Hype Hype Hooray is a biweekly “critique” of the music scene and the blogosphere that feeds it, told through the lens of Jamie Hale, a journalist who likes music about as much as he likes scotch and a firm leather chair. Please enjoy with a grain of salt.
Wednesday morning on a whim. Let’s buy a record today. Don’t have a whole lot of scratch, but I don’t think it matters. After some careful budgeting I end up with $35 for the day – $5 for a train pass, $10 for a record and $20 for a case of beer. Grand. Records and beer. Grand. Simply grand.
I arrive downtown early, just before the shops all open so I sit down for coffee and think about what to buy. Thinking about some new indie record. A new classic as it were. With a $10 to $15 budget it’ll have to be a small label for sure. Lot of rot how much they charge you for records these days. Paying extra for the hype. A whole load of rot is what it is. That or a nice Brazilian record – used preferably – like a Gal Costa or Gilberto Gil. That would be nice. Expand the ol’ collection in that fashion. Something interesting. Conversation piece. Like “Yeah have you heard ‘Baby’? No? Well you MUST.” I chuckle at myself into the cup. No, it’s hard to think too much about it, you know. Best to walk in with no expectations and surprise yourself. Remember that, kid, make it your mantra. Surprise yourself. Surprise yourself. Life’s better with surprises.
It’s just nine so Everyday Music should be open now. Looks like one of those mainstream stores from the outside – Sam Goody wannabe – strange anachronism – but it’s really very nice inside. Great selection. CDs on one side and vinyl on the other. Segregate the cultures. Dads browsing Kansas discs and through the wall young single guys looking for Cramps LPs. Like a curtain on an airplane. Hard to say who’s first class. Whoever has more money, I guess.
Inside some kind of baroque music is happening in the stereo. It’s all instrumental mandolin. I dig into the Rock section at L. Lovin’ Spoonful’s “What’s Up Tigerlilly.” Decent find. From that Woody Allen film. I remember watching it with my dad and the band comes on in a party scene and he gets all excited and laughs “The Lovin’ Spoonful, all right!” Wasn’t sure if that was an endorsement. Hard to tell with him. Filed them away under L in my mind and found them again here. I slid the record back. Le Roux is here but they’re not La Roux. Some band from the ’70s. Long hair and mustaches. “Keep the Fire Burnin.’” I’m not so ironic.
Five copies of “Good News For People Who Love Bad News.” Would bite if they were used. Weird how that works. Old dusty jackets with bent corners like sad wagging tongues make my heart bleed. Adopting older dogs like it’s a nice thing to do like Susan Sarandon looks at you with teary eyes and you can’t say no. “I don’t really want ‘A Salty Dog’ but I guess someone has to take it home.” Eight copies of the MS MR record need a home too. No takers. Not even me. Secondhand rapture. Poppin’ tags. Wham bam thank you ma’am.
I can spend $40 on “MBV” but Jesus. Castigate my troubled soul. Brand me an illiterate welch. I just won’t ever hear the thing. Vinyl best be made with their blood. KISS Army 2013. Didn’t the Flaming Lips do it too? Maybe KISS just made comics. Flaming Lips made the gummy skulls. Whirlwind of bright ideas. Marketing geniuses or else demented eccentrics. Gatefold opens to another dimension. Tumnus writes you a song personal. Pan flute opens a rift in space and time and you get the ride of a lifetime. Best $40 ever spent.
Pitchfork’s best reviewed are on average three to four dollars more expensive. Sometimes it’s outrageous. Why am I paying $36 for Disclosure? New classics are held upon high. Golden calfs. Mausoleums. 180-gram audiophile edition of “Incesticide.” For such an important piece of musical history such as this, we recommend only the purest listening experience! Hear “(New Wave) Polly” like never before! Pore over every note! Nod in amazement! Discuss amongst colleagues! Be the life of the party! A must-have if you truly love music!
Up at the counter:
“What are we listening to?”
“It’s Chris Thile doing Bach sonatas on a mandolin.”
“I thought it sounded baroque.”
