The Mixologist: Remain/Rewind

By Spencer Davis. Been taking a bit of a break lately, but don’t worry—S&N isn’t going anywhere! And what better way to come back after a recharge than with a brand new S&N mix? Well, I say “brand new,” but as you’ll see with this batch of tunes, newness can be relative. Because while these songs all come from 2017 releases, you’ll notice an obvious theme: they make what’s new sound old again. Tapping into a vibe that’s distinctly 80s, these artists skirt that creative line between looking back and moving forward. And they prove it’s not so much a line as a spectrum. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Miracle Waters


[Editor’s Note: Nicole Funari, who hosts the Movie That Matters podcast, was kind enough to let us post this latest mix from her Badges & Wristbands Records project, in which she visits the many under-the-radar music festivals out there and compiles a mix of the best unknown artists she discovers].

By Nicole Funari. I am a veteran of the multi-venue, multi-day music festival. Each time I attend, I get a sense of place along with an abundant supply of music. The first thing I learned about Reykjavik was that turning the left tap brings pure, cold, mineral-laden spring water, and turning the right tap brings naturally hot, slightly malodorous, geothermal water. It seems appropriate that this tiny island nation bent on being a humanist utopia should have free healthful water to drink and to heat it streets and houses. It has a similarly wide and deep social safety net so effective that Icelanders no longer have the concept of a broken home. Icelanders are proud of their Viking heritage despite being a peaceful, progressive people who believe in elves. Perhaps that’s why their music is both mellow and digital. Two things I hate. Continue reading

The Year In Music 2016: S&N’s Songs Of 2016

By The S&N Staff. Once again, a group of S&N contributors—Hendricks, Mark, Biff, and myself—have voted on our favorite songs of 2016, and we present them to you here as a Spotify playlist for your streaming pleasure. In a year where politics dominated everything, it shouldn’t be surprising that a number of the songs we picked delve into that theme. But it’s still satisfying, nonetheless, to see that two of the most powerful political statements of the year came from A Tribe Called Quest and Drive-By Truckers. To hear East Coast hip-hop and Southern country rock come together on common ground like that speaks to the incredible bridging potential of music, and maybe offers a little hope about our ability to start a meaningful conversation that connects us despite our deep cultural divides. And there’s plenty more here, too, from S&N favorites like Hiss Golden Messenger and Blood Orange and The Range to some under-the-radar artists who deserve far more of our attention, like Lucy Dacus, Pinegrove, Hinds, and Chairlift. Enjoy, and happy holidays! Continue reading

The Mixologist: Dreaming In Color


By Spencer. It’s been a while since we’ve done a new Mixologist, but with fall weather finally settling in, now seems like the perfect time for a batch of new tracks from Hiss Golden Messenger, Billie Marten, Amanda Shires, Big Thief, Okkervil River, Hamilton Leithauser, and other recent S&N favorites. These songs capture the vibrancy of the moment, drifting along the line between consciousness and trance. And while this is noticeably one of our mellower mixes, there’s an urgency to these melodies that keep it anything but sleepy. Continue reading

The Mixologist: S&N Singles Club, Vol. 2

By Spencer. Continuing last week’s Singles Club challenge, several of our S&N contributors are compiling playlists of songs from artists or albums we previously considered great, but whose star has faded over time—such that now you only really need one killer song from them in your collection. This week, it’s my turn, and I’m learning that the real challenge here is staying within the rules. Continue reading

The Mixologist: S&N Singles Club, Vol. 1

By Antony. The “Binge and Purge” series over at AV Club inspired these Singles Club mixes. Josh Modell, a music writer for the site, has amassed a 2,000-CD collection. He’s decided in 2016 that’s too many. His assessment of the records he’s keeping and those he’s tossing is sentimental and humorous, revealing something about how we age with our musical tastes. I passed it around to a few of the S&N writers, and from that sprung the Singles Club challenge:

Compile a playlist of songs from artists or albums that you, once upon a time, had some affection for, but which you now can reduce to a single song without ever missing the rest. Continue reading

