With the proper release of Darkstar’s newest album, News from Nowhere, I can finally retire the link to their “Amplified Ease” video. I will post it here for safekeeping:

I must have played this video a hundred times, mostly for the music alone. But each time I caught the video itself, I was reminded of just how far the visual representation of electronic music has come. This is sophisticated stuff. 1080p ftw.

Make no mistake, “Amplified Ease” is an exquisite track too. So dense and layered, but completely light and free. It flows effortlessly, organically, especially with that ever so slightly slipped snare to keep (push?) time. I can’t wait to dive into the rest.

I always make a mix of my favorite songs of the year, but I’ve only posted a few here (see 2006, 2007, and 20 songs from the 2000s). For one, these posts take an enormous amount of time to do, and two, there’s not much you and I can do with them once done. That said, I do enjoy the process and the historical record.

Thundercat · “For Love (I Come Your Friend)” · The Golden Age of Apocalypse

So Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner gets Flying Lotus to produce his new album and then release it on his esteemed Brainfeeder label and the first song they leak is a George Duke cover that just melts my mind every time I hear it? This track has FlyLo’s fingerprints all over it, especially as it goes from seemingly nowhere to everywhere in a heartbeat around 2:30 in. It’s an absolutely epic track and a perfect opening for the mix.

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Plaid · “tender hooks” · scintilli

At long last, after a good four plus years of broken promises, Plaid released scintilli. Granted, there were a number of other soundtracks in between this and their previous full-length on Warp, but nothing quite so profound. I could pull any of the 13 songs randomly and have a gem to share with you here, but “tender hooks” is the one that I play over and over again. It’s such a delicate and deliberate build-up, and I never would have guessed that a stomper of a track would emerge. I can’t imagine a more appropriate name for it than “tender hooks.” Exquisite.

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Battles · “Futura” · Gloss Drop

I’ve written about my love for Battles many times here. I had the great fortune of seeing them perform on the Mirrored tour in 2007 and again just before Gloss Drop was released earlier this year. “Futura” was by far the highlight of the most recent show, and I watched any live performance I could find on youtube until the album was released just to get my fix. Battles is one of a handful of bands that’s actually worth watching play live, as they really do create these sounds on the fly rather than just pressing play on a loop. Check this video from La Blogotheque for proof.

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Hudson Mohwake · “Thank You” · Satin Panthers

I saw Hudson play live up close not too long after Butter came out. He had taken all of those already ridiculously over-the-top tracks to entirely new heights, so I was beyond excited to hear this new EP. I’ll honest though, I thought Satin Panthers was a little flat, but “Thank You” almost makes up for it. It’s exactly what you’d expect from him: it’s dripping with funk, super-sized ideas, comically absurd melodies, and his typically tight percussion. I just wish it didn’t feel like a consolation prize.

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Four Tet · “Locked” · TEXT011 / FABRICLIVE 59

I’ve long had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Kieran Hebden. His remixes are often better than any song he does on his own, and his singles are often better than any album, and his collaborations with Burial and Thom Yorke are generally head and shoulders above all. That said, I was completely blown away by his FABRICLIVE mix from earlier this year, and “Locked” (the last track on the mix) is perhaps my favorite of all. That “womp womp” of the bass at 3:00 just lights me up every time. More like this, please.

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Juk Juk · “Winter Turns Spring” · TEXT012

I saw that Keiran was posting tracks on soundcloud earlier this year, and began following him once he posted this track from Juk Juk before it came out on his TEXT label. I bought the vinyl before the track ended, and continued to play “Winter Turns Spring” almost daily on my walk to work on soundcloud over 3G in SF, which is no small feat. This is such a confident track from such a young producer. It feels like an old friend, but could clearly only be made in this era. I love the way it decomposes in the middle, with the frizzling bass that comes in and then organically fades out to leave just the core rhythm track in its place. If you like this, don’t miss his mix for The Daily Street. It’s every bit as brilliant.

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Rustie · “Hover Traps” · Glass Swords

I didn’t get into Rustie’s stuff on first listen. I bought the two track EP that Warp released before Glass Swords came out, and while I liked it, I didn’t love it. I poked around to see what other people had on their end-of-year lists when I began pulling tracks together for this mix, and Rustie was all over them all. I bought the album and immediately fell in love with “Hover Traps.” There’s so much going on in this track, but it never feels crowded or forced. His production is tight, his ideas inventive even if a bit derivative, and the final product is one of the lighter and more lively tracks on this list. I can’t wait to dive into the rest of it in the new year.

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Rone · “Planet Zoo” · So So So EP

I came across this EP from Rone on bleep.com, and I was sold on it by the description alone. Like Juk Juk’s track, “Planet Zoo” feels both old and new at the same time. It clearly points back to the heady days of IDM but does so in a way that’s genuinely new and novel. Perhaps it’s just the pace of it, but I just love the way it moves so effortlessly. I can’t wait to hear his full-length album when it comes out.

