Makeup For The Silence

The digital home of music writer Jesse Richman

Makeup For The Silence

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Make Up for the Silence - Best of 2017!

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2017 Mix

Make Up for the Silence - Best of 2017!

When I ambled and rambled my way through a year’s listening habits last December, I noted that for as awful as 2016 was purported to be, it actually wasn’t all that bad as it happened. No, the issue with 2016 wasn’t 2016 at all – it was the certain doom of 2017 floating on the horizon, casting its long and ugly shadow over the year prior, distorting 12 months so fully that, looking back, all we could see in them were the mangled visages of funhouse mirror reflections except, no, these mirrors weren’t funhouse mirrors at all, we actually were all squashed and stretched and made grotesque now. The recent past was a decent past, but all we could see in it was the refracted dread of what was sure to come.

Well, shit. It sure came, didn’t it?

Look, nobody needs another recap of the dumpster-fire-inside-a-tire-fire-inside-a-world-on-fire that was 2017. Living it was plenty awful enough. So let’s just stick to the music.

The eighth* edition of my year-end mixtape has a lot in common with 2017′s, compositionally – a few core songs that were destined to make this list from the moment I heard them, and then a lot of listening to the 300-odd songs that eventually comprised my Top Tracks of 2017 playlist**. I’ve once again avoided the pop hits –- sorry, Selena Gomez and… Charlie Puth? (Charlie Puth?! Chariie Puth!) – because, well, if you want to hear what’s at the top of the charts, I’m sure Spotify will have you covered with one of a hundred auto-programmed 2017 mixes, and if you want a full-on survey mix, others do a better job than I ever would (or would want to.) While some of those pop bangers were essential listening for me this year, I gotta make the cuts somewhere, so why not cut what you’ve undoubtedly heard before? This place was always intended to be personal, not a reflection of anything bigger than myself (or, at most, whatever bigger things reflect off of me).

So what got me good in the disaster year that was 2017?

Well, for one, a lot of shoegaze. While article after article asked when the rock bands would lift up swords against the onslaught, many of the best instead raised their shields – walls of fuzzed-out noise to block out the incoming barrage; cocoons of fire in which to seethe, or roll through the hordes like an American Gladiator-gyroball-juggernaut; or, in the case of returning vets Slowdive, tiny but explosive big-bang-galaxies, a vast and alluring internal starscape check-marked with life-affirming infinities to be stumbled across within.

Mostly, looking inward seemed to be the order of the day. It’s been clear from the start that 2017 was going to be a war, not a battle – who can really blame those who took a little time to lick their wounds after the first skirmish Examinations of interior spaces; self-reflection; self-bolstering; finding forgiveness, for those around us and for ourselves. Steeling ourselves for the fight to come; rediscovering–and reaffirming–the reasons the fight is right, and needed, and vital. Celebrating others, and celebrating our selves, and celebrating the world that’s worth fighting for, a world that’s every bit as full of magic and wonder as it was the year before, even if those things are a little more obscured now.

One thing that isn’t on my list – which is wildly incongruous with what is maybe 2017′s biggest musical story – is pretty much any hip-hop. 2017 was the year rap ate “pop”’s lunch on the pop charts, in a way it hasn’t in over a decade. A great story, but really, I was kinda bummed out by pretty much every major sonic development on the mainstream hip-hop front this year: the xanned-out, tuned-out, tune-free rap of everyone named Lil’ Something; that Migos-triplet thing that was so quickly imitated, even as the members of Migos themselves drove it into the ground; the white dudes (so many white dudes!); even Cardi B, whose Horatio Alger-Cinderella-bootstraps story would make a wonderful movie (one preferably soundtracked by someone else’s music. It was a year ripe with creative innovations and new directions… and none of them felt particularly listenable to me.

(Also, as in the past, most of my rap/hip-hop consumption has been via the radio, so, what the hell, let’s just pretend it was all ineligible anyway.)

