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A Mid-summer Night’s Dream / Vol 11 / 102912

You know that feeling you get when you realize you’ve been on autopilot? You’re at work, but don’t remember the commute. Or, you’ve been shuffling your collection of music, yet can’t name the last three artists that were played. I believe, by building slight inconveniences into your day, you can reduce your tendency to zone out. For example, I’ve changed all my clocks to military time temporarily, so it forces me to stop and think for a moment. Or, by retelling stories I’ve heard throughout the day, I’m compelled to listen more carefully. Little things.

That’s what this volume is all about, in my books. Realizing you’ve been stuck in a mid-summer night’s dream, and trying to reign in reality. As spring fades into summer, and summer bleeds into autumn, I’m realizing the seasons provide a bit of stability around an otherwise temporal bubble. It’s time to wake up.

From genuine to forced idealism. From honest-to-goodness Americana to a gentle fuzz and hum. This volume has been interesting, distracting, thoughtful, and above all, fun.

I know I’m blathering, and I’m probably reading into this more than my colleagues. On an emotional level, I’ve really enjoyed putting this one together. Fellas, here’s to the future. Here’s to a bit of improvised stability. And, here’s to carrying on.

t. woodford

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The tracklist is as follows:

01. Gobbledigook by Sigur Ros
02. You’re Not Supposed To by Field Music
03. Maple Leaves by Jens Lekman
04. All Wash Out by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
05. River by Akron/Family
06. Think That You Might Be Wrong by Great Lake Swimmers
07. Who Loves The Sun? by The Velvet Underground
08. The Boy With the Arab Strap by Belle and Sebastian
09. Cheating the Game by James Yorkston and the Athletes
10. Kites are Fun by Free Design
11. Laugh and Be Happy by Randy Newman
12. Yard Work by Lambchop
13. The Swimmer by Ladybug Transistor
14. Mountains by Sparklehorse
15. Fuck This Place by Frightened Rabbit


Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11

Vol 11 / Trk 15 / Fuck This Place / Frightened Rabbit

I couldn’t tell if I was affected by Mr. Woodford’s Sparklehorse post and knowledge of how that story ended, or just felt that this volume needed an epic downer for an ending. Either way, all the songs I’d earmarked for this post had appropriately titled songs: “Plane Crash,” “Last Night I Said Goodbye to My Friend,” “Too Old to Die Young,” etc.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Need something huge-sounding? Hit the highlands and chat up the first indie band you meet. And no one does epic downer better than Frightened Rabbit, a band that was born bearded and furrow-browed. On this, possibly their scrappiest song of their career, they’ve brought along Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura, making this a Scottish version of the Justice League.

“Fuck This Place” is thinner than most FR songs, only because you can pretty much hear every layer. At the back is a field recording of a rainy street corner; in the middle is rough and tumble percussion that I think Mark Linkous would appreciate; to the front is a rather regal brass section that swells softly. All wrapped in a lovely duet that builds in emotional plaintiveness before fading out in a rush of fuzz and hum.

It’s closing time on Vol 11. I’m left feeling a little weighted down by the music. Take me home.

m. joosse

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 14 / Mountains / Sparklehorse

Mountains is a beautifully choreographed dichotomy between Dangermouse and the late Mark Linkous. It was penned under the stage name Sparklehorse, wherein Linkous was the singer, multi-instrumentalist, and mastermind.

Speaking of dichotomy, it strikes me that the vocals of this track hide behind a thin film of white noise, while the heavy, industrialized guitar emits a weary squall consistently and thoroughly over top. Though lo- and hi-fi are constantly at odds, this track eloquently blends them into a seductive, narcotic, almost sleepy patter. It begs me to consider my heavy heart, if only for a moment.

It’s going to be alright.

Dichotomy aside, I admire the outro as thoroughly as the rest. A smattering of electronic blips and bleeps to remind you of the other life Linkous led, which is subtly present herein—electronic, ambient, and celestial.

