I’m cool enough for this mix tape: March 20, 2004

I’ve been writing many blog posts about albums I was too cool for in the mid-00s, so let’s change it up for a second. What was I actually listening to in that time frame? What did I deem to be cool enough for mid-20s me? Do I still even listen to some of this stuff? Let’s find out!


I created many a mix tape in the late 90s and early 2000s. I received a boom box with two cassette players and a CD player for my 17th birthday in 1997, and since my main hobby at the time was listening to music on the radio, finding songs I loved and trying to find out more about them without going on the internet (I wasn’t quite online yet in 1997!), I couldn’t wait to start making mix tapes from the CDs I owned and songs I taped off the radio.

I compiled so many mix tapes while I was in high school in the late 90s, and when I finally received my driver’s license in 2000, I started rocking the streets of western Massachusetts in my 1997 Toyota Camry with all the tapes I had created. I didn’t make as many once I hit college, and once I bought my very first CD burner, I started making mix CDs instead of tapes. (I still like mix tapes better, for the record.)

Finally, in 2004, I created my last mix tape. It was kind of a last hurrah for me; I knew I’d never make another one again because hey, 2004! CDs still reigned supreme for a couple more years, but the iPod started becoming the de facto way to listen to music and cassettes started becoming less and less popular. Still, I wanted to make this particular mix a tape instead of a CD.


Since I knew this would be the last tape I’d make, I took a picture of mix tape making in progress. I long since stopped listening to oldschool radio in 2004, instead switching to Sirius radio sometime in 2003. You may recognize many of the songs on this album as staples on the Left of Center station on Sirius circa 2003, but hey, that’s what I liked, and it was waaaaayyyy cooler than that popular stuff (eye roll here).

A boombox, CDs, and popcorn.
The art of mix tape making. I miss that old boom box!


This entry can't be complete without a picture of me from about a week or so after I made the tape! I definitely look like a 23 year old who secretly thought I was cooler than everyone.

23 year old Aubrey. I was SUPER COOL.


On to the tape!

Picking out the colors to use on the playlist was an art in itself! As was choosing the end of each side and of course, the songs that started and ended the entire tape.

The front side of the mix tape playlist and the tape itself

The back of the mix tape playlist

Playlist

Side 1:

  1. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, “Love Burns”
  2. Dandy Warhols: “We Used to Be Friends”
  3. The White Stripes: “You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl)”
  4. Zwan: “Of a Broken Heart”
  5. The Strokes: “Reptilia”
  6. Guided by Voices: “Tractor Rape Chain”
  7. R.E.M.: “Country Feedback”
  8. Sun Kil Moon: “Carry Me Ohio”
  9. The Charlatans “North Country Boy”
  10. Grandaddy: “Now It’s On”
  11. Mojave 3: “Starlite #1”
  12. George Harrison: “What is Life”
  13. Travis: “Beautiful Occupation”
  14. The Rolling Stones: “19th Nervous Breakdown”
  15. The Strokes, “Someday”
  16. New Order, “Run Wild”

Side 2:

  1. Dressy Bessy, “Just Once More”
  2. The Kinks: “A Well-Respected Man”
  3. R.E.M.: “Bad Day”
  4. Zwan: “Declarations of Faith”
  5. Oranger: “Bluest Glass Eye Sea”
  6. Sun Kil Moon: “Lily and Parrots”
  7. Idlewild “You Held the World in your Arms”
  8. Dandy Warhols: “The Dandy Warhols Love Almost Everyone”
  9. Guided by Voices: “Everywhere with Helicopter”
  10. Elbow: “Fallen Angel”
  11. The Strokes: “Under Control”
  12. The White Stripes: “Hypnotize”
  13. R.E.M.: “Fall on Me”
  14. Vast: “Free”
  15. Oasis: “Listen Up”
  16. Foo Fighters: “Times Like These”
  17. The Strokes: “Hard to Explain”
  18. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club: “Salvation”

Spotify playlist
(Consists of everything but the two Zwan songs, which aren’t on Spotify for some reason. Probably for the best!)