This year, we’re back to a mixtape that can’t be found entirely on Spotify. For reasons I can only begin to speculate on, sometime around the middle of the year, the two Hidden Ambulances tracks on this mix disappeared from the internet entirely – streaming, paid download, YouTube, everywhere. The band even vanished from Facebook. (Hoard your mp3s, kids!) So I highly recommend downloading this year’s mix.***

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2017

  1. Hang On Me – St. Vincent
  2. Heel Theme – Mansions
  3. Hole – Hundredth
  4. Everything Now – Arcade Fire
  5. Forgiveness – Paramore
  6. Take Me With U – Susanna Hoffs
  7. War & Wildflowers – Onlychild
  8. Don’t Let The Clowns – Hidden Ambulances
  9. Dawning – DMA’s
  10. Once In A Lifetime – The Night Game
  11. The Stack – White Reaper
  12. Nearby Catfight – Milk Teeth
  13. Shopping Is A Feeling – WHAT WHAT WHAT
  14. These Heaux – Bhad Bhabie
  15. Boys – Charli XCX
  16. A Better Sun – Sorority Noise
  17. Jaded – Winter
  18. Backyard – Sløtface
  19. How Do You Feel? – The Maine
  20. Aeronaut – Billy Corgan
  21. Star Roving – Slowdive
  22. Splendid Charm – Hidden Ambulances

click image to download

For once, I’m NOT going to promise to be back tomorrow with something-or-other and then not follow through on it. I do have my Top Ten Albums of 2017 prepared, at least in list form. I’d like to write about them, and I’m hoping that I’ll find the time over the next couple weeks to do so, though perhaps not as extensively as in past years.

One of my projects for 2017 is to move this blog from Tumblr to…somewhere else. WordPress maybe? I’m not really sure. Somewhere where I can restore my links page and better archive all the things I’ve written for publication. To be honest, between the death of the Tumblr music writing community (such as it was in, say, 2011 – there might be a whole new one now for all I know!) and the fact that Tumblr eating my HTML has rendered one of the key parts of this page useless – not to mention the uncertainty of Tumblr’s future itself – I’ve been left hesitant to invest much time over here. Especially because I know what a beast of a project relocating all of this will be.

I put myself on a couple social media diets in 2017, and while they were nice while they lasted, they were, like most diets, hard to stick to. For 2018 I want to take that break a little more seriously. I’d like to spend a little more time in the rich and unexplored (by me) past – I’ve got at least a hundred books in my office that I’ve been meaning to read and haven’t cracked – and a little less in the undifferentiated firehose of the present. I’d also like to spend more time focused on writing rather than constant consumption. (Turns out exposure isn’t the only Oregon-Trail-related death a writer needs to be concerned about in 2018!) (Let me be someone else’s consumption problem!) So, I’m going to spend the next couple weeks digesting the last bits of 2017 – reading end-of-year stuff I didn’t get around to for lack of time, hopefully writing my own end-of-year stuff – and then I’m going to flip off the lights on Twitter and Facebook for a while.

If I’m right, that means you might be seeing more of me here, or wherever “here” winds up being.

So, until then, friends. We’ve got to make 2018 better than 2017; we can’t afford not to. Time to get (back) to work.

*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.

**I’ve archived my 2017 list and rolled my 2018 one right on top, so if you were subscribed, you should be following 2018 now. If not, follow along right here.

***That said… you can stream what’s streamable here.

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2016 Mix

Makeup For the Silence - Best of 2016!

So I’m a liar. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. Between some job-related scrambling and a three-day-long headache that ended with a CAT scan and a few many fistfuls of Advil/Tylenol/HeavierStuff, I didn’t manage to get this thing online before the new year swung around.

The good news is, three days in, this year is basically the same as the last, so you can still listen to this. It’s cool. I promise.

I know 2016 was supposedly an annus horribilis – and we did lose many more musical icons (not to be confused with Mandy Moore, Musical Icon) in a single revolution than we ever should* – but honestly, if 2016 had ended on November 7th, I think we’d all be talking about the year just past in much different terms. And while I’m pretty dubious that 2017 will be anything but a disaster for our most vulnerable and an introduction to vulnerability for a whole bunch more of us (who hadn’t considered we’d be there, perhaps ever, in our lifetimes), the truth is 2016 itself was actually a pretty good year – personally, and I think collectively. So while next year’s mixtape might just be a track-list etched by a thousand bent fingernails on the walls of the work camp, this year’s mix pretty fairly reflects what was, by and large, a positive experience when lived from day to day.

I’m gonna miss it like candy.

