Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

silvergymIn the migration back to things altogether more vinyl-based (in this house, anyway) there’s been a bit of an intriguing sideshow in the form of the download card.  For those who have seen the future of how music can be best bought, the combination of big records and teenytiny bits of code (CD players are already starting to be phased out of new cars and computers, they’ll be joining the cassettes soon) seems to be quite a winning combination.  Of course, these 1s and 0s don’t appear out of the ether, they’re generated by codes appearing on little cards that come with the record – and the notice that comes with this particular beautifully-designed record is one of the finer exponents.  I feel the coming on of a “most imaginative download card” countdown punctuating the Top 50 at the end of the year…


Mid-Afternoon Compilation Saturday: Reason To Believe – The Songs Of Tim Hardin

something to believeTry as I might, I don’t think that this will ever be a regular occurrence – in my defence however, Saturday is currently the one day of the week I don’t work, so I tend to sleep right through them nowadays rather than seek out fresh compilations to badly wax lyrical about.  Nice bit of serendipity today though, as this arrived today (ahead of Monday’s release – one of the benefits of buying direct from a label), I’m already awake and it’s far too cold to go outside and do anything anyway.

I must admit I know very little about Tim Hardin, other than that his story is a troubled one and full of every cautionary pointer for any aspiring singer-songwriter to heed.  What I do  know is that he left a rich legacy of much-covered work, and that my own attraction to this collection was piqued by the wealth of artists lending their talents to this tribute.  A general rule of thumb (such a weird phrase to retain in modern language – look it up!) for me when buying non-charity compilations or tributes to unfamiliar subjects is naturally based upon the assembled artists and whether there are enough I like to warrant forking out the necessary; thankfully there is a veritable host of the familiar and the essential, plus a couple of others who I’d been meaning to give a listen to elsewhere and the remainder made up of interesting unknown quantities.  So this compilation should be tailor-made for this desk.


Best of 2011, 30-21

Hooray, past the halfway point!   Sort of, anyway – the top ten will be a lot more in-depth as befitting something or other, as tradition dictates.  Anyway, the futility of this sort of thing has become apparent today as there are things not on this list because they only arrived today, have yet to show up in the post or – in at least one case that struck me this afternoon-  simply because I forgot what year something was released in, only to discover it was this one.  Ah well, it keeps me busy and that’s the main thing.  Fortunately (for me, if not anyone else), I have a couple of bits & bobs to go on about before reconvening this, so I’m looking forward to a couple of days off…


Okkervil River – I Am Very Far

Maybe if I hadn’t read other reviews by more learned and professional types of this album, I’d have got it done sooner.

Aside from a single or two, I’d not really heard much from this Austin, Texas group.  So in order to make it look like I knew what I was on about, I did a bit of background reading.  Frankly, it was all a bit daunting.  “Collective” this, “Concept album” that, and a history that seems rather long and complicated to this untrained eye all had me wondering if I was going to end up looking like a bit of an arse bluffing my way through half a thousand words on a subject that I know next to nothing about.  But then I remembered that I’ve looked like an arse on the internet before, and will almost certainly do so again, so here we go.