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GEMMA RAY

"I love the sad nostalgia of the teenage lyrics - so indulgently self-obsessed in a way that only teenagers can get away with."


Gemma Ray



GEMMA Ray creates layers of pop, inspired by the music of a bygone era, by maximising her pedals and by taking a large kitchen knife to the strings of her guitar - resulting in tweaks and cello-like drones. "The last time I made a mixtape was on a cassette," she tells The Weekly Mix Tape, "it was for my friend who moved away to Newquay. We wrote to each other twice a week and sent tape compilations - it was all a bit emotional." This mix isn't, though.

 
   

GEMMA RAY - 100MPH (In 2nd Gear)

Available on: Lights Out Zoltar!

 
   
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SPARKS - How Do I Get To Carnegie Hall

"Practice man! Practice!" This sentiment alone, repeated over and over, is enough reason to love this song. I first heard it live when it came out in the UK (2004). I went to see them play, as my friend had a free pass, and I became so overwhelmed and excited I had to be carried out because I fainted during this track. It just builds and builds, and I love the scale and enormity given to (what could be perceived as) throw-away lyrics. The structure is like a dance track, but the grandeur and title poke fun at the genre it mimics and the timpani drums are big enough to break your heart, which always has me pressing play again and again.

Available on: Lil' Beethoven

 
   
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THE GUN CLUB - Ghost on the Highway

I first heard this band when I had just started getting to grips with making my guitar sound how I felt it should. This involved tuning it in a way that made sense to me, and playing mainly with one finger. I learned that Kid Congo Powers, the band's original guitar player I believe, and Jeffery Lee Pierce, their late singer/guitarist, also played guitar in this way and I connected with the primal sound and urgency of their songs. My favourite track from this album has a killer melody and I always loved singing harmonies to it - so much so that I recorded my own version for my cover album It's a shame about Gemma Ray.

Available on: Fire of Love

 
   
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THE COOKIES - Only To Other People

I had to try hard not to have my favourite girl-group singles as all of my choices for the mixtape! I love this song as it's just so hooky, and the chords get right under your skin until you can't help but sing along to the gorgeous harmonies of the chorus. I love the sad nostalgia of the teenage lyrics - so indulgently self-obsessed in a way that only teenagers can get away with. It became the soundtrack of the first tour I did around Europe with my current backing band. We played it before every sound check and on the bus everyday. Our tastes are really different and this is the only track we've all become obsessed with at the same time.

Available on: Chains: The Dimension Links 1962-1964

 
   
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SUICIDE - Frankie Teardrop

When I first heard this track, all the noises and atmospherics had me hooked from the first thump. It just feels like home. I wish the noises in this song were the backdrop to everyday life instead of traffic and talking and nature. Maybe just for a week or so anyway.

Available on: Suicide

 
   
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ELLA FITZGERALD - I've Got a Crush on You

Although Ella isn't my absolute favourite jazz singer, she seems to deliver songs in their purest, truest form - and when the Gershwins are at the helm that means you get to slip into a place that envelops you with unconditional, melting arms where everything is old fashioned, romantic and exciting in a fresh, naive way. I adore the phrasing and the playfulness of the lyrics and the timing. There are around 40 songs like these that I know word by word and, whatever mood I am in, they make everything alright. I sound-checked this song so much that I ended up recording a slightly edgier version on my covers album.

Available on: Ella for Lovers

 
   
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LEE HAZLEWOOD - I'd Rather Be Your Enemy

Lee Hazelwood has never recorded a song that I couldn't listen to all day, every day. This is one of the most simple but that is what I love about it. Lyrically and structurally, this song is so basic and heart-on-sleeve. Made all the more potent because he usually says so much more - and with a good dose of deadpan humour too - so the words seem that much more sincere. It's something you immediately identify with and the song is so short you just need to hear it again straight away.

Available on: Requiem for an Almost Lady

 
   
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LEONARD COHEN - Lover Lover Lover

I just adore the juxtaposition of the dryness of Leonard Cohen and the jubilant African Harmonies and the great percussive feel on this song. It always cheers me up. I also love the song Is This What You Wanted from this album too: so many hooks and the lyrics are amazing.

Available on: New Skin for the Old Ceremony

 
   
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     The Weekly Mix Tape 2010©
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