Sunday, my family and I had a cook out at my grandma's house. Before I launch into the story at hand, you have to understand something about my family: They're not my biological family. They're my stepfamily. So I was robbed of growing up with their awesomeness, which is a shame because the other thing you need to understand about my family is that they bare a dangerous resemblance to the Bluths of Arrested Development fame. My grandma? Imagine Lucille sans liquor. My uncle? Well, he's kinda like Buster. I suppose that would cast my dad as Michael and my nephew is one-hundred-percent George Michael, in ways I could not say on the internet for fear of him or one of our respective relatives reading it and embarrassing the poor adolescent horribly. But, anyhow, I'm at this "get together" and somehow, the subject of flirting comes up. It ends up that flirting is something I cannot do and I had both my eleven year old nephew and my sister attempting to give me tips on how to, well, suck less.
Trying to make myself seem, you know, slightly less than completely socially retarded, I attempted to defend myself by saying "Well, I made a mix cd for the guy I like the other day!"
My sister's response? "What are you, twelve?"
Well, actually, I sort of am, because I think anyone past the point of puberty would have actually given the mix cd to said boy. Instead, I posted it on the internet in hopes he would hear would hear it like the socially awkward teenager I still am, deep down inside.
You see, my problem with "flirting" as an "adult" (I put these in quotations because I suck at the first one and refuse to believe I am considered the second one as music journalism leads to latent alcoholism and stunted emotional growth) is the following: I've been told I must be "demure". I, however, like when I talk, especially about music. If a guy bores me, if he can't hold a conversation with me that involves shooting names of obscure yet prolific musicians back and forth, any interest I may have had will wither fairly promptly. I've also been told to flatter in ways that just don't seem genuine. Why would I say I miss someone if I don't? It seems silly. And mix cds? Well, apparently they're best left middle school way. I, however, refuse, mainly because I'm one of those painfully quirky indie girls who uses mix cds to express her emotions because she's too distant and frightened of rejection to put it into words. So the latest bout of "I can't say it, so I'll let these more prolific people sing it" is as follows. Did it work? Well... It was well received as a mix. And let's leave it at that, shall we?
01 At Home (Time Unknown): The Elected - You might remember this song from an Orbit gum commercial. It's one of the more charming things I've ever heard, albeit in a tongue in cheek way, and worth 40 seconds of your time. Fun fact? The Elected is Blake Sennet's other band when he's not busy with that Rilo Kiley nonsense. Additionally, I love to bookend mixes with two short tracks just to cap things off. This track gets a whole lotta play on mixes at my casa and I challenge you to find cuter lyrics than the ones that span the forty seconds of this tune.
02 I'm Always In Love: Wilco - Old Wilco always reminds me of summer. Additionally, those of you familiar with Koji will know this song.
03 Franklin Avenue (Acoustic at Daytrotter): Jeremy Messersmith - The only thing better than this song (which might or might not have alot of structural elements in common with Elliott Smith's "Bottle Up and Explode", which a pal and I deduced, albeit in a good way) is this song done live at the Horseshack.
04 Momentary Drowning: Young Coyotes - The song of the summer in '08, complete with handclaps, woahs, and a dreamy overtone that was produced before dreamy overtones were all the rage. Denver's Young Coyotes deserve a hundred times more recognition than they get.
05 Mamma Mia: Miniature Tigers - No Amber Valentine mix cd is complete without a novelty cover. Why do I like to procure a one way ticket to Smashed City and sing this song at karaoke? Because of this. THANKS FOR THE HUMILIATION, CHARLIE.
06 When My Time Comes: Dawes - It's only a matter of time before these young'uns hit it big, and I'm talking BIG. Catch the Dawes wave now. Plus, they reference Nietzsche, whether purposefully or not. FUCK YES.
07 Westfall: Okkervil River - My favorite band of the past ten years. This song's content gave my literal chills the first time I heard it.
08 Cake and Eat It Too: David Bazan - Bazan is the Jesus of indie rock. The only man to affect me more with their lyrics in time of need is Elliott Smith. Additionally, Bazan's Daytrotter session changed my life, no joke.
09 Sad, Sad Song: M. Ward - This man needs no introduction. (Almost) Everything he touches turns to folk rock gold.
10 Darkest Heart: Andrew Jackson Jihad - Another band that deserves more attention than they garner. True story: The best conversation I've ever had about morality took place with these guys outside Beat Kitchen, where A.J.J. just did an encore last night, an event I sadly didn't know about until mere hours before it happened.
11 Sun Sun Sun: The Elected - Loathe though I am to repeat a band, this song is magic. Sometimes, I feel as if this song sums up my life in a very real way: "I've made up for my mistakes... And I'm tired of being fucking patient but I wait, I wait." Thank you, Blake Sennet, for this song.
12 Another Radio Song: Okkervil River - Did I say I was loathe to repeat a band? Well, uh, the Okkervil River rule applies here. Will Sheff can do what he wants and he wants to be on this mix twice. There are lines in this song that affect me alot. It was down, for the second Okkervil track, between this and "Red". I went with this on account of catchiness however "Red" is and has been for a long time the veritable story of my life in song form through the perspective of someone else: "I took a dancer home, she felt so alone... She said 'I know it's easy to have me but I'm full of fictions and fucking addictions and I miss my mother.'" The first time I heard that, I felt as if I'd been sucker punched. But anyhow, this other song's cool too, you know, so yeah.
13 A Girl, A Boy, and A Graveyard (Live): Jeremy Messersmith - Yeah, I'm repeating artists all over the place. Whatever. This song is my current obsession, as I'm sure many of you noted. Why? Well, because if I had to sum my "love life" up in one song, it would be this - I'm no princess waiting for my happily ever after. Instead, I do feel as if I'm some sort of Frankenstein, waiting for a jolt to bring me back to life. Thanks, Mister Messersmith. You done good on this one.
14 Best For The Best - Josh Ritter: Ritter's a folk genius and will one day be revered for such. This track, off of his early and under appreciated The Animal Years, is nothing short of a gem.
15 Mr. November - The National: Sure, it's not quite folk but this is one of my favorite songs of all time. I won't fuck us over, scout's honor.
16 Drive Me To The Center - The Seedy Seeds: Another band more people need a big FYI about. Appalachian electro folk? It works, I swear.
17 Happiness (Acoustic) - Elliott Smith: If you've seen my arm, you understand. I've got lyrics to this song on my for the rest of my life and I don't regret it a stitch. All my tattoos are meant to be positive in one way or another and the way this song mirrors my life is slightly eerie. Elliott's mostly remembered for his morose ballads but the positivity of this song endures, past Smith's untimely death, and still resonates. It's another refrain like that "Mr. November" chorus I quoted, one that stirs something inside of me and makes me realize that things will be okay if I persevere: What I used to be will pass away and then you'll see that all I want now is happiness for you & me.
18 Labelship Down - Josh Ritter: The final bookend, a song fragment that's one of the catchiest things this side of Jon Brion.
Art via my "go to" mix cover artist, Royal Oak, Michigan's favorite son, Kurt Halsey.