You Already Have Way Too Many CDRs (3 CD Box)
Greetings. I have been more than delinquent on reporting on some of the outstanding music CD-Rs that are being freshly toasted this year. But wading through the stacks and stacks of these home burned platters just plain takes a long time. I gotta start somewhere though, so up on tap first is the Asaurus Records Box Set. It is called You Already Have Way To Many CDRs and that certainly does describe the current situation!
Born from a Michigan bedroom, Asaurus has become one of the most popular indie hubs for home released music and the first stop for home-tapers and budding bands-in-a-box. By releasing these bands, head sauruses Matthew and Corey have consistently advanced the theory that the craft of music making doesn't have to cost hundreds of buckeroos. However, even though these are CD-Rs we're talking about here and the artists are for the most part unknown, this is no cruddy music malarkey... many of the artists on Asaurus are top notch. And those that aren't are at least, for the most part, highly interesting.
Because Asaurus has attracted so much attention, their roster of bands keeps swelling so it was no surprise that eventually they would release an honest to god CD-R Box Set. Yes, you read that right pardner; a box set of CD-Rs. Three discs and three years of amazing memories actually. I've always liked indie music but Asaurus was my first clear introduction to a level of music that was actually flying "beneath the music" if you catch my drift. It opened up a whole new world of possibilites and actually was instrumental in jumpstarting the reviews at Shmat Records.
The songs are divided into three distinct CDs. We start off with the aptly titled "One Song From Each Band". Although astute Asaurians will note that there are many more than 23 bands that have appeared on Asaurus Releases (especially many more from their CD EP club releases!) these 23 songs somewhat form the core of the bands at the label. The variety is astounding; you will not get bored here. But there are 2 "genres" in the stable that have always impressed me. If you could call them genres. I like to think of them as Kung Fu Fighting Styles instead. The first is "Arcade Pop Quirk" which is championed by bands like The 32-Bit Handhelds, Elliott The Letter Ostrich, and Mathematics. The second is "Experimental, Drone style" which is practiced by the Goslings, When I Know You Will Too, Carsick and In Triplicate.
These two fightings styles might be enough to run a label on, but instead there are also amazing indie pop chops from This Bank Holiday, Pants Yell! and Winter Vacation, slow burning folkfire from Quiet Bears and Wally Pear. Many of the bands mix and match styles as well, which I think is smart as eventually your adversary (music buying public) learns how you fight. The list of good stuff goes on and on, and this is just the first CD.
The second disc is called "Some Bands Doing a Cover Of A Guilty Pleasure". I thought maybe this would be too over the top but it was actually really fun. From the Bob Seger cover of "Still the Same" by Pants Yell! (I have been quoted when drunk as saying this band should be Knighted) to probably the goofiest Cranberries cover ever by The Mathletes this was a pretty fun 13 songs. The Ben Folds cover of "Kate" by Winter Vacation wasn't so much a guilty pleasure (Hey, I still listen to that CD!) but Wally Pear's rendition of the Star Trek Enterprise Theme ("Faith of the Heart") really made me laugh. The best is saved for last with a pretty amazing cover of the Beach Boys "Good Vibrations" by Colin Clary, The Magogs and Friends. Like the original, this song is of the playful, kitchen sink variety but I like it because it doesn't try to exactly imitate all of the instruments. But damn they did get the harmonies and vocal lines down pat.
The final disc is labeled "Outtakes And Other Odds And Ends From Most Bands". Like most boxsets that include a disc 'o misc (my Velvet Underground boxset comes to mind, and maybe the Pavement re-release boxes), you sort of need to be more than a casual fan to appreciate this stuff. But hey, I AM a fan and I have nearly every single one of the 40 releases that Asaurus has put out. And anyhow, I like the odd and weird because I'm odd and weird. Weird like Kevin Hume's children singalong "Cookie Song" or odd like Gabriel Joel's short "Untitled" track of guitar drone and mutterings. I really like that there are liner notes for each of the songs sometimes telling how the song came about. For instance we learn that Patrick Porter's "Light Sleeper" Demo was recorded on a dictaphone on New Year's Eve and Colin Clary's "Sweet Boy" was actually written as a birthday present for a friend.
I think I remember something about Tulsa's ETLO saying they have this secret penchant for hardcore so the screamo metal of the "Bear of Progress" outtake was no surprise. It sure was loud though! 3ColorNegative contributes a sweet demo called "Caught Up" that I really liked and Monotone's casio-only party of distorted keyboard sounds is an ear opener. There sure are a lot of dog barks and yips in The Diskettes' live version of "Jump Up"!
Well, I do believe this is the longest review I've ever written. But maybe this was necessary for this collection. I've been hiding out for awhile as far as reviewing goes. I think listening to this Asaurus retrospective is the shot in the arm I needed to remember why it is people actually make indie music. And why I listen to it. Here's to many more CDRs, Asaurus.
- review by BY (6.29.05)
PO Box 0664
Allen Park, MI 48101-0664
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