Friday, May 23, 2008

The End of the World As We Know It?

It was beginning to feel that way, looking at my ITunes purchases for the year and considering the music I had taken a pass on as of April. As of April 28, I had downloaded exactly 2 new singles, which both happened to be ITunes free singles of the week, and 1 new album - the surpisingly good "District Line" by Bob Mould. There was also "Good and Reckless and True," another great find, this one by The Alternate Routes, but that was released in 2007. Granted, my musical tastes are admitedly narrow, but comparing apples to apples - I had made about 740 ITunes song downloads since I started using the service in late 2004 - roughly 240 per year!

Leave it to my favorite band of all time to (hopefully) signal a turnaround in this dismal musical landscape. "Songs From the Sparkle Lounge" is nowhere close to being Def Leppard's greatest work ever. But, for once, the band made a cheesy statement like, "We're putting out something edgier" or "The sound is similar to (insert huge 80's album here)" or whatever it was they said, and you can actually see that they made a concerted effort to rock out. The album's growing on me.

That very same day, I discovered the new Augustana album, "Can't Love, Can't Hurt." Like with Mould's release, I had no idea that this CD was coming out, nor would I have been anticipating it even if I had. It turned out to be a great collection of songs. Since then, there have been a couple other albums that were not great total packages, but which yielded a few choice cuts each. And then, using the handy Amazon gift card given by my brother as a birthday gift, I gobbled up the latest from 3 Doors Down. These guys are nothing if not consistent (OK, they're more cookie-cutter than a cloning laboratory). But this was the first time I ever bought an album of theirs...and it actually kicks some ass. By the way, Amazon's music downloading service is a nice alternative to ITunes since they don't use that annoying Digital Rights Management encoding to prevent you from sharing the songs with others or even playing them on your own damn IPod.

So I'll overlook all the musical misses from this year so far. The old schoolers who showed their age - both expected (REM and Bryan Adams), could have gone either way (Sheryl Crow) and disappointing (Dokken) and the modern set who didn't quite make the grade (Theory of Deadman, Marie Digby, countless others I can't remember). And I'll hold out hope for the rest of the year...there's a lot of catching up to do. Next on tap - Weezer, Aimee Mann and The Offspring. Here's hoping the Leps added enough "Sparkle" for a true turnaround.

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