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bye bye emusic.com

December 11, 2011 Leave a comment

iTunes younger, cheaper, cooler cousin is no longer very young, very cheap nor very cool.

What with the creeping prices the leaking of indies and embracing of mainstream, eTunes… i mean emusic  has just become a smaller, cheaper, crapper version of iTunes.

I’ve bailed after finding less and less of your catalogue appealing each month I was struggling to actually fill my (much diminished for the money) download quota.

 

What started out as a really cheap, risk free way of finding new bands became a much less cheap way of wading through mounds of crap, old music to discover the occasional gem.

Neither am I a diamond miner, nor am I a long-tail cool-aid drinker so I’m afraid I’ve had to say good bye after a fun (at first) five years…. I kept holding out on the hope that one day you would come to your senses. But you never did, so I guess it’s…

 

…Good Bye Emusic…

 

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Categories: 2) Music & Film Tags: , , , , ,

emusic download manager blues and repurchasing

July 24, 2011 5 comments

emusic is really starting to take the piss. Price hikes and monthly song quota cuts has already dented its once proud image as “iTunes’s younger, cooler brother.”

Now we have a site with buggy, sub standard download software and a policy which aims to make you repurchase tracks that have failed to download fully.

OK, so what happened?

I clicked on the download button, and the album started to download. (Much slower than it used to, I might add.) I then paused the download momentarily by accident (clicking the pause button).

When I clicked resume, it resumed from the next song! I now had two 30 second snippets. Nonplussed, I cancelled the download in the hope that I could restart it… Nope

Going back to the website, I found that there was no longer an option to complete your album… I’d have to pay the whole $6 to download the whole album again!

It’s a download site, for fuck’s sake and they’re charging me PER DOWNLOAD, when it’s THEIR SOFTWARE THAT’S BROKEN.

I really think that this time, I’m done with emusic.

For reference, here’s the mail I sent to their customer support… Not my most eloquent prose, I must admit.

"To whom it may concern"
I paused the download.... when I resumed, 
it tried to download the next track... 
I now have four half downloaded tracks....
I thought if I cancelled the downloads,
and reselected them manually I'd be ok...
but IT SAYS I ALREADY DOWNLOADED THE TRACKS.
With the OPTION OF REPURCHASING (WHAT THE F***?!)
ARE YOU KIDDING!
This is not good enough... You are not iTunes,
the only thing you have going for you is that
your prices are cheap... If you can't make a
system as painless as iTunes you will
go out of business.
Please let me redownload the songs which I paid
for but now don't have.
The album is
http://www.emusic.com/album/modwheelmood-Pearls-to-Pigs-MP3-Download/11475231.html

It says I have 7 tracks but I don't.
I'm getting sick of music's draconian "REPURCHASE"
policies requiring me to justify my existence
every time you have a bug in your software.
Yours, Disgruntled,

Craig Lloyd.

Elbow: One Day Like This Featured in Apple’s new Macbook Air Commercial

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment

I just watched the recent Apple Stevenote (keynote speech by Steve Jobs) and as usual, Apple chose some uplifting music for the Macbook Air advert at the end of the show, to which I found myself humming along.

Then it hit me who the song was by!

ELBOW!

Elbow Winning the Music Prize

A rather stoned looking Elbow winning the Mercury Music Prize.

It would seem that Elbow, the band named after what the Singing Detective described as the “loveliest word in the English language,” have finally “arrived!”.

Was it the Murcury Prize they won a few years back that would ear mark them for success? Nope.

Was it the fantastic performance of said song at Glastonbury in the same year? Nope…

No, Apple’s choice of backing track for their new Macbook Air 13″ and 11″ might just prove the break this epically talented band needs to get them and their remarkable back catalogue spanning 20 years or so, some much needed air time.

Here’s hoping that a day like this is just what elbow need to nudge them into the spotlight.

Album Review: Cloud Cult – Who Killed Puck?

September 26, 2010 4 comments

Cloud Cult is a band with a long history that I have just started to appreciate. They are hard to identify because of their eclectic mix of acoustic and wired instruments with genre busting arrangements swinging from lo-fi to orchestral not just within any particular album, but within a single track!

