Music ‘year end’ lists are great. They give listeners and readers a chance to look at the year as a whole and take in what has happened in the past 12 months in this fast moving, content driven art world we live in. We can reflect on our favorites, discuss with others different aspects of different artists in various genres & scenes, and also pick up on titles we may have skipped over or missed completely. In future years, we can look back and remember that era through those titles and artists.
Music ‘year end’ lists suck. It often seems like an arms race to see who can be the first person to publish a year-end list, or who can be the first to place a crown on so-an-so’s head just so they can be the first to say that their opinion is the popular opinion. People jump to put songs in genres and boxes, and important qualities such as staying power and age are often overlooked or simply not applicable. It can be very one-dimensional. It can be restricting.
Although using the calendar year is a great tool for cataloging and referencing releases, music moves at it’s own pace, and we have found that songs have a way of finding you when they are supposed to find you. Songs you grow to love are discovered in many ways: through hearing them at a club night, on a DJ mix, in a movie, in a friend’s car, at a restaurant – and those songs aren’t always new songs, or songs that came out the year that you hear them first. But they are songs that are relevant to YOU that year. And in each of our individual music experiences, they play a role in shaping your musical taste.
And so we bring you our version of a ‘year end’ mix. “Songs We Listened To A Lot In 2012″. A 3-hour compilation of songs that found their way into our sets, onto our ipods and into our ears this year. You may have heard some of them before, but you surely haven’t heard them all. Some are ‘new’, some are ‘old’. All in all, these songs meant something to us this year, so we hope that this mix will both bring you some of your favorites as well as make some new ones. Enjoy!
Artwork by Rhek for Jankytown / Sharks + Hammers
And now, some words from the selectors:
Cosmo Baker sez:
“The first five songs that I’ve listed range from a bold take of a new yet already timeless classic in Sammy Banana’s vision of Miguel’s “Adorn” to the South Central spit of Kendrick Lamar’s “Backseat Freestyle.” The youth of our 80s was reinvented by Marius Våreid’s version of Pelifics & Electric Youth’s “Wish It Could Last” and it wouldn’t fit a John Hughes film any more perfect. Allah-Las stormed with “Sandy” and my first trip to South America was punctuated by the rhythms and melodies of “Candomble” by Mario Castro Neves & Samba S.A.
2012 saw the passing of our beloved Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys, and for some reason it ended up being “Looking Down The Barrel Of A Gun” that was my most-played Beasties song on my iTunes play count. Todd Terje brought us the global smash “Inspector Norse’ but it was his funky reworking of Lindstrom’s “Ed-Ged-Osis” that I found myself returning to again and again. New rock visionaries Dirty Ghosts dropped their first LP and nailed it, as I could only display with “Ropes That Way.” And even my mother called “Ursa Major” by EchoDroides mesmerizing.
Frank Ocean was the big name, and his coming in to this garden party made waves across the globe. So much of his work struck deep, but “Forrest Gump” struck home to me. Obama was reelected and Eli Lake took that week to share with me the inspirational soul song “Attitude, Belief & Determination” by Martin L. Dumas, Jr.
People rediscovered the funk and they rediscovered the beat. None so much as Onra with his “L.O.V.E.” Rhye made me want to laugh and cry, and then he was turned inside out by the funk and soul of the master Maurice Fulton. I rediscovered the Solar Sound with “Just The Way You Like It” by S.O.S. Band and my old friend Santigold reached the epitome of her sound / vision with “Disparate Youth.”
My love for Neil Young, never faded, came clear into view with his incredible remake of “Heart Of Gold” – which I saw performed live in Helsinki in August. I found myself revisiting the original of original of classics “All I Do Is Think About You” in its original form as sung by Tammi Terrell because, if I have to admit it, all I do is think about you.
Prince is a constant, and his music is always with me, and “She’s Always In My Hair” is from 1985 but it still made the top twenty of 2012. And the ever-outspoken and prolific Kanye West made quite an impact on and off the record this year, but none so much as his Chicago collaboration with R. Kelly on “To The World.” I think that’s going to be my theme song as I travel into whatever 2013 has in store for me.”
Skratch Bastid sez:
“I always think it’s best to let the ears take in a mix before reading too much about it. So if you’ve gotten this far without hitting play, stop now and go start it, at least.
