The final quarter of the year is such a scramble for me, as it is for most people, I suppose, what with the short days, holidays, deadlines, comfort food, and fall tv. Add to that the 2016 US Presidential campaign and outcome, and thus we have this taquitos photo as cover art. Through it all I managed to listen to a bunch of interesting music, and some of it is collected here. The human voice and the relationship between voices kept coming up as a focus for me last quarter, and I’m starting to realize there’s a lesson for me to learn here. Happy new year to you.
I believe institutional racism is the most important problem to solve in the United States right now. My engagement with and emotions about this situation escalated over the course of the summer, and I’m at the point where I have to do more than just keep mulling things over. Though I don’t normally go all-in on one theme with my quarterly Collected mixes, I wanted to use this one to share how I’m processing racism with the hope that it helps me make a connection or improve my thinking and actions in some way. Making mixtapes has long been my go-to outlet for working out difficult stuff, and I’m kind of all over the place here. So, yeah, music, please. If you’re listening, we most likely know each other. If you’re feeling similarly or if something I wrote doesn’t quite sit right or comes across tone deaf, please, let’s talk about it.
Music collected April through June, 2016. I am the eye in the sky looking at you. I can read your mind. I am the maker of rules dealing with fools. I can cheat you blind, and I don’t need to see anymore to know that I can read your mind.
Songs I collected in the first quarter of 2016 range from funk to folk and experimental to good old rock and roll.
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.
Going into Q3, I found myself dissatisfied with the limited number of music discovery sources to which I had pared myself down. For awhile, it’s been mostly KEXP, Pitchfork, and AdHoc. Thus, I decided to sign up for the Apple Music trial when it launched. I didn’t expect much going in, but so far I like it. Now I understand why everyone loves Spotify. Of course! In addition to picking up a couple tunes thanks to Apple Music, I also received a short stack of pretty fantastic LPs from Dane and couldn’t resist the new Royal Headache and Deerhunter singles. What did I miss?
We’re having a heatwave here in Seattle. And I’m not complaining. All of this hot, thick air sets a mind to simmering and opens ears to healthy doses of musical dirt and funk. And those perfect late evenings, with their cool breeze and afterglow of heat, lend themselves to the pleasures of the softer side of pop and experimentation. I filled this mix up with tastes of the music I encountered over the past quarter, and it all says SUMMER to me. Enjoy!
After being called out by both my wife and my brother for the dismal near-absence of female artists throughout my mixes last year, I dedicate this first quarterly of the year to women musicians. Over the past three months, I attacked my admittedly untrained and regretfully disinterested ear for female-led music with a sort of immersion therapy. I played every new track that popped up on music blogs, tuned in when KEXP championed an artist, and followed one or two rabbit holes in search of songs by women that resonate with my sonic interests, challenge my faulty, subconscious misconceptions, and open the door to musical gender reconciliation. I’m pleased to report that the exploration was a great personal success. Read along with the song annotations for more about what I discovered along the way.
So, brother, is this OK?
My history with music has almost everything to do with my brother, Dane. He has two years on me, which is just about the perfect amount of time to create a sort of hybrid mentor-peer relationship. From my first awareness of radio onward, my perception and exploration of music has been filtered through the lens of, “What does Dane think?” At times, this has dismayed me. Like other aspects of life, it has left me wondering how much of my destiny (and personality) lives outside my own control. How much of who I am is just a poor facsimile of my brother? Of course, as we both matured, and Dane went off to college, and I moved out West, my individuality blossomed and my distinct tastes and traits came into focus. So, now in our mid-thirties, I look upon my music relationship (well, my relationship as a whole, actually) with my brother with great fondness. I have cherished the glimpses I have gotten into his musical journey through his 2014 quarterly mixes, his own recordings, and his lion’s den tumblr. And the chances we get to discuss music and collaborate are energizing and very special to me. His seemingly boundless creativity and thirst for new music is an inspiration, no longer weighed down by the sort of shaming, “you can never be as good as me,” quality that I used to impose on them. So, today I’m proud to share with my brother and the world a mix I made for him. Continue reading
Whoa, we’re done with 2014. This year, I experienced an acute acceleration of the speed of time. I found less time to play alone in exploration and appreciation of music. In my downtime around the holidays I had a lot of catching up to do. End of year lists pushed Gibbs & Madlib, Shabazz Palaces, and Ricky Eat Acid over the edge for me. Heading into 2015, I’m wanting to hold onto 2014 just a bit longer. But time marches on, and there’ll be plenty of experiences ahead still to cherish. Continue reading