Low Ebb

  1. Alex Under, “El Ordenador Personal” (Areal).
  2. Metope, “33” (Trapez).
  3. DJ Koze, “My Grandmotha” (Kompakt).
  4. The MFA, “The Difference It Makes (Superpitcher Remix)” (Kompakt).
  5. Nôze, “La Cantiniere” (Circus Company, France).
  6. Nortec Collective, “Dandy del Sur” (Nacional).
  7. “Louis Armstrong,” “Oops I Did It Again!: The Original” (www.supermasterpiece.com).
  8. Charles Mingus, “Scenes in the City” (Shout! Factory; originally released 1957).
  9. Robert Glasper, “Rise and Shine” (Blue Note).
  10. Gold Sounds, “Trigger Cut” (Brown Brothers).
  11. Dave Douglas, “A Noise From the Deep” (Greenleaf).
  12. Vijay Iyer, “Song for Midwood” (Savoy Jazz).

Though an older friend assured me over the phone that 1975, the year I was born, was worse, I’ll adjust for inflation and claim 2005 as the worst year for pop music I’ve yet lived through. That doesn’t mean coming up with a full CD’s worth of good music every three weeks has necessarily been difficult; it just means that there’s so much to sift through you’re bound to find something. I’m probably lenient, and it’s helped that a lot of the tracks I’ve liked this year have run long. That’s certainly the case with this mix, which is split between techno and jazz, a pair of genres where six-minute-plus tracks are the norm. (There’s one ringer, which I’ll get to.) It’s also not a coincidence that I’ve been listening to more of both than usual, partly because so much else has been so thin.

When I realized the shape this one would take, I had planned to plead that it was a coincidence that I was including so much jazz on a mix that runs the week the Earshot Jazz Festival begins (see www.earshot.org). But that was a while ago, and now there’s no use in denying collusion, particularly considering that I included two performers, Dave Douglas and Robert Glasper, who both play the event this week. I doubt I’ll ever attain any serious level of expertise on the stuff, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love it, and given how often I’ve left jazz cuts off previous CD-Rs for not quite fitting whatever mood seemed to be emerging from the bulk of my choices, putting them all in one place feels like a mild dam break. The same goes with the techno, which tends to sound best on these things either surrounded by its fellows or as a sharp left turn among other sharp lefts. (That might have something to do with the handful of episodes of Peel Out in the States—BBC legend John Peel’s half-hour program for U.S. college radio from 1993—that I’ve been gorging on the past few months, where scratchy indie follows early Aphex Twin and Hardfloor follows African guitar stuff. Wow—no wonder the guy was so revered.)

The ringer here has his/its credit as well as title in quotes for a reason. Vocalist Shek Baker, trumpeter Kurt Stockdale, writer Chris Messick, and artist Stephen Levinson are the supergeniuses behind the Web site Supermasterpiece’s “original 1932 version” of Britney Spears’ “Oops I Did It Again!” It is, of course, entirely ridiculous—the ad-libbed references to the Lindbergh baby at the end, for instance. But it’s as much fun as either Britney’s original or Richard Thompson’s 2003 version—and way more so than anything the late-’90s swing revival had to offer. Eat your heart out, Squirrel Nut Zippers.