Saturday, May 14, 2005

MUSIC: Mixed Bag

I've finally gotten around to fixing my computer's staticy sound system (by which I mean deleting the player that came packaged with my Dell computer -- which suspiciously started sounding staticy as soon as the 90 day free trial of the pricey deluxe version expired -- and switched over to Windows Media Player instead), so I've finally uploaded all of the CDs I've received so far via Chris "Lefty" Brown's Mixed Bag blogger CD exchange program. Now I can get around to telling you what I thought about them.

First up are the first two CDs I got, hand-delivered by the two people who work at my local comics shop, fellow members of ACAPCWOVCCAOE*: Mike, with The Progressive Ruin Mix CD of Love, and Dorian, with his ( mix. They both struck me very similarly: a few nifty tracks amidst a great deal of songs I couldn't wait to be over. Sorry.

Mike's starts out promisingly enough, with a hilarious recording of John Belushi's rousing "Pearl Harbor" speech from Animal House, followed by a couple of lively tracks -- "You Make Me Feel Cheap" by Channel 33, and "Johnny Q" by Crazy 88s (who sound like they predate the Crazy 88s in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, but I couldn't say for sure) -- but then takes a turn into the odd and obscure, and not, as far as I'm concerned, in a good way. Stereo Total's "Bad News from the Stars" is by far the most irritating. A number of tracks play The Onion AV Club's game of "Which one is the song/album and which one is the artist?" Quick, pick the artist from the following pairs of names/phrases: Kiss or Age of Chance? Disintegrated Einstein or Nevermind the Mollusk? Victor Banana or Shiver Me Timbers?** Most of the band names read like entries in the "Most Unnecessarily, Self-Consciously Bizarre" contest: Honest Bob and the Factory-to-Dealer Incentives; Celtic Elvis; The Deadly Nightshade Family Singers. When I start enjoying the very ironic inclusion of Joe Esposito's "You're the Best" from The Karate Kid soundtrack in an unironic way ("Say, this is pretty all right!"), then I have been alienated a little too far by the weirdness of the surrounding tunes. There were a few other high points: I dug the punk covers of old hits ("99 Red Balloons" and "Don't Bring Me Down"); the instrumental version of "Stairway To Heaven" by Dixie Power Trio was very nice; and the Curtis Mayfield/Fishbone track, "He's a Flyguy," is cooler than anything I've ever heard in my life by at least half. A couple of the remaining songs I thought were fairly clever, and might've been enjoyable if they weren't so aggressively abnormal, and if there weren't so many of them packed all together; I fully expect a number of them will grow on me on future listening, outside the context of this disc as a whole. I should add, the final "secret" track, from some Marvel Comics fan club record from a million years ago, featuring the voices of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and the entire Marvel Bullpen, was hair-raisingly awesome. So that's what Artie Simek sounds like!

For much of Dorian's CD, I felt like I needed to be about ten times gayer to more fully appreciate it. I loved the hilarious "If You Were Gay" from the Avenue Q Broadway soundtrack ("If it were me/I would feel free/To say that I was gay/But! I'm! Not! Gay!") (and upon telling Dorian so, he produced a copy of the entire album for me the next week, which was super keen). Shirley Bassey's "Hey Big Spender" was a fine opener for the disc. And you would have to be made of stone not to appreciate Dolly Parton's "Jolene." But Harvey Fierstein? Scissor Sisters? "I Thought You Were My Boyfriend" by Magnetic Fields? And "Soccer Practice" (by Johnny McGovern) may not sound gay, but trust me: very, very gay. I wonder if my listening to this disc is how Dorian feels listening to most of the rest of the songs in the world, with their very hetero love themes. But above and beyond the subject matter, textual and subtextual (which is not typical of my music, but also does not automatically disqualify it from being so***): I just don't really care for most of the songs. Eartha Kitt, Nina Simone, Robbie Williams, Franz Ferdinand: nope, not for me (although I feel I could grow to appreciate Franz Ferdinand). I've never listened to Phil Ochs before, and I think after "Pretty Smart on My Part" I need to listen to more, and Jeffrey Altergott's "Runt" was tremendously enjoyable -- but those were by far the exception to the rule.

Sorry again! Perhaps it's my fault, perhaps I tend a little too much to the mainstream than I should, musically speaking (probably both of you didn't care for my disc). Or perhaps these are just two really weird CDs.

More music reviews tomorrow, if the internet can handle it.

*Associated Comics And Pop Culture Webloggers Of Ventura County, California, And Outlying Environs, of course.

**Age of Chance, Disintegrated Einstein, and Victor Banana are the artists. Maybe.

***Ah, yes, the "not that there's anything wrong with that" defense. How weasely.

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