Various Artists

Future Soundtrack for America (Barsuk Records)

Twenty-five bucks for rare and unreleased tracks from, among others, Tom Waits, Old 97's, R.E.M., Ben Kweller, Sleater-Kinney, Death Cab for Cutie, Jimmy Eat World, the Flaming Lips and Elliott Smith...what's that you say? It's actually $12 in a CD store and on Amazon.com? And it's freeif you go to McSweeneys.net and order a copy of the 28-buck, 204-page book Future Dictionary of Americawith contributions from the likes of Michael Chabon, Kurt Vonnegut, Art Spiegelman, Stephen King, T.C. Boyle, Chris Ware, Jonathan Ames and just about every other famous person ever paid to write between hard covers? Goddammit. That's what I get for ordering mine off MoveOn.org's Web site--besides slews of vote-for-Kerry e-mails from the lefty organization that swearsthis comp, made with the assistance of Music for America and the Sierra Club and the League of Pissed Off Voters, is a nonpartisan labor of love. Fine, whatever--happy to make the donation to "nonprofit progressive organizations," happier still to hear Flaming Lips stripping down to dress up "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots" and OK Go covering the Zombies and the Old 97's covering Opal and Tom Waits covering Tom Waits. (What? No Dixie Chicks? Shame.) Really, it's a bang-up collection, with They Might Be Giants digging way back to 1840 for "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too," which is sort of this disc's spiritual centerpiece. But if MoveOn really wanted to pick some pockets, they'd have included some unreleased Toby Keith and Kenny Chesney. Can I write this off my taxes?

 
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