Napster Rant
Don't Blame Me, I Was Sick

I saw a guy pissing into his car this week.

Now, I know I must be wrong about this. Who would piss into his own car? No one. But I swear to you, this guy was pulled over to the side of the road, standing in his own car doorway and urinating. That sort of added a surreal tint to my day.

Hello, everyone. I’m sick as the proverbial dog this week (an expression I’ve never understood – dogs have always struck me a perennially healthy creatures) and so my scattered ramblings might be a bit more scattered and rambling than usual. I’m just trying to keep my eyes open. There are a few things, in lieu of any actual new recordings to review, that I wanted to discuss, though, and they primarily deal with the vast musical resource that is the internet.

It’s taken me a while to formulate my feelings on Napster, and I don’t think I’m done yet. Napster is evil, but it’s just so damn cool. I think I’ve decided to use it every once in a while and then feel bad about it, sort of like prearranged guilt. One rationale that I’ve come up with for myself is that I now live in a part of the country where big hats, boots and songs about your truck are prerequisites for being played on the radio. It’s all country, all the time, which makes it harder to hear certain new releases without downloading them.

Take the new Dave Matthews Band song, “I Did It.” God forbid any radio station down here play this tidbit, the first single from their new album Everyday, to be released February 27. In order for me to hear it at all, I had to utilize Napster, but it’s okay because the band themselves authorized its presence there. There’s an enthusiastic announcement right on the title page of the site. And so, feeling justified, I took the 20-some minutes to download, and pressed play.

Right away, the song sounds unlike any DMB tune before it. The guitars are big, loud and electric, and the groove is fairly monstrous. It’s too bad the band was counting on the groove to carry the whole song. It doesn’t really go much of anywhere, and its slick sound makes me kind of leery of the new album. (Oh, and Boyd Tinsley raps…) In a way, though, the fact that I’m disappointed with it brings out what I like about Napster, especially when it comes to the big name groups. If you’re a major label act, your song will show up here. There’s no getting around it. That puts the onus on the band to sell their own product. If your song sucks, and it ends up on Napster a few weeks prior to your album’s release, your sales will most likely take a hit.

If, on the other hand, your song is good, hopefully it will help your album’s bottom line to have the single readily available to everyone. A case in point here might be Semisonic, whose sweet second album Feeling Strangely Fine brought them a whole new audience. They’re returning on March 6 with a new album called All About Chemistry, and the single is waiting for you to point and click. I dug this song, mostly because it didn’t try to do anything different. It’s a bouncy pop number that sounds just like most of Feeling Strangely Fine. Which is, strangely, fine.

Singles are one thing, but my personal Temptation Island is the complete album available for download. I have a CD burner, you see, so I can, theoretically, press my own copy of said album and never buy it. I know, deep down, that this would be wrong, but lo and behold, the complete new Radiohead release, Amnesiac, is just sitting there waiting for me. All of it. After the disaster that was Kid A, I’m a bit wary of tossing more money away to purchase something that may be awful. So far, I’ve resisted the temptation, but should I break down, I’ll let you know.

I’m actually going to cut this short this week to let Nick Allanach start downloading, but there is one other thing I wanted to mention. I found out this week, via the ‘net, that dada broke up. They were a great band with an inconsistent catalog, and if you know them at all it’s probably for their 1992 novelty single “Dizz Knee Land.” You can, of course, download dada tunes, and I recommend anything from their first and third albums (Puzzle and El Subliminoso), especially “Dorina,” “Posters” and “No One.” Then, after you fall in love with what you hear, go buy the albums, of course.

And that’s it. I’m going back to bed, to quote Pete Abrams.

See you in line Tuesday morning.