announcing! april 2013 mixtape

April 28th, 2013

Mt. Abraham

I haven’t posted a mixtape for a long time, but that means there’s just more concentrated awesomeness in this one. Please check this out. It’s a good.

Go ahead and check out the playlist (below) or the liner notes.

Adrian’s April 2013 Mixtape (zip file)

Or stream it.



You can download the zip file with the following:
1. mp3s of the songs
2. liner notes (pdf)
3. playlist file (iTunes txt file)

(for the iTunes file, simply add all the songs to your library and then go to File->Library->Import Playlist and then select the song list (the txt file). you should now have the playlist 2013April in your iTunes with all the songs in the correct order).

April 2013 mixtape:

  1. Breton Wood Ooogum Boogum
  2. Phosphorescent Song for Zula
  3. Night Beds Everything Trying
  4. Local Natives Heavy Feet
  5. Lord Huron Time to Run
  6. Sin Fang Young Boys
  7. Keegan DeWitt Two Hearts
  8. Chris Porterfield I Would Not Die in Springfield
  9. Hayden Blurry Nights
  10. Pickwick Lady Luck
  11. Llans Thelwell and His Celestials Grazing in the Grass
  12. The Ray Alexander Techniques I Don’t Bite
  13. Frightened Rabbit Late March, Death March
  14. The Mouthbreathers Birthdays
  15. Fionn Regan 67 Blackout
  16. The Local Strangers Uptown
  17. Hey Marseilles Heart Beats
  18. Benjamin Gibbard Bigger Than Love
  19. The Tree Ring Salton Sea

If you like the artists or songs, I suggest supporting them by buying their music, going to a show, buying merchandise from them. And tell other people about the artists!

top song obsessions of 2012

December 27th, 2012

DSC_7537
The Lumineers, seen here at Cafe 939 in April, really caught my ear this year

Song obsessions are those songs that your brain picks for you, those ear worms that get stuck in your head and have you singing them to yourself or going back to hit repeat on your ipod. I like the idea of reporting what my brain got stuck on each year, rather than picking a list of song I think are the ‘best’. Here’s the list of the songs that were stuck in my head the most in 2012.

If you want to read through past years’ lists, here are my top song obsessions from 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

  1. The Lumineers – Ho Hey (mp3) (buy)
    The Lumineers – Slow It Down (mp3) (download it with subscription)

    “Slow it Down” by The Lumineers from Look Sessions on Vimeo.

    The Lumineers hit me with a double shot this year. Early on Natalie’s obsession with “Slow It Down” got me turned onto this video, which was one I watched dozens of times; later, I got into the rest of the album and the obvious ear-catcher is “Ho Hey”. Both songs employ great dynamics and melodies, but there’s also something honest and straight-forward about them. (Funny enough I’ve been singing “I belong with you// You belong with me// In my sweet home” to myself for months only to just find that those aren’t the right lyrics at all).

  2. Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (mp3) (buy)

    Of Monsters and Men took a long time for me to get into. I gave them a listen in March and thought they were sort of a more Icelandic version of the Stars. This song struck me a bit in May but this album really hit me in August/ September when I was spent five days driving around Iceland. These songs really go well with landscapes like this. We probably listened to the album a dozen times in those five days, each time settling into the songs more, ratcheting up my enthusiasm for the band, driving the musical hooks deeper into my brain.

  3. Tyler Lyle – I’ll Sing You a Song (mp3) (buy)

    There’s something very sincere and earnest about Tyler Lyle that takes some getting used to, I think. He writes songs that come to you already familiar, like something your songwriter friend wrote, that he played for you as he worked on it during evenings of hanging out. This is particularly true of “I’ll Sing You a Song”. I searched for hours trying to figure out why it sounds familiar, but I couldn’t find any source. Maybe that’s just it: a good melody will always sound familiar.

  4. Kishi Bashi – Bright Whites (mp3) (buy)

    I got introduced to Kishi Bashi through Dave’s song obsession in July. He had good, good reason for being obsessed with this song. Have you heard it? I want to Godzilla dance–I made this up–to the beginning and then attempt to sing along to the rest. It’s a few minutes of layered pop genius that plays like a less frenetic, more accessible Shugo Tokumaru.

