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ISSUE 117 VOL 10 PUBLISHED 12/5/2003

Critic's Corner 12/5: Cities 97 Sampler #15

By Brenna Bray
Staff Writer

Friday, December 5, 2003

On Nov. 20, long lines formed at Target stores across Minnesota. Hip mothers, emphatic teens, jazzy bachelors and college students of all kinds waited side by side, all united in their mutual affinity for music. These queues anticipated the release of the 15th Anniversary Limited Edition Cities 97 Sampler CD, released exclusively at Target stores.

KTCZ 97.1 FM, a radio station more commonly known as Cities 97, prides itself on offering a “quality mix” of music with “true variety.” The station makes good on its promise of variety by playing “chosen artists who have stood the test of time and up-and-coming artists who stand a chance.” By following this mantra, Cities 97 has become one of the most popular adult rock stations on the airwaves. As indicated by the age diversity seen in those waiting at Target for the CDs release, 85 percent of the station’s audience falls between the ages of 25 and 54.

The station maintains its widely diverse audience by scouting and playing new music first, and then displaying a commitment to its musicians by following their careers – playing music from both old and new releases. Recognizing this commitment, artists frequent the station’s studios, giving Cities 97 listeners access to live performances from the station’s Studio C.

The Cities 97 Sampler CD consists of performances from Studio C, and was produced using royalties donated by the artists featured on the album. Because the CD is a charity project, current publishing and label copyright laws limit production sales to 30,000 Samplers. Although Target agreed to limit CD purchases to three CDs per person, the 15th Anniversary Sampler CDs sold out within hours.

While the high demand for the CD is disappointing for many of the station’s listeners who were unable to secure their own copy, the CD’s sellout generated thousands of dollars for Minnesota charities.

Following the station’s musical tradition, The 15th Anniversary Sampler includes new music from established artists and bands: both fresh renditions of old favorites and live recordings of contemporary “hits” that transformed talented newcomers into pop stars. This year’s sampler also includes two bonus tracks from previously sold-out Samplers.

The CD opens with an acoustic version of Jason Mraz’s “The Remedy,” then melts into “Miami” by the Counting Crows. “Smoothie Song,” an instrumental by Nickel Creek, builds upon the soothing lull that Tori Amos’ “Strange” maintains. A new version of Matchbox Twenty’s classic hit “Push” livens the agenda, while Jack Johnson croons a beautiful political sentiment in “The Horizon Has Been Defeated.” The Thorns and Ben Harper slow the pace down, and Ziggy Marley’s “True To Myself” offers a final revival of Johnson’s energetic vibe.

Beyond the CD’s keepsake value, its music provides an especially great addition to any college dorm room. The CD’s acoustic sound produces a relaxing ambiance that is highly conducive to socializing, and the mellow vibe is perfect for light background stimulation that will not distract too much from textbook reading. Meanwhile, the CD’s many central riffs and upbeat rhythms help sustain energy during any late-night study sessions threatened by nagging feelings of exhaustion.

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