New year, new mix. Gliding into 2022 with some deep house, acid, breakbeats and more. Wanted it to sound like how I feel when I hear Major Briggs’ speech to Bobby on Twin Peaks – the deep harmony, the warm embrace, the tremendous sense of optimism for the future.. all that goodness. These are some of the most pure, blissed-out tracks I’ve been looping over the past year, the kind of music that blasts away the rough edges, leaving me refreshed and feeling better about the day, if only just for the time it’s playing.Continue reading
Well, we survived another year of this pandemic and things seemed to get progressively worse and weirder as the months rolled on. But in 2021 as in every year, there’s always such an overabundance of brilliant music that I’ll never, ever get around to hearing half of it even if they stopped making the stuff after the calendar rolls over this time. But I always make sure to share the stuff that made a big impression on me, the stuff that moved me and opened my mind, the stuff I love. So here we are, with fifty incredible albums that everyone needs to hear.
Just like last year, this list is unranked. Albums appear in the order I discovered them, whether at release or months later. Except for the top ten, which appears on the last page – that’s a small group of albums that touched me just a bit deeper, spending significantly more time playing than the rest. I really can’t emphasize enough how everything here is fantastic, but I felt compelled to highlight a handful that totally ran me over in 2021, because there were definitely some artists who destroyed me in the best way possible.
But seriously, everything here is incredible and worth your time. Let’s go:Continue reading
Memory Coalition is a mix of some of the best melancholy deep house and soul melting ambient tracks that have warmed and elevated me like nothing else over this long, heavy winter. The snow’s been piling up here in Michigan like it hasn’t in years and life.. hasn’t gotten any easier than it was last year, for my family at least. This stuff is a little nostalgic, a little spacey, full of atmospheric grooves, unmoored from time. It’s the kind of music that’s perfect for when you’re feeling sad and you’re okay with that, but you still want to blend in a little taste of wonder and awe.
50 just wasn’t a big enough number to contain all the music that deserved serious attention and acclaim at the end of this interminable year. It’s a nice, round number and makes for a substantial but not overwhelming list. But I think 100 is also a nice, round number, so here we are: 50 more albums that absolutely deserve a close listen in 2020 and beyond. Please excuse the awkward title.
I’ve already gone over why this year was particularly hard for me – beyond the pandemic – in the 50 best albums of 2020 post, so I’ll just keep it brief now: I heard a LOT of music this year, as always, and I fell in love with so much of it. So many artists made a positive impact on my headspace, my disposition, my life during this trying year. This music helped me keep my head above water, helped me center myself and find little moments of grace to take a breath, step back, and start again. These albums were the soundtrack to my days, working at home, raising my son, navigating the world with a mask on and sanitizer in my pocket, six-plus feet from everyone else at all times. They filled my home while I helped homeschool my son, focused on repairs and cleanup and all sorts of things I suddenly had more time for, with nowhere to go and no friends to see for the majority of the time. They were there with me in the dark nights alone while everyone else slept, trying not to let the despair inside. This music is all meaningful and powerful and deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.
(I’ll be adding blurbs for each of these as the holidays go on, but for now I just wanted to get it out there so everyone can check out this music while they’ve hopefully got a little free time. Just picture me like this by the end)
I hope you find joy in here just as I have.
This is my last mixtape for 2020, and that’s young me on the cover. I named it Love Will See Us Through after the ghostly refrain in the very first track you’ll hear. I think I need it to be true as much as the singer does, echoing beyond the rhythm and ambient waves. This one’s a little bit wistful house, a little bit ambient jazz, and a little bit new age dream. It’s sort of my sad dad mixtape, composed solely of music that’s helped my darker thought trains turn cathartic over the course of this year.
Hey friends, here’s my latest mix. I named it Jungle Bump. This is a colorful blend of woozy deep house, epic ambient, melancholy techno, and all sorts of genre-agnostic magic that fits between world music and new age and humid environmental bliss. It’s meant to conjure the specific type of daydream euphoria I associate with getting lost in the sprawling weird world of JRPGs, without using music that actually comes from or sounds like those games.
So really, it’s the soundtrack to a certain shade of nostalgia that runs through memories of exploring spaces that don’t exist, from early childhood on up through today, now playing with my own kid on my lap. It’s a warm feeling, utterly lost but totally relaxed, at peace, vibing with existence – and it’s a place I go to in my head when I need to calm, re-center, check myself, whatever. I figure that’s something we can all use now and I hope this music conveys it well.
Here’s my latest mixtape. I’m calling it Ecstasea for a number of reasons, firstly because I just like the way it looks, hovering there over the warm neon purple glow of an oilplatform in a roiling ocean. It’s also a cheeky punmanteau that neatly describes the music within: all endless liquid rhythm and blissful abandon. I had no greater ambition with this mix than to gather some of my favorite transcendental deep house and techno tracks and sequence them for maximum joy. No concept, no specific era – just a vibe that I know and love, riding beat crescendos and chill valleys up to an ecstatic, jazzy finale.