liz_marcs (liz_marcs) wrote,

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Music from the Cube: What Am I Listening to Today?

For those asking, for god's sake, yes, yes, yes. I am still working on No Myth and Water Hold Me Down and no they haven't been forgotten...

...but I also have a real life that requires I pay attention to it on occassion. And I positively, absolutely refuse to throw crap up on LJ just because I've got something scribbled down, so to speak. It'll get done when it gets done, but given springtime is my RL busy time due to various holidays and birthdays, you might be waiting on some of this stuff.

I don't mean to sound irritated, but I got pelted with emails from people yesterday just a little bit upset with the very idea that I posted mini-CD reviews instead of fic. For heavens' sake people. I'm a well-rounded person who has other interests. And right now I have an interest in sorting out my insanely large CD collection to see if I can't maybe sell some of them off, but I don't want to accidently sell off a jewel. By posting mini-CD reviews, it will force me to actually listen to every single CD in my collection. I thought by actually sharing some songs, people might be happy with getting free tunes for their iPod or iRiver or portable MP3 player of their choice.

Hey, I'm listening to the CDs at work. I'm here. The CDs are here. So why not? No skin off my nose to share. Plus, people like trying out free tunes.

Let me stress: This rant is not aimed at one particular person. In fact, it's not aimed at anyone who's publicly asked when "it's" (meaning story A, B, or C) is going to be done via LJ comments or responses. But a couple of the private emails were a little bit rude. I'm glad you're waiting for the next part. I am thrilled. And I don't mean that sarcastically. But I can't crank out chapters I'm happy with like it's an assembly line. So stop getting pissed at me when I don't perform like a monkey for you. Thanks.

Now on to the tunes.


Cry, Cry, Cry Rating=$$$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Even though I've got a moratorium on buying CDs, a few songs from this golden little number started showing up on some of the MP3 blogs on my FList. The few selections I heard from it told me that I just had to have this puppy, so I booked it over to and got it cheap.

Cry, Cry, Cry is what passes for a "supergroup" for the folkie/indie singer-songwriter set and represents a one-time-only collaboration between Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky, and Richard Shindell. The self-titled CD is a collection of covers and there's not really a clunker in the bunch, although there are some songs I like less than others. It's a moody CD that's perfect to listen to on a rainy day, although not very good to listen to while working because you find yourself stopping to really listen to the songs, even if you've heard them 1,000 times before. The linear notes are a little on the self-important side, though. Guys, we know you're good. But when you start using "redemptive" in reference to yourselves? I just dunno. But still, I can only choose ONE song? WAAAAAH!
Sample Song Download: Cold Missouri Waters

Jann Arden, Part 1 Rating=$$$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Bought used seven years ago. This was an impulse buy because I heard one of the songs on the local indie music station.

Living Under June is not a CD I play a lot because I often forget that I have it. However, whenever I come across it in my collection, I always feel the "push play" and it's always a new revelation. I re-found this in my collection while I was putting together my Ultimate Mary Sue 2-CD Extravaganza. My attitude towards this CD has changed over the years. When I first bought it *mumble mumble* years ago, I was "meh" about it since I liked my music pretty goth-y and couldn't make room for more mellow works like this one here. Awsome if you're looking for quality cubical music, awesome if you're kicking back for a relaxing day, awesome if you're driving around in the spring and fall and feel like popping it into the player. Arden, sadly, is so overshadowed by other Canadian imports (right Celine, Sarah, and Loreena?) that she flies under the radar for too many people. A nice solid, soothing alto who deserves a little more love than she gets from people south of the border (the Canadian Border, that is). Since I've already offered Could I Be Your Girl for download elsewhere, I'm offering a second download off the same CD.
Sample Song Download: Gasoline

A*Teens Rating=$$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Freebie demo from my Bordersverse Daze. I wasn't entirely too sure about this one before I nabbed it since it was sitting all alone and unwanted in the box. Glad I did take it, though.

