Tag Archives: mixtapes

Old Gibson Plant in Kalamazoo Getting Facelift

I was lucky enough to have spent some of my formative music years in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Not only was it a tour stop for national bands (Kalamazoo being exactly half-way between Chicago and Detroit), but it also had a banging local scene comprised of bands that I still count among my favorites. All of this was built on the foundation of a guitar company that stands as one of the pillars of American musical instruments: Gibson Guitars.

Founded in 1902 as “The Gibson Mandolin-Guitar Mfg. Co., Ltd.” in Kalamazoo to make mandolins and guitars, the main plant was at 225 Parsons St. when Gibson left for Nashville in 1984. Heritage Guitars moved in shortly thereafter and while they made fine guitars, the small company kinda let the building go to pot.

But now new owners Archie Leach and Jeff Nicholson, who bought Heritage Guitars in 2016, are bringing the old girl back to life. Local Spins reports that the company is investing in their history and…ahem…heritage with a $12 million renovation of the plant to “turn the factory into a destination for tourists and local residents, while keeping the legacy of Gibson and Heritage alive and well in Kalamazoo.”

And because this is Michigan, there are plans to include a beer garden and restaurant as part of the renovations, which are expected to be complete by the end of 2018 or in early 2019.

Continue reading Old Gibson Plant in Kalamazoo Getting Facelift

Listen to Frontier Justice 3/25/17

Tei Shi has described her songcraft as a communion of many jams, tributaries of ideas meeting on a flood plain to the wide open sea. You can climb inside the layers on a track like 2013’s “M&Ms,” let the stuttering beat of 2015’s “Basically” blast from your imaginary boom box as weird thoughts bounce off your skull on the train ride downtown. And on Crawl Space (Downtown), the Argentina-via-New York City artist’s debut full-length, it’s this kind of stylistic pointillism that’s the name of the game. It’s a headphones record, speaking of train rides; Tei Shi’s vocals drift in from one channel in harmony, while they fill the middle space with Prince screams and hooks to set off another treated blast of brass or a well-timed percussion squall. “Justify” from Crawl Space kicks off this edition of Frontier Justice, and the low-end growl’s nearly as cool as Tei Shi’s multi-dimensional vocal trading barbs with that skittering effect over top. Let it get inside of you.

Spotify: Frontier Justice 3/25/17 (34 songs, 1 hr 59 min)

Speaking of multiple dimensions, Gorillaz have returned from the Fornax Cluster just in time to collaborate with a billion more tastemakers. Reggae has always been central to Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz star map, and here his drowsy vocal meshes well with the melodic chat of Jamaican dancehall hot shot Popcaan. The craziest thing about Gorillaz is how much it always sounds like Gorillaz, no matter what posse of guests Albarn’s rustled up. Perfect example? Jehnny Beth, fearless leader of Savages, leads the pulsing “We Got the Power,” which stands strong on its own even as it’s built from Gorillaz’ signature tool kit.

Debbie Harry has never stopped being cooler than everyone, and “Long Time” is the new proof. Written with Dev Hynes of Blood Orange and feeding on the genetic material of “Heart of Glass,” it’s one of the lead tracks from Pollinator, out May 5, which will also feature collabs with Dave Sitek (TV on the Radio), Johnny Marr, Sia, and the homie Charli XCX. Sitek is also the man behind the curtain on the hazy remix of “Hot Thoughts,” the title track to Spoon’s new record, appearing here alongside , who herself worked with XCX for “Drum,” which certainly bears the British singer-songwriter’s sixth sense for brash pop hooks.

Continue reading Listen to Frontier Justice 3/25/17

Listen to Frontier Justice 2/19/17

The Thousand Points Of Light Memorial Waterfall lies dry at the center of the Super 7 Mega Mall food court tetrahedron, and everybody’s got an opinion as to why. Hair triggers, we have them. In this new reality of hot takes and burning questions, it’s fun to clamber onto a roof and shout “BELL BOTTOMS” over and over into the night sky. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion strut their way outta “Frontier Justice” in its college radio days and into this new consciousness, the latest FJ delivery system being Spotify. And speaking of that new consciousness, on this set JSBX drops into the void between Danny Brown‘s stuttering, claustrophobic “Ain’t It Funny” on one side and Lady Gaga‘s “Diamond Heart” on the other. Young, wild Americans, both.

