the rhythm section: great drum beats – a mix by california wives

When I first heard California Wives, I thought I was in love. Then I went to see them live, and I knew it. After their excellent set I hit up singer Jayson Kramer and guitarist Graham Masell and chatted about touring, communicable disease, and the excellence of hair metal. Since we got on so well I thought I’d invite them to make a mix, and with the help of their lovely manager Tom got this love letter from the band to the rhythm section in return. Ranging from sleek new wave to shimmying soul, this mix has wide appeal. If you get the chance to see California Wives on tour, do, but until then check out their SoundCloud page to see how their musical tastes influence their own work.

The Rhythm Section: Great Drum Beats
01| Human by Human League
02| Race: In by Battles
03| Rosanna by Toto
04| Jazz (We’ve Got) by A Tribe Called Quest
05| He Would Have Laughed by Deerhunter
06| Solitude is Bliss by Tame Impala
07| Peg by Steely Dan
08| Myxomatosis by Radiohead
09| Pictures of You by The Cure
10| I Will Possess Your Heart (Album Version) by Death Cab For Cutie
11| I Wanna Be Adored by Stone Roses
12| The Payback by James Brown

paper tiger mixtape

When we saw that Midwestern hip-hop collective Doomtree (P.O.S, Sims, Dessa, Cecil Otter, Lazerbeak, Mike Mictlan, and Paper Tiger) was coming to town, we jumped on the chance to see if they’d make us a mixtape. Live DJ, producer, and graphic designer Paper Tiger was so kind as to agree, and has given the world an amazing mix of hip-hop, 80s, and indie to get pumped on before catching them on tour. The Madison, Wisconsin show on Friday, March 9th at Union South’s The Sett is free, so be sure to come out. Stick around after – Paper Tiger and Lazerbeak will be DJing the after party.

01| Walk In by Lil’ Wayne
02| Vital Nerve by Company Flow f/ BMS
03| Can U Touch Me (Yuksek Remix) by The Film
04| Buddy (12” Remix) by De La Soul & Jungle Brothers
05| Lips Like Sugar (Extended Remix) by Echo & the Bunnymen
06| Let’s Go To Bed by The Cure
07| Sussudio (Special Extended Remix) by Phil Collins
08| Axel F (Extended Version) by Harold Faltermeyer
09| Running Up That Hill (Extended Version) by Kate Bush
10| Dance Hall Days by Wang Chung
11| Under the Milky Way by The Church
12| Making Plans for Nigel by XTC
13| No Scrubs by TLC
14| Everybody, Everybody by Black Box
15| Ride On Time by Black Box
16| In a Big Country by Big Country
17| Lisztomania (Shook Remix) by Phoenix
18| Sleep Rules Everything Around Me by Wugazi
19| Stay Close by Basement Jaxx
20| General Patton by Big Boi f/ Big Rube
21| I ♥ U So by Cassius
22| Pots & Pans by Les Savy Fav
23| Suedehead by Morrissey
24| 212 by Azealia Banks f/ Lazy J
25| Stupid Hoe by Nicki Minaj
26| Bring Em Out by T.I.
27| Stop by Jay-Z f/ Swizz Beatz
28| Blow by Rick Ross f/ Dre

brendan halpin: my career in song!

Some time last year, I saw my friend Kristin espousing author Brendan Halpin‘s book Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Despite not having ever listened to the album from which it gets its name (don’t worry, I’ve since picked it up), I decided to give it a go. I immediately fell in love with Halpin’s tale of two unrelated folks with hit songs written about them crossing paths, and knocked out three more of his books in quick order. With music being a recurring theme in his works, I figured Mr. Halpin would be the perfect person to make us a mix. He obliged. Below is his mix, along with some notes about each song and how they play into his books.

Some notes from Brendan Halpin:

Since music has been so important in most of my books, I’ve decided to include songs that relate to each of my books.

It Takes a Worried Man– a memoir of the six months when my late wife was diagnosed and treated for breast cancer.

1.Rocks Off–The Rolling Stones.  The song is about heroin addiction and its accompanying anhedonia, which is a really awesome word, but I related to it a lot when my late wife was going through cancer treatment. I felt numb a lot of the time, which was basically how I got through the days without screaming.

Losing My Faculties– A memoir of my first 9 years as an English teacher.

2.Walk Out–Matthew Sweet.  I actually had this song playing in my brain when I walked out of a training that infuriated me at a school where I worked.  And a couple of months later I quit that job and walked out for good, so it felt apt.

Donorboy– My first novel, an Alex award winner about a girl whose two moms die in a car accident.  She goes to live with her biological father, the sperm donor she’s never met before.

3.Death Letter–John Mellencamp.  When I was writing Rosalind’s grief journal at the beginning of the book, this song, and the whole album Trouble No More, which is a great collection of blues and traditional covers, really helped me get into the grieving mood.

