April 18, 2011

Used Hearts / Fresh Starts :: The Fuel/Friends Springtime 2011 Mix

I rode my bike to work this morning against the winds, and noticed a yellow crocus has bloomed in my front yard since I last looked. Pretty soon I will plant my garden, and for the first time in a long time last week I fell asleep with the window opened to the sound of warm rain.

For all the pristine icy clean of winter, the hearth of a fire, the months for introspection, I am thrilled at the thaw. I’ve been squirreling away songs for this spring mix since January, in an act of hope that warmer days were indeed on the horizon. For most of us, those days are here (in fits and starts, but trying and that’s what counts).

I’ve put together a mix of the fresh bright music that is soundtracking my season. Lots of new stuff, lots of aural joy and hope for regrowth. Let’s relish what we have.


Born With A Broken Heart – David Wax Museum
The title for this mix gets its namesake from Boston’s David Wax Museum, when they sing here that “some of us come with new hearts; most of us come with used hearts / baby why do you look so sad?.” Against a shiny cavalcade of mariachi-worthy brass and handclaps, this is an assertion that our used hearts can do just fine together in the new year.

Look Good In Leather – Cody Chestnutt
Track two here was chosen because every season needs at least one song that you have to dance to whenever it comes on. Cody offers us a secret for the springtime, it seems — looking good in leather (who knew), and superb albums like The Headphone Masterpiece, which I just discovered about nine years late. Heck. So. good.

CPR – Claws Part 2 – Typhoon
The entire new album from Portland’s Typhoon may be the most perfect spring soundtrack ever; definitely on heavy rotation this month. This melodic, orchestral song weaves and builds slowly (over handclaps!), telling the story of one who sold everything that they didn’t want, and what they couldn’t sell they gave away. It’s part of why Craigslist is so popular in the springtime (well, that and Missed Connections, obv).

Yer Spring – Hey Rosetta!
This song starts quietly restrained, the “fucking around in the dark,” as they sing. It ends with rising up, and the explosive redemption of a full choir, like you walked into a cathedral and they were all singing for you. Reminiscent of fellow Canadians Arcade Fire, but with their own dazzling wash of color and joy.

Crop Circles Plus Legs – Like Pioneers
Clocking in at under two minutes, this primal song from Chicago’s Like Pioneers gives me what I want, and then stops before I’m sated. Sometimes it is good to be left hanging.

I’ll Be Around (feat Timbaland) – Cee-Lo
Earlier this year, Nick Hornby sent me this song as part of a delectable mix that’s way funkier than I claim to be capable of, when left to my own devices. I was walking around Minneapolis when I first listened to the opening lyrics here, and not only did I yelp out loud, I decided it was one of the greatest rhymes/opening lines ever penned. This song is also very good for the seasonal dancing and/or strutting.

Everyday – Vetiver
Simply put, one of the sunniest damn songs ever recorded.

Awake My Soul / Réveille mon âme – Mumford & Sons
Last summer after the splendor of Telluride, I discovered this humble French version of “Awake My Soul,” in a blooming Parisian courtyard. Since spring is about awakening, this works for me on the mix, x1000.

Bright Lit Blue Skies – Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti
I love how this Ariel Pink song sounds like it could soundtrack a groovy chase scene in a late Sixties episode of Batman. Bam! Pow!

Beautiful Lie – Ivan & Alyosha
Seattle’s Ivan & Alyosha wowed me at SXSW, and weave a slightly psychedelic pop sound that reminds me of Cotton Mather, a very good thing.

The World’s Greatest (R. Kelly cover) – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
I can’t stop listening to this cover lately; I am including it mostly because of the lyric about “I’m that little bit of hope, with my back against the ropes.” That’s a perfect metaphor for Spring, ain’t it?

The Last of the Melting Snow – The Leisure Society

Simple Girl – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr
Spring needs whistling.

Are You Lightning? – Nada Surf
One of the best things about spring is the colossal thunder and lightning storms. Meteorological craziness, unhinged and beautiful and free. From my favorite Nada Surf album, this gorgeous gem asks “Are you lightning? Cuz I’m waiting.” This song (and this album) will forever remind me of the timid, terrifying beauty in new starts.

Cuyahoga (R.E.M. cover) – The Decemberists
The Decemberists take on one of my favorite old R.E.M. songs in the studio at KCRW, an ode to skinned knees and river beds, with a jangle that feels just right.

Tear The Fences Down – Eulogies
From their new album by the same name, Eulogies sing here about “Colorado snow, just a memory.” We know it’s returning by October, but for now let’s focus on the new green growing things.

