The problem with obsessively “collecting” (i.e. “buying”) things (like CDs, DVDs, books, clothes, etc.) is that after a while, those things that you “collect” become less and less exciting. For at least two reasons, the more you buy, the less fun the buying is.
First, the items lose their novelty. Buying that thing is no longer a treat — it’s just something you do. Instead of buying a new movie on some lonely weekend, you are buying movies every weekend — it becomes a ritual.
Second, the ratio of good items to bad items starts to weigh more on the bad side. For example, if you buy one CD a year, it’s pretty damn certain that it will be a nice CD since it’s the only new one you’re going to get. On the other hand, if you buy a new shirt every day, it’d be difficult to buy amazing shirts all the time, so whereas you used to buy good shirts 100 percent of the time, it starts going down to 90 percent or 80 percent or even 70 percent.
I have a long, expensive history of buying CDs. Ever since high school when I had a steady job, I’ve always bought tons and tons of CDs. The habit broke, a little, during college when I had less time and money, but during the summers when I worked and had money again, I always found myself returning to the same old patterns.
After college when I had very little money, I did stop buying CDs. And I can remember every one of the few CDs I bought that summer (which, for most people, may amount to the same number of CDs they buy all year, but for me it wasn’t many). I bought: Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief, Felix da Housecat’s Kittenz & Thee Glitz, Blur’s Think Tank, and Primal Scream’s Evil Heat. Every one of those CDs was awesome and I remember always being super excited buying each and every one of them.
Lately, though, I feel like I’ve been buying some not-so-good CDs. Not that they are bad — not even that they are not good — they are just mediocore. Or they don’t have magic. Or something?
Not to say that I’ve had all misses — sometime around my birthday I bought Grandaddy’s Sophtware Slump and the Flaming Lips’ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots and each of those was fantastic. But both of those albums were a few years old — nothing new was exciting me.
That was until last week when one of my coworkers got me a copy of the somewhat-infamous unreleased Fiona Apple album Extraordinary Machine (Sony refuses to release it saying that it isn’t commercial enough, then some tracks got leaked to the Internet, critical-acclaim followed, etc. etc.). I totally love her music — and I think only 40 percent of the reason is the scandalous nature of the album.
Then last night I got New Order’s Waiting for the Siren Call. Although it came out in Europe a month ago, I decided to wait for the stateside release — just in case it sucked and because I knew the U.S. version would have a bonus track. New Order’s previous album, Get Ready, came out when I was in college and was, I must say, one of my favorite new release albums ever. After listening to Siren’s Call for a little under a day, I’ve gotta say that I love it, too. Maybe not as much as Get Ready, but it’s good enough to reinstate my faith in current music.
Just for kicks, here are my most recently purchased CDs. Maybe we can all learn something? Oh, and my diatribe above about getting CDs that aren’t good should be taken with a grain of salt: I don’t mean I’ve been buying shitty CDs, I just mean that they aren’t as exciting or refreshing as I hoped.
- Waiting for the Siren’s Call by New Order
I can tell already that the song “Guilt is a Useless Emotion” would be a great club hit. There is this one part in the song where I can totally see people at a dance club start going wild: “(I need your love) I just wanna buy it /(I need your love) Will you help me find it/(I need your love) How Can you deny it…” I also love the introduction part to “Dracula’s Castle.”
- Sumday by Grandaddy
Honestly, I need to listen to this some more — though I’m pretty sure I’ll love it as much as Sophtware Slump.
- When the Pawn… by Fiona Apple
I was so excited about Extraordinary Machine that I had to get more Fiona. Again, I need more time with this one.
- Unrest by Erlend Ã˜ye
Ã˜ye did the vocals for two my favorite Royksopp songs: “Poor Leno” and “Remind Me.” For that reason alone I love this guy — plus the songs on this album are very similar: emo/downtempo. Yum!
- Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple
I love “Get Him Back.” And really, I don’t get Sony’s argument that this album isn’t commercial enough. The only downside is that a lot of the songs are very similar.
- LCD Soundsystem by LCD Soundsystem
Pitchfork, among others, seem to think that this album is the best thing to reach the earth in ages. I can’t say I agree. The album seems rather boring. Yes, “Losing My Edge” is really funny and ironic, but that’s really the only gem.
- Human After All by Daft Punk
Considering that Homework and Discovery were totally awesome and dancey and sorta revolutionary, everyone had high hopes Daft Punk’s latest. I think it’s safe to say that we were disappointed. The songs “Human After All” and “The Prime Time of Your Life” are good, but there aren’t any “Da Funk”s or “Around the World”s or “One More Time”s or “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”s. So sad…
- Something About Airplanes by Death Cab for Cutie
It’s hard to really comment on a Death Cab album since, no offense, the songs are sorta similar and flow together. That said, this album is what I expected: boring and relaxing — and that’s a good thing.
- The Soft Bulletin by the Flaming Lips
I loved Yoshimi so much that I probably had way too high of expectations for this album. That said, “Buggin'” and “The Gash” are great songs.
- Music Has a Right to Children by Boards of Canada
I love Geogaddi so much (“1969”! “Julie and Candy”!) that this one would be hard to meet my expectations. So far the only song I love is “Happy Cycling.” But like the Death Cab album, I didn’t get this CD expecting to like individual songs — it’s the overall feel of the album that I like.
- Sophtware Slump by Grandaddy
This album is amazing. My friend Katrina had always mentioned Grandaddy was a great band and that she really thought I would like them. Then my friend Justin said the same thing. For some reason I resisted, until I saw a used copy of Sophtware Slump — then I figured it was a sign.
- Reverence by Faithless
I’ve been trying to find a good mp3 of Faithless’ song “Insomnia” for a long time. It was about damn-time that I just went ahead and bought the album… especially considering that I love every other Faithless album I have (i.e. all of them except for Reverence).
- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots by the Flaming Lips
This is one of those rare albums that reassures me that good music does exist and that good musicians still exist and that there is a future of good music in the world. My favorite song is, hands down, “All We Have is Now,” one of the few songs that I’ve ever heard about time travel.
- Palookaville by Fatboy Slim
No comment. I don’t know why I even did this. He’s so cheesy and generic nowadays.
- Push the Button by the Chemical Brothers
This album started my downfall of buying unexciting CDs. I was very aprehensive about buying this album. As far as I’m concerned, the Chems’ best work was Surrender (featuring my favorite song: “Out of Control”). While Come With Us as good (I love the songs “My Elastic Eye” and “Denmark”), overall it was disappointing compared to Surrender… that said, Surrender was still one of the bet albums I bought during college. I wish I could say something as positive about Push the Button. The only song I really love on the CD is “Close Your Eyes” (though “Believe” is decent, too)… That said, I don’t hate the album — the worst from the Chems is better than the best of many groups — it just didn’t feel new or exciting or anything like that.
What is the overall lesson from all of this? Maybe I should be more careful about what CDs I buy? I don’t know. I don’t think I can kick this habit. Maybe I’ll try to get less excited about certain CDs and have too high of expectations? Only time will tell…