Friday, February 26, 2010

Crazy Van Love

Another one sold this week. A mercury release. Not really big ticket, maybe $7 profit. That’s small potatoes when you are talking about the man (over half my sales have been for $10 profit or more), but still, Van cds are gold. I buy, I list, I sell; sometimes before I even get it out of the bag. The stuff flips like a kid on beans. The right Van is pure money. I can’t believe I can pick it, and I really can’t believe how often I find some of them. Oh, there are re-issues and some of my really big tickets (Veedon Fleece, No Method, No Teacher, No Guru) are penny ante now and some (the Polydor remastering of maybe ten years ago or so) are worth more (way, way more) than others (the aforementioned mercury releases and even some of the warner brothers 70’s stuff).

Did a little excel sorting yesterday and the results are kind of amazing. I’ve never lost money on Van (excluding one Polydor edition that never arrived at the buyer). I’ve never paid more than $9 for a single van OOP disc. (What are used stores thinking?) I’ve made from 2.50 to 29 dollars, all on second market purchases. In the two plus years i’ve been picking and selling (or at least keeping track), i’ve sold 40 various van cds, for an overall profit of $418. Not bad, not bad, even accounting for the write off of that lost van (a swing of $40, btw...damn you delivery confirmation!).

Should I be giving away my secrets? Well...let me tell you this, most of the 70’s stuff isn’t worth the bother. i mean, they are great cds, but no flipping potential. You can forget your astral weeks, your moondances and your tupelo honeys, probably even your st. dominic’s previews (unless it’s on polydor), too many, too common, nothing here folks. However, there are a couple late 70’s discs on Warner Brothers that are worth grabbing, and if you can find polydor versions of those, they are even more worth picking up. These are recordings from a harder transitional period for van, and I’m not a big fan of the music, (listener beware), but they sell.

The 80’s stuff is a little more complicated. A lot of it was OOP until about a year ago and i was going gangbusters on it. I had some really nice sales on veedon fleece (polydor version) and No Guru. But then the record companies got smart and reissued his late 70’s and some of the 80’s stuff and consequently, the market plunged. I’ve heard a couple of the reissues (I love No Guru the most of any van disc) and don’t think the remastering is all that great (Polydor versions sound better), and the bonus tracks are kinda ho hum, so seems like a missed opportunity. But there are still gems/profits to be found in the 80’s. There’s a string of three albums that are extremely desirable in either edition (preferably polydor, but mercury is fine too). I’ve sold 17 copies of one particular jaunty disc. I’d tell my ma about this one for sure, but the next two releases after that have also sold quickly and for nice profit so keep your eyes open for those.

You can ignore most of the 90’s and all of the 00’s. No profit there (and diminishing returns musically as well, i might add) And none of the standard Van compilations discs are worth anything (as of this writing).

However, there is additional gold in the THEM compilations (but be a little wary of the original albums, they’ve been reissued lately). And they are way fun listens.

Can’t really speak to Van vinyl. Melloy has made some nice sales, but I’ve given up figuring out the ins and outs of vinyl sales. I mean it’s all out of print there, so it’s up to the whim of a customer in Seattle, right? how can i figure that?

Love your Van. But stick with the cds. You'll fill your pockets with dollahs.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ann Youd Ay

Somewhat of an auspicious day today. I bought my first new vinyl album since probably 1987; Shearwater's The Golden Archipelago. Not necessarily going all vinyl again. Just loved what I heard of it and knew the vinyl came with a couple extra tracks. In fact, I'm kinda disappointed that the album version artwork is so...scant. Nary a sight of the 44 page booklet that comes with the cd. plain old white paper sleeve (where's my lyrics?), not even an interesting insert or interior picture. i was kinda hoping for some inscribed vinyl (ala Styx's Paradise Theatre.) ya ya, i can download lyrics and whatnot (and what's the deal with 256k downloads? c'mon, amp it up to 320 at least), but for the vinyl premium, shouldn't i get something more? maybe i'm expecting too much after 20+ years away, but seems like a kind of a missed opportunity here. leave it to the record companies to eff it up and piss off the consumer (me). At least the album is really good, although i haven't listened to the bonus tracks yet. (Update, i've listened to the bonus tracks; Anak Rekata, Silver Bodies and False Sentinal, nice both nothing essential. But i still listened to TGP twice more today and even read through the lyrics.)

also picked up the new joanna newsom and johnny cash albums. I passed on butch walker after i splurged on a pile of hollies and super furry animals discs. (and weirdly enough, i've picked up copies of the pylon discs, chomp and gyrate on consecutive music runs, at DIFFERENT stores. weird, but cool)

lots of listens lately, i'll list the rest out in the next post, but here's a few:

