I met Brendan rather randomly outside of a club a couple of years ago. He was in Vancouver shooting the AMC show “The Killing”; I was hopping around to gigs and parties with friends. They wondered where to go, we showed them the way. Then I found out he was an accomplished actor, which was cool. Even cooler though was his very apparent love and knowledge of music. He knew some of the people I knew in LA, and, growing up in NY in the mid 90s, had impeccable taste in Hip Hop. We’d hang out in Vancouver, and when I headed to LA he’d be at the parties. We did the Tall Tales podcast together, to rather hilarious results. He told me stories about a 13 year old Lil Wayne playing lookout on the block. Plus he was working on an unofficial video for RPA & The United Nations of Sound. Sadly, that video never came together, but it remains one of the tracks Brendan put me onto. It’s so appreciated, and incredibly rare that anyone sends me music I didn’t previously know about. Most of this playlist was new to me, and it absolutely floored me. I’ve played it so many times, it sounds like an album. In fact, when he sent me this, the idea for Sweet Sixteen came to me. We had to showcase the Main Course crew first, but I was certain his would be the first guest playlist we offered. I hope you love it as much as I do. And, for the record, I certainly realise and appreciate the beautiful irony of having “the kid caught stealing records” from Empire Records now returning the favour to the world with this amazing playlist. Take it away Brendan!
Sweet Sixteen 004 Brendan Sexton III (Like A Flower)
This is the part of the blog where I knowingly take up too much of your time, but like MJ, I can’t help it if I wanted to. This is my opportunity to over-explain my song choices and potentially reduce their majesty to rubble via excessive left-brain focus.
In the summer of 2010, I wrote a screenplay for a short film about a down on his luck hopeless romantic creep that steals flowers from a cemetery for financial and romantic gain. This playlist was first designed in 2010 as a tone-piece, or mood-setter for that short. A year later in the spring of 2011 the playlist was complete and by chance just happened to be 16 songs. In all its Armand Van Helden-inspired glory, I give you, Like A Flower
[DL] Sweet Sixteen 004 Brendan Sexton III (ZIP FILE)
1.Alexis Taylor – Coming Up
Alexis Taylor from Hot Chip covering a Paul McCartney disco jam. For The Win.
2. Greg Oblivian – Bad Man
I love the lo-fi, acoustic nature of this version. The Oblivians’ original is probably better, but not appropriate for these here purposes.
3. Big Star – Femme Fatale
First three tracks: all covers. I think Alex Chilton had just passed away when I made this mix, so the inclusion of this was appropriate. After playing this for a friend once he said, “You can’t out-heroin Lou Reed.” but Alex Chilton on this take gets pretty damn close.
4. The Umpteens (Don Lennon) – Party All The Time (Seems Like There’s A Party Everyday)
A friend of mine who I’ve known since ’98 emailed this to me one late-night. Ala Method Man: He know my steeeeez.
5. Cooley Munson – Sightly Sue
Here’s an unnecessarily long story: Some good friends tried to hook me up with a girl I had a crush on from afar, but up close I lost interest. With the mindset of practice making progress, I decided to (clumsily) pursue it anyway. We hung out five or six times and I eventually started to catch feelings. After I expressed those feelings she decided she wasn’t interested. We both dodged one when we decided – that with our mutual love of doo wop and appreciation for the the bigger questions of life – to just be friends. In the early days of our friendship-phase she left town, but not before handing me a mix containing this song. Go her.
6. The Summer of Flux- Rad Math
A gem. On first listen, it reminded me of Love On A Real Train. I knew upon hearing this I had to have it in my short-film and I finally got Stephen Ruiz from The S.O.F. on the phone and we made it happen. One of my prouder moments in watching the short is seeing how this song recurs almost like a theme, as if it was score. With this track in the whip on CD-R I just couldn’t stop thinking in montage, picturing wet asphalt and streaking lights as I drove around in my car nicknamed Orlando; a great sight. (Yes, I named my car after a dude – long story)
Stephen and I might start a band together. If it comes into fruition I want it to be a surprise, so I won’t leak any other details. Stay tuned.
