10 December 2008

fruits of my labors

i started a little while before the time of my birthday, intending, perhaps a bit too self-consciously, to create a stylistic successor to october is eternal, my much-beloved 2005 mix that started out as a 23rd birthday cd and grew from there to become the defining statement of the way i feel about autumn. i didn't have any particular ground-rules other than a general sense of the vibe, and a long list of potential inclusions saved up for well over a year since the last time i made a subdued, non-dance-oriented mix [the last one i did never made it to broader distribution - i'm pretty bad about that these days - though i do have a large soft spot for it. just let me know if you'd like a copy of it.] anyway, i whittled and frittered for a number of weeks, passing around some drafts and versions that may or may not have been drafts, eventually coming up with something more or less like this:

Title: Harvest Gleanings
Format: CD-R
Date: October-November 2008
Packaging: non standardized, as of yet [boo], save for yellow-orange [goldenrod-pumpkin?] sharpie in rounded lower case

[1] The Pioneers | Tunng
[2] Zeno of Elea | Kelley Polar
[3] Parade | The Knife
[4] Keep Your Silver Shined | Devon Sproule
[5] If A Song Could Get Me You | Marit Larsen
[6] Both Sides | Margaret Berger
[7] Peace Be Upon Us | Sheryl Crow
[8] Kim & Jessie | M83
[9] Get What You Deserve | Bertine Zetlitz
[10] Happy Hour | Britta Persson
[11] Watch/Watch (Girls) | Owusu & Hannibal
[12] Forever Utd | The Tough Alliance
[13] Gimme Love to Give | The Ark
[14] Strangers In The Wind | Cut///Copy
[15] Fatalist Palmistry | Why?
[16] Baby I'm Broke | Lucky Soul
[17] Mlle. LaBelle | Emily Bate
[18] Turn Me Towards The Light | Aberfeldy
[19] Nesso | Hatchback
[20] Facts of Life | Juvelen

i keep toying around with the idea of re-inserting "goodbye" by dominique leone as track 3, and lopping of the juvelen tune, leaving "nesso" as the closer. (there's not room on a CD for all 21 songs - i tried once and made it work, with a truncated version of "kim & jessie," but that's no good at all.) as it stands, "nesso" is shortened somewhat, and the transitions into and out of it don't have anything like the fluid grace of the track itself. i've been waffling about "facts of life" - it makes for a very different kind of closer; resounding and anthemic rather than amiably trailing off - but it is a pretty great song, and its central sentiment pretty much hits the nail on the head: "this world is crazy but we've got each other to love." i guess it's probably time to leave well enough alone...

the title harvest gleanings came from a bible verse that we were playing around with on yom kippur: "...and the stray gleanings of your harvest you shall not collect." [one working title for the mix was daze of aw, which i still think is a good phrase, for describing the effect of overwhelming cuteness, especially if it has something to do with the high holidays - close but not exactly what i was going for.] apart from the obvious seasonal associations with harvests, it's a decent description of what this mix contains, if you consider my work to be sifting through music to see what i can find (as it is, more or less) - these are the gleanings of my musical harvestings, c. 2008.

even more specifically, all but four of these songs are from releases i have reviewed (or, in two cases, will do soon) for AMG. ten of the twenty are from this year, six from last year, the rest fairly recent too. nine of the twenty are from scandinavian artists - which is actually fewer than i expected, although it's still striking considering that this is not a particularly pop-oriented mix. also notably, nine of them are by female artists, or groups with female vocalists – my mom said it could almost pass for one of the chicks mixes that i make for her, which is true. [n.b. this does not include the artists named kelley and dominique]

so what's on it? a lot of artists i have written about here before (well, almost all if you count the amg roundups), many of whom are quite near and dear to my heart:

, perhaps more than any other artist, sum up the spirit i was going for – i've really enjoyed exploring their albums this year, and am sorry i didn't discover them sooner, but this bloc party cover is actually from a non-album single. the frontiersy subject matter is also thematically appropriate to the harvest idea, not that there's really a lyrical theme to this mix.

kelley polar has made one of my very favorite records of the year, though i have continued to procrastinate actually reviewing it, possibly because i'm afraid i'll discover it's not as good as i want it to be, though more likely because its special strangeness is going to be really tough to put into words. this is a pretty good example. i have no idea what kind of song this is.

