Friday, August 20, 2010

Diggin' now... Cee-Lo 'F**k you'

Short post: This is a great track, and made me really excited for Cee-Lo's coming record. It's been a while since Mr. Green's been around solo, and this is a great come back.

DISCLAIMER: People easily offended by certain parts of the English language maybe should've watch this.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Digging Now... Isobell Campebll & Mark Lanegan - 'Hawk'

One is a former singer and cellist with Belle and Sebastian. Another comes as the leading man in the Screaming Trees. As this Pitchfork review notes, you may not have guessed, but this combination works. It really, really works.

I decided to check out this duo's latest record, 'Hawk', yesterday after reading the afore-linked-to review, and already I think this could be one of those super underrated records that never really gets much of the attention it deserves, but really, really should. Perhaps one of the most criminally underrated records of the year.

What we have here is great combination of folk, blues, country and general rock-a-billy, rock & roll music. Much of the record rests squarely in the folk/country realm, with what I can only describe as blues sensibility mixed it, and you can tell these two have solid rock chops. It's not necessarily strict folk/country, despite first impressions, and that's probably because these two are experienced, talented and very different musicians.

To prove my point, I chose to post a video to the title-track, Hawk, above. Imagine yourself listening to a record that's been mostly folk-y and country sounding, with some forays more into rock, and then, halfway through, THIS distorted, bluesy freakout of an instrumental track hits you. With the chatter at the beginning, the screaming throughout, the horns, the heavy drums, the scratches and sounds mixed it, it sounds like someone gave the Blues Brothers some acid that night at the Palace Hotel Ballroom -- 106 miles from Chicago -- and said have at it, boys.

To be sure, Hawk is an anomaly, and the rest of the record fits into that folk/rock/country mold that Pitchfork review and I have mentioned. And the rest is really good too! But damn, that Hawk track. Do yourself a favor and check out the rest.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Diggin' now... (again)... TWDY - Players Holiday

"I'm just sittin' here timin' like a Rolex watch..."

These days, I don't have a car of my own -- I got these bikes though! So, anyway, last night when I borrowed a vehicle from my parents I was without the usual iPod adapter or selection of CDs that I would most likely have in my own car. For a minute, this was disappointing. But, then I went digging through the glove box and center console for something to listen to.

I found a host of mixes I made circa 2003 - 2005, basically from the point I got my drivers license through graduating from high school.

Perhaps, the best find was the song in the video above: TWDY, which stands for The Whole Damn Yay and the classic track 'Players Holiday' featuring Mac Mall, Otis & Shug and..... Too Short (!). The song begins with a reference to the, shall we say, less consequential affairs of the Bill Clinton presidency. The artists' astonishment that he got away with it leads them to deem this day, OF ALL THE DAYS, "Players Holiday," and the song unfolds from there.

Oh, and it includes one of my favorite lines of all time: "I'm just sittin' here, timin' like a Rolex watch."

Maybe it's nostalgia, or maybe it's a really great song -- probably the former. But, on a day like today, it seemed appropriate. And, well, here we are.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Dear Cheapo: I think you're great

Since the very beginning of this blog I lamented the fact that I was, in fact, located in Washington, D.C., half the country away from the record stores of the Twin Cities, where all of this began. Sure, I grew to find some really good shops in Washington, met some cool people and found some good stuff. But the whole time, I was always comparing it to what I left, and I publicly celebrated my (first, temporary) visit to the Twin Cities followed by my permanent move back.

The whole time, I always had one shop in mind: Cheapo Records. It has two locations in these Twin Cities, one in St. Paul a mile or so from where I live, and another in Uptown Minneapolis. The former is in two locations, one for CDs and DVDs, another across the street strictly for records and tapes. Minneapolis' is in one location, with the entire basement containing only vinyl records. So, yup, I really like it.

So far, I've visited St. Paul's Cheapo twice, and both times I walked away with more than I had intended to buy and more than I could've hoped to find. Today's buys?
  • The Sex Pistols -- Never mind the Bollocks
  • Woody Guthrie -- Best of (2xLP)
  • Jefferson Airplane -- Volunteers (which happens to be one of my favorite records from the whole West Coast, San Francisco 60s sound/era).

On my first trip?
  • An Ella Fitzgerald/Billie Holiday compilation
  • Neil Young -- Harvest
  • Sly & the Family Stone -- Greatest Hits
Not bad, and that was just in the recent arrivals. So, yeah. In short? Looking forward to visiting many more times, and buying many more records, for a while.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

White Stripes to reissue catalogue on vinyl

Perhaps I'm late to this, but I read today the White Stripes have plans to reissue their catalogue on vinyl. Needless to say, um, that'd be pretty awesome, and it's definitely one of the few vinyl reissues that I'd feel almost compelled to drop way too much money on investing in the handful or more new vinyl releases.

But that -- god, $100+? -- would be well worth it in my mind. And until they figure out a way to 'burn' your own record like you would a CD -- seriously, how crazy would that be? -- buying great music like this upon reissue when you get the chance is likely the only way to hear it in the best way possible: on wax, of course.

Diggin' now... Stereo Total

It was just a random link on a blog to this song, Je Rêve Encore de Toi, from the Berlin-based, German/French/English/Japanese language duo known as Stereo Total.

Here's how the group's Web site described Stereo Total and its music:
The music of the chanson- electro- nonelectro- garage- rock'n'roll- french-pop- rock-à-billy- disco- international- underground- duo Stereo Total can be described as:
40% Yéyétronic, 20% R'n'R, 10% Punkrock, 3% electronic effects, 4% French 60ies beat, 7% genious dilettantism, 1,5% Cosmonaute, 10% really old synthesizers, 10% 8-bit Amiga-sampling, 10% transistor amplifier, 1% really expansive and advanced instruments, a minimalist production, meaning a home- made- trash- garage- sound crossed with underground, authentic as well as amateurish, ironic as well as effective, pop as well as political.
Stereo Total are Françoise Cactus, (from France, drums and vocals) and Brezel Göring (guitar, synthesizer, sampler).
Right. If that sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, click play on the video above, check out this other song 'Prends-Moi' (translated: Take Me), watch the other I linked to above and just generally start exploring the catalogue. The group has released eight albums since 1995 (!) and the way the sound includes so much of the mashup, genre-bending style that's become a staple of recent music is really astonishing. Oh, yeah, and it's a hell of a lot of fun too.

A note on the language, I'm no linguist, but I have read the lyrics in fact do range from English to French and German to Japanese, maybe more. My French isn't what it used to be, but I can pick up pieces here and there. I'd imagine the same would go for German speakers as well, and for Japanese speakers on whichever songs employ that language.

