My Top 20 from 2016

2016It seems my mixes celebrating the music from each year have become less obligatory over the past few years, I’m not going to make amends, but I did enjoy quite a bit of music this year. My wife and I were listening to one of my old “Best of Year” mixes last week as we were doing far more driving than even I prefer and she commented on how good a year that was for music and I thought how every year is a good year for music if you know where to look. This year is no different, some groups I’ve been listening to for a decade or more put out some new stuff and I’ve stumbled across some new ones that have been put on heavy rotation on my Google Play Music playlists. Listed below are 20 favorite tunes from the past year.

  1. Andrew Bird | Left Handed Kisses (with Fiona Apple)
    • Mr. Bird began writing a song about why he doesn’t usually write your average love song, when a second voice kept inserting itself in his writing. I love am a huge fan of the duet and this song is a great combination of voices. (Video)
  2. Animal Collective | Golden Gal
    • I’m hit or miss with this group, but I dig this new tune. (Video)
  3. The Avett Brothers | Ain’t No Man
    • Catchy stomp/clap tune by these folk rockers. If you missed them on Austin City Limits – go watch. (Music Video)
  4. Band of Horses | Whatever, Wherever
    • My favorite album by these guys since 2010’s Infinite Arms. I was thankful Delta chose this as a featured album on our recent Thanksgiving trip to South Korea. I put this on repeat and drifted in and out of sleep – it made me love the album even more. (Video)
  5. Fruit Bats | Absolute Loser
    • This isn’t the voice for everyone, but I really enjoyed their new album. (Video)
  6. Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam | A 1000 Times
    • This is a fun combination of artists, and this catchy tune has been on heavy rotation recently, hopefully it’s pop doesn’t lose it’s flavor as time goes on. (Video)
  7. The Head and the Heart | All We Ever Knew
    • It has been fun watching this group grow and create a bigger sound to fill up the larger arenas they play these days. (Video)
  8. Ingrid Michaelson | Hell No
    • This is a fun break-up song, with a great video featuring the Deaf West Theatre.
  9. Kings of Leon | WALLS
    • Probably the song that got the most repeat listens. My favorite songs from these guys are the slow build introspective numbers that sit an wallow in emotive feeling. (Video)
  10. Ladyhawke | Wild Things
    • Coming out of New Zealand, this is a bit more pop than I usually listen to, but I really enjoy this album and it has a great 80’s synth-pop sound, if you hadn’t guessed from the name of the band. (Video – Rollerderby!)
  11. The Naked and Famous | Higher
  12. Pete Yorn | Lost Weekend
    • Another great tune from another great album by Pete. (Video)
  13. Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop | Every Songbird Says
    • Iron & Wine duet album? Yes, please. (Video)
  14. Sara Watkins | Move Me
    • 1/3rd of Nickel Creek, this is her 1st solo album and it’s not quite as bluegrass/banjo-y as her roots would suggest, though on this album that is not a bad thing. (Video)
  15. St. Paul and the Broken Bones | All I Ever Wonder
    • Rock & Soul or Alternative Soul – whatever you want to call it, it’s good. (Video)
  16. Vandaveer | A Little Time Off Ahead
    • Another fun song by these guys, they keep getting better.(Cartoon Video)
  17. Weezer | King of the World
    • I don’t know how they keep putting a hook that I want to listen to over and over again in every album they put out. I really enjoy their newest self-titled album. (Video)
  18. Whitney | Golden Days
    • This has a fun throw-back vibe and sounds to me like a heavy summer evening. (Video)
  19. The Wild Feathers | Overnight
    • How much good mid-tempo rock these days doesn’t have a throw-back vibe. (Video)
  20. Young the Giant | Something To Believe In
    • Catchy up-beat pop rock. This is not so much like me to like something so not-depressing, but it’s good stuff and that’s hard to argue with. (Video)

You can listen to the entire mix over on 8Tracks: 2016 Mix or if you prefer you pull up a playlist of all the videos over on YouTube or watch them below.

Top 20 from 2016.zip

Christmas Mixes (Streaming)

christmas-tree-2015I don’t blog here much these days, but I thought I would post a link to all of my Christmas Playlists over on 8tracks.com. I’ve used this site for some years to put up some of my mixes that I’ve put together over the years and be able to stream them from any device I’m on. I’ve put together quite a few Christmas mixes over the years, some admittedly better than others. the last few years I’ve put together a mix of modern songs (mostly) each year that fit on one CD, and I’ve posted them one song at a time for each of the days of December leading up to and including Christmas Day – entitled the 25 songs of Christmas.

