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.

Friday, March 9, 2012

When It Comes to Making Dreams, It's All Mixed Up

Sometimes I don't know where to start. There are decades of music, and plenty of it I've never heard, and plenty of it you've never heard, dear readers. Do I come in an emphasize a long-time love of my own? Do I try to bring one out that I feel people will not know? Do I try to pull a band out from the sturdy position of independent fame and influence, showing it to people who never heard of it? Address resources for music? Point to only the things I'm looking at in the immediate?

Any of these is an intriguing idea, and, unfocused though it may leave me, I want to address all of them, and leave this a discussion of music from an unusual viewpoint--not restrict that viewpoint to only certain elements or factors of the entirety of music.

I'd like to write about a band I love dearly and have spent horrifying amounts of money on, to say nothing of what a few family members have spent on them as gifts, but to cover エレファントカシマシ¹ known in English by the half-translation, half-transliteration "The Elephant Kashimashi," but that's a massive undertaking. They released a new single in November (yes, they still do that in Japan!), and another is coming in April. The album they are likely to appear on has not been announced yet, though. This seems like a solid place to bring them up, but it's effectively guaranteed that I'd have to address something like the totality of that band--which has existed, unchanged, for the last 24 years, with an album release almost every single year in that time, to say nothing of non-album singles, non-album b-sides, and EPs like Dead or Alive (no relation to the British band, video game or movies). This isn't the time for that, as that will probably take a few entries, perhaps to discuss them by "era."

Similarly, while I've recently acquired the reissues of The Fall's Cerebral Caustic and Shift-Work, that's another band that would need a lot of time devoted to try to make an accessible discussion work. That's 29 studio albums, a number more lives ones, endless compilations, EPs, non-album singles and more music in general than one can shake a stick at, no matter how vigorously.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Oh Man, Wonder If He'll Ever Know...

I've been distracted, quite happily, by the release of Mass Effect 3 for the past few days, but this is a music blog, not a gaming blog, so let me set that all in order here. It only makes sense, in a way, considering I spent most of that release day not playing that game but dealing with music.

Early in the day, Facebook led me to local (primarily used) record (all vinyl!) store Hunky Dory (they also sell glass, if you're into that sort of thing), and the probable need to abandon my plan to make music stores in the area something like a weekly feature, as the experience was so very positive and so thoroughly reinforced my view of the store that pausing on arbitrary and non-established bases seemed wrong.

What happened was this:
Owner Michael Bell posted one of his regular "Album of the Day" posts to announce new arrivals, and Tuesday it was The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy. I'd just been asking Brian at CD Alley about the CD reissues of all their albums, so it seemed almost fated. I asked quickly through Facebook for a price, got one almost instantly and went out to pick it up. Indeed, Hunky Dory has been good to me in this respect before: I'd made no planned purchases before, but when I go out on a spree and collect something like the New Order reissues, I am often somewhat knowingly overwhelming myself. What album do I start with? How do I get a "feel" for a band when I'm plowing through multiple albums and various b-sides¹ and errata? For some, the best approach is to pick up a compilation, like a generic Greatest Hits (which occasionally is part or even mostly miss), or even a quality one, or maybe a strange obscure one.

Monday, March 5, 2012

We Are the Followers, We Are the Trusted Fuel, They Are Unstable and the Exception to the Rule

In naming this blog, I thought I ought to find a phrase that was not too long or complicated somewhere in music, quite probably something I could tweak in the usual fashion to make it fit and hold some kind of reference for people to chuckle at, or perhaps just nod knowingly. In the end, I know one person who knew immediately where I derived it from, and probably only the one. Two possible exceptions, but generally I picked something obscure--not my first thought, but it seemed most appropriate all the same. My object in music is to dig out the gold, the bright spots and the curiosities and interesting things, rather than to spend my time shaking my head at the volumes of dirt and sneering at how much it's alike or how dry and easily crumbled it is, or, well, anything so negative. Finding it and finding it interesting was and is my primary goal when it comes to music.

The title of this blog is a reference to the "single" (such as it is) from a small Brooklyn, NY band's third album: "The Gold We're Digging" from Parts & Labor's Mapmaker. Sadly, just a few days ago, they broke up on their tenth anniversary. It was an interesting run--to say the least--but not an unexpectedly shortened one. It's not the sort of music that happily jumps up along next to many others, and a few changes in approach and line-up didn't serve to help this along. That album, though, is one I'd sincerely have to call a "desert island disc," and I hate those lists. I consistently referred to it, without hesitation, as the best album in the year of its release (2007).

Parts & Labor were dropped in my lap by someone whose name is likely to meander in and out of this blog, my former manager during my stint at a Borders, Gerald. He handed me a nicely replicated burnt copy of the album, saying only, "Here, music to melt your brain," with a lopsided smile and, in retrospect, some measure of mischievousness, I think.

Melt my brain? What could that mean? Well...take a look. Here's the video for the very song that this blog is titled after:

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Omnibus, take all of us, all of us take Omnibus

A lovely stack.
While I've been digging through post-punk, alternative rock and their relatives and descendants, my father has continued on his longest musical path, which relates most to roots, folk, 'alternative country' and the like. My appreciation of defunct local band Two Dollar Pistols confused both of my parents, as it was noted that they seemed "more like [your father's] music" by both of them. Of course, they played in the Borders I used to work in, as our Sales Manager, Gerald, was very invested in music and the local scene--and, despite a move, he continues to be invested in music. So I had a solid starting point for the band, and I've found that baritone vocalists appeal to me in some way that I'm still trying to figure out, as there aren't many around. Let's set that aside though, and I'll agree to talk about my father's interesting influence on my taste in music some other time.

Still, this meant that I was out looking for the reissue of Smashing Pumpkins' Gish¹ while trying to get him to a place he could find the new Dylan tribute Chimes of Freedom for a price he'd accept. He'd actually texted me some time prior to try and acquire a copy through my current job, but, well, nothing doing. I don't work somewhere that's going to carry niche compilations, however large that niche might be.
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