Sunday, November 13, 2016

Mike Mix 2016

2016 has been a disappointing year for us here at MiKenzie Inc. simply for the fact that the "It only rhymes once every ten years" slogan we're fond of doesn't really apply this year.  Maybe if we called it "Mike Mix One Six," but who would ever say that?  So we'll skip this decades rhyming Mike Mix title and call the stupid thing Mike Mix Twenty Sixteen.  (Never Two Thousand Sixteen!)

So anyway, it's been a musically interesting year for me, so this particular mix of music might seem a little off-focus.  And here it is:

1) "In a World Possessed by the Human Mind" - The Tragically Hip

Besides not rhyming with "Mix," 2016 has been a bad year for many other things (*cough*Trump*cough), including a slew of celebrity deaths.  Although he has not died, Tragically Hip lead singer Gordon Downie announced that he has a form of brain cancer that has a very high mortality rate.  I have been a fan of the Hip since I was 18, so this news was quite upsetting.  The band also released a new album in 2016 (Man Machine Poem), so they decided that they would tour to promote the album and to say good-bye to their fans with one final Canadian tour.  My cousins and I were able to go to the show they played in Calgary.  It was my second time seeing them live, and I'm glad I was able to be there in person to say good-bye to a Canadian musical icon.

2) "Afraid of Heights (Reprise)" - Billy Talent

Another Canadian band, Billy Talent is no stranger to Mike Mix, having made their first contribution in 2003.  They still haven't been able to match that first album, but Afraid of Heights is pretty good, and the title track was their lead-off single.  I enjoy the "Afraid of Heights" reprise from the end of the album, so that's what I included.  I'm just a sucker for piano in rock songs.

3) "Heathens" - Twenty-One Pilots

My favourite musical act of 2015, Twenty-One Pilots returned in 2016 with a single for the Suicide Squad soundtrack.  While not as good as the songs from their first two albums, "Heathens" is still a very enjoyable song, even if the movie it's from was a huge disappointment.

4) "Don't Let This Feeling Fade" - Lindsey Stirling ft. Rivers Cuomo & Lecrae

When I was reading the track list on the back of Lindsey Stirling's latest album (Brave Enough), and I saw Rivers Cuomo's name I just about lost my mind.  I posted on Facebook that it was like finding out that Stephen King co-authored a chapter of my sister Jennifer Quist's latest novel.  For those who don't know, Rivers is the lead singer of Weezer, which has been my favourite band since I was 15 years old.  This really seems to hit home that Lindsey Stirling, the Mormon dancing violinist/electronic pop star has really made it.

5) "First Light" - Lindsey Stirling

I don't normally allow two songs from the same album on Mike Mix, but I'm making an exception here.  There was no way I wasn't including a song that features both Lindsey Stirling and Rivers Cuomo, but "First Light" is actually a much better song than "Don't Let This Feeling Fade," so I'm including it, too.  It's much more representative of the album, which is about Lindsey learning to deal with emotional pain.  In her own words: "I've learned that you can't selectively numb feelings.  If you numb the bad, you will numb the good and life is most meaningful when we allow ourselves to experience the full spectrum of emotions.  But before I learned that truth, I had already constructed many barriers to deaden the pain.  It didn't take long to discover that the walls I'd built around my heart went up much easier than they came down.  As I was attempting to dismantle them, I lost my best friend Gavi to cancer.  I never knew my heart could ache with such indescribable anguish and I wanted more than ever to rebuild and reinforce my protective walls to numb the new heartache.  I didn't care about feeling the good in life as long as I could numb the bad.  However, rather than crawl into a hole, I chose to feel the pain.  So I worked and wrote my way through it.  Each song represents a step - a step that has taken me from being a heartbroken lost girl, wishing for bravery, to a woman who is ready to answer the call of something wild."

"First Light" is one of the later tracks on the album, and despite having no lyrics, it brings to my mind imagery of spiritual and emotional awakening and arriving at a good place to be in life.

