The second disc is a listening diary of sorts, representing individual tracks that came my way outside the context of an album - indeed, outside the context of being released this year. A couple tracks here are as old as 1968...and a couple more are from albums that won't be released until 2006. Most of them came from the mp3 sites linked on my website's main page. Here are my comments on those tracks:

1. Don Dixon "Roommate" demo: On my second year-end entry, I say that I can't remember where this track came from. It has been brought to my extremely negligent attention that this is a demo for a song on the forthcoming 125 Records release The Entire Combustible World in One Small Room . Anyway, when it was first presented to me - as a "guess who this is?" - I had the damnedest time trying to guess who it was since it sounded very familiar but I couldn't place it. (Don Dixon, of course, co-produced R.E.M.'s Murmur along with Mitch Easter...) Dixon hadn't recorded much recently, and I haven't really followed his career. This one is quite the earworm though!

2. Field Music "You Can Decide": Behold the joy of coincidence: the Dixon track ended with a long, fading chord; this one began with a fade-in...on the same chord. So I crossfaded 'em. Anyway: another earworm number. Apparently these guys are British; another of the band's tracks showed up on the year-end best-of compiled by those wily folks over at 125 Records.

3. Ben Folds Laundry "Three Little Kittens": Not an actual Ben Folds but an incredibly convincing simulation! (Cuz "folds" is a verb - cute, hey?) This was on an album of kids' songs rearranged like indie rock tunes or something (it's a mystery download, actually), in this case based on the Ben Folds Five tune "One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces." Whoever did the song (and I am assured it's not Folds) they did an incredible job of simulating the band's sound, right down to the distorto-bass, and inverting the chord sequence of the original track. Plus, "no pie!" is a much more clever insult than "kiss my ass" anyway!

4. 9353 "Famous Last Words": This one was downloaded from The Mystical Beast website (mentioned in the other disc's notes). The repeated lines just crack me up...and I kind of like the spidery little guitar figure too. From sometime in the 1980s - don't recall when. Do I have to do all your Googling for you?

5. Big Dipper "Lou Gehrig's Disease": Big Dipper was more or less the lesser embodiment of The Embarrassment, Kansas' second-most-famous rock band (probably). Still a pretty good act - and this one has that slightly snarky but tuneful air (minus the spiky angles) of its parent act.

6. The Willis "Are We Are": The newest track here. A while back, I got a notice on my departmental mailing list bruiting this band about, since the singer and songwriter is a grad student in our creative writing program. Normally, I ignore such things...since usually, they're just friends praising friends, which is nice and all but little concern to folks who don't know them. On a whim, I checked out their website - and rather liked what I heard. (You have to search a little to find the songs - most are on the band's myspace page, linked therefrom.) Anyway, these folks have an album coming out on Minneapolis' Doubleplusgood Records in January - I'm looking forward to it. Check out the wacky synth part: I suppose technically it's in 15/8 time...played against the prevailing 4/4 beat. Not that you'd necessarily notice, as if this were prog rock or something - just a clever little detail...

7. Kelley Polar "My Beauty in the Moon": More rhythmic trickery: I like the way eighths, triplets, and sixteenths are played against one another. A rather haunting tune, too.

8. Kimono vs. Ghostigital "Codomatopeia": Cod! Yes, that's Mark E. Smith (from the Fall), and That Annoying Guy In That Band Bjork Used to Be In, and some other folks.

9. The Walkmen "We've Been Had": Someone threw their piano out on the pavement, and now they're sad. Another sticky song - kept popping into my head throughout the year, even though it's a couple years old (and, unaccountably, I haven't picked up the CD it's from yet).

10. Andrew Bird "Fake Palindromes": I've heard three tracks from The Mysterious Production of Eggs and liked them all...but not quite enough to buy the CD, especially since some of Bird's previous stuff (with Bowl of Fire) was kind of underwhelming. But I like this song, especially the nonsensical, sound-based wordplay. Actually, it isn't all that nonsensical.

11. Rufus Wainwright "Grey Gardens" (live): This is ripped from that Bush in 30 Seconds DVD that put out in 2004. This song persuaded me to buy a couple of Wainwright's CDs - I'm glad it did. Fun musical fact: the opening chord sequence here is harmonically very similar to the middle section of "I Am the Walrus"...the part whose lyrics go "sitting in an English garden." Coincidence? You decide...

12. Chrysalis "Dr. Root's Garden": Another Mystical Beast number, this one recorded in 1968. Proto-prog, I think, edging that way from eclectic psychedelia. I like the dissonant (second-based) harmonies and the odd little angular instrumental interjections. Amusing lyrics too.

13. Tobin Sprout "Cryptic Shapes": This is from a compilation called I Stayed Up All Night Listening to Records. One of those haunting Sprout tracks, with a chorus like a ghost of sense.

14. Destroyer "Jackie, Dressed in Cobras": It's instructive to compare this, the original version from the b-side of a single, to the better-known version by The New Pornographers. At least, I think it is. (There used to be a different track in this position, from the Bye Bye Blackbirds, a demo formerly posted at the band's website, but the songwriter asked me to remove it, since the band feels the version they're working on for a release is superior. Okay. Check out the band here.)

15. Rob Montejo "Anodyne": I discovered this guy (interesting painter, too) via Bullette's website (linked from my year-end summary). In fact, he collaborated with her on the "We Are Not From Sugar" track on the first disc. This is sort of My Bloody Valentine Unplugged...right down to the swirly coda.

16. AK-Momo "Women to Control": The Optigan was, essentially, an early sampler: a series of small disks (like little LPs) held prerecorded sounds, and a keyboard controlled how they sounded. The specific mechanics of it are beyond me, but the instrument used phrases rather than individual least to judge from the fact that the sample underlying this track is present on at least two other songs in my collection (one by, duh, Optiganally Yours, the other by, of all folks, Whiskeytown). Anyway, moments of the vocal in this track are very Kate Bush, wouldn't you say?

17. The Kaiser Chiefs "I Predict a Riot": All of the songs that find their way onto my computer end up compiled onto a series of CDs collectively known as "The Mop" (as in mopping-up), because I'm so old-fashioned that I need a physical medium to carry music around in. I don't own an iPod, and I don't carry my laptop with my everywhere I go. Anyway, the selection process for the compilation you're reading about (and listening to, I imagine) was that I went through a list of titles on this year's Mop collections, and whenever a title put the song instantly in my head, I wrote it down. A handful of songs were running around in my head even before that process. This is one of them.

18. The Books "An Animated Description of Mr. Maps": Fucked-up digital glitch-folk songs. Something like that. What I really like about this track is the way the drummer (and I think it actually is a real drummer) plays the rhythm of the spoken soundbites. Generally, soundbites like that are pretty much played-out and boring - but using them rhythmically puts a new coat of paint on them.

19. A Hawk and a Hacksaw "Portlandtown": Somewhere, I think I have another version of this song (an old folk song, I believe). I think I read that the band (led by Julian Barnes, who played kitchen sink with Neutral Milk Hotel) tried to achieve with a couple of pianos an effect you might get by rapidly strumming guitars. Not as important to me as the affect of the song. The sequencing of these next three tracks is not an accident.

20. Bill Fay Group "Sam": Another song from 1968. Self-explanatory, I think. Obscenely opportunistic miners of silver-linings might note that we continue to create more models about which to write similar songs.

21. TV on the Radio "Dry Drunk Emperor": This song came my way because I occasionally still get e-mails from folks doing bands' publicity. In this case, I'm very glad I do. One of my most listened- to tracks of the year. Title all too self-explanatory.

That's it. Here's to 2006!

Back to the first disc's notes