Positively OK

Scottish children (via Alan Lomax), "My Girl's a Corker" (Rounder; c. 1951–57).

Yo La Tengo, "Did I Tell You" (Matador; 1987 or 1990). iTunes

FannyPack, "Seven One Eight" (Tommy Boy; 2005). iTunes

Gwen Stefani, "Crash" (Interscope; 2004). iTunes

The New Pornographers, "Sing Me Spanish Techno" (Matador; 2005). iTunes

Lhasa, "Anywhere on This Road" (Nettwerk; 2004). iTunes

Brian Wilson, "Wonderful" (Nonesuch; 2004). iTunes

Gangsta Boo, "Mask 2 My Face" (Relativity; 2001).

The Homosexuals, "Astral Glamour" (Hyped 2 Death; 1978). iTunes

Shelby Bryant, "You're a Star" (Smells Like; 2001). eMusic

Life Without Buildings, "PS Exclusive" (Tugboat; 2001).

DJ Quik ft. Suga Free, "Do I Love Her?" (Arista; 2000). iTunes

Big & Rich, "Kick My Ass" (Warner Bros. Nashville; 2004). iTunes

Commercial Breakup, "Superman (Wighnomy Brothers Remix)" (Ladomat 2000; 2004).

LCD Soundsystem, "Yeah (Stupid Version)" (DFA; 2004).

Buddy Holly, "Words of Love" (Coral; 1957). iTunes

When she is off in West Texas wearing a straw hat cinched by what he in his New York Yankees cap only recently learned to call a "stampede string," the mix communiqué can't help but concern sense-of-place. Not just sense-of-place as regional shorthand or psycho-geographical fantasy, but sense-of-place as it relates to the very air there, in West Texas, where it's hot and big and different from the city in every conceivable way except for her presence among molecules that he tries to remind himself, on days when she's most missed, bond the same as the ones he breathes.

He starts with something to place her at home: a group of kids singing a playground chant around the lines "My girl's a corker/She's a New Yorker/I'd do most anything to keep her in store." (The kids' place in the song is no more incongruous than bizarre couplets like "She's got a pair of eyes/Just like two custard pies.") Yo La Tengo follow with a teary bearing-the-wait ballad, but lest the tone grow too wistful, FannyPack blow up to remind her that the city traffics in sass as snappy as her season's big-sky lightning; invocations of "crash" echo through tracks by Gwen Stefani and New Pornographers, both crackling pop currents with choruses that soar.

From there, cues answer to love and sound and love of sound. Trumpets smear between Lhasa's sinister Mexican night tale (Spanish techno, or at least something like it) and Brian Wilson's sunny California hymn from Smile. Three 6 Mafia cohort Gangsta Boo gets extremely high on weed and sounds likes a rapper from another planet altogether, but old post-punk heroes the Homosexuals sneer down cocaine glamour in a way a lot more earthy ("semen in the region . . . IMMACULATE"). Shambling '60s pop devotee Shelby Bryant chimes in with just about the sweetest song ever, giving this mix its title with the wide-eyed line "You're positively OK!"

The links go on, clear and covert by turns, as he props up songs for their chords (the weightless guitar gravity of Scottish indie band Life Without Buildings) and laughs (Nashville country clowns Big & Rich) and jolts (LCD Soundsystem's synthesizer-scream therapy). It all chimes to an end, hats off and hands out, with Buddy Holly, a Texan who sounds like he knows where he is and where he wants to be.


Andy Battaglia writes for The Onion A.V. Club. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.

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