Take Five

In the News

Alex Chilton died.

I probably heard a half-dozen covers of “Thirteen” before I ever heard the original. I most certainly heard the Replacement’s eponymous tribute to the man before I picked up “#1 Record/Radio City.” I definitely came to appreciate the songs and cultural impact of Big Star later in the game than many of my peers.

But appreciate, I do. And the news on Wednesday that he had died of an apparent heart attack was an unexpected gut-punch.

It’s already been a tough year for rock music, with the loss of Chilton preceded by the deaths of Vic Chesnutt and Mark Linkous. (As a worthy sidenote, I very much appreciated Bill Janovitz’s blog posts on Chesnutt and Linkous, as well as Brad Searles’ reflection on the death of Linkous and Kristin Hersh’s tribute to Chesnutt.) A lot of talent and inspiration has departed all at once, it seems.

For the next few days, the center of the music universe resides in Austin, Texas, for the SXSW music festival, where Big Star had been scheduled to perform on Saturday evening as well as participate in a panel on the band’s legacy. The show will go on, of course. But in the absence of Chilton — Chesnutt and Linkous, to boot — the music on Sixth Street will seem a little quieter.

    Find of the Week

    I learned about the Radio Free Song Club via Freedy Johnston’s e-mail list. Turns out one of my favorite musicians is part of a collaboration of veteran songwriters — including Peter Holsapple, Laura Cantrell, Victoria Williams and others — who write a song a month on deadline for an online radio show, where they then get together and talk about the process. I always get a kick out of these types of projects, where musicians sit down with musicians and give a peek into the creative process. The show just kicked off in January, so they’re only two episodes in. Let’s hope it runs on for a while.


    This week, John in the Morning on KEXP — who I listen to every morning at work — played a song by a Canadian band called The Acorn. I loved it, took note of the band and looked them up when I got home. The songs I’ve listened to so far have been from their 2007 album, “Glory Hope Mountain,” and they sport lush, vibrant folk arrangements, inspired in part by the life of the lead singer’s Honduran mother. Rad stuff. Go check them out.

    CD Audit Project

    It’s done! All of the CDs are listened to and the list has been updated accordingly. All that remains is selling off whatever didn’t make the cut. I’ve listed a bunch on Amazon (who knew my Brendan Benson EPs were worth so much?) and plan on hauling the rest to Newbury Comics this week. I’ve already sold two via Amazon!

    I wonder, is it weird to, well, first of all, bother auditing my CD collection, and secondly, to approach the project with such verve? I guess it relates to a couple of things. One, I like projects. Two, I dislike clutter and dead weight. Three, I like accuracy (and my list was terribly out of date). Four, I like forcing myself to listen to stuff and make decisions about it — it makes my music collection less of a dead thing on a shelf and more of a living library. Five, I’m a nerd. What more can I say?

    Looking Ahead

    I’m going to London next week! I’m going to have some free time to myself in the city, and I’m wondering if I should be a music nerd tourist and find some real geeky landmarks to visit. Any suggestions?

    I’m also creating a spring running mix. What are some must-adds from new music? I’ve already got Ted Leo, Surfer Blood, MGMT, Thunderhawk, Mumford & Sons, The New Pornographers and Gorillaz.


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