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Burial · “NYC” · Street Halo EP

Like me, you probably bought this three track EP from Burial the moment you came across it without a second thought. This track, though, exceeded my every expectation. I can’t imagine anything more soft and subtle from him. The word majestic comes to mind. It’s so refined and restrained, yet it clearly packs his unparalleled touch and trademark punch on the lower end. I loved the two tracks he did with Thom and Keiran, but I played this track nonstop for days on end, and still can’t get past it without an extra play or two now. It’s as close to perfect as it gets.

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Bibio · “Excuses” · Mind Bokeh

I almost neglected to add this track to the mix, but once I placed it after Burial’s track there was no way it was going to get bumped. I’ve underestimated Bibio before, but even this track in particular and this album in general blew me away. I know of no one else who can so naturally bend genres at will. This is everything a modern electronic song should be: well-composed, equal parts elegant and phrenetic, and informed by what has come before but completely unrestrained by it. I even love the cheeky little “A fragment of time. Which is not recorded. There is a moment of darkness.” sample at the end, mostly because of the way he cuts it up to suit the song rather than that other way around.

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Thank you for listening. If you like what you found here, you will definitely find more in the Songs of the Day tag. Enjoy!

I am admittedly somewhat late to the game on John Tejada — the one and only Titonton Duvanté had him signed to his Residual Recordings label way back in 1998. I even remember seeing flyers for their parties with him in Columbus at that time, but I don’t think I ever made it to one of his shows. Definitely missed out.

johntejada-bounceJohn’s tracks were one of my earliest discoveries in the then newly launched iTunes Music Store, and I now have no fewer than 30 John Tejada singles and one-offs from his work on Poker Flat and his own Palette Recordings label. To this day, I continue to religiously seek them out.

I was able to hear him play live in San Francisco last summer, and he did not disappoint. His music has such an elegant and worldly quality to it, which is no surprise given that he was born in Austria to an opera singer (mother) and a conductor (father), and he moves fluently in and out of so many sub-genres of techno. As for “Bounce,” his Los Angeles roots shine bright as day with its almost hip-hop beat and measured production:

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While completely different stylistically, this track is every bit as densely layered and expertly sequenced as my two previous SOTD from Hudson Mohawke and Squarepusher. This is shaping up to be the start of a really good mix…

↓ Download all ten songs Just like last year, though admittedly much less ambitious, I want to mark the passing of another year of with my thoughts on the most distinguished artists and albums of 2007 (according to me), and give you a song from each one to take with you.

If there’s one common theme in this disparate mix, it’s a delicate balance between such lush and abundant instrumentation and a sparse and minimal sound. As I’m fond of saying, it’s the space in between that’s most interesting, and that’s clearly the case in these ten songs, listed below in alphabetical order. Enjoy!

Animal Collective · Strawberry Jam · Unsolved Mysteries

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I would have never known about AC if not for my brother Kevin — he was the first to suggest Sung Tongs and Feels and even sent me some pre-release mp3s from Strawberry Jam. While I liked songs from the first two, SJ was so dense (and unbelievably tense) that I found it difficult to listen to in the very beginning. But again, on his recommendation, I bought tickets to see them live and then also began to listen to SJ more intently, often for days on end, as the show approached. It’s safe to say I was absolutely blown away by their show (see my pictures and my videos from it) and now I’m completely hooked on the album in its entirety. Definitely at the top of my list for 2007.

Battles · Mirrored · Tonto

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Warp heavily promoted the new BTTLS album for a number of months, but it never really caught me the way it seemed to hook everyone else. My good friend Andrew ‘Japandy’ Tweed insisted I take a second look, and I did to my great delight. I wrote about both of their incredible videos, and was lucky enough to see them live not so long ago in San Francisco (need to upload that video to YouTube, it’s amazing). I have yet to see anyone or anything play with such pace, precision, and passion; the only way I can describe it is to say that I can’t listen to their incredible album anymore: it’s too slow, too lifeless (that’s a preposterous thing to say, btw). I was exhausted at the end of their show and (still) incredibly inspired by the whole thing.

Beans · Thorns · We Rock

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I came to follow Beans when Warp signed Anti-Pop Consortium (apparently soon to be reunited, thankfully). Most hip-hop bores me — even though I would listen to nothing but hip-hop if there were more artists like Beans — instead I often find nothing but unimaginative rhythms and even more mindless lyrics. I loved many songs on Tomorrow Right Now and even more on Shock City Maverick, so I eagerly awaited Thorns. After hearing Thundermouth for the first time, I thought it would be near impossible to top that track, but he did it with We Rock. Show me someone, anyone, who rocks it harder than Beans — it can’t be done.

Björk · Volta · I See Who You Are

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Abby absolutely loves Björk, and while I do too, it’s not with the same intensity. I was definitely excited to see her show this summer, but after having seen her on the Vespertine tour before, I wasn’t expecting such an intense and high energy show. This song is equally intense, even though it’s much more sedate. I love the delicate instrumentation on this track and her beautiful lyrics, it’s yet another exquisite collaboration with Mark Bell (LFO). Tops.

