I know! I was shocked too! I actually walked into a CD store*, picked out the disc I wanted, took it to the counter, paid for it and walked out with the CD in a little bag. There's even a receipt to prove that this transaction actually took place in real life, and not in some fevered corner of my tiny mind. It was the first actual CD I've bought since picking up 'In Rainbows' in January, so if you knocked up your girlfriend on the same day that I bought Radiohead's record, you would have cradled your newborn infant in your arms by now and suddenly realized that being a father was the most magical feeling in the world. Wait, second-most amazing feeling.....eating a Quizno's chicken carbonara sub when you're really hungry is the actual #1.
* = Let's be honest, they really should be called 'entertainment stores' by this point. T-shirts, posters, even a few books, and, I'd wager, probably more DVDs than CDs. How long will it be before the concept of a CD store is outdated? 15 years? Ten? Oh, some form of vintage music shops will always be around, but in the future they're going to be novelties, like finding a haberdashery. Sure they exist, but they're hardly on every street corner. Our kids are going to ask us, "A whole store just selling CDs? How odd."
Anyway, the album in question was 'Everything Is Borrowed' by the Streets. I've loved Mike "The Streets" Skinner ever since I randomly saw the video for Fit But You Know It one late night on MuchMoreMusic. This track was from the Streets' album A Grand Don't Come For Free, which I'd argue is the best concept album of the last decade. His sound is basically pop-tinged hip-hop, except he raps in a mock-Cockney accent. What's not to like? Given that I generally find hip-hop boring as hell, the fact that I'm so deep in the tank for the Streets is a pretty impressive feat for ol' Mike Skinner.
Well, perhaps a bit less in the tank after this past record. It was good, but only around 7/10 good rather than a real standout disc. The problem, oddly enough, was that Skinner (normally known for his sarcastic and witty lyrics) decided to pretty much leave the sardonic stuff at home and get more introspective. I'd describe the lyrics as like a motivational poster backed by some pretty strong beats. There's a track about the environment, one about how his mother (presumably) is the 'strongest person he knows,' a track about living your life to your fullest extent, even a song about how some religious figures are --- get this --- sometimes not honest. It's possible that Skinner's lyrics were written by a first-year MIT student. But, hey, lyrics aside, the music is still as strong as ever. Actually, it's a bit of a reversal from A Grand; on that album, the music was only average while the words were fantastic, while this time around, the music is catchy as hell and the lyrics aren't terribly introspective. But still, overall, Everything Is Borrowed gets the Mark seal of approval. It's a seal of an actual seal, but the seal is clapping. My seal of disapproval shows a seal taking a dump on the American flag.
Speaking of new albums, I also recently heard an album that is three years old, but was essentially new to me. The disc in question was 'Some Cities' by Doves, which I remember buying after enjoying Doves' previous record, though this new one didn't quite move me as much. How forgettable was it? Well, I listened to it once and then literally forgot I owned it until a random clean-out of my shelves a few weeks ago. I didn't even remember listening to it once, in fact, but I know I must've since my homemade piece of paper listing the track lengths was in the front cover.*
* = In my past life as a pizza delivery boy, I often listened to music in the car but didn't want to constantly stop and start tracks for fear of ruining the flow. So, I merely timed the songs to coincide with my various delivery routes. For example, if I was taking a pizza across town, I'd put on a couple of longer songs. If I was just taking one around the block, I'd just keep the system off unless there was some really odd little 1:00 track on the record. Most CDs have the track lengths somewhere on the back cover or in the jacket, but for the ones that didn't, I just wrote one of my own and stuck it into the front cover sleeve for quick reference. God, I'm smart.
Doves, for those of you who have never heard of the group, are an English 'rock' group who were actually rather popular back in the early 00's. I think 'Some Cities,' in fact, went to #1 on the charts over in the UK. I used the quote marks because Doves don't really rock terribly hard --- I'd describe their sound as Coldplay, except somehow duller. At least three-quarters of the songs on 'Some Cities' meander terribly, which is likely the reason I put the album away never to be uncovered except perhaps by that high-voiced mummy archeologist in the Discovery Channel's "I Love The Whole World" commercial. Apparently Doves have really been dragging their asses on a follow-up record, which seems an odd move for a band that you'd think would be quick to strike while the iron was hot. I mean, by now, even Coldplay have discovered that songs can move at a quick pace. The times, they are, a'becoming quite different.