Posts tagged "Snow Patrol"
As part of book giant Borders’ slashing of its DVD and CD sections, the store here in Athens, Ga., is selling its CD and DVD inventory at 50% off. The standard pre-liquidation price for a CD? $18.99. So at 50% off, most of the remaining inventory was still as much as it would have been at Best Buy, Target, or Wal-Mart. In fact, in most cases the prices were exactly twice what they were at the Big Boxers, particularly in the DVD/Blu-Ray section. I decided to document the dregs of Borders’ music collection to see what people weren’t buying, much like I did last year during the Circuit City fire sale. All of the releases documented after the jump had at least four copies for sale.
The shelves are picked over. If all of the Borders are on the same timetable, you better hustle. I did see that awesome Forever Changes two-disc collection for 10 bucks.
This is endemic of what I saw. The Killers, Bavarian Tradition, and a 2009 Grammy Nominees CD, all lying on top of Igor on Blu-Ray. I don’t know why, but this is one of the saddest things I have ever seen.
The Airborne Toxic Event and Loudon Wainwright III: together again for the first time. These guys were all over the place, never where they were supposed to be. Not a bad deal on TATE, if you’re into that sorta thing.
There was plenty of Sinatra to be found, all of it originally overpriced. These are great records, sure, but they had Super Savers in there for $16.99!
Maybe someone at Borders was a big Andre Rieu fan. There were at least 30 of his CDs all told. Looks like a nice enough guy. He’s really going for on the cover of New Year’s in Vienna.
Not to pick on Mindi Abair, but she joined Andre Rieu as the most un-bought artist at Borders. There was another stack there, next to a whole bunch of Michael Franks and Earl Klugh. Who did Borders’ stocking? The Weather Channel? My dad?
You could get “snowed under” in Snow Patrol CDs (haw haw), probably because this CD+DVD combo was priced at $21.99 originally.
Nothing against Atmosphere, but there was absolutely no reason for Borders to have ordered eight copies of this in our current music-selling climate. You can always order more. You can’t order less.
I’d like to think that Saul Williams was here en masse because everybody had already downloaded it, but I’m not so sure of that. Borders’ selection was overall more interesting than Circuit City‘s, if a little more mystifying.
Ingrid Michaelson was well-represented. “As heard on Grey’s Anatomy” doesn’t mean what it used to, but this thing was priced to sell and didn’t. It looks like a 90s cut-out bin record, like it should be laying next to Ednaswap and Echobelly.
I have this and have never listened to it. What am I afraid of? Oh, yeah…it sounding like the artwork.
Delta Spirit was out in force. I don’t have any good puns for this.
Wow! I wonder why this never sold? As a music consumer, I can think of no more inspiring words in the year 2009 than “Goo Goo Dolls, Vol. 2.”
The theme song is on this. ‘Nuff said.
There was lots of John Legend on display; maybe people heard him sing at the Academy Awards.
Now this is just a shame. Who doesn’t love “Lido Shuffle”?
Plain White T’s: One of those bands that seems more popular in theory.
I know Switchfoot and Nickel Creek are popular, but seven copies of the collaboration between members of those bands is probably overestimating demand just a bit.
Turn away, Maura! Turn away!
These Melissa Etheridges were like this when I got there.
No love for My Love by Celine Dion.
This Atreyu package would be a good deal if I liked them at all.
Some around these parts will feel no small amount of schadenfreude at this picture.
These things were everywhere, a symbol bit of music industry detritus.
Just plain odd. Somebody must have a really bad back. It shows you how much they cared about the aesthetics of the music section.
Howie Day: the loneliest featured CD ever.
Who thought this was a good idea?
This is my version of hell.
Oh, no, wait. This is.
Overall, in most cases, it’s not hard to see why what’s not selling is not selling. A lot of times it what the pricing, but a lot of it had to do with target markets. This is a Borders in Athens we’re talking about—the chamber of commerce practically hands you cardigans, ironic mustaches, and plastic-framed glasses when you move here, so it’s no wonder Dream Theater DVDs aren’t moving out the door.
I admit it: I have a bias against literary novelists who write about music. It has to do with my appetite for immediacy. That’s what I like about pop, and pop writing, and it’s not a tendency always shared by literary fiction writers. So I see detailed explanations of milieu that I take for granted and I grow impatient. Obviously, this is my fault, but sometimes it’s the writers’ too. Once I showed a friend a piece a long music essay, by a well-known author, that seemed to spend its first page clearing its own throat. My friend summed up my response with hers: “Trying. Too. Hard.”
