Slowly, but surely, I’m going to get the whole Thor’s Rubber Hammer catalog on Bandcamp because A) Bandcamp rules, B) is dead. In the meantime, here’s Last Winter We Didn’t Sing, a timely winter-themed compilation that I produced in 2008 featuring original tracks and blissed-out carols by Nicholas Szczepanik, Greg Davis, Scott Tuma, Susan Alcorn, Fabio Orsi, Beggin’ Your Pardon Miss Joan, Chartreuse, and what might be one of my favorite sad-n-snowy songs of all time, The Instruments’ “Last Holiday.” You can also also buy a physical CD (with Ariel Kitch’s beautiful illustration screen-printed on thick cardboard) of Last Winter We Didn’t Sing here.

(Also on Spotify, Rdio, iTunes, Amazon, Other Music digital, etc.)

25 Albums, Bands, Exhibits, And Other Such Ephemera That Meant Something To Me In 2011

 I feel like I experienced music differently in 2011. When music journalism is your 9-to-5 job, there has to be balance: What is for work and what is for myself? I still haven’t quite figured that distinction out, yet (and it’s been 13 years since I started writing about music), but what the following 25 albums, songs, bands, exhibits and more abstract music experiences (movie scenes, light installations) have in common is that they all meant something to me. And that’s the undefinable thing about music, yeah? This isn’t a profound realization, especially since the primary qualifiable thing about music (meaning) is completely intangible. But on some level and, I suppose, with some age, the parts of music that give meaning to me are starting to come together.

Some of the blurbs after the jump have previously appeared at NPR Music for my best metal and best outer sound year-end lists, and some of the text has been snatched from other write-ups, but more than half of it is new and completely unedited.

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When NPR’s must-see photo blog, The Picture Show, asked for my help for some ambient music to soundtrack vintage NASA footage of astronauts submerged underwater, I immediately handed them Nicholas Szczepanik's beautiful new album, Please Stop Loving Me. The dated voice-over, somewhat angelic space-age acrobatics and Szczepanik’s yearning music are perfect for each other.

[NPR’s The Picture Show: Underwater Odyessy]