LaLa Reinvents Itself

Remember the old days, when Lala was a simple down-home CD trading service, just like Mom used to make?  You would list all the CDs you wanted to get rid of (or all the CDs you claimed to own, using their iTunes library scanning plugin), and all the CDs you wanted, and the magic elves would match you up with other people so you could have their stuff and they could have yours.  The USPS greased the wheels, and everything ran smoothly.  That is, until every single member hit that point where everyone wanted their stuff, but no one was offering anything they wanted.  So everyone ended up with the fabled "green light" status with absolutely no incentive to ship out any CDs.  And that was the end of the story.

Until they opened their music store!  A great alternative to Amazon or CD Baby or [insert list of 5,000 other online music retailers] where you could order relatively low-priced CDs right from your want list.  And that was the end of the story.

Until they bought Woxy.com, tried to get you to upload your music collection and make your own radio stations and a bunch of other weird stuff.  And then they went out of business.  And that was the end of the story.

Until now.  Lala has finally embraced my own personal philosophy of music: that it belongs in the cloud, accessible from anywhere.  As you may have read elsewhere, Lala has been beta testing a new service whereby you can purchase "web songs" for only 10 cents - these songs live on Lala forever, and you can stream them as many times as you like once you've paid your initial 10 cents.  In addition, you can upload your entire music library to the Lala cloud (well, all the songs that match Lala's fairly extensive licensed library) and stream them from Lala whenever you want.  And they're selling DRM-free MP3s.  Suck on that, Rhapsody.

I think this is a great move for them, and for DRM-free music in general.  Of course it would be great if you could actually get high-quality files (FLAC, anyone?) as opposed to just MP3s, but it's still a move in the right direction.  I've long been an advocate of keeping your entire music collection in one giant digital place and playing it back from a variety of locations and devices, and this seems like a great way for people to do just that.  And I like the idea of a 10-cent "permanent rental."

What do you think?  Are any of you using this yet?  Are you using any similar services?


Jukebox The Ghost Ruined My Rock Show

This past weekend, the missus and I decided to take in a show.  I was excited to see that Say Hi (née Say Hi To Your Mom) was coming to the Black Cat, and that local favorites Jukebox The Ghost were opening for them.  Or so I assumed.  Turns out it was the other way around, which is really too bad for all concerned.

Following the Junior League Band (banjos! fiddles!) , Say Hi did a great set, keeping the banter to a minimum (seriously, rock and rollers, can none of you maintain 30 seconds of witty banter?) and playing some kick-ass songs both old and new.  I was really impressed with their live sound - their records all sound pretty low energy, even on the faster songs, and it was cool to hear the songs played with a much higher level of energy on stage.  I always find it more interesting to hear a band do a different take on their music live as opposed to just regurgitating exactly what you can hear on a recorded album.  Even if some bands take that idea to the extreme.

After they left the stage, I waited eagerly for Jukebox to come on and rock the place.  I should state at this point that while I really like a couple songs from their album Live And Let Ghosts, on the whole I think it sounds like a lot of unrealized potential.  In other words, they would make a great opening band.  However, this being a hometown show for them, I can understand their place in the lineup.  What I don't understand is why they felt it necessary to have a bunch of people come out and spend the next almost 30 minutes taping up xeroxed copies of their band logo (picture a poorly drawn Blinky from Pacman) and throwing glowsticks and whatnot out into the crowd.  Between that, stringing up ghost lights, and other nonsense, they managed to totally kill the momentum of the show.

As if that weren't bad enough, frontman Ben Thornewill took the stage with the smarmiest smile I have ever witnessed at a rock show, and kept it plastered on his face from that point on.

I don't know if he ever actually winked, but it was pretty close to watching Sarah Palin play the keyboards.  They played the one song my wife really wanted to hear, and we left after 4 disappointing songs.  I would  give them another chance if they were opening for someone cool, but I don't think I ever need to see these guys headline again.

Here's a couple songs I like by each band.  Enjoy!

So, you ever walk out of a rock show?  Why?  Tell me in the comments.
While you're pondering, enjoy some other great DC bands.