The Mixologist: You Want The Sun


By Spencer. Last week, we gave you our picks for some of music’s best early summer releases. And staying with the spirit of the season, they were heavy on pop, hip-hop, upbeat rock—you know, fun stuff. This week, we’re back with a monster-sized mix for you, and we’re keeping with that vibe. So enjoy this sampling of synthpop from the likes of Niki & The Dove, Christine And The Queens, Ladyhawke, and Blood Orange; upbeat blues from Margaret Glaspy and Julie Rhodes; breezy acoustic music from Roo Panes, Whitney, Sarah Jarosz, and The Lumineers; and of course, a few random curveballs. You know you want it. Continue reading

The Mixologist: The Road To California

image4By Antony & Spencer. This weekend, three of our S&N contributors got to catch up in person for the first time in years. The occasion was our editor Spencer’s very first trip to California. (Editor’s Note: Yes, I’m writing about myself in the third person, for reasons that will be obvious later). Spencer is very much aware that it is inexcusable for this to have taken so long, especially now that the trip is over and he’s discovered just how much he loves the West Coast lifestyle. After a multi-day tour of Los Angeles that was (unsurprisingly) heavy on Hollywood history, Spencer’s trip gave him the chance to reunite with longtime friends and S&N contributors Mark and Antony over very large beers at San Diego’s Biergarten and Modern Times, where we talked music, dating, parenthood, tacos, and a whole lot more. And in honor of the trip, Antony compiled a little travel music for Spencer—who couldn’t pass up on sharing with the rest of you. (As you can see, these joint postings cause a lot of awkward drafting issues. Don’t complain, you’re getting free music). Continue reading

The Mixologist: Back In The Old Country

By Spencer. A recent article in GQ Magazine profiled three country artists who are shaking up the Nashville establishment: Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, and Sturgill Simpson. We’ve raved about all three on S&N, but the truth is, they’re just the tip of the spear. There are dozens of other songwriters out there defying the cheap conventions of Nashville country. You know what I’m taking about—hokey, jokey, manufactured pop songs about sexy tractors and beer-drinking horses, dressed up in a little steel guitar and just enough contrived twang to appeal to the goatee-wearing NASCAR crowd. It’s this brand of “bro country” that has given the genre a bad name among music lovers, turning a once-thriving strain of quintessentially American art into a punchline (at least outside of the South).

Then came Chris Stapleton, who struck a major blow last year when his album, Traveller, came out of nowhere to sweep the 2015 Country Music Awards—taking down more established (and embarrassing) mainstays like Blake Shelton, Dierks Bentley, Kenny Chesney, and Jason Aldean along the way. It was hailed as a possible turning point for country music after years of decline. Meanwhile, Sturgill Simpson and Jason Isbell have each enjoyed adulation even among the indie rock press for recent albums that re-embraced a truer songwriting and a more faithful devotion to vintage country sounds. Continue reading

The Mixologist: I Will Love The Twenty-First Century


By Antony. So I wrote a rant about the evils of nostalgia and then deleted it. For me, there’s nothing worse than finding myself in a public place and realizing that they’re playing the 90s Nostalgia Channel—or whatever Sirius XM, Beats, or Spotify call their versions. They cater to the walking dead. Those who stopped growing two decades ago. If your music taste has stagnated, I consider that a moral failure. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Fears & Hopes

By Spencer. There’s a somewhat pedestrian album by British one-hit-wonders Keane called Hopes And Fears. And while compiling the tracks for this latest edition of The Mixologist, it occurred to me that Keane got their album title completely backwards. As these eleven songs exploring all the unexpected little complications of love attest, fears often come ahead of hopes. Sure, there are magic hours and maybe even thoughts of diamonds right from the start. But as Miya Folick says, “nothing ever ends the way you thought it would when you started.” And there are all those annoying little questions that start to intrude. Will this end in heartbreak? Is she still afraid of the ghosts of her past? Is he only telling me what I want to hear? Will I end up just another cautionary tale? Is it just dumb to put yourself out there like this? How much is too much? Continue reading

The Year In Music 2015: S&N’s Songs Of 2015

By The S&N Staff. As part of our year-end festivities at S&N, we’ve gotten together and voted on our favorite individual tracks of the year. As with all things, democracy yielded a diversity of opinions! And yet after a couple of rounds of balloting, we all found ourselves gravitating toward the same songs. So check out our Spotify playlist, featuring favorite tracks from Alabama Shakes, Kendrick Lamar, Leon Bridges, Houndmouth, Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment, Courtney Barnett, Jason Isbell, Hop Along, Beach Slang, and plenty more. Special thanks to our friend Hendricks for putting this playlist together. Enjoy, and happy holidays! Continue reading