Long Way Back–A novel about a guy who joins a punk band after his wife’s death.

4.What Do I Get? –The Buzzcocks.  Covered by Francis’ punk band, it’s a song that really covers the feeling of not getting what you wanted out of life.

5.Boys Don’t Cry–The Cure.  Also covered by the band.  Also says a lot, I think, about screwing up and feeling horrible.

6.We’re Not Gonna Take It–Crucial to the ending of the book, which is the best thing I’ve ever written.

Dear Catastrophe Waitress– A love story about two people who were the subject of hit breakup songs.

7.12XU–Wire.  This song kind of inspired the whole novel.  The “saw you in a mac, kissin’ a man” line made me wonder who the song was about.

8.Dear Catastrophe Waitress–Belle and Sebastian.  I stole the title (you can’t copyright a title, suckas!), but more than that, I was listening to Belle and Sebastian almost incessantly during the time I was writing this novel.  I was grieving and falling in love at the same time, and only Belle and Sebastian seemed to express the weird bittersweet feeling that I had all the time.

I Can See Clearly Now– A novel about a bunch of musicians who come together in 1972 to create some musical educational cartoons.

9.Knock Three Times– Tony Orlando and Dawn.  There’s a scene early in the novel where one of the musicians chooses to sing this song after the other people have been playing a lot of earnest folk songs, as she figures Tony Orlando is pretty much the anti-Dylan.

10.The Magic Number–De La Soul–Built around a sample from the Schoolhouse Rock original song.  My novel is entirely imaginary, but Schoolhouse Rock is the obvious real-world inspiration for the Pop Goes the Classroom project my characters work on.

11.My Hero Zero–The Lemonheads.  Great cover of a Schoolhouse Rock song.

How Ya Like Me Now–My first official YA novel, it’s about  a kid from the suburbs who goes to live with his cousin in the city.

12.How Ya Like Me Now–Kool Moe Dee.  I stole the title (once again, you can’t copyright a title!), but I also like the whole “you underestimated me, and look at me now” message here.  It fits the novel very well.

Forever Changes–My YA novel about a senior in high school with Cystic Fibrosis and how she comes to terms with living with limited time.  The album Forever Changes by Love (yep, stole another title) plays a big role in the novel, so I’ve included the first and last songs from that album here.

13. Alone Again Or–Love

14.You Set The Scene–Love

The Half Life of Planets–a YA love story about a musically-obsessed boy with Aspergers syndrome and a girl with a reputation. Co-written with Emily Franklin.  To be published in June 2010.

15. Detroit Rock City–KISS.  Let’s just say that a key moment in the novel involves a KISS cover band.

Shutout– A YA novel about two soccer-playing best friends who have to deal with changes when one of them makes varsity and the other one doesn’t. To be published in August 2010.

16.Halloween Theme–John Carpenter.  Music is actually not that important in this book, but horror movies are.  There’s a key scene where my main character watches Halloween with her dad.

Notes From the Blender–a YA novel about a weird and kind of unpopular boy whose widowed father marries the divorced mother of the prettiest, most popular girl in school.  Co-written with Trish Cook, and to be published in October 2010.  Yeah, I’ve been busy.

17.Progenies of the Great Apocalypse–Dimmu Borgir.  I wanted my character to be into black metal, because it’s about the only genre of music that seems to be kind of like punk was when I was a teen: largely underground and scary to almost everyone outside the scene.  I started a Pandora station to just get acquainted with the music and found that I actually really liked it.  Weird.

18.Mystery Dance–Elvis Costello.  My main character is named Declan after Elvis Costello, and he’s obsessed with sex as most 15-year-old boys are, so I thought Elvis Costello’s horniest tune was appropriate.

19.Red Shoes–Elvis Costello.  Mostly because “I used to be disgusted, but now I try to be amused” is an attitude that my main character in this book should try to emulate and actually does by the end.

01| The Rolling Stones – Rocks Off
02| Matthew Sweet – Walk Out
03| John Mellencamp – Death Letter
04| The Buzzcocks – What Do I Get?
05| The Cure – Boys Don’t Cry
06| The Who – We’re Not Gonna Take It
07| 12XU – Wire
08| Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress
09| Tony Orlando & Dawn – Knock Three Times
10| De La Soul – The Magic Number
11| The Lemonheads – My Hero Zero
12| Kool Moe Dee – How Ya Like Me Now
13| Love – Alone Again Or
14| Love – You Set the Scene
15| KISS – Detroit Rock City
16| John Carpenter – Halloween Theme
17| Dimmu Borgir – Progenies of the Great Apocolypse
18| Elvis Costello – Mystery Dance
19| Elvis Costello – Red Shoes

Alan’s Bit of Stuff (Tim Thornton’s Mix) + Prize Giveaway!

