Tag Archives: Sufjan Stevens

Mid-week Mixtape Redux: Jack Carty

One of the great delights of hosting a radio program like In The Pines is that I get to talk with a lot of musicians about their craft, as well as find out what songs/ artists/ albums make them tick. As a lifelong sufferer of Obsessive Compulsive Song Disorder (that would be – the repeated listening to one song over and over and over and over, so as to get inside and know it and breathe it) I am fascinated to learn the songs that other songwriters have an enduring affection for. With that in mind, I’m reviving a long forgotten but much loved section of the blog that asks songwriters to write about five of their favourite tunes: The Mid-week Mixtape. 
Our first contributor is an impressive young troubadour from Sydney, Australia: Jack Carty. He writes beautiful,  thoughtful folk songs with the slightest hint of country thrown in for good measure. His latest album, Break Your Own Heart is, literally, a heartbreaker. 
Here is Jack performing the album’s title track:
And here is the mix he kindly put together for In The Pines this week. Cue heartbreak (again). 
The Predatory Wasp Of The Palisades Is Out To Get Us! – Sufjan Stevens
I can’t even remember how I found out about Sufjan Stevens. But it was sometime in 2008 or early 2009 and I remember listening to the album Illinois every time I could for the next year solid. I love the instrumentation and the epic scope of the arrangements. It’s bombastic but still classy and so full of feeling. I don’t think there is anywhere on the record that this is is better exhibited than right here… Gotta love the counterpoint.
Left & Leaving – The Weakerthans.
I first heard this song on a live album recorded at The Burton Cummings Theatre in their home town of Winnepeg, Manitoba. It has one of the most biting lyrics I have ever heard and John K Samson’s voice always sounds really sincere to me. He uses amazing imagery to describe his inner and outer environment in a really engaging and moving way. It’s so sad, but so resigned… “I wait in four/four time, count yellow highway lines, that you’re relying on to lead you home” – that line has swum around in my head for days at a time.
Gillian Welch – Wrecking Ball
I love pretty much everything Gillian Welch does. This track has so much attitude (from the sloppily played drums and fuzzbox guitars to the scratchy fiddle soloing in the right channel throughout its entirety) that it would be cool even if it didn’t have one of the best journey(wo)man lyrics I ever heard. She makes it sound easy, like she isn’t even trying, it’d almost be frustrating if it wasn’t so good.
Elliott Smith – Pitseleh
I love the way this song is simultaneously filled with so much sadness and so much love. It drips with doubt, loneliness, pain and an honest, quiet, beautiful affection. I have always loved the way Elliott seems to play the guitar like you would a piano, with a heavy emphasis on a constantly moving and repeated “bass line”  underneath delicate ornamentations on the higher strings. It seems to lend a timeless, almost baroque feel to an already gorgeously timeless and moving sentiment. This song has helped me through a lot.
Bright Eyes – Classic Cars
Connor Oberst’s ultra poetic turn of phrase, Mike Mogis’ guitar flourishes, a rad bass line, Hammond organ, honky-tonk piano, a great story, some questionable backing vocals and most of all those buildups in the chorus! The first time I heard this I listened to it 5 times in a row, the opening stanza of the opening verse had me hooked. It is delicate, angry, political, upbeat and incredibly deep all at once. It’s a classic, man.

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Unpacking The Pines #4: No Rest For The Highly Caffeinated

PART 1: Guests

If you heard tonight’s show on FBi, you were truly blessed. Not because you got to listen to this scattered, over-caffeinated broadcaster as she fumbled her way through two hours of haphazard radio… but because you would have heard the sweet sounds of Chicago folk singer Joe Pug as he leaned gently into the mic and delivered flawless live versions of his songs ‘How Good You Are’ and ‘In The Meantime’.

[INSERT BORROWED VIDEO FOOTAGE HERE! My kingdom for a camera crew…]

Pug’s debut album Messenger is up there with the best folk releases of 2010. He writes beautiful, aching songs that make him sound older and wiser on record than his baby face suggests. Stepping outside the songs, in studio he came across as young, humble and a little bit uncertain, all very endearing traits that inevitable success and years of touring will probably wash away. I am sure we’ll all hear a lot more of this troubadour in years to come, just as I am sure that as his star rises and his confidence blossoms, we’ll remember how fresh and sweet he was back on In The Pines.

Joe Pug is playing two shows in Sydney this week. The first is Wednesday November 17 at Red Rattler in Marrickville. The second is Thursday November 18 Raval in the CBD. Go along, check him out, thank me later.

PART 2: Think Global, Gigs Local

Now, just in time for the Annual Load Up On Credit Purchases In The Name Of Baby Jesus Season, we also have the Load Up On Festival Tickets In The Name Of Having A Fucking Awesome Summer Season to contend with. Tickets for Sydney Festival shows went on sale this week, and punters went nuts accordingly. Tonight I played Sufjan Stevens, who is playing two sold out (already, crazy, huh?) shows at the Sydney Opera House on January 27 and January 28. His latest release The Age Of Adz has divided fans. It’s a much bleaker affair than Illinois and uses heavy orchestration and glitchy tech-head production that you will either love or hate. Me? Well, ‘I Walked’ is my latest walking song, so I guess I’m with the yeasayers.

Part 3: Emma’s An Idiot, Episode 412

At some point in every Pines I try to address the requests of the show’s dedicated listeners, who are kind enough to send in their requests. I love requests because they help distract me from the manic mayhem of my own programming and let others take over the airwaves one song at a time. But requests are not without challenges! The first challenge, is that the FBi library is only seven years old and has a very limited selection of classics. The second challenge, is that my laptop iTunes is currently nourished on a strict diet of country music released between 1965 and 1975, and albums made in the last two years. The third and most difficult challenge, well… my dedication to delivery is stronger than my ability to multitask. So tonight, against my better judgement and at the risk of breathless, frantic mic breaks and dubious links between tracks, I played Joni Mitchell’s ‘Coyote’, which I hastily downloaded while on-air from a *reputable* source and burnt to disc.

After playing the song, I revealed my rather dubious reason for liking Joni Mitchell: she dumped Graham Nash via fax. Faster than the speed of sound was the Facebook message from fellow broadcaster, Stuart Coupe.

“Couldn’t dump by fax in those days – telex maybe!!!”

And of course Stuart’s right and my poor beer sodden brain had filed away the story as though Joni time-travelled just to break Nash’s heart in the most futuristic way possible.

I need a disclaimer for this show sometimes – “FBi 94.5 would like to warn In The Pines listeners that while Emma Swift is a passionate broadcaster with a deep love of folk/anti-folk/americana & alt country, sometimes the poor dear has no idea what she’s talking about”.

So now that I’ve acknowledged my knowledge is sketchy at the best of times, I’ll add that I have it on reasonable authority (Google) that Nash’s ‘Better Days’ is about the break up. But I could be (read: probably am) hugely mistaken. It could be about an epic fight the CSNYer had with David Crosby one night about who had a better moustache.

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