Saturday, September 20, 2008

Everyday is Like Sunday, Except for Blue Monday and Ruby Tuesday, and...Well, Friday I'm in Love: Weekly Mix # 35

This weekly mix was inspired by a comment left by PlasticSmile on my post about Bella Koshka. He mentioned the fact the album cover art reminded him of classic 4AD stuff, and while I'm definitely no expert on the label (which was pretty obvious in the way I made no reference to the similarity myself), I was prompted to do a little more research on 4AD and discovered that I already had quite of few of the 4AD artists in my collection. I also managed to discover other artists that I wasn't so familiar with, including His Name is Alive, which PlasticSmile mentioned. 4AD has produced a tight body of work from a rather incestuous scene, or perhaps a network of satellite scenes (many of the bands on the roster had their side or solo projects released on the label as well). Supposedly, the "classic" period of 4AD ended with the final 4AD Cocteau Twins album in 1990 (debate amongst yourselves), and while 4AD was originally an independent record label funded by Beggars Banquet, it is now part of the larger group that includes Matador Records, Rough Trade and XL Recordings.

Besides the distinct graphic style of 4AD album covers, which was pioneered by 23 Envelope, 4AD has been traditionally associated with acts that can be called ethereal, gothic, post-punk, shoegaze or experimental - of course over the years, 4AD continually moved farther into the American underground, and with more recently signed bands, there have been some shifts to artists that wouldn't be as immediately identified with the "classic" 4AD sound, including folkier artists. Nonetheless, they have still produced a pretty formidable roster past and present, and their artists are consistently critically acclaimed.

Hopefully, this mix is varied enough between more obscure tracks and popular ones and between the "classic" period of 4AD and the present period of the label. From the old school you have Tones on Tail, Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins, The Birthday Party, The Wolfgang Press, The The, Xmal Deutschland, His Name is Alive, Dead Can Dance, Modern English, This Mortal Coil, Pixies, and Bauhaus (in cases like The The and Modern English, you get their debut sounds, which are considerably different from later incarnations - no I Melt With You here); from the newer school, you have Stereolab (more in terms of being recently signed to 4AD rather than new as a band), Blonde Redhead, Beirut, Department of Eagles, TV on the Radio, The Mountain Goats, It Hugs Back and Minotaur Shock. Because I love Cocteau Twins so much, I included two tracks by them, one from their debut album, Garlands, and one that appeared several years later on a 4AD showcase compilation called Lonely Is An Eyesore, and what's beautiful is you can hear the progression from moody and brooding to angelic and dreamy. I'll call this one Forward March.

4AD Web site:

Go! - Tones on Tail

Small Bones, Small Bodies - Future of the Left

Babymaker - Pale Saints

Working Day - It Hugs Back

The Plague - The Mountain Goats

Muesli - Minotaur Shock

Neon Beanbag - Stereolab

Nantes - Beirut

En Particulier - Blonde Redhead

Crushed - Cocteau Twins

Hours - TV on the Radio

Noam Chomsky Spring Break 2002 - Department of Eagles

Nick the Stripper - The Birthday Party

Controversial Subject - The The

Black Houses - Modern English

Nachtschatten - Xmal Deutschland

Crowds - Bauhaus

Ruddy and Wretched - This Mortal Coil

Ecstasy - The Wolfgang Press

Fond Affections - Rema Rema

Where is My Mind - Pixies

Wax and Wane - Cocteau Twins

How Ghosts Affect Relationships - His Name is Alive

The Song of the Sibyl - Dead Can Dance