The National

Got It Covered / A Few Of My Favorite Things…(Best Covers of 2011)

By Bekah Touma

The New Year is always exciting for me. I love to look back and make lists of some of my favorites of the previous year. It has been a ritual of mine for a while as a way to keep a nostalgic record of the years. Music is obviously a big part of how I experience life.  A favorite covers list is actually something I had yet to do until now, but I already feel that it’s going to be a necessity moving forward. That said, this was an extremely difficult process.  After a couple weeks (or a few months) of repeatedly listening to hundreds of tracks, I was able to narrow my engorged list down to 15.  Here they are below in no particular order – to rank them would have delayed this article until the Spring:

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Guest Mixtape + Interview / Vanaprasta: Songs from Bands Who Have Thumped Our Skulls Live

By Amanda DK

Photo Credit: Dylan Bell

It’s no big secret that artists need to have solid live show to be successful. Similarly, it’s always a disappointment when a great album does not translate to a dynamic live show.Los Angeles quintet Vanaprasta does not have that issue.  For the past few years the band has built a strong reputation almost entirely by their larger than life stage presence. They are a fixture on the music scene here, turning heads at the Sunset Strip Music Festival in 2010 and impressing audiences at their Satellite residency this past November. Nor are they strangers to the national arena; Vanaprasta made waves at this year’s CMJ Festival and have played at least a couple shows at every SXSW since 2009, really taking the festival by storm in 2011 with a total of eight shows during their time in Austin.
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Guest Mixtape + Interview / Picture Atlantic: 22 Going on 40 – The Soundtrack of Growing Up

Photo credit: Future Sounds

Like certain music blogs or labels, we all have those friends that we can turn to for a good band recommendation.  More often than not, when those people tell you that a band is good – they are right.  That is precisely how I became acquainted with Bay Area indie rockers, Picture Atlantic.  Somewhere between winding down from a California tour this past August and pushing through the final stages of a brand new EP titled When Everything Is Numbers, band members Nik Bartunek and Ryan Blair were able to put together a gut squirming mixtape definitely evocative of their own raw, emotive sound.  In it they reflect on the tricky part of growing up that I like to call “freshman year of life.”  Rather than elaborate myself, I’ll let Nik and Ryan explain what they’ve called “22 Going On 40 – The Soundtrack For Growing Up.” And make sure to check out a couple of Picture Atlantic’s own tunes at the end of the article – a free download of “Muses” as well as a track off their new EP!

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Guest Mixtape + Interview / Marvelous Toy: WAKE UP!

After catching their killer show at Spaceland a few months ago with Solid Gold, I just had to learn more about East LA band, Marvelous Toy. One thing led to another and soon I was in touch with Jordan Hudock, the braintrust of the band. I caught up with him for a couple tasty beers at El Prado to chat about his mixtape “WAKE UP!” and got some local tips along the way…

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TA Mixtape / Road Trippin: Criss-Crossing The USA

by Mitch Campbell

Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo, TX

Most of us can still remember those days when we were young tots (tadpoles!) buckling up for the seven-hour nightmare of a drive with our family and any mysterious body odors they chose to bring along with them.  Sure, road trips can be miserable…  if you want them to.  But that was not the case in my recent criss-crossing of this country from LA to NYC.  I strapped on an optimistic, eager attitude towards some good-ol’-Lewis-and-Clark-style exploration and packed up my VW Jetta (she’s my lil’ Sacagawea) with one personal challenge in mind:  to conquer the southern United States by simply driving through it.  Ambitious, I know, but that’s how old-school explorers operate.  So without further ado, I hereby claim this Tadpole Audio guest mixtape mine in the name of music-loving travelers everywhere!

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