Teen Spirit is one of those CDs that make you inexplicably bouncy and happy, even if you're a decade (or so) beyond the teeny-bopper popcorn pop phase in your musical tastes. This harmless, sunny little CD is a lot of fun, if only because it never pretends to be any deeper than what it is: ear candy for pop-lovers. ABBA-lovers will really dig this CD since this group practically sounds like it wants to be an ABBA cover band. (Okay, okay, so this Swedish group actually did start as an ABBA cover band. Shaddap.) I'd call this one a "must add" if you're a Dancing Queen addict and have the Original Broadway Cast recording of Mamma Mia. For those not obsessed with Scandinavian popsters, I still say that this is a good CD to have. Really great to do household chores to, although not so great for the cube on account of the butt-bouncing.
Sample Song Download: All That I Am

Jann Arden, Part 2 Rating=$$$$
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: Freebie demo from my Bordersverse Daze. Grabbed it on the strength of my previous Jann Arden aquisition.

Blood Red Cherry obviously didn't make a huge impression on me when I first heard it, because this is the first time I've listened to it since I brought it home. I have no idea why. This is yet another strong outing from Arden that's nearly (but not quite) as good as Living Under June. It has a slightly lower rating only because this CD is slightly more earnest (for lack of a better word) than my other Arden-made CD. A playful tune like Living Under June (which is one of the best play-on-words songs you'll hear because it takes you by surprise) would be slightly out of place in this far more serious effort. Still if you're an Arden fan, this is a must. For others, definitely an aquisition to consider.
Sample Song Download: Cherry Popsicle

A-OK: A New Music Sampler Rating=$$$
BMG Distribution Music Sampler
How I Got This CD: Freebie demo from my Borderverse Daze that was left alone and unwanted in the demo box. Considering I worked with fans of some of the bands on this compilation CD, I'm shocked no one grabbed it.

This is the first time I've listened to this, probably because it got lost before the "great CD organization of 2005" project. A-OK is a nice 2001 compilation of harder-edged acts from 311 to Widespread Panic to the Stereophonics and lesser-known rockin' acts in between. Music genre aside, it's hard to guess why these bands were chosen for this 13-track CD. Not all of the bands are well-known and they're not all from the same record company. At a guess, it's probably because their CDs are all distributed from BMG (hence the name). Anyway, a nice collection of tunes with a clunker or two as befits a CD that's meant to be used as an overhead demo in music stores. While I'd probably expect to hear this in some indie record store or even Newbury Comics, which is a small record chain in the Boston area (*sighs whistfully* and remembers when it had one hole-in-the-wall storefront on Newbury Street in Boston), I'm hard-pressed to figure out why BMG Distribution thought sending this to BORDERS was a good idea. Much as the employees would dig the music and be blasting this before- and after-hours, ain't no way this would've made the overhead. Good cube music for people who like their background noise rockin'.
Sample Song Download: Isolated by Skrape

Louis Armstrong Rating=$ (for sucky sound quality)
[Support the Artist]
How I Got This CD: My parents bought this for me as a gift when Bradley's department store chain went bankrupt and was having its EVERYTHING MUST GO sale.

What can I say? It's the master himself. This version of Singin' and Playin' is basically a cheap-o best-of live performance from Laserlight. The sound quality sucks the Big One, which is why this gets a big ol' thumbs down from me. Hell, if it wasn't for the fact it's Louis Armstrong, it would get a big ol' none, but I can't find it in my heart to rate anything by Armstrong that low. Hell, I feel guilty giving it only one '$'. It's a good CD if you want to introduce the ignorant or your children to the wonders of old skool jazz and don't want to be out loads of money for making the attempt. Armstrong fans, on the other hand, either have all of these songs already and at a much higher quality to boot.
Sample Song Download: Mack the Knife (Live)

Read the index for previous thumbnail reviews.


Rating system:
None = Avoid at all cost. Worth cutting your ears off to avoid if someone threatens to play it for you. When faced with even the threat of its cellophane-wrapped presence, your best option is to RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY!

$= If you stumble across it for cheap in a used bin, it might, maybe, perhaps could be worth the buy, but only if you need a cheap coaster for your cold drinks or a cool-looking frisbee.

$$= You might want to give this CD/artist a try, but only if the sample track tickles your fancy. Don't bother buying this one new because the good tunes you'd get out of this one ain't worth that kind of money.

$$$ = Worth looking for on a casual basis and maybe even buying new, but no big rush.

$$$$ = Definitely worth having in the ol' CD collection and definitely worth buying new, but don't re-arrange your personal "must have" list to get your hands on it.

$$$$$ = Why haven't you bought this CD yet? Go. This is a "Want. Take. Have." situation because you so want this.

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