My 2012 Mix

Every year I put together a mix CD of the best of the music I listened to over the course the previous 12 months.  My process is pretty specific.

1) These aren't the best overall songs I listened to in 2012, but more of a sampling.  I try to avoid having more than one song by a band, although that can be hard if I suddenly discovered a band that has a dozen albums out already.

2) These are songs from albums that I listened to in 2012, but didn't necessarily come out in 2012.  Heck, they might not even be all that new to me, they were just on heavy rotation.

3) Nothing slow ends up on these mixes.  I have other mixes where those go (maybe some day I'll post those, too).

4) The total time of these songs is less than 80 minutes.  Yes, I realize that mix CDs are antiquated.  But my car only has a CD player and when I started making these things I didn't have a digital music player of any kind.  I actually do have longer versions of these mixes, but there's something nice about forcing myself to strip the list down to the essentials.

5) The only order these songs are in are aesthetic.  They're not ranked; they're put in an order that's meant to flow.

This year, I'm going to make this more interactive and turn to YouTube for, if not videos for each song, than audio in video form.

Nada Surf -- "Clear Eyes, Clouded Mind"

The Shins -- "Simple Song"

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin -- "Oregon Girl"

Passion Pit -- "Take a Walk"

Starfucker -- Isabella of Castile"

CSS -- "City Grrrl"

Metric -- "Synthetica"

Grouplove -- "Love Will Save Your Soul"

Kickdrums -- "Love Will Drive Your Mind Wild"

White Rabbits -- "Percussion Gun"

Head and the Heart -- "Down in the Valley"

The Lumineers -- "Ho Hey"

Of Monsters and Men -- "Little Talks"

Maritime -- "Annihilation Eyes"

Sunday's Best -- "Saccharine"

31knots -- "Chain Reaction"

The Pixies -- "Rock Music"

Minus the Bear -- "Steel and Blood"

The Sword -- "Dying Earth"

Thrice -- "Anthology"

And there you go -- my mix for 2012.  Here's to some more great music in 2013!

The Romance of a Mix

Full disclosure: I've had my fair share of whiskey this evening.

Now allow me to describe the series of thoughts that have brought me to this particular blog.

I clicked on the coverage of the Haiti benefit and, in turn, followed it to the Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris cover of "Hallelujah." I rather love that song and I thought their version was pretty damn good.

Hearing their cover of it made me want to listen to my favorite cover of it, by the late Jeff Buckley. And while I could have just pulled it up from that album, I instead headed to the playlist for a mix CD I made over 5 years ago.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley is the last track on the first mix I made for my wife, Nicole.

This is part of the brilliance that is Nicole and I: on our first date, we exchanged mix CDs. No, really. We'd "met" initially online, so there was a great deal of virtual conversation well in advance of our initial meeting. When we finally did meet, we came baring CDs. Nicole was going through a big Wilco phase, so she made me a mix of Wilco songs (a funny side note is that she refrained from putting any of their "weird" songs on that first mix, not knowing back then that their weird songs would be the ones I liked the most).

I, on the other hand, had put together a mix of multiple bands, carefully organized to flow from poppy to sappy, back to poppy and ending on sappy again. It was a High Fidelity moment, to be sure. And while there are a few bands on this mix that were clearly of the moment, most of them have stood the test of time.

So here it is, the first (of many) mixes that I gave to the most important person in the world to me the night I met her for the first time.

"How to Be Dead" by Snow Patrol

I went through a BIG Snow Patrol phase at one point. For those who have read it, "Unrequited" is actually based entirely on my interpretation of the lyrics to "Run." Funny enough, everyone who has read that story assumes the female lead is based on Nicole, when I actually wrote it before I ever met her.

"Lola Stars and Stripes" by the Stills

I love the Stills. That's all you need to know.

"20 Years" by Idaho

Yeah, this is one of those bands that was of the moment. This is a great song (and they have a second on this mix, as I was going through a phase), but this isn't exactly a band that really stuck with me.

"Title and Registration" by Death Cab For Cutie

The best part about this song is the fact that Nicole actually hates it. Okay, "hate" might be a strong word, but she thinks it's stupid. And, you know, I kind of love it.

"Too Much Thought" by Oceanographer

What's that? You've never heard of Oceanographer? Go buy their stuff then. No, seriously, do it now.

"Shoe-In" by Secret Stars

Karate (the band) is a hard sell. But Secret Stars? Well, they're a much easier sell.

"Wait" by Death Cab For Cutie

See how clever I am, going from a Secret Stars song to a cover of a Secret Stars song?

"Inside of Love" by Nada Surf

Kind of a bold choice for a first mix CD, I'll admit, but anyone who knows me knows that I generally wear my heart on my sleeve. This was also good because Nicole would have to accept Nada Surf into her life when she started dating me, as I'm rather crazy about them.

"Penelope" by Pinback

Pinback is one of those bands that I really like, yet don't often proclaim my love for.  They rather perfectly a certain type of music that I love, that being hooky yet relatively mellow indie rock.

"Same" by Snow Patrol

Like I said, I was going through a Snow Patrol phase.  Again, this is a pretty ballad-y song to be putting on a mix CD for a girl I'd never meant.  And the lyrics are overly identifying, which is kind of creepy.

"Yesterday Never Tomorrows" by the Stills

Have I mentioned that I love the Stills?  This is such a fantastic song.  And, at the time, incredibly appropriate for me.

