I'm not complaining

... but god, is my life ever hectic. While I love working for Pitchfork, it doesn't do anything to alleviate the fast pace -- we update daily, so there's no break from grinding out copy (I shouldn't make it sound so mechanical, though of course it occasionally is). And not only are we expected to keep up with the ever-accelerating march of popular culture, we're expected to know about it before anyone else; preferably, before the music has even been recorded; ideally, before the artist has even conceptualized the project. Add to this the slower-paced but still time consuming work I do for the local weekly (for which I've gotta whip out 1200 words today) and for Paste (for which I've gotta whip up a page on the new Rapture record tomorrow), my mp3 blogging duties (first Alex's compliment-fishing, now a guilt trip -- Moistworks is a cruel master), various poetic and sound projects, and the fact that I seem constitutionally unable to survive a week without staying up until dawn making stuff with my friends at least once or twice, and you get the picture -- my plate's so full that I don't even remember what the plate itself looks like. This week in particular, if it wasn't so politically incorrect, I'd have to characterize as "retarded" -- massive amounts of copy to write and emails to send and message boards to post and laundary to wash before I head to New York for what will probably be a weekend of severe glandular depletion. Your life's probably just the same, and like me, you probably sometimes use music as an escape, a respite, or a buffer for all the stress. My occasional predicament is that, music being my "work", it becomes difficult to use music to get away from work. When I need musical relief, I tend to attract to the dreamiest, most retiring music I can find, and to this end (also dedicated to my friends, who are going to pick me up at the airport when I return to NC on Monday and whisk me directly to the coast, for 24 hours of decompression), I offer you Beach House's "Apple Orchard", which sounds like the dreamier parts of the new Yo La Tengo record with Vaseline smeared on it (I hate to be that guy, but I've heard the new Yo La Tengo, and while I'm not at liberty to share it just now, you should know that it's a monster). I've got to hop on that copy, but first, let's all take a break for a minute -- pour some tea, raise the blinds, close Gmail and AIM -- and chill out to some Beach House.

New report from Jupiter Research

According to this BBC story, a new report from Jupiter Research shows that - on average - iPod owners purchase relatively few tracks from iTunes. Instead, they're stocking them with tracks ripped from CDs and from file-sharing sites. (But no mention of mp3 blogs!)

I haven't read the full Jupiter report ($750) so I don't know exactly what it implies about all of the non-iTunes tracks on iPods. But I sometimes wonder if such analysis fully accounts for the sheer volume of music that is legitimately given away these days - the free tracks on band and label websites, authorized promo sites, etc. The pickings are slim for major label artists, yet anyone who listens to indie artists has a lot of free music to choose from.

To gauge the availability of authorized free music, I took a quick look to see how many of the top 30 albums from a recent CMJ airplay chart have at least one free and legal mp3 available. I didn't want to search all day, so I stuck to band and label sites, Better Propaganda (legal mp3 promo site), and Insound and Amp Camp (online retailers that give away label-authorized mp3s). Because I generally refuse to save any mp3s encoded at less than 128k, I didn't count anything below that cutoff. And to make sure I was dealing solely with label- or artist-authorized content, I stayed away from mp3 blogs.

It didn't take long track down legal downloads for 19 of the 30 albums. I already knew that free tracks are out there for M. Ward and Yo La Tengo, the top two artists on the chart. Six of the remaining 28 are available at Better Propaganda, seven more can be found at Insound, Amp Camp has a Mew track, and you can download.

couple of Hellogoodbye tracks at the band's Myspace page. Ditto for the Velvet Teen at the Slowdance Records site and Michael Franti and Spearhead at the Anti Records site. Cursive would've made the list, but Saddle Creek only posts cheapo 64k mp3 files on its site.

Here are the top 30 album from issue 978 of the CMJ New Music Report.

Actually, I was expecting a slightly-higher hit rate -- maybe with a broader search I could've tracked down free downloads for some of the remaining albums. As you'd expect, most of the discs without freebies are major label releases. If I ran the same test for the top 30 Billboard albums, I'd probably end up with zero free tracks. Even so, there's plenty of good free music out there to fill your iPod, and the RIAA can't say thing about it. Not all of the above tracks do it for me, but there's some great stuff on this jasminlive list.

Big Mama

Assessments of Joplin's soul power vary. I'm not a hater, per se: her version of "Summertime" is one of my favorites and that's saying something. But I saw this House of Blues (shudder) compilation called "Songs of Janis Joplin," and it's got Etta James and Syl Johnson covering songs that Joplin had covered. And that just felt so wrong. (Since when is "Trouble in Mind" Joplin's song? These people are crazy, them and their blues for tourists.)

Then again, when you listen to Big Mama Thornton, who, unlike the artists above, is not known for her subtlety and restraint, you can see what Joplin was going for. I think she does a fair approximation of Big Mama, actually. Except for Big Mama being able to sing and all.

