Breathe In

Chris Abad and I were walking home from rehearsal Monday night when we said in near-unison, “I just want to release one great record.”

I post about my music career less and less here, largely because I have less and less of a music career.

I knew full well this was going to be something of an off year, being that I got engaged, moved in with and then married Abbi all within eight months.

Moreover, though, after a spate of back-to-back releases — “Almost Home,” “Love & Other Indoor Games,” “The Rivington Sessions,” “Heartland,” and “The Desert Star EP” — I relished the opportunity to refill the coffers, rediscover my muse, and find some new material.

And Lord knows this year has provided it.

Still, I’ve kept busy and productive, I think. In June, I released to CDs worth of outtakes, ephemera, and b-sides called, fittingly, “Besides Vol. I & II” And Wes Verhoeve and I are finalizing the December 5th release of our “A Family Records Holiday” benefitting 826NYC. And production’s begun on a soundtrack to “Mister Rogers & Me.”


But I still want to release one (more?) great record.

I have the songs, for sure: “Promise,” “(I Won’t Let You) Get Away From Me,” and “The Last Time” will be amongst the 10-12 new tracks. In fact, I wrote and recorded a new one this morning (“Breathe In”) that I expect will make the cut. Plus, I know what it’ll be called, have some sense of the sequence and narrative arc, and am pretty sure where and with whom I’m going to record it. (The when, incidently, remains pending.)

But that’s not all that makes for a great record (which, incidently, my pal Chris has done at least twice. Part of releasing a great album is getting it heard and appreciated, and in the time between “Heartland” and now, the landscape has changed significantly. Which is worrisome. Three things drove this home for me yesterday:

1- The news that, when given the option to pay whatever they deemed fair for a new record, Radiohead fans paid an average of $4 for the bands new, ten-track release, “In Rainbows.”
2- This great Oxford American Magazine article on the timeline of blog-fueled indie rock hype which basically tracked ’06 darlings, Annuals, from Pitchfor to Stereogum to Rolling Stone obscurity in a measly three months.
3- My monthly check from my distributor, CDBaby, totalling a whopping $57.64.

See, unlike most other bands, I count on CD sales and downloads to support my habit, er, I mean career. And — in the absence of real touring, actual merch, or tangiable press exposure — I count on the Internets to spread the word, but not spread the music (in the form of copyrighted mp3s). Problem is, there’s an entire generation of music fans who don’t expect to pay for music. To them, it’s an entitlement. If they like a band, they’ll go to a show, or buy a t-shirt.More problematic still, I think, is that this flood of free, often mediocre, completely intangiable (no art, no liner notes) music diminishes the relationship one has with the music and the musician. It’s an ADD, churn-and-burn, here today and gone tomorrow environment.

Now, I’ve never really garnered any major press or blog love. My aesthetic, interests and values aren’t really in line with Stereogum. My high school band wasn’t cool, my college band wasn’t cool (though it was cooler) and I’m certainly not going to start now.

In terms of the music business, the already train’s left the station. It is what it is.

Which leaves me pretty much where I began, and where I’ve resided all these years.

I’ll do my write and record a great, sincere album. I’ll wrap it up in simple, linear packaging. I’ll play a few shows to mark the release.

And then I’ll let it go.

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