16 December 2014

2014 Best of Mix

2014 Best of Mix - Hear it on 8 Tracks

2014 Best of Mix - tracklist and run down

I racked my brain to think of a theme that defines this year's list. I couldn't think of one other than the artists are from several different countries: alternative hip hop from Edinburgh, electro-pop from Iceland (FM Belfast), Tinariwen from Mali, my favorite MC Ana Tijoux (Chile), and we kick things off with New Zealand's most famous chanteuse:

1. Yellow Flicker Beat / Lorde - I was late to the Lorde party. There was so much hype I didn't give her music a chance. Then I listened to Heroine for basically six weeks straight in January and February.

So just like they gave Judy Dench the Oscar in 1999 for Shakespeare in Love  when it was really for Mrs. Brown in 1998, I give Lorde the #1 spot in my 2014 mix for her work in 2013. Though I do like this song...

2. Somos Sur / Ana Tijoux (feat. / Shadia Mansour) - my beloved Ana teams up with the first lady of Arabic hip-hop for a very political song that is also the most catchy on Ana's 2014 release Vengo. Read the lyrics (when page loads, scroll down for English translation).

3. The Devil In Me / Pony Boy

4. Soon Come Soon / Young Fathers - putting Edinburgh alternative hip hop on the map, Yo!

5. Everything / FM Belfast - Here's the twee song with a male and female vocalist you've come to expect. Who new that first Belle and Sebastian record would have such long term effects on my musical taste?

6. Neuromancer / EMA - I really like the way this song starts. I really dislike that she uses the word selfie.

7. Go (Blank Sea) / Zola Jesus - If this song had come out when I was sixteen it would have been my anthem for this lyric alone, "I go downtown where they don't know my name." The atmospheric 4AD sound is just icing on the sweet cake of darkness.

8. Two Weeks [Explicit] / FKA Twigs - the 2013 mix included the first ever inclusion of a slow jam (Rhye's Open). 2014 follows in its footsteps with another baby-makin' tune.

9. GIRLS (cover) / Sizzy Rocket - My choice for best cover song of 2014 - this chick covers / re-writes the famous Beastie Boy ditty.

10. These Days (cover) / Chris Hansen, Matt Pond, Laura Stevens - In case you missed it, an album came out this year with covers of songs used in Wes Anderson movies. It's called I Saved Latin. I like this version of the Nico / Jackson Brown tune the best out of all of them. Matt Pond's guitar sound gives it a different flavor without compromising the overall feel of the tune.

11. Every Other Freckle / Alt-J - If you get a chance to see Alt-J in concert - go! This is my favorite track (so far) from their new album, which you'll probably like if you were a fan of the first one.

12. Suspiro / Rafi El 

13. Imidiwan Ahi Sigdim / Tinariwen - For better or worse, about a third of the artists on this 2014 mix have appeared in previous "Best of" mixes. Tinariwen is another repeat, but this is their first appearance since 2007.

14. From The Night / Stars - Here's another repeat offender. You know I love Canadian depress-pop. That said, the latest Stars album is, surprisingly, a dance record!

If you're keeping track of the typical elements of a Megan mix, this is where you'll find the handclaps.

15. We Only Come out at Night / The Sugar Stems

16. Bury Our Friends / Sleater-Kinney OH MY GOD THEY'RE REUNITING.

Well, that about wraps it up for this year. No banjos or mandolins this year, sorry! Also no really bass-thumping songs. If you're jonzing for Check out Best of Mixes from previous years. .

13 December 2014

I'm Kind of Older Than I Was When I Reveled Without a Care

The stationary bike I use at work makes you enter your age during start up. The age defaults to 35 and then you can move the number up or down and hit enter. When I first started I thought nothing of toggling it down, down, down to 24. In a few weeks, I'll be leaving that number to its default position and next year, well, I'll be toggling it up.

This, among other things, have given me pause for reflection. It happened earlier this year at a music festival.

In 2001, was too cool to dance to the grooves of Outkast's Sorry Miss Jackson (Oooo! I am for real). Back then I swore I didn't care what other people thought. Yet, I wasn't about to put my hands in the air and wave them like I just... didn't care.

