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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

But, doctor . . . I am Pagliacci

For whatever reason, I seem to be on a streak of watching a critically-acclaimed film from either the 70s, 80s, or 90s for the first time, and finding my opinion completely at odds with its present-day reputation. I thought I should point to my love of Watchmen, but my first viewing of it coincided with my first viewing of Ikiru, a film that I loved, even though it dragged in some places for me.

If I were to boil down my interests on certain DVDs to watch, I have to say a lot of them come from this site, this site (with some caution), and this man, along with friends that know my interests. Three films I've recently seen all came from these primary sources, and knowing I'm slaughtering some sacred cows in the process, strongly disliked them.

The first film that started this current streak was Heavenly Creatures, Peter Jackson's first non-splatter flick. I had heard great things about this film, and I've always been curious about the films Jackson made before the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Reading Scott's excellent Cult Canon series of articles on the A.V. Club, I figured I should finally watch it after reading his write-up, and the timing seemed right.

Staying in one Saturday night, I decided to have a girl school double feature: The Woods and Heavenly Creatures. I wanted to see The Woods since a) it's the film that had the rights to the name before M. Night Shyamalan did, so that's why his The Woods project became The Village (a much more apt title for each film, in my opinion), and b) because Bruce Campbell is in it. I found The Woods to be embarrassingly bad and hoped that Heavenly Creatures would pull me out of the witches, leaves, and trees. Shortly into Creatures, I sensed trouble.

I understand this is a film based on youth and fantasy, but I found Heavenly Creatures to be almost a musical sans the songs or any charm. It was way too over-the-top for me, and this is coming from somebody who's straight that loved Mamma Mia!. While I liked Jackson's Raimi-like camera moves, I just found the movie really empty and silly. Reading back over Scott's review, I wondered if we watched the same movie.

The same applies to Near Dark. Once again, heard great things about the film, especially around the time that Twilight and Let the Right One In came out. I watch it, and aside from some great performances by the likes of Lance Henriksen and Adrian Pasdar, I found the film to be a dated, cheesy film (no thanks to the Tangerine Dream score) that somehow has a happy ending. Blood transfusions may save lives in real life, but they seem like studio meddling to make a dark tale tie up in a nice bow.

And most recently, Hal Ashby's acclaimed Being There, with Peter Sellers. While I liked Sellers in Dr. Strangelove and Casino Royale, and Ashby's Harold and Maude, I thought Being There was like going to a museum and watching people look at paintings. While there are some great performances, I thought I was on a flight that slowly took off, got slightly off the ground, and then landed quietly.

I'm very well aware of the kind of flak I can receive by saying these things. To me, the attitude of, "you have to watch it again" doesn't work if I strongly didn't like it the first time. What's really going to compel me to watch it again? Once again, I now have a better understanding of those who watched Southland Tales, didn't get it and/or didn't like it, and passed it off, even though it's a film meant to be seen multiple times to really click. Plus, I've heard enough people slag the Matrix sequels, so I guess we're even now.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Cabin Disco Fever

Over the weekend, while doing some research for one of the two book projects I'm working on, I read Noel's A.V. Club feature, "From Asylums To Zombies: In Search Of A New Horror Classic." Noel highly recommended The Last House in the Woods, an Italian film that I initially rolled my eyes at simply because of its title. I mean, come on, we already have two Last House of the Left's. Can we try to have a slightly different name, especially one that doesn't share part of it with one of the most memorable horror flicks of all time?

Nevertheless, I thought about possible names of other horror flicks I would probably scoff at simply because of their name:

The Last House Party on the Left
Friday the 13th Floor
Return of the Living Dead Alive
Near Dark Floors
Blue Steel Trap
The Vanishing Point Break
Cabin Disco Fever

I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but what about a movie based on its title? I shall ponder that.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A different kind of interview

Recently reading a friend's Q&A meme, I realized it had been a while since I done one. Maybe that was a good thing? Well, instead of answering questions about my favorite color or food, I thought about answering questions that weren't written with me in mind. I thought it would be funny to take the questions from this interview and answer them. I don't mean to mock the person interviewed or the interviewer, I'm just reminded of a blogger friend who decided to read a book clearly written for teenage girls and he wrote a review of the book.

You dance, sing and act in High School Musical 3 - but which of the three do you prefer?

I tend to overact. At any time. Is that close enough? So I guess I'll say "act."

