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Monthly Mix #1: Good Love Is Hard To Find

Like all serious music fans, I love making mixes. I started with tapes, of course, and then moved on to CDs. These days, you can use Spotify to work the same kind of magic and I'm recommitting to the art of the mix. I plan on putting one together a month. For April, I assembled songs that I loved listening to (that will probably be my default mode but we'll see). I published this out on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr and few days ago but I've since renamed it and will now annotate it. I hope you give it a listen...

1. Wakin on a Pretty Day/Kurt Vile - This is the sorta title track to Vile's new album and it is so easy to get lost in the shifting guitars and sections of this nine-and-a-half minute tune. The thing is, it doesn't feel like it's that long. This is an album I've listened to a few times and I like it lot, so much that I think I might buy it in mp3 form. It's always great to find a new artist to like.

2. Wolves/Josh Ritter - My plan was to put something from The Beast In Its Tracks on this mix but that album isn't available on Spotify. However, I listened to The Animal Years quite a bit in April and this song fits perfectly. Ritter just is the perfect marriage of smart lyrics and buoyant melodies - you can't but help sing along with "So long...so high" while bopping your head to that loping beat.

3. Ghosts and Creatures/Telekinesis - I talked about this album in my last Heavy Rotation post, so here's why I like this song in a nutshell - it's a departure from the usual power pop sound with synths and a pulsing electronic drumbeat supporting that soaring chorus melody.

4. Nothing Arrived/Villagers - I first heard this on KEXP and liked it instantly. I've listened to the whole album but for me, this is by far the standout song. It's surging piano melody reaches a climax that explodes into guitar before the fade out and it's just great.

5. Barriers/Suede - This is another one I came to via KEXP and a band I certainly know about without really knowing their music. This comes from their first record in over a decade and it's a record I certainly need to delve further into, having really only gotten as far as this song. What a song, though. It, too, has that melodic surge and a driving beat - these things are my catnip, I guess. The "oh"s in the last minute sure don't hurt either. Note: for legal reasons, it is listed here as The London Suede but nobody calls them by that name.

6. The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine/Spoon - I wrote about Gimme Fiction in that last Heavy Rotation post and could have picked any of a half dozen songs to include here. So, why this one? It does such a good job representing the mystery of the song in the music - the acoustic guitar, bass, piano, and strings working in concert with a basic drumbeat to build a three minute concerto.

7. My Number/Foals - A third song I discovered via KEXP and another album where this is a standout song. This is the kind of dance pop I dig - different layers of sound around a buzzy beat. It's catchy as hell.

8. Nevermind the Phonecalls/Earlimart - Another song off a recent album in Heavy Rotation. This one just works a hypnotic spell on my - I swear I could live inside of that chorus for a couple days. Minor key melodies just do the trick sometimes.

9. No One to Call/Caitlin Rose - I was turned onto this song by J's Indie Rock Mayhem, one of my favorite podcasts. The bass and drums bring you into the song immediately and then the catchy melody and steel guitar and lyrics and harmonies all add up to a great little alt-country tune.

10. I'm Not Sayin'/The Replacements - Yes, this is new Replacements music. They recorded an EP to help raise money for Slim Dunlop, who replaced Bob Stinson in the band, and is quite ill. The band is only Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson with others along for a ride but they make a joyous noise on this Gordon Lightfoot cover (seriously!).

11. I Urge You/Jay Gonzalez - I mentioned both this song and the album it's from in my last Heavy Rotation, so there's not much more to say except...this song is 2:33 of awesome.

12. You Got Lucky/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - When the weather starts getting warmer and you can roll down the car windows, Tom Petty just fits. This song is all synthy nerve and Campbell guitar and TP sneer and 1982 sounding great.

13. When I Write My Master's Thesis/John K. Samson - KEXP strikes again! I've heard of The Weakerthans but never really heard their music; this is solo work from the lead singer (is the band still together even?). All that aside, this is a song made for me - driving rock and roll with smart lyrics about a guy procrastinating his master's thesis. Excellent.

14. Song For Zula/Phosphorescent - This song is all vulnerability with reverbed bass and drums supporting a swirl of strings. It references Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" and is 6 minutes of song you can't afford to miss this year.

15. Everyone Choose Sides/The Wrens - Oh, the way the crunchy guitars start and then that piano comes in over top...so so good. Can't believe I'd forgotten about this album. Indie rock at its finest!

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