1. PARK AVENUE MUSIC - Golden Hummingbird (Part 2)
If you order a cool CD from Sacramento's Tonevendor.com, there's a chance that PAM vocalist Jeanette "Juju" Faith will put some candy into the shipping box--she works her day job there. If you're even luckier she'll answer your 'thank you' email and subtly let you in on her band when you ask her for good headphone music picks.
+ from 'For Your Home or Office'
[[ www.parkavenuemusic.com

Styrofoam is a guy named Arne Van Petegem who spends lots of time hunched over his PowerBook. From what I can tell he is actually made of flesh and not his namesake branded polystyrene. I saw him play in San Francisco this spring and was captivated at how he took an already great American Analog Set song and eletrocuted it to perfection. Brilliant.
+ from American Analog Set 'The Updates'
[[ www.styro.be
[[ www.amanset.com

3. DUSTER - Cooking
If I were stranded on a space station with nothing to eat but sedatives, I'd probably put Duster in heavy rotation on the Magnavox. Minimalist, dense and brooding, perhaps, but not depressing.+ from 'Contemporary Movement'
[[ www.thestaticcult.com/duster/index.html

4. DALAI BUDDAH - Cut the Grass and Clean the Gutters
This is my dad. He's so Zen and he doesn't even know it--which of course makes him extra Zen. I gave him this funny card showing the Dalai Lama getting a box of nothing for his birthday, which is exactly what he would want if he wanted anything which he doesn't because he's, you know, the Dalai Lama--want not, want not and all. Uh...anyway, my dad is the same way.
+ from my answering machine

I saw a goofy little band called Pianosaurus at the Metro in Chicago several years ago. They were a little too cutesy and they played plasticy toy instruments like you'd find at Toys R Us. After two or three songs the novelty gave way to a headache. When I heard CFPAs instruments were exclusively old cheapie battery-operated keyboards found at yard sales, I instantly had a flash of Pianosaurus and thought "gimmick band." Turns out it's neither gimmick nor band. CFPA is one guy--Owen Ashworth--who's managed to craft some true electropop gems with modest "found" instrumentation...though I gotta believe he used a genuine sequencer at some point in the process.
+from 'Twinkle Echo'
[[ www.tomlab.de

6. THE STREETS - Let's Push Things Forward
Maybe this one will get old really fast but Mike Streets cockney rapping over a Specials-esque ska riff sounds really fresh for now. So lets put on our classics and have a little dance, shall we?
+from 'Original Pirate Material'
[[ www.the-streets.co.uk

When I first saw this DJ crew from San Jose, I thought I might have stumbled onto a meeting of the Independence High computer club. Six clean-cut Asian kids hooking up PowerBooks to turntables, mixers and amps. Forty-five minutes later I found myself completely entranced as they created the perfect audio tapestry to accompany the gallery opening they'd been hired to play. 'Rewind' is a good deal more up-tempo than what they played that night, but their dexterity on the tables was nothing short of virtuosity and a proper compliment for their refined aesthetic sensibilities. Guest MC Rashan Ahmad from the Crown City Rockers provides the vocals on this highlight track.
+from 'Vi-R-Us'
[[ www.fingerbangerz.com

8. PAUL HARVEY - Gonads
With so few words, Paul Harvey proves why he is the voice of the new millennium.
+ from the internet
[[ www.paulharvey.com

9. STEVE EARLE - The Gringo's Tale
Steve Earle has an amazing capacity to step inside the skin of other people and write songs from their persective. Whether the 'American Taliban' in "John Walker's Blues" or a death row prison guard in "Ellis Unit One," Earle has the eerie ability to deliver examinations from the most unexpected of angles. "The Gringo's Tale" puts us in the shoes of a grizzled war veteran resurfacing to face his fate after years of living on the lam. Only Steve Earle.
+from 'The Revolution Starts ...Now'
[[ www.steveearle.com

10. IRON & WINE - Upward Over the Mountain
I'm generally wary of guys with nappy hair and Jesus beards, so perhaps it's better that I heard this song before seeing a picture of Iron & Wine, AKA Sam Beam. Beam is a messiah-looking singer/songwriter based in Miami who's mission in life is to make us forget Gloria Estefan was ever born. OK, maybe not, but it's a good side effect. Beam is orginally from South Carolina where his sound would seem more in-context, and they actually have some mountains to write songs about. The haunting imagery, vocals and instrumentation of this song gave me goose bumps the first time I heard it. It apparently moved the people at Sub Pop records as well, who, upon hearing Beam's basement demo tape agreed to sign Iron & Wine on one condtion--that they could release the demo as-is with nary a change. This song is from that demo.
+from 'The Creek Drank the Cradle'
[[ www.ironandwine.com