Then, at some point I emerged from my 20's. This year I saw Outkast's reunion tour and danced and sang along to all the words I knew. I also spent last Friday night eating cereal for dinner and watching UHF. So there you have it. Not moving the maturity toggle up or down either.

The guy who sits behind me at the hockey games (Gene) told me about a conversation he had with his dad when he was a little kid. He said to his dad one year, "You're 35? Your life is half over!" So his dad waited years and years until Gene turned 35. Then called him and said, "How does it feel to be 35? Your life is half over!" I kind of love this guy for waiting almost 30 years to deliver a joke.

Anyway, I'm not feeling morbid or pensive about my birthday later this month. Maybe that comes next year when I have to hit the age "up" button. I'm kind of waiting for it to happen so I can use it as a reason to quit my job and travel the world like my friend Carmel and her husband.

On the other hand, I kind of like that I'm finally old enough to get respect at work. Some might say I'm doing a better job presenting my ideas or arguing my points, but I really think age and tenure has more to do with it. Funny thing.

We're finally getting some rain here in SoCal. As my mom says,"Rain is God's car wash." So I'm off to drive around in Little Red so I can scream along to Mariah Carey's All I Want for Christmas is You. Because I'm not too cool not to...

30 September 2014

Cars That Live Forever, World's Greatest Car Turns 20

Here we are in 1996 when both of us had fewer dents

This October marks the 20th birthday* of my little, red 1995 Mitsubishi Mirage.

We've had a few adventures over the years including moving more than 13 times in ten years, transporting an entire drum set, accidentally ending up in the bowels of the Hanford Nuclear Reserve, and getting pulled over at Christmastime - by an officer who wanted me to know that her festive holiday lights would be very distracting to colorblind people. When I asked if it would be okay if I replaced the colored lights with white ones, the officer replied MY NEIGHBOR IS COLORBLIND!

After nearly 175,000 miles, I'm glad to say our adventures continue. She got a new stereo this year (with bluetooth). The kid who installed it wasn't even been born the year my car was made, but that's okay. He admired my repurposing of the cassette storage console as an impromptu cup holder.

* In case you're wondering how I know her "birth" month, her manufacture info is on the inside of the driver's side door jam.

Exploring the California coast
Little Red and I first made each other's acquaintance in 1995. She was a repo, actually. One of these days I intend to find out where she came from before she found her way to a car dealership in Spokane.

In 1996 we passed the Washington state driver's test together. I still think it's the hardest driving test out there. One of the skills is backing around a corner while staying within 18 inches of the curb. I am not making this up.

Little Red has worn two more state license plates since then. I was pleased to get NW GRRL as my first vanity plate when I moved to California. I was not pleased when everyone thought it meant "new girl." Buying an I (heart) Oregon bumper sticker to clarify my vanity plate was not my finest moment as a creative writer. Oh well.

Things have been quieter since we moved to Orange County. These days Little Red only hauls scuba gear and groceries, and is generally more of a homebody. She makes the occasional trip to LA where she keeps me inconspicuous when I have to take a detour through Koreatown.

Pictured above is the Mirage ensconced in one of the many garages she has occupied over the years. I would like to take this moment to thank my various boyfriends and roommates past for giving Little Red first dibs on the single garage space. For all the haters: when you're old, I hope someone makes you f*cking live outside.

In the spirit of honoring lesser-known classic cars, I would also like to recognize a few other vehicles that never say die. It's unlikely you'll see any of the vehicles below at a car show, so it's time we put the spotlight on these beautiful beaters.

The Chevy Astrovan (1985 - 1995)
Whether it's in creeper blue or molestery white, the Chevy Astrovan remains a constant fixture in alleyways and school crossings.

chevy astrovan

The Ford Ranger ('93 - 2000 model years)
Loved by dive instructors from Hawai'i to Florida, the humble Ford Ranger endures. Seriously, these trucks practically have a cult following. The One Dolla video (1 mil+ views) has a whole bit on The Ford Ranger at the 1min 44 sec mark.

