I sometimes mourn the experience of heading to Best Buy on a Saturday afternoon, picking up an entire album in its physical form, sliding my fingernail along a crease in the case to open the cellophane, and spending the rest of the day listening to the entire compilation, in order. I’d browse the liner notes, following along with the lyrics of new-found favorites and cursing the music industry gods if the label had made the mysterious decision of not including lyrics at all.*
(And I would like to take a moment here to reveal that I am a MASTER at unwrapping CDs — security case, cellophane, and adhesive label — a skill I developed while working at Media Play. I can shell CDs like a squirrel shells peanuts, dude. I remember waiting anxiously behind the register as a crowd of surly Insane Clown Posse fans waited one Tuesday for the clock to strike midnight — the moment I could begin selling the new album — and I defused the situation by demonstrating my superior CD unwrapping skizills.)
These days, I buy most of my music as single songs on Amazon. (I no longer buy much on iTunes, as their decision to charge $1.29 for more popular tracks really frosts my cookies.) I do buy the occasional entire album — lately, In Our Nature by Jose Gonzalez and God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs — and Amazon kindly sells many MP3 albums for $5. And good albums, too — not just the greatest hits of Chumbawumba or that album that guy Sisqo recorded about thongs.
Perhaps the experience of The Album is on the wane, but I do think it’s replaced by other, equally interesting ways of consuming music. I’ve found much more new music while browsing online than I ever did in a music store. While I’ve written before about the dangers of “listeners also bought,” I also recognize the power of moving speedily from album to album online, taking a taste or a sip here and there and finding something that you unexpectedly enjoy. An expected symptom of this is that I have honed the ability to judge quite accurately if I’ll like an album by its cover art and song titles.
Every two months or so, my newly purchased tracks reach critical mass, and I can piece together a mix for the car. (Why do I still feel compelled to say “mix tape”?) All of this is a long-winded preamble to the May 2011 Carrots is in the Car Mix. Nothing cutting edge or so-terribly-undiscovered, and a little on the melancholy side, but fun nonetheless:
- “Blackbird” by The Beatles, from The White Album
- “Tenuousness” by Andrew Bird, from Noble Beast
- “Teardrop” by Jose Gonzalez, from In Our Nature
- “Souls Like the Wheels” by The Avett Brothers, from The Second Gleam
- “Battery Kinzie” by Fleet Foxes, from Helplessness Blues
- “Make Your Heart” by Azure Ray, from Drawing Down the Moon
- “The Trapeze Swinger” by Iron and Wine, from Around the Well
- “Down the Line (Vocal)” by Jose Gonzalez, from In Our Nature
- “Monster Ballads” by Josh Ritter, from The Animal Years
- “Beg Steal or Borrow” by Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs, from God Willin’ and the Creek Don’t Rise
- “The Search” by Dolorean, from Violence in the Snowy Fields
- “The Gospel Song” by Magnet, from The Simple Life
- “Even Now” by William Fitzsimmons, from The Sparrow and the Crow
- “Everyday Dream of the West” by Downpilot, from Leaving Not Arriving
- “Aggravate” by Marching Band, from Spark Large
* My brother has written about the unfortunate demise of Buying the Album here.