Monday, September 25, 2006

The Bashful Special Orderer

This is the first in a series of character sketches to entertain, inform and possibly pre-empt certain mildly sociopathic behaviours in the pool of retail music afficionados.


This shy creature usually first makes contact via telephone. Thusly:

BSO: Do you carry any _______ in your store?

ME: We don't have any at the moment. If you have a specific title in mind we could special order it for you.

BSO: ...Uh, no. That's OK.

This first step is common to all of their kind. Theoretically what they are doing is checking to see if any store has it in stock so that they might purchase it immediately... a reasonable and logical approach. When it fails (which is usually does since what they are after has little chance of being regularly stocked anywhere) they move on to the next step.

If logic were still the guiding light, what should happen next is calling back the place that said they'd get it for you fairly quickly and inquiring about the order process. Instead, the BSO does this:

BSO: Do you have any _______ in stock?

ME: Errr.... not at the moment. We seldom ever see that second hand, but we could certainly get that for you if you'd like.

BSO: ...Uh, no. That's OK.

Step three comes in a few different variations upon a similar theme: Some repeat step two several times until I'm tempted to *69 them, find them and punch them in the ear. Some give up straight away. The bravest of the BSOs actually leave their fortress of solitude and come in to the store. They will appear jumpy, flipping through both new and used of only one particular letter. When you ask if they are looking for anything special they will either accidentally "out" themselves by asking for the same semi-obscure artist/album... or they will mumble nothing discernable and shuffle out before any further confrontation arise. Either way... even in person they will never agree to actually order the album they so obviously want.

You may ask yourselves, "so why not just get the title in so that next time they ask you'll be ready with it?" Ah, friends. Therein lies the strange alchemy of the quasi-forbidden desire. At the very point where the album soooo sought after is finally in stock... that is when the BSO will either completely vanish into another dimensional reality or claim they found it while on vacation in Burundi with their cousins. Then you will find yourself with an albatross of an album that has no other hope of being sold.

So it is the dance finds it's own balance: Ask and receive, but only inquire and you shall remain bereft.

Thank you.

Monday, September 18, 2006


{From 2002}:
Ugly CasanovaSharpen Your Teeth (Sub Pop)

Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse was hired by the Sub Pop label to seek and sign artists he thought showed merit. His taste has turned out to be pretty good, bringing Wolf Parade onboard. Around the same time, after releasing The Moon and Antarctica on a major label, Brock trawled the Sub Pop bullpen and assembled an allstar/no-star roster to record an album under the UC alter-ego. From Holopaw he grabbed John Orth who provides lyrics and vocals to a few tracks. From Red Red Meat/Califone he snatched Tim Rutili for guitars/lyrics/vocals and Brian Deck for drums/percussion and co-producing. Rounding things out on a couple of tracks is Three Mile Pilot/Black Heart Procession’s Pall Jenkins providing vocals/guitars/keyboards. Two things are interesting about the album: one is that you can hear elements from all the individual bands in the overall mix… therefore not just a mouse jr. album. Secondly is how much the sound fed into Good News for People Who Love Bad News, Brock’s most recent Modest Mouse release. It’s got all the abstract minimalist swagger that you’d expect, but Orth’s vocals have a yang effect on Brock’s yin, balancing things out. Deck and Rutili long ago perfected the sound of a machine programmed to play 70s Rolling Stones that’s started to fall apart in interesting ways. The alchemy just simmers throughout, brewing up gold and IPA out of whatever base metals were on hand.

A couple of streaming audio samples can be found here.