Tuesday, November 13

CDP Mix-Tape Trade Wrap Party (Part 1).

CDP Mix-Tape Wrap Party.

Ever since the CDP Nationwide Mix-Tape Trade ended a couple months ago, people have been harping on me about reviewing their mix. Time constraints were getting in the way at the time, but while I'm waiting for my book to go to publication, I have a week or two to really sit down and pick apart these works that CDP readers were kind enough to mail to me.

I set the rules for listening to and reviewing the assorted mixes as follows: I would write in complete stream-of-consciousness mode while each song played (hence the poor grammar and possible spelling errors), and stop writing as soon as the song was over. Any pausing, replaying or skipping tracks was not allowed. I was listening for songs that I liked, along with the general flow and mood you'd expect from a decent mix-tape. I listened to every mix through headphones and without outside distraction.

My first reviewed mix belongs to the Best Man at my wedding, Benjamin from Killer Sandbox Productions. Here we go.

1. Devil Town - Daniel Johnston

A good way to start a distorted, rock-heavy mix, we get a jangly and somber acoustic tune by Johnston, who is best known for being a bipolar nutcase with a guitar. I'm still on the fence about this guy; I mainly think that hipsters just drop his name for the status points it garners.

2. Body Armor - Architects

Launching into the body of the mix is Architects, who continue to evolve and put on the most intense and tight live show you've ever seen. From ska, to punk, to soul, to hammer-fisted rock and roll, these guys have offered something for everyone in their decade-long career.

3. Choked And Destroyed - Love Me Destroyer

An interesting choice for Benjamin. This track seems a little too nu-metal and mainstream for his tastes. It's quick and painless, though, and moves us right onto the next track.

4. I Know - The Last

The criminally underrated Last can do pretty much everything. 70's punk? Sure. Melodic surf? Of course. Shredding guitars? Yup. With bands like the Descendents influencing bands for generations to come, it's nice to listen to the band that influenced them. These guys are awesome.

5. Dot - ALL

One of my favorite ALL tracks, Scott Reynolds (ALL's best vocalist), has problems that we all have, which is what makes him so damn cool. Sorry...I'm just rocking out to this track right now. A classic.

6. Coolidge - The Descendents

One thing you need to know about Ben is that he lives and dies by the Descendents/ALL family shrub. If you're affiliated with these two bands in any way, he's going to dig you. It's a good rule though, as most of these bands are consistently amazing. Same goes for the DC/Dischord scene. I don't know who Ben wants to be more; Kurt Cobain or Milo Aukerman. Frantic flow to this mix.

7. Modern Kicks - The Exploding Hearts

One of rock music's greatest tragedies, 3/4 of The Exploding Hearts were killed in a van accident years back, leaving us to wonder what heights their catchy rock music could have taken them. I like the fuzzy and nostalgic production on this track; I think I'll have to borrow some of their stuff from Ben.

8. Am I On My Own - Common Rider

Jesse Michaels, the former mastermind behind Operation Ivy, fronted Common Rider for the first half of the 21st century. While they never reached the social message or global popularity of OpIvy, it's always good to hear his trademark voice attempting to lead a revolution.

9. Furniture - Fugazi

I like Fugazi, but man, did they write some crappy music at times. Furniture is on the 'not awful' side of the equation, but I strongly think they should have hung it up years ago.

So far, this mix has been heavy on the big guitars, which is more than fine with me.

10. Glass House - El Guapo

When El Guapo changed their name to Supersystem a few years ago, they got exponentially better for some reason. Then they broke up. Whatever; their rhythmic chanting, non-existant lyrical depth and hypnotic guitar work can get boring at times, but you'll be way too busy dancing your ass off to notice. Even though their last album was terrible, I miss them, but not as much as I miss Q And Not U.

11. And The Washington Monument (Blinks) Goodnight - Q And Not U

Well, there you go. Q And Not U had it all. The Dischord status. The post-punk DC dance groove. The political message and non-sequitur lyrics. Layering guitars, dueling vocals and a tremendous dance groove. Then they broke up. I'll probably be listening to all of their stuff on the way home from work tonight.

