For some musicians, the idea of the album is dead.
The notion of the record being a standalone piece of art, where a story is conveyed through eight to 10 songs from the beginning of Side One to the end of Side Two is, for some, slowly fading. Not fading from lack of interest of the artist but fading from lack of interest from the bulk of the consumers, those with their face in their phones downloading app after app and contributing to the demise of manners and personal security because of app, meme and social media addiction.
If most musicians had their way, they’d likely love to see the idea of the album return to its norm, where songs flow from one to the next and a concept is conveyed via 55 minutes of music. But a person’s got to eat, and even the most stubborn musicians are digging into the single concept. Write a full album and slowly release songs from the record over the course of a few months, with the full album coming out about five to six months after that first single dropped.
It’s the approach Caitlin Cannon is taking with “The TrashCannon Album,” her latest release that walks a line between insurgent country and jangle-rock, a record where the production is slick but the overall vibe has a gritty edge, where the bawdy lyrical humor is delivered with plenty of hooks.
The singles that have dropped so far are “Tool Bag,” which comes with a video worthy of the internet time, along with “Drink Enough.”
“We’re in a singles market now, and it’s tricky if you want to get people to actually listen to your record with these short attention spans that we have these days, to really build some momentum and some story around the record,” Cannon said. “You know, people in the pop world aren’t even making EPs anymore, it’s just one song. But a lot of us songwriters still value the experience of the compilation and listening to all 12 songs 20 times before you decide if you like it or not and getting to know it that way. I think some strategies say you can still release three singles and then drop the album. And the team I’ve assembled, a team of badass women, have all jumped on board with me because they like the record – we’ve developed this plan to release five or six singles and then release the full album.”
Cannon’s personal taste in music is all over this album, from the ’90s country she listened to as a youngster to the alternative rock and country from the independent circuit. Combine that with a great sense of humor, where irreverence is mixed with poking fun at yourself and your surroundings, and you’ve got the makings for a record that drives it home both musically and lyrically.
“I think the funny thing about irreverent humor is that it does come from a very real place,” she said. “And I think I figured out that’s what I do – I take the things I’m most uncomfortable with or ashamed about and I create a way in which I can live with it.”
Cannon is also very realistic about the whole music scene, as the bulk of the people in the business work and make art. She cuts hair; it’s what brings in the bulk of the cash to fuel the music.
“I have to cut a lot of hair to tour. The truth is, a lot of artists now, since music is free, would love to be in the kind of situation that I’m in, where you have a way to sustain your art,” Cannon said. “I don’t think it’s sustainable long term; I do hope that one day my art will be able to do that. But it has given me a lot of great material, like write what you know.”
The next single to drop from the album is “Mama’s a Hairdresser,” and the full record will be out in March 2020.
Bryant Liggett is a freelance writer and KDUR station manager. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.