It’s all about trust.
There’s this guy Don VanCleave. He’s gonna fuck with your notion of Alabamans. He used to run a record store in Birmingham with the moniker Magic Platter, but now he heads CIMS, the Coalition of Independent Music Stores. Get on his mailing list, email@example.com, to get his weekly indie store chart. But better yet is his commentary. Sure, often Don cheerleads, but he imparts words of wisdom on a regular basis, he puts forth passionate insights. And in this week’s missive, Don lamented the state of radio, and swore by Sirius’ Left Of Center.
So I’ve been checking it out.
And I’ve got to tell you, as a dedicated Allman Brothers fan, as a builder of John Mayer’s career, I was stunned that Don liked this music. Oh, at first it was refreshing. Then it was kind of like listening to dental drills. But, in the process of listening I learned that Left Of Center has a weekly audience chart show, broadcast Sunday mornings. And figuring I’d skim the cream of the crop, I went surfing and found the list. You can see it here:
I proceeded to check out each and every track. That’s what you do in the Net age, everything’s hearable. And I was stunned how genre-specific this shit was. How you had to be a fan of the music to truly enjoy it, how it wasn’t one listen grab you.
Not that it all sucked. The new Arcade Fire track? Certainly special, the band deserves the hype. And when I heard Kaiser Chiefs’ "Ruby" on the radio this afternoon, I was reminded of the magic of "I Predict A Riot". But really, if this is the shit, we’re shit out of luck. I mean this ain’t no Alanis Morissette, left of center shit that’s universal.
Oh, I liked Robbers On High Street. And the Modest Mouse track wasn’t bad… But listening to the Shins you’ll wonder what all the hype is about. Hell, CD sales aren’t only off because of iPods, this stuff just doesn’t grab you, not unless you’re hooked to begin with.
And I heard the Shins again on the way to the eye doctor, where I found out I was wearing my contacts in the wrong eyes, and was again suitably unimpressed.
But when I was done, and got back in my car and turned my Sirius back on, there was a killer track on the radio. "Millstone", by Brand New. And then the CANDYSKINS! "Wembley". God, this DJ, he was on a run!
Turned out it was all about the DJ. This was Matt Pinfield.
Supposedly Matt Pinfield had cred before he appeared on MTV. But MTV flattens your image, renders you two-dimensional, it’s hard to be appear dark and rock if you’re on TV.
Then again, Pinfield ain’t that dark. God, when he talks it’s like listening to your best buddy, who’s not teaching you a lesson, but imparting wisdom, all in a friendly way!
And then Matt went on to spin an acoustic Cure song.
And I confirmed my suspicion that last.fm and all the suggestion software radio would fail. Because it’s about the personality.
They say that Matt Pinfield gets to play whatever he wants. Which is a rarity on the tightly-formatted Sirius. But it makes all the difference, I felt like I was on a ride with him!
And then, just to compare, I switched over to the comparable station on XM, Ethel.
Now Ethel experienced a backlash. They cut the playlist. The PD has been excoriated all over the Net. Can’t tell you if the listeners are right, I just don’t listen to the station that much. Hell, all this modern rock has made me realize my tastes are much more aligned with Mike Marrone. I like a song more than noise. But this song they were playing on Ethel right then… Wow, it cut to my heart. You see it was "Handbags and Gladrags".
Ever see a blind man cross the road
Tryin’ to make the other side
But this wasn’t the famous version by Rod Stewart, rather this was a cover of the Mike d’Abo penned tune by the Stereophonics. Who realized they were that hip?
Turns out Rod Stewart’s take on his debut wasn’t even the first version. Rather, that was done by Chris Farlowe. Then came renditions by Double Feature and Love Affair. You remember those, right? HA!
Just like DJs, it depends on the performance. And Rod Stewart knocked it out of the park. And I’m sure the Stereophonics never would have covered it if they hadn’t heard his famous take. No one’s gonna cover the shit that Rod Stewart does now. That’s just about commerce.
You’ll dig the Stereophonics’ version. It’s not necessary, but it’s intriguing. But not as intriguing as the cover of "Love and Mercy" by Golden Smog that I heard on the Loft.
Don VanCleave is right. We’ve got an exhibition crisis. People don’t hear the great music. Hell, according to the Wikipedia, the Stereophonics’ version of "Handbags and Gladrags" went Top Ten in 2001. Who knew? We need people to pick the tunes. We need outlets to expose these people that are trusted, that listeners can believe in.