Burial · Untrue · Archangel

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The reviews on Warpmart practically begged me to buy it, but the lo-fi samples on bleep sounded flat and uninspired. I debated it for several weeks, but finally gave in and bought the album just to hear it for myself. I was immediately taken by it, no doubt egged on by my then new Shure SE530 headphones (such a guilty pleasure, but damn worth it — find ‘em new on eBay, they’re way cheaper there). This album is incredible, infinitely complex and yet just right there where it should be. I find new twists and turns every time I play it. If you haven’t heard it, you owe it to yourself to get it. btw, Abby’s first impression: “It sounds like Jamie Lidell meets Boyz II Men meets Autechre”. Yep, classic.

Flying Lotus · Reset EP · Dance Floor Stalker

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When the news of his signing to Warp hit, I immediately went searching for his prior release 1983 on Plug Research. It’s an epic instrumental effort, notable for its brief but incredibly thick and dense tracks. I was immediately hooked and kept it in heavy rotation on my peaPod this past summer. Luckily, the Reset EP is all of that and a whole lot more. I played this six-track EP over and over without ever tiring of it. The bass is monstrous, the beats are genius, and the flow is absolutely out of this world. FlyLo deserves his place on Warp’s legendary roster, I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Matthew Dear · Asa Breed · Don and Sherri

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I almost left this one off, as much as I love this album and listened to it non-stop for a month straight. I saw his show in San Francisco this fall, and well, to put it kindly… It sucked. Ass. The crowd was sparse, poor promotion perhaps, but he failed to connect with it, preferring instead to plod along with his pre-canned rockstar shtick. The highlight of the show was the next to last song, the epic Don and Sherri, also known as that sick track on the Hummer commercial. Even with the goofy lyrics, this track makes me want to shake my booty. I still love the album, in spite of the awful show. I do believe he will learn so much from this tour, and I expect to see a better show next time. I still believe!

Radiohead · In Rainbows · Bodysnatchers

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Yes, I whined about the 160kbps thing, impugned their motives, and generally disparaged In Rainbows in the very beginning. But the more I listened to it, the more I came to see that the music on this album is as revolutionary as all that surrounds its internet-only release. No one makes music like Radiohead, and Bodysnatchers in particular has my head bouncing from side to side the moment it comes on. But nothing, nothing tops the breakdown shortly after the two minute mark, and the way it builds back into the first part of the song just makes me want to play it all over again. And again. And again. I absolutely love this track.

Sky Observer · Sky Observer’s Guide 070707 · Skyway Drive

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“Space, space, space.” It’s true, Stewart Brown and I go way, way back, and I played a small part in getting this release out to the world, but that has so little to do with how strongly I feel about it. At once timeless and yet clearly of this very moment, Brown succeeded in capturing the dichotomy of his youthful, irreverent energy and his measured, masterful touch. With no hesitation whatsoever, I predict that years from now people will love this effort the way they love Boards of Canada’s In A Beautiful Place Out In The Country, as an old friend indeed. Listen to the other four songs for free at FORKLIFT ENTERTAINMENT.

The Tuss · Rushup Edge · Synthacon 9

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C’mon, we all know it’s Aphex Twin. And it’s without a doubt the most magnificent track ever created.

Late update: Here’s a pic of Sawyer helping me write this post:

Sawyer helps me write a post for my blog

As much as I love the new Radiohead release, I have to say I’m still disappointed by their decision to go with 160kbps. The muffled and muddied sound quality of the files feels like a bootleg copy, or something I downloaded illegally because I couldn’t wait for the full and final release…

Admittedly, I have done it before — I downloaded a bootleg copy of Hail to the Thief well before its official release, which is not something I normally do but I really wanted to hear it. I have to wonder if Radiohead didn’t realize that In Rainbows would be leaked soon and quickly p2p’d into the hands of anyone who wanted it. For free. Seen in that light, this is clearly a very shrewd move, and likely very lucrative even if most people pay very little for it. It’s quite likely that a high percentage of those who downloaded this version will buy the cd when it comes out next year.

Just the same, I expected better, and most importantly I paid for it too. Perhaps I’ve been ruined by bleep.com, where I buy almost all of my music these days. It’s DRM free, 320kbps, and reasonably priced. Strange to call that the bare minimum when it seems like the gold standard, but that’s how I rip mp3s from a cd, and have for many years. And since I refuse to buy cds anymore, except in special situations, that’s how I want my mp3s.

I’m a huge Radiohead fan, but this feels like a bit of a bait and switch. The buying experience was lousy, the quality of the files is poor, and there was no embedded artwork (perhaps the most glaring omission of all). Yes, it’s still a new Radiohead album — and I haven’t stopped listening to it since Wednesday morning — but the whole process feels rushed at best, or half-assed at worst. And I have to wonder why.

Am I just being contrarian? Does anyone else see it the same way?

I have wanted to write a quick post on the new Good Shoes song, The Photos on My Wall, for a while now. The two of you who read this little endeavour of mine may recall that I posted on their previous All in My Head track in August of 2006, and both of you know I was hooked on their sound from the moment I saw that video on YouTube.

