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Iron and Wining Away the Afternoon

April 29, 2009
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Oh, to have the ability to grow facial hair!

Oh, to have the ability to grow facial hair!

I don’t know if your RSS feeds have been blowing up like mine, but the internets be buzzin’ about the Iron & Wine rarities and b-sides compilation that’s set to be released May 19th, titled Around the Well, a lyric from the beautiful “Trapeze Swinger,” which closes the album (and which is available for download, free, on the pre-order page linked above). I’m every bit as excited as those Sony-produced robots who write the other blogs you read, but I’ve got a leg up: I’ve been a passionate Iron & Wine collector for eons. That’s right: eons.

Back when the internet was a (relatively) blog-less place, I belonged to the now-defunct torrenting community OiNK (for more information on its closure and an all-out fascinating read on the state of the music industry today, check this out). If there was one thing OiNK was good at, it was providing you with a basically endless supply of hard-to-find and newly-leaked albums. But if there were two things OiNK was good for, the second was its forums. This was a place where die-hard music enthusiasts could come together and offer specific and educated recommendations on a one-on-one basis. On recommendations from nameless and now-forgotten OiNKers, I got into artists as varied as Lupe Fiasco, Iron & Wine, TV on the Radio, Joanna Newsom, and Nickel Creek. In short, much of my taste was made by OiNK. (On a side note, it was from OiNK users that I learned the importance of supporting artists you like. Obviously money is almost always tight, but it really is worth it to take the effort to support artists whose music you like. Go see them, buy merch, or even re-buy the album. OiNK users got me into vinyl, which I can’t recommend enough. Especially for indie cred.)

And, since OiNK had such an amazing selection of rare and Japanese/Euro-exclusive releases, I loaded up on them. And, for some reason, Iron & Wine was one of the artists that I felt it necessary to hunt down every song Sam Beam had ever recorded or written, so I have a surprising amount of the Around the Well tracks. Lucky for you, I’m exceptionally generous. Both of these songs come from the Japanese release of 2004’s beautiful Our Endless Numbered Days, an album I cannot recommend highly enough. “Belated Promise Ring” stands among my favorite Iron & Wine songs, which is no small feat. And “Homeward, These Shoes” is a perfect, succinct, breathy lullabye — exactly what you’d expect from Beam around this time, executed amazingly. I have no idea why these didn’t make it onto the album; they’re definitely album-quality.

Belated Promise Ring – Iron & Wine (megaupload)

Homeward, These Shoes – Iron & Wine (megaupload)

Preorder Around the Well — admit it, these songs make you want to (and don’t forget to download “The Trapeze Swinger” while you’re there). And, if you don’t already have it, get Our Endless Numbered Days. It’s definitely in my top 10 albums of the past 5 years.

PS: I know I’ve been a little (okay, very) bad about updating recently. Exams, papers, being a student, blah blah blah. Things are looking up in the next couple weeks, and I’m renewing my commitment to the Show. After all, I’m all you’ve got, right?

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