THE CAT BOX: CLOCKWISE CAT'S SLICK-AS-SHIT, KICK-ASS MUSICAL MIX
Editor's note: The Cat Box is a multi-CD musical mix that was created by Clockwise Cat Publisher and Editor, Alison Ross. It's particularly notable for its genre-bending proclivities. This mix is CRAZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY. It’s eccentrically eclectically kick-ass! It’s got The Cure two-stepping with country moshing to art-punk bouncing to indie-folk licking the nipples of latino-funk bootay-shaking with RAP thrashing to post-punk nuzzling next to spoken-word grabbing the cock of garage rock caressing the soft belly of ambient...
Featured arstistes besides The Cure include: Beat-noir poet Tom fucking WAITS, Man in Black Johnny Cash, art-punk FREAKS Clinic, potent post-punkers Joy Division, Snowden, Les Savy Fav, and Interpol, funky bohemian Manu Chao, legendary surf-punks The Pixies, flower-punks The Black Lips, ambient-punks Deerhunter, quirky folksters Bright Eyes, country rockette Lucinda Williams, masters of melody The Shins, political rappers Public Enemy, shimmering shoegazers Mogwai, Queen surrogates Muse, gypsy hipsters Beirut, poppy progsters Porcupine Tree...
For a negotiated price (depending on your location), the editor will burn the CDs for you, and send them to your abode!
Below, you will find ruminations on each song included in this cool-as-fuck collection. Peruse them or perish, muthafukaz!
THE CAT BOX
All Kinds Of Stuff (The Cure) - Some of the Cure's best songs are b-sides. This song is among The Cure's thrashiest and works best when cranked to illegal decibels.
Anti-Anti (Snowden) - Snowden is an ATL band that draws liberally from UK post-punk influences, and doses them with some sassy southern flavor. I just love what has been termed their "cyclonic" guitar sound. Oh, and the male singer is HOT. The female bass player is sexay too.
Atrocity Exhibition (Joy Division) - Joy Division cannot be topped, period. The primal drum beats, Ian's sensual, tortured basso, and the angry, angular guitars all make for an eerie soundscape that propelled the post-punk and new wave revolution.
An Attempt To Tip The Scales (Bright Eyes) - I lament the day that Conor Oberst decided to go all folk-country, because his sound was so much more unorthodoxly interesting when he mixed idiosyncratic indie rock with simple, shimmering melodies such as this one. This ballad is one of the most gorgeous I've ever heard. The lyrics are printed below. Oh, and get a load of the ridiculously fun "interview" at the end of the song.
Auto Rock (Mogwai) - Mogwai puts on the most insanely destabalizing shows I have ever seen. Auto Rock is a good summation of Mogwai's sonic trademark: quiet contemplation building up to barely contained aggression.
Before Three (The Cure) - A song both brash and tender. That gleaming guitar gets me every time.
Bloodflowers (The Cure) - One of the more perfect Cure songs in terms of the lyrical and musical mood mingling soulfully. I love the alternating negation/affirmation as in the lines, "This dream never ends, she said/the dreams always ends, I said." Some of the best Cure lyrics on one of the best Cure albums. Bloodflowers haters are non-believers, and we must SHUN the non-believers.
The Calendar Hung Itself (Bright Eyes) - Another example of Conor's captivatingly quirky approach to rock.
Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya Man (Public Enemy) - My disdain for most rap makes one concession, and that concession is to none other than Public Enemy. Fear of a Black Planet is an iconic album in terms of unhinged experimentation, wacked--out humor, promiscuous genre mixing, sharp social commentary... all rap bands that came after Public Enemy tried in vapid vain to mimic them, and instead polluted the rap world with sub-standard beats and a profound misunderstanding of what PE has stood for, which is an eradication of genre segregation (music all flows from the same source, after all) and bold social justice. Most new rap reinforces insidious racial stereotypes and repels social justice efforts, but PE prevails even today.
Circus (Tom Waits) - Tom Waits brazenly forged his own genre - himself. His music swirls blues, country, rock, punk, jazz, and swing, onto a canvas vividly smeared with his indelible gravely growl. Circus is a spoken-word piece rife with surrealistic poetry and peppered as always with Waits' own outlandish brand of existential comedy.
Cold Hands (The Black Lips) - The Black Lips are another band from Atlanta. They have termed their sound "flower punk" and indeed, their music sounds like dirty punk rock fuzzily filtered through the sounds of a quintessential sixties band. Cold Hands employs an invigorating surf guitar riff and is vibrantly catchy.
