If this year’s mix of my favorites is any guide, 2016 was a good year for mainstream music. And I think that’s fair: Beyoncé’s incredible concept album signaled a shift in how high profile artists approach their audience as they move from roles as ‘top selling’ artists towards ‘most streamed’ artists whose exclusive content could make waves amongst the competition between streaming sites. So the music industry is still looking at music as ‘content,’ but at least there is an acknowledgement that art will draw people, where previously the industry looked to catchy hooks grabbing attention through repetitive play.
I’m happy with what I heard. Here are some of my favorites:
Here’s what I loved this year:
01. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
02. Tame Impala – Currents
03. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
04. Torres – Sprinter
05. U.S. Girls – Half Free
06. Mbongwana Star – From Kinshasa
07. Denny Lile – Hear The Bang: The Life and Music of Denny Lile
08. Main Attrakionz – 808s and Dark Grapes III
09. Violent Mae – Kid
10. Girlpool – Before the World Was Big
2015 Best-of-Mix Tracklist:
01. Beach House – Levitation
02. Torres – Cowboy Guilt
03. Mbongwana Star – Malukayi
04. Thundercat – Them Changes
05. Jr Thomas & The Volcanoes – Get A Hold Of You
06. Danny Lile – Hear The Bang
07. Tame Impala – New Person Same Old Mistakes
08. Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy Late Show
09. U.S. Girls – Window Shades
10. Craft Spells – Our Park By Night
11. Finale – Choppy Waters
12. Courtney Barnett – Depression
13. Deerhunter – All The Same
14. Aesop Rock & Homeboy Sandman – So Strange Here
15. Flume feat. Andrew Wyatt – Some Minds
16. Heather Woods Broderick – Wyoming
17. Sufjan Stevens – Fourth of July
18. Kenn Starr – The Movement II
[art by Sara Andreasson]
It’s the end of the year, which always means an endless attempt to summarize the year in list form. And this all started well before Buzzfeed figured out that lists were the easiest way to get people to click on provocative images in Facebook feeds.
With shocking accuracy, music has always managed to fill voids in my life and help me through rough patches. There are songs and albums that will forever rest in my memory tied to events that I either look back on nostalgically, or try to push out to avoid resurrecting their damage. Collecting a swirl of emotions into a mix feels like a form of therapy, and the only way of expressing myself without overburdening friends or I wonder sometimes if it is that the music and lyrics are flexible enough to adapt to my experiences, or if my life adapts to fit the music. Who is leading who?
Here’s the tracklist for 2012:
01. Moses Gold – Powder and Blood
02. Grimes – Oblivion
03. Serengeti feat. Yoni Wolf – Geti Life
04. Sean Born – Pour Out Liquor
05. Divine Fits – Shivers (The Boys Next Door cover)
06. Cloud Nothings – No Future No Past
07. Daughn Gibson – Lookin’ Back on ’99
08. Trailer Trash Tracys – You Wish You Were Red
09. Tashaki Miyaki – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings (Father John Misty cover)
10. Jai Paul – Jasmine (Demo)
11. Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built
12. Earl Sweatshirt – Chum
13. Chromatics – Back From The Grave
14. Beach House – Irene
15. COOLRUNNINGS – The Fool
16. The Walkmen – Song For Leigh
17. Oddisee – Slow It Down
18. Dark Dark Dark – Patsy Cline
19. Moonface – Lay Your Cheek On Down
Buzzmediogum posted a thoughtful and well-considered list of the best Les Savy Fav songs, but which was somehow devoid of anything pre-ǝɯoɹ. Plus, Mr. DeVille posted all Spotified-album cuts rather than videos/live versions. LSF are performance art, my man! Here’s my list, let’s argue about it, but stay friends.
10. Our Coastal Hymn (from Our Coastal Hymn/Bringing Us Down, 1998)
A Les Savy Fav epic. Is it weird to hope for LSF lead singer, Tim Harrington, to write my obituary? Good; cuz, yeah.
09. Reformat (from The Cat And The Cobra, 1999)
My favorite song to rock on the cheap boombox I bought while living in Rome in 2000 to rock Les Savy Fav to. “In Brooklyn, we stay home.”
08. The Sweat Descends (from Inches, 2004)
Live favorite, record favorite. The perfect vehicle for Tim to put his hands down an audience member’s pants and make them either the happiest or most uncomfortable person at a show.
07. Scout’s Honor (from 3/5, 1997)
I don’t know about the re-release of 3/5, but there were no lyrics listed in the original CD release I have. I have to admit, embarrassingly, that when I listened to “Scout’s Honor,” I thought the lyrics at the end were something like, “Ellie, you’re so savey while you’re gravy.” I even sang along like that. This, coupled with a moratorium on playing the song during the 7 year period that the band was a 4-piece made it all the more worthwhile when they brought it back in 2007. EL-EY-ESS-ESS-AY-VEE-WHY-EFF-AY-VEE!
06. Tragic Monsters (from Go Forth, 2001)
When “Go Forth” came out, I actually found it hard to listen to because it was difficult to not hit repeat after being destroyed by the opening track.
05. Asleepers Union (from ǝɯoɹ, 2000)
I’ve always felt this was one of LSF’s most approachable songs, but that doesn’t mean it is any less awesome. You don’t even have to like apocalyptic plague stories to love this song. If there was some life play count on how many times I’ve listened to “Asleepers Union,” I’m fairly confident it’s up to 4 figures.
04. Meet Me In The Dollar Bin (from Inches, 2004)
03. Dishonest Don Part II (from The Cat And The Cobra, 1999)
“It’s skipping. IT’S SKIPPING!”
02. Appetites (from Root For Ruin, 2010)
Les Savy Fav start off pretty much every album with a slap in the face to remind you who’s boss, and this is the best one so far. This is an extremely dangerous song.
01. Je T’aime (from 3/5, 1997)
I don’t think I’ve ever heard LSF perform “Je T’aime,” their great composition about falls from grace, broken dreams, and conquering love (well, that’s my reading, at least). Straddling the line between punk and ballad, the heartfelt and the tongue-in-cheek; it is the song that first got me into LSF, and will forever remain their greatest in my mind.
With a heavy heart the time has come to let all of you know that Handsome Furs are no more.
The most important thing that needs to be said right now is how extremely grateful we are to all the fans all over the world that showered us with love and support over the years. Thank you for everything! It’s been an incredible 6 years and we owe it all to you.