album artwork: Noah Smith // Hard Mixx
ARMS is one of those bands that immediately takes me to a space, let’s call this space April, San Diego river- a turqoise bike, and my legs turning pedals at a remarkable rate downhill. Flying. I remember first listening to ARMS here, in this place. But like all things, I moved physically, geographically, chronologically away from this space. When I hear Todd Goldsteins smooth vocals over plucked guitar strings I can smell it all again, that river. When Todd sings, it’s as if every word were deliberate. In his song, ‘Heat and Hot Water’ he begins with, “dark never came and we spoke in the sand till we ran out of things to say” making us remember when words ran their course and that was perfectly fine. All we have left is the warm body next to us and sky above. For someone who can write a pop song like Todd, I was pretty interested to see where he gets his inspiration from, and it’s exactly what I’d hoped- entirely unexpected. It also lays my hypothesis to rest, that Todd is really fucking cool. You guys need to download this mix if ONLY to get that Baths song, I think I’ve listened to it at least ten times today. Thanks Todd!
1. Ecstatic Sunshine – Ramontana
Ecstatic Sunshine’s Freckle Wars album is such a delightful anomaly, a record of instrumental, two-electric guitar compositions with a vaguely classical sense of composition and a spazzy, Deerhoof-y vibe. This stuff has such a great sense of humor, and the super-dry, intimate tone of the whole things fits perfectly with headphone listening and long, thinky walks.
2. Joni Mitchell – The Jungle Line
I came across Joni Mitchell’s ridiculously ahead-of-its-time The Hissing of Summer Lawns recently, and was blown away by how totally batshit brilliant the post-Blue, post-Court & Spark Joni could be. “The Jungle Line” almost sounds like some contemporary Brooklyn band, with its distorted tribal drums and wonky synths and weirdo melodicism. Amid all the right angles and disorientation, though, Joni always keeps it devastatingly sad. Good girl.
3. Royksopp – The Alcoholic
I always enjoy Royksopp’s way with understated electronic-y textures, and their new one Senior‘s their most low-key release so far. Mid-tempo and introspective, “The Alcoholic” gets me mostly for its melody, which has an odd-but-it-works turnaround that somehow surprises me every time it comes around. Kinda Eno-y, too, in its wiggly processed sounds.
4. Translations – Tarantella
ARMS keyboard wizard (our new-ish, and much welcome, fourth member) Dave plays bass in a lo-fi-ish / reverby band called Translations, and i’m obsessed with their song “Tarantella.” In addition to being a fantastic word, “Tarantella” is a stupidly good single: droney samples, a funky ’90s-ish bounce, a killer series of hooks, and clouds of ugly/beautiful atmosphere.
5. Red House Painters – New Jersey
It wouldn’t be fall, for me, without a bucket full of Mark Kozelek songs. I try to listen to this stuff in the summer, and it just doesn’t make sense — but now it’s October, and all that lonely-guy miserablism just hits me where it hurts so good. This one, “New Jersey”, is a gut-punch masterpiece.
6. Seefeel – Industrious
One of those great lost shoegaze/post-rock somethingorother bands from the ’90s, Seefeel’s a little more electronic than their contemporaries, and a little more indebted to Philip Glass and Steve Reich with their droney, minimalist arrangements. I love that funky, repeating bassline and shitty drum machines. The texture seems to go down for miles — I could listen to this song on repeat for an hour.
7. El Guincho – Soca Del Eclipse
Wicked pop single from this excited-sounding Spanish producer/singer. I love the silly keyboard sounds all over this thing, and the syncopated line in the chorus — not really much to be said there, really. Just fantastic pop music, with a little schmoove sax for good measure.
8. Baths – Apologetic Shoulderblades
I’m surprised no one’s made music like this before — it’s such a simple idea: sidechain compression’d, Dilla-y hip-hop beats and ethereal, Brian Wilson vocals. Sounds like falling in love to me.
9. Mice Parade – Night Wave
I’ve been rediscovering this band over the last 6 months or so, reclaiming them from my mid-2000s brush with depression and listening to them in the light of a new decade. Mice Parade are easy to pass over — it’s pretty straightforward stuff, but their idiosyncrasies are what make them so fascinating to me. The drums are a little too hyperactive and precise, the nylon-string (!) guitars are a little too intricate for the boilerplate melancholic indie-rock songwriting… the result, to my ears, is a little bit magic.
10. Low – Laser Beam
Slower is so much better. One of my favorite simple, perfect songs of all time
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ARMS- Shitty Little Disco