Sam Recommends: “Mirage” by Toro y Moi

Take me far away…

The first line of this song perfectly describes why I love it: listening to it always transports me from whatever thoughts had been hamster wheeling in my brain to somewhere else.

Sometimes it is the melody that lifts me up and takes me to a calmer place. A room or a cave, someplace bathed in violet light. Maybe candles are burning, maybe stars are glittering in the periphery. Maybe I can smell the ocean or hear waves crashing nearby.

Other times it is the steady bass drum that my brain latches on to; it makes me feel like I have some control. Reminds me of the games I used to play with myself, when the ground was lava, or stepping on a crack could leave my mom with a broken back. The threat of danger that, if I was careful & vigilant enough, could be avoided. I just have to find a pattern in the chaos.

Sometimes, it takes me back in time. That synth soaring through the song like a boomerang reminds me of the new wave songs they used to play in the mall when my mom would take me shopping with her, which in turn reminds me of being four or five or six or seven. Before I had any responsibilities, insecurities, or traumas to fuel the anxiety that lay in wait, patiently biding its time because it knows it will have plenty.

But now it has less, because I’ve reclaimed another five minutes with the help of Toro y Moi.

(Song recommendation by Samantha Lamph/Len)

Please follow and like us:

Oak Recommends: “Hope is Alive” by Ellie Holcomb

My Sisters & I – Photo by Lisa Ayling.

The Christmas season has begun, thusly I find myself writing to you all about my favourite Christmas song…

I don’t often include my personal stories when I make my recommendations here at Memoir Mixtapes, as often-times I am simply much too excited about the Artist whom I am introducing; their talent, passion, endurance and hardwork. Though it would seem that on this occassion, however, I am offering a little more of myself.

As a child I had a ‘Christmas heart’; it was my most favourite celebration; winter would set in, my mother would begin dressing me in snowsuits, fires would be lit in our provincial cottage and night time would arrive much more appropriately when I was sent to bed. I was, and naturally still am, in love with the season, whose very presence was enough to remind every living person I encountered during my early years of life, that there was a great abundance of hope, and of joy, and of caring, which outshone any darkness which may prowl through our days.

So besotted with Christmas was I, that I readily trotted out a child-size faux Christmas tree roughly once a month and dressed it in fine ornaments and trinkets; angels and lights, and at it’s feet I would stand my wooden doll’s crib, with a nominated baby doll lain soft inside taking up the role of the infant king Jesus.

As a five year old I would kneel before this splendid display and admire it, sing what words I knew of Christmas carols and decide with all certainty to leave it there for the rest of the year. Until, as would happen routinely after about four days, my mother would either encourage me to put it away or would do so herself.

It was many years after this beautiful period of my life before I would remember this again. I don’t know quite why such an innocent, snowglobe sort of memory might have been misplaced as I grew up. But, upon hearing a sweet woman by the name of Ellie Holcomb sing a new Christmas song a few years ago, the memory came fluttering back, with all the softness and quietness with which it had disappeared.

I was a child again, I was basking in the stary light of hope once more, I remembered my nativity, which I had set up without knowing how; we were not a church-going family, nor had we ever owned a traditional nativity scene, but I knew the story, it had been one of the first I had learned to read by myself. And never once did my faux fir ever stand barren of that little rocking cradle.

I didn’t become a believer until more than a decade had passed me by, until after a great multitude of troubles had befallen the girl I had been. And now, just as many years and troubles had passed again and I was watching Ellie’s golden face, her contageous joy filling the air with a song which was carefully, inexplicably marrying up the many versions of myself there had been along the way; singing ‘into our aching, into our breaking, into our longing to be made whole, your arms are reaching, your love is holding us close…’ untill all of the years concertinaed gently back to the little girl playing Christmas in June.