Oslo Campfire – Port O’Brien
There’s a hazy nordic ebb throughout this Port O’Brien song that seemed to fit on this mix. I have a firepit outside my house, and this spring I am dedicated to the idea of using it more often. I love the smell of campfires, even moreso the next morning when my hair still smells like it.

No Time for Dreaming – Charles Bradley
For many of us, the freshness of spring is the perfect time for dreamin’. 62-year-old Brooklyn cook-turned-soul-singer Charles Bradley has no time for that, he sings. Why? Because he’s gotta get on up and do his thing. Fair enough, Charles. Totally fair use of springtime.

Golden State – Delta Spirit

This one’s in here because a) Delta Spirit’s new album rocks and b) it’s a piano-pounding homage to my home state, where springtime doesn’t just arrive, it explodes. “These roads stretch a thousand miles…” and I want to see all of them.

Early Morning Rain (Gordon Lightfoot) – Paul Weller
Rain, rain, rain. I love everything about it, especially the smell. In Colorado we really only see rain in the springtime and then pretty much every afternoon in July. Weller’s voice here is so rich, as he sings of early morning rain, airplanes, travel, and pinging around far from home. After a busy spring of travel, this is a song I’ve listened to dozens of times in the past weeks, usually while I’m waiting on an airplane to take off.

Snow Is Gone – Josh Ritter
I have to close with this song; have to. It is the quintessential springtime song. There’s a live version from 2003 of Josh doing this song on KCRW, and he introduces it by explaining that it is “about how you’re rooting for spring as the home team.” Sometimes I listen to this in the cold months, just to remind me what’s coming, and what’s now here.

Winter’s over, be my darling.


[huge thanks to Ryan Hollingsworth for the rad cover design (!), based on an image from Matthias Heiderich]


  • Once again, HPB, you’ve made my entire season. Happy Springing!

    John Barber — April 18, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  • Post the live version of Josh Ritter! The thought of him explaining it like that is too tantalizing not to hear!!!

    JL — April 18, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  • I love this time of year! No, not spring (well I love that too), new Fuel/Friends Mix time!
    A little boast: I saw Josh Ritter live last week. What a man :-) Unfortunately he didn’t play Snow Is Gone, the song that introduced me to him when a very good friend included on a mix tape for me. For what it’s worth, I put Stuck On You (hidden track from his S/T) on a mix tape I made for the same friend for her recent trip to Japan.

    Dave — April 18, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  • The fact that Nick Hornby sent you a mix is impossibly cool.

    That Cee Lo song might have made me the object of a few glances around the office, as the amount of in-chair dancing that was happening was approaching the ‘epic’ level if I do say so myself.

    Fantastic job Heather. Your abilities at mix making are most assuradly not inconspicuous.

    Adam — April 18, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  • Hooray! Can’t wait to imbibe this! Somehow we have none of the same songs on our Spring Mixes – and only one of the same artists (Josh, natch). Thanks!

    ForTheShorties — April 18, 2011 @ 2:54 pm

  • I loved this mix. Many of these I had not heard before and it was brightening my room through my speakers. thanks again.

    sarah sample — April 18, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

  • So happy to see Hey Rosetta! on there. Their new album Seeds is just fabulous.

    Alanna — April 18, 2011 @ 4:03 pm

  • I love this mix, it’s just too bad I did not get to experience a Spring this year. Texas went from having one of the coldest and snowiest winters in over 20 years to having 100 plus degree temps in mid-April.

    Jon-Michael — April 18, 2011 @ 4:26 pm

  • Yesss! I’ve been waiting for a new mix! Thank you!

    Mary Ann — April 18, 2011 @ 5:40 pm

  • as a huge fan of Nick Hornby I am dying to know more about the mix he put together…please share details…
    I love this Spring mix too it is incredible! Thanks for putting it together!

    Gironin — April 18, 2011 @ 5:50 pm

  • Heather, so glad you got a chance to listen to DWM and enjoyed. Broken Heart is such a great song to kick off the mix…and Snow Is gone to close, awesome, thank you!

    Mike — April 18, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

  • yes, the nick hornby mix?can you share?I loved songbook.

    melissa — April 18, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  • agreed on the Vetiver song!!..big fan of David Wax Museum-heard The Low Anthem cover them a few months back….their song ‘Beekeeper’ would be a fine addition to any spring mix. Great collection of songs, thanks!

    billy — April 18, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

  • How did I end up here? That is like so weird.

    Georgie — April 18, 2011 @ 11:04 pm

  • Nice one!
    I’ve made a Spotify-playlist of it, only missing two songs. Enjoy! spotify:user:markvdrheijden:playlist:1V5rkdyEqjrnCGMfNqBsLC

    Mark — April 19, 2011 @ 2:49 am

  • Thanks for another great mix!