"The Sound of Settling" by Death Cab For Cutie

Not exactly a winning sentiment to put out there on a first date, but it's a really catchy song with some really great lyrics, so I went with it.  Of course it could be looked at as a cautionary tale, one which Nicole and I took to heart.

"Happy Kid" by Nada Surf

I would imagine that if there's a single song Nicole associated with me during the early days of our relationship, it was this one.  The opening line is "I'm just a happy kids with the heart of a sad punk."

"Concrete Seconds" by Pinback

Not really much more to say about Pinback, aside from the fact that they're one of those bands that not many people know, so I suppose putting two of their songs on here was my way of establishing some indie credibility, which is funny, given how little of that I actually have.

"Last Night's Fight" by Mellowdrone

Mellowdrone was a band of the moment, for sure, although they were also a local Los Angeles band so they carried a little extra weight in my mind.  This song is probably really depressing to most people, but I find it kind of uplifting, in a sad way.

"Gunner" by Denali

And speaking of a song that sounds depressing...You know, listening to this again I am struck by the fact that Nicole must have thought I was horribly depressed.  I guess she was willing to look past it.

"Bass Crawl" by Idaho

Another song of the moment, another depressing song -- it's becoming clear to me that I was lucky to meet Nicole when I did.

"Mad World" by Gary Jules

Funny that I would end this CD with back to back cover songs, and pop culture infused cover songs at that.  This one is, of course, from the end of Donnie Darko, a movie I will go to my grave defending from those who claim it's for hipsters and intellectuals.  The final scene with this song over top of it punches me in the gut.

"Hallelujah" by Jeff Buckley

A few years after I made this mix for Nicole (and maybe even just a few months later, really) this song was everywhere.  It was unreal.  It's a great final song, yes, but perhaps not a great final song for a mix CD for a girl you just met.

Kyle's Bizarre Fascination With Cover Songs

I have a bias against singers who don't write their own music.  If I had a dollar for every time I'd gotten into an argument with my parents about the merits of Celine Dion, I'd be writing this from a gold plated tower in Maui.  I suppose she can sing, but she doesn't write her own songs, and the ones she "co-writers" consist of her writing lyrics.  Bully for her.

In my mind, this means she's a performer, not a musician; they're very different things.  Not only that, but she's getting all the fame (and most of the fortune) for something someone else created.

But, you know, it's freaking Celine Dion, so let's move on.

Strangely, I love cover songs, otherwise known as songs performed by bands that did not write them.  In my defense, most of the cover songs I love are by bands I already listen to, so it's not as if they're making their names based on these covers.  And, more to the point, they're very clearly covers; none of these bands pretend they wrote these songs.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite cover songs:

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Night Radio

Nicole started her new job tonight.  While I'm toiling away during the day, my wife and all around awesome person will be working from five hours before midnight until five hours after.

It's not the first time she's had such a shift, but it's been a few years, and it brings back some memories.  The last time we had opposite schedules like this we were living in our first apartment together.  It was street parking only over on Edgemont, and as Bohemian as that area of town is, it's still Los Angeles, and I'm still me.  Every morning, just before dawn when Nicole was nearing the apartment, she would call me, and I would get my tired rear end up out of bed, walk down to the street, and drive around with her until we could find a parking spot.  Then my skinny, tired body would escort her back to our apartment and we'd go back to bed, her for the "night," me for a few more hours until I had to get up for work.

I didn't get much sleep back then, but I'm sure I slept more soundly for those few hours than I would have had I let her walk to the apartment at night by herself.

Thankfully, as our relationship has evolved since then (what with us no longer living in sin and all), so has our living arrangement.  We have underground parking.  I truly doubt this will help me sleep, though; I'm just not used to going to bed without her, and I'm fully aware of how pathetic that sounds.

I will do that patheticness one better, though, by saying that Nicole working the night shift is going to do wonders for my productivity.

The truly bizarre thing about my life right now is how busy I am, given that I don't really seem to do anything.  But I have a full time job that I loathe, which means I also have a full time job trying to find another full time job.  On top of that, I have a side job (which has caused me much consternation as of late...that's a great word, "consternation," and I think I'm going to start using it more) that I'm on the fence about as far as whether I'd like it (or something similar) to be more.  And then, of course, there's my writing, which often seems to get the short straw in this bunch.

Midwestern work ethic posturing aside, I'm also Nicole's husband, although I'll fully admit that the label hasn't really changed my behavior much.  But if you ask me what I want to do with any given evening (or day), my first answer will always be "spend time with Nicole."  And sure, maybe that will change the longer we've been married, but that's irrelevant.  The bottom line is that my desire to be with my wife tends to overrule all other things...and I'm a man with very little control of myself.

This, of course, is why Nicole working the night shift will allow me to be more productive, as that laundry list of tasks I listed above consists of things that get pushed to the side or, at the very least, delayed on the average day.

And, honestly, it's not as sad as it sounds.  If I'm to be upfront about it, Nicole and I seem to be at odds with the universe of late, so we've gone into lock down mode, which means our time together isn't just something we want, it's something we need.

So consider this a warning, those of you who periodically read this blog or get spammed by notifications on your Twitter or Facebook that this thing has been updated: it will be updated quite a bit over the next 12 weeks, because I'm going to have a lot of time on my hands.

Currently on the T&V Radio: "Together," by the New Pornographers, "Insomniac Doze" by Envy, and pretty much everything Hum has ever recorded.