12. Raise 'Em Up And Toss 'Em Back - Pinhead Circus

For as laid back, relaxed and Zen as Ben is, he still listens to a lot of hyper punk music. I guess it works for him. It works for me, but I'm always wound pretty tight and angry. This is a quick song that reminds me of 1994. I don't think I'd go out of my way to listen to this now, but it's good for a couple minutes of fun.

13. Torch - The Revolvers

I like The Revolvers, but this song really doesn't go anywhere. I kept checking the time on my iPod to see when it would be over. There's nothing wrong with it, but after giving you a dozen quick punk songs in rapid succession, it's hard to sit through a four-and-a-half minute mid-tempo number.

14. Get It + Got It = Good - The Impossibles

Hells yeah! We're back on track. The Impossibles were the single biggest influence on my old band, and this was one of their final studio tracks, showing off how far they have evolved since their Weezer-ska days. The guitar riff in this song is devastating, and pretty much makes me whip my head around for the duration.

15. You Deserve This - Armchair Martian

I think it's funny that 'Alt-Country' is the only real Country music right now. It reminds you that honest-to-goodness Country music is fantastic. Full of emotion, heart, depression and timeless lyrics, it's a shame that the genre has evolved into nothing more than pop. The Armchair Martain/Drag The River collaborative are doing what they can to preserve history.

16. Resolve - Lagwagon

Who told Joey Cape that he could sing? He can't, but that doesn't mean he's a bad songwriter. Lagwagon was always better than NOFX when it came to...everything concerning their respective Fat bands. Written shortly after the tragic suicide of their drummer, Resolve finds Cape in a darker place than we're used to seeing him.

17. Sedated - Only Crime

I tried to like Only Crime, but they bore me. Containing members of Good Riddance, Black Flag/Descendents and Rise Against, they remind me of the Travelling Wilburys in that they should be a whole lot better than they really are. Sorry, dudes.

18. The Cannons And Tanks - Small Brown Bike

Wow, this guy cannot sing for crap. I thought Small Brown Bike was better than this, considering how many douchebags I saw wearing their t-shirts in college. Quick tip, kids. At The Drive In is better than everything that even remotely sounds like this. Learn and appreciate it.

This mix is still going well, but with a whopping 28 tracks on deck, it's becoming way too much to digest in a single listen. Trimming the fat could have made this amazing instead of overbearing.

19. You Will Never Take Me Alive - The Paper Chase

I love everything about this track. The sharp string section, the choral sing-along, the dark message, the childish lyrical delivery. The Paper Chase has normally let me down. A friend spent weeks convincing me that these guys wrote terrifying music, and when I finally got around to listening to them, it had been built up far too much to work. Sure, they're dark, but they're not scary. Something Corporate is scary.

20. Ten Thousand Animal Calls - Q And Not U

One thing I like about Q And Not U is that they write good make-out music. I don't want to take away from everything good that they do in other regards, but it's a true statement. Frantic, dusk and capable of slipping you into a trance should you be inebriated enough. Not the best Q And Not U track, but still better than most other bands mediocre mid-catalog.

21. Monkey Gone To Heaven - The Pixies

Forget this mix, Monkey Gone To Heaven should be on every mix. Ever. If you don't have at least one Pixies album, things need to change in your life right away. I'm going to stop writing for a second and just enjoy an amazing song I haven't heard in way too long.

22. 78 RPM - Stiff Little Fingers

This mix is way too long. The Pixies should have been the last track on the album, but instead, we have 7 more tracks of quick punk tunes. While I enjoy this catchy song, it's nothing different from the songs in the first part of the album.

23. Carnage - ALL

Another thing I don't like is the multiple tracks by the same artist. That being said, you could create an amazing mix of nothing but ALL tracks. Carnage has everything you'd expect from a good ALL song; rapid drumming, guitar noodling, meaningful lyrics and raw power.

