Sunday, July 28, 2013

Record Store

I'd like to think I'm no hipster, but occasionally I get caught up in hipstery things, I suppose. The current vinyl renaissance is one of those things. In my defense, I've been purchasing records since 1979, starting with Supertramp's Breakfast in America. When CDs took over, I will note that I purchased a new turntable in 1989 to ensure that I had something to play the hundreds of records I would carry around with me for the next two-plus decades. Those occasions were few and far between, however, as my CD and then MP3 collections grew. Convenience most often won out over nostalgia and/or the "warmer sound" of vinyl. And there was the stupid instance in the early '90s when I gave away all the hundred or so metal albums I had, figuring I had moved past that genre. IDIOT.

Anyway, even before the vinyl resurgence began in the last few years (and you can find dozens of similar articles proclaiming this over the last five years or so), I had been grabbing some good albums that friends were getting rid of. My turntable finally died about 18 months ago when I was listening to the classic live album The Name of This Band is Talking Heads, but I didn't get around to replacing it until earlier this year. And I was even slower to start buying vinyl again, which I did a few weeks back at the local Newbury Comics outlet.

As I've documented fairly often in my ongoing feature Through the Past Dorkily, in which I share entries from the diary I kept as a 16-year-old in 1984, much of my leisure time was spent going through the vinyl stacks in record stores looking for cool shit (in fact, I pretty much did that regularly from '79 to '89). I would literally spend hours going alphabetically through nearly every record (as I would similarly with CDs later). It was strangely relaxing, just putting aside whatever was stressing me out (school, work, girls, or all three) for a while and trying to figure out what to spend my hard-earned cash money on. Now, of course, that experience and the time it involves is largely cast aside in favor of the easier, quicker method of buying MP3s online and/or checking out an album on Spotify or YouTube first.

Yesterday, I found myself with a few hours on my own with no parental or other responsibilities, so I made my way over to The Record Exchange in Salem, where I used to go in the early '90s to buy used CDs. The store has always had an extensive vinyl section (taking up most of the store), but I'd never looked through it before. While new vinyl releases and reissues are cool and all, they're also pricey. I figured I'd just go old school and browse and maybe find some bargains. It was like stepping into a time machine. I took my time, going A-Z and finding some of the old metal stuff I used to own, as well as records I'd completely forgotten about and ones I never knew existed. It was terrific, just that feeling that there was nowhere I had to be and nobody I had to keep an eye on; it was like being 16 again, minus the teen angst and boredom and stupidity.

Ultimately, I bought a 1977 Stiff Records comp called A Bunch of Stiffs, which featured little-known songs from the label's artists at the time including Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Motorhead and Elvis Costello, among others. I also got the Smithereens' first EP Beauty and Sadness, the Knack's second album But the Little Girls Understand and Wings Over America (not the reissue, but the original 1976 version with three records and a poster and sweet Hipgnosis-designed gatefold sleeve). And it cost $32. Not too shabby. (The vinyl, even though it's used, is in great condition. Nary a crackle to be found, which is impressive.)

I don't expect to make these forays too often, mainly because of time and expense, but maybe once a month or every other month might be doable. I'm not going to stop buying digital albums, but this is also a fun way to get artifacts I don't already have. The next challenge is to find a cool way to store my vinyl. Right now, most of it's shoved up out of sight on the top shelf of our linen closet, but it's not a convenient way to reach most of the records, which are not easily retrievable or distinguishable. I used to have a pair of cool record cabinets that I used for several years until we moved into this house, and the missus insisted I get rid of them. I suspect any really good solution will have to wait until the kids are out of the house and I can commandeer a so-called "man cave" for all my shit, but hopefully I can find something to at least keep some of the vinyl on because I don't really want to shove anything else up into that closet. Yeah, yeah, I know, these are seriously first-world problems.

   

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 288: You Better You Bet

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the first half of 2013 and look ahead to the rest of the year. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").


Show notes:
- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ
- JB: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - Ripely Pine
- Maine native wrote songs while working in video store
- JK: The National - Trouble Will Find Me
- Still digging into this one
- What's the deal with Vampire Weekend?
- JB: Slowdim - s/t
- "A real nice listen"
- JK: Mikal Cronin - MC II
- Plays in Ty Segall's band
- The Besnard Lakes are an interesting band
- JK: New Sabbath is surprisingly non-sucky
- Old bands getting eclipsed by cover acts
- The Stones should just stop
- New Arcade Fire album expected in the fall
- JB: New Soccer Mom full-length may be out this year
- New music from Earthquake Party and Guillermo Sexo
- JK: Looking forward to new Obits album
- More new Pixies music on the way?
- Superchunk's new album coming in the fall
- New Arctic Monkeys and Pearl Jam albums due out
- JB: Anticipating new Polvo, Johnny Foreigner, Weekend, Golden Gurls
- JB: Predict the John Hughes soundtrack sound is going to come back
- Small venues are where it's at
- Pop country is attracting older fans who used to like rock
- Wear earplugs to shows, kids
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper - Rooftop

