Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Mixology Primer

You lot got my curiousity piqued the other day when we all had our own desert islands on Michelle's archipelago. What a nice place that was. (For the uninitiated, Michelle is the non-Martian half of the insanely sassy Big Porcupine team).
Neil and Jen both chose as one of their desert island cd picks their own mixed cd, which of course, made me sit up and take notice, as I am an obsessive mixed cd maker, and very nosy to boot.
I burn a shitload of mixed cds, for two main reasons: 1) to keep me sane during my 45 minute one-way commute, and 2) to inspire me to keep exercising. I also make quite a few mixes when I get that prickly feeling that somebody I know just has to hear some of my new music or they won't be able to survive. (No huge egos in this family)

Besides wanting to hear what some of your gold standard mixes are, I'd be interested to hear how you decide what goes into a mix.

Here's my recipe (because making a mix is sooo very difficult). Because I'm an incorrigible multi-tasker, each mix has to fit some stringent criteria:
  1. use the whole 80 minutes (I cannot tolerate waste)
  2. as most of the cds eventually end up beside the stationary bike, the first 45 minutes or so need to be primarily lively or I ain't going to pedal hard enough
  3. very rarely reuse songs, especially favourites, because God forbid I ever get tired of hearing them
  4. go back into the archives for some old favourites (ie, the Clash, Elvis Costello, Queen, Red Hot Chili Peppers) - they sound surprisingly fresh after a few years absence
  5. don't be afraid to throw in something unusual on each one (ie, Louis Prima, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Handel)
  6. and perhaps, trickiest of all, when making a cd for someone else (and of course I want to burn a copy for myself - it's that multi-tasking obsession again) have to follow all of the above plus make it unique for my buddy

So to start off the exercise, here's an example. I just made this cd for Kellee, in which I was trying to showcase to a certain degree some Canadian artists, highlight the Constantines, but nothing from Tournament of Hearts because Kellee already has that, and avoid repetition from some earlier cds I made for her. And I also couldn't resist putting on some songs from my new cds (ie, Franz Ferdinand, the Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian)

1 At home he’s a tourist – Gang of Four
2 Evil and a heathen – Franz Ferdinand
3 Watermark – Weakerthans
4 Ariel vs Lotus – Limblifter
5 National hum – Constantines
6 Electric version – New Pornographers
7 Rock the casbah – the Clash
8 Diagnosis – Weakerthans
9 Goodnight goodnight – Hot Hot Heat
10 Teenage lobotomy – the Ramones
11 This boy – Franz Ferdinand
12 Asleep on a sunbeam – Belle & Sebastian
13 Steal this sound – the Constantines
14 Hollywood is high – the Violent Femmes
15 We both go down together – the Decemberists
16 Ever fallen in love? – Buzzcocks
17 Justice – the Constantines
18 Germ Free Adolescents – X-Ray Spex
19 Buona Sera – Louis Prima
20 Hyacinth Blues – the Constantines
21 The fake headlines – the New Pornographers
22 Eli, the barrow boy – the Decemberists
23 Coax me – Sloan
24 Lord Anthony – Belle & Sebastian
25 Sea ghost – the Unicorns

Okay class, wake up!

Here's your assignment for 30% of your mark:

Hand in an example of a mixed cd. How do you decide what is burn-worthy?

Bonus points for wow factor.

You may begin ... now


Kellee said...

AlWAYS BURNWORTHY..I LOVE YA! A good mix playing while showering or driving is NEVER a waste of time or music...I trust your taste, per usual! Let 'er burn baby, burn!!

Anonymous said...

I'm falling over your props, girl. Merci bo-cou, you rock my world.

You're calling forth a tall task lady. My burnworthy discs are themed and dictated by mood. If I'm feeling all anarchist there's a lot of attitude music. If I know it's going to be an exercise / burn-that-fat-off CD then it's powered with beats. If it's a driving CD then there's energy and a bit of creatively inspirational music (excellent example being Matthew Good). Really, if you look at the deca's of discs I have it's a trainwreck. BUT, I'm hot for teacher so I'll do my best to chip in something cool.

Oh, and I'm a stickler for using up every single second of the 80 minutes, too. I get all stupid when, on the rare occassion, I see 1 second left to use. Even then I'll try to find a sound bite to add.

Ok, I tried to think and I couldn't. So I'm going to contribute the tracks on the last CD I burned 3 days ago.

