Monthly Mix: October 2010

This weekend in Las Vegas, Matador Records is celebrating 21 years of shaping the ship of independent music with a fearsome deepdive through its roster, headlined by the reunited “classic” lineup of lo-fi progenitors Guided By Voices. Awesome. Amrit’s at the Palms right now, repping team ’Gum, emptying his wallet into Crazy Bill’s Gold Strike Slot Machine.

As much as we love nostalgia/Pavement, our M.O. remains sifting through and serving up digital files to help frame, filter, and understand independent music in its present shape. And the four of us know full well (from reader feedback and from being human beings with other things happening in our lives) that the amount of music we post can be unwieldy. Oppressive even. It’s one of the reasons our 40 Best New Bands mixtape went over well. So here’s to something that’s long overdue: the first of Stereogum’s Monthly Mixes.

There are no hard and fast rules for inclusion, aside from these tracks being amongst the most compelling of late and approved as giveaways from their respective labels. Maybe we posted them the previous month, maybe prior, maybe never before — but they are speaking to us now. A snapshot of where our minds, and ears, are in the weeks past, offered as a soundtrack for the weeks ahead. That said, perpetual DJs that we are, it is a mix, sequenced for effect, hopefully to help make connections across the tracks and present themes in what’s sticking out most to us. So although these are all individual and freely downloadable MP3s, you’re gonna have to download them all together, in a single zip file, as least in this first installment. It’ll take you a lunch hour to pass through, but we hope it’ll unlock some new avenues of exploration, whether it’s increasing anticipation for Warpaint’s full-length, tapping into the vast fantastical keyboard pop potential of Laurel Halo’s King Felix EP, the skewed dance pop of Greatest Hits and their “Danse Pop,” or the ambient, six-stringed space sifting of Mark McGuire’s brainstorms.

Below is the zip file, and a tracklist.

Stereogum Monthly Mix: October 2010 (.zip)

Tracklist:
01 Das Racist – “hahahaha jk?
02 Abe Vigoda – “Throwing Shade
03 Greatest Hits – “Danse Pop
04 Laurel Halo – “Supersymmetry
05 Gold Panda – “Same Dream China
06 Warpaint – “Undertow
07 Twin Sister – “Meet The Frownies
08 Marnie Stern – “Transparency Is The New Mystery
09 Tamaryn – “Love Fade
10 Japandroids – “Heavenward Grand Prix
11 Mark McGuire – “Brain Storm [For Erin]“

We’ll work on getting an audio RSS/podcast for this feature. In the meantime, know that you can swing by at the beginning of each month to download a free soundtrack for your next four weeks.

Now’s also a good time for you to let us know what you like and don’t like about the site these days. Do you miss anonymous commenting? Is our coverage too Brooklyn-focused? Will you be our Facebook friend? (BTW, we know our photo gallery experience sucks. Working on that.) Still, last month was Stereogum’s highest traffic month ever, so thanks for that.

Have a G.R.E.A.T. Friday, and if you like this mix, definitely check back next week for the announcement of Stereogum & PopGun Booking’s joint CMJ ’10 superparty.

Comments (43)
  1. ok, this is not a haters gonna hate sesh but i’m glad you asked for feedback. also i’m going to concentrate on the things that lack because i think we both know what you guys do best.

    1. i understand, that like me, when you get excited about a band, you want to SHOUT FROM THE ROOPTOPS ABOUT IT. i understand that impulse. but sometimes over the last 1-2 years, it’s gotten way out of control. y’all basically shoved sleigh bells down our collective throat. WE GET IT. YOU LIKE SLEIGH BELLS.

    2. there used to be more…CONTENT. like maybe more first hand interviews with bands, information that wasn’t regurgitated from other places…just generally new shit about a diverse group of bands that was totally well written and fun to follow. I MISS THOSE DAYS.

    3. TOO MANY VIDEO PREMIERS. sometimes it feels like you guys are just throwing up a handful of vid premiers and leaving any sort of interesting/noteworthy info out.

    in sum, i think that the whole commenting community (*CRINGE*) around here has suffered because there isn’t much in the way of discussion/dialogue when the site is heavy on links and premiers. YOU GUYS ARE SO GOOD AT CONTENT. AND WRITING. I MISS THAT.

    that is all. no hate-o. xo. -grace6697

    • Thanks for the feedback, Yael.