Savages - She Will
Veronica Falls - Bad Feeling
Mikal Cronin - Weight
Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Lady Lamb the Beekeeper song is on the album Ripely Pine on Ba Da Bing! Download the song for free at Spinner.
The Savages song is on the album Silence Yourself on Matador. Download the song for free as part of the Matador Intended Play 2013 sampler on Amazon.
The Veronica Falls song is on the album Waiting for Something to Happen on Slumberland Records. Download the song for free as part of the Slumberland Records Spring/Summer 2013 Sampler on Amazon.
The Mikal Cronin song is on the album MCII on Merge Records. Download the song for free as part of the Merge Records Summer Sampler 2013 on Amazon.
 
The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Toronto Tontos

Our first vacation of the summer is winding down, as we just returned from five days in Toronto (I had planned to file a couple of dispatches from there, but it just never worked out. I was either too tired after a long day of activities, or the Internet at my uncle's house was out.). We headed up last Friday night to Syracuse, which is a little more than halfway through the 10+ hour drive. Smooth sailing until just past Albany, when a torrential thunderstorm just dropped on us like a giant anvil. We hit the road around 8:30 the next morning and ran into some more rain intermittently until we got to the border crossing in Buffalo, where we sat for an hour. Still, we got to my uncle's house in Mississauga in the early afternoon and hung out there with my cousins. We met my cousin Dev's almost 2-year-old son (his wife's expecting a second child in the fall) and got to see his wife Rani and sister Anita; always great to see those guys. We were last up there in 2009 and stayed at the same place.


This time around, we decided to do some touristy stuff with the kids: We hit the CN Tower and the Jays-Rays game on Sunday, the Ontario Science Centre on Monday. We were going to go to Casa Loma and the Royal Ontario Museum on Tuesday, but we decided to take it easy and just stay local in Mississauga; we took the kids to a place called the Playdium that had mini golf and stuff like that. Then I went in to the Jays-Dodgers game that night with Dev and my uncle Partha, where we met some buddies of Dev's. It was a great game, as the Jays took an 8-3 lead, but they blew it and lost 10-9. We ended up going out after the game and didn't get home until 1:30. Needless to say, we were a little fuzzy the next day (especially Dev). On Wednesday, we drove out to the Toronto Zoo, which Deb and I had gone to 11 years ago with Hannah when she was a baby. We went with my aunt Bharathi and met Anita, Rani and little Raj there; we did a ton of walking but had a great day. And just like that, the trip was over.

We made good time yesterday until we got to the Mass Pike around rush hour. It started pouring and we sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic for a long goddamn time. But we finally made it home okay. I was hoping to hit a few record stores up there, but it wasn't to be. There just wasn't any time. But we all had a blast and that's all that matters. And in a few weeks, we're off to Hilton Head for vacation #2.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Through the Past Dorkily: We're an American Band

Editor's note: Through the Past Dorkily is a recurring feature that looks back at the embarrassingly dorky diary I kept as a 16-year-old in 1984.

Tuesday, July 17, 1984

Song of the day: Cold Shot - Stevie Ray Vaughan

Top 5 at Five
1. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
2. Back Where I Started - Box of Frogs
3. Round and Round - Ratt
4. Still Loving You - Scorpions
5. The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking - Roger Waters

Wow! What a day! It was great! Me and Jeremy went to the beach at 9:30. The weather was perfect! First we were sitting near the water, but then we met [two attractive female classmates], so we sat with them. They were looking good. We all left just before 2. But it was just a beautiful beach day.

- The (beachcomber) Barbarian

Wednesday, July 18, 1984

Song of the day: Two Sides of Love - Sammy Hagar

I was awakened by the phone at 12. It was [guitar-playing buddy]. He asked me if I could come over and jam. I said sure. He gave me directions to Custeau's, but I called Jeremy and got different directions. These screwed me up totally. I asked Jeff at the Gulf station and I finally got there at 2, an hour late. We went to [his friend the drummer]'s house and started jamming. I learned some of the rhythm part for an original song called "Black Corvette" and for "Lick It Up" by KISS. It was great. We also watched MTV. Videos by Ratt, Priest (Heading Out to the Highway), Stevie Ray (Cold Shot), Quiet Riot (Mama), Scorps (Still Loving You), Twisted Sister (We're Not Gonna Take It), Jon Butcher Axis (Life Takes a Life) were on. Then we went to the Bucket to go shopping. We zipped through in 10 minutes. After that, I dropped [drummer dude] off at his mom's house and I took [guitar dude] home. I was gonna stay awhile, but his mom was bitching at him so I left. Got home around 7. I'm in a band! Yah!

