Earlier this year, TEEN released Carolina, an EP follow-up to their 2012 psych-pop full-length debut, In Limbo. The EP notably sees singer/multi-instrumentalist Teeny Lieberson shifting her vocal style from a more aggressive, care-free approach to one with a softer, more consciously “beautiful” inflection, inspired by Kate Bush and Al Green. In an interview from earlier this year, we asked what precipitated the change, and here’s how she responded:
I didn’t want to do the angry thing any more; the cool thing, you know? […] And since when is it not important or meaningful or cool to have somebody who can tell a story and carry the entire thing? That’s what a singer is supposed to do, and it’s been completely lost. Twenty, thirty years ago, you couldn’t be the lead singer of a band if you weren’t good at that. There’s was no reverb, people weren’t hiding behind this stuff. I’ve been guilty of trying to hide behind effects, but I don’t want to do that anymore. It feels boring.
It makes sense, then, that TEEN’s guest mix for Tiny Mix Tapes would be composed of mostly R&B singers who can indeed tell stories and carry entire songs by the strength of their vocal performances. Unlike most of our mixes, this mix has no intention of digging deep (unless you mean temporally), which is actually really refreshing because I’m so in the mood to hear Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye devastate me with their voices.
Check out the mix here, and read Teeny’s track-by-track commentary below:
[00:00] Sly and The Family Stone - “In Time”
I recently became re-obsessed with Sly. I listened to him all the time when I was a teenager, because I loved his voice so much. I recommend checking out his Twitter feed. This has been a highlight to my life.
[05:43] Al Green - “I’m A Ram”
My babysitter introduced me to Al Green when I was 12 or so. I remember getting into the car and she was blasting “Love and Happiness.” I thought it was the best thing I had ever heard. I now know every song he has sung, a lot of them written by a man named Teeny.
[09:24] Stevie Wonder - “You’ve Got It Bad Girl”
One of my favorite songs of all time. Stevie is such a master of inserting melodies and ideas where you least expect them and making it work every time. I also want every keyboard played on this record. They sound so good…
[14:11] Bill Withers - “Ruby Lee”
Such a genuine voice. I love the way his recordings sound — always moody and mysterious.
[17:23] Sam Cooke with the Soul Stirrers - “Pilgrim of Sorrow”
I had a friend tell me to check out Sam Cooke’s gospel recordings because they are so powerful. There’s a live recording of this song as well that’s completely amazing.
[19:45] The Flamingos - “I Only Have Eyes For You”
Along with my obsession for soul, I also have an obsession with hip-hop. The Fugees sampled this track in their song “Zealots,” which is still my favorite song from The Score. I later heard the original and it blew my mind. It’s so romantic.
[22:53] Marvin Gaye - “When Did You Stop Loving Me, When Did I Stop Loving You”
Here, My Dear is the most amazing break up record. So much pain and expression.
[28:58] Funkadelic - “I’ll Stay”
I love funkadelic because they’re so pysch. Their music doesn’t lose its groove or melodic sense when it goes into outer space.
[33:11] Betty Davis - “Game Is My Middle Name”
Miles Davis’ wife, and a total weirdo… she has a knack for the fantastic. The guitars on this song rip.