Thursday, March 31, 2011

myPod: Ca-Ce

[myPod is an attempt to edit down my CD collection as I import my music on to my brand new 160 GB iPod.]


It’s weird listening to Caution!, my high school band. The group represents a compromise of the different genres my friends and I were into, and it shows. Ultimately, I realize that we would probably be called an emo band in the mallcore sense of the term. There are breakdowns and angsty lyrics galore. We wrote a song called “Bleeding From the Inside Out” and it sounds like the last Linkin Park album. But while there are plenty of embarrassing moments, I’m still proud of us for self-releasing a seven-song EP. “Where You Are,” the first song we ever wrote together, holds up. “Clearview” has one of my favorite piano hooks off all time. “Falling On My Face” was a tossed-off punk tune, but we added an R&B-style spoken word bridge that still cracks me up. I hear a lot of mistakes when I play these songs, but I hear a lot of passion too.

Verdict: Keep. Besides, who would buy this from me?

John Cena

My love of John Cena left the confines of irony long ago. So it was only a matter of time before I picked up his rap album. It’s hilariously awful. The music is indistinct, the rhymes are simplistic, and most of the lyrics are contradictory (“Just Another Day
posits Cena as being both poor and rich at the same time) and silly (“Don’t Fuck With Us” explains that Cena is badass like a well-stocked deli, meaning he is prepared for any situation. In this metaphor, the cheese selection represents guns and/or sick rhymes). I can’t get through this album in one sitting, but when broken up, it’s up there with anything Hulk Hogan ever put out.

Verdict: Edit.


Cetus is the catalyst into my newfound love of metal. While they are a cornerstone for the Lansdale hardcore scene, their technicality and rhythm set them apart. The band’s debut EP Archaic was promising, but the group hit on something fierce with their first full-length, These Things Take Time. Drummer Matt Buckley once told me that what he loves about Meshuggah is that as intricate as their songs get, there’s always a discernible downbeat to anchor everything together. That’s how I feel about Time and its follow-up, Centrifuge. For all the passion and anger and musical dexterity, there’s a groove that flows through the songs. I get sent a lot of technical hardcore albums for review, and most of them come off as masturbatory compared to Cetus, all math and no heart.

Verdict: Keep.

The Changes

Yacht-rock-tinged indie popsters. They put one pretty nifty album and then vanished. Just listened to it at work and, five years later, it’s still pretty great.

Verdict: Keep.


Channels were a short-lived project from husband/wife duo J. Robbins (ex-Government Issue/Jawbox/Burning Airlines) and Janet Morgan. Darren Zantek from Kerosene 454 played drums. Robbins solidified his songwriting style by Jawbox’s third album, so folks of that band or Burning Airlines will enjoy Channels’ slinking guitar dirges and pulsating drums. There are little differences, though. Channels were arguably Robbins’ most danceable project, thanks to Zantek’s beats. The songs dip into indie rock territory more than post-hardcore. And Channels’ full-length Waiting For the Next End of the World is easily Robbins’ most political album. My only real complaint is that Channels didn’t last long, but that’s because Robbins and Morgan’s son, Callum, was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy in 2007. The band fell by the wayside so the pair could be full-time parents.

Verdict: Keep.

Cheese on Bread

So, in high school I was good buds with a fellow named FITZ!. FITZ! had a sister. This sister of his was one-half of an anti-folk duo known as Cheese on Bread. He gave me his sister’s album. I enjoyed it, what with the humorous lyrics and pretty harmonies. I still bust it out on occasion when I need to hear a good tune about veganism vs. cheese. Favorite lyric from the record: “If I ever let you kiss me again / We’ll have to change your whole personality.”

Verdict: Keep.

Chemical Brothers

One day I realized I knew at least four Chemical Brothers songs, so I purchased a greatest hits package from the group. It’s missing “Salmon Song,” but I get “Galvanized” and “Let Forever Be,” which I used to watch obsessively on Tunez (serving the Burlington and Delaware Country areas!). Those two songs are so good for driving that they’re almost dangerous. I’m not the biggest fan of electronic music, but between Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk, I get my fix of repetitive beats.

Verdict: Keep.

The Chickpeas

A few of my friends circa high school were in a jam band called The Chickpeas. The ’peas put on insanely fun shows. They’d crack jokes in between songs and serve baked goods to the crowd. It was like a variety show. Their recorded output never matched their live show, but their first full-length Lickety Split has some catchy tracks, like “Rock Stars Are Dead” and “Back From the Dead Again.” Listen to it all these years later, though, a lot of faults crop up. The drums are a little buried in the mix. The lyrics are a little too nonsensical. I graduated high school in 2004. It’s time to move on.

Verdict: Sell.

The Chinkees

Some people look to Jesus or Buddha for inspiration. I look to Mike Park. Dude’s tongue-in-cheek ska band The Chinkees wrote socially/politically aware tunes that were very, very danceable. Some of them were just full band versions of Park’s solo stuff, but c’mon. I love the organ sound they got here. PICK. IT. UP.

Verdict: Keep.


Hindsight is a weird thing. Chisel was a critically appreciated indie rock band in the ’90s, but when I listen to them, all I hear is a dry run for frontman Ted Leo’s run with The Pharmacists. The songs aren’t as big or as well-produced (In fact, some of Nothing New sounds like ass), but it’s still Leo.

Verdict: Keep.

The Church

As prolific as they are, I’ve only latched on to a handful of releases from the psychedelic alt-pop act The Church. My collection is mixed between vinyl and CD, and the only compact disc to stay in my collection is arguably their best work, Starfish. The one benefit of working inventory in the CD/DVD section of Barnes & Noble, back when they still had a listening section, was that I could check a variety of music easily. If an album cover caught me, I’d look into it. Starfish looks like a classic, with its faded black and white photos arranged in a square. The songs contained within confirmed my notion. The band’s biggest U.S. hit, “Under the Milky Way,” is here, as are shimmering shoulda-been hits like “Reptile” and “North, South, East, and West.” My favorite right now is the surprisingly rocking “Spark.”

Verdict: Keep.

NEXT TIME: C is for... comedians, corrosive punk bands, and core, hard-.

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