January 3, 2014 in Features

It’s 2014: Time to listen

New music, established superstars worth crafting resolutions around
By The Spokesman-Review
 
File photo

Pay a visit to The Long Ear in 2014, or any other local music store.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

The first week of January is the time of year for reflection and improvement, when we look back at the past 12 months and adopt a handful of resolutions that we’ll try to implement over the course of the next year. Realistically, nobody follows through on all of their resolutions, which is why it’s sensible to set the bar relatively low.

In 2014, I’m going to focus my New Year’s resolutions around my music listening habits, which, I’ll admit, were lax in the past year. Here are a few of my personal music resolutions for 2014, all of which are easily attainable.

Keep up on new music. With several music streaming services at our disposal, there’s really no excuse not to be on top of the newest music trends at all times. I make a resolution every year to broaden my musical horizons, and I’m constantly compiling lists of new records and artists that I never get around to listening to. I’m a creature of habit, so I’m always returning to older albums that I already know backward and forward, but it’s time to break out of my comfort zone and explore other artists. This is already shaping up to be a busy year for music, and the next several months will see new albums from a number of artists I’ve admired in the past, like Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Broken Bells, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Phantogram, Guided by Voices, the Men and St. Vincent. Let the Spotifying begin.

Become a Bruce Springsteen completist. Springsteen announced himself as a great American songwriter right out of the gate: From his first album, 1973’s “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.,” and up to his 1984 smash “Born in the U.S.A.,” he was responsible for one of the most unstoppable winning streaks in all of rock. But of Springsteen’s 17 studio albums, I’m really only familiar with about seven or eight, and with any album released past 1987’s “Tunnel of Love,” that familiarity starts to get a little fuzzy. It’s one of the biggest and most flagrant blind spots in my general music knowledge, and at some point this year I pledge to sit down and acquaint myself with all of his material.

Which leads me to my next resolution …

See Springsteen live. Springsteen’s newest album, “High Hopes,” is set to be released this month, and that will no doubt be accompanied by an extensive world tour. He’s known for his energetic, powerful and lengthy live shows, and yet I’ve never seen him perform in concert. I won’t hold my breath for him to perform within a stone’s throw of the Spokane Arena, but a road trip to see the Boss in Seattle or Portland would be well worth the effort.

ATTEND AT LEAST ONE MUSIC FESTIVAL. I’ve grown wary of music festivals in recent years, and I always find reasons not to attend them – they’re too expensive, there are too many people, I’m not familiar with enough of the scheduled artists. But those are just poor excuses, and spending a day watching a long lineup of artists isn’t all that taxing. There are a lot to choose from in the Pacific Northwest alone: Sasquatch, Bumbershoot, Capitol Hill Block Party, even Elkfest, which has been securing better and better lineups of both local and touring bands each year. A good festival is a convenient way to see a number of concerts in one location, especially musicians who you might enjoy but wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

PURCHASE FROM LOCAL RECORD STORES MORE FREQUENTLY. Whenever I decide to buy a vinyl copy of a new record, I’ve gotten into the habit of hopping on Amazon and having it shipped to me. Although it’s the most convenient mode of purchasing, I really should be taking the extra step and utilizing our local record stores, places like 4,000 Holes, Recorded Memories or the Long Ear in Coeur d’Alene. They have extensive used and new collections, and if the title you’re looking for isn’t in their inventory, they’ll place an order and hold a copy in the store for you. It might take a day or two longer than an online store, but you get that extra personal touch, and you’re supporting the community. It’s a win-win.

Throw a “Zaireeka” party. In 1997, Oklahoma psych rockers the Flaming Lips released “Zaireeka,” a boldly conceptual recording and one of the most ambitious albums of the decade. Its eight tracks are broken up into pieces over four different discs, which means that hearing the complete compositions requires the CDs to be played simultaneously on four separate players. Sure, you can find the synchronized audio on YouTube, but you’d be missing out on the communal aspect of “Zaireeka” – to do it right, throw a party, invite everyone to bring their own boom box, and then press play all at once. If nothing else, it’ll be an experience.


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