If you haven’t heard the album from which I plucked it, Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain, I strongly encourage you to—tonight. It is simple, yet brilliant. You won’t regret bringing it into your Saturday night.

t. woodford

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 13 / The Swimmer / Ladybug Transistor

LadyBug TransistorHey you don’t have to tell me twice to throw a little melancholy in my pop. My selection is directly inspired by both Joose’s selection and write up. For a short time Ladybug Transistor created flawless, beautiful pastoral pop and captured that music in some of the more finely crafted recordings of the late-90s wave of Elephant6 and Elephant6-approved pop bands.

Gary Olson’s voice is undeniable and the way this song shifts from pop, to Bacharachian jazz and back again is effortless. And it’s that shift—from the jangly guitars to the minor-key bridge and back that convinced me The Swimmer was the perfect choice. Emotional depth, a ray of sunshine, AND you get a horn section and so much recorder. So much.


Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 12 / Yard Work / Lambchop

Sorry guys, I don’t buy it. Being happy because you’re happy—it’s nice and all, but it’s not real life. It strikes me as unsubstantial and kind of boring. Call me cynical or post-millennial or overly pragmatic, but isn’t it far more rewarding to see the sun emerge from behind a cloud than to see a fully blue sky? Besides all that, I think there was a lot more indie pop to explore before moving on to another sub-genre. So I filed away the horn-heavy tracks and the simplified lyrics and decided to try and refocus the volume a bit.

Lambchop is one of the great American bands of the last 20 years, effortlessly wandering between country, rock, jazz, R&B, and much more. “Yard Work,” an unreleased-in-the-US track, finds them in an uptempo mood, musing over the state of Kurt Wagner’s grounds. It takes a couple of listens, but many smile-inducing elements start to announce their presence. Like the background piano lines, the “ooh wah hoo” chorus, the vibes, the oddball references to CBS and the Pointer Sisters, the brushed drums. Outside of “Up with People” and “You Masculine You” and maybe two others, this is one of the happiest tracks in Lambchop’s vast, vast catalog. As a representation of joy, it’s the kind that grows on you, until you didn’t realize you were smiling already.

Honestly, that aforementioned cloud isn’t meant to rain on a parade, just maybe show it in a different light.

m. joosse

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 11 / Laugh and Be Happy / Randy Newman

I’m going to be honest with you, mixtapers. I’ve got nothing close to Free Design in my collection. I’ve been thinking about it for days, totally racking my brain, and I can’t seem to come up with anything comparable. This one might be a little more thematic in its connection, but I’ve decided to embrace it.

Here, I present to you the king of unpretentious, happy-as-hell, family-oriented music. Ladies and gentleman, the incomparable Randy Newman.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mr. Newman’s discography, you haven’t seen a Disney-Pixar film in the last decade. (I’ll bet you never thought you’d see a reference to A Bug’s Life on NEIMT. But, there you have it.) Newman has been nominated for twenty Academy Awards, three Emmy’s, five Grammy’s, is a member of the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame, and was inducted as a Disney Legend. More appropriately, he’s responsible for nearly thirty years of innocent discourse in the soft-rock scene, and is responsible for one of my favorite phrases in recent history…

Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

t. woodford

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 10 / Kites are Fun / Free Design

Ok. Time to stop pussy-footing around. Each track in this volume has slowly pushed the envelope into sunny, shiny-happy-people territory albeit a mere millimeter at a time. I’m ready to dive in.

I LOVE Free Design. I love the arrangements, the jazz-influenced time signatures, the harmonies, and perhaps most of all the completely innocent, unpretentious, happy-as-hell lyrics. Not every free design track is so bright yellow in emotional color but even their more melancholy numbers possess a childlike innocence to the lyrics—which can make them sting even more—but often they’re celebrations of love, the seasons, and family. After a short stint in the late sixties to early seventies Free Design disappeared until being name-checked by like-minded early 2000’s acts like Pizzicato Five. This renewed interest flooded the market with trip-hoppy remix records—avoid these—if you like what you hear I strongly urge you to find a copy of Kites Are Fun or You Could Be Born Again, throw on some headphones and melt like an ice cream cone in the sun.


Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 09 / Cheating the Game (demo) / James Yorkston and the Athletes

Mr. Smigielski’s going to sit out the next couple of rounds, so we’ll move full speed ahead into the volume’s final third. Or is that half speed? Frankly, this sweetly relaxed end of summer thing we have going here is too nice to give up. Nothing in my collection speaks to this time of year quite so well as James Yorkston and the Athletes’ Moving Up Country, a folksy masterpiece from the wilds of Scotland. It’s soundtracked my starts of falls and sunny winter days every year for the last decade like a trusted and comfy chair. Recently given a re-release for its 10th anniversary, it came with a disc of demos and live-in-studio versions that were quite illuminating.

“Cheating the Game,” in its original form, is acoustic, warm, bright and crisp. This demo is rawer in all senses—the electric guitar (almost never heard on the original Moving Up Country) borders on jangly, which I say Stuart Murdoch and co. would approve of; the percussion is moved further to the background; and there’s plenty of room to breathe and move around between the bass (which Lou Reed would like) and the slide guitar (which Great Lake Swimmers would like). It’s exactly what you want to find in an unearthed demo: the sound of musicians loose and spry, capturing the start of something gorgeous and colorful before more order sets in, revealing a side of them you always hoped you’d be lucky enough to hear one day.

m. joosse

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 08 / The Boy With the Arab Strap / Belle and Sebastian

I’m afraid this may be too obvious a response, but then again, maybe that’s its saving grace. I spent a few hours perusing my collection, before realizing I couldn’t shake The Boy With The Arab Strap from my subconscious. It’s really not unlike Who Loves The Sun?—catchy upbeat tempo, with a sweet, yet full-bodied trajectory.

What I really like about this track, and most other Belle & Sebastian tracks for that matter, is its persistent duality. From the outset, it sounds optimistic, albeit a little cautious. When you dig a layer deeper, you quickly uncover references to prison, chaos, racism, and a city that doesn’t quite fit you. There’s some debate as to whether this track is a societal commentary on the city of London (sorry, Mr. Smigielski), a scathing reference to Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat, or a readjustment to society after recovering from distant isolation.

Because there is no clear answer, I leave it to your interpretation.

t. woodford

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 07 / Who Loves The Sun? / The Velvet Underground

Geez! Sorry for the wait people. Between work and a mix of projects I let my self get more than a little behind. I promise all you loyal NEIMT-ers it won’t happen again.

I wanted to retain that feeling of the sitting summer sun that Mr. Joosse established with Great Lake Swimmers but turn up the tempo a notch. Who Loves The Sun is my very favorite kind of pop, melancholy lyrics accompanied by pure rainbow-coated sweetness.


Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 06 / Think That You Might Be Wrong / Great Lake Swimmers

I wanted to follow “River” with something equally upbeat, but something kept pulling me away to the gorgeous lushness of this Great Lake Swimmers track. It sounds like a lot of summery things—open windows, lightning bugs wandering by, standing in a river—all of which inject a certain amount of peace into this volume. Its airiness is elegance personified; it brings back the delight of the indie pop I saw earlier and marries it to the graceful Americana that we’re just starting to delve into.

The heat’s broken, dusk is coming, let’s turn the lights down low so they burn a soft yellow instead. Let’s move to the floor and close our eyes and sway together.

m. joosse

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 05 / River / Akron/Family

Perhaps its simply the swelter of the midwest summer and the unending drought in the air, but I could not shake the buzzy campfire imagery every time I listened to All Washed Out. There’s something distinctly American about it. And by American I mean Appalachian. And by Appalachian, I mean to suggest it’s like a scene out of the soon to be made Wes Anderson version of Coal Minor’s Daughter.