I waited an absolute eternity to get my mitts on that first cd single, something like five weeks if I recall correctly. I had it on my Amazon wishlist, though I figured I would find it here rather than waiting the month plus for it to ship. Thankfully, Kevin bought it for me on my birthday last September, and I counted the days for it to arrive. That nine minute cd (just long enough to get Abby to work in the morning) was on constant rotation in the A3, and the third track became a bit of a rallying cry for both me and Abby. Everything surrounding this cd is very near and dear to my heart.

Now Sterling likes to pretend that I wrote about OKGO’s infamous Here it Goes video (no link for me, thanks), but we all know I’m too much of a snob to dirty my blog with such a blatant gimmick. Fact is I prefer something a little less on the beaten path. Good Shoes has next to no awareness in America, no plans to tour the states as best I can tell, and no real publicity engine outside of the UK at all. bleep has their stuff but not the rights to sell downloads in North America. So I’m waiting yet again for Amazon to ship me the import release of their new album…

At any rate, though it’s just shy of two minutes long, this song is nothing short of epic. I love the way it builds, completely breaks down about 80 seconds in, then comes back with a furious burst of energy at the end. Plus those woodpecker-like clicks during the chorus make me shake my booty as fast as I can (and no I can’t keep up, but watch that stop me!). The video is clever, especially the scene with the boxes, and the lackadaisical approach to the crescendo at the end is a perfect way to end it. Oh, and, have you ever seen a more pristine video on YouTube?

It has been tagged twice on Last.fm, and I wanted to point them out since I absolutely love both of them: ‘so good you’ll put a foot in a bucket‘ and ‘songs on mixtapes i make my mum and she quite likes them‘. That pretty much sums it up for me.

So here it is, clocking in at a full 1:54…

I can’t complain about a thing; I listen to this song over and over again, and haven’t tired of it yet. And what I have heard on the new album is just as good. I can’t wait.

↓ Download all seven songs I can’t believe we’re already in February now, with January just breezing by without a sound. It’s amazing to look back on the month that was, at the immense quantity and quality, not to mention variety, of things I was able to design and build. Unfortunately, the best stuff is under lock and key for the next few months, but I’ll share the other stuff in another post soon. For now, I’d rather share with you seven of my favorite new songs for 2007.

One of my favorite webapps over the past few years is Last.fm. It listens to everything I do, and records who, what, and when on my Last.fm profile page (I also import this data to my ephemera page on this blog). We can both see everything I’ve listened to since November of 2004 (over 14,000 songs so far). It hasn’t moved much in the last week since I bought my new green iPod shuffle (the best iPod yet) but it doesn’t synch those songs for one reason or another. It’s really fun to watch…

At any rate, here are my seven favorite new songs for 2007, in the order in which they were discovered:

Song
Beacon In The Darkness
Artist
Gruff Rhys
Album
Candylion
Label
Rough Trade

First, it’s rad that this album is on Rough Trade, which was, in the 80s, the quintessential London record shop (I’ve been to the one in Covent Garden) and label of The Smiths (trust me, that’s huge). The label dissolved in 1991 only to be reincarnated in 2000 (their current roster is a veritable who’s who). As for Candylion, this album just burst on my scene and quickly found its way into my head and heart. The production is lush and full, the songs varied yet incredibly precise… never too much but always just enough. The instrumentation on this song in particular is exquisite and the groove is almost countrified, especially with the slide guitar. And I love the delicate crash cymbal as it marks each transition within the song. I can’t get enough of this song or this album. It’s truly that good.

Song
Heart of Hearts
Artist
!!!
Album
Myth Takes
Label
Warp Records

!!! (pronounced as any three repetitive sounds, commonly chk chk chk) has a new album coming out in March. I’m as excited about this one as I was the new Squarepusher album of 2006, but so far I haven’t tried to find Myth Takes online. The album artwork is stunningly beautiful, along with the soon-to-be released limited edition picture disc, which of course I have already ordered. Luckily, they saw fit to release this song for free download. It is, as pitchfork says best, “an unstoppable juggernaut.” Absolutely massive. I can’t wait for March 4, 2007.

Song
Life is Neon
Artist
Neon Don
Album
African Dope’s Greatest Hits
Label
African Dope Records

I discovered Neon Don on the impeccable Ben Mono DJs Anonymous mix I downloaded early this year (honestly, the first 25 minutes are just about perfect). African Dope Records is a South African label, and I’m not familiar with any of their other artists, but I absolutely love this song. The vibe has an almost Japanese hiphop feel at times, the beats are clever and concise, and the lyrics? You gotta check this chorus:

It’s Neon Don, no need for the alarm
I spend my time cloning chickens at the clitoris farm
In outrageous flavors, cinnamon and watermelon
You lack the inter-dimensional travel password

For the longest time I thought it was ‘boning chickens’ not cloning. I’m not sure which one makes more sense. I can (and often do) listen to this one over and over again in the car, and if you count the number of times I’ve played the Ben Mono mix it’s easily the song I’ve listened to most this new year.