This song encapsulates the spirit of Christmas & expresses much more than most of my Christmas favourites, and not-so-favourites; it isn’t a pretty bow or sweet frosting, making the assumption that we the listeners are doubled over with bliss; that our families are carolling around the christmas tree in our perfect cookie-cutter gingerbread houses, that all our loved ones love us back and never disappoint us or break our hearts, that Christmas isn’t actually the peak suicide season. It is a song looking with loving eyes at the human heart and reminding us, that nevertheless, there is great light and hope. So much hope.

Please, take a moment with this song, I hope it blesses your heart. Merry Christmas to you my friends.

(Song recommendation by Oak Ayling)

Please follow and like us:

Seigar Recommends: “Missing U” by Robyn

Robyn as Robyn.

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

Missing U is everything you would expect from Robyn. Some critics have said it seems she’s been into a bubble for eight years without listening to any sort of music, so she’s just loyal to her style and sound. It’s not completely true because in a way, she’s been active and she has released some music, like the hit “Do It Again”, but what is true is that “Missing U” is quite similar to her old pop hits: “Indestructible,” “Call your girlfriend,” or “Dancing on my own.” You can find a very familiar melody and her typical beats. This is the expectable catchy tune from this Swedish act.

Is it a bad thing? NO.

Her fans, and I include myself, are all happy about this! “Missing U” is an enjoyable Nu-Disco song that all electropop lovers may love. And it’s in this fact of being loyal to herself where we find “futurism”. It’s like being a rebel or like a “I do what I want” attitude. Furthermore, doing her best, she becomes original and innovative. Other songs from the same album: “Human Being” and “Between the lines” are two more examples of her creativity getting a high from being herself.

Her resistance is obvious, she doesn’t want to follow the trends or adapt herself to what she should sound like. Instead Robyn prefers to play her cards, the ones she knows well.

With respect to the lyrics, the words symbolize her relationship with the fans because of the long time they haven’t been together:

There’s this empty space you left behind
Now you’re not here with me
I keep digging through our waste of time
But the picture’s incomplete

’Cause I’m missing you
I miss you

Though it may also be analyzed plainly as a love relationship that is over:

Can’t make sense of all of the pieces
Of my own delusions
Can’t take all these memories
Don’t know how to use them

Before you click down bellow, just a quick note to tell you she has confessed the influence of Prince, Michael Jackson, and Janet Jackson in creating this record. After many listenings to the whole album, I have found that among these names, the Janet Jackson from the 90s is the clearest influence, the track “Because it’s in the music,” for example, has the same feeling.

Enjoy “Missing U” now.

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

Please follow and like us:

Erin Recommends: “Chalk” by Buddy & Julie Miller

“I carried you with me everywhere I went. I carried everything ’til my back was bent…”

I’ve been trying to write about my dad. There’s one line and then another. No, scratch that. I mean it’s complicated. You know, the way fathers and daughters are.

What a hot mess he was, gregarious as hell. He taught high school English and Drama. Beloved. His students adored him. They still see me in town give me a big hug and say, “I loved your Dad.” I nod and assure them that he loved them too. He did.

Make no mistake; he was my hero and my first heartbreak. He moved away when I was eighteen. He left me standing in an airport. I was broken. I did not know how to be whole without him. It has taken me a lifetime to stitch together a life I can call my own.

After decades of estrangement he came back home two years ago. I didn’t meet him at the airport. I left homecoming banners and confetti to my siblings. I’d see him in a week or so. I needed time. I warmed to the idea of us watching the Seahawks together, slowly getting to know each other again. I could find my way to forgiveness. I took a deep breath as I convinced myself this was true.

But he died before I got to see him. He ate dinner, went to his room, turned on MSNBC, lied down on the bed and his heart gave way. I never got to say welcome back or goodbye.

I am his daughter through and through. There is so much I want to put into words about this man. He was beautiful and flawed. His ashes sit on the top of my bookshelf in a shrine. I haven’t been able to let them go.