What music do you listen to at home?

I'm really excited about the Bruce Springsteen Tracks box set I recently picked up. Lots of great stuff I've never heard before, and it makes me want to check out more of Springsteen's seminal work. Other than that, I've been enjoying my regular diet of Dillinger Escape Plan, ABBA, Zao, and Red House Painters.

Do you like to party?

Yes. There are plenty of pictures to prove this on my Facebook and MySpace pages. But I'm not a fall-down-stupid-drunk party animal.

What’s the best thing about working in show business?

Probably all the free stuff you get. It makes you think you're rich and you have no problems.

Are there any downsides to being a successful actress?

Yes: they don't like it when you get old.

Are the paparazzi a pain?

Sure, but they're doing their job: being stalkers with cameras. Besides, people have got to know about your private life.

How tough is it in the spotlight?

Usually, it's very hot. When that light shines on you, you can sweat in no time.

Is it difficult to see false gossip written about you in the press?

No, because there's no gossip written about me in the press.

What advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps and become famous?

If you're following me that close to my footsteps, I'd ask, "Hi, is there any reason why you're following so close to me?"

How would you describe yourself?

Charlie Brown when he's considering to kick the football or not.

How would your friends describe you?

Funny, insane, nice, reasonable, and intense.

You’re a dancer, a singer and an actress... Is there anything you’re not good at?

Car repair, reading philosophy books, understanding the apparent greatness of Heavenly Creatures, the list goes on and on.

Do you still enjoy meeting fans?

Absolutely: I like how fans cool me down when I'm hot.

Are fans the same around the world?

I think they spin counterclockwise in Australia.

Where would you most like to visit on your next trip abroad?

Australia.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Quack Fu!

There are certain things from my childhood that I'd prefer to not revisit. I hope to never get the hives again. I hope I never believe that skeletons come out and prowl the streets after midnight. I hope I never go back to watching movies on VHS and pan-and-scan. And I'd like to stay away from a repeat viewing of Howard the Duck.

I loved Howard the Duck when I was a kid growing up in New Orleans. I had a poster of him and owned a comic book, and I watched the film at least once. Even though I can't really remember what all happened in the film, other than Howard popping out of a large egg and Lea Thompson dedicating a song to him towards the end of the film, I'd prefer to keep it that way. Why? It's not because the film is one of the most reviled films George Lucas has been a part of (next to The Phantom Menace). Frankly, it's simply because of how there can be experiences, like bands and movies, that can only truly affect you in your youth. Trying to revisit them in adulthood can yield unsatisfactory results.

Numerous movies I watched when I was young still resonate with me: Star Wars, Back to the Future, and the Muppet Movie, for starters. Yet like watching episodes of Full House, watching something like Howard the Duck would make me wonder why I really watched something in the first place. I argue that I was young and had yet to acquire what most people call "taste." But you have to start somewhere. Starting somewhere years ago gets you to where you are now, right?

We aren't born with an acute sense of taste, especially with films. I've yet to meet a toddler who prefers La Strada over Elmo's World. I've yet to meet a toddler who finds Wilco's later efforts overrated compared to Being There. The comparisons can go on and on. What I'm saying is, give credit to something that can hold somebody's attention, because years down the road, when people can decide what's cool and not cool, credit is going to be given to something you might have thought was pure crap.

I accept the fact that someday, my younger cousins and my nieces will probably praise something I thought was utter garbage when it was first around. I don't want to be that loud, obnoxious dude in a record store that tries to present concrete truth that Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac was better than the Buckingham/Nicks era. I don't want to be that smug guy in the movie theater line in Annie Hall who thought the Fellini film was not one of Fellini's best. Of course I'm going to have my opinions on things, but I think it's important to give people some room on stuff I adamantly dislike.

Plenty of people gave me room to find my own opinion when I was growing up, so I hope I can do the same. (And I'm glad my mother told me only a few years ago that she thought Speed Racer was stupid.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Communication: Duration

This past Saturday night, I figured I'd try something radical: go out without my cell phone on me. I was going to a venue less than ten minutes away from my house and I planned on dancing the entire time there. So, having a cell phone clipped to my pocket just didn't seem like the most essential thing for the night. I wasn't expecting any calls, so I left my phone on the kitchen table.

