacane – Frank Ocean
Bizness – Tune Yards
Shake it Out – Florence and The Machine
Saw You First – Givers
Video Games – Lana Del Rey
Stone Rollin’ – Raphael Saadiq
Will Do – TV on the Radio
You Turn Clear in the Sun – Telekinesis
The Wilhelm Scream – James Blake
Lotus Flower – Radiohead
Honey Bunny – Girls
Circuital – My Morning Jacket
Rock n Roll is Free – Ben Harper

#0104 Doktor Avalanche and Friends

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Doktor Avalanche is the name of evolving electronic drum machines that have fueled the majestic Sisters of Mercy over the years. Dexterous name; distinct sound.

I can’t say with any certainly that Andrew Eldritch would approve of all the bands on this mix (probably not), but it’s a mix of songs with drum machines that I work to when in front of a computer. I know there are drum machines behind everyone from Prince to Wesley Willis, but when working I tend to play songs with a similar, electronic sound.  I tried to include different sounds and approaches here within that theme, and avoided a more dark/heavy electronic mix, though there is some of that on here. I also tried to include different bands so steered away from my all-time favorites as much as possible, purposefully leaving off Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Front 242, Front Line Assembly, KMFDM, Depeche Mode, etc., but cheated a bit by adding Revolting Cocks and Download.  I included another all-time favorite, the Sisters, on there because I like the name of the mix.

As always, if you like a band, please download their songs and see their shows and otherwise support their efforts if you can. Enjoy!

  1. TKM – Sub Swara
  2. Flesh (Original) – A Split-Second
  3. The Collapse – Flesh Field
  4. Ghostwriter – RJD2
  5. Dead End Streets (86 Mixxx) – Revolting Cocks
  6. Phantasmata – CunninLynguists
  7. Dial8 – Velvet Acid Christ
  8. The Acension – Mnolo
  9. Final Home (Piano Mix) – DJ Krush featuring Esthero
  10. Transient – Glen Porter
  11. Death Vest 09 – Enduser
  12. The Great Divide – Die Krupps
  13. Glory Box – Portishead
  14. Human Crossing – Project Pitchfork
  15. The Open Hand Avows – Daedelus
  16. Firing Line – Noise Unit
  17. Glassblower – Download
  18. Poison Door – Sisters of Mercy
  19. Narcisse – Martin Rev

 

#0103 – Run ’93

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Fall of 1993. I was beginning my second year at my third university, living at home, working for minimum wage at a used CD shop, driving my beat-to-hell 1984 black Ford Thunderbird. No girlfriend, my buddy Adam’s old driver’s license so I had a fake ID and I was living the high life.
This is what I was listening to on some AM station in Milwaukee back then. Maybe it was WLZR-AM?
  1. Bob Marley & The Wailers – “Iron Lion Zion” – 06:12
  2. Belly – “Feed the Tree” – 03:19
  3. Smashing Pumpkins – “Disarm” – 02:56
  4. Pearl Jam – “Rearviewmirror” – 04:34
  5. The Cranberries – “Dreams” – 04:23
  6. Radiohead – “Stop Whispering” – 05:07
  7. Pet Shop Boys – “Can You Forgive Her?” – 03:44
  8. Prince – “17 Days” – 05:14
  9. Big Country – “The One I Love” – 04:55
  10. Jellyfish – “The Ghost At Number One” – 03:25
  11. The Breeders – “Cannonball” – 03:23
  12. Dinosaur Jr. – “Start Choppin” – 05:20
  13. Tears for Fears – “Break It Down Again” – 04:11
  14. Ub40 – “Higher Ground” – 03:43
  15. Stereo MC’s – “Connected” – 04:28
  16. A Tribe Called Quest – “Electric Relaxation” – 03:11
  17. American Music Club – “Over and Done” – 03:01
  18. U2 – “The First Time” – 03:22
  19. Crowded House – “Pineapple Head” – 03:27

