The Cool New Music Chronicles: Plus Ultra

PLUS ULTRA (March, 2009)

 

[At the time that I originally wrote this series, this was the latest entry and seemed like it would be the last. However, I’ve done another entry since then and more may follow. I’ll stick with the original “ending” here, but next week I’ll add on the new one, and if there are further entries they’ll also get added in the fullness of time.]

And here we are at the final (for now) entry. It’s been twenty-five years since the beginning of this story. I started out at age 17, in high school, living in the suburbs of New Orleans, barely having started dating. I’m now 41, gainfully employed in the same job for the past nine years, living in Massachusetts, happily married for 16 years. It’s been a long trip, though not a particularly strange one. The music I grew up with is now considered to be “oldies”, if it’s considered at all. I’ve watched bands I once adored fizzle into irrelevance.

I haven’t changed as much as the world around me has. Having become an adult during the rise of the Internet is something incredible. Though I am in actual contact with few to none of the people who were so close to me when I was young, things like Facebook and blogs and such have allowed me to remain tangential to them.

As I’ve grown older music has played less of a role in my life. I buy very few albums these days, content with hearing just a song or two from them. There are almost no bands I’d be willing to pay to see live these days. I don’t form the same kinds of attachments to music anymore. It happens.

I still have a TON of CDs from my heyday, though I’d happily get rid of most of them (I have them all backed up on hard drives.) Since I work from home, I’m by my computer most of the time and have all my music there, though admittedly, I seldom turn it on. When I’m in the car I more often listen to nothing than the radio or CDs. Even KEXP doesn’t get much listening from me these days. I keep a toe in the pool, but not much more than that. Quite honestly, I kind of got overwhelmed with choice not long ago and never fully recovered.

As is evidenced by the last few chapters, my life has settled down, and I am happy and comfortable with it. My job is such that I am done at 5:00 p.m. and don’t think about it until 8:30 the next morning, allowing me plenty of the most precious commodity on Earth, time, that I am free to spend with my wife, my friends, and my self.

I was hung up on my past for a long time — too long. The years I spent after college trying to figure out what I was supposed to do made me long for the days when I didn’t have to figure that out; things just happened to me. These days I look back on my youth with just a little bit of eye-rolling. I don’t cherish it uncritically, nor do I view it with disdain. It happened, it is who I was and what I did, and ultimately it all worked out. I wouldn’t go back to it for any price, not because it was any particular misery for me, but just because I’m not sure I’d want to be as clueless as I was again.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. It’s quite possible that I’ll be making more mixes in the future (perhaps one even fairly soon) and if I do I’ll be sure to update here.

You can always find me at my regular blog. Speaking of which, here’s the post where I started thinking about this mix:

Mix Madness

and here is the post announcing it:

Plus Ultra

  1. Freezepop – Less Talk More Rokk
  2. Alphabeat – Fantastic 6
  3. The Octopus Project – Truck
  4. Home Blitz – Hey!
  5. Be Your Own Pet – Becky
  6. Art Brut – Emily Kane
  7. The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You
  8. Kaiser Chiefs – You Can Have it All
  9. The Arcade Fire – Keep The Car Running
  10. John Vanderslice – Time to Go
  11. Fujiya & Miyagi – Ankle Injuries
  12. The Black Angels – Doves
  13. Liars – Freak Out
  14. The Magnetic Fields – California Girls
  15. Gang Of Four – What We All Want
  16. Social X-Ray – Earthshake
  17. The Minders – 357
  18. Helms – Satin Rules
  19. Flobots – Handlebars
  1. Panda Bear – Bros (edit)
  2. They Might Be Giants – Seven Days Of The Week (I Never Go To Work)
  3. The Ting Tings – That’s Not my Name
  4. The Go! Team – The Wrath Of Marcie
  5. Triggers – Change It Up
  6. Fountains Of Wayne – Yolanda Hayes
  7. The Airborne Toxic Event – Does This Mean You’re Moving On
  8. Baltic Fleet – Black Lounge
  9. The Fiery Furnaces – The Old Hag Is Sleeping
  10. Cake – War Pigs
  11. Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks (featuring Victoria Bergsman)
  12. Camera Obscura – I Don’t Do Crowds
  13. Suzanne Vega – New York Is A Woman
  14. Beck – Think I’m In Love
  15. The Mountain Goats – Sax Rohmer #1
  16. Yo La Tengo – Beanbag Chair
  17. Shriekback – God’s Gardenias
  18. Great Lake Swimmers – Put There by the Land
  19. The Decemberists – Sons And Daughters

Two years have passed since the previous mix, and once again the passage of time makes for better choices than if I had just banged another one out right away. Even the returning bands are mostly from new albums.

