The 2013 mix is here!

With record early-ness, I bring you Realish 2013, my favorite songs of the past year. It was an annus mirabilis in music, an embarrassment of riches, so making the mix was especially fun (and fast) this time around. As always, each side fits exactly on an 80-minute CD. As always, the first side is a bit faster (party time), the second a bit slower (chill time).

How to get it

If you are a bittorrent user, you can download the mix here. In fact, you can download all the Realish mixes going back to 2001 here. (Bittorrent is the bomb. And it’s easy. Just install this program and go to town.)

Alternatively, you can download the mix directly (from my Dropbox account) here.

If downloading makes you nervous, I can always email you the zip file. Just drop me a note. (Email address over on the right.)

I will be making some CDs this year, but not until much later, around the beginning of March (I’m out of town for the next month or so). I am taking orders, though. If you still enjoy the sweet sounds of Realish on CD, drop me an email with your snail mail address and I’ll mail you one in a couple of months.

A note on song order

The Realish mix is not just some songs I liked. It is a mix, meant to be heard from beginning to end. I have edited many of these files, trimming here and there, so that they follow one upon the other with a certain logic and rhythm. At least that’s the hope. So try, at least once, before the tunes become scattered singles in your music library, to listen to the mix in order.

The best way to do that is on CD, in a car, on a long road trip, really loud. All other listening scenarios are suboptimal in one way or another, but even if it’s just on earbuds walking around your neighborhood, try out the mix qua mix. Relatedly …

A note to iTunes users

iTunes is the devil. Just the worst. But I know a lot of people use it. I have to warn you: when iTunes imports the Realish mix (if you even get that far), it is likely to fuck it up completely, losing the mix order — losing the mix — and sending all the individual songs to their own little slots in its proprietary library. Despite considerable effort, I have never figured out how to make iTunes read my mix as a mix. If any of you smart people have insight into the matter, do share — comment or drop me an email. In the meantime, go to hell, iTunes.

A note on 2013 in music

After making these mixes for 13 (!) years running, I’ve noticed that each year has its own distinct personality. The 2013 mix is, let’s say, soulful — less carefree and fun than previous years, lots of intense songs on themes of identity and love.

I’m aware that the most popular trends in popular music aren’t represented here at all. The album of the year is Kanye’s, for sure. That’s the sound of now: spare, cold electro beats put in service of aggressive hip-hop or wailing divas. I just don’t love it. It’s too harsh; I like a little warmth in my beats. So there’s no Kanye, no Kendrick Lamar, no Skrillex (or whoever’s popular in that scene now) — in general, not as much dance or hip-hop. It’s a dad-rock kind of year.

In the end, I like what I’ve liked since I was 10 years old, listening to my dad’s albums — early Beatles, The Four Seasons, the Kingston Trio, those At the Hop compilations — which is to say, I like songs I can sing along to. All the Realish mixes ought to be called Songs You Can Sing Along To (Mostly).

What’s on the damn mix already

All right, here’s the set list:

side one.
01 edward sharpe & the magnetic zeros: let’s get high
02 futurebirds: serial bowls
03 haim: the wire
04 black milk: monday’s worst
05 arcade fire: here comes the night time
06 beyonce: yonce
07 ashley monroe: two weeks late
08 neko case: man
09 tegan and sara: how come you don’t want me
10 justin timberlake: dress on
11 divine fits: would that not be nice
12 desaparecidos: anonymous
13 valerie june: you can’t be told
14 white denim: at night in dreams
15 janelle monae: dance apocalyptic
16 vampire weekend: unbelievers
17 portugal. the man: purple yellow red and blue
18 sigur ros: isjaki
19 yellowbirds: the honest ocean
20 avicii: wake me up
21 mystikal: hit me

side two.
01 my morning jacket: leaving on a jet plane
02 best coast: i don’t know how
03 kacey musgraves: follow your arrow
04 the head and the heart: let’s be still
05 jason isbell: elephant
06 gregory alan isakov: second chances
07 the avett brothers: open-ended life
08 foxygen: shuggie
09 lorde: royals
10 alabama shakes: pocket change
11 local natives: wooly mammoth
12 chance the rapper: interlude (that’s love)
13 leo rondeau: here’s my heart
14 phosphorescent: song for zula
15 volcano choir: byegone
16 the national: i need my girl
17 pistol annies: damn thing
18 the milk carton kids: honey, honey
19 giant giant sand: forever and a day
20 alela diane: i thought i knew
21 kings of leon: rock city
22 melody’s echo chamber: i follow you
23 don trip and starlito: leash on life (f kevin gates)

Runner-up

Here’s the song I liked most this year that didn’t make the mix, a slice of nostalgic, sun-dappled Americana by Holly Williams called “Waiting on June.” Schmaltzy, but powerful.

(Hear those pretty harmonies that come in with the second chorus? That’s Gwyneth Paltrow, believe it or not.)