I have a great and lasting fondness for compiling these lists, making these mixes, and writing these posts. In years past, I spent nearly 16 hours doing a simple ten track list+mix+post, and then quietly resolved to never spend that much time again, but chances are I won’t be all that far from it once this particular effort is done. Fact is, this is a painful process, but still something I find much joy in doing.

↓ Download all 20 songs I had no intention of compiling such a lengthy retrospective on the music of the naughties, but once I saw that others were doing it, and then combed through my list, I found a bunch of albums that deserved recognition. However small and insignificant my words may be, these 20 songs from my favorite 20 albums of the 2000s meant so much to me.

So here they are, mixed to perfection. Enjoy!

Jamie Lidell · “Yougotmeup” · Multiply · 2005

I bought this album the moment it came out — without bothering to preview it or read the reviews — even though his previous efforts left me scratching my head as often as waggin’ my booty. “Yougotmeup” is completely out of this world, and not only sets the tone for the rest of the album, it set me on a five year journey to see him live as many times as I could. No one else even comes close to the creativity and ingenuity of Jamie Lidell, especially in front of a crowd.

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Vampire Weekend · “A-Punk” · Vampire Weekend · 2008

Had my friend Maroney not passed along this album, and had Abby not fallen in love with it, I doubt I would have ever listened to it. I’m not even sure it belongs on this list — I have seen countless arguments for The Strokes over anyone else of their type — but there’s something so pure and simple about Vampire Weekend. On top of that, this album speaks to me much like the Violent Femmes self-titled debut did some 27 years ago. No small feat there.

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah · “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth” · Clap Your Hands Say Yeah · 2005

This song and this album (really, everything about CYHSY) just scream New York City for me. I even lost $300 trying to see them play on NYE in NYC (and I always thought I was street-smart) but eventually saw them twice. I credit them with bringing the feel of a dj set to the typical rock show, stringing each and every song together with some sort of whimsical musical transition. Now (almost) everyone does it, but they were the first.

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Radiohead · “Bodysnatchers” · In Rainbows · 2007

I was waaay late to the game with Radiohead, so much so that the first album I purchased was Hail to the Thief. Sure, I complained about the 160kbps thing when they first released In Rainbows, but paid for it anyway and then paid again when the cd version came out so I could have higher fidelity copies. I raved about Bodysnatchers in my list of favorites from 2007, so please go read about it there if you care. Chances are you already feel the same way about this song, it’s an absolute masterpiece.

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Thom Yorke · “Black Swan” · The Eraser · 2006

As I wrote about The Eraser in general and “Black Swans” in particular in 2007:

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.

I still find myself drawn to this album, and finding new twists and turns with each and every listen. It seems wholly unfair that one man should have such impeccable taste and immense talent, but at least Thom Yorke sees fit to share his gifts with the rest of us.

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Plaid · “Masato Shuffle” · Heaven’s Door · 2008

Whereas most of the more traditional bands on this list have an electronic(a) edge, Plaid is the purest expression of that sound. I spent all of 2009 anticipating their still unreleased album entitled Scintilli, and almost slept on Heaven’s Door (the soundtrack for a Japanese film) in the process, but I am eternally grateful I found it. I have no fewer than seven favorites on this album, but “Masato Shuffle” is at the top of my list. It’s the most exquisitely delicate song, so seemingly effortless you might be tempted to ignore it. Take a minute or two and let it pull you in — I can and have listened to this song on repeat for hours on end — you’ll soon go back for more.

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Ulrich Schnauss · “Blumenwiese Neben Autobahn” · Far Away Trains Passing By · 2001

Many, many moons ago, I coined a phrase to describe music not at all unlike Ulrich’s: “a motion with emotion.” Far Away Trains Passing By first appeared to me in the form of what seemed to be hundreds of messages on the idm list-serv I once followed, all of which raved about his enchantingly melodic and indelibly rhapsodic sound. Still to this day I remain in awe that so many loops can be so perfectly placed, never crowded, always balanced. “Blumenwiese Neben Autobahn” — roughly translates to “flower meadow beside the freeway” — is the most pristine gem on an album full of them, one I can’t recommend enough.

