In the start of what I hope will be a consistent feature, I’ve got a mixtape for you. Every month I will put together between an hour and 80 minutes of songs, with some explanations of the songs. Also, links to where you can download the songs, if you want to make a mixtape of them yourself. But if you don’t want to download and compile them yourself, or you want the artwork (!) that comes along with the mixtape, you can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address and we’ll send you your very own indie rock mixtape, complete with all the fixins. Now it doesn’t get more generous than that!
This month, I’ve compiled some tracks from bands in the Top Ten Unsigned Hall of Fame. These are the bands that have stayed on the chart so long that they had to be retired for the good of the rest of the bands trying to get on the chart. In other words, these are the bands that make me want to do what I do.
1. “RedLightExitSignPastiche” by For the Mathematics. Alternately frantic and calculated, this song is loud, groove-heavy, spazzy indie that starts the tape off with a bang (or four).
2. “Anything” by Hope is Our Shield. The opener spirals out into this charging post-hardcore epic that juxtaposes aggro and emo perfectly. Check the huge mood shifts here. RIP
3. “You’re Cute When…” by Gunfight in Athens. A sloppy, fuzzy mess of a song that combines hardcore and electronic music in a way that doesn’t feel kitschy or disjointed.
4. “The Great Escape” by Days of Contraband. A ten second scream over charging guitar and drums in the intro sets the mood for this passionate, energized, yet surprisingly well-contained rock song. RIP
5. “Spent Days in the Rain” by Broadcast Sea. Another post-hardcore epic, this one echoes MeWithoutYou in all the right ways without sounding like copycats. Group yell, spoken-word, piano, angular and gritty guitars, frantic bits, calm bits, and all jarring and hectic. A highlight, and I’d love to see these guys live.
6. “Last Stand” by The Futurists. The Futurists lay down an excellent dance-rock track that eschews the usual culprits of pretentiousness, subtlety and whininess.
7. “Kansas” by Corban Eldra. An earnest, soulful voice cuts through the indie-rock haze and grounds this usually layer-worshipping band. Dramatic and powerful. RIP
8. “The Cinema and the Circus” by Great Glass Elevator. The dark glee that this subdued yet extremely clear track puts out is nearly impossible to explain. Definitely a highlight, what with the whistling and the children’s chorus.
9. “Defect and Descend” by the Mark. A jigsaw puzzle of a rock song, from the lithe bass to the cascading guitars to the herky-jerky drums and airtight vocals. RIP
10. “Back Down” by Designated Johnny. This is ska to me: punks throwing down reggae-influenced guitar rock with horns and lots of attitude. RIP
11. “We Are Squirrels and This is Nuts (The Family Song)” by the Love Machine. Yearning, optimistic guitar line; sleigh bell sway; hand-clap urgency; tambourine swagger; huge synth swoop; bombastic drums. That’s the first 15 seconds of this pop gem.
12. “Better Get Busy” by Cedarwell. A little less indulgent than the Format, but in the same vein, as Cedarwell makes shamelessly catchy pop for whose musical tastes are 21+.
13. “Something Said About an Endless Embrace” by More Monks than Reason. Meandering ambient music with more melodies than you can expect in a whole album of normal ambient music.
14. “Threnody” by [http://www.purevolume.com/amateurphotography”>(The) Amateur Photography. AmPho has the ambient-rock thing down pat- each of their songs is a whirling, encompassing, beautiful epic.
15. “Photographic Memories” by Ugly Colors. Picking up the ambient rock where AmPho left off, only with more intensity – the ethereal feel is stronger, while paradoxically the instruments have more snap and more power. RIP
16. “Sonnet to ________” by Second Act Overture. Closing out the album on a truly chilled note, this electronic composition makes a movie of your everyday life with distant sounds, pulsing bass and inquisitive melody.
Total run time: 1:05:09