11. OWEN - The Ghost of What Should've Been
It's not consistently rainy or dreary enough in Chicago for Morrisey to happen, but having grown up there and having been dumped by girls there, it seems like there's plenty of room for Owen's brand of forlorn lovesick emo-folk. This song has beautifully sad but bright feel to it...and I love it.
+from 'No Good for No One Now'
[[ www.polyvinylrecords.com

12. SUMMER PIERRE - The Long Drive
When I first met Summer, I thought she was nice--an office temp with a sultry voice. What I didnt know was what an absolutely amazing artist she is...and in so many mediums--she's an accomplished sketch artist and aspiring novelist as well. When I saw her play this song the first time, all the hairs on my body stood on end as I watch in an electrified trance. (You should go to her web site and buy her CD and illustrated calendar.)
+from 'Far From Here'
[[ www.summerpierre.com

13. JOHNNY CASH & JOE STRUMMER - Redemption Song
I never really got into Bob Marley. I know he was great and all, but I guess I just missed that train. Cash and the Clash, on the other hand...well I can't ever get enough. With the deaths of Johnny Cash and Joe Strummer in the past couple years, it's somehow poetic that they covered the last song Marley ever played in concert--also the last song from his last album--not long before they themselves passed.
+from 'Unearthed III: Redemption Songs'

14. ALAN KEYES - Smelly Toad
Alan Keyes got crushed in the US Senate race for Illinois by Barack Obama. It's not hard to see why.
[[ www.archpundit.com/archives/010876.html

15. FRANK BLACK - Mr. Grieves (Live Acoustic)
I'm never really sure what Pixies songs are about, but I'm sure I like them. This tight-and-bright live in-studio rendition of 'Mr. Grieves' from former-and-again Pixies frontman Frank Black reminds me that even--or perhaps especially--things we don't entirely understand can be beautiful.
+from KEXP's online archive
[[ www.frankblack.net

16. DEATH CAB FOR CUTIE - Kaleidoscope (Live Acoustic)
The first Death Cab song I ever recall hearing was the album version of this. It reminds me of winters back home and I think it should be taught to school kids as a Christmas standard.
+from KCRW's online archive
[[ www.deathcabforcutie.com

17. JAY FARRAR - Space Junk I
Using only a track of studio noodling from this alt.country UberGod is kind of like having Michelangelo spackle the nail holes in your apartment wall when you move out...or something. I apologize.
+from 'Terrior Blues'
[[ www.jayfarrar.net

18. BJ THOMAS - Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
You can blame all of this on Burt Bacharach and BJ Thomas.
+from 'Raindrops' 45

MFE Liner Notes

MUSIC FOR EVERYONE an amalgamated blend

For as long as I can remember, I've been making mix tapes for friends. OK that's not true, 'cause I remember throwing out my pacifier as a three-year-old and I wasn't making tapes back then. But it wasn't too long after that I was playing a 45 of "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head" over and over for my little friends, in my little room, on my little blue record player. For some reason, I thought everyone should hear it.

Though I didn't put BJ Thomas to tape at the time, the idea of annoying people with sounds they didn't necessarily want to hear was emerging as a defining personality trait. It probably wasn't until high school that I really started making mix tapes in earnest...first for myself, and eventually others. Misfit music mostly, interspersed with oddball soundbites from TV and the radio and instructional records I'd find in thrift store bins. When I say 'misfit' I mean kinda misfit for your average high school kid who lived before you could buy the entire prepackaged lifestyle ensemble at Hot Topic in the mall. In reality, most of it was only slightly more progressive than, say, Peter Gabriel.

Though I had an interest in music, my honest acknowledgement that I had no talent for, nor instruction in playing it led me to getting a show on my community college's radio station. This was a delightfully ear-opening experience that brought ready access to tons of new music. I was amazed at the variety and quality of songs and artists I never knew existed. What truly blew me away was the volume of songs that were a thousand times better than anything you'd hear on commercial radio. A thousand times better as they may have been, they were inexplicably ten thousand times more obscure. If a tape I made could make it only 9,999.99 times less obscure, I thought it was a worthwhile endeavor...so off I went making tape after tape.

Though adult life has limited my tape (now CD) making abilities, and I no longer have access to so many volumes of raw material, I manage to get a disc or two together each year. Thanks to KSCU, KPIG, CMJ and recommendations of friends (even you perhaps), I'm still finding things fresh, original and shareable. 'Music for Everyone' is this year's volume...within, I hope you find something to love...and maybe something to hate too.

'Music for Everyone' was inspired by Nick Hornby's book 'Songbook,' a kind of paperback mix tape I read this fall. Not surprisingly, Hornby also wrote 'High Fidelity,' first a book then a John Cusack movie that prominently featured the mix tape. While our tastes in music are alternately overlapping and divergent, I feel a certain kinship in our appreciation and love of music. If you're looking for a good read, I'd highly recommend 'Songbook.'

This ended up a lot longer than I thought it would.

Thanks for reading...and listening,

December 2004