Spotify: Frontier Justice 2/19/17 (35 songs, 2 hr 3 min)

At the top of the set, Norway’s Sigrid makes her debut with “Don’t Kill My Vibe” and M.I.A. returns with the typically martial “P.O.W.A.” Minor Threat and Agent Orange remind us that the establishment was riling up the youth in the early moments of the Me Decade, Patti Smith remains royalty, and “Said It Already” is new, incisive and grooving from young Londoner Ama Lou. Elsewhere, Tommy Genesis oozes volatility and effortless after-hours club cool on “Art,” and Dai Burger wants to be your class president. Did you know Michelle Branch is back? Hopeless Romantic is her first full-length in 13 years; it was written and co-produced with Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, and sounds like it. Angel Olsen released one of 2016’s best records in My Woman — The engrossing, cinematic “Sister” is a highlight — and digging deep into the Spotify Sound Vaults reveals classic material in a new light: Elvis Presley brings both vulnerability and bluesy swing to an alternate take of “Heartbreak Hotel,” and The Supremes are full of funky soul on “Bad Weather,” the 1973 nugget produced and written by Stevie Wonder.

There’s some Ratt along the way, because after all, what goes around comes around (and they’ll tell you why), L.A. Witch is back with cool new stuff for Suicide Squeeze, RTJ remind us to stay hungry and pissed, and Eminem is no less than unhinged on “No Favors,” one of the many standouts on Big Sean‘s terrific new record I Decided.

Making playlists isn’t protest. It’s not political action. But it can be a soundtrack for both dancing and dissent, and do its best to uphold the art of discourse, which in these polarizing times is increasingly under attack. And if you want to completely check out, there’s always room on Goat‘s delightfully weird magic carpet. Here, “Try My Robe.”

JTL

You can also try an Apple Music playlist. Let me know if this works. -ed.

Continue reading Listen to Frontier Justice 2/19/17

A Glorious Noise Guide to Bob Dylan

Bob-Dylan-1966-barry-feinstein

I have a favorite era of Dylan, and it’s short: 1965-66. There’s stuff he did before and after that I like a lot, but the bulk of my mix comes from those two years. And I’ll defend that decision to the death; feel free to make your own Dylan playlist that represents his career more thoroughly. These are songs that I love, songs that showcase my favorite themes of Dylan’s catalog: aching love songs, bitter breakup songs, country-fried rock songs with trippy wordplay. That’s my bag.

There aren’t any “protest” songs here (Dylan dismissed them as “finger pointing songs”), but there’s still plenty of finger pointing. Instead of obvious targets such as warmongers and segregationists, my favorite Dylan songs take aim at his fellow Baby Boomers for being a bunch of pretentious phonies. He was prescient like that.

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Early Nineteen Seventy-Something Pt. 2

The BeatlesThe making of Come and Get It, the last Beatles album that never was

The conclusion of this descent into madness that resulted in a masterpiece mixtape and a bleeding ulcer for the author. Paging Doctor Roberts…

Be sure to read Pt. 1 if you haven’t already.

Continue reading Early Nineteen Seventy-Something Pt. 2

Early Nineteen Seventy-Something Pt. 1

The BeatlesThe making of Come and Get It, the last Beatles album that never was…

A two-part series of the special kind of lunacy that sets in with avid mix tape/CD makers. What if the Beatles had made one more album? What would it sound like?

Continue reading Early Nineteen Seventy-Something Pt. 1

DON’T TELL YOUR FRIENDS ABOUT THE TWO OF US

70s AOR – Still Creepy After All These Years

Johnny Loftus

Lately, it’s been the 70s Creep-Out Mix that’s been blowing up the hi-fi around the Glorious Noise HQ. A home-made compilation long thought to be lost to movers, car crashes, or simple human error, the 70s Creep-Out Mix was recently unearthed by its maker, and has found new life in and around the GLONO offices. The CD visits the entire canon of 1970s AOR, and includes both the perennial radio hit, as well as the one-off moment of long-haired, acoustic genius that could have only existed in the decade previous to Rayon, skinny ties and MTV. In an imaginary field of long green grass, where the men are bell bottom’d and the women go bra-less, the pop wonder of Badfinger’s “No Matter What” lies next to the bizarro production of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love.” The former – barely making the decade at 1970 – presents rhythms that would define the decade’s AM-centric pop music. The latter, arriving in May of 1975, was a balladic freak-out that suggested the sounds of Inspiration Point on Alpha Centauri. It’s the wac convergence of tracks like these that define the creepy nature of the Mix, and in turn, the climate of pop music in the 1970s.

