If you would like your release to be reviewed by Tim Kabara, donate it to your local thrift store.
I hung out with some old friends recently. We did what we used to do when we first met; sit around, chat, and listen to records, some of which were found at thrift stores. It is a bit of competition, back then as now, when it comes to the thrifted items. “You’ve got to hear this one,” being a regular refrain as they went through their collection to find a particular jem. Who had found the most interesting things? Where did they find them? Will a tape of sixty minutes of zippy jazz meant to accompany a ride on a ST:NG lookin’ work-out bike win the night?
I have, of course, never stopped seeking out these items. I review them here from time to time along with anything else of interest I find. The question becomes: am I truly enjoying what I find? Am I making fun of these folks and their efforts to connect to others, to gain fame and success through their music? A 2001 CD that is flawless West Coast Hip Hop in every aspect except that is meant, lyrically, as a Christian critique of the hip hop lifestyle is worthy of merit as a head-scratching/head-nodding exercise. “The End” referred to in the album title? The impending second coming of you-know-who (not 2Pac).
You develop an ability to catch good things, an instinct, as you rifle through the stacks. I often compare what I do to fishing. It takes patience, discipline, and lots of trips where you come home with very little. Then, among the endless sea of cast-off media you throw back, you make a catch. And, once in a great while, the fish are really biting. Still, finding Batak Sweet House on an otherwise fruitless expedition is not nothing, an endless energetic groove from Indonesia, rooted in 1990s dance music, covering “Killing Me Softly” amidst tracks with titles like “Tangis Di Nabuni.” On such a day, I go home happy.
But you do worry. You pick up something like “Horse Sense for Kids and Other People” and expect pure cringe. Instead you get sweetly sung, competently recorded music that is just looking for a place to hang its dusty ol’ trail hat. I do feel that, ultimately. I seek these things out because they offer me windows into musical worlds I am unfamiliar with. These releases feature folks who, like me, live in some form of music subculture. I am not hanging out to laugh at them, be mean, or make fun. I am there to listen and delight in their effort and recognize a fellow striver. Sure, when they take a big musical leap and fall flat, I laugh. But I also know that taking such risks takes a certain rare mix of courage and belief in the power of what they are doing. I salute them.