Good news. The mixtape is not dead….it’s just called a “playlist”…
Where sensitive Belle and Sebastian-loving-indie-types once crafted cassette tapes filled with songs that told the prettiest girls in their class just how deep their feelings of love were through the medium of Morrissey, Aztec Camera or Napalm Death, now we have playlists compiled on Spotify.
Being easier to compile may be a good thing, but I can’t help feeling that no girl worth her salt will feel quite as flattered and fussed over when a boy sheepishly sends her a Spotify link as she would have if he had handed over a hand-compiled cassette wrapped in a ribbon. Your turntable may not be dead, but I suspect Romance might be the first casualty of streaming services.
Once a year, a friend of mine passes around a three or four CD mixtape of his favourite songs of the year to a dozen of his friends. He’s not trying to woo us, I should point out, unless I’m completely missing all the signals. However, with twenty songs on each, the whole thing is carefully themed, given liner notes, a review of the year and is crafted and honed with the sort of love and care that you would normally associate with a proud female blackbird fussing over her first clutch of eggs in a brand new nest. Puts this raggedy blog to shame, I can tell you…
This year, I was amused to hear that my friend had shared his 2014 mixtape with a person even more freakishly obsessed with music that he is. Now, this is quite rare. I wouldn’t say he is obsessed with music, but by all accounts, when he got married, the first thing he did wasn’t to book a venue, it was to arrange the exact running order of the music. And if that sounds normal to you, you may just have the same affliction…
Anyway, my friend and his friend met up in (where else?) Shoreditch, had a chat for about three hours about the sort of things that only indie-obsessed music fans can have conversations about – ambient breaks and beats, Norwegian flute music and European Shoe-gaze no doubt – and my friend told me that his other friend had won so many indie points during their conversation that despite his 4CDs containing some of indie-pop’s least known acts he felt like he had just handed him a Now! Compilation.
I had heard of less than half of them, including, for the record, “Les Big Byrd”, “Fujiyama & Miyagi” and – I kid you not – “A Winged Victory For The Sullen” who, as you can guess from the name, are a right barrel of laughs. Which just goes to show there’s always some Smart Alec who knows more than you do.
I stopped him at that point of the conversation just to check up on something he had said…
“What, exactly, is an “indie-point?” I enquired, all innocent, like.
My friend looked at me, slightly surprised. The term was, it would seem, a common thing, down his way…
Now, you may or may not be familiar with the concept of indie points, so let me try to explain as it was explained to me. It appears to be a form of one-upmanship much valued in the indie/hipster community. It goes something like this:
Trevor: “I really like that Kasabian album” (indie points gained – zero – too mainstream – even though most people actually quite like it).
John: “I prefer the St Vincent album” (indie points gained 1 – a non-mainstream act that has become popular in end-of-year lists)
Mick: “I don’t know about that album” (indie points: zero) “I couldn’t get into it – I much prefer her earlier albums”. (Big recovery from Mick: Indie points gained 3 for liking said artist whilst she was less well known)
Keith: “I saw her play Village Underground four years ago before her first album was released” (nice bit of “I-knew-about-her-before-you-did,-and-now-therefore-she’s-not-as-cool-as-she-used-to-be” indie points: 7)
Malcolm: “She once served me coffee at a little cafe when she was trying to get a break (indie points: 10)
Geoff: (nonchalantly) “I lent her my guitar when we were squatting in an abandoned flat in Hoxton once… (Indie points: 20) “I even taught her a few chords….” (indie points: 50. Bulls*** points 300)
etc etc – You get the idea. Whilst I don’t propose anyone reading this adopts this system as a lifestyle, it is quite fun to see it in action in others and to be aware of it enough to stop yourself from joining in!
Anyhow, with all that in mind, my friend does put a decent mixt–, sorry playlist together and I would like to share with you this “Best of 2014” playlist now. It introduced me to quite a few songs and bands, as well as a few familiar faces, and is a great listen. There are also a couple on the original mix that aren’t on Spotify, so on this page are the missing songs – YouTube clips of Ed Ling, The Black Keys and the excellent Ty Segall also. Actually – a quick word about Ty Segall – I didn’t hear this album (Manipulator) until recently and if I had I reckon it would have been in my albums of the year – amazing stuff!
Enjoy! And remember, I’d heard of these bands before you did…..Damn, there I go again….