Thoughts

  • This is a suuuper 2004 era list for me with all the Strokes and White Stripes on the playlist!
  • Why did I include those particular Dandy Warhols songs? I assume I included a bunch of my earlier faves on an earlier tape or two.
  • I love starting mixes with Love Burns and ending them with Salvation, and I still make playlists this way today, almost 20 years later.
  • I forgot that I liked R.E.M. as much as I did back then. And "Bad Day", while one of their more mediocre songs, is STILL fun to sing in the car!
  • I was dating my first husband when I made this tape. Guess which song was one of 'our' songs? (Probably not the one you think.)

Songs/artists I still enjoy

  • Dandy Warhols. I’ve liked them since 1997 and I continue to enjoy them in 2023.
  • Guided by Voices never get old.
  • I loved the shit out of the Oranger, Mojave 3, and Grandaddy CDs and while I haven’t listened to any of them in years, they hold a special place in my heart.
  • That Vast song is a deep cut from my high school days and it’s surprising that it took until 2004 to be included on a tape!

Not so much...

  • I can’t say I’m as into the White Stripes now as I was back in 2004.
  • Zwan. Really? I’m glad their music isn’t on Spotify because, cringe!
  • Only one Oasis song? Guess I wasn’t listening to them much in 2004, but they made many appearances on older tapes from high school.
  • I wish the Sun Kil Moon singer wasn’t shitty because man, “Carry Me Ohio” is SO GOOD. One of my favorite driving at night songs.

Looking back, I LOVED this tape. I listened to so much new music on Sirius at the time, and I'm glad I made a tape that reflected my musical interests. Though I still listen to some of the music on this tape, this playlist is such a time capsule to my 2004 life and writing this post and listening to the Spotify playlist brought me back to that time. "How does it feel to be three years late and watching your youth drift away" is a much more poignant lyric at 42 than it was at 23, though maybe I knew at the time that it would mean something as I got older. Who knows!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable exercise and I look forward to going through more of my old tapes, and I hope you enjoyed it too!

I’m too cool for this album: “Fever to Tell” by The Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I must have heard some Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs in 2003 when Fever to Tell was released, but I can’t really remember. They must have been mentioned in the many music magazines I bought and read back then (who else remembers Magnet?). If anything, I must have heard Maps, but Maps doesn’t stick out in my mind until I heard it again in 2009. Then again, maybe I’m mixing it up with Heads will Roll, which DID come out in 2009. I don’t know. Clearly I didn’t pay much attention to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

On to the review!

Loves

The album started off with “Rich”, which I totally enjoyed. I love their energy and it totally came through in this song!

I also liked “Black Tongue”, about midway through the album. It reminded me a lot of the other garage-y music I listened to in the mid 00s, so I dug it.

My favorite part of the album, though, came near the end—Maps, Y Control, and Modern Romance. Of course Maps is fantastic and essentially a perfect song, Y Control the perfect high-energy follow up, and Modern Romance slowed it down and showed some emotion! Those three songs told a story and I listened with delight.

Mehs

I almost loved the rest of the songs on the album, but every single one of them had something I didn’t like and caused me to not enjoy them as much. I can’t put my finger on it but it made the songs not as enjoyable to me. However, I can totally see how great all these songs would be live, and maybe it’s more of a loss in translation between a live show and a studio recording. I’m not sure.

Overall thoughts

I really thought I’d like this album more than I actually did. I thought the first few songs all sounded the same to me, and I found myself getting bored listening to the same thing over and over again!

I loved the three songs toward the end—Maps, Y Control, and Modern Romance—and wished there’d been more songs like Maps. I guess there is only one song like Maps, though, and nothing else even came close to that song on this album.

However, I can see this album being AMAZING live, and perhaps maybe the album does’t actual capture the energy of a live show. I’d totally see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs in concert, even though I didn’t especially dig this album.

DrupalCon Pittsburgh 2023

DrupalCon Pittsburgh 2023 group photo

A couple weeks ago I attended DrupalCon Pittsburgh, a conference I look forward to every year. I had never been to Pittsburgh before this conference and I dug the bridges and rivers and hills! I only wish I had explored the city more than I did.

