Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Another CD-go-round mix challege with the same categories.

D’oh! I Repeated Myself: Feb 2004 CD-Go-Round Mix

1) If you were making a soundtrack for your life so far – this song would have to be on it.
Dexateens – “Bleeding Heart Disease”
Because I’m only willing to put up with thickheaded right-wing platitudes for so long, even from family, some people I know describe me as suffering from a bleeding heart. They’re missing the foundation of righteous anger that feeds my liberalism. The Dexateens plug right into that righteous anger and kick this mix off right.

As a side note, the guitarist and higher tenor for the Dexateens (you can hear him harmonizing and shouting his head off in the background of this song) is my old friend and former bandmate John Smith. If you like this tune, the whole album kicks major ass. Go buy one. They’re even selling them at Wal-Mart.

2) A song from one of the CDs currently in your 1) car stereo 2) portable CD player 3) stereo
Neutral Milk Hotel – “Song Against Sex”
I started this on the same day that I got a couple of NMH bootlegs, and was subsequently in the process of listening to the entirety of their output. This is the first song on the first NMH album On Avery Island, and I’m particularly fond of the way that it brings out many of the fun elements of NMH: surreal lyrics, hyper-but-simple drumming, distorted acoustic guitars, and silly-tasty horns.

3) A song from the first album, cassette, or CD
Beatles – “Wait”
I went with Kiss on the last mix like this, but Rubber Soul was one of my first LPs, and this tune, with the supercool tambourine and George Harrison playing with his volume knob, has always had a special place in my heart.

4) A song without a word in its title.
Wilco – “ELT”
This one’s a pleasantly noisy 60’s-influenced, guitar pop pastiche resting on a keyboard & slide guitar lead off of Wilco’s third album, Summerteeth. It seemed the best candidate to follow the Fab Foursome.

5) A song from the year you were born (we’ll take written, recorded, or released)
Gene Clark – “With Tomorrow”
This one was not my first choice for this slot, but I screwed up the original song (Gene Clark’s “In a Misty Morning”) that went here and needed a song that both fit the criteria and was short enough that I didn’t have to change the other tracks. Luckily, Gene Clark released two albums in 1974. This was from the first of them, White Light, and “Misty Morning” (which is has a slow, dreamlike quality about it) was from the other, Roadmaster. “With Tomorrow” strikes the right chords of sadness and hope, though, and is fucking gorgeous, too, so here you have it.

6) A song with the name of someone in this music swap in it
Television – “Call Mr. Lee”
Shockingly, this ISN’T about our own Mr. Caulfield, but instead Ol’ Bill Burroughs. It’s one of the best songs from Television’s 1992 reunion album and features some lovely interplay between Verlaine and Lloyd.

7) A song in a language other than English.
Serge Gainsbourg – “Ballade de Melody Nelson”
Man, this is a dirty song. I don’t speak a word of French, but it’s pretty clear that Serge has nothing innocent on his mind. It’s the second track on Serge’s concept album Histoire de Melody Nelson, which, as far as I can tell, is about the seduction of a probably underaged girl by a suave French older guy just like Serge. Serge & Jane were still a few years away from “Je T’aime,” but had already done an album together, which, for Serge, meant they’d been knocking boots for a while. This track’s early enough in the sequence that the lyrics probably only introduce the two characters, but just listen to how conspiratorial Serge is when he sings to her. Go find a picture of young Jane Birkin to get into the right headspace.

8) A song with a city or state/province name.
Blue Mountain – “Bloody 98”
Highway 98 runs from Mobile, AL to Hattiesburg, MS along so many unmarked twists and turns that it is (notoriously) one of the most deadly stretches of roads in the US. Due to jurisdictional issues and lack of funding, both Alabama and Mississippi are unwilling and unable to do anything about it. I spent my pre-teen years on a little cul-de-sac in NW Mobile that was separated from Bloody 98 by only a small stretch of woods, but only saw a few of the spectacular accidents.

Blue Mountain were one of the best live shows I ever saw, one of those bands that were so on that no one wanted to tour with them. I understand that they’ve split up due to marital friction between the lead singer/guitarist guy & his bassist/backing singer wife.

9) Say you're planning a multi-day road trip, this song could go on every mix you make for the trip.
Wrens – “This Boy is Exhausted”
The Wrens’ The Meadowlands album is almost too richly layered for a car stereo, but this track has just the right mix of big hooks and subtle support for a road trip mix. I love the weariness of the lyrics, too, and how happy the singers sound to admit that life is exhausting.

10) A song by a local artist.
Knife in the Water – “Young Blood in the River”
KITW are Austin, TX’s pre-eminent creepy spaghetti western dream-poppers. This is an uncharacteristically upbeat tune driven by acoustic guitar and handclaps. It seems to be about a murdered transvestite, and, given their penchant for oblique references, is probably based on a short film from Eastern Europe.