Song
Guitar Beat Track Parts 1 + 2 (Live Mix)
Artist
Laszlo Beckett
Album
Plowtrax Vol 1
Label
Hand on the Plow

This song is positively demented, but damn if it doesn’t make me shake my booty like no other song right now. The vibe reminds me of the classic Lasse Gjertsen video I posted last year, which still drops my jaw every time I watch it. I’ve also blogged about Laszlo’s remix of Pleated Lemon’s Cocks and Fannies, indeed, as it turns out, very few of us do have one of each kind. Hand on the Plow is easily one of my most favorite labels right now, their stuff is on my must-have list the day it comes out. I can’t wait to hear what comes next.

Song
Still
Artist
The Marcia Blaine School for Girls
Album
Halfway into the Woods
Label
Highpoint Lowlife

I don’t know much about these three cats from Glasgow, to say nothing of their choice for a band name (I prefer to call them MBS4G), and I’m not entirely sure why I purchased this on bleep.com, but it’s such a phenomenal release. This song in particular just blows me away, with its near-perfect blend of Joy Division, early Autechre, and a little bit of Pretty Boy Crossover too. I pretty much listened to this album non-stop for a week straight, just playing it over and over again while at work on the demo. It can fade into the background at times, which each song following the slow build → big sound explosion → slow fade routine, but it never fails to disappoint. This will likely make my end of the year best of list. Highly recommended.

Song
No Love in Your Heart
Artist
The Earlies
Album
The Enemy Chorus
Label
679 Recordings

I saw this one on bleep.com, sampled the first song as I always do, and bought it without listening to the rest. This song alone was worth the $9.99, and truth be told I haven’t made it much past this one. I don’t know that it’s any one thing that pulls me into this song, because everything does it for me, from the slow build, to the Mark Bell-esque snares from Bjork’s Homogenic, to the horns at the end… this song just hits it hard. The lyrics are a bit on the hurtful side, perhaps a bit close to home, but the rush is so intense. I can only hope the rest of this album is as good, but I have a feeling it’ll be tough to match this one.

Song
Underwater (you and me)
Artist
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Album
Some Loud Thunder
Label
Self released

This album snuck up on me, I knew it was coming out soon but hadn’t kept close tabs on when. I couldn’t find it anywhere online, so I actually bought the cd at the Virgin Megastore on Market Street Tuesday morning. Apparently Virgin is having all kinds of trouble with iTunes so they’ve been forced to cut their prices on new releases to $10. At any rate, like the previous album, this one takes a more than a few listens to fully digest. Even though it sounds familiar, it is totally new (a sentiment that reminds me of a review I read on The Strokes second album, “It sounds me of the first album but without that song I like”). Regardless, this song is classic CYHSY material. The lyrics are exceptional too, here’s the chorus:

We’ll design a clever disguise.
We’ll retreat to the bottom of the sea.
We were destined to live out our lives underwater, you and me.

I’m really only beginning with the rest of the album, but this song distinguished itself after the first few rounds. I’m sure there’s many more to discover and I can’t wait to find them.

That took me about four hours to do, and I didn’t even try to add artwork or links to purchase. Oh well. As always, more soon.

↓ Download all ten songs I started this project back in December, but work and life in general have conspired to slow me down considerably. That said, I have been slowly picking away at my list, and eagerly awaiting my next chance to work on this particular piece of the puzzle. I think the added time made this a much better mix, and hopefully a more entertaining read. I certainly had a blast pulling it all together.

All told, I have about eight hours into this post alone, not counting the hours spent pouring over each and every album I purchased in 2006. Luckily hours and hours of work make that task a pleasant one (good headphones are a must, if only to concentrate in the midst of that madness).

You should also know I have my favorite singles from 2006 picked out, and I’ll start work on that next. When I’m done with that, as well as two other brief best-of lists, I’m going to go back through and hyperlink the crap out of these posts (oh, and add tags too), just for the fun of it, all the while hopefully resisting the urge to add more nonsense in the process.

And one last thought before I dive into the songs, if I could somehow make this my job, and by that I mean the crafting and condensing of these silly stories into something you can consume each and every day, I’d be the happiest person in the world. I know very few of you have both the time and inclination to indulge me like that, but Ze Frank gets away with it on a daily basis, and that has to be a hoot…

Here are my favorite albums of 2006, along with an mp3 from each (caution: honkin’ big 102 MB zipped file), sequenced in the following order, for you to enjoy with this post. I sincerely hope you do and look forward to your thoughts.

Song
outlined view
Artist
Ms. John Soda
Album
Notes And The Like
Label
Morr Music

I absolutely love the pace of this song, the way it gently rises in intensity only to completely take off in the middle then drift off perfectly at the end, all made even more dramatic by the way her voice soars without the heavy filters at the beginning of the song. I was hooked on Ms. John Soda from the moment I first heard “Solid Ground” in 2002, and eagerly awaited their new album. I was lucky enough to grab this on bleep.com at the end of 2005, even though it wasn’t officially released until March 2006, not sure why it was there but I bought it on sight, knowing the three month wait would drive me crazy. It’s the perfect song to start to this mix.