1. Nine Inch Nails - The Perfect Drug
2. Disturbed - Decadence
3. Placebo - The Bitter End
4. The Prodigy - You'll Be Under My Wheels
5. A Perfect Circle - Passive
6. Static X - Skinnyman
7. Weezer - Perfect Situation
8. The Pixies - The End
9. The Perceptionists - Let's Move
10. Suni Clay - In a Hood Near You
11. The Suicide Machines - Sometimes I Don't Mind
12. Jamiroquai - Feels Just Like it Should (Timo Maas Remix)
13. Three Days Grace - I Hate Everything About You
14. KMFDM - Attak/Reload
15. Matthew Good - Weapon
16. Nine Inch Nails - Only
17. Trapt - Echo
18. A Perfect Circle - 3 Libras
19. James Blunt - You're Beautiful
20. Jose Gonzalez - Heartbeats

Probably a star on the Lame List but eh, that's where I was a couple of nights ago!

Oh I hope I passed. No wow factor, boohoo. Points for effort? :)

Anonymous said...

You added The Buzzcocks on your list, yar har! Sorry 'bout the double post but I had to mention that... plus I think I need to give The Constantines some more auditory time. Or just invade your island, heh.

Jas B said...

I want one of those, Barb.

I would go back to my roots if I had to mix one and make a mix of all the punjabi songs: both bhangra and folk.

And yes, Barb, all 80 minutes of it!

Anonymous said...

Ah, the glory of the Mix CD! There is surely an art to it…one I confess I have totally failed to master. Honestly, my CDs tend to scare anyone with anything other than a tin ear.

I fail on the principle element of good taste. I confess a fondness for novelty songs and cover versions that tweak with the general elements of the song. I love Richard Thompson’s gritty voice smoking through “Oops, I Did It Again” and his duets with David Byrne. I am also an unashamed lover of Tom Lehrer and Peter Schickele’s PDQ Bach recordings. I include their bizarre tunes whenever possible…whether they segue well or not.

Oh, and Richard Cheese. Love Richard Cheese.

I have also acquired a portable CD player that plays straight data CDs. This allows me to get nearly 200 (!) songs on one disk. This way I can’t go wrong – I simply hit the “random” button and if the songs don’t meld into one another well I blame fate. A cop-out, for sure, but a handy one.

My favorite standard CD (for the moment) is as follows:

1) Pink Floyd – One of These Days
2) Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
3) Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation
4) Incubus – Nice to Know You
5) Nirvana – Aneurism
6) Beastie Boys - Sabotage
7) Led Zeppelin – Dyer Maker
8) Everclear – Santa Monica
9) Alice in Chains – Them Bones
10) Soundgarden (live w/Jeff Buckley) – Spoonman
11) Wilson Picket – Hey, Jude
12) Marvin Gaye – Mercy, Mercy Me
13) Bill Withers – Use Me
14) Nirvana – The Man Who Sold the World
15) Jimmy Eat World – Sweetness
16) Lo-Fidelity All-Stars – Battle Flag
17) Stone Temple Pilots – Break On Through
18) Crystal Method – Murder

See? Train wreck.


Conky said...

barb im mailing the strokes tomorrow 4 u and threw in a JEN MIX cd 4 u....feel free to turn me on to the bands u always talk about with a mixer...weakerthans...wilco...constantines...etc i know NOTHING of them except the kudos they always get. xo

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Oh yeah!!!! Have to leave for work so I will discuss your assignments with you individually later, but this is soooo gr8!!!!

You guys are the best. A+++++++ for you all!

Neil said...

Usually I pick songs that I don't hear on the radio very much, never even if possible.

Every cd tends to have one Matt Good song on it because I'm that much of a geek over his music.

I usually pick a bunch of songs that don't sound the same, but compliment each other as I like to have a cd with a sort of purpose (driving, studying, masturbating).

Most of my songs tend to be ones that aren't released on albums (again, ones you won't hear on the radio a lot).

I think that's it. I try to fill up the cd's I use as well.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Did I ever tell you guys how much you delight me?

Kellee, it's probably a very good thing I don't listen to mixes while showering, on account of there would be zero hot water for anyone else. And I goofed yesterday, so will actually mail your package tomorrow.

