I’ve finally been rocked by the streaming revolution. In multiple senses of that main verb.
I’d just looked at a list of new rekkids to be released on this particular Friday. I’ve been reluctantly enjoying the heck out of Apple Music, which I’m now subscribing to, and realized that, hey, I could kick back and sample fresh tracks for a few hours. I was honestly pretty excited, and a decent day it was, nicely summed up by these examples:
So I’m listening to all of this very provocative and promising music and thinking to myself, “OK, what am I gonna buy? What digital, what vinyl, what CD?” I’m starting to drool–shopping is easy and there’s much to be bought–when I realize, I mean really realize in my 10,000-plus-units-in-every-medium-in-my-house record collector’s soul, that I don’t have to buy any of them. This may seem like a “duh” moment, but I buy for many reasons. Creators need to be paid. I like to hold albums, study their artwork, and read their liner notes. I take pride in having what my friends need but don’t have. I like to save on data when I’m out of wifi range. I’m a born curator and I love libraries, so I’m building my own. CDs and vinyl sound better. What if the web collapses? What will I leave my heirs (What heirs, asks the Greek chorus)?
But seriously. What do I need more stuff for? I began to think back across the past month, and sat bolt upright: hey, I don’t have the new Willie album, the new Sons of Kemet, the new Bettye LaVette–yet I am still a functioning human being. Normally, I’d already have those. Have have have have. My head was spinning. Really it was. I don’t buy anything voluntarily but books, booze, and toons, pretty much, and that’s been my practice for, oh, 38 years!
What has it all been for?
I’m not panicking. I know there are multiple other answers to that question than a resonating “NAUGHT!” In fact, later, Nicole, who has always encouraged my accumulation and even occasionally tried to prevent me from selling records, suggested, “Hey, I love records! Let’s just get the stuff that’s epic?” Yes, but I have a touch lower bar for “epic” than my beloved does–I’m sure next month’s new Joe McPhee will meet my definition, but I’m not sure she’s familiar with The Poughkeepsie Gypsy’s work. Also, am I cheating artists? What about my vow to pay cash for every Swamp Dogg record that comes out the chute? And didn’t I just sell 500 CDs…to make room for more?
Perhaps, in life and record collecting, the questions are more important than the answers. I’ll keep you posted. I wonder if the Wussy LP that’s on the way will qualify, but I can always check…Apple Music.
Hot takes on the above?
Bombino: every househod needs a Bombino album. Like the above, they’re all good. Straight-up Agadez-style desert blues, no impure funny business–aside from some skankin’.
Parquet Courts: I hate these guys because they’re too cute (musically and formally) by half, but I love them because they have the particular music and forms that I happen to be weak for down cold. BUT first half of this one has emotional fire, too, and thus is my favorite music of theirs ever.
Courtney Barnett: Opens with a weird, slow, kinda whiny one, but recovers with a vengeance. Not as catchy as last time, but more grown.
MC Paul Barman: In your face from jump, he’s got the rhymes as per usual—plus Questlove, DOOM, and Masta Ace.
Angelika Niescier: The lady can blow, and she pretty much must wail, with the true genius of the drums Tyshawn Sorey clattering and hissing behind her on his kit.
Note: above are very hot takes—one listen while cramming other things into my living