David Bowie

Best of 2016: Music & TV

In the age of social media (read: barrier-less entry to digital publication), our end-of-year world is overran with a bevy of bovine best-of lists that subjectively say nothing about music or art. I have often considered forgoing the practice. But truth be told I am a man of traditions and patterns. Since 2010 I have been making such subjective lists and cannot turn back now.

But I do promise to simplify.

This year, I’m talking just music and TV. (If you find yourself curious about the books I’ve read this year, however, follow me on Goodreads (Goodreads is still a thing, right?)).

Top 5 Records

2016 was a weird year for mainstream music. Rock was fueled primarily by mega-bands from previous decades (Blink 182, Green Day, Metallica), hip-hop spent its social currency on Kanye West drama, and pop-music decided to just wait it out for a new Taylor Swift album. Beyonce, I suppose, did something interesting with pop music, but there isn’t much else to hear. Where mainstream music failed, indie-music (used here as a sweeping genre) and new independent artists (across all indie-music genres) soared.

Almost weekly, there was a new artist or band or group making waves. Car Seat Headrest, Big Thief, Julien Baker, Margaret Glaspy, Kevin Morby, Nice As Fuck, to name a few at top of mind.

With Apple Music and Spotify and Amazon Music and now Pandora Unlimited — streaming services becoming commonplace for the listener — there’s little excuse to miss out on all this great new music. But these tools don’t make keeping up any less overwhelming. In fact, having access to everything, I find, makes it worse. At the end of the day, you have to find what works for you — those albums that connect from start to finish and demand repeat listens — and fit in the other stuff when you can.

So what are my favorites from the year? There are many reasons that the following list of albums stood out to me as “favorites” (originality, longevity, boldness) but the best metric is this: I refused to delete their files from my phone. (more…)

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Consumer Zombies on Record Store Day

picstitchRecord Store Day. I participated this last weekend—April 20th, 2013; it was great. My fourth year partaking, this “holiday” has become quite the tradition for me.

I walked away with an Avett Brothers/Randy Travis single, and just barely got my hands on a Bowie 7-inch; that sounds dirty.

What’s that? You don’t know what Record Store Day is? (loser). Let me explain.

It’s a one-day celebration of local record stores. Artists release exclusive, limited vinyls and CDs that can only be sold at mom and pop-local shops. SUCK IT iTunes.

Kids like me eat this stuff up.

We get there early. We line around the block and talk to each other about music. We rush inside and spend way more money than we ever normally would. Our wives make fun of us…

You get the gist.

Record Sales

I didn’t get everything I wanted. In fact, I barely got anything I wanted. This year was insane. Since I’m in San Luis Obispo this year, I lined up at the famous Boo Boo Records. The last few years were in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho; people there are just getting around to iPods so you couldn’t expect much from their shops.

Simply, RSD isn’t as big of a deal in Idaho. A few collectors maybe show up. Not many.

Down here, people care about this stuff. Boo Boos gets almost one of every release. That’s unheard of!

My wife dropped me off early so I could get a good spot in line. She left for a Breakfast Buzz Burrito, and I squatted. RSD is kind of more, my thing. Shortly after, the line inflated. People wrapped down the block and curved beyond my line of sight. Luckily, all behind me.

Good timing, I thought. That White Stripes LP rerelease is mine!

Record Hells

Oh what’s that? They’re letting everyone in at the same time? RUN!!!!!

Don’t worry, I thought, maybe they’ll spread the records throughout the store to keep people from swarming in one small area. This should be easy, in and out. 

Nope. Definitely not easy. Almost died.

There was one little bin of records for three hundred little hands. Standing in line was absolutely pointless. I could’ve arrived last and elbowed my way to the front. Before I knew it, I was completely surrounded in hipster hell.

photoHands, elbows, knees, eye-glasses, beards. People yelling. “Give me one of those, bro.” “HAND ME, ME, DUDE.” I looked  behind me to see my wife, white eyed, backing away slowly. I hope to see her again, I thought.

People pushed and pushed. The crowd became bigger and more intense. Worst yet, there was nothing in my hands. White Stripes was gone, duh. The LPs, the good ones, they go fast. What did I want? What was my back up? 

Get your hands in there, I thought. So I pushed back and reached in. The singles, I thought. Go for the singles. I pulled out two that were on my list. The crowd was getting worse. The pressure grew higher. The air tighter. The people. Pushing. Screaming. Fingers reaching. Are these people going to eat me? 

I have got to get out of here!

Good thing too, because I couldn’t. Boo Boo Records has one of the largest shops I’ve ever seen; yet, they placed all their exclusive albums in one small bin near a corner in the back. Thanks guys. There was no way out.

If I knew I was going to be trapped, I would’ve brought a snack. Also, a good thing, these people all were magically sweaty in a matter of minutes.  

The Walking Sales

Needless to say, I lived. Boo Boos could’ve planned the day a little better, but they did give donuts out to those who waiting in line. All is forgiven.

This day made me think a lot about consumerism. I remember being in the middle of that giant crowd and thinking, I don’t really need any of this. It’s not really fun when it gets cut-throat.

Am I just getting older and growing out of the whole “consumerism” thing?

Maybe I’m just a poor sport and need to bring snacks next year. And spike studded shoulder pads. roadwarriors_zps7fc9c0c4

Did anyone else partake in Record Store Day? I’d love to hear some other stories of crazed consumerism.