The seventh** edition of my year-end mixtape arrives in much the same way last year’s did: with maybe six songs that were locks to make this list from the jump, and then a lot of rooting through the 300-odd tracks on my Top Tracks of 2016 playlist***. I’ve, as always, avoided any big pop hits – otherwise this years list might just be O.T. Genasis feat. Young Dolph on loop – but I’ve backed away from the tradition of keeping tracks from my Top Ten albums off of the list. Truth is, even when I wasn’t listening to those albums, it was certain tracks from those albums I kept coming back to, and this year’s mix would feel incomplete without them. They’re the anchor pieces.

If last year’s mix trended darker, this year’s feels a little brighter, a little more hopeful. It’s not all wide-eyed; if anything, this year’s selections are a little more introspective than the last. But even its denser moments generally offer something to dream on.

It’s also the first mix I’ve made where every track is available on Spotify****. That’s probably largely reflective of my listening habits – Spotify’s ease of use, and of playlist compilation, led me to spending less time on SoundCloud and the like, because even once you find something good, it’s frankly a pain to grab music from elsewhere and then sync it to Spotify, especially when I often go weeks without touching my MacBook. I do 90% of my personal computing on my mobile now. The medium is the message, or something. (The message, however, is rarely on Medium.)

Enough of the rambles; on with the show.

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2016

  1. Empty – Garbage
  2. Purge – Frameworks
  3. Fall On Me – Kitten
  4. Bury It – CHVRCHES (feat. Hayley Williams)
  5. Tiger Hologram – Swet Shop Boys
  6. Zadok – Myrone
  7. Bottle It Up – Sherwood
  8. Me & Magdalena (Version 2) – The Monkees
  9. Sell My Head – Tancred
  10. Humblest Pleasures – Turnover
  11. Blood In The Cut – K. Flay
  12. Goodness, Pt. 2 – The Hotelier
  13. Broken Drum – Cash Cash (feat. Fitz of Fitz & the Tantrums)
  14. I Am Chemistry – Yeasayer
  15. No Time Valentine – Roy English
  16. All Night – King Neptune
  17. Rebecca – Against Me!
  18. U-turn – Tegan & Sara
  19. The Sound – The 1975
  20. May I Have This Dance – Francis & the Lights
  21. Deep Six Textbook – Let’s Eat Grandma
  22. 17th Street Treatment Centre – John K. Samson

click image to download

I’ll be back tomorrow with some more thoughts on the Year In Music and my personal listening habits, and then we’ll get into the business of counting down. I’m not sure I’ll go in quite as deep as I typically do this time around (that aforementioned work stuff, again), but I’m not ruling it out either.

*one of whom will be showing up on my Top Ten in the coming weeks

**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.

***I’ve archived my 2016 list and rolled my 2017 one right on top, so if you were subscribed, you should be following 2017 now. If not, follow along right here.

****…for now. Of course, tracks on Spotify come and go on the wind and the whim, so I still strongly recommending downloading. That said, you can stream it here.

Makeup for the Silence – Best of 2015 Mix

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2015 Mix

A third of this year’s Makeup For The Silence – Best Of mix (the sixth* edition running!) is made up of no-brainer inclusions – singles that blew my socks off from the first listen and held up across the year. The second third was simply a matter of figuring out which of a number of great tracks from the same artists would slot in best. That third third, though… It was an ugly process this year, attempting to sort through the remaining 170-or-so songs in my Top Tracks Of 2015 longlist** – most of which were of roughly equivalent awesomeness – and arrive at something that both encapsulates what 2015 sounded like to me*** and finds some sort of flow.

As a result, this year’s mix would have been very different had I gone down any number of different paths. The mix that I settled on is one that’s a little harder to pin down than in years past. It’s more of a bummer than last year; while that mix had a lot of righteous anger, this one spends more time toying with melancholia. It leans  groove-heavy, like 2013′s mix; but that album was more sunny than this year’s downer disco. It’s sillier than one of these has been in a while, but more ruminative too.

Ultimately, it feels very true to a year where the big highs were nearly matched by big lows, with the two connected by a lot of unsettling space between – both personally, and on a societal level. Plus, not only does it make for a great front-to-back listen, it answers important questions, like: What if the ‘00s premier big dumb hair-metal revivalists set their sites on the sounds brainier heshers like The Cult? What if David Gilmour had been backed by Crazy Horse instead of Pink Floyd? What happens when a largely forgotten college rock fave gets a hold of Ryan Adams’ cast-offs? And, if you grind a man’s rib in a centrifuge, mix it with cardamom and cloves and then microwave it on the “popcorn” setting, what do you get?