To build on that mystique, I offer up the Akron/Family. No one in my mind delivers the atmosphere of cicada buzz and country sweet melodies quite like them. Yet it never veers into parody and always maintains a unpredictable, modern edge.

r. smigielski

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 04 / All Wash Out / Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros


Life’s been tough over the past couple of months—devastating lows paired with incomparable highs. Unexpected change intertwined with ugly anticipation. I’ve lived through the full spectrum of human emotion, often on a daily basis.

As I find myself approaching the end of this period of fazed hesitancy, I enjoy a certain calmness in both Maple Leaves and All Wash Out. They’re both undoubtedly pop. The latter comes from a perspective of unreserved reflection, and accepted defeat. I have to admit that it’s somewhat comforting.

For the first time in weeks, I’m relaxing in my living room. This track is playing on repeat, with an undertone of fireworks sporadically sounding off in the background. I realized about ten minutes ago that Alexander perfectly sums the collective feeling of the nation. “Free is something to believe in.”

Enjoy your independence.

t. woodford

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 03 / Maple Leaves / Jens Lekman

Oh, we going pop now? Well I just happen to have a decade’s worth of bubblegummy, sugary, rickenbacker-guitary LPs to pull from and I honestly couldn’t be happier.

I’m a little shocked Jens hasn’t graced the NEIMT already. 3 solid albums, (though I’d argue You’re So Silent Jens—the compilation this cut is pulled from counts as a forth) a slew of amazing EPs, some remixes and the best live show I’ve seen in years—it’s time the guy received the NEIMT bump.

This version of Maple Leaves is a subtle remix of the original 7″ version recorded primarily to replace some obvious samples that might have landed the increasingly popular singer in some legal trouble. I have  You’re So Silent.. on vinyl and I’ve managed to wear a short skip in this track. Just. Perfect. Pop.


Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 02 / You’re Not Supposed To / Field Music

How do you solve a problem like Iceland? Something about that island and its quirky bands—I don’t know. The Sigur Rós track was indeed delightful, and I had the perfect follow-up in mind: Björk’s “In the Musicals,” which amped up the oddness with a hefty dose of Looney Tunes batshitery. But alas, my external HD is fried at the moment so I can’t get to it. And besides, we’ve gone 11 volumes without repeating an artist, so why start now?

That brought me to the dreary north of England, where a number of bands have fought against rainy winters to produce tight and wonderful albums. The most inventive of these is Field Music, who grow more interesting with each passing year. Two brothers and their friend create complex songs that rope in a capella harmonies, ‘70s-style soft rock, chamber pop, ‘80s Fairlight synths, string sections, handclaps, cowbells and much more. “You’re Not Supposed To” is from a 2005 single, and perhaps doesn’t quite echo “Gobbledigook”’s wild joy as it smoothes out its edges and streamlines it, like coal under pressure, to create a compact, sturdy, shiny diamond of a pop song.

m. joosse

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

Vol 11 / Trk 01 / Gobbledigook / Sigur Ros

There is something delightfully rubbery about this incredible song. It’s mostly a frenetic wash of rhythm and textures, yet the acoustic guitar and vocal exist in some half speed counter universe. It’s more like a really deft remix than it is a song that was written purposefully this way. It’s very organic feeling, however with its Animal Collective-like background vocals, it’s still hanging to elements of the sampling universe we’ve just emerged from. I really can’t of a better way to build on Vol 10 and infuse this next volume with a rush of blood to the head and heart. Oh the places we’ll go.

r. smigielski

Filed under: Mixtape, NEIMT, Vol 11,

About the NEIMT

Every couple of days, one of the NEIMT authors will post a song that is in some way a reaction to the previous song posted by another author. Every 15 songs will be packaged up with cover art and presented for download as a complete mix. The only rule is that no artist can appear more than once in the same volume.


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