c Back in November last year, I had a great idea. Having spent my adult life condemning cards as a waste of paper, writing time, and postmen’s arms, at 23 I found myself seeing the appeal of a Christmas Card List, as a way of getting in touch with friends who are too geographically distant to see as often as I’d like. Cards are still rubbish, though, and I didn’t fancy trying to make my own, so why not share something with my friends that they could treasure long into the New Year? Why not give them the gift … of tunes? And so The 2012 Mix was conceived. By the time it was actually born, long overdue, it was early January, but I posted those badboys out regardless to a number of close friends*. In classic fashion, though, I entirely forgot to attach any tracklist, rendering the CD completely useless as th music discovery gateway I’d intended. So for the benefit of everyone who’s asked me what the songs are, and for anyone playing along at home (in which case, here, have this zip file), here it is: 1 Kitty Pryde – Give Me Scabies2 Blood Diamonds (feat Grimes) – Phone Sex3 Big Boi – Mama Told Me4 Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together5 Summer Camp – City6 Japandroids – Younger Us7 Sleigh Bells – Leader of the Pack8 HEALTH – Tears9 Joe Goddard – Gabriel10 Chvrches – Mother We Share11 Rustie – Death Mountain12 Crystal Castles – Sad Eyes13 Lemonade – Neptune14 Tennis – Petition15 Icona Pop – I Love It16 Kanye West – Cold17 Grimes – Circumambient18 Carly Rae Jepsen – Call Me MaybeBetween this and my end of year round-up (there’s a lot of crossover), I think pretty much every artist I spent serious time with in 2012 is represented. If you’re observant, you’ll probably notice the mix has got a bit of a loose mirroring structure going on,because I’m like that sometimes. You might also notice that two of these songs didn’t come out in 2012, because a) I only realised this after burning the first CD, and b) I don’t care, I like both a lot and first listened to them last year so there. *DISCLAIMER: If you didn’t receive one of these, and you’re currently scowling, it’s probably because I was too scared of being redundant in the face of your superior music knowledge, and ice-cool tastes, or because I don’t know you. There’s also that.
So, after four long, for most part glorious years, the Best Period of My Life So Far has come to a crashing end. Boo hiss. No longer do I live with six of my favourite people, and I’m getting all retrospective. I’ve failed to fulfil a lot of aims, hopes and promises over the years but one stands out: I never shared my music enough. After a first year of playing music loud enough that it bled through my bedroom wall I’ve failed, in my role as The One That Gets A Bit Funny About Music, to act as gatekeeper of the fabled New Music. So, this is for the person who asked me for music most consistently. I don’t intend to miss out on Being The Person Who First Gave You Neutral Milk Hotel ever again. Here’s a mixtape (except not in any way physically a tape, but since when did that matter?) : Hippin’ anna Hoppin’(A Mixtape for Boys named Sam) It was made, like all mixtapes should be, with one person in mind: if you are that person, let this mark the passing of an era, and I’m crossing my fingers hoping you won’t hate it all. But: if someone were to happen upon this selection of tracks, and like them anyway, that would be just fine too. 1. Childish Gambino – Break Let’s start with something semi-familiar. Partially because I’m constantly slipping it into ambient kitchen/BBBQ/pre-party playlists – the passive-aggressive solution to the aforementioned problem – but mostly, That Sample. Something beautiful is done to the sounds, which twists them into something with a genuine hint of tragedy. There’s just a sense of real, personal emotion, and that elevates it from being ‘just’ a great hip-pop song with fun, sharp, fast wordplay and a good sample. 2. The Weeknd – House of Balloons/Glass Table Girls Music that sounds like an arty black-and-white film of a burnt-out car, the final flames flickering as they die out, on an endless loop. And the footage is probably just out of focus. This is another potentially familiar one: I’ve been slipping the album in wherever I could, that monochrome flicker a background to months’ worth of social interactions. Not that House of Balloons (also the album title, available for free online) makes for good ambient soundtrack material. It should be: it’s reasonably quiet and laid-back (so far that it’s on the hard ground, spine aching, wondering how it got there). But it’s just a bit too unsettling for the music to ever settle in the back of your mind. 3. Emmy the Great – A Woman, a Woman, a Century of Sleep Did I mention that Emmy the Great has a new album? It’s a much slower burn than First Love, trading quite heavily on the beauty of Miss Thegreat’s voice, rather than the razor sharp lyrics it’s delivering. But still: a new! Emmy the Great! album! (And one that’s hugely expanded on the sound side, in ways that would make a lesser writer pull out words like ‘mature’.) Century of Sleep is the kind of track that holds your gaze, intensely, meaningfully, and makes you forget you were only really looking into her eyes in the first place because you kind of fancy her. 4. Jai Paul – BTSTU Less a song, more a smoggy exercise in production flexing its muscles: Marvel at how artificial these waves of sound are! Ponder at the interplay between shrill falsetto and thick industrial beats! Take a while to notice how it softly drops the f-bomb! 5. Gil Scott Heron & Jamie XX – NY is Killing Me More late-nite music. BTSTU could have been seeping out under the heavy doors of a club, but this is getting home alone music, awake later than you should be. Again, it’s a producer showing off, twisting something that was a perfectly balanced song (I’m not sure if you’ve heard the original before, but including that just felt like cheating: it’s just too foolproof) and wrapping a cloak of its own noises around itself. There’s a constant shift of attention as the song goes on, from one shiny thing to another: ooh, listen to these jagged icicles of elect… bouncing rubber ball in an empty… chunky wood-block noises! If you’re listening for it, there’s the feeling of a child playing with all the buttons in front of him, but – unlike most of We’re New Here’s remixes – it just about gets away with it. 6. Jim Jones ft. Lloyd & Girl Talk – Believe in Magic (Instrumental) We’re deeply in our atmospheric midsection now. If we’re continuing the night metaphors, this is the hazy 5am of summer, after a house-party, streets abandoned but already starting to warm up. It reminds me of The Avalanche’s Since I Met You and bedroom dancing with my eyes closed. What more do you need? 7. Guided by Voice – Game of Pricks In case you’re fancying something a little more immediate. GUITARS! SCRATCHY VOCALS! Forget all that talk about production, this is so wobbly you can hear it being recorded. It’s a song that begs to be repeated, or (preferably but somewhat impractically) heard multiple times at once. So you might be pleased to hear that there are two versions. There’s a good hour of lo-fi fun to be had in just playing them back to back. 8. Drake – Over Now we’re getting a little more ballsy, let’s inject an ounce of testosterone to proceedings, shall we? Drake’s got that Weezy-esque drawl, stretched over big macho Mainstream-Hip-Hop bragging (most notably, about what he intends to do to Will Smith’s missus). I suspect, like me, you might have a very definite limit for how much of that is too much. It’s the hook which keeps it just the right side, channelling those uncertainties about lifestyle and where exactly I am, before the verses come in and just cut clean through it all. 9. EL-P – Stepfather Factory There’s 0% […]