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Animal Collective · “Graze” · Fall Be Kind · 2009

Animal Collective and its many permutations so thoroughly dominated the latter half of my musical decade that I have no choice but to dedicate 20% of these songs to them, and I easily could have added more. Fall Be Kind is the only EP on the list, but more than holds its own, even more so as it comes on the heels of the esteemed Merriweather Post Pavilion (found below). All five songs on FBK are instant classics, and light years beyond anything else out there, including MPP. I don’t know how they do it but I hope they never stop.

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Grizzly Bear · “Southern Point” · Veckatimest · 2009

Were it not for two back-to-back Animal Collective shows, including the one in the Big Sur fog with only 299 other lucky souls, Grizzly Bear would have been the show of the year for me, and “Southern Point” its absolute highlight. While the album comes across as soft and even somewhat delicate at times, their presence onstage was anything but and their sound was big, Big, BIG. This was the song they opened with, featuring Daniel Rossen on lead vocals and Ed Droste as his primary backup, and it instantly brought an already revved up Fillmore crowd to a fever pitch. I have a feeling this band is just hitting its stride, and will be back bigger and better than ever with their next album.

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Battles · “Atlas” · Mirrored · 2007

Battles delivered one of the most unexpected and absolutely epic albums of the decade, and two of the most spectacular videos too. I still get chills when I think about the show they played in San Francisco, and remember being somewhat disappointed that they looked like such normal guys — I half expected robots. Tortoise, aka TRTS, might be the only other band that can play as tightly through a subtle change in pace and as frenetically for such lengths of time as BTTLS. I always want to call John Stanier, John Stamos. Not even close.

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!!! · “Me and Guiliani Down by the School Yard (A True Story)” · Louden Up Now · 2004

Those ungoogleable bastards, !!!, completely won me over with 2004′s brilliant Louden Up Now, and then sealed the deal with their tour in support of 2007′s Myth Takes. Imagine a high school pep rally gone awry, with a bit of Richard Simmons’ Sweatin’ to the Oldies, some New York punk, and late 90′s rave culture thrown in for good measure. Oh, and some killer lyrics too:

People always ask me, “What’s so fucking great about dancing?”
How the fuck should I know? Yeah, even I can barely understand it
But when the music takes over, the music takes control

“Me and Guiliani” was one of my Songs of the Day in 2008, and I’m quite fond of that post if you’re interested in reading more. I love !!! and can’t wait to hear what they do next.

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Hudson Mohawke · “No One Could Ever” · Butter · 2009

Thus far, my list feels fairly conventional, even to me. Sure, there’s a handful of outliers, but nothing quite like Butter. In fact, I think it sticks out like a sore thumb, whatever that means, and “No One Could Ever” is the biggest red blister of all, pulsing with an insatiable beat and ridiculously hyperactive drums. I love, love, love everything on this album, and anything else I have heard from HudMo. To be sure, not all of his music sounds like chipmunks on crack, but his best stuff certainly does.

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Squarepusher · “Tetra Sync” · Ultravisitor · 2004

I can’t say that I ever really fell for Ultravisitor top to bottom quite like the way I fell for Hello Everything and Just a Souvenir, but every time I come back to it I find another gem. Squarepusher is undoubtedly one of my all-time favorites, top five in fact (on the active list at least), and “Tetra Sync” is one of his finest efforts. Tom Jenkinson has a way of making music that in which everything sounds like a remix of one or more of his earlier tracks, but this one sounds like his entire career rolled up in one. I can barely wrap my mind around what a killer track this is, and more often than not am reduced to dropping f-bombs to describe it — it’s *that* good. I have seven other songs posted if you want more: Love Will Tear Us Apart, Star Time 2, Port Rhombus, Iambic 5 Poetry, Iambic 9 Poetry, A Real Woman, and Star Time 1. All every bit as epic.

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Animal Collective · “Daily Routine” · Merriweather Post Pavilion · 2009

As I wrote about “Daily Routine” earlier this year:

Normally, I play a SOTD over and over while I write these posts. Not so with this amazing new song from Animal Collective, in fact I can’t do anything beyond marvel at its absolute perfection: so sparse yet so full, so chaotic yet so incredibly peaceful. And that bass, those drums, the claps, the carnivalesque keys, and that seemingly endless outro, I defy you to find a more spectacular song, at least one that isn’t on the very same album!

