Friday, November 16

CDP Mix-Tape Trade Wrap Party (Part 4).

Mix-Tape Wrap Party, Yo.

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 fourth reviewed mix belongs to the mastermind behind Madison's most popular and informative news blog, Dane 101. The man, the myth, the mystery; Jesse Russell. Let's go.

1. September - The Secret Stars

The crisp, late Autumn, downtown Madison theme of this mix starts off right proper with this somber, Secret Stars landscape. More of an introduction than an actual song, the monotone singing and repetitive strumming sets the mood and gets us good and depressed for the duration.

2. Tug Of War Match - The Bracelets

Not a lot of people understand the 1-2 punch of intro/opening track, but this is a perfect example. The flow is seamless, the swelling buildup is charming and the song keeps you attentive. Bare bones with lyrics, the song sucks you in and ends before you know it.

3. Haiti - Arcade Fire

Oh man, Jesse hits us with an Arcade Fire track at just the right time. I just watched them perform this song on Austin City Limits, and it was incredible as always. The surreal layering of Regine's broken English, mixed with the choral 'woah-woah's' and simple piano riff make this song more enjoyable each and every time I hear it. Awesome start.

4. Treehouse - I'm From Barcelona

Everyone's favorite 26-piece band, I'm From Barcelona take the twee stylings from Architecture In Helsinki's first album, tosses in some early Of Montreal and a dash of Arcade Fire, and comes up with something beautiful, catchy and intensely listenable. Sure, the last minute of this song is a little overkill, but you'll be too busy swaying to notice.

So far, the tempo of the mix has increased ever so slightly with each track. I don't know if Jesse did this on purpose or not, but it's totally working.

5. Green Lane - Mazarin

This is a quick, 90-second acoustic number; nostalgic and reflective in tone. Not life-changing, but a good spot in the mix to strip things down and stay on task.

6. Color In Your Cheeks - The Mountain Goats

I like The Mountain Goats, mainly because I'm amazed that the lead singer hasn't committed suicide yet. Their latest album is one of the most depressing break-up albums I have ever heard. This particular, grainy-sounding recording is more upbeat and story-driven, albeit ultimately leaving you a little sadder than when it started. Great lyricism and intimate songwriting are a constant with The Mountain Goats.

7. Volcanoes - Islands

Another mix, another Islands track. Return To The Sea is one of those albums that just about everyone should own. Every song is fantastic, and Volcanoes is no exception. Bouncy, jangly and containing more hooks than one song should really have, this best sums up every effort Islands have undertook since they started playing. This song has an amazing ending; I was just reminded of that.

Great flow and mood to this mix. I want to walk around the Capitol Square this weekend with this mix blasting in my earbuds. Maybe I should be drunk, too.

8. Let's Get Out Of This Country - Camera Obscura

I've been meaning to buy this album for awhile now, and this track pretty much seals it for me. Anywhere you are when you hear this track instantly transforms itself into a foreign country, where you can't understand what anyone is saying, your 35mm camera is constantly snapping, it's always 55 degrees and everything is beautiful.

9. I Wish I Could See You Again - Herman Dune

This one caught me by surprise. The most upbeat track thus far, the acoustic bounce and calypso backbeat perked me up and breathed some positive light into this otherwise dreary mix. Bonus points to Herman Dune for mentioning 'spooning' in a track.

10. The Equalizer - Clinic

This reminds me of a mid 90's band like The Stereo MC's, busting out a very old-school beat, monotonous, distorted vocals and the occasional piano tinkling. Not the best Clinic track at all, and more than a little out of place in the mix. I suppose I'd dig it more if I heard it at a party.

11. Chelsea Hotel - Regina Spektor

Spektor has one of those timeless voices that forces you to shut the hell up and take notice, and that's exactly what I'm doing. She could sing me the lunch menu at the Wok-N-Roll, and I'd still give her a standing ovation. Piano and vocals is all you need when you're amazing.

12. Pollen - Micah

A cute, female-fronted twee track, it would have held a lot more weight had it not been placed right after Regina Spektor's amazing offering. It's still decent, though, a simple little ditty that makes you smile and bounce around for the quick two minutes it's on.

13. Be Good To Each Other - The Conversation

I'm not going to lie to you; I got up and went to the bathroom while listening to this song. Maybe it was the plodding bass and shimmering cymbals that messed up my intestines, but whatever the case, it got the job done.

14. Yeah, Oh Yeah - The Magnetic Fields

I knew right away that I was going to like this song. Lo-fi as hell, layering vocals and dreamy melodies, The Magnetic Fields do their thing about as well as anyone.

Seventeen tracks is about the ideal length for a mix. Anything longer than that is a test of the listener's patience.