6) "Escape" - Kongos

I've known of the Kongos for a few years now but never really paid a lot of attention to them until Noah said he wanted to go to their concert in Calgary because The Joy Formidable was opening for them.  The concert was very enjoyable.  The highlight was a cover of New Order's "Blue Monday," but aside from that I really enjoyed the song "Escape" from their first album, which I bought soon after seeing them in concert.

7) "Fall Together" - The Temper Trap

It's been years since The Temper Trap appeared on a Mike Mix.  I think it was 2010, with the song "Soldier On" from their debut album.  I never really followed them after that first album, but I decided that I want them on this mix with this song from their latest album, Thick As Thieves.

8) "Glory" - Bastille

If I had to pick a favourite band for this decade so far, it would probably be Bastille.  Their first full-length album, All This Bad Blood, was a work of art.  Every track is good and I have never grown tired of listening to it.  They released another EP after it, and a track from it appeared on last year's Mike Mix, but it didn't live up to the greatness of All This Bad Blood.  This autumn, they released their second full-length album, Wild World.  While not as great as Bad Blood, it is still a great album from start to finish.  "Glory" is one of the softer songs from it, and it's quite beautiful.

9) "Still Breathing" - Green Day

I have an on again/off again relationship with Green Day.  Some of their albums I love (Dookie, American Idiot), but some I don't (Insomniac, 21st Century Breakdown).  Revolution Radio is a good one.  I included "Still Breathing" because I have a soft side for Green Day's soft side.

10) "Radio of Lips" - The Joy Formidable

The Joy Formidable are my favourite Welsh band.  Like I mentioned earlier, Noah and I went to Calgary to see them open for Kongos in October.  They're an awesome band live, and they had the most cheerful foul mouths.  I didn't know this until recently, but I could listen to Welsh people curse all day.

11) "Jacked Up" - Weezer

So we're getting Rivers Cuomo twice on this Mike Mix, but this one is completely within my self-imposed rules.  Two completely different albums.  Weezer released their latest self-titled album this year, which is being called The White Album, which might be considered sacrilegious, but most hardcore Beatles fans are too old to do anything about it these days anyway.  The White Album isn't as strong as their 2014 return-to-form Everything Will Be Alright In The End, but it's a solid album.

12) "Medieval Warfare" - Grimes

This song is much different than the Grimes song I included on Mike Mix 2015.  "Flesh Without Blood" was a catchy electronic pop song.  "Medieval Warfare" is a heavy, grungy song.  Still cool, though.  This is another song from the Suicide Squad soundtrack, a movie whose soundtrack is more successful.

13) "Bury It" - CHVRCHES ft. Hayley Williams

CHVRCHES has been on Mike Mix before, and Hayley Williams (Paramore) has, too.  Now they're on it together in the same song.  It's a fun, catchy indie electronic song with an equally fun video.  Enjoy it.

14) "LA Devotee" - Panic! At the Disco

After buying their first two albums, for some reasons I stopped paying attention to Panic! At the Disco years ago.  Apparently, they've still been out there this whole time making quality music.  I especially enjoyed this song.  The video features one of the kids from Stranger Things.  You know, the one who went missing in the first episode.  You guys like Stranger Things, right?

15) "Bored to Death" - Blink 182

Blink 182 hasn't been on a Mike Mix in a while.  Tom Delonge was too busy being crazy with his UFO conspiracy theories that the rest of the band decided to make an album without him.  Apparently, they didn't really need him.  Mark was always my preferred singer, anyway.  Enjoy watching how old he's gotten in this video.

16) "Dark Necessities" - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Speaking of aging rock stars who haven't been on Mike Mix in a while, here's a Red Hot Chili Peppers song.

17) "Bohemian Rhapsody" - Panic! At the Disco

Yeah, I put two Panic! songs on, too.  Again, two different albums.  It's also the third song from Suicide Squad.  As for the song itself, it's obviously a cover of the famous Queen song.  I was a teenager in the early '90s, so my first exposure to Bohemian Rhapsody was Wayne's World.  I bought the Classic Queen album and listened to it quite a bit before discovering Weezer, which forever changed my taste in music.

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