The Nerve Mixtape With Freelance Whales

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The Nerve Mixtape With Freelance Whales

The buzzy indie rockers give us the key to their hearts.

by Judah Dadone

Freelance Whales join precious melodies with arrangements featuring glockenspiel, harmonium, and the odd watering can. Hailing from Astoria, Queens, the band quickly moved from playing subway stations in New York City to conquering SXSW; last weekend, they played at The Governors Ball festival in New York. We chatted with Freelance Whales frontman Judah Dadone to find out what's on his seduction mixtape, including one track that harks back to the "primal" and "dangerous," and another that reminds him of an ex. She was a dancer.

1. Jon Brion, "Phone Call"

This is from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind — one of the best love stories of the last couple decades. "Phone Call" is almost like a little subliminal message that says, "I've got baggage. I'm wounded. But I really want to fool around." Jon Brion's just amazing.


2. Jeff Buckley, "Everybody Here Wants You"

For the most part, Jeff is a capital "R" romantic like Blake or Byron or Shelley, so there's definitely a lot of dark, brooding mortality stuff mixed in with his love songs. But this one is really groovy. It's the only super-groovy song that he ever recorded. At first, I was thinking of "Lover, You Should've Come Over" — kind of the obvious choice — but then I remembered how soulful this one is. You might lose your mojo a bit during the bridge, but as soon as the groove drops back in, you'll regain focus.


3. Nina Simone, "Lilac Wine"

"Lilac Wine" really captures the intoxication of love and how blurry and strange it makes us feel and act. It's also a flowing association from the previous song.


4. D'Angelo, "How Does It Feel"

The video's really iconic, and the song is classic. It feels like it's from another era. This is just as about as overtly sexual as my mixtape can get. I tend to be a little more subtle, but this is just so good. It has the power to make you feel way cooler than you actually are.


5. Broken Social Scene, "Lover's Spit"

This is also extremely seductive. These guys are really great at making sexual depravity tug at the heartstrings a little bit. It's kind of a gross song, but musically, it's extremely sweet. I'm going with the original version from the album You Forgot It In People, but I had a hard time choosing between that and the remix from Bee Hives with Feist on vocals. Ideally, they would have done a version where they used the original instrumental but Leslie Feist did the vocal. I just have to imagine how amazing that would be.


6. Lykke Li, "Hanging High"

Oh, man. There's something really alluring about this foxtrotty, ghost Motown sort of thing. I used to date this girl who was an aerial fabric dancer, and she did a dance to this piece that was just so beautiful and ethereal. So I can't listen to this song anymore without thinking about it. I would send you a link, but I think she would mind!


7. Sharon Van Etten, "Love More"

This is one of those love songs that slays on first listen. You get this uncanny sense that you've heard it a million times already. It simultaneously creates and fills a void in your heart. We were listening to it a lot on tour a couple of years ago. When you're on tour, the littlest thing can set you off emotionally, because there's nothing constant in your life.


8. Gayngs, "The Last Prom on Earth"

I feel like "The Last Prom on Earth" could play as the lights come back on at a middle-school dance or something. Also, it never hurts to have a little bit of a sense of humor when it comes to seduction. This might be a good one to pull some robotic slow-dance moves to, while biting your lower lip. It's a little campy, but it's really, really fun.


9. M83, "Farewell, Goodbye"

This one's from the album Before the Dawn Heals Us. That was the first M83 record that I heard. My then-girlfriend played it for me in college, and I remember feeling really nostalgic for something that hadn't even happened yet. There's a whispery female vocal in the second verse that's totally intoxicating.


10. Freelance Whales, "Vessels"

This is a little instrumental thing that we did. (I think hearing my voice in a mixtape while being with someone would be really creepy for both parties.) To me, this song always felt like an encounter with a lover in a dream. I secretly hope that it gets used in a movie someday where two people are snogging in the afterlife.


11. James Blake, "Why Don't You Call Me"/"I Mind"

These songs flow right into each other. The first part of it is all soulful projection and stake-claiming. It's really sly and sexy how it transitions into a dancier feeling right after this extremely somber, snippet-laden, piano-ballad thing.


12. Burial, "Etched Headplate"

In the last five years, I've listened to this song more than any other I can think of. It manages to be extremely soulful and robotic at the same time. I find that kind of thing extremely romantic and seductive. The vibe of the song is kind of woozy and dark, but if you've ever been drunk at a rave, missing an ex, wallowing in the bathroom, this is sort of what it feels like. I put it on in every situation imaginable. I'm convinced that it's universal.


13. Radiohead, "All I Need"

The grooves on In Rainbows are incredible, and this one is probably the grooviest. It's kind of cool how simple and sexy Thom Yorke let himself be on this record. The first line of the song "House of Cards" — "I don't want to be your friend / I just want to be your lover" — sounds like it could be Prince. But this one actually feels sexier.


14. Liars, "A Visit From Drum"

Don't play this for anyone in the bedroom unless you think they trust you or you're totally okay with them running for the door. They'll probably think you're into ritualistic sacrifice or something like that. This song taps into something primal and strange and maybe even a little dangerous, which sounds like seduction to me. Maybe that's why I put it towards the end of the mix — they're already in too deep to leave.


15. Animal Collective, "Banshee Beat"

This is kind of a continuation of the previous track — a little bit more gentle but still really visceral stuff. It's summery and sweltering, with the sensation of really thick, humid air and the faint sound of crickets in the background. It starts ambiently, but then produces a really steady groove.