24. Mary - The Pavers

This re-recorded version of Mary was a hidden track on a Pavers EP from years back. It should be a hidden track on every album, Pavers or otherwise. This is one of my absolute favorite songs, so anytime I get to hear it in a different light is fine with me.

25. Chalkboard Dust - Pollen

The second half of Ben's mix is significantly better than the first. Pollen was such a good band, it's a shame they didn't blow up like they should have. Damn...this song is amazing. I've never heard it before. Wow. I need to get this album from him as soon as possible.

26. Poughkeepsie - The Lemonheads

Here's why I don't like The Lemonheads, and it's not even close to their fault. When I was a kid, I stayed up all night with my cousin. There was nothing on television (no cable) but a looping paid advertisement about an 'up and coming' college band called The Lemonheads (never mind that they've been together since 1986). This must have been a major label's idea of good promotion or something at the time, but I must have watched the press junket on these guys 30 times in a row. That, coupled with my sleep-deprived irritability, made me instantly hate them. Sorry about that, guys. Not your fault.

27. Luck's - Drag The River

Yeee-haw! This track makes me want to order a PBR, throw on a cowboy hat and get tossed out of a saloon window.

Again, this mix is almost embarrassingly long.

28. Backwards - The Pavers

I know why Ben decided to end the mix with a six-minute epic, but why this one? I love the Pavers, but this song goes absolutely nowhere. I'm done.

Whew. That was a long one, but it's good to know that all of the other mixes are in the 10-15 track range. All in all, this is a decent rock mix, very indicative of Benjamin's acute tastes. Let's get to the stats, shall we?

Total Number Of Tracks - 28
Number Of Above Average Tracks - 12
Number Of Average Tracks - 9
Number Of Below Average Tracks - 7
Number Of Tracks That I Own - 13
Best Track - Chalkboard Dust (due to it taking me by surprise and blowing me away)
Worst Track - The Cannons And Tanks (pure poop that didn't age well)
Total Score - 7.5/10

Tomorrow, I'll have another mix on the chopping block. Will it be yours?

Forget this mix, Monkey Gone To Heaven should be on every mix. Ever. If you don't have at least one Pixies album, things need to change in your life right away. I'm going to stop writing for a second and just enjoy an amazing song I haven't heard in way too long.

This makes me laugh, but not in a good way.

You redeemed yourself with the memory, however, of you filled with rage and saying you wanted to throw the Something Corporate CD out the window.

I don't think you did it though.
Excellent, thorough review BTW...I'm surprised there wasn't more of the ALL shrub on Ben's mix.
Yeah...there were only, like, 12 of them. Thanks, there will be a new review each day for the rest of the week.
Awesome review. I don't know where you find the energy to keep up with this site but your hard work is appreciated.
You literally just blew my mind.

I try. Thanks, Moe!

I knew that reviewing these albums would be big and time-consuming, so I wanted to wait until I could really focus on them, and knock out a bunch at one time. I'm currently waiting for my book to be proofed and go to publication, so I really needed something cool to do while I was waiting and chewing my fingernails to the marrowbone.

By the way, I'm going in pseudo-alphabetical order, so expect to see your review sometime next week.
Blustacon, your mix is on the chopping block tomorrow. Thanks for the mad propz and respek.

The reason I decided to go "real time" and write stream-of-consciousness through the album was because I wanted it to feel as much like a journey through the mix-tape as I possibly could. 'Cause really, that's what it's all abooot.

I hope I don't piss anyone off, though. That's not my intention at all.
Wow. I know all of 3 of those, I think. No, 4. Man, 4 out of 28. I feel like a music novice and that's rare. So thanks! I guess this whole punk scene has completely passed me by. I had a punk phase around high school, but I guess it didn't stick. Awesome review though! Very cool that you're taking the time to do that.
Domsar - That's two more than I knew. I can guarantee that my mix will be the most mainstream/stale mix of the bunch. Looking forward to the review regardless...
Yeah, wow, I only knew one song too, and that was the Daniel Johnston one because I just watched The Devil and Daniel Johnston a month or two ago.

I didn't realize you would be reviewing the mixes so thoroughly. I should have known better, as you don't really do anything half-ass. I'm a little frightened at what you'll have to say about mine. Of course, I'm leaving the country on Saturday so I may not even see it for a while. That'll probably be a good thing.
You're frightened, I'm terrified. The CDP hates everything I listen to and I sent him all "old" music. Maybe I should leave the country.
DOMSAR - Thanks for the kind words. I only knew a few bands on your mix, though, so I think everyone has their own fringe that not a lot of other people are experts on. Ben has a very specific musical taste, and that can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how long you've been on the car with him. He knows I'm kidding.

MOE - I'll probably be writing yours up this weekend. Looking forward to it, yo.

HATHERY - I can't sleep when you're not here, silly.

JULIA - This is why I wanted to wait. I know that a lot of work typically goes into creating a mix-tape, and I wanted to respect that and wait until I had the right amount of time to focus on it. I like throwing thoughts around while each song flows into the next, and I knew it would work if created under the right circumstances. Looking forward to your mix!

TAMARAZ - It'll be okay. From the looks of it, you threw a lot of good songs on there. The downside appears to be that it's about two hours long.
Are you sick?
I knew about...two bands in that mix-tape...

*rambles about not being in mix-tape trade*
Carrot missed the boat. We'll probably do one in February, so keep your eyes peeled for Trade #2.

TAMARAZ - Yeah, I'm all shivery and hurty. Feels like a mild flu thing, but I'm surviving. I'm alternating between bed, the bathroom and the iMac.
Well it's a good thing I bought toilet paper.
If this is what TheCDP does with a mix full of indie tracks, what's he going to do with mine, which has Old Country, Alt Country, New Wave, Blues, Jam Band, R&B, a Christian Artist[*], and some oldies?

Shred away brother. I can take it.

* He's really good. And not preachy. Honest.
That sounds like a CD I would like to listen to. I may have to get that one from the CDP.
I'd agree that Monkey should be on every mix if I hadn't already included it on every mix made from 1989 to 1995... but that's just my old age talking, it's a great song.

There are certain songs that become Go to Mix songs, in that they appear on all of them for long periods. Some Notables have been:

Virginia Reel Around the Fountain - by The Halo Benders. This song features Calvin Johnson from Beat happening/Dub Narcotic and Doug Martch from Built to Spill. The title also makes it sound like it's a Smiths song.

The Maids - Back to Bataan one of my favorite songs ever. A lo-fi palate cleanser or side ender (back when it was mix tapes).
While my mix is radically different from Ben's, it's interesting to note I have a Lagwagon and Pixies song on it as well. I was very close to adding a Lemonheads, but opted out at the last minute.
HOSS - I think I was beating on Ben a little hard because he's my buddy (and neighbor). I just want to be as honest as possible is all. While I can't say I've listened to your mix* yet, I'm totally ready.

*I have to own at least 50 Christian albums. No worries.

WILL - I can't imagine Calvin Johnson and Doug Martch beig able to harmonize at all, which makes me want to listen to it all the more.

Every few weeks, I bust out Heavenly's Le Jardin De Heavenly for the sole purpose of listening to Calvin warble his way through 'C Is The Heavenly Option.' It's a wonderful listening experience all around for me. I always tell the Missus that he must be a super nice guy.
Blustacon, you didn't just include a Pixies song, you included the Pixies song, Wave Of Mutilation.
Check yer email for the Halo Benders song.
Will is the man! Thanks much!
If my butt made a mix tape, I'm sure it would put the Pixies on it.
(that is an indication of how I feel about the Pixies, not about those who put the Pixies on their respective mix tapes)
Blu - for what it's worth, I caught your How I Met Your Mother reference.

Any show with Doogie Howser on it is an instant winin my book.
I don't know if I'd feel comfortable being treated by a teenager, regardless of how talented of a doctor he was. Seems sort of...icky. He'd have all these weird urges at inappropriate times...well, not towards me, but you know.
Thanks JT. I thought I'd be going that one alone.

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