Monday, November 3, 2008

Droppin' Dollars

In his beautifully written treatise on heroin, Junky, William Burroughs said, "Junkies have no interest in sex and they have no interest in other people except as suppliers of junk. They go around looking younger for a few days. Then they need more."

After throwing down a cool c-note yesterday on nine beautiful new pieces of vinyl I understand that sentiment. Buying music on records is, to me, like buying a painting. Except that at $10-$20 a pop I can afford to bring home several new pieces. Since I've been deep into this drone-y post rock thing as of late I cleaned the Candyman out of A Silver Mount Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. It wasn't a direct response to my blog of a week ago in which I quoted an article about how women don't buy records by those types of bands, but it certainly didn't hurt to go against the notion.

I also hooked it up with The Raveonettes' Lust Lust Lust, an album I've had on my computer for some time and finally wanted to blast through the house. The duo sounds like The Jesus and Mary Chain would have if they'd been around when a '57 Chevy was new. I already knew the album, but when my friend behind the counter saw it and exclaimed, "YES!" I knew it would sound even better.

Also purchased was the new Castanets, City of Refuge--which I reviewed for this upcoming Wednesday and am madly in love with--an album by Jana Hunter--who helped Castanets but is amazing in her own right and something I've been meaning to pick up for awhile--Xiu Xiu's Fabulous Muscles and Explosions in the Sky's The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place.

Burroughs is right. As soon as I left I didn't care about talking to my friend any longer. I simply wanted to sit in my room on the floor and listen to all of these albums. Hours worth of music, most of which I already know and love, but wanted to explore more deeply.

The idea of vinyl is silly to some. It's big, it's bulky and it's antiquated. But it sounds so nice and rich. MP3s really just don't cut it for the true music snob, such as myself. A few weeks ago I interviewed the band Pillars and Tongues who shared with me a great story of
bassist Evan Hydzik picking up a copy of a Brian Eno album that he had on CD and his dad's old copy of vinyl. Hydzik threw them both across the room. The CD shattered, the record slid to a stop and Hydzik and fellow band member Mark Trecka put it on and listened to it. It's beautiful that a 20 something year old piece of plastic held up. Sure, records shatter and scratch, but they degrade so much more slowly and really are more sturdy. When the sound on a record atrophies it adds to the music, as it does on cassette tape, but on CD a scratch can be fatal. MP3s are given this weird benefit of the doubt that they'll last, but there's nothing to hold onto there. Album art in a program that no one looks at, the loss of liner notes, and if your hard drive goes down...goodbye music. Sure, it's easier to collect hundreds of files, which I certainly have, but it's not the same to scroll through a list as it is to sit uncomfortably on the floor and figure out what to listen to through a more tangible experience.

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