What is this?
Another year has passed and, as tradition would have it, I’ve collected some tracks for my annual Mixtape.
Significant music from the course of the year is curated into a playlist and shared with friends. Some of it may be new, some old, I might have been to a gig, missed a gig, seen a film, heard something on the radio, or I have a special memory associated with a song. The Mix is almost always eclectic and although not all of it will be to your taste, you might just find something you like.
I design a cover and annotate each choice of track. As with any form of diary, sometimes it only makes sense to me.
My year of 2018
The year had barely begun when I was off on the first adventure - to run the elusive Tokyo Marathon. Japan was everything and more; I experienced some momentous art and culture.
Running injury woes continued, but it was an honour to have Roland next to me in Tokyo for a wild Minnie blast. Soon after, I completed the 6 Star World Majors in London with Brother Lenny.
This was all in the build-up to multiple celebrations of a landmark birthday with loved ones culminating with the spectacular event at Chateau Lalande in France, expertly organised by Sophie.
Some of 2018's highlights include:
The Breeders, Thom Yorke, my first big cycle rides (jumping in the deep end with 300km in 2 days followed by the RideLondon 100miler), Rostam, a wonderful trip to Rome, seeing far-flung mates (Dave, Marie, Smithers, Ali, The Kidster, The Haupt-Bentley’s, Brendy Boy), watching classic films on archival reel, (mini) FyshFest, Somerset House Summer Screen, running alongside Captain Rolux for the last 40km of his South Downs 100 miler, NOS Alive in Lisbon (Pearl Jam, CYHSY, NIN, Arctic Monkeys, Future Islands, Bryan Ferry, Eels, Perfume Genius), Pearl Jam AGAIN, and The Room with... my best friend.
Life was a pleasant whirlwind and I eventually threw an “up yours” to social expectations: I declared a rat race time-out and booked a 6-month adventure of travel through South America.
The journey has been filled with music, some featured on this mixtape.
But here I am, in a world of new experience, publishing my mixtape on-the-go. Some people say I’m lucky to be doing this. It’s not true.
Just choose your boxes.
How do I get it?
The mixtape exists as a Spotify playlist , CD, or digital download (only friends with my contact details can request the last two formats).
You can listen to the Mixtape from the button below:
01. All the Boxes
Sometimes it's good to jump the hell out the box. 2018 was the time.
Bills. Bills. Bills. Celebrating the reality of being caught up in the rat race, this infectious foot-tapper gave me great pleasure to listen when on the plane out of Normsville.
03. You Push I'll Go (feat. Alex Sanchez)
Baby Dayliner, ALex Sanchez
Rolan Bohn dancing in his underwear in our Keio Plaza Hotel suite with the city light views of Tokyo in the background. "Mickey anda Minnie!"
04. Middle America
Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks
Stephen Malkmus of Pavement, back with an excellent album. "Captured in a mason jar..."
Off-kilter melodies that are strangely addictive - somehow the Dirty Projectors have narrowly escaped the cut of previous mixtape editions. Not this year.
06. Paris 1919
Rolling Stone said of Cale's 1973 recording: "one of the most ambitious albums ever released under the name of 'pop'". This orchestral masterpiece references the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, an event that established a new partitioning of Europe and arguably led to the emergence of the 2nd World War.
07. Streets Been Talkin'
Although I was never a big fan of Bloc Party, the lead singer's solo track is beautifully vulnerable and captures a piece of London for me.
08. Hit the North Part 1
Growing up in South Africa, The Fall is a legendary post-punk band that didn't reach my ears. This changed since living in London, learning they were one of John Peel's favourites. Lead singer, Mark E Smith, died at the start of the year, so here is one of the greatest songs ever.
09. Nervous Mary
Back with an album as good as their best, I finally got to see Kim and her sister play live with the Milkmaid. They surpassed my expectations.
10. Yo! MY SAINT
Karen O, Michael Kiwanuka
Karen O returned with this short film soundtrack collaboration. It has all the ingredients that make me love her.
First Aid Kit
A most beautiful love ballad from the Swedish sisters. Goosebumps.
Ra Ra Riot, Rostam
Rostam has been one of my mixtape regulars. This time he produces and leaves his unique stamp on this Ra Ra Riot track.
13. The One to Wait
One of my tracks of the year - when I first heard it I thought it was a collaboration with The Cure.
