If you're not a fan of Self, you should be. Why? First, it's a great band. Matt Mahaffey is a musical genius. He recorded all of Gizmodgery using children's toys, and the sound quality is better than anything `N Sync ever produced. The other reason to love Self is that the band keeps giving away great songs for free. What could be better?

Self's latest sampling of b-sides, Selfafornia, is some of the best stuff the group has ever released. There are nine tracks available for free download on the Selfies Web site, and there's not a bad tune in the bunch.

A few of the tracks are outtakes from the band's older albums, but it's hard to tell why these flawless pop gems weren't included on the original releases. "Anything Is Impossible," from the Half-Baked Serenade sessions is particularly pleasing with its driving rhythm and catchy chorus.

They call you crazy because they know you're right / Oh yeah it's nearly impossible / To please all other people all the time / Oh yeah it's nearly impossible / To do the things you do so easily / You've come so far in this life, in this life / Anything is impossible

Other standouts include the brand new tracks "America," "See If You Swim," and "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?" Each boasts Self's trademark insistent, somewhat mechanical sounding riff, clever choruses and Mahaffey's sometimes witty, always interesting lyrics and unique vocal stylings.

The most surprising song is the soulfully crafted "Waiting." This track features Mahaffey's most emotive singing along with some delicately crafted acoustic piano playing. Following the traditional pop ballad format, the drums kick in after the first verse. But it doesn't feel at all formulaic or contrived. The only problem with the tune is that it's only a little more than three minutes long. Then again, that also makes it perfect.

She's waiting for me live / She's waiting for me to give a sign / And there's nothing that I'd rather do / But give the right signs back to you / She's waiting for me to try / She's waiting for me to come alive / And there's nothing that I'd rather do / Than come alive for you / She's waiting for me to dance / She's waiting for me to answer her. And there's nothing that I'd rather do / Than romance the hell out of you / She's waiting for me to smile / She waiting for me to walk down the aisle / And that's something I just can't do / `Till I know that I'm right for you

Selfafornia is easily the best collection of b-sides available for free. These are the type of tracks collectors regularly pay $20 a piece for when they're released on some obscure single or import. Speaking of imports, download the track "Resurrect" from the Japanese version of Gizmodgery, while you're clicking away.

And, if you want even more Self, grab the b-side collection Self Goes Shopping. Like Gizmodgery, these six tracks were all recorded on children's toys. The original tunes can all be found on previous releases, and these renditions aren't exactly a must-have unless you're a big fan, although they are entertaining.

Bottom line: It's great music. It's all free. And it's worth ever penny.


© Copyright 2004 The APESHEET, All rights reserved. http://www.theapesheet.com