The Freelance Mentalists.
Thursday, March 11, 2004
It’s late, I’ve got too much shit on the brain to sleep and I want to delay the inevitable spinning of Blood On The Tracks (the king of midnight masochism albums), so I’m going to do a little test with my record collection. I spent the second half of 2003 methodically overhauling the unweildy sonuvabitch, coldheartedly yanking a good quarter of the various records, tapes, and CDs. Since I’m too lazy to buy a CD-R drive for my iMac, I still have a giant pile of CDs that I officially “no longer own” but still take up space in my apartment. What I’m going to do is listen to 5 random tracks from 5 CDs I’m keeping, rate them on a stoplight scale (green: must keep, yellow: fine enough filler, red: wish I didn’t own this song) and then do the same for 5 random tracks from 5 CDs that I’m getting rid of.

Note to folks who want to try this test themselves: keeping your eyes closed during the whole selection process is hard but it’s the ONLY WAY for this to truly be random. Think about it.

Track 1: Neil Young, “Coastline”

Um, Ok…you’re definitely Neil Young in country mode, probably Hawks’n’Doves. I’m not hating ya, but I’ll be damned if I can remember your name (a rarity with your kind, I’ve read Shakey plenty). Just for that…YELLOW.

Track #2: Mercury Rev, “Opus 40”

Immediately recognizable. Even if was going to get rid of Deserters’ Songs (which I may eventually), I’d have to tape you. You’re overlong and saccharine, you sound like the Band on Disney but you’re of the more memorable examples of that sound. You were a push track, you got a video, sometimes I get sappy, so you get to stay. GREEN.

Track #3: Brian Eno, “Becalmed”

Ok, this is taking forever to start….wind noises…piano…yes…YES…come on I’m anxious to move on…Eno? Are you Eno? You’re Eno, aren’t you? You are. Yeah, you’re something on Another Green World, though if I’d never heard you before I’d figure you were Yanni or some shit like that (you know, the kind of new age that experimental fans don’t demand I listen seriously to). You’re melodic enough to be on a decent movie soundtrack but, man, are you filler when listened to outside of the Welcome To Mellowsville context. YELLOW

Track #4: Romania, “In A Heartbeat’s Time”
Late ‘80s Pere Ubu? Nope, that voice is way more like haughty Simon LeBon than seal-like David Thomas. I bet you’re from that Romania album I’m keeping around for some damn reason. The only album from you Teenbeat retro-doinks is probably more consistent than any Duran Duran album (even a best-of), but you never actually pulled off a “Hungry Like The Wolf” or “Planet Earth.” Pleasant enough (neat shrill keyboard sound on the bridge), but in no way crucial. YELLOW

Track #5: Stooges, “No Fun”
Woooooooooo!!!!! WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! I OWN YOU AND I ALWAYS WILL. Ok, maybe you could have used a little more jiggy in your beat, maybe T. Rex was smart enough to put some 20th Century bongos behind this kind of riff, but…COME ON! COME ON! COME AWWWWN! GREEN.

2 Green, 3 Yellow (one of the yellows is on an album I’d give a solid green in its entirety, though one of the green’s is from an album that’s dang close to a yellow). Now for the trash bin…

(Ok, so in my self-induced blindness I’ve bumped over a large pile of CDs and opened my eyes long enough to catch a glimpse of Some Friendly and Brighten The Corners. FUCK. Redo. Fuck, knocked over some more. This post may be indulgent, but you can’t pretend it ain’t mentalism.)

Track #1: Howe Gelb, “Intro Speak”

What the hey, somebody was talking about energy coming from love and then the track ended. Was that an intro or something? Whatever, RED.

Track #2: Quarishi, “Stick’ Em Up”

Familiar hard techno beat? Moby? Awww shit, you’re Quarishi’s “Stick ‘Em Up” from the Orange Country soundtrack! No fair, I love you! An energetic track from an Icelandic rap-rock combo with the line “I rock the mic like a fascist,” how can I not love you? You’re totally one of the tracks I’m keeping of this Pete Yorn-highlighted dungheap (along with Crazytown’s leg-shakin’ “Butterfly” – my favorite single of 2001). Nothing else I ever heard from you guys was any good, but I’m at least making an mp3 out of this. Someday I might need to make a sports montage. GREEN.

Track #3: Whiskeytown, “Excuse Me If I Break My Own Heart Tonight”

Ryan Adams before Ryan Adams was Ryan Adams. Better than later stuff but still not good enough (though don’t take it bad, I’m not keeping any Uncle Tupelo full-lengths either). I probably would have kept you for your relative hookitude compared to the more sluggish album tracks on Strangers Almanac (I’m definitely keeping “Waiting To Derail,” “Turn Around” & “13 Days”), but I really hate the cameo vocal from Elanjedro (or however you spell it) Escovedo. It’s totally gratuitous and his voice, which I’m not familiar with from anything else, sounds like an elder’s endorsement or some crap. If it was Elton John or somebody flashier, maybe I’d be amused. YELLOW

Track #4: Sugarcubes, “Coldsweat”

Well, my my, aren’t you some kind of sluggish ‘80s rawk claptrap. Hey, that’s Bjork! You must be something from Life’s Too Good. I totally couldn’t tell if you were lame post-Eliminator bar boogie or lame industrial indie before Bjork showed up! I definitely knew you weren’t “Birthday,” the one song on this album I can’t do without. RED

Track #5: Half Japanese, “Magic Kingdom”

Jangly, shitty drums…Half Japanese? “You know it,” says Jad Fair! I’m guessing you’re that song “Magic Kingdom” because Fair’s chattering about amusement park rides and one man’s dream or something…whatever. Do I need to hear a middle aged man tell us his uninsightful and mega-twee take on a subject, Walt Disney, that I don’t give a crap about? Nope, though you’ve inspired me to listen to the triptastic Heaven Sent instead of Blood On The Tracks after this. Has Jad Fair ever been arrested for flashing? RED.

Ok, 1 green, 1 yellow and 3 reds (two songs were from Iceland! Wacky!). The kept stuff wins! I don’t know if you got much out of this, but this sample study definitely makes me feel more certain that I threw out the bathwater rather than the baby. Try it sometime!
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