New Mixtape! – “Bright Grey Sky (pt 1)”

“Bright grey sky, make your eyes feel sore” – Real Estate, “Snow Days”

UPDATE: Click here for Pt 2.

I’ve gotten out of the habit of making “mixtapes” (that is, 40-80 minute playlists that have nothing to do with actual magnetic tape), and I think it’s just great fun, so when the urge to put one together recently possessed me, I followed it. Often, my mixes are built around a single song with some sonic element that strikes a chord with me, and then I try to put together a list of others that share that same element — one of my favorites that I’ve made was all built around Deerhunter’s “Nothing Ever Happened”, but that one exists only on some long lost burned CD somewhere…maybe it’ll turn up one day. Anyway, the connection between the songs may be pretty vague, so it may only be apparent to me, but I think it’s a nice way to put together a mix regardless.

The starting point for this one was Real Estate’s “Snow Days”, the closer off their self-titled album, and a song which took a while to grab hold of me. When I started combing through my library for songs that share what I love about “Snow Days”, the list got quite long, so I decided to make this one a two-parter. Maybe I’m overexplaining this, but the way I perceive all these songs is that they’re somewhat melancholy or disaffected but are still pleasingly melodic and have a warm mood to them. That description could be lent to literally millions of songs, but it’s as specific as I can get about the connection these songs have in my mind.

Important Side Note: I’ve been interested lately in the gaps between the various emotional layers a song may have for each of us. The lyrical content could be “sad” but the music might not sound it — The Shins are a great example of this. Or both music and lyrics might be depressive, but listening to it might not make us so. The National are a “sad” band but I do not feel sad when I listen to them. This can have a lot to do with the catharsis that comes out of the sadness in the work of a band like The National, but it also has to do with our own personal associations with that music. People may listen to sad music when they are sad, either for that catharsis or for a sense that they are not alone in that feeling, or they may listen to “happy” music to pick them up. (This very good column touches on that.) I’ve listened to The National during some good times in my life, and those are the feelings conjured when I listen to them, despite the general tone of their work. I’m sure this is true for many, many people, but something about the way I process music — I’m not a hugely lyric-centric guy, for one thing, and my choice of what to listen to is less affected by my “mood” than some friends I’ve talked to — makes the mood of a song particularly divorced from my own emotional associations with it. Expect a post with more on this sometime soon.

So the songs here range from slightly wistful to really down-in-the-dumps, in lyrics and in sound, but the way they make me feel does not mirror that. There are a lot of acoustic guitars (but not just, like, one scruffy singer-songwriter dude strummin away), and if they’re electric they’re crunchy and/or muted. There are lots of big, simple, open chords. I thought the idea of a sky that’s grey but still bright enough to make your eyes sore from looking at it summed up what I’m going for.

One more thing: I felt that if I was going to include so many tracks (I’m an incredibly bad self-editor), I should give the two discs some sort of presiding structure or symmetry. So they’re both about an hour long, have the same number of tracks, and begin or end with a tweaked version of the opener from tUnE-YaRdS’s debut album and a Real Estate track. Pt 1 begins in a more cheery place and gets progressively more downbeat, and Pt 2 does the opposite, bringing us back to the happier place we started in.

Maybe I’m explaining away the beauty of the music by yammering away like this, but there you have it. Click the link below to download the mix, give it a listen tonight, and check back tomorrow for the second half.

01 tUnE-YaRdS – “uoY roF”
02 Real Estate – “Snow Days”
03 The Fresh & Onlys – “Waterfall”
04 The Middle East – “Dan’s Silverleaf”
05 Kurt Vile – “Runner Ups”
06 Girls – “Heartbreaker”
07 White Rabbits – “Company I Keep”
08 Why? – “Good Friday”
09 Middle Brother – “Theater”
10 Teddy Thompson – “Down Low”
11 Yuck – “Stutter”
12 Dinosaur Jr. – “I Got Lost”
13 Red House Painters – “All Mixed Up”
14 Zola Jesus – “Lightsick”
(14.5 The Books – “A Wonderful Phrase By Gandhi”)


~ by toren on August 7, 2011.

One Response to “New Mixtape! – “Bright Grey Sky (pt 1)””

  1. […] “Nothing Ever Happened”, so it must have been some time in 2008. As with the last mix I posted here, I can’t exactly say what ties these songs together, but there is some connective tissue that […]

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