Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Elliott Smith's Heatmiser Work and the Subliminality of Masculine Conformity


I never really listened to Elliott Smith's work with his previous band, Heatmiser, until recently. Having the misfortune of once randomly putting on a song from their debut album, Dead Air, and sitting uncomfortably through the bombast of sludge, fuzz, and hoarse, croaking yawps, I sighed, rolled my eyes a little and turned back to Either/Or to cleanse my palette. When I heard the Heatmiser version of "Half Right," from their third and last album, Mic City Sons, I was thoroughly befuddled. It was a slightly jazzed up, full band version of my favorite sombre acoustic song on New Moon, a posthumous Elliott Smith rarities compilation. The experience made me want to cobble together Elliott's contributions to the band into a mixtape that could be like a faux extra Elliott album, because I'm that obsessed. Yet, listening to those albums and reading about his past, got me thinking about gender roles.

I did actually make the mix. To get an idea for how drastically Elliott's style evolved, compare the streamed playlist below the jump with any track from Dead Air, such as "Still" for example.

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Thursday, January 28, 2016

Best Song from Elliott Smith Heaven Adores You Documentary


An amazing song from the documentary Heaven Adores You. The soundtrack is out soon with unreleased songs on it and it's streaming now on NPR here.

The soundtrack is alright, but check out my collections of rarities and unreleased Elliott Smith songs that are organized so that you can pretend they're real albums here: Two "New" Elliott Smith Albums: "A Shot of White Noise" and "Violent Girl."


"I Love My Room"

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Friday, January 22, 2016

The Color Bar Fetish -- Two "New" Elliott Smith Albums :: A Shot of White Noise & Violent Girl


The idea behind these two compilations was to try to create two albums that could feasibly be like actual Elliott Smith releases. The first record, A Shot of White Noise, is more acoustic and the second, Violent Girl, features compositions with more instruments and usually electric guitar. Two juxtaposing mixes to capture Elliott's juxtaposing natures. Read more about that idea below and in my post about Heatmiser, which can be found here.

All of these songs (except for "Flowers for Charlie" and "You Make it Seem Like Nothing") are on the dense collection easily found floating around the internet called Grand Mal. This post was mostly a curation experiment, so, sorry if you're a big Elliott fan and you were looking for newly unearthed songs. I wanted to gather together decent-enough-quality versions of non-album material into "new" releases that weren't bogged down in scratchy and blippy demos, instrumentals that aren't typically on Elliott Smith albums, or pocket quality live versions. I wanted to have a digital disk that you could spin and listen to and have a similar type of experience that you have listening to any of Elliott's other albums.

Mostly so I could sort of have the experience of listening to Either/Or again, for the first time.


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Friday, January 22, 2016

Elliott Smith Rarities Archive - The Moon is a Sickle Cell


Elliott Smith fans have had a rarities collection available for download for a long while called Grand Mal and it has circulated quite well in fan communities. There is now a collection, called The Moon is a Sickle Cell, which includes material that isn't on Grand Mal as well as live versions, and all of the songs are as faithful as possible for leaks.

Whoever made Grand Mal took the (probably painstaking) time to edit the files, either when it was first compiled or when it was "re-released" in 2012. They most likely had the admirable aspiration to try to increase the quality of the mp3s. Unfortunately however, some of the treatments they applied actually did the opposite. For example, they applied noise reduction to tracks with a lot of white noise and the result is that there are digital artifacts left in the songs. The best way to reduce noise is to have access to the source material, and applying it afterwards more often than not corrupts the material. There's nothing wrong with a little white noise. Additionally, the tracks were cut, mostly to remove stray seconds of silence, but in some instances instrumentation was also removed.

Until someone can access the original recordings and make a proper release (which all fans wish would happen, but it seems less likely with every year that passes), the ambition of this thing that we're going to call an "archive" is to preserve a record of the tracks that aren't on Elliott's official releases. This includes information about where and when the songs were recorded and what releases they hay have appeared on. The track listing on Grand Mal was completely random, so here, the songs are organized chronologically, with unreleased songs and b-sides first and then alternate released versions.

The archive also includes unreleased songs that Elliott performed live, some which were on the fan curated Confusion collection (and some that were not), as well as alternate acoustic or electric live alternate versions of album songs. There have also been a few leaks and releases since 2012, such as on the soundtrack for the documentary film Heaven Adores You, and those tracks have been included in this archive as well.

In addition, anything that was an "alternate mix" has been left off of this archive. A lot of these tracks are the same songs that appear on the albums, but just haven't been mastered. They don't bring anything new and the only thing that differentiates them from the album is a muddier sound and terrible captured quality. The idea behind this archive is to present the listener that's only just devoured Elliott's discography with unheard, unreleased material.

If you'd like to hear two "best of the box" mixes--two collections of only unreleased and b-side studio(ish) quality songs, check out this post here.

If you'd like to hear a mix of Elliott's work with his first band, Heatmiser, check out this post here.

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Saturday, December 19, 2015