Posted by Payton | Posted in Uncategorized | Posted on 07-31-2008
Tagged Under : bright eyes, cross canadian ragweed, james mcmurtry, matt powell
Cross Canadian Ragweed – Nowhere, TX
Vinyl Is Making A Comeback!
You may have noticed from the heading pictures on many of my posts that i have a slight affinity for the Vinyl Record. That place of being for the first true ‘albums.’ The ones with a Side A & Side B. Those nostalgic relics you pulled down from your parents’ attic when you first realized the beauty of music. Y’know……… LP’s.
Lost Highway, Sub Pop, and even EMI are few of the labels that i’ve noticed offering the CD/Vinyl choice. Browsing Amazon’s upcoming releases recently, i found that most of the albums on the list are re-issues of older albums in the analog format. Waterloo Records in Austin, as i’m sure is true with many stores around the nation, now have larger sections of new vinyls than that of the used, original pressings. Best Buy and other major retailers are tossing around the idea of adding Vinyl records (in a limited, carefully chosen selection, mind you) to their music departments.
Vinyl records enhance every aspect of the experience one has with their music. The artwork becomes not just an album cover, but a true work of art to be to be carefully studied as the sounds are magically transferred from a small needle through to giant speakers. Playing a vinyl record requires much more work than, say… a click of a mouse does – meticulous removal of the album from its sleeve followed by the steady-handed placing of the needle along the outermost groove. And then you’re required to repeat this procedure halfway through the listening process. All this extra effort allows for a ceremonious display of respect for the artists’ work, and a higher appreciation for the fidelity of the music.
Perhaps just as exciting as finding that perfect, although slightly worn, copy of Blonde On Blonde, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, or Our Mother The Mountain in the used section of the store is carefully removing the plastic on the 12×12 cardboard encasing your newest favorite album deemed worthy of a vinyl immortality. Maybe there will be a fold out poster. Maybe extra liner notes. Ultimately there’s the holy grail of bonuses – the vinyl-only bonus track…
And then there’s that sound…..
No matter how our digital technology grows, the simple fact is that the quantity and quality of sounds present on an LP can never truly be transferred to CD or mp3. The desire for increased volume on CD’s only lessens the dynamic quality of the sound captured. It puts a fuzzy, warm feeling inside you to hear that fuzzy, warm sound that comes from an LP. Records capture every sound that went into the microphones and play them back without losing any of the grandeur. This sound can transport you (often back in time) into that fabled studio the musicians holed up in for days at a time and created their art. Hell, i even enjoy the pops and static you often come across – it’s genuine.
Of course, saying that vinyl is the next big thing again is just as relative as saying that the artists i talk about here are popular. Sure, they’ve remained preferred in small circles (DJ’s and fellow Audiophiles), but the popularity will never again compete with that of the quickly accessed, readily available, and easily pirated mp3. But there is some hope in the numbers…. Vinyl revenues were up 46.2% from the last year in 2007, while CD sales dropped 20.5% – following a 10.9% drop between ‘05-’06. LP sales don’t even make a dent in the overall layout of sales in the music industry – CD’s still reign, for now – but the numbers that are reported don’t include small indie record shops, or the sale of used albums in stores and on eBay. (sales figures are from RIAA via Wired.com)
And let’s be honest – you wouldn’t be here, nor would this blog, if it weren’t for the mp3. It has dramatically changed the way we listen, collect, and share our music. But many of these hip labels releasing the vinyls fully understand that. To compensate, many offer supply a code with the purchase of the record that allows the customer to go online and download mp3’s of the tracks for portable use.
So, what’s in store for the CD? i believe the only thing keeping the Compact Disc hanging on is the need for music in the vehicle. Satellite radio and the FM transmitters for iPods have tried to phase out the Auto CD player, but still haven’t matched it. XM and Sirius are revolutionary, but you still aren’t able to pick a certain track or skip through to songs of your choice. And although many new vehicles are offering direct iPod docking stations, too many still only have the option of the FM transmitter – which simply does not produce the same sound as an mp3 file. Moreover, unless you’re on a long trip with little radio interference along the way, it’s just too much trouble to find an empty station to transmit your tunes through. Once the majority of car radios have auxiliary plugs on the face, or even USB ports, the CD will finally have seen it’s days.
The same was most likely said about the vinyl upon the introduction of the CD, but as we’ve seen, that big black disc has not only hung on, but thrived. There’s a nostalgia, a deeper connection to the music you get with a vinyl record that never existed with the CD and exists far less with the mp3. Long Live Vinyl.
If there is one ray of hope for the compact disc, this has to be it – Optical Media Productions is testing the idea of a Vinyl/CD hybrid. Old school on the top, digital on the bottom. The vinyl side will only fit about 31/2 minutes of music – a perfect place for a bonus track. Read the story….
