Monday, May 26, 2008

Scout Niblett

One of the best perks of working in downtown Pittsburgh is CD shopping at the local record stores. We don't have anything small independent record stores in Beaver County any longer. But in downtown, there's still Dave's Music Mine in the South Side, Paul's cd's in Bloomfield and Eide's Entertainment in the Strip District. I know there are others, but these are the ones I frequent. Since working in downtown again, I've probably picked up at least 40 Cd's. Not spending more than $10 on a one of them. I personally want to support the artists and discover new music, but I don't want to spend $18 at Best Buy taking a flyer on an unknown artist. Well, truth be known, I don't want to spend anything at Best Buy. These are still locally owned record stores. I want to do my part to help them survive. And don't even mention on-line music shopping. I'm proud to say I've never purchased a single song online. On-line music shopping leaves me cold. There something about riding my bike after work to the South Side or Bloomfield and sniffing through the bins, finding something that looks interesting, slapping down some cold hard cash and walking out with an unknown artist and going for a celebratory beer somewhere.

On Thursday of this past week, during lunch hour, I walked down to Eide's and perused the "buck bin" as I like to call it. This bin mostly contains promo CD's for upcoming releases and since I'm always promoting music to people, I figure it's there for me. Anyway, this past week I scored three great cd's for a total of $5. Well, I'm here to do some of that promoting.

Now, I use lots of triggers to decide which cd's I will pick up and look at and which ones I'll pass over. The first trigger for me is the artist's name. I'll usually pass over an artist named "Vomiting Death Clowns" (only one of of those words would cause me to skip it, can you guess which word?), but one named "Honky Donkey Ponies" will probably be in my hands pretty quickly. The second pick-up trigger is the cd's title. This one's a little more tricky, but again, if I like these sounds of the title, I'll pick it up. Once I pick it up I look at the cover art and see if there's anything interesting there (Hey, is that Jesus on that Donkey Pony?). Next I'll flip it over and give a look at the song titles. After that I'll open it and check out the inside cd booklet. At this point I'm looking at instruments used (Banjo=good, Vibes=bad, although, believe it or not, I actually found a cd one time that had a banjo and vibes on the same songs. It was Pete Wernick's "On a Roll" and, being an optimist, I let the good outweigh the bad and so I bought it. It's a pretty good cd, but as I suspected, the songs with the vibes suck! But it wasn't every song and he can play the banjo quite well... but I digress.). After instruments I'll see if there are any cover songs on the cd. This is important. A Tom Waits cover usually indicates good things. Even a Madonna cover can be good if it turns out it's a bluegrass band or something (Yes, The Meat Purveyors (great name) did an inspiring blue grass Madonna trilogy). So use your own judgement on this one. Next, I'll go to the end of the booklet looking for "thank you's" and other notes as to who inspired the artist or perhaps worked them or toured with them, etc. If the cd passes these tests and it's $10 or under, I'll usually take a stab at it. Of course, the closer the price to my upper limit, the more criteria it has to pass.

Anyway, back to the reason for this post. One $3 cd I spied last Thursday was by an artist called Scout Niblett. This was good. The cd title was "This Fool Can Die Now". That stretched the single to a double. So I pulled it out but found no cover art as there was no cd booklet inside. Promo cd. So I turned over to the back and read the promotional verbiage. First good sign, recorderd by Steve Albini. Contains duet's with Will Oldham (aka Bonnie "Prince" Billy) keeps this cd heading towards third. Words like "emotive vocals duel with country infused harmonies, bluesy guitars, crashing drums and soaring strings" make this recording look like a potential stand up triple". Now looking at the song list shows the first track called "Do You Want to be Buried With My People". Hey, that's a might big lead out there. Another track called "Kiss" and another called "Elizabeth (Black Hearted Queen)" and one called "Dinosaur Egg", with the last song titled "Fishes and Honey" and this one' showing all indications of stealing home.

So of course I buy the cd and once I get back to work I promptly google "Scout Niblett" images and I'm immediately presented with this image...
Yes, she's riding a bike. And not just any bike, a beautiful old Schwinn cruiser with coaster brake, a fender and a rack. No helmet, sensible footwear and an infectious smile makes this appear to be a home run for me. Then I put the cd in my computer and headphones on my head and immediately realize the bases were loaded. My apologies for the baseball metaphors, but Ladies and gentlemen...
we have a winna!!!


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