As always, to encourage the consumption of music that doesn't suck, I have provided -- wherever available -- links to free, artist-sanctioned MP3s of the songs.
We got a red alert!
(Questions? Comments? Want one of your band's songs to be considered for an upcoming awesome mix tape? E-mail mperrine [at] duluthbudgeteer [dot] com.)
1. Beck - "Timebomb"
Deservedly, this "playful and apocalyptic"* digital-only single was recently nominated for the Best Solo Rock Vocal Performance Grammy. For once, a Grammy selection that makes sense! "Timebomb" is as fierce as most Ant productions ... and at least half as fun.
2. The Pixies - "Bam Thwok"
Don't believe the (anti-)hype: "Bam Thwok" is worthy of the Pixies name -- and then some. It's just too bad the "Shrek 2" soundtrack committee didn't see it my way....
3. Atmosphere - "Party Over Here" (download lots of "goodies" here)
Speaking of Ant, this EP shiner has to be his most triumphant composition yet. Not to be outdone, indieground rap's dynamic duo is already back with a new batch of songs. (I especially love how they announced the release of "Sad Clown Bad Winter #11" on MySpace: "What do you do when you record too many songs for your new album? How about drop an EP of that material for each season leading up to its release.") Let me tell you, if 2007's four EPs are any indication, Atmosphere is going to have a monster hit on its hands early next year when "When Life Gives You Lemons..." drops.
4. Big George Webley - "Handbags and Gladrags" (Mike d'Abo cover)
Now I can relive the antics of David Brent and Gareth Keenan every time I slip this disc into my player.
5. Matchbook Romance - "Monsters"
I would never usually give this mall punk group a chance (I did walk out of their show in Seattle before they even took the stage...), but goddamn if that isn't the coolest intro ever! Thanks for the introduction, "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock" -- you sly dog.
6. Shaimus - "All of This"
Speaking of that series, here's an early bonus song that actually didn't suck.
7. Queen - "Keep Yourself Alive"
Probably Queen's first shining hour, but I didn't really give it much thought until I found myself "grooving" to it during an episode of "Freaks and Geeks."
8. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts - "Bad Reputation"
And now for that show's bitchin' theme song! I love it; I really do.
9. Holy Ghost! - "Hold On" (listen here)
I have no idea how I ended up downloading this face-melting anthem (maybe it was one of those free tracks?), but I'm sure glad I did. If I were lost on some backwoods dirt road at 3 a.m. and this came on, I would A) feel slightly better before realizing B) this is probably the most terrifying song you could have "pumping on your stereo" at 3 a.m. on some backwoods dirt road.
10. Scissor Sisters - "Get It Get It"
Slightly chintzy production values -- WebTV's background music actually comes to mind -- make this bonus track from the Scissor Sisters' debut even more endearing. What's not to love?
11. Billy Squier - "Lonely is the Night"
Another "Guitar Hero" aww-yeah track.
12. The Flaming Lips - "(Just Like) Starting Over" (John Lennon cover)
The world's greatest cover band?
13. Pilot - "Magic"
Overall ripping-off-ELO vibe aside, this is magic. I fucking love this song!
14. "The Citizens of Halloween" - "This is Halloween"
In my book, Danny Elfman is infallible. You may know something I don't, but this almost makes me want to go back and dive into the Oingo Boingo catalogue ... no?
15. Pearl Jam - "Love, Reign O'er Me" (Who cover)
I could do without the schmaltzy piano opening (it just sounded so much more "authentic" on "Quadrophenia"), but a damn fine cover nonetheless.
16. Mason Jennings - "If You Need a Reason"
Whoa, I just learned Mason was born in Honolulu ... and I thought I knew the man!
17. Faith No More - "Epic"
A spot-on title if I ever did see one.
18. The Afghan Whigs - "I'm a Soldier"
Hopefully the two magnificent new recordings on "Unbreakable" will spark a full-on Whigs reunion. Don'tcha think that's what the world kind of deserves, Greg Dulli?
19. Herman's Hermits - "There's a Kind of Hush"
Strange how my memory improves tenfold when aided by music. -> This one brings me right back to the summer of '04, when I worked at Fargo's glamorous Trollwood Performing Arts School ... as a glorified janitor. LOL (It's too darn hot....)
20. Nada Surf - "All You Need is Love" (Beatles cover)
While this has to be one of the least adventurous covers I've ever heard, it remains one of the loveliest.
*Thanks, USA Today!