There’s great shit all over satellite radio. But somehow, the average American doesn’t see the services as necessary. Sirius is the Howard Stern service and XM is..?
You’ve got to convince people to sign up. Both outlets have done an awful job of this. Maybe when every car comes with a satellite radio and a free trial, the tide will turn. Maybe people just need to be exposed to it. Then again, radio is now a dirty word. The industry burned it out. People hate radio just like they hate the major labels.
Wow. What a shit week last week. I would blame it on that lull between Christmas and the first releases of the new year. But, If you look at the Billboard Top 200, there is not a bunch of stuff there to drive anyone into the stores. Especially ours.
The coming 60 days have some releases that are dreams for us. All independent. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Bloc Party, The Shins and Arcade Fire are all on deck and there is much excitement, yes even for physical goods.
What concerns me and what I think is a root problem for our industry is radio. As great as the new Shins record is (and it is great), you can’t hear it on any mainstream radio anywhere in most parts of the US. Same with the other three titles. This is the new stuff that ought to be promoted. All I get is Nickelback and Hinder mixed in with 15 year old Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots. Not very exciting. Not knocking the two current bands dominating radio because I know they have an audience. I am just saying that radio has become this ultra dull lifeless thing that I rarely turn on.
I can hear you now saying "Don, you caveman, no one listens to the radio. Everyone hears about new music on the internet". Well, that is just not 100% true. A nice chunk of people hear about new music on the internet (obviously). But frankly, many people are just too damn busy to spend non-work time in front of their computers. Some are lucky enough to get to stream KEXP at work but most are blocked.
As I have said before, I keep on top of everything by sticking my dial on "Left of Center" on Sirius. In my opinion, there should be a station like this in every market. For those who have not made the leap into satellite radio. For those who get sun and don’t live on the internet. In other words, the majority of people out there. The people who would be purchasing music but just can’t get turned on.
My kids don’t turn on their radio any more. It sucks too bad they say. What is terrible is that no matter how many ways people have to get turned on to new music these days, what they really need is a filter. Unfortunately, the biggest filter out there, the one in every car on the road, is blocking the best stuff from the air.
Coalition of Independent Music Stores Top 200 for Week Ending 01-14-07
2 MAYER*JOHN|VILLAGE SESSION EP