I remember this one more than any other song that they played at both of my shows earlier this summer, especially since they extended the doodling at the beginning and let Panda take the outro even further. Merriweather Post Pavilion may very well be the album of the decade, and this song is a big reason why. Is is still sacrilegious to say that Animal Collective is my generation’s Beatles?

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o9 · “Terminal Silver” · Church of the Ghetto PC · 2004

Much like Ultravisitor, I initially found a couple of songs I instantly loved, and more or less stopped listening to the rest of Church of the Ghetto PC. I don’t know what prompted another listen in the past year or so, but ever since then I have been hooked on o9. As best I can tell he dropped off the face of the earth, so if you’re out there, Jesse Legg, and still making music, I want to hear it! If nothing else, please see to it that some 45rpm mp3s of No Delay for Days are added, I can’t stand it so slow.

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Burial · “Ghost Hardware” · Untrue · 2007

It never really mattered whether it was called dubstep, grime, or wonky, I simply didn’t care for it. The entire genre always felt too contrived, too of the moment without any regard for the one prior or post. Somehow Burial came out of the very same movement, only to rise above all else with an album so perfectly situated not in the present, past, or future, but simultaneously in all three. Abby put it best when she said:

It sounds like Jamie Lidell meets Boyz II Men meets Autechre.

Yep, classic.

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Flying Lotus · “Roberta Flack (feat Dolly)” · Los Angeles · 2008

FlyLo burst on the scene as quickly and vividly in 2006 as HudMo did in 2008, and like Butter I could point to any number of songs on Los Angeles that deserve special mention here:

[B]ut for me the one that truly stands above and beyond all others is “RobertaFlack (feat. Dolly).” The sparsely spaced rhythm track shines on its own, but that gives Ellison plenty of room to add Dolly’s beautiful voice for color and depth. And then he tops it off with the most unexpected breakdown at the end, so ridiculously sultry and seductive I could listen to those last 52 seconds on repeat for the rest of my life and die a very happy man

It’s totally and completely unfair to call it easy listening, but whenever I need to find a groove to get something done, I always reach for Los Angeles. The entire album flows so well, and the music itself is neither in my face nor so distant that I don’t notice it. It’s full of songs as eloquent as “Roberta Flack,” one masterpiece after the next.

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Panda Bear · “Take Pills” · Person Pitch · 2007

Person Pitch was my first Animal Collective experience, and at the time it seemed like I was the last to find out about it or them, but it didn’t take me long to want much more. From there I jumped into Strawberry Jam and my first show at The Fillmore, then a deep dive into their back catalog. There’s something so raw and immature about this solo effort from Noah Lennox, it’s such a scattered amalgamation of sounds and themes, but there’s a knowing wisdom about it too, like this is the way music is meant to be. I always imagined that the creatures on the cover lent the music its eclecticism, especially that gigantic sea lion. I bet he plays a mean bass.

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Avey Tare and Kria Brekkan · “Lay Lay Off Faselam” · Pullhair Rubeye · 2007

Believe it or not, this is the only album on my list that I did not personally pay for, and as far as I know it’s not even commercially available in its reversed form. My brother Kevin sent this to me, and it instantly became one of my most cherished possessions, for lack of a better word. The music is flimsy and gauzy, Kria Brekkan’s voice is dainty and wispy, and the lyrics are dreamy and distant. What it lacks in mass is more than made up in mettle, for this is a deeply heartfelt album, one-of-a-kind, and not likely to be duplicated ever again.

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Bjork · “I See Who You Are” · Volta · 2007

Speaking of the heart, I can think of no greater love song than “I See Who You Are” from Bjork and Mark Bell. This is such an intensely beautiful piece — the underlying music itself is perfectly restrained whereas Bjork’s voice is anything but — and each element embodies the message so well:

Let’s celebrate now all this flesh on our bones
Let me push you up against me tightly
And enjoy every bit of you

Do not miss that crescendo at the end with the horns and the pipa (a traditional Chinese string instrument, much like a sitar) played by Min Xiao-Fen. It all adds up to one phenomenal track, and a perfect end to this mix and post.

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If you made it this far, I thank you for reading and listening. I am truly honored.

I would love to hear which ones resonated with you, and please let me know about anything I might have missed from your best of the decade list.

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed making it. Happy new year!

I was one of the lucky few to see Animal Collective play before 300 people at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur two nights ago. I’ll have much more to say about the show in the days to come, and a ton of pictures and video to share too, but I can’t get the memory tied to “Lay Low” out of my mind.

