by Tim McMahan | Lazy-i
I’ve been espousing this premise about the future of music and entertainment in general for the past year. It’s this: As music becomes more accessible and virtually free via Spotify/Rdio/Rhapsody (and eventually iTunes), bands won’t be vying to get you to buy their music as much as simply take the time to listen to it. With all the distractions from all the media bombarding us like radiation every second of every day, just finding time to listen to new music, and really consider it, is a precious thing, because no one wants to waste their time listening to your music if it’s shitty.
I think this future I’m describing is already here.
Last night’s inaugural meeting of the Record Club at The Saddle Creek Shop was a salvo aimed directly at this idea. The club’s concept: Sit and listen to an entire record album uninterrupted, and then afterward, talk about it. It seems simple enough, until you ask yourself when was the last time you sat and listened to a complete album uninterrupted, beginning-to-end without surfing on the net or updating your Facebook page or driving around town or shopping at Whole Foods. Just sit for 43 minutes and listen. To the whole thing. No skipping around. Top-to-bottom. Who has the time to do something like that anymore?
Believe it or not, back in the old days before the iPod, people used to do it all the time. At record stores like The Antiquarium, they sat around, smoked cigarettes, listened to records and talked about them. That’s what Creek chief Robb Nansel remembers. That’s what he’s trying to recreate at his new record shop (but without the smoking). That’s the concept behind this club. In some ways, it’s a noble if not extravagent idea.
So there we were last night at 7 at the shop, all six of us, listening to Cursive’s I Am Gemini one side at a time. And afterward, we talked about the record. Did we like it? Did we hate it? Where does it rank among the band’s discography? What the fuck does it mean? Will “kids” have the patience to listen to a concept album and “get it”? Can any of the tracks survive in isolation, out of context? Whether Nansel wants to admit it or not, it was kind of like a focus group consisting of music fans, though I’m not sure if anyone felt comfortable enough to say it sucked in front of Nansel and the record store guy (there were only three “civilians” there). But the fact is, anyone who would trek out on a snowy Tuesday night to listen to this record is probably pre-disposed to like it.
Creek is marketing this as “the best Cursive album since The Ugly Organ.” Am I the only person who liked Mama, I’m Swollen and Happy Hollow? Like I said yesterday, Gemini is a return to Such Blinding Stars-style Cursive, but that wasn’t the consensus last night, as none of the three had heard that album before (or Domestica, for that matter).
Eventually, the topic shifted to the record’s format. I love the idea of Saddle Creek releasing everything on vinyl with a CD tucked in the sleeve. Why would anyone want just the CD when you can get the vinyl and the CD for just a few dollars more? Well, that also wasn’t the consensus last night, as none of the three had a turntable, have no plans on buying one and wouldn’t know what to do with the record. They’d rather spend $10 and just get the CD. So what do I know?
Then the topic shifted to Spotify. Everyone likes it, everyone uses it, but they use it differently. I listen to full albums on Spotify. A few listen only to playlists and never listen to full releases. Then the discussion shifted to how anyone makes any bloody money from Spotify.
And so on for more than an hour. The point is, I went into this thinking it might be a long night filled with awkward and forced “conversation,” when it was actually interesting and fun. When was the last time you just sat around and talked about music?
They’re doing it again in two weeks with Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Will more than three people show up? Who knows. But let me leave you with this thought:
I’ve heard for years local music fans and bands suggest how great it would be to figure out a way to get together and talk about music outside of a bar setting. No one’s ever figured out a way to pull it off. Here’s an opportunity to not only listen and discuss new or classic music, but to talk about what’s going on with music during a time when the very nature of how we listen to music changes every day.
And it wouldn’t kill you to listen to stop for an hour and listen to a complete album. It’s certainly worth the investment… in time.
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Tonight is the kick-off of the annual Lincoln Exposed festival in, uh, Lincoln. The festival runs through Saturday at three venues: The Bourbon Theatre, Duffy’s and The Zoo Bar, and features performances by some of Lincoln’s best bands.
8:30 p.m. Strawberry Burns
9:30 p.m. Professor Plum
10:30 p.m. Sputnik Kaputnik
11:30 p.m. Powerful Science
12:30 a.m. Aren’t We All Dead
8 p.m. Dean the Bible
9 p.m. Pharmacy Spirits
10 p.m. Eli Mardock
11 p.m. Orion Walsh
12 a.m. Foam_Form
6 p.m. Dr. John Walker
7 p.m. Tijuana Gigolos
8:15 p.m. Sons of 76
9:15 p.m. Hangin’ Cowboys
10:15 p.m. Lucas Kellison
11:15 p.m. Ghost Runners
12:15 a.m. Omni Arms
Cost is $6 per night to get into all three clubs, or $20 for the full week! The full schedule is on their Facebook page, here. Hey, I’d go if I lived there…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2012 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.