Thursday, October 21, 2010

Happy (Belated) Birthday CitySidewalk

This one goes out to my friend CitySidewalk, the writer of Provocative & Talkative on the occasion of her twenty-fifth birthday!

I didn't talk about it much at the time, but when I was twenty-five, I went through a quarter-life crisis of sorts. I won't go into details except to say that I am glad I got over it. Unfortunately for me, at the time I didn't have any awesome friends to make me awesome mixes. Fortunately for you, CitySidewalk, you've got me.

I already gave her these mixes, so I'm not giving anything away. In fact, she seemed to love them quite a bit before she even listened to them, and asked that I blog about it.

Well, maybe instead of saying she "asked" me to "blog about it" I should correctly state that she demanded that I blog the actual mix and the accompanying liner notes. So, without further ceremony, I give you (my readers) CitySidewalk's twenty-fifth birthday present.

The begin, I gave her a copy of Arcade Fire's The Suburbs. Nothing too exciting there.

Second, I gave her a mix called Dust Yourself Off, which includes some inspirational/rollicking-good-time music. The mix is as follows:

1. Jessica - The Allman Brothers Band
2. It Don't Move Me - Peter, Bjorn and John
3. I Believe In a Thing Called Love - The Darkness
4. The Way We Get By - Spoon
5. Pretty Girls Don't Cry - Chris Isaak
6. Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo'ole
7. Times Like These (Acoustic) - Foo Fighters
8. Ali In The Jungle - The Hours
9. Regret - New Order
10. Feelin' Good - Muse
11. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - The Anniversary
12. 40 Day Dream - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
13. Float On - Modest Mouse
14. Eleanor Put Your Boots Back On - Franz Ferdinand
15. Here Comes the Sun - The Beatles
16. Dreams - BoDeans
17. This Too Shall Pass - OK Go
18. Don't Look Back in Anger - Oasis

But that's not all. Oh no, that's not all.

Last and absolutely not least, the part that she absolutely positively wanted me to blog about. But first...some background information.

CitySidewalk is kind of obsessed with finding a hipster boy to love. So I put together a special compilation just for her to aid her in this pursuit.

Blog readers: Please note that these are meant to be liner notes, not read on a blog, so a fair amount of scrolling may need to be done for the full effect. You've been warned.


Congratulations on turning twenty-five and receiving this awesome compilation disc! By following the instructions in this manual, you can be sure to enjoy your disc for many years to come. Proper care is needed at all times in the handling of this highly indie content. Avoid exposure to direct sunlight without cheap sunglasses. This product is intended to be used as bait to lure and capture hipsters, but no warranty is made against the possible capture of wannabes, posers, scenesters and emo kids who might cut themselves. Please take precautions when handling your hipsters and take steps to verify their credibility.

Track Listing:

Title – Band – Album

1. &Serenading – Mineral – Endserenading
2. Maps – Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Fever to Tell
3. Waste Time – The Fire Theft – The Fire Theft
4. Jesus, Etc. – Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
5. Answers and Questions – Earlimart – Mentor Tormentor
6. Suffocation Keep – The Slip – Eisenhower
7. Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn and John – Writer’s Block
8. Crystalised – The xx – XX
9. Lover I Don’t Have to Love – Bright Eyes – Lifted or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
10. We Used to Wait – Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
11. Gimme Less Friction – Heroic Doses – Heroic Doses
12. Seven – Sunny Day Real Estate – Diary
13. The Ghost Inside – Broken Bells – Broken Bells
14. Home – Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – Up From Below
15. The Last Beat of Your Heart – DeVotchka – Curse Your Little Heart EP
16. Robbers – Cold War Kids – Robbers & Cowards
17. Meet Me In The City – The Black Keys – Chulahoma
18. Boxcar – Jawbreaker – 24 Hour Revenge Therapy

If, while listening in the company of another, consult this guide for appropriate responses to the following questions:

“Who is this?” (p 3)
“You like this band?” (p 4)
“You like this song?” (p 6)
“What did you think of the rest of this album?” (p 7)

For all other contingencies, consult your friendly Obscure Music Representative.