25 Songs of Christmas

25 Songs of Christmas, Volume 2

25 Songs of Christmas, Volume 3

Christmas Romance (a mix to curl up next to someone on Christmas Eve)

TV Christmas (TV cartoons, mostly from the 70’s)

Croon & Swoon Christmas (mid-century crooners and swooners)

Modern Christmas (when you get sick of the crooners and swooners)

R & B ChristmasCountry ChristmasIndie Christmas (three different genres of Christmas to mix it up)

70’s Christmas80’s Christmas (whichever decade of pop artists you prefer)

I have a bunch of old mixes from this blog and others up on 8tracks if you want to scan through them – my profile is HERE.

Merry Christmas.

Ready Player One – the Soundtrack

I haven’t blogged in forever, you and I both know that, but here I am again with something to say, so I sit and write it out and put it out there for the world again. Ready Player One is a new book that was just published a month ago. There was a bit of buzz surrounding it and my brother-in-law read a few chapters online free and suggested I read it. This is a fanboy read if there ever was one. It has built on some geeky sci-fi of the past and run with it. This isn’t the thought provoking, forward thinking of Philip K. Dick or even a bit of that with some fun as in Neal Stephenson, and some are putting the new author Ernest Cline down for that. This is a bit more popcorn, but it’s absolute fun from start to finish, though it does have heart and I don’t believe it should be considered less a fine piece of literature because of the lighthearted nature. If you grew up on video games and pop culture from the 80’s, you may want to check out this book. The book is in the not so distant future about a video game designer that leaves his inheritance to whoever can solve a virtual reality video game, that almost everyone on the planet is trying to win. The contest is made up of pop culture references and in-jokes contained in the designers favorite movies, music and video games themselves. So it really is a game within a game, I laughed through the entire thing. I compiled a soundtrack of the songs referenced in the book, because that’s what I do when I watch and read things, I go and compile soundtracks to things that need them. I hope this is enjoyable to anyone that wants to listen while they read the book. There were parts of the book where I had to go find the music, so that I could geek out and experience the book with the corresponding tunes throughout. The music is mostly 80’s tunes that I haven’t listened to in years and are fun on their own or in connection to the great book from which they were gleaned.

For those of you playing along at home, here’s the track listing I came up with:

Dead Man’s Party|Oingo Boingo
Wild Boys|Duran Duran
Beds are Burning|Midnight Oil
Verb: That’s What’s Happening|Schoolhouse Rock
The Throne Room/End Title|John Williams
Like To Get To Know You Well|Howard Jones
Main Title: Also Sprach Zarathustra|Richard Strauss
Video Fever|The Beepers
The Safety Dance|Men Without Hats
Blue Monday|New Order
Union of the Snake|Duran Duran
Rebel Yell|Billy Idol
Time After Time|Cyndi Lauper
James Brown Is Dead|L.A. Style
Atomic|Blondie
Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go|Wham!
A Million Miles Away|The Plimsouls
Change|John Waite
Don’t Let’s Start|They Might Be Giants
In Your Eyes|Peter Gabriel
Pour Some Sugar On Me|Def Leppard
Kids Wanna Rock|Bryan Adams
Pac-Man Fever|Buckner & Garcia
2112|Rush
Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap|AC/DC
Three is a Magic Number|Schoolhouse Rock

Download zip file HERE

Obligatory Best of Songs (and albums) 2010

I know I’ve been procrastinating the blog and the sharing of music that really does bring me pleasure. Why do I not do it then? Well, I’m a very good procrastinator, and… well that’s all I got at the moment. This year, as with last, some of my favorite finds have been unearthed by tracking down the tunes to the TV show Chuck. I always look forward to that show, if for the music alone. Actually recently the soundtrack has outshone the plot by quite a few kilowatts.

Caveat: You’ll notice my “best of” mixes have nothing to do with actual “best” albums/songs, but rather what I liked best or rather what I like at this very moment better than the others. This is completely arbitrary to my personal taste and preference.

Here are some of my favorite songs that were released last year.

