Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone

If you had ever questioned whether you would pickup Neko Case’s latest album, Middle Cyclone, you can listen to the entire thing on the National Public Radio website. NPR has does America a great service by sharing this and shedding light on another great contribution to the often-regrettable cannon of recent Country Music.

I’ve long thought Neko Case might be too uncompromising for mainstream success. Her humorous and vociferous interview with Pitchfork found her in a mood to burn bridges while taking shots at Celine Dion, Shania Twain and much of the recording industry. That’s all well and good, but her last album, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, seemed to veer into an extreme seriousness that sapped some of the fun out of the music.

Middle Cyclone feels more relaxed than Fox Confessor, returning to the dark beauty of Blacklisted, probably her best album. Love is a theme on Middle Cyclone, but it reaches well beyond individual, romantic love, into the realm of spiritual and elemental longing, out-of-reach but not intangible. Case’s music is still serious and uncompromising, but she brings to it the kind of infatuating gentleness that makes boys fall in love with girls they know they’ll never get.

Share It (but don’t steal it)

Yesterday’s Penny Arcade addresses piracy, or, more properly, the sharing of media between more than one person. It posits that early attempts to prevent piracy by asking the consumer not to share or copy games were ineffective, since the request was delivered absent of consequences or technical limitations on making copies.

While it is probably true that introducing copy-prevention schemes has reduced the number of people copying media for friends or strangers, it is specious to equate this with a reduction in piracy. In fact, the presence of these schemes is exactly what pushes an individual consumer towards piracy. By attempting to stop casual file-sharing, the media industries have turned those who never intended to steal media into a mob that has become comfortable acquiring music, movies and games in the cheapest and easiest way possible, which is very often the piracy networks that the media companies wish to stop.

Those who, like myself, are passionate about media do not merely recommend a piece of music, a film or a game. If I want to share something with you, I am going to take every action I can to ensure that you experience it. I’m going to drag you to the movie theater, not just e-mail you a list of showtimes. In the pursuit of this single-minded need to share things we are passionate about, it’s true that there may be the occasional unauthorized use. Who didn’t copy a great LP to cassette for a friend in the 80’s or invite a few dozen friends to watch a “home-use only” DVD in the 90’s. These actions do not represent an attempt to subvert the rights of the artist or producer, even if, by some estimation, that is the outcome. They are honest attempts to publicize the work, to do the creator a good turn, and so, if the act is bad, it must be recognized as a small bad in the service of a large good.

Necessarily, as media consumption shifts to new devices, the enthusiast will shift formats, always offering what he wants to share in the most consumable format. With personal computers and their associated peripherals serving as major points of consumption, logically, he will try to share content in formats that fit these devices. A mixtape is of limited value, if I want you to hear something right away. An MP3 is ideal.

If I can easily rip a song or copy an MP3 I’ve purchased, then I can, with little harm to the artist, share (i.e. promote) his or her music with my friend. Obviously, I could also share this with the rest of the world, but I, and most people, aren’t really interested in doing that. The purpose of sharing something is to get someone’s feedback, his reaction, not to send a file to as many people as possible.

If, on the other hand, you encumber my ability to share the media I have purchased, either through DRM on the media, or attempts to block the transit of the file via an ISP, then my only way to share (again, i.e. promote) is to avail myself of media or a transit mechanism that is designed to circumvent your protection schemes, which inevitably leads me to piracy, regardless of my intentions.

Therefore, it is the gentle reminder “Please don’t copy this” that is far more effective than hardline DRM schemes. As long as there is popular media, some will want to share it with friends and others will want to pirate it for the world at large. It is highly ignorant to believe that outlawing the former will reduce the latter, because, in fact, it does just the opposite.

Pub Ride 5/24

Mixtape for a Pub Ride (22 songs):

  1. Danzig – Mother
  2. The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
  3. Metallica – For Whom The Bell Tolls
  4. Velvet Revolver – Big Machine
  5. Electric Six – Danger! High Voltage
  6. Sonata Arctica – Wolf And Raven
  7. The Strokes – Juicebox
  8. Judas Priest – Breaking the Law
  9. The Cramps – Bikini Girls With Machine Guns
  10. The Darkness – I Believe in a Thing Called Love
  11. Ozzy Osbourne – Crazy Train
  12. Blue Oyster Cult – Godzilla
  13. Led Zeppelin – Rock And Roll
  14. AC/DC – Highway to Hell
  15. Billy Idol – Dancing With Myself
  16. The Stooges – Search And Destroy
  17. Metallica – Hit The Lights
  18. Rammstein – Du Hast
  19. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
  20. The Reverend Horton Heat – Wiggle Stick
  21. Guns N’ Roses – My Michelle
  22. Sonata Arctica – Die With Your Boots On

Birthday Playlist

11 Songs to Start the Birthday On the Right Track:

  1. Metallica – Seek & Destroy
  2. The Reverend Horton Heat – Big D Boogie Woogie
  3. Social Distortion – Sick Boys
  4. The Eagles of Death Metal – I Want You Soo Hard (Boy’s Bad News)
  5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Rich
  6. Arctic Monkeys – Teddy Picker
  7. Agent Orange – Bloodstains
  8. The Strokes – Juicebox
  9. Guns N’ Roses – Rocket Queen
  10. Wolfmother – Colossal
  11. Electric Six – I Buy The Drugs

Slow Bar 5/3

Metal/Hard Rock Set (Ten Songs):

  1. Judas Priest – Breaking the Law
  2. Danzig – Mother
  3. The Stooges – Search and Destroy
  4. Wolfmother – Colossal
  5. Electric Six – Nuclear War on the Dancefloor
  6. Metallica – Seek and Destroy
  7. AC/DC – Girls Got Rhythm
  8. Guns N’ Roses – My Michelle
  9. Motorhead – Ace of Spades
  10. The Reverend Horton Heat – Five O’ Ford

Punk Set (Four Songs):

  1. Fugazi – Waiting Room
  2. Pixies – Wave of Mutilation
  3. Agent Orange – Bloodstains
  4. Dead Kennedys – California Uber Alles