Question: “Who is this?”

If asked with contempt, the correct response is always, “Whatever, you’ve probably never even heard of them,” followed by an annoyed sigh, then provide the name of the band.

If asked with interest, respond with:

1. With poise, “This is Mineral. Isn’t it great? I think a lot of people who call themselves ‘emo’ these days need to give this a listen; this is just about where it all started, when ‘emo’ was just a genre of music and not some pre-packaged, Seventeen magazine fashion and lifestyle.” Act disgusted.

2. With mild shock, “You haven’t heard of Yeah Yeah Yeahs? Oh man…this is one of those songs you don’t want to accidentally have on in the background when you call your ex. Totally happened to a friend of mine. But no, they’re pretty cool.” Nod approvingly.

3. With understanding, “The Fire Theft. Don’t you think it’s strange that when you get Dan Hoerner, Jeremy Enigk and William Goldsmith together without Nate Mendel, it’s still Sunny Day Real Estate, but if Nate comes back but Hoerner leaves, they change their name to The Fire Theft? But then, after Sunny Day’s fourth album, would you have wanted to be in that band? Am I right?” Grin like a fool.

4. Nodding your head, “Ah, yeah, this is Wilco. Stupid record company tried to squeeze them out. But the internets sure saved the day, if you know what I mean.” Wink.

5. With a look of apprehension, “You’ve never heard of Earlimart? Geez, do you even listen to All Songs Considered?” Pretend like you don’t know the person for a few moments.

6. Smiling thoughtfully, “This is The Slip. They’re kind of a jam band from Boston. They’ve got some great stuff.” Turn it up.

7. Rocking out, “Peter, Bjorn and John. They’re totally Euro-pop and I love them to pieces!” Sing along at the top of your lungs.

8. Purse your lips, press your finger and quietly “Shh” the person, then make eye contact. Sultry and quietly, “It’s The xx. Sh, just listen.” If the person who asked is a cute boy, now may be a good time to make out. If it’s a cute girl, it’s always time to make out. I mean…um…high five.

9. Shrug. “Bright Eyes. Some of Conor Oberst’s stuff is kind of, well…meh, but I like a fair amount of it.” Smile and continue shrugging.

10. Remain stoic. “Arcade Fire.” Close your eyes and turn it up.

11. Giggling, “Heroic Doses. Fun fact, one of my good friends peed next to their drummer at Mississippi Nights.” Smile like a crazy person.

12.  Getting super excited, “It’s Sunny Day Real Estate. And if Mineral is where it started, Sunny Day Real Estate is the absolute pinnacle of early ‘emo.’ They are to ‘emo’ as Glen Miller is to big band jazz.” Let the song end then start it over. Repeat if necessary.

13. Bobbing along with the music, “Broken Bells. Pretty sweet what can happen when the lead singer from The Shins gets together with Danger Mouse, eh?” Keep bobbing.

14. Looking aghast, “What, you haven’t seen any episode of any TV show in the past two years, or watched a car commercial or seen a trailer for an indie film? It’s Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. This guy and this girl singing are, like, totally in love with each other. It’s really cool.” Try to look like you long for that kind of creepy drugged-up hippy love.

15. Swaying to the music, “It’s DeVotchka. Did you see Little Miss Sunshine? They did a lot of the soundtrack.” Sway more.

16. In all seriousness, “Cold War Kids. Though, I haven’t checked their credentials to see if they were really affected by the cold war that much.” Try to keep a straight face.

17. Slow-jamming it out, “The Black Keys. I think they’re sooo retro in their sound. I love throwbacks.” Slow jam some more.

18. Throwing some punk-rock signs, “Jawbreaker! Jawbreaker! JAWBREAKER!!!” More punk signs.

Question: “You like this band?”

For this question, there are different responses for the different tones of voice in which it may be phrased.