The Honda Accord (1990 - 1993)
Thinking back to my days as a carpool kid, I remember Dodge Caravans, Jeep Cherokees, and the occasional Previa. Where are these cars now? Nowhere! That's where. They were weak, but not so the Honda Accord. Damn, I think we squeezed four kids and two cellos in my The Nelson's Accord at one point.

Why is the 90's era Honda Accord still on the road? Why did the teal ones made it and the black ones did not? I don't know! I see one of these not-quite-green-and-not-exactly-blue wonders every effing day.

The Toyota Camry (1991-1996) 
Maybe it's not that weird a lot of 90's era Camrys are still on the road. It was one of the best-selling cars in the 90's... but the Saturn, Ford Taurus and the Ford Escort were also big sellers. Donde esta Dodge Neon? So where are these cars now? Not making pizza* deliveries in South Orange County. Not doing the business getting fry cooks and bus drivers to work every day. Nuh uh. 

*I'm told by a reputable source that silver Camrys deliver other substances as well.

What does Camry mean anyway? 

The Volvo 200 Series
Last but not least, I'd like to pay tribute to the Volvo 200 Series (1974 - 1993). It was my friend Gen's first car. We named it Tim? because the Volvo logo looks like a female symbol and we weren't sure if it was a boy or a girl. There's also a Monty Python reference there if you think about it.

Anyway, I've no doubt that Tim? is still on the road somewhere. These things are tanks! You don't seem them in SoCal so much, but I have to assume that's because they've all migrated north where they are truly appreciated.

I hope you've enjoyed this missive du mirage and other cars that history tries to forget. These work horses were never in it for the glory though. Just like their owners, I suppose. 

18 February 2014

A Grrrlz Mix for an Actual Girl

Last month, a friend of mine mentioned that his pre-school aged daughter was really into songs sung by a female vocalist. Of course I volunteered to make her the ultimate chick mix. It was only I after I created a short list of 150 songs that I realized I was in over my head.

First off, his daughter is barely kindergarden age. I know nothing about children. Furthermore, when I was her age, my favorite song was The Pointer Sisters Jump (For My Love).

The sort of sticky-sweet pop dropped out of my repertoire years ago. Should I go dig up Debbie Gibson and Brandy Carlisle from the musical graveyard? Seems a little wrong.

I confessed the issue to my friend. He said he hoped to spare his daughter from mindless girl pop, and he told me she was currently obsessed with Lorde. Confidence (somewhat) restored I went back to my song list...

...where I discovered most of the songs were totally unsuitable for a little kid. A lot of what I'd consider classic tunes had explicit lyrics and/or dealt with mature subjects such as gender roles, sex and death, and getting effed over by either a man or The Man.

I knew I had to dig deeper. My musical DNA was based in a lot of "dad rock" (Creedence, Croce and the like), so I went for songs that had a story. I also picked tunes with cryptic lyrics so long as they had tasty hooks.

In the end, Liz, Fiona, PJ, Tori, Joni, Stevie, Patti, Lauryn, Missy, Kristin and Tanya, Amy and Emily, Carrie Corin and Janet mostly got veto'd (but Wild Flag made the cut). Ella, Ani, Nina and the Wilson sisters are in, along with some international girl bands and a Madonna tune I expect most people have forgotten. The final tracklist is below.

I Love Grrrlz Mix

SHONEN KNIFE: Top of the World
BLONDIE: The Tide is High
GOSSIP: Hott Date
WILD FLAG: Racehorse
PINK MARTINI: Sympathique
THE KNIFE: Heartbeats
HEART: Barracuda
MADE IN HEIGHTS: All the Places
TLC: No Scrubs
THE BREEDERS: Drivin' on 9
ANI DIFRANCO: 32 Flavors (live)
MADONNA: Dear Jessie
NINA SIMONE: My Baby Just Cares for Me
BJORK: It's Oh So Quiet
DAR WILLIAMS: The Babysitter's Here

I'm definitely planning a part II, so if you have suggestions. Paste 'em below!