Monday Mixer


I love my country. It can be fun to criticize our corrupt politicians and our arrogant ‘Murica attitudes, but those same critics will defend their hometown like it’s their mother. People will argue that their hometown sports team has the right edge this season. They’ll say their town has the best BBQ in the world. What I’m most interested, of course, is the music. It’s so hard to pigeonhole American music because you each region has its own distinct sound. That’s why this playlist, we’re gonna go on a sonic road trip across the US, listening to some of my favorite tunes from each city.

1. Howlin’ Wolf – “Killing Floor”

We’ll start from my hometown Chicago. I love the whole genre of blues (I could do a playlist about each region’s own brand of blues), but my city does it best. The unrestrained electric energy is best exemplified by Howlin’ Wolf’s groovy original number. I especially love this recording because I think this is one of the few instances where an electric guitarist plays some downright nasty licks without being overly indulgent.

2. Nirvana – “Breed -1992/Live at Reading”

Seattle. I don’t consider this city famous for many things other than the birth place of grunge music. This is one of my personal favorites because it is just so damn noisy. The heavy and frenetic pace combined with the feedback from the guitars at the beginning make it sound just like a couple of kids trying to make loud music in their basement. Even the lyrics, about rejecting a boring middle-class American life, add grunge to the vibe that I associate with Seattle.

3. Bad Brains – “Banned in DC”

For the capital of our country, I could have chosen go-go music, jazz, military music, or even some speeches that they have on Spotify. But I’d be cheating you all if I skipped Bad Brains, the most hardcore punk band I’ve ever heard. Loud, crazy, but most importantly it is rebellious. Singing about how he doesn’t care if he gets banned from places, this nature of fighting the man is representative of all the protests that go on in DC.

4. Metallica – “Call of Ktulu”

Even in this big country we don’t have many states as varied as California. For our trip, we are heading to glittery Los Angeles. I consider this place the birth place of thrash metal. There are stories of bands going out into the desert and turning their amps up to eleven. I love this Metallica track because it’s as epic in terms of composition as anything from the Romantic era of music. The guitar harmonies are complex, the volume varies, and the collective sound of the band is just full and rich. Oh yea, and it kicks ass.

5. Louis Armstrong – “La Vie En Rose”

Now we’re gonna slow things down a bit and visit New Orleans, known worldwide for its jazz. A show of history, Armstrong sings a romantic French song. Though he doesn’t sing this in the language of love, he still makes it sound sweet with his swaying trumpet playing and his soft, raspy voice. I’ve heard that the New Orleans streets are full of live performances. If there is beautiful love songs like this every night, I would probably never want to sleep while there.

6. Elvis Presley – “Hound Dog”

Elvis Presley is an American icon and this is with good reason. He moved to Memphis, Tennessee at age 13, a place where all forms of American music were blended together. “Hound Dog” is my favorite track because it takes some Beale Street blues riffs, some gospel back up singing, and some Nashville country guitar picking, and makes something new and hypnotic.

7. Gary Clark Jr. – “Travis Country”

I remember when I first heard Blak and Blu, I thought Gary Clark Jr was our generation’s Stevie Ray Vaughan. Both are from Texas, but more importantly they’re keeping the blues alive and exciting. In Gary’s playing, especially this track, you can hear he’s learned how to bend like B.B. King or riff like Jimmy Page, but he still has his own unique sound. There are other songs where he rips his six string in more soulful ways, but I like the simple lyrics that are a tribute to his hometown and the boyhood memory of skipping school.

8. Jake Shimabukuro – “Honu’s Dream”

Speaking of artists reviving their native music, Jake Shimabukuro is showing the ukulele being for more than just accompaniment for laid back singing. Known for being able to arrange complex pop songs like “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the Honolulu native Shimabukuro also has some original pieces in which he shows the beauty of this Hawaiian instrument. I play this song whenever I get cabin fever in the winter. The soothing vibe and tropical sounds take me to my happy place.

9. LCD Soundsystem – “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down”

One of my new favorite songs, I think this song reflects the attitude of not only New Yorkers, but many big city slickers. Maybe we’re just growing up or maybe big cities are really getting worse, but there is a certain disillusionment we all go through with our city. My favorite line is when he talks about how even though we’re tired of political corruption and good local businesses losing to chains, “You’re still the one pool where I’d happily drown.”

10. Johnny Cash – “I’ve Been Everywhere”

How can I not put a country song in a playlist about good ol’ USA. Sing along to this little ditty because I’ve taken you to nine great cities. Of course, Johnny Cash spits out many more great cities, keeping pace with his chugging band. If you wanna take it to his level, TRAVEL. This playlist was just to give you a taste of the traveler’s life, but I skipped surfer music from California and house music from Chicago and much much more. Go take a vacation in Hawaii or live in New York for a year. This land is full of great music.

About Mateo Muro

(Web Director) What's up, my name's Mateo and I like playing gamecube and/or eating M&M's with popcorn. I also can believe that it's not butter.

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