Friday, April 24, 2009
I went back in time and bought CDs...
Borders is going back to being primarily a bookstore - by slowly phasing out it's CD section. While technically they will still have a music department, it will be drastically truncated to carry the big releases and not much else.
Now, I'm not going to turn this into a whiny plea about how we should support brick and mortar stores because if we don't they'll cease to exist; nor will I use this space to wax poetically about the loss of physical media for music. While I am a little sad and scared that mp3s seem to be watering down the overall quality of music (soundwise) I will not rant against progress and technology.
No, I bring this up because to get rid of most of their stock, select titles are 50% off. If the CD is adorned with a red sticker, you enjoy the discount. So I certainly had to check out a sale like that...
Normally, you'd think a store would entice buyers by flaunting the 50% discount on few titles and then keeping the majority of the inventory at full price. That's not the case with Borders. They have a wide range of artists and genres discounted, making for a intensive, yet enjoyable search through bins. Which is exactly how I spent my lunch hour, entertained further by an woman frequently calling someone on the other end of her cell phone conversation a bastard; randomly changing inflections when using the word to make it even more confusing to tell whether it was a lover or nemesis on the other end. It didn't matter to me; her chatter drowned out the overplayed Muse song from the Watchmen trailer that played ad nauseum on a small flatscreen a few feet away in the DVD section. (I only offer this extraneous information to explain the mood I was in when searching through CDs, in an effort to possibly explain how I ended with some of these choices.)
At the end of my hour, I walked out with nine titles, angry only that I had 3 more titles and put them down for whatever reasons. Below, I list my purchases, thoughts behind those purchases, and hopefully some samples.
I've broken the purchases into 2 sections, based on what I bought. I didn't see the pattern of my buying spree until I got back to work, but it seems pretty cut and dry, at least in my head.
Please feel free to guess what my total came to in the comments section.
Section 1 - In a former life I was a Nazi on the run.
Look Around - Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
I have no idea where my enjoyment for old Brazillian music came from, but I'm certainly not complaining. There are few places better to get into the bossa nova groove than with Sergio Mendes. The back of the CD boasts that Mendes "drew on the stunning repertoire of Brazilian popular music outside the canon of the masterful Antonio Carlos Jobim," which, I'm going to have to take the CD sleeves word on. For more information about Sergio Mendes, check out his Wikipedia page.
Couple tracks to get you dancing on your desks...
SeeqPod - Playable Search
The Diva Series - Astrud Gilberto
Continuing with the Brazilian flavor, here's a famous torch singer from Brazil, Astrud Gilberto. To be honest, I picked up this album, held it under one of those wondrous machines that scans the barcode and then plays samples of music, listened, felt as though I were sitting in a smoky lounge with a number of beautiful women and bought it. Unfortunately, the beautiful women don't come with it - but I do have a sudden desire to smoke.
Not only did I choose this video because Astrud's minimalistic approach to swaying is weirdly hypnotic, but also because I enjoyed the behind the scenes production vibe with the whole thing.
And I picked this video for it's Russ Meyer characteristics...and for the awesome saxophonist that nods along in agreement to the song before busting out his solo. Bsed on this video, while I enjoy Ms. Gilberto's voice, I'm willing to bet she wasn't the world's greatest actress.
Big Band Bossa Nova - Quincy Jones
Listening to this album in my car the other day on the way home, I was surprised to hear the very familiar notes of the background music of Austin Powers.
I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed. Not because I didn't enjoy it, but because I realized I will associate that piece of music with an erratic spy spoof movie series. To discover it on an album I had been anticipating listening too left me feeling slightly hollow.
Of course, this track more than makes up for my hollowness...
The beginning of it is the Spiderman (animated series) theme song which then goes into an awesome "Streets of San Francisco" vibe. Which, by the way, is possibly the greatest television series theme song. Don't believe me?
Every time I hear this I feel like sliding across the hood of my car. But I don't want to scratch it so I don't.
The Wildest - Louis Prima & his New Orleans Gang
Ok yeah, so this isn't Brazilian, it's pretty much big band. I put it here though because there was nowhere else to put it. Besides, his New Orleans Gang is the tops!
SeeqPod - Playable Search
And as an added bonus, doing research on Louis Prima led me to this...
2 things. 1. I had no idea he was the predecessor to Liberace. 2. I need that suit.
Section 2 - I'm so hip Tower of Power stopped asking the question once they met me.
East Infection - Gogol Bordello
I've heard the name a few times here and there, but have no idea what their music styling is. In fact, when I go look for clips to embed here it will be the first time listening to them. I do hope I enjoy them, but with the 50% discount the CD came to a total of $2, so I'm not going to beat myself up too much if it's garbage. Also, it's hard to pass that album cover and not at least contemplate making the purchase. What person isn't at least intrigued by cheeky S&M? I figured as I wrote this I should at least be listening to the album to get an idea just what exactly this band is about...
Oh ok, it's like gypsy punk. I promise to wear my wallet on a chain if I ever go see them.
Oops, looks like the album above this one in my Ipod is Easy Bay Grease by Tower of Power. No offense Gogol Bordello, but you're not really holding my attention. It's not it's me - my attention is not easily held (if you couldn't already tell). I will now be using this space to show off awesome old school Tower of Power.
Tower of Power on Soul Train in '73. As awesome as you're thinking...
And here they are in the 80s. One thing you can't say is they did not miss an opportunity to show off the latest style trends of the moment...
And here's one more...for awesome outfits, awesome choreography, awesome hair and awesome get-up-and-get-the-funk-out-with-a-loved-one sounds...
Wowee Zowee - Pavement
I know admitting this is akin to kicking a child in some cicles but I'm not a big Pavement fan. To me, they sound as though their 3-4 rehearsals away from sounding pretty good at their high school talent show.
I know I'm in the minority.
What that means is that normally I'd never buy a Pavement album. I already have Slanted and Enchanted, and that's more than enough for me. But then, wandering through the racks of CDs who do I see? My boss, who's not only a music afficonado, he's also a huge Pavement fan. Did I succomb to his pressure because I wanted to kiss up? It's more than likely. Have you heard about this economy?
My favorite Pavement song. No, it's not on Wowee Zowee.
Moon Pix - Cat Power
Cat Power's The Greatest was my album of the year back in 2006. But that's the only album I have of hers. So I picked this one up. There's really no other reason.
Not only one of my favorite songs by Cat Power, one of my favorite songs...Willie.
And here's a cut from the Moon Pix album...
She's had a tough road to travel where she currently is, but she can definitely sing. I wouldn't recommend listening to too much of her if you're feeling blue though.
Leaders of the Free World - Elbow
Making my best of 2008 list of music, I figured I should dive into Elbow's back catalog. They're the perfect kind of band to recommend and feel really, really hip. In fact, I'm 90% sure they've taken overtaken the Miata as "something creative directors have or refer to to make sure everyone knows their a creative director." (You'll only get that joke if you worked in an ad agency in the mid 90s, so if you didn't, just move on.)
Heart Attack and Vine - Tom Waits
Tom Waits creates music that is polarizing. In fact, you'd be hard pressed to find a "casual" fan of Waits. His influences aren't easily found in the Big Book of pop and his sound stylings take a while to get used to. He also enjoys experimentation, something that is not often awarded in pop music.
As I sit here and type this, I'm listening to this album, and if you asked me to describe it I would say, "midnight jazz being rubbed against a cheese grater." Here, this video does an excellent job of encapsulating his vibe...
If that sounds appealing to you, then I suggest you start listening to Tom Waits.
And that's it. While I didn't set out to, I realize I've given you way too much to digest for an Internet article. After all, anything over 50 words written on the Internet is most often ignored. If nothing else, check out the pretty pictures and sounds and support your local music extablishment. I'm currently taking advantage of the 50% discount at Borders for these CDs, knowing full well this time next year I'll be hard pressed to find any kind of store selling CDs.
And I hope you've enjoyed the rather deep dive into what I enjoy to listening to. While the list certainly can't cover my tastes completely, it does give a nice overview of some of my likes and (unfortunately) dislikes. Please feel free to ask questions, make suggestions or call me a douche in the comments.
Until next time...