May 23, 2010
In an age where fewer and fewer people are buying new music, it helps to have your record housed in a distinct package. Everyone can do jewel cases, and frankly, what’s the point of them? If you’re anything like me, you live in a small apartment in Brooklyn, and if you buy a new compact disc, you disassemble the jewel case and throw it out, first thing. The jewel case is passe, not to mention horrible for the environment.
And it’s not like one can’t afford to do better these days, either. When I released my first album, Metal and Wood, in 2003, one thousand compact discs, in shrink-wrapped jewel cases, cost around $1,200. In 2009, I released my fourth album, A Brighter Light, in shrink-wrapped, full color eco-wallets (they’re the cardboard ones, where the CD slips into it like a record, rather than sit on a plastic tray). Due to increased economic downturn and ever-waning public interest in CDs, this run of a thousand cost pretty much the same as my first album (basically half what they cost in 2003). Today, one can release a CD that sounds good, lasts a long time, and looks cool, for a fraction of what it used to cost.
Some examples, throughout the years:
1. Spiritualized-Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space (12×3″ CD “blister pack” edition)
Spritualized‘s 1997 crowning achievement, the spacey, drone-y Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space, sonically, earns its’ place among the canon of psychedelic music. The album was available on traditional compact disc and vinyl, but was also released in an ultra-limited form that included each of the album’s twelve songs on a 3″ CD. The mini-CDs were then packed into a “blister pack”-basically the cellophane and plastic contraption that Claritin comes in. Though I hadn’t heard the record when I saw it in January 1999-and I have only a passing familiarity with it today-that CD box was the ultimate drool-inducing fetish object for a guy like me. It sat on the shelf of Radio Kilroy-where I was employed and, because my boss thought I was stealing anyway, could easily have stolen it-until it went out of business a few months later. The blister pack edition of Ladies and Gentlemen was the coolest record by far in a store full of cool records-so modern and somehow so reminiscent of Huxley’s Brave New World. The boss wanted $180 for his copy at the time; today, the same album goes on eBay for eight times that.
2. The Velvet Underground-Peel Slowly and See (5 CD boxed-set)
The Velvets’ four, commercially stillborn but unprecedentedly influential albums were collected (and expanded with dubious bonus tracks) for the first time in 1995. Having all of their classics, many omissions that ranged in quality from essential to horrid, and a pre-Velvet Underground and Nico CD of Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison rehearsing their earliest material was reason enough to shell out forty five bucks for the five CD package. That the package aped the cover of the group’s debut album-a banana with the words, “Peel Slowly and See” next to the stem-only with a Colorforms-style banana logo that actually peeled away, once again made the package an absolute necessity for nerds. Nevermind the fact that the CDs don’t begin and end one bit like their source material (and indeed the entire third album is presented in a weird alternate mix), the banana on the cover is cool as shit. I already had all the groups albums when my girlfriend’s roommate was hard up for cash and offered me the box for thirty bucks. Maybe not the coolest thirty bucks I ever spent, but certainly in the running.
Belle and Sebastian Tease at New Album On Their Website; Everything About this Tease is Completely Twee, From a Cute Little Pun, to a Cute Little Hat on Cute Little Stuart Murdoch’s Cute Little Head [Tiny Mix Tapes]
Stream Will “Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy” Oldham Playing I See a Darkness Highlight “Death to Everyone” Live; Oldham’s Live Album, Funtown Comedown, Released December 15, But Instead of Purchasing It, You Should Probably Just Re-Realize Just How Great I See a Darkness Is, Play it Several Times, Grow Depressed, and then Listen to Phoenix to Get Over It [Pitchfork]
Okkervil River Spin-off/Grandiose Folk Band Shearwater Announce Sixth Album, The Golden Archipelago, Released February 15 [Matablog]
Yeasayer Pioneer Technically Advanced Way of Making a NSFW Music Video, By Allowing You, the User, to Interact With Tripped Out Naked People; It’s Web 2.0, People…I Refuse to Be Impressed Until the Web Itself Conjures Up the Kind of Nudity I’d Like to Interact With While Listening to “Ambling Alp” (Hint, Internet: It’s Shania Twain) [Stereogum]
Jelly’s Pool Parties (Those Free Concerts at the Williamsburg Waterfront) Are in Trouble – But Where Else Will Jay, Solange, and Beyonce Go During Those Hot Summer Months? Where Else Can You See Music in Williamsburg?! Someone Think of the Children! (But Seriously, These Things are a Blast…Show Your Support and Email Senator Charles Schumer) [Brooklyn Vegan]
Watch Pleasantly Surreal Video for Beck and Charlotte Gainsbourgs’ “Heaven Can Wait,” Which Features Boxing, a Deformed Pygmy Gorilla, a Half-Shaved Beard, Astronaut Pancakes, and a Man Bathing in Fruity Pebbles (Perhaps Most Surprisingly, Proves Gainsbourg to Have Quite the Tennis Backhand; Good Form, Charlotte!) [Gorilla vs. Bear]
Lou Reed, Mo Tucker, Doug Yule, and David Fricke to Lead Discussion at New York Public Library on the History of The Velvet Underground on December 8, and Tickets Are Already Sold Out. This is All Well and Good, But Where’s John Cale? I’m Waiting For That Man (C’mon! Gimme a laugh; I’m Desperate Here) [NME]
Remember Those Poor Members of Jay Reatard’s Band Who Left Due to Jay’s Tyrannically Obnoxious Personality? They Joined Equally Tyrannical and Obnoxious Wavves. Elsewhere, I Believe I Have Proof of an Innate Human Desire for Masochism. [Pitchfork]
compiled by Max Sebela
June 21, 2009
When Beck decides to change his website, he does not mess around. In his digital footprint overhaul, Beck has added a section called Record Club. According to Beck, the Record Club is “an informal meeting of various people to record an album in one day.” Once Beck and company assemble in the studio, they pick an album to cover and crank it out all in one day. The band does not rehearse or produce any music beforehand. After the daylong recording session, Beck and his fellow collaborates will post one track off the cover album every week.
For the first project, Beck chose Nigel Godrich, Joey Waronker, Brian Lebarton and actor Giovanni Ribsi, among others, to cover The Velvet Underground & Nico. Beck has already posted the song “Sunday Morning” along with a video on his website. Beck said that the first Record Club nearly recorded Digital Underground’s Sex Packets, but then opted for the other (Velvet) Underground.
Aside from “Sunday Morning” and its video, Beck’s website has become sparse, save a few links to his host of social networking pages. I imagine that followers of both his Twitter page and Record Club’s own Tweeting action will be privy to the progress of the project in the timeliest fashion.
by Ben Benson