Q4 was a time of mostly stress and eating. It was not without its great moments, but they were the hard-fought sort, foreign to those longed-for, easy days of Summer. I fell into passiveness with my music listening, which ended up taking me to some rewarding places I probably wouldn’t have sought out. Not on this mix: all of that darn holiday music that Margaret and I started listening to in early November for our annual xmas mix.
- A.Y.D. | Cass McCombs
A Folk Apart | 2015
Cass McCombs holds the distinguished position within my music-loving heart of being the longest running contemporary artist still keeping my attention with every new release. Wilco, Sufjan Stevens, Beck, and others have lost my interest despite putting out records received positively by the general community. “A.Y.D.” dates back to Cass’s Sacred Heart days, but it arrived upon my ears late last month when A Folk Apart, a Cass McCombs rarities comp, was released. Yeah I know, how’d I miss it? I was walking home from a late night at work, one of many this year, when I played it for the first time. The tireless rhythm guitar, the lyrics, and Cass’s (accidental?) sardonic tone were cathartic to my feelings of burn-out at work. I played it once more again. I felt great. A Folk Apart is a testament to how playful, risky, personal, and endearing Cass’s varied musical choices have been over the span of his career.
- Old Guy | Wimps
Suitcase | 2015
Wimps are back with their first full-length on Kill Rock Stars and their second appearance on my quarterly mixes this year. “Old Guy” is the easy pick from Suitcase for me, what with the aging 30-something story and the early-Wire sound.
- I Don’t Wanna Be Here | Gazebos
Die Alone | 2016
Gazebos are my other local musical sweethearts, and they’ve got their debut coming out on Hardly Art in a month. Yay! TV’s vortex of sound can take some warming up to, but once you’re strapped in, it’s a real funky ride.
- Turnstile | Lionlimb
Turnstile – Singe | 2015
As Dane predicted in his Q4 mix notes, here’s “Turnstile”, that Lionlimb single that has been holed up in my head for the better part of the last couple of months. This song is certainly in my top ten of the year. I’m eager for any news of a Lionlimb full-length or EP in 2016.
- When My Eyes Are Closed | Peter Stringer-Hye
Sunday Girls – EP | 2015
Another tune referenced in Dane’s latest mix notes. Peter Stringer-Hye’s voice rides dangerously close to affectedly earnest Ben Folds territory, but his song craft stands out and keeps him safe in my book. Maybe I do have the nerve to give Tobias Jesso Jr. a fair listen.
- Razorblade The Tape | Slum Of Legs
Begin To Dissolve | 2014
I really should be spending more time with The Raincoats before getting to know Slum of Legs, but at least now I’ve been reminded.
- R U Cirrius XX| Mombutt
Lil Demo | 2015
I was listening to Sharlese’s local show, Audioasis, on KEXP one Saturday, and she dropped a set of dreamy lo-fi stuff that really sucked me in. Mombutt was in the mix. Check out their lil demo on Bandcamp.
- O Contest Winner | Frankie Cosmos
Fit Me In – EP | 2015
How about one final selection overlapping with Dane’s mix? Actually, I’m surprised that we don’t have this much duplication quarter to quarter. It’s fun to pick up new tunes from my brother, but it’s special to me when we each arrive at the same tunes or artists independently. I guess that’s my younger brother shining through.
- Read My Mind | J Fernandez
Many Levels Of Laughter | 2015
“Read My Mind” is one of a couple songs on this mix that came out of my desperate search for more Lionlimb. J Fernandez appeared alongside Lionlimb on a label comp out of Chicago back in 2014. Turns out he released Many Levels of Laughter in mid-2015, and, well, Lionlimb wasn’t up to much so I had a listen. The album is pleasant but mostly forgettable. However, “Read My Mind” caught my ear with it’s bedroom 60s pop a la Yo La Tengo.
- The Fleeting Skies | Samara Lubelski
The Fleeting Skies | 2004
I spent a misty, fall weekend afternoon on errands downtown with Samara Lubelski’s album, The Fleeting Skies, in my ears. It was one of those experiences where the musical subject and real world context (or is it the other way around?) compliment each other in such a way that transforms an otherwise unremarkable experience into a subtle clue to a puzzle you almost forgot you cared to solve.
- Blackstar | David Bowie
Blackstar | 2016
Dane, where was “Blackstar” for you in Q4? Would it have eaten up too many of your strictly imposed 60-minute limit this quarter? I love it. The jazz stuff, I read, must come from his admiration for To Pimp a Butterfly. At the least, the scope of Bowie’s artistic ambition, if not the song length alone, serve as yet one more example of the very cool trend toward increasingly complex music in the mainstream market this year.
- Vacant Ring | Red Sea
Yardsticks For Human Intelligence – EP | 2015
Between In the Salon and Yardsticks for Human Intelligence, Red Sea blew my mind in the kind of way I was hoping for more from Viet Cong. “Vacant Ring” probably tops my list of favorite Red Sea songs, and fitting with my excitement for what they might do next, it happens to be the last song on their most recent release.
- Dreanachrome (Unreleased 2011 Demo) | The Drum
Two Syllable Records Chicago Cassette Compilation: Volume 2 | 2014
Here’s the second pick-up from my Lionlimb research. The Drum secured their spot on this mix as a result of my experience listening to “Dreanachrome” while booking it up the highway with Margaret to catch a ferry for a quick visit to family on Lopez. It was a very Driver moment for me.
- WTF (Where They From) [feat. Pharrell Williams) | Missy Elliott
WTF – Single | 2015
New Missy single! And it’s pretty good! Lots of good stuff in there in addition to Missy’s rapping. The puppet video, the vocal airhorning gag, Pharrell’s beat. Oh, and that line: “And you ain’t gotta be a mason to see through some of this shit on occassion.”