As soon as I read the e-mail about the annual sidewalk sale at Music Millennium, a great independent record store here in Portland, I knew it was time for New Music Day once more. I try to limit this exciting event in my life to every few months, so that way I am not spending my hard earned retirement money every time I walk past a record store, although it isn’t always easy to resist the pull of buying whatever is on my constant list of cds that I feel I just have to have. I do update the list every so often, listening to little snippets on i-Tunes from each album I have on my list, making sure I really have to have it. I grabbed a bus ticket and my current list of ten cds, and headed east across the river to whet my voracious appetite for music once more.
The sidewalk in front of the store was teeming with music, in vinyl as well as cd format. I had long ago jumped on the cd train when it came along, wiping out vinyl, or so we all thought at the time. Now it seems to be making a comeback, all those large lovely vinyl records, but I followed the flock and sold all my wax so I could turn it into plastic discs – one of those decisions in hindsight I wish I could rectify but I just say, oh well and stick with the shiny plastic music now. I carefully made my way through the bins and boxes of $2 cds, many of which I used to own but traded in at one time or another. After carefully looking through all the offerings and telling myself I really didn’t need to repurchase music I had once gotten rid of, my only discovery of cheap music was a cd of bagpipe music for my daughter, but nothing for me. So into the store I went, my list in hand.
So much music! I could get lost in a place like this, but I only had another hour on my bus transfer and I was too cheap to not make use of it. So I managed to eliminate the albums they didn’t have, the ones that weren’t on sale or used, and managed to find two off my list – one a newer album by an artist named Young Hines and another album by Built To Spill from 1997. Now it was time to catch the bus and head back to my home for a listening party.
The album by Young Hines has many different flavors, from more pop oriented songs to those that ring with a strong blues influence to a couple that just flat out rock. As I listened it sounded familiar, like another artist I have heard. Once I realized that Brendan Benson produced this album, the influence of his touch on this album was clear, although he still left room for Young Hines’ individuality to shine through.
But it was the album by Built To Spill, titled Perfect From Now On, that has me listening to it over and over. It was recommended by a friend who really loves it and now I can see why. Normally I am more a fan of the two to three minute pop song, not really enjoying overly extended musical jams. But with the average song length of these eight great songs at around six minutes, I find that each one comes off so perfectly orchestrated. It is a sprawling, swirling mix of sounds within each song; changing beats, going from loud to soft and back again, taking the listener on a crazy fun house ride. And this is what I call a “headphone” album, one that can only be fully appreciated with the headphones on, so as to not miss every little nuance of sounds coming together. Finding great timeless music like this makes me hope that in my next lifetime, I will come back to work with music in some way, shape or form – it fills my very soul.