Sunday, August 31, 2008

So Long, Summer. A Mix Compiled By Zeon

It has become somewhat of a tradition for me to make an annual summer mix, and this year is no exception. So here comes the third. I've spent quite a lot of effort on this, as I want it to be capable of capturing my mood, the music I frequently listen to in the summer of '08, like a time capsule, so that one day I can look back and reminisce (and weep and moan about the good ol' days). I'm really satisfied with the results, I think I'm getting better at this, and I hope you will enjoy it, too, though it's kinda late by now, isn't it. I planned to make a muxtape, too, but the site's in trouble now, too bad. You can either download each track by choice or just grab the whole zip for convenience. Either way, here's my way of waving goodbye to an eventful summer.


1. The Sundays - Summertime
The definitive summer song. This summer, I found myself listening to this song while going for a walk quite a lot, with the chorus constantly ringing in my head ("And it's you and me in the summertime..."). No one can sing like Harriet does. And the guitar slide at the end. This deserves its opener spot in every way. Classic.
2. Nine Black Alps - Bitter End
A jaunty, catchy number I discovered last year. I don't know much about the band and I doubt their other materials are as good as this track, but this really is a good one.
3. Irene - By Your Side
Probably the cheeriest song on the mix. From the mighty Swedish label Labrador. Wait 'til the singalong climax - I fell for it every single time. Oh, there it goes in my head again...
4. The Billionaires - The End Of Summer Song
I've been saving this one for this mix - very relatable lyrics. Great spirit, if by great you mean 'Let's get drunk by the campfire like we don't give a shit about tomorrow'.
5. Aimee Mann - Ghost World
Inspired by the graphic novel of the same name. I watched the film and read the book a few months ago, and I already declare it one of the greatest teen movies I've seen. So much angst & bitterness. I'm still in the process of coming of age, you know, and I don't think I'm coping well with it.
6. The Cardigans - Pooh Song
One of the best Cardigans b-sides. I think it is indeed named after Winnie The Pooh. There's not a note gone to waste in this track. So wonderfully twee. This is way before Nina started to drink too much and penned sad sad songs.
7. Club 8 - Heaven
More lovely Swedish indie pop. Club 8's last album was my number one album in 2007, which is not surprising as I became quite obssessed with twee pop last year, and this gorgeous single is one of the highlights of that album. So uplifiting, though there's a slight melancholy undertone.
8. Beth Orton - Central Reservation (The Then Again Version)
Remixed by Ben Watt, the other half of Everything But The Girl. Sweet slice of '90s electronica. I like the part when she says 'It's like...'.
9. Ivy - It's All In Your Mind
A short instrumental track, a very rare bonus from 'Long Distance'. Ivy is one of my favorite bands ever, I just had to include something by them. This one is a summery, relaxing groove, suitable for a stroll down the beach/along the park.
10. Texas - Say What You Want
A rediscovered gem. I didn't like Texas enough to feel the need to listen to every album and single they put out, but still I can't believe I missed this one. I saw my mistake and it's been on rotation ever since.
11. Goldfrapp - Caravan Girl (Live Choral Version)
Overlooked summer song of 2008. This version can be found on the single. The choral crescendo is eargasm.
12. Jens Lekman - Your Arms Around Me
I wish I could write love songs as easily as Jens does. An awkward tale about cutting off your fingers while slicing an avocado in a hot day in August. So silly, yet so romantic. This is movie-ending-soundtrack fodder, imagine lovebirds walking together as the camera pans to the dreamy skyline. Somebody hire me!
13. Caribou - Irene
A tad more leftfield. Psychedelic ambience. With a video full of National Geographic footage to boot.
14. Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man - Mysteries
Now this is just too beautiful for words. Almost hymn-like. I would have chosen this as the closer...
15. Alphaville - Forever Young (Hamel Album Remix)
...but I gave this one the honor instead. A sublime mix from Bill Hamel, probably the best one of this classic yet. No other track would do. Yes, I'd like to live forever, please, at least until I got bored of it. With this I bid adieu to the summer of '08, and say hello to what possibly will be the busiest quarter ever...Time doesn't wait for no one...


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stop!!! New Pipettes Track Surfaces!!!

I was having sort of a bad moment and then down from the sky came a miraculous ray of light in the form of some Pipettes news with a brand new track to cheer me right up. I knew subscribing to Pitchfork News will pay off someday. The track's called 'The Shoe That Fits', and they're generous enough to offer you a free download at their new remix Myspace page. So what's the catch? Well, it's acappella only since this is for a remix contest, but if your submitted version is the best, it will get to appear on an upcoming tour CD. Here's the version with Gwenno, Anna & Ani, and you can get the versions with seperate vocals of each Pipette here.

The Pipettes - The Shoe That Fits (Vocal Mix) [alt. link]

The smart move is now you get to hear and judge for yourself how good are the two new Pipettes' pipes. It seems that Gwenno stepped down a notch here to give the new member more singing time. Vocally, Anna & Ani are doing a goob job, but personality-wise, guess we'll have to wait and see. It's a nice little track to tide us over for now. There's still a whole floppy forest ("tee-hee") before them, The Pipettes V2.0 V3.0, but I'm quite sure their sweet harmonies will continue to thrive. And best of luck to the former Pipettes, Rosay & Riotbecki and their solo projects.

