Saturday, December 11, 2010
Alright, kids. We made it! We made it to the end of this crazy year. I have a lot to say about the songs on this mixtape, so here goes...
HIDE IT AWAY-RETRIBUTION GOSPEL CHOIR
I started this year in an absolute musical drought. I was really feeling pretty awful about the fact that I hadn't really gotten excited about anything new in quite some time, and also that the new things I was hearing weren't exciting me at all. I started downloading free MP3s from places like Stereogum and Magnet, and this song was among the first ones I heard that actually gave me hope. It wasn't that it was really all that better than most of the other things I was hearing, rather I think it just hit me the right way. An appropriate start to the mixtape, then. The beginning of my own renaissance, right here.
DANCE YRSELF CLEAN-LCD SOUNDSYSTEM
Oh my goodness, where has this track been all my life? I love the low key intro that gives way to the full on danceathon...plus the lyrics are fantastic. I think LCD Soundsystem are quite emblematic of the way my ears have opened this year...I had previously dismissed James Murphy et al as uninteresting, simply because they weren't my usual electronic bag (Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, etc.). This record brings me to a warm, fuzzy place.
One of the best records of the year that you probably haven't heard. Am I biased? Maybe, but I think Mike Canter's review will tell you everything you need to know. Plus, being that I tour full time performing with K.C., this song (and all the others on "Orchid") was a very big part of my 2010.
COME ON BABY GRACE-BOSTON SPACESHIPS
Robert Pollard has released a lot of music in the last couple of years, but there are always some absolute diamonds in the pile if you're willing to dig for them. This one sticks out like a sore thumb...just one of the best damn rock songs released all year long. Exquisite.
ROCOCO-THE ARCADE FIRE
In a year full of surprises, this was one of the biggest ones for me personally. I did not expect to have an entire, self-contained mini-renaissance with the Arcade Fire. If any one band was emblematic of the coarseness I had developed with regard to the indie rock scene and its sacred cows, it was the Arcade Fire. I didn't think they were awful. I was just utterly convinced they were not anywhere NEAR as good as everyone thought they were. And then, thanks to an Amazon Daily Deal, I downloaded this album and, most unexpectedly, fell in love. Thanks, Arcade Fire.
I'M COMING THROUGH-CRAIG BETHELL
I have to thank my friend Brian Williams for this one. Back in January, K.C. and I were on tour on the east coast and drove through Richmond, VA, where Brian lives with his wife Jennifer. He gave me a mixtape (or CD, rather) to listen to in the car on the drive the next day, and this was on it. I was lukewarm at first, but got to the point where this has become one of my favorite tracks of the year (even though I believe it technically came out in 2009). I love the end where it trails off into a sort of "dialogue & piano duet"...
CANDLE IN THE WILLOW TREE-ROUND MOUNTAIN
This wasn't released in 2010, either, but I didn't hear it until this year. Robby & Char Rothschild, who comprise Round Mountain, are old friends of mine from college. Serendipitously, we all ended up at the Folk Alliance conference together in February, and I got to hear them perform for the first time in a dozen plus years. This is from their 2007 album "Truth & Darkness." It would be the first of several moments this year where I came back in touch with people from my past who are making amazing music...
SAY YES-SHADOW SHADOW SHADE
Okay, so this is one of a few instances on this mixtape where I'm totally in love with the song, but I have yet to purchase the full album. I plan to, once my Emusic rolls over next month! This song is so happy, it just kills me. Such a great single. Reminds me of the glory days of 120 Minutes on MTV...something I would have heard there. Innocence reclaimed! Fantastic.
MECHANICS & MATHEMATICS-VENUS HUM
I've been a Venus Hum fan from the beginning, and have the privilege of being friends with one of the members. Their new album came out in 2009, but I didn't manage to get my hands on it until this year. So glad I did. I think this song is incredible, and incredibly easy to relate to...
NATALIE (THE MICHAEL)-THE FIBS
Another track that wasn't released this year, but that I really only discovered this year. The Fibs toil in obscurity in Philadelphia, but have managed to put together some really great songs. Their future is in question at this point, but maybe if you all go crash their MySpace page they'll pull it together and make some more music.
NEW WAY BACK-GREEN CORN REVIVAL
What can I say about GCR that I haven't already said? Miraculously awesome fusion of country, new wave pop and a whole bunch of other things. Great record. Mind-blowing live performance. Great people. Go go go go get this record now. This was step one in becoming totally, completely enthralled with the local music scene in Oklahoma this year.
BEGINNING OF THE HEARTBREAK/DON'T DON'T-PETER GORDON & LOVE OF LIFE ORCHESTRA
This technically didn't come out in 2010, either, but was reissued this year. I could have just as easily included the 2010 redux of this track ("Another Heartbreak/Don't Don't (Redux)"), but it was about three minutes longer and I was already cramped for space! Peter was a teacher of mine in college, in addition to being a fantastic composer with lots of amazing music to his credit. I couldn't be prouder to say that. James Murphy and DFA records put out a great compilation of his late 70's dance oriented material this year. Go get it.
