The impending death of the used bookseller

A provocative article on Entrepreneur.com recently profiled several industries on the verge of extinction. Among the condemned: record stores, newspapers, and used bookstores.

As the article notes, newspapers aren't really going to die; they're just going to change. But what about those book and record stores? It would perhaps be more accurate to say that independent bookstores and record stores are under threat. Sure, a few widely successful independents will remain. But even iconic independents are finding it harder to stay open.

What do you think? Are independent book and record stores disappearing? Should we even care, in the age of the long tail thrift and accessibility of Amazon and Barnes & Noble? Or will such stores simply adapt like their allegedly-doomed newspaper brethren?

Why Is The World In Love Again

They Might Be Giants may only be two guys named John, a guitarist and an accordioner, but the music that they produce is something else. The lyrics—funny, tragic, weird, poetic, meaningless—are backdropped by consciously bizarre, irresistibly catchy, and off the wall rocking music. After twenty years, they have but two gold albums to their names, a few minor hit singles. They’ve made serious records, kids records, TV themes (Malcolm In The Middle, The Daily Show,) and unique music videos. And I am happy to say (now that I have my ticket) that They Might Be Giants are coming here to the Michigan Theatre, November 14th.

Yes, It Is Really As Good As They Say

Looking at a quite expensive double LP reissue of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds in PJ’s Records, I scoffed at the storeowner’s claim I was holding the greatest album ever made. How could the band responsible for “Kokomo” and… that song Uncle Jesse sang with the Rippers on “Full House” make the greatest record ever? Regardless, I figured I’d try it and ran to the Downtown library (this happened in those dark days before my employ at AADL) to check it out. The new version has the original mono as well as a stereo remix—a surprise coming from deaf-in-on-ear Brian Wilson. I elected to go stereo. I didn’t much care for it. Mono elicited the same reaction. But after the tenth time, I loved it.

Solos, Soli, Flat Picking, Shredding, Mind Blowing, And Cetera

While explaining to me the merits of John Mayer, my friend, who has not similar but overlapping tastes, said he was first drawn into the sordid world of Try! and Continuum when he heard a John Mayer song on the radio, and it had an actual guitar solo. Music for the past ten years has focused on vocalists and not bands, so a guitar solo in a song on the radio can be cause for jubilation, but a solo good does not a song make.

Equadoran musician and friends perform

Canterbury House, an Episcopal campus ministry offers a concert series open to all. This Tuesday, the Winona Taxo University for Cultural Exchange, a unique educational initiative between North and South America will be holding its first concert at Canterbury House. Ecuadorian musician, Oscar Santillian, Ann Arbor folk musicians Laz and Helen Slomovits and students from The University of Michigan School of Music Jazz Department will play music that features a blend of both cultures. Canterbury House offers a great mix of innovative musical performers from jazz, electronic and folk genres.

Want Radiohead's new album? Name your price!

"In Rainbows," the latest album by consummate alt rockers Radiohead, is garnering attention. Unlike with the now legendary OK Computer, however, it's not for it's musical brilliance. In fact, the album isn't even out yet. Instead, Radiohead's getting press because they're letting you name your own price to buy it.

Aside from the obvious pricing mechanism, Radiohead is innovating in several other ways. First, the album is only available for digital download on the band's website. Second, the album will be DRM-free. Third, the band is bypassing the traditional gatekeepers of music, the recording industry.

Like Prince's July 2007 scheme with his latest album Planet Earth, Radiohead's actions are likely to anger an industry exec or two. But should they be afraid? Might artists be able to bypass them altogether and get their music out to the masses? Will such promotions only work for musical demigods like Prince and Radiohead? What do you think?

Rodrigo & Gabriela

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Quite the year for Rodrigo Y Gabriela, making the top 10 new bands best album of the year in Rolling Stone Magazine (Mexico) and currently they're nominated for an MTV Leftfield "Woodie" award. http://rodgab.com/
The two met as teenagers in Mexico City, but are currently living in Dublin. Influences range from family salsa records to their passion for metal music. Treat yourself to a sampling of their sound on myspace.

The Diversifyin’ Late 60s/Early 70s, Part IV: Hot Burritos

No group was on the front of the country-rock movement more than The Flying Burrito Brothers. After Gram Parsons’s brief stint with The Byrds, where his influence resulted in the country Sweetheart of the Rodeo, he pilfered Byrd Chris Hillman and formed the new band. Unlike blues-rock, country-rock is ultimately indistinguishable from country and caters to the same crowd. Parsons brought his high lonesome voice and songs about heartache and drinking into a bona fide country group, whose sound was highlighted by the amazing work of Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel. Though FBB albums are hard to find, the library has a greatest hits.

Coffee House Series Presents...

Looking for some folk music this weekend? Check out the Green Wood Coffee House Series concert at the First United Methodist Church on Green Rd. tonight, Friday, September 28. Ellen McIlwaine will be demonstrating her amazing blues slide guitar and vocal skills. A Canadian native, Mcilwaine only does a few gigs in the U.S. So don't miss her performance. Also, take advantage of the homey atmosphere and reasonable cost of concerts in this series.

The Diversifyin’ Late 60s/Early 70s, Part III: Why Isn’t There Rock-Blues

If rock is blues and country, then is blues-rock just bluesy blues and country? How blues is blues-rock in comparison to rock? Of course, if someone in 1956 called a group or artist “blues-rock,” it most certainly would have been redundant, but by the time of the sub-genre explosion in rock music (or as I like to call it, The Great Rock Schism) in the late sixties, all sorts of groups like Cream (and for that matter, any of Eric Clapton’s groups,) The Spencer Davis Group, The Rolling Stones, J. Geils Band, Fleetwood Mac (Peter Green’s version,) and hoards more identified themselves as blues-rock.

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