Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Vixen's Mixens: Fave 100 of 2011

For my last playlist of the year I am going to jump on the year-end list bandwagon and give you guys my Fave 100 of 2011.

Overall I would say 2011 was pretty disappointing in terms of great albums. I would be hard pressed to name even 10 albums that I truly loved this year, start to finish. Ones I was really looking forward to ended up being pretty blah (I'm looking at you, Feist.) However, there were tons of great singles to be found amongst these otherwise underwhelming albums (even you, Feist.) I actually had to cut some tracks to keep it to a tidy 100 list (sorry Jonathan - Jlo's On the Floor was one of the casualties.)

The mix is definitely indie rock heavy (since that is my forte,) but pop, dance, country and hip-hop do make appearances throughout. I actually start the playlist with one of my top 5 tracks of the year, Childish Gambino's Heartbeat which is a kick ass hip-hop tune with a great pounding dance beat. His "Camp" album is one of the few standouts of the year, as is the sitcom he stars in, Community. Donald Glover (seen above) pretty much owned 2011 (at least from my point of view.)

If I had to pick a trend of 2011 I would have to say it is the year that indie acts went synth. There are so many cool lo-fi tunes with synthy danceable back beats on this playlist, including Is Tropical's South Pacific, Washed Out's Amor Fati, and (the Jonathan recommended) Crystal Castles' Baptism. There was also a lot of straight up awesome club tunes, most notable for me being David Guetta featuring (the amazeballs as always) Sia singing Titanium.

As stated earlier there were only about 10 albums I would say warranted repeat listens and mention on my year end list: (in no particular order) the aforementioned Childish Gambino's "Camp," the Kills' (pictured to the right) "Blood Pressures," the Head and the Heart's self-titled, My Morning Jacket's "Circuital," Decemberists' "The King Is Dead," Peter Bjorn & John's "Gimme Some," Lykke Li's "Wounded Rhymes," Raphael Saadiq's "Stone Rollin'," Foster the People's "Torches," and (just to throw you off) Oh Land's self titled.

I hope you enjoy this compilation. Although 2011 was a rough year for many people, myself included, the music was upbeat, fun and a great distraction. By the way, remember that my Hipster for the Holidays playlist is an excellent alternative group of tunes to listen to while celebrating the Christmas season. It is by far my most subscribed to playlist, with 142 and counting! Until next year!!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Vixen's Mixens: Jonathan & Me

I believe in soul mates. In fact I think the idea that you only get one soul mate in life is crap. Whoever came up with that concept was probably a lonely old codger. I personally feel that I have encountered no less than three soul mates in my life (not counting family.) These amazing people have entered my life and left an indelible impression on my being (not to sound too new agey.)

One in particular is Jonathan - who without a doubt is my pop culture soul mate. That is us to the left, on my wedding day - I'm doing my best Tyra Top Model look and he is laughing at my horrible attempt. Never could I have imagined (way back in late 2003) that the fellow employee I was chatting with on the phone over at my sister Gamekeeper store in Waterbury would be someone who has the same unflinching passion for music, TV and movies - both the good and the oh so bad. The instant Jonathan and I met we could not stop talking music, swapping mixes and marathoning Twin Peaks. It was an entertainment match made in heaven.

Here is the best thing ever: my best friend met the love of his life and is moving in with him! Here is the worst thing ever: my best friend met the love of his life and is moving in with him in Orlando! Of course that reaction is completely selfish - but I cannot help it. I am going to be so sad when he leaves. It will be like losing a limb (well, at least what I think losing a limb would feel like - which is awful and painful and weird and like I am going to have phantom pains thinking he is right down the street, but then when I realize he is gone it is going to hurt all over again.) But then I think about how happy he is with his boyfriend Miker and how ridiculously well Miker treats him (which is exactly how he deserves to be treated) and I cannot be anything but ::tears in my eyes:: super crazy out-of-control blissfully happy for him. This was meant to be. I have no doubt in my mind.

As I am writing this, I am listening to the massive
playlist (21 hours and counting) I have put together that is simply Jonathan & Me. kd lang's cover of The Valley is playing and I am totes crying. Of course only Jonathan understands why - kd lang is one of our strange loves. I had him listen to her "Live By Request" album shortly after we first met and thus started our obsession with all things kd (pua kd kd.) Not only do we collectively own every album she ever released, we also have her Live By Request DVD and have seen her twice in concert - once in the front row - where she gave us guitar picks - and we lost our shit. You will note in our playlist that she is largely featured.

She is definitely not our only obsession. Along the country lines we also have a passion for that crazy drunk Lucinda Williams ("Everything is wrong!" "I see your sweet side.") As for pop, much to the chagrin of my husband, we love all that is Ashlee Simpson - pre-nose job AND post ("ay yai yai yai yai you're talking way too much.") Not to mention Britney, Her Name is Nicole Scherzy Scherz, ButtaFace Fergie, She's just being Miley, Shaki, Rih Rih and No More Drama Mary J. We also adore music that hipsters would approve of, such as Jenny Lewis, Ra Ra Riot, Neko Case, Cat Power (despite the snooze factor), Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene.

