#10 on the 2009 Musical Advent Calendar
Dark Was The Night, a Red Hot compilation
Welcome to the top 10! Starting things off on a somewhat confusing note is a compilation put out by the Red Hot Organization, “the leading international organization dedicated to fighting AIDS through pop culture. Since 1989, Red Hot has incorporated the talents of leading performers, visual artists, producers and directors to raise funds and awareness for HIV and AIDS.”
It’s been 20 years since the organization released Red Hot + Blue, a collection of Cole Porter covers done by leading pop and rock artists of the time. It has been seven years since the previous compilation was released, and the organization decided to mark the 20th anniversary with this, their 20th compilation. AIDS hasn’t gone away, although you can’t be blamed for thinking so, what with the lack of coverage these days. But just because it’s no longer in vogue doesn’t mean it’s any less deadly.
Good cause, great music. This compilation was produced by Aaron and Bryce Dessner from the band the National. With songs by the Dirty Projectors with David Byrne; The Books with José Gonzales; Feist with Ben Gibbard; Grizzly Bear; The Decemberists; and Iron & Wine (and that’s just Disc 1 of the 2-Disc set), this compilation is an indie rock tour de force. And it’s a thorough joy to listen to.
The song above, the final track from Disc 1, is a cover of the Castanet’s song “You Are The Blood” by Sufjan Stevens. For those of you living under a rock and have therefore not heard of Sufjan, I suggest checking out any one of his CDs. His album BQE, an ode to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, just barely missed making it onto the calendar this year, although I have a feeling with more listenings I’ll probably move it onto the calendar through revisionist history. I hope you’ve hit play to hear the song above, because it’s a 10-minute opus that would make a good soundtrack while reading this post.
Sufjan always impresses, but this song really speaks to me. It’s haunting, it’s epic, and it’s beautiful. The song is picked up again on Disc 2, as a sample to be toyed with, providing spooky beats and chorus to a Buck 65 remix with new vocals rapped on top by Serengeti. And there are plenty of other songs on the compilation that you can’t find anywhere else that make this a must-own. You know how sometimes you’ll buy a movie soundtrack, and there will one or two great songs interspersed with some crap songs you have to skip? Not so with this collection. It’s top notch, all the way through.
(edit: the video disappeared somewhere in the last 9 years, so I had to replace it with the above Rehearsals video that is a much better summation of what is so great about this album)
I can’t recommend it enough. And since proceeds from the sale of the 2-Disc set go to a good cause, I really think your next move should be to buy it. NOW.
Tune in tomorrow for the lastest installment from the band that tops my list of shows attended.
11. The Mountain by the Heartless Bastards
12. Creaturesque by Throw Me The Statue
13. Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band by Mt. St. Helens Vietnam Band
14. Horehound by The Dead Weather
15. Promenade by Grand Hallway
16. Grand by Matt & Kim
17. Blood Bank EP by Bon Iver
18. Fever Ray by Fever Ray
19. Tell ’Em What Your Name Is by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears
20. Mo Beauty by Alec Ounsworth
21. Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants
22. Noble Beast by Andrew Bird
23. Hungry Bird by Clem Snide
24. Actor by St. Vincent
25. Elvis Perkins in Dearland by Elvis Perkins in Dearland
26. XX by the XX
27. Grrr… by Bishop Allen
28. Keep It Hid by Dan Auerbach
29. It’s Blitz! by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs
30. Beware by Bonnie “Prince” Billie
31. Veckatimest by Grizzly Bear