But, really, it's different. It's strange at times. But I'm definitely digging it right now.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

July 25, 1965: Dylan goes electric at Newport Folk Festival

On this very day (July 25, 1965), 45 years ago, on a Sunday in Newport, R.I., Bob Dylan 'went electric,' as the moment is called now. He was roundly heckled and booed for the performance, as many of the folk-heads seemed to be channeling their more picky and fickle hipster counterparts these days.

Anyway, it was a really important moment, for Dylan and music. Check out the video, and the link above. If you want to know more, check out Martin Scorcese's Dylan flick 'No Direction Home', in which 1965 Newport performance is played as an important event as well.

Or, just watch the embedded performance. It's great, too. Enjoy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today's burning question: Pulp's 'Common People'... Great song, or greatest song of all time?

First things first: Our things came today, so the turntables, records, stereo and such have returned. Expect a return to crate digging/blogging soon, this time live from St. Paul.

BUT, in the meantime, here I have for you my song of the moment: Pulp's 'Common People' which I've loved since I saw a video riffing off of the song back during the British election (I've posted that one below.)

Anyway, watch the video and follow the lyrics below. Great. And check out below as well.
She came from Greece, she had a thirst for knowledge
She studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College
That's where I caught her eye
She told me that her Dad was loaded
I said "In that case I'll have rum and coca-cola
She said "fine"
And then in 30 seconds time she said
"I want to live like common people
I want to do whatever common people do
I want to sleep with common people
I want to sleep with common people like you"
Well what else could I do?
I said "I'll see what I can do"
I took her to a supermarket
I don't know why
but I had to start it somewhere
so it started there
I said "pretend you've got no money"
but she just laughed
and said "oh you're so funny"
I said "Yeah
Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here
Are you sure
you want to live like common people
you want to see whatever common people see
you want to sleep with common people
you want to sleep with common people like me?"
But she didn't understand
she just smiled and held my hand
Rent a flat above a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school
But still you'll never get it right
'cos when you're laid in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall
if you called your dad he could stop it all
You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
and then dance and drink and screw
because there's nothing else to do
Sing along with the common people
Sing along and it might just get you through
Laugh along with the common people
Laugh along although they're laughing at you
and the stupid things that you do
because you think that poor is cool
Like a dog lying in a corner
they will bite you and never warn you
Look out
they'll tear your insides out
'cos everybody hates a tourist
especially one who thinks
it's all such a laugh
yeah and the chip stain's grease
will come out in the bath
You will never understand
how it feels to live your life
with no meaning or control
and with nowhere left to go
You are amazed that they exist
and they burn so bright
whilst you can only wonder why
Rent a flat above a shop
Cut your hair and get a job
Smoke some fags and play some pool
Pretend you never went to school
But still you'll never get it right
'cause when you're laid in bed at night
watching roaches climb the wall
if you called your dad he could stop it all
You'll never live like common people
You'll never do whatever common people do
You'll never fail like common people
You'll never watch your life slide out of view
and then dance and drink and screw
'because there's nothing else to do
I want to live with common people like you.....
And the political video riffing off it. (Hint to non-British-election-savvy readers, David Cameron, the main subject of the video below, was the conservative candidate in the last election. He's now Prime Minister.)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Altered Zones is a really great blog

OK, so I said I probably wouldn't post much for a week or so at least, but I went against my own statement to point out this new blog collective dubbed Altered Zones, which has some kind of relationship with Pitchfork, although what that relationship is, exactly, is unclear to me.

Anyway, the upshot is this: Altered Zones covers musical territory way down in the ether. The writers specialize in lo-fi, D.I.Y., emerging and just generally unknown artists and genres and they appear to know their stuff, in my opinion, based on how much of the music I've enjoyed already. The best part about the site? Its built-in media player. Each post consists of one artist and one song, the latter of which can be played right there on site with no downloading or anything. Then, as one song ends, it goes right to the next, meaning you can just let new song after new song, new style after new style, play and play as if it was your own iTunes. Don't like something? Skip it, because you can do that to. On to the next.

Another great feature, made possible I'm sure by the upstart status of most of these artists, is the fact that a number of the entries have links where you can download the songs and albums featured on the blog for FREE. Legally. That's right: Free music, legally.

Anyway, I've personally found myself just going to the site and letting the media player go. If something really catches my ear, I'll see if a free download link is included. Simple as that. The music might be a little out there for some people -- it's a lot of noise-style music, digital music, and whatever new term for such things I don't even know yet. But to me, it's been a great place to hear some new stuff. That's what it's all about.

I downloaded the Surf Noir EP from Beat Connection last night and am definitely liking it so far.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Dateline: ST. PAUL, Minn.

It's official: This blog -- well, this blogger, at least -- has relocated to where the vinyl adventure first began: Minnesota's own Twin Cities. I'm living within walking distance to a Cheapo and biking distance to another Cheapo and a host of other record stores where I first started picking up records here and there.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was considering some kind of thoughtful farewell to D.C. and the shops there, but it never really came together. I'll definitely miss CD/Game Exchange, and there were a few other shops where I found some great things. But all in all, it'll be nice to get back to some of the spots I haven't been able to visit for quite some time.

Until I start doing that, this blog will probably stay pretty quiet. We haven't had our things delivered from the East Coast just yet, so I think it would be cruel to myself if I started crate digging and picking up vinyl just to wait to listen to it on my stereo/record player. Hopefully, though, our lack of things/furniture will change in the coming days and record playing/crate digging/comfortable sitting can resume once again.

Monday, July 5, 2010

5th of July Pickups

As I mentioned earlier, I am indeed leaving D.C. and headed back to Minneapolis. Vinyl-wise, I'm excited to do some digging at my old favorite shops. But I'm quite sad to be leaving CD/Game Exchange, which I've mentioned a number of times on this very blog, mostly because I tend to go there and find great stuff all. the. time.

So, despite the heat today in D.C., I biked on over to CD/Game Exchange this afternoon and found out there was a 20 percent sale going on. You didn't have to tell me twice, and I left with seven great albums, five of which are pictured above.

Here are the pickups:
  • Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass -- Going Places
  • Frank Sinatra -- Strangers in the Night
  • Ella Fitzgerald and the Tommy Flanagan Trio -- Live, Montreux '77
  • Kiss -- Alive (!!)
  • Talking Heads -- Speaking In Tongues
  • Black Giants -- Compilations of jazz featuring Armstrong, Ellington, Davis, Monk, Gillepsie and more.
  • Ella Fitzgerald -- Newport Jazz Festival, Live at Carnegie Hall '73
Now, I realize Kiss is way out of place on that list. But, I used to have Alive on TAPE when I was younger, and as I was looking over the sleeve and the full-color photo book that came with the record I knew I was going to buy it that very moment. Who could pass that up, honestly?