- The (rhythm) Barbarian

Thursday, July 19, 1984

Song of the day: Institutionalized - Suicidal Tendencies

Top 5 at Five
1. Round and Round - Ratt
2. Hello Again - The Cars
3. Still Loving You - Scorpions
4. Missing You - John Waite
5. Missed it

Good day. I got up at 10. At 11, I picked Jeremy up and went to get my check. Unfortunately, they didn't have 'em in yet. So I had to take $20 out of the bank (which I will put back in when I get the check). Then we went to Water Country. It was great. We spent the whole day going down the slides and checking out the girls. It was great.

We left at 4. I then picked up my check ($65.10), dropped Jeremy off and went home.

Tomorrow, we're going to the beach at 8. This means I'll have to skip my appointment at Mark Lawrence. Oh well.

- The Barbarian

Friday, July 20, 1984

Song of the day: Rock You - Helix

Top 5 at Five
1. Missing You - John Waite
2. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
3. The Warrior - Scandal
4. Round and Round - Ratt
5. New Girl Now - Honeymoon Suite

What a day! I got up at 7. We got to Hampton Beach at 8:30. There was hardly anyone there. We saw [classmate] picking up trash. She was the only one we saw there that we knew. But there were plenty of nice looking females! We watched 'em all day. We left at 3. The weather was even better than Tuesday!

At 6, we went to the movies. But guess what: [cute chick] couldn't go. Geez! She never gets out of the house! This sucks. She did say we could come over tomorrow. I have to mow the law before I go over.

We saw Best Defense and The Karate Kid. Best Defense was alright. Eddie Murphy should've been featured more. The Karate Kid was awesome! It totally kicked butt!

- The (beach) Barbarian

Saturday, July 21, 1984

Song of the day: Condition Critical - Quiet Riot

Today was pretty boring. But I guess, after 4 good days in a row, I was due for a bad one. First I got up and mowed the lawn. Then later on I went to [cute chick's] house for a few hours. BORING! We couldn't really do anything because her dumb sister kept bugging us. This is going nowhere. I don't know.

Dad, Mom and JP got home at 6:30 p.m. They brought me a hat and a couple of shirts. JP got me an Iron Maiden pin and Mom got me some candy.

I'm working Monday, Thursday and Saturday, 3-10. I met [guitar dude] at the Bucket. He said he'd call me Tuesday or Wednesday to see if we can get together on Wednesday.

- The Barbarian

Sunday, July 22, 1984

Song of the day: Don't Stop Running - Y&T

Didn't do a heckuva lot today. Slept in, took garbage. Went to the Bucket with Mom. Washed clothes. That's all, folks.

- The Barbarian

Monday, July 23, 1984

Song of the day: Lack of Communication - Ratt

Boring day. I went to work at 3. That was real fun.

I got my hair cut this morning. It looks pretty good.

- The Barbarian

Tuesday, July 24, 1984

Song of the day: Panama - Van Halen

Top 5 at Five
1. Still Loving You - Scorpions
2. The Warrior - Scandal
3. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
4. Bobbie Jean - Bruce Springsteen
5. Missing You - John Waite

You thought yesterday was boring: Sheesh! I was totally listless all day. I didn't do a thing.

My bed arrived today. I had to push it against the wall so I don't fall off it at night.

Mom decided to order some pictures after all. I haveta go to Mark Lawrence at 11:15 tomorrow.

- The Barbarian

Wednesday, July 25, 1984

Song of the day: Sign of the Times - Quiet Riot

I took Mom to work, then I put $30 in the bank, giving me $190 total. I picked up Dad's pictures, none of which developed. Then I went to Mark Lawrence and settled that business. I get the pictures in a month. When I got home, I found out that [guitar dude] had called. I called him back and he said we could practice today. I went over around 11:45. We went to [drummer dude]'s house, where we wasted an hour because he was arguing with some burnout in the john! Then he had to get a haircut. While he was gone, [guitar dude] taught me the riff of "Rock You Like a Hurricane." We were working on a new song but we didn't get much done.

JP called around 5 for me to pick up Mom.

[Guitar dude] let me use his strap. I gotta get a new cord, mine sucks.

- The Barbarian

Postscript: Vacation week. So, the band thing. It was fun while it lasted, but like my girlfriends at the time, it didn't last long. I tracked down the drummer on Facebook a few years ago; sadly, the guitarist died in '92, but that's all I know about that. I remember he had a bitchin' Ibanez Explorer and was a good lead player. I wish I had kept up with the guitar and tried to form another band or something, but I didn't play in another band for another 15 years or so. 