15. Temporarily Blind - Built To Spill

According to the Missus, Built To Spill can do no wrong. One of the longer songs on the album, it goes by quickly with rapidly escalating drums, a slick guitar part and the always-fantastic lyrics of BTS (Not to be confused with BTO). Sorry, I'm running a fever today.

16. Concerning The End Of The World - Prayers And Tears

A good callback to the start of the album, I feel as if I'm back alone on the streets, pondering where my life went so very, very wrong. For as positive and charming a guy as Jesse is, he sure listens to a lot of depressing music.

17. October - Jay Sad

Starting the album with September, the album ends with October, and we're left to realize that the entire mix was the sound of the heart of Autumn passing us by. This is what a mix-tape is all about, kids.

Creating a perfect mix is to balance that line between a great theme, a great personal voice and some truly great songs. Too much of one aspect will weaken the rest in general. While the theme and landscape of this mix was absolutely top-notch, I'm left with only a few tracks I can instantly remember now that it's over. Not a harsh criticism, just an observation. In fact, for folks like me that prefer the overall experience of an album to the instant gratification of a single, this mix was about as good as you can hope for. Great job, Jesse.

Time for some stats.

Total Number Of Tracks - 17
Number Of Above Average Tracks - 6
Number Of Average Tracks - 9
Number Of Below Average Tracks - 2
Number Of Tracks That I Own - 5
Best Track - Haiti (come on, it's Arcade Fire)
Worst Track - The Equalizer (just a little too out of place in the mix)
Total Score - 8.5/10

Next week, I'll have another handful of mixes on the chopping block. Will it be yours?

Sound off in the comments section and enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, November 15

CDP Mix-Tape Trade Wrap Party (Part 3).

CDP Mix-Tape Trade 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 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 third reviewed mix belongs to one of about three reasons why Milwaukee is tolerable in the least, Domsar. Here we go.

1. Kid On My Shoulders - White Rabbits

The theme of Domsar's mix is 'Musical Apocalypse In 16 Steps.' Clearly, this guy knows what all entails a themed mix. Right away, I get the image of a gritty, damp urban atmosphere in this mix, complete with shady characters, dive bars and exhaust fumes. This opening track is cold, paranoid and frantic, which is exactly what Domsar was trying to get at in the first place.

2. Move By Yourself - Donovan Frankenreiter

Again, this mix has a very distinct 'Milwaukee' feel to it. Smoking cigarettes on ancient fire escapes, snapping blurry photographs of traffic lights and whatnot. This funky track is both uplifting and somber at once, which is exactly what the genre entails, in my opinion.

3. 7/4 (Shoreline) - Broken Social Scene

An amazing track by an amazing band, I'm instantly reminded of falling asleep in the backseat of a friend's car, driving back home on a humid Summer night. Leslie Feist is a big star now, but her work with Broken Social Scene is just unforgettable.

4. Fast As You Can - Cold War Kids

This bootleg-sounding recording of a Fiona Apple song brings to light the vocal mastery of Nathan Willett. I didn't care too much about Cold War Kids until I heard this track. While I can't say I'm a fan of the covered song (or original) in general, Willet's voice is just wildly on display here.

5. As You Wish - Aqueduct

This was a good time to throw a quirky song in to break up the mood a little bit, and that's exactly what As You Wish does. I've heard this song three times now, and only now did I finally understood the Princess Bride inspiration. Wow, that's some good, bizarre stuff right there.

6. Don't Push - The Exit

Quick side story about The Exit. My band played a show with them back in the day, and we've seen them on a few separate occasions, none of which were positive. These guys might know how to tour like crazy and write some interesting tunes, but they're assholes, plain and simple. Still though, this song is exactly where it needs to be in the mix, and pushes the theme along nicely.

7. Hold On - Magnet

There's a lot of positivity mixed with bleakness on this mix, which is clearly done on purpose. This track drags on a bit; I found myself drifting off while trying to listen to it. A very sweeping, layered and dreamy track that can slip you into a trance if you're already tired to begin with.

8. Multiply - Jamie Lidell

I can't say I normally listen to bluesy/soul music, but I really enjoy the upbeat groove in this track. While I think it goes on for a minute too long, it's a decent halfway point to the album.

9. Ramalama - Roisin Murphy

This one isn't working for me. A little too tribal, a little too scene and a little too silly. Maybe I don't get it, I don't know. It just turned from grating to annoying in record time. I think it's the overbearing and snooty tone of Murphy's voice that did me in.

10. Gin 'N Juice - Unknown To Me

This spoken-word, Richard Cheese-style rendition of Snoop Dogg's Gin 'N Juice is a real black sheep in this mix, but good comic relief and surreally bizarre. If I had this in my record collection, I'd be throwing it on every mix I could, too.