    In other news, I’m sure you’ve heard of Jennifer Egan’s _A Visit from the Goon Squad_, especially after it won the Pulitzer this morning. In an award more my style, she beat out Franzen’s _Freedom_ by one vote in the Morning News Tournament of Books. After reading your review of _Freedom_, I think the Internets would enjoy your take on _Goon Squad_. You’ll definitely like it and its topic fits the blog perfectly.

    Jeremy — April 19, 2011 @ 6:56 am

  • this is a perfect list, my favorites tied up once again

    Torque Wrench — April 19, 2011 @ 9:18 am

  • I’ve been waiting for this mix for 3 weeks now. We’re still getting snow in Michigan and I needed this to let me know Spring is finally going to be sprung.

    toney — April 19, 2011 @ 2:05 pm

  • How about sharing the Hornby mix?

    john — April 19, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

  • So glad to see Hey Rosetta! getting exposure off our island in the sea. Great band, great song. And another EPIC playlist Heather.

    A-Mo — April 20, 2011 @ 7:37 am

  • David Wax Museum has been nominated for the 2011 Boston Phoenix/WFNX Best Music Poll, our annual readers’ poll – and the only democratic music awards in New England.

    The voting will run until May 12th.


    Click on the “embed” links below and add to your facebook, myspace, blog, etc…

    Don’t forget to tell your friends!


    Feel free to give us a shout at bmp@phx.com.

    Le — April 20, 2011 @ 11:08 am

  • if you were interested in hearing/substituting out the live version of “Snow is Gone” from KCRW that I mentioned in the post (rooting for Spring as the home team), here it is:

    browneheather — April 20, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  • Thanks for the Ritter link!

    It is so great to hear that meatphor for spring right at the start of baseball season… Ritter is always so effervescent and enthusiastic. I never quite thought about it in that lovely collective language – we’re all rooting for spring!

    IN an amusing aside, I played the live version for the boyfriend today (also a Ritter fan) and he perked up and said ‘Hey – he’s singing about actual *Birds* isn’t he? I always thought he meant women!’

    JL — April 21, 2011 @ 6:47 pm

  • Thanks again Heather; now I have a reason to go on with my life this Spring.

    Capski Buttinski — April 21, 2011 @ 8:10 pm

  • Heather, this is awesome as always! Thank you.

    I find it endlessly fascinating how different people interpret and experience the seasons and how those experiences go into a mix (which is why I also love the blurbs you write for each song). What screams springtime to one might not to another — which is what makes it so fun!

    AngelHeadedHipster — April 23, 2011 @ 8:23 am

  • Heather, I absolutely love this mix. I think it might be your best one yet!!!

    carolyn — April 23, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  • ¡Muchísimas gracias por las canciones! Great to see David Wax Museum on the mix! I bought the album after seeing their Tiny Desk Concert on NPR. Any band that features a donkey jawbone as percussive instrument is okay by me.

    As always, thanks for sharing so generously your love of music and your thoughts on it.

    Anne V. — April 24, 2011 @ 8:25 pm

  • Hooray, a new mix! Can’t wait to give it a listen. Now if only it would start looking like spring around here….

    Marisa — April 29, 2011 @ 12:35 am

  • kisses and hugs from your biggest GA aficionado. Another fabulous mix. Doesn’t Bonnie Prince Billie make you swoon? Down here, there are about three days in early spring where the air smells like cantaloupe and fresh cut grass. This is the perfect complement to that slice of spring. Gracias Amiga!

    Kris — May 3, 2011 @ 11:02 am

  • [...] when I scrolled down the tracklist and saw a bunch of my favourites.  Here is the link to the Springtime Playlist as well as the mp3′s below for your listening/downloading [...]

    Spring Playlist – I AM FUEL, YOU ARE FRIENDS « The Meatysauce Review — May 11, 2011 @ 9:35 pm

  • so so so great. makes me happy. =] thank you!

    kenzie — May 16, 2011 @ 11:20 pm

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Bio Pic Name: Heather Browne
Location: Colorado, originally by way of California
Giving context to the torrent since 2005.

"I love the relationship that anyone has with music: because there's something in us that is beyond the reach of words, something that eludes and defies our best attempts to spit it out. It's the best part of us, probably, the richest and strangest part..."
—Nick Hornby, Songbook
"Music has always been a matter of energy to me, a question of Fuel. Sentimental people call it Inspiration, but what they really mean is Fuel."
—Hunter S. Thompson

Mp3s are for sampling purposes, kinda like when they give you the cheese cube at Costco, knowing that you'll often go home with having bought the whole 7 lb. spiced Brie log. They are left up for a limited time. If you LIKE the music, go and support these artists, buy their schwag, go to their concerts, purchase their CDs/records and tell all your friends. Rock on.

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