Another rather more self-indulgent custom is the making of the annual 'Ant & Ro' CD - a compilation of our favourite and significant music from the year, usually dominated by bands we've seen live. These are distributed to friends and family who visit over the festive period and sometimes posted to other musically minded comrades.
As our tastes have grown more and more eclectic over the years, it's become trickier to compile a fluent mixtape of accessible music. Whilst my motivation is to share cool new discoveries and inspire musical exploration, I appreciate that not everyone cares as much as I do for the more esoteric Freakzone-ish end of the listening spectrum.
A couple of days ago I started thinking about this year's mix and jotting down some ideas for what might go into it. The hardest part has been whittling it down to just one CD's worth of tunes, from what has been an outstanding twelve months of musical enlightenment; what with four festivals and plenty of local gigs in between, my musical cup literally floweth over with bands that I want to shout about.
The other difficulty is actually tracking down recorded versions of unsigned material, which usually involves various emails to band members and ordering homemade CDs recorded in bedrooms and sold from dubious looking websites, hoping that they'll materialise. But this is all part of the ritual, and gradually the mixtape has started to take shape. It's not 100% finished yet, but what with the impending festive frivolities, I may not get another chance to share my annual compilation here.
The above YouTube playlist contains all the tracks that I could find in a reasonable format, but by the nature of the platform is of varying quality. Below is a complete tracklisting with download links and an Amazon preview widget that lets you listen to snippets from each song (if you want to hear more, go to the band website). The only one missing from the widget (because it's not available from Amazon) is Quack Quack, which I strongly recommend you listen to here (but only if you are into rambling energetic contemporary prog).
Ant & Ro 2009
1) Charlie Darwin by The Low Anthem from the album Oh My God Charlie Darwin
2) There is No Light by Wildbirds & Peacedrums from the album The Snake
3) Purée Hiphop by GaBlé from the album 7 Guitars with a Cloud of Milk
4) I Always Hang Myself with the Same Rope by Birdeatsbaby from the album Here She Comes-a-Tumblin'
5) Stone in my Shoe by Boo Hewerdine from the album Toybox no.2
6) The Wanting Comes In Waves/Repaid by The Decemberists from the album The Hazards Of Love
7) No Flies On Me (Ballad Of The Jam Head) by The Witch And The Robot from the album On Safari
8) Black Tambourine by Thomas Truax from the album Songs From The Films Of David Lynch
9) Kathy Ray by Joe Gideon & the Shark from the album Harum Scarum
10) Beggar's Prayer by Emilana Torrini from the album Me and Armini
11) Boat Behind by Kings of Convenience from the album Declaration of Dependence
12) Manty by Sebastien Tellier from the album Sexuality
13) Frida Found A Friend (Live) by Efterklang from the album Performing Parades
14) In the Upper Room: Dance V by Philip Glass form the album Dancepieces
15) Aeon by Antony & the Johnsons from the album The Crying Light
16) Mars by Quack Quack, available from Run of the Mill Records
17) Night Terror by Laura Marling from the album Alas, I Cannot Swim
18) Join the Dots by Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam from the album Put Your Slippers On
If you would like a copy of the final CD, leave me a comment and I'll see if I've got one spare at the end of the festive season.