ChrisMix 2011: Dark
Madder, Sadder, Friskier.
1. T.O.R.N.A.D.O. – The Go! Team
If I ever become a boxer, or have to run a marathon, or really do anything in which I need to be pumped up, this is the song I’ll pick.
2. One Foot Before The Other – Frank Turner
I dig the way Frank says capillaries. Also, I dig how he takes a simple human desire, wanting attention, and then manages to extrapolate it onto all of the human race.
3. Colours – Grouplove
I thought this was a pleasant enough song at first, then really listened to the lyrics. Which isn’t to say the lyrics are negative. They’re not clear to me, but there is definitely frustration, confusion, resentment and a bit of suicide in there. But at the same time there is acceptance.
4. Get Some – Lykke Li
This song sounds grungy and grimy before Lykke starts singing about prostitutes and shotguns. A lot of these tracks depict people in nonideal situations, but surviving. The darkness allows them to show their strength and determination in a way the light never could.
5. Virgin – Manchester Orchestra
I really like the video for Simple Math, but I don’t love the song. I love this song. It’s one of the ones that I’m sure many others won’t enjoy, but it’s my mix not theirs. The plodding beats and children’s choir paint a haunted house filled with the unsavory and macabre. Perfect Christmas music.
6. Buy My Love – Wynter Gordon
As with her track on Bright, this is a pretty fluffy piece. I can’t tell whether she is being ironic about materialism and exploitation, or reveling in it. But in either case she’s fully aware of it, and enjoying the power that comes from this knowledge.
7. Hold It In – Jukebox the Ghost
Is the quality of a band's name enough to get them into the ChrisMix?
Not quite. But it certainly helps. They also have a good pedigree,
having toured with Moldy Peaches, Barenaked Ladies, Jack's Mannequin
etc. Also the song is great.
8. When the Night Kills the Day – Lauren Pritchard
The asyncopation of the chorus is a powerful engine propelling this song forward, and that momentum it builds make the conclusions seem inevitable. It’s a great album all around and Painkillers or It’s Not the Drinking could also have made it. They also seem to indicate Lauren has some substance abuse issues.
9 L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. – Noah and the Whale
Here we are, back in the gutter. Just as Grouplove told us that we call this life because we can’t call it hell, here Noah paint various depressing pictures of failure, but comes to the same conclusion, spelled out no less. Life goes on. It’s dark, but somehow still motivating.
10 How Can I Say I Love You – Girls
As a perennial single person, I love the songs of unrequited love. Less common are the songs of lingering love, the affection that has outstayed its welcome. You want what you don’t want what you want. It’s painful for both parties but one usually gets the brunt. The boys from Girls know this well.
11 Sun of a Gun – Oh Land
I have a hard time imaging Oh Land ever getting too angry. What could a beautiful Nordic songstress get too mad about, other that the inevitable Gaga and Bjork comparisons? But she does her best to give a brush-off here to some Viking lover.
12 My Fault Your Mistake – Lex Land
Oh’s little sister Lex knows a thing or two about regret. She’s not actually related to Oh (to the best of my knowledge) and in fact her style is quite the opposite: simple melodies, little accompaniment, wailing rather than chirping. But beautiful is beautiful.
13 Poison & Wine – The Civil Wars
I'd say this dark ChrisMix has more straight forward lyrics than most
mixes. A lot of the tracks are almost too repetitious for my taste. But in tracks like this one, you really need the repeated refrains to help strengthen the message. The words seem like a series of paradoxes (paradice?) but by the end of the umpteenth you know what “I don’t love you but I always will” means.
14 Skinny Love – Birdy
Bon Iver didn’t qualify for ChrisMix since he’s been on my radar for a few years, so I’ll sneak some in using this cover. Honestly I prefer Birdy’s version, which I know is blasphemy to the Iver faithful. And while it’s true that I doubt her 15 year old mind can comprehend the song as well as Iver (especially considering he wrote it) but her young voice makes it all the more poignant.
15 Poor in Love – Destroyer
This song makes the list just for it’s opening line. “I was poor in love, I was poor in wealth, I was ok in everything else.” Certainly a sentiment people in their 20s may relate to well.
16 Blue Jeans – Lana Del Ray
People went crazy over Lana’s song Video Games, but I just wasn’t feeling it. But this song I feel. Also Diet Mt. Dew and the previously mentioned Kinda Outta Luck, but mostly this one. I don’t know if Lana is going to explode in 2012 like people predict she will, but if it gives us more of these tracks, I’ll be ok with it.
17 Manners – Icona Pop
I love everything about this song. I love the beats, the chorus, the lyrics, the bitter tone in her voice, the video, everything. I don’t want to tell you what to do, but you should too.
18 Someboy That I Used to Know – Gotye
I loved the whole of the Gotye album, partially because the songs showed some nice range. But this was definitely the standout. It starts so mellow, but then crashes down into the anger of a failed relationship. He’s not ranting and raving, just in pain and angry about that pain. And rather than have it be a one-sided argument, then Kimbra comes in with her brief verse. But she too conveys the pain, and you see it’s just a bad situation for everybody.
19 Suicide Policeman – Yuck
Generally I try to include songs where I like the whole album. So if you like a track, you can go out and get the whole thing and have yourself a new favorite artist. But I really tried to like this Yuck album, because lots of other music savvy people did, and I wasn’t able to. But you might. I like this particular song a lot though.
20 Breakfast – EMA
I don’t have much to say about this one. I like it. I’m not sure what it means, but it manages to be both soothing and vibrant simultaneously. See what you think.
21 Hurt – 2cellos
I’d say it’s a toss-up as to who is more famous for this song: Nine Inch Nails or Johnny Cash. I know, you probably don’t think of them together too often. But Cash covered this NIN tune, and did so magnificently. This cello version brings Cash’s version to my mind more than the original, though all 3 bring the melancholy pretty effectively.
That’s it for this year. Hope your year had more Bright days than Dark. And if not, there’s always next year.