Make Me a Mixtape is a segment where we interview artists and have them make a mixtape of seven songs based around a particular scenario, explaining why they chose each song. This week, we chat with the Bloomington-based garage outfit the Cowboys, who curated seven songs for the ideal jam session to relieve your severe case of midwestern boredom.
From the Hoosier land of Bloomington, Indiana comes the quick-witted garage rock outfit the Cowboys. Their latest EP Lovers in Marble showcases the band's essence of brilliant pop sensibilities skewed in an underground aesthetic, making it their most pivotal release yet. Throughout their ever-expanding discography, the Cowboys have proven themselves difficult to define. Some aspects of their sound carry a garage soul force with an addictive, swinging '60s-inspired production style, whereas their punchy rhythm section and short bursts of seething guitar riffs might signal a punk spirit—think early '70s-era Stones combined with the catchy-as-hell rockers from Loaded-era Velvet Underground. However, frontman Keith Harman's crooning vocal range accompanied with the orchestration and piano flourishes add complexity to their musical style that sparks curiosity. Their melting pot of musical influences as well as their midwestern roots inspired the scenario for this mixtape. Imagine you're stranded in an unfinished basement in Indiana and the Cowboys are there to entertain you with a jam session to cure your severe case of midwestern boredom. In fact, they're magically able to play any song imaginable. Strap in for the eclectic sonic journey of the Cowboys' ideal cover setlist.
Fantasy Jam by The Cowboys
Fleetwood Mac — "Jew Eyed Judy"
"The hypnotic, quiet beginnings lead into one of my favorite releases in rock music. That explosion of guitar is so satisfying. Truly bitchin'."
Lena Lovich — "Lucky Number"
"I suspect that I would feel really cool if I were to belt this out while Jordan and Zack (drums and bass) hammer out this rhythm. Her elastic vocals are an inspiration."
The Human Beinz — "Dance on Through"
"That organ puts a big smile on my face. A great pop tune played in a bare bones garage arrangement, which is pretty much the Cowboys' modus operandi."
George Baker Selection — "Little Green Bag"
"I really dig the sweet mixture of American R&B and European pop that this song blends. It could prove to be extremely corny in the wrong hands."
R. Dean Taylor — "Indiana Wants Me"
"A great Motown tune that speaks to our heart due to the Indiana roots of the band. A quiet little prayer for us Indiana boys."
The Tremeloes — "Yellow River"
"Love the bass and piano interplay here and the general feel of the tune. A real belter of a song and another fine slice of pop simplicity."
XTC — "Helicopter"
"One of XTC's greatest songs and it's absolutely bonkers—manic and all over the place, just a hair short of being too silly. Any group that could convincingly pull this one off would be royalty in my book."
You can listen to the Cowboys' playlist below.