This year’s DrupalCon felt different than last year’s due to sessions occurring only on Monday and Tuesday, with contribution day on Wednesday and training and summits on Thursday. I went home on Thursday so the conference felt way too short to me—next year, I want to arrive a day earlier and leave on Friday so I get the full conference experience.

Even though I didn’t get to see all the sessions I’d like (that’s what the recordings are for!), I still enjoyed my time in Pittsburgh.

Sunday: Pre-conference

I woke up bright and early at 3am to catch a 6am flight to Baltimore and then Pittsburgh. I arrived in Pittsburgh at around 12:30, caught an Uber with some coworkers, checked into the hotel, then headed down to the expo hall to help with booth setup! I always love the Lullabot booth and our DrupalCon T-shirts are always the best. I’m not biased or anything!

After setup, a few of us ventured to The Standard, and that became the place for the rest of the ‘Bots to gather as our group eventually expanded to take up multiple tables! I’m so glad we all got together at the same place and I enjoyed some tasty wings and brews.

Monday: Conference Day 1

I woke up bright an early on the first day of the conference and after a delicious coffee and pastry from La Prima Espresso, we headed to the conference center. I felt so happy to be back in my element, with all my favorite people, walking around the conference center and seeing so many people I knew. I loved it.

I also attended a few sessions on Monday:

Playing as a Team: Strategies for Better Communication

Overall, I think this was the best session I attended at DrupalCon this year! I loved hearing more about non-violent communication and radical candor and I look forward to digging into these topics more. In all, trust and psychological safety is important in a team and the two speakers demonstrated this beautifully.

Driesnote

It’s not DrupalCon without a Driesnote! This year’s felt different than other years, as it started with a Q&A session with members of the Drupal Association (including the new CEO, Tim Doyle) and ended with a vote on which Pitch-burg projects to fund. I always find the Driesnote fascinating, but this one really didn’t have a Drupal roadmap like in previous years. Either way, I enjoyed it.

Other sessions I attended on Monday:

The Lullabot party

My company, Lullabot, threw Monday night’s conference after party and it was a blast, and not only because I won at duckpin bowling! Arcades, tasty food (I want those shrimp fritters again sooooo much), plenty of outdoor seating, and great conversations with so many awesome people—what’s not to love? I had such a good time and I hope we always throw our party at the end of DrupalCon’s first day!

Tuesday: Conference Day 2

I started off my day with a delightful breakfast at Alihan's Coffee and Breakfast with a few of my Lullabot colleagues. So tasty and the company was obviously great too!

We headed to the convention center after finishing and started our day. Here’s what I attended on Tuesday:

Designing Content Authoring Experiences

I got to hear my colleague Greg talk about content authoring experiences and give a preview of his upcoming book (which I can’t wait to read!). I love attending my colleague’s talks because it reminds me over and over again that I work with such amazing people. Greg’s talk makes me want to learn everything I can about content authoring experiences so I can help my clients with theirs.

Keynote: Women in Tech and Tech Leadership Today

For lunch, I attended a Women in Drupal talk. I ended up getting to this talk late because it took forever and a day to walk from the expo hall to the area were the sessions were held, plus I might have gotten a little lost! I really enjoyed being in a room with a bunch of other women in the Drupal community and I’m glad I attended.

Habits of an Effective Drupal Contributor

Apparently I couldn’t get enough of my colleague’s talks, so I attended Matthew Tift and Owen Bush’s talk on being an effective contributor to Drupal. They both have years of experience contributing, so they bestowed their knowledge on the rest of us (and added a bit a lot of humor, too)!

The CivicActions party

After a delicious Thai dinner with the team, I attended the CivicActions party, held on a rooftop deck with amazing views of the city. This party was a LOT of fun because the weather was perfect, the drinks were great, and I didn’t have to walk very far to get there. I was glad to attend a lower key party than our party had been the previous evening, and I really enjoyed conversations with fellow ‘Bots.

Wednesday: Contribution Day

I got a later start to the day on Wednesday, but I started my day by attending the Drupal Association membership breakfast. I missed the opening remarks, but I enjoyed a tasty breakfast with fellow members!

Since Wednesday was mainly a contribution day, I only attended one session, which was the Drupal Initiative Leads Keynote. It was cool to hear more about Single Directory Components and Admin UI improvements, and I’m excited to help Cristina with the latter.

