Slow Down Clown’s Vitek Goyel gives us the first of NH7 Mixtape March’s mixtapes. This one’s goes out to lovers, dreamers, sinners, and all in between.
Hello world! Lets get two things straight – one, I’m neurotic as hell, and two, I devour music like a fat kid loves cake, and I love me some cake! Now that we have that out of the way…
The lost art of the Mixtape. Remember when you would spend literally hours recording songs to those TDK tapes and trying your goddamned best to not cut the song off before it was actually over? Not only the recording part, but just sequencing the tapes was an art form too. Lest we forget dousing them with black ink penned heart shapes before sending them off to some girl, who was probably still fantasizing over Backstreet Boys enough to not really give a shit about you or your shitty mixtape! Well, the time has come to reinvent the mixtape! Well, almost.
For me, the real “formative” years (when my brain was being molded by ear shattering Db’s and other unmentionables) existed in the early to mid-noughties. It was a time when I was fortunate enough to see many band’s that I idolized, and got to get my first real peek at any kind of “underground” scene.
Here goes a mixtape of songs/bands/artists that have gone a long, long way in shaping everything that I am today, as I live and breathe! Each one of these songs has touched my life, and made me all the richer for it. The hope is that maybe some of you might find something you like, and begin your own epic journey into these musical netherworlds, just as I did (and continue to do). A heads up, if you don’t like wrist slitting-ly saddening music, please go here instead.
Here we go! Pass it on! Wanna get more involved with NH7 Mixtape March, check out NH7′s 101 starter course on mixtaping here.
I took the liberty of writing about what each song means to me. Track-by-track, here it is.
1. Cap n Jazz – ‘Little League’
“Hey Coffee Eyes! You got me coughin’ up my cookie dough heart”
I’ll never forget the first time I heard this song. I just went – “What? What the fuck was that?!” I had never, ever heard anything like it. It was punk rock, it was children’s music, it was… yelping… I don’t know what! It’s very hard to describe the music of Cap n Jazz but I do know one thing – I loved it! It’s crazy how influential, yet unknown, they were. You even have bands naming themselves after some of their songs! (We Are Scientists) Cap N Jazz also led me to other artists/bands that I love to this day that were hugely influential on me, namely American Football, Owen, The Promise Ring, Owls, and Joan of Arc. Listen to this and tell me if you’ve ever heard anything like it! It really makes you want to jump around the room like a live wire on pop rocks and Coca Cola.
2. Sunny Day Real Estate – ‘In Circles’
Sunny Day Real Estate was the first time I ever heard the term “emo” related to a band or any kind of music. As cheesy as it sounds, the term certainly fits for SDRE. This is pure emotion with a kickass rhythm section. You can’t tell a goddamn word of what Jeremy Enigk is saying, but it is all 100% absolutely believable. SDRE were the perfect band for their time and place, another Sub Pop gem. Unfortunately, they broke up and spawned a generation of gag-inducing “emo” bands that seemed to have missed the point entirely. Fun fact – the rhythm section ended up joining a little band called Foo Fighters, where bassist Nate Mendel resides till this day! Still, this is the real deal right here. If you like this, check out another band from the same era called Mineral. You won’t regret it!
3. Sun Kil Moon – ‘Duk Koo Kim’
Mark Kozelek is the greatest living singer-songwriter of our time. There, I said it! He’s the only person on this list that shows up twice, and for good reason. It seems that MK fans are such a small group of people, but they are extremely devoted. MK can literally sing words from the Yellow Pages and make you want to cry. Duk Koo Kim, in my opinion, is his masterpiece. Based on the infamous boxing match between Ray Mancini and Duk Koo Kim, a Korean boxer, where Kim died in the ring as a result of injuries sustained during the fight. In the song, MK uses the fight as a metaphor to meditate on life and death. You would think, given the subject matter, the song would be absolutely pretentious, but it’s the complete opposite. It’s as real as it gets. The song runs for a glorious nine minutes and never ever feels boring. This song is just beyond words for me. It evokes the feeling of how fleeting life is. This is a song that needs your patience, and its beauty will reveal itself to you in time. “You never know, which day is gonna pick you, baby.”
4. The Microphones – ‘I Want Wind To Blow’
This album was the first real exposure to me of “lo-fi” as a genre. It took a couple of listens to get my head around it, but once I did, it’s never left me. This album wallops a huge emotional impact every time I give it a spin. Phil Elverum uses lo-fi recording techniques (warts and all), all done at home onto analog tape, as not just a medium but also as aesthetic. His playing and singing is so sincere on this, you can just imagine him sitting in that room just poring over the smallest details. A lot of people think that In An Aeroplane Over the Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel is the greatest lo-fi indie album. My money is on Glow Pt 2. Once it gets into you, it never leaves. That’s a good thing.