Done? Okay then. Let’s chat about the tunes.
If I had to pick one song that defined the year for me, I would choose Miguel’s “Adorn”. A stone cold CLASSIC in my books. Cosmo took it first in the ‘draft’, so I’m not going to say any more about it here, but yeah, it kind of set the bar for me. Jai Paul’s “Jasmine (demo)”, in all it’s ‘unfinished’ glory, is a song I liked more and more with every listen. I love how loose it is. I hope he never finishes it. R&B had a few bright spots this year; inspired me to go back to some of Raphael Saadiq’s middle-career that I enjoyed so much. Lucy Pearl’s “Without You” (J Dilla Remix) prevailed play count champion.
TNGHT’s Higher Ground was my favorite song to play in the cluuub and wild out to and probably the song I was most asked “What is this??” while it was playing. Hudson Mohawke had an amazing year (see: “To The World”), big up! Now send me that “R U Ready” joint…
In other “send me that joint” news, Kon has been (not) putting out some incredible edits lately. Peep his soundcloud. His take on Cerrone’s “Thinking Of You” was a staple in my summer sets. Other disco joints I found myself enjoying were classics like Jean Carn’s “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head” & The Jacksons’ “Heartbreak Hotel”, and a more obscure Montreal boogie rarity: Hipnotic’s “Are You Lonely?”, a $500 12″ DJ Catalist bagged in my presence at a radio station clearance sale. At least he ripped it for me. What a tune.
RAP RAP RAP. It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of these days, but there’s plenty of good stuff to go around. A few new that I enjoyed along with Cos’ selections: Killer Mike & El-P “R.E.A.G.A.N.”, King Tee & Tha Alkaholks & Xzibit – “Louis XIII”, Nas & Large Professor “Locomotive”, Freeway & Just Blaze “Early”. But the verse of the year was probably Andre 3000 (duh) on Ricky Rozay’s “Sixteen”. And where the hell did Mystikal’s “Hit Me” come from?! More of that, please. Do Or Die & Twista’s “Po’ Pimp” popped back in rotation. Could have been spurred by a visit to Chicago or the lyric reference featured in this mix. (Find it.)
Action Bronson’s character has grown nicely out of the Ghostface comparisons, and I have oficially ended up on the ‘love’ side of the hate-him-or-love-him RiFF RAFF both featured here on the Harry Fraud (thumbs up) produced “Bird On A Wire”. As for picking sides, I still haven’t converted out of my distaste for Future’s rhymes, but I’ll be damned if “Same Damn Time” and “Turn On The Lights” weren’t enjoyable tunes, the latter receiving the Ryan Hemsworth bootleg touch in this mix. Hemsworth is a very talented young producer from up north who also has an ear for making great mixes. Always checking for his output.
Don’t sleep on the north. But you know this already! A Tribe Called Red’s “Electric Pow Wow” has an energy about it, man. It’s coming, it’s coming… Straddling the border, The New Royales whipped up a version of Jefferson Airplane’s “Today” that has the toughest snare drop I can remember. Nice version. And if we’re talking tough, we’re talking about Mono/Poly “Needs Deodorant”. Missed that one last year. But see? Here it is in 2012.
The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach has a good ear and I like that he lent it to a modern Dr. John project. “Kingdom Of Izzness” is text book funky with some JJP-ish moog squirts around heavy drums. A few Howard Tate records got played around my studio, one of my favorites was “How Come My Bulldog Don’t Bark?”. Another record that got spins was Wings’ “Band On The Run” LP. How has the intro to “Jet” never been sampled before?
I think that’s it. If it’s not, I’ve spoken too much already. Get out of here. Go listen. Listen to it loud. Listen to it quietly. Listen to it in the background over dinner. Listen to it on a drive. Whatever you do, you should at some point listen to Terry Callier’s “African Violet” in private (in the dark if possible) and take in the work of a brilliant, under-appreciated voice that we lost this year. A voice who never really found his place in ‘current’ music, but who’s music has been kept alive many years later by music lovers and fans. Let’s enjoy and share great music when it crosses our ears, regardless of the timestamp on it. The overall listening experience becomes richer that way.”
Have a great new year and go find some new music already!