Ok, enough blah, blah, blah.. Less talk, more rock I say! The Best Of 2015 is here. Download, listen, enjoy!

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2015

1. Heavydirtysoul – Twenty One Pilots
2. Give Thanks (Get Lost) – Pet Symmetry
3. Laughing In The Sugar Bowl – Veruca Salt
4. Beck And Call – Sundressed
5. The Shade – Metric
6. Black Heart – Carly Rae Jepsen
7. Valkyrie – Battle Tapes
8. Collect My Love (feat. Alex Newell) – The Knocks
9. Thank God For Girls – Weezer
10. Song Of The Sparrow – SayWeCanFly
11. Open Fire – The Darkness
12. Universe-sized Arms – Chris Stamey
13. Revelator Eyes – The Paper Kites
14. In The Clouds – Diamond Youth
15. Shock The Money – Local H
16. Hollow – Mayday Parade
17. Drag Scene – See Through Dresses
18. Dresser Drawer – Better Off
19. The Biggest Bar Night Of The Year – Baggage
20. English Girls – The Maine
21. Baby Love – Petite Meller
22. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd) – Elder Brother

click image to download****

Stay tuned, The yearly Top Ten will begin tomorrow soon*****.

*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.

 

**I’ve archived my 2015 list and rolled my 2016 one right on top, so if you were subscribed, you should be following 2016 now. If not, follow along right here.

***As always, my “no big pop hits” rule applies – and this time out, be thankful, or else you’d basically have a whole disc of nothing but Drake, Fetty Wap, The Weeknd and Kanye.

****Or stream (most) of it on Spotify here

*****Between caring for an infant, studying for the FL bar exam and some job-related things that are in the works, the timing of this year’s Top Ten may be a little erratic. That said, if all goes as planned, we start counting down… tomorrow!

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.

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2013 Mix

Makeup for the Silence – Best of 2013 Mixtape

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2013 Mix

Though I’ve done an annual mix each of the past three years*, this year was the first time I actually compiled an ongoing list of my favorite songs throughout the year. You’d think that would make this process easier; instead, I wound up with a glut of sincere favorites, and a lot of hard choices to make. For some reason, I insist on keeping this thing to a >80 minute playtime, i.e. the length of an actual CD. I’m not under the pretense anyone is actually burning this to a disc (I’m certainly not), but there’s something to be said for this mix being digestible in a single sitting, for it being something I can listen to on repeat and actually get familiar with – I like the way albums ebb and flow and tell stories through sequencing and pacing, and it’s something I’ve always put a lot of care into when making mixes. That gets unwieldy in a lengthy playlist. I enjoy getting to the point where I feel unsettled if I hear a song in my mix and it’s not followed immediately by the track that’s supposed to come next.

As always, I’ve elected to leave off any sort of big radio hits (well…kinda. You’ll see what I mean in a second). That’s a challenge in any year – for a guy who mostly writes about punk and other music of that ilk, I’m really a pop fan at heart. But this year was especially challenging. 2013 was the biggest year in recent memory for Superstar Pop – if you’re a musician people call by just their first name, odds are good you put out an album this year. A lot of those albums were genuinely great, and even when they albums were merely OK, or weren’t particularly pop-radio friendly, each seemed to contain at least one or two killer singles.

Not only that, but two artists who I normally would have found room for here, Fall Out Boy and Paramore, came back in such a big way this year that I couldn’t justify squeezing them in – both “My Songs Know What You DId In The Dark (Light Em Up)” and “Still Into You” found Top 40 radio ubiquity, and nobody’s going to be overlooking those acts just because I didn’t squeeze them onto my list. (Unlike, say, in 2011 when Patrick Stump made it onto my mix with a track from his criminally underappreciated solo album).

Finally, this year’s mix wound up especially upbeat; there’s a lot of bright, synthy, dancey pop that really hit home this year (and some moody, synthy, dancey pop to go with it). There were a number of songs I really loved – Defeater’s “Bastards”; View From An Airplane’s “Stayed Awake”; Sparks The Rescue’s “Ceara Belle”; many others – that just didn’t fit here stylistically, and even more – anything by The 1975, for one – that felt too similar to other tracks on here to make the final cut.

That said I’m really happy with how the final mix came out. Download**, listen, enjoy!