  • Freezepop – Less Talk More Rokk

Here’s a new avenue for me to hear new-ish music. We started playing the Guitar Hero and Rock Band games which, in addition to having a lot of our old favorite songs on them, turned us on to new stuff. I had heard Freezepop before, but fell in love with this track.

  • Alphabeat – Fantastic 6

No clue where I heard these folks.

  • The Octopus Project – Truck
  • Home Blitz – Hey!
  • Great Lake Swimmers – Put There by the Land

I believe I first heard these bands on mp3 blogs. I bought the Octopus Project’s CD, which I like a lot, and I’d like to hear more of Home Blitz. I utterly love the “gum interlude” in this one.

  • Be Your Own Pet – Becky
  • Art Brut – Emily Kane
  • Kaiser Chiefs – You Can Have it All
  • Fujiya & Miyagi – Ankle Injuries
  • Peter, Bjorn and John – Young Folks (featuring Victoria Bergsman)
  • Camera Obscura – I Don’t Do Crowds

Much fewer KEXP tunes on this one, as I wasn’t listening to it as much. I’m not sure why that is.

  • The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You

This is kind of a goofy song, but I kinda dig it.

  • The Arcade Fire – Keep The Car Running
  • John Vanderslice – Time to Go
  • Liars – Freak Out
  • The Minders – 357
  • They Might Be Giants – Seven Days Of The Week (I Never Go To Work)
  • The Go! Team – The Wrath Of Marcie
  • Fountains Of Wayne – Yolanda Hayes
  • Cake – War Pigs
  • Suzanne Vega – New York Is A Woman
  • Beck – Think I’m In Love
  • The Mountain Goats – Sax Rohmer #1
  • Yo La Tengo – Beanbag Chair
  • Shriekback – God’s Gardenias
  • The Decemberists – Sons And Daughters

Quite a lot of returning bands here. Shriekback actually had another album out during this time, but it…oh, it’s not good. That’s new Mountain Goats, Liars, John Vanderslice and more. The Cake cover is okay, but I really could go for some new music from them.

  • The Black Angels – Doves

A band James turned me on to.

  • The Magnetic Fields – California Girls

I liked previous stuff from the Magnetic Fields, but it never made it onto a mix before. This sounds a lot like the Jesus and Mary Chain, as does the Liars tune. The funny thing is, the JAMC did have a new song out that was considered for this mix, but I didn’t like it as much as either of these.

  • Gang Of Four – What We All Want

I don’t know how I never got into Gang of Four before, especially with Shriekback’s Dave Allen on bass. This song is great, and puts to shame all the bands who were trying to ape this sound at this time.

  • Social X-Ray – Earthshake
  • Triggers – Change It Up

Social X-Ray is my friend Dan’s band, which was playing live gigs at this time that we were going and seeing. At one of those shows there was also this band Triggers. I liked their sound a lot and bought the CD from them.

  • Helms – Satin Rules

Heard these guys on an mp3 blog and fell for them hard, buying the album right away. It’s a great moody listen.

  • Flobots – Handlebars

One of the rare times I was listening to the radio this song came on. It reminded me a lot of Cake, though I was pretty sure it wasn’t them — more like Cake, Jr. I love the buildup in it and the boasts (“Me and my friends saw a platypus!”)

  • Panda Bear – Bros (edit)

Person Pitch is difficult to describe. It’s a breathtaking album from start to finish.

  • The Ting Tings – That’s Not my Name

Goddamn I love this song.

  • The Airborne Toxic Event – Does This Mean You’re Moving On

Becky heard these guys somewhere — KEXP? — and bought the CD. This song is exactly the kind of jaunty thing I go for.

  • Baltic Fleet – Black Lounge

Another band that Andrew introduced me to.

  • The Fiery Furnaces – The Old Hag Is Sleeping

I heard about this album on NPR. The whole thing is…well, it’s pretty intense, as you can imagine from this tune.

In 2008, to celebrate our 15th anniversary, Becky and I took a trip to Spain. “Plus Ultra” (“Further beyond”) was everywhere, and it stuck with us. It was especially apropos after nearly two years had passed since the previous mix.

Click on the player below to listen to this mix!


(xspf player courtesy Lacy Morrow and Fabricio Zuardi.)

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