Big Mama's also the kind of blues that's popular in Chicago, the kind I don't particularly like. I'm kind of burnt out on blistering guitar solos and I'm definitely over that whole Blues Brothers palookas-with-saxophones aesthetic. You know?

Funk Fusion

The delightful funk fusion bagatelle "Rien Ne Va Plus" would make for great ensemble karaoke. Its got it all: harmonies, ear splitting disco operatics, lots of chorus, funked out abracadabra scat, and a polish dude doing french spoken word. But like Brandon Walsh doesn't dance, I don't do karaoke on account of 1) my voice and 2) the popular kids never got what the Doobie Brothers were all about. (Though I used to force my roommates to sing all the separate parts too "The Great Curve" by the Talking Heads. I would do the "Night. Must. Fall. Now." bit.)

I expect the best karaoke song of all time is "Africa" by TOTO, on account of all the openings for ancient allegorical pantomime. I have been searching all my adult life to obtain the giant prop book from the mysterious "Africa" video. The one that says "Africa" on the cover in big gold letters. Not only will I pay generously for it, but I will have it installed as a permanent exhibit in Marfa, Texas, to ensure that its iconic majesty is properly and forever realized.

Beasties sampled "Rien Ne Va Plus" for their not so enlightened "Car Thief". I'm not sure what a rap demo is. Is it just a shittier version?

Very quick Beasties annecdote: In early 90s they were in Australia snowboarding and played a couple Livejasmin.cc shows, and then announced a surprise gig at some nightlcub. There were a bunch of club lads hanging about in party shirts looking nonplussed and just 30 or so of us fans mobbed up at the stage. I was going through a particularly tragic BBoy phase and was wearing an inside-out sweatshirt, oversized fake glasses, and a pacifier around my neck. The outback does that to you. Mid-song Mike D. stops, and points at me, and says: "This song is for my man MC Serch." The small mob all gaped at me, figuring I was someone special, and when the band kicked it up again, I was somewhat set upon and my prized glasses yanked from my head in the frenzy.

Summer is out of control

...Which does what? said his father.

Which gets red with rust if it rains, wouldn't you say so, father?

But the machine is something to put a man out of work, said his father, and as work is prayer, so the machine is damnation.

But the machine can also be sweethearts, growing cobwebs between its wheels where little black hands crawl; and soon the grasses come up between its gears - And its spokes laced with butterflies...

I do not like the machine, even if it is friendly, because it may yet decide to love my wife and take my bus to work, said the father.

No no, father, it is a flying machine.

Well, suppose the machine builds a nest on the roof and has baby machines? said the father.

Father, if you would only stare at the machine for a few hours you would learn to love it, to perhaps devote your very life to it.

I would not do no such a thing, not with your mother watching www.chaturbaterooms.com, itemizing my betrayls with which to confront me in bed ... Perhaps I would soften toward this humble iron work, for even now I feel moved to assure it that there is a God, yes, even for you, dear patient machine. But your mother is watching. Even my mother is watching. All the women of the household are watching from the windows, waiting to see what I shall do.

But father, look at the dew on its wheels, does it not make you think of tears?

Would you break my heart whilst the women watch, half hoping that I shall weaken? for they are hungry for the victim that would be a kindness for me to deliver.

Then bow to the machine, father, be kind ot the women as you are kind to the machine.

Oh no, dear child, I could not bow to a machine; I am, after all, human. Let others open new doors of history...

Profesional 'til the end

I swear to God,this is more profesional than Blogger. Shit doesn't work half the time, it's down or you sit there like a stoned monkey hitting "Try Again" buttons for 20 minutes straight. Maybe I am a monkey, spending my time typing stuff like this:

Brian wrote this great post and couldn't get in - this was all day - and I didn't read the post, either. But I'm sure it's great and it's Wednesday night already, but Blogger's back for now. Lots of college kids spent their book money on iPods this year. MW has a job to do.

The beat, flow, smart & subtle narrative, are so on here. The microphone level are so off, at 3: 26 or so. But it's kind of brilliant. There's a nice sketch on the Coup's first album, "Kill My Landlord": A reporter calls and asks to speak to Boots from the Coup. (W/he prounounces "coop"), and he wants to get Boots' reaction to the riots outside.

Here are a few Coup songs that have nothing to do with dialectical analyses except insofar as our lives are controlled by forces which are so far beyond our grasp or, frankly, understanding that we never will control them.

ps: is it ok to put kate moss in blackface if half the proceeds go to fight aids in africa? ooh, also, i saw the last king of scotland this week and guess what? it's the most racist movie since black hawk down. guess what else?? that's like, the least of its problems. if i didn't have my plate full this semester i'd write something serious, for a serious place, but also, i'm kinda happy to sit this one out.