11. First Wave Intact - Secret Machines

Nine minutes, wow. I don't see what the fuss is about these guys; they sound pretty much like every other band in this vein. Heavy synth, falsetto vocals, buzzing bass; you know the drill. Really though, this would have been a pretty good 3 minute song, but 9 is inexcusable. Perhaps I'm bitter because of all the buzz these guys have received; I should listen to their album before I start pooping on their parade.

12. Wraith Pinned Me To The Mist And Other Games - Of Montreal

Okay, back to business. Kevin Barnes will make everything better, even if he is making money to shill Outback Bloomin' Onions to already-overweight Americans. Screw it, this song makes me dance! WHOOO!

13. Roscoe - Midlake

This is one of those rare tracks that almost loses you with it's monotony, and catches you off-guard with a beautiful hook. Before you know it, five minutes have passed and you're completely relaxed and in a different mindset than when you were when the song started. Good work.

14. Armchairs - Andrew Bird

Wow, another 7 minutes. I don't know too much about Domsar, but I can surmise that he listens to a lot of music at home, and doesn't have Attention Deficit Disorder. On a side note, I'm boycotting Andrew Bird because he beat out Arcade Fire for the 2007 Mercury Prize. It doesn't matter if this song is amazing or not.

15. See Her, Seer - Inlets

This has a serious Sufjan Stevens vibe to it, which is fine by me. By this point in the mix, the apocalypse is upon us, and we're dealing with the aftermath. At least I'm assuming, by the triple-shot of lengthy, depressing epics.

16. Swans - Islands

Brilliant. The 10 minute opening track to the amazing Return To The Sea is now the closing track for Musical Apocalypse In 16 Steps, and it makes absolutely perfect sense when heard. Islands are featured on at least three different mix-tapes mailed to me, and with good reason. A great end to a great mix.

Domsar had a vision, he had a theme, he knew how to get there and he pulled off a very impressive and expressive mix. With the exception of a wrist-slashing 3 songs in 24 minutes, it was a near-great execution of theme and flow. Time for stats.

Total Number Of Tracks - 16
Number Of Above Average Tracks - 7
Number Of Average Tracks - 6
Number Of Below Average Tracks - 3
Number Of Tracks That I Own - 4
Best Track(s) - Swans (Islands are forever)
Worst Track - Ramalama (Not feeling it, yo)
Total Score - 8.1/10

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

Wednesday, November 14

CDP Mix-Tape Trade Wrap Party (Part 2).

CDP Mix-Tape Trade 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 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 second reviewed mix belongs to everyone's favorite New Englander, Blustacon. Here we go.

1. A Feedbag Of Truckstop Poetry - Lagwagon

It's hard to find a Lagwagon song that I don't have, but Blustacon pulled it off with his opening track. It's a good one, too. Actually, one of the more solid and catchy Lagwagon songs I've heard in a long time. This was a good opener by taking a well-known band and throwing on one of their more obscure songs.

2. Lazy Eye - Silversun Pickups

After the quick blast of Feedbag, the mix settles in with Lazy Eye, which is a very enjoyable (and popular) song. The tomboy-looking girl in this fantastic music video is borderline obsession-worthy. In all honesty, Lazy Eye has been one of my favorite singles of 2007.

3. The Sharpest Lives - My Chemical Romance

For a married dude with four(?) kids, Blustacon is certainly in tune with stereotypically 'younger' music, and that's a very neat and surprising thing for me (I mean all of that in a good way, Blu). My Chemical Romance doesn't bother me too much; they write memorable songs, know their demographic and rock a live show like nobody's business. I hadn't heard this mid-tempo track before, and it's not at all offensive to my elitist tastes.

4. Sound Of Pulling Heaven Down - Blue October

I bought the debut Blue October album when I first heard 'Calling You' a few years ago. And while that might have been a $16 mistake in retrospect, at least I enjoyed that single. This song reminds me that most Blue October songs sound a lot alike, and while over-the-top and trying very hard to be epic, I just know for a fact that me and the lead singer would get into a fistfight if we met.

5. Paralyzer - Finger Eleven

The bouncing guitar lick instantly reminds me of Franz Ferdinand's 'Take Me Out,' which isn't a bad thing at all. Woah, this song is pretty cool in that I'd rock out to it at a bar if I were trashed. It has a nice 'melodic rock radio station' feel to it, but the sarcastic lyrics are actually pretty funny and make the song very easy to lose inhibitions to. Not bad.

Already, I'm glad that I haven't heard too many of these songs (unlike Ben's mix). It allows me to form an instant and fresh opinion of the song and mix in general. The vibe of the mix so far is a melodic, modern rock edge, and that's not quite as bad as it sounds.

6. Promise - Eve 6

Here's another one that might have been better off placed further away from the previous track. It's a little too similar, wry and bouncy. Again, that's not a bad thing, just maybe a little overkill with the sugary rock. I think the Missus would like this song, as a side note.

