For a few years now, Pam and I have made a mix CD of our favorite songs from the previous 12 months. The following is an annotated list of the tracks that made this year's mix. But first, a little FAQ:
Q) Did all these songs come out in 2008?
A) No, these are just the songs that got heavy rotation this year; few, if any, were released in 2008.
Q) I've tried collaborating with people on mix tapes, and it's tough. How do you guys do it?
A) The decision-making process goes something like this: 1) We both make a list of the songs we want to include, 2) We discuss (and/or debate) why we think certain songs should be on the CD, (note: this phase can take hours, not the least of which consist of my going off on rants that i should reserve for certain hard core music-nerd audiences), and 3) We arrange the final list, making any changes needed to give it the right shape and contour.
Q) Why do you guys do this?
A) Music is a big part of our lives, and making this annual CD gives us some retrospection on what we were listening to in years past, something that has a lot of appeal to this music-snob/nerd.
Q) Where do you guys find new music?
A) Pam is great at bringing home new stuff she finds on NPR, the Impact, and at our local library.
1. Chicago, Sufjan Stevens
After arm-wrestling for a while over which Sufjan Stevens song to choose, we finally settled on this one. It's colorful, exciting, and inviting - a perfect first track! This guy got a LOT of play this year, both in our house and out there in the world. (I even heard him on the radio once at Bruegger's.) Luke & Pam's 2008 Mix Trivia question #1: which other artist on this list has Sufjan Stevens worked with?
2. Your Kisses are Wasted on me, The Pipettes
Thanks to brother Andrew for introducing us to this sugary 60s-style pop trio. Listen for some soaring harmonies in the chorus of this song.
3. The Underdog, Spoon
A prime example of using brass in pop/indie music to give it a larger feel. This song is just fun.
4. Silver Lining, Rilo Kiley
Listening to this song is a great way to start the day.
5. First Day Of My Life, Bright Eyes
Anyone planning an indie wedding?
6. When Your Mind's made Up, Glen Hansard & Markéta Irglová
The dynamics of this song are amazing. Glen Hansard (The Frames) takes this song from intimate and delicate to grandiose and back in about 4 minutes. This version is from the album "The Swell Season", but you might recognize it from the movie "Once".
7. The Greatest, Cat Power
The title track from her 2006 release, her style on this song is a little like Fiona Apple, minus some of the mourning and aching. This track was practically on repeat throughout the very unimpressive movie "My Blueberry Nights" (which starred one of our other favorite female vocalists, Norah Jones).
8. Please Read The Letter, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss
This song comes from everyone's favorite collaboration from the last few years. In fact, I like this album so much that someday I might just burn some copies of it and give them out to strangers. Wait. I already did that. Kind of. This song came on one day when I was at Bruegger's and the guy working there liked it, so I burned him a copy of the CD. (Yes, I've already mentioned Bruegger's twice.) PLEASE READ THE LETTER!
9. Hold You In My Arms, Ray LaMontagne
Raspy, folky, nostalgic - you gotta love Ray LaMontagne.
10. I Asked When, Brett Dennen
Another artist I got really into this year. This song is kind of an easy-going anthem for the social consciousness of today. Oh, and his set at Rothbury this summer was awesome.
11. Clean Getaway, Maria Taylor
OK, so I'm kind of a sucker for sweet, sentimental music with lots of harmony in the vocals (e.g., Iron & Wine, old stuff by Tom Waits), and this song gets me every time. On a different note, we went to see Maria Taylor this summer, and she put on what was probably the weakest show I've ever been to. We weren't hoping for some huge U2-like production, but driving 3 hours round-trip for a very disinterested 35-minute set is pretty uncool.
12. Rhineland (Heartland), Beirut
Sour horns, eastern European flavor (a la Devotchka), and texture galore - everyone loves Beirut!
13. Cayman Islands, Kings Of Convenience
Ya know how certain songs can take you back to a certain time and place? For Pamela, this one puts her walking in and out of coffee shops and rainy sidewalks in Madison, WI.
14. Ya No Te Veria Mas, Rocha
Otra cancion que salio en una banda sonora, esta fue escrita por uno de nuestros artistas/cantautores favoritos, Jesse Harris.
15. Rome Wasn't Built In A Day, Nick Lowe
Folky? Yes. But this is one of the classiest love songs of all time.
16. Wonder (Live), Colin Meloy
"It's weird but mostly wonderful."
17. Say Hello, Rosie Thomas
Another artist originally from Michigan! (Trivia question #2: who else on this list is from the Great Lakes State? Hint - trivia question #1 is in the blurb about his song.) We went to Detroit to see her a few weeks ago but never made it to the show because we were having too much fun at Noel Night (see previous post for pics and stuff).
18. Closer, Low
The mellowest song of all time.
19. Spiritual, Spain
Thank you brother Brian for introducing us to these last two songs, both of which made it onto both our sleepy-time playlist and, now, our 2008 mix. You might recognize this as a lyricized version of a song by Pat Metheny and Charlie Haden on "Beyond the Missouri Sky". We love it.