January 28, 2006

Lunar New Year Extravaganza, Pt. 1

MP3s Lunar New Year Fun-Pack / Various Artists

FULL ZIP Lunar New Year Fun-Pack / Various Artists

Happy Chinese/Lunar New Year! To celebrate, I will try to make you read more than usual.

Apparently there's a new rule requiring one to apologize prior to making a "Best Of" list. Every 2005 list I've read has begun with some tepid disclaimer about how it would be impossible to capture the magic and beauty of an entire year of music (or film or books or whatever) in a single list. The only problem with these disclaimers is that they are totally and completely false. Every single time I declare, "This is the best (blank) of (blankiness)" I am speaking the gospel. I love proclaiming "bests" and "favorites" because I'm always right. And I love the word "definitely."

Thus, below are my Top 12 Songs of 2005. I've already put all of them on pretty much every mix I've made this past year; I didn't create or discover any of them; and they aren't particularly obscure. I do love them, however. There's one for each animal of the Chinese calendar (plus one), but the animals are out of order because I'm not Chinese and because this is the order in which the songs should be played as a mix.

None of that is very important. What's important is that I would really like you to listen to any of the following songs that you don't already have. Click the "MP3s" link above and download the ones you need; or click the "ZIP" link and download the whole sack. Also, check the doodads at the very bottom for the rest of the New Year's celebration.

1. DOG: Major Label Debut (fast version) / Broken Social Scene
The extra energy on this version is loose like an old certainty, like it comes from a water mill rather than a wall socket.

2. MONKEY: Hey Now Now / The Cloud Room
Carefully designed to make you jump every time. If you don't, there's something wrong with your spinal cord.

3. ROOSTER: We Listen Every Day / The Go! Team
Just maybe: heaven is hot pink and these are the trumpets that sound when the gates swing open.

4. OX: Kick Out the Chairs (WhoMadeWho remix) / LCD Soundsystem | Munk
As long as we can dance up in heaven, who cares if there's a shortage of chairs, muthafucka?

5. PIG: Gone (ft. Cam'ron and Consequence) / Kanye West
Should've been the first single off an otherwise mediocre album. Includes references to Burger King, Taco Bell, KFC, and restaurants that require flair ("Says she wants diamonds, I took her to Ruby Tuesday's").

6. DRAGON: Raising the Sparks / Akron/Family
Next time you're burning effigies in the deserts of Nevada, this foot-stomper best be playing on the iPod.

7. RAT: Las Cruces Jail (single version) / Two Gallants
Within the first second of this song, the vocalist (Adam Stephenson) has already broken a world record: All-Time #1 Rendition of the Word "Well." When he screams, it actually sounds like a jail break.

8. HORSE: History of Lovers / Iron & Wine | Calexico
Best collaboration of 2005. More horns.

9. GOAT: I Have a Tail / Pompey
I first heard this song yesterday, courtesy of Fluxblog. It's play count is already 4,201. And, yes, it does sound like a mutation of Animal Collective. Like a collective of imaginary battery-powered animals. Which is to say, exactly like Caribou's "Yeti," the 13th best song of 2005.

10. RABBIT: Great Day (remix of MF Doom/Madvillain) / Four Tet
A 2005 remix of the best song from the best collaboration of 2004. Unlike the original, this doesn't take place before a party, prefiguring a great day. This takes place on a porch by a stream as a great day is transforming itself into a memory. A memory which you will later relate to your "puh-sychiatrist."

11. TIGER: Two For Joy / Electrelane
Around 4 minutes and 26 seconds, "Don't go near the water" becomes "Let's get in the water." A few seconds later, this song becomes the most ecstatic track off one of the most underrated albums of '05.

12. SNAKE: Surprise, AZ (Richard Buckner cover) / Cynthia G. Mason
In an ordered universe, a collection of covers like the 2005 Believer CD would suck every time. Not here. Devendra Banhart inhabits "Fistful of Love" completely, then outstrips it; and the Constantines precisely savor the early '90s on Elevator to Hell's "Why I Didn't Like August 93." But Cynthia Mason outdoes them both. Her barebones version disposes of the affected vocals, harmonica, and twang of Buckner's original, allowing her voice to seep into the empty spaces these excisions create. For every bit she takes away, the melody becomes that much more devastating.

13. MONSTER: Great Day (instrumental mix) / Four Tet
Bonus track, the instrumental from #10.

NOTE: The temporary/celebratory title graphic is/was courtesy of one Dr. Robert Schmidt.

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