Extremely influential figures have asked me to create a MIX CD encompassing all of the best material from the best albums for the whole year. I answered them that ‘I’m game’.
What you’ll see below is my attempt to try and pick apart each track. Some of these tracks readers might recognize from their inclusion in previous Mix CDs. To them, I say that repetition isn’t always a bad thing, and with EPs, I don’t really have a choice.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy the said items. I know it is a MIX but it goes on for a bit (two discs). Each one of these songs is pretty exceptional and close to my heart. Since I do have a somewhat strange set of bands here, I’ll try my best to set them accordingly. Enjoy!
1. LCD Soundsytem: One Touch
I feel a lot of people quietly liked this album. Usually though people ended up talking about some of the other tracks before this one. Each time I got frustrated this year, this song instantly played in my head. Personally, it served as my internal freak out song, allowing me to cope with whatever ridiculous situation came up. The nervous vocal delivery is excellent, and the music feels like it is about to explode at all times.
2. Peter Gordon and the Love of Life Orchestra – Another Heartbreak/Don’t Don’t Redux
Yeah, this got released on DFA, so I figured it ought to be followed James Murphy’s project. Peter’s stuff tends to be mellower, slower but still possessing that funk that makes him a good fit for what’s going on musically right now. It bounces and even has a saxophone in a song that I actually like (full disclosure: Peter is a trained saxophonist).
3. Laetitia Sadier – Un Soir, Un Chien
This is a cover of Les Rita Mitsouko’s classic hit. Laetitia tightens up the sound a little bit, and gives it a faster tempo. Even though they are cosmetic changes, I like her version more than the original. Perhaps the old one lacks some of the urgency Laetitia adds, like Catherine Ringer’s singing from too far away.
4. Beach House – Lover of Mine
Most of the album is solid, so I had a bit of trouble picking the best song. But I think the little buildup over halfway through the song does it for me. After we have all that stability of sound, she breaks it down a little bit. It is a minor thing, but it really wins me over.
5. Ja Prawn – Soulja Boi
Ah yes, I liked these guys. Nobody else did, at least on the East Coast. Perhaps they received a warmer reception in California, where they are based. This one conjures up images of Add N to (X) if the anger got replaced by mellow depression.
6. Toro Y Moi – Imprint After
Chad is the man. He created the happiest music I encountered this year. My thoughts are if he released his album in the summer, it might have gotten a warmer reception. Releasing it so early in the year worked against him, I feel. I’m going back to my seasonal attitude in music. Anyway, here’s a sweet little number off of “Causers of This”
7. Deepchord Presents Echospace – BCN Dub
Some people have a thing for short songs. I’m clearly not one of them. Rather, I enjoy burning through the long haul ones, so long as they are good. BCN Dub is the centerpiece for their album, and I’d strongly recommend the whole thing. It is just perfect dance music, well-done and in little danger of growing stale (something dance music is always in danger of).
8. Outer Limits Recordings – Burnin’ Through the Nite
Part of me wants to apologize to you, since you’ll have this stuck in your head for about 8 months. But I see this one as a way of blocking out those bad, modern pop songs. Whenever I get some garbage music stuck in my mind, I put this on and immerse myself in its innocent charm.
9. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Round and Round
Pitchfork put this as their track of the year, so it must be good, right? I have this after the radio announcer has drunkenly signed off. It just feels right. Ariel Pink is having an awesome year this year, so I guess you can celebrate with him by imbibing this track. Going to a few concerts in New York, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction against this song, like it got overplayed. Honestly I think it is impossible to overplay this gem.
10. VHS Head – Remote Control
Nobody I know even heard of this, yet when I played it for them they adored it. Released this year on Skam, he ended up being criminally neglected. Maybe I’m a bit of an Anglophile regarding this kind of electronic music, but he gets the pacing down perfectly.
11. Mark Fell – Multistability 10-A
People either love or hate this guy. I put this on here to see your reaction. Mark Fell goes through years without putting out anything, and then releases two albums in the course of a month. Oh well, I’m glad he’s on something of a roll right now. Here’s one of my favorites from his recent output.
12. Women – Locust Valley
Now we’ve moved away from the electronic for the most part. Women remain one of my favorite bands of the whole year. Actually their album is pretty moody, so I wanted to pick out a song I thought best embodied the darkness they seemed best acquainted. I tend to put their album on a lot, listening to it from start to finish, always finding something new to like.
13. Stereolab – Sun Demon
A real bright light of sunshine we have here. This is Stereolab’s last output, perhaps forever. I like the multiple sections, and all the classic hallmarks of their good stuff. Really their album has more gems like this, so I went through some trouble picking out a song. Listen to the whole thing at some point, it is truly grand.
14. Rangers – Deerfield Village
In case you want to spend a day doing nothing but staring at clouds, I could think of worse records then this to do it. Rangers embody that lazy Sunday afternoon feeling to me, that is, if I didn’t work on Sundays. To be fair, their material does take some time to grow on you but I’d put it up there with Ducktails in terms of quality.
15. Chris Weisman & Greg Davis – Hat or Night
Chris’s voice takes some getting used to, but once it clicks you’re set. Nothing raises its voice here, it is almost pure calm. Only at the end does it actually create a sing-along chorus, as if it had always been there.
16. Weed – Quilt
Lo-fi rocks at its finest here. Not only do you get the joy of the warm layers of fuzz, but there’s some great pop song-writing here as well. I have no idea why this guy doesn’t get paid more attention, especially once compared to the lackluster Wavves dude.
17. No Age – Valley Crush
Valley Crush comes closest to No Age growing up. Here you have a full-bodied song. A lot of that static and grime you knew has been partly polished away, to reveal that they were always pretty good song writers.
18. Harlem – Crowd Pleaser
Harlem did get some great coverage. I’m happy for that. Seeing them live is absolutely worth it, they have a sort of psychopathic energy that so few bands have. If I had to describe it, it would be like a bunch of kids not knowing the rules and doing whatever. Here’s one of my favorites of theirs.
19. Nerve City – Armory
Nobody talked about these guys. That primitive beat, the western twang, all comes together to form a real stomper of a track. How this forms into a great drunken chorus at the end it beyond me, but I’m glad it exists.
20. Keith Fullerton Whitman – Generator 1
Listening to this, I’m reminded of a living, breathing organism. The patterns are as natural as possible; Keith’s intention for the pieces was to let the music create itself. Setting a few basic perimeters, he created pure ambient bliss. I guess you could taste colors listening to this or some other absolutely bizarre thing, I rarely hear anything this trippy or good.
21. Panda Bear – Count on Me
I really wanted Panda Bear to release his album. He didn’t. But the singles are fantastic, and I wanted this song to bid you adieu. Have a fond farewell and let the man in a Panda Costume give you a hug.