Song
Harmonise
Artist
Herbert
Album
Scale
Label
Accidental

I’ve been buying Matthew Herbert records off and on forever, from the Dr. Rockit releases on Clear Records (two of just a handful of 10″ records in my collection) in 1996 to the strangely wonderful Let’s All Make Mistakes mix on Tresor in 2000 (almost lost that one to Andrew Babson and Geoff White some years later… I still love to bump that in the A3). I did see him DJ at the Rickshaw Stop in SF in 2005–I haven’t danced that much or that hard since–though I didn’t buy much of anything in between. But when I heard this song on bleep.com I bought the entire album right away. This song literally bounces. There is no way for me to listen to this song and not wiggle first my head, then my shoulders, then my arms, then my hips, then my booty, finally my feet. I look like a wet dog shaking dry. Oh, and the lyrics are stunning as well, in particular:

always have a day in a month to be yours now
always have a month in a year to be yours now
always have a ground for an ear to be yours now
always have ways to your house in my head now

As much as I love this album, Matthew Herbert was one of if not the worst show I saw last year. I was so excited to hear Dani Siciliano only to get an imitation Barry Manilow (not a compliment) instead. Abby and I left after five songs. The music was phenomenal, but the vocals completely ruined the mood. : ( That said, I love this song.

Song
Sexual For Elizabeth
Artist
Tortoise
Album
A Lazarus Taxon
Label
Thrill Jockey

I was never really into Tortoise like so many other people. I have a number of their more recent releases, each of which has some decent to excellent songs, but I was usually bored of them after a week or so of listening. It wasn’t bad per se, just not enough to keep my attention. I’m not sure which if any song made me purchase this release, but I thoroughly enjoy almost every song on it, especially this one. Sure, I’m a sucker for pretty much any song with a vocoder, but this is one of the best. I never noticed it before, but I always listen to the first half of the song three or four times before I can let it ride out at the end… it just isn’t long enough. I also love that this is a remix of a Five Deez (from Cincinnati, Ohio) track, though the original has none of the “We Rock On” vibe that first drew me into their sound.

I can only imagine how silly I must look when I’m bumping this on my rides to and from work, and believe me I’m nodding my head like a fool, tapping out beats on the wheel, and wishing I could sing like a robot…

Song
Planetarium
Artist
Squarepusher
Album
Hello Everything
Label
Warp Records

If I had to rank these ten albums, Hello Everything would be in my top two without any hesitation. This is the album I always wanted him to make. In many ways it sounds like a greatest hits album, with all of the raw emotion of Feed Me Weird Things from 1996 and Hard Normal Daddy from 1997 to the much more experimental / instrumental sound of Music is Rotted One Note from 1998 to the spastic Go Plastic from 2001 to pretty much everything since. I still remember finding my first Squarepusher record, with it’s distinctive rounded-square die-cut purple Warp record bag, and the Squarepusher brandname across the top (I didn’t even listen before buying it, there’s no way it could have been anything less than spectacular to get that kind of treatment). Of course I can’t omit the fact that I always played it on 33 instead of 45, something I never realized until I heard it on cd much later, but then again Stewart Brown, Myungho Choi and I were always doing that back in the day, especially when it came to Autechre’s “Anvil Vapre” and “Envane” singles. I wonder why…

At any rate, this album is the first of his that I can listen to from beginning to end without skipping more than two tracks (so many, well, pretty much all of his prior releases left me wanting for long stretches at a time… believe me I tried to love them, MIRON for instance, but it wasn’t easy). I really struggled to find the one song for this mix that best represents the full range of the album, but in the end I kept coming back to this one, even though it only shows one small side of it. It’s a monster of a track, almost ripped directly from FMWT (reminds me of “Tundra” and “Theme from Ernest Borgnine” in particular). Blisteringly fast, the bass is thunderous, but the melodies are perfectly sublime. The production is exquisite too, even with each and every element present (those high-hats throw me over the top!) it’s still remarkably well-spaced.

Hello Everything has completely taken over slot number six in the A3. I haven’t been able to take it out yet, and don’t expect to anytime soon. And if by chance I were limited to only one slot, much like my old ’87 SAAB 900 with Midnight Mauraders stuck in the cassette deck (I could rap that thing up and down, forward and back, in an Asian or Indian accent or any number of other ridiculous voices), I’d be thrilled with this one. It’s simply that good.

Song
Bump
Artist
Spank Rock
Album
YoYoYoYoYoYo
Label
Big Dada

“YoYoYoYoYoYo” is without a doubt the second of my top two albums. I found this one on bleep.com as well, a completely random score since I rarely find anything outside of Roots Manuva on Big Dada. But this description had me more than just a little interested… I was practically salivating!

Taking a bit of detroit electro, a bit of miami booty bass, a big dose of their hometown music Baltimore Bounce, and a large slice of pisstake humour and have-a-go fun not seen since 2live crew or the BBoys, Spank Rock are hotter than Californian tarmac. - The Independent

I’m not sure which Californian tarmac they’re referring to, but it clearly isn’t SF (it’s cold here!). While I never placed much faith in British music rags, this was too good to pass up.