So it’s nice to have this bias knocked over, as happened with Hang the DJ: An Alternative Book of Music Lists (Faber & Faber), edited by Angus Cargill. I hadn’t known about the book before Simon Reynolds, who contributed two lists (“Deserving But Denied: Thirty-three No. 2s That Should Have Been No.1” and “The Dirty Dozen: Twelve Great Artists Who Are Terrible Influences”), mentioned the book’s blog on his own. I hadn’t looked beyond a couple of names before my copy arrived; I wanted to be surprised.
I was and wasn’t. Cargill’s jacket bio says that he “lives in London and works in publishing,” and between that and the relatively subdued cover art, with a design and color scheme that give the book the look of the cousin of Paste magazine’s front-of-book, I figured I was in for a very literary time even before I began perusing the bios. By “literary,” I mean lots of indie rock, singer-songwriters, and folk, the styles litfic-folk seem to gravitate toward. Especially since Cargill’s crew is mostly English: judging from an average issue of Uncut, Brits are more in love with Americana than actual Americans, except maybe the ones who handed over their hard-earned to help establish No Depression as a bookazine. A quick thumb-through confirmed that I would be reading quite a bit about the creepy, gruesome, lonesome majesty of Mr. Tom Waits. Whether I’d actually learn anything was iffier. Because that’s how these books are, no matter who writes them: often, lists are where people go to stop thinking so damn hard.
What’s gratifying about Hang the DJ is how seriously its participants took the assignment. Not everything’s a gem–there probably isn’t a newly compiled anthology where that’s the case–but I enjoyed about two-thirds of the book with few reservations, and that counts for a lot. And of course, my reverse-snobbery is rendered pretty much moot. Not all of it, as when Rick Moody tells us that “Martin Rev’s synthesisers were creepier and more industrial in the analogue prehistory of electronic music than what came later when there were racks and racks of keyboards all wired together–in Skinny Puppy or Ministry or Nine Inch Nails or Daft Punk.”
Despite that, I enjoyed Moody’s list, on a great topic: “Get Rhythm: Ten Great Bands without Full-time Drummers.” A lot of the topics were similarly just-left-field-enough to throw new light on things–not (har har) Miriam Toews’ “How Not to Get Laid: The Ten Saddest Tom Waits Songs,” so much as Jack Murphy’s “Jane’s Affliction: Ten Ailments/Accidents That Changed Pop Music History” (Gene Vincent’s bad leg forcing him to adopt a confrontational stage stance, Tony Iommi’s work accident prompting him to tune way down), or Hari Kunzru’s “Yodo-Go a Go-Go! Ten Musical Moments in Revolution,” which sounds boilerplate until you read it: Paul McCartney’s “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” and Cornelius Cardew’s “show-stopping chorus [of], ‘There is the lie of imperialism and reaction/And there is the truth of Marxist-Leninism . . . ’” are both dispatched with a handful of swift, precise strokes.
Both Murphy’s and Kunzru’s lists are numbered 10 to one and are clearly written as countdowns. But most of the lists are counted down as well, even when it isn’t appropriate: Simon Reynolds’ bad-influence list goes 12 to 1 even though they write-ups are arranged chronologically. (He doesn’t seem to think the Byrds’ impact has been any less pernicious than Radiohead’s–the opposite, if anything, since their records have been around longer.) Other things are confusing too. I’ll allow that it’s my Yank provincialism that rendered these my complete notes on the Irish writer Patrick McCabe’s “Not in My Radio Booth: Ten Tunes for Captain Butty”: “?????” As for Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody–great, he wants to write prose like Bono, too. Other singer-songwriters fare better, in particular Tom McCabe, who, writing about female singer-songwriters, is the funniest, most deadpan writer of the bunch. On Feist’s “Mushaboom”: “Feist’s voice and the production of her records are great, but really it’s the dancing in the videos that makes it all irresistible. I’ve never had dancers in my videos. Just rain.”
A few of these lists will probably prompt me to assemble playlists: Jonathan Lethem on the dirty Dylan (on “Cry a While,” from “Love and Theft”: “Included just for ‘late-night booty-call.’ Who does he think he is, Snoop Dogg?”); Andrew Benbow’s Flying Nun roll call; Peter Patnaik’s gruesome rundown of “Female Murder Ballads in the Pre-war Era,” which makes the music sound like the soundtrack to a complete run of Shock SuspenStories. But two stand out, for intrigue in both writing and selection. One is John Williams’ “Sheepshearing: Ten Classics from the British and Irish Folk Revival.” Williams writes so evocatively and with such abundant affection for this stuff that I was disarmed, particularly when he prefaces it by noting, “If you know this stuff, you’ll see it’s pretty much a Sgt. Pepper, Pet Sounds kind of list”—I don’t know it, and I’m curious to now. (Top 3: Anne Briggs, Dick Gaughan’s Handful of Earth, the Watersons’ For Pence and Spicy Ale.)