The chick situation was growing increasingly lame; between her mom and her siblings, I couldn't get her alone to do any mackin'. Things were dissipating quickly.

We used to spend a lot of time at the beach back in those days. No worries about UV radiation or the like. We'd just like out for five or six hours checking out the hotties. Definitely fun times.

Don't remember learning the riff to "Lick It Up," but hey, it's not exactly challenging:

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Through the Past Dorkily: Summer Jam

Editor's note: Through the Past Dorkily is a recurring feature that looks back at the embarrassingly dorky diary I kept as a 16-year-old in 1984.

Sunday, July 8, 1984

Song of the day: Tom Sawyer (live) - Rush

This weekend was a total bummer! I didn't get a chance to talk to [cute girl] all weekend. I worked all weekend. I didn't even get through to Jeremy.

While I was working today, [hot female classmates] stopped by! [Hot female #1] even hugged me! Geez! They said they'd call me and we'd get together when I'm on vacation.

Hopefully next week will be better.

- The Barbarian

Monday, July 9, 1984

Song of the day: Battle Scar - Max Webster and Rush

Another boring day. The one good thing was when I called [cute girl]. We talked for half an hour. She's a babe!

Mom said she was gonna talk to Dad about taking out a loan to get me a car. I hope I can get one!

I couldn't get ahold of Jeremy or his girlfriend today.

- The Barbarian

Tuesday, July 10, 1984

Song of the day: Blues Breakers - Brian May and Friends

Top 5 at Five
1. Lights Out - Peter Wolf
2. Still Loving You - Scorpions
3. Round and Round - Ratt
4. Sunglasses at Night - Corey Hart
5. Back Where I Started - Box of Frogs

Got up at 11. Everyone was gone, including the car. Which meant I was stuck at home mowing the lawn and working around the house all day. Fun stuff. I finally got in touch with Jeremy. He said he had to tell me something in person tomorrow. I hope it isn't bad news!

We were gonna go to the mall tomorrow but then Mom has to come home and say she needs it. I couldn't get ahold of Jeremy to tell him so I'll have to call him when I get up. Drat!

- The Barbarian

Wednesday, July 11, 1984

Song of the day: The Warrior - Scandal

Top 5 at Five
1. Lights Out - Peter Wolf
2. Round and Round - Ratt
3. Cover Me - Bruce Springsteen
4. Still Loving You - Scorpions
5. High on Emotion - Chris DeBurgh

Well, well, well, Apparently I was well rested. Jeremy called twice this morning while I was asleep. The second time JP woke me up. I told him (Jeremy) that we couldn't go to the mall and then, half asleep, I asked him what it was he wanted to tell me. He said [cute girl] (like ex g-f) was still hung up over her old boyfriend (or something like that, I'm not too sure). But, he said, she liked me, too. OK, I said, and I went back to bed. But wait. Later, in the afternoon, I got a call. From [cute girl]! She said she asked [Jeremy's gf] for my number. I invited her to go to the mall tomorrow with us. She said she'd ask. But what encourages me is that she would go to the trouble of getting my number and calling long distance just to talk to me! That proves she cares. Now, if she'll dump that other bozo...

I've got my work cut out for me.

- The Barbarian

Thursday, July 12, 1984

Song of the day: It's All I Can Do - The Cars

What a day! I was zipping around all day! First, I had to take Mom to work. I got back at 10, couldn't get ahold of Jeremy or [his gf]. So I went to get my check but they didn't get them in till 11. Then I hadda get gas and then we finally got going. [Cute girl's] brother had to come as well. Oh well. We still had a good time. I bought the new Circus and Dio's new album "Last in Line." We went to Friendly's for lunch. I finally got back at 2:50. I then went to work. [Guitar dude] was back today. He said he might call me tomorrow. [Cute girl] said she'd call me and so did Jeremy.

I am officially on vacation. Yaaaah!

- The Barbarian

Friday, July 13, 1984

Song of the day: Walking on a Thin Line - Huey Lewis and the News

Top 5 at Five
1. Round and Round - Ratt
2. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
3. Walking on a Thin Line - Huey Lewis and the News
4. Lights Out - Peter Wolf
5. Missing You - John Waite

Today was so-so. We went to Haverhill and I got my pictures. They turned out alright. Other than that, not a helluva lot happened. [Cute girl] called me. What a babe. I haveta pick her up at 10. Good deal.

- The Barbarian

Saturday, July 14, 1984

Song of the day: S.M.F. - Twisted Sister

Man, what a day! I got up at 7:30 to see Mom, Dad and JP off. At 9:45, I left to pick up [cute girl] and [two other friends]. We got there just after 10 but it didn't start till 12:30. I bought a Ratt jersey.