Anyway, once again, CD/Game Exchange pays off. It'll be too bad when it's no longer a short bike ride away. But, I plan to keep talking about how great it is here at least until I leave -- truth be told, I almost bought a store T-shirt today, but opted to buy more records instead of the shirt. It was the best choice, I imagine.

Hopefully sometime this week I'll have a great, thoughtful opus on D.C. record stores before I leave -- but, honestly, I report and write for a living. This blog, the more work I put into the writing and so on seems more and more like work every day. To that end, it might not be so great, or thoughtful, this opus I'm talking about. But, I hope to have something. Until then, I'll be listening to some great jazz, big band and 70s-80s glam rock/new wave to pass the time. Sounds good to me.

Janelle Monae Revisited: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the style

If you've heard the name Janelle Monae, chances are you've seen this video, heard this song, or both. My first listen came via the video, and I liked what I heard. But what I didn't get was how this song -- and the entire album it was released on 'The Archandroid" for that matter -- immediately shot to the top of 'best-of' lists for 2010 and received lavish praise from a lot of people I tend to go to for music criticism. It's been called the best album of the year, and others have called it the best album in the past few years. Talk about praise.

Still, I didn't get it. I love Big Boi, who's featured in 'Tightrope' and the song was nice. But it's really outside the kind music I generally find myself listening to. R&B isn't something I tend to listen to, even 'good' R&B, as it were, as I've heard this record described. I gave part of the album a quick listen -- OK, I more had it playing in the background while I did other stuff. Eh, I thought. It's good, but is it that good? I didn't think so.

That has since changed.

Driving back from New York last night, I was listening to an 'All Songs Considered' podcast as they detailed the best albums of 2010 so far. Naturally, this was on the list, and both hosts continued the praise for this record. Now, I don't know if they chose this particular song I posted before knowing it might change the minds of holdouts like myself. But it definitely worked. The song is 'Come Alive (The War of the Roses)' and it is phenomenal. Between the cool, jumping bass line, catchy drums and guitar riffs -- not to mention Monae's voice -- it's a great product.

As I've mentioned on this blog, I try to refrain from music criticism and just say what I like and try to explain why. But this song struck me as the kind of song Gwen Stefani wishes she would've recorded before she became a 'Hollaback Girl' who only worked with hand-clappers and drum machines and wrote songs like 'Hella Good' even as her music became less so. Really, Come Alive is a great song, and it caused me to revisit the whole record. I'm not convinced it's the best album of the year -- certainly not the best of the last few years -- but it is damn good. And that's Janelle Monae Revisited: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love the style.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

You Tell Me (vinyl white whale edition)

I've referenced a few times that, for the most part, I feel as though I have a lot of the albums that are among my favorite of all time -- the non-obscure ones I set out to find on vinyl in the first place when I got the record player.

I'm thinking of Blonde on Blonde, Velvet Underground & Nico, Led Zeppelins, and so on. Now don't get my wrong, as I've documented on this very blog, I've come across some very surprising albums that I bought on a whim or because I liked the artist but hadn't heard a particular record. I've grown to love many of these, and I've already really enjoyed picking up new releases on vinyl right off the bat. The latest Black Keys -- a group I'm convinced are meant to be heard on wax -- was great in this regard, as was picking up Merriweather Post Pavilion (finally) on vinyl.

Given all that, and the fact that I can still go into most any record store and, if money was no object, find a whole bunch of records I'd like to buy, I'm asking for help. I'm looking, essentially, for a new white whale or two. There aren't many of my favorite albums of all time that I don't have on vinyl anymore. So, dear readers, you tell me: Tell me what is or was your white whale, or your favorite record or two that you own, or one you spent a really, really long time looking for.

The best submissions will get a prize, most likely my enduring respect and admiration.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Diggin' now... David Byrne (h/t Brian Eno)

OK, first, yes these two songs are from the David Byrne AND Brian Eno album, 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts', so maybe the title of this post should be 'Diggin' now... David Byrne and Brian Eno.' But it's not, because it's mostly about Byrne. So, moving on.

I've been slowly getting into David Byrne. I've loved the Talking Heads for a while, but I always thought I should dig into the Byrne catalog. After I saw this talk (embedded below) he gave on how architecture -- from CBGB to opera houses -- influence how one creates music, I set out.

The problem is, it's not particularly easy, mostly because the guy was -- and continues to be, to a lesser extent -- prolific. Byrne has released eight studio albums, 12 soundtracks, four live albums, 14 singles and one remix album. The first question I had to tackle was, where do you start? The next problem was the fact that near the end of his Talking Heads days and since, Byrne has done a lot in the realm of experimental music. He's cut clear across, rock and roll, new wave, experimental pop, so-called rock operas and even, as some people call it although I hate the term, art rock.

What that means is it takes a bit more time to get into some of this stuff, especially a record like My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, which I'll talk more about in the next paragraph. It's not all 100 percent easily accesible, and he works in a lot of nontraditional song forms, uses heavy sampling and few vocals at times and just generally creates music that would cause some to wonder what they're listening to.

But I like that stuff. So, I started with My Life in the Bush of Ghosts, an album that, believe it or not, was released in 1981 (!). Most every voice on the album is a sample, and the thing was put together with analog technology, not pieced together digitally like a lot of people with an Internet connection and a laptop can do these days. On top of that, according to liner notes, they'd do things like use a normal drum set, but instead use a cardboard box for the bass drum, or a frying pan for the snare.

What's crazy, though, is how great it sounds. The music flows, it's put together well and you'd never know it was made in a time before most people could really even fathom what a computer could do. Making use of all the samples -- which I've read were synchronized with the instruments through trial and error -- and having it sound so great is even more impressive.

This is one Byrne album I keep going back to. The songs above are the first and third tracks on the album, respectively, titled 'America is Waiting' and 'Regiment'. Check them out, and then check out the whole record. And check out that speech (it's only 20 minutes) too.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Russia's Medvedev [hearts] Vinyl

I came across this post from the Washington Post's Reliable Source blog today and knew I had to post. How often, on a day the U.S. government raids a Russian spy ring (SERIOUSLY) can you also fit the Kremlin's own Dmitry Medvedev into a blog post about vinyl records?

Answer? Never.

But that's what we're up to here. Apparently, when Medvedev was in Washington for his powwow with President Obama, he sent out a few members of his staff to do some crate digging in the wonderful shops D.C. has to offer.

