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