3 MOS DEF|TRU3 MAGIC
5 TV ON THE RADIO|RETURN TO COOK
6 CALE/CLAPTON|ROAD TO ESCONDIDO
7 SPEKTOR*REGINA|BEGIN TO HOPE
8 CASE*NEKO|LIVE FROM AUSTIN TX
9 DECEMBERISTS|CRANE WIFE
10 NAS|HIP HOP IS DEAD
11 DYLAN*BOB|MODERN TIMES
16 RACONTEURS|BROKEN BOY SOLDIERS
16 INCUBUS|LIGHT GRENADES
16 RED HOT CHILI P|STADIUM ARCADI
19 YOUNG*NEIL & CR|LIVE AT THE FI
21 JAY-Z|KINGDOM COME
22 SEXSMITH*RON|TIME BEING
22 MY CHEMICAL ROM|BLACK PARADE,T
22 LAMONTAGNE*RAY|TILL THE SUN TU
25 CLARK*GUY|WORKBENCH SONGS
25 YOUNG JEEZY|INSPIRATION: THUG
28 HOLD STEADY|BOYS & GIRLS IN AM
29 MEDESKI/SCOFIEL|OUT LOUDER
29 RODRIGO Y GABRI|RODRIGO Y GABR
31 SHINY TOY GUNS|WE ARE PILOTS
33 EMINEM PRESENTS|EMINEM PRESENT
33 U2|U218 SINGLES
35 RAE*CORINNE BAI|CORINNE BAILEY
36 YO LA TENGO|I AM NOT AFRAID OF
36 MATISYAHU|NO PLACE TO BE
39 COLD WAR KIDS|ROBBERS & COWARD
39 CAT POWER|GREATEST
39 STEFANI*GWEN|SWEET ESCAPE
42 THICKE*ROBIN|EVOLUTION OF ROBI
42 BAND OF HORSES|EVERYTHING ALL
42 BRAND NEW|DEVIL AND GOD ARE RA
46 SLOAN|NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT
46 SILVERSUN PICKU|CARNAVAS
46 SNOOP DOGG|BLUE CARPET TREATME
49 BLACK KEYS|MAGIC POTION
50 VINCENT*RHONDA|ALL AMERICAN BL
50 KNOPFLER/HARRIS|ALL THE ROADRU
52 DENNEN*BRETT|SO MUCH MORE
52 MCKENNITT*LOREE|ANCIENT MUSE
52 YUSUF (FORMERLY|AN OTHER CUP
55 GNARLS BARKLEY|ST. ELSEWHERE
55 KILLERS|SAM’S TOWN
57 SNOW PATROL|EYES OPEN
59 GOV’T MULE|MULE ON EASY STREET
59 SIMON*CARLY|INTO WHITE
61 HAINES*EMILY|KNIVES DON’T HAVE
62 ROWAN*PETER|YOU WERE THERE FOR
63 SWORD|AGE OF WINTERS
63 CASE*NEKO|FOX CONFESSOR BRINGS
66 MASTODON|BLOOD MOUNTAIN
66 KOOKS|INSIDE IN/INSIDE OUT
66 CLIPSE|HELL HATH NO FURY
70 BLIGE*MARY J.|REFLECTIONS: A R
70 LEGEND*JOHN|ONCE AGAIN
70 TUNSTALL*KT|EYE TO THE TELESCO
73 GRIZZLY BEAR|YELLOW HOUSE
73 ISIS|IN THE ABSENCE OF TRUTH
73 CITIZEN COPE|EVERY WAKING MOME
77 MUTE MATH|MUTEMATH
78 BLACK ANGELS|PASSOVER
78 EVANESCENCE|OPEN DOOR
78 FRAY|HOW TO SAVE A LIFE
78 TRAIL OF DEAD|SO DIVIDED
82 GOMEZ|HOW WE OPERATE
82 GHOSTFACE KILLA|MORE FISH
82 PINK FLOYD|DARK SIDE OF THE MO
85 LEWIS*JENNY WIT|RABBIT FUR COA
85 DEATH CAB FOR C|PLANS
85 TOOL|10000 DAYS
89 BIRDMAN & LIL’ |LIKE FATHER LI
89 TENACIOUS D|PICK OF DESTINY
89 FOO FIGHTERS|SKIN AND BONES
92 DEFTONES|SATURDAY NIGHT WRIST
92 CASH*JOHNNY|AMERICAN V: HUNDRE
92 OLD CROW MEDICI|BIG IRON WORLD
92 PEYROUX*MADELEI|HALF THE PERFE
92 KNOPFLER/HARRIS|REAL LIVE ROAD
92 DIXIE CHICKS|TAKING THE LONG W
98 MCKEOWN*ERIN|SING YOU SINNERS
98 TAPES ‘N TAPES|LOON
98 SCISSOR SISTERS|TA-DAH
98 BLUE OCTOBER|FOILED
98 FRANTI*MICHAEL |YELL FIRE!
98 KILLSWITCH ENGA|AS DAYLIGHT DI
98 VINCENT*RHONDA|RAGIN’ LIVE
98 30 SECONDS TO M|BEAUTIFUL LIE
106 3D IN YOUR FACE|FASTER AND FAS
106 BROWN*JAMES|LIVE AT THE APOLLO
106 LIL SCRAPPY|BRED 2 DIE BORN 2
106 MUSE|BLACK HOLES AND REVELATIO