Why, you ask?

Apparently Medvedev and I have similar (and similarly awesome) taste in music. He's a big fan of Duke Ellington, B.B. King and Jimi Hendrix, among others. In sum, the Medvedev staffers dropped $150 at Washington's own Som Records. I don't know what's more amazing to me about this story though. The fact that Medvedev, who is 44 according to The Post, is into vinyl enough that he'd send staffers out during a diplomatic trip to Washington specifically to a record store. Or, on the other hand, that somewhere between working in the Kremlin and sitting atop the Russian oil monopoly Gazprom that he developed such great taste in music, although Wikipedia says he was a big Black Sabbath (!) and Deep Purple (!!) fan in high school.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say on this, mostly because I can't believe it actually happened. That, and I really wish it would've been Vladimir Putin who was over here crate digging by proxy -- I wonder what kind of vinyl he likes to spin after a long day out riding horses on the Russian countryside.

[Photo cross-posted from Post story.]

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Diggin' now... Gang of Four

I had never heard of Gang of Four -- the rock band, not the leftist political faction comprising, you guessed it, four Chinese Communist Party officials of the same name -- although they may share some political tendencies if not musical stylings.

But an NPR: All Songs Considered podcast I was listening to the other day introduced us, and it was great. The program was about great first tracks on an album, and the song above, 'Ether' was featured. It's the first track of Gang of Four's debut album, Entertainment! and it's great.

It's a bit hard to believe it came out in 1979. I remember the hosts talking about how it was received, with its political lyrics -- the rest of the album gets more overtly political, while this song is lyrical in its protest. But the point remains. And the way it makes use of the bass to drive the song, the way the beat is super-jerky, making you uneasy, kind of like its lyrics:
Trapped in heaven life style (locked in Long Kesh)
New looking out for pleasure (H-block torture)
It's at the end of the rainbow (White noise in)
The happy ever after (a white room)
Dirt behind the daydream
Dirt behind the daydream
The happy ever after
Is at the end of the rainbow
Dig at the root of the problem (Fly the flag on foreign soil)
It breaks your new dreams daily (H-block Long Kesh)
Fathers contradictions (Censor six countries news)
And breaks your new dreams daily (each day more deaths)
Dirt behind the daydream
Dirt behind the daydream
The happy ever after
Is at the end of the rainbow
White noise in a white room
White noise in a white room
Check out the whole record. It's worth it.

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Severely neglecting doesn't even begin to describe it. But I realize I've mostly just stopped dealing with this blog lately. There are a few reasons why, and I'll detail them here.

1) The World Cup. For two weeks I haven't slept past 7 a.m. and have watched more soccer than I ever thought possible. My focus has shifted, and this blog has taken a back seat to the World Cup.

2) Broke. Crate digging is expensive.. that kind of explains it.

3) Moving. We're moving back to Minneapolis July 8, which means there have been job-hunting, job-leaving, freelance-writing-conversations, apartment-hunting, sublease-hunting, and other move-related things to take care of. I hope to also have a few posts on the area here before I leave.

All that said, I am not finished with this blog at all. I have a few draft posts that I just need to make worthwhile and kind of get back into the swing of things. I hope to, in the next week maybe, get back into this thing.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Flaming Lips DSOTM clear vinyl vs. the CD

I've been a big fan of the Flaming Lips' version of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon since I first heard it on my clear vinyl copy from Record Store Day -- all vinyl color confusion aside.

But in coming back to Minnesota, I was quite excited to bring my CD copy of the album back and drive around and listen to it at a very high volume, as I like to do here and there.

But when I finally got a chance, the only word I had was disappointment. Every sound and part of a song which I loved before seemed flat. It was like I was hearing the top 10 percent or 15 percent of every song and sound rather than the full range the artists intended (both the original Dark Side of the Moon record and the cover are great records, sonically speaking.)

But anyway, it was a disappointment, to find that certain parts of songs or sounds in any given track on the Flaming Lips' version of that classic record just were not the same on the CD version playing in an automobile. But at the same time, it really got me thinking about the difference between CD and vinyl in the first place.

The first time I really noticed the difference was when I was in Indianapolis with some of the other inters listening to Bob Marley's Exodus on my stereo. It was on CD, initially. Then I remember I had it on vinyl, so I put that on. Going from one to the other, with the exact same songs, really shows the difference and makes it infinitely clear why vinyl is so superior.

This experience with the Flaming Lips' version of DSOTM was just the latest incarnation of this reality. If anyone doubts the superiority of vinyl over the MP3 or CD, I challenge you to listen to a CD or MP3 on a stereo system and them listen to the same music on vinyl on the same system. The difference is ridiculous. And that's why we love vinyl.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Diggin' now... Tame Impala

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- I have been witholding a post on this band, Tame Impala (great name), until I was able to really give a listen to their record, Innerspeaker. Too often, I think, I get recommended a new album or band, and I take a listen and I'm instantly sold, and proceed to sing their praises all over the Internets and in real life, too.

So, I first listened to this band and loved their album. Then I came back to Minnesota, burned the record to a CD and kept listening to it. Conclusion? It's great. There's this weird sense of Animal Collective-ish sound, with some more traditional rock, and some moment where I swear it's what the Beatles would sound like if they were still making records as their former selves come 2010.

Anyway, I've chosen two songs here to show what they can do. First is 'I Don't Really Mind' which is the last song on the record. Go ahead, try and tell me you don't love that drum beat. The second song, 'It's Not Meant To Be' I think shows a good cross-section of the sound. It mixed the sample-ish, dreamy-type sound with the things that make for a great rock record and the result is something that's truly worth a listen and, I think, is likely to end up on a lot of 'Best of 2010' lists come December.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Going going, back back, to (Minnesota)

That's right, folks. Headed back to Minnesota at 4:30 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday) afternoon, landing right at 7:30. Really looking forward to getting back. Word is there's a record fair in Minneapolis' Lyn-Lake area Saturday morning (awesome). Also, really looking to spending some time at various Cheapos around the cities, not to mention Electric Fetus, Treehouse Records, and everything else (friends! family!) that makes the Midwest -- mostly Minnesota -- just grand... I believe god's country is a fair description.

Above? Two videos to mark the occasion: Notorious B.I.G.'s "Going Back to Cali" and Minneapolis' own Atmosphere's homage to, you guessed in, Minnesota (and the Midwest, too.)


Saturday, May 29, 2010

On Baltimore's Own Guru Records

I was two sips into an incredibly strong and pungent bloody mary during lunch at Bertha's in Baltimore's Fells Point neighborhood when Emma pointed out a sign on the sidewalk: Own Guru Records. What luck, I thought. Here, we chose to come to Baltimore for a belated birthday adventure, and we pick a lunch spot right next door to some random record store.