I heard Buddy and Julie Miller’s song “Chalk” several years ago. He was still alive then. I was driving and had to pull to the side of the road, the tears waterfalled. In a few short verses the Millers articulated what I’d been trying to say for decades.

After an Irish ballad to raise a glass, “Chalk” was the second song played at his memorial right before I choked out how much I loved him.

(Song recommendation by Erin L. Cork)

Please follow and like us:

Tyrel Recommends: “Sailing Ships” by Whitesnake

I present to you here, “Sailing Ships,” from Whitesnake’s 1990 album Slip Of The Tongue; an unrecognized milestone in the reviled arena of “hair” metal power ballads. Now, hear me out. Does the song have it’s moments of “cheese,” of “larger-than-life” songwriter’s egoistic hubris? Oh, assuredly. Yet it also, somehow, claims an earnest, down-to-earth appeal — despite the otherworldly use of Steve Vai’s opening neo-classical acoustic guitar wizardry that precedes his squealing shred guitar wizardry. There’s the medieval-lite sadness, the sense of airy longing and regretful rumination, the inevitable crescendo of driving sound. Ya know, stuff of all power ballads. The lyrics, as I’ve mentioned, consistently flirt with a high level of hoke but miraculously manage to maintain a decor of dignity within the context of the song.

At its simplest “Sailing Ships” is about dreaming big: bound for glory/on the seven seas of life. Losing hope but not giving up: you drift alone, if all your hope is gone/so find the strength and you will see.About facing down fears: On the horizon/dark clouds up ahead/for the storm has just begun. Hell, self-realization even: You control your destiny/after all is said and done.Normally, such platitudes disgust me but there’s just something about “Sailing Ships,” that sets it apart from almost any other “ballad” from the vast menagerie of 80s pop-metal bands. It’s one of the of few that sounds as if the writer, David Coverdale, truly feels what he’s singing. Admittedly, its tough to justify my defense or to explain clearly what I mean. It’s ephemeral, to say the least; a ghost shadow of something that’s hard to precisely grasp. If nothing else, it’s a chance to imagine what it would be like to finally embrace all those goofy, maddening bromides like “Life Is An Adventure” or “Reach For The Moon And You’ll Land Among The Stars.” Sure, “Sailing Ships” is, at its heart, another rehash of so many of banal sayings, but its possibly the only one that sets itself apart, just enough, so that it will have you wailing on the air guitar on a Monday, in your car, on the way to work to a job you’re not particularly fond of, as if you believe them wholesale.

(Song recommendation by Tyrel Kessinger)

Please follow and like us:

Douglas Recommends: “My First Divorced Christmas” by Lee Taylor with Scone Cash Players

I have my doubts when approaching Christmas music because by and large, I’m not really a fan of the genre. My problem with it is it tends to force the feeling of happiness on listeners both lyrically and melodically. A musician told me that the reason why artists record Christmas songs is because that music still sells well. She was right, because my friend, singer Lee Taylor, got in touch with me recently about a Christmas song she made with Scone Cash Players called “My First Divorced Christmas (Santa Claus Got a Divorce).”

I suspended my disbelief to hear this out because Lee is a friend. I found that, with the exception of the title, “My First Divorced Christmas” doesn’t really sound like a Christmas song. If anything, it sounds more like a 60’s beach rock tune. Melodically, the song subverts expectations of the Christmas music genre without going to the other extreme other direction of overdoing irony. The chill guitar and vocal harmonies feel genuine, good, and tonally different from most songs of this genre. There’s a surfer rock vibe the organ provided by Adam Scone. Scone, who has collaborated with artists like Lee Fields and Sharon Jones, provides keys that sound like “Green Onions” by Booker T and the MGs, only less upbeat, but still pleasing.

Before listening to this song, I suspected there would be some theatrical and retro elements to the tune. Since Lee and I met in Barbès in Gowanus in April, I’ve watched her sing jazz in drag and nail Robert Plant’s mighty yet melodic vocals at a Led Zeppelin tribute show. There is a dramatic quality to her performance on “My First Divorced Christmas,” one that compliments the instrumental subversion and throwback feel to the sound. Vocally, her singing on this track possesses the same powerfully, bluesy, and hard rock vibe that made her performance at the Zeppelin tribute show so effective.

