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The Mix #5: You Gotta Get Back Out There

This mix mostly traffics in songs from the first three months of the year, though there are a few holdovers from last year (plus, a track from 1996). I think 2014 has been strong so far and am looking forward to a handful of April albums in the immediate (Split Single, The Both, Afghan Whigs, and Old 97s for starters).

1. It's Your Choice/Brendan Benson - Benson's latest album came out in early December and it's full of his brand of power pop, of which I'm a big fan. This is the lead track from his album and seemed perfect to open this mix as well.

2. Shit Shots Count/Drive-By Truckers - It's been a few years since the DBTs put out a new album and this is the first of a new era - they are back to just two songwriters, Patterson Hood and Mike Cooley. I'm really liking this album, which is balanced between the two songwriters. This many Cooley songs is unprecedented and this blast of Rolling Stones rock with a horn section and his typical wit is just great.

3. Badillac/Together Pangea - I heard this on J's Indie Rock Mayhem and immediately fell in love. I like shaggy rockers and the harmonica/guitar duet where the guitar solo usually is just puts it over the top.

4. Maxon/Minor Alps - I had another Minor Alps (Matthew Caws from Nada Surf and Juliana Hatfield) song on the last mix. Back in January, I watched their live session on KEXP and this song jumped out at me all over again. That keyboard riff just logs right in brain. So pretty.

5. Avant Gardener/Courtney Barnett - Smart funny lyrics, a loping bassline, and some squalling guitar. Honestly, what could be better? This is another holdover from last year, discovered just after I made the last mix. The whole album (which is actually two EPs stitched together) is worth repeated listens.

6. Greens and Blues/Pixies - How weird is it that the Pixies are back making music? Sure, Kim Deal isn't around anymore but plenty of bands don't stay completely intact as they go along (just look at Drive-By Truckers). Anyway, I really dig the riff on this song. Sometimes, liking music is as simple as that.

7. Red Eyes/The War On Drugs - This is a band I've been vaguely familiar with but never really listened to much. Their new album has been getting great reviews and I've given it a spin a few times at this point. I like it. This song is maybe the sharpest, as they do tend to meander a bit, but if you like this, I would suggest checking them out further.

8. Byegone/Volcano Choir - This one is another from last year. Volcano Choir is a side project for Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). I like the soaring nature of this one and the lyric "sexing all your parliaments" just makes me laugh,

9. Talking Backwards/Real Estate - How did I sleep on Real Estate before this? I love the chiming guitars this band brings and the new album really feels like spring. I could have picked another three to four songs that I really like too.

10. Spinners/The Hold Steady - Here's another one of my favorite bands back after a few years away. Craig Finn is singing a bit more and they've brought in a second guitarist but you still get your literate lyrics and your mix of rockers and ballads. This band just works for me. Oh, and this song gives us the title of the mix.

11. Lights Out/Angel Olsen - Olsen is another artist I was vaguely aware of before this year. Her new album is full of moody rock and this song is one of the standouts. Haven't listened to the whole thing very much but that will change.

12. Hot and Cold/Ex Hex - Ex Hex is the new band from Mary Timony, who was in Helium and, more recently, Wild Flag (which I where I first discovered her). This song flat out rocks and I hope the upcoming album is more of this.

13. Going Out/Hospitality - This moody track is from their second album, which is really really good. Again, I could have gone with several other songs but this one just strikes a chord with me. Sometimes it's hard to say why, it just works, you know?

14. Bel Air/Old 97s - Aaaaand here's the one from 1996. I consider Old 97s one of my favorite bands. I started with Fight Songs and quickly went back to Too Far Too Care (which is one of my all-time favorite albums) but somehow never dipped back to their first two albums. With a new record coming out at the end of April, I decided it was high time I went back. No surprise, I really like Wreck Your Life. God bless Murry Hammond on bass.

15. Ben's My Friend/Sun Kil Moon - Stream of consciousness lyrics, 80s-style sax, and pleasant skeletal guitar work. Also, the Ben is the title is Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie. I dig it.

16. Houston Hades/Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Guitar noise that eventually resolves into a steady piano-driven beat and builds back out from there with some great "doo-doo"s along the way. Seriously, this new album is really really good. Also, Malkmus has now released more solo albums than he did with Pavement. All of them are worth a listen, of course.

17. Maybe We'll Fall In Love/Colleens - Here's another song I first heard on J's Indie Rock Mayhem and dug immediately. Don't know much about the band but I have listened to the rest of the album (EP?) this comes from and I like what I heard. Catchy indie rock will always work for me.

18. I Prefer Your Love/St. Vincent - This song has echoes of Sinead O'Connor and Madonna but it's all Annie Clark. Her new album is fantastic and has many songs I could have put on this mix. This one stands out among the standouts.

19. Head/Lydia Loveless - Yet another artist I've known about but never really checked out. Her new album is so so good, full of great rock music with just enough twang. Think early Kathleen Edwards. And then turn it up.

20. Waking Light/Beck - This is the closing track to his new album, which is a sort-of sequel to Sea Change, which is my favorite Beck album. Gorgeous.


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