On Marco Cartolano Cartolano's last mixtape, he talks about some of his personal favorites who have never been on a mixtape. You can listen to this mixtape on Spotify here.
[OutKast - “Elevators(Me & You)”]
Hello everybody and welcome to Monday Mixtape. I’m Marco Cartolano, and this is my last official Monday Mixtape. Now that the end is near, I wanted to highlight some music by a few of my favorite artists that I haven’t put on a mixtape yet. Let’s start by heading down south to the ATL and talking about OutKast. OutKast helped put Southern hip-hop on the map by releasing bold albums that fused the soul sounds of the South with hip-hop instrumentals. Rappers Andre 3000 and Big Boi complimented each other – Andre’s spacy persona was brought back to earth by Big Boi’s streetsmart lyrics. By their second album, ATLiens, OutKast was already expanding the sound they helped to popularize. “Elevators (Me & You)” shows off the psychedelic direction that the group takes on the album. The bass is inspired by dub and the production is more atmospheric. The group addresses their rise from performing at grimy clubs to going platinum. The song’s highlight comes when Andre addresses someone trying to ask about his wealth by saying, “I live by the beat like you live check-to-check.” It shows that he still has to get on that grind to make money, even if he’s got fans.
[Black Sabbath - “Iron Man”]
Sabbath! A key band in the formation of heavy metal, Black Sabbath rocked harder than any other band at the time. While it’s tough to imagine lead singer Ozzy Osbourne as a threat now that he’s starred in a reality TV show, people thought he was a Satanist when he first got big. The band’s gothic image and heavy sound didn’t help. One of their most famous songs, “Iron Man,” gets its power from its heaviness. Contrary to popular opinion, this song is not about Tony Stark. It’s a tale of a time traveler who goes back to prevent an apocalypse, only to be turned into metal in a magnetic field. He’s mocked for his inability to communicate so much that he plans to cause the apocalypse he initially set out to stop. Tony Iommi provides one of the most memorable guitar riffs in rock history, and Bill Ward lays down some drumming that would inspire countless heavy metal drummers after him. The song still has traces of the blues-rock that influenced early metal, but it’s much heavier than the music of bands like Cream. Ozzy, of course, sounds menacing as he narrates the story. It’s amazing to hear him in his prime before the drugs made it impossible for him to remember what he does in the morning.
[Fugazi - “Repeater”]
Now for one of the best punk bands of the ‘90s. Fugazi intentionally strove away from the hardcore punk orthodoxy that guitarists Ian MacKaye and Guy Picciotto helped establish when they played for seminal bands Minor Threat and Rites of Spring, respectfully. Their music took rhythmic cues from funk and dub-reggae, and they used irregular song structures. “Repeater” is an anthemic track about economic desperation and violence. MacKaye angrily lashes out against society for pushing him into working for the capitalist machine, and the chorus is a double entendre referring both to the repetitive actions of manual labor and to the firearm known as a repeater that youths use to kill each other. Mackaye plays the chunky guitar on the low end while Picciotto plays the screechy guitar. The song is led by Brendan Canty’s drumming and Joe Lally’s dub-inspired bass. Fugazi modernized the experimental approach of many post-punk bands by amping up the aggression.
[LCD Soundsystem - “Dance Yrself Clean”]
Time to earn some hipster cred. LCD Soundsystem is the wordiest band to come out of the New York indie revival of the 2000s. They fused dance music with punk and alternative rock, while allowing James Murphy to spew self-aware musings about aging, being in New York and listening to too much music. “Dance Yrself Clean” is the eight-minute opening to their third and final album before their seven-year retirement, This Is Happening. It starts out minimalistic with a simple drum pattern and a solitary synth chord repeating, but it expands in the second part, where a more substantial synth line comes in and Murphy transitions from talk-singing to full-on belting. Apparently, he almost lost his voice during the recording of this track. Murphy covers some of his favorite lyrical subjects in this song, such as feeling disenchanted with the New York party scene and realizing that everyone around him is a hipster jackass who won’t shut up about his opinion on Marxism. It really sells you on moving to Brooklyn is what I’m trying to say.
[Sleater-Kinney - “Dig Me Out”]
Before starring in Portlandia, Carrie Brownstein played in one of the best bands that came out of the riot grrrl subgenre of punk music. Sleater-Kinney was raw, angry and unmistakably feminist, but they also possessed a knack for traditional rock and roll songwriting. Dig Me Out was their first album with drummer Janet Weiss, and she brought a rock and roll influence that completed the band’s sound. The title track is an angry plea for help. Lead singer Corin Tucker begs the listener to dig her out of the mess she’s in. Tucker’s aggressive vocals tend to be divisive, but I think they have so much power. The riffs take on a noticeably more old-school rock sound to compliment the drumming, and the end result is a great tune.
[MF Doom - “One Beer”]
Watch out for rap music’s maniacal supervillain. MF Doom is known for his evil persona where he wears a mask at all times. Doom’s dense lyrics are filled with wordplay and comic book references, while his slightly off-beat flow is mesmerizing. “One Beer” is a track off his solo album Mm.. Food, produced by Madlib. It was originally meant for their incredible collaborative album Madvillainy, but it didn’t make the cut. It’s still great though. It starts with Doom interpolating Cole Porter’s “I Get a Kick Out of You” before it goes into Doom’s verses about beating the competition, living a life of debauchery and fighting the asshole that stole his beers. The instrumental has these perfect vocal samples and a great beat switch. Madlib’s jazzy beat is so catchy that you’re going to have it stuck in your head for a week.
[Animal Collective - “Fireworks”]
And for the last song I’m ever going to put on a Monday Mixtape, I want to end it on a celebratory note. “Fireworks” by Animal Collective feels like a summer night out with friends. The music has this bright funland quality to it, and Avey Tare’s unmoored singing sounds so excited. The band gives it this repetitive structure where the drums and the keyboards keep cycling as they add kooky sound effects, backing vocals and other piano lines. It’s another track on this mixtape inspired by dub, particularly in the spacey effects in the middle. The lyrics are more complex than simply recounting a day in the park – it’s a reflection during the morning after. It’s the feeling when we wake up after the substances have left our system and we feel miserable, and we reflect on the night before with an added tinge of melancholy for how temporary it seems. It’s a very human experience that’s tricky to nail, but Animal Collective just gets it right. They may be on the artsy side of alternative music, but they know how to pack emotion into their weird songs.
[Reprise - “Fireworks”]
And that’s it for Monday Mixtape. It’s been a fun time doing this podcast. It may have been occasionally annoying to put this together every week, but I loved the opportunity to talk about one of my favorite things in the world, and I hope everybody isn’t too tired of my taste in music by now. For the final time, this week’s playlist will be available on Spotify at mondaymixtape. Make sure to subscribe to NBNtertainmentWeekly on Apple Podcasts so you get notifications for all the cool stuff they’ll do in future. This has been Marco Cartolano for NBN Audio. Goodbye and rock on.