Mercury Rev

Back to Mine

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The Back to Mine series provides "a personal mix for after hours grooving" as well as a glimpse into the listening habits and influences of the artists who curate its volumes. Mercury Rev's mix does both, with plenty of inspiration. You could mix almost any of these songs together and come up with something that sounds like Mercury Rev. Though tracks like Galaxie 500's "When Will You Go Home?" and Spacemen 3's "Big City" nod to the dream pop and space rock that made up the early foundation of Mercury Rev's sound, this may be the most eclectic volume of Back to Mine yet, which is fitting since the band has done everything from avant-bubblegum to spacy country lullabies over the years. David Bowie's "New Career in a New Town" and Johan Johannson's "Hotel Borg" begin the set with lushly layered electronic atmospheres, echoed later in the mix by Mercury Rev's own "Cecilia's Lunar Expose." The band's sentimental streak and respect for classic songcraft is reflected by songs like Billie Holiday's "I'm a Fool to Want You," George Jones' "The Grand Tour," and the Disney sweetness of Cliff Edwards' "When You Wish Upon a Star," while John Cale's "Days of Steam" and Andrew Bird's "Opposite Day" share Mercury Rev's intricate arrangements and sense of whimsy. Other standout tracks include Pharoah Sanders' "Astral Traveling," which is a clear influence on See You on the Other Side and the band's other jazzy excursions, and Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun"; its morbid verses and jubilant chorus make it one of AM pop's most unsettling moments. Though Back to Mine sometimes feels like a particularly lucky streak on shuffle rather than a precisely planned mix, that's the appeal of this freewheeling collection.

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