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Excalibur 2.5.1

I didn’t actually intend to make this a regular Friday feature, but it’s a reasonably good frivolous weekend thing to post, so I’ll do another mix tape post while I keep an eye on the electronically-submitted lab reports trickling in.

This is one of a pair of tapes I made to listen to while working on my PhD thesis. The title here comes from the LaTeX spell-checker I was using at the time– I’m inordinately amused by the name. It’s as if the Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in purest glittering samite, reached up out of the water and lobbed me a bug-fix, signifying that I, Arthur, was to rule Britain somewhat more efficiently, without the rare bug that caused saves to fail under system 6 while running over an AplleTalk network.

Side One

  • “This Time,” The Verve. Off Urban Hymns, an odd little tune with weird bleeps, synthesized drum beats, and echo effects on the vocals. Weirdly catchy all the same.

  • “Rebirth of Cool,” the Afghan Whigs. This is the extended remix version off the Uptown Avondale, not the hidden track on Congregation. Mostly because the bass riff on this version R00LZ.

  • “Make It Always Be Too Late,” Del Amitri. A creepily atmospheric song, that really doesn’t sound like any of their other stuff. The “tape running down” effect at the start makes a nice segue from the drum-machine-o-rama of the preceding tunes.

  • “Lullabye,” Shawnn Mullins. The song with the half-spoken verses and the soaring falsetto “everything’s gonna be alright” chorus. Yeah, it’s cheesey.

  • “The Sweetest Thing,” U2. The obligatory previously unreleased track stuck on their greatest hits package, which reminded everyone (including Bono) that U2′s whole strength as a band lay in being painfully earnest. The whole postmodern ironic thing was just really unfortunate.

  • “Singing in My Sleep,” Semisonic. This was new-ish when I went to Japan, and it’s one of those songs I’ve come to associate with being in a cramped little apartment in a foreign country. occasionally pausing to wonder just what on earth I was doing there.

  • “Gravity Fails,” the Bottle Rockets. Off The Brooklyn Side, a more or less straight-ahead rock song, with lyrics that almost sound improvised. It should’ve sold a million copies, but that’s the music business for you.

  • “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” Kenny Rogers. Yes, that Kenny Rogers. Who knew? The bowling-alley dream sequence in The Big Lebowski is one of the funniest things ever, so I needed to own the song.

  • “She Came In Through the Bathroom Window,” the Beatles. One of the few songs from the second side of Abbey Road that can stand by themselves. The lyrics hover on the edge of actually meaning something, but always slip away at the last moment.

  • “Window Seat,” John Wesley Harding. The best singer-songwriter ever to name himself after a Dylan album. I saw him play this song (among others) in the basement of the Borders in Gaithersburg, MD, and was sold.

  • “Without You,” the Pietasters. Happy, bouncy ska. Just because.

  • “Dance the Night Away,” the Mavericks. Slightly skewed country music, dressed up with mariachi brass. It works much better than you might think. Also, one of the band pictures looks an awful lot like a Steven Brust author photo.

  • “Bring it on Home to Me,” Sam Cooke. Kate finds the lyrics creepy, but I really like this tune– a wonderfully spare arrangement, with Cooke’s unmistakable voice front and center, pleading for a lover to return.

  • “Hang Down Your Head,” Tom Waits. From one of the best voices in the business, to one of the worst. Though he’s actually fairly tuneful here.

About Chad Orzel