Words fail to express the love I have for this stretch of the California coast. So many of my happiest moments have their roots here, and I know of no other place that so thoroughly calms my restless soul.

I proposed to Abby in China Cove, a secluded beach in the Point Lobos State Reserve made just for us, but totally unknown to me before we arrived:

Point Lobos, China Cove

And shared the first of many Carmel sunsets that night:

Our first Highlands Inn sunset

And celebrated her birthday the next day at Nepenthe, perched high above the Pacific Ocean in Big Sur:

Abby and Scott at Nepenthe in Big Sur

And were married in the Carmel Highlands, with our families in attendance, on a day when the fog to burned off just in time to give us our moment in the sun:

Abby and Scott

And I love the drive from Carmel to Big Sur. If I stopped every time I saw an astonishingly beautiful scene like the one below, the 35 mile drive would take a lifetime:

Big Sur

So you can imagine my delight to find out about the show in Big Sur, and my sheer joy at getting four of the most precious tickets on earth, in my humble opinion of course. Abby, Sawyer, my brother Kevin, and I arrived to find the Library tucked in between towering trees and completely enveloped in the densest fog. The entire scene was magical, and only made more so by the song that plays in the background of this quick video:

I only wish I would have moved the camera more slowly, in spite of the speed it reminds of how time stood still that night. The entire hour plus before Animal Collective played was filled for much of the same ethereal sounds, none of which I recognized, but this one stood above all else.

I spent the better part of tonight with that video looped, trying in vain to decipher the lyrics with the hope of identifying the song, when at last I remembered seeing an app for my iPhone called Shazam. Sure enough, a ten second sample identified it, and after scouring the internet again I finally had my song (it seems to be a live version from SxSW, the album is all but impossible to find). Here it is:

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The show itself was almost an afterthought given the majesty of the setting, the crisp and cool air ever so slightly misty from the fog, the history of the land on which we stood, and the band that brought each one of us there. But my most cherished memory is the few hours I was able to share with my family in such a magnificent place, and now I have a song to take me there in an instant.

Shifting gears from last week’s five-day homage to Squarepusher, today’s song is yet another epic Animal Collective track, “Safer.” Once again, I owe my brother Kevin a thank you for this one as well.

I wish I had the bandwidth to keep up with everything new and dive deeper into everything old by Animal Collective. As it is, I feel like I have barely scratched the surface, but what I know I truly love.

Ever since I saw them in concert just over a year ago (again, my pics and video), I have been searching for a small reminder of that same frenetic energy and uninhibited emotion I found in their live show. You can then imagine my delight when Kevin sent me “Safer,” which initially seems to be an afterthought B-side to their Peacebone single, but does in fact stand quite well on its own.

I have just begun to unpack this song, and even after 20+ listens in the last four days, I still can’t get enough. I love Geologist’s little doodads in the background, Avey’s coarse enunciations, and Panda’s emphatic drumming. Add in the most delicate piano line, a ridiculous amount of reverb, and multiple layers of vocals (screaming too) to a meandering song that never seems to end and what you get is pure magic:

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This is why I love Animal Collective. With the exception of Radiohead, who truthfully exists on an entirely different plane, I don’t know of another band so consistently pushing the envelope. They just might be the new Beatles.

I was looking for a song to post last night, something that captured the energy and beauty of the afternoon I shared with my wife, son, and brother in San Francisco, but nothing quite fit. It wasn’t until this morning’s walk to work that it all fell into place — clearly, the answer had to be “Star Time 2″ by Squarepusher.

This track starts slow and quietly comes to a crescendo, only to completely unwind in the most peaceful repose. It is positively euphoric and borders on cartoon-like exaggeration, yet it still remains serene and well-composed.

I definitely gravitate toward music with space, which to me means an ample separation of sound that gives room to explore what lies between. And what lies between? Exactly: nothing. Most artists fail to consider that it might be better to not throw everything in all at once, and even fewer can wear that restraint as a badge of courage and push for greater separation. When he chooses to, Jenkinson masterfully toes the line between obvious and subtle, chaos and calm, thick and thin; I can think of no better illustration than “Star Time 2″:

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I think it will be an all-Squarepusher week, with a quick look back at how he arrived at this point and that long-promised write-up of my favorite track from Just a Souvenir. But I’m also itching to play you some Plaid too, the Beatles of our electronic era. Perhaps that’s for next week?

