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Jason McDowell is also known as Little Tiny Fish. He is the Creative Director for OnMilwaukee. Occasionally he freelances. Mostly he rides bikes.

littletinyfish.com is not a cohesive blog, but a repository of musings on an assortment of topics, such as design, art, cycling, Milwaukee, and other personal experiences.

I haven’t put together a mix since Muxtape was shut down months ago. I’m still hurting from that one. I’ve also been a bit out of the creative loop lately, producing very little of any substantial quality. That, however, is about to change. The last few weeks have seen a new creative burst of energy and with the end of the holiday glut and the onset of a gloomy winter, it couldn’t come too soon.

The first fruits of the new burst of creativity includes this new mix. Granted the only amount of creativity that went into it was merely arranging the music in a pleasing manner, but it may be one of my most diverse mixes yet. It travels between a little hip hop, a little folk, a little fuzz, and a little punk. It doesn’t dwell on any one genre for too long before it’s off to another song.

1

k–os – Emcee Murdah
This guy has a beautiful voice and mixed together with those violin tracks, which feel like two elements operating separately. It is powerful without being overstated. k–os laments that hip– isn’t dead, but the minds of those who currently practice.

2

Dokkemand – Lapp
This is Norwegian folktronica in the same vein of Ratatat and Múm. This was the last track I added to the album, and I’m not entirely sure if it’s supposed to be in here, so what more appropriate place than the second track of the mix? It’s quiet and cool and manages to find some interesting experimentation further into the album.

3

“Blue” Gene Tyranny – Next Time Might Be Your Time
A quiet, yet beautiful track from the mid 70s from avant garde composer, “Blue” Gene Tyranny. There are a lot of weird transitions that crop up throughout the song, the most bizarre being that sax solo that squats over the track towards the beginning and then taking over in a sort of rondo towards the end. But there’s some flute, sax, guitar, and, maybe synthesizer/harpsichord? A pleasantly entertaining tune about friendship.

4

The Fourelles – Waiting for a Crisis
This song isn’t an adventure in new sound, a very solid entry into sugary girl rock, but its lyrics remind me of my younger days when love was simpler (or merely imagined) and required romantic movie trickery, the death of a loved one, or a bad day at school to show how much you care.

5

Vivian Girls – Tell the World
Vivian Girls are this decades White Stripes. You love ’em or you hate ’em. These girls use fuzzy shoe-gaze but take out all the melancholic emotion. Lo-fi and full of feedback, they still manage to be compelling. Many seem to agree since this band has coasted to popularity with almost no official promotion.

6

The Pica Beats – Poor Old Ra
Melancholic, lo–fi indie pop rock that leans away from (to positive effect) the nearly requisite squeeze box/trumpet/banjo combination that has become so popular. Bands like this have become so common it might not be important to give these guys their due, but I feel like there is some genuine emotion in there, I think due to the wailing, almost heartbroken Oboe that laments through the entire track. The full album apparently follows a lyrical narrative featuring Egyptian gods, demons, and cultural oddities; I dig a good concept album.

7

Jay Reatard – My Shadow
More and more my tastes have been leaning away from the punk rock that I clung to during my late teens and early twenties, but there’s still something about the rawness of Jay Reatards ultra-fuzzed music that keeps me coming back. He’s one of the guys responsible for drawing attention to The Vivian Girls (one of the previous tracks).

8

Miranda Lambert – Dry Town
Miranda Lambert exemplifies what pop country should be about: namely it keeps the COUNTRY part in the equation. It isn’t shy and she whips through a cute story about a girl who’s looking for a drink in an alcohol–free town. Upon further research this girl has apparently made it platinum, has had four Top 40s hits, has been nominated for two grammys, and finished in third place on Nashville Star, the country version of American Idol.

9

Wild Beasts – She Purred While I Grrred
This groovy tune is as sexy as the title sounds.

10

Marnie Stern – Transformer
Highly technical guitar wankery that is nevertheless exciting to blast down the highway.

11

Rowan & Hastings – My Favorite Bears
The end of my 2008 was filled with reluctant trips to the concert hall, mostly for bands that started out as jokes. Once a joke starts taking itself seriously half the point of the bands existence must now rest on the weaker part of the equation, i.e. their talent. As a related note, I’m not a huge fan of ironic hip hop, which mostly feels like a weak excuse for white people to broach the genre without fear of criticism; afterall, it’s not like they take themselves seriously. However, there is something about Rowan & Hastings clever rhyming that makes me think that School House Rock needs to be rebooted with a few modern tunes (though, perhaps, with fewer swear words).

12

Selda – Nasirli Eller
I think there was a Selda track on my last mix, but that was from a single. Based on that track I picked up the self-titled album and was beyond impressed with the strength of the music. It became one of my favorites of the year. This track is like a beautifully composed Turkish torch song, but coming from a revolutionary background in a language I can’t understand, I’m sure this song is more powerful than I imagine.

Download the Mix.

The mixtape has returned with a fury. Two services, launched within a day of each other offer the ability to customize and share a streaming playlist. The first was mixwit.comand the following day, muxtape.com was released.

I had been tracking the word “mixtape” on Twitter for a little while when suddenly tweets about mixtapes flooded in. This might just be the first internet phenomenon I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing from the start.

The two services provide two unique ways of compiling your list. Mixwit allows users to search using Seeqpod for mp3s already freely available around the web. This provides a quick way to compile, but limits the quantity of tracks as well as the quality. Some tracks don’t play at all. This does take much of the legal burden off the shoulders of the Mixwit people, though. Mixwit also allows users to embed the tapes into blogs and social networks and the have announced plans to extend their services through Flickr, YouTube, and the rest of the net as well.

Muxtape, on the other hand, simply allows users to upload their own music from their own collections, arrange up to twelve tracks and disseminate it through a nice and tidy url (such as littletinyfish.muxtape.com). Listeners stream the music. You can’t embed the tracks, but what the site lacks in gadgets it more than makes up for in sleek, inspired style.

Muxtape’s legality is a little murky, though. Since you are theoretically copying music to a centralized server, that means Muxtape is holding on to a large amount of copyrighted material for which it did not pay. The suits may also question the legality of a broadcast without the proper licenses and, more importantly, paying the proper fees. However, I do notice that their player interacts with Amazon.com, so perhaps this is is less risky than it seems.

It’ll be interesting to see how strongly the record labels will react to these new services who’s popularity has burst forth like a water balloon, soaking the fibers of the internet. It’s obvious that the public WANTS this service, and lately the industry seems to finally be listening.

I don’t think the industry should take issue with streaming a series of audio files (though the RIAA may will want broadcast royalties). But I know that I would be much more willing to buy an album if the track was tossed into a killer mix. It’s the exposure and inspiration that drives me towards wanting more and the big wigs should be happy to hear that.

I’m already imagining the integration that these sites could provide. I’d like to be able to pass the mixtapes through Last.FM to chart what I’ve been listening to. I’d like to be able to rate the tapes, tag them, save favorites, and in the case of Muxtape, embed them. It might be nice to see their popularity. It’d also be great if Muxtape gave you the ability to “re–mix” tracks from other mixtapes into your own as easily as Tumblr allows you to re–blog posts.

And of course the winning (i.e. moneymaking) idea, be able to PURCHASE your favorites. Muxtape should make it easy to download the entire mixtape formatted in a way that makes it look like a legitimate album. Split the money between the site, the label, the artists, and even the mixtape’s creator. The site has been around for less than a week but I’m already confident that I would shell out $12 for johnnyriggs.muxtape.com. Valentine’s Day would be the new Christmas.

We need services like this to build first and ask questions (and monetize) later.