As concept or “story” albums go, this one’s story is somewhat low key. It is a loosely themed collection of songs telling the story of the birth of “Puck” his alienation from society, his initial attempts to fit and final rejection ending in death. Depressing subject matter, perhaps, but delivered with a lyricism of startling compassion and warmth that sounds more “hope springs eternal” than Armageddon.

At first I was a little underwhelmed, but having become a fan of The Mountain Goats, Elliott Smith and Lost in the Trees, I knew that repeated listens would bear dividends… And I wasn’t mistaken. What at first appears to be a mishmash of unrelated tracks, or unrelated verses within the tracks, turns out on careful listening to be a finely crafted story of the demise of a young man who had done nothing to deserve his fate.

Who Killed Puck?

  1. Where it starts – A track I prefer to think of as “I found God” since that lyric is repeated throughout the whole song. It is a coming of age classic where a boy is constantly reaching higher highs and lower lows on his trip through adolescent to adulthood. Repetitious and remarkably catchy, the simple construction belies the multilayered music that builds slowly throughout the track. It would appear to be the story of the meeting of Puck’s parents.
  2. Conception – One voice, one guitar, recorded on a tape deck and filtered to death doesnt get much lower fi than this. A killer melody tugs on the heartstrings and makes this track a Low-Fi masterpiece. Seems to be talking about the soul of Puck moving into its host…
  3. 9 Months – a meandering, instrumental track that sways from a Mike Oldfield, Amarok-style multilayered drum heavy “native” rhythm to his electric-guitar heavy, riff laden and back without going anywhere… An ode to Oldfield, perhaps… There is a sense of frustration in the song but it’s title would suggest it is the birth of Puck…. Ending inthe whispered lines “I am Human”.
  4. Pucks 6th Birthday – a Micro segue of a warbling childlike taunt…. unsettling stuff. Thankfully short.
  5. Becoming One of You – The story of a boy who does anything and everything to fit in with the crowd, ultimately ending in disappointment and rejection. The Eels could have sung the first minute or so of this song, but the almost Heavy Metal like bass and electric guitar which come into the forefront as the track progresses might give the fact away that it wasn’t. At just under a half of the way through, the song takes a left turn and heads into familiar electronica overladen guitarwork with repeated lyrics, as is common throughout the tracks on this album…
  6. Ad Brainwash (Part 1) – A minute or so is samples and sounds from the swinging sixties, highlighting consumerism and idleness which blurs into the main event:
    6 Days – One of the highlights of the album. A mutating rhythm underlies a narrated discussion on the brevity of Human existence. Based on a speech by David Brower, an environmentalist and the founder of Friends of the Earth. Nice, but I don’t see how it furthers the concept of the album.

    The lyrics are so compelling, I took the liberty of quoting them here:

    Compare the 6 days of the book of Genesis
    to the 4 billion years of geologic time.
    On this scale, 1 day equals about 666 billion years.
    All day Monday, until Tuesday noon
    creation was busy getting the earth going.
    Life began on Tuesday noon
    and the beautiful organic wholeness of it
    developed over the next 4 days.
    At 4 P.M. Saturday, the big reptiles came.
    5 hours later, when the redwoods appeared
    there were no longer big reptiles.
    At 3 minutes before midnight, man appeared.
    One-fourth of a second before midnight, Christ revolted.
    One-fortieth of a second before midnight, the industrial revolution began.
    We are surrounded by people who think
    that what we have been doing for
    one-fortieth of a second can go on indefinitely.
    They are considered normal.
    But they are stark. raving. mad.

