Archive: June 2006

Looking ahead: July 2006-Sept. 2006

With ICE magazine joining the dearly departed, I must now rely on the scattershot offerings of various other websites to pull together these "Looking Ahead" entries.

That’s always been the case for Japanese releases, but it was so much more convenient for US releases with ICE around. For the most part, I’m relying on Pause and Play for domestic stuff and of course, Bounce and various e-commerce sites for Japanese releases.

I tried to organize these previews in two-month chunks, but I’ll take whatever information as it comes.

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Too much choice can be paralyzing

Three months ago, I signed up for eMusic.

Although iTunes is the 800-pound gorilla in music downloads, the DRM pretty much keeps away. eMusic sells MP3s, and the subscription model sounds like a good deal. For the price of mid-line CD, I could get about four albums’ worth of music.

I’ve taken to using eMusic as a paid preview service — rather than buy a CD, I’ll download it from eMusic first, then see how attached I get to it. It’s resulted in a number of purchases since I’ve signed up.

I’m subscribed to the most basic service, which is 40 files a month for $9.99. In the first few weeks of using the service, I put a lot of stuff in my "Save for Later" queue, thinking the moment my download quota refreshes, I’ll eat it up right away.

It hasn’t quite turned out that way.

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Sleater-Kinney 活動休止

I’m not sure what’s more disturbing:

The news is suck. I think the last time Sleater-Kinney stopped by Austin was for the Austin City Limits festival, and my loathing of that festival precluded me from seeing that show.

I was hemming and hawing today about whether to blow my monthly eMusic allowance on some Sleater-Kinney albums. I guess I know what I’m doing with that allowance next month. (Booster pack!)

YesAsia NoWork

I knew something was going to happen, but I went ahead and did it anyway.

I ordered UA’s cure jazz from YesAsia, and I paid for it using PayPal. I’ve used YesAsia’s PayPal feature before, and I’ve had no problems.

But the last three orders I paid with PayPal ran into some serious problems. I detailed my previous experiences. This time around, it looked like the order went through. I got confirmation the order was placed, which was far more than what happened before.

Then I got a message from YesAsia.

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The power of CM

In Japan, commercials for products are also used to launch music careers. Touting that a song was featured in a particular commercial is not anathema.

That said, I am a total sap for liking a recent highly-exploitative, tugging-at-heart-strings kind of clip from Liberty Mutual, all because "Half Acre" by Hem is the soundtrack for the commercial.

I don’t know if the Liberty Mutual ad will have people running for Hem’s albums, but I hope it gets people curious.

Hearing Hem on an ad made me feel the same way when Applied Material featured Onitsuka Chihiro’s "Innocense" in an ad many years back — it was like I’m an insider or something.

To put it less charitably, it made me feel cooler than the rest of you.

Morrissey: Ringleader of the Tormentors

Don’t read this review expecting Morrissey punditry.

I’m probably one of the few aging hipsters who never listened to the Smiths during his formative years, so I’m pretty new to canon of Steven Patrick M.

That said, I actually like Ringleader of the Tormentors.

Even without knowing Morrissey’s previous work — I’ve only ever listened to The Queen Is Dead, and that was just five months ago — it’s pretty clear a forcefulness and clarity drives the album.

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The ICE melts

It’s official — ICE magazine has shuttered its door after 19 years.

I subscribed to the magazine in the early 1990s, after a year or so of buying it from the newsstand every month. ICE was pretty essential when I was working at Waterloo Records. I didn’t commit every release date to memory, but it was handy to know when big titles were approaching. If a customer asked when something was coming, I could usually tell them off the top of my head, thanks to ICE.

I used ICE to plan my shopping excursions. I even have a script that runs when I log into my shell account to remind me of specific release dates, culled from ICE. (Yeah, I’m a nerd that way.) To say the end of ICE leaves a big hole in my music consumerism is to understate the matter.

ICE subscribers have been handed over to Billboard for the remainder of their balance. I received my first issue of Billboard over the weekend. It made the passing that much more palpatable.

Billboard subscriptions are pricey, so I imagine I’ll receive less than a month’s worth of issues before I have to renew. I just might — I already visit the Billboard web site religiously. When noodle magazine went under, the subscriber list went to the Advocate, and I’ve renewed ever since.

After three months of no new issues of ICE, I need some variety with my bathroom reading.

One-sentence reviews

I’ll review these albums in fuller detail later. I know I’m stealing my own thunder, but I’m still pre-occupied with Eponymous 4. I haven’t really been listening to other people’s music much.

  • Love Psychedelico, Live Psychedelico Wow. These songs sound so much better live, it makes me wonder why their studio work doesn’t capture that same energy.
  • Hajime Chitose, Hanadairo I’m glad she’s back, but where Ueda Gen?
  • Utada Hikaru, Ultra BLUE This is the album her career has been building up to …
  • Bleach, Migi mo Hidari mo Shihaisuru wa Kyoo mo Niku wo Kui YODARE wo Tarasu Not the hookfest of the self-titled album, but still every explosive performance you’ve come to expect from three girls from Okinawa.
  • ASIAN KUNG-FU GENERATION, Fan Club I’m not a member.

Nonesuch has a blog

I am such a nerd for feeling giddy over a weblog by Nonesuch Records. I’ve already mentioned how it’s my geek dream to work for the label one day.

I was tipped to the blog from the Kronos Quartet weblog over at MySpace. David Harrington was asked what he was listening to.

I’m sure the blog will be pretty self-congratulatory — given it’s obvious PepsiBlue aim — but I’m willing to play along. Nonesuch was an important part of my development as a music fan when I was a teenager, and even today, I visit the label’s web site regularly to see what’s coming up.

Reading between the lines

Ticket sales for the Dixie Chicks latest tour aren’t meeting expectations, so says Billboard. So the trio’s managers are considering "reconfiguring" the tour to adjust routing and capacity.

Through my cynical eyes: Let’s change this tour so it passes through more blue states than red states, ‘cos those fuckers in the south still hate our guts.

Perhaps it’s not so cynical — Memphis was canceled, but a second show was added in Toronto. (Not technically a blue state, but Canada? Blue enough …)