  5. Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me Maybe (mp3) (buy)

    I’ve always said my song obsessions aren’t about me picking songs but about which songs get stuck in my head. It’s not really me picking songs, but reporting which songs I’m already obsessed with. That said, here’s this song. It’s not exactly my type of music at all, so it’s hard to say why I got obsessed with it. Maybe it was all the cute sing-along videos that popped up over the summer. Maybe it was the catchy melody and that silly-but-amazing line “Before you came into my life// I missed you so bad.” Or maybe it was that the song is not an assertive command (“Call Me.”) but has some doubt or indifference in it (depending on your reading) that has some charm to it.

  6. Read the rest of this entry »

song obsession friday!

July 12th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
The Very Best – We Okay (ft. K’Naan) (mp3) (pre-order)

Neil Halstead – Full Moon Rising (mp3) (pre-order)

The Very Best: I’ve been a fan for a while (since their first mixtape) and I’m always excited when new material comes out. But, still, it was ridiculous when I first heard this track; I must have played this song a dozen times in a row. I’ve listened to it a few dozen since. It’s just a very catchy chorus matched with Esau’s and K’naan’s verses; it’s simultaneously very universal and very African at the same time.

As for the Halstead track, it’s also been going around my head–I can’t agree with Sandy below more.

Dave:
Kishi Bashi – Bright Whites (mp3) (buy)

This song embodies everything that a great summer song obsession should be: ridiculously catchy hook, foot-tapping rhythm, über-joyous melody, and a top down, wind-in-your-hair feel that will bring a smile to just about everyone’s face. Add to that an enthusiastic vocal styling not wholly unlike early Beatles, and “Bright Whites” has become summer 2012 almost-anthem for me.

Sandy:
Neil Halstead – Full Moon Rising (mp3) (pre-order)

The song just has an ease to it. You warm to it immediately, you can almost hum along at first listen. It doesn’t go away – just a great track from a great songwriter.

song obsession Thursday

June 14th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Damien Jurado – Let Us All In (mp3) (came with per-order, buy the album)
Sigur Ros – Eg Anda (mp3) (buy)

It’s been a few weeks since the last song obsession post and I’ve both of these songs going through my head.

Going into Jurado’s show at the Davis Square Theater in May, I was more or less unaware of this song. As strange as it seems for a man that had heretofore sat in a chair when he played shows, by the end of the this show he was well on the way to having the crowd worked up into an ecstatic mood. He closed with this song and it was like a late night church revival, ending with Jurado down on his knees shout-singing into the microphone. I went home and put the song on repeat.

I really loved the Jonsi+Alex album and the new Sigur Ros album echoes some of the ambient tendencies of that album. I’ve been listening to this entire album on repeat; this song sticks ut slightly more than the rest.

Keith:
Mode Moderne – Real Goth (mp3) (buy)

It’s literally impossible for me to generate more personal excitement for my new favorite band, Vancouver’s Mode Moderne. It’s like the best of early Clan of Xymox, Depeche Mode and Joy Division rolled into one darkly edible confection. They have this way of turning a phrase with an arched eyebrow while slyly injecting a bit of levity in each song, as if checking in to ensure their audience hasn’t completely gone dark. While I await their new ep in the mail we’ll flip back to a tune from their previous single, which is a bit lighter and more obvious than anything on their first LP (but just as effective).

song obsession friday! (for the middle of may)

May 18th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
The Tallest Man on Earth – 1904 (mp3) (pre-order)

I’m a sucker for just about all things Tallest Man. I have a particular soft spot for his fast and urgent numbers, of which this is neither, but despite that, or because of it, it got lodged in my head and I’ve been listening to it a lot.

Andy:
The Lucksmiths – There is a Boy That Never Goes Out (mp3) (buy)

From the first chords, this one’s a keeper. Solid, hard-strummed, upbeat chords make it immediately danceable. Simple lyrics, with just a little of the wittiness that I’d expect from a Lucksmiths song. And as a bonus, it’s just 2 minutes long, which really clinches it as something I can play again and again. Truth be told, there are a lot of Lucksmiths songs that I play on repeat; this one was just at the top of the heap this week.

Sandy:

JBM – Ferry (mp3) (pre-order)

For me this week, it is almost anything off the new JBM album, Stray Ashes. I am going with the lead off track from the album “Ferry”.

The whole album (JBM’s ‘Stray Ashes’ out on Western Vinyl on May 22nd) is soo moody and sonically embracing – it is almost a crime to remove songs individually from it but if I am forced to for this feature, it is the track ‘Ferry’. The song is both isolating and achingly sad while being completely beautiful and comforting at the same time. It really sets the tone for the entire album and I just can’t stop listening to it.

song obession friday! (beginning of may)

May 4th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks (mp3) (buy)

I’ve been listening to this whole album of Stars-meet-Iceland group-singing pop on repeat. It’s thoroughly enjoyable. This song sticks out slightly more than the rest.

Heather:
Wild Light – California On My Mind (mp3) (buy)

I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area, and fell hard for everything about this fantastic anthem of a song the first time I heard it, in all its pop catchiness and life cynicism. Even now, as I write this post, I know that when the 2:31 ends, I will hit “play” again on this track because I can NEVER listen to it just once. Ever.

From that opening count-off on the drums, to where that wheezing harmonica comes in (I feel pretty certain that Springsteen would approve), this is a terrific song. Wild Light is a band I know nothing about except for this song which fell like a gem into my lap when I was looking for fodder for an SF mix; one of the dudes from the band apparently was a schoolmate/roommate of Win Butler from Arcade Fire (thank you Wikipedia). The band is from the other side of the USA, nowhere near San Fran.

In a very longsuffering way, I love how this song is a “fuck you” to the entire Bay Area, and in addition to calling out today, San Francisco, and California in general, one time on the chorus they mix it up and also specify fucking Oakland. Which I think we can all get behind. This song sounds excruciatingly good played loudly on car speakers driving on a highway in California. Or anywhere, really. I just clicked “play” again.

Andy:

Father John Misty – Son of the Ladies Man (live) (mp3) (buy the album version)

This track has been bouncing around in my head for weeks; I just didn’t think it was fair game to post it before the album had been released. Now that it’s officially out, I feel no such qualms. The irony of me choosing to then link to a youtube video of his Letterman performance is not lost.

Really, this track is just the last in a 3-song arc (O I Long to Feel Your Arms Around Me | Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2 | Only Son of the Ladies Man) that I’ve really been into – these three songs hooked me, and I then slowly began to enjoy the rest of the album.

song obsession friday (mid april)

April 20th, 2012

damien jurado
Damien Jurado once again gets stuck in my head

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Damien Jurado – Diamond in the Sea (mp3) (came with pre-order; buy Maraqopa)

Heather pointed me to this great Damien Jurado bonus track. And, as she says, it’s “a bonus track. I mean COME ON Damien, it is unfair the crazy talent that flows out of this gentleman.”

As I’ve pointed out before Jurado seems to go through musical phases while still having some essential Juradoness to his songs. His current phase seems to be reaching back to flowing, slightly-swinging music of long ago, not exactly 50s or 60s or 70s but with ideas and inclinations from each.

Sandy:
Hip Hatchet – Child’s Hand in Dirt (Demo) (mp3) (buy album version)

Great fully acoustic take on the album version – really shows Philippe Bronchtein’s signature vocals over sparse acoustics. Almost lullaby-like, stunning.

song obsession friday! (mid-march)

March 23rd, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):

Tyler Lyle – Winter is for Kierkegaard (live) (mp3) (unreleased, buy other songs by the artist)

I’ve been enjoying the Tyler Lyle album so when I saw this new song, recorded quickly while waiting at a restaurant for brunch, on Fuel/ Friends, I listened to it posthaste. And, wow, it’s good. A really lovely melody, a compelling arrangement, and name-checking Keirkegaard without sounding pretentious. I only wish winter would have lasted a little longer so I could really get the full effect of this song.

Sandy:
Jonas David – Shades (mp3) (buy)

Just a song that brings back the moments when I started to really hear the style of ‘folk’ music that Justin Vernon made popular a few years back. Not that it sounds like Bon Iver specifically, but that style of vocal delivery with guitar strumming is just so damn catchy that you can’t get it out of your head. It has been a few months now, but it sounds fresh each time I listen…which is often. There are a few similar tracks on his album over at his bandcamp that are a must hear.

Dave:
Geographer – Kaleidoscope (mp3) (buy)

I’m actually more than a little obsessed with the whole album (Myth, released 2/28, and it really feels like an album, not just a collection of songs). Something about the looping background vocals over the new-wavey-slow-dance synth drums made me keep listening to this one over and over.

song obsession friday!

