Monthly Mix

Stereogum Monthly Mix: February 2013

Amrit Singh | February 28, 2013 - 1:30 pm

It’s finally come to this: The first straight-to-Spotify Stereogum Monthly Mix. It’s the end of an era, and I’m a little sad about it! But it’s a necessity in 2013, and one that will serve this feature well. In theory, over the past three years, this mixtape has functioned to spotlight and memorialize the month’s best music in downloadable form. Of course some high-flying artists never deigned to release their big singles for free, which is fair and also didn’t prevent these mixtapes from being robust and full of top-shelf gems. Increasingly, however, bands of all stripes are sharing their songs via streamable platforms like Soundcloud and Youtube and skipping the promo MP3 process entirely. (I can’t even remember the last time we embedded a TopSpin widget.) This makes good sense for artists, of course, in an increasingly stream/cloud-based listening landscape; why set a file free, unconditionally, to an increasingly stream-friendly listenership when you can receive at least something in return for the transaction (Soundcloud/Youtube playcounts, at least, if not a landing page with links and important credit listings, etc.).

What this has meant for ye olde Monthly Mix, though, is a change in function — shifting from the “best songs of the month” to “the most passable MP3s of the month” — which has finally required this change in form. Call it a course correction.

Surprisingly, the Spotify pool is quite limited when it comes to fresh music, too — in a perfect world a February mix would include LE1F’s “Spa Day,” Dungeoness’s “Shucks,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Sacrilege,” Cold Cave’s “Oceans With No End,” Youth Lagoon’s “Mute,” Marnie Stern’s “Nothing Is Easy,” Kurt Vile’s “Wakin On A Pretty Day,” those great new songs from Beacon, Julianna Barwick, and DOM, and on. But acts as big as those, and as small and new as Psychic Twin, don’t have their new songs in the Spotify database as of publishing time, and thus this still isn’t a perfect list of the month’s best songs. (Scroll down for a more complete list of shoulda-beens.)

It is, however, the month’s best new songs available on Spotify, and that’s saying something. It is also raising the overall caliber of song inclusion, while also making this mixtape feel more in the spirit of Stereogum’s heartbeat and taste. While I always have fun making these, it’s been getting a little depressing of late. This has brought some joy back into the process, and produced a more enjoyable result. It no longer feels like new music is dying! It feels alive and exciting — and all it took was an embrace of change. (That said, we did go out with a .zip bang — last month’s mix was the best in awhile. Grab it.) This, by the way, is not a pro-Spotify argument writ large, for that’s a much deeper, multi-dimensional issue we’ve waded into plenty; it’s merely a pro-Spotify-for-purposes-of-making-a-monthly-mixtape argument.

This inaugural Spotify-distributed Stereogum Monthly Mix is 13 songs, sequenced with precision for a complete listening experience as always. It includes the sort of artist we could never get on those old zip files (Drake, The Strokes, James Blake), and a bevy of stuff that you should spend more time with, like Young Dreams, HAIM, Alpine, Dutch Uncles !!!, araabMUZIK, Light Heat, and Autre Ne Veut. (You should spend all of your time with Autre Ne Veut, actually, but “Tom covered that already.)

Each of these songs but for “Ego Free Sex Free” has a dedicated track post in our archives, so use this clickable playlist to get deeper discussion on them. Otherwise, scroll down, press play, and stream February’s Monthly Mix. And for the sake of completion, new this month is a bonus list of songs that should be on this mixtape also, titled SONGS THAT SHOULD BE ON THIS MIXTAPE, ALSO. That’s below. Enjoy.

01 James Blake – “Retrograde”
02 Drake – “Started From The Bottom”
03 Autre Ne Veut – “Ego Free Sex Free”
04 !!! – “Slyd”
05 araabMUZIK – “Never Have To Worry
06 Phoenix – “Entertainment”
07 Alpine – “Gasoline”
08 Young Dreams – “First Days Of Something”
09 Born Ruffians – “Needle”
10 Dutch Uncles – “Bellio”
11 HAIM – “Falling
12 Light Heat – “And The Birds…”
13 The Strokes – “All The Time”

LE1F – “Spa Day”
Dungeonesse – “Shucks”
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Sacrilege”
Cold Cave – “Oceans With No End”
Youth Lagoon – “Mute”
Marnie Stern – “Nothing Is Easy”
Beacon – “Bring You Back”
Julianna Barwick – “Pacing”
DOM – “H O T L I M I T”
Pyschic Twin – “Strangers”
Low – “So Blue”
Kurt Vile – “Wakin On A Pretty Day”
Fainting By Numbers – “A Stone In The Ground”
AlunaGeorge – “Attracting Flies”
The Men – “I Saw Her Face”
Shlomo – “Don’t Say No” (Feat. How To Dress Well)
Melody’s Echo Chamber – “Je Me Perds De Veu”
Pond – “Giant Tortoise”
Waxahatchee – “Coast To Coast”
Thee Oh Sees – “Minotaur”
The-Dream – “Slow It Down”
Major Lazer – “Watch Out For This (Bumaye)”
Ash Borer – “Oblivion’s Spring”
Kylesa – “Unspoken”

(For metal beyond Ash Borer and Kylesa, peruse The Black Market)

If there are notable omissions, I trust you’ll shout ‘em out.