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May 11, 2008 / Brittany Hendrick

Items of cheer

Oh, come on, now.  I have good days, too.

1) Levin does not have cancer remaining in his body.
So far, anyway.  But I’m pretty confident he’ll be OK.  This is an incredible relief.  I was so nervous, that entire day I had him at UGA.  Unfortunately, he had even MORE dreadlocks shaved off in order to do ultrasounds– his entire belly up to about 1/3 on each side of his torso.  The dreads on top are long enough to cover this, so you can’t tell that he’s actually retarded looking underneath.  But now I can do that “Pblthpblthpthpth!!!” thing on him that we all like to do on babies’ bellies.  So, it’s fun.  Well, I think it’s fun.  Levin hates it.  He gets up and walks away from me…

2) I’ve been on a vinyl-buying binge.
This is a potentially bad thing, because I should not be spending money.  But vinyl records are not frivolous expenses and are very important.  OK, $75 for Leftfield’s 3-record set of Leftism on eBay might be considered frivolous.  No, I didn’t buy it!  Even though the songs “Afro-Left” (!!!!) and “Release the Pressure” are worth the price alone.  I’d be satisfied with the single album version… if I can FIND a copy.  Ugh, I wish Satellite Records was still open in Little Five Points– that was the store that sold electronic/dance music exclusively; they carried every genre, sub-genre and sub-sub genre.  In Wax n’ Facts and Criminal, the electronic 12″ take up practically two bins, and nothing good.  No Fluke, no Underworld, no Laurent Garnier, etc.  And since I’m neither a DJ nor deep into dance music culture, I don’t have the money (or reason) to spend on random 12″ singles I’ve never heard.

 

I’ve been buying vinyl since I was 15 years old, but my collection is not that huge (neither is my CD collection for that matter).  Doesn’t make me any less of a music lover; I just like a manageable amount of music, no clutter.  I’m pretty selective about what bands I like– for the most part, I don’t buy an album unless I can imagine myself listening to it five years later.  So I go for long periods of time without buying music.  I’m not interested in a lot of new bands that run across my desk anyway.  It’s been like this for a few years– I may discover one new band per year that I like.  So, I’ve mostly been buying vinyl versions of CDs I already own.

Meanwhile, I’ve grown increasingly disinterested in how music sounds on CD.  What in the HELLFIRE has happened to discerning studio production?  Doesn’t anyone care?  Don’t these bands listen to the master copy before they turn it in to the record label and say, “Huh.  Everything seems to be the same volume.  And loudly, too.”  Producers, engineers, musicians: there are these pieces of studio equipment called “graphic equalizers” and “mixing boards.”  Use them.  I don’t have time to use my EQ to adjust every song to a semblance of listenability so that your tambourine isn’t in my face equally to your snare drum equally to your rhythm guitarist– none of which should be in my face to begin with (there are exceptions, but they do not last throughout the entire song).

 

And digital music.  Basically, I don’t care about it.  In people’s futile attempts to carry me into the 21st Century, I’ve been given an iPod Shuffle and an iRiver.  I gave the Shuffle to my sister.  The screen on the iRiver cracked somehow… I don’t even know where the thing is.  I’ve never bought digital music– just whatever free download cards I redeemed from my MSN Music job.  I care that little about the digital format.  I accept its position in the marketplace.  But I don’t respect the format, and I do not want to participate.

Hence my vinyl binge.

 

3.) On a related note, I read recently that My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (as well as Isn’t Anything) will be remastered.
I’ve argued with a friend over this in the past.  I’ve always felt that Loveless should be remastered.  He’d say, “But it’s a great album.”
I’d say, “Yes, but it can be made into a BETTER album!”
“It’s fine just the way it is.”
“No, it needs to be louder.”

Turn up the volume!

People have actually suggested that as the remedy for another album that should be remastered (Catherine Wheel’s Ferment, released around the same time as Loveless… see a trend here?).  They are wrong.  The problem is not with stereo volume, and I’m not going deaf, either.  There is the volume within the volume.  The problem is with the mastering.

And I mean mastering only and not mixing.  I think Loveless is mixed perfectly.

 

On CD, there are some elements that sound like… the best way that I can describe it, is that the volume sounds “capped”… like things should be louder– your ear (and common sense) expects them to be louder– but they’re stifled.  The volume fluctuates in ways it’s not supposed to.  Ah, I got it– it’s like the auto volume reduction setting that portable CD players have ( I don’t know if mp3 players have them).  It sounds like the AVLS is set to “On.”  I don’t like that.

On vinyl, strangely, there is a slightly opposite problem: the lead guitars especially sound fuzzy, but not in a studio/guitar effects way– more like what happens when you turn your stereo too loud and the speakers vibrate and hit the screen covers.

Anyway, this is fantastic news, and it’s good to know that I haven’t been talking out of my ass on this issue for all these years.  It should be noted that, when I started at GSU, I was going to pursue a degree in recording technology.  Then I realized, “Oh!  That’s all I’ll be able to do, after graduation… not good.”  I don’t know much about studio technology and terminology, but I have an ear and an idea, so I’ll argue about how something sounds or should sound.  I’ve always been interested in that.  OK, enough of geeky stuff.

4.) I got some really good books and records– for a total of $5.00.
All the retail stores in Candler Park have to be cheap because the houses are so expensive.  I went to Full Moon Records for the first time.  I always forget about that store.  But I ran into the owner at a party and promised him I’d make a conscious effort to stop by.  Full Moon is good for really old, obscure vinyl.  I think he had a bunch of 78s, too.  Upstairs has the $1.00 bins.  No shit, I found some great stuff.  Steely Dan, Doobie Brothers, Robert Plant and Led Zeppelin– Presence!  Finally, “Achilles’ Last Stand” on vinyl, in my hands!  It’s not like Presence is hard to find– and it’s not Zeppelin’s best album, either.  But “Achilles'” is my favorite song.  Even if the rest of the album is scratched to hell, as long as my epic song is playable, I’m happy.  I was concerned, because the cover is a bit worn, and it WAS in a dollar bin, after all.  I put on the record immediately when I got home.  It’s poppingly perfect.

 

After Full Moon, I went to this cafe/bookstore for the first time as well: Dr. Bombay’s Underwater Tea Party or something.  People donate books to the store, then it turns around and sells them for $0.50 each.  The proceeds go to an elementary school.  I bought two books of interest: Writers on the Left (bet you can’t guess what that’s about), and How I Work As a Poet & Other Essays, by beat poet Lew Welch.  I’ve started Welch’s book and found some super reference points that I’ll use in the near future.

5.) I’ve been going to concerts like mad.
I’m surprised I’m not in the hospital with exhaustion.  In just two weeks I’ve seen Clinic, The Kills (kind of… still, a late night), X, Swervedriver.  I feel like I’m missing something.  Tonight is Mudhoney.  Friday, Ladytron (if I can get a ticket) or The Breeders.  I’m tiiiiiirrrred.

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