“My First Divorced Christmas” is a song for those who still buy music in this genre. There’s 7” vinyl floating around of Lee Taylor’s jam somewhere, and it’ll make a fine addition to your collection.

(Song recommendation by Douglas Menagh)

Please follow and like us:

K Recommends: “180db_” by Aphex Twin

This. Song. On. Repeat. Forever.

When the “Syro” album came out in 2014 I basically halted all my plans and responsibilities. I played “180db_” over and over (I never really stopped playing it). I always envision myself rollerskating down a long hallway of skewed mirrors and haphazard chandeliers when I listen to these beats. The synthesizers, blips, beeps, percussion and noisy gadgets propel me as I never reach a destination but keep gliding on regardless.

It’s just a fun instrumental that starts off like a metronome ticking away but builds to the sound of a metronome trying to keep up in big city traffic. I will always default to the image of myself skating like the quasi-queen of a never-ending roller rink though. I just don’t want this song to end!

Daydream away or move your body. Just be sure to keep up with the RPMs of “180db_” as this track inspires a continuum of brainstorms, curiosities, or propels you nonstop through time on wheels!

(Song recommendation by K Weber)

Please follow and like us:

René Recommends: “Belle” by Al Green

Life and listening to Al Green have taught me two things about the relationship between boundaries and love: romantic love too often comes down to transgressing boundaries, and self-love always comes down to reclaiming them.

It’s all there in “Belle,” a song from Green’s 1977 watershed album of the same name. Both song and album came in the wake of Green’s “born again” experience in 1973 and his ordination as a minister in 1976. They also came when Green was on the brink of renouncing secular music, as in the soulfully sexy kind of songs that made him famous. That part didn’t take in the long run. But at the time, his renewed spiritual zeal produced a masterpiece set of songs that took a turn from his previous recordings — still soulful, but more personal and vulnerable than ever. The album’s title song especially was a landmark of his new sensibility.

It’s also my favorite song of his. It’s gospel, but it operates on a different level than your typical praise song. Somewhere between conflict and calm is what it sounds like to me. Like someone just breached from the storm (“My heart was lost but now it’s found”). Or maybe someone trying to re-situate himself on the opposite side of self-destruction, with voice and spirit finally in reach of the redemption, within sight of peace and forgiveness.

“Belle” is about loving and giving your life over to God, but it’s addressed to a human — someone with such a powerful hold on Green, he starts and ends the song with her name, repeats it over and over, and titles the song and entire album after her. The song hears him setting some boundaries with Belle, explaining why he’s choosing God over her, gently marking distance with lines like, “It’s you I want but Him that I need.” But with her name bookending every line, the song is ultimately given over to her, even if Green himself no longer will. God may have Green’s soul, but Belle has the song’s.

In subsequent years, Green has identified the inspiration for “Belle.” Most people who know much about his career can easily guess anyway. Her name was Mary Woodson White, a married mother who left her family to start an affair with Green, whose new religiousness didn’t seem to have much effect on his longtime womanizing. Their affair ended when Mary accompanied him home with another woman one night and threw a pot of boiling grits over him before taking her own life. Green was left hospitalized with severe burns for months. It’s not a pleasant story. Which only makes the song’s beauty and sense of hard won calm more aching and extraordinary. It also explains the new vulnerability in Green’s voice. I listen to the song with Mary in mind and I think Green knows he really fucked up. But instead of excusing himself or hypocritically proclaiming righteousness, he’s singing for self-forgiveness by having the conversation with Mary he knows he should have had when she was still alive.

