On the playlist, or requiem for the compact disc

For the first time in its 20+ year existence, Waterloo Records laid off eight of its employees. When I worked there, the Internet was just starting to ravage the recorded music industry, but Waterloo managed to stem the tide by offering remarkable customer service.

Well, it’s hard to provide that service when your customers are dwindling. I number myself among the dwindling.

Digital downloads have made it easier for me to be a choosier CD buyer. My modus operandi now is to download albums from eMusic for a fraction of the full CD price. If I feel passionately enough about an album to want it in a physical format, I’ll buy it.

As I get older, the bar gets set higher. In the past, I would gamble on those purchases I could imagine selling back to the store after a year. (I still have to do that with EMI and Universal titles, since they’re not carried on eMusic.) I’m not a betting man these days. It’s also harder finding albums that really grab me.

In essence, I’m following the consumer pattern of an older listener — someone not as willing to gamble on new artists. (But are you really new if I heard you the first time under the name Duran Duran?) And yet I think my consumption has Increased.

I’ve also migrated mostly to listening on my computer, where I am most during the day. My car is the last outpost where the CD reigns, and my commute is a lot shorter with the new job.

  • Arcade Fire, The Suburbs It’s not Funeral, but at least it’s not Neon Bible. I’m still not compelled to get it on CD.
  • Cocco, Emerald Cocco will probably never record another Rapunzel, but this album is probably her most ambitious, partly because it is kind of a mess.
  • Fujifabric, CHRONICLE, MUSIC and SINGLES, 2004-2009 Fujifabric Appreciation Month happened back in July, when EMI Japan unloaded the Fujifabric vaults. I’m still sifting through the results.
  • GRAPEVINE, TWANGS This album is the one I should have downloaded from eMusic instead of SPITZ.
  • Hajime Chitose, Orient Hajime Chitose’s voice shows its age here, and a number of tracks from her self-titled EP get a re-treatment. Nice, but also not compellingly essential.
  • Kicell, Nagi I may have to revisit to Magic Hour. I thought the lack of a major label budget adversely affected Kicell’s music, but Nagi is making me reconsider.
  • MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS, Zero Comma, Irotoridori no Sekai Seems a bit one-dimensional, especially compared to the diversity of material on the band’s debut mini-album.
  • OCEANLANE, FAN FICTION These covers really shouldn’t work as well as they do. The world doesn’t need an emo version of Stevie Wonder’s "Isn’t She Lovely", and yet it does.
  • Renée Fleming, Dark Hope This Fleming person has some real potential as a pop singer.
  • Royal Wood, The Waiting I’m glad Royal Wood worked with a producer on this album because his own self-produced albums didn’t do his material much justice. (Except The Lost and Found EP.)
  • Scissor Sisters, Night Work I actually don’t like Scissor Sisters, but producer Stuart Price has a good ear. Also, I needed new workout music.
  • UA, KABA Look up the originals for these songs on Youtube, then contrast them with UA’s interpretations. She doesn’t go apeshit crazy, but she does elevate the material.