1. Neutral/Positive tone: “Yeah, I mean, they really helped lay the groundwork for the indie/emo pop explosion of the early part of the last decade. Not a lot of people know that, you know? Most people think emo started with bands like Death Cab for Cutie or, ugh, Panic! At the Disco, but we wouldn’t have either of them without Mineral. Though, the fair question is, do we like Mineral enough to put up with Panic! At the Disco, or do we go back in time and stop Mineral from ever releasing an album?” Negative tone: “Yeah. I like my emo bands to be about the music, and not about cutting themselves for the benefit of the scene. Jeez.”

2. Neutral/Positive tone: “Of course! They’ve been a great standout for girls in indie rock. So many genres are boys only clubs, you know? But I guess when the boys in the club are kind of already girly…” Negative tone: “You know you like them, too. You just say you don’t like them because everybody likes them and you feel like you’re supposed to, but no, you’re way too non-conformist. When I finally admitted that to myself, I started to enjoy them. You will too, ya jackwagon.”

3. Neutral/Positive: “Yes, though never as much as Sunny Day Real Estate.” Negative: “No, never as much as Sunny Day Real Estate.”

4. Neutral/Positive: “I know they’re kind of the go-to band for people who want to be all edgy, but don’t know what “edgy” means, but yeah, they’re a great band to listen to. Solid B-plus band all the way, except for this album, which is awesome.” Negative: If you want to appease this person, choose option A. Otherwise, choose option B. A) “No. But you have to admit, this album is pretty awesome.” B) “Philistine.”

5. Neutral/Positive: “Oh my God, you should run their Pandora station. For that reason alone, everybody should like this band.” Negative: “Whatever, you’ve probably only just now heard of them.”

6. Neutral/Positive: “I discovered them on NPR one night. I can’t believe they’ve never come to St. Louis on a tour!” Negative: “It’s people like you who make them not want to come to St. Louis on tour.”

7. Neutral/Positive: “Don’t you think they’re like the perfect Euro Pop group? They’re a lot of fun.” Negative: “I know you didn’t just ask me that like you don’t like them, because I don’t hang out with people who don’t like awesome things.”

8. Neutral/Positive: “They totally deserved the Mercury Prize, I’m so glad they got it.” Negative: “Yeah, duh. You don’t? How many Mercury Prizes have you won?”

9. Neutral/Positive/Negative: “Not all of it, Bright Eyes is totally hit-or-miss. Also, I sometimes want to punch Conor Oberst in the junk to see if he actually has any balls. I’m guessing ovaries.”

10. Neutral/Positive: “They’ve really matured a lot, too. I liked their first album, but worried that they would try and sustain the same feel. My fears were ill founded, of course.” Negative: Start crying, look hurt.

11. Neutral/Positive: “Have you heard of them before? Aren’t they all kinds of awesome?” Then high five. Negative: “Pfft. I was gonna give you a high five, but now I think I’ll just be sick.”

12. Neutral/Positive: “Yes. Do you? Because if you do, we might be the bestest friends ever.” Negative: The only appropriate response is to cut off all communication with this person for ever, and sabotage any friendship they may have with people you care about.

13. Neutral/Positive: “I think it’s pretty neat that they were able to collaborate on this and on Dark Night of the Soul. And then they took this on tour. I really hope they put out a second album.” Negative: “I guess you probably hate kittens and penny candy too, huh?”

14. Neutral/Positive: “Aren’t they just super fun all the time to listen to? Love it!” Negative: “I will admit they can be kind of creepy, but come on, their accordion player was on that hilariously awful web show ‘Dorm Life’ and is a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade!”

15. Neutral/Positive: “Nick Urata’s voice is so amazingly haunting, I can’t help but fall in love a little bit every time.” Negative: “Don’t hold their commercial success against them; nobody even knows their name even though everybody’s seen Little Miss Sunshine.”

