Archive: October 2006

Looking ahead: Nov. 2006-Feb. 2007

The new release season is winding down for the Christmas break, and it won’t pick up again till the spring. So there isn’t much to preview this time around.

I’m very cranky these days. Is this what happens to aging music fans? I like to think it is.

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The Killers: Sam’s Town

The Killers made me realize something about how I pass judgment on the quality of music I consume. To wit:

Some albums are good, and some albums are good enough.

The albums that are good are ones you take for a spin time and again, and you look forward to that kind of repetition. The albums that are good enough are ones you take for a spin, just because nothing else at the moment appeals to you.

In terms of the Killers, I made the following distinction:

Hot Fuss was good. Sam’s Town is good enough.

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Damn, I miss ICE magazine

I experienced something weird last night — I went to the record store and discovered a band I’ve been interested in released a new album without my knowing it.

I haven’t felt that kind of surprise in a long time — perhaps more than a decade.

The album in question was Oye by Aterciopelados, and it’s the band’s first new album in six years.

If ICE magazine were still around, I probably would have been informed weeks in advance. Damn, I miss ICE.

Gnarls Barkley: St. Elsewhere

I have a hard time perceiving St. Elsewhere by Gnarls Barkley as anything but an indie rock album.

Yes, Danger Mouse comes from the hip-hop underground, and Cee-Lo was a member of Goodie Mob. By virtue of those credentials, St. Elsewhere is a hip-hop album.

But there’s a level of psychological exploration happening in the lyrics that go far beyond the few hip-hop albums I’ve encountered in my largely rockist life.

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Listen: Garrin Benfield – Don’t Panic

Garrin Benfield was one of the musicians listed in the Advocate’s Top 10 Indie Artists of 2005.

Benfield is a singer-songwriter in every sense of the term — his music would definitely appeal to the Austin audience who love their guys-with-acoustic-guitars.

His sound is a bit more mellow than Dylan Rice, and his influences go a bit further back. The arm of John Lennon stretches far on his 2004 album, Where Joy Kills Sorrow.

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Listen: Ari Gold – Wave of You

I’ve been very neglectful of this site because I had a presentation at work occupying my time. Now it’s done, and I can catch up (a bit.)

I promised more gay-themed listening choices in observance of National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11), and you can’t get any gayer than Ari Gold. Don’t confuse him, though, with Jeremy Piven’s role on Entourage.

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Dmitri Shostakovich: The String Quartets (Fitzwilliam Quartet)

Ever listened to an album by a band that was so good, you bought other albums by the same band, thinking they would all be good? Wasn’t it disappointing when they weren’t?

That was the fear which fueled my reluctance to explore the string quartets of Dmitri Shostakovich.

Kronos Quartet introduced me to Shostakovich’s Quartet for Strings, No. 8, and it rocketed to the top of my favorite classical music works on first listen. (Kronos’ Black Angels is an essential album for anyone who wishes to explore the repertoire of the 20th century.)

I loved the Eighth Quartet so much, I didn’t want to spoil it by potentially being disappointed by the other 14 quartets in his catalog. Of course, I would turn out to be wrong.

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Is that where he got it?

Just to demonstrate the holes in my knowledge of the classical repertoire …

I didn’t realize Alfred Schnittke pretty much refashioned Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Grosse Fuge for his String Quartet No. 3.

As such, I can’t listen to the Grosse Fuge without my ears filling in all the clustered notes Schnittke "added". Even as a melody in its original form, it’s pretty dissonant.

Tower of music lover, the end

The winning bidder in the auction for Tower Records is Great American Group, an asset management and liquidation company. All 89 Tower Records stores around the country are, in essence, shutting down. Inventory sales start today.

I’ve already waxed philosophically about the idea of Tower Records shutting down.

Part of me almost wishes I were in Honolulu or New York to see what kind of bargains I could muster. Honolulu stores carried a smattering of J-Pop, and I could barely tear myself away from the classical section when I was in New York City on vacation in 2005.

The retail landscape will be emptier without Tower Records, especially for areas that don’t have a Waterloo or an Amoeba or a Newbury Comics to take its place.