Colony (Joy Division) - So primeval it sounds like it was recorded in a cave before time began.
Come On (Lucinda Williams) - Some of Lucinda's best songs are her aching ballads, but I find Come On to be a fine example of her more abrasively hard rock style. In fact, when I saw her live, she referred to this song as her homage to "cock rock," the 80s brand of rock that emanated from machismo pseudo-metal bands. The lyrics to this song are the amusing anti-thesis of nuance.
Counterfeit Rules (Snowden) - The chunky bass line really propels this song.
Country Trash (Johnny Cash) - The inimitable Cash dabbled in gospel, rockabilly, blues, rock, and yetis mostly known as country crooner. Country Trash does little to dispel that notion, and it is a reverential paen to the oft-berated redneck existence.
Dead & Lovely (Tom Waits) - The "Junkyard Jazz" king mingles heartbreaking melodies with noir-beatlyrics.
Debaser (The Pixies) - The Pixies ruled the world in 1989 with their release of Doolittle, one of the best albums ever made. Their aggressively adventurous take on rock and Dada-esque lyrical indulgences made them a ferocious force to be reckoned with. Their influence reverberates even today. Debaser is a song about Luis Bunel's surrealistic movie "Un Chien Andalou" and the bouyantly thrashy music friggin' scorches my nipple tips to a crisp.
Denia (Manu Chao) - Bohemian vagabond Manu Chao made mediocre music with Manu Negra but fucking SCINTILLATES as a solo artist. He sings in a gazillion languages -Portugeuse, English, Spanish, French, Arabic (okay, so that's five. Still, how many languages do YOU know?) and his music is a dizzingly delightful kaliedescope of sounds. Denia is a shiny sensual ballad sung in Arabic about the plight of Algeria.
Dirty Hands (Black Lips) - Let it Bloom, from which this song is culled, is a fucking MASTERPIECE of modern music. It sounds more vintage sixties than anything even released in the sixites. If you hate this song, you hate music; the Black Lips' juvenile stage antics and seemingly simplistic songs belie sophisticated sonic GENIUS.
The End Of The World (The Cure ) - It's beyond me why some Cure fans dislike this single from the self-titled album. For me it is Cureyness at its most childlike, poetic, and ebullient.
Fear Of A Blank Planet (Porcupine Tree) - Porcupine Tree is one of those prog-rock bands I'm not wholly into, but I do love this song. Naturally the title of the song (which is also the title of the album) is an affectionate parody of Public Enemy's aforementiomed masterpiece. The lyrics to the song are social commentary at its bleakest. The song narrates in dark detail the utterly hollow existence of many kids today. It's a cautionary tale to adults to wake up and actually NURTURE our children instead of abandoning them to video games.
Frankenstar (Public Enemy) - How You Sell Soul To A Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? is Public Enemy's latest album, and considering the age of the band, I am blown away by their persistent ability to cement their legacy through intriguing innovation. This song has the crunch of 80shard rock and lyrically lambastes the superficiality of celebrity whores.
Girl Sailor (The Shins) - I once wrote in my webzine that the Shins are like the second coming of The Cure to me, not so much musically, although there are definite sonic kinships, but in their approach to songs. Their music is lustrous, inventive, and wholly engaging, the vocals soar and the lyrics celebrate the cerebral, the mundane, the murk, the glory ... Wincing the Night Away is a bit more "mainstream" in aim than the more quirky predecessor, Chutes too Narrow, but its a gorgeously melodic listen and Girl Sailor is a definite highlight.
Gouge Away (Pixies) - Another gem from Doolittle.
Heatherwood (Deerhunter) - Deerhunter is yet ANOTHER Atlanta band and they fucking OWN my ass, and will own your ass soon too. Their sophomore album Cryptograms is fuck-me fabulous, juxtaposing ethereal ambient sounds, boisterous garage rock, and perky post-punk. Heatherwood sort of combines all three.
Hoist That Rag (Tom Waits) - This song threatens to make haters of Tom Waits' "singing" voice, as he hyperbolically summons the unfathomably menacing snarl of some mythical beast, but if you just forego your petty prejudices about what music SHOULD be, you will soon be stomping along in blissful rage to this classic song.
