Monday, December 31, 2012

Something Raw: Choice Cuts Volume 11


In no particular order, I've selected the favorite tracks from 2012's monthly playlists for our eleventh annual Choice Cuts end-of-year mix.

1. The Only Place--Best Coast

We kick off this year's playlist with a track that asks what Angelenos frequently say to out-of-towners. "Why would you live anywhere else?" demands Best Coast's Bethany Cosentino. The Los Angeles-based surf-pop band asks a good question. "We've got the ocean, got the babes. Got the sun, we've got the waves. This is the only place for me." Sold.

2. Explosions--Coco Morier

An explosion of groove at the start of Coco Morier's "Explosions" makes this track a keeper. It will get you dancing, guaranteed.

3. Beta Love--Ra Ra Riot

A late entry to this year's playlist, "Beta Love" is a bit bubblegum-y, but with a synth hook and falsetto chorus that's addictive. The kids love the robot references. Win-win.

4. That's Still Mama--Cody ChesnuTT

Forget Mr. T's "Treat Yo Mama Right." Cody Chesnutt has a new anthem for Mother's Day, a slick 1960s-style jam. Others have called him a "modern-day Curtis Mayfield," and that shines on this track. Above, an acoustic version of the song, performed at Seattle's KEXP. Listen to the regular version below.

More tomorrow!

5. Marathon Runner -- Yellow Ostrich

From New York's Yellow Ostrich comes a nice slightly mellow piece of indie rock. "Marathon Runner," a personal track from Yellow Ostrich's Alex Schaaf, is all about chasing something, even though you're not quite sure what it is.

6. Sweet Life -- Frank Ocean

It was Frank Ocean's breakthrough year, and I could have put one of several songs here. But perhaps I was brought in here by Ocean's description of the sweet life in L.A., and its references like "Ladera Heights -- the Black Beverly Hills."

7. Santa Fe -- Beirut

Technically from late 2011, this Beirut tune almost didn't make my best of 2012 list. But I didn't really start listening to this song until this year, and it's just too damn catchy not to include.

8. Here Again -- Quantic & Alice Russell

That groove! That voice! Those drums. That flute! Another near-perfect Latin soul groove from Quantic & Alice Russell with the Combo Bárbaro.

9. Your Drums, Your Love -- AlunaGeorge

Great video, great song. Triumphant chorus, coupled with that cool "Your drums" sample.

10. Anna Sun (Fool's Gold Remix) -- Walk The Moon

You've heard the original version on radio, but I prefer this brooding, melancholic version of Walk The Moon's "Anna Sun," as remixed by Fool's Gold.

11. Queen Of The City -- Joshua James

Don't let the creepy video distract you. A gem from Joshua James off his album "Willamette Mountain," this song ought to be better known.

12. Leave The Lights On (The Crystal Method Remix) -- Meiko

The Crystal Method turns Meiko's already urgent and anxious "Leave the Lights On" into an even more haunting groove.

13. Constant Conservations (St. Lucia Remix) -- Passion Pit

I liked the Passion Pit track "Take A Walk," but it's now being heard everywhere, and I can see where it might get old fast. This St. Lucia remix of "Constant Conversations" brings the tempo of the original down a bit, allowing for a more haunting, yet anthemic, quality.

14. Losing You -- Solange

Apologies, Beyonce, but Solange may be fast becoming my favorite Knowles sister. Watching her energetically perform in various South African street scenes makes for a fantastic video, and pairs nicely with the unexpected sounds of "Losing You."

15. High For This -- Ellie Goulding

I could have picked a number of Ellie Goulding tracks for my end-of-year collection, with "My Blood" a close second. But there's something about Goulding's cover of The Weeknd's "High For This" that convinced me to go this route.

16. Trip -- Vacationer

Vacationer had me the second "Trip" opens with that Martin Denny, "Exotica"-like riff. Quick, dark song that makes me want to, well, take a trip.

17. Born To -- Jesca Hoop

For once I agree with the comments on a YouTube video post. "Her voice is powerful and sensitive at the same time," one writes. Another: "I'd love to just spend one day with jesca hoop having a nice chat drinking a coffee." And another: "Can everybody else just stop making music? This is all I ever need."

18. Who Do You Like? -- Joywave

The "Live at the Strasenburgh Planetarium" version of Joywave's "Who Do You Like?" is a pretty faithful rendition of the recording. From their 2012 EP "Koda Vista," a nice slice of 80s-inspired pop. Criminal that this song isn't better known.

19. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (Arcade Fire Cover) -- Meklit Hadero & Quinn DeVeaux

I could listen to Meklit and Quinn's quiet cover of Arcade Fire's "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" over and over again. As a matter of fact, I do. And I never get tired of it.

20. Warrior -- Mark Foster + A-Trak + Kimbra

OK, so I wasn't about to put "Someone I Used To Know" on this end-of-year roundup -- I figure we've all heard that song enough for a lifetime. But here's nonetheless your dose of Kimbra, along with Foster the People's Mark Foster and DJ A-Trak. And OK, so this song comes out of Converse's "3 Artists, 1 Song" promotion -- but other than a few glimpses of Converse shoes in the video, it's not all intrusive. It's just a catchy jam. Don't overthink it!

21. Not Giving In -- Rudimental ft. John Newman & Alex Clare

Alex Clare dominated the charts this year with "Too Close" (thanks to that ubiquitous Microsoft commercial), yet his collaboration here with Rudimental and John Newman is much more powerful. Perhaps it's because of this video, a "Slumdog Millionaire"-like tale that's based on a true story about b-boy star "Mouse's" rags-to-riches experience and shot on location outside Manila. Read more about the video here.

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