Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mixed Bag Reviews

Serene has posted reviews of all the Mixed Bag discs from this round. I got an 8 out of 10 awww-yeahs, which is pretty good, I think. She did note, though, that the disc made her feel like a crazy person. I’m thinking that means I actually succeeded with what I set out to do…

I've now listened to everyone's disc, except for Greg's and Logan's magnum opus. I tend to do most of my listening at work, so the stuff that's work unsafe usually has to wait until the end. This batch of reviews brings my reviewing almost current with my listening. I need to give Mike's disc one more listen before I finalize my write-up.

...This World, Then the Fireworks by Gordon

Starting with a rather intriguing title, Gordon has put together a strong, consistent collection of music. The tunes, drawn mainly from different sub-genres of rock, all fit together well. I liked the way he put artists that most recipients were likely to be familiar with (Yardbirds, Clash, Queen, U2) in amongst the other groups, which might or might not have been as familiar. Sometimes, having some familiar sounds mixed in with the new is helpful. It was my first exposure to Rich Kids, Material Issue, and the Effigies, for example. I really liked a lot of the material that was new to me, and will be searching out more by some of the artists.

The only tune that didn’t click with me was the Television song, which just meandered way too much for me. However, Gordon gets bonus points for using the Boomtown Rats, which more than makes up for one stumble. I also appreciated having one song (from the Hollies) with some prominent acoustic guitar. Overall, it was a solid, entertaining disc that I’ll be playing again. Good job, Gordon!

I (heart) WA by Serene

First off, the hand printed cover totally rocks! It was a really nice touch and fits the disc so well. Old (and out-of-touch) fogey that I am, I honestly expected this CD to be full of obscure, grunge band, Nirvana-wanna-be’s, none of which I would like. So imagine how (pleasantly) surprised I was that the first thing I heard after I put this disc in was a dobro! After the opening song from Sera Cahoone (who was new to me) and the Damien Jurado tune that followed it, I was totally open to whatever else this disc might throw at me.

There were only a small handful of artists I had heard of on this one, and even fewer that I had ever actually heard. This is a good collection of music, and I enjoyed most of it quite a bit. Since so much of it was new to me, it was almost like listening to one of the InRadio CD’s. Considering how much I look forward to getting each new InRadio release, that’s pretty high praise. Great job, Serene!

(Focus.) by Kevin Church

Judging from some of Kevin’s comments about music at his blog, I honestly wasn’t sure if I would like this one or not. He seems to lean towards a lot of electronic and dance stuff, which isn’t always my bag. Still, one of the reasons I do the Mixed Bag exchanges is to share music that I think is good with others who might not be familiar with it, and to let others do the same thing for me. So, I prepared myself for an experience that might just broaden my horizons a bit. Or might not.

I ended up playing his disc for almost a week straight.

Instead of the throbbing, pounding dace beats that I wasn’t sure I’d like, Kevin created a smooth jazzy, loungey, chill-out collection of music that’s just wonderful! Most of the disc is instrumental, but there are a handful of tracks with vocals towards the end. There’s lots of smooth, mellow stuff, stuff with lots of beats and things, and stuff with some killer flutes. Oh yeah, and the Theme from SWAT! How cool is that?

This has turned out to be one of my favorite discs from this exchange. It’s a great work disc, especially for those times when I’m working on creative projects.

From beginning to end, I truly love this disc. I even like the reggae tune, and that’s saying something! Thanks for the good music, Kevin! Awesome cover photo, too.

Rockin’ Like Dokken by Chris Brown

Chris made two discs, and I think his other one, I See Dead People, is one of the best discs of this Mixed Bag round. This one is not as not as good as its companion, but it is a solid, enjoyable disc in its own right. Chris and his wife Kelly have convinced me through their discs that I must get some Ookla the Mok CDs. Chris’ disc also reminded me that I’ve been meaning to check out Ted Leo for a while now. Any disc that expands my “music to check out” list gets a couple of bonus points from me!

There’s a lot to like here: an acoustic Pixies song, Ben Folds, Arctic Monkeys, Belle and Sebastian. The Prince tune surprised me, because it sounds so much like his classic stuff, but is fairly recent. Lefty also gets props for the My Morning Jacket cut. I gotta support the local guys! Plus, he used the Beastie Boys, one of the few rap acts I actually like. Yes indeed, lots of good stuff here.

What holds the disc back for me, though, is the tunes by acts I’m largely indifferent to: Wolfmother, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy, Dokken. I accept the inevitability of a Dokken cut on a disc called “Rockin’ Like Dokken” but I’m still underwhelmed by it. The Iron Maiden song was better than I thought it would be, but there are enough songs that I’m lukewarm about to make this a disc I’d call “pretty good” instead of “excellent.” However “pretty good” is a pretty good rating, so I think Chris can take a bow for this one too!


Serene Careaga said...

Wow, thanks for this nice words. I hoped with the range of music I had on there, someone would at least like one song.

And I meant made me feel like a crazy person in a good way. I definitely will be listening to your mix again!

EM said...

Thanks for stopping by Serene. Drop by any time!

If my disc made you crazy in a good way, then I absolutely accomplished what I set out to do with my mix!