      Good news is that YES, this fall you’ll find us churning out less promotional media (esp videos) and instead focusing on unique editorial and filtering.

      Re: the lack of forum activity since relaunch, I think the main factor is that we shut off anonymous commenting (which means we shut off hatespeech and spam, so yay). But! Clearly we are capable of prompting useful discourse about new music — e.g., http://stereogum.com/526181/sufjan-stevens-the-age-of-adz-premature-evaluation/franchises/premature-evaluation/ — and should do that more often. Quality > quantity. Stay tuned…

      PS Have you heard Sleigh Bells? They are great.

      • 1. very happy to hear about new editorial stuff coming our way.

        2. while there is definitely lack of forum activity since the end of anonymous commenting, i think it can also be attributed to the fact that so many of the posts have been promo stuff. not a whole lot to chat about re: a GAYNGS videos. and yeah, the adz convo was highly legit.

        3. i had that sleigh bells comment coming. well played, scottgum.

  2. More L.A. coverage! I know that that’s probably not realistic, but it’s what I’m dreaming of.

  3. I think I’ll cosign on a lot of what Yael says above me. For one, I’m glad that the commenting is no longer anonymous. Speaking personally here, I know that back in the anonymous days I said some mean things on the boards of Stereogum, things that were anything but constructive and even quite bitter and alarming. A bit of accountability is a good thing, and it seems like there is a lot of frustration at how drastically the number of comments has decreased (with the exception of Preemie Evaluations and any list about anything), but it would help with more content, rather than making everything anonymous again.

    As for the new music, I am likely in the minority here but I found the 40 best new bands post to be completely overwhelming. Too much at once. I tried to find something in there, but with just a slim presentation of each band/MP3, I didn’t have the ear patience to go through each one and find something that I really liked. This monthly playlist could be something a little more manageable to my little pea-brain, so I’m looking forward to how it pans out.

    Something I don’t care for at all is the concert-photo collections. With little reporting on the actual concerts and instead a barely-organized collection of redundant photos, I see absolutely no point in these. It isn’t the cumbersome photo viewing mechanism, but rather it’s the feeling that the only reason it exists is so you can see if the girl from Best Coast is really as cute as you think she is, or if some member of the Drums’ new haircut is cool or not. Staying away from TigerBeatGum might be a good thing.

    Overall, I would like more criticism, and not in the “oh you like everything why don’t you ever give a bad review” way, but just more interaction with the songs that are posted. Currently, I use Stereogum as sort of a radio, to listen to a new song here or there, but I would also like to read lengthier pieces about music and how or why a certain song is even being advertised on the site. I would even like some critical pieces that aren’t tied to a particular song, but rather about a larger trend or direction in music that you see happening, and what it means to the Stereogummers.

    And sorry, but no Faecbook, no how. Not for this reader.

    • Hey look at me with my hyphen overkill! Way to put your best grammar face to the e-world, ignatz.

    • More quality advice, thanks!

      We’ve actually drastically reduced the # of photo galleries over the past few months. They are time consuming to build (pre-Wordpress, Amrit and I used to pull all-nighters at festivals just to crop/optimize/size/tag hundreds of files … pathetic). And now that we have better Analytics, we know galleries aren’t even popular content! That should’ve been obvious because while most blogs thrive on (celebrity) photo galleries, 80 pics of bearded indie dudes crouching over guitar pedals aren’t useful to anyone. Plus, until our photo presentation is 100% ajax, I won’t be satisfied w/ the UX. (Understandably, our product team has higher priorities than upgrading Stereogum’s gallery system this year. Eventually!)

      We get a lot of feedback from artists that they would like Stereogum to do more “reviews.” My stance is that it’d be difficult for us to do traditional rankings comprehensively without a large team of freelancers. And we don’t have that. But: would you like # rankings on PEs, or some Album Of The Week type of icon? Any other ideas to make our editorial more digestible?

      Also, Sleigh Bells: check ‘em out!

      • I know it might be hard to do, but I think more PEs would be awesome. I don’t really see the point of rating/rankings, I think the way you guys discuss the albums is perfect because it seems to leave it open to for more discussion of the album’s content instead of its number rating (if that makes sense).

