Saturday, January 19, 2008

Insert Obligatory Title Here

CD in Play: Sloan, One Chord to Another.

Reconsidering an Old Album

My friend Glen, the accountant living and working in Qatar, is back in town. We got talking about music and he mentioned picking up Sloan's One Chord to Another (1996) on CD cheaply while in Qatar. It surprised him to find Sloan so far away from the Western market. I was never too keen on this album by Sloan, having always preferred their first two to the rest of their output.

Anyhow, I have been perusing shops looking Kinks albums that I want and also for Arcade Fire material. Good luck on both counts.I tried HMV, Scratch and A&B. While at A&B saw that One Chord to Another was on sale for $7.99. (HMV had it for $9.99) I figured maybe it was time to give it another chance. The album is still as derivative as I first found it to be, but that is less a problem for me right now.

People have, rightly, noted the heavy Beatles influence on the album, but they have overlooked the influence of such bands as The Zombies and The Who. "Everything You've Done Wrong" makes me think of The Zombies song, "Care of Cell 44" (on Odyssey and Oracle) while "Anyone Who's Anyone" reminds me of The Who's "Armenia City" from The Who Sell Out. I know other people who have suggested a Chicago influence as well.

Anyhow it is a catchy album and I am enjoying it more 11-12 years after its release than I did at anytime before. It may not be the "Laika" single or Lola Versus Powerman and the Money-go-round, Part 1, but it'll hold me for a little bit.

* I started writing this entry om he evening of the 18th. I did find the first Arcade Fire album this morning at the HMV in the Loughheed Mall (deep in the suburbs for the non-locals) when I went to buy new shoes. (and my feet love me for it) It is remarkably good and I bemoan that fact that I only know got around to checking it out.

Speaking of Record Stores...

It is depressing to Vancouver's record stores in such a sorry state. I can't include Zulu in this because I have not been there in a long while, but friends tell me it is as good as ever. It is a hassle for me to get to these days, however. But in the downtown core, record stores are a mere shadow of their former glory. Now, I don't particularly buy that iPods and MP3 players are what is driving these stores into such sorry states. There are still lots of people shopping in HMV and Scratch and A&B aren't dead yet. But if you had known what these stores were like in their heyday, you'd be complaining too.

I figure that the death of Sam the Record Man in Vancouver is what began driving record stores in this city down. Sam's couldn't compete with A&B on A&B's terms, since Sams never dealt in equipment. How Sam's in Vancouver distinguished itself was buy operating like a an indie store and an archival store. You could pick up the new Modest Mouse before anyone in town and you could buy obscure older bands like Budgie or The Creation. Sam's sat in between stores like A&B and Scratch. I think Sam's pushed A&B to diversify its own catalogue, keeping it from selling strictly top 40, uber hits.

The Virgin Mega store actually had quite a diversified stock, but never wanted to to engage in the price war that had been such a part of Vancouver life making us one of the cheapest places on Earth to buy CDs and even DVDs. But Virgin sold to HMV, who have a lot of disks in stock but really do seem to lack the diversity in their music departments. (DVDs are another story, mind you) Even Scratch doesn't seem to have quite as much in stock as they once did - the diversity just wasn't what it used to be. Seems I may just have to shop the suburbs just find the albums the suburbanites are less likely to be hip to.

Some of the lack of stock comes down to the record companies, however. Many albums in the The Kinks catalogue have been discontinued - and some interesting ones at that. (some of their worst ones are still being put out however) It is a matter of money and stock that doesn't sell is bound to be eliminated from rotation. Still, if things keep on like this I may have to invest in an iPod/MP3 player and a new computer just to get the music I really want to get.

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