11) A song with a color in the title (negative points for raspberry beret)
Mekons – “Blue Arse”
In keeping with the general tempo ramp-up of this stretch of the tape, here’s a skronky Mekons tune with an overdriven horn section. Yeah! It only takes a couple of listens before you start singing along (in falsetto), “But something must have happened to my antenna!”

12) It’s 5am, your alarm is going off, this song would still make you smile.
Husker Du – “What’s Going On”
Guaranteed to put a smile on (and some wake-up juice in) even the groggiest face, this is one of my favorite tracks from Zen Arcade. I especially love the moment when the piano breaks through the sheer muscle of the guitars, almost as if by pure will. This is a great headphone listen, too – there’s a wealth of buried instruments under the army of guitars.

13) Either a cover you thought was an original or an original you thought was a cover
Mike Watt – “Big Train”
I assumed that Watt had written or co-written all the songs that weren’t “Tuff Gnarl” or “Maggot Brain” on his solo debut Ball-Hog or Tug-Boat?, but I was wrong. This song is by the Kinman brothers, formerly of the Dils and Rank & File and currently of straight-up country outfit Cowboy Nation, on whose album We Do As We Please (which was first released in 1997, two years after Watt’s album!) their version appears. I don’t even think that the Cowboy Nation version has drums. So this is the Flying Burritos-Stones “Wild Horses” situation – the artist who didn’t write the track recorded it BEFORE the artist who did, although the composing artist had been playing it for years in advance of the first released version. Ergo, it is a cover AND an original.

14) A song that is about a specific movie or book.
Young People – “The Night of the Hunter”
That’s right, this song is from the movie The Night of the Hunter. Pretty cool, yeah? The inestimably cool Jon B put it on his year-end mix, and I’ve since hunted down the Young People’s album, which is full of bad-ass pop culture references like this. I especially love the spoken dialogue from the movie and how it pushes back into the song. Other contenders for this slot were Scott Walker’s “The Seventh Seal” and Calexico’s “The Ballad of Cable Hogue,” but this one seemed to be the right song for the spot.

The Notwist – “Pick Up the Phone”
With their blend of hip-hop rhythms and indie-rock sensibility, this band seems the fill the role of wildcard nicely. I’m still trying to figure out why it’s so compelling, but the whole Neon Golden album is full of near-perfect gourmet ear food.

16) A song that has reached number one on a Billboard chart.
Elvis Presley – “Suspicious Minds”
Number One on the US pop chart in 1969, and, friends, I’m completely unembarrassed to admit that I love this song with an unbridled passion.

17) Genre-buster: this song doesn’t fit any genre as far as you’re concerned.
Lowery 66 – “Artifacted”
This is another friend’s band, and I’m not quite sure if there’s a word to describe his blend of folk, chamber-pop, indie-rock, noise, and the calliope interlude that holds it all together. I especially love how it starts with barely a whisper and surges to a truly inspiring “do-do-do” finale worthy of the New Pornographers.

18) I hate the artist, but I love the song.
Mudhoney – “Touch Me I’m Sick”
Anyone listen to Mudhoney recently? Anyone? I didn’t think so. That’s because they were really, really boring. This song isn’t.

19) Wha? If anyone can tell me what this song is about, give me a call.
Fiery Furnaces – “Tropical Iceland”
Yeah, I spent a little while trying to figure out what their songs were about, but that’s really not the point. What’s important is how they blend so many different genres into an unmistakable sound. The whole album is a brain-teaser, and I mean that in the best possible way.

20) Guilty Pleasure.
1910 Fruitgum Company – “Indian Giver”
I try to be an enlightened guy. I do. People from elsewhere approach white Southerners like me with suspicion, anyway, as if they think that at any given minute I could throw on a pointy white hood and start firing up crosses. And this stereotype isn’t undeserved at all, so guys like me have to be as straightforward as we can on race. Which is why it embarrasses me so much to like a song as unenlightened as this, but goddammit does it have a great sound.

21) TV theme song
Nerf Herder – “Buffy Theme”
I was going to go with the more obscure Breeders version, but, y’know, they sound almost identical, and this one was a bit shorter…

22) An unrequited love song.
Li’l Cap’n Travis – “Alone in the Drugstore”
Another of Austin’s finest bands pours its sad hearts into this lovely beer-drinking song of pain.

23) A song you love just for the title.
Flaming Lips – “Evil Will Prevail”
At least it’s honest.

24) Stump the group! Obscuro music classics.
Richard Thompson – “Oops I Did It Again”
This is a cover of a seldom-heard pop tune from the US as performed by an obscure British artist who I suspect none of you has ever heard mentioned before. Game, set, and match, people.


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