Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let's Trade Tapes!

I'm spending a lot of time lately with cassettes. This isn't because I'm a neo-hipster (I'm too old for that) although I have heard that cassettes are trendy again for them. It's actually because I've got a new old car! It has AM/FM/cassette so now I don't have to drive around wearing headphones!

Recently - really, really recently for this blahg - I explained to you how playing records on the radio every week was not necessarily a great boon to my music awareness. Well, this is a continuation on that thought, to some extent.

Being a radio DJ has also made it dramatically harder to create a good old mix tape. There's more than one reason for this so let me see if I can explain. In a sense, I make a mix tape every GD week, on the radio. I guess some people plan extensively for their shows and then of course there are commercial radio stooges who don't get to plan at all because a robot is doing it for them, but I don't plan at all beyond taking a few records from home and maybe thinking of what I'm going to play first.

I arrive about 30 minutes before the show, pull out a bunch of things I think I want to play, and with that stack, whatever I've brought from home, and listener requests (if I can get to them) I do the show. I've gotten really good at flying by the seat of my pants to a point where if a song is longer than four minutes and I have something in the queue after it, I feel bored and over-prepared. Describing it makes it sound like every show must be a total trainwreck but I listen to my archives every week and seldom gasp in horror.

With a mix tape you have the luxury of time, and also to go back and record over "She Blinded Me with Science" when you realize that hearing it once every ten years is enough. Futhermore, you are presumably creating something that you or a special someone will listen to more than once, whereas a radio show airs once and is then forgotten. It should be anyway. Unless you save archives. Anyway, they're different. Which is why it's ironically so much harder now to make a mix tape.

Perhaps this is all complete bullshit. Making a mix tape is a skill and an art. If you don't do it for ten years, you're going to be out of practice, just like the time last week when you tried to play "Michelle" on the recorder for your special someone but you couldn't do it because you hadn't played recorder since second grade. The more you do it, the better you'll get. So if you also have a car with a cassette deck, or you're a neo-hipster on the 'tapes are cool again' bandwagon, then let's make each other some tapes. I like ones I can sing along to while driving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Being a radio DJ has kinda ruined how I listen to music.

I am old. I have been buying records for a very long time. Before I became a radio DJ, I used to bring records home and listen to them, the whole things, over & over. I could pull out any record I owned and know what all the songs were by name. If they didn't jive over time then I would get rid of them, mostly.

This is because duh, we listen to music because we enjoy it, right? I mean you kids today don't have any concept of an "ALBUM" but humor me for a minute. The bands work very hard on the package, including the song order and artwork, so out of decency you need to listen to the package as it was intended. Back in the mix-tape days, getting to know an LP intimately would help you make tapes no one would ever want to record over after you gave them to them.

These days it's totally different. Thank god a lot of record stores let you preview records at least, and I do. I play a couple seconds of a few tracks to see if they get my attention enough to play once on the radio. Sadly, this is frequently where my attention ends. I play the record on the radio a few times but once I stash it in my stacks, I forget about it.

Of course the record gets rediscovered every so often. I may stumble upon it while looking for something to play and I go "oh yeah, I forgot about this!" Like the proto-Birthday Party Boys Next Door record I keep forgetting I have.

Or I'll be listening to an archived show (this helps us become better DJs) and have to check the playlist and be reminded of something I played once that was awesome, like the Plungers "Let's Get Twisted" record.

The good thing about this is [re]discovering awesome stuff in your collection. Remember Rye Coalition? When they first stepped on the scene I gobbled up their early 7" records and the split 12" with Karp. Then they put out their first LP and I left Amerikkka for an overseas adventure which lasted almost 10 years. I guess they're still making records, but anyway, right now I'm rediscovering "Hee Saw Dhuh Kaet."

Tell me what you've [re]discovered lately.