But there’s nowhere else I could conscionably end this than with John Kelly’s “The Pecking Order: Ten Songs About Chickens.” Anyone who “collect[s] songs about chickens,” as Kelly professes in his intro, is gunning for hero status on my particular island; anyone who adds, “Sad, dark or nihilistic chicken songs simply do not exist,” has my vote sealed and locked in permanent storage. Below is the list itself. The ones I know (1, 2, 4, 6, 8), I adore; the rest, I fully expect to.
1. Rufus Thomas, “The Funky Chicken”
2. Slim Gaillard, “Chicken Rhythm”
3. Samamidon, “Falsehearted Chicken”
4. Dr. Alimantado, “Best Dressed Chicken in Town”
5. Andre Williams, “The Greasy Chicken”
6. The Meters, “Chicken Strut”
7. Dan Penn, “Memphis, Women and Chicken”
8. Cab Calloway, “A Chicken Ain’t Nothing But a Bird”
9. Billy Ward and the Dominoes, “Chicken Blues”
10. Mississippi John Hurt, “C-H-I-C-K-E-N”
Hang The DJ [Official blog]
Our look at the closing lines of reviews of the week’s biggest new music continues with a spin through writeups of Snow Patrol’s A Hundred Million Suns, which arrives in U.S. stores today:
• “And after expertly delivering what’s expected, Snow Patrol ask for one minor indulgence: The final track, a 16-minute suite called ‘The Lightning Strike,’ links three distinctly darker, more textured songs into one dramatic whole. It’s not a radical departure–there’s no Kid A in their future–but rather an engaging sidestep for a band that does triumphantly normal better than almost anyone.” [Spin]
• “Meanwhile, on the Belfast tribute and first single, ‘Take Back the City,’ Lightbody sings, ‘All these years later and it’s killing me / Your broken records in words’ and ‘It’s a mess, it’s a start / It’s a flawed work of art,’ before concluding ‘I love this city tonight / I love this city always.’ I feel the same way about Snow Patrol: The band’s a flawed work of art, but I’ll love it always. At least until Lightbody names his first kid Orange.” [Washington Post]
• “Whether or not this album contains a hit as massive as ‘Chasing Cars,’ it’s a confident, balanced work of mass art with only extremely minor flaws. A record built for dusks and dawns in wide open spaces, wherever they may be found.” [PopMatters]
• “There’s still the grand self-absorption they share with Coldplay, but it’s somehow more bearable here, even if one does at times feel a touch embarrassed at intruding upon another’s emotional turmoil.” [The Independent]
ARTIST: Snow Patrol
TITLE: “Take Back The City”
WEB DEBUT: Sept. 1, 2008
ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: When this song debuted on BBC Radio 1′s Zane Lowe show Monday, Snow Patrol frontman Gary Lightbody made a bit of a production of stating that the band’s new album was a radical departure from their previous material. Having heard several tracks from the album, Zane Lowe wholeheartedly agreed. I can only assume that they were discussing the rest of A Hundred Million Suns, because this single sounds just like the more animated tracks from the last two Snow Patrol discs. That’s not a bad thng, necessarily–the band occupies a credible space for those looking to get a little more obscure than Coldplay, but not outside of the sensitive British alt-rock-pop act mold. Similar to the hard-rock acts of the ’90s, Snow Patrol can’t lead with the monster ballad, since they’d be seen as “soft,” but I’m certain there’s one track that’s ready to soundtrack an important scene ER‘s season finale lurking somewhere in that new album’s tracklist. Holding some spot between commercially viability and vague artistic credibility isn’t easy to pull off, so why jump off the ride before its finished?
WHERE TO FIND IT: Music Is The Heart Of Our Soul. Or:
I applaud new ideas. When you spend time trying to find interesting things to comment on for a music blog, anything that might appear to be innovative provides a brief moment of excitement. But when every corporate entity on earth tries to find a way to make some cash from the residuals of the iTunes empire, it’s inevitable that some ideas are, frankly, better than others.
I’m probably one of the few people in the Idolator universe who actually likes Snow Patrol, and the forthcoming release of A Hundred Million Suns will be notable not only for seeing how a band adapts to the aftermath of a Grey’s Anatomy-assisted sales bounce: It will also come with its own iPhone application.
The application, which will be downloadable online, will enable fans to access a raft of extra content including artwork, behind-the-scenes images and lyrics via the touch screen of their handsets, marking the first time a music artist has made use of the iPhone’s extra capabilities.
