Mixin’ With Midtown Dickens
Filed under: Mixin' With Series,Mixtapes | Posted by: jody
Will Hackney and Kym Register of North Carolina’s Midtown Dickens have given us their “Top 10 Songs That Will Take You Home” featuring tunes by Bert Jansch, Megafaun, The Magnetic Fields and more. The band is currently gearing up for the release of their third full length record, appropriately (given their mixtape theme) titled Home (out April 3rd via Trekky Records) and were just announced on the lineup to one of our favorite festivals, Portland, Oregon’s Pickathon. Grab an MP3 of their tune “Only Brother” below and enjoy the mixtape after the jump.
MP3: Midtown Dickens- Only Brother
1. The Louvin Brothers – I’m Ready To Go Home
The Louvin Brothers possess some of the most magical voices I’ve ever heard. Its amazing that they sing so well together, considering they were so different: Charlie being a devout, humble Christian and Ira being a drunken mess. As an atheist, I think that’s why this sort of hyper-christian music is interesting to me. “I’m Ready To Go Home” is about finally ending a life of service to the lord, but its also about how difficult it is to live that way for a lifetime. I get the since that Charlie and Ira were singing the same words for different reasons. This is also a great song to listen to at the end of a long tour, for obvious reasons.
2. Des Ark – Goddamnit, Sweetheart
Staple song, and staple band of growing up in the music scene here. Des Ark started playing out when I was in high school. She was one of the women that showed me that music was accesible. Her lyrics in this tune tell they story of growing up in this area. Whiskey, drive-ins, trucks; obviously already a great song of this south. But she uses these images in ways that are real and not contrived. Des Ark’s solo records tear at the heart like any good country song, but her folk is specific, and makes me love this area even more.
3. Bonnie “Prince” Billy – My Home Is The Sea
I distinctly remember hearing this song for the first time on Pitchfork when it was released. As a longtime Will Oldham fan, I was pleased to see what different styles Matt Sweeney was bringing out as a collaborator. The guitar playing, the songwriting (and especially the incendiary double(!) guitar solo on this song) were all the best Will had ever done and also something very different. My senior year of high school, I drove around my hometown of Chapel Hill listening to this on repeat, yelling “I am under your spell! And you will have me I reckon!” out of the open windows.
4. The Bowerbirds – The Ticonderoga
All of these guys songs remind me of coming home. Their woody instruments, from Phil’s classical guitar to Beth’s accordion, and the ease of the percussion. It’s a sound that is being developed a lot of places, where musicians use folk instruments from all over to craft their own blend of folk. This song has a lot of history in it, of this area and of the music “scene” of Raleigh / Durham… I have to say though, I pump this song frequently on long drives. It may remind me of home mostly for that reason.
5. Bert Jansch- Running From Home
I was sad to hear that Bert Jansch died this year, as I had just discovered his music and just missed the opportunity to see him play live. I love how much Jansch can do with just a guitar, being a master at finger-picking. There’s something instantly nostalgic about the circular procession of “Running From Home”, and its interesting that it can remind me of my American home, even though it was written about Jansch’s Scottish home.
6. The Mountain Goats- Home Again Garden Grove
We Shall All be Healed was the first Mountain Goats album I really got into, and this song immediately stuck out to me. Its the most ferocious song on the album and also (I later learned) and obvious nod to John’s past lo-fi boombox recording style in his earlier days. We recently toured with the Mountain Goats, and it was interesting to me how many places John had home-like ties. Many places we would go he could relate a story of having lived 30 minutes South of the venue, or down the street (icluding Garden Grove). As someone who has lived in North Carolina my whole life, I can’t think of any other place as home, but John has about a dozen places that feel like home. Luckily, he also ended up settling in NC, so I know we both made the right choice.
7. Mount Moriah – Hail, Lightning
Heather’s been in so many projects that I’ve loved. One that I still drop everything to see is Bellfea, a band that’s a lot heavier sonically than this project. This project may be my favorite yet. She really seems to get to her roots and (maybe it’s because I can hear them more clearly) the lyrics paint beautiful emotive pictures of what it’s like to be from this area. A few songs are about being queer in the south, which is a struggle that I admire her for using her voice to discuss. In this song you can just hear the slowness of the south. You can hear it, and admire its urgency with the tension that’s created between the electric guitar and the drums that are hanging back a little. It paints the picture of those long drives across the piedmont with nothing in between stops. Beautiful.
8. Magnetic Fields – All My Little Words
I got into these guys way late in the game… Four years ago on my way home from the wild rugged nature of the west coast the girl I was dating gifted me the first two albums on the 69 Love Songs comp and that’s all i listened to for about four months. The composition of this song (these records, really) twists folk with subtle electronic music and uses the banjo in a way that makes you forget that it’s a banjo. It stunned me to find that they were on a record label that was located 5 blocks from my house @ Merge Records.
9. Charley Patton- I’m Goin’ Home
Charley Patton was my first experience with truly old music that I felt like I could relate to. When I discovered him, I just didn’t know there was music from the 20s that I thought I could have a relationship with. Even though the recording of “I’m Going Home” is fuzzy and quiet, Charley’s voice is so expressive that I can imagine him sitting in some tavern, with no microphone, singing as loud as he could over the drinkers and socializers. That’s a feeling I can sometimes relate to as a touring musician! This is another that I often sing to myself on the way home from tour.
10. Megafaun (Feat. Christy Smith of Tender Fruit) – The Longest Day
Again, with the atypical banjo. I’m a sucker for it. Phil uses clawhammer percussively, but allows the accordion and even the shakers to take the lead at times. It’s a great song, and I’m consistently amazed at how these guys can make me love music from the south even though they weren’t raised here. The lyrics are heartwrenching but sweet, and the one that I like to sing out loud every time I hear this one is, “I ain’t never seen a night that didn’t have a dawn.” Killer.
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