Michelle, full points naturally! No lameness in sight! Oooh I drooled over some of your list (Pixies yay!) and some I don't know (Suni Clay, the Suicide Machines) and am now uber-curious (yellow) - am I the only one old enough to get that reference fer christ's sake?
You can come and visit me and my lovely boys from the Constantines on my island anytime. Also happy to make you a mix, if you like.

Jas - your bhangra and hindi mixes rock! But they make me hungry.

GOB, GOB, GOB - that is anything but a train wreck, my man. Love the juxtiposition between eras and genres.
200 songs/disc ... shit, I just drooled on the keyboard. If you have a fondness for novelty songs, surely you are an affectionado of the Violent Femmes? I can also highly recommend the Arrogant Worms, with such classics as Jesus' Brother Bob, and I am Cow. Unfortunately I do not own any AW to make you a sample, but I did see them at the Folk Fest this summer and they came this close to making me pee my pants.

Jen - you're beautiful! Thank you! Yay, I get a Jen mix. Prepare to be turned on to my lovely boy bands. Mixes coming back to you.

Neil! You make mixes for the sole purpose of masturbating? What songs would be on those, I wonder? (Is Bry Webb on them, cause his voice does it for me.)
I know what you mean about using songs you wouldn't normally hear, because you sure don't want to get tired of them. Nothing worse than being in the middle of a date with your hand and going "I can't listen to this song again!" and ruining the moment.

Anonymous said...


Juxtaposition? It is nice of you to say, but I think it’s more about the random nature of the universe…Pink Floyd into Bohemian Rhapsody? Huh? Still not sure what I was thinking.

Never been a big Violent Femmes fan. I tried. Really I did. I went as far as listening to them even when I didn’t want to – in hopes that they might be an acquired taste. Like Robert Frost or Asparagus. Turns out I just don’t care for the Femmes…or Frost or Asparagus for that matter.

You inspired me to make a new mp3 data CD. 202 songs. Heh.

Is the Jesus’ Brother Bob song about THAT Jesus or some other Jesus? If it is the better known of the Jesi (isn’t that the plural, or is it “Jesuses”?) – would Bob’s full name be “Bob of Nazareth” or “Robert Christ”?

Let me know, I am Curious (Yellowish).


Jas B said...

Barb, the "Pant Pant Pant Playlist" is wonderful. It will be accompanying me to the gym from now on!

Neil said...

ha ha ha ha... barbara, you crack me up. "A date with your hand".

ha ha ha ha. good way to start my morning.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

GOBmeister, let's not let a difference in preferences come between us. Violent Femmes are not everybody's cup of tea, that's cool. We're good? We're good.

Bob, Rob, Robbie, Bobby, is indeed the brother of the most well-known of the Jesi, which I guess would make him Robert of Nazareth, but I understand his older brother called him humus-breath.
- 202 song playlist. wooooooooah!

Jaspreet, glad I could help you pant, pant, pant

Neil, is that how you started off your morning? Hmmm, you're an early riser.

Anonymous said...

Suni Clay, oh, well, they're hip hop. There's maybe less than 7 hip hoppers (kinda sounds like giant bunny rabbits... or would that be bunny "rappits?") that I can listen to, they're one of them. The Suicide Machines song is a punk-ish ditty about this guy's dog, but it's sort of veiled in that he could be singing about his terribly ugly girlfriend. Aside from my stuff though, I have to say, visiting your blog has broadened my music knowledge. You make me feel all smart and with it!

I would absolutely love to visit you and your Constantine crew on your island, but in the interim I'll be chill with a mix. And I'll most certainly do likewise. If I can find 80 minutes of stuff you might like out of my collection.

PS -> I'm deadly jealous over GOB's mp3 data cd player. Although I'm extremely happy with my own the ability to make the most out of one's media rocks my world.

Neil, shave those palms lately? I imagine your date abhors razor stubble. ;)

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Lay it on me, Michelle. I would be thrilled to feel the sweetness of a Michelle-mix and I'll put my best samples together for you. OOO, a mix swap, yippee!

I am completely stoked to hear some new things from your selections. Just today I discovered electronica (Soft Pink Truth - compliments of Eva) and feel like the scales just fell away from me ears. So I am ready for some new experiences.

Anonymous said...

Right on girl! We shall join musical juices and create a new drink.

I'm installing a new burner tonight and this next guinea pig cd will be my fresh meat. If it works then watch out!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Here's to new burners!