Tag: <span>FOPP</span>

Over the past two years, driven largely by my previous co-workers I’ve been exposed to a wider amount and range of music than I have for many a year. On average I was buying at least two albums a month (the large majority being MP3s from iTunes, although the lure of FOPP still resides), none of which were really ‘chart music’ albums. That’s not to say that all chart music is rubbish, far from it. In fact I’m beginning to spot that the charts are starting to reflect a more eclectic set of tastes and I’m guessing that the accessibility of music through MP3 downloads is finally beginning to drive a change to the music industry. The disappointment is, of course, that they still aren’t really embracing this change.

It’s fairly obvious that radio plays are no longer the only way to ‘force’ a track to the top of the pops and, after the demise of the TV show of the same name, it’s even more apparent that the charts themselves are no longer deemed necessary by a whole generation of music lovers. I’m unsure how big an impact MySpace has as it’s not something I’m part of, but the general idea of communities forming around bands, and driving sales and downloads of similar music, seems to be more obvious as each month passes.

With that in mind, the main issue for music lovers (well, for me at least) is where we go to find pertinent reviews and information about the types of music we enjoy. The standard press offerings, NME for example, are all well and good but are still somewhat mainstream. Where do we go to find the out who is going to be ‘next big thing’?

I currently rely on PitchFork to supply information and potential suggestions for new music, and of course the power of word of mouth should never be discounted with the occasional recommendation from fellow bloggers being enough to ‘tip’ me in the direction of new listens. I guess that is the power of Last.fm, which is something I should spend some more time with I guess (I still treat it as a ‘log’ rather than somewhere to explore and discover new music, odd that).

In the meantime, I’ve been digging through the albums I bought in the latter half of last year, several of which didn’t really get a full spin on the playlist, and I’ve loaded them up alongside some more recent purchases I’ve made in the past couple of days.

The old stuff I haven’t listened to properly:

  • Datarock
  • CSS – Cansei de ser sexy
  • Lady Sovereign – Public Warning (mike is to blame for this, although I’ve had it for over a year now)

And some new stuff:

  • Deerhoof – Friend Opportunity – initial impressions are favourable.
  • Menomena – Friend and Foe – initial impressions are unstable.
  • The Decemberists – The Crane Wife – inital impression is “samey”.
  • The Good, The Bad and The Queen – falling heavily into ‘meh’ category.

It’s always good to ‘re-discover’ albums, but that has inherent limitations. So, it’s over to you my dearest music loving reader, where do YOU go to keep up-to-date with the latest music? Spill the beans!

Ohh and if you know anyone who wants a ticket to the Monday night Arcade Fire gig at the Barrowlands in March, let me know.

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It never EVER fails. No matter how much music I have, a visit to FOPP always brings more. Yesterday saw me return to work with:

  • R.E.M. – Reckoning
  • John Lee Hooker – Don’t look back (compilation)
  • Sibelius – Symphony No.5, Finlandia, Tapiola and Valse Triste as performed by the Berlin Philharmonic

And all for less than a tenner. Brilliant.

However if you add in other recent acquisitions – three Amon Tobin albums (whom I’m sort of discovering at the moment), Starflyer 59, a boxset of Thelonious Monk (Moods), Wolfmother and Lou Rhodes albums and, well, my cup floweth over.

Thankfully I’m at home today, waiting on a survey on the house, so can listen to them as and when I want.

And, of course, other suggestions are welcomed. What are you listening to at the moment?

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Silly website things aside, real life continues apace and it’s only the 6th January.

The Christmas decorations came down last night, I think we were the last house in the street to do so, but then traditionally they are due down today. I think. Anyway, the house is feeling bare and I’m fighing off the temptation to go for a wander at lunchtime and maybe buy a print or two. Well that plus the fact that it’s cold, wet and windy outside, and that I wouldn’t buy something like that without approval from the boss wife.

And of course if I’m out and about I’ll also be tempted to wander into FOPP but I’m trying to see if I can make it to the end of January and still have some money in my account for a change, in fact I think that would be a first.

Did you watch Big Cat Diary last night? I wonder how long it takes them to get that footage? Ohh and did anyone watch Desperate Housewives? Looks like it’ll be good show and I have to admit that having Sky+ has already changed my viewing habits. It’s so much easier to record and watch programmes. For example, we were de-Christmasifying the house when Big Cat Diary was on, but I’d already set it to record the series so we watched it later on. In fact I’ll need to be careful as I’ve been hitting that record button willy-nilly. Maybe I’ll need to get that extra hard drive BEFORE we go on holiday.

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Yes, with some birthday money burning a hole in my pocket I decide I’d visit FOPP. I’d been avoiding it for sometime now, especially in the weeks before my birthday, but thought it safe to purchase some older items. Of course, as ever, FOPP’s effect on my spending patterns is dramatic and instead of just one or two CDs of older stuff I ended up with:

  • Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA. Damn you “Music Hall of Fame” programme on Channel Four!
  • Zwan – Mary Star of the Sea. Been meaning to pick this up for a while, but didn’t want to pay full price. But I’ll pay a £5 for it, yes sir!
  • Leftfield – Rhythm and Stealth. Where my copy of this has gone is beyond me, and it’s not a CD that anyone I know would borrow from me. But a replacement for £5? Yes sir!
  • Weezer – Green Album. Been listening to “Hash Pipe” and thought, buy the album for a £5? Yes sir!
  • Sigmund Freud – Civilization and its Discontents. A book. A small thin book from the Penguin “Great Ideas” range. At £3 that’s gotta be a bargain.
  • Seneca – On the Shortness of Life. Another book. Another small thin book from the Penguin “Great Ideas” range. Again £3.

