A Mix for October and Some Thoughts

As some of you know, I’ve been doing monthly mixes for 12+ years. I have some thoughts I’ve been wanting to get out about why streaming services aren’t the best fit for people that spend a lot of time discovering or curating music online. If you’d just like to skip the thoughts, you can sign up to get the monthly mixes delivered to your inbox every month or just download the October mix.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how these mixes should continue. I’ll most definitely continue doing them in some form or another. There’s more good music out there than I can keep track of, but I keep on trying. I get more recommendations from friends that I ever have (no, I’m not talking about the Spotify notices on Facebook). The trouble is, I don’t really use iTunes much anymore and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future. If you know me, you know I love all things Apple, but I don’t really buy digital music anymore. I barely even download MP3s anymore either. And I’m not really sure why anyone would when you can pay $10 per month to MOG, listen to anything you want on your computer or phone. Trouble is there’s a lot of music that you won’t find on the streaming services. In my case, it’s usually because it’s pre-release, promo or perhaps only available though music blogs. If I could just have the mixes live on MOG, I would, especially now that it’s free for on-demand streaming.

I still buy physical music when I like something enough, but I just don’t want a bunch of mediocre music taking up shelf space. I have a collection of around 3000 – 4000 CDs that have been sitting in storage for 5+ years collecting dust and before the end of the year I will get rid of 95% of them. In order to keep these mixes in downloadable MP3 format, I have to use iTunes and it also means I purchase the songs that aren’t available as legal MP3 downloads on blogs just to put the mixes together. It’s a pain, which is why I haven’t done it in a while. The bummer is, I miss having the record of what music I’m listening to and I really miss sharing that with you all.

These days (and for the past several months), I’ve been using MOG, Rdio and Spotify. I would imagine most of you have heard of at least Spotify. I’ve tried them all and I always come back to MOG. The truth is they’re all basically the same, but MOG has two big things that the others fall short on – editorial and fidelity. If you’ve tried a streaming music service one of the things that you’ll immediatley find is that you miss someone suggesting music to you. It’s the reason that people love the passive experience of Pandora. MOG has radio too, by the way. They also do a fantastic job of keeping me posted on new releases and their awesome editors are always introducing me to new and old stuff. I love it because they have impecible taste. You just can’t beat a human recommendation. Even the best music recommendation algorithms fall short. Audio quality matters to me. It matters a lot. If I’m going to listen to streaming music or download music for offline listening from a mobile app, it better sound good. MOG sounds awesome. So there’s my recommendation to you. Try MOG. I cannot recommend it enough. If you use my affilate link it will help me out a little. No one asked me to pimp MOG, in case you’re wondering. I just figured you all might dig it as much as I do. Full disclosure: MOG CEO, David Hyman is a personal friend of mine. 

Since we’re on the subject of tools to help with music consumption, the only other tool I use is ex.fm. It’s an absolutely brilliant tool that lets you play and make note of music you come across on the web. It’s so easy to use and the interface is absolutely amazing. They recently added an iPhone app too, which is awesome.

I decided to start posting a little something with each of the mixes. Who knows if I’ll actually stick with it. I don’t think I can match the explanations that tywhite does for his mixes. BTW, if you aren’t signed up for his list, you should do that right away.

I won’t lie to you. This mix has some weird stuff on it. As I sit hear typing, Laura and I are listening to it together and she thought it would be wise of me to preface it. I’ve been listening to a lot of electronic music lately (surprised @garyzero?). These mixes are absolutely a reflection of stuff I’ve been listening to. I don’t know a lot about several of the artists on this mix. I really should start making notes about where I find things so I can thank the people that turn me on to them. Hope you enjoy this month’s mix. And if you’d like to get the mix delivered to your inbox each month, don’t forget to sign up!

Top 25 Albums of 2009 (and a few other things I liked)

Don’t let anyone tell you that it was a shit year for music. I had a tough time narrowing the list down to 25, but here it is in all its glory for you to digest and enjoy. Support the artists (and me) by purchasing the albums. In return, I offer you my Top of 2009 Mix. And while you’re at it, you might as well sign up to get my monthly mixes as well.

1. Arctic Monkeys – Humbug
2. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
3. Built To Spill – There Is No Enemy
4. The xx – xx
5. Kings Of Convenience – Declaration of Dependence
6. Air – Love 2
7. Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
8. Ramona Falls – Intuit
9. The Horrors – Primary Colours
10. Miike Snow – Miike Snow
11. Fanfarlo – Reservoir
12. The Rural Alberta Advantage – Hometowns
13. Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
14. Maps – Turning The Mind
15. Phoenix – Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
16. The Big Pink – A Brief History Of Love
17. Doves – Kingdom Of Rust
18. Great Lake Swimmers – Lost Channels
19. Brakesbrakesbrakes – Touchdown
20. PANTyRAiD – The Sauce
21. Obits – I Blame You
22. Mastodon – Crack The Skye
23. A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Ashes Grammar
24. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz!
25. Timber Timbre – Timber Timbre

A few other things I liked that couldn’t make the list for various reasons:

Fulgeance – Smartbanging EP – An EP is not an album, but I almost made an exception for this masterful synth orgy. It’s a sexy mix of French disco and Hip-Hop beats. 
Here We Go Magic – Here We Go Magic – I cannot in good conscience recommend this entire album, but you’d be wise to download tracks 1,2,3,4 and 6. 
Nirvana – Live At Reading – I’ve owned the bootleg of this for years and it’s one of the live shows I own (bootleg or not) that I’ve heard. The fact that it’s Nirvana just moves it to the top of the list. If you’re even a casual Nirvana fan and you want to see and hear the band in top form, pick this up.
Nirvana – Bleach: Deluxe Edition – Sub Pop did an amazing job on this package and the album never sounded so good. It comes with an early live show as well. All on white vinyl (if you opt for that like I did).
The cover art for Neko Case’s album Middle Cyclone – I like the album, but don’t love it. The cover, however, is one of the best album covers I’ve seen in a long time. 
Victoire – A Door into the Dark EP – Why an artist would agree to do something with eMusic only is beyond me, but it’s worth getting your hands on this gorgeous new classical EP. It’s pretty mind-blowing.
Various Artists – Forge Your Own Chains: Heavy Psychedelic Ballads and Dirges 1968-1974 – The first thing that came to my mind after listening to this was that I was clearly born at the wrong time. The music is amazing, but the painstaking effort that went into the packaging for this package does not disappoint.
Finders Keepers Records –  You think I’m a music fan? Finder’s Keepers releases make me feel like I should be sent back to grade school with dunce cap. This UK-based label unearths some of the most incredible music from all over the world. I wish I could relay my amazement and excitement in words. I will own the entire catalog from this label.