I spent the afternoon… well, not contributing as much as I wanted, mainly because I was tired and didn’t really know where to start. Instead, I conversed with a few coworkers. Hopefully at next year’s DrupalCon I contribute more!

I didn’t end up attending an afterparty on Wednesday night, but I DID lead a large group of 15 people around the block to find dinner, eventually ending up at a taco place we originally discussed. Hey, we all got a walk around the block, at least!

We then continued onward to Aslin Beer Hall, where we met up with a group of Drupallers and we all conversed into the night. I spent a few minutes in the lobby before heading to bed, as I was flying home the next morning.


In all, I enjoyed this year’s DrupalCon, though looking back, I wish I had done more contributing (and I wish I had taken pictures to fill out this post!). My favorite part of the conference, as always, was seeing friends and coworkers, and I cherished every single conversation I had with my favorite people. Well, the contribution room is always there, so Portland, I’m coming for you in 2024!

I’m too cool for this album: “Give Up” by The Postal Service

I have never really liked The Postal Service, based solely on the fact that I did not like "Such Great Heights" when it came out 20 years ago. I don’t know why—I love electronic music plus, cringe, I did like a couple Owl City songs, who everyone compared to the Postal Service. Since I’m on a kick of revisiting albums I ignored in the 90s and early 00s, plus I’m actually seeing The Postal Service and Death Cab For Cutie back to back playing Give Up and Transatlanticism live in their entirety, I figured I should listen to Give Up. (And yes, Transantlanticism will be the subject of a future post!)

A caveat: While I listened to the deluxe version of Give Up for this post, my review will focus on the original album. In general, none of the songs on the second disc stood out to me. (Except the cover of “Against All Odds”. I never thought I’d praise Phil Collins, but here I am, admitting that his version is better than The Postal Service’s. 19 year old me would be horrified.)

On to the review!


Highlights

My favorite song on the album? "Nothing Better". I really enjoyed the back and forth between Ben Gibbard and Jen Wood, the lyrics, and the sound in general. It’s a perfect combination of everything!

I also liked “We Will Become Silhouettes” (hey, I spelled ‘silhouettes’ correctly on the first try). I had heard this song before but it never stuck out to me, but I enjoyed it in the context of the album.

Also, yes… I enjoyed "Such Great Heights". As much as it pains me to admit it, yes, it’s a good song and super fun to drive to! (I’m just going to ignore the Iron & Wine cover as no matter how many times I listen to them, I can’t get into them!)

Other songs I enjoyed on the album

I loved “The District Sleeps Alone Tonight” as the album’s opener. It starts off slow but driving and becomes slightly more dance-y, yet still conveying loneliness and longing.

I also liked "Clark Gable", "Brand New Colony", and "Sleeping In". Not sure what else to say about these songs, just that I enjoyed both the lyrics and the sound.

I thought "National Anthem", the closer, was an interesting choice to end the album. I’m really curious to see what this will sound like live as I imagine it will be pretty spectacular in person!

Meh

I did not enjoy two of the songs on the album—“Recycled Air” and “This Place is a Prison”. Of course the lyrics were great, but I did not like the overall sound of these songs. Maybe that’s the goal, for these sounds to sound similar to what the lyrics convey, but they weren’t my favorite. I’ve never listened to an album where I enjoyed every song, so I expected this.


In all, this album didn’t hit me like In the Aeroplane over the Sea or Funeral, but this album was fun to listen to in the car. Lyrically, the album is amazing, but I didn’t like the ‘slower’ songs like "Recycled Air" and "This Place is a Prison" due to their sound. Yes, as I wrote above, I even liked "Such Great Heights"! Now that I’m familiar with this album, I can’t wait to see it performed live in September.

I’m too cool for this album: “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel

Before this year, the closest I came to listening to a Neutral Milk Hotel song was the Apples in Stereo’s cover of “King of Carrot Flowers Pt. Three” (which, after learning that Neutral Milk Hotel and the Apples in Stereo shared band members, is not surprising). Then I heard “Holland, 1945” for the first time at the start of 2023 and immediately started to cry, looking out the window at night, and the moment seemed perfect.