16. Neutral/Positive: Smile. “Yeah. I heart these guys.” Negative: Scowl. “Yes. I heart these guys, deal with it.”

17. Neutral/Positive: “I like any band that can sound so good with only two members.” Negative: “Let’s see you sound as good with just one other person. And go. I’m waiting, release an album. Right now. Do it.”

18. Neutral/Positive: Singing along with the music, “’One-Two-Three-Four, Who’s Punk What’s the Score!’ Ahhh awesomeness!” Negative: Throwing punk signs, “JAWBREAKER!! WHO’S PUNK NOW, BITCH?”

Question: “You like this song?”

Like the previous question, different tones require different responses.

1. Neutral/Positive: “Well, now that I’m a little older, it’s more nostalgic than anything. I mean, ‘Why am I so blind at twenty-two…’ doesn’t really speak to me anymore, but I still love it.” Negative: “You like your face?”

2. Neutral/Positive: “Yeah. I think it’s great that somebody can feel a love like that, you know. And have you seen the video? She looks like she’s in pain, it’s kind of neat.” Negative: Crying softly, “You just don’t know, do you?”

3. Neutral/Positive/Negative: “It’s among the few listenable songs they put out.”

4. Neutral/Positive: “It’s got great structure and melody, how could you not?” Negative: “Yeah. Something wrong with that, asshole?

5. Neutral/Positive: “You know it.” Negative: Sing along, ignoring them.

6. Neutral/Positive: “It’s kind of powerful, yeah.” Negative: “Yes. Yes I do.” Cry a single tear.

7. Neutral/Positive: Smile and sing along, nodding. Negative: Smile and sing along off-key, nodding.

8. Neutral/Positive: If you want to make out with person, option A. If not, option B. A) “Yes. Wanna make out?” B) “Yes.” Negative: If you wanted to make out with person before they insulted your musical taste, option A. If not, B. A) “Yes. And it normally always makes me feel like making out. Normally.” B) “That’s one more strike for you, buddy.”

9. Neutral/Positive: “It’s kind of an interesting song, don’t you think? I mean, he’s talking about the rock star getting the groupie, but that the whole thing is just to feel kind of dead inside, you know? It’s just an interesting take on the usual story. Negative: “You’re just sad because you’re not a rock star, nor have you ever made out with one.”

10. Neutral/Positive: “Yes, it makes me want to write letters. You know?” Negative: I expect no negative reactions to this song. Should one arise, recommended action is to treat their disrespect with hostility and objects thrown towards heads.

11. Neutral/Positive: “Feel the groove of it; who wouldn’t love it?” Negative: “Eh, I can see how it might be an acquired taste.” Brood.

12. Neutral/Positive: Cry a little. “It’s just about the most perfect side one, track one of all time. Of all time.” Negative: Cry a lot. “You just don’t understand!” Storm out.

13. Neutral/Positive: “Oh yeah. And have you seen the video? Sci-Fi geeky awesome!” Negative: If a boy, option A. If a girl, option B. A) “Have you seen the video? Christina Hendricks is wearing a bikini.” B) “Have you seen the video? James Mercer and Brian Burton wear skin-tight futuristic space uniforms.”

14. Neutral/Positive: Sing along and smile. Negative: If you want to appease the person, option A. Otherwise, option B. A) “I really just like it because of how ironic it is that a totally underground band has this one song that everybody uses whenever they need a song for the last scene of a film or TV show or car commercial.” B) “Oh, come on, this doesn’t make you want to buy a Ford or see the latest Jason Reitmann film?”

15. Neutral/Positive: “Yeah, and did you know it’s a cover? The original group was Siouxsie and the Banshees.” Negative: “Look, I know Siouxsie and the Banshees did it first, but let it go! Nobody’s heard of either of them so it’s still totally indie rock to like them both!”

16. Neutral/Positive: “What I really like is how it’s actually sung out of tune a little bit.” Negative: “Oh, I’m sorry…do you have perfect pitch?”

