' ' Cinema Romantico: 2011 Ultimate Mix Tape

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Ultimate Mix Tape

Back in August I had a long (drunken) conversation on the phone with my best friend Jacob one Saturday evening (Sunday morning). This was less than 48 hours after I had gone ahead and already declared 2011 to be the greatest year for music ever. Jacob explained he had relayed this information to a friend earlier that night and his friend, suspiciously, wondered, "Really? 2011?" A fair question and one that I will address simply by explaining that in no way am I proclaiming this as the greatest year for music EVER. No, no, no, no, it's the greatest year for music I have ever PERSONALLY experienced. That's it.

My poor friends on Facebook know this because seemingly every 15 seconds I was pitifully blathering about yet ANOTHER hellacious concert I'd attended and, well, it was sort of true. The awesome shows just wouldn't stop. And I'm going to self-indulgently list them all again because this list sends my heart aflutter. Handsome Furs twice and Zola Jesus twice and Ra Ra Riot simply doing what they do (i.e. being the best live band on earth) and Jessica Lea Mayfield singing a song acoustic out of necessity on top of her blown-out speaker...

...and this and Justin Townes Earle covering Springsteen and Youth Lagoon blowing up the spot two nights before Thanksgiving (thanks to my friend Cindy for inviting me along to that one because I wouldn't have gone otherwise) and miraculously scoring free Sounds tickets and getting to meet Lindi Ortega and listening to her play an original song I've never heard and that in some sort of small, selfish way I don't ever want to hear again so it can just always be part of that special evening and Lissie at the House of Blues on Lollapalooza Weekend which, honestly, surprisingly, might have been my favorite show of the whole year if not for the mother Mary of all shows.....Kylie Minogue in NYC, a show that did to me emotionally and physically what only my first Springsteen show has done to me which is all that needs to be said and which is why I will never watch or listen to footage of it or discuss it in depth for the rest of my life so it can just exist forevermore the way I remember it in my mind.

Lissie at HOB: terrible sound and a bad angle can't disguise life-affirmation in action.

But it wasn't just the live music. It was the music itself. We discussed Handsome Furs yesterday and yet in any other year I would/could have written an insanely passionate diatribe about Zola Jesus and "Conatus" or Wye Oak and "Civilian" or Lindi Ortega and "Little Red Boots." To find four albums in one year that meant that much to me? The odds are so unlikely I don't even want to consider them. And yet beyond even those priceless works of art there was so much more - songs, songs, songs, songs, an endless towering tide of wonderful songs, so many that when I sat down to compose my annual mix tape I had something like 46 songs (several artists had two or even three) on here. Well, that was ridiculous. This was a mix tape. You can't just throw everything on there! That's cheating, and besides you need to create a mood that reflects your state of mind. So I went about whittling it down to a mere 13 bits of tuneage, a process that was simultaneously difficult (I didn't want to leave anything off) and easy (these were it). It's an eclectic list to be sure but then that's always been representative of my state of mind.

A tip of the cap, 2011. I could spend the rest of my days describing how much your music rocked and still come up short.

1. It's So Easy, The Sounds. My official 2011 Anthem. If only this song was longer. But, of course, to be longer would negate its entire point.

2. Angels, Lindi Ortega. This song is my sunshine. My only sunshine. It makes me happy when skies are gray. You'll never know how much this song means to me. Please don't take "Angels" by Lindi Ortega away.

3. Blue Skies Again, Jessica Lea Mayfield. The greatest dregs of winter and/or arrival of spring song ever recorded. To repeat, that's ever. End of discussion.

4. The Big Charade, Julia Klee. This song makes me want to buy a car right now so I can listen to it in it at top volume with all the windows rolled down.

Big Charade by Julia Klee

5. Take It In, Wye Oak. A massive, rumbling, beautiful musical thunderhead that will leave your emotional flood plain overwhelmed. (Note: This song was released in 2009 but I heard it for the first time this year.)

Listen to the song here.

6. Shake It Out, Florence and The Machine. This isn't gospel music for people who don't like gospel music, this IS gospel music.

7. Will Do, TV on the Radio. I definitely have days where I suspect the line "I'd like to collapse with you and ease you against this song / I think we're compatible, I see that you think I'm wrong" will be on my tombstone. Self-pity aside, this luminous tune is proof-positive TV on the Radio could be an untouchable pop super-group.....if that's what they wanted to be (which I'm pretty sure they don't).

8. Hair, Lady Gaga. To paraphrase Our Lady Of Perpetual Gaga herself, this song makes my heart bleed rainbow syrup. (I was reading somewhere recently a discussion as to whether or not Ms. Gaga had become "overrated" on account of the.....zzzzzzzzzz......whoops! Sorry! The predictability put me to sleep!)

9. Comme Un Enfant, Yelle. A fire-breathing dragon displaced to the discotheque, this song is further definitive proof that when it comes to dance music America has no idea what the hell is going on.

10. Forget That You're Young, The Raveonettes. You know the scene in movies often repeated when characters are looking out a window - in their home, in their car, in a taxi, in a bus, on a plane, etc. - with that sort of beautiful sadness? This song feels like all those thousands of shots combined into one.

11. Collapse, Zola Jesus. ....gasp....

12. When I Get Back, Handsome Furs. My favorite song of 2011. It makes my heart soar on the wings of leonopteryxes.

Hidden Track: Marry Me, Emilie Autumn. It's hidden because, well, I'm fairly certain my insanely exotic musical tastes freak some people out but my immense love of this particular song freaks myself out. (If this track isn't your speed, perhaps this one might be. Might be, I said.)

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