Here’s a couple of tunes picked especially for this occasion:
Ryan Adams – If I Am A Stranger (vinyl rip)
Todd Snider – Vinyl Records
And these just scream vinyl to me:
Bill Withers – Use Me
Bob Dylan – Talkin’ World War III Blues
John Lee Hooker – Boogie Chillen’
Ray Charles – What’d I Say
Check out Amazon’s Vinyl catalog.
If you check the archives, i’ve only got 1 previous album release forecast (here). But i did, in fact, write two of them. One day, my second one mysteriously disappeared. My guess is some of the tracks i posted got some people angry, and instead of coming to me, they went to Blogger, who then removed the post – no questions asked.
But thanks to the internet and all its archiving glory, you can still find remnants of it – like here at Elbo.ws.
Anyway, my plan was to get an installment out pretty regularly, as not to miss any big releases. But this summer has been one big blob of uncertain locales and shaky internet service – with even more to come. So that didn’t happen, but i did manage to talk about some releases as i learned of them in single posts.
i will resume with a late summer/early fall album release forecast:
Conor Oberst – Conor Oberst
This album has been talked about on every other blog and music mag, so i won’t get in-depth. Conor Oberst left behind the Bright Eyes moniker as well as his “better half” and longtime producer Mike Mogis and went deep into Mexico to record his latest effort. The self titled disc is reportedly not as much ’sad-bastard’ but more up-tempo midwest rock – much like Cassadaga, which i really enjoyed.
Conor Oberst – Danny Callahan
stream the whole thing here.
Carrie Rodriguez – She Ain’t Me
(Back Porch Records)
If Norah Jones and Allison Krauss had a love-child, her name would be Carrie Rodriguez and she would be a classically-trained violinist with a twangy, soulful voice. Carrie worked with songwriter Chip Taylor for many years, and in ‘06 released her solo debut, Seven Angels on a Bicycle. It’s a fiddle-driven, mellow album that features mostly songs penned by Chip. Carrie is set to release her sophomore effort in which she took over the writing duties – she co-wrote with Gary Louris and Mary Gauthier, and Lucinda Williams makes a cameo. Not bad.
Carrie Rodriguez – Got Your Name On It
Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez – Keep Your Hat On Jenny
pre-order She Ain’t Me
Todd Snider – Peace Queer
(New Door Records)
i already talked about this one here.
Rodney Crowell – Sex and Gasoline
(Yep Roc Records)
The Houston Kid honed his musical chops as a guitar player/singer with ol‘ Emmylou. He ran around with Steve Earle, Guy Clark, and Townes in the 70’s and 80′ – oh yeah, he was also married to Rosanne Cash. Known mainly for his songwriting, he has penned songs that produced hits for Emmylou, Guy, Waylon, George Strait, Keith Urban, etc. With a slew of solo albums since ‘78, Rodney’s last few discs have been politically-fueled rants set to catchy guitar/mandolin riffs.
from Sex and Gasoline:
Rodney Crowell – Closer To Heaven
from 2005’s The Outsider:
Rodney Crowell – Don’t Get Me Started
Okkervil River – The Stand Ins
Will Sheff and band didn’t take long to follow up 2007’s The Stage Names (which, if i could re-do my Best of 2007 list, would make the top 5). That’s simply because they had toyed with the idea of releasing a double album last year. Though the idea was forgone, The Stand Ins picks up where The Stage Names left off. The overall theme is said to carry over, there’s a sequel to the plaintive Savannah Smiles, and even the artwork coincides. Read more here.
here’s a live version of a song that will be on the new disc – my most anticipated of this list.
Okkervil River – Lost Coastlines (WOXY.com Lounge Acts)
Old Crow Medicine Show – Tennessee Pusher
i posted about this release here as soon as i found out. Since then, i’ve also been informed that an EP will precede the album release. Out next week (July 29th), it will include 2 songs from the full album plus an exclusive track, Back To New Orleans.
The album was produced by Don Was (The Stones, Dylan, Black Crowes) who has his own channel on MyDamnChannel.com - check out the boys playin’ some studio sessions with country legend ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement:
You can find an older version of Caroline at my original Tennessee Pusher post, but he’s another new tune from The Show that i’ve found:
Old Crow Medicine Show – Soul Rebel (live)
In December of 2000 – just a couple months after the release of Heartbreaker and a couple weeks before the session known as The Suicide Handbook (stay tuned…) – Ryan Adams and some friends stopped in at Woodland Studios in Nashville to record some songs.
