Another year another...

2 hours and 18 minutes of music from 2023 that I liked

Mid-January seems to be about when I usually get my act together enough to finalize my “end of year” mix. That’s a little late compared to the holiday cards, ‘best of’ lists, and everything else that gets produced to acknowledge that another year has passed.

It’s not that I don’t start the process early enough, and it’s not like I don’t have a deadline... it’s just that the timing of it, the expectation that it “should” be delivered before the end of the year, feels so arbitrary. Who made these rules?? And why do I have to follow them?

(This is where B would interject with something like “… that’s so Scorpio of you!” and we would laugh and acknowledge that I don’t like following other people’s rules)

I continue to enjoy my tradition of using my music journal to reflecting back on the year. Sometimes it’s the music itself that tells a very clear story, one where specific songs reminds me of specific moments moments from the past year. Sometimes it’s not so much the music itself but the process of putting the mix together itself that helps me reconnect on the last 365-ish days.

I’d say that this year, it fell somewhere in-between those two ends. I do have a very strong connection to a few of the songs (hello Fred Again.. at a Lolla afterparty), but not as many as I’ve felt in the past. And the process this year, of aligning all of this music into something coherent, pushed me harder than it has in the past.

Last year’s mix clocked in well over 3 hours long. This year’s is at least 25% shorter: 2 hours and half an episode of Superstore. I’m honestly very proud of this mix, especially on a technical level. It feels smooth, coherent, engaging, and just overall fun to listen to. I think you’ll hear actual improvement in my technique, or at least I hope you do.

Who makes the rules?

Ok, as you know, each year I set out to put together 50 songs that I really liked that were released in that year. I try to keep it to 50, and I try to only include each artist once. These are the rules that I follow, the guidelines, the creative brief. Usually they give me plenty of space to play in, but this year I found myself mad about these rules. Big mad. Or at least big frustrated. They’re so arbitrary! How am I supposed to pick just ONE song from albums that I listened to so many times? What if I have more than 50 songs that I liked? Or what if I there weren’t even 50 that fit the bill?

I know this sounds pedantic, but I can connect the dots here if you just give me a second.

Ever since I entered into adulthood, I think that I’ve pretty much played by the rules. I sometimes try to present myself as anti-authoritarian, but I’ve come to understand that underneath that, I am someone who is very afraid of doing the wrong thing, everyone getting mad, and abandoning me. This was at the center of most of my therapy sessions this year, unpacking this fear that if I don’t do everything just right then I’ll eventually die a horrible death, alone and defenseless. (Ok, that’s a bit extreme but hopefully you get the idea)

The learning, or unlearning, or re-learning, of this year has been that I can make my own rules. And, inside that, I can also break my own rules. I make the rules, I can remake the rules, and I can do it as many times as I like. How liberating, am I right?

So this year I broke my own rules with this mix. You won’t even notice, but I sure did, trust me. Here’s the deal: There are only 48 tracks! (the crowd gasps) There are multiple tracks from the same artist, from the same album even! (the crowd screams in horror) I edited some of the tracks! (the loud sobbing from the audience is deafening) That’s right, I disgraced them and cut them up to rearranged them so they would work better where I had them in the mix. (everyone faints in disgust)

Listen, there was a moment, maybe halfway into making this, where I straight up decided I just wasn’t going to make a mix this year. I had been listening to the 50 songs that I had picked out and added to a playlist, desperately trying to figure out their order… and I just wasn’t feeling them. Some of the tracks were just not strong enough.;I didn’t connect with them. Nothing was flowing right. Everything felt off. And there was no snow on the ground outside, so why bother, right?

But I’m really happy that I threw (again, entirely pedantic here) caution to the wind and pushed through, because this turned out great.

(Almost 50) Great tracks from 2023

Chapter 1

The start of the year was as steady as life can get, I think. We celebrated B’s birthday with visit from her sister, an epic murder mystery party, and a fantastic dinner. I broke my own rules and fired a gun for the first time (and kinda liked it). We went to Massachusetts to hang in Boston and see some family (including a house-pig named Sophie). We celebrated my mom’s 70th. And we lost our beloved Prius to our neighbor’s tree.

This is one of two Sophie’s in my family

My form and aim were terrible

Yes, there is a Prius under there

  • COPY COPY (Logic1000 & Big Ever Remix) – Moderat

  • Baby again.. – Fred again.., Skrillex & Four Tet

  • Set The Roof – Hudson Mohawke & Nikki Nair

  • Big Hammer – James Blake

  • Ñañaras – Loe

  • Masterplan – Cinthie

  • In Ha Mood – Ice Spice

  • Diario – Waleed

  • New Bottega – Torren Foot & Azealia Banks

  • Gimme That Bounce – Mau P

  • Who Let Him In – Obongjayar

  • Catch Your Breath – Icarus

  • Fall Back – James Blake

Chapter 2

The big project of the year was the complete gutting and remodel of our kitchen. As the weather warmed up, we started picking finishes (black granite counters, black stone sink, black faucet, black radiator…). But I also went to Las Vegas for the first time, where I very drunkenly walked almost the entire strip to get back to my hotel from a work conference after party, having a great time getting extremely lost, finding a bustling courtyard at 2am with a Pizza window, and eventually making it back to where I needed to be. We did our best to celebrate MayDay, my dad’s 73rd birthday, and we moved most of our life into our living room to make way for construction. I also went to Seattle twice, played paintball for the first time (also liked it) and bought a suit so that I could look presentable at a friend’s wedding.

