Bright Lights and Up-Tempo Tracks

The folks on the Hold Steady fan board arranged a Mix CD exchange recently, and I agreed to take part, putting together a playlist of stuff and sending off a bunch of electronic files a couple of weeks ago (I don't know if the drive on my desktop can even burn CD's any more, even if I had blank CD's on which to burn songs). As there's basically zero overlap between there and here, it's probably safe to share the track list.

The title I used for it was "Bright Lights and Up-Tempo Tracks," a reference to this Hold Steady song:

(Including this on the actual playlist would be a little too obvious...). The vague organizing principle behind this was "Hold Steady characters and situations in songs by other artists"-- a lot of drinking and drugs, obviously, but Craig Finn also has a great way with character sketches, so some of these are selected because they remind me of that. This also deliberately skews a little obscure even by the standards of my playlists, because it was headed for one of a bunch of people who are way more involved with music than I have time to be. I thought about trying to find YouTube links for all these songs, but I did a spot check of the most obscure, and it's not out there, so there's no way to get the complete set.

So, the songs, and a brief explanation of why I thought they fit:

  1. "The Girl I Can't Forget," Fountains Of Wayne. A really cheery song about getting blackout drunk on a date.
  2. "Beautiful Wreck," Shawn Mullins. A friend worrying about the drunk at the end of the bar.
  3. "Hover Near Fame," The New Amsterdams. The drunk at the end of the bar is pissed about poseurs.
  4. "Woke Up This Morning," Alabama 3. After three days of drinking, I just got an inkling to go on home...
  5. "Conrad," Jets To Brazil. One of the most incongruously upbeat songs about a suicide you'll ever hear.
  6. "Drowned," Halloween, Alaska. Fits well musically after "Conrad," and is a bit more uplifting.
  7. "The World Without Logos," Hellsing. Random cool anime theme; the lyrics are just word salad, alas.
  8. "Romeo Had Juliette," Lou Reed. The only way you can tell that Craig Finn didn't write this is that the characters have last names.
  9. "bad sake," kingsley. One of those character-study sort of things; lots of great little shorthand in this.
  10. "Manhattan," Visqueen. A song about the sweet part of The City, with the bars and restaurants.
  11. "Dishrag," Wide Right. This would be kind of creepy if a man were singing it, but as it is, it's kind of funny.
  12. "Champaign, Illinois," Old 97'S. Rhett Miller gets Dylanesque.
  13. "Somerville," The Pernice Brothers. A bitter homecoming that's only slightly less awkward than "I Hope This Whole Thing Didn't Frighten You."
  14. "Sun In an Empty Room," The Weakerthans. John Samson is another great one for character-study stuff.
  15. "The First Single (You Know Me) (Album Version)," The Format. I love the lyric "Let's make a list of who we need, then let's throw it away, 'cause we don't need anyone."
  16. "Red Letter Day," The Get Up Kids. How could you do this to me?
  17. "Hyper Enough," Superchunk. A song that I've been known to replay several times in succession on long road trips.
  18. "Miracle Mile," Cold War Kids. I really like the plaintive energy of this.
  19. "Torch Singer," Buffalo Tom. Probably my favorite song of theirs, and "There's salvation in her band" is the most Craig Finn lyric not actually in a Craig Finn song.

The "cover art" up top (reproduced below for the RSS crowd) is, of course, from this classic song by SteelyKid and The Pip:

Because, really, you can't expect me not to work in a cute-kid reference somewhere...

So, there's some fun musical stuff to enjoy at the end of a long and trying week.

SteelyKid and The Pip perform their greatest hits... SteelyKid and The Pip perform their greatest hits...

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