There is something to be said for musical/aesthetic sloppiness, don't get me wrong, but that evening as I walked home I was seething for some reason. The whole idea of dressing like a thrift store hobo, of gurning endlessly as you played because the music was just so full of emotion, man, of making music that mostly draws on classic rock as subsequently homaged by recent Canadian indie rock, of being 'artistes' - the whole thing just seemed so awful, so bankrupt (whereas normally I would have thought the band was middling in the "well, they do it nicely but it's not my thing" sense) that it needed to be destroyed.
I have never played an instrument outside of grade school music class (I was a poor baritone player and a better bass drum one, although I didn't care about music back then), and I have no idea if I have any talents along those lines, but that night I wanted to form a band. I wanted us to wear severe, stark suits, to barely move when playing and to speak little between songs, and to have those songs exhibit a quality I often love in music, a kind of ferocious control that means that even if a song sounds unhinged it also sounds like it's being sung from between clenched teeth. Part of the appeal of all that rigidity and repression, engaged in deliberately for aesthetic reasons, for me is that in my everyday life I often wish I was more reserved, more 'cool,' less high strung and less prone to, plainly, reacting to things. I don't think that sort of thing is the way you ought to live you life every day, of course, and I don't even like it in all of my music, but something about that kind of austerity appeals heavily to me.
So while the feelings of that night didn't last, I did idly toy around with the idea of making a mix along those lines, mostly because as I walked home I had "Closed Groove" by Stiff Little Fingers in my head (perhaps the paradigmatic song in the area that I'm talking about, partly because it uses repression to criticize repression, if that makes sense) and I wondered if I could find a mix of songs like it. I couldn't, not quite, at least in the sense that you might want to argue that some of these are ringers (Free Blood in particular), but I settled on a set of songs that in my mind at least seem to exemplify the kind of control and discipline in either/both of their musical or vocal performances, regardless of the song's subject matter or the band's other work (although in the majority of cases here, the songs 'fit' lyrically as well and the bands have other songs I could have used). But a song didn't make this mix unless I could imagine the band in my head playing it. The result is one of my favourite of my own mixes, and I really hope the person I sent it to (via the IMP) got something out of it.
Ultimately, what I came up with is the CD-R I'd give to someone who wanted to join my imaginary band if I learned to play guitar and started actually assembling it. Some of the songs are more laid-back or more feel-good that my initial furious conception would have allowed for, but ultimately this was about sketching out the limits of a sound or a style or an aesthetic. I don't know what the band would be called, but the phrase that kept popping into my head, and thus the title of the mix, was "against waste."
01. Manicured Noise – Faith (Cassette Version) (3:38)
02. !!! – All My Heroes Are Weirdos (3:04)
03. Free Blood – Quick and Painful (3:39)
04. Talking Heads – Cities (4:10)
05. Life Without Buildings – 14 Days (3:12)
06. The Whitest Boy Alive – Figures (3:57)
07. Ikara Colt – May B 1 Day (4:33)
08. The Wipers – Wait a Minute (3:05)
09. Liquid Liquid – Cavern (5:22)
10. Elvis Costello – (I Don’t Want to Go To) Chelsea (3:10)
11. The Futureheads – Man Ray (2:20)
12. British Sea Power – Something Wicked (3:12)
13. The Chameleons – Soul in Isolation (7:20)
14. Stiff Little Fingers – Closed Groove (4:21)