The Lines opened the show. They were good, but they had a pretty short set. It took about another half hour before Lovely Lita Ford came out. Wow! What a fox! She blew me away! Good set, good guitarist. Next was Twisted F---in Sister! Loud! Outrageous! Fast! Those guys thrashed! Ratt was next. Those guys were the best! Awesome. They totally kicked butt!

Cheap Trick came out last. They cranked! I caught one of Rick Nielsen's picks! Yah!

It was almost unbearably hot: 90s, humid, sticky, ugh. It took an hour to get out. After dropping off [cute girl] and the other two, I got lost on the way home. I took the wrong road and ended up somewhere. I turned around, luckily, and came out on 111 in Salem! From there I somehow got on 125 and back home!

- The (SMF) Barbarian

Sunday, July 15, 1984

Song of the day: Sunday Bloody Sunday - U2

Didn't do much today. Got up at 11 and took the garbage out. Then I basically bummed out till 5:30. Me, Jeremy and [his gf] went to see Gremlins. It was great! After the movie, we went to her house and watched MTV till 10. Then we went home.

- The Barbarian

Monday, July 16, 1984

Song of the day: When You Close Your Eyes - Night Ranger

Top 5 at Five
1. Round and Round - Ratt
2. We're Not Gonna Take It - Twisted Sister
3. Back Where I Started - Box of Frogs
4. Cover Me - Bruce Springsteen
5. When You Close Your Eyes - Night Ranger

Boredom! I didn't do a thing today. It was humid and cloudy all day so we couldn't go to the beach. I should've gone to Florida.

- The (bored) Barbarian

Postscript: I didn't provide a lot of details, but this vacation was planned around the fact that my parents and brother were going to Florida for the week. I think I argued that I wanted to stay home and make some money, but really, I just didn't want to go on vacation with them. I also had some designs originally about throwing a big party, but thankfully I had the good sense to change my mind. That would have been a friggin' disaster. 

A similar refrain from the love interest about being hung up over her ex. I could really attract the winners.

So this was my first concert. I totally forgot that I went with this girl and her friends; for some reason, I thought I went with high school buddies. All I can remember other than the bands was roasting in the sun all day and not moving or going to the bathroom or drinking anything the whole time. The crowds didn't let up until Cheap Trick's headlining set because Ratt was on the rise then and CT was on a downswing. We moved up front for CT and it was terrific. Long freaking day. At least I didn't drink back then.

Twisted Sister was the real revelation that day. Just an amazing live act. And this is from later the same year (around the time I saw them open for Dio):

 

Completely Conspicuous 287: Halfway There

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the first half of 2013. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ
- Rick Moranis has a new album out
- Rush's only U.S. top 40 hit was 1982's "New World Man"
- Brought to you (not really) by Lagunitas Little Sumpin' Sumpin'
- JK: iTunes crashed, lost all playlists and play counts
- Spotify recently added music recommendations
- Serious signal-to-noise ratio
- YouTube's a great source of cool audio and video
- JB: A lot of great music from Exploding in Sound label
- JB: Ovlov - Am
- JK: Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana
- Featured on JB's Lilys comp
- Many young bands embracing '90s sounds
- JB: Krill - Lucky Leaves
- Bass-playing singers free up space for guitarists
- JK: Palma Violets - 180
- Catchy Britpop that rocks
- JB: Radiator Hospital - Something Wild
- Album title comes from Jonathan Demme movie
- JK: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
- More subdued effort, but still excellent
- JB: Colleen - The Weighing of the Heart
- Former French schoolteacher
- Speedy Ortiz posted a great mixtape on their blog
- JK: David Bowie - The Next Day
- Unexpected but surprisingly good
- JB: Veronica Falls - Waiting for Something to Happen
- Melodic British guitar pop
- JK hasn't purchased any CDs this year; JB's bought fewer than 10
- Vinyl ain't cheap
- JB's listed in liner notes of new Speedy Ortiz album
- JK: Kurt Vile - Wakin' on a Pretty Daze
- Very chill, lots of long jams
- Kurt's brother sells Jell-O shots at festivals
- JB: Light Heat - s/t
- Former Mazarin fronter on his own
- JK: Queens of the Stone Age - ...Like Clockwork
- Expected hard rocker and got something more interesting
- New QOTSA drummer is Jon Theodore, ex of Mars Volta
- To be continued
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
Speedy Ortiz - Tiger Tank

Radiator Hospital - Your Boyfriend
Kurt Vile - Wakin' on a Pretty Day
Light Heat - The Mirror (live)
Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Speedy Ortiz song is on the album Major Arcana on Carpark Records. Download the song for free at Stereogum.
The Radiator Hospital song is on the album Something Wild. Download the entire album for free at Bandcamp.
The Kurt Vile song is on the album Wakin' on a Pretty Daze on Matador Records. Download the song for free at Matador.
The Light Heat song is on the band's self-titled album on Ribbon Music. Download the live version for free as part of the WXPN/Key Studio Session at The Key.
 
