Stereogum Monthly Mix: February 2013

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”

SONGS THAT SHOULD BE ON THIS MIXTAPE, ALSO:
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.

Comments (42)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  2. YOU CAN’T USE SPOTIFY IN CANADA!!! THIS IS HIGHLY UNFAIR!!!

    • yeah guys, you’d might as well upload it to goddamn hulu. now how will I get ma’ fresh monthly jams?

      Also, I’ve got to say, I HATE streaming. Steven Jobs said it best when he was prattlin on about “ppl want to own music” and that is just the truth. Nowadays these fools just post it on soundcloud and that’s all she wrote. I STILL can’t download “anxiety’s door” by merchandise. Come on guys. Disclosure took a couple dogs’ ages to get white noise up there. So I just go search it out for free off of some backalley deadbeat that ripped it off of god knows where and posted it on some virus machine website from hell. Why do I do this? I need it for my car, and don’t even get to thinking that i’m going to run the soundcloud app on my phone to stream it in the car because that is just OUTRAGEOUS. Why would you ever even ask me to do that?

      wait – what?

    • I like Canada but I humbly suggest moving exclusively for the chance to use Spotify Premium. Which is exactly where this playlist is going right now.

    • Yeah! What happened to the zip downloads? Ugh. This is such a bummer.

  3. Entertainment is on Spotify… amend the list!

    • You’re right, I don’t know what happened there. Adding, thanks! (Making this list has made me 80% more Spotify literate, though clearly I’m still a n00b.)

  4. the phoenix song has been on spotify for a few days – not sure about the others.

  5. Haven’t listened to the list yet, and I have too many incomplete thoughts about the switch to Spotify, but I’d like to say:

    This is the best Monthly Mix cover yet. Maybe it’s cause I used to be a huge space nerd, or just because I love stupid pictures of Nixon, but I’m a fan.

  6. And if you would like a physical copy of this mixtape, please mail a self-address and stamped envelope with a blank cassette to the following address, and Amrit will glady record each of the tracks onto it by and hand:

    BuzzMedia
    c/o Stereogum
    Attn: Amrit
    276 5th Ave, Ste 711
    New York, NY 1000

  7. All songs posted on soundcloud, bandcamp, youtube, etc. (stream-only songs) can be converted to mp3. Just google it guys. It’s exactly like recording a song to cassette using your stereo/pc/whatever else. I’m not downloading Spotify. And of course, if I like the band, I will support them!

  8. Dammit. I reaaaally loved downloading, listening, deleting the ones I didn’t. Maybe burning the really good ones to a CD for the car (yeah, I was born in the 70s). The whole process was kind of relaxing. Streaming is the opposite. I feel all out of my depth.

  9. I would gladly listen to this on Spotify, but Spotify never works right for me, so I guess it’s back to manual-mixing through iTunes and Foobar.

  10. I wish this wasn’t true. Tell me this is some kind of cruel joke.

  11. Woo, “Ego Free Sex Free”, my favourite track off of the new Autre Ne Veut album.

  12. “When Winter’s Over” by Torres just because you guys have ignored that whole album and it rocks.

  13. I don’t necessarily mind streaming services, but I do feel like it narrows the listenership to a specific type of demographic / listening behavior- people whose jobs have them in front of screen all day, with multiple tabs open, etc. While, yes, this is certainly a sizeable portion of the population, I like my music mobile and with me, not tethering me to a laptop, that type of listening is so passive. But perhaps I’m just a caveman with my ipod classic and my meticulously organized playlists.

  14. Please, please, please remember that spotify does not work everywhere or even most places in the world. Very, very, very disappointed with this decision.

  15. I loved your monthly mixes, a bunch of tracks i had and hadnt heard i could put on my ipod for my commutes. i can’t be bothered with spotify, its not the be all and end all, its sad you’ve stopped putting them out.

  16. Sad to hear these will no longer be downloadable. :(

  17. I’m jumping on the “boo-hiss on spotify” bandwagon.
    Ain’t nobody got time for that!

    Please repost the zip files of your monthly mixes in addition to this spotify bull crap!

  18. I’m really disappointed with the move to Spotify. I love streaming music but I think that Spotify is the most inferior of the services available. Also, the fun of the old downloads is that you guys could include things that didn’t have to go through the corporate cogs first to be released. Cloud streaming is too polished. Remember all those great cover songs from Radiohead? None of that on the cloud. Some of my favorite music discoveries have been through Stereogum downloads. I still have a lot of vintage (e.g. ’07-’09) Stereogum tracks that I play regularly and those artists do get paid now through iTunes match. If you’ve got to make the move to the cloud, can it at least be on a format that doesn’t require me to install and run an app just to get in the door.

  19. I get the transition. Spotify=better availability/variety of songs = a better mix. Sooner or later you gotta do what you gotta do to keep it alive.

    That said, I’ll probably care less about the mixes now. The cloud has taken some of the fun out of finding and collecting tracks on your computer. The .mp3 is now going the way of vinyl: not dead but mostly a redundant oddity. Will we start having an annual “.mp3 Day” when artists release special tracks available only as an .mp3?

  20. I feel like I’ve lost a good friend. Lame.

  21. No Spotify in Southamerica ;(

  22. I loved the montly mixes. I live in Canada. It’s ridiculous to exclude regions from your site that don’t have spotify. Thanks guys.

  23. well stereogum, you did it. you took one of my favorite monthly posts and made me no longer interested in it.

  24. R.I.P. Stereogum Mixtape CD-Rs

    :(
    :(
    :(

    p.s. I’m staying away until this Converse ad quits full screening every click on this site. waaa fuuuu?

  25. There’s no reason why you can’t do both, by the way, Stereogum. No reason. Just make the downloadable one the good stuff that IS available.

  26. What a terrible idea. I don’t have time in my busy day for Spotify bullshit. I’m afraid this site is looking useless to me now, guess I’ll have to go back to Pitchfork and other blogs.

  27. Hi. Sad to see that the mix will no longer be available as a download.

    Has anyone made a “songs that should be on the playlist” list for Spotify yet?

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