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 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 seventh reviewed mix belongs to Mike Hoss; a kind, intelligent family man from Nebraska, who’s blog was so jam-packed with technological jargon that it gave me a nosebleed. Here we go.
1. Pretty Angry – Blues Traveler
I’ve always liked Blues Traveler. Before they got big, after John Popper lost nine thousand pounds, always. He can write a good song, sing his heart out and play the harmonica like absolutely nobody else out there. I don’t know what the theme of Mike’s mix is, but this is a good opening track, somber and slowly-moving. Clocking in at almost seven minutes, Mike has taken a 15 track mix and stretched it out to over an hour. Woah.
2. Agenda Suicide – The Faint
If you’re from Nebraska, you have to put some Saddle Creek on your mix. Where I thought Mike would go with a Bright Eyes, Cursive or Broken Spindles, he goes straight for the throat with the buzzing opener to Dance Macabre. ‘Agenda Suicide’ is a great intro to The Faint; a band that should be mandatory listening for anyone who wears eyeliner.
3. Folsom Prison Blues – Johnny Cash
The Man In Black rides again, with this timeless number from a timeless album. Musicians just don’t play in prisons anymore; I wonder why? Forget it, I’m done talking about this track; it’s too cool to be background music, I have to stop and give it all of my attention.
This seems to be a rather free-form mix-tape, which is fine with me. Multiple genres tend to unite together if the song selection is right, and so far, so good.
4. Red Dragon Tattoo – Fountains Of Wayne
Pre-Stacy’s Mom, these guys were pretty rad. They took the best hooks and melodies from classic bands like Big Star and Teenage Fanclub and just ran with it. I also like the quirky, funny lyrics and sarcasm. If I were a halfway-decent songwriter, I’d probably be in a band that sounds exactly like this.
5. Mockingbird – Derek Webb
This is my introduction to Derek Webb, and I’m left fairly pleased. The churning acoustic guitar and uplifting lyrics take you into a huge chorus, followed by another buildup, more instrumentation and a spine-tingling payoff. Feel-good stuff, right there.
6. Sick Of Myself – Matthew Sweet
Whoo! I love this song. A super-underrated track from Matthew Sweet, this song is played in my car at least once a week to this day. It’s mid-90’s rock nostalgia never ceases to bring a smile to my face, and the lyrics are almost identical to a song I wrote back in High School. Look, it’s .99 on iTunes, just do yourself a favor and pick it up; you will not be disappointed.
7. I’m Always The One Who Calls – Pedro The Lion
A guy from Nebraska that loves Pedro The Lion….you’re not a fan of Let’s Eat Paste by any chance, are you, Mike? I don’t think it’s possible for David Bazan to write a song that’s not touching in some way, shape or form. His warm, longing voice and guitar work always manage to suck me in and keep me listening to the very end.
8. One Angry Dwarf & 200 Solemn Faces (live) – Ben Folds Five
I like the ‘live’ interview footage interspersed around this classic Ben Fold’s Five track. This was the first BFF song I had ever heard, and I was instantly hooked from that point forward. Ben Folds has written an insane number of my most favorite songs of all-time (Brick, Best Imitation Of Myself, The Last Polka, Gone, etc.), so he’s untouchable, as far as I’m concerned.
9. Fake Plastic Trees – Radiohead
I’m glad I paid for this song the same amount that I paid for In Rainbows….nothing! No, I’m just kidding Radiohead; I just get sick of how awesome everyone tells me they are. What’s more, I don’t like that they think they are as awesome as everyone says they are. That being said, if this slow-burn track had ended a minute earlier, it would have been a classic. Instead, it’s just indulgent, which makes sense when we’re talking about Radiohead.
10. Hoochie Coochie Man – Muddy Waters
Heyyy….wait a minute….I think this blues song is about having sex! Okay, maybe it isn’t, but the song just oozes with sweat and sleaze, to the point where women shouldn’t even listen to it unless they’re on the pill; it’s that fertile.
11. The Obvious Child – Paul Simon
Another mix, another Paul Simon track. This sounds just like you’d think it would; tribal drums, funky guitar strumming and Mr. Simon doing what he does best. Nothing more to add here, I don’t think. You either like him or you don’t.
12. Joy – Lucinda Williams
Lucinda sounds seriously pissed off in this number, where she basically rips her former lover a new poop chute. The guitars and bass have a distinctly southern twang to them, and Ms. Williams gets more and more snarky by the second, until the gradually-fading payoff.
I like that Mike has a deep and varied style of musical enjoyment. While we don’t match up in a few areas, I respect it, which is all you can really hope for when you try to get someone else into your tastes. The mix lacks a certain flow and overall mood, but the songs speak for themselves.
13. Out In The Street – Bruce Springsteen
I feel uncultured for not giving a crap about Bruce Springsteen. I mean, I like a few of his songs, but I just can’t get all soggy for him like so many others do. To me, any band that so prominently features a saxophone loses major points in my book. That instrument needs to be collectively locked in a chest in the attic, never to be played again by anyone.
14. Desire – U2
As opposed to The Boss, I can fully get behind U2. I mean, Bono is kind of a self-important douche, and ‘The Edge’ is one of those names that is practically begging for you to punch them in the jaw, but they’ve written some timeless songs, changed lives and remained as cool as ever, even after Bono’s unfortunate haircut for the bulk of the 80’s. Good track; I had never heard it before.
15. The End – The Doors
The 12-minute finale to end all finales has arrived, and I sat through the entire thing. I wasn’t drunk, I wasn’t hopped up on the goofballs, and I wasn’t wrapping my lips around a shotgun, either. I just sat back, closed my eyes and listened to a stupefyingly brilliant band doing absolutely everything right. It was worth it, and my patience was rewarded.
Great work, Mike. Time for stats!
Total Number Of Tracks – 15
Number Of Above Average Tracks – 6
Number Of Average Tracks – 5
Number Of Below Average Tracks – 4
Number Of Tracks That I Own – 5
Best Track – Sick Of Myself
Worst Track – Fake Plastic Trees
Total Score – 7.2/10
Tomorrow, I’ll have another mix on the chopping block. Will it be yours?