A little over a year ago, when I thought I had more time on my hands than I really did, I decided it was time to re-launch my long running Mix Series. I started a blog, made a Facebook page, found a more paper-efficient way to make a CD case. I left a couple mixes around, but as it is wont to do, life got in the way, and I just simply didn't have the time to devote to these mixes so the project got shelved until I did.
So, what's changed now? I currently have a little more time on my hands, but that probably won't last for long. My music library has grown, but it's still not dramatically larger than when I last tried to re-start these mixes. The biggest difference for me is that, as of late, I've been trying to treat my personal projects – be they these mixes, this blog, or the screenplay that's been kicking my ass for the last year and a half – as if they were jobs. They're not hobbies any more, not just something I do for fun. They're real responsibilities, something I have to do as part of my everyday life. I'm just not getting paid to do them.
So I'm forcing myself to re-start this mix series again. I can't promise that it will last, but I'm doing my best to make sure it does. I've spent the last few months archiving and documenting all the old mixes in the series (all of which can now be found in the Mix CD's section of the site), and I've been trying to do as much work on future mixes as I can. Hopefully all of this will help make sure that at least one mix gets released per month.
So, what can you expect from these mixes? Well, like I said last time, don't expect too much. There's never really a theme to any of them, nor any kind of message I'm trying to get across with each mix. They'll each include about an hour of music that I'm currently enjoying, or think goes well with some of the other songs on each mix, all sequence in a way that sounds good. This time around I'll also be publishing a blog post with each mix, that gives the track listing and some thoughts about each song (don't worry, you won't have to read through something like this every month). I'll also be publishing each of the mixes to my 8tracks page, so those who don't find the mixes can still listen. Finally, it's still safe to expect plenty of LCD Soundsystem.
So that's it I guess. Without further adieu, here's this month's mix. It's called "Late Grade," for reasons anyone who was expecting a new mix last February will probably understand. And though I know my word doesn't have a lot of clout right now, you can expect to see a new mix in the series next month.
1. The Magnetic Fields : You Must Be Out of Your Mind
Like any song by Stephin Meritt, this one is crafted so perfectly it feels like it should be on display. Short simple verses full of wordplay and clever turn of phrase with a catchy hook, it's hard not to like this one.
2. Animal Collective : Grass
While I can't claim to be a big fan of Animal Collective's music, this one brims with such exuberant energy that I can't help but nod my head and tap my foot to it.
3. The National : Sorrow
While "High Violet" was by no means the band's best record, it did see them perfect a sound they'd been developing up until that point. "Sorrow" is the pinnacle of that development, and feels like The National's entire career up to that point had distilled down into it's purest, most heartbreaking form.
4. LCD Soundsystem : All I Want
James Murphy's send up of Berlin era Bowie never really feels like a David Bowie song. Nor does it really feel like a tribute to Berlin era Bowie. Rather, it feels like an artist at the top of his game, harnessing the lessons of his idols and filtering them through his own musical lens.
5. Jungle : The Heat
One of the most interesting new bands of 2014, this song is just, cool. Like, really cool. Like, makes you feel cooler just for listening to it. Be sure to check out its amazing roller-dance music video.
6. RJD2 : Ghostwriter
One of my favorite beats from a truly terrific instrumental hip-hop album. When those horns kick in, it feel's like something important just happening. It's regal. It's just a little dangerous. It makes you want to move.
7. Captain Murphy feat. Viktor Vaugh & Earl Sweatshirt : Between Villains
The spiritual successor to 2012's "Between Friends" adds a fantastic verse from Viktor Vaughn (one of MF Doom's many pseudonyms) to the already winning formula of Flying Lotus and Earl Sweatshirt. Great beats backing some of the most talented rappers around right now. What's not to love.
8. Aphex Twin : To Cure a Weakling Child
One of my absolute favorite Aphex Twin tracks, and one that I feel really exemplifies Richard D. James' ability to synthesize various electronic styles into one that is completely his own. Plus those drum sounds. Listen to this song on headphones and it's like they're assaulting your mind.
9. Nicki Minaj : Super Bass [Groundislava Remix]
I never thought I'd enjoy a Nicki Minaj song. I never thought I'd share one on this mix series. But then Groundislava remixed Super Bass, and gave it a sort of weird, etherial beauty, and I knew it would show up on some mix.
10. Santigold feat. Spank Rock : Shove it
This song thrust Santigold onto the scene, and for good reason. Its production is fantastic, successfully defying any attempts at categorization. But unlike many other songs that try to do just that, Santigold never tries to do too much here. She keeps it simple, knowing that a few choice ingredients mixed with a lot of attitude will carry her forward.
11. Adam and the Ants : Prince Charming
Ever since I first heard this song, I've wanted to hear it come on at a party. That energy, those screams, the simple, repeating vocals, if it came on at the right time in the night it could work perfectly. Then again, relatively few people enjoy listing to Art-punk wen their drunk, so something tells me it wouldn't go quite like it does in my head.
12. Tame Impala : Mind Mischief
Listen to those drums. Those fills. The way they're always right in the pocket. It's like all the best Ringo Starr moments combined into 4 fantastic minutes. Beautiful.
13. Rustie : Raptor
Heading out on a high note with one of last summer's most underplayed electronic songs. This is post-dubstep at it's finest, taking everything that genre taught us about harnessing energy, but throwing its limited sonic pallet by the wayside. Just wait until the bass drops out. You'll forget why you shit-talked the genre in the first place.