Album Review: Mixtapes – ‘These Are Us’

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During their four years as a band, Mixtapes released a lot of music. I mean, a lot. If my count is correct (and I do this every time I review a Mixtapes album), during their short time together, the band recorded two LPs, two mini-LPs, four EPs, three split EPs, two singles, and contributed exclusive tracks to at least five compilations. With so many songs out there, it might be hard for anyone who wasn’t following the band at the beginning to keep track of everything. That’s where their new compilation, These Are Us, comes in.

These Are Us gathers almost all of Mixtapes’ b-sides, covers, and splits, and packs them into a convenient, nearly hour-long package. To its credit, rather than simply throwing the songs in chronological order, the album attempts to create some kind of cohesion and for the most part it works. The band’s songwriting stayed relatively consistent over their career, which helps this compilation to largely avoid sounding like it was hastily thrown together. Thematically speaking, “A Million Bad Bands” and “Grenadine” (two unreleased songs, as far as my understanding goes) go hand-in-hand with songs like “I Was a Teenage Poltergeist” and “Coffee Party” (both from separate recording sessions themselves).

Unfortunately, These Are Us has its faults. There are some dips in audio quality during “It Can’t Get You Everything” (from their split with Jabber) and “Doin’ Laundry” (a live cover of the Nerf Herder song), that will even distract a non-audiophile, and there’s an advertisement for 2012’s The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore at the end of “Right Where to Find Me”, which is just as jarring (you’d think it would have been easy enough to get the song without the ad). The collection’s final two songs, “Chicka Chicka Chicka Chicka Chicka” and “Silence, The Last Stand” are more novelty than anything else; just stuff recorded for the fun of it during the Even on the Worst Nights sessions. The former is pretty dumb, but too short to be offensive, while the latter is a completely improvised tune that gets more absurd as it goes on, but at 15 minutes long there isn’t much replay value after the first listen.

Curiously, These Are Us is missing both the joke single “To My Friends (I Stand By You)” and the band’s cover of Descendents’ “We” (released in 2014 on Animal Style Records’ Wedding split 7-inch). Presumably these omissions are due to licensing issues / trying to bury the songs, but it’s still a shame that they’re missing because: 1. This collection is so close to being 100% complete, and 2. They’re both great songs.

Missing tunes and varying audio quality aside, These Are Us is still pretty damn comprehensive. Die-hard fans probably have most of these songs already (a lot of them were given away for free when originally released), but in the event that any of these songs slipped through the cracks, now everyone can catch up while we wait for Mixtapes to come back.

4 / 5 – Download the album for free here.

RIYL: Broadway Calls, House Boat, Fireworks

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