Friday Playlist: New or New To You

Well, it's Friday, and you know what that means. Yes, you guessed it: it means you can see me and my lovely wife in a total of 15 10-minute improv shows this weekend. It also means it's time for a new Friday playlist! This week's is a roundup of some music that's either new or new to you [Editor's note: "you" in this case being "me"]. Enjoy! Descriptions below.

  • "Quiet Little Voices" - We Were Promised Jetpacks
    The Scottish invasion continues, this time with the best band name I've heard in a long time. We Were Promised Jetpacks errs on the louder side of the "we are depressed and Scottish, usually in that order" vibe that many of these bands give off. This song is pretty indicative of the louder side of this album - it's a great album, well worth checking out.

  • "Rauðilækur" - Mammút
    My friend Lori recently took a jealousy-inducing trip to Iceland, and she came back loaded with music recommendations. One of them was Mammút, who makes great use of their female vocalist. I assume she's singing in Icelandic. By the way, the playlist tool doesn't really dig those Icelandic letters, so please forgive the gibberish up there.

  • "The Sun" - Portugal. The Man
    I think their new album is my favorite one yet by this great band. I hear traces of The Sleepy Jackson and Viva Voce on this album, and that's a wonderful thing. This song makes me smile.

  • "Even In The Rain" - The Fiery Furnaces
    After a bizarre and somewhat rough patch, The Fiery Furnaces actually put out a good, interesting, weird-but-listenable album! Of course, every song is from a completely different genre, and none of them make any sense, but it's really a good album, I promise. This song is just one of the many catchy (seriously!) numbers on there.

  • "The Lie/The Truth" - Double Dagger
    Double Dagger is a Baltimore-based punk band my brother told me about recently. Don't let that "punk" label fool you - these guys have a surprising amount of pop sensibilities and they know how to craft a hook. Good stuff.

  • "Handsome Furs Hate This City" - The Handsome Furs
    This album is in no way new, but as I've been making my way through the Wolf Parade side projects (or is Wolf Parade the side project of one of those other bands?), I finally discovered The Handsome Furs, courtesy of my friend Jon. They do have a more recent album, but it hasn't won me over as much as Plague Park. This song reminds me a lot of Wolf Parade's "This Heart's On Fire."

  • "We Were Sick" - The Thermals
    I realized today that I hadn't mentioned The Thermals' new album on this blog yet. It's not as good as their last album, but it's still pretty damn good if you're into simple catchy pop-punk, or whatever it's called.

  • "Never Seen" - Lightning Dust
    Another Black Mountain side project, Lightning Dust only has about 1/5 of the membership of Pink Mountaintops, but they still rock, even if they do it quietly and with feeling.

  • "Everyone Is Golden" - Portugal. The Man
    Seriously, this album is so good it deserves to have 2 tracks on today's playlist.
So what else is new? Heard anything good lately? Let me know in the comments.


Friday Playlist: Bees!

Macro Bee by flickr user Antonio Machado
Bees! No time to explain!


Is DRM Dead? The RIAA Says So.

Lifehacker has an interesting piece today (covering a longer piece over at TorrentFreak) about RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy's recent comment in an interview on the subject of DRM: "DRM is dead, isn't it?"

Yes, iTunes dropped DRM, and eMusic recently added tons of new DRM-free Sony tracks. Amazon has offered DRM-free tracks for a while now. But there is still plenty of DRM out there, affecting everything from streaming music to video to e-books. I think Mr. Lamy is trying to be funny, and failing by a mile - the persistent erosion of fair use rights and the treatment of customers as criminals is annoying and at times abusive, and has done little to help artists while doing a lot to retard the growth of culture.

What do you think? Does DRM affect your life? Do you use products that employ DRM technology, or do you try to live a DRM-free life? Let me know in the comments.


Muxtape Founder Says The Internet Will Get Worse, Not Better

This week I had the opportunity to attend an interview with (and ask a question of) Justin Ouellette, the founder of Muxtape. The interview was hosted at a very cool space in Soho called "Meet @ The Apartment" which is run by Marc and Sara Schiller from the Wooster Collective. Justin talked mostly about what Muxtape had been: a simple, free, possibly illegal way for people to share a 12-track mix of songs with the world. Like its cheekier cousin, Mixwit, Muxtape was forced to shut down due to pressure from those bastions of innovation, the RIAA. He talked a little about what Muxtape has become: a platform for bands to market themselves and share their music, like a very stripped-down version of BandCamp.

Justin is primarily a photographer and designer, and his design sense comes through in the Muxtape aesthetic - streamlined, slick, simple. He gave us a peek at the backend of the site, and it's no more complicated to use than the front-end. I'm glad to see that Muxtape is still alive in some form, and it was interesting to hear that Justin had never really planned for any of this to happen - he just made a cool and useful tool for himself and his friends to share music online, and when confronted with the option of folding completely, he chose to try and make a business out of his great idea. Kudos to him.

What was less inspiring was his answer to my question, which was about the future. I think it's bizarre that on every site you go to nowadays, you see ubiquitous messaging urging you to "share" content - on Twitter, Facebook, email, whatever - just share. On the other hand, corporate interests are constantly suing people and organizations that try to share content the way they want to, often pretending there is no such thing as "fair use." Justin mentioned that he would have days where record label marketers would call him and ask that their music be posted to the site, right before lawyers from the same label would call and demand that the music be pulled. Meanwhile artists are increasingly speaking out in favor of file sharing and new distribution methods. I asked him how he thought this tension would resolve itself in the future, and his view was bleak: "The internet is only going to get more locked down." He talked about a recent German censorship law, new methods ISPs are using to do deep packet inspection on user's data streams, and his own experience getting mixed legal advice in the face of an implacable foe.

He ended on a slightly optimistic note, saying that "things will only change when kids who grew up on MySpace are senators." What do you think? Are things going to get worse before they get better? Or are we perhaps coming to the end of a surprisingly young age of ridiculously overbearing copyright law? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.


Some Light Reading

Here's a quick roundup of some recent Music 2.0-related articles and blog posts that you might find of interest (I did):

  • Pandora's Tim Westergren blogs about the long-awaited resolution to the Internet music streaming royalty "crisis." Key highlight: Pandora will stay in business (with some service cutbacks), some smaller sites might not.

  • The Pew Internet and American Life Project recently released the (large) report: "The State of Music Online: 10 Years After Napster." Key highlights: No one has yet found a bulletproof way to make money selling music online, bands are leading labels in dropping resistance to giving away their music, piracy continues unabated.

  • Geniocity.com has an interesting piece on why music is "the main battleground in the copyright wars." Key highlight: No record label wants to sue Girl Talk...because they're afraid he might win.
What have you been reading lately on this topic? Let me know in the comments.