Male - 23 Years Old
Life in the Rear View Mirror
1. Damien Jurado: I never got into this guy outside of a scattered handful of tracks - of those, this is definitely my favorite. Opening a mix with a harmonica line is never a bad choice (I considered doing the same but changed my mind at the last second). Obvious shades of Bruce circa Nebraska here. Good opener.
2. The Damnwells: This album was one of my favorites of '09. I was slightly less enamored with the follow-up, and never really dug into their earlier work, but these guys are great. They're one of those bands like The Jayhawks where I feel like their relative anonymity is almost entirely predicated on the decade they established themselves in - this band would've been everywhere in the '90s. I mean, obviously it's difficult to make a retrospective judgment like that, but that's primarily what I've always loved about these guys: they remind me of an era when you could turn on a mainstream rock station and not want to gouge your ears out with the nearest inanimate objects small enough. Excellent choice.
3. Glen Hansard: That opening guitar conjures "Acadian Driftwood" by The Band. And whenever a band reminds me of The Band, that typically means they're a pretty good band, or at least a band capable of being a good band if the rest of their stuff sounds like a band that sounds like The Band (okay, I got carried away). But yeah, I've never listened to this guy and have no career context for him. This is pleasant in an MOR kind of way. I wasn't bowled over, but it worked well in context and I wouldn't mind hearing a record on in the background.
4. The Killers: Holy '80s. I remember hearing "Mr. Brightside" back in the day, but that's my only context for these guys. This is very different and much better. I hate to use two Bruce comparisons in one "review" (though I suppose if I'm going to do it in any of these, it makes sense it'd be yours), but lyrically (and maybe a bit musically; ie: those chiming keys in the verses, the vocals) I thought this was pretty evocative of '70s-'80s Boss. This was probably the biggest surprise here for me - I think I'll download Battle Born and see if I like the whole thing this much. You're officially on what we call "a roll," my friend.
5. James Taylor: His "hits" - including this one - hold a lot of nostalgic value for me thanks to my dad playing them all the time when I was a kid, so I like this song even if I'm aware of the fact that, removed of the emotional baggage I have associated with it, it probably wouldn't do much for me. I guess I feel the same way about this as I do the Glen Hansard track: it's something to put on in the background while you're making dinner or (more season-specific) carving pumpkins, but I'm not sure there's a lot going on here that's worthy of close scrutiny. Still, the flow has been impeccable thus far, and this fit right in.
6. Taylor Swift: Surprisingly decent. I usually find country-pop fairly inoffensive and sometimes even mildly enjoyable in a Diet Coke kind of way, but I've legitimately hated everything I've heard from her, the last single being the worst offender. This is the most roots-y song I've heard of hers by far, so it's no shock that it's my favorite. The juxtaposition of a JT song and a modern pop song that references him was pretty clever. I doubt I'll look into the album just based on my vehement dislike for everything else she's done, but this was pleasant enough.
7. Abandoned Pools: Never heard of these guys. But Wiki tells me that the lead (dude) singer was a founding member of Eels. I like Eels. I may or may not have put Eels on my own mix. This is good stuff - feels like a nice centerpiece for the mix.
8. Dishwalla: Have to agree with George on this (at least on the vocals). Music is a bit radio-rock for my taste, and the singer just sounds like one of the thousand other Vedder-spawn. Nothing offensive here, it's just not my bag.
9. Robert Francis: As soon as I heard that banjo I knew you were back on track. The only thing I found a bit jarring (conceptually) here was the verse when he says, "It's summertime..." But this has definitely got that rustic autumn feel musically, so I understand why you chose it. Like the last few, I probably wouldn't love this out of context, but it worked well here.
10. Jonathan Rice: Pretty standard singer-songwriter fare. "Love is always looking for an open grave to lay down, unfold its arms and die" is a decent line. Outside of that, I've got nothing.
11. Youth Group: I actually really liked this. Probably the best new discovery on the mix for me. Reminds me of U2 circa The Joshua Tree, which isn't a surprise coming from you. I'll definitely give this record a shot.
12. Emerson Hart: I enjoy Diet Coke sometimes.
13. Michael McDermott: I remember reading a quoted lyric from this dude in Stephen King's Insomnia. I had no idea who he was at the time and made a mental note to check him out (regardless of what you think of his work, King usually provides good music recs). I forgot about him until now. This is great, and completes your "Springsteen-esque" hat-trick. Interesting that they've all been from various eras of his career: Nebraska with Jurado, The River/Born in the USA with The Killers, and modern Bruce with McDermott.
14. The Alternate Routes: Another band I've never heard of. This is good, if unspectacular. Ties together the sounds you've primarily been exploring over the last hour (roots-y stuff and arena-rock), and thus feels a bit like a summation. Nice closer.
Not surprised that I enjoyed this. It kept with the autumn theme pretty well for the most part, and even the tracks I thought were middling worked well in context - the flow was terrific. Musically it was a bit one-note, but that's okay. That one note sounded damn good.