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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mix CD Discovered at Used Book Store is Kind of Awesome, Kind of Sad

Posted By on Wed, Jun 1, 2011 at 3:16 PM

click to enlarge studies_in_crap_mix_cd_may.jpg
Think of the last time you made a mix for someone. Think of the hard choices, the happy accidents, and the serious labor that goes into the achievement of that elusive ideal: flow.

And now think of how that act of curation, of combining music and message into 78 burnt minutes or two 45 minute sides or one playlist bound by no formal constraints somehow expresses something of your essence.

Think of how shy or proud you felt when you handed it to its dedicatee. Think of how you probably acted like it was no big deal.

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And then think of what it must feel like to discover that same mix, along with your annotated tracklisting, turn up in the for-free bin at a used book store . . . less than a month after you finished it.

Something like that seems to have happened to an area punk enthusiast. Last weekend, at the great Dog-Eared Books at 900 Valencia, I turned up this epic, two-CD mix labeled "May 11" and "Secret Admirer, pt II."

As loud as its Bratmobile, Fugazi, and Lemonheads (?) songs are, the mix is drowned out by the sound of our hearts breaking.

Taped to its front: a note titled "For You."

The CD as we found it, with note seemingly unopened
  • The CD as we found it, with note seemingly unopened
The note is an often-hilarious track-by-track breakdown with little to identify the mix's compiler or its intended audience.

Sometimes the compiler sounds like some anti-hipster satirist's idea of hipsters:

"Ingrown" - Smudge The singer of this band also played guitar for The Lemonheads, but I think Smudge is way better and it's kind of weird they were never as famous, but that probably makes them cooler.

"Asshole" - Beck I saw this guy cover this Saturday night in a treehouse and remembered how much I love it."
Sometimes the compiler seems uncertain:
"Bunch" - Seam Seam also has members of more famous bands like Superchunk & Bitch Magnet. I like them a lot & this is their best song, I think maybe.
"Trains Across the Sea" - Silver Jews I think this was Stephen Malkamus' band before Pavement or something

Sometimes the compiler does reveal some personal info:

"P.R.D.C.T." - Bratmobile My best friend & I used to listen to this song and drive around the mall looking for cute punk boys. Sadly there were none anywhere ever.

Sometimes the compiler mistakes notebook paper for IM:

"The Punk Singer" - Julie Ruin This is Kathleen Hanna (of Bikini Kill)'s electro band, so I dunno why this song is so punk but OMG I love it. When I heard it I played it nonstop for like a month. I wish I wrote it.

Sometimes the compiler is a surprisingly astute music critic:

"Glory" - Liz Phair Too bad she only had one good album."

"Seed Toss" - Superchunk This band has like a million albums but this is the only song I've liked enough


Other songs making the mix:
"Fun" - Sourpatch
"Happens All the Time" - Eric's Trip ("so good!")
"Hope You Feel Bad" - Excuse 17 ("cool girls!")
"Spill Yer Lungs" - Julie Doiron
"Look Up" - Mirah ("I loved Mirah in high school but now only listen to this song. The rest are too emo these days.")
"Troubled Medium" - P.S. Eliot
"Summerbaby" - Polaris ("it's, like, so good")
"Dark Coffee House" - Raooul
"Supreme Nothing" - Tiger Trap
"Smegl Smoke" - Hazel's Wart ("My friend's band, and it seems kind of weird that I like them so much")
"Eyes Shut" - Eric's Trip
"Sing Wide" - Little Wings
"Cesspool" - Blake Babies ("Julianna Hatfield's first band, I think she used to date Evan Dando")
"Song Whose Name The Compiler Represents With Indecipherable Japanese Characters" -- Carsick Cars
"Bad Mouth" - Fugazi
"Hate Your Friends" - The Lemonheads ("They got really poppy after this but I think this is their best")
"Love Life" - Rubella Ballet
"Say It Ain't So" - Weezer ("I remembered how great this song is when I saw a video on YouTube of Julianna Hatfield doing a cover that's way better than the original. I can't find audio for it anywhere but I suggest you watch the video because it's like the best thing ever. Google 'Julianna Hatfield Weezer Cover 1995'")

And here's that note in its entirety:

studies_in_crap_mix_cd_1138.jpg
click to enlarge studies_in_crap_mix_cd_1139.jpg
studies_in_crap_mix_cd_1140.jpg


Hey, you could do worse than following @studiesincrap and the Exhibitionist blog at @ExhibitionistSF on the Twitter thing.


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Alan Scherstuhl

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