14. Cute Thing
Car Seat Headrest
This band is growing from strength to strength and I'm happy to have been featuring them in previous years.
"Oh god, Give me Frank Ocean's voice, and James Brown's stage presence, I will be your rock god when you're rolling the dice."
15. I Can't Quit
A straight-up unfussy thumper that's been on the running headphones when I've needed a push. Somehow I've not been able to see them live yet.
Raw and unadulterated punk with an irrefutable Aussie flavour. I fucking love this song and so does Morkel. WHAT TIME IS IT?
17. Maryanne Was Quiet
A macabre narrative with a bizarre resolve. Certainly not one that he thought would be a money spinner. Issues, bru.
Nick Cave has come back into my life in many ways including Peaky Blinders. This is delightful in so many ways but mostly for the rich alliteration in the lyrics.
19. Troublemaker Doppelgänger
The bluesy swagger is strong with this one and slow build-ups are like aural crack for me.
20. Lay My Love
Brian Eno, John Cale
I tried to convince myself not to include another Eno/Cale track for the third year in a row. Genius and addiction won.
21. Bells & Circles
Underworld, Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop has been on my airwaves on BBC6 Music for a few years now as a pop icon and delightful fountain of eclectic music knowledge. This Underworld collaboration seems to capture the man in all his glory, reminiscing of sex drugs and rock n' roll.
22. Work My Mind
Cut Chemist, Chali 2na, Hymnal
Cut Chemist return with a belter.
23. Captive of the Sun
Parquet Courts, Bun B
It's difficult to box these guys within a genre and that's quite something. There are parts of this song that remind me of Mickey Avalon and some of Cake. The energy is undenaible and makes it a winner.
24. I'm Straight
The Modern Lovers
I've discovered the music of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers in the last couple of years. You can hear how much of this Velvet-Underground-influenced 70's sound was the precursor to so much later indie and alternative music. Members of the band went on to The Cars and Talking Heads. Enjoy the idiosyncrasy and go explore more, Hippy Johnny...
25. Ben Franklin's Song
Lin-Manuel Miranda originally wrote the song for his hit musical, "Hamilton" but discarded it after he couldn’t figure out how to implement the scene. He then reached out to Colin Meloy in 2016, asking if the Decemberists (one of my faves) could record their own version of the track. A triumphant, expletive-laced folk-rock historic chronicle!
26. Walking in a Straight Line
Bluesey electro folk - on the road to cleaning up his act.
27. A Violent Yet Flammable World
Au Revoir Simone
The long-awaited return of Twin Peaks finally arrived and Lynch's twisted tales have captivated me once again. As much as any part, the musically indulgent end-scenes featuring some of his favourite artists have been wonderful. Au Revoir Simone appear more than once, so you know how Lynchian they must be.
28. Pull the Wires from the Wall
I've always had a soft spot for the Scottish band, named after the Tour de France winning cyclist, Pedro Delgado. This sweet track that marked their first hit single is recorded from a John Peel live session and reminds me why.
29. Yellow Ledbetter
I managed to see my heroes twice this year - first at NOS Alive in Lisbon and secondly at the O2 Arena. When an ageing rock band are able to light up a youthful music festival with no more frills than warm chat and good music, you know you're dealing with greats. Eddie Vedder continues to amaze me with his humility and human connection. Thank you Tor, for the extra London ticket.
30. I'm the Boss
Stanley Brinks, Freschard
I discovered Stanley Brinks (previously Herman Dune) a few ago and have loved his anti-pop ever since. His latest album with Freschard is one of the best of the year. "I'm the Boss" highlights their whimsical dynamic and manages to be culturally relevant.
Swet Shop Boys
Swet Shop Boys is an Indian-American/British-Pakistani hip hop group, consisting rappers Heems and Riz MC - Riz Ahmed being the actor who starred in some big films, including Star Wars Rogue One. When I first heard this track I had no idea of the context and thought it was a total piss-take. The lyrics contrast the traditional approach of hip hop one-upmanship bravado against the uncool intellectualism of birdwatching. Their comedy and lyrical genius that somehow manages to maintain credible hip hop status. Just wow.
An unashamed pop song that’s been getting a lot of radio airtime. Lizzo pays tribute to Prince in various ways.
