Here is a short mixtape that I whipped up while wrapping up the first Scholastics + Moon Cities collaborative mixtape. “Caniculae” is a Latin equivalent of the “dog days” of summer, which have passed but seem to be lingering out here. All of these songs are from this last year except for the first track, which is from last year. The cover is from the beginning of the second volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, if you’re curious.
Tracks: (artist – song)
1. Women – Group Transport Hall
Of all the lo-fi/noise pop bands that became popular in certain corners of the internet in 2008, Women were the ones who actually had some substance underneath their gruff exterior. This song is so short but has so many melodic ideas that it leaves a lasting impression.
2. The xx – VCR
The xx have released probably the sexiest album of the year. It’s so catchy and smooth and intimate. I love the simple production and the girl-boy vocals.
3. Dan Deacon – Jack & Jill
Wow, so this song is kinda nuts. A couple of years ago, Dan Deacon released an album of crazy synthesizer noise that didn’t sound all that dissimilar from someone playing with their electronic sound toys, but which held hints of compositional genius under the wires. This year, he released a far more brilliant album (which contains this song) that is far more mature, but keeps the madness of his older output.
4. Memory Cassette – Surfin
The mastermind behind Weird Tapes/Memory Cassette/Memory Tapes has gone from stay-at-home-dad to Best New Music on Pitchfork. Memory Cassette is his more shimmery 60s side, and this song is a great example of the shimmer.
5. Taken by Trees – My Boys
Animal Collective wrote the song of the year this year with My Girls. Victoria Bergsman, former lead singer of the Concretes and voice of PB&J’s Young Folks, came back with her cover version of the song, with Dan Lissvik of Studio’s sparklingly perfect production and awash with Iranian atmosphere.
6. DM Stith – Fire of Birds
David Stith’s compositional skills seemed to emerge, fully formed, from the internet this year. His songs are so dense and just suck you in. There’s at least 4 good songs bubbling to the surface in this fantastic track.
7. BLK JKS – Molalatladi
BLK JKS is math. Prog rock + punk attitude + chops + noisy, dirty atmosphere + heavy African influence = awesome. Yup, it’s just math.
8. The Widow Babies – Harp of 1000 Strings
This song took a couple of plays to hook me, but then I was forever devoted. Chris Schlarb does a great job of maintaining the rawness of the performance while giving us that stark, catchy afro-guitar and that unpredictable, hard-hitting percussion. Available for download here for free.