Mixtape Madness: Great Intros

Sometimes intros need love too.

Mixtape Madness: Great Intros

Starting off a record right is very important. A band like Radiohead for instance are notorious for instantly gripping leadoff tracks. But while “Planet Telex” and “Airbag” are certainly mixtapable, there are those songs that are made solely as introductions to the song cycle ahead of them. In most cases they’re mere fragments when removed from the context of the record. Sometimes though, they become highlights themselves and perhaps deserve more of our attention attention. For this week’s mixtape, let’s get them all in one corner for a much overdue tip of the hat.

The xx – “Intro”

Haunting and icy, The xx’s debut album is a late night under the covers with your tumultuous partner. The record is full of lust and uncertainty to which its groove-tastic opener pulls the curtain up on most gracefully. Since the LP’s debut in 2009, “Intro” has found its way into lots of media. It was used in the shows “24/7″ and “Person of Interest” as well as getting a fairly popular mashup with the Notorious B.I.G.’s “Dead Wrong.” The song is now sitting pretty as the basis for “Drunk On Love” by Rihanna, complete with a full melody and enhanced production.

Pixies – “Cecilia Ann”

Most critics will cry out “Doolittle” and “Surfer Rosa” until their throats are sore, but there’s no denying the excellence of the Pixies’ third record, “Bossanova.” Opening with a salvo of surf rock, “Cecelia Ann” is a groovy Surftones cover that sets the album smack right on the beach which is a perfect backdrop for sunny rockers like “Allison” and “Dig For Fire.”

DJ Shadow – “Best Foot Forward”

“Best Foot Forward” is right. Although most of “Endtroducing…” is comprised of smokey jazz tinged soundscapes, the album’s opener is a jittery, hodgepodge meant to make your ears stand at attention. It’s a shame it’s so short, clocking in at 47 seconds, but it’s a fun little jostle before the pensive piano loop of “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt” kicks in.

Sigur Rós – “Intro”

“Ágætis Byrjun”‘s title track is as melancholic as they come. Even without understanding one word, a severe euphoric state washes over, reminding the listener of what was and what has changed. What’s most interesting is how in the album’s intro, an excerpt from the same song is spun in reverse and has a much more optimistic feel to it. The opening minute of the record sounds like a new beginning — a refreshing wake up call that elevates the listener. Hearing the album in full and reaching it’s counterpart nine tracks in is a heartbreaking comedown, but it’s a lovely finish to one of the most engrossing albums of the 00’s.

The Afghan Whigs – “If I Were Going”
If I Were Going by lastmeasure03
The Afghan Whigs always had a flare for the cinematic. Their album “Black Love” contained various film noir allusions and “Gentlemen,” which “If I Were Going” opens, lists its recording whereabouts as “Shot on location.” The album’s opening track is like a reverse reprise, showcasing a subdued version of the standout single “Debonair.” It’s a great starting point for a very passionate record.

Sonic Youth – “Intro”

Sometimes intros can be a little misleading. Such is the case with the one that starts off Sonic Youth’s second album, “Bad Moon Rising.” A jangly rocker, the song sounds like the band’s attempt at channeling the fledgling R.E.M. who at the time were in the midst of becoming one of the most successful indie rock bands of the 1980’s, releasing their third album, “Fables of the Reconstruction.”. That blissful jangle pop though quickly explodes into chaos before delving into the drone rock which dominates the majority of “Bad Moon Rising.” This clip features the intro as well as “Brave Men Run (in My Family)” which follows immediately after.

John Parish & Polly Jean Harvey – “Girl”

Three records into her career, PJ Harvey began to spread out a bit. She disbanded her power trio, started dating Nick Cave, and cut a record with an old friend, John Parish. “Dance Hall at Louse Point” contained 11 Parish originals (and one creepy cover of “Is That All There Is?”) with Harvey providing lyrics and vocals. Ranging from junkyard blues to startling ballads, the record is mostly looked over, trumped by “To Bring You My Love” and “Is This Desire?” which it’s sandwiched between. “Girl” is the album’s ghostly opener, which features Harvey gently cooing underneath Parish’s chilly atmospheres.

M83 – “Intro”

As you might have guessed, Mixtape Madness has a bit of a hard-on for M83. “Reunion” was featured prominently on our “Win Her Back Mix” and songs like “Don’t Save Us From the Flames” and “Midnight City” have made numerous appearances on Death and Taxes before. The “Intro” which opens their blistering epic, “Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming,” features chanteuse Zola Jesus, who whisks the song away into the night sky and sets the listener off on the double album’s long journey. This is a clip of her singing the song with M83 at a recent show in California.

Boards of Canada – “Wildlife Analysis”

The legend of “Music Has the Right to Children” has grown to mythic proportions since in its 1998 release. The album, and Boards of Canada in general are very much an island of their own – influential but difficult to pinpoint where you can hear their wave. The dubstep movement is surely in debt to them but it would be wrong to say that any one artist sounds like that first record. “Wildlife Analysis” opens it up like a call to arms in a computer driven future as seen from the 1970’s. “Ready Lets Go” is also a worthy beginner for another great BoC album, “Geogaddi.”

Handsome Boy Modeling School – “Rock n Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This)”

“So… How’s Your Girl?” asked Prince Paul and Dan the Automator in 1999. I never met her myself but if she had a copy of Handsome Boy Modeling School’s debut, she was pretty damn good. The production duo kick it off with both barrels blazing on “Rock n Roll (Could Never Hip Hop Like This),” an infectious organ breakbeat heralded by a horn sweep and a guy yelling “Ladies and gentlemen!”, which is always a good way to let people know that something good is in store.

And that’s the end of our brief foray into intros. Be sure to check out the remainder of the albums that these openers hail from.