At no point during the four hours I was away did I greatly miss my phone. When I wanted to know the time, I -- gasp -- asked some friendly folks for it. This all made me think about how important a cell phone really is. Moreover, it made me wonder about why we invest much of our daily lives into cell phone technology. Is it really warranted by need or just really want? Are the benefits really that incredibly better with it rather than without it?

Given the circumstances that night, I didn't need to have the phone on me. There are plenty of other times and circumstances where a phone is a must for me. But I still remember that I spent many, many years of my life driving around and walking around without a cell phone. A portable car phone only really came into our family until late high school for me, so yes, life did exist before cell phones.

Were there times when a cell phone would have been great? Sure, but so much of the rest of time, there were other ways to communicate. But people will counter with the speed of communicating with a cell phone. Well, in my eyes, speed is not as important as just simply communicating.

I recently had a discussion with a friend of mine who told me about his cell phone plan. Included in the package was a limit of 1400 text messages per month. In all the years I've owned a cell phone, I've never written or received that many, combined. I only really use my phone for calls and texts, but since I don't receive many calls or texts, I have a very basic plan. Since I've never been impressed with camera phones or Internet access on a phone, and would never dare to watch a movie or a TV show on a phone, I have a very basic phone.

Is life so advanced with technology that all those extras are a must? It may be that way for many, but they're not in my life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Expectations

Like my previous years at South by Southwest, my experience was just over the course of one day. I'm not complaining -- I doubt I could handle sixteen-hour-days on my feet seeing band after band. Since I could only really get away for a day, I decided that Friday would be the best day to go.

Even though I had committed to going to a party in Plano late that night, I figured I could have fun in Austin during the day and drive back into town right as the party got going. Yes, I drove from Austin to Plano, and no matter how uncool Plano might be, a fun time was to be had with my friends. And I don't regret that at all.

Since I've been through the experience of waiting in lines for hours trying to get into a night show, I figured I should stick to the free day parties. So right as the night shows began, I was back on the road. But I had a very productive day at the Radio Room. Even though I watched three bands play (the Thermals, Cut Off Your Hands, and Ra Ra Riot), they were three great bands. I was especially taken with Cut Off Your Hands -- their sound reminds of the great elements of Silent Alarm and Is This It? along with classic '50s and '60s rock 'n' roll. Their You & I album is quite good.

Frankly, my goal with SXSW this year was to see friends more than to see bands. Many of the friends I saw live in Chicago, so when they're three hours closer by car, it's much closer than three hours by plane. I couldn't resist, and I had a great time. Getting to see any bands, moreover great bands, was second on the priority list.

After a great dinner at the Iron Cactus, I hit the road and ran into zero traffic on 35. Stopping a couple of times for gas and a Dairy Queen Blizzard, I was ready to party. Even though the heat from the sun made me a little wobbly, I still had a great time. I even played the drums on Rock Band 2 on the not-so-insulting "Easy" level. Still, real drums tower over drums on Rock Band and Guitar Hero.

At the end of the night, I had been up for nineteen hours straight and ready for sleep. As much as I like having a routine with a job and free time, I can't walk away from the possibility to do something fun outside of the routine. That's why SXSW is always a great diversion for me, even if I can only get away for one day.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One more time with feeling

Recently listening to blink-182's Enema of the State, along with reading through Trevor's post about the band's recent announcement of their reunion, I think about when that record came out nearly ten years ago. Never did I think it was going to be such a big success for the band and an incredibly influential record for many years to come.

I can recall talking with my friend Eddie, a guy who played in a fast pop-punk band called Thanx But No Thanx and just so happened to work at the sports gear store right next to the Best Buy I worked at, about Enema, among many other records at the time. Frankly, we just thought it was an even better record than Dude Ranch. I don't think at any point in our conversations did we believe that the record would sell millions of copies and make the band as influential as Green Day. We just liked the record, plain and simple.

Now in hindsight, I believe I learned a valuable lesson about influential records in general: nothing guarantees what can make a record a highly influential one. That's the kind of stuff that happens well after the songs are written and recorded and sent off to the record pressing plant. All that bands really can do is make the best possible record given the circumstances.

But still I can't help wonder: a band considered legends when they had jokey songs about watching girls and crank calling people, and even named an album Take Off Your Pants and Jacket? Then again, they had great songs about much more serious matters, and sang them with complete sincerity. I'm just amazed that a band that had a cameo in American Pie is taken a bit more seriously. Maybe it was the great songs, especially their experimental-but-really-works self-titled record, but their status among many is what it is.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who watches the Watchmen?