The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Freedom of Choice

Hidely ho, neglecterinos! I apologize for my lack of blogifying lately. Lots going on, leaving me with little brainpower by the end of the day. But as I sit here on a sunny afternoon listening to the pristine 180-gram vinyl copy of Black Sabbath's Vol. 4 I just bought (along with Fugazi's In on the Kill Taker and Curtis Mayfield's Superfly soundtrack), it has me thinking about the myriad ways the music listening experience has changed over the years.

Indeed, I was just discussing this last night whilst recording the latest episode(s) of CompCon with the esteemed Jay Breitling (look for the first one early next week). We have so many ways to listen to music and so many things to choose from, yet we rarely do so for the sole reason of listening to music. More often than not, we're listening to music while doing something else: working, exercising, driving, eating, etc.

It's very different from when I was a surly teen, holed up in my room with the door closed and listening to albums over and over while reading the lyric sheet or staring at the cover or gatefold art. Add that to the fact that with only a measly allowance or a minimum-wage paying part-time job, I couldn't afford to buy a ton of music. Thus, I really got to know the albums I had, and I started taping them onto cassettes so I could listen on my Walkman at school or wherever.

Now, of course, there's a ridiculous wealth of choices for the music fan. Most of the music I buy is digital, through Amazon MP3 or occasionally (very occasionally) iTunes. I pretty much never buy CDs anymore, except if I find them on the cheap somewhere, although I'll borrow CDs from our local library and rip them to my hard drive. But the real game changer is Spotify, which is free (if you want to put up with the occasional ad) and lets you stream just about anything; there are still some holdouts who won't let their music onto Spotify, including Led Zeppelin, Sabbath and others. It's a great way to listen to something you might want to buy later, or to just blast a song or album that popped into your head for whatever reason. And if you can't find it on Spotify, there's a good chance it's up on YouTube, where you can find entire albums posted by users, as well rare singles and live videos.

There's almost too much out there, and it leads to a scattershot listening experience for music fans. A little of this, a little of that, but you really have to force yourself to dig into an album if you want to get to know it well. It's comparable to the information overload that Internet users often find themselves experiencing, skimming through news and other stories with little snippets of information and opinion from social media while missing the deeper nuances that are available to them but often ignored because of time constraints or apathy.

At the turn of the century, my Webnoize colleagues and I wrote a lot about this pie-in-the-sky concept of the "celestial jukebox," a Web-enabled device that would allow users to access all music at any time. The device has turned out to be anything Web-enabled, such as smartphones and tablets that were just a pipe dream before high-speed wireless Internet was a reality. Of course, monetizing that jukebox has proven to be a challenge; there are ads and premium subscriptions, but it's far from the massive moneymaker imagined a decade ago.

That still needs to be figured out, but the fact remains the celestial jukebox is a reality. Has it revolutionized the way we listen to music? Definitely. Is it a better experience? That's still up for debate.


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 286: Good Riddance

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Brian Salvatore as we discuss music we've outgrown. Listen to the episode below or download it directly (right click and "save as").


Show notes:
- Recorded via Skype
- Check out Brian's comics podcast The Hour Cosmic
- Jay: U2 was favorite band from late '80s to early '90s
- Diminishing returns over last 20 years; sick of Bono
- Brian: R.E.M. was approaching that territory when they quit
- Brian: Done with Metallica
- Jay: Musically, haven't dug them since The Black Album
- Brian: Want to get back into old (non-Metallica) thrash
- Not loving the Cookie Monster vocals
- Jay: Once liked Don Henley's solo work, now hate him
- Brian: Second incarnation of Aerosmith from 1985-on is terrible
- Music got dumb, started working with outside writers
- The curse of '80s production techniques
- Brian: Not a good time for hard rock recording now; too much compression
- Jay: Hair metal lost its appeal quickly
- Saw many hair metal shows in mid-80s: Ratt, Motley Crue, Dokken
- Brian: Mall punk and ska have lost their luster
- Bands specialized in terrible covers
- Culprits include Blink 182, Goldfinger, Less Than Jake, Save Ferris
- Jay: Clapton is NOT God
- Brian: Not a fan of the blues; too samey
- Jay: Still like the blues, but don't listen much anymore
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
Queens of the Stone Age - My God is the Sun
The National - Don't Swallow the Cap
Superchunk - FOH
Eleanor Friedberger - Stare at the Sun