“Yeah it’s different than his folk work but you can still hear the influence.”
“I feel like. I feel like I never hear solo mandolin work. Anymore. You know?”
Around the corner and back down the alley. The Shins. “Wincing the Night Away.” What a classic. Burned it freshman year college. Played it all night. $15 is a fair price. Good consideration. Good vibration. “Michigan” would be a nice grab. Underappreciated. “All Good Naysayers” and the like. Can’t think what else was on that one. Falls through the cracks. We always want “Chicago.” All delighted people indeed. I remember buying it on a whim at Best Buy in high school. A girl I liked liked Sufjan. I had never heard him. She had never heard “Michigan.”
Vetiver. Wasn’t he good? Weren’t they good? Can’t seem to recall much. Seem to remember liking the thing called “Vetiver.” Used indie. Rarity. $9 is within my budget. Risky choice. Be bold, you said, be bold and surprise yourself don’t plan the purchase. Dad was a risk taker. Oh wait, “Modern Vampires of the City.” Back to Va. Too much too much. Good record but not a classic. I can only afford the risks and the classics. Makes my collection balance nicely on the hinge between solid gold and horse shit. I only spin two thirds of my records. Break out “King Tut” from time to time. Born in Arizona, moved to Babylonia. That was a great find. Came packaged with a “King of Suede” 45. “Satan eats Cheese Whiz.” I believe I was 12.
Someday I hope to buy a White Stripes record, but today is never that day.
Want a brand new classic. Let me pray it ages well. The Belle Game. Andrew Cedermark. Phosphorescent. Ty Segall. Jagwar Ma. Michael Kiwanuka. None in stock. Hype still exists. Records fly off shelves like it’s 1999.
Dana, I’m reporting live from the Mall of America where literally thousands of young fans have lined up to grab a copy of the latest CD by boy band 98 Degrees. Some showed up as early as three days ago and have stayed put ever since. But as one diehard told me, believe it or not, waiting in line is actually kind of fun: Kaylee McDaniels has been a fan of 98 Degrees ever since they first graced her TV screen. “I remember seeing Nick and Drew and just like falling in love.” From there she bought CDs, posters, lunch boxes, all emblazoned with her new favorite band. Now she hopes to buy their latest work – a Christmas album – to add to her collection. “I can’t even wait I hope it has ‘Jingle Bell Rock!’” But to find out she’ll have to wait. And wait. And wait a little longer. But she told me all that standing around isn’t as bad as it sounds. “It’s not just about the CD it’s about the opportunity to bond with all our fellow fans. Like, it’s just really fun here. We all like the same thing.” Dana, the CD goes on sale at midnight, and Tower Records is just hoping they have enough to satisfy the ever-growing demand. Back to you.
Thiles’ Bach echoes erratically through the empty store. The clerk in his tiny Ben Franklin glasses packages CDs and yawns. I could spend hours making a decision. Wait what about the “Ayrton Senna EP?” There’s a classic. No dice. Gal Costa? World Music. Brazil. 1983 re-recording. Not worth my money. Nothing under Gil. Ze is all best-of collections. Wish I still needed the Os Mutantes record. Paid two bucks more across town. 10:05. Need to pick something. I refuse to go home with nothing. Can’t waste the opportunity.
The Arcade Fire: “Funeral” $18
The Shins: “Wince the Night Away” $15
Sufjan Stevens: “Michigan” $15
Vetiver: “Tight Knit” $9
Youth Lagoon: “Wondrous Bughouse” $19
Three classics, one oddball and a dark horse. Youth Lagoon is just too much. Strike it. Same goes for “Funeral.” Strike it. Not in the mood to buy The Shins. Strike it. “Michigan” or Vetiver. Go back to my mantra. Surprise yourself, kid. Vetiver it is.
Back at the counter:
“How are you doing?”
“Good, how are you?”
“Good. That’s nine dollars.”
“Perfect. And one dollar is your change, have a good one, man.”
“Thanks you too.”
The mandolin jangles on my way out the door.