This was (is?) our kitchen

MayDay 2023!

B is the happiest when she has bluefin tuna

  • Shiver (Ivory Remix) – Fever Ray

  • Talking Like That – Le Youth & EMME

  • Carry Me Higher (Elite Mix) [10 Inch Version] – The Blessed Madonna, Joy Anonymous & Danielle Ponder

  • Sossaup – KAYTRAMINÉ (Aminé + KAYTRANADA) & Amaarae

  • Summer Ghost – Otik

  • Lovin On Me – Jack Harlow

  • You Wish – Flyana Boss

  • JOY (404) – Joy Anonymous

  • Mesolithic Jungle – µ-Ziq

Chapter 3

Mid-year was a blur. The kitchen came together slower than we had hoped. The summer was hot and dry. We went to Lollapalooza (B’s first music festival), to friend’s cabins, and it hailed in August (thus totaling our second car of the year). I went back to Seattle again. We went to the State Fair to see The Chix (and eat corn, pronto pups, etc), and I started building a new fence for our yard.

This is (was?) our kitchen.

Summer sunsets, amirite?

I only have blurry photos of Lollapalooza, but at least we have matching braids.

  • U Fool – Azzecca

  • Rich Baby Daddy (feat. Sexyy Red & SZA) – Drake

  • Contrast – John Tejada & Nosaj Thing

  • Blow Out – Overmono

  • Like Home – Love Remain

  • ✨ mum is calling ✨ – Two Shell

  • Now U Do – DJ Seinfeld & Confidence Man

  • Simply Won't Do – Disclosure

  • Installation – Pangaea

  • No Trip – Galcher Lustwerk

  • In your Mind – Tim Hecker

  • Stereoscopic Dive – Max Cooper

Chapter 4

By the end of the year, everything was rushing to get finished before winter (or at least what we expected to be winter) set in. Our kitchen was finally done and it is (was?) spectacular. I went to Seattle (again, again) to meet most of my work team in person for the first time. I changed my anti-depressants to try and bring my energy levels back up. We drove through Texas for (what felt like) an entire week. My friend had an adorable baby. I finished the fence project. It was over 50° F at least five different times in December. But we hosted and celebrated New Years Eve anyway and spent time with a bunch of our close friends.

The mostly final product

We froze our butts off in Marfa, TX

This was his first baby

  • Woke Up and Asked Siri How I'm Gonna Die (feat. JPEGMAFIA) – Armand Hammer

  • leavemealone – Fred again.. & Baby Keem

  • Upside Down – Kanobie & tominthechamber

  • Vertebrae / Forgotten Places – Max Cooper & Kathrin deBoer

  • Temperament 23 – Matrix

  • Baddadan (feat. IRah, Flowdan, Trigga & Takura) – Chase & Status & Bou

  • Talk To Me Nice – Tinashe

  • Déjà Vu (feat. RiTchie) – Loraine James

  • Vajkoczy – Sofia Kourtesis

  • adore u – Fred again.. & Obongjayar

  • Defrost My Heart (feat. Victoria Rae) – Justin Martin

  • To The God Named Dream – Nathan Micay

  • Listen To the Wind – Icarus

  • Tell Me – James Blake

Bonus tracks

I couldn’t make these two songs work in the mix, but they’re both great and got a lot of listens from me.

  • Two Tens (feat. Anderson .Paak) – Cordae (YouTube)

  • Back On 74 – Jungle (YouTube)

Some how Carter didn’t make it into any of the other photos so here he is


Will this newsletter never end???? Some days, it feels like the internet is falling apart. I mean, most days it feels like the world is falling apart. And yet here are, still, moving ahead with our fingers crossed hoping that we’ll make it out to the other side. I’ll stop myself before sinking too deep into this pit of nihilism.

But I wanted to mention a few things:

  • I continue to have the privilege of good health, a good job, a house, a loving partner, a decent family, access to food, and plenty of other resources that other people do not. Some days I’m thankful for it, other days I feel burdened that not everyone is able to live this way.

  • The cover art is a photo of B’s niece, jumping with abandon in the late afternoon Texas sun.

  • I migrated this newsletter off of Substack, and onto Beehiiv. This isn’t really important to most people, and I hope you didn’t notice a difference. Activism through capitalism is fucked and I make no money from this newsletter anyway, but still. I gotta try something sometimes, right?

  • Kinda related, but I still think Spotify sucks for what it is doing to distributed audio (because now they’re fucking up podcasts in addition to streaming music). Like, deciding that they just won’t compensate artists if they don’t have enough streams? Get royally bent. I’ve argued with plenty of people about this, and I know Apple, Tidal, and streaming in general is not much better, but at least other services don’t seem as actively hostile towards artists? So this year I’m just not going to bother porting my playlist to Spotify. Sorry if this impacts you negatively, we can talk about it if you want to. I did purchase each track included in this mix, prioritizing Bandcamp where possible.

  • There is war happening all over the world right now. Some we talk about daily, some we ignore. I don’t know what to do about it, but most days I wish for more peace and more listening and more compromise and more love and more compassion in this world.

Welp, ending on a low note. Classic Scorpio!! Ok see you again next year.