Sunday, December 9, 2012

My 2012: Revenge(s) of the Record Store(s)

Somewhat disappointed in the results of my prior adventure in downloading, I found myself back in the record store.  

Maybe this is where I truly belong. Maybe I’ll never be convinced that a downloaded album actually exists. Maybe when I download, it costs more for the good songs.

Having logically argued myself out of downloading (for the time being), I manage to find myself in a record store on several occasions over the next few weeks.

Trip 1:

After a failed attempt at hard rock and trying singer songwriter sludge, I was longing for some tuneful pop.  You know, chiming guitars, snappy beats,  catchy melodies...

Jens Lekman: Night Falls on Kortedala
What I got instead was by far the weirdest album of the year.  Pop music, yes. But of the extra cheesy mid-sixties variety. You know, the kind your parents might have liked if they despised the Beatles, and loved watching European melodramas.

The orchestrations (yes, there are orchestrations) are totally over the top. And the singing is so mannered that I expected Engelbert Humperdinck to jump out at any moment. Luckily the subject matter was just weird enough (and to be fair, the tunes are just tuneful enough) to keep me paying attention. The best song has an actual guitar on it.  B+
"Your Arms Around Me:

It took me a few weeks to figure out that Jens Lekman wasn’t going to be my pop salvation and I 
resolved to get back up on the horse.

Trip 2:

This trip yielded an experiment in how my reactions to music change over a few listens.  So where did I finally end up with them?

Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang:
I can hear the appeal of this music, up to a point, but from my comfortable, safe standpoint, I still struggle with the more brutal aspects of it.  I guess these guys will have to wait for me to catch up to them, as is usually the case for me with hip hop. B+

Beck: Sea Change:
Ah, so where did I leave off with Beck? A very consistent, catchy and at times beautiful record. It never quite took over my brain, like some classics do, but it’s a Contender nonetheless. A
"Sunday Sun"

Best of Blur:
In England, they’re gods who get to put out a complete boxed set of their music. In America, they’re the ones that you’re always saying “so they do that song”. Unfortunately, it’s very hit or miss whether you liked the song in the first place.  There are a few great ones ("She’s So High", "Parklife") here but no more than what I’d expect from a regular album, let alone a Greatest Hits. B+
"She's So High"

Bright Eyes: Lifted, or The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground
So young, so very ambitious. And when the artist in question has the right attitude, you really want it to go well.  But this doesn’t hit the mark often enough to be a masterpiece.  Some great moments, though (You will you will you will, and ????)  So I still prefer the simpler I’m Wide Awake, because it has no greater ambitions than to put together ten excellent tunes. B+
"You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will."

Trip 3:

Friend Sean had an art exhibit and he invited us along. Was it Fate that it occurred in a used record store? Sorry Sean, for spending almost on CDs as we did on your art.

Liz Phair: Whitechocolatespaceegg:
Another post-masterpiece record link, this time a couple of records down the line after the epochal Exile in Guyville. So while it’s no Exile, it’s also not a disappointment. Ms. Phair puts together over a dozen excellent tunes, and how many records have that many.  Life-changing no, but pretty good!   A-
"Shitloads of Money"

The Hives - Veni Vidi Vicious:
Loud, fast fun, with a lead singer coming across as a more nerdy Iggy Pop.  So I’m not taking it as seriously as I should.  If I played it more often, I’d know if it had staying power. B+

Wire - Pink Flag:
After a twenty year go round with a greatest “hits” collection, I finally get the 1978 classic, and while it’s very good, the unknown legend in my head was a little better. A-
"Mr. Suit"

The Soft Boys - Underwater Moonlight:
After having bought this in 2010 only to immediately lose it, I found it again. I’d barely gotten to know it but now can confirm that, like Fegmania! a year ago, it’s slightly disappointing. I’ve come to the conclusion that  as talented as Robyn Hitchcock is, he’s more suited for a greatest hits record. B+
"Underwater Moonlight"

So my luck with the record stores was slightly better than my downloading. Maybe I need to slow down and not rush into the 21st century.  

Yeah, maybe it’s time to invest in an 8-track tape player...

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