The Happiest Lamb|Audra Mae
In My Sleep|Austin Hartley-Leonard & Kendall Jane Meade
On My Way Back Home|Band of Horses
Howlin’ For You|The Black Keys
Beat The Devil’s Tattoo|Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Crossfire|Brandon Flowers
The Ghost Inside|Broken Bells
Jackie Wants A Black Eye|Dr. Dog
I Like The Way This Is Going|Eels
The Diamond Church Street Choir|The Gaslight Anthem
Big Wave|Jenny and Johnny
Change Of Time|Josh Ritter
I Will Live On Islands|Josh Rouse
Think I’ll Go Inside|Joshua Radin
Little Lovin’|Lissie
Witchcraft|Matt Costa
Starting|Matt Pond PA
Congratulations|MGMT
Precious Stone|Pete Yorn
Beg, Steal Or Borrow|Ray LaMontagne
Solitary Gun|Rogue Wave
I Can’t Get Enough|Rooney
Thieves|She & Him
King Of Spain|The Tallest Man On Earth
Holiday|Vampire Weekend

You can download the entire mix by clicking – HERE. (As with last years mix – it doesn’t fit on a standard CD-R, I was too lazy to whittle it down (again) and I couldn’t delete a couple songs, so if you want to fit it, you’ll have to pick a couple to remove before burning, if you still use those archaic discs.)

I usually don’t list my favorite albums, but without thinking terribly hard about it – off the top of my head the ones that stand out to me in the last year are (in no particular order):

Infinite Arms|Band of Horses
So Runs The World Away|Josh Ritter
Tomorrow Morning|Eels
American Slang|Gaslight Anthem
Brothers|The Black Keys
Broken Bells|Broken Bells
American VI: Ain’t No Grave|Johnny Cash
The Grand Theatre Volume One|Old 97’s
Downtown Church|Patty Griffin
Contra|Vampire Weekend

Happy New Year. (better late than…)

All Summer

I just stumbled across this video this week and really enjoyed the vibrant Summer feel that evokes and that’s pretty much what I needed as the local weather here has jumped from spring straight into winter. We haven’t had much of an Autumn and the cold that has moved in this week has felt all too sudden. This tune features Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend. I have to say that it’s a fine grouping of musical talents and the outcome is synergetic. The song was released through Converse – the shoe company, which has recently opened a music studio.

All Summer|Kid Cudi, Best Coast and Rostam Batmanglij

Leaves In The River

I’ve never been a fan of Halloween, as is readily apparent in this photo of myself from the late 70’s. I’ve never been a fan of candy and I don’t much care for chocolate and though I enjoy the idea of dressing up in costume – the practice isn’t something with which I usually have much follow through. I’d rather stay in and watch and old Hitchcock or just completely skip the holiday altogether. Here’s a great little for your Halloween weekend.

I met a girl on Halloween
She was lost and I was drunk
And it was dark and cold out
When we left

Leaves In The River|Sea Wolf

Run On/God’s Gonna Cut You Down

I have always been a fan of Jason Lee and his work. Memphis Beat came out last summer and it looks like there is to be another season. Lee plays a cop/elvis impersonator, it’s not as funny as it sounds, but in a good way. I’m not a big fan of the arm waving a la Elvis as he sings at the end of each episode, but I do enjoy his song selections and the songs themselves sung by Lee. The choice of songs on the show is always fun and Keb Mo is in fact the Music Supervisor for the show, an artist who I’ve often enjoyed in the past on his own. There are quite a few great old blues tunes and early R & B tracks that I’ve enjoyed listening to as I’ve compiled the soundtrack on my own (a post for another day.) One of my favorite songs that Lee did was with a church choir that really got going in that great Praise Choir fashion – much the way Elvis did it back in the day. I also really enjoy a couple other version of this song, though they are quite different. The Cash take on the tune is entitled God’s Gonna Cut You Down, but it’s still the same tune, but only as the Man in Black can do it. Moby also mixes up the tune in fine form from the album Play back in 1999, which incorporated sampled vocals by Bill Landford & The Landfordaires. The great folk singer Odetta sings it A Capella to great effect and the Blind Boys of Alabama did a great job with it as well. Whatever title it goes by, I really enjoy this song.

Run On|Elvis Presley
Run On|Moby
God’s Gonna Cut You Down|Johnny Cash

Run On For A Long Time|Bill Landford & The Landfordaires
God’s Gonna Cut You Down|Odetta
Run on for a Long Time|The Blind Boys of Alabama