As we sat there, I mentioned to Emma that it seems like there sure are a lot of people stopping and gawking at this store. I pictured some ridiculous selection of records in the window, or perhaps any number of other attention-seeking gestures independent shops are wont to employ.

We finished our lunch and head outside. Upon first glance, I saw what intrigued everyone: Above you'll see the front door of Own Guru Records. Yes, it's that little bit in the middle, a skinny black gate that leads to a similarly skinny, wooden-floored hallway past a few apartments and into a backyard. This concerned me. To gain entry, one must ring a buzzer, and an employee comes and unlocks the gate and lets you in. Once you enter, the gate is immediately locked behind you. I remember, only half-jokingly, asking Emma if we were about to be kidnapped or something. The thought did cross my mind.

Eventually, the strange little hallway and backyard environment gave way to what appeared to be a shed. Indeed, it was a shed. A shed full of records, with the owner repeatedly droning, "All records 15 percent off, books 25." There's maybe 10-square-feet of walking space in the entire place. I had to move out of the way for people coming and going multiple times. But it wasn't that big of deal, especially when you remember that that was the case because they had so many records there.

But it took me a solid five minutes to gain my bearings. I still wasn't sure where I was exactly. I felt like there must be something illegal going on, given the strange practices of this business (multiple times, the owner asked newly-entered customers if they locked the door behind them, and a number of them were literally escorted by another employee to the store's other location. I didn't visit). It was all very strange.

Eventually, though, I started looking through the crates and crates of records. Emma immediately found a copy of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. It'd been on her list of must-find records for some time. I made my way around the shop, and found a host of great records including The Jimi Hendrix Experience's first effort, Are You Experienced?, which was the only studio Hendrix album I didn't have before today. I also found a copy of Thriller. Those two finds alone would've been exciting enough. But no, there was a bunch more (check out the link.)

But aside from today's success, the store just has a lot of character. It only has vinyl, which I greatly appreciate. As strange as my first five minutes of interaction with it was, the rest of it more than made up for it. I struck up conversation with the man behind the counter. The records were solid. It was a great all-around experience. What more could you ask for?

Baltimore's Own Guru Records greatness, part 1

Just back from a birthday-ish trip to Baltimore, and while we were there we stumbled across this little shop: Own Guru Records. I plan a full post about this fascinating (and great) place, but more pressing matters (like listening to all these great new records) must be taken care of first.

Here's today's pick ups:

The Beatles -- Hey Jude
The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Gil Scott-Heron -- The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Arlo Guthrie -- Alice's Restaurant
Toots and the Maytals -- Reggae Greats
Michael Jackson -- Thriller
The Jimi Hendrix Experience -- Are You Experienced?
Bob Dylan -- Another Side of Bob Dylan

That's pretty good for one shop and 20 minutes' worth of crate diggin' if you ask me.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Beatles: 'You say it's your birthday...'

"...Well it's my birthday too, yeah."

It's my birthday today, this fine May 28th. I'm putting out a call to anyone reading this for two things: suggestions of records (new or old!) to watch out for, and any suggestions or ideas about the hot crate-digging spots in Baltimore, which I'll be visiting tomorrow.

Let me know, yo!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Vinyl & Bleecker St. Records on Seinfeld

I'm a big fan of Seinfeld. The other day, I was watching the classic episode "The Old Man." I hadn't seen this one in a while, and certainly not since I've been collecting records, so it never really stuck out to me the role vinyl and record collecting plays in the storyline.

First, Kramer and Newman are trying to hawk some vinyl at a place called Bleecker Bob's Records. In reality, I think, that store is Bleecker St. Records in Greenwich Village. I've been there, and it looks just like the store in the episode. It's an great shop if you're ever in the area, and they have an absolutely insane collection of vinyl, ranging from whatever you can find in the crates, to gloriously displayed (on the walls) rare and super-expensive records (they have a $500+ U.K. Sgt. Peppers, which I think is one of the most expensive I've ever seen in person.)

Anyway, there's this scene (video here--I'd embed, but NBC doesn't get that whole thing, apparently) where Kramer and Newman go into the shop and run into one Tobin Bell, playing the record store owner straight out of central casting: mustached, dressed down, otherwise uninterested in dealing with those two. He dispassionately and routinely offers them "5 bucks" for whatever they have to offer -- which is probably about right, as far as I can tell.

Given how oblivious I was to the vinyl reference in this episode, though, it got me thinking about what the vinyl world looked like when this episode aired -- in 1993! I wonder what people in their 20s, 30s and 40s thought, seeing a record shop and vinyl on the teevee again. I personally have no idea, because I was 5 years old. But given the immense growth of the industry/vinyl world in just the past few years, it's safe to assume, I think, this world looked nothing like it does today. It was probably an even smaller niche than it was now. I imagine there were still crate diggers, but perhaps it wasn't as "mainstream" -- if it even is now. Certainly it wasn't big enough to get a Record Store Day reference on Saturday Night Live.

It's interesting to think, though, about the cycle of vinyl. It was big when it was the dominant form of music. Then, probably around 1993, give or take a few years, it receded into oblivion. Now? Record Store Day is huge for the consumers, and the record companies -- not to mention the shops. More than 1,500 people showed up for the last D.C. record fair. Vinyl's back.

I'm not sure what it all means. But I'm really interested to see what this vinyl thing will look like 17 years from today.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Diggin' now... Spearhead 'Hole in the Bucket'

Listening to the Sound Opinions podcast this afternoon, I was introduced to an old Michael Franti and Spearhead song from 1994 (!) off their Home album. Now, I've had a moderate listening relationship with these guys, since their release last year and diving back into their older catalogue.

But this song is... to borrow a phrase... the truth. Take a listen.

Here's the first verse. Greatness:

I work 9 to 5 but it starts in the P.M.
and I love the sunrise so I step out in the A.M.
the street is black and shiny from the early
nightly rainin'
the glory of the light it brings evaporation
morning's fresh oxygen cleanest
I take a deep hit help my mind stay the greenest
I'm already wake so I'm not drinkin' coffee
don't wanna cigarrette 'cause it's a form of slavery
walk into the store 'cause I need a few items
the sun heats the blood like a hit of vitamins
needa buy some food and some 'poo for my dreads
can't remember why but I need a spool of thread
Man with dirty dreads, steps around the comer
he asks me for a dime, a nickel or a quarter
I don't have any change so I'm steppin' along
and as I'm walkin' past he sings to me a song

Monday, May 17, 2010

Diggin' now... Thee Oh Sees

There's been more new music than I've known what to do with these days, and I say that as I share in the collective disappointment with that new (last?) LCD Soundsystem record, despite Pitchfork giving it an outrageous 9.2 rating. Frankly, since it's potentially (probably) the last LCD Soundsystem record, the fact that it didn't get a 10 from even Pitchfork, which has had a years-long love affair with every damn release with that name on it, should tell you something.

