Merry Christmas, from The Dew Abides.
Last year, I wrote about a new(ish) annual tradition of making a mix disc filled with what I thought were the best songs of the year. I give the disc to many friends and started sharing the tracklist with everyone in case other folks want to check out what seems to be holding up as a good set of songs — three years and counting now.
It’s a simple way of sending happy holiday thoughts to lots of people with a lot of thought, but without a lot of cost. And it’s fun to build the tracks throughout the year; to listen to a new album and weigh whether there’s anything worthy of the mix, which I call “Skeleton at the Feast.”
You can read last year’s post for more explanation. Without further ado, here’s this year’s tracks, annotated here and there, and cover art:
- Jim James – “State of the Art”
- Cage the Elephant – “It’s Just Forever” (This may not even be the best song on their new record. I can’t decide.)
- K.S. Rhoads – “Harvest”
- Matt Costa – “Good Times”
- Okkervil River – “White” (Look for a short film in 2014 based on the ’80s inspired album that I plucked this song from.)
- Pearl Jam – “Sleeping by Myself” (A sweet song that found its way in when Jenn nixxed the MGMT track I wanted. See below.)
- Propaganda – “Excellent”
- David Bowie – “Love Is Lost” (Also check out “How Does the Grass Grow” from the album “The Next Day.”)
- Joshua James – “Queen of the City”
- Jason Isbell – “Live Oak” (Isbell played this live at the Fall Boogie in Waverly, and it was phenomenal.)
- Janelle Monáe – “Dance Apocalyptic”
- Bad Religion – “Hello Cruel World”
- Grant Hart – “Underneath the Apple Tree” (From a double-album of songs by the former Husker Du-er based on Milton’s “Paradise Lost”)
- Sam Phillips – “All Over Me”
- Eels – “Wonderful, Glorious”
- The Civil Wars – “The One That Got Away” (A great song off an eponymous album that was largely a letdown following Grammy winner “Barton Hollow”)
- Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – “I Ride at Dawn”
- Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes – “You Can’t Break Me Again”
- Will Sheff/Lovestreams – “Shock Corridor” (Sheff is the frontman for Okkervil River, so he makes two appearances this year — but from two very different projects bookending each end of the year.)
- Ethan Daniel Davidson – “I See Satan Fall Like Lightning” (The first track I picked for this year, and I knew it would be the album closer from the start.)
After giving the mix a few test spins, a few unplanned themes emerged, and I penned a paragraph of liner notes that reads thusly:Judging by the songs on here, it was a propulsive year; a concussive year. Not a thrashing, car-crashing kind of concussion, but a slow, throbbing ache that portends a comeuppance, or the reaping of an inglorious harvest, or some other looming thing. But there’s strength, too — you can’t break me again — and things are eventually wonderful, glorious. Happy Christmas? Love, Brad
- So I usually give Jenn one scratch per year, and she used this one on MGMT’s “Introspection,” which I still think is a very cool song.
- I also left off a song by the band Daniel Amos (“We’ll All Know Soon Enough,” off “Dig Here Said the Angel”). I did Jenn a solid with this. It’s a great song, but I know singer Terry Scott Taylor’s voice makes her skin crawl. I hope one day she’ll come around. The man’s a genius.
- To counterbalance things, I left on the Bad Religion song, which she’s also not a fan of. “It’s monotonous,” she says. Which, yes, that’s partly the point.