Found Music: The lost art of the mix tape

Transient

The music magazine Relix included a mix CD in their October-November issue featuring music its editors recommended for fall listening. It surprised me to find a CD like that, flopping between the pages in the manner usually reserved for subscription cards. Last time I got a mix CD it was sophomore year of college.

Ironically, the first thing I did with the disc was transfer it to my iTunes so I could listen to it on my iPod. To get a feel for the mix, I took a walk around downtown. I encourage aimless walking for the first listen to any piece of new music. The action makes you a participant in the work.

Several of the opening tracks use a one-two beat that proved good for walking. "Sky High" by WeMustBe relies on organic vocals and a repeated drum beat to keep the canvas neutral for the lyrics. The WeMustBe duo, formed by Christine Dominguez and T. Xiques, imagines a mountain climbed for happiness’ sake: “Way up on the mountain top/ It’s the answer to all my problems/ Where the snow falls up not down no lie/ Get me sky high.” Dominguez, who sounds like the female Citizen Cope, adds an even more smiley touch with the image of “Clouds around our head like Dr. Dr.” It’s music for the beginning of a journey.   

From a subtle acoustic, the mix builds to the power of a disenfranchised youth's anthem in "Oh Yeah!" Purveyors of the classic three-piece set-up, the band Les Racquet intersperses their tune with quick-fingered guitar solos that rival what Guitar Hero comes up with.

"Blue Laws" by Betsy Kingston & The Crowns, five songs later, really lets the guitar dig into its own. With Southern soul longing in Betsy Kingston’s voice, she croons “Nothing makes you blue like the Blue Laws on Sunday.” It creates the perfect cradle for the searching guitar solo that starts at 1:47, carries on until 2:11, and reprises at 2:39 – 3:15.

But as with any mix CD made for you by someone who doesn’t actually know you, there were some songs I wanted to skip over, and in fact did skip over by the time they rolled back around on my iPod.

Master Thieves played reggae in “Once Upon a Time” in a generic way, not quite committing to ska. They gave no nuance to the performance; not like State Radio, the band I hold up as the example of how to successfully twist reggae. In fact, State Radio’s subtle rock-infused reggae would have actually complimented the rest of the acoustics on Relix’s mix. Sounds like the beginning of a beautiful new mix CD.

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Paige Cooperstein

Paige Cooperstein writes about film and pop culture. She contributes to The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY as an intern in the features department, and 215 Magazine in Philadelphia, PA as an Arts & Culture blogger. Paige recently developed an aptitude for live tweeting big events like Syracuse Style's fashion show and the One World Concert featuring the Dalai Lama. Her other projects include producing audio previews for the Green Room Reviews theatre blog and hosting an arts themed podcast. She's always open to new projects. While not working, Paige frequently holes herself up to watch endless TV and movies. She's currently on a Buffy the Vampire Slayer kick eating up the behind-the-scenes interviews online. Spanish telenovelas keep her language skills sharp. If only she could find a similar outlet for ASL practice. Paige is also a proud Penn Stater and Newhouse SU grad student studying Arts Journalism.