01 July 2008

Cassette From My Ex

I recently read about a new site called Cassette From My Ex, which was created by Jason Bitner. Bitner is also responsible for helping create FOUND Magazine, as well as is the editor of DIRTY FOUND and FOUND Polaroid Book. The idea behind this new site is to share the stories of soundtracks from previous love affairs in your life. Various individuals share a mix tape they received, as well as the memory that tells the story of this short or obsessive or awkward love story. Not surprisingly, I adore this site.

There are posts by the team that works on the site (including Bitner), but also stories contributed by folks, such as: David Nadelberg of MORTIFIED and Claire Heitlinger who works with the series 33 1/3.

Each post features the story of the relationship/lust/obsession, as well as features the listing of all songs from the magical soundtrack. The entire tape is also available for your listening pleasure. The stories are fantastic to read. They are sweet, embarrassing at times, and full of the crazy nostalgia that I love. I particularly enjoy the stories where the recipient of the mix reconnects years later with the creator and is able to thank them for its significance in their life.

Since I've been cleaning out the attic of my parent's house (containing approximately 20 years of memories), I've come across plenty of my own old mix tapes I've received over the years. I've end found mix tapes created, but never given to intended recipient. I'm happy to know that I am not the only person refusing to throw away these tapes. I am planning to go through my old tapes to find an appropriate one to submit to the site, but also to post for this blog. I've secretly wanted to go through all my old mix tapes and re-create them on my computer- just to keep them for the reminiscing value.

Now, my fear is that I'll find a posting on this site where a random individual from my past comes across a mix tape I made and tells the horrifying story of my attempt to communicate my crush through the lyrics of Sinead O'Connor and Trixter.

Top Five Songs of June...

1. Lord, I'm Discouraged- The Hold Steady

Awwww. The Hold Steady. I first heard The Hold Steady from their 2006 release of Boys and Girls in America, though I don't think I heard this album until last year. I enjoyed it. It rocked. Now, I can't find my copy and I'm hoping that someone, anyone will send me another copy. Regardless, I recently got my hands on the newest release, Stay Positive, which is set to be released on July 14th.

Do me a favor, get this album. The Hold Steady seems to be one of those bands that anyone and everyone has either written about, blogged about, or talked about. And I felt that I honestly liked them, well, until I started reading reviews. The reviews made me start to question. I started to question if I wanted to like a buzz band. I know, I know, I have an anti-joiner mentality, which at times means I miss out on some excellent music/books/movies just because everyone else really liked it.

That being said, I just can't deny this album. None of my reasons for why I shouldn't like The Hold Steady stuck. I love them and I don't care who knows it. But what is it? I suppose it might be the fact that it rocks. Maybe it is inspiring to those folks of us who are above the "hip" age and it lets us feel a little more rock n' roll when we listen to it. Maybe it is because it feels like they are actually telling stories, but without the troubadour singer-songwriter style. Really, they are telling a story with a guitar solo. Yes, a guitar solo. Like I said, I love every note of it.

I really want you to hear it...so here is a video for you.

2. Bag of Hammers- Thao

As I mentioned, I first heard about Thao Nguyen from All Songs Considered. This was actually the song they played on the podcast and about two notes into the song, I quickly started the podcast over to find out the name of the band, and then purchased the entire album. And I did. And I still love it. Unfortunately, I think Thao is going to be immediately cast in a "Cat Power" light. I have to admit there are similarities, but I think what I found intriguing about the music of Thao and her band is how upbeat the music is. Particularly this song features a myriad of sounds which are incredibly infectious.

"Shake, shake, shake, shake the frame of this house, distress the wood, make it shout. And as sharp as I sting, as sharp as I sing, It still soothes you, doesn't it? Like a lick of ice cream..."

3. Breezy- Conor Oberst and The Mystic Valley Band

So admittedly, I'm not sure the real name of this song. Luckily, I had the opportunity to hear a live show from a recent performance of Oberst's new band. The new album is due out on August 5th and I'm pretty stoked to hear the actual production of the songs. From the website, you can listen to a couple of tracks. Not only is there the excitement of a new album, but also a full tour coming very shortly. I had a tough time picking one song that I liked the most off of the new songs, but I couldn't pass up a song where Oberst sings about baseball.

"Statistics round your head, tried to teach me about baseball, my favorite was the part when they make it home. I like it when they steal and when they make it home..."

4. Waiting On An Angel- Ben Harper

I haven't heard this song in years. A couple of weeks ago, I made my way to the library here at the beach. One of the greatest things about the public library, besides the free movies and books, is the fact you can check out cds. I picked up an old Ben Harper cd. It was a cd that I remembered from 1996. I put the cd in and started listening. I already knew the memories I had attached to this particular song, but it wasn't until hearing it again that those memories came flooding back with excellent clarity. It was so clear that I actually began to tear up.

So, what is the memory? I don't want to get into much detail in this blog post, but I'll give you an amended version. I was home visiting my family during the holiday vacation between 1995 and 1996. Right around the beginning of that year, I discovered that the man I was currently dating had not completely been honest with me. After a difficult break up, I found myself still at my parent's house. My last weekend before returning to school, I remember sitting on the couch talking with my mother. She told me that I shouldn't worry. That life will go on. Yes, it wasn't groundbreaking advice, but it was the advice that every 19 year old needs to hear after a horrible break-up.

She walked to the stereo and put in this song. She instilled a bittersweet hope in me that afternoon. It made me feel better. We later went out to Tremont Music Hall in Charlotte to hear a band play. And I do remember that evening, between the music and the people, it felt like everything had changed. And I knew it wouldn't be long.

5. Anticipation- Carly Simon

I'm not sure if I can recommend going to Carly's myspace page, unless of course you want to remind yourself how awesome "You're So Vain" is. Not only did I pick up Ben Harper at the library, I also picked up a Carly Simon anthology. I thought it was only suitable since I am about to start reading the book, Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon- And the Journey of a Generation by Sheila Weller. I haven't had time to fully explore the entire anthology, but driving back to the beach after a visit to Charlotte, I heard this song on my shuffle mix. It just felt right. And now, I'm stuck listening to it over and over again.

"We can never know about the days to come, But we can think about them anyway. And I wonder if I'm really with you now, Or just chasing after some finer day. Anticipation is making me late, is keeping me waiting..."