Sunday, January 25, 2004

Buffista CD-go-round challenge liner notes:

1) If you were making a soundtrack for your life so far – this song would have to be on it.
The Replacements, “I Will Dare” – Let It Be
This is the sound of my high school and college years, with lyrics describing who I was – a lovelorn horn-dog and scrungy drunkard – and the music pointing me down the odd alley from post-punk to folk.

2) A song from one of the CDs currently in your 1) car stereo 2) portable CD player 3) stereo
Vic Chesnutt, “New Town” – About To Choke
I saw Vic on Sessions at West 54th with Lambchop last week and was inspired to pull out this, my favorite of his albums, and Lambchop’s Thriller, along with three other albums that could have contributed to this category (Nick Lowe’s The Impossible Bird, Knife in the Water’s Cut the Cord, and Champale’s Simple Days). But I wanted to get a Vic song on the compilation, and this one has the right blend of whimsy and detail.

3) A song from the first album, cassette, or CD (whichever was first or the oldest that you still have access to) that you purchased for yourself.
Kiss, “Detroit Rock City” – Alive II
My first albums were Kiss’ Dynasty and an early-80s Paul McCartney solo album. I can recall also buying several other Kiss albums, including Destroyer, and a few Beatles right around the same time, so given that I have two Kiss albums and four Beatles albums in my collection, it was a toss-up between the two. Kiss seemed to have just the right amount of goofiness, though.

4) A song without a word in its title.
The Shadows, “36-24-36” – The Shadows Are Go!
The best surf band ever came from England. I originally chose Wire’s “99.9” for this slot, but it was too long and abstract for the mix to cohere. The Shadows tune had the right amount of garage-y silliness and brilliance.

5) A song from the year you were born
Can, “Vitamin C” – Ege Bamyasi
This slot was originally taken by Elis Regina & Tom Jobim’s “Aguas de Marco” (which I moved a few slots down). I considered this song for the What the Heck Is He Talking About category, too, but it seemed a nice bridge between the Shadows’ groove and Pere Ubu’s wackiness.

6) A song with the name of someone in this music swap in it
Pere Ubu, “Lonesome Cowboy Dave” – Terminal Tower
This song originally sat in the What the Heck slot, but the original choice here, a Camper Van Beethoven instrumental lead the mix too far into abstract music (it originally had FIVE instrumentals), so I moved the Ubu here. My forwarding target is David Smay, so I thought I should use a song with his name in it, mainly because I couldn’t think of a single song with the more challenging “Pleiades” in it.

7) A song in a language other than English.
Elis Regina and Tom Jobim, “Aguas de Marco” – Elis (1972)
Like Peter Gabriel, Ms. Regina, who died far too young, put out three or four albums simply titled Elis. Whenever I hear it, this song makes me smile (and could easily go in that category), especially when Elis can’t contain her laughter towards the end of the song.

8) A song with a city or state/province name.
The Kinks, “Oklahoma, U.S.A.” – Muswell Hillbillies
I originally had the western swing Lone Star Beer Jingle here, but it just didn’t’ work in context. The Kinks song, besides being lovely and heartbreaking in its own rights, provided a good bridge between the waters of March song and the quiet intro to the Liars’ dance-punk.

9) Say you're planning a multi-day road trip, this song could go on every mix you make for the trip.
The Liars, “Grown Men Don’t Fall In The River, Just Like That” – They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument On Top
Updating the territory forged by the art-dance-punk class of 1978 out of Leeds (like The Mekons, the Gang of Four, the Raincoats, the Slits, etc.), the Liars manage to provide a political context in the most oblique terms and still rock like hell.

10) A song by a local artist.
Li’l Cap’n Travis, “Peelin’ Out in Zeus’ Yard” – Lonesome and Losin’
One of the weirdest alt-country bands in Austin, Li’l Cap’n Travis mixes psychedelic rock and Beach Boys harmonies (trust me, you have to see them live) with subversive Merle-influenced songs. This is one of their more spacey instrumentals, but it seemed to go pretty well right here.

11) A song with a color in the title.
The Bees, “Voices Green and Purple” – Nuggets, Vol. 4
My songs with “pink” in the title were a little too predictable (Wire, Nick Drake, Husker Du), so, considering how this mix was shaping up, I went with some vintage psychedelia from the Nuggets box.

12) It’s 5am, your alarm is going off, this song would still make you smile.
The Who, “Hall of the Mountain King” – The Who Sell Out
Considering how many instrumentals remain on this mix, aren’t you glad I cut some? The inspired silliness here puts a smile on my face whenever. It also has sufficient kick to get me going at 5 am, as I found out when getting up for a recent fishing trip.

