Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What's in the Bin? - October 26th, 2008

One of the sheer joys of being in an indie record store is browsing the bins. Just starting somewhere, flipping through things, pulling out items that catch your eye, giving a few of them a test spin. So in the third of a hypothetical series, I've browsed the "New Arrivals" bins here at Twist & Shout, picked out a few things, and gave them a listen. The nature of used record stores being what it is, I can't promise these items will still be in the bin by the time you get here. But hey, browse the bin anyway. You might find something else of worth.

CD - Sloan - Never Hear the End of It
They're only kinda kidding with the title here. In the opening weeks of 2007, Sloan put out this album - with thirty tracks. And there aren't any "skits" or ten-second "interludes" mixed in - there's well and truly thirty (then-brand-new) pop songs on there. And no, not all of them are deathless. But the pluses far outweigh the minuses. The not-really-punk-but-kinda "HFXNSHC", the quiet "Live the Life You're Dreaming of," the catchy "Ana Lucia," and "Who Taught You to Live Like That" dare you not to sing (and clap!) along. If the last few pop albums wore out their interest after two or three listens, this may be the perfect cure.

CD - Jr. Walker and the All-Stars - Best of / 20th Century Masters
If you know your sixties "oldies," you probably know "that one song" by Jr. Walker - "Shotgun." It was rather an atypical song to come out of the Motown camp at the time. This was the period when the Supremes were scrubbing up, wearing identical wigs and sequined gowns, and perfecting their soft, flowing hand gestures. Meanwhile, "Shotgun" literally explodes out of the gate with a shotgun sound, and is followed up with Jr. Walker's sax wailing and raw, sweaty "Shotguuuuun!" cries. It's soul about as raw as Motown would possibly put its label on. This CD (naturally) starts there, and then moves forward, covering songs of a similar feel (such as "Road Runner"), some surprisingly interesting cover versions ("Come See About Me" and "These Eyes" both hold up well), and Jr's second surprise hit - a mellow but still soulful take on "What Does It Take (to Win Your Love)." This CD may be a short ride - just eleven tracks - but it's a great one, and one that's worth taking on a semi-regular basis.

LP - Young Tuxedo Brass Band - Jazz Begins - Sounds of New Orleans Streets: Funeral and Parade Music
The title may be a mouthful, but it sums it up. This LP was recorded in 1959 (and appears to have been released roughly the same time - there's no date listed on the LP), and was recorded right on the streets of New Orleans. It follows the tradition of a brass band playing funeral dirges on the way to the funeral, and then peppy numbers as they go back home. The liner notes don't make it clear if this was recorded at an actual funeral, but regardless, the effect remains. The first half of side one features slow, mournful dixieland versions of hymns such as "Lead Me Saviour" and "Nearer My God to Thee." Rather haunting, very nice. And then things kick up as side one comes to an end, and the rest of the LP is given over to a much more upbeat mood. Oddly, some of the numbers are hymns as well ("Just a Closer Walk to Thee"), but given a raucous, celebratory vibe. I'm not sure if it's a celebration of life following the mourning of a death, or just a way to shake the heeby-jeebies, but either way, it works very well. The gatefold sleeve has an in-depth discussion of the traditions of New Orleans funeral music, as well as comments on each of the songs, and it's great to have context for what you're hearing. It'd be a great album to put on during a cold day, lying face down on your bed, reading and absorbing the liners as the music sets the mood. In fact, it's the kind of album that might get you looking forward to the next cold day.

- Mondo Gecko

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