Months of preparation and scrutiny have finally come to fruition, and the Northern Lights Mix 2008 (formerly marketed under the Pipeline brand) is complete and ready for distribution. The ground rules were simple: I picked music that was either new in 2008 (14 tracks) or new to me in 2008 (9 tracks).
If you would like to have a copy of the mix along with a high-quality, previously-used jewel case, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will mail one to you. I’m glad to do it, and I hope you like it.
Some notes about the artists and the songs:
1. Haley Bonar-Something Great: Haley Bonar came to St. Paul via Duluth, and Duluth via South Dakota. She’s been a relatively big deal around here since she was 18 or so.
2. The Submarines-You, Me, & the Bourgeoise: Well, here’s the Official Song of 2008. Actually, when I first heard this song back in spring was the moment I started this compilation. Then Apple appropriated it for their iPhone commercial, and my prescience was usurped. No matter; a great song.
3. Brendan Canning-Love Is New: Brendan Canning is one of the main musicians in Broken Social Scene, a Canadian collective that’s been churning out fantastic music for four years now. Several good tracks on his record, which is Something For All of Us; this song just happened to fit the moment for the mix.
4. Wire-Mannequin: 2008 was the year I finally picked up some Wire records, after having seen multiple references over the years t0 their strong material and influence. I think their first two records are brilliant and quite diverse, but I don’t think other people I’ve recommended them to are as enthused as I am. I say: Give them another shot.
5. Vampire Weekend-A-Punk: Another great song that will remind me of 2008 years from now, though I didn’t think the overall album was as good. Still, this song is nearly perfect, in no small part because it lasts only as long as necessary and doesn’t wear out its welcome.
6. The Cool Kids-What Up Man: There was a period of two weeks or so where Linus and I would bust out laughing as soon as we heard the tick tick tick of the intro.
7. Lucy Michelle-Osbick Bird: Another Twin Cities artist, I think she’s still only 18. Getting much love from the local press for her unique vocals and her band’s live shows.
8. Sonny Rollins-Strode Rode: From Rollins’ Saxophone Colossus, it is as the name implies. This swings.
9. Caribou-Melody Day: This came out in 2007, but I just found recently it via the iTunes Genius function. A favorite.
10. Plants and Animals-Feedback in the Field: Some great wah pedal work here. At least, I think that’s what that is.
11. Broken Social Scene-Stars and Sons: Released in 2002, made it to me in 2008. The fluid baseline would brighten even the darkest day, but the hand claps are the secret weapon here.
12. Golden Shoulders-Everybody’s Trying to Be My Villain: Golden Shoulders is one of my favorite finds of 2008. This song comes from their 2004 record Friendship Is Deep; I strongly recommend people check out 2002’s Let My Burden Be as a starting point. Next time you have that “Why Didn’t They Become Famous” discussion, you’ll bring Golden Shoulders to the table.
13. Devo-Freedom of Choice: I didn’t get this record till 2008, so this is legit given my self-serving rules.
14. Brazzaville-Deng Xioaping: Originally released in 1998, this song was always a favorite. I finally backtracked and got a digital version in 2008. Love that sax line.
15. Ragga Twins-Illegal Gunshot: From 1991’s Reggae Owes Me Money, I read a high-falutin’ review of this year’s Ragga Twins retrospective on Pitchfork and I was compelled to check it out. The one guy’s voice still makes me laugh, but the beat here is inescapable.
16. The Weather Machines-Northern Lights: Originally released in 2006, I found this via the rediscovered magic of Pandora (thanks, MattB). The band hails from Rapid City, SD, though now based in Portland, OR, which is this decade’s Seattle (or Minneapolis, or Chapel Hill…). I loved the song and considered putting it on the mix; then I realized it was actually called “Northern Lights”, so it would be quite impossible not to include it on the Northern Lights Mix.
17. Blitzen Trapper-Gold For Bread: Blitzen Trapper gave us the Official Song of 2007, the amazing and timeless Wild Mountain Nation. This year’s record, Furr, is more accessible, even if it doesn’t have an individual song as strong as WMN. But how could it?
18. TV on the Radio-Crying: TV on the Radio’s sonic impact is difficult to overstate. Their records have a shimmering beauty and depth that rewards repeated listens. It’s just hard to believe how talented this group is, and how well-produced this record sounds. I miss the overall steamroller juggernaut of their debut; this sounds more like Prince meets Stevie Wonder meets…I don’t know. Really, I’m not sure what TV on the Radio compares to.
19. Kovas-Wax On Wax Off: I’m not too proud to say that this song comes to you fresh from the Madden 2009 soundtrack. What can I say? The Wax On Wax Off lyric was infectious, as was the descending vocal loop that sounds like a Mid-Eastern chant. If, like Kovas, you know you’re fly but no one can attest, now you’ll know what you have to do.
20. Litttle Joy-Don’t Watch Me Dancing: I really like this record; it’s a one-off project put together by Fab Moretti, the Strokes’ drummer. But don’t expect the Strokes when you hear this. Good stuff.
21. Sybris-Gin Divides Us: Another solid record from 2008.
22. Jay Reatard-Don’t Let Him Come Back: The vaunted Reatard makes the list! This is actually a cover of a Go-Betweens song, but Reatard makes every song his own by somehow making his vocals sound as if they are underwater.
23. Benji Hughes-I Went With Friends To See The Flaming Lips: Like Benji, I have also gone with friends to see the Flaming Lips, but that’s not why I included the song. I included it for the drug message it contains. And that message is: Drugs are fun. But drugs can also cause you to miss some of the greatest moments of your life. Use with caution, kids, and enjoy the show.
And speaking of drugs, a big Pipeline shout-out to fomer major-league pitcher Dock Ellis, who died last week at age 63. Ellis pitched a no-hitter in 1970 against the San Diego Padres, during which time he was on LSD. He gave up 8 walks, hit one batter, solved the riddle of existence twice, and won the game 2-0. The Snopes entry is worth a read.