Monday, October 18, 2010

For a Quarter Part 1

The Great Escape, one of Nashville’s long-time used music + movies + comics + games stores has recently had .25 sidewalk sales at all of their locations and I managed to make it out to a couple of them. The end result was 13 CDs for under $5…not too shabby. In some ways sales of this kind are a collector’s paradise, enabling them to dig through mountains of veritable trash to get to that one sweet gem of a find. In both instances there wasn’t anything too mind blowing as in “they had no idea what they had, so just gave it away” ‘cos the kids at Great Escape usually know their stuff, know what is what and know when something is actually of value and when something is just a “pleasant throwaway.” Again, that’s all in the ear of the listener, and while I wouldn’t call any of my finds throwaways, I know I didn’t make a huge score either, though I certainly saved myself quite a bit of money on some albums that would normally be $4-$8 in the used market.

As is often the case, 75% of what I’d normally get was something I already owned, which is all part of the game. But it was also interesting to see, amongst so many artists that I’d never heard of, the deluge of albums that were huge a decade or so ago, but a saturation of people now being “over it” (oh, you fickle public) selling them for whatever they could get has caused the bins to overflow with those smirky faces once so hopeful. The standout from what I remember was Joan Osbourne’s big one with that annoying One of Us song on it. Apparently it was called Relish…and I’ll stay away from the hotdog jokes.

Of course it takes awhile to go through 13 discs of mostly new-to-me music (some discs were things I’d owned on cassette or vinyl years ago), so I’ll start nodding to the highlights as they make an impression, beginning with…

Cinnamon – The Courier (1997)

I honestly knew next to nothing about this band until I started researching a bit for this entry and have just learned they’re Swedish…and now everything makes complete sense!!

I remember this album was on the listening station at Blockbuster Music over on West End back when it first came out. I rarely paid much attention to those things unless it was an artist I was already familiar with, but something about the cover drew me in and I gave it a listen, enjoyed it but didn’t purchase it (money was tight in those days and I was getting something else). But a friend owned it and I would play it whenever I came over and so became familiar enough with the album to be interested in seeing them when they came to Nashville, but ended up not going last minute for reasons I can’t recall (actually I can, I’m just not going to say here), which is a shame ‘cos I bet it was a good show. And that was pretty much it for Cinnamon. I know they have had some releases since and as recently as a couple of years ago, but that’s about all I can find on the internet as there’s not even a Wiki article, just a brief overview on AllMusic. Sad.

Anyway, at some point I ended up with a burned copy of the album but I’m notoriously bad about not listening to burned copies (something about not having the full, physical deal with artwork and plastic case, etc makes it seem not real…which is sort of my problem with digital downloads as well), so it fell by the wayside and eventually the trash making room for something else or other in my life. So when I stumbled upon the Courier at the first .25 sidewalk sale it was my chance to redeem not picking it up the first time and catching up with these guys at least as far as the late 90s.

Of the first batch this one is my hands down favorite by far and listening to it again was like listening to it for the first time, partly because it sounded fresh and exciting, but also because I sadly had little to no memory of these songs, which is a silly shame but I have crammed my head with a bunch of stuff over the past decade or so. At any rate, the Courier first reminds me of a less heavy (and annoying) Garbage, a more straightforward Cardigans (again, the Swedish connection), an electro-spacey Sundays, so basically a nice blend of power pop delivered the way they could only do it in the 90s. But like all good bands there are tricks up every sleeve that set them apart from the rest, and with Cinnamon these are found in super catchy hooks, a jazzy flavor to many of the backbeats and a swirling production that cocoons these mainly acoustic-based songs in a Spector-like shell by accenting all the highlights (and there are many) without distracting from the overall flow of the album. From the straight rock drive of Hopeless Case to the dance-and-sing-along bounce of Missing Persons File to the so sweet it makes the heart ache of Me as Helen of Troy and the salsa-vibes-sway of either The Promenade or A Northwest Passage, the Courier has everything everyone who loves anything about pop music has to offer.

At the end of the day this is a fun, upbeat album and the band sounds like they’re enjoying every minute of it. The only bummer is that nobody cared at all back in 1997, including me it seems, and I’m sad that I didn’t follow my inclination ten plus years ago so I could have had this pick me up for a rainy day all this time – but better late than never.

Findings are slim, but here's an acoustic performance (on Japanese television I believe) of Me as Helen of Troy. La, la lovely...

No comments: