Unable to sleep overnight, restless in my mind over many questions, eventually a musical one occurred to me: "Steve, what is the best music of 2008 so far?" Looking over my collection, I noted several artists that will likely make my year-end best-of list--Vampire Weekend, Basia Bulat, Ra Ra Riot, and Mason Jennings among them--but I also realized that there are a lot of gaps in my knowledge of what has come out in 2008. It seems that for a long while now, most of my mixes have spanned many decades...which is great in a lot of respects, but at the same time, I have always enjoyed making mixes of brand new music that I just discovered that very same day. And so, thinking these thoughts, I set out to make another mix that had "Here & Now" written all over it.
Now not all of this music is from 2008: the Alton Ellis is from the 60s, Moxy Fruvous came from the early 90s, and a few other tracks are from 2003-2007. But 11 of 18 songs here were released this year, so that's not so bad. And from those, two artists especially stand out here: Thao and Santogold. Thao is Thao Nguyen, a female singer-songwriter whose songs are beautiful, quirky, and effervescent. Itunes compares her to Cat Power, which I might buy if Cat Power were on some really really good anti-depressants! Santogold is composed of various musicians but always fronted by Sandi White...and I'm not sure what I think of the band's complete body of work yet, but I will tell you I love her voice and I freaking love the song on this mix, "L.E.S. Artistes," like a fat kid loves cake. Oh man, that song's so awesome(!)...the Santogold, not the 50 Cent I referenced there, that is.
As is most everything here! Let me not mince words: If you're going to perhaps download only one mix this month, it should maybe be this one.
Here & Now
1. M79, Vampire Weekend
2. Bag of Hammers, Thao
3. Your Heart, Donovon Frankenreiter
4. L.E.S. Artistes, Santogold
5. Ghetto Pop Life, Danger Mouse & Jemini
6. Blue and Gold Print, Mates of State
7. Never Knew Your Name, Mason Jennings
8. Each Year, Ra Ra Riot
9. Good Arms Vs. Bad Arms, Frightened Rabbit
10. Whiter Shade of Pale, Alton Ellis
11. Run Off, Breathe Owl Breathe
12. Memphis, Tennessee, Mason Jennings
13. You've Really Got a Hold On Me, Thao
14. Stephen, Voxtrot
15. My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors, Moxy Fruvous
16. How Deep Is That River, Mason Jennings
17. Touch the Hem of His Garment, Basia Bulat
18. I Wish I Was the Moon, Neko Case
Vampire Weekend is probably going to be the band that gets my blog shut down, seeing as how I have given away virtually their entire album here...I had to buy the entire Thao album, it is so impressive!...this Frankenreiter song made the original mix of Vacation Song, then I cut it, so had to add it here...OMG I LUV "L.E.S. Artistes." Maybe the single of the year thus far? Or am I just infatuated?...I also love anything produced by Danger Mouse...still having trouble getting all the way in to this Mates of State album, but I dig this track...Mason Jennings should get lots of props here, too, as this mix features 3 beautiful songs from his newest album, In the Ever. I've purchased the whole thing now and it's really substantial work. Mason Jennings is seriously going to end up with a lifetime's body of work that will rival anybody's...Ra Ra Riot ra ra rules!...Frightened Rabbit seems like a band to keep your eyes on; love the guy's voice...I really love old reggae covers of old American pop songs, and this cover of "Whiter Shade of Pale" may be my favorite...I like how this "Run Off" song picks up steam, esp. with the "roo-hoo-hoo-hoo!" chorus...big shouts to Memphis, TN!...okay, you can hear the Cat Power in this Thao version of the old standard, "You've Really Got a Hold on Me"...Katy gave me this "Stephen" song by ultra-cool Voxtrot a while back. Is it self-absorbed to put it here?...Vanessa gave me this Moxy Fruvous song. So funny...a nice gospel-ish duet here with Mason Jennings and Basia Bulat..."I Wish I Was the Moon." Neko Case, how I want a new album from you!!!