But, for me: You had to go and try really hard while seeing just how far this derivative (nice way of phrasing it) style could take you, didn't you, James Murphy? Why couldn't we just continue being North American Scum and keep having some tongue-in-cheek, self-aware fun? It's not terrible, but rather like the last movie of a trilogy or something that just falls flat compared to the rest of the series.

That aside, I wanted to point out this new record from Thee Oh Sees, 'Warm Slime.' I don't have a video to embed, but go to Stereogum here and check out 'Castiatic Tackle.' The whole album doesn't fit the following description as well as this song does, but it's what I'd imagine the 13th Floor Elevators would sound like if they were kept in a time capsule to continue recording music and advance for the past few decades. That's just my first reaction.

Anyway, I'm way behind on this band, but I'm checking out their 'Help' release next, and we'll see from there. But from this release, if you're into that quicker-paced, hard-ish psych sound with some garage-y, yet melodic, undertones along with it (how's THAT for a description?), this might be a band for you for check out.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

On eBay's vinyl hawkers

In writing about the confusion over the Flaming Lips' Dark Side of the Moon release, I got to think about eBay's ecosystem of vinyl hawkers and sellers and hustlers. As far as the DSOTM release goes, a number of people are claiming to have the "super-rare!" version of the release, whether it be the green or clear version, but they neglect to tell you how they know this version or that version is actually the super-rare version. Of course, that' the point.

But it got me thinking about this whole practice. I remember on Record Store Day, the people that were in the front of the line were pretty cool about things and appeared to all be in the market for this things themselves, rather than to turn around a flip it. But there was this other guy floating around -- who was friends with one of the guys ahead of me -- who went to another store that opened earlier and promptly bought everything they would allow him to. I'm not sure what all he got, but I know he got two of the super-rare John Lennon singles bags. I heard he wanted a third (which would've been the store's entire stock) but they wouldn't let him.

At first glance, there's nothing wholly wrong with this. Personally, I don't know why you'd feel the need to buy multiple copies of something, but what the hell. But then I found out from his friend who was in line with me that he had no interest in Record Store Day and had only heard about it in the days before when he heard some of the releases would be "hot," meaning he could make a whole lot of money from selling them.

I know this is America, and we all love our capitalism and stuff, but this just rubbed me the wrong way, but I think it's unavoidable. As I documented on Record Store Day itself, one person in line with me passed up a John Lennon release so I could have one. That's what I think of when I think of Record Store Day, and this whole culture-ish thing itself. I don't think of some guy in his 40s trying to snatch up all the copies of X so he can flip them later.

But like I said, I don't really know what you could do about this from a macro standpoint. It's good that store stopped him from buying all three John Lennon releases, but he still got two. Crooked Beat had a 1-release-per-customer policy, but that means Emma and I still could've bought two of whatever and flipped it later. But we didn't.

I think the only recourse is to try to shun these people and put some pressure on them when you see them. What else can you do? Ebay's a great thing for finding records, but it has a way of creating this marauder, cut throat-type culture that you'd find at a sleazy flea market or something. That's not what this should be about, but of course a portion of it will be inevitably. That's life, I suppose.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Hi. I'm Jake, and I'm a vinyl addict. (Hi Jake)

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in."

So, it's not Godfather-worthy, mafioso stuff here, but I had been taking a break from buying records at the pace I had been since I had been spending quite a bit of money and Record Store Day drained me of valuable cash reserves.

Well, that lasted until Friday, when I picked up the new Black Keys album 'Brothers.' Then, today, since Emma's in Florida, I figured I'd go check out CD/Game Exchange in Silver Spring. I hadn't been there in a while. Kinda missed it.

But I wasn't sure I was going to buy anything. That was, of course, until I got inside. Right away I found a copy of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour in great shape, complete with 24-page color booklet and for $8. Wasn't going to pass that up.

Then nothing else really caught my eye. There were a few things, here and there, but nothing I felt I had to get right then and there. That was, of course, until some guy came in with a stack of vinyl he was selling to the store that I overheard Sam (manager) describe as "some great stuff." As I made my way to the counter, I found a stack of records that weren't even priced yet.

Ultimately, I ended up with Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland (complete with the controversial and rare UK cover art featuring 19 nude women which is described here) in mint -- and I mean mint -- condition. That was $16, but totally worth it. Then I found The Specials' self-titled first album in great shape for $10. (Sam also mentioned that The Specials are from his hometown in the UK and used to hang out by his grandma's house, but at 12 years old he was too shy to say anything.) Great pickups.

So, what started as a trip just to stop by ended with three great finds at a good price. And that's really what's great about CD/Game Exchange. I've been to too many places where they stock a lot of new vinyl, or there's so much that it's overwhelming and there's really not that joy in finding something you didn't expect. But a few times in a row now, I've gone into CD/Game Exchange and found nothing but greatness. I recommend you try it out if you're around.

ALSO: Apparently the Takoma location has vinyl marked down and, perhaps, a bigger selection that Silver Spring. I haven't been there, but probably will make a point to check it out soon.

Black Keys 'Brothers' (vinyl) review

I had been looking forward to this one I think since I heard it was coming out, or since their last one came out, or since Dan Auerbach's great solo release came out. Regardless, yes, the Black Keys are back with another album.

I was lucky enough to pick this up on Friday the 14th, as opposed to waiting until the 18th. That, in itself, is great. I'm just through the first few songs, and I'm already digging it. First reaction: it sounds like a mix between their older, super-garage-y sound the and the polished/produced sound they had on Attack & Release thanks to Dangermouse.

But I'm definitely liking it. I might have a full takeout/review sometime this weekend, but I don't know how useful that is considering this has been leaked for a while (although I purposefully avoided listening to a single note.) As for the release itself, the albums on two great, heavy, 180-gram black vinyl discs. The pressing looks solid, and it sounds great so far. It also comes with a big poster that looks really great and has the lyrics on the back. Oh, and a copy of the album on CD is included as well.

All in all, solid release as far as I can tell. Good packaging, great music. Pretty good for $26.