Makeup For The Silence – Best of 2013

  1. Feeling In The Night – The Reign Of Kindo
  2. Paper Royals (Lorde vs M.I.A.) – Mashed Pot8er
  3. In For The Kill – Kelsey Chaos
  4. Waste My Time – Tilian
  5. Dresden – Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark
  6. Baby Shakes – Shone
  7. I’ve Been Waiting For This – Butch Walker
  8. Sad And Blue – Jimmie Deeghan
  9. Keep Me In Your Heart – The Here And Now
  10. Take A Picture – Carly Rae Jepsen
  11. Dreaming – Smallpools
  12. Excalibur – TEAM
  13. Supernatural – roboteyes
  14. Love Is A Dog From Hell – The Limousines
  15. Forget You – Cady Groves
  16. Hanging On A Honeymoon – William Beckett
  17. All I Know – Washed Out
  18. The Way Back – Whitewaits
  19. True Trans Soul Rebel – Against Me!
  20. Au Revoir (Adios) – The Front Bottoms
  21. Etc. – Francis and the Lights

click image to download

Stay tuned; the yearly Top Ten will begin tomorrow!

*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.

**just like last year, there’s a Spotify version of 2013’s mix available, but also like last year, there were a handful of tracks on the final mix which aren’t available on the service. I totally understand Spotify’s convenience – after dabbling with it for a couple years, in 2013 I really converted to using it as my primary listening spot, ahead of iTunes – but I recommend downloading if you want the real deal.

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2012 Mixtape

Makeup for the Silence – Best of 2012 Mixtape

Makeup for the Silence - Best of 2012 Mixtape

For each of the last two years, I’ve posted here a copy of the CD I had made for that year’s mix exchange on Skyway, the long-running Replacements email list. Unfortunately, through some sort of mix-up, I didn’t end up participating in the exchange this time around, but the year doesn’t feel complete anymore if I haven’t made my mix*!

This year’s was the hardest I can remember, in terms of making my final cutdown; when I took my first pass, I ended up with something like 150 tracks. As with previous years, I’ve left off any big radio hits. That proved much more painful this time out than it did last year – there were a bunch of chart toppers I absolutely loved in 2012 (fun., I’m looking your way; you too, Bieber). But I still had such a glut of tracks to choose from that I don’t feel like I’m losing much by leaving off songs that will still be ubiquitous a decade from now. (OK, maybe we won’t be listening to “Gangnam Style” much in 2022, but we certainly won’t have forgotten it!)

The end goal for me is always to wind up with a mix of tracks I love which both flow together well and paint a reasonably accurate picture of what I was listening to during the year, accounting for genre and style and taste, while also highlighting songs that might have not gotten the notice they deserved during the year. I feel like I managed it well this time out**. But in the end, you get to be the judge: download***, listen, enjoy!

Makeup For The Silence – Best Of 2012

  1. Everyone Knows – Vacationer
  2. The Descent – Bob Mould
  3. I Guess We’re Cool – Cassadee Pope
  4. Happy As Fuck (feat. Pat Brown) – MOD SUN
  5. Deadheads (Demo) – Cold Crows Dead
  6. Timelines – Motion City Soundtrack
  7. As Good As It Gets (Rollerskate Remix) – States
  8. Find Our Way – Our Lady Peace
  9. Nothing At All – Steven Padin
  10. Scarlett (Tokyo) – William Beckett
  11. Ima Read (feat. Njena Reddd Foxxx) – Zebra Katz
  12. Head In The Ceiling Fan – Title Fight
  13. Maybe Our Days Are Numbered – Happy Body Slow Brain
  14. Oh. Hi. – Now, Now
  15. 25 To Life – Masked Intruder
  16. Street Spirit (Fade Out) – The Darkness
  17. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – Citizen
  18. Good Love – The Maine
  19.  –

click image to download

Stay tuned; the yearly Top Ten will begin on Monday!

*you can always find the complete collection of mixes which have appeared on Makeup For The Silence right over here

**There’s one noticeable gap this time out; I spent a lot more time listening to pop-punk this year than shows up on this mix. Unfortunately, for as much as I heard, not much of it really stood out to me; I feel like this year the genre reached a plateau, with a large number of decent-to-good releases that sounded a little too much (or a lot too much) like each other to really stand out. Some of those will still get a nod on my Albums list, but it felt like there was a dearth of great singles among them.