The Mixologist: Solidarité

paris4By Spencer. I don’t profess to be an expert on French music by any means. But with the events of Friday night, I imagine a lot of us who have visited or lived in Paris can’t help but feel the need for a moment of reflection. The motto of our predecessor site, After The Radio, was “music softens walls”—which is something I’d like to believe now more than ever. And though it seems naive to think that music could ever truly “heal” in the sense that the people of Paris need in these particular days, maybe at least it can soften the pain, if not the walls that lead to tragedies like this. So if you’re in need of a little softening, I hope you’ll take solace in this playlist, featuring landmark French artists like Edith Piaf, Django Reinhardt, Françoise Hardy, Claude Debussy, Daft Punk, Phoenix, and of course the father-and-daughter pair of Serge and Charlotte Gainsbourg—along with a few tributes to the City of Lights from closer to home. And of course we had to include a little parting shot from a certain band whose music will now forever be an act of defiance to those who would try to drag us down into the darkness with them. Liberté, égalité, fraternité, solidarité…. Continue reading

The Mixologist: The Other 80s

By Spencer. When I dared last week to make a statement about what the definitive soundtrack to the 80s should be, I knew I’d be wandering into controversial territory. As Antony pointed out, I set the rules for my list—artists who in my opinion transcended the 80s were immediately disqualified—in a way that shut off all debate. And while dodging debate is never my goal, it’s true that I intentionally focused on a narrow subset of quintessentially 80s music: pop music full of synths and saxophones and sounds we haven’t really heard from the music of any other decade. But I was also quite clear that I was in no way attempting to speak to what the “best” songs of the 80s were.

Meanwhile, Biff pointed out from the flip side of the argument that there were a lot of artists on the forefront of the alternative wave—bands like The Cure and The Smiths and The Pixies—as well as a lot of early hip-hop that I excluded from my list. As he noted, that music defined the 80s for a smaller but hugely important contingent of listeners—making my list somewhat less than “definitive.” Well, today, I’m more than happy to answer their charge with a playlist focusing on the other 80s. Continue reading

The Mixologist: The Definitive 80s

By Spencer. Look, at this point in our internet-fueled lives, we all know that a top 100 list is more useful for provoking arguments than for actually ranking anything. So it’s with great hesitancy that I take the bait here, but a few weeks ago, I came across this list of the top 80s songs from NME, and I just have to protest. New Order’s “Blue Monday” at number one? A top twenty featuring The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, The Pixies, and The Jesus And Mary Chain? I’m not debating the merit of any of these artists. But these are only the best 80s songs when viewed through the lens of the 90s. They’re listed for their influence on future artists, not for their quintessence to their own era. I lived through the 80s, and I can tell you firsthand that these are not the songs I remember when I think of those days. In focusing on artistic quality, NME fundamentally failed to grasp the essence of 80s music. That’s why I’m here to help. Continue reading

The Mixologist: The Good In Goodbye

trainBy Spencer. Maybe it seems strange, after a long hiatus, to say hello to this site again with a mix about goodbyes. But goodbyes aren’t such awful things. They can be the first step in moving on. They can be the first step in coming home. They can take you to beautiful new places or help you leave behind your troubles for a while. They can remind you how much you miss someone. They can remind you never to leave them again. You can say goodbye to people and to places. And sometimes, in the never-ending effort to find yourself, you have to say goodbye to your preconceptions. These are eleven songs about goodbyes: mostly happy ones, maybe a couple of sad ones, but all of them with a purpose. Continue reading

The Mixologist: This Is Your Life

S&N Mix 15By Morgan. Stop waiting until life looks like you imagined, I tell myself. Your life is happening and serving you now, my mother reminds me. Abandon all road maps but the one in your heart. You are no longer on the same route as your peers, so stop trying to want what others want. Listen to the voices that agree with your own sense of what to do next. Worry more, says your ego and the cultural cult of busy and high salaries equating to success. Worry less, says your youthful heart and advice defying intuition. Worry about what matters, says your passion, because each day you put it off is a bet that you will have time and energy for it later on. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Whatever Is Given Can Always Be Reimagined

seamusfelixclay460By Antony. Some people journal. I’ve been known to record my thoughts here and there. But really, I try to channel my energy into projects that aren’t quite confessional. So I make mixes.