        • I agree with dcapp–I like the idea of rankings less.

          When I read reviews with a ranking system, I look at that and then move on and only rarely read what is written. When there is no rank, you read the text and I think get a fuller picture of the work. Now for me, part of the problem of discussing something in pre-mature evaluation is that I haven’t heard it yet. I’m still living in the 20th C., so it usually only weeks later that I have a chance to discuss an album, but then the discussion is over. But this isn’t Stereogum’s problem–I am the one who chooses how I live.

          But yes, I like rankless essays about music as opposed to straight reviews. The idea that an album sits on some continuum between Masterpiece and Shit-Fest rings false to me. I’d much rather read a thoughtful exploration of all facets of a work. What a piece of music is is more three dimensional than that.

          • Also, no disrespect was meant to Ignatz and his might brick. Only respect.

          • Of course I took no offense, mighty Mans. I actually, upon reading Scott’s reply, was going to say that I don’t think a ranking system is the solution either. I too am in the dark ages, and I never participate in any Preemie Eevies because I haven’t heard the album yet. But I appreciate them as sort of a taste of things to come.

            I tell you, I like this monthly mix thing. See, with the band to watch, I will typically listen to the streams on the site here, but then usually forget them until another post about the band (which I must give you kudos for usually following up on most bands that you label as a BTW [and also which I acknowledge as my problem, not the site's]). But getting a month to download and interact with the music, this idea I like quite a bit.

      • Just a quick thought about the monthly mixes: because we, the user, have the option to download the mix and have it with us for an entire month, I think it might be nice to have the post fairly prominent on the front page so that it can foster a month-long conversation in the comments about the music as we digest it more (speaking ideally here). I guess it might get kind of messy after a while depending on how many people comment over a month, but it also might be a good and consistent vehicle for fostering the Quality Discussion that sadly seems to be lacking in posts outside of PEs.

        Also someone said below and I completely agree that a weekly recap would be solid.

        • RE: “I think it might be nice to have the post fairly prominent on the front page so that it can foster a month-long conversation in the comments”

          This will DEFINITELY happen as soon as our product team has time to tweak the HP.

  4. GLARING omission from this mix – Sleigh Bells “Tell ‘Em”

  5. Definitely more reviews and a ranking system. Album of the Week is a great idea. The Heavy Rotation can be a lot to take in and it seems like nothing is heavily rotated for very long.

    Also (keep in ming I don’t know any technical web page terms), I think the site just generally needs to be cleaned up. When scrolling through the News stories, when you click Read More, you are taken to another page. I like the way Pitchfork has it set up where it the story drops down on the same page.

    The front page of the site has News stories mixed with videos mixed with features mixed with mp3′s…it’s a mess. I really think a cleaner layout would definitely benefit the user experience and get people to sign in and jnoin the discussion.

    • We’re aware of some design mistakes that were made with the new homepage launch. Hope to scale back to something simpler upon Phase 2. Thanks for the feedback.

  6. The homepage should be more spread out with individual sections rather than a cluster of videos, music and news all in one list. Less videos and more music and album reviews.

    The ommision of Kanye from this list is not good but i like the ‘G.R.E.A.T.’ tribute.

    Also, you should make it that if you want to continue reading a post, the information should just drop down from the page you’re on, as opposed to every link taking you to a new page.

    Besides that, the site’s great, keep up the good work!

  7. Seems like every other day there is a post about Weezer or Kayne West.

    I like your video postings of late night performances. I enjoy those. But yeah, I’d like to see more writing and less reblogging.

  8. One of my only gripes is about the site layout, and ryanpunia69 hit the big issues already. I guess simpler would be better. Also, that Photos and Videos column going down the middle of the page is a bummer.

    Content wise, I really like what you guys (and gal) do. I know there’s some debate when it comes to the PE’s, but I’m a fan. I’ve never seen the point of ranking albums against each other or holding them to a numerical scale. So yeah, like someone else said, if you can find the manpower, pump out some more of those.

    As far as is the site’s content too Brooklyn focused, maybe? Most bands covered here I’m into, but the top 40 new bands of 2010 was kinda of a listening disaster. It’s pretty crazy to find 40 good new bands in any given year (let alone six months), but I can’t say I was into the overwhelmingly chill wave/bedroom electronic tone. And I *like* chill wave. I guess a little more folk, little more rock, etc.