Another studio session intended to be part of a 4-disc Demolition series, The Pinkheart Sessions finds Ryan in his most punk-rock state so far in his solo career. Backed by Billy Mercer, John Paul Keith, Brad Pemberton, and Bucky Baxter – also know as The Pinkhearts – this session produced two songs that would later make it on the only disc to be officially released in the Demolition project. The cuts here of Starting To Hurt and Gimme A Sign are the actual takes that made it on Demolition (2002). Most of the remainder of Demolition came from the second Pinkheart Sessions recorded in the summer of 2001 (again, stay tuned).
Other notable songs from this collection are Mega-Superior Gold and Candy Doll, both of which received considerable live play when Ryan toured some as Ryan Adams & The Pinkhearts. Aside from a couple brilliant songs, this session is a mix of over-powered rock, juvenile satire, and even a couple of instrumental takes. But if you take it for what it actually was – limited studio time booked with the intention to try some things that may make an album one day – it served it’s purpose. The standout track from the first Pinkheart Session is Young Winds. Ryan managed to calm his overactive limbs, sit at the piano, and pour out another soulful serenade.
Some tracks are not included for obvious reasons.
1. Starting To Hurt (Demolition)
2. Mega-Superior Gold
3. Gimme A Sign (Demolition)
5. Red Red Red Red Wine
6. Candy Doll
7. I Don’t Wanna Work
9. Enemy Fire (instrumental)
10. Testy, Testy (instrumental)
11. Around The World/Under The Bridge (RHCP parody)
12. Young Winds
Got a link to this in my inbox this morning.
check out more videos at MyDamnChannel.com
The song is from Todd’s forthcoming album, Peace Queer - out August 19th. It will carry a theme that he is well-accustomed to – the modern-day protest song. He includes a cover of CCR’s Fortunate Son, and the lead-off track is entitled Mission Accomplished – we all know what that’s in reference to.
i’ve thrown up a couple Todd Snider songs here and there, but not enough has been said about this wordsmith. Like John Prine before him, Todd has a way with words that is not initially super-impressive. At times, their lyrics are so corny that they are are downright mindblowing. And listening to people like Townes Van Zandt, Elliot Smith, and Ryan Adams – whose austere phrases are often difficult to decode, we tend to forget the value of a little humor and levity in music. While Todd may not shoot for the most intellectual phrase to come up with, his timing and syllabic choices are perfect. He has a superb sense of melody that shines through in his solo acoustic work.
You Got Away With It ~ from The Devil You Know (2006)
A tongue-in-cheek song about the most powerful frat-boy of them all.
“You got the run of this place…. unbelievable!”
Here’s another humor-driven tune from Todd:
Iron Mike’s Main Man’s Last Request
buy East Nashville Skyline (2004)
Haven’t done one of these in a while. i’ve been pretty short on time this week, so no in-depth posts requiring a lot of thought are in the works. That’s why i started this Playlist Pulse thing anyway – to get some songs out to the people in a simple way.
Today, i’m pulling from my Slowies playlist. It’s simply a collection of soothing, slow-paced songs that i often use to fall asleep to. That’s not to say that the songs are uninteresting, just very calming. In fact, i often end up staying awake thoroughly examining the words – as simple, quiet instrumentation paves the way for lyrically driven songs.
Possibly one the most underrated artists anywhere near the folk scene today, Gillian Welch (always with help from David Rawlings) can take you back to depression-era times with the first note she hits. The overwhelming spiritual quality of her music helps to offset her tragic lyrics.
as always, enjoy responsibly………..
As for the title and picture – i had this miniature toolbox that came in a package deal with Cross Canadian Ragweed’s Garage (along with a vinyl and a mechanic’s shirt). I had no idea what to use if for (tools were out of the question as i could maybe fit a hammer in there….) until i realized that it was just wide and deep enough to fit a long row of CD cases. Perfect! i had recently outgrown my flipbook style CD case and was a little tired of the discs getting scratched. And so, with the help of lots of haphazard music stickers, the Toolbox O’ Music was born. It’s normally filled with the newest additions to my library; however, there are those few albums that never seem to get bumped out. This feature post will highlight those masterpieces.
So, to start, we’ll go way back……….
Thought of as a troubadour-songwriter, Willie’s most famous tunes, however, were not self-pinned. Blue Eyes was written by Fred Rose, Seven Spanish Angels by Eddie Setson and Troy Seals, I’d Have To Be Crazy by Steve Fromholz, etc. But Willie has the ability to give each and every song he records his own touch, whether it’s from his tenor-twang, the timbre coming from Trigger, or simply his ‘Willie Nelson Charm’.
The two stand-out tracks on Red Headed Stranger were not Willie originals either, but because i’ve never heard any other versions and HE OWNS THEM, they might as well be his.