Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

Tag: Andrew McMahon

Makeup for the Silence – Best of 2014 Mixtape

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2014 Mixtape

It’s hard for me to believe I’ve been doing this as long as I have, and yet here we are for the fifth year in a row* with the annual Makeup For The Silence Mixtape.

The 2014 edition of my yearly mixtape feels darker, tetchier and more ruminative than last year’s compilation. Partly that’s deceptive: this year’s picks are angrier in their loudest, brightest moments, and more quiet when soft and sweet. Indeed, 2014 was my most blissful in recent memory, full of both personal joy (getting married) and professional success (my first print features in a decade), But as they say, energy flows where attention goes, and the tracks here that demand the most attention rage loudly enough to nearly eclipse the more subtle sweetness in between.

Only nearly, though. Part of the challenge of making the yearly mixtape is in the curation – there were more than 200 songs that made my running Top Tracks Of 2014 longlist**, and paring them down is some combination of making a CD-length document that actually flows as a well-sequenced album would without excluding anything absolutely essential to the year. I spend far more time than any human should working toward hitting the sweet spot each time out; hopefully, I managed it here.

The “no big radio hits” rule wasn’t really an issue this year (sorry Taylor); while I felt like 2014 was much more of a singles year than an albums year for me personally (more on that soon), it wasn’t because of anything on pop radio, which had a seriously down year compared to 2013. I feel like we’re headed toward an interesting intersection – it’s clear to me that the pop-EDM bubble has burst, and there’s definitely renewed interest in music made with traditional instruments, but nobody seems to quite know what to do with them yet (other than sample saxophones, ubiquitously). In the past that’s led to tremendously interesting and diverse years for pop music (think 90-91), but for some reason this year’s casting-about turned up little in the way of interesting experiments – at least not in the Top 40.

And yet the 23 tracks here barely tap the surface; there was tremendous breadth, if not depth, just below. This year’s mix features a pair of refugees from collapsed bands, each digging out of the rubble and starting anew in their own way; two tracks from the best band in the world you’ve never heard of; four minutes of guts-searing #emorevival; and four more of glorious, gossamer #softshread. It’s all in there, Frankensteined together into one rather dapper monster, if I do say so myself.

Enough talk. Download***, listen, enjoy.

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2014

  1. Free – Brent Walsh
  2. Royals (Remix) – T-Pain ft. Young Cash
  3. Tongue Talk – The Holidays
  4. Canyon Moon – Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
  5. Coming Of Age – Foster the People
  6. Unconditional Love – Against Me!
  7. Queen of Hearts – Darlia
  8. Don’t Die in Yr Hometown – Antarctigo Vespucci
  9. American Beauty / American Psycho – Fall Out Boy
  10. Exclusive Coupe – MYRONE
  11. Long Night – Guster
  12. Nervous Kids – Tigers Jaw
  13. Brutal Truth – Foxy Shazam
  14. Your Deep Rest – The Hotelier
  15. Dear Diary – Darlia
  16. Giving Up – Allison Weiss
  17. I Told You So – Dazy (The Girl) ft. Derek Sanders
  18. Tear The House Up (Edit) – Herve & Zebra Katz
  19. Digital Witness – St. Vincent
  20. Eyeshadow – No Devotion
  21. Erosion – Cymbals
  22. Come Alive – Rachel Taylor
  23. XO – Roy English

click image to download

Stay tuned, The yearly Top Ten will begin in just a few days!

*you can always find the complete collection of mixes which have appeared on Makeup For The Silence, as well as all the playlists I’ve contributed to elsewhere, right over here.

**if you’d like to get a headstart on 2015, feel free to follow my running Top Tracks Of 2015 So Far playlist on Spotify. It’s barren right now but that won’t last long.

***just like the past two years, there’s a Spotify version of 2014’s mix available, but also like those years, there are a handful of tracks on the mix which aren’t currently available on the service. I love Spotify’s convenience, but I recommend downloading if you want the real deal – otherwise, you miss out on a few great songs, and also the sequencing. If you’re a Spotify user, it’s easy to import downloaded files into Spotify, I promise.


(feat. track – “There, There Katie”)

I wrote pretty extensively about Dear Jack, both the movie and accompanying EP, a little while back, and I don’t want to repeat myself here.  What I will say is that for an EP that only contains four songs (one of which is just a reworked version of a previously released track) to make this list, it has got to be awful special.  Couple that with the fact that “The Glass Passenger” was my #3 album of 2008 and my feelings on Jack’s Mannequin should be pretty clear.

Jack’s Mannequin – “Diane, The Skyscraper”

Jack’s Mannequin – Diane, The Skyscraper

Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a big movie person.  I can count the number of movies I go to in a year on one hand, I virtually never watch DVDs, I don’t have a netflix subscription or a DVR or any of that stuff.  So it takes a lot for me to not only end up seeing something, but to insist you do too.

You MUST see Dear Jack.  MUST.

For anyone unfamiliar with the story, Andrew McMahon, once (and future?) singer/pianist for Something Corporate and majordomo of the mostly-solo Jack’s Mannequin, was diagnosed with leukemia on the eve of the first JM album’s release.  Taking the video camera the label had given him to shoot some in-the-studio footage intended for album bonus material, he instead documented his year-long fight with cancer, one that (as becomes clear as the movie progresses) he very narrowly survived.  He kept the camera rolling through the highs and some of the lowest lows imaginable, and the resulting documentary film is intense and sad and scary and beautiful, harrowing and hopeful.  I don’t really have the right words – everything I write comes out critic-y and academic, and Dear Jack is just the opposite, warm and deeply human.  I cried.  You might too.  I promise you won’t regret the time you spend watching.

As a companion piece to the movie, Andrew has released a 4-song EP also titled Dear Jack.  Three new tracks, and a reworked version of one of my favorite JM tracks, “Swim”.  But of the four, the one I just can’t stop listening to is “Diane, The Skyscraper”.  Inspired by one of the nurses who cared for him and written in the hospital during the early stages of his battle, it’s an absolutely picture perfect slice of moody piano pop, reminiscent of Counting Crows at their “Goodnight Elisabeth”-best, with a solo/outro that could be from somewhere in the Bruce Hornsby catalog. I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard in ages.  Listen and decide for yourself.

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