Posted by: Nathan | April 1, 2008

Is Paste Too Cool for Me?

Last Christmas, my most excellent cousin Tim purchased a subscription to Paste magazine for me, and it’s been great. Paste is pretty dang cool. Basically, it’s a magazine about the arts (especially music), and it covers all the artists that you probably haven’t heard of. Well, I hadn’t heard of them anyway. It has movie, book and video game reviews, which I always enjoy reading, and it features regular and free-lance contributors covering various topics.

But the best part is the sampler. Every issue comes with a 20-track CD of artists covered in the most recent issue. Thus, as I discovered with my second issue, one can listen to the sampler disc to get acquainted with the musicians and then read what Paste has to say about them and their most recent release. This eliminates the worst aspect of reviews: one doesn’t know how much to value the writer’s opinion until one has sampled the music (or book, movie, etc.) for squiself. It’s useful to hear one song off a CD and then read the review.

The sampler also functions to introduce the subscriber to new music. I hate the radio. Thus, I rarely hear new songs and/or new artists. With the CD sampler, I’m able to explore new musical territory sans abrasive commercials and idiotic DJ’s. If I dislike a song, I needn’t hear it again. Conversely, the upside is huge. If I hear a tune I enjoy, I already have that one for keeps and I can research the artist to see if the rest of squi’s music is as worthwhile. I already have Paste to thank for J’s and my love for The Weepies.

But all of this “hipness” has me wondering: is Paste too cool for me? I’m the curmudgeon who gripes about the radio and prefers listening to the wonderful, familiar CDs I’ve had for years. I’m the guy who complains that popular music sucks now and reminisces about the glory days of music (early/mid-nineties for me) when listening to the radio was palatable. Now I get free sampler CDs to test the waters of new music, and I’m able to easily reject crappy ditties and embrace hitherto undiscovered music.

To make matters worse, the music covered in Paste is mostly the underground, not over-hyped kind. Paste is an end-around play for artists whom commercial radio discards. It’s odd to hear cool music of which most people probably never have heard. Am I becoming…(gasp)…cool?

Nah. But Paste is well worth checking out for yourself. Nice present, coz.


  1. Even these names…”The Weepies”, that just screams indie/underground. I like their sound. Paste seems like a winner too; I’m very interested now.

  2. You’ve always been cool, Nathan. One word: Starmites. 🙂

    The sampler sounds like a great idea. And I’m relieved to know that ‘The Weepies’ is a band name and not a nickname you have for your neighbors.

  3. The new Counting Crows album is incredible! What a blend of sounds…The whole record comes across so real and soulful! It’s like they found their voice & grit again, and it’s definitely a blend of August and Recovering the Satellites, with only a couple of pop songs thrown in this time, which is awesome. I’ve listened to it twice, and I already love it…His depressed/sad/tortured vocals were definitely back…It was great to hear him yelling out stuff like “I don’t believe in anything” over and over again…that’s good Crows right there. And I love this line:

    “If you see me wading through water
    Come drown in the river right in front of the world
    You can wash your face and hands in the stream of my anger
    It’s as bright as white paper and as dark as a girl”
    – that’s Duritz using his wonderful, depressed greatness for you…

    What are your thoughts? Favorite songs? I really want to hear that interview you have on your iTunes…maybe it’s on YouTube somewhere…

    Favorite songs: “Cowboys”, “1492”, “Hanging Tree”,“Sundays”, “Le Ballet D’Or” and “Washington Square”
    My prediction for next single: “Come Around”

    Oh, and Paste sounds really cool…potential b-day gift para mi

  4. I was just thinking “a blend of August and Recovering the Satellites” a few minutes ago. Really a good way to describe it.

    I have lots of faves, but Washington Square floats to the top for some reason.

  5. I too love “Washington Square” and all the ones you named, Justin. Also, I’m a big fan of “On a Tuesday in Amsterdam…”. Something special about just Duritz and the piano. Who can’t love the beginning of “Hanging Tree” when the guitars grind up and you suddenly hear the B4 in the background? Classic Crows.

    All right, I can see I’m going to need to do a whole post on this album, thought that will now be partially redundant.

  6. Nathan, you seem like someone with an ear for instruments and equipment. What makes the shooting-star kind of sound in “Cowboys” somewhere between the 0:21 and 0:25 marks? This sounds distinctly “Counting Crows” to me, but I can’t recall what other, older songs have used it at the moment.

  7. It took me a couple of listens to hear what you’re describing. It’s got to be some kind of keyboard effect as far as I can tell. I was hoping this video of the band playing the song in studio would help, but it shows Adam singing during that section.

    As for me being someone with an ear for instruments, I’m certainly no expert. Anyone with more expertise, please jump in here.

  8. I just feel like I need to say that I just heard “Come Around” on new music Monday yesterday on Cities 97…and I heard it in a coffee shop the week before! No gloating or anything, but I did call it!
    I don’t think they got very much air play with “You Can’t Count on Me”…I don’t really understand why they released that one first anyway.

  9. You always were skillful in selecting album releases. Maybe you should consult for the music biz.

  10. […] as I discussed previously, I received the magazine Paste as a gift one Christmas, and via its music sampler I encountered […]

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