Actually, this particular track is much more like the song of the week, as I have listened to it non-stop since first hearing it on Monday.

I subscribed to Flavorpill’s Earplug many years ago, and even though its relevance and timeliness is negligible, I keep it around for the random gem every now and then. Last week’s issue of Earplug is a perfect example as it had a link to three micromixes from the members of Animal Collective.

I owe a debt of gratitude to my brother Kevin for exposing me to AC, then insisting that I continue to listen to them in spite of not connecting at first. He is the reason I saw and loved them in concert (my pics and video). Needless to say, I saw the link and devoted the next few hours to pouring over their mixes.

For better or worse, I couldn’t get past the second song on Panda’s mix, and a little digging confirmed it was Davy Graham’s “Both Sides Now” from 1969:

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I played it for Abby the next morning and she immediately pegged it as a remix of Joni Mitchell’s song by the same name, and one of her all-time favorites too. Mitchell’s lyrics are sublime, a taste:

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, and say I’ve changed
Well somethings lost, but somethings gained
From living evry day

Graham’s version is decidedly more up-tempo, of course, and though I know so little about him I have yet to come across anything as spirited in his catalog. I am surprised Wes Anderson hasn’t put it in one of his soundtracks, it is a perfect match for his sound and the story fits with his fondness for life’s, and love’s, mysteries. Perhaps that’s just another reason it resonated so fully with me.


As an aside, I hope to do many more of these SOTD posts, perhaps even daily if all goes well. I don’t expect all of them to be so long-winded, but music has a way of touching so many parts of my life, and to ignore any single one of them paints a much less complete picture.

↓ 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

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.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of this song, let alone the band (called ‘of Montreal’ and apparently not from Canada, in case you’re interested, which makes them the second band with Canada in their name, but not from Canada). The melody is infectious (and who doesn’t like to sing to chemicals!). Plus the video has that endearing Wes Anderson vibe, I could easily see this song in one of his movies. While I can’t say I agree with every sentiment in the lyrics, they’re quite good too:

I’m in a crisis, I need help
Come on mood shift, shift back to good again
Come on be a friend

Nina Twin is trying to help, and I
Really hope that she succeeds
Though I picked the thorny path myself
I’m afraid, afraid of where it leads

Chemicals, don’t strangle my pen
Chemicals don’t make me sick again
I’m always so dubious of your intent
Like I can’t afford to replace what you’ve spent

Nina Twin is trying to help, and I
Really hope she gets me straight
‘Cause my own inner cosmology
Has become too dense to navigate

Chemicals, don’t flatten my mind
Chemicals, don’t mess me up this time
Know you bait me way more than you should
And it’s just like you to hurt me when I’m feeling good

Thanks to Kevin (from Kate) for the tip. I’ll definitely have to check out the rest of their albums. They must be doing something right, having sold out shows in San Francisco last night and tonight, only to add a third for Sunday night and promptly selling that one out too. Amazing.

Colbert, again. This time with infographics galore!

All of which reminds me of a really funny story that I would link to if I could, but it’s nowhere to be found (no online archives of old The Other Paper stories). Back in the late 90s, some guy started writing his monthly checks to Ameritech (then the local phone monopoly in Columbus) with variations on the company name. When nothing adverse happened, he became progressively more belligerent (though fiendishly creative!). Honestly, Ameritech couldn’t have been any worse, to the point when Abby called to cancel our home phone service, they laughed and taunted her with ‘you have no where else to go!’ (Ha! We easily solved that problem with a cable modem and two cells — trendsetting as usual in 1999).

At any rate, if memory serves me well, he started calmly with ‘Amoebablech’ but ended with something along the lines of ‘cash this fuckers!’, with so many hilarious steps in between (I wish I could remember them all, of course he saved the cancelled checks). Of course, Ameritech gladly cashed ‘em just the same.

Not sure why I shared that, but the thought of it made me laugh. And likely Abby and Kevin (and Sarah when she gets her new computer tomorrow — congrats!) as well.

Me? I’m sick. And tired. And still so busy, but for a very, very exciting reason. One more week to go! But for now I’m off to bed.

↓ 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.