#0102 – Happy Go Lucky

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Hey, it’s time for a regular ol’ mix. Happy sounding songs. Guitars. New music. No big whoop. Something snappy. Something you can dance in your chair to, or ride your bike, or go for a walk since the weather’s getting nice out. Yeah, I’m talking to you!
  1. Echo & The Bunnymen – “Seven Seas”  – 03:14
  2. The Decemberists – “This Is Why We Fight” – 04:16
  3. Brett Dennen – “Sydney (I’ll Come Running)” – 03:54
  4. Guster – “Do You Love Me” – 03:30
  5. Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues” – 04:46
  6. The Go! Team – “Back Like 8 Track” – 03:40
  7. Billy Bragg & Wilco – “One By One” – 03:17
  8. Gretchen Parlato – “Still” – 03:03
  9. The Temper Trap – “Sweet Disposition” – 03:43
  10. Mumford & Sons – “The Cave” – 03:26
  11. The Avett Brothers – “Head Full of Doubt / Road Full of Promise – 04:38
  12. The Joy Formidable – “Whirring” – 06:38
  13. Passion Pit – “Moth’s Wings” – 04:16
  14. Florence + The Machine – “Cosmic Love” – 04:07
  15. Fitz & The Tantrums – “MoneyGrabber” – 03:00
  16. TV On the Radio – “Caffeinated Consciousness” – 03:09
  17. Death Cab for Cutie – “You Are A Tourist” – 04:46

#0101 – IRON DJ: 1997 (by @kburpee)

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,From Karen Burpee (@kburpee)…

The year was 1997. Pop, as always, was in. Grunge/alt-rock was no longer alternative, and starting to give way to dance music, and Ska was just taking hold in Eastern Canada…

I give you 96 83 minutes of 1997. Although I seriously considered creating an All-CanCon(*) playlist, but that would not be a true reflection of my listening habits that year. Bear in mind, this mix is a reflection of my last term of high school, the following summer and the start of my freshman year of university:

  1. The Verve – “Bitter Sweet Symphony” 06:20
  2. Chantal Kreviazuk – “God Made Me” 02:54
  3. Holly McNarland – “Numb” 03:48
  4. The Wallflowers – “One Headlight” 04:48
  5. Great Big Sea – “Run Runaway” 02:42
  6. Third Eye Blind – “Semi-Charmed Life” 04:19
  7. Chumbawamba – “Tubthumping” 04:33
  8. Cake – “The Distance” 02:32
  9. The Tragically Hip – “Ahead by a Century” 03:34
  10. Aqua – “Barbie Girl (Radio)” 00:02
  11. Sugar Ray – “Fly” 04:47
  12. Natalie Imbruglia – “Torn” 03:46
  13. Smash Mouth – “Walkin’ on the Sun” 03:17
  14. Wyclef Jean – “We Trying to Stay Alive” 02:26
  15. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones – “The Impression That I Get” 03:05
  16. White Town – “Your Woman” 04:10
  17. Our Lady Peace – “Clumsy” 03:36
  18. U2 – “Gone” 03:43
  19. The Cardigans – “Lovefool” 03:04
  20. The Verve Pipe – “The Freshmen” 04:20
  21. Smashing Pumpkins – “1979” 04:14
  22. The Notorious B.I.G. – “Hypnotize” 03:41
  23. Spirit Of The West – “Home for a Rest” 04:27

#0100 – The Spring Mix

From Justine Hoyer (@Jaehoyer)…

I am new to this forum and not entirely sure how it works, but I’m going to give it a shot. Every year after SXSW I make mix for my friends focusing on newer music. The regular audience for this cd is not as musically informed as this group. The track list is below. Be kind.

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Grouplove – Colours
Robyn – Dancing On My Own
Twin Shadow – At My Heels
The Vaccines – Blow It Up
The National – Bloodbuzz Ohio
Mystery Jets – Dreaming Of Another Wrld
Best Coast – Each and Every Day
The Duke Spirit – Everybodys Under Your Spell
Fences – Girls With Accents
Yuck – Holing Out
Mona – Listen to Your Love
Young the Giant – My Body
Arcade Fire – Reday to Start
Teenage Fanclub – Sometimes I Don’t Need to Believe in Anything
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Vocal Chords
Smith Westerns – Weekend
Bear Hands – What a Drag
The Naked and Famous – Young Blood
Eternal Summers – Pogo
Cloud Nothings – Didn’t You

 

#0099 – IRON DJ: Graduation Year – Class of 1990

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It took almost 6 weeks to narrow down the music I listened to in high school to the music that came out between 1989 and 1990, and then to find a coherent path through the wide range of musical stylings I’ve been drawn to. Many great tunes were killed along the way: Mama Said Knock You Out, The Humpty Dance, Freedom ’90, Miss You Much, Hang In Long Enough, Kickstart My Heart, Billy Joel’s Stormfront album, Extreme’s entire Pornograffitti album (and “Play With Me” from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure)… I even took out Del Amitri.

This wasn’t easy, but the path of an Iron DJ is never easy. It is merely righteous.

This mix will present connections from the kid I was in my senior year of high school to the manchild I am today.