So you can see where I go wrong in FOPP. I fall prey to the simplest suggestive buying technique there is, namely, placing items on a shelf so I can see them.

In saying that, I’m a bit worried about FOPP. Once the purveyor of all things musical, they obviously make a bigger profit selling DVDs and the music shelves are getting smaller and smaller.

On a related note: Where do we learn, what I like to call, the “shelf shuffle”? It only happens in CD or book stores I think, anywhere there are racks of items you need to take in slowly. So there you are moving down an aisle in one direction, someone else is moving towards you and you both co-ordinate your movements as you meet. You both step in the correct direction to allow the other a seamless browsing experience. Clever ain’t it, but how did I learn it? Osmosis?

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The advantage of having a day off work is having a day off work.
The disadvantage of having a day off work is how it throws your entire week off-kilter.

Today is Tuesday. Today is Tuesday. Today is Tuesday.

The mantra, repeated over and over, won’t help. I’ll spend the day running late for meetings, and thinking I’ve got an extra day to get things done. This isn’t helped by the current state of my bank account (for some reason these facts are related in my head.. I have no idea why).

Our new mortgage is now in place, and we got a nice cheque back as well. However I need to pay the financial advisor, the holiday we’ve booked for next year, and transfer money to the new bank account to meet the first (new) mortgage payment. I can’t do that until I get the cheque into the bank, and they’ve very nicely made it out to Mr and Mrs G McLean. Only trouble is we don’t have a joint bank account, only a joint mortgage. So Louise needs to come to the bank with me to put the cheque in but she’s still ill at home today…

In other words, the funds aren’t all in the right place yet so I can’t actually pay anything and despite having plenty of time to get everything in place I don’t like all that money floating around in the wrong place, I’m apt to take a trip to FOPP and foolishly spend it. Anyway, enough of me moaning.

Our friend has her final fitting for her wedding dress today, unfortunately Louise can’t make it, so I get to stand in.. to a point anyway. I’ll be the taxi service as obviously I’m not allowed to see the dress (no, I know it’s not obvious at all, but that’s what the bride-to-be said and I ain’t arguing with her). The prospect of ferrying the bride, her mother and her mother-in-law back from Glasgow just fills my day with joy. Or not.

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Number of albums bought hits new high . However, from the same article: “High street competition and increased discounting meant that profits from the album sector of the recorded music industry – much the healthiest, with the virtual collapse of singles – were actually down over the year by 2%.”

So whilst we are buying more CD albums the profit margin has decreased because we are paying less. You can see where I’m headed with this already, can’t you…

It’s kind of annoying that, whilst the RIAA in the States is still on the attack, and several ‘commentators’ are pitching ideas about how to manage and control the distribution of electronic formats (not to mention Microsoft launching “Music Club“), this kind of news doesn’t make the same kind of splash. Consider this little snippet from June of this year:

“The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) has reported a 4% slump in UK music sales, the biggest downturn since the launch of CDs in the early 1980s. It blames piracy, including illegal duplication and distribution by international criminals, for the decrease.”

Hmmm, so which is it? Is it piracy or competition that is to blame for lowered profits? And is the music industry really surprised that, when lowering prices, we buy more albums?

As an aside:
Consider FOPP. This record store has 14 outlets through the UK, and posted the following profits late last year: “December trading figures show a like for like sales growth of 8.45%, with a total sales growth reaching 60.64%.”

Now whilst that growth is not wholly because of CD sales (they go on to state that it is their ‘unique features’ that helped) I would imagine that they have one of the healthier CD sales totals due to their continuing policy of selling older CDs at discount prices. In fact, doing some rough arithmetic, I reckon that of the last 50 CDs I purchased 40 of those were from FOPP and 35 of those were discounted (?7 or less) older albums. Was I encouraged to buy more CDs because they were cheaper – hell yes!

Listening to: Jurasssic 5 – Acetate Prophets

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Friday
Cakes at 10:30, meetings and GMP training, then a 2003 kickoff. A fun packed day!

I’m relying on the Kylie calendar on the wall next to me to get me through until 5pm.

Update: Also relying on “The Best of Martin Stephenson & the Daintees” which I picked up in FOPP yesterday for £5. Reviving memories of student days, drinking with Mr.Stephenson in the bar of Queens Hall Edinburgh, and the walkabout at the gig in Strathclyde yoony.

For those who don’t know:
In 1982, four scruffy kids came busking into my record shop with a song called “Roll on Summertime”. In my vivid imagination they sounded like Ry Cooder – and these were New Romantic times. They signed to Kitchenware Records as the Daintees. During the next ten years, four albums and constant touring Daintees came and went. Martin Stephenson, their songwriter the only original member from the busking session, became one of the most dynamic, idiosyncratic, eclectic and well loved performers and writers to endure the 80’s. A great test for one so generous of spirit in such a greedy decade.

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Röyskopp : Melody a.m. is currently playing away in the background, ambient grooves, laidback electronica, yummy stuff. Don’t believe me? It was voted album of the month/week in the following publications: DJ, Muzik, Mixmag, The Face, Gay Times, Ministry, Sleaze Nation, Big Issue and 7 Magazine. None of which I read, which is probably why it took me so long to catch on (heard it first in local FOPP store – “A Higher Place” did it for me). Others like it too.

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