25 January 2008

Mix Tape Friday: I Was 99X

This morning marks a sad moment for the Atlanta airwaves: 99X, our commercial alternative radio station since 1992, loses its terrestrial radio home to its sister Top 40 station. 99X lost its uniqueness and thus lost its listeners.

The station was brilliantly programmed through much of the 1990s. The station is credited for breaking tunes such as The Cranberries’ “Linger” and bands like Silverchair (not a personal fave, but some people like those Down Under kids). As alternative lost its newness, the station veered toward modern rock to capture that 18–30 demographic. Nirvana and Pearl Jam gave way to crap like Incubus and Linkin Park. And so 99X lost loyal listeners like me. Granted, I’m not in a prime demographic. But the kids in my age group aren’t the only ones who quit listening.

For those still interested in listening to the station, 99X will continue to broadcast online.

I can’t help but wonder if 99X would have survived had Leslie Fram paid attention to my shouts in the car and added more indie bands to the playlist. There are many radio-friendly indie tunes that would have worked brilliantly on the playlist. Some bands got the chance — Modest Mouse and The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie and Gomez, Flaming Lips and Radiohead. But many deserving bands didn’t. And so today I’m programming the no-longer station with a handful of artists who should have had some 99X airplay during the aughts — and could have saved the station.

Those of you who don’t know these songs — give ‘em a try. Let me know if you would have stayed on the station had these been played.

Belle & Sebastian :: Another Sunny Day

Cherry Ghost :: Alfred the Great

The Whigs :: O.K. Alright

The New Pornographers :: Chump Change

Art Brut :: People in Love

Super Furry Animals :: (Drawing) Rings Around the World

Spoon :: Don’t You Evah

Yo La Tengo :: Mr. Tough

The Pipettes :: Dirty Mind

eels :: Dirty Girl

The Clientele :: Bookshop Casanova

Guided by Voices :: Back to the Lake

Beulah :: My Side of the City

The Minus 5 :: The Town That Lost Its Groove Supply

The National :: Apartment Story

Burning Brides :: Artic Snow

Sonic Youth :: Incinerate

The Detroit Cobras :: (I Wanna Know) What's Going On

The Raveonettes :: Love in a Trashcasn

Sleater-Kinney :: Off With Your Head

Rilo Kiley :: Portions for Foxes

Postal Service :: Such Great Heights

Annie :: Chewing Gum

Of Montreal :: Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games

Bob Mould :: (Shine Your) Light Love Hope

The Rosebuds :: Get up Get Out

Camera Obscura :: If Looks Could Kill

Stephen Malkmus :: Phantasies

Wilco :: Pot Kettle Black

Badly Drawn Boy :: Something to Talk About

Modern Skirts :: September Days

Teddy Thompson :: I Should Get Up

Cat Power :: Aretha, Sing One for Me

The Decemberists :: Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect

Sufjan Stevens :: Chicago

The Thrills :: Deckchairs and Cigarettes

The Twilight Singers :: My Time (Has Come)

Holly Golightly :: Run Cold

Wussy :: Soak It Up

Pernice Brothers :: How to Live Alone

This was a hard list to whittle down to forty. A lot of great bands ended up in the Next Time folder — so whine away in the comments box about your favorite overlooked bands.

What’s particularly frustrating about this list of 99X-denied artists is many are based in or affiliated with Georgia. Chan Marshall of Cat Power is an Atlanta girl and has a house here. The Whigs, Modern Skirts, and Of Montreal call Athens home. Bob Mould spent some time in Athens, and The Minus 5 lineup includes the beloved Peter Buck (with Jeff Tweedy guesting on guitar here). Paste magazine — HQ’ed around the corner from my cozy little home — tapped The National’s The Boxer as 2007’s album of the year. And Scrivener loves Wilco as much as I love R.E.M.

You may recognize the Of Montreal track, but maybe you can’t place from where. They refocused “Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games” for an Outback commercial.

You may recognize some of these songs from soundtracks. “Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect” was used in an episode of How I Met Your Mother. Badly Drawn Boy did the (brilliant) soundtrack for About a Boy, which includes this track. You hear eels all over the movie palace (“Dirty Girl” hasn’t been used in a movie — that I know of — but it’s this month’s fave for personal reasons).

Give him a listen: Teddy Thompson is the offspring of Richard and Linda Thompson — and one of Rufus Wainwright’s BFFs. Very talented guy, very good album.

Luckily, we’re not quite living in the town that lost its groove supply, thanks to WRAS (my oft-mention alma station) and Dave FM, which plays a mix crossing different genres, including alternative. Dave FM has been known to play Wilco.