Holy Hour (The Cure) - Faith is the reigning champion of all Cure albums: mercurially minimalist and zenfully yummy. In fact, Robert Smith listened to Gregorian monk chants in preparation for the album,which at times evokes the spectral tranquility of a monastery. Holy Hour is Faith's dour opener, and sets the ghostly tone for what is to follow, as well inaugurates the album's motif of spiritual contemplation. But the most compelling aspect of The Holy Hour are its lyrics, which are an exercise in poetic parallelism. AND the lyrics are an exercise in logical progression, as far as body movements and emotion. The narrator moves incrementally from kneeling to standing, and he moves from questioning religious faith to condemning it. In fact the two mirror each other: kneeling is a more tentative gesture while standing is a more assertive one. He kneels when he is questioning and stands when he is more certain of his stance regarding religious faith.
The Hungry Ghost (The Cure) - The Cure's latest album, 4:13 Dream, performs many feats with my nipples: sears them off with sizzling rockers, lightly caresses them with cosmic ballads, sensually licks them with erotic pop songs... The Hungry Ghost lovingly rubs my nipples in concentric circles with its shimmering guitar line and urgent vocal warbling about the pitfalls of our consumerist culture.
I Hope That I Don't Fall In Love With You (Tom Waits) - This song is from Waits' debut album Closing Time, which features sumptuous country-esque heartbreakers. In fact, Waits' early style was almost the polar opposite of his style today, even though he still dabbles in mellifluous soundscapes - but they are nowadays tempered by smoggy vocals. But his vocals in
1973 were shockingly lucid, as you can hear in this track.
I'm Alright Now (Johnny Cash) - I love the vague do-woppy essence of this song. It was, after all, written and sung in 1958.
If you could read your mind (Clinic) - Clinic embodies a freaky-art-punk ethos and their album Visitations is a mandatory-have. They also put on one trippy show, replete with surgical masks.
Isolation (Joy Division) - Ian Curtis really captures the ennui of isolation with his slightly shaky but still potent delivery: it's a good counter to the dancy, almost "goofy" music. It's the one Joy Division song that sounds truly dated to me, but I love it all the same.
It's Over (The Cure) - The name "Baby Rag Dog Book" captured the thrust of this song better than "It's Over," but clearly the title change more accurately reflects the culmination of the album. Either way, I could just devour this frenzied manic track, or better yet, repeatedly rub it all over my nipples. It culls from both the psychedelic and rockabilly genres; I do believe it is The Cure's first ever "psychobilly" song - and here we'd thought they'd covered all the genres by now. What I especially love is that you literally cannot understand the lyrics, because Robert is singing them in such a frantic mode, as if he can't get them out fast enough. Anyway, Viva Baby Rag Dog Book; you'll always be The Best Cure Title We Never Knew.
Knowing (Lucinda Williams) - No one can do aching ballads like Lucinda. Her raspy sensual voice coupled with the languid, tender tones, make this song one of her most evocative. And the lyrics are romantic poetry to die for.
Lost (The Cure) - Lost is one of the most exhilarating sing-along Cure songs ever. When I first heard it at Coachella I loved it, but I was not prepared for the beast that is the studio version. Say whatever you want about the production on the self-titled - and it IS pretty lousy in most places - Lost is perfectly produced. Robert's vocals have never sounded more grandiose, in the best sense of that word. His urgent wail encapsulates the feeling of angsty aimlessness, and the bleak drone of the guitar and the almost zombified drum beat only solidify that sense. Lost starts with a dull whimper, climbs to a rapturous crescendo, and ends with a delicate bang.
The Loudest Sound (The Cure) - Bloodflowers was not a favorite Cure album until I watched it performed on Trilogy. It was during the Loudest Sound that I became fully vigilant of just how gorgeous this collection of songs is. The Loudest Sound narrates a very sad love story and the glittering guitar riff punctuates the tragedy quite poignantly.
Man In Black (Johnny Cash) - JC is DA MAN, and this song proves it. JC cared about the poor and oppressed and wore BLACK in solidarity. Top that, muthafuka! Lyrics attached.
Maybe Someday (The Cure ) - OMG another gorgeous example of just how gorgeously gorgeous Bloodflowers is. Seriously, Maybe Someday makes me vigorously happy, and there is nothing else I can really say about it.
Me Gustas Tu (Manu Chao) - This song is ridiculously catchy and most notable for Manu's fluid alternation of Spanish and French, not to mention his silly litany of things that he likes ("me gusta...").
Me Llaman Calle (Manu Chao) - The third album by Manu Chao, La Radiolina, is a winner, and I honestly did not think he could top the last one. This song is a sexy salsa-esque number.
Microcastle (Deerhunter) - Does Deerhunter own your ass yet? Microcastle starts off in a langorous daze and by the end you are suffused in sumptuous luminosity. There are hints of doo wop here, that are dreamily wrapped in the gauze of ambient bliss.