106 AMON AMARTH|WITH ODEN ON OUR S
106 BROWN*JAMES|20 ALL-TIME GREATE
106 THREE DAYS GRAC|ONE-X
115 DROPPING DAYLIG|BRACE YOURSELF
115 GAME|DOCTOR’S ADVOCATE
115 HINDER|EXTREME BEHAVIOR
115 LADY SOVEREIGN|PUBLIC WARNING
120 LITTLE ONES|SING SONG EP
120 BEATLES|ABBEY ROAD
120 DEPECHE MODE|BEST OF DEPECHE M
120 GUNS N’ROSES|GREATEST HITS
125 SELF AGAINST CI|TELLING SECRET
125 MARLEY*DAMIAN|WELCOME TO JAMRO
125 PAVEMENT|WOWEE ZOWEE: SORDID S
125 MIDLAKE|TRIALS OF VAN OCCUPANT
125 HARRIS*EMMYLOU|LUXURY LINER
130 NICKELBACK|ALL THE RIGHT REASO
130 STONE SOUR|COME WHAT(EVER) MAY
130 SHINS|OH INVERTED WORLD
130 ROOTS|GAME THEORY
130 MARLEY*BOB & TH|LEGEND
135 JONES*JIM|HUSTLER’S P.O.M.E. (
135 SPARKLEHORSE|DREAMT FOR LIGHT
135 KNIFE|SILENT SHOUT
135 FIASCO*LUPE|LUPE FIASCO’S FOOD
142 +44|WHEN YOUR HEART STOPS BEAT
142 BEIRUT|GULAG ORKESTAR
142 MARIE ANTOINETT|SOUNDTRACK
142 HOT CHIP|WARNING
142 WOLF PARADE|APOLOGIES TO THE Q
142 SWITCHFOOT|OH! GRAVITY
142 NASHVILLE BLUEG|TWENTY YEAR BL
152 ISRAEL*JOSEPH|GONE ARE THE DAY
152 BRIGHT EYES|NOISE FLOOR (RARIT
152 RASCAL FLATTS|ME AND MY GANG
152 STEVENS*SUFJAN|SONGS FOR CHRIS
152 CAT POWER|COVERS RECORD
152 AGUILERA*CHRIST|BACK TO BASICS
152 OK GO|OH NO
152 PETTY*TOM & THE|GREATEST HITS
152 KEANE|UNDER THE IRON SEA
152 TUPAC|PAC’S LIFE
162 DEVOTCHKA|HOW IT ENDS
162 KRALL*DIANA|FROM THIS MOMENT O
162 TEDDYBEARS|SOFT MACHINE
162 POGUES|RUM SODOMY & THE LASH (
162 FLAMING LIPS|AT WAR WITH THE M
162 OASIS|STOP THE CLOCKS
162 ARCADE FIRE|FUNERAL
169 TYRESE|ALTER EGO
169 BADLY DRAWN BOY|BORN IN THE U.
169 HELLOGOODBYE|ZOMBIES! ALIENS!
169 RAPTURE|PIECES OF THE PEOPLE W
169 GHOSTFACE KILLA|FISHSCALE
169 SUBLIME|40 OZ. TO FREEDOM
169 SHINS|CHUTES TOO NARROW
169 HEAP*IMOGEN|SPEAK FOR YOURSELF
169 RED HOT CHILI P|GREATEST HITS
169 PROJECT PAT|CROOK BY DA BOOK:
169 ARCTIC MONKEYS|WHATEVER PEOPLE
169 HARPER*BEN|BOTH SIDES OF THE G
169 OSBORNE*JOAN|PRETTY LITTLE STR
169 SMITH*MINDY|LONG ISLAND SHORES
183 DEARS, THE|GANG OF LOSERS
183 SWAN LAKE|BEAST MOANS
183 LUDACRIS|RELEASE THERAPY
183 MY MORNING JACK|OKONOKOS
183 WHO|ENDLESS WIRE
183 HENDRIX*JIMI|EXPERIENCE HENDRI
183 SONIC YOUTH|DESTROYED ROOM:B-S
192 BRIGHT EYES|I’M WIDE AWAKE IT’
192 JOHNSON*JACK|IN BETWEEN DREAMS
192 CASH*JOHNNY|LIVE FROM AUSTIN T
192 TRICK DADDY|BACK BY THUG DEMAN
192 LED ZEPPELIN|LED ZEPPELIN 4
198 ARMY OF ANYONE|ARMY OF ANYONE
198 CASH*JOHNNY|LEGEND OF JOHNNY C
198 MCKAY*NELLIE|PRETTY LITTLE HEA
198 LEE*AMOS|SUPPLY & DEMAND
198 MELVINS|SENILE ANIMAL
198 MARS VOLTA|AMPUTECHTURE
198 BLOW|PAPER TELEVISION
198 SMITH*ELLIOTT|ELLIOTT SMITH
198 PETTY*TOM|HIGHWAY COMPANION
198 IL DIVO|SIEMPRE
198 KING*CAROLE|TAPESTRY (REM)
198 ULTRAMAGNETIC M|BEST KEPT SECR
198 PACK,THE|SKATEBOARDS 2 SCRAPER
c) 2007 by SoundScan, Inc. All rights res
Coalition of Independent Music Stores
3738 4th Terrace North
Birmingham, AL 35222