Commute shuffle, and suggested alternatives

Many days, at some point, I hit “shuffle songs” on my iPhone, and periodically, the sequence interests me. Occasionally, I immortalize the shuffle list with a post here. 

On a recent commute to my office, I hit “shuffle” and got an array of songs, some of which I loved, some of which I thought could have been chosen better. Herewith, what happened and what I suggest instead or in addition.

Jack White, “Seven Nation Army”

I’m not exactly an impartial White Stripes fan. I may have more than one friend who refers to Jack White as my boyfriend, and oh yes, I know exactly who they’re talking about. However, I find it really annoying that this song is the only radio-approved White Stripes song. Overkill! And a waste! Especially when there are so many other good options. Suggested alternative: How about “Ball and Biscuit”? Now that’s a classic. Or it ought to be. Especially live. Sweet Jesus. ESPECIALLY this version he played at a “secret” show for a few hundred people in Denver in 2012. (I’m in front of the van in a black hat. Yeah, this was all a cheap setup to say “I was there.” Except for what’s happening around 3:00, wow.)

Jens Lekman, “Becoming Someone Else’s”

Jens, Jens, Jens. Several years ago I was a huge fan of Jens Lekman. Then this record came out. It’s in a genre that my husband refers to as hipster easy listening. Actually I like the beginning of the song, despite the annoying tinky piano. I’m into the story of Jennifer. Then Lekman wanders off into singing about someone else, this Tracey character, and I realize we’re still only halfway through the song, and I can’t bear it any longer. Sorry Jens. Maybe next time. Suggested alternative: “A Postcard to Nina,” “Julie,” or “The Cold Swedish Winter”

Cursive, “The Night I Lost the Will to Fight”

I think I obtained this Cursive album because eMusic told me I might like it, given other things that I did like. I still don’t know what to make of it. It’s kind of genreless. Or cross-genre. Or is this “math rock”? (Admittedly, I have no idea what math rock is. I just associate it with someone who likes Polvo, which “The Night I Lost the Will to Fight” reminds me of. Wait! Now I know what math rock is, and I’m not necessarily that far off, although Polvo says they aren’t math rock, and my brain doesn’t do counting-of-beats enough to be able to wrap around math rock, so, dear readers, this one’s on you.) (And google search results declare Cursive emo as well as post-hardcore, which I didn’t know was a genre, but what the hell.) Anyway, I do like the song. I’m kind of crazy about the guitars, which are kind of hardcore-California punk-prog-surf-garage. Now there’s a genre for you. Suggested alternative: Polvo, “Time Isn’t on My Side”


Of Montreal, “Coquette Coquette”

Of Montreal! The song came on and I started singing along as if I know the words. Well, I do know the first 10 words. It’s a little bit mystifying to me that I like Of Montreal, because they remind me of the Beatles, Queen, and Radiohead, all of whom I like fine if they are playing on the radio or in a waiting room or something, but none of whom compels me to listen to their music intentionally.* That said, I’m not a very thorough Of Montreal fan. I only have a few of their records. It’s kind of odd that I like them at all, because they have this riotous, Baroque sound that has about six more layers than I usually enjoy. But they do write magnificent lyrics. I mean, “With you I can only see my black-light constellations/And other shit I don’t think I have the language to say”? Suggested alternative: “Famine Affair”


Ministry, “Stigmata”

OK, Shuffle — check and mate. Brilliant transition to Ministry’s “Stigmata.” This may be my nostalgia speaking, but the song is appropriate for every occasion. Okay, maybe not every occasion. At a wedding, for instance, it might be better to wait until grandma’s gone to bed and everyone’s wasted. But I’m never unhappy to hear the song. In fact, I was grateful there were no parking spaces, so I had to drive around four extra blocks and got to hear most of the rest of the song. I’ve even written about “Stigmata” in my manuscript:

In a narrow hallway, the acid house from the sanctuary clashed with industrial music from the bar. Ministry’s song “Stigmata”—a voice growling about weapons and lies and fear above the scream of what sounded like a buzzsaw—a familiar, grinding rhythm that flooded me with relief. The drum machine throbbed my heartbeat back into energetic alignment, not so different from the way the powwow drums had settled me in August, before I left home. I shoved into the next bar. Where a choir must have once sung, where an organ must have played, guys with spiked hair snorted cocaine off the bar. They laughed and wiped their noses with the backs of their hands. My poker face flinched, and they laughed at my recoil. I took a deep breath and let the drum machine keep kneading me back into shape.

Suggested alternative: Hmm. I’m not sure there’s any substitute for this one. Readers? Am I wrong?

* I am aware this is blasphemy on all three counts. Thank you.

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