7. Roxy Music – More Than This
I know, post-Brian Eno Roxy Music; so uncool. Wrong; this song is tough. Folks are more inclined to reference a tune like TalkTalk’s “It’s My Life” while I feel like this has way more morose-dream-pop-crossover appeal. Maybe this song gets lost in the pantheon of 80′s dream-popish hits because all the covers of (more than) this sucked palm tree nuts, but it deserves its due.
Ending with a two-minute instrumental, this. Song. Is. Hard. The only pop song I can think of that does something similar is “Lady” by D’Angelo (and Raphael Saadiq). The last few minutes of both are just straight sex, no music just sex. I mean straight as in on point as opposed to hetero. In the studio I can see Saadiq turn to the engineer, “Do you mind turning up the sex?”
8. Primal Scream – Keep Your Dreams
A friend of mine put me on to this. Bobby Gillespie’s lyrics of forgiveness and acceptance paint a beautiful picture of what it’s like to finally be “clean” and free and moving on, while they simultaneously are a love-letter to shooting junk and wanting to escape the pressures of life. While from Primal Scream’s very popular, Xtrmntr, I feel like this song too doesn’t get enough burn. Folks are more quick to reference the political, but musically boring single, “Swastika Eyes” – belch. This is so well-composed and richly produced. Life is absurd.
9. New Order – Vicious Streak
A banger. I’ve yet to hear this dropped at any Joy Division/New Order/Factory Records night. Maybe because this song is from when they were on London? Doesn’t matter, this song bangs. I’m sure there’s a dope remix of this somewhere. The artwork on this album cover kills and reminds me of a certain someone – we shared a crush, but did nothing with it. One summer I went on a serious “Electronic” bender, but that’s another story. Bernard Sumner – he kinda wins.
10. Dominant Legs – About My Girls (demo)
I saw Girls one year at Coachella and was surprised to find Ryan Lynch on stage playing guitar – I geeked out. Later that night I met a founder of True Panther Sounds and talked his ear off about Ryan and although he previewed me some of the Dominant Legs EP, dude was not amused. This lo-fi version has always been my favorite.
11. Twin Sister – Lady Daydream
I think this song had been on the blogs two weeks when I played this for a girl in my car, driving up the California coast. She was hip to it; Points. A few days later I saw said girl’s breasts.
12. Sam Prekop – So Shy
This song made a friend of mine want to play music, meaning this song moves mountains. I always want to cry when I hear this song, but never do. Perfect come-down music. Peep the Lou Reed-inspired strings at the end. Jim O’Rourke on production.
13. Girls – Hellhole Ratrace
When my best friend first emailed me this song it was (mistakenly?) titled “hellhole retrace” with an e. Around this time I was listening to a lot of “Africa” by D’Angelo because my car stereo doesn’t handle ‘bottoms’ very well and I just loved the way the song would fuzz from the backseat. Same with Hellhole.
14. The Manhattans – Follow Your Heart
I never met a problem an ex-girlfriend couldn’t fix. I was talking to an ex on the phone and she told me to follow my heart and go after a girl, so I did. Worst. Advice. Ever. I kid, but not really. This song is Tough.
15. D’Angelo – One Mo’gin
Third D’angelo reference in this post. This is a song about pining for the touch of your estranged lover’s lips for yet another “first” kiss. It’s about that ache and thirst.
16. Cass McCombs – County Line
A young woman I know from LA emailed me a link to this song in the spring of 2011 when I was working in Vancouver. During that Canadian-spring I was trying to convince Peter Scanavino (one of my favorite young actors) to be in my film right around the release of this single. This playlist was made to help set an emotional tone for people working on the film and this jam seemed so appropriate, as this song very quickly became one of those that I listened to repeatedly for months on end, so I attached it to the end of the CD-R I sent Peter, thus we have 16 tracks. Happy Sweet Sixteen and thank you for your time; you’re beautiful and I love you.
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What is Sweet Sixteen? Read more about the series here.