Like most of my favorite albums, this one took a while to fully wrap my head around it. With the exception of the last few tracks (they bore me for one reason or another), it’s quite possibly the first / best pure party cd since Bizarre Ride II from 1992. This song in particular sends me over the top when I hear it, especially when Amanduh Blank launches into double-time at the end of her rap. It’s a perfect blend of old and new, at once strangely well-known (it sounds exactly like it should) and completely new (perhaps because its elements are so familiar, yet pushed together for the very first time?). Either way, Armani XXXchange’s typical tight production pulls it all together. I have missed three chances to see them, for good reasons each time, but I don’t want to miss out again. I absolutely love this album and everything I’ve heard from them since.

Song
Do The Pigeon
Artist
Pigeon John
Album
Pigeon John & The Summertime Pool Party
Label
Quannam Projects

Sterling Hughes and I (maybe Will Bell and / or Keith Brown–can’t say for sure, too many vodkabulls that night) saw Pigeon John open up for Lyrics Born back in October 2005. Sterling was (is) way more into the hiphop scene than me, so I had no idea what I was getting into, but I went along because I trusted him and genuinely liked the venue. LB blew my mind, but I was absolutely mesmerized by Pigeon John. He worked alone in front of a dj in the shadows, never losing his trademark fedora even as he bounced up and down on stage. His clever (and clean) rhymes, humble (and hysterical) lines took me way back to my most favorite hiphop of old: a freshness / uniqueness like early Tribe, a seriousness / rawness like Special Ed, an innocence / goofiness like Kwame, modesty / humility like the Pharcyde, and on and on…

This song became a bit of an anchor for me in my life over last summer. I mean, how can you go wrong with a chorus like this?

All these dudes telling lies for the fame and wealth
I’d rather kick back and just be myself
Enjoy the good times and enjoy the hell
“And there’s nothing in the world better than life itself”
Just come on do the Pigeon yeah yeah
Just come on do the Pigeon yeah yeah
I know it gets rough
But you gotta let the sunshine just a smidgen yeah yeah

It’s borderline over-produced in my opinion, but the song hops and makes me smile from ear-to-ear every time I hear it, like a bolt of sunshine, no matter the weather. And who can argue with rhyming pigeon and smidgen?? PJ is brilliant! One more thing, the next time you see me, ask me to do the pigeon for you. It’s rad, and I’m really good at it. There’s a small chance I’ll hurt myself in the process, but it’s totally worth it.

Song
Pudpots
Artist
Nightmares on Wax
Album
In A Space, Outta Sound
Label
Warp Records

Abby and I were lucky enough to see NoW perform as a full band in November 1999. I’m still not sure how I convinced her that we should go to London to see three nights of music at Warp’s 10th anniversary parties, but we did and had such an incredible time together. The first night was kinda lame if I recall, but NoW was an unannounced special guest, much to our delight. Abby and I were whacked from arriving early that morning, plus this was my first (and only) trip to Europe (sad to say that), so I was completely lost. We left briefly after Jimi Tenor (soooo lame) to get some fresh air and water, only to come back as NoW was picking up their instruments and starting their set. The crowd went absolutely wild when they released what was happening. I had never really heard them “live” like this (blunted hiphop played by a eight-piece full-on funk band, that’s what LB did for me that night, and then some). I was instantly hooked from that moment on…

NoW albums have this uncanny way of settling in my subconsciousness. I don’t often seek to play them, but they tend to bubble up at just the right moment. I didn’t have this album on my original list, but as went back through my purchases from 2006 this one easily pushed its way in. This particular song is maybe my third or fourth favorite on the album, but it’s so damn funky… the utterly sick fills, phat-ass bass-kick, snappy snares, and that exquisite breakdown at two minutes in. There’s so much room to move around within it, in fact, it’s the space in between the notes that make it (and me) pop. I absolutely love this song.

Song
Black Swan
Artist
Thom Yorke
Album
The Eraser
Label
XL recordings

I remember Darryl Levering and Kate Gresham raving about Radiohead way back in 2000, but I never really listened to them until Kevin hipped me to Amnesiac several years later. It didn’t take long before I devoured the rest of their cds, and was then searching for the rumored bootleg mp3s of Hail to the Thief before its official release. I downloaded them, even though Thom suggested the album was way better and well-worth the wait. Of course it was, and remains one of my favorite albums of that time, especially since Abby and I went with Kevin to see them live at Blossom that summer of 2003.

I’ll always remember how unbelievably hot it was that night. We were wringing wet from the heat and humidity, and even pouring bottles of water over our heads and down our backs did nothing at all to help. Kevin snagged excellent seats, just under the shelter (he’s always finding his way into amazing concerts, especially now with Kate by his side, and almost always finding some way to get upfront and center). The show was astonishing from start to finish, visually enthralling (they understand the theatrics of performance as well as if not better than anyone else), musically hypnotizing, just totally and completely mind-blowing.

That said, as much as I dig Radiohead, they’re barely in my top ten according to Last.fm. And I’ll be honest, I had very little interest in this album prior to its release, and even after Kevin gave us the mp3s in February, I still didn’t listen to it right away. Keith bugged me about enough that I finally sat down and listened to it. It’s quirky and downright weird at times, but songs like this one are so completely infectious that I can’t stop listening to them over and over again. There’s that innocence again, and a rawness that runs counter to the polish of Radiohead. This is a definite favorite of 2006.