Married to the Mob OST: Thanks man, been digging Changing Horses and You Don't Miss Your Water. Who knew it was such a gold mine?
Eno/Cale-Wrong Way Up (remaster): Crushing so much on the eno track on MttM that I dug out my Wrong Way Up disc. Dunno how i missed the bonus tracks on this. Maybe because the album itself is so good.
Brian Eno-Another Green World: Wrong Way Up led me back to AGW. I still have St. Elmo's Fire in my head. "In the Blue August Moon, In the Cool August Moon" Awesome.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch OST: And of course, from Eno we go to Glam. Wig in a Box played at Showtunes a few weeks ago, so i just had to listen again. Most of it doesn't hold up as well as I imagined. But some fun songs nonetheless.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Guess We’ll Just Have to Adjust

Arcade Fire-Funeral: Have i mentioned the time i saw arcade fire and lcd soundsystem at the Roy in St. Paul? Can't wait for them to come back. Can't wait for the new album. Had't listened to Funeral in a while (although it's on standby on the ibrain). Still great fun.

Field Music-Measure: Really digging this. Starts out as perfect nerdy new wave through the first 8 songs, then it morphs into something more leisurely and textured but still interesting with plenty of hooks and melodies, before devolving into something best left on a digital only ep (released 6 months after this comes out.) double album though, so i can't really complain. nice to have you guys back.

Rules of Rock

Rules of Rock

Cleaning out my crap at work, ran across this running list. Thought I would share. Feel free to add your own.

No particular order, all subject to change with no prior notice, and I'm sure ben will claim credit for these.

No song should ever be over 3 minutes, if it is under two minutes, even better

Give me your ten best songs. Save the next ten for another album or give me some killer b-sides.

Just because a cd goes to 80 minutes, doesn't mean you have to fill it up.

If you can actually play an instrument, you shouldn't be in a band

If you are/were an english major, you shouldn't be in a band

No drum solos

Guitar solos must be under 20 seconds and note economy is appreciated (hey, we're in a recession)

Verse chorus verse. Sometimes bridge.

No roger dean album covers (no more coat hangers)

Lyrics should mostly be about cars, getting loaded and getting it on.

Politics can be discussed on the third, problematic album that nobody listens to anyway. (comeback albums are a different beast because diane warren is writing most of the songs and you can't expect anything from that)

References to hobbits, warriors and fabled lands are never acceptable, pretty much anything that could be labeled progressive rock should be avoided at all costs (this means you colin meloy)

Concept albums? Here's a concept: No

Being on pitch with the vocals isn't necessarily a good thing

I wish I could do an auto tune voice on my phone, but outside of daft punk (and maybe not even there anymore) I don't want to hear it. We are mocking your vocals anyway. Be a straight up dog about it, how about.

Big dumb chords rock (love live quiet riot!)

Unless you are affectionately mocking 80's music, avoid synths and computers (nothing good ever came of technology...reference weird science)

The best songs should always be first on an album, pace all you want, but don't bury the lead at wounded knee.

If I can sleep to it, something is wrong.

Never put "The" in an album title. "The" in a band name is perfectly acceptable (and if you are into power pop, it's a requirement)

No descending minor fifths. I know you got an "A" in music 1001, but everybody did.

4/4 time is best, but you can mix it up with a little 3/4. if you get anymore complicated than that, it ain't rock.

When writing songs, ask yourself, would dick clark play this on american bandstand (bandstand)? If the answer is no, give it to nickelback.

World music and rock music do not mix. Corollary: world music and alternative music only sorta mix, but not as much as VW would like us to think.

If somebody thinks you are using interesting chord progressions, you may as well call yourself jazz and get out of my house.

I Got a Pocketful of Dreams

Beach Boys-Sunflower/Surf's Up: what can i say, compulsively listening. And I can even see the sun today. and if i squint real hard, maybe the snowdrifts look like waves, and the fields of white is the sun scattered ocean.

Jay Z The Blueprint 3: dunno if we've discussed this, but this is good. Even Empire State of Mind. He ain't no sinatra, but he sure does know his way around a hook.

Tiny Vipers-Life on Earth: it keeps going and going and going and.....put me in a bad mood and kept me there for hours.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Don't Worry Baby, He Don't Want What He Don't Need

Not sure why, but i've been compulsively playing the beach boys for days now. The Good Vibrations boxed set, Carl and the Passions-So Tough, and Best of the Brother Years (muchly overlapping with the GV box, but that's ok). Weirdly, I haven't been compelled to pull out Pet Sounds yet. I'm sure this BB fixation has nothing to do with a) being in the middle of winter and b) a series of snowstorms. Sail On Sailor will always be my favorite beach boys tune, with Breakaway and Disney Girls close behind. I was really digging It's Ok too.

Handsome Furs-Face Control: All We Want Baby Is Everything. This just gets better and better with every listen (and it was mighty fine at the start). Did i mention the show at 7th Street Entry last march? Short, Sharp and Sexy.

