[mix tape] French Kicks Always Impress and Joni Mitchell Never Lie(s)

April 16, 2010

A little backstory: In case you didn’t know, the nonpretentious mix tapes started as a way to share new music and promote cool people doing cool things around the globe. Here at nonpretentious, we’ve always been big believers in word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and friends-of-friends alike (see: our creative philosophy). In fact, that’s precisely how yours truly learned about this band called The French Kicks.

Rewind back to 2003 or 2004:  At that time, I lived in Pittsburgh where I attended law school. It wasn’t prison, true, but the City of Steel was my own version of stressful, solitary confinement. When I wasn’t studying, I lived vicariously through my friends who resided in much more interesting cities as they accomplished much more interesting things with their lives.  More than anything, I wanted needed two things from those on the outs: new music recommendations and snail mail.  These forms of support gave me hope for the future.  (Hey.  It’s the little things in life.)

Kiren came through for me, as Kiren always does, and sent me a mix called “Reciprocation.” Right in the middle of the cd, a few tracks before “Gigantic” by the Pixies and “Fallen for You” by Sheila Nicholls, the song “Down Now” by the French Kicks came on and immediately I was hooked.

You can't make this shit up

Fast forward to 2010: Without really thinking about the French Kicks, I happened to be perusing Kickstarter a few weeks back.  For those who aren’t familiar with the site, Kickstarter serves as a platform for people to raise money for their creative endeavors through crowd funding.  It’s like Kiva for creative folk.  As a tech nerd and web publisher (and economics minor in college!), I’m simply fascinated with the idea.  (Heck, last summer, I even asked Andy Baio to make a mix tape for nonpretentious.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good time for him.  Note: He became Kickstarter’s CTO the following week.)  Anyway, you can imagine my pleasant surprise when I saw that French Kicks’ members Josh Wise and Nick Stumpf were raising money for a new project on which they were collaborating called Above Ground Episodes.

Now, I didn’t know much about Josh or Nick or even the French Kicks philosophy.  To be honest, as a web developer, I had heard more about Matt Stinchcomb due to his post-French Kicks involvement with Etsy.  Still, I knew that I liked their music. (I have yet to tire of “Down Now.”)  So, with $20 in my pocket, I acted like any other responsible financier.  I did my due diligence and read as much as I could about the band.

And, wow.  The more that I read about them, the more I respected them.  Like me and the other original nonpretentious contributors, I heard they rely on word-of-mouth to find out about new music or friends’ recommendations.  Like us, they’ve stuck with their dream even when they had “[n]o homes, no clothes, barely enough food to survive” – and kept to a schedule – in order to avoid “having a day job.“  More importantly, they have ideals that we can respect.  (“…[T]hey’ve turned down big-time shoots with photographers telling them how to dress; magazine interviews that would falsely represent them. It’s an issue of integrity: ‘We have standards,’ vocalist and former drummer Nick Stumpf insists. ‘If we lose those, then we are fucked.‘”)

With that in mind, how could I resist supporting A>G>E?

From Josh:

Above Ground Episodes is my project consisting of limited-edition LPs of original songs with signed, numbered, and hand-designed covers; DVDs of instrumental music and experimental visuals; paintings; and live performances….In one sense, your investments are like advance orders, but in another important sense they are commitments to an aesthetic of production and to a more immediate relationship with the person whose work you are supporting.  I have set a very modest budget for this undertaking, but with a little help from you fine people this art project will come to fruition and create the momentum to do more projects in the future.

Plus, my $20 got me snail mail and new music(!).  (To be exact, “an LP on 150 gram vinyl with signed and numbered, hand silk-screened cover art.”)  Talk about a good investment.

We know A>G>E will be a success and we can’t wait for what comes next.  In the meantime, we’ll listen to the band’s archives and this awesome mix Josh compiled for us called, “Joni Mitchell Never Lie.”


Joni Mitchell Never Lie.
Joni Mitchell themed songs and noted covers:

Going to California-Led Zep

Sweet Joni-Neil Young (N/A for download, YouTube video)

Tin Angel-Tom Rush

The Jungle Line-Herbie Hancock with Leonard Cohen

Got til it’s Gone-Janet Jackson

Hey Joni-Sonic Youth

Ballad of Dorothy Parker-Prince

Big Yellow Taxi-Bob Dylan (N/A for download, YouTube video)

Ladies’ Man-Chaka Khan

The Boho Dance-Bjork

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8 Responses to “ [mix tape] French Kicks Always Impress and Joni Mitchell Never Lie(s) ”

  1. Ian Caithness on April 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    That’s an economics module based on reason and logic. All too often, people are reminded of the fact that corporate consumerism has left us devoid of all meaning and this project removes that association.

    It promotes individualism and a business relationship based on more than just the sale/trade of goods. I like it!

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by nonpretentious. nonpretentious said: [mix tape] French Kicks Always Impress and Joni Mitchell Never Lie(s) http://bit.ly/French-Kicks-Mix – We ♥ J.Wise & Nick Stumpf [...]

  3. jerks in your area on April 16, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    Smooth jams!

  4. Justin Klugh on April 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I listened to Going to California on a loop while buying a plane ticket to California. Mmm-hmm. I’m that guy.

  5. J. LaValley on April 17, 2010 at 11:50 am

    OK, just a few notes: (1) Leading off w/Going to California by Led Zep ~ PURRRRfect! Genius. ‘Nuff said on that. (2) Herbie Hancock AND Leonard Cohen, TOGETHER?? I already said “Genius,” so I guess that leaves only “SUPER-Genius”! (3) ANYTHING w/ Bjork => ABSOLUTE, UNADULTERATED PERFECTION. And (4) Also trowing in the Sonic Youth number? … DEFINITELY pushed this mix into the muciscal category “Embarassment of Riches.” (In fact, where’s the hashtag for that??) Final thought: This mix essentially made/makes head my explode, in a mushroom cloud of awesomeness! (And, yes ~ pun intended! ;-)

  6. Mark on April 17, 2010 at 9:22 pm

    I learned about The French Kicks, Above Ground Episodes, and found a fantastic mix – all in one post. I have a bunch of listening to do now – well done. :)

  7. Meredith on April 28, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    Nice easy listening. Going to California is a classic!

  8. shoes on December 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Anyone who thinks a progressive is the same as a marxist doesn’t know the meaning of either word.

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