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Nonesuch Records will re-issue a remastered OMGCD this week

In April, a new playlist, "State of Music Playlist Mix," featuring great indie songs most people have never heard, kicked off featuring songs about towns, cities, landmarks and places unique to the United States.

As an avid consumer and collector of mostly independent and alternative music, there is nearly an endless supply of great songs related specifically to geographic history and culture. Later this summer, the first geo-mix about places around the world will be featured, so keep an ear out for that.

Remember you can play and stream all of the songs uninterrupted on any page of this site by simply using the no-frills embedded Yahoo media player (the best such player on the web).

So, to the music. The first song in this mix is from the accomplished Providence, Rhode Island indie folk-rock band The Low Anthem. The song "To Ohio" is one of those songs that gets your attention and stays with you; and it's sort of about Ohio. In March, the band signed with Nonesuch Records, which will reissue a remastered version of their 2008 album Charlie Darwin, Oh My God. This song is the album's opening track.

"To Ohio" - The Low Anthem from Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
The Low Anthem Official Site

Brooklyn's Jeff Baron, Sasha Bell and Chris Ziter are the members of the indie folk and pop band The Essex Green, one of the best underrated bands in recent years. The band's song "Sin City" interestingly contains mentions of Pittsburg and Ohio, but most people know Sin City as Las Vegas, Nevada.

"Sin City" - Essex Green from Cannibal Sea (2006)
Essex Green Official Site

Philly's indie band The A-Sides got off to a good start when they formed in 2002 as Rough Trade picked up their first 7" for a widely-circulated compilation. The band got the mojo they needed to work with producer Brian McTear (Matt Pond PA, Mazarin) on The A-Sides first full length debut in 2005, Hello, Hello, an album widely hailed by critics and music fans for its eclectic pop arrangements and catchy, memorable songs.

The pick for this mix, "A Florida Grove", is featured on the band's 2007 follow-up release, Silver Storms. In October of last year, fans learned via the band's MySpace page that The A-Sides were disbanding to create a new band called Sun Airway.

"A Florida Grove" - The A-Sides from Silver Storms (2007)
The A-Sides Official Site

Since it was Sufjan Stevens that kind of motivated me to begin publishing a 'state of music' playlist mix (I have been organizing related mixes for years), it only makes sense to feature another one of his songs in the State of Music Playlist Mix series, this time around the Motor City inspirational song "Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head".

"Detroit, Lift Up Your Weary Head (Rebuild! Restore! Reconsider!)" - Sufjan Stevens from Greetings From Michigan
Sufjan Steves MySpace Page

Minneapolis indie rock band Tapes N Tapes formed in 2003 and found success early on with the release of their self-titled EP in 2004. Soon they were opening gigs for bands like the Streets, Metric, and the Futureheads.

While a number of songs on the band debut full-length The Loon could be consider for this playlist mix ("Manitoba" and "Omaha" to be specific) it is the catchy tempo, spiffy keyboards and dramatic shifts on the track "In Houston" which best encapsulates Tapes N Tapes sound.

"In Houston" - Tapes N Tapes in The Loon (2005)
Tapes N Tapes on MySpace

Check back for more playlists, including new mixes for State of Music playlist series. Next up: A special indie rock mix dedicated to New York City.

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Following a string of brilliant thematic album releases, numerous outtakes, singles, demos, collaborations and the four LP Songs for Christmas boxset - arguably the best indie-alternative Christmas song collection ever - it seemed Sufjan Stevens was unstoppable.

But over the past couple of years, there hasn't been really any new, original material from Sufjan. This is disappointing because he had suggested that he was going to attempt to write and record an album about as many states as possible. (Update, Nov 2009: Sufjan Stevens goes on record to say his idea of doing a "50 States" album release was a "joke"; therefore we will continue the State of Music playlist series indefinitely. Not only is there a great interest in this series from music lovers, but there is so much fantastic music about the states, their cities, characters, histories, cultures, landmarks and so on).

A big part of the believability factor, and the anticipation, was that Sufjan had already recorded two brilliant albums that were, in concept, full of songs relishing in the character of two states, on 2003's Greetings From Michigan and 2005's Come On Feel The Illinoise!

With songs like "Pittsfield" (Michigan; not the other Pittsfield, where I grew up), "Chicago", "Decatur", "Jacksonville", "The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts", "The Seer's Tower", "Flint", "Say Yes! to M!ch!gan!", it looked like Sufjan was serious by his unique and exciting question. At the time it was questionable - can this guy really write 48 additional albums, each about a different state?

It appears it might not happen. If any indie artists and bands are reading this, think about it. Even if Sufjan is not going to pursue the path he set down, I really hope other indie and alt artists will, while preserving the story-telling quality and superb musicianship that are found on Illinoise and Michigan LPs.

In all fairness to Sufjan, he has been busy with other music projects, running a record company, babies and what have you, so it's not that easy. I think it's brilliant, and who doesn't love songs about their state; you know, like peaches in Georgia, lighthouses in Maine, the Alamo in Texas, great weather and surfing in California, bison in Wyoming, the cowboy life of Montana and so on.

Therefore, I decided to start a playlist series about each state in the country featuring songs from a whole range of artists and bands, from indie to alternative and folk to pop and spanning the history of music, starting with the 1950's right up to today.

To get our toes wet, so to speak, for what will be an ongoing playlist series all about the states of this vast country, I decided an introductory playlist that is not specific to one state, but all of the states, and to give you an idea of what the state-by-state playlists will be like as they are published throughout 2009, 2010 and onward. I'll be publishing more of these playlists in 2010 as I am still working on creating them and focusing on only the best songs.

Most of all I just hope you will enjoy this new playlist series and give some well deserved attention to bands, artists, songs and albums that are worthy.

"Decatur" - Sufjan Stevens from Come On Feel The Illinoise

"Washington DC" - Magnetic Fields from 69 Love Songs (1999)

"Chicago" - The Uglysuit from The Uglysuit

"Fasting in San Francisco" - Y La Bamba from GypsyPop (2009)

"We Can Win Missouri!" - Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin from Grace & Gwyn EP (2008)

"Revelation Big Sur" - Red House Painters from Songs For a Blue (2000)

"Cape Fear" - The Rosebuds from Life Like (2008)

"So Long Savannah" - Eric Bachmann from To The Races (2006)

"Hard Times in America" - Willie Nile from Live From The Streets of New York (2008)

Access the second installment of State of Music playlist mix featuring The Low Anthem, Essex Green, The A Side, Sufjan Stevens and Tapes N Tapes.


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   April 29, 2009    5 Comments     Vote Songs on Hypem   MP3 Policy 
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