That was 2015: My End of Year Mixtape, Volume 2

A double-album required a double-post, so here is the conclusion of my mixtape commentary. You can read the first part here.

  1. Sheer Mag, “Fan the Flames” 
    A few tracks back I mentioned that Royal Headache’s second album suffered from its clean production. This – what these Phillie freaks have going on, that glorious SCUZZINESS – is what I am talking about. Back in the day caring about lyrics meant you were a folkie or a crooner, and that ain’t rock n roll.
  2. Bully, “Reason”
    Yep. Two Bully tracks. They deserve it. Hell here’s a whole concert. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
  3. Mikal Cronin, “Turn Around”
    I was introduced to this guy at this year’s Treasure Island Music Festival. Great power-pop songwriting, really good live band.
  4. The I Don’t Cares, “King of America”
    “So, they sort of sound like, if Paul Westerberg and, like… Juliana Hatfield had a band?” Well, that’s because for some reason this actually IS Paul and Juliana, although she isn’t exactly prominent on this track. Curious to hear the whole album.
  5. Florence & the Machine, “What Kind of Man”
    Been a fan since her first singles hit America. This song reminds me of The Cult but I cannot figure out why.
  6. Sharon Van Etten, “I Don’t Want to Let You Down”
    The Queen of the Sad Bastards. Exquisite.
  7. Ryan Adams, “Style” 
    Ah, the indie music media storm of the year. And I still haven’t listened to the original album. Hey, good songwriting is good songwriting, and both the coverer and coveree in this situation know what that is. 
  8. Josh Ritter, “Getting Ready to Get Down” 
    Such a smart, fun songwriter. I still think his high points were 2006’s “The Animal Years” and 2007’s “The Historical Conquests of Josh Ritter,” but the new album has some solid tracks on it.
  9. The Frames, “None But I” 
    It was fitting to put the Frames next to Josh Ritter, since they discovered him at an open mic in Rhode Island and convinced the Idahoan to move to Ireland where he first found success. I’ve been despairing of new Frames music for a long time, since singer Glen Hansard appeared in “Once,” won an Oscar and so forth. But they at least gave us a retrospective album this year, and this is one of the new recordings on it. Not the best Frames track, but even middlin’ Frames music is better than most.
  10. Father John Misty, “Bored in the USA”
    I caught FJM at the Treasure Island Festival this year, and I think I get what he’s at. The costume, the false-feeling camaraderie with the fans, etc. He’s subverting the whole Laurel Canyon coked out rockstar thing, right? In any case, this is a bold song. The laugh track cinches the deal.
  11. The Dodos, “Two Ships”
    Another installment from the Polyvinyl 4-Track Singles Series Vol. 2 but one that I can actually find a link to! These guys really took their sound in a different direction on this track, and the crunchy old synth outro seemed like a great lead in to…
  12. Chvrches, “Never Ending Circles”
    I’ve written about Chvrches before, so I won’t repeat myself. Just couldn’t pick one song so here’s 3. Also caught their set at Treasure Island and dammit they can do it live too. Such a great band.
  13. Chvrches, “Leave a Trace”
  14. Chvrches, “Clearest Blue” 
  15. Greg Dulli, “A Crime” 
    The Savior of Misbehavior covering the Queen of the Sad Bastards? Yes please! Frankly Dulli covering anyone is worth listening to.
  16. Alabama Shakes, “Sound & Color”
    And now we start to ease ourselves towards the exit. What an undeniable voice (she also fronts Thunderbitch who appeared somewhat more raucously earlier in the mix), and although I am normally anti-vibes and anti-xylophone; just anti- any instrument the playing of which involves a mallet, really – this is a nice groove.
  17. The Black Ryder, “Throwing Stones”
    It was hard to pull a single song of this album, which is really all one big, dark highway run. It takes me back to the first Mazzy Star album and that’s never a bad thing.
  18. Crooked Fingers, “The Old Temptations”
    Yep, a THIRD entry from Polyvinyl’s 4-Track Singles Series. Go Polyvinyl! I even didn’t hate the Deerhoof single that was included. Hmmm. I just realized that this track has some mallet-involved instrument on it. Problematic…
  19. William Fitzsimmons, “Pittsburgh” 
    Don’t know much about this guy other than he has a mighty beard and a nice turn of phrase. Basically I figured anyone with the stamina to make it through the entire mix would probably need a rest, and this song, while really good, makes me sleepy.

And we’re done. Happy New Year, y’all.  Hope to get back to regular posting this month (and no that is not a resolution).



That was 2015: My End of Year Mixtape, Volume 1

For the last several years I’ve put together a mix on CD (I know, so 1999) for family and friends, had the kids decorate cardboard sleeves, and hand them out around Christmastime. Some years they had a theme of some sort (one year every song had something to do with dreams, for example; that was kind of a pain in the ass to curate); some years I used Toast Titanium to bleed & mix the tracks into each other, and sometimes I just went with my most listened-to tracks of the ending year.

This year I missed my deadline, but will persevere. I’ve shared a slightly mutilated version of the mix on Google Play already, but CD copies are being made (it’s a double album this year!), cardboard sleeves have been ordered, and while I put this all together why not share some thoughts on the songs included? Continue reading “That was 2015: My End of Year Mixtape, Volume 1”