I make the three hour trek from school in Los Angeles to home once a month on average, summer included. Before each trip I load the car and refill my CD player. I often find that I have trouble picking only 6 CDs to accompany me on my journey. Still, I manage by making sure I have a good variety of damn good music. On my most recent trip back from L.A., I had a rather entertaining combination of CDs holstered in the trunk. A little side note: I try to shove my CDs in the holders very fast so that I don’t remember which one is in which slot in order to aide in the suspense of what will be next and the thrill of being able to recall it.
The line up from my last trip (still in my car, a whole two weeks later) was (in order … it doesn’t take long to figure it out): Waking Ashland – I Am For You (not sure if that’s the title), Mr. T Experience – Yesterday Rules, The Long Winters – When I Pretend to Fall, The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow, Switchfoot – Beautiful Letdown, and Common Rider – This is Unity Music. Another side note: I can’t believe I forgot how incredible this album is (the Common Rider one). I remember thinking that the first album was awesome and the second one not so hot. I was quite mistaken.
The fact that Mr. T Experience made it to my car was no mistake. I put it in there because it is so much fun. Before I listened to this album I had only heard two songs by Mr. T Experience, “Leave the Thinking to the Smart People” and “Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend.” Given my limited experience with the band’s music I was very surprised by what I heard when I put the release in my player for the first time (at least a month before the trip … yes, this review is long overdue). The first song that spits out of my speakers (which is in, yes IN, the ceiling) was not like the songs I had heard. It wasn’t acoustic, it wasn’t soft, it wasn’t mellow and the lyrics were not blatantly amusing. The lyrics were interesting enough though. As one would expect, there are plenty of great quips and consistent bursts of wit. My favorite being, “smart things come in stupid packages.”
For those of you who are fans of the two songs I mentioned earlier, there are a few (which is more than two, that is a couple) which hold the same air and flow. There is a wonderful variety in this album not only with the instruments but also in the use of words and metaphors alike. It is rare that I am interested in the lyrics of many bands these days, aside from wanting to sing the correct words in my car. The script of this album is as exhilarating, interesting and thoughtful as the performance. With the mix of songs ranging from acoustic guitars to songs with fast electric guitars (don’t forget the great drumming, bass work and keyboarding) and songs with incredibly melodic singing, to the more ballad-like songs soaked in smart (and I mean smart) and pervasive words, this CD will most likely remain in my car for treks to come … given the vast amount of bonus features on the disc, I may remove it from the car only to give some joy to my computer.