Rather than pick out a bunch of titles suitable for gift giving, what with the big tree day looming, I thought maybe a better present might be a list of ways to make your music shopping experience more rounded and pleasurable. If you happen to use these tips to enhance your holiday shopping… ALL THE BETTER.
Tip #1 Don’t be afraid to take chances.
One of the enemies of innovation (and musical diversity) is complacency. If you get too hung up on one era, one style or genre, one artist, you’ll soon find that these limitations will make your collection a little stale. One option is to do tons of research in hopes of finding that hot new band all the kids know about but that you’ve been missing…. Sure. That works…. But equally fun, and much less time consuming, is the semi-random chance you can take by grabbing something off the racks that just catches your eye… yeah? Bear with me for a second.
This kind of chance taking isn’t all that scary. It’s not exactly sticking your hand into an unmarked box hoping it isn’t full of bees. Most stores are at least somewhat organized with each genre indicated. Albums have cover art, release dates, track titles, and much more information to help guide your decision. And if you still are a little squeamish about your pick you can probably sample a few tracks in the store. If not for this kind of instinctual randomness I might not have found out about Devo, or Iron Maiden, or, less satisfyingly Rupert Holmes, back in the pre-internet days of my early record shopping.
Just for fun I’m including two semi-random picks from our shelves: on vinyl, Spooky Tooth‘s You Broke My Heart So I Busted Your Jaw (1973, Island), and on CD Good Old War‘s self-titled second album (2010, Sargent House). Neither band is incredibly popular, nor are they obscure in that cool way that makes them collectible for nerds. Both albums are fairly interesting looking/sounding without already knowing anything else about them. And both albums are under $10. I’d say they fall well within the chance-taking realm.
So I guess the bottom line is bravery has it’s reward. Or… you gotta be strong. Or… you know… eat healthy and exercise and buy some music.
Eric Hill (Backstreet Records)