Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How to lose listeners and alienate MD's...

This rant will be brief, but I'm warning you now, it's a rant.

Earlier today, I was going through the mail we receive twice daily here at UMFM. As a good-sized campus/community station we get a fair number of albums in the mail and sometimes to cut down on costs we'll get the liner and CD without a jewel case. This tends to piss me off a bit because it's not like we're flush with spare jewel cases around here. But I understand that it cuts down on weight for shipping, so I chalk it up as a peeve and get over it.

HOWEVER, today I received an album that just irritated the hell out of me. Ice Palace's Wonder Subtly Crushing Us wasn't sent without a jewel case - it was sent WITHOUT PACKAGING. Someone decided it would be a good idea to send us the album by simply sticking an address label on the front of the album and slapping down $1.42 for postage. Maybe there's an environmental impetus behind this decision as I noticed the "Offset with NativeEnergy.com" logo on the back, but if that's the case, why not go strictly digital? As you can see from the photo below, between the address label, the customs sticker and the postage 'stamp' it's virtually impossible to see the album underneath. And with the type of cardstock that was used for the album, it's virtually impossible to take these stickers off without tearing off the artwork.

So I'm not going to even attempt it.

This album is unusable in its present condition - none of our programmers are going to check it out on the New Release shelf when it looks like this, and if it's all torn up they're less likely to do so. I'm not sure how many industry types, promoters or label-reps read this here blog but if you do I'll say straight up this is not how you service a record.

Feel free to root through the U of M's recycling if you want to hear this record, 'cause that's where it's going after I post this.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I'm hot for Hot 'n' Cold...

Honestly, I should be working - or at least starting on an actual album-related post, but I just saw this video and had to share. Ukranian band Los Colorados' cover of Katy Perry's "Hot 'n' Cold" (on what appears to be the Ukranian equivalent of The Big Breakfast... Wake up Kiev, perhaps?). It is brilliant.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hot damn, it's Kutiman!

I try to abide by some rules for my posts, and one of those is to only discuss albums here on Ear To The Sound, but something came across my desk today that I am compelled to share. And thankfully I've already written about the artist in question when his full-length album came out.

Kutiman has REMIXED YOUTUBE, the results of which can be seen here and below. And when I say "remixed youtube" I mean he took a bunch of videos and spliced them together to create a project entitled Thru You from the assembled audio parts. IT IS FREAKIN' AMAZING.

That is all.

While I wait for the snow to melt, I listen to Bird By Snow

I know February is the shortest month of the year, but this one really got away on me. Between suffering from strep throat and readying the baby room for the impending addition to the family I just never had a moment to post here. Which is not to say I haven't heard any blog-worthy music over the past month. Far from it. While painting the baby room I listened to a whole host of new albums including Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, the Great Lake Swimmer's Lost Channels and The Boy Least Likely To's The Law Of The Playground. That Grizzly Bear record has been blogged to bits and if you aren't up on the Great Lake Swimmers after Bodies and Minds and Ongiara, well I can't help you. But You Ain't No Picasso can.

I may yet write about The Boy Least Likely To, whose follow-up to the sweetly winning The Best Party Ever merits its own post but the album I want to feature today is one that I became aware of thanks to my pal J-Rod and the blog bolachas grátis who put me on to Bird By Snow. It's an album I've been returning to repeatedly these last few weeks.

By turns hushed and clamorous, Bird By Snow's material is lovingly hand-crafted from field recordings, tape-collage, voice, guitar, cello and more. Fletcher Tucker (the steady hand behind BBS) has entitled the album Songbread/Another Ocean as he views each side of the LP as its own entity, deserving of its own nomenclature and "more mind-space to flourish and expand," though I have trouble drawing a distinction between the two halves - it's a uniformly captivating record.

There are squalls of white noise that drift in and out of the mix, and Tucker's use of silence lends it an instrumental quality. And while the songs don't quite fall under the 'freak folk' umbrella, I can imagine there is some overlap between audiences for Devendra Banhart, MV & EE and Bird By Snow. But where Banhart populates his song with characters, playing up the quirk, and MV & EE suffuse their folk with drone, Bird By Snow is intensely personal and the melodies are never lost amidst the surrounding noise. It's beautiful music, but the beauty is a fragile and awkward one.

Before I go, here's a selection from the the Songbread half of the release entitled "If You Wait."

You can order the album from Gnome Life Records, and be sure to visit Bird By Snow's Myspace page (the band's personal website appears to be down).

Thanks for reading, now start listening...