Countless artists pour their hearts and souls into making the "next big record". A precious few sell millions, some have maintained a comfortably small fan base, and others never rise from obscurity. But all are susceptible to one possible dubious fate: The shelf of your local thrift store. These poor unwanted remnants of the past grace the shelves of your Goodwills, your Salvation Armys, your local mom & pop shop, waiting to be rediscovered... to be loved once again.

Over my years of thrift store scouring, I gradually began to notice certain discs and records that repeatedly reveal themselves on nearly every visit to any location. It left me wondering: Why are these select albums so often discarded, what led them to this point, and will the recognition and love for them ever be renewed once again? Now I can confidently answer YES. I bestow unto you, an appreciation for all discs left behind: "Thrift Store Albums."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Matchbox 20: Yourself or Someone Like You

Three of the founding members of Florida-based pop-rock outfit Matchbox 20 (or more officially, "Twenty", despite being in numerical form on their debut album), must have known that they had a certifiable hit when "3am" was written for their prior band, "Tabitha's Secret" (good move on the name change). The first record, "Yourself or Someone Like You", churned out radio-friendly single after single. With the added benefit of frontman Rob Thomas' dashingly good looks and MTV airplay, the band caught fire, earning appeal from an uncommonly wide range of age groups, from the high school crowd to middle-aged easy listeners. Heck, my parents sang along with these tunes as much as I did back in the day.

Thomas and co. had a knack for dealing with heavy subjects of depression, loneliness, and alcoholism underneath a produced sheen that gave an almost reassuring lightness to the proceedings. "I wish the real world would just stop hassling me," Thomas laments on the opener. It's the kind of hook that gets everyone nodding in agreement. Like grabbing a beer after a long workday with your best bud and professing, ain't life just a bitch sometimes?

"Push" was one of those tracks that was lyrically just edgy enough to raise an eyebrow or two on first listen. "I wanna push you around, well I will... I wanna take you for granted," drew outrage from a select few feminist groups, not taking into consideration that Thomas may have thought better of releasing a single that promoted outright misogyny. You see, ladies, it was poor Rob (as he explained) who was the abused one. C'mon, this is 90's rock we're talking about here. (As confirmed by the number usage on the track title, "Back 2 Good".)

With virtually every track a three-and-a-half-minute single-worthy tune, the album enjoyed a long succession of successful airplay, and eventually reached an astronomical 15x platinum across the globe. But while these tunes still possess their fair share of charm, with so many copies floating around, it was only inevitable that this one would end up in the donation pile to be reminisced over by the next scavenger, even if just to be offered a bit of Rob Thomas' brand of reassurance: "[she] says the rain's gonna wash away, I believe it."

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