I collect songs. The list builds, gets unwieldily and jagged, and then, it begins to emerge. It’s rarely so purposeful as to have a unifying rule or even thematic consistency. It simply sounds right to me today. Continue reading

The Mixologist: This Is Rock

"Rock_and_Cloud,_Kings_River_Canyon_(Proposed_as_a_national_park),"_California,_1936.,_ca._1936_-_NARA_-_519927By Spencer. If you missed last week’s post on whether rock is really dead, then you also missed our surprise, monster-sized, 50-song mix spanning the entire history of rock music. From what many would call the very first rock song (“Rock Around The Clock”) through all the greats—Zep, the Stones, Clapton, Sabbath, the Boss, Aerosmith, Queen, AC/DC, Jon Bon, GNR, Nirvana, Oasis, the White Stripes, and of course, Kiss—this one’s got it all. So whether you like the old stuff or the new stuff, punk or hair metal, grunge or Brit rock, Cobain or Grohl, S&N Mix 7 has something for you. Take a tour of rock history in just under four hours. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Mood Swings

dark_colors_abstract-t2By Spencer. A lot of the mixes we post on The Mixologist aim for some kind of emotional and sonic coherence — a common atmosphere, if you will. This is not one of them. See, one of the powerful things about music is the way it can swing wildly from pole to pole, and in that moment of transition, slap you in the face with a whole new sound or a jarring new feeling. These songs go from hate to apology, from manic to depressive and back again, and some of the fun is being lulled into one mood, only to be hit with its opposite. True masters like St. Vincent and Elbow can even do this within the same track. So embrace the change and listen. Continue reading

The Mixologist: The Forgotten, Vol. 1

Slide526By Spencer. Great bands still make forgettable songs. And forgotten songs, sometimes, can still be pretty damn great. For this edition of The Mixologist, I’m featuring some lesser-known tracks from some of the best bands of the 90s. Some of them were singles that tanked. Some of them were album tracks that were wrongly overshadowed. Some were B-sides that only saw the light of day among the true fanatics. Whatever the case, these are songs that deserve your love, and hopefully when heard in a different context, they’ll get the audience they deserve. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Spin The Bottle

alcohol2By Spencer. Bartenders used to be “bartenders” — now they’re “mixologists.” So it’s appropriate that we devote an edition of The Mixologist to the joys of alcohol.

Like a lot of benders, it starts with a headache (“Hangover”) followed by a rallying cry (“Let’s All Go To The Bar”). There’s tall boys (“Cheap Beer”), hard stuff (“One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer”), bottles of the finest bubbly (“Pink Champagne”), and even a brown bag special (“St. Ides Heaven”). And because it happens to the best of us, it closes with the usual questions (“Why Don’t We Get Drunk And Screw”), consequences (“Too Drunk To Fuck”), accusations (You only kiss me when you’re “Drunk”), and grand exits (“Lived In Bars”). All in all, it’s an entire night out in just sixteen songs. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Summer At Night

Holds_the_sun_in_her_fingersBy Spencer. Summer nights are for dancing past dark, the heat clinging to your skin while the music beats and sways. They’re for driving along the cliffs at sunset, the last shreds of light hugging the horizon. They’re for bonfires on the beach and quiet nights on the patio with a cold beer and the ones you love. They’re for waving your arms side to side and shouting out the words with a few hundred complete strangers.

Summer is finally here, and S&N Mix 2 celebrates with a slew of 2014 releases handpicked for hot, sweaty nights. Continue reading

The Mixologist: Songs About Girls, Vol. 1

heart_blue_wood copyBy Spencer. For our inaugural mix on S&N, we start in the same place as all those mixtapes we used to make back in high school: with a bunch of songs about girls.

Those were the days when a snippet of a lyric so perfectly described the way you felt about someone that you were just sure it was speaking directly to you. And those are the songs that stay with you a lifetime – long after that person you thought you’d never stop loving is just a pleasant memory.

Each of these songs is about someone. And while I include them each with someone particular in mind, the beauty of it is that a couple of them might just spark a memory of your own particular someone?  Continue reading