Analog wonders: Cool kids still mixing tapes

Mix Tape #1
Compiled by Kornhauser, Purdy, and Fritz

The mix tape, that savior of long car rides, defender of the single, and final cementer of nascent hip love, has not had a smooth ride of late.

With the ease of burning mix CD's-­ choose the track list, then up, up, and away-­ analog love letters are, at least in some circles, passé. Making a music mix no longer requires the time, conviction, fortitude, and ability to press the play and record buttons together, at exactly the same time, to bring a new sonic life into the world.

But with the ease of digital, something has been lost.

Perhaps it's the devotion required to create a Maxell masterpiece-­ if the tape is 60 minutes long, and you want to fill all of it, you've got to devote at least 60 minutes to its creation. Maybe it's the lure of analog, something about that hiss and distortion, where a kind of lo-fi Zen is achieved. I don't know, and I don't want to know– I just know that the world gets less cool every year as fewer mix tapes are produced.

Mix Tape, a sort of analog zine from locals Shawn Kornhauser, Jay Purdy, and Max Fritz (the latter two form one half of neo-new wavers Ted Stryker's Drinking Problem) is, at least in my book, an attempt to stave off the large magnet of time. Their plan is simple-­ every few months produce a mix tape, with all songs on a central theme.

Though the new issue (#1) features songs all picked by the tape's creators, the following issues will have songs submitted by anyone who wants to. Maybe the project will be a kind of community builder, making tape trading return from its imposed exile; maybe it'll be a conversation stimulator, leading to people meeting who would not have otherwise had the opportunity, or the will; maybe it'll just make for a good car ride or two.

Mix Tape Issue #1 begins with "11th Street" by the L.A. pop/rock band Open Hand. High volume guitar riffs and catchy backup vocals set the scene for a story of love gone astray, with an uncharacteristically haunting melody. Tom Waits' "Rain Dogs" is next-­ a tune of lurching simplicity and songwriting virtuosity.

Gainsville's Army of Ponch's "Foil Monkeys or Bread Monkeys, Either One" provides a nice reprieve in the middle of side one-­ soft acoustic strumming, slide guitar, and the "have you forgotten how to love yourself" coda. Tokyo ska-punk band Potshot's brief instrumental "#3" leads flawlessly into Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong's "Autumn in New York," which, with its sleepy waltz time piano, is definitely one of the better attempts at capturing a season.

Some of the songs on Issue #1 are obviously about autumn, and some simply have the feel of wind and leaves, of solitary walks, and change.

Write, get a copy for yourself, and fight the downfall of cool in America.

Mix Tape #1