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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Friday, June 10, 2005

The 24 CDs I'm Bringing To Europe

It's finally upon me - my month of studying law in Europe. Part Eurotrip, part The Paper Chase, I'll be spending a week in London, two weeks in Paris, and a week in Geneva learning about international economic and human rights law while I navigate foreign public transportation, try to meet European girls who still like America, and look for pubs that show baseball on satellite TV.

What music will be accompanying me on my journey? Glad you asked! Since I'm living in the past and don't have an iPod with the capacity of the Library of Congress, I'm bringing CDs - the 8-tracks of the future. Twenty-four of them, to be exact.

1. Gin Blossoms - 20th Century Masters: The Millennium Collection
Remember "Not Where It's At," "Low," or "All For You?" Well, those songs were not by the Gin Blossoms - they were by Del Amitri, Cracker, and Sister Hazel, respectively. Get your mid-'90s pop-rock right. The Gin Blossoms, who in a short period of time cranked out some of the most likeable songs of their era, apparently broke up for several years and are now back together. I just saw them play a concert last weekend...at a park in the Valley, for free, in front of a bunch of picnicking families and their dogs. Somehow, they actually rocked the place.

2. Weezer - Make Believe
I last saw Weezer in concert when I was in eighth grade and they had just released the Blue Album. Now I have tickets to see them in London, and I need to brush up on their latest material.

3. Lil Jon & The East Side Boyz - Get Crunk/Lovers & Friends
This was a sampler CD I got when I bought Ludacris's new album. It's not particularly good, but there are two instrumental tracks, and I'm kind of hoping there will be someone on this trip who knows how to rap. The odds are stacked mightily against me. But the world needs a rapper who references important legal issues other than his own. "Try to strictly scrutinize me, I got the sick flow/Your rhymes are unconstitutional like Yick Wo." Or something like that. Perhaps in keeping with the theme of international economic law, someone can talk about busting the GATT.

4. Fat Joe - Selections From Joe's New Album "All Or Nothing"
Another sampler CD. "Safe To Say (Da Incredible)" has an awesome beat. The three other tracks on this disc are all snippets and not worthy of mention. It's a lot like a rap concert - only one verse and a couple of choruses per song.

5. Ludacris - The Red Light District
Luda said of the title of his latest album, "When people hear it, they'll automatically think of that place in Germany." Interesting. However, my course packet for the Geneva portion of the trip cautions, "The hotel is located in an area of Geneva where some sex work goes on." So this album could be more appropriate than you think.

6. Guns N' Roses - Greatest Hits
If I could pick any band in history to see in concert, it would probably be Guns N' Roses, circa 1991. This album is simply awesome, especially the cover of the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil," which originally appeared on the Interview With The Vampire soundtrack. Too bad there wasn't room for other GN'R classics like "Get In The Ring," "Estranged," and "Used To Love Her," but regardless, this album freakin' rocks.

7. Dave Matthews Band - A Limited Edition Companion To Stand Up - Warehouse Edition
This eight-track CD came with DMB's new album when I preordered it through the fan club. It's got the studio version of "Joyride," which is a great song and should have been on Stand Up. It also has a great live version of "Hello Again."

8. Dave Matthews Band - Stand Up
DMB's newest album has almost an R&B feel to some of the tracks thanks to producer Mark Batson, and it's an excellent listen throughout. The best tracks are "Hello Again" and "Louisiana Bayou," along with the first single, "American Baby." I'll be seeing DMB three times this summer when I return from Europe, so I'll have to listen to this over and over to learn the words. I'm only half kidding about that.

9. The Roots - The Tipping Point
The Roots played a live show at UCLA recently where I was the only guy in the audience wearing a suit (thanks to a prior engagement). They were great live, since they are an actual band and can therefore do things musically that can't be done with a record. For example, they broke into a medley of covers ranging from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" to The Game's "How We Do," interspersed throughout with shout-outs to Philly. Their studio album doesn't bring the energy and flavor of the live show, but it's still pretty good.