So what does this have to do with memoir? Well, in my own life, in love, I’ve been Belle/Mary and I’ve been Al Green. I’ve been the fucked over and I’ve been the fuck up, even in the same relationship. I’ve had to reckon with damage. I’ve had people use faith, or a premature or even immature personal understanding of it, to distance themselves from me, and I’m guilty of the same hurt too. I still struggle with boundaries, my own and others — as in recognizing them, respecting them, reclaiming them. It’s a constant life negotiation. And I often wonder if this means I’m hopeless, or beyond redemption. Every time I hear “Belle” though, it makes me feel like maybe it’s all part of being human.

(Song recommendation by René Ostberg)

Please follow and like us:

Oak recommends: “Where to Begin” by Covenhoven

Shaun Boyte

Joel Van Horne’s moniker “Covenhoven” finds it’s origin deep in the woods, in a small cabin built by Van Horne’s Grandfather; where a young boy savored the joys and splendor of the earth which hosts us, the sanctity of colour, of scent, of soil and sky, of family and the symphonic sounds of safe and secret places.

As dreamy as the seed to this story is, the music which Joel Van Horne produces far exceeds what embellishment I could offer to his family’s luscious folktales.

The man is a marvel. A Poet and an astounding composer, Covenhoven embodies all of the above story and more! His music could quite easily be mistaken for having been physically conducted and performed by vast stretching sunrises and sets, by great forests and cresting waves, and by previously silent sentients of fur and feathers.

Imagine the kind of harmonious melodies and celestial hymns of heaven, now put them quietly in the hands of a man from Colorado, playing to a handful of people in a bakery half way up a mountain. This is Covenhoven.

His latest album “A Kind of Revelation” is a concentrated drop of honey, it is crystal cold water to a burning throat. So much so that choosing any one song to recommend to you was an arduous task.

I found it best to start at the beginning, and allow the rest to unfold for you as they did for me. “Where to begin? With the springtime coming around again…

(Song recommendation by Oak Ayling)

Please follow and like us:

Seigar recommends “Pienso en tu Mirá” by Rosalía

“El mal querer” artwork Artist: Filip Custic

Seigar, the photographer, is back.

Who is Rosalía? You all probably know her now. She’s the Spanish singer who is gracing the cover of all the magazines, and whose music is being reviewed on all music websites worldwide. Her fusion of flamenco and urban music made it to the top. This song I’m bringing you today “Pienso en tu Mirá”is my favorite one on El Mal Querer, her new album, and it’s possibly the most beautiful and easiest track from the set. Her voice sounds totally naked.

The video shows guns and violence, but far from giving opinions about all this, she has just focused smartly on the aesthetic side of the images. And all the controversy caused just pushed the million views on Youtube, making her successful and recognized everywhere, even receiving Latin Grammys and performing in Bilbao (Spain) at The MTV awards ceremony.

Some days ago, she posted some stories on her Instagramaccount talking about each song from the album. She believes new artists do not depend on the big companies these days, instead she says big companies just hire big artists and it’s them who make their own story and promotion. She means the times when the company was behind the success of the creators are over.

She has surrounded herself by great other people like El Guincho, who is her producer, and Filip Custic, who is the man behind her artworks, both are from The Canary Islands. Rossy de Palma, the model and famous actress from Almodóvar’s movies is also present in the album, giving some spoken voices to one of the tracks.

Listening to her in her stories, having a look at the photos of her last editorial for Blanc Magazine(New York) or reading her last interview for Rockdelux Magazine give us a hint about her intelligence. She knows what she wants, and she has the talent to get it.

Listen and watch the video, enjoy the new diva. Some people say “it’s Beyoncé” positively or negatively, it’s in your hands now to decide that.

Pienso en tu mirá, tu mirá, clavá, es una bala en el pecho
Pienso en tu mirá, tu mirá, clavá, es una bala en el pecho
Pienso en tu mirá, tu mirá, clavá, es una bala en el pecho

Pienso en tu mirá
Pienso en tu mirá

(Song recommendation by Seigar)

Please follow and like us: