[Charles] The End of the Year Mixtape is one of my favorite things to do each year. I look forward to putting together a group of songs that can play through together and make the year proud. I've never posted the links before, but I think I've finally got it figured out so please don't ruin it for me.
Disclaimer: The links are up for a limited time and then they'll come down. They are meant to get you hungry for more music and to send you off on your own search for music. This is a jumping off point for an adventure into bands and cd's you may have missed last year. If you want your music taken down, just let me know and I'll pull it.
This list is also personal and completely arbitrary. I don't try to do a "best of" - I like to think of this as a solid bunch of songs that work well as a group. That's why I call it a mixtape.
Let's start with tracks 11-15...
I came late to Arcade Fire as I know I naturally am resistant to bands that get too much hype and all this "yeah the next great indie band" baggage. That being said, I'm sorry, this band is really good and has been good the whole time. I missed out, and I'll do my best to make it up to them. If they'd like to drop by the house, I'd happily set up a grill out or whatever they like and we can patch it up over beers. Seriously though, they also do some really amazing work in Haiti and the money they funnel to other worthy causes. This song builds from something so small and makes me think of the frustration of growing up somewhere that waiting feels like all you can do. Also, I'd like to mention the creativity we've seen from them as this song has an interactive video and the Spike Jonze video of The Suburbs is pretty awesome as well.
The National also fall into that group of bands that get so much hype and play that it is hard to treat them fairly. To get a fair trial, I had to move them away from all of the craziness around their touring and fans. I listened to plenty of their tracks and I liked them okay but I never got that goosebumps sort of feeling that great music can give you. That was until I heard this version of "Terrible Love". All of a sudden, away from the heavy production and drama, there was just this band and this voice, and it was amazing. I listened to it over and over and it was the same song but it wasn't. This band definitely deserves the love they get and I hope they are around for a long long time.
When I first heard this song, I knew it would make this list. Sometimes a song just burrows under the skin and stays inside and that was definitely the effect of Laura Berhenn's voice on me. After many listens I've resigned to the fact that this reminds me of past favorites like Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star and all those rock-soul girls that ever drowned their sorrows in a slow slow electric guitar and forced me to buy their albums and put them on whenever I'm feeling particularly moody. The difference here for me is that there is a hopeful up-turn in this song when she "counts 1 to 10" at about the 1:20 mark and reminds us that "it can be easy, if you let it." I keep thinking about that. Like a little bit of hidden zen master advice, she reminds us all how important it is to just "let it."
I don't know much of anything about the guy that made this. The story I heard was that he got laid off from Apple and headed to Hawaii with his girlfriend and made this. All I can say is, that if that is true, then sometimes getting laid off is the best thing ever because this music is amazing. It is transcendent, beautiful, electronic music that doesn't feel like it needs to pumped from speakers at a million decibels so much as it should be quietly poured over the heads of clubgoers like a baptism in light. I can't remember the last time I wanted to listen to an electronic song on repeat like this. This feels like a new type of lo-fi, ethereal electronic music that has made me look forward to new music again. This is music that needs no translation.
Because this is a mixtape, I feel that order and pacing is important and even more important is the correct ending song. This was one of my favorite albums of the year. I received it on Father's Day and it was the best gift I could hope for. This music reminds me of Amy and Ella and all that is great about being alive. It feels like the hymn book from my church - the church of music where everybody is welcome and all you have to do is sing and be good to each other and go out and try to be good and honest to people in the world. I think of this song as a hymn and a poem and truly something different than most of what is available in music today. This song was overlooked for catchier songs from their album on most lists, but for me, this is exactly what this band is about. It builds and builds and crescendos to a fantastic yell-along finish that feels exactly like the end of a mixtape should.
"Love it will not betray you
Dismay or enslave you, it will set you free
Be more like the man you were made to be
There is a design, an alignment, a cry
Of my heart to see,
The beauty of love as it was made to be."
-From Sigh No More - Mumford and Sons