Saturday, December 25, 2010

What's on my Best of 2010 mixtape?

Publish it! No more changes or tweaks! Here is my Best of 2010 mixtape. Please note that the tracks appear in no particular order as far as rank is concerned, but are arranged in the order I prefer to listen. 15 tracks made the cut, which is limited by how much I can burn onto a CD. If you would like the 1.1 hour long mixtape, please let me know.

Please understand that the list is only from music I've actually heard. There is no way for me to have a comprehensive list like actual music critics. If 2010 is anything like 2009, I will soon have to make a "Part 2" playlist from all the songs I discover in 2011 that were actually from the previous year. From reading a bunch of Best Of lists already out there I will be picking up more 2010 albums from the various gift cards I've received (i.e. The National, LCD Soundsystem, Mumford & Sons). The list has two motivating factors: to be a snapshot of what I was listening to at that time (and also what concerts I had attended) & to highlight a couple songs or acts that may be new to people who don't follow music as intensely. I love Best of Lists that include unknown acts - I need them to help me discover new music.

Picking the "Song of the Year" was increasingly difficult as I had a nice opportunity to see many of the mixtape songs live. Typically, hearing a song that I really like live has a way of elevating it to a new plateau in my mind. Land of Talk's "Quarry Hymns" was the leader in the clubhouse. I was highly anticipating their new album, and loved their performance of this song when they came through town. Broken Social Scene's 2010 album was not their best, and my dual love of "Sweetest Kill" and "Texico Bitches" basically split the vote in my head. Even though I heard both songs performed live, only one could make it to the mixtape - and none of them would be able to vie for Best Song of 2010. A late charge was made by Freelance Whales' "Generator (Second Floor)" which might have been controversial because some sources has it as a 2009 release. Allow me to pitifully confess: one of the reasons I wanted to see them live earlier this month was knowing how tough of a time I was having picking the Best Song this year and wanted to have my doors blown off hearing it live. It was a great performance, but not enough.

Yeasayer was a huge find for me this year. At one point, not seeing them when they were here in late April was my largest regret of the year. Thankfully, I will be seeing them December 30, which is too little too late for "Ambling Alp" to get the push it would've needed. Therefore, the biggest regret of 2010 was not seeing Foals. Buy me many strong drinks and I'll tell you why the night of their sold out Lincoln Hall show is the worst night of my 2010. However, don't let my personal misadventures take anything away from the overall excellence of that album - with "Black Gold" being my favorite track.

If it wasn't for the emotional baggage at no fault to anybody (especially Foals), their album would've won Best Album in my mind. But instead the accolade goes to the debut effort by Beach House. There are many songs of theirs I love, but have chosen "Walk In The Park" for the mixtape.

I will always remember playing Drake's "Fancy" for MySister in my car between a Wedding Ceremony & Reception in Milwaukee and watching the awe inspiring SNL performance of "Power." The selections by Flying Lotus and The Walkmen were hidden gems from free albums legally downloaded (in these cases from NPR and Spin magazine).

Awarding the Best Song of 2010 meant having to go back to the reason why I love mixtapes: sharing music I don't think the recipients have heard yet. There was one song I made sure was included on most mixtapes this year: "No Big Deal" by S Dot Schumacher. It was a song that hit true from first listen and doesn't feel any less false more than 10 months later. A song that dropped just before the artist turned 30, it's a hilarious mirror held up to the common actions of single women that I know all too well. It is the only song that I feel needs to be embedded in this post and if there's one song I want you to hear this year, it is it:

Sadly, one of my favorite musical moments of 2010 isn't included in the mixtape. As you can see, nothing from Girl Talk's excellent All Day effort made the cut. Since Gregg Gillis dropped his latest album for free download, his track "Down for the Count" was on my working playlist for the very fact that when I first heard the section that played Young MC's "Bust a Move" over Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head" I was punching the [increase volume] key on my keyboard repeatedly - almost upset that there wasn't a level 11. It was kind of like Jack Bauer clicking his empty gun at Victor Drazen at season 1's conclusion. However, the Girl Talk album really is best listened to as an entire album, with the "tracks" acting only as arbitrary navigation points - it's tough to sandwich in the gem.

If you are reading this, I would love to see your Best of 2010 list - especially if it includes songs that I have never heard! And let me end this with a quick repeat: If you would like the 1.1 hour long mixtape, please let me know.

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