Last post on Watchmen, until I change my mind and think there's something else to say.

I've heard plenty of complaints before with adapting books into movies. Without fail, there's always somebody who wants to complain that something was excised, minimized, or changed completely. Still, I'm rather puzzled at the sticklers who wanted Watchmen the movie to be a panel-by-panel recreation of the graphic novel (even though the "motion comic" produced a few years ago is now finally available on DVD).

Just a friendly reminder to those that wanted a panel-by-panel adaptation: this is a film based on a graphic novel. The fact that anything from the graphic novel is in the film is a great thing, because for so long, it didn't look like that was going to happen. Plus, this is a film meant to be watched in one sitting. With the graphic novel, you can read the whole thing in a few days. I challenge anyone to read Watchmen in two and a half hours, the same length of the film. I truly doubt anybody can really do that and soak up all the subtleties and nuances in the process.

I've met people who weren't too happy about certain tweaks done with the Lord of the Rings movies and Harry Potter movies. I've never met anyone who was upset that a lot of small details were left out of the film adaptation of Tom Clancy's Patriot Games. But for some odd reason, it seems like the level of frustration and angst about Watchmen's tweaks have been strangely loud to me. For me, being the non-fan I was of the graphic novel, I'm just thankful that Zack Snyder made a great film that helped me gain a better understanding of this thought-provoking and smart story.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Party's (Not) Over

This past weekend, I took in another theatrical screening of Watchmen. I wanted to see it again soon, but after reading David Hayter's open letter on Ain't It Cool News, I figured I should see it on Friday night. Hearing about the box office receipts last night and today, I was reminded of how often futile it seems to get behind any kind of cause.

I don't mean to be all pessimistic, but I have to bring out this idea I've stated here: the true success of any film is that it a) got made b) got released, and c) is available for people to see. In the long run, that's what measures the lasting success of a film, not its box office totals. If you think I'm wrong and believe that only memorable movies make a lot of money at the box office, then forget about Citizen Kane, It's a Wonderful Life, Vertigo, Mallrats, Dazed and Confused, and A Christmas Story, to name a few.

In the case of Watchmen, the fact that the movie is a very faithful adaptation (and is a very good movie) makes it already a success in my eyes. You don't have to wonder if I'll pick it up or not when it comes out on DVD. But to the people Hayter referred to in his letter, it seemed like there was an open window for "movies that have a brain, or balls" riding on this weekend's totals. Well, hearing about how the film "plummeted" doesn't necessarily cast a light of hope. But you know what? I'm not surprised, and I'm not one to think the party's over.

Think about the logic behind this past weekend: a very hard-R film in its second week while a PG movie opens its first week. In this PG film, there are no broken bones sticking out of people's bodies, graphic sex scenes, explicit language, or arm decapitation. PG appeals to more people, a more mainstream audience, but this is March, and almost anything could go.

I don't necessarily know what kind of effect this will all mean for faithful adaptations of non-PG-13 comics into films, but at least one of the most acclaimed graphic novels of all time got a great adaptation. I'd much rather have a film that moves me, no matter how many minor tweaks were done from the original, instead of a forgettable, PG-13 interpretation about Iraq and 9/11. Yet still, people want to complain about the lack of a silly squid monster at the end of a movie.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We'll be at the drive-in

Emo, to me, is the hair metal of now

--John Congleton

I heard many great quotes from the Paper Chase's John Congleton when I interviewed him for POST. He knows what he's talking about, and he knows how to articulate it extremely well. Thinking about his quote above, then watching the video for Poison's "Talk Dirty to Me" again, and then thinking about the shouty mall emo/screamo bands I've come across in the last six years, I wonder how this collison of emo, goth, hardcore, metal, the Warped Tour, Pro-Tools, and eyeliner will age. I think it's safe to say it will not age well. At all.

If you just go off of sound, a song like "Talk Dirty to Me" is simply a glossy, almost power pop version of a number of Sex Pistols songs like "EMI" and "Pretty Vacant." There is no screaming or whining vocals -- just the epitome of 80s hair metal meant to be played in stadiums. The song itself is very much of its time, and while there's better glossy power pop out there (start with the Raspberries and Cheap Trick for starters), this song is not bad at all. To my ears, this kind of stuff has aged decently.