Monkey Gone To Heaven (Pixies) - So according to this song, if man is 5, then the devil is 6, and godis 7. Interesting that humans correlate to the lowest in that hierarchy of numbers. How did Frank Black and Co. come up with that concept? Apparently it might be rooted in the Hebrew language. Anyway, this song is laden with environmental symbolism, supposedly. It also simply rocks your cock offOr vagina, but that doesn't rhyme with rock.
Nantes (Beirut) - I was introduced to this song via video, which was filmed in Paris. The band played an impromptu set in the streets, and this song was the highlight. The music has a sort of rag-tag gypsy feel to it, and the vocals are lush and dreamy. Despite its Frenchy/folksy/Eastern European flavors, Beirut hail from New Mexico.
Neither Of Us, Uncertainly (Deerhunter ) - At this point, of DH doesn't own your ass by now, I will have to find new friends.
Not a Problem (Black Lips) - One of the best songs on one of the best albums of all times. It punches you in the face with its forceful bouyancy. I love the western noir/southern-drawl-spiced spoken word at the beginning.
NYC (Interpol) - Turn On The Bright Lights was Interpol's inaugural effort, and what a smashing debut it was. It still remains their top album, with its densely moody soundscapes, and guitar lines and vocals that allude in abundance to Joy Division and other post-punk masters. NYC is melodically glimmering and the lyrics are a bemusing treat.
Obstacle 1 (Interpol) - This song sears my left nipple off.
Obstacle 2 (Interpol) - This song sears my right nipple off.
Ol' 55 (Tom Waits) - The Eagles really fucked up this gem with their cover of it. It's my favorite Tom Waits song EVER, and I hate them for messing with it. This tune dazzles with luminescent simplicity.
Old Shoes (And Picture Postcards) (Tom Waits) - Another dazzling diamond by Waits in his nascent days.
Phantom Limb (The Shins) - If you hear a more unbearably pretty song, let me know.
Politik Kills (Manu Chao) - Chao employs his English-speaking skills here, and it's hard to know whether his thick accent is mere caricature or the real thing. Either way, the song's message about the lethality of politics is salient.
Pots & Pans (Les Savy Fav) - Les Savy Fav are like a modern-day Pixies, though with less flair, it seems, for Dada-esque humor. But this song is hooky punky fun.
Primary (The Cure) - Two bass guitars propel the dynamic sound of this post-punk classic about growing old. I especially love Robert's young "thin" voice here. I also love the backdrop of this song when it's played live.
Promiscuity (Manu Chao) - Once again, Chao's heavily accented English and humorous delivery lend a peculiar weight to this song about the pitfalls of promiscuity and related concepts.
The Reasons Why (The Cure) - Barring Underneath the Stars, TRW, to me, is the most gripping of all the songs on the most recent Cure album. It has a rudimentary structure, a stripped-to-the-bones-presentation, and a hooky-as-hell guitar riff, bassline and refrain. The lyrical theme about suicide has unusual spiritual dimensions and pairs with the music beautifully.
Sea of Blasphemy (Black Lips) - Let It Bloom's scorching opener is so vintage-sounding it sort of throws you into temporal disarray. Is this the 60s or the 2000s? I'm never really sure when listening to this album.
Shake It (Tom Waits) - This is Waits at his most playfully diabolic. His voice could shred steel, and
the music is akin to what happens when abrasive funk collides with mosh-pit punk.
Something Vague (Bright Eyes) - Lyrically, this song just shatters me, especially these evocative lines: "There's a dream in my brain that just won’t go away. It's been stuck there since it came a few nights ago/ and I’m standing on a bridge in the town where I lived as a kid with my mom and my brothers/And then the bridge disappears and I’m standing on air with nothing holding me. And I hang like a star, fucking glow in the dark, for all those starving eyes to see, like the ones we’ve wished on."
Spring Hall Convert (Deerhunter) - Am I going to have to find new friends?
Starlight (Muse) - When I saw Muse at Coachella 2004, I was not enamored with their music, and I downright detested their live show. But Starlight is a sparkling jewel in the murky midnight sky, and I have kinda come around to Muse just a little bit.
Strange Lights (Deerhunter ) - Repeat after me: "Deerhunter owns my ass because Cat said so." Say this 10 times before breakfast, 20 times mid-day, and 30 times before bed. Eschew all other rituals in favor of this refrain, and eventually it will sink in that Deerhunter owns not just yer ass, but the entire fucking cosmos. Thank you.