***Just like last year, I’ve also gone ahead and made a Spotify version of the playlist; unfortunately, this time around a few of the tracks aren’t available, so you won’t get the full experience that way. But hey, if you really want to go that route regardless, who am I to stand in your way?

Makeup For The Silence Best Of 2011 Mix

Makeup For The Silence Best Of 2011 Mix cover art

Last year, I posted my yearly Skyway mixtape exchange disc here, and hell, if once is good then twice is better, right?

I’ve backed off the rules a bit this time around.  There were a number of albums I absolutely loved this year as a whole where no one track really stood out; so, not all of my Top 10 Albums are represented here. Likewise, there seemed to be a ton of albums this year that largely disappointed, but had an absolutely stellar song or two buried in the muck. (I don’t think I’ve had such a hard time cutting one of these down to a single disc in a while; I could easily do a part two made up of equally-great stuff).

Also, last year, I made a point of avoiding any big radio singles in favor of stuff that might have gone overlooked; this year, it hasn’t really been necessary because I don’t think there has been a big radio single all year that I’m Gaga about, pun intended.

All that said, if you want a pretty good picture of what this year’s peaks sounded like to me, well then here you go.  It was a pretty poppy year in general for me even as the edges got more ragged than they had been in a while, and featured a serious sideline into robo-funk.  While it leans pretty heavily pop (I generally find that that’s where the strongest “singles” come from) I tried my best to find the right balance here.  Download*, listen, enjoy! Consider it my [insert any holiday you might celebrate here] present to you :]

Makeup For The Silence – Best of 2011

  1. No Church In The Wild – Jay-Z & Kanye West
  2. Came Out Swinging – The Wonder Years
  3. Someone Like You – The Summer Set
  4. History Of Modern (Part 1) – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
  5. Kill The Beast – Go Radio
  6. Bullet Believers (Rah Rah Rah) – The Bigger Lights
  7. Saturday Skin – Sparks The Rescue
  8. Without You – Nocturnal Me
  9. With You – LMFAO
  10. Cryptozoology – Patrick Stump
  11. Icarus – Edelweiss
  12. See You Around – We Are The In Crowd
  13. Blackest Sky – Mansions
  14. Grass – Little Bombs
  15. Always – Panic! At The Disco
  16. Until I Die Alone – Never Shout Never
  17. Amor Fati – Washed Out
  18. No One’s Gonna Need You More – The Dangerous Summer
  19. Watch The World – Every Avenue
  20. Condolences – Touché Amoré

click image to download

*Also, if you’re one of those shiny future-people who digs things like “clouds” and “streaming”, I’ve gone ahead and Spotified this ish up for ya, just like that.  You’re welcome.

Fall's Idylls playlist cover art

PropertyOfZack Playlist: Fall’s Idylls

Fall's Idylls playlist cover art

As promised, here’s a downloadable version of my PropertyOfZack Playlist

When warm green summer flings turn cold and brown, and all things, even love, wind down, I strangely find myself at ease in the chilly air and the falling leaves.  Somehow, wrapped in cold and gray, it feels ok to not feel ok.

Fall’s Idylls

  1. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – New Holy Ground
  2. Lindsey Buckingham – Shut Us Down
  3. Sparks The Rescue – Vanities
  4. The Dangerous Summer – Surfaced (Acoustic)
  5. Never Shout Never – Until I Die Alone
  6. The Narrative – I’ve Been Thinking
  7. Nick Drake – Road
  8. Tancred – Lion Hands
  9. This Providence – Keeping On Without You
  10. Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – She’s Leaving

(click album cover to download)

Very Best Years mix cover art

Very Best Years: Lost In The Alternative 90s Mix

Very Best Years mix cover art

A couple posts back, I mentioned that I once had assembled a playlist of lost classics from the early and mid 90s.  While that playlist is long gone, I felt inspired to put together a new mix based on some of the best of that stuff.

A couple of the tracks on here are pretty obscure; most of them should be at least passingly familiar to anyone who spent a lot of late Sunday nights watching 120 Minutes on MTV from, say, 1991 to 1995 or so.  I tried to include stuff that, for one reason or another, has been left out of the 90s narrative today.  A lot of these tracks are great songs by one hit wonders who, their bands having been mostly forgotten, have slipped through the genre playlists of the period-recreation radio of today.  A couple are the lesser-known (and clearly superior) second single from some of those one-hit artists.  A few are from non-American artists who never broke through here.  And one or two are from folks who made great, sustained underground careers but never quite caught the ear of the mainstream.