33. In My View
We got to see them again, this time at the Roundhouse. Their live performance energy is next-level.
34. Wait by the River
I can't help but imagine teenage sweethearts slow dancing to this at their school ball in the 1950's. Beautiful.
35. Oom Sha La La
From one timeless sound to another. But there's something darker here - Heynderickx lets her vocals loose to reveal anger beyond the sweet doo-wops.
36. Danny Nedelko
Pure British punk rock. Idles directly criticise the rise of right-wing nationalism, singing about a close Ukranian friend of the band and celebrating immigration in this ass-kicking track.
37. Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!
Art Brut are back with their self deprecating piss-take delights, transporting you back to dirty house parties of your youth. "Your girlfriends, we're gonna steal them!"
38. Running The World
Thanks to Jon D, I was treated to Jarvis performing in a tiny, intimate venue in Hackney. He sang this with gusto - so appropriate for the current state of leadership in our world.
39. Three Lions
Baddiel, Skinner & Lightning Seeds
Being a South African with a Scottish Dad, the England football team has alway been too hard to support. However, going into the World Cup with a young and (for once!) an un-hyped team there was a completely different attitude in the country. Three Lions got a new lease of life in a giddy tongue-in-cheek meme fest. It was lovely to be part of.
40. One Point Perspective
I've only ever enjoyed a handful of Monkeys songs but I was suitably impressed by their suave performance at NOS Alive. This great track sums it up.
41. The Truth
Handsome Boy Modelling School, Roisin Murphy
I somehow missed this collaboration when it was released in 1999 but what a shmoozy masterpiece, elevating Roisin Murphy's sultry vocals to marvellous heights.
42. Two Sleepy People
Sometimes you just need something from a golden era.
43. This is America
This is America managed to disrupt in so many ways, but it's the depth of symbolism in the music video that blew me away. Pure artistry.
44. Everything Connected
For a genre that I don't have much affinity for, Jon Hopkins manages to connect for me. As described in a Pitchfork review, “Everything Connected,” is an imposing 10-minute techno odyssey, and as close as the genre has gotten to a blockbuster moment.
45. How Did I Get Through the Day?
Har Mar Superstar
After featuring tracks from this album in previous years, I tried to convince myself that this retro love song shouldn't make the cut. It is just too good to leave out.
46. What's On Your Mind?
This sprung from one of those wonderful gifts of connection on social media.
47. Hello, Laura (feat. Father John Misty)
Gambles, Father John Misty
A touch of Leonard Cohen in this acoustic love song, which clearly has some production sounds of Father John Misty.
48. The Deconstruction
Signature Mark Everett melancholic surrealism with a earworm hook, on this single from the new album. It was so good to see them play this at NOS Alive.
One of my favourite bands released an album that see them back at their best. Living in Extraordinary Times is my Album of the Year and this track is pure magnificance!
50. Shimmy Shimmy Ya
Ol' Dirty Bastard
Old Skool Wu Tang. YES PLEASE!
51. Born a Worm
I'm a big fan of musical oddities. He makes a damn good point about the profundity of this crazy world.
52. Need a Little Time
It's unbelievable how this singer songwriter has thrust herself on the music world in the last few years. Her unfussy lyrics and subject matter are a great antidote to so much bullshit in pop music. Also, I needed a little time-out this year.
53. A Million Years
Ebert has an unbelievable ability to make small songs that radiate good vibes and feel BIG. We all need a bit of that in our lives.
54. A Perfect Circle
So tender. So Beautiful. Starting so simply and building up to a wonderful crescendo.
Another epic crescendo from this prolific Scottish artist, deftly including the bagpipes - reminding me of growing up and being surrounded by those sounds on most big occasions.
56. Seasonal Hero
Heart-wrenching from the opening dialogue.
Layer upon layer of sound and silence. Bravo.
58. A Perfect Miracle
Having studied The Mission at school, this soundtrack is part of my foundation. With the anticipation of bus journeys through the Andes and boat rides in the Amazon, I put this on my playlist on my South America trip. Whenever it has played, my world has transformed into a cinematic masterpiece and the goosebumps, uncontrollable.
59. The Sad Song
This was as a Youtube hit in 2004 (on last count it had 898k views, which shows how Youtube has grown since then) but I only discovered this hauntingly beautiful track this year, and now you can too.