This mix also has songs from artists we have seen in concert together, which is a long list in its own right: Patti Smith, Justin Timberlake, Oh Land, Sia (2xs), Ximena Sarinana, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Juliana Hatfield, Kelly Clarkson, Ra Ra Riot, Death Cab For Cutie, Darryl Hall, Jefferson Starship (hellz yeah Hamden concert series!), Tori Amos (2xs), kd lang (2xs), Paramore (2xs), Lykke Li, Regina Spektor, Walkmen, Black Keys, Florence & the Machine, Pixies, St. Vincent, Tegan & Sara, Ray LaMontagne and Brandi Carlisle. I am sure there are more but I am getting old and can no longer remember everything. In the age of Skype, Facebook and Twitter I know we will stay close, however not being able to go to concerts together is going to be rough!

I could talk about why each song is on the list but then this would be a War and Peace sized novel, not a blog post. There is one song, however, that deserves mention. The playlist begins with The The's This Is the Day because on the very first day Jonathan moved to New Haven to begin a new installment of his life, he put that song on and we danced together in his new living room. It was a moment of pure joy and hope. When Jonathan arrives at his new home in Orlando on New Years Eve to begin the next chapter of his life, he will play the song again - this time with the love of his life to dance with. It is how it should be.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Vixen's Mixens: Hipster for the Holidays

It is December, which means of course that the holiday season is upon us. Shopping, wrapping, baking, eating, drinking, giving, receiving - my brain already hurts. To tell you the truth, the Christmas spirit has not yet taken hold for me. I even made the crazy decision to NOT put up my tree! And believe me, I love my tree (and my sparkly IKEA snowflake ornaments.) I am hoping that listening to my new Hipster for the Holidays playlist will put me in more Christmasy minded spirits.

It is hard to deny the charm of the Decemberists singing Please Daddy Don't Get Drunk This Christmas or Cindy Lauper & the Hives having a Christmas Duel. Like any decent card carrying hipster would require, this playlist is infused with copious amounts of Sufjan Stevens and She & Him throughout. Most hipsters also like "some" country, typically only the classic variety, which is why I included Loretta Lynn's To Heck With Ole Santa Claus and Brenda Lee's Christmas Will Be Just Another Lonely Day.

For the ironic hipster (and Saving Silverman fans) I included some Neil Diamond from his Cherry Cherry Christmas album (ha!.) Just like with country music, true hipsters embrace certain levels of R&B (usually Motown and funk) which resulted in Jackson 5's Santa Claus Is Coming To Town, Marvin Gaye's I Want to Come Home for Christmas, Stevie Wonder rocking out on both What Christmas Means to Me and Ave Maria, and of course James Brown's Let's Make Christmas Mean Something This Year (Parts 1 & 2) making the list. For the hipsters with a sense of humor I included Adam Sandler's Chanukah Song (v. 1 & 2), Early 50s Recording of Cowboy Timmy singing the classic Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo, Cheech & Chong's Santa Claus and His Old Lady and Guster's Carol of the Meows.

I hope all of you hipsters and non-hipsters alike find this holiday mix enjoyable. If there are some tunes that you feel should be on this list, let me know! By the way, the handsome hipster in the photo is my husband in his winning Ugly Sweater. Hipsters just love their ugly sweater parties.

As for next week's playlist - one of the big reasons I am not yet in the mood for Christmas is because my best friend is moving away at the end of the month to another state to be with the love of his life. A total Happy/Sad occasion to say the least. In preparation for his move I have been working on a massive playlist that spans our friendship. I will post it next week for y'all:-)

Friday, December 2, 2011

Vixen's Mixens: From the Vault! 70s Brits

As I noted in a prior post, before embarking on a fab trip to London a few years back I made playlists of Brits by decade, from the 60s to the present. My original 70s Brits mix was a spare 60 minutes long and did not cover much ground - but with the magic of Spotty I have a new and improved 70s Brits playlist for all of you to enjoy! In industry terms this would be considered the expanded deluxe reissue.

I tried my best to cover all types of genres in this mix, with help from this great Wikipedia article. On this playlist you will find blues rock, soft rock, glam rock, prog rock (the least annoying possible - a 1:40 Yes song is almost unheard of but I managed to find it and utilize it) and even pub rock. There is also punk, post-punk, new wave and a tiny bit of pop (Brits do not have the best pop taste, unfortunately.) Some of the songs are on the obvious side, such as Sex Positols Anarchy in the UK, but honestly that is their only good song - if you don't believe me I dare you to try to sit through that entire album. Others are nice hidden gems, including a couple girl-punk bands The Slits (with the super cool Newtown) and The Raincoats (with an ahead of its time No Side to Fall In.)

As for omissions, the Pink Floyd selection was dreadful and as I am not a big fan, I didn't bother putting a crappy live cut on the mix. Of course Led Zeppelin is not on Spotty as they are notoriously stingy with their digital content, like the Beatles! Other than that, the 70s Brits are very well represented on Spotify and I did not need to make too many alterations from my original 21 track set. As always, feel free to let me know if I left any favorites out.

Next week's playlist is a set of carols and such entitled, "Hipster for the Holidays." Although I am not yet in the holiday spirit I am hoping this mix will help bring me there. Until next time!