Guest Mix: Future Oak Record Company

The whole reasoning behind beginning a Guest Mix series was highlighting the songs, artists and genres that my inclinations towards garage rock and all things angsty don't highlight. This one is particularly special because it comes from a record label and a person that has challenged and opened my mind to the sorts of music I would never have considered before. It's also just a really, really amazing label. Today, we are extremely proud to present a Guest Mix from Future Oak Record Co.

Long before I was born the Chemung drowned my hometown, but the river I grew up with was a timid embarrassment to the proud waterways of New York State. I turned my back on the high-water marks chalked on the museum pillars, settling for a time on the banks of the Hudson. I’ve cataloged all the great rivers I’ve encountered; a week of sunrises from the deck of a cargo ship on the Amazon, a year watching the Kansas feast on the Missouri, what felt like a lifetime along the north-flowing waters of the Wallkill. Now, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Monongahela, a murky crossroads tainted by the corpse of industry, I find that despite the fact that what’s ahead is a horrifying unknown my mind tends to wander back to times when I could cross the familiar rivers of my life without fear of being swept away.

We’re all caught in the rapids of time, even if that river takes decades to etch out a reasonable path in the bedrock of your life. Sometimes we’re thrown a lifesaver, sometimes we’re left to drown. I’m lucky, I never learned to swim. My struggle will be short but tumultuous - I’ll never see my head above the water. Thirty years lost in these waters only to find my eagerness to put distance between me and the crystal lakes of my youth has led me over some treacherous falls I’ll never scale again. Greater fish can fight currents from the frigid expanse of the arctic oceans and here I struggle to float downstream on my back.

Decades before VH1 taught us that there was no grace period between an event and when we can feel wistful over it with their relentless “I Love…” crapfests, Frank Zappa predicted that the world would end in nostalgia. It would get so bad, he predicted, that we wouldn’t be able to take two steps without stopping to reflect about how great the first one was. Even this modern philosopher couldn’t foresee that, as a society, we’d get so absorbed in our own collective pasts that we’d memorialize years that hadn’t even ended yet in asinine, self-congratulating lists or that we’d go so far as to get weepy about societal landmarks that we didn’t experience firsthand.

I never pegged myself as a nostalgic type, especially in this shit century. Rocky waters demand your undivided attention; casting your eyes ahead for signs of calm rather than ruminating on the ships wrecked along the banks of the past. The clearer the focus on my future gets the less I want to look at it, I find. There’s no ghastly spectre that shakes his chains over your life demanding you reflect, no defining moment where you cross a magnetic pole and your compass flips from North to South. It happens so gradually that you don’t notice it at all, like a river changing course. When Lauren asked me if I’d make a mix for her blog I was elated and eager to show off my sophisticated tastes in music. After I lined up my first round of picks I sat back and realized 70% of the songs were from albums released circa 2001. It was a killer line up but chronologically unintentional. The playlist was trashed, but the thought lingered — did this moment in musical history, in some way, define me?


2001 wasn’t even a great year for me; I was a newly licensed awkward 16 year old, carrying around 30 excess pounds of pure anxiety. It was the first time in years I had my own bedroom, my friend Chaz and I stayed up late painting the walls black and grey. At the foot of the mattresses I stacked on the floor was a stereo with a five CD carousel that sustained my hunger for new sounds. Largely this was the year that I poured the foundations of my musical proclivities, everything is anchored there; in the drifting snows of South Corning, the records we played on Kevin’s turntable. My best mistakes had yet to be made, the best songs had yet to be written.

Still, it is concerning when asked to display my musical prowess that I might stick my hand into that crumpled greasy paper bag I carry my thoughts around in and come out with a fistful of tunes from the far past. Despite what the Pitchfork Department of Revisionist History might have you believe, the best music is being made today, it’s being released tomorrow. Enduring favorites will always leave their marks on our lives but if we don’t believe in the shimmering waves of an unimaginable future then why even carry on at all? Of all the things I fear about my listless future adrift on these shaky currents, my eagerness to expose myself to new and exciting musical frontiers never ebbs.

The enterprising kings who lorded over Iquitos weren’t those who owned boats, it was the ones who skulk around the waterfront with rusty two-stroke motors slung over their shoulders. Empty wooden shells bobbed along every pier, but simply floating away from home will only get you stranded or lost. Being able to navigate the choppy expanses of heavily trafficked rivers and the knowledge to map the myriad of winding tributaries is what gives us the means to succeed. Back home, on his deathbed, the last great man I knew made my mom promise she’d give me the boat motor he had stashed in a shed out back. The deep wisdom occupied what would be dismissed as a vacant dying mind; he didn’t own a boat or a motor. That surreal moment is the closest thing as I have to a map in this adult life.

Less fatalistically I find that the older I get the less I fear the falls. Not being the captain of my trajectory has yielded, among the heart-rending failures, some purely incredible triumphs. The mundane chores — walking the rent check to the office, picking up take-out, reading on the front porch — occasionally splash the shockingly cold realities of adulthood across my gargoyle’s scowl. Sitting on the living room steps as Will Johnson sings in my home, talking as equals with my most adored musical heroes or, even more unbelievable, putting out records with them… There have been times, even recent times, where I’ve accidentally caught myself feeling like this has been a fantastic river to drift along.
— Fredrick Arnold

Shit Century
Discarded memories

"Honea" - Lovers The longer the neck, the closer to God. Left a mix CD with this track in my Mom’s Dodge Stratus; became her go-to ‘favorite song’ when expressing a mocking interest in my music.

"Carry Me, Ohio" - Sun Kill Moon Fredrick Arnold, 2006, crumpled in unrequited love. Face pressed against the passenger seat headrest in the back of a minivan. Frozen waterfalls.

"Tie-Dye" - Ducktails  Running speaker wire. Crimson floors, expensive flour. Further back, denim jackets. One urban acre.

"The Ringing in my Ears" -  Her Space Holiday Los Angeles; first time far from home. Air pollution, racial slurs. Digging this CD out of a used bin at Amoeba.

"Tamborine-N-Thyme" - Nana Grizol Athens, Georgia. Nana Grizol playing in the parking lot of the Little Kings Shuffle Club on the hottest day of the year.

"I Can Tell You’re Leaving" - The Trembling Bells & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy Lamenting the loss of everything, knowing the smallest gestures are the most devastating.

"In Amber" - Love as Laughter First music industry job // Sub Pop Street Team circa 2004-2006. Facing an impending end, careening madly over gravel roads.

"Rabid Bits of Time" - Chad VanGaalen Coastal Peru looking like a smoldering bed of coals during my descent. 10 PM local time.

"Seaweed" - Fruit Bats Used to play this game with a girl who’s artwork is tattooed on my body. Pull over in the wilderness and run with reckless abandon towards everything and nothing.

"Cat Faces" - Ugly Cassanova My commute through Big Flats during High School. End of an enduring winter; endless fields of mounting fog. No sunflowers this year.

"Spelunking "-Laura Veirs  Somewhere outside of Wellsboro, PA. Four of us in a car and the ghost of the fifth calls complete silence with her quiet whispering of these words.

"The Days I Recall Being Wonderful" -Last Days of April  Endless weekends, crowded rooms, complete emotional isolation. Red Devil energy drink, pizza delivery, sleep where you fall.