This is going to be a hard post to write, because the reaction I’ve had to listening to this entire album is unlike any reaction I’ve ever had to an album. I’m crying right now writing this post, so yeah, you can see this album had an effect on me.


This album dropped in February 1998 when I was 17 years old and a junior in high school. Other important events from 1998 in my personal life: I dated my first boyfriend for a few short months in the spring, and I taught myself HTML and CSS after learning that you didn’t have to be a super genius with a college degree to create a website on the internet.

What was I listening to at 17? Britpop. Lots and lots of Britpop. I was heavily into both Blur and Oasis and spent the summer in my basement listening to a little song called “Star Shaped” that miiiight have become more important to me in just a couple years. Basically, no way would 17 year old me be interested in Neutral Milk Hotel, at all. No. Serious. Way.

All right, let’s get to the album review, which I anticipate will be massively disjointed and full of all the feels.


The album starts with King of Carrot Flowers Part 1 as one song and parts 2 and 3 as the second song. Not sure why all the songs weren’t either part of the same song or all different songs, but whatever! Part 1 immediately set me off and I cried all the way through parts 2 and 3. I loved hearing the original version of the Apples in Stereo cover I listened to so many times back in the late 00s!

However, part 1 was my favorite mainly for the reaction I had to it. I just… I’m trying to figure out the words to say and why it hit me so hard. I don’t know if I can, which makes writing a blog post about it really difficult! It just hit me in a way that felt right, and this is not the only song that made me feel this way.

“In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” was only okay. It wasn’t bad, but I didn’t have the same sort of visceral reaction to it that I did for the first 3 songs on the album. I’ve seen this song on a million “Essential Indie” playlists so this tells me this was one of the more popular songs on the album, and it has that kind of universal indie sound that puts it on these kinds of lists. Teh song isn’t bad, but it’s not my favorite.

Same with the two different “Two Headed Boy” versions on the album—the first version is fine and I apprecated its ‘from the heart’-ness, and I liked Part 2 as the closer to the album, but they didn’t hit me quite the same. The emotion in these two songs, though, I felt in my own way.

Next up is The Fool, a mournful instrumental that I sort of dug, mainly because I lke a good instrumental to break things up a little. I do dig a song that sounds a little like a funeral death march, especially in an album that’s already giving me all the feels!

Of course, though, this song is followed by Holland, 1945, the song I talked about at the beginning that made me cry the very first time I heard it (and not going to lie, nearly EVERY other time I’ve heard it) and it’s just, well, again, beyond words. (This is why this blog post is hard to write!) Is it the sound, the feeling, the lyrics? Everything? I definitely wouldn’t have felt this way if I had heard the song at 17. Maybe I would have felt this way at, say, 24 or 15, but not at 17. Maybe I wasn’t ready until the age of 42, honestly.

I don’t remember much about Communist Daughter, the next song, but it wasn’t bad. It fit well with the album, but I didn’t feel any particular way after listening to it. I wouldn’t skip this song when listening to the entire album, but I wouldn’t look forward to hearing this song, either. It’s just okay.

Then we get to The One Song I Don’t Like on the Album (tm). Oh, Comely, this is you on this album! 8 minutes long, vocals that border on the whiny side, and an overly repetitve and slow verse—nope, this song isn’t for me. I listened to it once and that was enough!

Now we’re nearing the end of the album, and Ghost? LOVE. Another song that started the waterworks for me! It hit me the same way that King of Carrot Flowers 1 and Holland 1945 did, so I appreciated that this album hit me in the feels SO MANY different times. [untitled], another instrumental, perfectly followed Ghost, and the album ended with Two Headed Boy Part 2. Again, good song that I won’t ever listen on its own, but it ended the album in a quiet way. I like quiet endings to albums, especially albums I love this much.


Overall? I really, really, REALLY liked this album. With the exception of Comely, I will be listening to this album over and over and this is another album I’d buy on vinyl if I had a record player. I don’t know if any other album has made me feel as many things as this album has, which is surprising becsue I’ve istned to a lot of albums in my 42 years and have felt a lot of things. Either way, this one’s one of my top feelings albums now!