Observations on the Emergence of ALABAMA SHAKES
On the State of Music...
The View from a Blog
Hottest Act in The World Right Now... but what does it mean?
Being a music blogger does a lot to change your music buying habits. I literally have every other band in America (and a lot of musically-inclined folks from across the sea) sending me free music every day. I still support my favorite acts by buying their material, wearing their t-shirts - but those teenage habits of going out and buying CDs is something I just don't do anymore. Who has the money? Who has the desire? And those streaming music services like Spotify and MOG (and so many others) impact our listening experiences. Ultimately we have all been given a crash course the last decade in our new music reality: success is about building relationships in music these days - and NOT through sales.
Then came the re-emergence of vinyl. It became cool again to hold on to something that sound great - and the booklets and all that art; well it's back. And with it - my passion to own. But ultimately, I don't get too excited about stuff that I must go out and buy - regardless of format anymore. The world around us has changed...
The brand new Official Video for "Hold On"
This Part is Kind of Crazy and Somewhat True - I am a subscriber to the fear that one of the trillion unopened CDs I receive annually is going to be brilliant and just as equally un-listened to. And the victim, the self-promoted starving artist will just end up going nowhere -- and it's all ultimately somehow my fault.
Call it the "Holden Caulfield" music blogger stereotype, ... whatever. You get what I mean. And I have it. I think I may have it bad. I keep trying to catch the best emerging bands as they carelessly leap (or perhaps they are pushed) from the figurative cliff, to their peril. I can only catch some of the singers and players. Only a few. And so consequently, slowly, it drives me mad. And so without any other solution, every day, I continue to dig into that mail. I delve into the pile of music and I sleep little. I opt to do this rather than to go down to the local independent record store on most days. Certainly rather do this than to go down on Record Store day and spend $300 on limited edition EPs and #'d 45s. (I'm actually growing a bit concerned this piece is coming off as anti-record store - which it's not, so I'll quickly get to the point...)
Today I spent some money on a LP presale for Alabama Shakes and I did it without pause. Paying money up front for vinyl I won't be able to spin for days or weeks with all this music just laying around (looking at a stack of 400 cds) - that's just mad, right? When you have 500 unread emails from bands with the subject line: 'digital download' or 'album advance', spending money on vinyl (when you already have the mp3s), what's that's absurd, right? So why did I do it? It's not only because Alabama Shakes are hot, I mean, that much is clear. But they're important - more than you know. They're good -- and for just a bit longer, unspoiled. And (most importantly) they are inspirational. Pay attention. These are not empty words.
The success of Alabama Shakes - just another band with a real, tangible sound, provides some comfort for me. We are not completely changed - we are vessels bouncing about in a sea of change. So while the way we listen, buy and observe music has evolved --the way we love (truly love!) new songs and their creators may never be altered... The truth is there are all kinds of ways for you to be a bad person but there is no wrong way to fall in love with music.
Long may you run Alabama Shakes. And I hope that, no matter what becomes of you, what you help inspire from the next generation, is even better. That's the way it's supposed to work. And you, dear reader, stay hungry and keep listening...
"People always clap for the wrong things," - Holden Caulfield
J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye