These days I’ve felt a little schizophrenic, musically speaking. I’ve gotten some new music, but then don’t feel like I have the new music. Or I download a bunch at once and forget to listen to it all. Pretty much indicative of how my life feels–more than a little scatter, more than a little harried, more than a little up-in-the-air.
Anyway, below are the “liner notes” for my end-of-the-year mix for 2009. I was pretty pleased with it, though I always feel a little disappointed because it feels so limiting, and so much of my year gets left off at the 80-minute mark. None of that really matters though because I get to share music I love with people I love.
The Holladay Mix: 2009
Every year the task seems more difficult, more daunting and increasingly irrelevant: The Best Music of the Year. How to choose, and how to fit it all on one disc? What does “Best of” mean anyhow? This year I started with one rule that I have not adhered to so strictly in the past (okay, not at all)—all songs must come from 2009 releases. I’m about 98% sure that I succeeded at this. As the playlist grew, however, I decided this whole ‘best-of’ game was fir the birds (and the paid critics). Instead, I would share my favorite music of the year—stuff that’s new and different, and in some ways personally meaningful (even if that meaning is as simple as “Gimme More of that Beat”). Allow me to wax philosophical for a sec. All music tells a story, is autobiographical (to someone); it resonates with our rhythms, our melodies, and our search for harmony, and so I share these 24 tracks that together tell stores of dance, movement, heartache, healing, theodicy (yes, theodicy), and grace. And hope, always hope.
- “Love of an Orchestra” – Noah and the Whale. Epic beginning to the mix, huh? Comes in the middle of a “break-up” album. But what a line: “I know I’ll never be lonely”
- “1901” – Phoenix. So good, even Cadillac used it for a commercial. Ignore that, k?
- “The Calculation” – Regina Spektor. True, not her best album, but still endearing (dare I say infectious?)
- “Janglin’” – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I’m fascinated by this Polyphonic Spree-type conglomeration of young hippie utopia-seekers, with music at their center. Hey, they’re just “out to prove the truth of the Man from Galilee!”
- “Sleepyhead” – Passion Pit. Slightly disturbing. Even more addicting.
- “VCR” – The xx. I can’t believe these 20 year olds know what a VCR is, but it makes me want to watch “So I Married an Axe Murderer” (“Come Nadia, let us dance like children of the night!”)
- “Santa Cruz” – Erin McKeown.
- “Lion in a Coma” – Animal Collective. See #5. See also: Mouth Harp.
- “Never Had Nobody Like You” – M. Ward (f/ Zooey Deschanel). When the song opens, it’s reminiscent of a sports arena. Also: Zooey Deschanel.
- “When My Time Comes” – Dawes. Side effects include: sing-a-longs.
- “Rise Up” – A little coming-of-age, bluesy tune for flavor.
- “Doomsday” – Elvis Perkins in Dearland. Mostly for the line: “Even though you voted for that awful man / I will never refuse your hand / On Doomsday.”
- “Incomplete and Insecure” – The Avett Brothers. Can’t I just put the whole album on here? No? Okay, here’s a sample.
- “Nomenclature” – Andrew Bird. Some strings. Some whistling. Some fancy looping.
- “Generator ^ First Floor” – Freelance Whales. Recent discovery that secured a spot on the list. This song builds so nicely.
- “You & I” – Wilco. Mostly because I like Feist so much.
- “That Year” – Brandi Carlile. “I was angry; I was a Batist; I was a daughter; I was wrong.”
- “Ghost of the Gang” – Indigo Girls.
- “Don’t Forget Me” – Neko Case. Forgive me for choosing a cover off this amazing album. The bittersweet emotion of the line: “It doesn’t matter now / C’mon get happy” makes the song.
- “Dear God (Sincerely, M.O.F.)” – Monsters of Folk. Theodicy
- “Hebrews 11.14” – Mountain Goats. Restoration. Hope.
- “Communion Cups & Someone’s Coat” – Iron & Wine. “say today.”
- “Amazing Grace” – Cat Power & Dirty Delta Blues. …and I’m pretty sure she knows
- “Bedtime Lullaby” – Mark Kozalek. Off the Yo Gabba Gabba! Soundtrack. Makes me wish I had kids (almost) just for a good excuse to watch the show.
 See also: Broken Social Scene, “Windsurfing Nation”
 For more, keep your eyes peeled for my forthcoming book. Ha.
 Still can’t believe I fit 24 on here. I’m sorry/You’re welcome.