For me, the 1920s stand out as one of the coolest times to be alive. The music, the parties, the changes in social mores, the fashion, the burgeoning of film and radio. (This is of course, with rose-tinted glasses neglecting the poverty, the subjugation of classes, ethnicities, and women—not to mention the violence brought on by prohibition.) Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby introduces high school English classes everywhere to the roaring twenties and its lavish galas filled with copious amounts of glamour and booze—set to a soundtrack of swinging tunes.
On the other hand, the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby, released this week, gives us a Leo Dicaprio trying his best Paul Newman imitation and an indulgent take on an already-indulgent literary masterpiece. This includes using contemporary music instead of music from the renowned Jazz Age (didn't we learn this was a bad idea from A Knight's Tale?).
To right this terrible wrong, here's a playlist of some of the period's finest. (Sorry Yeezy and Hov, but Bessie Smith makes for a better Jazz Age soundtrack than Watch the Throne does.) You're encouraged to play these songs while watching the trailer or when re-watching episodes of Boardwalk Empire. More bathtub gin please...
Recently, I had the chance to talk with the three amazing women of Grass Widow about their spacey new album ("Spock on Muni" isn't a Star Trek IV reference), Girls Rock Camp (they love it), and getting back on the bike (you have to do it). Check out their excellent record Internal Logic, due on May 29th on their very own HLR Records.
We've all been there—days when the world is out to get you, negative energy is raining down and you don't have an umbrella, or maybe you decided to read the comments section somewhere on the internet (now why did you go and do that?). The next time the bastards are grinding you down, blare this mix to shake 'em off. From pop stars to riot grrls, '60s folk to freak folk, these songs are an antidote to haterade. Track list after the jump—and leave your suggestions in the comments!
First Aid Kit rose to fame after the sisters sent a demo of their song "Tangerine" to a local radio station in Sweden and were promptly signed by Rabid Records. The band's 2008 cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" went viral on YouTube and even got the attention of the Fleet Foxes themselves, who had First Aid Kit perform the song with them at a concert in the Netherlands. Their album The Big Black & The Blue in 2010 put them on tour and got them more exposure in Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, and Australia.
I discovered Naomi Hooley's warm, powerful music a few months ago, when a friend pointed me first to her song "Tornado" and then the album that spawned it, the gorgeous It was a Great October. Her sound is earthy and approachable, and her backstory is the stuff of serendipitous musical legend. My theory is, no matter where you listen to Naomi's music, you will be reminded of home.
This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of THE ROYAL WEDDING (a.k.a. the biggest media frenzy of our lifetimes, a.k.a. the time you stayed up late eating rice cakes tweeting about Pippa Middleton, a.k.a. something you maybe didn't care about but still saw on the news the next day, etc.). In honor of the royal couple's anniversary, I am re-publishing this Royal Wedding Mix I made last year. Listen to it while you defrost that slice of wedding cake you've been saving in your freezer since April 29, 2011. The songs are just as regal as ever!