Love at First Listen… Smitten By a Song From a Compilation

There’s something about a compilation CD that excites this audiophile. I went into my local record shop to celebrate Record Store Day and asked if there were any new ones to buy. It’s always a great opportunity to explore and perhaps discover something unnoticed on the musical landscape. Of course, other retailers are now in the game too, from Starbucks to Pottery Barn, offering up their own versions in order to extend their influence in the name of branding. These companies are certainly known for carefully crafted musical soundtracks in store (I enjoy playing ‘name that tune’ while shopping) but now they want to follow you out the door.

My new favorite song is thanks to the Urban Outfitters Features online where 25 songs are up for grabs as part of a Live in Austin 2010 compilation. This was sent to me by a family member as a link in an email and I happily dug into the diverse offerings. The group includes SXSW buzz bands such as Local Natives, Free Energy and Cymbals Eat Guitars, but it was the track by Memory Tapes that had me falling in love all over again at first listen. The song, “Plain Material” begins with guitars awash in echo effects and buried vocals ruminating about suicide. Yet, after the dry drums kick in, things loosen up and by the uplifting chorus there’s talk of beautiful dreams making me just giddy. Sing-a-long shout outs carry the tune back to another verse and the musical ride continues. Not sure why it says ‘unsigned’ under the photo of New Jersey based Dayve Hawk (who was the front man for Philly band Hail Social and also creates under the aliases Memory Cassette and Weird Tapes). The song is off the CD Seek Magic which was released back in September. It’s readily available for purchase which I promptly did in order to put the song on my latest personal playlist.

Compilations are actually a bright spot in the dismal music business, whether found online or as packaged CD. Record labels are strapped for cash and with promotion budgets slashed, new bands are using these compilations as another way to get their music out to the masses. I always appreciate any source for new music recommendations, even if it’s not going to entice me buy anything else beyond the music for this privilege. Keep ‘em coming — I’m all ears.