Known Johnson

July 9, 2008

Return and report

Filed under: General,Music — Tom @ 10:54 pm

Yeah, yeah, we’ve been back since Saturday night but I’ve yet to actually report on the trip. Chalk it up to a dwindling supply of time. I’ve got a camera full of pictures I’d like to include in a summary of the trip, so I figure, why bother writing about the trip when I’m going to post those and have to sort-of re-write the experience? Hopefully this weekend will provide a little extra time. Weekdays, more and more, find me not wanting to sit on the computer at home after spending a whole day at work doing the exact same thing. These things just aren’t all that fun, you know?

What I can report on, for the few that care, is the small stack of CDs that I allowed myself to buy at the great Lou’s Records. I didn’t want it to be the focus of the trip, nor did I want to spend a great deal there, so I really didn’t prepare like I should have. I live where my music selection locally is never quite what I want, so I forget that elsewhere they actually stock, in-store, things that make me gasp and go “Oh man!” Lou’s is one such place – my comment to Alissa after I left was that they simply “get” music lovers. From the prices to the selection, they made it hard to pass up the many things I wanted. And what did I get?


Nils Petter Molvaer – Solid Ether: I’ve been under the impression for the past however many years now that Dave Douglas was kind of the be-all, end-all of modern jazz trumpeters, but this is a name I kept seeing pop up. I never really gave him a try, never having found anything of his until now, and now I know I’ll be putting his name alongside Douglas. Molvaer takes a stranger, more psychedelic, more electronic route through jazz, and it’s pretty damned awesome.

Michael Hedges – Live On The Double Planet: How I managed to never buy this live album from one of my favorite guitarist of all time is beyond me, but there you have it. Perhaps it’s the handful of incredible bootlegs that surfaced in the years following his death that kept me from getting around to it (which fuels every industry executive’s concern about live music,) but I doubt it – it was probably simply a combination of timing and desire. He’s best experienced live, where he can’t overcook his recordings with new-agey accompaniment, and instead focuses on doing that amazing playing that he does, not to mention showcasing a bit of the humor he was always known for (such as introducing Sheila E’s “A Love Bizarre” by opening it with a count that goes “A, B, C, D , Sheila E!”

The Church – A Box Of Birds: I have never, not once, seen a copy of this 1999 covers album in a local shop, either new or used. I go to San Diego and hit Lou’s and there’s a copy right there for $5. As covers albums go, it’s actually quite good – these things can swing either way, and are usually pretty wretched, but The Church actually picked out music that is really relevant to their sound, not just songs they seemed to think would be cool to cover, as many bands seem to opt to do. Their source material here: The Beatles, Mott the Hoople/Bowie, the Monkees, Neil Young, and more.

matt pond PA – Last Light: I have never understood the derision this band has gotten from some uber-indie circles (Pitchfork, etc.) They’re far more listenable and stand the test of time much better than most indie music, yet they garner reviews that act like they’re little better than the very worst that Dave Matthews has to offer. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised – they’re a band I’d put alongside Toad the Wet Sprocket in tone and style, if not quite accessibility, and Toad suffered its share of undeservingly negative reviews. Lovely, melancholic melodies abound – if you need something to fill some gaps where Toad left off, this is a great band to do so.

I could have bought oh so much more, but I tried to be good.


I really had to hold back in the “new store.” Lou’s, you see, is actually two separate stores – one for used stuff and one for the new. I spent most of my time over in the used store, actually expecting to simply pass on the new store – I do have Amazon Prime, after all . . . but the call of the experience beckoned me and I had to at least step in. Big mistake. Huge mistake. I could have spent far longer in there than the used store, but having already dropped $30 in the used store that I really probably shouldn’t have, my guilty conscience kept me skimming the shelves quickly. After a bit, I simply had to stop and leave – the temptation was far too great to keep me from growing a pile of discs in my hand. I put back a few things and held on to the two I simply had to have . . .

Fish – Communion: Having recently gotten his most recent album to review, and which has really quite surprised me with how excellent it is, I realized I may need to backtrack and check out his last few. I lost track of the former Marillion singer about a decade ago when I simply grew tired of what he was doing, feeling that he was treading the same ground over and over. Well, it seems he must have felt the same way. Anyway, this set is a two-disc acoustic live show from the previous album’s tour, and that’s about all I can say – I haven’t had a chance to check much of it out yet.

R.E.M. – Supernatural Superstitious: The $6.99 price kept this in my hand. I knew this was $12.99 on Amazon, a price I simply didn’t feel like paying for two non-album tracks, despite really liking Accelerate. I passed on the dumb “deluxe” edition of the album, which packaged these two tracks as dumpy mp3s on the DVD (why?! why mp3s?!) and figured maybe someday I’d get this single, or maybe there’d be another deluxe later on that added them to the album itself, but for $6.99, I couldn’t pass it up.

And that’s just one wall of Lou’s new-stuff store. I passed looking at the indie wall and all the jazz/etc. that filled the rest of the store. It was very, very hard to do, but having already chalked up $60, it was getting hard to justify spending anymore – the vacation was for the family, not for me spending money on CDs. Someday I’ll get back there and have a stash of money just for the sole purpose of splurging on their incredible selection. What a cool store.


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