Pot Luck Review #5 - Sean's Winter '07 Mix

We take a break from our regularly scheduled one-word post titles to bring you the following review.

WHAT: Intrepid concert blogger and Indie Boy-Wonder Sean's Winter Mix (2007)

WHY: Sean posted this particular mix to his own blog back in the end of February, and I haven't had a chance to listen to it yet. And if you plead ignorance to knowing a song that Sean sent you, then Sean gets mad. Sean getting mad = Sean no longer sending you free music = Chris unhappy.

I'm still working on another post that is turning out to be much more of a bear than originally anticipated, so this was going to be my "quick save" so I could keep on track with the "1 post a day" thing. But then last night while cleaning out the baby closet I came across a box of my old comics. Nostalgia kicked my ass big-time, and I wound up writing about my travels through the world of comics.

Anyway, here we go.

1. When Your Heart Stops Beating - +44: We start with what sounds like a little poppy 21st Century by way of 1987 song. Catchy chorus - you need that at the opening of a mix tape. One of Sean's earlier mix tapes starting with that "Snakes on a Plane" song by Cobra Starship. Totally addictive. This is okay. A little electronic, but a little rock, too. And holy cow, a solo. Not a great solo, but this is pop music we're talking about, so it gets a plus in my book regardless.

2. Two Left Feet - The Holloways: Retro pop with some harmonica? Are these guys English? Why is it that English people are stealing our American musical traditions? And doing it better than we do? Damn, I hate to admit it, but this song is pretty catchy, too. I think I like it better than the first song. Harmonica. I'm hooked. I don't hear where the "2 left feet" come in, but still cool.

3. Elephant in White - Hot IQs: Not as impressed. Maybe it's because the production, being lo-fi, doesn't quite match the in-your-face nature of the last two songs, but this feels boring. Are these guys English too? Lots of accents in this mix so far. Is my patriotism popping up? The drums have no "oomph." I am left unsatisfied...

4. Monster - Meg & Dia: I see the name and I am unfortunately already comparing them to Tegan & Sara, which isn't fair since this is a completely different style of music. Kind of feels like a lot of the female rock music going on right now. I'm also getting a weird Kelly Clarkson/Avril Lavigne (sp?) vibe for some reason. It's not bad, and definitely a step up from the last track, but it's not something I would go out and buy unless the rest of the album was a little more varied than this plodding track.

5. Rooftops of Bangor - The God Damned Doo Wop Band: Very different change of pace from the last couple of tracks, and I am grinning from ear to ear. This works wonders for me, and when the music kicks in about a minute in (the beginning is a capella), the tone changes again and I'm still smiling. This track just found a permanent home on my iPod.

6. Computer Camp Love - Datarock: I don't want to like this. It sounds like smarmy "We're hip and we make ironic quirky music because we're cooler than you." I can guarantee you none of the people involved in the making of this track have ever been to Computer Camp before. Nonetheless, the toes are a-tapping, and the head is a-shaking.

7. This Will be Our Year - Pablo: 7 tracks in and I don't know a single artist on this mix yet. I'm sure this is completely derivative from 100 other artists, but I like the singer/piano combo, and this track doesn't disappoint. Simple, catchy arrangement. It's not Ben Folds, but it's not James Blunt either, which is a plus. I like it, especially the chorus that accompanies his voice in certain sections. Nice.

8. True Affection - The Blow: Eh. Finger snaps and hand-claps wear thin on me very quickly, as does the Casio keyboard music that seems so prevalent right now in music. Good, plain voice free of affectation. But this just seems like background music. Right now I'm just waiting for this to end so I can get to the next song.

9. Yea Yeah - Matt & Kim: Wow. More Casio music. No sir, I didn't like it. I liked the last track better - this guy's voice is annoying me.

10. Shake Your Booty or Die - Totally Michael: What the heck is this...I can't understand what this guy is saying. But I gotta admit...the chorus is catchy as hell! It's too short not to like. I like.

11. Ton Plat Favori - Malajube: There better be a reason why both the name of the song and the band is so pretentious. Not bad, but it sounds like a lot of music that was around the "alternative scene" back in the late 90's. Once again I can't understand the lyrics, but the feel of the music pretty good. Nothing outstanding, but I wouldn't shut it off if I heard it. And short to boot. I like the little coda piece at the end.

12. Amazing Kids Doing Amazing Shit - Antsy Pants: Fitting name for band that sounds like they can't agree on what they want to do, at least based on this song. part of the problem with bands like this is the ridiculous song titles - if you name your track something as "indie" or "hip" as this, you better back it up. Sometimes I get the feeling that people pick this stuff because it's simply part of a scene as opposed to it actually being any good. "Oh, did you pick that up? It's the side/split/underground/supercool project from the new unknown-so-it's cool label whose name can mean different things depending on how how often you read Pitchfork magazine. Sorry. ranting here, but this song annoys me.