10-12. Dave Matthews Band - 9.12.2004 - Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
This three-disc show was one of DMB's "Live Trax" releases. It's the final show of their summer 2004 tour, and it's a good one, all the way to the final song, "Too Much, " where Dave (I really hate calling him by his first name; it seems so pretentious) breaks into an imitation of Dave Chappelle's Lil Jon impersonation, calling out "What?" and "Okay!" as the band jams to close out the show.

13. Live - The Distance To Here
I haven't listened to this CD in a while - I just like Live, and since I don't have Throwing Copper, I figured I'd go with this one. "The Dolphin's Cry" is a good song, but "Run To The Water" is inspiring.

14. OK Go - OK Go
Every time I listen to this CD, I like it more and more. "Don't Ask Me" is the song you know from this CD (if you know any songs from it); "Get Over It" is a good song; "Bye Bye Baby" is quickly becoming my favorite off this disc. And "C-C-C-Cinnamon Lips" is a fun, silly song, featuring lyrics like, "Does it rain where you are? Does it snow?/And, if so, remind me not to go there, the weather affects my knee." You have to hear it to fully appreciate it.

15. Top Songs XXVIII
Just a mix I made a few months ago. There are some good, upbeat tracks on here like Lola Ray's "Automatic Girl" and Burning Brides' "Heart Full Of Black," both from the soundtrack of NHL 2005 (an oxymoronic name, isn't it?). There's "How We Do," which I'm a little sick of, but I liked a lot when I made this mix. The mix concludes with the mellow "Nightswimming," by R.E.M.

16. The Darkness - Permission To Land
This CD kicks ass. If I were a major league baseball player, the guitar riff from the end of "I Believe In A Thing Called Love" would be my intro music when I came to bat.

17. Damn Brandy - Live At The Wetlands - 6-15-01
Damn Brandy was a band that one of my frat brothers was in back in college. I don't think they ever actually recorded an album, and I don't know the names of a lot of their songs, but this live show is pretty fun to listen to. "Rules" is a good song, and there's an amusing cover of Outkast's "B.O.B." Plus, "Run Away" has the line, "She's the queen, and I'm her pawn/I'm a wookiee, she's the Jedi master," which I like, and I've never even seen Star Wars.

18-19. Phantom Planet - Phantom Planet/The Guest
I include these albums together because I bought them as a double album, although really, The Guest was released first. You might know it because it has the theme song from The OC on it, but it's got other good songs like "Always On My Mind," plus some good live and demo versions of those two songs. The self-titled album, which is much heavier on the distortion, isn't quite as good, but still has some solid songs like "Big Brat."

20. Everything - Everything
Remember that song from about 10 years ago that went, "Who got the hooch?" That was off this album. If you consider that song a hit - a big if - then Everything is a one-hit wonder. But really, this album, which has a unique sound that combines jam rock with zydeco, is very good. Other good songs include the upbeat "Good Thing (St. Luicia)" and "Be Gone," which has a line that bothered me for a while: "Bring back the innocence, be gone/Away with the jealousness, be gone." Finally I figured out what bugged me about that line. "Jealousness" is rarely used in English. It should be "jealousy." But that wouldn't rhyme.

21. Ben Folds Five - The Unauthorized Biography Of Reinhold Messner
Reinhold Messner is a legendary Austrian mountaineer. However, the album's name supposedly comes from the name coincidentally used on one of the band members' fake ID. The best song on the CD, "Army," begins, "Well, I thought about the army/Dad said, 'Son, you're f------ high." It took me a while to realize that the line was not "Well, I thought about the army/Desert sun, you're f------ hot."

22. Yellowcard - Ocean Avenue
I kind of dig the fiddle that's on a lot of the tracks on this CD - it kind of reminds me of good Irish folk music. And the drums on the song "Twentythree" are working in double time, which seems kind of cool to me. The last track, "Back Home," was one I listened to a lot over the winter, when I started missing the East Coast.

23. Green Day - American Idiot
There's nothing I can say about this album that hasn't been said already. Top to bottom, this could end up being the best album of the decade.

24. Big & Rich - Horse Of A Different Color
Nothing says, "Je suis un Americain arrogant" like a guy wearing a baseball cap while "Save A Horse (Ride A Cowboy)" plays loudly from his headphones. Pass the freedom fries!


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