Now I turn to exhibit B: a video by A Skylit Drive called "All it Takes for Your Dreams to Come True." Yes, this song is upbeat and energetic, but it is filled with very teenager-like, angsty vibes. Of course this is perfect when you're pissed at the world, but is it really something you can sing along to? Sorry, screaming along to is not the same thing as singing along. Besides, who the hell can really sing along to vocals that high-pitched?

There's nothing wrong with angst in poppy songs. Some of the greatest songs of all time that made the world unite have angst in them. The deal is, I highly, highly doubt any song from the catalog of Chiodos, Hawthorne Heights, or Bring Me the Horizon will be seriously considered on par or better than songs by Nirvana, the Clash, Dylan, the Stones, or Hendrix.

So this all makes me wonder: what could possibly deflate this beast that is a train wreck considered "post-hardcore" for an audience that doesn't like to be called emo? Or have we just laid that hope to rest since it seems the Internet has more of an impact than even Nevermind did in 1991?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hum Hallelujah

In my time on the air, I have developed a small arsenal of catchphrases that I use. Sometimes, there are lines that I use on special occasions, even if they might seem rather obscure and strange. I once described an overnight construction project going "all night long, just like the Lionel Richie song." Now, that's an easy one to spot, given how popular Lionel Richie was in the 1980s, and that was one of his biggest hits. But, in the last year or so, I came up with a line that is rather obscure, even though I argue that it is not.

From time to time, when a really bad wreck finally clears up, I'll say, "Break out the Leonard Cohen songbooks and sing 'Hallelujah.'" Some may say, "huh?" but, as more years pass, Cohen's classic keeps becoming more familiar.

I was introduced to "Hallelujah" the way that many people my age did: through Jeff Buckley's version on Grace. I've heard a few different versions, including Cohen's own rendition, as well as John Cale's and Rufus Wainwright's, but Buckley's is still my favorite. The thing is, this song is not obscure at all, at least to me. John Cale's rendition is featured in a key scene in the original Shrek, the song was performed on American Idol and The X Factor, and most recently, Cohen's version is used in Watchmen. Just read the Wikipedia page for even more info.

So, it's not an obscure reference, but it's not like I'm talking about the National Anthem. Plenty of on-air folks have their stable of phrases. For me, it's about songs with lyrics that apply to the situation at hand. The deal is, not everybody knows these songs by heart. It could be worse: I once said, "Break out the John Rutter and sing 'Rejoice.'"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Burning

My review of The Burning is now online at Doomed Moviethon.

Though he was a successful promoter of rock concerts, Harvey Weinstein, along with his brother Bob, wanted to get into making films in the early 1980s. They had a script, written before the release of the original Friday the 13th, called "The Cropsy Murderer". The Burning was to become Miramax’s first film, released many years before they released such films as Shakespeare in Love, Scream, and Good Will Hunting.


Read the rest here.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Just a matter of time, I suppose.

I'm quite sure I'm not the only one out there who has this opinion, but I'll go ahead and say this: I did not like Watchmen, the graphic novel, but I loved Zack Snyder's film adaptation. I know with a lot of comic book geeks saying you didn't like Watchmen as a graphic novel is like a Christian saying he or she didn't like the Bible, but my one and only readthrough of the entire Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons epic yielded very unsatisfying results.

I know people who have read Watchmen many times and have said that the book gets better with multiple readings. The deal is, if I didn't like it on the first readthrough, why should I read it again? Now that I've seen Watchmen as a film, I'm quite compelled to read it again.

Maybe it was the book's artwork and the very, very 1980s vibe, but I found reading Watchmen in 2004 a very dated book. This is not a book that's easy to digest with its multi-leveled story, so repeat readings are pretty necessary. But, I now have a better understanding with those who didn't like Southland Tales. I guess the perspective has come full circle.

All this said, I wasn't going into the movie hoping that every single panel from the book would be presented onscreen exactly how I wanted it. Frankly, I wanted to see a film director's point of view about this story, and I was completely blown away by what Snyder pulled off. The music, the acting, the pacing -- everything just rang true for me. Plus, I was able to see the deeper story instead of trying to understand what all the Black Freighter meant and why the Squid seemed so necessary.