Song
The Ray And Whistle
Artist
Posthuman
Album
The People’s Republic
Label
Seed Records

Yet another find on bleep.com, but with press like this (aforementioned caveat remains), how could I not buy it?

“Possessed of a sublime emotive beauty…Posthuman join the dots between early Mogwai and Autechre, then add something extra” – DJ
“Somewhere half way through Radiohead and Skam, you might find the crossroad that says Posthuman” – VITAL WEEKLY
“Few make albums like this anymore. 8.5 out of 10″ – BARCODE

This album is deceptively simple at first, but further listens pull me deeper and deeper into its trance (still!). Much like Boards of Canada, but nowhere near its league, these songs float so effortlessly and organically that I often lose track of my place, even when I’m actively listening. I absolutely love that sensation, and yes, you guessed it, this song.

Song
A Whistle And A Prayer (featuring Fog)
Artist
Coldcut
Album
Sound Mirrors
Label
Ninjatune

Like The Eraser, this one wasn’t in my original cut either. Initially, I liked a handful of songs, especially the second track with Roots Manuva (I almost, almost wore myself out on that one… what a phenomenal track!). But as I went back through and listened to everything all over again, I simply could not ignore this album. Much like NoW, I don’t often listen to it from beginning to end on purpose (there are some odd songs), but it’s stunning in its depth and breadth. The sheer variety of guest vocalists and their musical styles is astounding but easily made whole when matched with Colcut’s masterful production skills. Plus, their show at Mezzanine in May was one of my favorite shows of last year, even more a dj feel than most djs in SF. Simply amazing.

I was tempted to share the RM track, or maybe the first track with John Matthias that I love so much (I really should look for more of his stuff), but then I stumbled across this one and really, really listened to it for the first time (and also flash-backed to when they played it live). Aside from the lyrics and vocals (which are haunting yet strangely uplifting: “The big joke gave you a toy flute so you have to blow on it”), the music itself is thick at once yet shockingly sparse. I have no idea how they do that, not only without sacrificing the richness but quite possibly creating it and then some.

This song is exquisite. And the ending is perfect way to close this mix, leading you flawlessly back to the beginning with Ms. John Soda and another pass through my favorite albums of 2006.

As always, more soon.

…is Candylion.

I love this song. So much that I had to download it illegally, just so I could take it with me wherever I go. As a rule, I always pay for my downloads (so long as they’re high quality, DRM-free mp3s), but I can’t ‘buy’ this anywhere online. And I want it now.

In order to make amends, in my mind at least, I found the 7″ on eBay, which appeals to me for three reasons: one, i love 7″ records; two, it’s limited to 1,000 copies, and I love collecting rare releases; and three, word has it there’s a paper lion much like the one in the video for me to assemble myself, which is so unbelievably rad. But if I want the rest of the songs I’ll need to buy the cd. Aye, there’s the rub… I buy a ton of music, but I don’t buy cds anymore…

Face it, the process of ‘manufacturing and selling music’ is completely dominated. We won. And that’s a good thing, if you, and here I speak to the artists not the industry, are willing to change the way you see things. I simply heard a 30 second snip of Candylion on bleep.com, and I was hooked. But I had no way to express that desire, no way to make the connection, no way to consummate the relationship.

Let’s dig a little deeper. At that moment, all I wanted to do is wrap myself up in that song. Then I want to share that feeling with my friends, my family, and the world. And in my mind, you (the artist) should want that too, more than making a buck or two right then and there. Sharing should literally be the easiest thing for me to do with your music.

Your music is already free on the internet, whether it’s on Myspace, YouTube, or BitTorrent. So why not give it away yourself? When I Google you, do I get your website or your blog? I should, shouldn’t I? Can I grab your latest song for free? Is it a high quality, DRM-free mp3? It should be, shouldn’t it?

We experience music on a more personal level now. We no longer walk around with ghetto blasters on our shoulders, we use iPods. (Progress!!) The way we express our love for music has changed as well. If you’re smart, you’ll find a way to nurture that personal connection.

First step, give me the music for free. Let me (help me!) spread the love too. You’ll build a following ready and willing to engage you on every level. How will you make money? More on that next time.

Until then, let’s get back to Lisa Jen and Gruff Rhys. I love this song alone, but the video makes me love it even more. It all works so perfectly together. Oh, and, I’ll save you the trouble of finding the song to download. It’s right here. Trust me, this song sticks in your head, you’re gonna want to hear it again.

Much, much more soon. =)

My new favorite band, Pleated Lemon, just released their first 12″ single called “Surefire Hit”. And it is… spectacular in fact. I mean, how could you go wrong with a band whose slogan is “Getting drunk to make music to get drunk to.”? And the lyrics!!

Cocks and Fannies (Laszlo Beckett Remix)

Everybody seems to want to find
The thing that’s always in the back of our mind
Very few of us have one of each kind
Cocks and fannies

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What’s a fanny? Damn good question. See the second to last entry on Wikipedia.

and a special bonus: Bee Minooor

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I strongly suggest you cough up your $3.99 and download the entire thing right now. It’s gonna change the world (if it hasn’t already). You’ll thank me later.