Sunrise, Sunset (Bright Eyes) - I love how Conor essentially generated his own genre with his album, Fevers and Mirrors: folk-punk. I love the alternating tones of this song: mellifluous melancholy mingles fluidly with trembling aggression.
There Is No If ... (The Cure) - Only Robert Smith could get away with inserting an incongruous sentiment ("you sneezed") into a love song, and somehow make it the most romantic element of the song.
Trampled Rose (Tom Waits) - What's interesting to me is how Waits grew from doing somewhat typical folk-country numbers and jazzy spoken word pieces to performing freakishly avant garde blues-rock, and yet retained his soft side throughout the whole strange metamorphosis. Trampled Rose is unbearably beautiful both lyrically and musically, but there is a jaggedness to the song that precludes a stale sterility.
Truth Goodness And Beauty (The Cure) - Um, Geffen should be locked up for refusing to include this transcendent song on all the fifteen thousand versions of The Cure. In fact, Geffen should be locked up for producing so many versions of the self-titled album. Anyway, great fucking song - one of The Cure's best.
Turn On Me (The Shins) - I love what's-his-name's soaring vocals - he really explores ethereal soprano-esque territory here.
Tusk (Clinic) - They really are weird motherfuckers, the dudes in Clinic, but they fucking rock my clit.
Underneath The Stars (The Cure) - When RSX and the Boyz inaugurated this song during the 4Tour, COF and the Cure-net were giddily abuzz with fierce exclamations: "The Cure's best song," "The most gorgeous song ever made," etc. etc. And while sometimes the initial happy hype about a song can eventually spell its doom, this time I do believe the impetuous praise was right on the mark, and not the least bit hyperbolic. Underneath the Stars is indeed one of The Cure's staggering wonders, and one of the most cosmically devastating tunes ever written. The tidal wave crash of guitars, the wispy vocals like soft sand, the mood elusive and dreamy like a mercury moon... it's a stellar song (*insert groan*).
Wave Of Mutilation (Pixies) - There is something so endearingly naive yet audaciously clever about the Pixies - it's as though they are the personification of sonic cartoon, suffused with bold colors and strange mystery.
We're No Here (Mogwai) - Mr. Beast, the album this cut resides on, most assuredly culled its name from the core of this song, with its sultry sinister groove that only a band of Mogwai's bizarre bent could achieve.
What If (Lucinda Williams) - I've always been a big fan of the "poetry of the impossible" - verse about things that are technically not plausibe but fun to extrapolate anyway. Here, Lucinda muses about stone flowers, laughing buildings, weeping windows, clapping feet, bleeding skies, and dried-up oceans. Why? Because she can.
Where The Birds Always Sing (The Cure) - In an interview, RSX said that this was one his favorite BF songs lyrically, but that the music was boring. Um, WOT? I adore the blunt existentialism of the lyrics AND the soothing intensity of the music. Dunno WTF RSX is on about, exactly.
Who Stole The Soul? (Fear Of A Black Planet) - The ever potent PE, with a bold coda to this mix CD about - what else? - the shamefuly hypocrisy of a patently racist America.
THE CAT BOX AFTERTHOUGHT
We Believe (Ministry) - This one is sure to invoke fog-filled underground 80s clubs - I know it does for me cuz all I did the latter half of that decade was thrash my pale white ASS off at crazy clubs. Ministry was one of my favorites and I still treasure their tunes to this day... We Believe has that creepy industrial-goth flavor that later morphed into full-on freaky-ass industrial-metal. Ministry recently broke up and I missed them in on their CU L8Tour. RIP Ministry.
Balada De Outono (Quinteto De Coimbra) - This Fado song lulls me into transcendent euphoria. It helps, of course, that I saw it PERFORMED LIVE in COIMBRA WITH PORT DORK. Anyway, GORGEYNESS times a GAZILLION.
Fade to Black (Metallica) - If y'all are gonna be friends with me, you must accept that I fucking LURVE Metallica. Mmmmkay? And this fucking song fucking rocks my clit, mmmmkay? Well, it starts out hauntingly beautiful, then builds to a head-bangin' climaxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx. BEST METAL BALLAD EVER.
What's He Building? (Tom Waits) - I added this for Jayne, but also because it's CLASSIC WAITS. You cannot NOT like this bizarro hilarious spoken-word from the Wizard of the Weird. And to see it performed LIVE! OMG - funny as FUCK!
Chopin (Etude #2 In F Minor) - The music of Chopin inspired my poem, printed below. Chopin is life.
the stars drip melodies
like blind pianos
tornados spin cacophonies
into a maze of violins
music is a labyrinth of tears
shed from the eyeless sun