Friday, December 17, 2010

Mix CD 2010!

Um, really? It doesn't seem like five minutes ago that I popped 2009's mix CD together as a freebie Christmas gift/way of imposing my musical tastes on others. And yet here we are again, so let's not procrastinate and just get on with it, yes?

01. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson
Motown tracks have always had this instantly identifiable sound to them, and it's one I've long been a fan of. Which makes it all the more surprising that it was only this year that I got around to actually buying a Motown album (and what a doozy - 61 songs for £7.99 off iTunes). It was obviously quite a difficult task to choose just one song to represent Motown here because quite frankly a significant proportionate number of their songs were insanely awesome. I eventually settled on this 1966 track because from the word GO it embodies everything I love about Motown; it's upbeat, instantly recognisable, utterly memorable. It's two minutes 22 seconds of utter joy in which to loose yourself.

02. I Would Die 4 U by Mariachi El Bronx
One of the regular recipients of my mix CDs is Best Mate Jo, who this year is slacking of a bit in the best mate department by buggering off to Mexico for Christmas. So, in honour of her festive trip, and because I absolutely love this band, track two is Mariachi El Bronx's cover of Prince's I Would Die 4 U. Now, if you're not familiar with this band, let me refresh your memory: they're a rock band who, for their fourth album took a complete left-turn and put together an album of mariachi music. And the whole thing is utterly brilliant. This track is actually a B-side to one of their singles (but is available from iTunes) and one of the best cover versions I've ever heard. Dare I say it, I prefer it to the original.

03. Don't Let's Start by They Might Be Giants
In all honesty, I am familiar with They Might Be Giants for two reasons: their song Birdhouse In Your Soul, which I love, and the fact that they did the theme tune to the TV show Malcolm in the Middle. But earlier this year I heard this track on the radio and instantly loved it. It's bright and breezy, and if I hear it playing I'm singing along to it in an instant. I love the way the song kind of falters after he sings "don't let's start," and the fact that once you actually listen to the lyrics it's actually prettty damn dark – I mean "no one in the world ever get's what they want, and that's beautiful; everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that's beautiful"? And yet you can still dance around to it.

04. You Make My Dreams by Hall and Oates
Blame my Dad for making me like Hall and Oates; he used to play them in the car incessantly when I was a kid, and there's only so many times an impressionable youngster can hear Out Of Touch and Kiss On My List before he succumbs to their charms. Anyway, I actually wasn't familiar with this song until I saw the movie (500) Days of Summer last year, but now I've apparently listened to it 80 times according to my iTunes library, and I'm yet to tire of it. I'm of the opinion that Hall and Oates make everything better, and I can't help but wish that everyday life was a little bit more like this:

05. Take Me To The River by Al Green
LOVE Al Green, LOVE this song. Timeless, brilliant, awesome stuff. The guy's a dude. 'Nuff said.

06. Ramona by Beck
Scott Pilgrim Vs The World was one of my favourite movies of the year, and not only that but it was accompanied by an incredible soundtrack album full of some classic tracks and newly-created material by the likes of Beck and Broken Social Scene. I've always thought I should like Beck more than I actually do, and I can't quite nail why I'm ever so slightly ambivalent about him. Regardless of that, the tracks he created for Scott Pilgrim were universally awesome - so much so that I actually had difficulty working out which one I wanted to put on the mix CD. I ultimately went for Ramona because it's such an utterly heartfelt, beautiful little song. It's the sort of track that makes everything seem like it's going in slow motion where everyone looks at each other with unending, wistful looks. It makes me want a girlfriend called Ramona so it can be OUR SONG.

07. Going Down To Liverpool by The Bangles
I know - a Bangles song that's not Walk Like An Egyptian! Who knew? Anyway, like Don't Let's Start this is another song that I heard on the radio that I adored from the word go, and swiftly picked up from iTunes to enjoy at my leisure (a scary amount of times, thanks for reminding me iTunes library…). There's something about Going Down To Liverpool that reminds me of that brilliant period in the late 80s-early 90s where everyone had big hair and life seemed so easy and brilliant and chilled out. I like the harmonies and the slightly-too-electric-sounding electric guitar; they're somewhat - but brilliantly - dated, and I can't help loving everything about this song.

Oh, and not only that, but LEONARD NIMOY is in the video: AMAZING.

