Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Whole Story

Last week Hypebot explored the future of the album as an organizing principle for music with, among others, Bob Lefsetz as resident anti-album crank and New Music Tipsheet's Scott Perry on defense.

While I spend plenty of time shuffling my ipod, there are still releases that need the context of their album to make aural sense: any Wilco release from the last 10 years, Radiohead, Arcade Fire, David Bowie, and that's just from the very limited contents of my iTunes library. What ties all these releases together are the artists who craft for the format by curating works of art that hang together like an arch and need every piece to be fully realized.

Though albums might not be appropriate for all genres of music, I don't see all artists wanting to give away the chance to make an album-sized statement. Gang of Four's Dave Allen may disagree with me (though not entirely coherently), but I don't see the album-length format disappearing until artists stop creating for it.


Speaking of albums, I missed Record Store Day but still struck out when I went digging at Crooked Beat on Sunday. Right now, I'm mildly obsessed with the new Metric album and its no-labels-need-apply release strategy.

More than tunes though I've been devouring books: Murakami's Wind-up Bird Chronicles last week snuck up on me in an excellent way and Eyal Press' Absolute Convictions this weekend. Absolute Convictions, in particular, is a remarkably even-handed social history looking at how economic conditions, religious fundamentalism, and increasingly violent anti-abortion tactics resulted in the murder of Barnett Slepian, a colleague of the author's father. While I'm waiting to for the library to deliver the next great read, I'm hop-scotching through Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

This weekend I'm off to do a little road-tripping to Chicago and then Boston and then a leisurely train ride back to DC. I'm really looking forward to the train ride!

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