The Morning News

Listening Diamonds From the Trough, Part 3

Enguarde! Ole! Here here! In the second part of our end-of-year mini-series searching for forgotten gems in the best-of-list, Erik got down dirty with year-end lists and caught some tasty morsels that almost slipped through our nets. Let’s continue wrestling with the lists—there’s a lot of good stuff still out there that we will not allow to be forgotten.

The Catbird Seat’s monthly mix tapes continue to be a thing to behold, especially with the Guardian declaring 2008 “The Year of the Mixtape.” Mr Ryan Catbird’s December mix-tapes are especially worthy when held up next to people indiscriminately uploading almost 1GB of Pitchfork’s Top 100 songs; no context, no voice, just treasure and complete submission. Instead we yearn for the more esoteric, idiosyncratic lists that make the internet a warm place of soul, not just booty.

The Catbird Seat and Gorilla Vs Bear both rounded the year off by applauding Karl Blau’s slow and steady desert-drift. They shared “Mockingbird Diet;” it has lasting appeal but with thousands of tracks and albums called “best,” you’ve really got to go for the quick easy option. Sean from Said The Gramophone succeeds by going for Blau’s “Before telling dragons,” currently at 32 listens. You’ll whistle it through your dreams, skip up the curb, share your best stories, and wonder whether this is the Holy Grail that Weezer will discover after the floods subside.

Bon Iver had everyone’s heart this year, including mine; singing proudly with no apologies—all good. But then there’s Karl Blau; he knocks first, telling grizzly stories in the corner as Bon Iver stands on the table in the next room. Both are good hometown woodsmen but Blau will furnish the soundscape of my mind’s eye with so many more monuments, great forest characters that Bon Iver couldn’t carve or summoun in a decade of winters.

So many sound like Deerhoof, Broken Social Scene, or the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s when they try to do this. Gang Gang Dance either worked hard or got really lucky. They drown you in rain dances and have you reborn and remade from a fiery cauldron in the middle of the jungle. These arty Brooklynites jam through all hues, with little hesitation and complete disregard for compass points and magnetic fields, disorienting listeners and light with a sound so difficult to tune out from. This must sing of pre-rapture parties, in caves painted psychedelic, where we party to lights in the sky, to the end. The Grime MC breakdown at the midway point brings the dance to peak. The whole album is a mirage of LCD Soundsystem running beats, Burial’s Gothic bass busting, and the more hip-tropical Animal Collective beats, a feast for those left lacking in the holiday season.

Listen to Gang Gang Dance at This Recording’s end-of-year run-down. This Recording is “a blog dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli,” and another great discovery this year. The editors at This Recording have you covered for pop-culture reminiscences, and the writers keep spinning words, keep loving, keep finding things and people to love—it’s random, and shuffling, but I’ll read every word while I work out exactly what the deal is, when I hit January. I’ll keep reading as I look and see the door to 2008 is shut, and that there is a whole year to be had: a fresh, clean slate, new tunes, new people, new places. No resolutions for me though, I want my year remembered by lists, not restricted, tied up, and held hostage by something that December Me thought would be smart.

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