Wow, 20 tracks? I'll be plowing through another epic, I see.

7. Cosmic Castaway - Electracy

I don't know where this song (or band) came from, but it's yet another catchy tune that's nostalgic for the 'Extreme' style of the mid 90's. Blustacon has a good ear for a hook and melody; he should be an A&R guy for a mainstream rock label.

8. Move Along - The All-American Rejects

Another track, another huge hook from a pretty popular radio rock band. Do I sense a theme? I remember the Rejects 'Swing, Swing' single from years ago, and I remember digging that a little more than I really should have. While I don't like this song due to the constant airplay it received, I can't deny it's popularity and worthy inclusion in this mix.

9. Whatever It Takes - Morley

Finally, something a little different. This female-fronted, Natalie Merchant sound-alike group again takes me back to the mid-90's. I think I would have hated this track back then, but today, it's a welcome and mellow halfway point to the mix.

10. Wave Of Mutilation - The Pixies

Oh, man. What a song. It seems like most of my readers understood that a Pixies song needs to be included in damn near every mix on Earth. Wave Of Mutilation is probably my favorite Pixies song, and has washed clean the taste of formula-oriented rock that littered the first half of this mix.

11. Missed The Boat - Modest Mouse

Some people were very upset when Modest Mouse exploded and became the huge band we see them now as. I beg to differ. I think that while Modest Mouse was always awesome, they've matured as songwriters and still haven't compromised all that much. Furthermore, James Mercer from The almighty Shins sings backups on this track, which is impossible to hate.

12. Sway - Bic Runga

Wow. Bic has one of those beautiful voices that, when heard through headphones, will give you the chills and make you sit straight up. What a surprise this song was; pretty as hell and placed in just the right spot in the mix. This is a great song, and I'll be listening to it again as soon as this album is over.

13. Weakened State - Sarah Harmer

I find it hard to care about this female-fronted acoustic rock track after being blown away by Sway just a few minutes ago. This should have been placed somethwere else in the mix, so it wouldn't have to go on after the greatness of Bic Runga.

14. Hey There Delilah - Plain White T's

God help me, I absolutely love this song. I never didn't love this song. Also, I saw a YouTube clip of a rigged Rockafire Explosion at a Showbiz Pizza doing this song, which almost brought me to tears with its nostalgic goodness. Screw you guys, I'm going home.

15. Face Down - The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Pretty standard fare from a newer 'emotional' rock band. Reeks entirely of Steven's Untitled Rock Show, but it's not their fault that they sound like everyone else. Oh wait, they do.

16. You And Me - Vega4

This is a sweet little number. It reminds me of driving through the city at night with the windows down, with a special someone over in the passenger side. Chugging guitars, monotone british warbling and a huge hook make for a harmlessly good few minutes.

17. Good Day - Angels And Airwaves

Being a former Blink 182 fan, I never got around to listening to any of their side projects. Now I remember why I didn't. Tom cannot sing for crap, period. Also, the song goes nowhere. Need I go on? I don't mean to be hard on them or anything, but they were never meant to be taken seriously.

18. You Are The One - Shiny Toy Guns

This track starts out with a rad, sawtooth synth line, then moves into a lo-fi dance groove. Dueling male/female vocals remind me of Bis, only a little less inspired. Meh, the second half of this mix is starting to hang around the house a little too much. Oh wait, the chorus to this song is pretty good; almost making up for the lackluster verses.

19. Uncle Johnny - The Killers

The Killers know how to bring the hits...well, sometimes. I always skip this track on Sam's Town, mainly because it drones along and attemps to make up for that with a sing-along chorus and sweeping third act. Not for me.

20. Ring The Bells - James

Good closing track here. This shows the old school/new school depth of Blustacon's album collection, and as always, sounds like the token artistic statement on the album.

While Blustacon stuck with the huge rock tracks that got the job done, it was the quick peeks into the fringe artists he enjoys that were the most interesting to me. The mix as a whole was a little top-heavy with the mainstream rock, but settled in towards the middle and end with some hit-and-miss chances. An enjoyable and fresh mix overall, good driving music and some fantastic gems. Time for some stats!

Total Number Of Tracks - 20
Number Of Above Average Tracks - 6
Number Of Average Tracks - 8
Number Of Below Average Tracks - 6
Number Of Tracks That I Own - 6
Best Track(s) - Wave Of Mutilation (classic), Sway (another out-of-nowhere surprise)
Worst Track - Good Day (sorry, Tom)
Total Score - 7.0/10

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

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?

Monday, November 12

Could We Leave Before It Gets Bad?

Win...for cats.

This is what happens when the Missus is in charge of feeding the cat.

Sound off in the comments section, and enjoy your Monday.