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Queens of the Stone Age song is on the album ...Like Clockwork on Matador Records. Download the song for free as part of the Matador Intended Play 2013 sampler on Amazon.
The National song is on the album Trouble Will Find Me on 4AD. Download the song for free as part of the 4AD Sampler on Amazon.
The Superchunk song is on the forthcoming album I Hate Music on Merge Records. Download the song for free as part of the Merge Records Summer Sampler 2013 on Amazon.
The Eleanor Friedberger song is on the album Personal Record on Merge Records. Download the song for free as part of the Merge Records Summer Sampler 2013 on Amazon.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Through the Past Dorkily: Good Deal

Editor's note: Through the Past Dorkily is a recurring feature that looks back at the embarrassingly dorky diary I kept as a 16-year-old in 1984.

Saturday, June 30, 1984

Song of the day: Mirror, Mirror - Def Leppard

I hadda get up at 6. I was sacking for at least an hour this morning. I hate sacking!

I work tomorrow from 12-7, Wed from 3-10, Friday and Saturday 3-10.

I called Jeremy after I got home. He said [cute girl's] party is on Wednesday (damn!). He said his party is on Thursday (I think) and she would be there. [His girlfriend] said [cute girl] is dumping her old boyfriend. Good deal.

- The Barbarian

Sunday, July 1, 1984

Song of the day: The Last in Line - Dio

Got up at 9 and went to church. Me and JP took the wine and bread up the aisle this morning.

At work, [supervisor] said I could have Wednesday off. And he said I could have vacation starting July 14. Good deal!

I met [cute girl] twice while working today. She was looking good! She said her party was now on Thursday and that they are going to Canobie Lake on Tuesday. She said [Jeremy's girlfriend] would fill me in on the details.

Awesome. I don't have to work until Friday!

- The Barbarian

Monday, July 2, 1984

Song of the day: Anything You Want, You Got It - April Wine

Top 5 at Five
1. Lights Out - Peter Wolf
2. Round and Round - Ratt
3. Sunglasses at Night - Corey Hart
4. Worthless Thing - Elvis Costello
5. The Warrior - Scandal

Slept in today. Didn't do much of anything. Jeremy called and said that [cute girl's] party is on Tuesday and Thursday. Tomorrow we're supposed to meet her at Canobie Lake Park at 6. Mom said I could go. I hope she gets home before 6!

Nice beach day today.

- The Barbarian

Tuesday, July 3, 1984

Song of the day: Lights Out - Peter Wolf

Top 5 at Five
1. Lights Out - Peter Wolf
2. Missing You - John Waite
3. Sunglasses at Night - Corey Hart
4. My Oh My - Slade
5. Smuggler's Blues - Glenn Frey

Good deal. The day went by uneventfully. It was hot, humid and sunny. But around 4:30, it started raining. I called Jeremy and he said we were still going. Then Mom called and said she was coming home late. When Dad got home, I managed to talk him into letting me take the car to Canobie. Boy, am I glad he did! We got there at 6:30. [Cute girl] was looking good! A bunch of guys from the party a month ago were there.

[Cute girl] was pretty receptive! By the end of the evening, we were holding hands! We went on all the rides together. I bought her a balloon. We went on the roller coaster 3 times, the flume 3 times and lots more. Things are looking up! Thursday's party should be interesting!

Tomorrow we're going to the beach.

I like! I like! I LIKE!

- The Barbarian   

Wednesday, July 4, 1984

Song of the day: Star Spangled Banner - Jimi Hendrix

Top 5 at Five
1. Born in the USA - Bruce Springsteen
2. Deeper and Deeper - The Fixx
3. Star Spangled Banner - Jimi Hendrix
4. Rock Me Tonite - Billy Squier
5. Round and Round - Ratt

Boy. First, it took me until 10 to talk Dad into giving me his car. Then me, Jeremy and his girlfriend headed for Hampton Beach. About 15 miles from it, cars were lined up. So we turned around and went back. We went to [Jeremy's girlfriend's] house and swam in her pool all day. It was great! I had lunch there and went home at 4. When I got home, I washed the cars. Then I had dinner and went back to [Jeremy's girlfriend's] at 7 to watch TV. Unfortunately, we couldn't get ahold of [cute girl]. She must've gone out with her family somewhere. Oh well. We watched MTV. I saw Whitesnake (Slow an' Easy), Def Lep (Me and My Wine), Rush (Dist. Early Warning). It was great. We also watched Jaws 3 and this stupid flick called Summer Camp. We left at 11.

Big day tomorrow.

- The Barbarian

Thursday, July 5, 1984

Song of the day: Gimme All Your Lovin' - ZZ Top

WOW! What a day. It started off quietly but ended with a bang! After taking Mom to work at 12 and then getting my paycheck ($91.09), having lunch and all that, I went to [cute girl's] party. And boy, am I glad that I did! First, we had a massive water balloon fight. Then it started to rain heavily. We went in and I whomped on Tony in Intellivision baseball. We had pizza for dinner. To make a long story short, after everyone else left, me and [cute girl] got real close1 She is awesome! We were kissing a lot! Things are definitely looking up!

[Cute girl], you are awesome!

- The (bitten by the love bug) Barbarian

Friday, July 6, 1984

Song of the day: Hangover - Max Webster

[Cute girl, cute girl, cute girl]. Boy, am I lucky! I called her twice today. Once from home for a couple of minutes, and once at work during my break. She is awesome!

[Guitar-playing buddy] comes back from his vacation tomorrow. [Cute girl from school] is back from hers. Man, she's almost as brown as me!

They pulled it off. Jeremy and his girlfriend spent the night at his uncle's house. Those two are animals! Ha ha!

Mom said that I might be able to get a car before summer's over, if I save up my moolah! I hope so.

- The Barbarian

Saturday, July 7, 1984

Song of the day: Missing You - John Waite

What a boring day. All I did was watch tennis on TV and go to work. I didn't even have time to call [cute girl], dammit! Plus it rained all day.

All in all a lousy day.

- The Barbarian

Postscript: Ah, here we go again. It didn't take me much to get me in love puppy mode. Yeesh. Can't you just feel the setup for a big fall again? Still, she WAS  pretty cute.

"Sacking," of course, refers to the ancient art of grocery bagging. It was pretty much considered the shittiest job in a store full of shit jobs. By comparison, my regular Market Basket gig of stocking shelves was pretty cool. We got to go out back and screw around every so often and swipe a soda here and there. And the night crews (still to come) were even better. But whenever things were crazy or somebody had called in sick, they made us go up front and bag groceries and man, was it awful. Inevitably, you had old ladies with 57 cans of cat food that you had to distribute among enough bags so they weren't too heavy, but you also had to make sure there weren't too many bags to carry. The worst.

With two working parents, I was put in the perpetual position of having to beg to use one of the cars. It was easier to deal with my mom, but every so often, I had to work on my dad, and that wasn't an easy task. Fortunately, after he got home from work, he never went anywhere, so it was just a matter of getting permission. Still, took a lot of time and effort.

It's easy to forget nowadays that Peter Wolf's first post-J. Geils band solo album was a big deal. Definitely went with a dance vibe:



 
 

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Completely Conspicuous 285: Full Grown

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Brian Salvatore as we discuss music we've outgrown. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").


Show notes:
- Recorded via Skype
- Check out Brian's comics podcast The Hour Cosmic
- Will launch Input/Output, a music-themed show, soon
- Tracking the different Black Flag reunions
- Rollins doesn't sing anymore
- Kim Deal leaves Pixies
- Rumors of new Pixies recordings (we talked a few days before the new Pixies song dropped)
- Music we once loved but have outgrown
- Brian: The Offspring (on Jay's list as well)
- Somehow grew popular
- Jay: Red Hot Chili Peppers
- Really, it's Kiedis who hasn't aged well
- Awkward moments at Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame inductions
- The greatness of Tom Scharpling and The Best Show
- The bland rock of Bad Company
- Brian drops a bomb with Sonic Youth
- Just can't get into them
- Jay: Sting has grown tiresome
- Big fan of The Police, but in the early '90s, Sting began to suck mightily
- Brian: Wank guitar (also on Jay's list)
- Yngwie Malmsteen led a wave of classically-inspired speed guitarists
- The Vinnie Vincent Invasion was so dumb, so fast
- Soft spot for That Metal Show
- Stephen Malkmus crams tons of solos into good songs
- DLR and Ozzy had plenty of hot guitarists come through their bands
- Brian: Recent McCartney concert was best show he's ever seen
- Listening to music is no longer a sole activity; now, it's always done while you do something else
- Music discovery was a challenging pursuit prior to the Internet
- To be continued
- Bonehead of the Week


Music:
The Pixies - Bagboy
Obits - Taste the Diff
Adam Franklin - Boocat Leah
Bob Mould - The Descent

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The Pixies song is available for free download (in exchange for your email address) at PixiesMusic.
The Obits song is on the forthcoming album Bed & Bugs on Sub Pop. Download the song for free at Sub Pop.
The Adam Franklin song is on the album Black Horses on Goodnight Records. Download the song for free at Largehearted Boy.
The Bob Mould song is on the album Silver Age on Merge Records. Download the song for free as part of the Forecastle Festive Sampler at Noisetrade.

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.