Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Stuff I Liked This Year

Not wanting to be left out of the end of year list-making fun, here I am with my uncategorized, nebulous list of...stuff I liked this year.

Gigs in the Library

In 2009, the FPL had two events that featured live music by local bands. Way back in June, our open house was a resounding success  in part because of High Speed Dubbing and The Motor City Midwives. They helped shake expectations of what a party in a library looks like as well as booties. Then in October, our packed Halloween Party featured local favorites Carjack and The Beggars. Both sets embraced the spirit of Halloween and entertained young and old alike.

Don't worry. In 2010, we'll be trying to do more of this kind of thing especially after the new building is open.

It Might Get Loud

If you're like me then you have almost no idea how music actually works, which is why I found this film fascinating. Even if you are capable of creating music, you will love this movie. Three very different guitarists tell stories about how they got where they are today. I think my favorite part was watching the "cool guy" mask melt right off of Jack White's face as he and The Edge watched Jimmy Page play "Whole Lotta Love". Pick it up at the library! It's DVD-2902.


Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix by Phoenix (CD-1554)

I talked about this album back in August which was (by my calculations) several months before everyone on Earth knew them from the Cadillac commercials. This album still makes me happy and is also on everyone else's year-end list.

Real Estate by Real Estate (soon to be added to the collection)

This is just good, mellow surfy feeling rock. There's minimal lyrics, so you can throw it on when you're reading or working and let its happy vibe flow over you.

 My Old Familiar Friend by Brendan Benson (CD-1595)

I won't blab about this record any more than I already have. It's good. It will improve your life.


This was the year of the fest. Some people think this is a bad thing. I disagree for several reasons which I will lay out for you right now. 1) It's an excellent way to see a lot of bands. This seems obvious. 2) It's an excellent way to see bands you have never seen before. So maybe you could never be convinced to go to the Lager House to see say...Timmy's Organism. But oh hey, they're playing the Super Duper Amazing Fest right after a band you love. You stay and see them and see that they are great. Awesome. 3) It's an excellent way for the infrequent show-goer to catch up. This past year was for me a mostly car-less one, so I missed out on a fair number of "normal" show. The -fests made up for some of that.

More Information than You Require by John Hodgman

I should be clear and say that the incarnation of this that is really on my list is the audiobook. Hodgman, who is best known for portraying the PC in the Mac ads, also happens to be a brilliant, clever comedian. He brings along Jonathan Coulton (Yale buddy and comedic musician), Paul Rudd, Sarah Vowell and more to the hilarious audiobook version. Be advised that this book is often spontaneously hilarious and that listening to it may be hazardous to your public image and/or job.


This year I was lucky enough to have a poster session at the Michigan Library Association's Annual Conference. My presentation on Developing a Local Music Collection was well received and I hope to hear that lots of other libraries will be giving it a shot. You can see my handouts here.

More CDs Going Out to Patrons

Since taking over the (difficult) job of purchasing music for the library, I am proud to say that there has been a noticeable increase in circulation of CDs. I don't have exact numbers (I'm still learning the labyrinthine software we use to look at these sort of stats), but there has been an upsurge. In addition, the positive comments about the CD collection have been increasing as well! I hope to continue to bring our patrons music they love as well as new music to discover in the new year.

Lady Gaga

It doesn't seem very indie or hip to like Lady Gaga...and I don't care. I can't help but love her take on dance music as well as dance music culture. Her videos are the most entertaining I've seen in years and her live performances managed to shock this jaded consumer.

Creative Marketing and Packaging

This year I saw a lot of creative marketing happening not only in the local scene but in national music as well. Sufjan Stevens included a View Master slide with his latest release, BQE. Sisters of Your Sunshine Vapor hand illustrated each CD of their self-titled disc. Even big stars like The Police put out a vinyl LP and had the intelligence to include a free download of the mp3 tracks. Local acts have been doing this kind of thing for awhile now, recognizing that music, in its digital format is frequently undervalued and often stolen. Giving the consumer something tangible and unique to covet is a solution many have resorted to. They give the music away, usually as a free download when you purchase that limited edition, 180-gram, swirled green and white LP with hand-illustrated sleeve, and therefore still manage to make a little money while you get the songs for "free". It's smart, and I hope that national acts and (more importantly) labels wise up to this concept.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


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