Downtown Travels Mixtape Vol. 3

Another edition of Downtown Travels is here! I’m sensing a very foreign theme here. Not just geographically as most of these artists are Western European, but in a time sense too. Edith Piaf and Frank Sinatra (once again) grace the list with their soulful, jazzy voices. Shout out to the only ATX band on the list, Ghostland Observatory.

  1. 1901 – Phoenix

 This Versailles band is known to insert many historical symbols in their songs and “1901” is no different.

“Girlfriend, your girlfriend is drifting away / 1855 – 1901 / watch them build a meteor tower / think it’s not gonna stay anyway / think it’s overrated”

They reference France’s time period that included the Art Noveau Movement and the World’s Fair of 1889, which, for you history and architectural nerds out there smiling, was the debut of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Most Parisians hated the Tower, seeing it as a total eyesore. But the World’s Fair was a time of seeing far into the future, so the Tower was meant to stand as a symbol of the future. When the World’s Fair ended and new monuments were made elsewhere, the Tower only became a symbol of a society that is stuck in its glorified past. This could also pertain to a modern-setting such as a relationship stuck in a rut.

2. The Mother We Share – CHVCHES

Every time I listen to this song by the Scottish band, I always find a different meaning or story. I’ve heard it as a story about Lauren Mayberry’s experience with other bands. I’ve heard it as one person with two streams of consciousness essentially fighting for dominance. I’ve heard it as a brother-sister relationship in which one has to take care of the other due to incompetent parents. It’s a great song and their music has helped me write many stories.

3. Beautiful Lie – Ivan & Alyosha

Pretty sure this group is the most obscure hipster group I’ve got on my iPod/iPhone. Okay, maybe obscure is a stretch. I&A toured with Brandi Carlile and NeedtoBreathe earlier this decade. The group formed in Seattle back in 2007. They got a cool indie folk sound going. I found them a few years ago on Pandora (remember Pandora?).

4. Should I Stay or Should I Go – The Clash

Ah yes, the Clash. You can’t get better 70s/80s British punk than The Clash. Just saying.

5. Dare You (feat. Matthew Koma) – Hardwell

I’m not really into the DJs these days but years back I was interested. Hardwell is a Dutch DJ who got together with New Yorker Matthew Koma, whose early start was in punk rock before moving into the EDM world, writing songs for Zedd. The song is catchy. A total “get up and dance for the hell of it” song.

6. La Vie En Rose – Edith Piaf

If the playlist if foreign-themed, then you cannot forget Edith Piaf! The beautiful French sound is classic.

7. Sad Sad City – Ghostland Observatory

It’s not a true Downtown Travels Mixtape without at least one local ATX artist.

8. Call Me – St. Paul & the Broken Bones

I’m a sucker for the soulful. This six-piece band from Birmingham is amazing. They’ve got a trombone player and a baritone sax player. I wish I saw them in March when they came to Stubb’s. Good thing they’re coming back this September to play at the Cedar Park Center (HEB Center for the newbies).

9. The Way You Look Tonight – Frank Sinatra

You know my saying: Frank Sinatra is the answer to everything. I feel like watching My Best Friend’s Wedding on my VCR.


Downtown Travels Mixtape Vol. 2 

It’s a such a beautiful day out here in ATX. Definite blast the car stereo weather. Therefore, time to share the second volume of the Downtown Travels series! This time we have Frank Sinatra, the Beatles and the Avett Brothers in the mix.

This playlist is more along the lines of what I’m interested in. A sorta favorites list because I like the vibe, sound, lyrics, and all that good stuff. A few have a couple stories attached.

  1. Frank Sinatra – Fly Me to the Moon

Ah Frank Sinatra. I should really write a post on his great life. Note to self. Sinatra is first on the playlist because, well, Sinatra is the answer to everything (at least according to my friend Siddiqi and me.)

2. The Postal Service – Sleeping In

The opening lyrics is what gets me. “Last night I had the strangest dream / where everything was exactly how it seemed / where there was never any mystery / of who shot John F Kennedy”. It gets me thinking of a world where things are simple. No wars, no global climate problems, no conspiracy theories. It also gets me, the history nerd, thinking, “what would have happened if JFK lived out his full four year term? Would the 60s be the 60s with him around?” Sound the conspiracy music!


3. The Beatles – In My Life 

Once you hear the piano, you’ll understand.


4. The Avett Brothers – Another is Waiting

One of my favorite 21st century bands…actually make that all time bands period. The lyrics are fun. They are great live (no, I have yet to see them in person but watched enough Youtube videos to make this sound judgement). They are folksy and have a great piano player. They’ll even get ragtimey at times. Yep, gotta dedicate a post to them soon.

5. The Beatles – All My Loving

Funny story about this one. I once dared a friend, who has a rather terrible singing voice (not that mine is any better), to sing a song. No conditions or anything, just any song. He didn’t do it at the right second. Instead, he waited a good week, knocked on my door and started singing the Beatles. Silly me should have gotten it on video because it was pretty good (and hilarious!). Every time I hear this song, part of me will think there’s someone at the front door. That and the lyrics are just absolutely adorbs and soooooooo 1960s.


7. New Politics – Harlem

Because you just need a song to dance to.


8. Madisen Ward & the Mama Bear – Silent Movies

You know I am a fan of the soulful voices. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear do not stray from this. Their raspy voices transport you to another world, another time. Did the mention the instrumentals are amazing?


9. Future Islands – A Dream of You And Me

For those days when you need a sorta more soothing approach. This song reminds me of those lazy spring days laying on the grass in front of Main Building at St. Ed’s where you are trying to study but are so focused by the beauty that surrounds you.


10. The Decemberists – 16 Military Wives

The Decemberists are great with lyrics. The instrumentals are simple, which is nice because it helps you focus on the storyline that is portrayed in the song. It’s political yet fun. It’s got a bit of a marching beat to it, much like the military marches.


11. Foster the People – Best Friend

I am originally from the Voldemort state (you know, that one big West Coast state that Texans do not like and wish would stay away from any inch of the Lone Star State in fear of completely screwing up the mellow/country/old school landscape), so it’s no surprise I would cheer for a band from my old stomping grounds. The song is catchy and when you hear them live like I did at SXSW a few years back, you can’t get rid of them no matter how hard you try. The lyrics, if you truly listen, have mixed meanings. I’ve taken it as drug addiction problems, writers block, and even the general concept of friends being there for each other no matter what the situation is.


12. SPEAK – Carrie

Another one of my favorite bands of all time. A friend introduced me to this Austin band about four years ago (yes, the same friend who sang the Beatles on my front porch on a dare). This song is from their 2011 album, I Believe in Everything. Regardless of whatever mood you are in you will dance to the beat of this song and fall in love with Troupe Gammage’s voice. Definite song of any summer for me.


Hope you enjoy. There will be more coming soon!

P.S did anyone catch the typo? 🙂