Nowadays, in the sophisticated 21st century, hipster revisionists are split over the influence of the tracks that make up the Creep-Out Mix. On one hand are the ironicists, who smirk at the songs’ saccharine production, over-indulgent harmonies and production, and the general geeky-ness of the era’s artists. On the other side of the aisle are the appreciators – the people who hear the beauty in the underpinning melody of King Harvest’s “Dancing In The Moonlight.” (Noted softie Jeff Tweedy makes mention of this phenomenon in Derek Phillips’ recent Wilco article.) The best part about this argument? No one’s right. There’s no question that Sammy Johns’ “Chevy Van” could be the cheesiest song this side of Dan Hill’s “Sometimes When We Touch.” But it’s the emotions and vibes expressed in Johns’ song (#5 in 1975!) that typify the creepy-ness of the 70s Creep-Out Mix. “‘Cause like a picture she was layin’ there/Moonlight dancin’ off her hair/She woke up and took me by the hand/She’s gonna love me in my Chevy Van” – here’s the punchline – “And that’s alright with me.” Johns’ casual, holy-shit-can-you-believe-this-is-happening-to-me vocal – “Her long leeeeeeeegs were tan and brooooooown” – makes the contemporary listener wince with laughter, while at the same time wish that it was still possible to write a hit pop song about hooking up with a beautiful hitchhiker. Even the ironicists admit that, yeah, that would be all right with them.

Ray Stevens is not included on The 70s Creep-Out Mix. “The Streak” is the kind of novelty that belongs on a mix compiling hokey tracks from each decade into one, succinctly un-purchasable compact disc. But songs like the Ozark Mountain Daredevils’ “Jackie Blue;” Seals & Crofts’ “Diamond Girl;” and some classics from the Eagles’ middle 70s period – these are the tracks that make up the Mix that has transformed GLONO’s offices into a landscape of burnt sienna, orange floral patterns, and fondue. Keep in mind that this is not an exercise in nostalgia. Rather, the 70s Creep-Out Mix is as creepy as it is simply because its vibes ring so soundly here in our enlightened decade. Of course the ironicists will crap on this. They’ll accuse the appreciators of layering their own sardonic acceptance of these songs in faux “this is so stupid it’s cool” politics. But that’s simply not the case. There is something intangible in the songs collected on the Creep-Out Mix, something almost scary in the pretension-less approach to making music laid bare in its boundaries, that still somehow suggests otherwise. Everyone knows that the Eagles were (and perhaps still are) the most commercial group on the face of the Earth. And yet, there’s a spooky feeling of coolness that takes over the room when their Creep-Out moment happens. And that’s what keeps the Mix in the rotation.

There isn’t a lot of mystery in popular music today. Usually it boils down to a simple choice – sucks or not. The music that dominated AM (and later FM) pop radio in the 1970s was able to straddle the line between hokey and genius, to create some of the Creepiest fucking music ever made.

JTL

The Art of the Mix

Making mixes for people is a grossly underrated medium of expression. I know people who have put more thought into compiling a mix tape than they put in almost anything else they have ever done. My poor wife has gotten more mix tapes than love letters by a ratio of about 30:1. That’s not an exaggeration.

The Art of the Mix website has been around since 1997, gathering people’s mixes and allowing others to comment on them. They’ve got over 10,000 mixes up on the site right now. It’s a great idea. Our own Sab came up with a similar idea a while ago, but didn’t get too far with it. It’s still a great idea. I just uploaded my latest mix to Art of the Mix, and I plan on uploading the rest of them from now. You should too. I wish I had known about this since 1997.

And yes, there is a category for “Break Up” mixes. You can search for them by category and feel relieved that you didn’t know about this site the last time you had your heart broken. But at least you weren’t as sappy as some people, ha ha. Or maybe you were. I hope nobody ever finds the track lists for the mixes I made when I was 18…