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At 1/25/2008 01:07:00 AM, Anonymous Renae said...

Hey hey --even I know lots of these bands. So I guess I would have listened to 99x.

At 1/25/2008 08:31:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate when that happens....just what we need another station to play the same 12 songs over and over mixed in with the latetst on Brittany....

At 1/25/2008 10:30:00 AM, Blogger haahnster said...

I recently acquired a 2-CD live show from the Counting Crows, recorded as broadcast from Chastain Park in 1997 by.........

you guessed it........



At 1/25/2008 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Bubs said...

What a great list, and thanks again for expanding my musical knowledge. There were only 10 artists on that list who I've heard tracks by, and only a handful more I've heard of but not listened to yet.

At 1/25/2008 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Barbara Bruederlin said...

I feel like I've come home! This is music where I live. Thanks so much for feeding my obsession.

Do these radio stations not realize the power that we non-aging indie aficionados hold? They could have had a very good thing going there. Maybe we need to start our our radio stations.

At 1/25/2008 01:19:00 PM, Anonymous RCofCHS said...

I do not know any of these, but listened to the Holly Golightly song and liked it. I have always been partial to anything Holly. Let me know if there is another station that plays a similar mix in Atlanta. I will listen on the rare occasion I drive to the Big A.

At 1/25/2008 02:44:00 PM, Blogger Doc said...

Should I ever hit the lottery or one of my get rich quick schemes comes to fruition, I'm going to buy you a radio station where you can play whatever your little heart desires. Thanks once again for expanding my musical horizons. If it wasn't for you and Flannery I would still have my Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, and AC/DC albums on repeat forever.


At 1/25/2008 03:18:00 PM, Blogger datacine said...

A 90's tape without Beck??????????

okay I whined
It is wierd and wonderful to hear how talented some of the offspring of musicians I like are. I'll toss out a non musician. Haley Mills' son Crispian Mills, his band is Kula Shaker

I may be a broken record on this (is that still a valid metaphor?)
KCRW 89.9 Santa Monica CC Station, NPR etc. Morning Becomes Eclectic
9am - 12pm pacific time. Online via kcrw.com or through itunes. Simulcast feed and dedicated music channel online. Do your ears a favor.

At 1/25/2008 03:24:00 PM, Anonymous gifted typist said...

Thanks for upping my indie cred, beth.

At 1/25/2008 03:56:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beth! What a great list of songs. I've been known to get all snooty about Atlanta radio because I came from Chicago, but this is truly a shame. I agree that there just isn't a place on ATL radio that's playing enough of the indie artists.

This is sucky timing, too, because I have to wait to replace my carwash cut XM Satellite antenna. Now I have to listen to local radio. Thank goodness for Dave FM.

Thanks for putting together such a great list!

At 1/25/2008 04:55:00 PM, Blogger pistols at dawn said...

Brilliant as per usual. If I ever caught up on my NPR podcasts, I'd totally listen to some music.

At 1/25/2008 05:53:00 PM, Blogger Grant Miller said...

This is basically just like looking at my own iPod. I love the Raveonettes and the solo on that song kick ass. And I don't say that lightly.

At 1/25/2008 08:38:00 PM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Razzlefrazzin' bandwidth!

Most of the GOOD radio stations are gone. That's why I rarely listen to the radio anymore. You would think that there would be at least one good station in NYC, but there really isn't. It's either all Top 40/R&B/Rap, Spanish music that I can't understand or ultra-bizarre hipster shit. I miss WYEP, the best station in Pittsburgh. Sometimes I webstream it.

Any radio station that plays Art Brut is alright with me.

At 1/25/2008 10:17:00 PM, Anonymous filegod1 said...

Hate to hear 99X is changing formats, always locked the radio dial as soon as i could get the signal on my many trips to the ATL. A fantastic listen from top to bottom. Another fine performance Beth. You are a Golden Goddess! My top five after one trip thru the list. I should get up, If looks could kill, My time has come, ( got to love a love song for the undead) Love in a trashcan, and Portions for Foxes.

At 1/25/2008 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Artful Dodger said...

You should DJ for a living Beth. You'd be one of the best. This is such an awesome mix, I love it. I'm dancing around right now to it.

At 1/26/2008 01:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are brilliant. Artful is right, you'd make a kick ass DJ. Thanks for the tunes!!

At 1/26/2008 04:23:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

RENAE: Yes, you would have. They played Oasis all the damn time.

SHY, NAMELESS PERSON: We have a great college station for discovering new bands, and Dave FM plays all sorts of things — but it’s freakin’ frustrating not to have a lot of choice on the airwaves.