13) Either a cover you thought was an original or an original you thought was a cover
Alex Chilton, “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine” – Bach’s Bottom
This is a cover of the classic garage song from the Seeds, but for the first five years I knew the song (and lordy, covered the song in bands), I thought it was an Alex C. original. Strangely enough, I thought that “Bangkok” and “Take Me Home And Make Me Like It” from the same Alex C. album were covers, although they’re originals. This isn’t the only dirty secret that comes out on this mix.

14) A song that is about a specific movie or book or at least mentions a specific movie or book.
The Drive-By Truckers, “Steve McQueen” – Alabama Ass Whuppin’
Namechecks the chase scene in Bullitt, comments on the lame remake of The Getaway, and waxes poignant over The Hunter, McQueen’s last film. Although it’s not as smart as the fifteen or so Mekons songs I could’ve put here (“Flitcraft,” which is based on a story-within-a-story in The Maltese Falcon, was an early choice), it’s twice as funny. I love how it goes from G-rated to R-rated so quickly, as if the Truckers just decided that there was no way to talk about Steve McQueen without talking about sex.

Mötörhead, “Ace of Spades” – Ace of Spades
Wow, am I funny. Wild card, get it? Wooeee, I should quit my day job now. Anyway, rock out! You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me!

16) A song that has reached number one on a Billboard chart (state which chart and when).
The Jackson Five, “ABC” – Greatest Hits
Mötörhead to Michael J in one move! Kinda works, though, thanks to the ultra-funky James Jamerson bass line.

17) This song doesn’t fit a category as far as you’re concerned.
The Geraldine Fibbers, “Richard” – Lost Somewhere Between the Earth and My Home
I think this is the jerkiest transition on the comp, but the Fibbers are generally the first genre-busting band that leaps to mind. Somewhere between chamber pop, indie rock, noise rock, and alt-country, this song is one of my favorite of their fractured fairy tales.

18) I hate the artist, but I love the song.
Fugazi, “Waiting Room” – 13 Songs
Confession time: I hate Fugazi. I admire their politics and commitment to principle, but DAMMIT their albums are boring as hell, and, c’mon, I loved Minor Threat. This song, however, rocks like a Green Party activist with a pound of kind bud.

19) Wha? If anyone can tell me what this song is about, give me a call.
Olivia Tremor Control, “I’m Not Feeling Human” – Singles and Beyond
How many times can I fill one slot? Originally held by Pere Ubu, then Can, then Beefheart, and now everybody’s favorite mind-warpers from Elephant Six, this slot proves, for once and for all, that I love baffling music.

20) Guilty Pleasure.
David Brent, Gareth Keenan, and Tim Canterbury, “Free Love on the Freelove Freeway” – The Office, Season One
OK, I’m not embarrassed by any of the music I love, but I had room, so I went with a funny song from The Funniest Show on TV. For those who haven’t seen it, the singer is the office manager and all of this takes place during a training session.

21) TV theme song
Hüsker Dü, “Love Is All Around” – Eight Miles High single
Makes me picture Mary Tyler Moore in ripped fishnets, blue-dyed hair, and Doc Martins, turning the world on with a smile.

22) An unrequited love song.
Roky Erickson, “You Don’t Love Me Yet” – All That May Do My Rhyme
Roky’s broken grammar can’t keep his broken heart from cracking the sunny surface of this song. I love how hopeful that “yet” is, too.

23) A song you love just for the title.
Minutemen, “Do You Want New Wave Or Do You Want The Truth?” – Double Nickels on the Dime
The Minutemen had the best-titled songs in history (other contenders for this slot – from the same album – included “The Roar of the Masses Could Be Farts,” “Political Song for Michael Jackson To Sing,” “The World According to Nouns,” and “God Bows To Math”). This one had the sort of sad & truthful tone that felt right after Roky’s plaintive cry and before Subset’s wind-down.

24 and 25) Stump David or Jon
Subset, “Common Denominator” – Dueling Devotions
Silver Scooter, “Goodbye” – Goodbye EP
I have the hometown advantage here, with access to countless Austin regional bands that in all likelihood have escaped the attention of either of our coastal music geeks. Subset plays indiepop with a noise-rock bent, and this song is from their overall decent recent album. Silver Scooter were regional champs of the Austin indie rock scene. This song is on both their final album and the EP immediately preceding it.


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