Musings on music, old, new, popular and obscure. Post punk, metal, hip-hop, funk, and rock in general. A music fan with a desire to lose boundaries on what should and should not be listened to writes about experience in music from a listener's perspective, hopefully unhindered by prior expectation.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Times I Want Is Times Like This - We're Where the Action Is

While my immediate desire was to begin addressing the Beggars Banquet series of Omnibus releases, I'm going to set that aside for another day, as it was requested, quite reasonably, that I discuss the stores in the area I live in and that seems important in this day and age, as I'm not sure who does or does not know about them. As I'm writing this, making it a revolving series seems like a good idea, as I'm likely to wax poetic about a lot of them, or at least a few of them, to make sure I give a good approximation of the kind of variety each carries and what to expect from them.

If you live in the Triangle--the part of North Carolina so named for its set of three cities in relative proximity to each other: Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh--there are a number of music stores actually still present and doing interesting business and providing different advantages for those seeking music. We've lost some good ones, some not so good ones, and some middling ones, even in the time I've been around. Some persist, some persist for strange reasons, and some go for even more mystifying ones.

I frequent two stores for new music on a semi-regular basis, occasionally browsing one or two others, and dipping into a chunk of used stores even more erratically. It's a weird sort of community in general, but the persistence of independent music stores is a good thing. Most cover vinyl and CDs, and all of the sealed, new music purveyors also sell used material.

I'm not going to delve too much into vinyl, though I'll address the locations I've had luck with it, because I'm not enough of a connoisseur of the stuff to address who has the best, most pristine stock, or who is best for collectors. Me, I couldn't care less if what I just ran across that I want is a first pressing. It's a nice bonus if it is, and I can delight in stumbling across it, but I won't turn down second presses or even reissues.

The best place to start is probably the store that caused me to move to the area. About ten years ago, I visited Chapel Hill for the first time in my life, shortly after I'd started expanding my taste into modern independent music. I was in the midst of obsessions with At the Drive-In and Aphex Twin, and the former I could actually still find in places like Best Buy and Circuit City, but you'd be lucky to get past The Richard D. James Album or Come to Daddy (the US issue that combines the original, separate British singles into a single release) in the catalogue of an artist who has been releasing music since the early 1990's under various aliases. So when I went into this newfangled idea of an "independent music store," my new fascination with vinyl and my interest in these harder-to-find artists drove me to look in those places first.

Friday, March 2, 2012

To open, Mistakes of a (Not-So) New Order

This blog is an experimental thought, a thought to share and learn about music in the corners, crannies--even if some of them are big, large or even huge--and unnoticed spaces of music. Those places are different for all of us, and I often find myself traveling in one direction for a length of time, only to be turned in another by friends, family or chance.

The past year or two, I've found myself digging away at the time frame and genre known collectively as "post-punk," though a lot of it bears little or no resemblance to the rest. The angularity cramped in against hooks and experimentation often drives my interest, which began with the influence of my best friend in high school and college, known to many of us as "Jogn," thanks to a typo on my part, who introduced me to Gang of Four most prominently, but also a lot of the punk I know and all sorts of stranger things--Public Image Ltd, Flipper, pointing me toward bands like The Fall, The Buzzcocks and so on.

Somehow it simply simmered and fermented in the back of my mind until it came crashing out. I can't be sure of the reason. I bought Joy Division's Substance and Unknown Pleasures, but they didn't make much of a dent beyond the uncharacteristic "Love Will Tear Us Apart" single, which I simply knew from casual exposure over the years. On a whim, and out of a strange love of meticulously definitive collections, I picked up the Joy Division boxset, Heart and Soul, some two or three years later and something finally clicked.

I tried to push Joy Division on a friend who has always been the most willing guinea pig to my musical forays, and he pushed back, as he occasionally does, with the note that he had found himself far preferring the splinter-group, formed from what musical beginnings were left at the end of Joy Division's vocalist Ian Curtis' life, New Order. He immediately directed me to an upload of "Age of Consent" (the same link is embedded below) from their album Power, Corruption & Lies and I rapidly found myself trapped. I picked up the collector's edition reissue and set about the process of re-structuring the digital copies I made of my discs, placing them in chronological order, with album art and release dates in my digital library. Somehow, in the process, I discovered that the original issuance of all of New Order's reissues was, in fact, utterly botched.

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