COME ALIVE (WAR OF THE ROSES)-JANELLE MONAE
Sheesh. This woman is amazing. The single most interesting female african-american artist of the last twenty years, at least. Some of you will shout heresy, I'm sure, but this record helped me come back to R&B and related music this year. I had been in a serious rock rut for a long time. Thank you, Janelle Monae. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
LOOKING FOR A DIAMOND-JARED LEKITES
This young Oklahoma gentleman also took me by surprise this year. In case you didn't catch my interview with him a couple of weeks ago, you can hear it again on the Mixtape Jones Radio Show on 12/28 and 1/2. His EP is an incredible, beautiful Brian Wilson-esque burst of creativity. Go get it.
DAGGERS-THE QUICK & EASY BOYS
These guys are a lot of fun. I love the way this song slowly builds to its climax. Big thumbs up.
Again, one of the best records of the year that you haven't heard. I put this song on here as well because, when K.C. and I are playing shows together, I sit out on this song, and I sit and watch/listen to her sing it from just a few feet away. It's the best part of the whole night for me. This song is so amazingly beautiful and poignant. One of my favorite songs in the world right now.
I was a Chuck E. Costa fan before he put together this group, and made an amazing new record with them. But I'm even more of a fan now. Most of the record isn't this poppy, but I couldn't resist this song and it's charms.
NOW THAT I'M OLDER-SUFJAN STEVENS
Another one of the biggest surprises of the year was Sufjan's amazing, dense, electronically infused album, "The Age of Adz." This isn't one of the more glitchy songs on the record by any means, but I felt like it fit in best with my mixtape, and with the mood of the year in some ways.
SAVE $-SHORTWAVE SUNSHINE
Gabriel Hays, of Shortwave Sunshine, is another guy I went to college with. It was truly a delight to me to see/hear that he had crafted such a fantastic record this year. Everything on this record has such taste...it's finely crafted at every turn. Highly recommended.
HOW I GOT OVER-THE ROOTS
The Roots finally released an album this year that I think all their fans can agree is really great. So many great tracks to choose from, but I went with this one because it will get stuck in your head for days.
SCISSOR RUNNER-JENNY & JOHNNY
I still don't have this whole record, either...again, Emusic...but this track refuses to wear out. Catchy, brilliant, clean, delightful duet vocals. Good on ya, Jenny & Johnny.
ONLY EXISTING FOOTAGE-THE EXTRA LENS
This is the only track on this mixtape that I feel like I could possibly regret later on...not because I don't think it's good, but I feel like I could potentially feel later that it wasn't a year-defining track for me. It's such an interesting song, though, because it pulls together a few disparate worlds for me. I spend so much time on the folk circuit in my work life, and I hear a lot of singers that sound like this, but the production arrangement is very indie rock...again, I feel like it's the type of record more people in the folk world should be making. Take risks, people!
BJO, PT. 2-WEIRD FILES.
Yes, this is me. My alter ego outside of Dr. Pants. Dr. Pants didn't release any new music this year (we're saving all that for 2011), but I did manage to squeeze out this bizarre little EP. Go buy it HERE.
Oh Gorillaz, entertaining to the last. This song will remind me of being on the road this year...rocked in the car a whole bunch of times.
Holy crap. This the last of the "unexpected musical miracle" tracks...after "808s & Heartbreak" I wasn't expecting much from Kanye West. And then, lo and behold, he releases one of the best albums of the year. This album (and this song) is SO dark...it's a harrowing listening experience, at least for me, but it's cathartic on some level, and the music/production is so impressive. This song, in particular, is just so gorgeous. And a 4 minute, auto-tuned, wordless vocal outro???? I can scarcely think of another move as ballsy in recent memory that turns out as well. Bravo, Kanye, you social disaster.
AND THIS IS WHAT WE CALL PROGRESS-THE BESNARD LAKES
Next to "Orchid", this might be my favorite album of the year. The gentlemen on Sound Opinions refer to it as an album where "Brian Wilson meets My Bloody Valentine", and they couldn't be more right. It is as gorgeous as the Beach Boys, with a noise factor that is quite simply delicious. Put it on, lay back, relax, drift...
SICKIE BOY-ROBYN HITCHCOCK & THE VENUS 3
And then, one of my favorite artists in the world puts out a fantastic record, too. The third in a line of records with the Venus 3, Robyn is on a roll. This is one of the most fun tracks he's put out in a while, as well. This song, just like so many of the songs here, will always remind me of this year, and all the good things that came with it. Thanks, Robyn.