For my next post I had planned on doing a write-up on the beautiful new Morning Benders album, the problem is that the album doesn’t come out until next week, March 9th. My ethical dilemma came when trying to figure out when the appropriate time was to post a review of an album that I “stole” off the Internet. I use the quotes because stealing in terms of digital music is used loosely in the fact that I use digital music as a test-drive for what I want to buy. It used to be that you only got to hear the singles on the radio and you had to base your decision of whether or not you wanted to purchase an entire $20 album, of usually 10+ songs, on just that one song. Looking back on that, it’s ridiculous; the new digital means of buying music is much more consumer friendly, but heavily exploited. Anyway, I will buy the Morning Benders album, Big Echo, when it comes out, but this brings me to the original question that kept me up late into the night. What is an album anymore?
And by that I mean, what makes it worth purchase? What does it mean to the consumer? For me, the album is a necessary experience to my favorite albums, sitting down with liner notes observing what the band wants to put in the booklet and what they don’t can give you a sense of what that certain band is about. Radiohead’s liner notes are filled with spacey drawings, usually symbolic of current political events. And since the release of Kid A, their liner notes have not included lyrics (A decision I don’t particularly like because Yorke can be hard to make out some/most of the time). Yorke has said that putting lyrics in liner notes emphasizes the voice when Radiohead wants the voice to be seen as another instrument, equal in importance to the bass, guitar, drums, etc. Another artist, Black Bear, put into the liner notes for his one album, personal photos of his current self or his childhood that pertains to each song, the lyrics were included and accompanied by his thoughts and inspirations to write the songs. This experience is highly more personal than the Radiohead lyrics, but what does it tell you about the artist? Black Bear is willing to fully open himself up to his fans, his listeners and wants that to be seen.
However, if you look at the latest Miley Cyrus liner notes, I’d be willing to bet her label typed the lyrics in with some cutesy font sprawled against some bright colors and pictures of her (maybe jumping! Or something else fun!). I can only laugh at the music industries inability to even try and deter the funds they are hemorrhaging. Album sales are at an all time low and the record industry isn’t even trying to make the album a valuable commodity to the listening experience. Seriously, how do generic pictures of Miley enhance the quality of the album? I want to believe that more people would be willing to purchase an album if it gave them more than what they are able to obtain online for free (the music), give us a reason, MIley, to go and buy your album, make it a quintessential part of the listening experience (Party in the U.S.A has so many deep meanings just waiting to be explored). The album should be personable, a glimpse into the inner psyche of a band that helps you learn about them as an artist and where the music you’re obsessing over comes from.
-Morning Benders review will be up soon-ish.