  7. Pretty – Puck finds temporary solace in the infatuation with a girl. The key word being temporary. Starting off with one voice, one guitar, the song builds into one of the strongest, most a soaring climaxes of the album.
  8. Sane As Can Be – The song starts off as a gentle acoustic track marks the middle of the album and is perhaps the turning point in Puck’s life as he goes over the edge as he reveals his secrets and philosophy to his girlfriend, who appears to reject him. This turning point comes as the song flips to an electric guitar track with some fine Metal drumming. Comparisons might be drawn to About a Boy mutating into Susu or Spoon.
  9. Do You Ever Think About – Segue hears two people discuss suicide as its rhythms build into something which would have fit on the heavier bits of “War of the Worlds”
  10. Ad Brainwash (pt 2) – Are two segues in a row technically segues at all? Who knows.
  11. Ready To Fight – This song continues on where from Becoming One of You left off and reveals Pucks anger boil over and his rejection of society and its values.
  12. Who Killed Puck? – A “noise track” more than a song. You can quite literally hear Puck’s whole life flashing in front of him with lyrics from ‘conception’ leaking in in the background, suggesting his soul’s return to the ether.
  13. You Can’t Come Back Again / Close – A beautiful ode to the end of life… turning full circle to ‘Conception’. Again building into a climax of Mike Oldfield “Guitars” proportions.This is where the fun ends, so you might as well stop listening here.
  14. Bonus track 1: Lies – A funky yet unremarkable track about, funnily enough, Lies. If it were to fit into the album, it would have been something that Puck got angry about.
  15. Bonus Track 2: The Yin and Yan of Sex: A dull closing track. enough said.

Some inspiring Music…

December 6, 2009 Leave a comment

OK I admit this is a recycled post… It’s late, I was asked by a pal on facebook to offer some music suggestions… Half way though, I realised I was actually listing music I like…

Anyway…
I’m avoiding my mainstream faves, like Radiohead, PJ Harvey, The Pixies etc. and it’s a time limited (I gave myself 20 mins to compile this and not a minute more…) report so don’t say “sux compared to xxxx or what about”…. unless you’re offering me some hints on what to listen to…

Here’s some music by people who actually mean what they sing…

Angela Ai – She’s an ABC, somewhat Christian overtones, Piano heavy, Broadwayesque, moments of shining beauty from the darkness.

Tom Waits – Kentucky Bourbon Fried Blues from a man who practically lived on the streets to get his inspiration.

Damien Rice – Awesome emotion, Catholic upbringing, the guy literally has to be carried off of stage on a stretcher.

Magdalen Hsu Li – OMG real life slapyaindaface songs! A truly beautiful person who quite literally went through hell. Famous for her classic, “Fuck Bush” which is actually far lower quality than her usual stuff.

And the rest:
who else who else…

Sia… what a soulful woman. luv luv!!!

Imogen Heap… Best full on fem voice since the Annie Lennox of Eurythmics and solo fame.

Sarah Nixey of Black Box Recorder – Political and Social disconnect brought to life in song.

Emilie Autumn – Life vs. Death, Religion vs. Sex. Violin vs. Rock. Awesome talent, unique voice: Mega intelligent, witty, a gorgeous lolita and a great songwriter (she’s actually one of the finest living violinists on the planet) she’s also a bag of pure contradiction.

The Decemberists – Widest eclectic vocabulary of any band, mixed in with a sweeping vista of influences.

Savatage – Metal – As is often the case with metal, heavy moral/corruption overtones but played out to a T… have Two great albums, Gutter Ballet and Streets.

Gregory Hoskins: Fund this guy randomly last moth… Mix of Sting, Paul Simon and Buena Vista Social Club. The guy is gold.

Didn’t have much to go on but I hope this helps.

’nuff already. I’m off to watch Battlestar Galactica.

Prodigy? Emilie Autumn

May 27, 2009 Leave a comment

I just don’t get it… Of practically every female artist I listen to of late, someone, somewhere invariably says they “sound like Tori Amos.”

Take Emilie Autumn, my latest audio crush. She’s a multi instrumental, cross genre chameleon of a star with prodigious amounts of talent. Classical violin trained from the age of four, nonconformist, Nigel Kennedy aficionado  in both style and attitude (which subsequently lead her to being kicked out of several prestigious, yet conservative teaching establishments).

“Victoriandustrial” is a label she’s placed on herself, “corsets and combat boots” a juxtaposition of styles that is mirrored in her heavy hitting gothic rock fused classical.  
Yet despite all of this attention and fame granted by her rather sexy alter ego, she has remained true to her solid classical heritage, demonstrating commendably deep and stable roots with her release of a gorgeous classical album at a time when, well, let’s face it, classical is not exactly pop.   
Emilie Autumn Opheliac Album Cover

Emily Autumn – Opheliac

So this Tori Amos woman… is she the what then? The root of all modern female artists? The *mother* of all modern female artists? Or is it more a case of a “tastes like chicken” moment when people forget what Tori’s music actually sounds like but are left with just a vague impression, an aftertaste if you will? I’m sorry, but I just don’t see (hear) the resemblance in anything more than one of the many influences (because there are oh so many) to grace her songs.

I mean, come on, there are moments, yes, just like there are moments when the flavour of the food you’re eating becomes a little indistinct, and even… dare I say it, chicken-like.

Yet saying she sounds like Tori Amos is much too simplistic and does her a disservice, as if she’s a follower rather than a setter. Why, then, don’t we add the obvious observations of similarities with Kate Bush’s killer flyaway choruses, Sarah Nixiey’s sumptuous prose, Sia‘s sultry smoked out close-miked vocals, Annie Lennox’s awesome vocal presence, The Cocteau Twins’ complex countermelodies, Siouxsie Sioux’s sexy gothica, Bat for Lashes’ beauty and style, Fayray‘s fabulous classical accoutrements, Imogen Heap’s incredible acoustic vocal flourishes. Heck, let’s even add Bette Midler’s beautiful bar-tale storytelling and noiresque mystique and even an occasional splattering of TLC for heaven’s sake! There are heaps of influences in there because this woman is a one-girl artistic encyclopædia who has experienced and even mastered ranges of music and art beyond what most modern “popstars” could even name. She has more talent than an average studio band rolled up into one sexy gothic lolita package.

Come on, admit it, it was a chicken moment… she doesn’t really sound *that* much like Tori does she?

Define Ectopian / Ectopia

May 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Ectopia  /ek-TOH-pia/  (noun)


 

In medical usage the word ectopia refers to displaced or shifted organs. e.g.
Tonsillar Ectopia

Ectopia can be thought of as a state of being out of place, or being displaced from the natural or ideal location or setting; to be in a condition that deviates from the “normal” either in situation or in relation to other members.

c.f. Utopia or “the perfect state.”

 

Ectopian  /ek-TOH-pian/   (adjective)


 

An object being in a state of ectopia. To be out of place or time, displaced, removed from natural habitat and placed into a new, different, foreign or alien situation.

Current usage patterns of this word, however appear to be limited to artistic and philosophical endeavours, the author being unable to find consistent examples of usage outside of these fields.

When thus applied, it appears  to include a distancing from the norms of the genre. Moreover, many example uses imply the positive connotations without the negative implications.

For example, nuances include thoughtful solitude and contemplation, meaningful individuality, otherworldliness, timelessness and often constitutes a willful, conscious choice on the part of the subject to place themselves or their art in said situation without undue emphasis on the disharmonious and discordant aspects of such a choice. 

 

I find it very exciting to be present at the very nascency of a word, especially a word that I feel applies so well to my current situation. For example, I’ve often considered myself as leading a rather ectopian lifestyle here in Japan as perhaps do most expatriates. 

I also find that I am far more attracted to ectopians than others, since in my eyes its those very differences that make people special.

Hence I’ve discovered that my taste in music is also characterised by a taste for a juxtaposition different styles shifted into new genres.

Singers like Kate Bush (sheer unadulterated otherworldliness), late 60’s David Bowie introspectives (looking at himself and the world from a distant place), Bic Runga (half Malaysian, half Maori creating a unique style of music that stands alone), Magdalen Hsu Li (American Born Chinese singer who overcame all manner of hardships in the deep south to turn herself into living proof of the existence of positive energy) and most recently Emilie Autumn (A colossal, chameleonic talent for shifting between genres yet belonging to none) to name but a few.

I had been unable to identify what it was I loved about certain music when similar songs sung in a different context failed to turn me on.

It’s the ectopian nature or “ectopianness” (for want of a better word!) of the songs and the artists that make me listen time and time again.

Since the ascendancy of Greek philosophy it has been known that it is the very sophistication of the words themselves allow the human mind to grasp intangible concepts by giving it a firm handle to hold onto.

The words we know and the concepts they represent shape our very thoughts and without them, we are both vocally and mentally mute.