swedish synthpop musical all-around heroes the knife at their most folksy and organic, singing (aptly) about tromping around in the wilderness, i think. from their s/t debut, which i only got this year, and is nearly as mindblowingly good as their more celebrated second and third albums. i love this song. keep an ear out for "we raise our head for the color red," lyrics that cropped up later, even less comprehensibly, in "heartbeats."

devon sproule, my darlin', was one of the reasons i knew i had to make this mix. i carried this song around in my head for almost two years, and then for another year after i actually got a recorded copy of it, all so that it could make its way here, and to you. a perfect fall song.

marit larsen, my other darlin', happily popped up with her lovely second album just in time to make it onto the mix. actually this song was the only thing i'd heard from the album when i compiled the mix, otherwise i might have chosen something that wasn't the lead single. but it works out okay, 'cuz anyway you slice it this is an irresistable song right off the bat that only gets better the more you hear it. poppy, to be sure, but not offputtingly so, and rootsy enough to fit in. (at least, i hope those things are true. if not screw it.)

margaret berger is a pretty unlikely candidate for such a low-key mix, being the new queen of disco and all, but this utterly gorgeous ballad from her otherwise relatively unremarkable debut has a comforting calm that just keeps drawing me back in. just so pretty. (for a long time i was looking for a way to juxtapose it with the guy sigsworth remix of mirah's "la familia," which has a strikingly similar bell line, but what's the point really. that remix, by the way, is featured on the practically-finished sleepy mix, which will turn up here v. soon.)

sheryl crow
has never meant a great deal to me, though i usually like her singles, but i really enjoyed her album this year - this is the song that got me into it, and it's still by far my favorite. unabashedly earnest and sentimental, corny almost (that goofy chorus), but surprisingly hip and grooving even so.

m83 have usually left me cold in the past (and i haven't been able to get into the rest of saturdays=youth either) but this song is flat-out awesome. as my uncle pointed out, the production is totally over-the-top '80s-mimicry, except that snare drum sound is a lot better. i can't decide if kim and jessie are supposed to be boys or girls.

bertine zetlitz is a [norse] goddess. in order to help spread the gospel, i have prepared a best-of compilation... [contact me for more info.]

britta persson is a strange sorta person. damn she wishes she was your lover. frankly, it doesn't sound like such a good deal to me; she seems kinda insecure and unstable. but she's not bad to listen to, in a '90s-reviving kinda way.

it turns out that owusu & hannibal have more than one obsession-worthy song after all (the one being "what it's about," which i've raved about at least a couple of times.) i'm not quite sure they have more than two, though. (this one has a weird breakdown to silence in the middle, and then builds up into its own semi-remix/reprise, so it sort of counts as one and a half.)

i know i've seen them live, and written their biography and reviews of all their albums and everything, but i still don't really get the tough alliance. like, at all. do people care about them? are they important? did marc hogan at pitchfork singlehandedly manufacture a whole load o' hype that nobody much else (except for me) bothered to follow up on. can't tell. this song's pretty catchy though...

i < style="font-weight: bold;">the ark. this is a silly song, with some very silly lyrics, but it's pretty hard to argue with the message.

cut///copy. hmmph. i think that they are really really really good. i just kinda wish i liked them more. wooosh!

yes. why? "gemini (birthday song)" one of the highlights of the october mix (one of only two artists to be reprised here), and he/they didn't disappoint with the follow-up... starts with a blast and it doesn't let up...lyrics, melody, hook, message, this song's got it all. "i am still alive, in love and wide-eyed in my time." (though the opening stanza is the best.) i think some other folks noticed it too - it was one of the 75 or so prescribed options for "best song of the year" in the ridiculous p4k readers survey.

lucky soul. ohhhhhhh god...... just listen to it, ok? (why is this band not ruling the world yet?)

emily bate. hi emily! she said the other day that it's about "romantic friendship," which is more or less what i would have said. (friendship with roommates, no less.) except for the first verse which is about weird grammar.

aberfeldy are a bunch of sweethearts. those twinkles. those tiny little space-zapper sound effects. those harmony vox. riley's cute lil voice. now this song puts me in a daze of aw.

hatchback is one blissed-out dude. i bet he'd be fun to take a road trip with. make sure he brings along his trumpet.

juvelen is pretty much the man... i might have mentioned him once or twice. this song sorta splits the difference between his dance jams and his slow jams. i already quoted the chorus for ya...

and that's it. didn't really mean to go through all the tracks but i guess i just did. thanks for listening, and let me know if you want a copy.

No comments: