Felsen Makes MAGNET A Mix Tape

Felsen‘s new Blood Orange Moon won’t grace your ears until later this month, but we’re getting you amped up about it anyway. We’ve already shared “Vultures On Your Bones,” but that’s not all Felsen’s got for you. Frontman Andrew Griffin has been nice enough to craft a mix tape of songs for MAGNET readers. Says Griffin, “My specially curated mix tape for you dear, dear music lovers: These are some of the songs that inspired me while working on the new Felsen LP. We wanted to write and record songs that were a bit more expansive, perhaps even cinematic in scope. We also wanted songs that were slower in tempo and took more time to unfold. In a frantic, hyper-paced world, it’s good to remind ourselves to slow down a bit and just go back to the music.” Check it out below, and read along while you listen.

Sun Kil Moon, “Duk Koo Kim”
Talk about taking your time … Mark Kozelek is the master. He’s also my spirit animal. I love how this song unfolds and really takes you on a long journey. At about the nine-minute mark (yup), there’s a real mood change in the vibe of the tune, yet he manages to keep it all sewn together. (I assure you, not an easy thing to do.) Tons of acoustic and electric guitars all woven together—very dreamy, woozy, intoxicating and kinda mesmerizing. It takes courage to put out a tune this long. We salute you sir.

Red House Painters, “Long Distance Runaround”
Also a rather lengthy piece of music, from Kozelek’s ’90s band. I bought the CD and was listening in my car while driving around the East Bay. It took a few listens to the album before I realized that this was a cover of a Yes tune. He has a knack for covering tunes, owning and reinventing it so that you barely hear the original tune anymore. There’s a pretty drastic mood change when they break into the instrumental extended outro. (It’s almost like another song.) That section is in the oft-neglected 7/8 time signature, thankyouverymuch. Our buddy Michael Urbano played drums on this album, and his drumming in particular was a huge influence on our new record. Beautiful stuff.

Serge Gainsbourg, “Cargo Culte”
I heard a song I really liked in an episode of Mad Men, and after trolling around online I found that it was by Serge Gainsbourg. I’d only heard about him but had no real previous exposure. That eventually lead me to this album, which I truly love. I think you can pretty much find most of the DNA code in the band Air (another favorite). Beck’s tune “Paper Tigers” owes much to this tune as well—I’m sure he’d admit it. I love the looseness, simplicity and space in the rhythm section: one electric guitar, bass and some funky boogaloo drums. On top of that, they put a really inventive string arrangement, tympani and a choir. It’s got that hypnotic vibe, too—it’s essentially one chord progression over and over again. I, for one, never get tired of it. It builds to a really beautiful triumphant crescendo that keeps you listening all the way to very end. Brilliant.

Beck, “The Golden Age”
Beck is a true musical chameleon with so many different phases to his long career, but I keep coming back to this album in particular. The mood is so perfect on this song. The simplicity of the composition, the tempo and vibe of the band are really very beautiful to my ears. It feels like he’s in no hurry to impress, making it all that much more impressive. (If that makes any sense.) The song form is so simple, too: intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, outro. The overall sound of the recording really draws me in. It’s very, very rich in reverb. Too much ’verb can be kinda dangerous … well, too much of the wrong reverb, that is. But as usual, Beck gets it right. That reverb-y idea was a big inspiration for our new album.

George Harrison, “Ballad Of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll)”
I read an old review of this album, and the reviewer described it as “music for mountaintops.” I liked that and that idea kinda became a mantra for us. This album is a great marriage of producer and artist: Phil Spector’s wall of sound meets George’s beautiful and spiritual music. We listened to this album a bunch touring through the rainy Pacific Northwest. We highly recommend that experience.

The Orange Peels, “The Words Don’t Work”
I’ve known the Orange Peels for a few years now and have always loved their songs and production. I loved it so much that we connected with their mainman, Allen Clapp, to mix Felsen’s new album. This is a such a charming short song—too short perhaps? Hopefully, it’ll make you want to listen to the rest of the album. The Peels are like a modern-day Big Star: simple, catchy, and they wear their musical hearts on their sleeve with zero apologies.

The Eels, “That Look You Give That Guy”
This one really hits me. E writes a very honest, very heartfelt tune. It’s so simple and direct. The recording is like that, too. It sounds like a trio of bass, drums, one electric guitar and not much else. I particularly love the sound of the drums on this one. (What … I’m a recovering drummer.) This one is so good it hurts—perfect for nursing a broken heart.