This fall I had the pleasure of stumbling across Tim Thornton’s The Alternative Hero. Funny and real, Thornton hits on the inherent nerdiness and enthusiasm of any dedicated music fan. Clive Beresford, fanzine writer and pop-culture obsessive, one day unwittingly spots Lance Webster, the former front man for the Thieving Magpies, a man now more famous for his explosive antics than musical contributions. Beresford then crafts a plan to befriend the singer, in hopes of making sense of both Webster’s mysterious meltdown and Beresford’s own existence. Hilarious, captivating, and an impressive melding of real rock history and fictional events, The Alternative Hero is one of my favorite reads in recent memory.

TAH author Tim Thornton obliged us in creating a mix for M|H, based on the book.

From the author:
For this compilation I decided to be a bit conceptual. In The Alternative Hero there’s a scene where Alan, the protagonist Clive’s best friend, wistfully recalls listening to a compilation made by the elusive object of his desire, Nicola Cartwright. So here’s my reconstruction of that very tape. Lightly gothy with an indie underside… here it is… enjoy.


The Wonder Stuff get a lot of stick and I’m always the first to defend them. John Peel apparently only ever played one Wonder Stuff song on the radio, and it was a ‘B’ side. Perhaps it was this one.

In a parallel universe, The House Of Love became as big as REM and this was their “Losing My Religion”. But of course, they didn’t and this wasn’t. Great song though.

And a thousand indie fans check their record player is working properly. How gloriously weird is this song, Bjork already displaying all the things which later made her huge.

Instantly conjuring memories of rainy nights, raging hormones, flat Walkman batteries and empty bottles of cider. And a bassline so meaty it’s practically edible.

Probably their only song to mention the word “chinos”. And the “tattooed tit” line is also pretty rare.

It’s been a while, and I’m afraid time has not been kind. But it had to go on. My poor friend with his never-ending unrequited love.

The first 50 times I heard it, I thought it was a big joke. I remember dancing at Camden Palace on a Tuesday, wondering, “did he really say ‘why can’t I get just one f-‘??”

Partly picked because of the “mammary glands” line. Do I have a breast fixation on this compilation? Possibly.

Not trying to be an elitist or anything, but we liked this song way before they turned it into “Loaded”.

A hundred crusties dancing in a circle on a rainy Sunday afternoon at Reading Festival. And us trying to steal their booze.

I recently read in Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography that JAMC were the only band on the ’92 Lollapalooza tour who were permanently drunk, grumpy and devoid of all party spirit. Gawd bless ’em.

Not only is this one of the finest and most underrated Cure songs, it is also just about the only song in the history of the world to get away with a saxophone solo.
Of course, officially it’s a faux pas to put two songs by the same band on a compilation tape, but conceptual accuracy must prevail…

Every goth’s favourite summer song. Actually, make that every goth’s only summer song.


For an excerpt from The Alternative Hero and an interview with Tim Thornton, click here. You can also find out more here and here.


As if the mix wasn’t enough, Knopf has kindly provided us with copies of The Alternative Hero to give away! From now until 11:59:59 PM Central Time, December 31, 2009, you can enter to win a copy (and maybe some other secret goodies). There are two ways to win!

1) Leave a comment letting us know your favorite part about The Alternative Hero, Alan’s Bit of Stuff, or Mixtapes|Heartbreaks. Make sure to sign up with a valid email address, that’s how we’ll contact you.


2) Follow us on Twitter and retweet our contest messages to win!

i want to go back in time and dance on hullabaloo

Vampire Weekend – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (John Hughes, Yacht Rock, Thriller, The Cure)
Stars – Bitches In Tokyo (“Never let shampoo touch your hair. Ever.”)
The Last Shadow Puppets – Standing Next to Me (the closest you’ll get to a time machine)
Noah & The Whale – 5 Years Time (I am drawn to things that emulate Wes Anderson’s style)
Hot Chip – One Pure Thought (reminds me of my late 80s/ early 90s childhood)
Jaguar Love – Highways of Gold (an illustrated play)

our very first mixtape

A Winter Passing

01| Peace and Hate by The Submarines

02| It’s Happening by Number One Fan

03| Polaris by Jimmy Eat World

04| This Modern Love by Bloc Party

05| Lullaby by The Cure

06| Comptine D’un Autre Ete: Lapres Midi by Yann Tiersen

07| 9 Crimes by Damien Rice

08| The Scientist by Johnette Napolitano and Danny Lohner

09| I Know You Are But What Am I? by Mogwai

10| Hot Summers Nuclear Winters by The Meteah Strike

11| Jesus Christ by Brand New

12| Monachetti by Further Seems Forever

13| Textbook by We Are Scientists

14| Motorcycle Drive By by Third Eye Blind

15| Your Hand In Mine by Explosions In The Sky