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.
Every once in a great while, a thing comes along which is more or less some things you’ve already been using diligently for that same while, and suddenly you’re experiencing those things in a new form and wondering how this new composite thing couldn’t have existed before. For example, ask your grandparents about when they started going to drive-in movies or using sporks. It knocked their socks right off their garters (also: socks with elastic bands). Anyway, this is one of those great whiles, and it’s perfectly in step with the internet age. Behold, the new, simple, and extraordinarily useful MBV Music
blog. Unveiled officially on Monday and developed by occasional lord of the internet Ryan Catbird
, the site collects entries from five spectacular music blogs into one clean, ad-less space. Those blogs are the Catbirdseat
, Largehearted Boy
, and Said the Gramophone
. Heavy hitters one and all. As Ryan continues
And hopefully, it’ll also be contributions from you. Intelligent, engaging music conversation is frighteningly rare out there, and I find that strange, considering all of the sharp-minded music lovers I know. I hope MBV will be a place you can come to engage in interesting music-centric conversation, free of the usual knuckle-dragging comment trolls (who I will execute with wild abandon).
For starters, MBV led me directly to a couple of Meursault songs posted by Said the Gramophone contributor Sean Michaels. The band is from Edinburgh, and their name is taken (supposedly) from Camus’s L’Étranger
. Sean’s review of this song, which sounds like a folk-singing robot, begins, “BREAKING NEWS: CYBERMAN 3000-D HAS BEEN SPOTTED. HIGH-POWERED TELESCOPES PICKED UP MOVEMENT IN THE BLACKENED WRECKAGE OF THE FOREST.” I don’t want to ruin it for you, but everyone wins. —Erik Bryan