The 2004 Essential Collection….according to me.

Every year, a group of my girlfriends get together to exchange Christmas gifts, drink too much wine and get up to no good. Last year, in a burst of musical creativity, I created a boxed set for each of them - 4 CDs that reflected music of the music, of course. In the end, about 80 tracks on four distinct albums, with the artwork derived from photographs I had taken over the year. It was a hit.

This year, I was at a loss for both ideas and time. I wasn't going to do CDs again. Then I won a contest*, and was told that "you better be making those damned cds again this year because we're still talking about the last ones" and so it was.

I'm actually kind of happy with how these turned-out, mix-wise. Artwork wise, I'm happy with everything on my computer, but I managed to kill three printers in the process of making these things (I'm sure they were already sick....really). The first insert I printed was gorgeous in its smooth, full-colour beauty. The second, not so much, the third, well, black and white. And so on.

The coolest part about this year's mix is that as much as I hated the printed inserts, once I stuck them in the jewelboxes, they looked pretty anyway. It's like they've got some sort of fairy dust in them.


I decided not to publish a list of my "favourites" this year, but I will publish these tracklists (this years album was a 2-disc set), so you can get a feel for what my "essentials" were for the past 12 months.

*note: placing third and only so on the virtue of being a humongous suckup still counts as winning

Disc One:

  1. Let Go - Frou Frou
  2. Tech Romance - Her Space Holiday
  3. A Lie Told Before Breakfast - As The Poets Affirm
  4. The Curse Of Great Beauty - Clem Snide
  5. Party of One - Peter Elkas
  6. Soft Revolution - Stars
  7. Scent of Lime - The Long Winters
  8. Wet Blanket - Metric
  9. Lover's Spit - Broken Social Scene
  10. Tristan and Iseult - Tarkio
  11. Run - Snow Patrol
  12. Over The Pond - The Album Leaf
  13. Timothy - JET
  14. Counting Down the Hours - Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
  15. The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. 1 - Neutral Milk Hotel
  16. You Got Me All Wrong - dios (these guys are nice, and their merch guy? Friendliest guy I've ever met in a bar in new york)
  17. Weightlifting - The Trash Can Sinatras
  18. Everything I Try To Do, Nothing Seems To Turn Out Right - The Decemberists

Disc Two:

  1. Such Great Heights - The Postal Service
  2. Rebellion (Lies) - The Arcade Fire (not my favourite stuff, but this was included upon request)
  3. I'm Not In Love - Olive
  4. Afraid Not Scared - Ryan Adams
  5. A Distorted Reality Is Now A Necessity To Be Free - Elliott Smith
  6. Ella - Young and Sexy
  7. Harry at The MOMA - Blanket Music
  8. For Anyone Eighteen - Memphis
  9. Inside Of Love - Nada Surf
  10. Reconstruction Site - The Weakerthans
  11. Recovered Now - South
  12. Black Hole - Benjamin Wagner
  13. Shatterday - Vendetta Red
  14. This Is How It Goes - Aimee Mann
  15. Talking To A Brick Wall - The Cooper Temple Clause
  16. Afternoon - Eleni Mandell
  17. The Thing About Distance - Kind of Like Spitting
  18. Underneath The Weeping Willow - Grandaddy

The Stuff I left Out, but might have included had their been enough disc space:

  1. Monday Afternoon - Hurricane #1
  2. Twenty-Five Candles - Ben (this is mostly sentimentality, but a late-night mopey listen, too)
  3. Tattva - Kula Shaker
  4. Back Home Weather - Matt Mays (at first, I bought this only because I grew up with him. Then I liked it)

Ask nicely...and I'll send you a copy of this mix, though maybe without the craptacular "I killed the printer" inserts, or maybe with. It'll be a surprise....