Posted by: Dominic Umile | 07/16/2009

July Commutes I: The Byrds, Bullion, Guardian

The ByrdsFinally some sun. I’d forgotten exactly the kind of weather we’re entitled to on the East Coast for the summertime. After months and miserable months of freezing rain, plain ol’ regular rain, and more snow than I care to see for a while, we are owed summertime breezes and plentiful sunshine. So give it to us. Do you have any idea how terribly infuriating it is to stuff an umbrella into my bag everyday? Here are a few of the things that have been scoring my Early Summer 2009 commutes. Downloads and details below.


Over the July 4th weekend, I had the opportunity to read Ric Menck’s contribution to the 33 1/3 series — a well-informed and completely geeky assessment of the The Notorious Byrd Brothers album; I cannot recommend it enough if you’re any kind of Byrds fan. Forty years later, the Byrds’ groundbreaking blend of folk, rock, psyche, and country sounds as fresh as ever, and in these past couple of sunny weeks, I’ve found myself returning to the band’s classic LPs, primarily via those wonderful Legacy re-issues. On 1967’s Younger Than Yesterday album, Chris Hillman’s emergence as a songwriter in the Byrds — not just a critically important piece of the rhythm section — has always been a favorite of mine. His “Have You Seen Her Face?” packs typically skyward vocal harmonies and McGuinn’s artful 12-string leads at every turn. Listen here.

GuardianI’m just now checking out a free mix of dubstep from Guardian, a Michigan-based producer who is probably better known for his work as A Setting Sun; I wrote about his 2008 LP here. The Guardian dubstep mix is definitely blended well, and works as a nice cross-section of some output from some marquee names (Benga, Skream, Pinch, Loefah) as well as unknowns. It won’t offer a ton of surprises for those who religiously scoop up everything that is filed under dubstep, but the mix is FREE, it breaks up recent tracks (Skream’s edit of a La Roux track — UPDATE: which has gone UK GOLD as of this week — selling more than 400K, a huge FIRST for dubstep) with now-“classics” (Hijak, Dizzee), and in its entirety, it’s a hell of a ride. Download the mix free here, and look for announcements about forthcoming Guardian/A Setting Sun stuff at the artist’s blog. (h/t iso50)

YoungBullion’s Young Heartache EP also plays well on these suddenly summer afternoons. This is my introduction to the London beatmaker, and I intend to eventually shovel his whole catalog into my hard drive as soon as I can. Totally sample-driven electronica/instrumental hip hop here that’s diverse and rich with experimental tempo and style shifts — leadoff track “Are You The One?” is lively and dense with glitchy, dayglow textures propelled by a dubby bass line and drums that sound like they’re being pounded in the living room next door. It’s no surprise that Bullion went to the trouble of reinterpreting The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds in a soulful hip hop fashion a little while back (a tribute to J Dilla’s precise handiwork in the studio, without using any of Dilla’s beats — click to download that one here), as the Young Heartache tracks speak to a presumably well-rounded record collection in the producer’s studio. More recently, Bullion did a free mix for the Fader and his 2008 mix for the Shhhhh blog is here. Listen to/buy Young Heartache when you can.



  1. I’m not sure if you know this, but I too love the byrds. The amazing thing is, Hillman wrote like half of that album. Actually half if you subtract Dylan’s “My back Pages”. Eat that Crosby.
    What are you going to do try to get us to listen to “triad”.

  2. Thanks for reading and for chiming in here, Baldy. You’d love that Menck book, if you haven’t already checked it out. There’s a great history of the Byrds, and some really wonderful studio notes relating to the Notorious sessions. Incidentally, of the records I know, I’m definitely a 5D fan, first and foremost!

  3. Love that one. And love that 33 1/3 series. I too agree with Baldy that Crosby is terrible. Was he necessary to the Byrds? I ask you that now.

  4. Ha. Thanks a whole lot for reading and for your thoughts, GHS. I admit that it’s nice to see in print what we knew all along. Per the book, when Crosby and McGuinn started hanging out, David would bring him to parties and people would say to McGuinn “What are you doing hanging around with that guy?” Not a good sign.

  5. funny, people used to say the same thing to me when we went to parties.

  6. “Well done, Bald Ben,” said Dominic, looking away and choking back tears. “Well done.”

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