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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: May 22, 2009 @ 10:31 am

    To buy or not to buy

    Fiona McCann

    There was a hard drive incident that I’m having trouble even typing about, and all (what, all?) my music is gone. In my frenzy to replenish, I am in search of some newbies and, as ever, recommendations. Albums I am considering include Tori Amos’s Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Bat For Lashes’ Two Suns, Camera Obscura’s My Maudlin Career, St Vincent’s Actor or My Latest Novel’s Death and Entrances. Or anything else that’s good and worth a listen, for that matter, with country influences particularly welcome at this juncture. Your thoughts, dear readers?

    • the washboardist says:

      Definite yeses to Bat For Lashes and Camera Obscura, I must get my hands on the MLN album myself this weekend.

      Sam Amidon’s All Is Well is worth a listen too, increasingly gutted I missed him in the Cobblestone. And Iron & Wine have just released a compilation of B-sides and rarities, some gems on there.

    • Charlie says:

      Camera Obscura album is great – Phil Spector meets the Sundays…Dark Room Notes new one is a lot of fun also and if you haven’t got it yet, ‘Sometimes I wish we were Eagles’ by Bill Callahan is a must-have.

    • Paul Moloney says:

      When I saw the title, I assumed this was another IT piece shilling property – thank god it’s not.

    • Helen says:

      I recommend Sam Baker’s Pretty World – not exactly new but well worth a listen – or many many listens in my case…


    • Papawasarodeo says:

      “69 love songs” by the Magnetic Fields – 10 years old this year but get that and you’ll have everything you need.


    • Stan says:

      Fiona, my sister lost all her music recently too; it’s a horrible thing to happen. Have you tried recovering the files? Programmes like UndeletePlus, Recuva, SoftPerfect File Recovery, and DiskDigger may be an option if you haven’t lost the hard drive altogether. (See here for a list.)

      I’ll recommend one album from a few years ago: “‘Sno Angel Like You” by Howe Gelb. All his music is good but this was a particularly fine recording, generally alt.country but with garage and gospel flavours throughout.

    • Fiona says:

      washboardist: Sam Amidon – have to admit had never heard of him, but have just been listening, and I like it a lot. Nick Drakish voice, great arrangements. Thanks! Also want to buy Iron & Wine but have lost their stuff I had before so have to replace all that first. Sigh.

      Charlie: Bill Callahan? Yikes, I feel like a novice at this whole music business. Will go search him out forthwith.

      Paul: Ha! Property? As if. Unless there are houses available for 8.99 on iTunes . . .

      Helen: I am LOVING Sam Baker, country, poetry, and a really amazing story – thanks!

      Papawasarodeo: Was your mama a rock’n'roll band by any chance? This is one of my favourite albums of all time. So much so that I had it backed up. Phew.

      Stan: Ooh, might try that. Sent it to the Mac shop and they were unable to retrieve anything, but I might give it a go. And yes, it is absolutely gutting, but I am actually getting great music out of all these recommendations, so I’m feeling quite upbeat about the whole thing now. About to go looking for Howe Gelb , but sounds like my kinda thing.

    • Papawasarodeo says:

      She was indeed and I’m sure you know what love was…
      Glad you backed up 69 but seing as you already have it may I also suggest anything by Nacho Vegas


    • kynos says:

      Fiona, I lost my entire music collection (well the CD bit of it) when my car was broken into in Dub in 1998. It’s utterly gutting. But you get over it, you realise that half those CDs you never cared for anyway because you bought them for one song or because you liked the cover and they turned out to be crap. I use a Mac(book Pro) too, and I have to recommend a little program called SMaRT Reporter. It sits above in the menu bar and constantly monitors your hard drive, and while it remains green there are no problems found but if it changes colour it’s time to do a rapid backup (which you should regularly do anyway). I think there might be an argument for downloading pirate music in the event you originally purchased a song and lost it through some misfortune, but I’m anti-pirating so I’ll not pursue that line. Depending on the reason for the failure, and the amount and value of the music you’ve “lost”, you might want to see if one of the specialists, like Mactivate, can retrieve it. It’s all still there on the media platters, all those ones and zeros, but if its a read/write head failure as opposed to a logical failure it’s probably a lost cause unless you can find a specialist recovery outfit with a clean-room facility. Windows and Mac use different – completely different – structures at the Darwin level. Macs use resource forks and Windows file tables so recovery techniques for one are completely different from the other. If you’ve the hard drive removed consider sending it to a specialist US recovery firm.

