Down a narrow isle, cutting through the center of our little shop, tucked away with our magazines is a collection of 40 CDs, all loaded into 4 listening stations, changed out every month. They are strategically placed for minimal traffic or disruption and paired with a comfy seat, encouraging you to take some time to sit down, throw on a pair of headphones and explore. The featured titles are not arranged by genre or taste. The only guidance we offer are little pieces of paper taped to the backs of the CDs, with a few choice descriptors about the artist and the music. But this might not be revealed unless you made the effort to look. All of this is to create a unique listening experience. As your eyes pass over the CDs, you are more tuned into the art of the album covers. You question aesthetic and taste. Every album is contrasted against the last and the next. You may make selections based on familiarity, similar to how one chooses from an online streaming service, but given the limitations and varied selection, you may be more likely to step out of your comfort zone. You might not know it, but all of this is preparing your brain for some deep listening. Once you put on those headphones (which sound great, by the way) and start up the music, you’re immediately where you need to be.
On this, the first of a new continuing series, we pick 5 of our favorite CDs featured in this month’s listening station. Next time you’re in the shop, maybe take some time to find your favorites.
Tirzah – Devotion [Domino]
Mass Gothic – I’ve Tortured You Long Enough [Sub Pop]
Love Language – Baby Grand [Merge]
Gabriella Cohen – Pink Is the Colour of Unconditional Love [Third Side Music]
Idles – Joy As an Act of Resistance [Partisan]