So for me, Watchmen is just a stunning film -- and a film that I highly doubt any studio would greenlight unless Snyder was at the helm. He had a box office hit with a mostly faithful adaptation of a graphic novel before, so they gave him another shot. That sure beats a softened, PG-13 version of the material set in the present day focusing on Iraq and 9/11. But alas, people have complained that there were tweaks made, but I find Patton Oswalt's rant pretty spot on. (HT: Josh at the A.V. Club)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Mama, I'm Swollen

Earlier in the week, I posted about the new Cursive record getting an early digital release. Now there's an interview with Saddle Creek's Jason Kulbel about the decision to sell the record digitally earlier, and for so cheap. (HT: Punknews.org)

Interesting stuff, I must say. Again, I'm not thinking or proclaiming this is the way of the future. I just like hearing about labels embracing -- instead of fighting -- the digital age.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

We may be donkeys, but at least we have a tale to tell

There was a time in my life (2002 to be precise) when I listened to a lot of Bright Eyes. I had heard about Conor's work around the time of the Every Day and Every Night EP, and my friend Nick claims to have played something from it for me on a late-night trip back from Austin. The hour was late and I was just trying to stay awake, so my memory is very hazy. Plus, I don't think that qualifies as the best kind of situation to be properly introduced to potentially life-changing artist. (Then again, years later, Nick played Tom Waits's Small Change late one night in his loft in Chicago, and my life was changed.)

Anyway, summer of 2002, Bright Eyes' Lifted came out and it was my favorite record of the year. The lyrics, the musical presentation, and Conor's singing all clicked perfectly with me and where my life was at the time. Now (and this has been the case for the last couple of years) I find myself not listening to Bright Eyes for the same reasons.

With Lifted now, I hear an early twenty-something trying to find his way with lushly layered folk songs. The deal is, the singing and the lyrics just don't click with me as an early thirty-something. I'm not saying I've outgrown angst or anything; I just don't have the appetite to frequently listen to Conor's songs anymore. What I do find myself still listening to (also from the Saddle Creek stable) is Cursive.

I admit my guilt in passing on Cursive's Domestica and Burst and Bloom based on my first impression. The Fugazi influence was too obvious to my ears, and not for the best in judging Cursive as Cursive. A while later I gave the two releases another chance and really got into the band. Once The Ugly Organ came out, the deal had been sealed. Happy Hollow continued my enjoyment of the band, and it continues with their latest, Mama, I'm Swollen.

So I wonder why I'm liking Cursive way more now, liking Bright Eyes way less, when seven years ago, it was opposite situation. Maybe it's the situation in my life, and how I look at life in general. Who knows. All I can say is, life has its way of reversing things, and it's not always for the bad.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

After Post

Currently, I have no plans to re-release Post with updates on the bands that I featured. There's a reason why it has "1985-2007" in the title: that's the timeline I mainly covered in my research. Some things happened in 2008 that happened either right before or right after the book came out, like Hot Water Music and the Get Up Kids reuniting. Now in 2009, some big news has come forward: not only did Jimmy Eat World perform Clarity in its entirety on a special tour, but Blake Schwarzenbach's new band, the Thorns of Life, shall record their debut album with J. Robbins.

To me, it's not about being the most up-to-date on everything a band has done. Rather, Post is an attempt to explain why these bands are so revered in the first place.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Don't want to live in the now/don't want to know what I know

Many thanks to Aubin at Punknews.org for posting the following news item: the new Cursive album, Mama, I'm Swollen, is now available as a paid digital download, even though it won't come out on CD and vinyl until March 10th. At only two bucks today (the price goes up one dollar until March 10th), I couldn't really say no to this. The MP3s are at 320 kbps and the artwork comes with it. Again, I couldn't say no.

I'm not one to say this should be the new model for album distribution, but I must say, this is a great idea. In the past, Saddle Creek has embraced the digital world much better than other labels, and I'm happy they're doing this special. As somebody who has yet to purchase an entire album on iTunes or Amazon's MP3 store for various reasons, this deal is pretty much a steal. (And it's a great album.)

I have yet to get on board with Amazon's MP3 store due to the program one must download in order to download songs. It's not that I don't think that's a great thing -- I just haven't been that inclined to dowload anything from there. In the case of the iTunes Music Store, the whole DRM thing (that is apparently gone now) and the varying sound quality of their files have kept me away. Saddle Creek has just offered the album as is, no strings attached. I don't know if they're gonna lose their shirt by doing this, but this was an album I was going to buy anyway, and I don't really have much room for CDs on my CD shelf anymore.