08. White Knuckles by OK Go
Back when they first burst on to the scene with the song Get Over It I was nutty for OK Go. When their second album came out a few years later I bought it, enjoyed it, but didn't quite rave about it as much. And when their third album came out about a year ago I pretty much ignored it based on some reviews that said it was different to what they'd done before. But, as we all know, different can be good and you shouldn't always pay attention to reviews, because when I eventually did pick up their album Of The Blue Color Of The Sky I found it to be without a doubt my favourite of their three releases so far - and this song, White Knuckles, is the standout track. It's a breezy, punchy disco track that's almost impossible not to jig along to. It also has, as I discovered during my 30 day yoga challenge, an uncanny ability to pump you up before class too.

And being OK GO, it's also accompanied by an awesome video:

09. Spin Round by The Californian
Longtime readers might remember that I discovered - and subsequently raved about - The Californian last year. Sometime around the middle of this year The Californian unleashed a four track EP of new material on the interwebs, and it not only built on the promise of the eponymous demos album, but far surpassed it. The four songs you get for a measly $4 (that's just a smidgeon over £2.50-odd) are all brilliant - which made the task of picking which one to pop on the mix CD all the more difficult. I eventually plumped for Spin Round because … well, because I got to the point where I had to pick one to be honest. But that's not the point because this song is JOY; it is wonderful, carefree, brilliant end-of-the-movie music, and I cannot recommend this band's stuff highly enough. Do yourself a favour and pop on over to The Californian's website where you can pick yourself up a download of the EP or just listen to it streaming. It will make your life immeasurably better.

10. All The Young Dudes by David Bowie
And not just any version of this classic track, I'll have you know, but a live version taken from The Thin White Duke's 2003 A Reality Tour. Listening to the A Reality Tour CD brought back so many memories of seeing Bowie perform at Wembley Arena seven years ago, and this song in particular is a highlight for me. I remember standing on the flimsy plastic chair halfway back in the arena, swaying and singing along with several thousand other people as the tiny figure of David Bowie waved his arms in the air in the distance. It was a magical moment, and you get at least a suggestion of that electric atmosphere in this recording. And if, as I fear, that tour was the last time we'll ever see Bowie headline a show again, what a way to go out.

11. Age of Adz by Sufjan Stevens
A pleasant surprise this year was the return of Sufjan Stevens, first with a new EP, which was followed little more than a month or so later by a new album. I expect I'll witter on a bit more in-depth about this in my Year in Reviews post, but the EP was basically old-skool Sufjan while the album was … well, basically it was bat-shit crazy. But I mean that in a good way, because it was so different and brilliant and yet somehow still managed to retain everything I love about Sufjan's music. Age of Adz is the title track; it's loud and bombastic, by turns sweet and sneeringly sinister. It has an epic, heavily-layered feel to it, which is aided by Sufjan's new-found use of electrics, yet it draws to a close in the most beautiful and humble way - the perfect way to end this year's mix CD. Genius.


So that's your lot for this year's mix CD. But I'm never done discovering new music, and would you believe it, I've found a new band to obsess over in just the last couple of days - so here's a sneak preview, because this is DEFINITELY going on the 2011 CD.


Inexplicable DeVice said...

Oh gods. The Mix CD means it really is almost Christmas, isn't it?!

Ramona reminds of Walking After You by Foo Fighters.

* quickly changes name to Ramona *

And White Knuckles reminds me of I Would Die 4 U - the non-mariachi version.
It really is impossible not to jig along to!

LOVE that bangles track! And Leonard Nimoy's expressions as he's driving those girls around.

I never did get Sufjan. Certainly not like you you and T-Bird/Miss Smuggersham did/do.

CyberPete said...

Can you believe it (I'm sure you can), I didn't know any of these songs. Very interesting.

I'm sure you won't like it, but I may steal this idea for my own blog.

By the way, I'm sure I've asked this all the other years but...

Where's the Kylie track?

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - I KNOW! It does!! Also, I am very impressed with your Foo Fighters knowledge! You must try harder with Sufjan though - he is AMAZING.

Cyberpete - I actually can believe it, funnily enough! And by all means steal it for your own blog. It's been a while since you've posted anything anyway…

As for Kylie. Well, *ahem* she is a lovely lady but … I'm just not a fan of her music!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Actually, I only know that Foo Fighters track as it's from the first X Files film - right at the end when the space ship flies away.

I shouldn't have admitted it.

Tim said...

Oh, then I'm retracting my compliment.

We'll talk again when you've got some Sufjan in your life.

Tara said...

I feel like doing the "(500) Days of Summer" dance whenever all of my Christmas shopping is finished!

Great mix of songs! I've never heard Al Green's version of "Take me to the River", but did hear a version from The Talking Heads awhile back.

Oh and I love the song "Private Eyes" by Hall and Oats.

Tim said...

Glad to see you're getting in on the Hall and Oates vibe, Tara!