March 9th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
The Black Keys – Lonely Boy (mp3) (buy)

The DJ before me on KZSU played the Black Keys in 2004 and I’ve heard them off and on since then, but I’ve really never been impressed with them. The other day, though, I found this song–”I’ve got a love that keeps me waiting//I’m a lonely boy”–stuck in my head for hours at a time. And then I saw this video for the first time, and, wow. It’s just amazingly charming. Derrick Tuggle, you’re a champion.

The Lumineers – Slow It Down (mp3) (download it with subscription)

“Slow it Down” by The Lumineers from Look Sessions on Vimeo.

Natalie’s pick last time got me interested in this song, but this video is what really got me watching/ listening to the song on repeat. What a great song–such a nice combination of lyrics and music. This particular arrangement, with the earnest vocals and rough-but-accomplished musical performance, of it is particularly lovely. Watch it now!

Keith:
Northern Picture Library – Skylight (mp3) (buy)

In the pantheon of sad girl songs this one hits me the hardest not only because Robert Wratten prefers to infer rather than detail the source of his subject’s blues but also because of the unresolved ending that leaves us wondering the next series of bland slights she will be forced to endure.


Shawn:
The Twilight Sad – Walking for Two Hours (mp3) (buy)

Music, my favorite music, always always always commands me back to a particular time and place. It was a cold October afternoon in a Reykjavik hostel last year when these Scottish art-ramblers hit me for the first time. My face properly rocked, I was compelled to see them again the night following, and the second performance easily trumped the prior. Wandering the Icelandic streets, sharing drinks from a flask, conducting 5am conversations, missing home but not missing home at all… these are the things I recall when Walking For Two Hours finds its way to my ears, as it has repeatedly in the past couple of weeks. Loads of bands claim to be emotional, sure, but this group has recently done a commendable job of tapping my emotions. They’ve got a new album, and it’s not as visceral as their first two, but I’ve been loving it all the same. Keep spinning that brogue, fellows.

song obsession friday! (around leap day)

February 24th, 2012

Song obsessions are those songs that get stuck in your head. This series of posts isn’t about what I or the other panel members think is best, but what our brain latches onto, those ear worms that loop around and around in your head.

Adrian (me):
Geographer – Original Sin (On Airstreaming session) (mp3) (buy original)

Geographer live >> Geographer on record. That’s just a fact. And, personally, I like their stripped versions (find another here) more. I found this video last week and just kept hitting repeat on it. There’s something about it, between the catchy original song, the compelling presentation, and Mike’s vocal acrobatics at the end of the track that does it for me.

Andy:
Geotic – Riding Thermals (mp3) (download free)

I’ve been slowly moving towards melodic ambient music for a while now – it seems a logical outgrowth of my love for both sad bastard and instrumental music. I saw Geotic open for The One Am Radio and Dntel when they were in town, and liked him immediately (incidentally, I’m not as interested in his “main” identity of Baths, but whatever). I got home late that night, downloaded a lot of his stuff, which he offers for free, and went on a binge of dreamy drone.

This track has become my favorite of his – I think it’s a combination of the simple melodic movement, and the more subtle guitar texture in the background. He tells the story of having had it looped for 4 hours one morning – I find myself wishing that I could set loop in/out points in iTunes, so I could do the same.

Sandy:
Al James – Cloudy Shoes (mp3) (download, pre-order the Jurado version)

Leading up to the new Damien Jurado album “Maraqopa” the Seattle Times did a feature of local Seattle artists covering one of their own. Al James covered the Jurado track ‘Cloudy Shoes’. Since Dolorean has not so slowly been becoming one of my all time favourite bands, in turn covering someone who is already one of my all time favourites found me listening over and over again. Why wouldn’t this one be stuck on repeat? It really is a no brainer for me… it just feels right/normal to listen to this song as it seems eerily natural for me just to play it and without a thought just clicking the back arrow to hear it again. I like to think of it as a tribute to the original but will settle for calling it a “cover” if I must…

Dave:
Cinematic Orchestra – Build a Home (mp3) (buy)

I saw this video a couple weeks ago and the song really grabbed my attention. I like the sparseness of the piano, strings and vocals, it just works really well.

Natalie:
The Lumineers – Slow It Down (mp3) (download with subscription)

I really can’t wait for their album release in April. Until then, this Daytrotter version will do.