Tracy Chapman – Talkin’ ‘Bout a Revolution

I was in American Government class in my senior year. My teacher was in his early 40s and talked a lot about civics as well as the responsibility of citizens to dissent. I liked him because of the message about “sticking it to the man” but only in the last few years have those lessons really struck a chord within me. When Jim first pitched this idea for Iron DJ, this was the first song that popped in my head, because my American Government teacher played it in class.

Tom Petty – I Won’t Back Down

I played this cassette tape a ton in my senior year. I was a big fan of the Traveling Wilburys and that sound was still evident on this track. Over the years, this became an anthem for me that added more steel to my resolve.

The BoDeans – You Don’t Get Much

There’s no high school in Wisconsin in 1990 without the BoDeans. It’s like a law.

Rush – Presto

First off, you don’t grow up a fan of rock music without liking Rush, and no album by Rush spoke to me before or since the way Presto! did. Read yourself some Maslow. Heck, read some Tony Robbins or Stephen Covey if that’s what you’re into. You want magic? Listen to this album. Show me. Don’t Tell me. There are so many intersections between psychology, humanity and magic… Rush is a band of geniuses.

Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe – Brother of Mine

This song came out and it was awesome. It was epic like Yes of old with synth and riffs of Yes of new (thanks to Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman). They couldn’t record as “Yes” because of the lawsuits at the time that were thankfully resolved for Yes’ greatest album, Union, to come in the 90s. Damn, I love this song. It’s beautiful.

Faith No More – From Out of Nowhere

Before nuMetal was a thing, there was Faith No More. They were (ahem) The Real Thing. Respect it, or it will crush you.

Tesla – Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)

Even now, when I think about a theme song for kicking ass, this is the song that pops in my head. I saw Tesla at the Vic in Chicago in 2001, long after their expiration date and they still were on a slip trip and ready to kick ass. You should hope when you’re older than you think you are that you kick as much ass.

Pantera – Cowboys From Hell

Never got into Pantera in high school. My friends did. This was a terrible mistake that I’ve since worked to amend.

Queensrÿche – Last Time in Paris

No one knows this song off of Empire. Everyone knows Silent Lucidity or Jet City Woman or even the song “Empire.” Heck, I forgot this song was on Empire — I remember it from the soundtrack to “The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.” Go ahead, tell me how much Andrew “Dice” Clay sucks. I will retort with Vince Neil, Wayne Newton, Morris Day AND Sheila E. all in the same movie. “Dice” was so awesome when I was 17, and I’d be lying if there isn’t a devious undercurrent within me that was in part inspired by him. All that is an aside though to the song: it just kicks ass.

Tears for Fears – Sowing The Seeds of Love

I became a much bigger fan of Tears for Fears as an adult (as I became of the Smiths, Crowded House and other more introspective bands of the New Wave and post-modern era). I largely skipped this album as a kid, but I definitely reap what came of the seeds planted years ago.

The Stone Roses – She Bangs the Drums

I didn’t even know of The Stone Roses until right after college. Totally missed my radar. Friends of mine as a first-year teacher were into The Stone Roses, and I thought it was okay — the dreaminess of that Manchester sound only made sense to me as I became a bit more of an independent spirit. I love this song so much because it’s the music I imagine was in my head when I met my wife. It wasn’t — I didn’t even know the song then… but loving the song now, I figure it captures it as well as any song could.

INXS – The Stairs

I saw INXS on tour with Soup Dragons for “X” and damn were they awesome. This song always stuck out on that album as my favorite.

Sundays -Here’s Where the Story Ends

The weird thing about how I first got into the Sundays was that this song would play at dance clubs, which were open to 16+ year-olds in Milwaukee usually on Sunday nights. Normally, I hit Club Marilyn or Bermuda’s (both no longer around) and they played mostly alternative, post-modern and industrial… and then, maybe to signal a break for the DJ or to encourage the teenagers to go buy some sodas at the bar, they’d throw on The Sundays. Usually after some Front-242 and Nitzer-Ebb.

Jude Cole – House Full of Reasons

Jude Cole was this piano/guitar blues/rock guy. I think I ended up with his cassette in one of my Columbia House music mail order deals where I got a bunch of albums free and then if I didn’t turn anything in, I got whatever cassette was featured that month. He scored some minor hits with “Baby, It’s Tonight” and “Time for Letting Go” but I ended up really liking the whole album, and this song in particular I thought was a good combination of happy sounding music, upbeat with a decent tempo, but heartbreaking lyrics. This was the kind of song I would write in high school and in college. My favorite Del Amitri and Crowded House songs reflect this kind of thing.

Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not the Man I Used to Be

In high school, everyone was listening to “Good Thing” or “She Drives Me Crazy.” Later in life, I actually started listening to the rest of the album and wow is it good stuff.

Midnight Oil – Blue Sky Mine

Listen to this song. Tell me you’re not putting your fists to the sky a little bit, and/or bobbing your head. This is exactly where it’s at in terms of popular, but activist, music.

New Order – Vanishing Point

Two movies have been made about Factory records: “24 Hour Party People” and “Closer” and there should be a lot more movies to come, because they were so influential and none of the bands have had the talent and the survival skills that New Order had, post-Joy Division. Nothing on “Technique” was as good as “True Faith,” but this song is pretty damn righteous, “I’ve seen what a man can do; I’ve seen the hate of a woman, too.”

Happy Mondays – Step On

I’ve never tried Ecstasy, but I bet it sounds like this.

Prince – Electric Chair

I had the Batman soundtrack the day it came out. I wore through that tape in the first six months I had it. I bought it again. I wore through that, too. A year later, I had a CD Player for the first time, and the Batman soundtrack was the 10th CD I ever purchased. I love Prince. We all know that, but he was never so commercially viable as he was with this album. Everyone forgave him for Graffiti Bridge because the Batman soundtrack was so awesome.

Nine Inch Nails – Head Like a Hole

This song changed everything for me. I was into pop music before I heard this song. Once I heard “Head Like a Hole” at a party towards the end of my senior year, I stopped playing “No Jacket Required” and turned onto alternative music, which opened me up to alternative ideas.

Public Enemy – Welcome to the Terrordome

Public Enemy was dangerous music in 1990. Almost as dangerous as (and mistakenly lumped in with) NWA. Chuck D. hits you with so many lyrical lefts, you have no choice but to admit he’s right.

Kool Moe Dee – Knowledge is King

“I Go To Work” is such a favorite song, but my second-favorite might well be credited with where I went in terms of pursuing education as my life’s work.

#0098 IRON DJ: 1984

Play

As I started looking at songs, I realized that there was a ton of great music released in 1984, when I graduated high school. So much of it, though, falls into that category of “80s music.”  We hear it in elevators, barber shops, or shopping malls on any given day….all those songs that are compiled on hundreds of “Best of the 80s” CD compilations. So, I eliminated any of those right off the bat, with perhaps one or two exceptions, but exceptions that are so good, they justify their own existence on this mix. Many of the songs I listened to back then, but I heard a lot of them later in the 80s too. All songs were released in 1984. Besides too many big hits, I also kept away from some heavy favorites like Iron Maiden, Accept, and Priest and tried to include some different things (so that eliminated Aces High, Losing More Than You’ve Ever Had, and Jawbreaker).

At first I was trying to cram the songs I wanted into an hour long package. But then I thought about old cassette mix tapes. The ones that really sucked were the tapes that were 30 minutes on each side, or one hour mixes. 90 minute mix tapes were okay, but I really  liked 100 minute cassette mix tapes, which is the length that I ended up settling into over time. And so that’s what I made here. The longer format works for some mixes, and I think it works for this one too.

Hope you like it.

1. *Repo Man Theme (Instrumental) – Iggy Pop
2.  Death Ship – Hoodoo Gurus
3.   Wonderin’ – Neil Young**
4.  Wait – Wang Chung
5.  A Friend I Call Desire – Ultravox
6.  Got Me Under Pressure – ZZ Top ***
7.  Priestess – Wendy O. Williams
8.  Master and Servant – Depeche Mode
9.  Handsome Devil – The Smiths
10. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
11. Pink Turns to Blue – Husker Du
12. Jam On It – Newcleus
13. Ivo – Cocteau Twins ****
14. Mama’s Boy – Ramones
15. It’s My Life – Talk Talk
16. Realization – The Art of Noise
17. Nobody’s Home – Deep Purple
18. I Would Die 4 U – Prince
19.  Stay the Night – Chicago
20. Snaggletooth – Motorhead
21. 88 Lines About 44 Women – The Nails*****
22. Maybe Partying Will Help – Minutemen
23. 99 Red Balloons – Nena
24.  Show Me – The Pretenders
25. Slippery People – Talking Heads******
26. Fight Fire With Fire – Metallica

*          Repo Man
**        Ghostbusters
***      Spinal Tap
****    Making the Grade
*****  The Man with Two Brains
****** Red Dawn