This article is a rambling rant. 1st thing 1st, ‘Black Letter Days’ by Frank Black is exceptional. Unfortunately, the modest promotion made me aware of its release a little late.
Every song on this CD plays extremely well on its own. Overall, they are difficult to pinpoint in a certain genre. Different listeners would make alternate genre guesses with these songs. I hear near equal amounts ‘alt-country’, blues and rock. Oddly enough, my feeling after listening to this (and after each subsequent listen) is one similar to listening to Dylan once he decided to put down his acoustic guitar. However, admittedly, Frank is not nearly in the lyrical league he is in.
Compared to customary radio fodder, this is so comparatively exceptional that when I turn on the FM band, I wish to spit. Other bands and production entities are tossed into a pot and make similar music. Their genre is collectively recycled pop without any character or charm to separate itself from the crowd. Airplay is only received with marketing gimmicks and promotion.
A couple of years ago, I gave up on music because there was hardly anything worthy of a listen on most radio stations. A little over one year ago, I started purchasing discographies and underground and/or foreign music magazines to find new and enjoyable music. Much of it was found this method and using different forums for samples (instead of full songs) because of my dial up internet connection. With this connection and CD purchases, I found some great CDs and also many mediocre ones.
Several months ago, I purchased a high-speed computer and went immediately to file sharing. Much of the music downloaded, was done so to ‘test drive’ potential purchases. Yes, I have downloaded songs/albums that I did not purchase and failed to even consider it, but many recent CDs were purchased because of these test drives.
Record companies whine about file sharing ruining their business. I beg to differ based on my personal experience. Most files shared, are near, but not at optimal recording quality. If I am considering a new group or purchasing an album by a known artist, I listen and give it an opportunity to grow on me. If it works itself into my system, I go online or to a record store to purchase it.
If it weren’t for these ‘illegal’ file-sharing services, I would not have likely purchased ‘Black Letter Days’ and intended ‘Devil’s Workshop’ (simultaneously released album). I found out about these albums because I was looking for some music from Black’s ‘Oddballs’ recording and downloaded music from each of these albums.
Here is my plea to the many lawsuit happy record companies and recording acts. If you are a band or company suffering from a lack of funds to promote your music, use these services to promote your music for you. Most record stores don’t let one test drive a CD and return, so potential buyers are afraid to possibly waste money on records that are not (and will not be) heard on radio. Many buyers are not impulse buyers and fan bases are not built/expanded these days without adequate promotion, so let a service due it for you. It’s in my educated opinion that when bands and/or performers whine after receiving words in their ears from management, that they are biting the hand that potentially feeds them.