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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

My Musical Thesis

One of the best, cheapest ways to discover new music is via thrift stores (or flea markets, yard sales...). This is not a new or ingenious idea, but it has become one of my great passions. Browsing through old records for a dollar a piece (or less) is not only a great and affordable way to discover new music, but it is also an educational course in music history. Seeing the styles and "looks" flip by educates the musical mind. You get to watch simple things, like the advances in packaging design and technique. You might get to see a now familiar name in an unfamiliar setting or older band. Or you can witness the evolution of artistry by either a single artists or entire musical genres. Although they are all fascinating experiences, it is becoming familiar with a genre's artistic evolution that best helps while looking through Thrift Store Music.

Looking back, many musical genres created fads that now seem unbelievable. The fad usually starts with a breakthrough band that people accept and embrace. Then other bands adopt the style, or an aspect of the style, to let people know "you'll like us too." So by seeing how different bands apply aspects of their chosen fad, you can categorize unknown bands into their self created genres. Many key attributes are their hair, clothes, the year of production, the album title, song titles and even the text font.

This is certainly not a sure fire, end all way to decide if a band can be lumped into a specific genre, let alone if you will like them. Even with all the tells that an album may have, or all the hints as to how good an album might be, nothing is set in stone until you give it a listen. It is here with this blog that I plan to explore my purchased hits and misses. I am doing it mainly for myself, to organize and sift through what I have, to define what I like, to set aside what I do not like. A secondary benefit is that other people might find these posts interesting or entertaining. As this is my own commentary, and I only have my personal brain catalog of musical knowledge, some of MY unknown bands might very well be well known to a great many people. So if you happen to be reading this, I hope that you do not take offense to my lack of knowledge on a band that you perhaps grew up with. To put it another way, I would be extra pleased to hear from people who have more knowledge of these bands, or people who have seen them play...or possibly even those who had a hand in the bands' performances.

In a perfect and timeless world, I would like to have very detailed information and opinions here covering all the unknown thrift store music I have collected over the years. I would like to photograph the covers, the backs, the liner notes on the slips, the label on the record itself and any other artistic choices the bands include. I would like to make a scale as to how unknown the album was to me when I got it. I would like to state the traits that made me want to take a chance on an album, and what I thought it would sound like before I got it home. I would like to write a review of the albums based on my musical knowledge, including a simple sliding scale of the albums quality, listen-ability etc. I would like to make a section listing what other bands the albums sound like. I would like to research where the band members may have come from or have gone on to. I would like to put links up if the band is still around, if there are fan sites out there, or if other sites reviewed the album. I would like to list the songs, the credits, all the names of people that helped with the albums. Ultimately, since the music is the reason for this research, I would love to put up MP3s, or samples, or at least links to places where you can hear the music that I'm trying to describe.

That said, if I make it that far on my quest (putting up MP3's), I want to state that "I will willingly, and with no questions asked, take them down if someone related to the music financially feels that my MP3's interfere with their economical happiness." So let us see how this goes. We all know blogs can become tedious and time consuming (both to read & to write). My only hope is that this continues to be fun, and never feels like work. That way I will continually want to do it, and I will do it with the greatest thoroughness.

Shepard Ritzen

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