    • nudain says:

      Might be hard to find, but a band called Neutral Milk Hotel have a wonderful album named ‘In The Aeroplane Over the Sea’. Of my several hundred gigs of music this is the one I return to most often. It’s truly inspiring.

    • Sarah says:

      Marina an the Diamonds, and Ladyhawke = summer soundtrack sorted

      When you get a new hard drive buy two and back one up of the other.

    • Fiona says:

      Kynos: Good advice, thanks. This Smart Reporter sounds like a must-have for me. Hard drives turn to putty in my hands, it seems.

      Nudain: I have (EEP! HAD!) that album – it’s great.

      Sarah: Yay, summer soundtrack! The voice of oh nine, will check out your recommendations and get me some serious hard drive action.

    • Aishwarya says:

      Definitely the St. Vincent album (and her earlier album Marry Me, if you don’t already have it)

    • kynos says:

      My musical development kind of went off the road on 4 January 1986 and only lately got going again. I like U2′s No Line On The Horizon, and any of their hopeful non-pretentious stuff. Can I recommend anything by Lizzy, Skid Row, Grand Slam, or Philo himself without sounding too Jurassic? Or anything by Floyd? Or the Waterboys? Should I be using blackletter typeface and filling this stupid little white square in majuscule and using various inks extracted from beetles and bark to illuminate it maybe? God I feel suddenly old.

    • Dave says:

      Might be a little saccharine for your tastes (based on the albums mentioned in the original post), but Butch Walker’s Letters and most recent Sycamore Meadows are well worth a listen- the latter being my favourite of 2008.

      If you’re looking for something a little closer to home, Sligo-born Yngve released a gem of an album last year in Tell Men This: great fusion of American folk, country and rock n’ roll in a soft wesht of Oireland accent.

    • Lottie says:

      There must be someothing going around – we had a similar devestating hard-drive incident a few weeks ago – lost so much music and saldy video footage.

      Bat For Lahses -Two Suns is wonderful as to is Fleet Foxes albu (from end of last year I think).

    • Fiona says:

      Aishwarya: Both albums? On top of all the above? Ok, if you had to choose one . . .

      Kynos: Don’t worry, I still have all those on tape ;)

      Dave: Thanks for those – will give ‘em a listen!

      Lottie: Yes, reckon it’s hard drive swine flu or something. Same thing happened another friend – you don’t have a Mac around two years old by any chance, do you? As for Fleet Foxes, I still have that as I cannily bought it on me feller’s computer. Wheee!

    • Aishwarya says:

      Well I’ve been listening to Marry Me pretty regularly for a couple of years now and it still hasn’t gotten stale; but I might say that of Actor in a few years. Really, get both!

    • SauceMonster says:

      Agree with the Bill Callahan album, but if you havent listened to him before id start out with the earlier stuff he did in ‘Smog”..the album “a river aint too much to love” is just beautiful. The lucky git also goes out with Joanna Newsom. I have my fingers crossed for a split there cos can you imagine the great music that would come out of those break up albums!!

      I would also recommend “Old Stories” by Nancy Wallace. Lovely british folk and if you get a chance you should download her covers of “Young Heart Run Free” and “Are you ready for love” from itunes…sort of folk-disco if you will.

      If you are a fan of “The Shins” and cant wait until their next album (currently in production) then you should pick up ‘Broom’ by Someone still loves you, Boris Yeltsin.

      And finally, “The Welcome Wagon” was produced, arranged and sounds EXACTLY like Sufjan Stevens. The band consists of a pastor and his wife, it’s sort of alternative-christian (but dont let that put you off). There is a Smiths and a Lou Reed cover thrown in.

    • Liam says:

      Would recommend an artist called Loney Dear album’s called Loney Noir, should also see if you can find music by a band called Cousin Elias, small dublin band that seemed to be bassed in blues and bluegrass style music.

    • Paul says:

      Try Sandymount Songs (there are two song albums and one instrumental). Ranges from MOR through jazz and electronic to singer-songwriter:

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