C90 Christmas: Eve & Morn

Eve cover

I put together a Christmas mixtape for you. It’s two sides of a 90 minute cassette. (The cassette ended up being a little longer than 90 minutes, actually. Lucky me.) One side is for Christmas evening and the other is for Christmas morning, but you can really play them any time you’d like. There’s a nice mix of traditional songs, new takes on classics, and original pieces. It’s mostly Sufjan-free, too. (Not that I don’t love Sufjan’s Christmas albums–I do! they’re fantastic, but I thought it would be nice to have some other Christmas music…though I did slip one song in there.) It’s all zipped up and ready to go in iTunes with album art, track order, etc. You might want to turn on Sound Check, as there is wildly varying sound quality and bitrate in the songs. Click on the Links below to download the zip files.

If you’re thirsty for more Christmas music, check out my post from 2008 rounding up some good stuff and including an old radio show of mine!

C90: Christmas Eve

  1. 1. O Little Town of Bethlehem – The Innocence Mission
  2. 2. Joy To The World – Eef Barzelay
  3. 3. Silent Night – Bosque Brown
  4. 4. The Christmas Waltz – Sam Billen and Josh Atkinson
  5. 5. lo, how a rose e’re blooming – Feist
  6. 6. O Holy Night – Anathallo
  7. 7. God Rest Ye Merry Little Gentlemen – Viva Voce
  8. 8. Christmas Time is Here – Cepia
  9. 9. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Starflyer 59
  10. 10. It Came Upon A Midnight Clear – The September Equation
  11. 11. Carol of the Bells – Outputmessage
  12. 12. Hymn for St. John of Shanghai – Create (!)
  13. 13. Joy Joy!!! (Feat. Devon Sproule and Paul Curreri) – Bifrost Arts
  14. 14. I Heard the Bells – Pedro the Lion

C90: Christmas Morn

  1. 1. The Nutcracker Ballet March: Tempo Di Marcia Viva – Moscow Rtv Symphony Orchestra
  2. 2. Christ Was Born On Christmas Morn – Cotton Top Mountain Sanctified Singers
  3. 3. Come On! Let’s Boogey To The Elf Dance! – Sufjan Stevens
  4. 4. Father Christmas – The Kinks
  5. 5. Got Something for You – Best Coast, Wavves
  6. 6. The Bells of St. Mary – Bob B. Soxx and The Blue Jeans
  7. 7. Jingle Bells (Dan The Automator Remix) – Dean Martin
  8. 8. Little Drummer Boy (Edit) – Lindstrom
  9. 9. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – Sy Mann
  10. 10. Angels We Have Heard On High – Joy Electric
  11. 11. the first blip blop noel – dma-sc
  12. 12. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas – Goat Explosion
  13. 13. Why Can’t It Be Christmastime All Year – Rosie Thomas
  14. 14. Santa Bring My Baby Back (To Me) – Elvis Presley
  15. 15. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! – Ella Fitzgerald
  16. 16. Auld Lang Syne – El Perro Del Mar


Thanks a Lot, Genius

Apple’s new feature, Genius, has been getting some “it works pretty good” responses from musically inclined computer users. I don’t share that assessment.

A couple of months ago, I went looking for something like Genius. I had just gotten tuned into Pandora and I wanted something like that for my own music. I downloaded The Filter but never really made use of it–there was too much involved in setup and some kind of survey or something. Anyway, it never really went anywhere for me, especially due to a lack of iPod/iPhone support. The feature I was looking for was to choose a song (or, in a stretch, an artist) and have a playlist created of related music. Both Pandora and Last.fm do this, but both of their services involve streaming their music and limit your ability to skip songs. They both have something that Genius lacks, however–but more on that in a minute.

Genius’s first problem is one of scope, I think. Due to the massive amount of users and listeners, Genius can’t specialize all that much. Think of it in this way: how many genres are listed on the iTunes Music Store? (Answer: less than 2 dozen) For most users, “Alternative” constitutes maybe 5 or 6 songs, but for some of us it constitutes tens of thousands of songs. The same goes with Rock or Folk or Hip-Hop/Rap. Genius doesn’t have the “musical genome sequences” or networks and tags like Last.fm or Pandora. It’s just got (as far as I can tell) buying patterns from the iTMS.

Cue the Gripe

Last week, as I was driving home, “NY Excuse” by Soulwax popped up on shuffle. This seemed like good music for driving home on a Friday afternoon, so I decided to test out genius and see if it could grab some of the other good blog house/electroclash/tech-pop on my iPhone to make my afternoon commute more enjoyable. Here’s the first few songs I got:

So-called Genius

So-called Genius

Out of the first six songs it chose, maybe two have a really close relation. Over & Over is definitely in the same category, so that works. The Lykke Li remix by Loving Hand (aka Tim Goldsworthy of DFA) also fit nicely with that Soulwax track. The rest of the links are tenuous at best. Sure those songs from Cajun Dance Party, Foals, Caribou and TVOTR fit together with each other. They all have a strong beat and angular guitars. But there is a ton of more relevant stuff on my iPhone. Where was Justice or Daft Punk or Cut Copy or the Presets or Midnight Juggernaut or LCD Soundsystem when Genius created this playlist? (The playlist got worse as it went on, too. It eventually included the soothing acoustic lilt of Bon Iver. I like his music, but it definitely has little in common with an electroclash-y rave up.)

What Genius is Missing

In Pandora, you can “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” a song playing from a playlist, and Pandora will modify that playlist accordingly. Say you’re listening to the Justice related artists playlist and Portishead comes up. Nothing against Portishead, but sometimes you want destructive French electro-house beats and not depressive percussion with lilting sadness. So you thumbs-down Portishead and Pandora scrubs some of the more dark trip-hop off your playlist and remembers your preference in relation to Portishead.

Genius lacks any method to teach the software. If a Genius playlist has a band or song on it that I don’t think fits, my only solution is to re-roll by clicking refresh–completely scrapping the playlist. And, when re-rolled, the playlist is just as likely to include other songs you don’t think fit. Part of the problem lies in music that fit into multiple classifications, but the ability to teach Genius by deleting songs from the playlist would educate it about what you see in a song. iTunes could even integrate this back into the system, teaching Genius as a cloud about music links and preferences. But until such a feature is implemented, I think that Genius just doesn’t have the skills to be your personal iPod DJ.