17. Neutral/Positive: “Yeah. Totally throwback music.” Negative: “Well, some of us have good taste in music, and then there’s you.”

18. Neutral/Positive: Singing along with the music, “’One-Two-Three-Four, Who’s Punk What’s the Score!’ Ahhh awesomeness!” Negative: Throwing punk signs, “JAWBREAKER!! WHO’S PUNK NOW, BITCH?”

Question: “What did you think of the rest of this album?”

For this question, we will use the same response regardless of tone.

1. “It’s an essential listen to any one who claims they know what emo is all about. Because whatever everyone thinks it’s about, it used to be about the music before it was about hairstyle and skinny jeans and cutting yourself.

2. “Girls in Indie Rock rock way harder than the boys in Indie Rock rock. Rock rock on.”

3. “It’s no Diary.”

4. “I still can’t believe the stupid record company said no to it. Thank the good lord of music for the interwebs. I mean, don’t get me wrong, music still sounds better being picked up out of a groove by a needle, but if these songs hadn’t been leaked on the internet behind the record company’s back, we would never have heard of this. And, let’s be frank; this is Wilco’s best album ever.

5. “It all kind of sounds the same, but that’s not a bad thing because it all sounds pretty good.”

6. “I love ‘Paper Birds,’ the closing track, because it kind of ties the whole album together. Also, ‘Airplane/Primitive’ might be one of the best songs that nobody has ever heard. But, I have to say, bad choice on that first track ‘Children of December,’ I think it’s absolutely terrible.”

7. “Who cares about the rest of the album, I just listen to this one song over and over and over and over…no, just kidding, it’s great. Really.”

8. “This album is totally bedroom music. Like, you get this jammed on your stereo, light a candle, and if you’re not careful, that’s how mommy meets daddy.”

9. “There’s only so much of Conor Oberst whining that I can listen to in one sitting. I generally don’t listen to whole Bright Eyes albums. Too angsty.”

10. “I’m predicting that this is the masterpiece of their career, and that in generations to come this will be like Sgt. Pepper, The Wall, or Weezer’s Blue album. This is the album of the year, and I know it’s early to say, but probably of the decade.”

11. “It’s fun and interesting. It’s good background music for a party since there’s no lyrics. Though I can see how that can limit a band’s fan base, so no wonder they only put out the one album. Have you heard of Five Style? It’s the same kind of band, actually some of the same guys, they put out two albums. Not as good as this one, though.”

12. “’Diary’ is one of the greatest albums ever made. It’s perfect. It’s no wonder the band imploded afterwards, look at what they had to live up to. People were saying they were going to be the next Nirvana. Nobody really wanted that after Kurt Cobain killed himself. And of course, their third and fourth albums weren’t exactly high caliber. But hey, they did a great reunion tour last year, even if they skipped St. Louis.” Wipe a tear away at this point. “Great artwork too, I might add.”

13. “It’s a perfect tidy pop album. Danger Mouse is a genius and this partnership with Mercer was a great opportunity for both of them. I feel like with The Shins, Mercer has to stay true to the sweet-pop styles they’re known for. But with Broken Bells, you know, he’s able to experiment a little. And let’s face it; you’re nobody in today’s music world until you’ve collaborated with Danger Mouse. Well, unless you want to reinvigorate your career, then team up with Rick Rubin. Or if you want to return to the roots of your style, T-Bone Burnett is the guy. One of those three.”

14. “How could you not like it? How could anybody not listen to this band and just instantly love them? It just makes me smile!”

15. “It’s cool how they sound like a hybrid mariachi/Eastern European/American Rock band all rolled into one with tuba and accordion. Also, there’s some punk and an organ.”

16. “I kind of hoped at first that the whole album would follow this theme of robbers and cowards, but, you know, it’s still pretty good.”

17. “The first time I heard it, I thought there were four guys. And then I heard a live recording and I thought, yeah, four guys. So imagine my shock when I found out there were just two!” 


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