13. GirlKillsBear (Lo-fi FNK Remix) - Softlights: Another title with a lot to live up to, but this time it does. I like this song. Dance-y. I imagine jumping around to this with my nephew and niece. The Missus would be jumping to this too. Who would've thunk it: I like a dance track!

14. Find a New Way - Young Love: Man, there's a pretty big emphasis on electronic, dance tracks on this mix. And I'm ashamed to say this track isn't half bad. The production's good, the singer sound pretty good, and it sounds harmless and friendly overall. I like when it rocks out a bit. METAL!!

15. All of Your Love - Hellogoodbye: I'm starting to get tired of all the electronic/dance songs. And that's too bad, because this sounds like an okay song. But it's starting to be too much of the same thing, and it's getting hard to judge each song on it's own merits. But you also have to judge based on the sequencing, and there we're running into a small snag. I'd dump this track - the Cher vocal effects don't work for me. They didn't work on that Cher song, either.

16. Chelsea Dagger - The Fratellis: Thank you Jesus! Not only a non-dance song, but a song I finally know. I have this song, so I may be biased, but this is mindless fun, and a welcome breath of air after the monotony of the last few tracks. Call me sad, but I love the Fratellis song that plays over the new iPod commercial. Sounds kind of sleazy, kind of easy.

17. Blackjaw - Permanent Me: Corporate FUSE/MTV radio rock. Do these guy hang out with All American Rejects and Jimmy Eat World? 'Cause that would be cool. They could have some beers and talk about girls and maybe play some Ultimate Frisbee. I shouldn't like this song. This is rock music for teen girls. I must be a teen girl, because I like this. NOTE: the song "A Praise Chorus" by Jimmy Eat World is one of the best pop song to come out in 20 years, IMHO.

18. Peace and Quiet - The Rifles: Again, not stellar, but not bad at all. This kind of music is currently being played by 10,000 bands, all from somewhere in England, and all thinking their different from the other 9,999. But you know what? The same things can be said for almost every Swedish Metal band that came out in the past 12 years. Who cares? I like this song. It makes me feel like I'm in my own small indie movie starring some young cute girl who finally "gets" me.

19. Once Upon a Time - The Boyfriends: Uh oh. Speed bump. This sounds like the Smiths, but without Morrissey singing. Which is not a good thing. Merely "ok." There's a little more noise than your average Smiths song, but still, this is a little stale for me.

20. Irene - Rose Melberg: These are the type of left-field tracks that make mixes interesting and often worthwhile. Young indie girl's take on Ben Folds or Burt Baccarach? I dunno, but this is nice and something I will definitely keep. There's an old-time swing feel that makes you feel nice and cozy.

21. Akiko - Guitar: Instrumental? So far - a mix of eastern scales and electronic percussion, with some classical strings thrown in to add a little weight. Real nice. The last two tracks are great, and totally fit my idea of a "winter mix."

22. Young Folks - Peter Bjorn and John: Different change of pace, and here the more dance-like features work to change the mood. This is good - would it be correct to classify it as somewhat "trance-like?" My "hip cred" may fall into question here. It doesn't jump up and hit you, but I think that's the point of this track. It may need a few more listens before I'm sure, but it gets the passing grade.

23. Hard Days 1,2,3,4 - Loney, Dear: Loney, Dear...is that right? That's what it says on the iPod - but I have no idea what "loney" is. Another good song. This mix is ending really strong.

24. You! Me! Dancing! - Los Campesinos: Looks like we're getting the "epic" track for the end. And by epic I mean "song that is actually over 5 minutes long! Big opening that turns into a Velocity Girl sound (I love Velocity Girl). Now why he singing with an English accent, I thought it was going to be Spanish! Color me bugged - I was hoping for a cool Spanish song. The track is actually quite fun, but I am forlorn over the wool covering my eyes. The song continues to be fun and cool - I'm perking up. Not bad, but nothing to really stand out as a closer.

BOTTOM LINE: B Out of 24 songs (a little too long for a mix tape IMHO), I would keep 12 on the iPod, not including the Fratellis track which I already own. A few songs I liked, a few songs I REALLY liked, and a few songs that went nowhere for me. However, I bet if you were to give this mix to someone who was a little more into the scene a lot of this music appears to belong to, they would love it. I further bet that were I to give one of my own mixes out to Sean, he would probably find about the same ratio.

Hmmm. Was that the sound of a gauntlet being thrown?