There are a lot of things I need to say about this collection of music so that I can feel, however inaccurately, that I’m being understood.

First, this isn’t nostalgia for me. I know for many of you it is — a lot of it is even banal, the kind of Oh For Fuck’s Sake They’re Playing THAT Again music that is the whole reason many of us became music nerds in the first place — but for me it’s archaeological excavation, sifting through a discarded and impersonal past. Sure, I was alive and more or less a functioning adult at the time this stuff was recorded and released, but with a single exception I didn’t hear any of it at the time, and that one I only heard in an Unplugged version. (You’ll know it when you see it.)

So if it’s not nostalgia, what is it? The best description I’ve come up with is that it’s an attempt at figuring out a quasi-canonical playlist that an alternate-universe version of myself would make, the self that didn’t go to Guatemala in 1990 and spent his high school years with 120 Minutes and college radio and independent record stores. But also an alternate-universe self that wasn’t an Anglophile (which I’ve been for as long as I can remember); everything here is American or at worst Canadian.

I think most of us who are pop-oriented listeners/writers have a rockist of about the same age in the back of our heads that we’re always trying to either ignore or argue against. (What, just me? Okay.) This is my attempt to face that rockist on common ground; this is all great music, even great pop, and to the degree that it makes me nostalgic, it’s the same nostalgia I have when I listen to music of the 70s, or the 50s, or the 30s: it’s all a vanished world, one in which I’ll never be able to participate. But at least the records are still here.

Download it here. »

Disc One

1. Pavement “Cut Your Hair”
2. The Dambuilders “Shrine”
3. Belly “Feed The Tree”
4. Throwing Muses “Bright Yellow Gun”
5. Material Issue “Valerie Loves Me”
6. The Reverend Horton Heat “One Time For Me”
7. Velvet Crush “Everything Flows”
8. Mercury Rev “Car Wash Hair”
9. The Posies “Dream All Day”
10. Cracker “Teen Angst”
11. Temple Of The Dog “Hunger Strike”
12. Mad Season “River Of Deceit”
13. Helium “Pat’s Trick”
14. The Breeders “Cannonball”
15. Unrest “Make Out Club”
16. Sloan “Underwhelmed”
17. Love Battery “Out Of Focus”
18. Mike Watt “Big Train”
19. Primus “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver”
20. Morphine “Honey White”

Disc Two

1. Meat Puppets “Backwater”
2. Hum “Stars”
3. Magnapop “Slowly, Slowly”
4. Bettie Serveert “Tom Boy”
5. E “Hello Cruel World”
6. Sugar “Helpless”
7. Helmet “Unsung”
8. Superchunk “Hyper Enough”
9. Pixies “Velouria”
10. Victoria Williams “Crazy Mary”
11. Mazzy Star “Fade Into You”
12. that dog. “He’s Kissing Christian”
13. Luna “Slash Your Tires”
14. Cowboy Junkies “Anniversary Song”
15. Tori Amos “God”
16. Concrete Blonde “Joey”
17. The Rentals “Friends Of P”
18. Liz Phair “Supernova”
19. PJ Harvey “Down By The Water”
20. Fastbacks “Going To The Moon”

Disc Three

1. Matthew Sweet “Girlfriend”
2. Brad “My Finger”
3. Built To Spill “Car”
4. The Jayhawks “Waiting For The Sun”
5. Lemonheads “It’s A Shame About Ray”
6. Soundgarden “Spoonman”
7. Letters To Cleo “Here And Now”
8. Dinosaur Jr. “Start Choppin”
9. Wilco “Box Full Of Letters”
10. Jill Sobule “I Kissed A Girl”
11. Supreme Love Gods “Souled Out”
12. Blind Melon “Tones Of Home”
13. Screaming Trees “Nearly Lost You”
14. American Music Club “Rise”
15. Velocity Girl “I Can’t Stop Smiling”
16. Folk Implosion “Natural One”
17. Jellyfish “The Ghost At Number One”
18. Buffalo Tom “Sodajerk”
19. Madder Rose “Car Song”
20. Afghan Whigs “Debonair”

Disc Four

1. Smashing Pumpkins “Cherub Rock”
2. The Juliana Hatfield 3 “Spin The Bottle”
3. The Flaming Lips “She Don’t Use Jelly”
4. Porno For Pyros “Pets”
5. Mudhoney “Generation Spokesmodel”
6. Sonic Youth “Bull In The Heather”
7. L7 “Pretend We’re Dead”
8. Archers Of Loaf “Web In Front”
9. Nirvana “About A Girl”
10. King Missile “Detachable Penis”
11. Ween “Push Th’ Little Daisies”
12. They Might Be Giants “Birdhouse In Your Soul”
13. Possum Dixon “Watch The Girl Destroy Me”
14. Jen Trynin “Better Than Nothing”
15. Hole “Doll Parts”
16. Hammerbox “When 3 Is 2”
17. Veruca Salt “Seether”
18. Tripping Daisy “I Got A Girl”
19. Mother Love Bone “Chloe Dancer/Crown Of Thorns”
20. Jeff Buckley “Last Goodbye”