    Good call on the Monthly Mix. I’m into that. And I love how you dudes actually encourage and respond to feedback.

  9. i hardly ever/never comment because signing in is such a pain in the arse, but that’s probably just me being a doofus.
    despite this i chimpknuckled my way in here to just say that i have enjoyed jessica’s writing since she turned up. there’s more a slant/angle/something to the posts, it’s good.

    another thumbs up for the monthly mix – had i not discovered Warpaint through stereogum a few days ago i’m sure i would’ve got into ‘em through this.

    as for the galleries – i imagine it’d be a bit of a nightmare to negotiate, but maybe offer up a live bootleg of a couple songs to go with the gig photos…?

  10. Sleigh Bellz kinda sux

  11. Surprised no one has mentioned the ad takeovers. Guys, I know you have bills to pay, but having those takeovers every other day have honestly decreased my visits to the site. I can take it every once in a while, but having the site look like Times Square almost every day was way too much for me.

    Quick notes:
    - I don’t usually participate in PE because it’s quite rare that I even download leaks anymore, but I think it’s a good column. Just keep away from SCORES.
    - Agreed the galleries are usually redundant and a bit of a waste of time.
    - Used to dig the Premieres, but now it’s become too much of a good thing. Feels like a label sponsored post, especially when it involves bands you rarely ever post about.
    - A problem I see with the homepage is repetitive content.
    - Monthly mixtapes sound like a good idea to recap the last month in new music.

    P.S: You guys, forget about stupid Sleigh Bells, get the new Abe Vigoda. Love it!

    • Quick suggestion: how about a “writer’s pick” recap? Videos/Music all of you individually enjoyed the most from the past week. So much can happen in a week. Sometimes it’s difficult to filter the best, if you don’t have a lot of time to invest.

      • That ‘best-of-the-week’ is in the works!

        Re: ad takeovers — largely of my control unfortunately, but I’ve talked to sales about making skins/takeovers less obnoxious. Work in progress, please bear with us.

        Labels don’t sponsor any editorial content, promise. No payola or favor trading ever.

        Thanks for the feedback!

  12. So who is going to make the monthly mixes? Personally I think it would be a lot cooler if you guys switched every month who made the mix (and made it clear who made it) instead of collaborating on one big mix. For me at least the fun in listening to mixes is getting a feel for a single person’s musical taste.

  13. I’m loving that mixes are so in right now, it is my preferred method of ingesting music. I would second the “guest” mixers each month, or maybe some artist mixtapes. Another reliable monthly mix is over at Highly Rec’d, I’ve been discovering a majority of my music from them lately: http://highlyrecd.blogspot.com

    • yeah mixes really add an extra element to finding new music that I like alot. Also I restrained myself in my first post, but its time for a shameless plug!! I have a blog and I post a mix every Tuesday, usually something I’ve made for a friend but sometimes just for myself. If anybody cares to check it out its at http://athid.blogspot.com/

    • yeah mixes by artists would be awesome. Definitely a fan of best of the week. The problem with indie is there is such a wide variety of hyped bands to listen to that it is basically impossible to sort through them all without devoting all your time to it.

  14. Just to respond to your initial post, it doesn’t feel overly brooklyn focussed. That’s probably the most relevant place for music right now and it makes sense that it would be covered disproportionately

  15. I completely disagree with babyastronauts. As much as I enjoy the thorough Brooklyn coverage, there are so many interesting things happening all over the U.S. — and the world. May be difficult to branch outside of the U.S., but I want to hear what’s happening in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles (ESPECIALLY Los Angeles), Texas, etc.

    More focus on diverse types of music would be nice too — maybe that would happen naturally by expanding beyond the Brooklyn indie scene. I love the style of music, but it seems more homogenous each year.

    Let’s get more electronic stuff up there, rock, experimental, etc. I think you guys do a good job of throwing in a curve ball now and then (see: Kanye), but it would be nice to have more.

    I know LA’s music scene isn’t Brooklyn, but it’s pretty damn good and I’ve always wished there were a Stereogum for LA… which means there is probably an open market you guys could swoop in and cover.