5. Arthur Russell – ‘Place I Know/Kid Like You’
Arthur Russell was this disco maven from the ’80s who was really influential in the early NYC disco scene, but he was also deeply rooted in the avant garde. He played a unique combination of cello with tape loops and lots and lots of echo to match his heart breaking vocal phrasings. He passed away from AIDS in the ’90s, but his music is probably some of the most unique I have ever heard and you can hear the influence on a lot of todays bands, from Grizzly Bear to Animal Collective. His music is called “unintelligible” by some, but to me, each song of his is like a little universe that exists by itself, but still feels like part of “everything”.
“A kid like you, could never understand. A man like me, never understood that”.
Kills me every time.
6. My Bloody Valentine – ‘When You Sleep’
Like a lot of songs on this list, I heard this song for the first time while sitting in the backseat of someone’s car. I remember that my friend had this album on cassette and when I heard this song, everything just clicked for me. It was a surreal moment for sure! At first, it might just seem like noise, but there are so many layers here that are very intricate. This album had a ridiculously high budget (rumoured to be close to $1 million) that nearly bankrupted Creation Records. But one thing’s for sure, I spent the next couple of years trying to emulate this sound and tried my best to coax cute girls with whispery voices into my room to record them singing over my noise tracks and reverse delay loops. I still have some of those recordings, and they didn’t actually turn out half bad!
7. Modest Mouse – ‘Third Planet’
The only tattoo I have on my body is a Modest Mouse one. That pretty much says it all. Modest Mouse is one of the very few bands that I have a very deep, almost spiritual connection to. And this album kind of sums up all my religious/spiritual/humanistic beliefs. The soundtrack to my 18-year-old existential crises! There’s no other band that clicked so instantly with me. The more I delved into their back catalog, I realized that it was all pure gold! Isaac Brock is a genius. I even did an art project in college about the evolution of post modernism, ending with Modest Mouse. Everything ended with Modest Mouse for me in the first half of the 2000s. Brock’s lyrics were so simple and nonsensical but yet, they make perfect sense to me. This is music you take with you when you go, wherever that may be.
“The Universe is shaped exactly like the Earth, if you go straight long enough you’ll end up where you were.”
8. Red House Painters – ‘Katy Song’
Here’s the second Mark Kozelek song on the list, this time from his first band, Red House Painters. I’m not really one to give much advice to people, but the one thing I tend to tell people when they come to me for advice is, “If you’re depressed, please don’t drink heavily and listen to Red House Painters.” RHP music was DEPRESSING, but, it was also glorious. RHP, along with bands like Low and Codeine, pioneered a genre known as “Slowcore” or “Sadcore”. Not the best of names, but they describe the music accurately. This is slooooooow and sad music made for wallowing in. I love it! This song in particular is probably the moodiest RHP song, but also one of the most heartbreakingly beautiful ones Koz ever wrote. One line that nearly killed me the first time I heard it, because it resounded with stuff going on with my life at the time.
“I know tomorrow you will be somewhere in London, living with someone. You got some kind of family there to turn to, and that’s more than I could ever give you.”
9. Casiotone For The Painfully Alone – ‘I Love You Creedence’
Any “one man band” consisting of a fat guy with a beard and glasses who plays his Casio keyboard to some homemade beats is A+ in my book. But what I love about CFTPA is that they avoid the trappings of many “hipster” groups, and behind the glitchy electrobeats, there are some truly endearing stories of loss and tales of unrequited love. I love songs that are stories. Another great song by them is ‘Natural Light, which was covered beautifully by Mark Kozelek on one of his EPs. But this song in particular, though short, really makes my eyes swell up whenever I hear it. As someone in the Youtube comments section wrote “So goddamn sad”. I concur. It’s a song I could listen to on repeat for a 100 times and not get sick of. In fact, sometimes I do just that.
10) Titus Andronicus – ‘Upon Viewing Bruegel’s Landscape With the Fall of Icarus’
Titus Andronicus is the only band I’ve really liked to have come out in US indie scene the last four-five years. They mix an equal measure of Springsteen and early Clash bombast, and combine them into an epic garbage swirl of beer-and-vomit-soaked epic punk rock songs. Lo-fi as fuck, this is music for hard drinkers, wankers and part-time philosophers. This is a cut from their debut album, but their follow up The Monitor is a classic from start to end. What I love about these guys is there is no gimmick. There’s no multiple vowels in their band name, or multiple vvvvvvv’s or uuuuuu’s. This is straight up punk rock from a shitty town in New Jersey. A small band with an ambitious vision. Great stuff.
Vitek Goyel fronts Mumbai indie band Slow Down Clown.
We’re going in deep with mixtapes this March on NH7.in. Know more about NH7 Mixtape March here.