HAAHNSTER: There are a lot of great 99X broadcasts. I’ll have to pull some of mine for you.

BUBS: I hope you discover lots of songs you can’t live without! There are some great bands included on this mix tape..

At 1/26/2008 04:28:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BARBARA BRUEDERLIN: You’d think they would realize how much more disposable income can be found in our wallets than in those of twentysomething boys. I bet you have every track on this list.

RCOFCHS: Those Holly types are pretty darn cool, aren’t they? Listen to Dave FM (92.9 on your terrestrial dial).

DOC: I would love that!!! To spend my days programming music is beyond a dream.

DATACINE: (1) It’s a 2000 tape. (2) It’s bands that were NOT played on 99X, and Beck got a lot of deserved airplay. I love Kula Shaker; I think I’ve included them on previous tapes. I diss my L.A.-based friends who don’t listen to KCRW; I can’t imagine being able to pick it up and listening to radio crap instead.

At 1/26/2008 04:30:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

GIFTED TYPIST: You’re welcome, dear friend.

DCUP: Get up and dance around the room. And pray that Dave FM doesn’t cave and go MOR.

PISTOLS AT DAWN: You need to get your priorities straight, Pistols. Life needs music every day. You can’t dance to NPR.

GRANT MILLER: “Love in a Trashcan” definitely kicks ass. Did you notice the Malkmus?

At 1/26/2008 04:35:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BECKEYE: I have a short commute to work — about seven miles each way — just short enough for it to be too much trouble to plug in my iPod every day or just not worth the expense of satellite radio. I’ll have to check out WYEP online.

FILEGOD1: You ranked some darn good songs, Filegod. Your musical range has definitely expanded over the last couple of months. Thank God you have great MP3s for your next drive to Atlanta … if you ever come down again.

ARTFUL DODGER: I would love to be a radio DJ. That’s what I had originally hoped to do when I joined our campus radio station — but I talk too damn fast. Maybe one day …

BLUEZ: I am amazingly brilliant. And you’re welcome!

At 1/27/2008 02:02:00 AM, Blogger BeckEye said...

Ha ha...I've never heard that Of Montreal song and I downloaded it just now. I immediately recognized the chorus as "Let's go Outback tonight..."
I was going to leave a comment asking about it, but you've already mentioned it within your post!

"Refocused," eh? That's an interesting euphemism. :)

At 1/28/2008 08:43:00 AM, Blogger David Amulet said...

I hate it when stations change formats. One day a few years ago, I turned on one of my presets and found that a modern rock station had gone tejano. Ouch.

-- david

At 1/28/2008 11:47:00 PM, Blogger pezda said...

Beautiful list. This is the music I go after when I can. I don't get to listen to much music on the radio these days, but am fortunate that Columbus has one of the better alternative radio stations I've come across. They still support local music and feature new up and coming artists. You can check them out at www.cd101.com

At 1/28/2008 11:51:00 PM, Blogger pezda said...

Also, every year they do the top 200x songs of 200x. It's my favorite week of radio. The rankings are compiled by listener requests over the lifetime of the radio station. This year I think I'm going to put together an email campaign to try and push Ana Ng by They Might Be Giants to the top of the list.

At 1/30/2008 06:00:00 PM, Anonymous madmargaret said...

I totally look forward to your Mix Tape Fridays!! These ROCK!! Knowing how much you love REM, have you ever included "It's the End of the World as We Know It"? Seems to me that would make a killer Broken Heart Remix!

At 1/31/2008 07:59:00 PM, Blogger Beth said...

BECKEYE: I found myself bopping in the car the first time I heard that Outback commercial; I was so excited because I thought (the now-defunct) 99X was playing Of Montreal. [An idiot I work with uses refocused, so I always enjoy mockingly using the word.]

DAVID AMULET: Sucks, doesn't it? At least we had warnings here.

PEZDA: I'm going to check out that station this weekend; I'll let you know what I think.

MAD MARGARET: Welcome! I'm going to pencil in "ITEOTWAWKI" for consideration on the next breakup tape.

At 2/03/2008 04:54:00 PM, Blogger Scrivener said...

Totally agree with the argument of this post, of course. But do you have the Beck cover of "Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games"?

At 2/04/2008 08:45:00 PM, Blogger Ray Van Horn, Jr. said...

we had a very good alt station 99.1 WHFS that got so big they'd hold an annual stadium-sized festival...then out of nowhere, it gets sold and turned into a lame talk station filled with meathead hosts... no wonder satellite radio is cooler


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