Song of the Day: De La Soul - Eye Know

This morning I felt compelled to dust off De La Soul's 1989 release 'Three Feet High and Rising" album, which is easily among the best hip hop releases of all time. It's pretty stunning to think I was 2 years old when it came out, but regardless, this is a great record.

But I had to highlight this song and the video (!) today. It seemed to fit, and that video is great. Love this line too: "About those other Jennys I reckoned with? Lost them all like a homework excuse."

Friday, May 14, 2010

NEW INFO: Flaming Lips & Record Store Day's Dark Side of the Moon clear vs. seafoam green vinyl mystery

I've been somewhat passively keeping tabs on this mystery over clear vinyl vs. seafoam green when it comes to the Flaming Lips' Dark Side of the Moon Record Store Day release. For the uninitiated, it was originally supposed to be on a seafoam green record but ended up as completely clear for some.

I documented it on my end here, here, and here. My friend Joe Stark wrote about his copy of the release (which is indeed seafoam green) at his blog here. Meanwhile, some of the people on the Flaming Lips message board here have discussed the issue, but seem to be experiencing the same dearth of good information the rest of the Internet is as well.

Then I came across this, which is perhaps the closest thing to a clear(ing) read of the tea leaves I've found since Record Store Day nearly a month ago. On the Lips' site there's a listing for the vinyl release here. The description of the product is as follows: "One 140g regular weight, clear vinyl disc with bonus CD in babypak. A limited quantity of clear were pressed! Seafoam green will return once we run out of clear."

Now, this isn't exactly clear, either, on just what the hell is going on here. There are a number of comments on the listing that feature some of the typical back and forth and hypothesizing that has come to really capture the whole sense of confusion hanging over this release. But, for now, here's my take:

This listing was posted in mid-March, and it clearly advertises this as "clear vinyl." But one commenter says they've changed it, implying that it once said "seafoam green." And indeed, this entire release was billed as featuring a seafoam green vinyl, not clear. Only once Record Store Day came around and people were opening their records (as I did) to find completely clear wax did confusion ensue.

But the fact that they're shipping clear, claiming there's a limited quantity, and then saying they'll go back to seafoam green after those are all gone, says to me that there's indeed fewer clear copies out there than seafoam green copies. Or, perhaps, this means that it may be somewhat equal now, but once it's all said and done, and they continue to produce seafoam green copies, there will be more of the clear out there. Also, certainly Ebay appears to be biting on the whole "clear-is-rarer" theme, as I've seen countless examples of sellers claiming their clear copies are, for lack of a better term, super-duper rare (and thus more valuable).

So, add this onto the mounting pile of evidence as we try to parse what's going on here. Right now, if I had to guess, I'd say that there were probably similar amounts of clear and green floating around on RSD, but the continuation of green pressings will ultimately mean there will be fewer clear.

But, who knows really. That's what it seems like now. Still, as I've said before, it sure would be nice if Warner Bros. or the Flaming Lips would explain to fans, who lined up and dropped $30 each for this release, just what the hell is going on here.

Also, I've contacted Warner Bros. in an attempt to figure this out. We'll see if they get back to me.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Diggin' now... Sleigh Bells (Treats)

I don't remember where I heard about this ridiculously hyped band first, but I first listened on NPR Music's excellent First Listen feature, which you can check out here. Aside from recommending this feature, I wholly recommend you take 32 minutes of your day and listen to this album. One commenter labeled it audio cocaine. Don't know about that, but they're not wrong, per se. It's got an M.I.A.-ish sound, which makes some sense considering this duo is, indeed, signed to her N.E.E.T label.

Either way, this is a great album after a few times through. But I realize they're also kind of a buzz band, and will likely spawn the inevitable "greatest band or affront to people who can hear everywhere?" debate that so often takes place in this situation.
My two cents is this: I heard this album, and I really liked it. It seems as though a number of other people like it as well. That's fine. But is it going to redefine music for decades to come and be a landmark for everything that's ever been heard ever ever? Probably not. But it's really good! So just take a listen. Sometimes these releases get overhyped and then, inevitably, there's another faction of listeners who feel like they've got to hate it because it's been overhyped and it's not that good.

Well, if you ask me (which you probably didn't) it's good. It's damn good. Listen to it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Record Store Day = Big Time, on Hipster Puppies

UPDATE: Apparently doesn't like having its photo (which is user-submitted, anyway) on my site, as they keep blowing the link. Cool, guys! I'm sure all those people who took pictures of the dogs and sent them to you knew you'd use them just like this!

Quick post: I've really been neglecting this blog, but I've been on a money-saving, no-record-buying stint lately, since Record Store Day extracted far too much money from me.

But - BUT! - I hope to change that soon. As in the next few days, and for sure by the weekend.

In the meantime, check out, which is among the hipster-oriented Tumblr-type blogs that came around once "Look at this f-cking hipster" made it big. There's and 'Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is a f-cking hipster' the only of the meme, I believe, to be devoted to a member of Congress.

So, check those out. Why am I posting this (these blogs and this photo?) For one, I enjoy them. Two, here's the caption from the above photo:

"gatsby really “supported” record store day, but uses amazon the other 364 days of the year"

I thought it was funny -- and a reminder to not be like Gatsby... the dog.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Diggin' now... Theophilus London

Latest new music I've been listing to a lot lately is right here: Theophilus London. Above is "A Stranger's Heart" off his new 'I Want You' mixtape. Listen to the rest via YouTube here.

I don't know much else about London. He's got a blog here. And he has a Twitter account here. He's also got another mixtape called 'This Charming Mixtape,' and it is, indeed, charming in its own way. He's got a new style, incorporating a lot of different sounds and styles into him music -- I'm sure part of that is the sample-heavy, repurposed beats nature of mixtapes. Still, two mixtapes in, I'm diggin' the soul, R&B, hip hop sounds. An example of the weird cross-genre working? He covers Marvin Gaye and samples Vampire Weekend. Yeah. Check it out.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Record Store Day, Wu-Massacre and vinyl in a quote

I try not share any (or at least not too much) boring, mundane stuff on here. I try to avoid the whole "I'm eating a sandwich" stereotype of blogger-types since Twitter came around -- and because I generally despise such things myself ( 'I feel your pain.' ). But I had to share this short conversation between Emma (my girlfriend) and I post-Record Store Day morning.

I had just spent way too much money, and I was talking about how I needed to take a break -- at least a few weeks -- from buying any records. I had been buying quite a bit lately, as this blog will attest to, not to mention the amount I spent last Saturday.

Me: "Yeah, I just can't really afford to spend much more money on this for a while. Plus I'm kind of cheap when it comes to spending that much at one time."
Emma: "That makes sense, you've been spending a lot on records lately."
Me: "Right. Well, I mean, I'm going to stop after I pick up this album I already had ordered from Melody [another shop in D.C.]"
Emma: "What is it?"
Me: "That new Wu-Tang album, on vinyl."

