Making master mixtapes was cool, making my own CDs was even cooler, and art directing the packaging was always a great way to get my creative juices flowing. But we’re almost a decade into a new millennium, and it’s time for another change…time to take this show online.
It’s out with the old and in with the new: mixtapes and CDs are taking a backseat to mp3s and all things digital. Last year, the “Best of” collection tried to be more environmentally-friendly, with 100% recycled packaging and a little packet of basil seeds to boot. Once you’ve gone green, you can’t go back to plastic, right? So, you’ve got to take the next step. Keep it simple…and downloadable.
I hope you enjoy this year’s collection, and I hope I’m able to turn you on to some new artists you may not have heard yet. While the format continues to evolve, my passion for discovering new music lives on.
Happy holidays and happy listening!
You can listen to these songs on Spotify. Click here.
Track 1: “Always a Friend” — Alejandro Escovedo
Hooks you right from the opening guitar plucks… an adult version of Randy Newman’s “You’ve Got a Friend in Me.”
Track 2: “Fire” — Alibi Tom
A very random online discovery. Love the driving beat throughout and the name of the band ain’t bad either. 😉
Track 3: “Freedom” — Josh Ottum
This song always makes me happy. Impossible to frown when listening to this toe-tappin’ pop nugget!
Track 4: “Can You Tell” — Ra Ra Riot
“Oh baby, baby, baby please!” Love the strings and driving bass line throughout. Truly de de delightful!
Track 5: “Pieces” — The Bridges
Off the debut by this sister/brother/cousin group from Alabama and produced by one of my all-time faves, Matthew Sweet. Sweet refrain indeed.
Track 6: “Viva La Vida” — Coldplay
Probably the song of the year. One of those rare songs that you never get tired of… just as my interest in Coldplay was beginning to wane.
Track 7: “Dream Catch Me” — Newton Faulkner
First hit single from this promising British singer/songwriter (cracking the Top 10). Cool album cover, too.
Track 8: “See These Bones” — Nada Surf
Sounds a lot like The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, and The Decemberists… probably why I dig it.
Track 9: “We Can Be Good” — Via Audio
Four college roommates get noticed by Spoon’s Jim Eno who goes on to produce their debut in Austin, TX. They will be good.
Track 10: “A-Punk” — Vampire Weekend
Four more college buddies from Columbia score with the breakout album of the year, fueled by tremendous music blog hype. Not sure what the heck they’re singing about, but it’s awfully catchy.
Track 11: “Through Any Window” — Wisely
A quiet, acoustic number to pause and reflect. His voice is a dead ringer for Michael Penn.
Track 12: “Clarion” — Guillemots
Last featured on the 2006 collection, the Guillemots return with this infectious groove.
Track 13: “Drops in the River” — Fleet Foxes
While their debut album is making all of this year’s Top 10 lists, this baroque pop band out of Seattle first caught my ear with this beauty from their “Sun Giant” EP.
Track 14: “Cheap & Cheerful” — The Kills
Lead singer W (aka Alison Mosshart) channels her inner Joan Jett/Chrissie Hynde with “a rhythm forged out of coughing, slamming doors and high-maintenance sass.” You go, W!
Track 15: “Club Thing” — Yoav
Sounds like something they should play on “Project Runway”… an electronic vibe with a “club-oriented aesthetic.”
Track 16: “Strange Overtones” — David Byrne & Brian Eno
Everyone’s favorite T-Head reunites with the band’s old Producer to deliver a welcome return to form.
Track 17: “Sec Walkin” — My Morning Jacket
Mixed reviews for their “Evil Urges” album, but thankfully it includes this breezy country dittie. Love the falsetto harmonies.
Track 18: “Hush If You Must” — Brooke Waggoner
This year’s Feist or a kinder/gentler Tori Amos. Classic piano from this 23-year old who cites Chopin as her most influential classical composer.
Track 19: “That’s Not My Name” — The Ting Tings
Shades of 80’s one-hit wonder “Hey Mickey” by Toni Basil, this Manchester duo is making a big splash here in the States. Rumor has it the song is about the singer Fergie whose real name is Stacy.
Track 20: “Honey, Let Me Sing You a Song” — Matt Hires
Big thanks to Paste Magazine for opening my ears to this simple, acoustic strummer. Kid’s got a future.
Track 21: “Skinny Love” — Bon Iver
One of the new darlings of the indie music scene, Bon Iver (stage name for Justin Vernon) croons and shouts his way through this moody melody.
Track 22: “Become Apart” — Paddy Casey
A huge hit in his native Ireland, Paddy hit the States this year looking for similar success. Here he sheds his folksy roots with a slickly produced pop anthem that was in heavy rotation at the Crimmins house this summer.