The popularity of the iPhone and iPod Touch homescreen applications has shot up in recent months as consumers look for ways to customise their handsets.
“It will be an interactive element; a digital booklet that will take you into the videos and content,” says Polydor product manager Liz Goodwin. “For fans it will be a real must-have, and the fact that they are the first band to do this gives us an additional angle for exposure.”
While it’s certainly a good idea to find ways in which to increase the connection between the fan and the artist–and at the same time, create something you can’t get through a .rar blog–I’m thinking after a few minutes of watching my iPhone screen fill up with photos of Gary Lightbody and company, I’ll be hitting the tiny x in the left corner and getting back to my crossword puzzles. The connection today’s music fan has with liner notes is strained at best, and with a seemingly endless stream of information available on the Internet, what about the Snow Patrol application will be more entertaining than the thousands of other applications on the iTunes store? I’m suspecting not much.
Still, having spent part of the weekend pricing appliances, pacing the aisles of Lowe’s would have been much more interesting if the iPod-enabled fridge was available for sale. Featuring a dock and speakers, the Gorenje-made refrigerator also would allow browsing for recipes and likely, directory assistance to find a repairman when the icemaker goes out. Like the Snow Patrol application, the connection to the world of the iPod is almost entirely unnecessary, but I can’t even count how many times I’ve missed being able to have music streaming from my refrigerator door while I look for a cold Coke Zero. I’m just now realizing how little I’ve had to live for up to this point.
Could a Sugababes song actually get some airplay on American radio? Well, sort of. “About You Now,” which appeared on their 2007 album Change, is actually available outside of U.S. stores’ import sections thanks to some pandering to the 8-to-11 set: The track, co-written by Cathy Dennis and Dr. Luke, has been covered by tween star Miranda Cosgrove, who stars as a Webcam-wielding “online celebrity” (oh boy) on the Nick-com iCarly. “About You Now” is but one of the 29 tracks on iCarly‘s soundtrack, which also includes a “Nickelodeon mix” of the Avril Lavigne/Lil Mama version of “Girlfriend” and that dreadful Good Charlotte track about not wanting to be in love. So how does Cosgrove stand up?
First, the Sugababes’ version, which made my top songs of ’07 list:
Next, the iCarly take, which keeps the “Stroke Of Genie-Us” beat but ups the stridency quotient (and has mixed down the guitar-picked bits surrounding the chorus, which give the song a little bit more sweetness, in my opinion):
Whichever one you prefer (unsurprisingly, I’m on the side of the ‘Babes), I think we can agree that both of the above are way, way better than Snow Patrol’s take:
Man, save that treatment for Bright Eyes songs, OK? Or “Umbrella,” since at least that has the benefit of having been covered by everyone under the sun. Sheesh.
The “About You Now” Covers Continue To Roll In… [Popjustice]
“Britons like a dose of music from the rock band Coldplay to help them fall asleep, a survey from hotel chain Travelodge found on Monday…Other artists chosen for their slumber-inducing qualities were James Blunt, Snow Patrol, Take That, and Norah Jones.” [Yahoo via Reuters]
Every few years, a new act is randomly selected as a go-to critical punching bag: Who can forget the great “Coldplay Cold Shoulder” of 2004, or the “Belle & Sebastards” backlash of 2002? Anybody? Well, according to the Guardian, the U.K. press has selected a new scorn subject, and of all the middling Brit bands from which to choose, they’ve gone with the most middlingest of all: Snow Patrol.
Why Snow Patrol and not The Feeling, Orson, Keane, Athlete or, heck, Razorlight? Snow Patrol have sold loads of records in the past year, but so have Razorlight and The Feeling. They’re all over the telly, but so are Keane and Athlete. They make big, soppy, intangible stadium anthems but so do all the other bands listed above (and others who I’ve probably forgotten. Oh yes, Coldplay).
Here is my theory. Snow Patrol are disliked for two reasons. First, because for many years they were the definition of indie obscurity. Gary Lightbody was better known as an organizer of obscure-o compilations than a singer. Now they shift millions of units and get adulation in the US; it’s the classic case of sell-out.
Second, although you might want to hate their tunes, they stick in your ruddy head. I’ve got someone whining “if I just stay heeeere” in my head as I write.
Actually, we suspect that the Snow Patrol pile-on has less to do with the group’s ubiquity, and more to do with its sheer weeniness: One mid-tempo hospital-drama theme is all well and good, but when you’re cranking out dirge after dirge, with no end in sight, your legacy is doomed to be restricted to yearbook quotes and eulogies. That said, they’re still better than Razorlight.
Why does everybody hate Snow Patrol? [Guardian Music Blog]