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Records

April 28th, 2009

These are the only records I’ve bought since my last post in this category:

  • Skoal Kodiak - Three People Are Keep Having Grape Emergencys (I bought it from them after their show at the entry in… February?  March?)
  • Solid Gold - Get Over It 7″.  A limited edition single with handpainted covers and a bonus “mix tape” (CD)
  • John Frusciante - The Empyrean.  Fuck yeah!  See below.  I’ve been falling asleep listening to this a lot lately.  It’s been inspiring.  Read John’s description of it (below.)

It is a concept record which tells a single story both musically and lyrically. The story takes place within one person, and there are two characters. It contains a version of Tim Buckleys, ‘Song To The Siren’ and the rest of the songs are written by me. My friend Josh plays on it, as does Flea. It also features Sonus Quartet, Johnny Marr and The New Dimension Singers. I’m really happy with it and I’ve listened to it a lot for the psychedelic experience it provides. It should be played as loud as possible and it is suited to dark living rooms late at night.

- John Frusciante, November 3rd, 2008


Record Shopping

October 17th, 2008

Polara - Pantomime EP.  A four-song single from 1995.  It has an extra track that wasn’t included on the CD version

John Frusciante and Josh Klinghoffer - A Sphere in the Heart of Silence


Things That Spin in Circles

October 15th, 2008

1. Vinyl Records.  I bought a turntable, then went to the Needle Doctor to fix it.  I realized I never ruined a record, but I have plenty of CDs that are scratched up to all fucking hell.

Today I bought:
Radiohead - Hail to the Theif
Elliott Smith - XO
(both of which I have scratched CDRs)
Bettie Servert - Lamprey (out of print 90s record on yellow vinyl I found for super cheap)

2. CDs.  The old plastic compromise.  I pack ‘em up with printed uncoated paper to bring some dignity to it all.  It’s all on YouTube.

3. Four wheels under a steel box.  I’m going to Madison this weekend for the big Madison Zine Fest.  I’m tabling with zines and CDs and playing an acoustic house show.  I haven’t yet been out of the state as a clear-headed thirtysomething.

4. Dough in the air.  I start a new job at Uptown Pizza tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to returning to life outside of chains-ville and still getting paid to drive my car.  Pizza delivery is a cool job because people are less likely to be in a sour mood when you’re bringing pizza to their door.  Especially when it’s awesome pizza.


On sound and where it lives

July 16th, 2008

You can’t have a zine festival without getting questions about zines’ survival in an increasingly digital age.  Are they dying?  Why don’t people just start blogs?  Etc. etc.  I’ve had this stuff on my mind lately, as I’m about to release another record on a different dying format: CD.  Now, this time I’m actually getting them professionally duplicated, just because it will open more doors for reviews and distribution.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a problem with it…

(BTW-zines are not dying, and the people who read zines are not the same people who read blogs though there are those that do both.  Nobody “collects” blogs, you can’t fill a shoebox or a milkcrate with them, you can’t save them.  A zine will be there to stumble upon when you’re old and going through things.  A blog will be deleted from the server.)

So-called MP3 culture asserts a song’s autonomy, making it available on it’s own without the other songs, without artwork or credits or packaging.  I obviously don’t buy this.  Songs need homes, and singles are the equivalent of a cramped apartment where there’s nothing but you, but at least it’s a place to stay.  MP3s are like homeless people.  Just as society in general doesn’t really give a shit if some guy is homeless, the consumer market doesn’t care if a song gets distributed as part of an album or on it’s own.  I think musicians do care though.  Songs are usually recorded as albums, with a distinct group of people working on them in the same place and over a certain period of time, etc.  Songs in an album often complement each other or just “go with” each other.  They live together.

Just because a new technology makes it effortless to distribute something in a certain form, doesn’t mean that the thing necessarily benefits from that form.  Amazon.com could save people a lot in shipping by selling books as PDF files.  Why is this debate not happening with literature?

Imagine your favorite book and then imagine if you had read it curled up with your laptop computer.

When I go over to someone’s house for the first time, for a party maybe, I glance through their music collection and their book shelf while everybody else is socializing.  People typically display these things prominently.  What I don’t do is turn on their computer and start opening folders.

I decided a little while ago just what is the problem with CDs. They’re ugly, stupid, fragile things.  They don’t age well, the cases break, they scratch.  Not only that but typically CDs are not produced with any consideration for the aesthetics of the physical product.  Beyond the graphic design and artwork of the booklet, and the screenprint of the disc itself, they’re all the same.  A  beautifully produced concept-album that took two-years to make is likely to come in the same form as a the bundle of free software included with your inkjet printer.

CDs have become ephemera.  The general consensus in our culture is that if it’s on CD, it’s endlessly replaceable, repeatable, and if it’s not free, it may as well be.

I think that even though people prefer having a tangible product, CDs just don’t have that many redeeming qualities as such a product.  A little while ago, I started thinking, “why am I still using CDs?  I can buy a USB turntable, buy records, and burn them to CD when I need to play them somewhere else.”  I just read an article from last year claiming that vinyl sales are up.  It makes sense to me.  Now I’m thinking my next release might be on vinyl.  This one will be a CD, but there’s no jewel case.  It’s going to be a little bit of a book-arts project, and consequently will also be expensive and a major pain in the ass.  But I needed to make it something that I could see myself buying.