You know that feeling of infinity when you face two mirrors opposing each other, and regardless of the size of your environment, you have constructed an interminable plane? That is what Erik Hall aka In Tall Buildings is skilled at doing with his seemingly hushed, taciturn music: he cracks insulated, intimate spaces wide open. He uses subtle gestures–stray feedback here, meandering guitar arpeggiations there–to lead you down consistently surprising paths inside his head. By the time each of his tracks conclude on his new album, Driver, you feel as though you’ve burrowed deep into an insular universe.
For In Tall Buildings’ Car Tunes and Cartoons mix, Hall picked 10 indie gems that are spiritually akin to his new album. From Kindness’s melancholy “Swinging Party” to Califone’s “Evidence”, Hall’s playlist will yank and tug at your chest, make you miss your childhood home, and prime you for getting lost in thought.
Check out Hall’s track-by-track explanation of his mix below his abstract, yet warming illustration that he drew to accompany his mix. About the drawing, he explains: “I ended up coming up with this dark landscape of sorts, using a ball point pen and painter’s tape. I’d say it fits the “Winter pattern texture that best encapsulates the mix”.
In Tall Buildings On His Mix:
Durutti Column – “Otis”
Our friend Aidan out in San Francisco always gives us the best mixes to have in the van. He’s one of those guys who knows of all this great music you’ve never heard of but that’s about to become the newest huge thing or cool throwback. This tune isn’t really either of those, but it quickly became our official tour anthem on a trip down the west coast a few years ago.
Carter Tanton – “Gauze of Song”
I received an early copy of this album before it came out and put a few songs on the mix that played during dinner at my wedding. Three years later I’m excited to be label mates with this guy. He has a new record in the works that’s going to be great.
Kindness – “Swinging Party”
Another tip from Aidan, now a favorite for impromptu living room dance parties.
His Name Is Alive – “*C*A*T*S*”
In 2006 I was invited to play drums for HNIA on a short US tour. We played this song every night, and, despite my aptitude for assembling a great-sounding, shiny drum kit worthy of the most-pro tour, Warn made me play his dusty, Frankenstein-style, eBay-acquired ragtime drumset. At the time I was a little frustrated by this, but I eventually came to understand the great importance of aesthetics on stage, as well as the various unexpected breakthroughs that occur when you limit yourself to tools you’re unused to. Thanks, Warn!
Talons’ – “Old Kayak”
Talons’ is the home-recording moniker of my friends Mike and Sommer Tolan of Akron, Ohio- with a long stint in Chicago since I met them in 2010. I was fortunate to have Mike play keyboards and guitar for several In Tall Buildings shows over the past few years, and nobody compares to his level of consideration for tone. Can’t wait for his new record.
Deerhoof – “Desaparecere”
A few years ago ITB became Deerhoof for a Halloween show at Schubas in Chicago. I was harkening back to my college years in Ann Arbor, MI when we just played all our favorite cover songs in rowdy bars, still some of the most fun I’ve ever had playing music.
Low – “On The Edge Of”
Easily one of my favorite bands, while I have yet to even check out several of their records. They just keep putting them out, I can’t keep up.
Colleen – “Summer Water”
Maybe the most-played record on my shelf. Lately it’s been my cooking music.
Califone – “Evidence”
I’m into their gritty palette as much as the next guy, but when I listen to this album I’m always so happy to arrive at this song. Simply beautiful in tone and texture.
Latin Playboys – “Forever Night Shade Mary”
I have Elliot Bergman (Wild Belle, NOMO) to thank for much of the music I’ve absorbed over the last decade. We love to geek out about these guys and Tchad Blake’s engineering choices. I like how each song has only a few simple elements and carries such a heavy vibe.
Let us know if you are digging In Tall Buildings’ illustration and mix for this edition of Car Tunes and Cartoons, and be sure to check out all of our other mixes here. In Tall Buildings new album, Driver, is out February 17 on Western Vinyl.