Emma: "Well, yeah. You gotta get that one."

I appreciate the sentiment. And the album Wu-Massacre is pretty damn good too.

Friday, April 23, 2010

In praise of CD/Game Exchange (Again)

I realize I've written a lot about Silver Spring's own CD/Game Exchange here, but as long as they keep giving me reasons to do so, I'll keep doing it. This time, it (again) involves technology, some great deals/finds and me finally getting my hands on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan that I've been looking for since... well, since I started collecting records.

It started Thursday morning when I got a direct message on Twitter from Sam at CD/Game Exchange letting me know they had some new items in. This, of course, was less than a week after Record Store Day, during which I spent way too much money on records and had pledged to take a break. I was going to pass it up. Then Sam, who later told me he had saw a post of mine about searching for Freewheelin', said they had that record in, and he'd hold it for me for a day or two.

It was a matter of hours -- after work, to be precise -- and I was biking over to CD/Game Exchange to take a look at the new acquisitions and pick up Freewheelin'. I know it's like a broken records (PUNS!) but this is yet another example of the benefit of small, independent businesses, particularly record stores, and the wonders of technology. The end result? Some great new records, and one I had been looking for for far too long.

Thursdays' pick-ups (pictured above):
  • Santana - 'Amigos'
  • Elvis Costello and the Attractions - 'Imperial Bedroom'
  • Bob Dylan - 'Nashville Skyline'
  • Bob Dylan - 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'
  • Eric Clapton - '461 Ocean Boulevard'

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Freewheelin' Bob Dylan - Talkin' World War III Blues

A great song in its own right, Bob Dylan's 'Talkin' World War III Blues' has to be up there as one of my favorite Dylan songs ever, and definitely one of his best from his protest-y/folk/Woody Guthrie-like era. Remember, it came out in 1963. I could quote the entire song, but I'll just select a portion or two and strongly suggest you take the time to listen to it. Basically, it's a folk freestyle, and Dylan recorded five versions off the cuff, live in the studio. Number 5 made it on the album, and basically it tells a tale of Dylan's day post-World War III.

Here's a great portion:

Down at the corner by a hot-dog stand
I seen a man
I said, “Howdy friend, I guess there’s just us two”
He screamed a bit and away he flew
Thought I was a Communist

Well, I spied a girl and before she could leave
“Let’s go and play Adam and Eve”
I took her by the hand and my heart it was thumpin’
When she said, “Hey man, you crazy or sumpin’
You see what happened last time they started”

Well, I seen a Cadillac window uptown
And there was nobody aroun’
I got into the driver’s seat
And I drove down 42nd Street
In my Cadillac. Good car to drive after a war

Here's another section that end the song:
Well, now time passed and now it seems
Everybody’s having them dreams
Everybody sees themselves
Walkin’ around with no one else
Half of the people can be part right all of the time
Some of the people can be all right part of the time
But all of the people can’t be all right all of the time
I think Abraham Lincoln said that
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours”
I said that
Classic Dylan, and one of my favorite tracks off one of my favorite Dylan albums: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan.

Why Record Store Day & the vinyl revival marks the death of the CD - if anything - in a good way!

Video killed the radio star. CD killed the vinyl record. And the MP3 killed the CD. In this progression of technological and musical advancement, where does the vinyl record's revival fit into the equation? I think only recently we've begun to see an answer to this question.

If you ask me, if there's any lasting effect that's likely to be seen from the vinyl revival, it's the death of the compact disc, despite what you may have heard. Think about it this way: for years there were vinyl records, which were the main means through which most everyone listened to music that didn't exist in radio transmissions. Eventually - and we've skipped the 8-track here - the CD came along and replaced the vinyl record in terms of price of production, portability and ease of use. That made sense, and the vinyl record was declared dead, buried with various other pre-1990 practices about which discussion has been avoided for obvious reasons.

Eventually, MP3s and the iTunes store came along, allowing people to buy certain songs and albums without ever having to leave the comfort of their point of Internet access, wherever that may be. Music was freed from the confines of walkmans, speaker wire and clunky boomboxes, for good or ill. Before we knew it, musical liberation was brought to anyone with the means to access the Internet and iTunes. Vive la musical revolucion! ( it were.) In time, CDs became like a thumb drive, essentially a medium for storing musical data.

But then came that pesky vinyl record that just. will. not. die. Out of the ashes, it's back, and now there's this national Record Store Day thing that's big enough that my parents are calling me, saying they heard about it and wondering what I picked up (multigenerational fun!). Then there's the fact that more and more records are coming with digital download codes instead of CD copies -- who needs THAT? It's clear, given the recent strength of the vinyl revival, that it's indeed the CD that is on the march toward obsolescence, and here's why:

As I pointed out in this post, and above, since most everyone simply buys a CD for the digital data that's able to be loaded onto an iPod or MP3 player, the CD is more a means to these ends than anything else. A digital download, with a vinyl record, meets that need in a more pleasing way than a CD. When's the last time you heard someone say, "Yeah, I heard it, but I really want to buy the CD, you know, just to have it." And if there was a specific need for a CD, the low cost of a bunch of CD-Rs means that the musical data is easily made into a CD to meet whatever needs that medium fulfills. This low cost of production is a contributing factor to the death of the CD that, gladly, the vinyl record does not have to deal with.

But the point is, a vinyl record of music presents something that's pleasing to look at and very tangible in a way that adds to its value. There are often books or posters that come along with the album, and there's the album art and the records itself. It's all a nice bonus on top of the music that's available to many, regardless of their medium of choice. In this sense, the CD is utterly useless, a cheap plastic disc with little value outside of data storage, aside from the ability to walk straight out of a store and pop the CD into a car. And I challenge anyone to tell me of a time they last did that, or, better yet, point to data that show any significant number of people do that at all.

I admit, there's a large population of people who either download music illegally or just download it without even considering going to pick up a new album in a store of any kind. Sure, for these people, any physical copy of music is an unnecessary bother when they could simply download it via a click or two. But outside of this group, what we're seeing is an opportunity for the music industry to capitalize on two musical phenomena (vinyl and digital) decades apart that, coincidently, have merged to provide a great opportunity to an industry that's suffering under the weight of new technologies.

The portability of digital music, with the aesthetics of the vinyl record (with a 'digital option,' so to speak) present opportunity to capitalize on two different movements that are positive in a number of different ways. This is why, I think, the CD is dead - D. E. A. D.