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?