Midlake-The Courage of Others: I'm trying cos i loved Van Occupanther, but this is just so.....bland, i guess. well produced and some nice instrumentation, but bleh. i didn't expect a repeat of Trials, but still....that had such great songwriting and was so evocative (of what specific medievel theme i never could tell but that didn't matter) that i was eagerly awaiting this one. Alas, it was not to be. On Courage though every song sounds the same, and that song isn't very interesting. disappointingly dull.

Wild Beasts-Two Dancers: Man, i wish i had tickets to this show. that's two good shows, i've missed by fate of negligence.

Lily Allen-It's Not Me, It's You: No, it really is you. And i don't much care whether you get over you or not. (although there's always a song or two the gives me pausedoubt)

Little Boots-Hands: Mostly hit and miss, but the stuttering synths on Remedy are insanely catchy.

Delphic-Acolyte: Ok. Counterpoint is awesome. And I kinda like Doubt, even though that song is kinda of a one trick pony (but a good trick). But that's pretty much it for this disc. Just a lot of generic dancey shapeless songsthat don't go anywhere and take their sweet old time (not) getting there. I had such high hopes for Delphic. Ah well. There will be another great brit hope in a couple months I'm sure.‏

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Spinning Away (In Honor of Monday and Tuesday's rush hours)

Toro Y Moi-Causers of This:
I would not listen to this driving in a car,
I would not listen to this wishing on a star
I would not listen to this drunk in a bar
I would not listen to this neither near nor far
I do not DO NOT like muzak.‏

Amazing Baby-Rewild: I hated these guys when they opened for phoenix at the varsity last spring. Too much posing and rock star antics. (just play damnit, just PLAY!) Much more palatable on record, especially when they (too infrequently) hit the elo meets jellyfish sweet spot of bayonets. Worth a listen, but don't feel like you have to rush right out and pick this disc up.

Magnetic Fields-Realism: Is it just me or is the toy piano getting tiresome? i mean c'mon...even E doesn't use that schtick anymore (and he's 100x more depressing that Mr. Merritt). There are a handful of songs here that are memorable (From a Sinking Boat, You Must Be Out of Your Mind, Always Already Gone), but the fey arrangements almost derail those songs. And when you combine a lackluster song with the second grade band music...well....I was expecting more. Realism is the first real disappointment i've had with a mag fields disc, especially shocking considering it is the followup to the invigorating Distortion. Maybe Coraline got all the good tunes.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Master's Hand

I'm kinda surprised by all the interest in Charlotte Gainsbourg's "collaboration" with beck. She's been little more than Heidi Montag with a pedigree as far as her music career has gone, a function more of whatever producer/writer her agent has hooked her up with rather than having any form of her own. She doesn't really write, doesn't really play and i'm thinking signing song lyrics might be more effective than singing them. Kind of a shame considering her parents, but gotta give her credit for trying. Somehow she has musical cred (Serge and Jane's?), enough to get Beck signed up to mastermind her third album. Still, I wouldn't think the indie kids would be able to get behind that, and i was puzzled by all the press this disc has gotten.

But then i heard the disc it all fell into place. Beck has a MUSE!

Channeling Charlotte has unfettered beck from the constraints of his ARTISTE persona, jettisoning his post-ironic writing and production and allowing him to write some of the most emotionally engaging work since Sea Change. I've been spinning this compulsively. I'm particularly taken with Heaven Can Wait, IRM ("Beck, can you write a song about my recent medical issues? and can you include the notes C and F?") and Me and Jane Doe, but everything on this album works. Even Charlotte's slight vocals are effective and force Beck to arrange sympathetically instead of kitchen sinking the songs.

Surprisingly, instead of just being a favor for a friend, this is a savvy career move for both. Beck is able to re-engage his sincerity and restraint and Charlotte has her name on a gem of an album.

dot dash dot dash

Japandroids-Post Nothing: Great noisy low fi rock aesthetic and some good riffs. Wish they had a little better songs, but something to work on for the next one.

Magnolia Electric Company-Josephine: Jason molina and jay farrar have somehow blurred into the same archetype to me. Lead a great, but done too soon band. Showed some early promise with the next act, lost their way, disbanded (sorta) the new bands, tried some solo stuff (interesting, if not necessarily a new direction), phoenixed their bands and put out new music but with diminishing and indistinguisable results. At this point, I can't tell whether I'm listening to jay farrar with ben gibbard or jason molina with will johnson, or son volt or magnolia electric company. They all play interchangeable mournful roots 4/4 rock at a slow shuffle in a minor key. Maybe they should all get together and form the son volt electric company. At least if they are merged, we'd have a reduction in forgettable albums. Which is the long way around to saying you can comfortably pass on Josephine. Unless you are a glutton for this kind of chord torture.

Circulatory System-Signal Morning: Definitely fans of the Abbey Road/John Lennon school of stitched together snippets of music, run through a trance dance grinder. They might be onto something.