  16. Lots of good points brought up, and yeah the recent PE of Sufjan fired up a good discussion (although I think a lot of it stems from OMG A NEW SUFJAN ALBUM)

    But I enjoyed the question about covering Brooklyn bands. Don’t get me (or anybody else) wrong, there are a lot of good Brooklyn bands. Blondes being my favorite this year… but yeah, it’s also fun to find out there is a good band from Florida (Surfer Blood!) or Michigan (SALEM!!).

    A lot of us don’t live in New York, so yeah, take that as you will.

  17. :D THANK YOU. Last summer’s Independence Day Mix was the soundtrack to my summer and I still listen to it when the weather is right.

  18. My list of applause/suggestions/annoyances:

    -The monthly mixes are a great idea, and while we’re at it, thank you for the Best New Bands of 2010 mix too, I definitely appreciated all the hard work in that (even if it was way chillwave focused). It would be awesome if the monthly mix could have the songs presented with the standard ‘gum mp3 player, for those of us too picky to download the whole zip indiscriminately (I have way too much stuff on my computer I don’t listen to, these days I much prefer to stream something and vet it before downloading), and too lazy to click on the link for every post.

    -I do enjoy the photo galleries on occasion, but I’m disliking this trend in the past week or so to only have a sentence or two about a show accompanying the photos. Going back to posting at least a summary of what happened, if not more of a review, would be awesome.

    -The ‘Gum Mix/MP3 & Streams sidebar – So this one probably annoys me the most, because I liked being able to look at a list of songs and hitting play and it playing ALL the songs there. Now when I come to the site and get excited to see in the MP3 & Streams sidebar that Robin Pecknold sang the phone book and recorded it, Peaches just released a Beach House cover, and The Knife has a new experimental opera song about Charles Darwin and The Origin of the Species (oh wait, that happened), I open the ‘Gum Mix and BAM!, none of that’s in there.

    -The Videogum link is a little too hidden these days. Don’t be ashamed of the monsters!

    -Not having to log in to see upvotes/downvotes. This goes quadruply for Videogum.

    • Hey Blackdove24 (IF THAT IS YOUR REAL NAME),
      - We will definitely be improving the Monthly Mix experience, w/ individual track downloads and an RSS at some point. Haven’t decided if it will be a collective decision or the four of us will just switch off weeks.
      - Photo galleries: We can’t review shows we don’t attend! That’s why we’ve invited our West Coast Photo King Andrew Youssef to publish his own photo posts w/ just a few sentences of context (he’s not a writer by trade, but takes the best photos and is an informed gearhead).
      - ‘Gum Mix: It only accepts songs that are MP3 format. We haven’t been able to figure out how to get flash in there yet. One day.
      - We love our monsters. We’re working on a more pronounced link-highlighting widget to Videogum.
      - Will look into the upvotes/downvotes issue, among other things (e.g., cumulative voting ranks?).

      Thanks for reading!

  19. for all those whining about wanting their personal region to receive more coverage on stereogum – asking the site to cover music from a broader selection of cities is fair enough (although by covering brooklyn you already do, in a way, since so many bands move there from all over the country specifically to enjoy its disproportionately vibrant music scene), but i might also suggest that you dig a little deeper into the blogosphere. gorillavsbear, for example, is based in texas, hosts shows there, and covers texas bands. aquarium drunkard is based in LA, hosts shows there, and covers LA bands. and so on. it’s not possible for one website to be everything to everyone, and when they try (see: pitchfork) there’s a tendency to sacrifice a cohesive aesthetic for diversity.

  20. One thing I miss is the playlist you had on the right hand side.

    “The Heavy Rotation can be a lot to take in and it seems like nothing is heavily rotated for very long.”

    This is also very true.

  21. Just wanted to put in my two-bits, being a stereogum follower.

    I also prefer reviews without ratings (as stated before, doesn’t mean you don’t have to have an opinion) but I like the review to be less concrete in it’s rating.
    this leads to my love/hate relationship with rated lists. sure it’s fun to see whats on there, but the following comments are obnoxious as hell.

    speaking of mixtapes, what about user-featured mixtapes once ‘n a while? maybe? could be a dumb idea. there aren’t any bad ideas in brainstorming, right? sure.

    seems like my other points have also been covered, including a cleaner front page, with Hierarchy!

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