German Toymaker Eaten by Lion!
Smiles of a Sommer Night

Buzz Cuts and Bedrooms and Byrne

The weekend is upon us, and that is as good an excuse as any to look at music forthcoming from two tuneful laborers in relative obscurity mentioned here previously:

The Singleman Affair

In a January post about his band Hummingbiird, I mentioned Chicago musician Dan Schneider in his role as "The Singleman Affair" and the fact of his recent signing to the UK Poptones label.  [The good folk at Poptones even saw fit to quote that post on the label's site.  I bear no ill will over their not quite getting the name of this weblog right.]

I checked back this week on the upcoming release of the Singleman Affair album -- it's due out on July 17 -- and found another reason to look forward to it.  Originally posted in mid-March on the Poptones site, here is an airy, echoing and altogether effective recording of The Singleman Affair covering a classic Tim Buckley tune:

Bedroom Walls

Back in March of 2004, I praised the "Romanticore" stylings of Los Angeles' own Bedroom Walls; later that year I recommended the band's now-unavailable EP, "A Species of Idleness."  Many moons later, the band's second full-length release, All Good Dreamers Pass This Way, is scheduled to come out next week.  (I've gone ahead and preordered a copy for myself.) 

All Good Dreamers... is mostly new material but also includes one of the highlights of the Walls' self-released first album ("Do the Buildings and Cops Make You Smile?"), some longstanding fixtures of the Walls repertoire hitherto not issued in studio versions ("In Anticipation of Your Suicide" and "Who's Been Driving Around for Days" were both included in the band's on-air KCRW performance in December 2003) and one of the "bonus" tracks from the "Idleness" EP, the woozily affectionate "Hello Mrs. Jones."

When I last mentioned Bedroom Walls, I quoted a lyric about being "stuck inside with your books and your sad songs."  The line comes from "Your Idea of a Holiday," a song that I quite like and that the band has since seen fit to make available for download on their MP3 page and that also follows this next punctuation mark:

Bonus Think Piece
[That's a subject sub-heading, not the name of a band.]

Increasingly, I purchase Popular Music by download rather than physical CD, and my major recurring complaint with downloadable music is the absence of the sort of supporting information and graphical goodies that are incorporated in physical packaging: LP sleeves and CD insert booklets and the like.  No less an eminence than David Byrne has some thoughts on the subject in his online journal.  Excerpts:

There are those who mourn the vanishing of the nice big cardboard packages that vinyl came in.  The format allowed fairly large images, credits, and photos.  The usual assumption is that much of this imagery, like music videos, is a reflection of, and extension of, the music creator’s sensibility.  As if the packaging and the videos were usually under the direct control of the author.  This is absurd. . . .

. . . Our sense of the author and the music being represented and embodied graphically is imaginary.  We see the music and its package as all of a piece.  This of course is what good packaging does. Salty snacks and washing detergents are sold mostly based on their brightly colored packaging.  Most people don’t make this assumption about books — we don’t assume that the cover of a book is a visual representation of the writing, as imagined by the author, but with music we sometimes do make this leap.  Hence the love of LP sleeves… and even CD booklets.

I imagine that record companies in the 60s realized that selling to a new market — one that saw itself as hip beyond the generic record sleeves then prevalent, a new demographic who saw itself as outside and distinct from the mainstream — would require some new approaches to design.  They, the record companies, realized that to make a credible product for this reluctant market the inclusion of the bizarre and funky imagery made by their graphic pals was probably essential.  In addition, the music artists themselves began to demand control over their own sleeves, when they realized that they could.

The post goes on for quite a bit beyond that, covering a broad range of related subjects, and ends with quite an optimistic view of the expansive 'packaging' possibilities of the downloadable future.  [Link via Coolfer.]

  • Bonus Bonus: Another thoughtful Byrne post from earlier in the month on photography, expectations of privacy in public places, importing imagery from one medium to another and, above all, how "the law changes what people create."

Enjoy the weekend.


Cowtown Pattie

...I imagine that record companies in the 60s realized that selling to a new market — one that saw itself as hip beyond the generic record sleeves then prevalent...

Oh yeah, we were mucho hip.

Still are. Heh.


I miss liner notes, but they've been a lost art since long before CDs came along. I tend to associate them with either serious folk records from Folkways or Vanguard explaining the significance of Dave van Ronk or with tripping out to Lamb Lies Down on Broadway while reading the notes.

Eno was still doing Liner Notes in the 70s and his definition of Ambient Music might apply to the subject of liner notes as well.
"Ambient Music must be able to accomodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular; it must be as ignorable as it is interesting." Music for Airports liner notes .

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