I always rue my hasty decisions.
Back in the day (“the day” being college), I loved Josh Rouse. I drank up the singer-songwriter-y glory of his first two albums, “Dressed Up Like Nebraska” and “Home.” I still remember seeing him live at the Middle East Upstairs — was that my first solo rock show? — and him complimenting my old R.E.M. Tourfilm shirt. Then, he relocated to Barcelona, and the heavy Spanish influences slipping into his music didn’t appeal as much to me. So I slipped off the Josh Rouse radar, and actually ended up selling a few of his more recent albums.
Then yesterday, while driving back from Connecticut, I heard a recent song of his on WERS, “I Will Live on Islands.” And I really, really enjoyed it. I Am Fuel, You Are Friends has some interesting thoughts on Rouse (plus some more MP3s), obviously exhibiting more patience and worldiness than myself on the matter.
Spinner has a free MP3 of the song, so check it out. And watch this La Blogotheque video of Rouse in his adopted environs:
Around the Web
This weekend, I lost my Foursquare mayorship of Newbury Comics. On the other hand, I earned Foursquare mayorship of Planet Records.
I know what you’re thinking. “Groan. Foursquare. Stop talking about Foursquare! Who cares that you’re at the grocery store and you got a badge for it? Not me!”
I won’t go on about web-ly things (that’s for my other blog), but I will say that everyone freaking out about the uselessness of Foursquare needs to calm down. All it is, for me, is a casual gaming overlay for my everyday life. It’s not going to make or break anything, but for an average person, it can be a bit of fun. And for businesses, there is definitely a potential — if well executed — to use it to take advantage of consumer loyalty.
So, whither record stores, the notoriously dying breed? When I got the notification that I lost my mayorship of Newbury Comics, I was genuinely disappointed. In fact, I made a point of visiting Newbury Comics just to check in and begin the process of reclaiming my mayorship. (And I ended up buying the Waterboys’ “This is the Sea,” since in my weird brain, that would justify the check-in. Plus, I wanted the album anyways.)
When I earned my mayorship of Planet Records, one of the last vanguard of standalone used CD/record shops, I was excited. Why? Because I felt more invested. Earning that meaningless, imaginary title upon stopping by to purchase Warren Zevon’s “Excitable Boy” tethered me more closely to the store, and will probably make me more likely to stop by and browse when I’m next in Harvard Square. Sure, you can say that mayorships and check-ins and what not aren’t real. But maybe they are.
CD stores, particularly used CD stores, face hefty competition from the likes of Amazon.com and iTunes, let alone regional chains like Newbury Comics. Is there a way stores like Planet Records could use something like Foursquare to stand out? After all, loyalty and community are often what is keeping places like Planet going, and services like Foursquare are built around those very principles. (This analysis by one consulting firm highlights using social media to capitalize on a sense of community as one tactic for used CD stores to regain lost ground.)
Foursquare, for all of its virtual goofiness, is grounded in real-life, brick-and-mortar transactions and events. And brick-and-mortar institutions like Planet Records are ones I would like to see stick around for a long time. Let’s see what happens when two worlds collide.
Second Thoughts, Part Two
I have to admit: I bristled a bit upon reading Frank Yang’s recent post about the New Pornographers, wherein he lauds their most recent album “Together” as a “rebound” following the “staid” and “disappointing” “Challengers.” For the record, I absolutely adored “Challengers,” in part because of its indulgence in thoughtfulness and reflection. I couldn’t help it. Those types of songs appeal to me deeply. It’s what makes songs like “The Bleeding Heart Show” and “These are the Fables” among my all-time favorite NP songs. But even Carl Newman admits that “Challengers” faced a backlash because it went so sharply in that direction.
But “Together,” as Yang explains, hearkens back to the jubilant, frenetic pop of “Electric Version.” It is arguably the fullest realization of the NPs to date, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that “Challengers,” which I adore, was likely a transitional aberration. And after some initial resistance, I am remembering that even “Challengers” was a grower on me, and I am embracing “Together” for what it is.
Relatedly, the New Pornographers’ Kathryn Calder is coming out with a solo album this summer. Stereogum has the details and a free track.
I can’t go due to a previous commitment, but I urge you (if you’re around Boston) to go to the debut show in the Mixtape: Boston’s Year in Rock series this Saturday at the Rosebud in Davis. The series kicks off with a fine year, 1993, and features The Luxury, The Rationales, St Helena and Exile in Somerville (members of Apple Betty, Kingsley Flood, Dark Martini & the Dirty Olives, The So-So’s) covering songs from that era. Go go go go go.
Finds of the Week
- My friend Annie creates a mix for a friend going through a bad breakup, themed around the Kubler-Ross grief model.
- My friend Dave at The Shimmy Shake posts a great review of Janelle Monae’s “The ArchAndroid.”
- Largehearted Boy compiled a list of freely available MP3 compilations for download.