There seems to be a strange rift in how the 90s are presented today; there’s the early-mid 90s when grunge ruled the world, and then the alternative hits of the mid-late 90s that people usually just think of as “90s music” now (your 3EB, Goo Goo Dolls, Eve 6 etc.). This is an attempt to collect some of the alt-rock that was going on in those earlier years but seems to have eluded the canon under grunge’s long shadow, the college rock and Lilith pop and industrial rock and all the other genrelets that were happening during that surprisingly fertile era.

I mostly steered away from dance music here; that could easily be an entire comp of its own. The few dancier tracks I let slip on here were the ones that I (at least mentally) cluster in with “indie dance”, as opposed to either the house and techno of that time or stuff from the Madchester/baggy scene, both of which I love dearly.

Enough blather. Download; enjoy!

Very Best Years: Lost In The Alternative 90s

Disc 1:

  1. The Grays – Very Best Years
  2. Ass Ponys – Little Bastard
  3. Dada – Dizz Knee Land
  4. Deadeye Dick – New Age Girl
  5. Dink – Green Mind
  6. Spot – Moon June Spoon
  7. Odds – Heterosexual Man
  8. The Psyclone Rangers – Christie Indecision
  9. Machine In Motion – World In Fascination
  10. Stakka Bo – Here We Go
  11. Tripping Daisy – Piranhas
  12. Shakespeare’s Sister – Stay
  13. Possum Dixon – Watch The Girl Destroy Me
  14. Mansun – Wide Open Space
  15. Hoodoo Gurus – The Right Time
  16. The Caulfields – Devil’s Diary
  17. Luna – California (All The Way)

Disc 2

  1. Magnapop – Open The Door
  2. The Murmurs – You Suck
  3. Dig – Believe
  4. Fury In The Slaughterhouse – Every Generation Got Its Own Disease
  5. Machines Of Loving Grace – Butterfly Wings
  6. Gumball – Accelerator
  7. Green Jellö – Three Little Pigs
  8. L7 – Pretend We’re Dead
  9. For Squirrels – Mighty K. C.
  10. Tracy Bonham – Mother Mother
  11. Local H – Fritz’s Corner
  12. My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult – Sex On Wheelz (Radio Edit)
  13. Patti Rothberg – Treat Me Like Dirt
  14. Frente! – Labour Of Love
  15. Mary Lou Lord – Lights Are Changing
  16. The Lightning Seeds – Pure
  17. Happyhead – Digital Love Thing
  18. The Polins – Drag

(click album cover or click here to download)

Preludes for Quaaludes Mix cover art

Preludes For Quaaludes Mix

Preludes for Quaaludes Mix cover art

Part I

It is an absolutely miserable day outside.  It’s just above freezing, but the fine mist that’s falling has turned it into the kind of cold that cuts right through a couple of hoodies and absolutely chills you to the bone.

I generally love winter, but there’s no denying that February can be a hard month.  It’s still dark for most of the day, the snow has gotten wearying, the city is covered in grime, from street to buildings to sky, a pallid gray on gray on gray.

There’s two ways to attack the winter blues.  Sometimes you turn on all the lights, crank up some happy tunes, and pretend that summer is on it’s way.

But sometimes, you just want to wallow in the misery, find its comfortable cracks, like folds in the bedsheets, and slip on inside.  I made a pair of mixes a few years back to fit those moods.

I know I can’t be the only one feeling like this right now. So if you need it, I hope this helps. And if you don’t, grab them anyway, because we’ve all been there and we’ll all be there again.

Here’s to brighter days ahead.

Preludes For Quaaludes

  1. Suzanne Vega – 99.9F°
  2. Sneaker Pimps – Post-Modern Sleaze
  3. The Early November – The Power Of Love
  4. Nick Drake – Things Behind The Sun
  5. Old 97s – Valium Waltz
  6. Shelby Lynne – Black Light Blue
  7. Suede – She’s Not Dead
  8. Slobberbone – Live On In The Dark
  9. Pinback – AFK
  10. Wang Chung – Dance Hall Days
  11. The Dandy Warhols – Good Morning

(click album cover to download)

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