As I’ve recently mentioned on on Twitter, I’m making it a goal to write more about music in 2019 and beyond, and that means more than my single post in 2017 horrifically opened with the words, “what’s up fam.” I write a lot of emails for my full-time sales job, so I’d like to think I’ve matured beyond such diction, a blessing for anyone reading this now.
Anyways, I’ve thought the best way to dive back in with consistent, weekly content is to pore through my own music library of over 100 CDs (yes, I was/am that person, and I’m not sure if/when I will begin transitioning into the expensive habit of collecting vinyl). Revisiting music I’ve listened to countless times might actually give me some minuscule sense of authority on the subject matter.
Without further delay, I am starting off with a random assortment of songs I burned to a blank CD for a purpose that is escaping me, on this occasion going through them track-by-track.
1. “Intergalactic” – Beastie Boys – The metallic, alien beat that kicks off this opening track is so compelling to me. Combine that with the hype-man harmonies seamlessly rotated between Mike D, Ad-Rock, and MCA, and it makes for one of my all-time favorite Beastie Boys songs.
2. “RoboCop” – Kanye West – This has always been an underrated track on an underrated album within Kanye’s discography. Nowadays, it feels like HE’S the RoboCop, amirite?!
3. “Sober” – Childish Gambino – This is the track that helped me determine when the mixtape is from. I was a peak Gambino fan in college, and “Sober” is a prime example of his transition towards the music we hear on Awaken, My Love!
4. “Miss You” – The Rolling Stones – This was the first song I heard when I started diving into my Dad’s old music, and the rest is history. The fact that this was the Stones’ take on disco was completely lost on my young, impressionable brain. I was hooked.
5. “The Spirit Of Radio” – Rush – There are a few key moments in this song that make it great: the sweeping solo-esque guitar riff, the chimes leading into the chorus, and the fact that the lyrics are simply about music on the radio. Is Rush the best Canadian rock band ever?
6. “The Four Horseman” – Metallica – As we approach one of my favorite songs by my favorite band of all time, I am recalling I may have made this CD for a student music organization playlist exchange we did around the holidays, before the end of our semester. Sadly, the fact that I have this in my possession means no one took my copy 😦
Two solid, chugging riffs and two killer guitar solos proved all the way back in 1983 that the sky was the limit for these young thrashers, who would eventually bring metal to a mainstream audience.
7. “Party Hard” – Andrew W.K. – Anyone who played Madden ’03 back in the day knows how jacked this song got you to pick up the sticks and chuck Hail Marys. Now I’ll use this to crush a few beers and try to forget no one wanted my mix CD.
8. “Don’t Stay” – Linkin Park – It’s probably good no one else listened to this mix, as the deep guitar riffs and screaming vocals might send someone into a downward mood spiral the rest of the way. I love this song and album though. R.I.P. Chester Bennington.
9. “Simple Math” – Manchester Orchestra – …and now we’re out of the heavy stuff, for now. The strings on this track make things a little more positive, let’s see if things get any better…
10. “Hold Tight” – Majid Jordan – Now we are on a different vibe entirely. Majid Jordan is an R&B duo that has been signed to Drake’s label OVO Sound since this song/mixtape was released. I remember back in 2014 thinking the power of Drake even at that time would catapult these two to success. While they’ve releases a couple albums, neither have received much fanfare.
11. “Bubble Of Sanity” – Patton Oswald – This one-minute bit is ripe for the picking by any kid in love with Madison, WI, i.e. me. This was my interlude for the mix.
12. “Nottingham Lace” – Buckethead – I get that high-tier guitar skill doesn’t equate to ‘good’ music, but I’m going stand up for this subgenre of rock and say that it has its place. For anyone that grew up on Guitar Hero and still plays the air guitar every once in a while, I enjoy hearing a musician flex their virtuosity on a real guitar.
13. “Run to the Hills” – Iron Maiden – I wouldn’t be surprised if by today’s standards the public views this song as problematic for ‘glorifying’ westward expansion, but I’ve always viewed bassist Steve Harris’ writing as storytelling (and in this case, educational for the uneducated). For me, Iron Maiden stands as the all-time biggest snub to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
14. “Burnout” – Green Day – A solid sprint of a punk song, Green Day begins their essential album Dookie with a track that could be added to any throwback playlist in need of a deeper cut.
15. “Back Against the Wall” – Cage the Elephant – If Hip Hop weren’t the dominant genre in pop culture today, I think Cage the Elephant would be a massively popular band. They feel like a classic rock band without the clone comparisons given to the likes of Greta Van Fleet. Extremely excited to see what they have in store for 2019.
16. “If Ever I Stray” – Frank Turner – If you’ve never heard of folk punk music before, allow me to introduce you. Combine acoustic guitar, a full band, and measured shouting together in a pot of English stew, and you get the perfectly timed music of Frank Turner.
17. “Rivers” – Frank Turner – Including back-to-back Frank Turner songs allows you to see both sides of the folk punk subgenre. I love the simplicity of this ode to England.
18. “I Killed Sally’s Lover” – The Avett Brothers – The Avett Brothers that my Dad got me into was their early ’00s music, which from my experience has a bit more twang and speed to it than I think their later music does. Sometimes it’s worth going through the back-catalog of an artist if you never have before.
19. “Down In A Hole” – Alice in Chains – Everyone talks about how important Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged album is and how it was one of Kurt Cobain’s last performances, but Alice in Chain’s addition to the series is just as good if not better than the Nirvana set, and it was one of lead vocalist Layne Staley’s last performances with Alice in Chains before moving on to other projects and then passing in 2002. It’s surely not as tragic of a story as Kurt’s, but it’s a story worth telling (and an album worth listening to) nevertheless.
Overall, I still enjoy the vast majority of songs in this mix on their own, but the flow is downright terrible at points. As for this post, it’s long. Probably too long. I’ll keep my posts shorter whenever I’m not doing track-by-track reviews. Hope you enjoyed!