A little confession: I still can't tell Ani and Anna apart. :-(

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Susanna - Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos

I once posted about the magnificent Susanna & The Magical Orchestra here. And now, Susanna has left the Melody Mountain (oh I'm funny) to make a solo debut with original songs this time. It's wickedly entitled 'Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos', released in August last year. She may be without the Magical Orchestra (Morten Qvenild), but she still makes strictly nocturnal music. The understated production gives the record an old-fashioned, sparse feel, and Susanna's hauntingly beautiful and quietly powerful voice's still capable of giving me the chills. The tone is still quite sombre, so it's best to listen to it at night, in solitary silence, as you're winding down after a stressful day. To be honest, her lyrics follow a certain pattern that gets repetitive after a while, but then for this kind of music, lyrics are allowed to come second to the mood it creates. All in all, for those of you looking for new music to listen to in the late hours, this would make a tasteful choice. You can sample the two cuts below. The album was released by Norwegian label Rune Grammofon.

Susanna - Born In The Desert
Susanna - Better Days
(Sonata Mix Dwarf Cosmos, 2007)

Swing by her MySpace for more song streams.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Lotte Kesner - China Mountain

Lotte Kestner is the current solo project of Anna-Lynne Williams, the singer of one of my favorite bands, Trespassers William. 'China Mountain' was quietly released earlier this year, so quietly that I wasn't aware until I passed by the band's website for some updates on their new album. The project sees Anna heading for a different direction, gone are the shoegaze tendencies, in favor of a more stripped-down, acoustic sound. Very little percussion was used, and Anna's bewitching vocals flow like a stream through the woods in the moonshine. The overall mood is drenched in melancholy, not that I'd expect anything else from her, but there's also a certain meditative quality to it. With 'China Mountain', she has managed to walk the fine line between beautiful lo-fi bedroom pop and Starbucks coffee table music. Although the album could have used a bit more variety, overall it's a respectable effort, the kind that could easily be overlooked but shouldn't be. If you like the two tracks below, then the rest is definitely for you.

Lotte Kesner - Crush The Bird
Lotte Kesner - Compasses

You can find the album on iTunes, order it from the band's website or CDBaby.

The album cover was done by Japanese illustrator Heisuke Kitazawa, who was responsible for the beautiful artwork for Trespassers William's last album 'Having'. You can check out his website for more of his amazing works.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rediscovered: The Baldwin Brothers - Dream Girl (feat. Miho Hatori)

Cibo Matto was ace. 'Sugar Water' is one of the true '90s alternative classics (and so is the video). After the disband, both Yuka Honda & Miho Hatori continued to pursue their solo careers. Honestly, I haven't heard Yuka's stuff, but I remember Miho's latest album 'Ecdysis' being quite decent. So here's what slipped through the cracks. In 2002, Miho Hatori lent her vocals to a track by The Baldwin Brothers (no, not those two) called 'Dream Girl'. I only got wind of this a couple days ago. It's worth the search, though, because I absolutely love it upon the first listen. It's a splash of fun, upbeat, bubbly, dreamy offbeat electronica with a dash of psychedelic grooves (sorry for the puns). Nothing boundary-breaking here, but lovely nonetheless. 'Lost gem' stamp approved.
There's a nice track featuring one of my fave vocalists, Angie Hart (Frente!) on that album, too.

The Baldwin Brothers - Dream Girl (featuring Miho Hatori)
(Cooking With Lasers, 2002)

Here's the video:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rediscovered: Lillix - Sweet Temptation (Hollow)

Remember Lillix? They were this Avril-lite, Disney-friendly version of The Donnas that hit it big once with their cover of 'What I Like About You' that seemed to appear in every chick flick back then. I didn't even know it was a cover of The Romantics until a couple weeks ago. That shamefully late discovery made me wonder if they had actually had any good punk-pop songs on their own, and so off to Youtube I went. The singles from their debut weren't any good. But the lead single for the flopped second album really is something. On 'Sweet Temptation (Follow)', the girls switched from generic teen-punk-pop to faux-glam-pop-rock. A major pop number with a monster of a chorus. Really, it's insanely catchy. I had no idea what went wrong, was it the label's disinterest in promoting, the dull video, or what? What was supposed to help them rejuvenate their career and gain more exposure ended up pushing them into oblivion instead. I know the life span of bands like this is not long, but still, such a shame that this was overlooked. Were this to be released now, it'd have the potential to become a big hit. What happened happened, the band was dropped, 2 members left, a guy was recruited and apparently they're working on new materials, though I doubt if they'd ever find a way back into the limelight again. Well, those royalties from 'What I Like About You' should be enough to fund another album, I guess. So if you enjoy your pop with big hooks and miss this like me, give it a chance. A new addictive guilty pleasure of mine.

Lillix - Sweet Temptation (Hollow)
(Inside The Hollow, 2006)

Covered: Kids In America

I'm no longer a kid, nor am I in America. Doesn't mean I can't still sing this out loud and pretend to be both.
Okay the first part was a lie. I'm still a kid.

The Muffs - Kids In America
(Clueless OST, 1995)
The Donnas - Kids In America
(Nancy Drew OST, 2007)
LEN - Kids In America
(Digimon The Movie OST (!), 2000)

Can you spot a pattern?

And here's an electric updated version from Kim Wilde's 2006 album 'Never Say Never', featuring Charlotte Hatherley of Ash.

Kim Wilde - Kids In America (feat. Charlotte Hatherley)

Everyone lives for the music-go-round...

Oh almost forgot this part. Apparently, those freaking Jonas Brothers have covered this, dubbed as 'Kids Of The Future'. And this idiot actually thought that they ripped off Len. Oh the hilarity.