Saturday, December 29, 2007

Inside the CMJ Vault: Vol. 1

Upon leaving my old job, I made a point to grab as much music on our company network server and copy it onto an external hard drive. While doing this, I discovered a folder on the network where someone had thrown over 1200 songs from various College Music Journal CDs. These CDs were a lifeline for me in college - Each month they were sent out with about 20 tracks per disc of new music, and while not all the music was specifically college radio oriented (I remember tracks from Korn, Michelle Branch, and even the Rolling Stones popping up on compilations) they were usually a good starting point for finding new bands, or new tracks from bands you already liked.

With that in mind, I decided to dig into the vault and post some selections. Some I already had heard, some I hadn't, but it's always interesting to look back at what the editors of CMJ deemed worthy of checking out from 1993-2003. Some tracks I remember liking at the time and now being embarrassed about; most tracks that I liked at the time I still like. And there are a decent amount that I never heard and am checking out for the first time now. With that, I present the first of hopefully several installments into the CMJ compilations vault. Our first round of random selections include:

Band: Gay Dad
Song: Joy!

CMJ Volume: 74 (October
, 1999)

I remember this band solely for their name, naturally. They were attempting to ride the tale end of the Britpop revival in the late 90's, but didn't quite make the splash they hoped for. This song is fairly unremarkable, but still a solid pop song with 70's-style glam hooks. And I've always had a predilection for song titles containing punctuation marks. This song also fades out at the end - the fade out has truly become a lost art of studio production hasn't it?

Band: Guster

Song: Airport Song

CMJ Volume: 57 (May, 1998)

Before I heard their music, Guster always seemed like a band I was predisposed to hate. My friends who were fans of the band would say over and over, "Their shows are so fun! They are so funny and they have all these traditions within their show!" In my experience, bands who rely on the wacky stage-presence gimmicks usually do so because the music itself can't get the job done (Hello Barenaked Ladies!) But this was the first Guster song I heard, and it's stellar. It's also rather dark for a band who made their mark with shiny jangle pop songs. But apparently things have lightened up by the end of the song as a calming game of ping pong breaks out.

Band: P
Song: Michael Stipe

CMJ Volume: 28 (December, 1995)

The song title piqued my curiosity. Who writes a song about hanging out with Michael Stipe? And who names their band simply P? And who expects that either of these decisions would be met by the listening public with anything other than judgment and ridicule? The answer - Johnny Depp and Gibby Haynes, who apparently put out an album under this name in 1995. The guitar intro and verse riff sounds suspiciously identical to Jewel's "Who Will Save Your Soul" but since both that song and this one were released the same year, perhaps it's just a coincidence. Who would have thought that Am-C-G-D would be such a common chord progression?!

Band: Paw
Song: Jessie

CMJ Volume: 12 (July, 1994)

The following is an actual conversation that took place between customer and owner at Barry's Music in 1994.
Dave Nelson: Do you have the CD by the group Paw?
AndyAlan Berry: [Looking perplexed for 3 seconds of silence] Uhh....yeah...I think so. [Still looking bewildered, then paging through CD racks]
AndyAlan Berry: Here you go. [Handing the CD over dismissively]
Dave Nelson: [Looking at the CD, stunned] No! I asked for the CD by the group Paw! Not the CD by RuPaul!

Band: Ruth Ruth
Song: Condition
CMJ Volume: 61 (September, 1998)

The verses here reference a murder in a bath, possible molestation by a landlord, a rabbit in one's mind, a penguin, and a hunchback midget band, all set to an uninspiring droning bassline. If that doesn't do it for you, wait until the chorus kicks in, providing salvation to anyone who has ever thought to themselves, "I really like Matthew Sweet, but I'd rather hear something that sounds like a mediocre imitation of him instead."

Band: Bush Tetras
Song: Too Many Creeps

CMJ Volume: 29 (January, 1996)

I had never heard of this band before, but my research indicates this song was their biggest hit, originally recorded in the early 80's. They hailed from New York City, and seem to one of those "performance art" bands - the type that crank out dissonant guitar riffs while repeating one line over and over and over, and people talk about how amazing and real they are. They seem to have (or had) somewhat of a cult following, but I will not be joining said cult. I think this track is monotonous and annoying.

Band: The Cardigans
Song: Lovefool

CMJ Volume: 40 (December, 1996)

This choice is just an excuse to watch the following:

Stay tuned for Volume 2 into the CMJ vaults coming soon.


Ross McLochness said...

Not to take away anything from the epic exchange between customer and owner of Berry's music, but I think it may have been Alan Berry instead of his shorter, brunette of a brother.

Maybe Andy was manning the southside store that day.

Dirk Calloway said...

Good catch. I've corrected it for the benefits of the history books.

michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
michael said...

I have had this experience many times myself, I once asked some hard punk rock dudes at the coconuts for a subway sect cd, they took me to something called Subway, which was some kinda of kid r&b group? Mind you these were after Nirvana was famous punk rockers. If you happen upon a song called Bob You head by Welcome to Julian, it was on a CMJ CD June 1996 please let me know if you happen to have this and willing to share, Thanks... Mike

michael said...

Correction: it is CMJ New Music October 1995 - Volume 26

this is a link to the info?