The Rich Girls Are Weeping

23 October 2006

I don't know what it is today -- I'm spaced out and crabby at the same time. I suppose it might be because I made the mistake of eyeballing a bunch of messageboard and blog comment thread conversations about the utter non-news item that is the leak of the Shins' album Wincing The Night Away (due out in January...) and SubPop's sudden about-face into RIAA land (someone tell RIAA Radar!!!) and employment of Web Sheriff to police the mp3 blogs and aggregators for naughty leaks from the album. I'm not really a fan of getting into wanky conversations about the legality or illegality of what we do here in mp3 blog-land -- it's a really pointless conversation, don't you think? Pandora's box is already open, there's no stuffing the P2P networks back under the bed, or the sites that flagrantly post in-demand tracks to boost traffic (and ad revenues). Not that I'm brushing off a discussion steeped in morality, or anything. I just feel that, as with all other hot-button issues, it seems very few people can really discuss this subject rationally or coherently (including myself). Also, I'm just not a fan of wanky intellectual exercises, either. I didn't do so well in those college philosophy courses, as you might imagine.

Additionally, I was rendered absolutely cross-eyed by the New York Times' article about Starbucks' foray into the marketing of cultural products along with their coffee. We know about the music -- but they're tiptoeing into other media: film and books, most notably. I think this bit freaked me out the most:
A major player in the company’s music business is Timothy Jones, manager of compilations and music programming. Mr. Jones, 58, ran a small independent record shop in Seattle until 1987, when his business folded and he started managing the Starbucks across the street. Customers there asked if they could buy the mixes of Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis he was playing, and that’s how it all got started. What he looks for now, he says, is “a believable sound that isn’t too harsh.”

Mr. Jones championed Madeleine Peyroux when she was a critically acclaimed singer who had never quite hit it big; since her album “Careless Love” started selling at Starbucks, its sales have CD tripled.

“We do our best with a new artist when there’s sort of an NPR buzz going on around him, the stars-in-the-making,” Mr. Jones said. “Then we take a Decemberists or a Madeleine Peyroux and put it out there in the spotlight of the coffeehouse, and people standing in line say, ‘I’ve heard about this person.’ ”

Balancing out the newer artists are the classics Starbucks sells packaged in coffee hues of sepia: Tony Bennett, Etta James, Marvin Gaye. “It’s like European-style roasted coffee,” Mr. Jones said. “It’s reaching back, it’s timeless.”
It's not that I really have a problem with Starbucks, or their product, or that they're shilling CDs and movies and books, or running the Starbucks Salon, which hosted appearances from a number of my favorite bands and authors -- it's that this utterly offensive, corporate-speak-spewing person is the one in charge of deciding what the bajillions of Starbucks consumers are exposed to. (You think they could hire someone who makes an effort to exude the aura of a quirky tastemaker -- it ads more authenticity that way, right?) I mean, you think that there's some kind of correlation between the NPR aesthetic and the Starbucks one, but to see it spelled out this clearly, that's just, well, creepy -- you know? I don't know, maybe it is just better that we be all meta about this and have it all out in the open, so that everyone's aware of that 'faux-alternative' aesthetic (thank you, Jonathan Lethem). So, excuse me if I laugh when the author of the article quotes someone as saying that exposing customers to the sweetly-bland singer Madeleine Peyroux makes the the Starbucks experience less antiseptic -- when for me, hearing her music in that context only functions to anesthetize the environment, not enhance it.

But, on the other hand, there's grand news that Spoon are recording down at Public Hi-Fi, and there's a Britt Daniel solo show on November 2nd, which is a nice treat for us as we can't go to CMJ for Pinkie's birthday... This news cleaves nicely with the pleasant surprise of seeing Mr. Daniels' name on the big screen durning the previews before Marie Antoinette -- I knew he was doing the soundtrack for Stranger Than Fiction, but I'd also somehow also completely forgotten that as well. Looking forward to that...

And yes, for the record, as if this is a big shocker, we loved Marie Antoinette. We cried. We loved the emotional maniplation, especially via soundtrack and the paucity of dialogue, especially in the first 20 minutes or so. If I were feeling particularly like utilising my film degree, I could wank annoyingly on that topic for a good 20 mintues or so -- wait, what was that I was saying about not being a fan of wanky intellectual exercises? Riiiiight. But seriously, it was a lovely picture and yes, if you're expecting a mainline costume drama (but really, who was at this point?) -- you will be disappointed. If you wanted the gory ending, you will be disappointed. If you wanted moralizing, or a message, you'll be disappointed. Well, there is a message, I suppose -- and it's more along the lines of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Hey, go check out Sound of the Suburbs' post about the Peel Session sets out in the UK today, accompanied by three Peel Seession winners from the Au Pairs.

So, after all this bluster and commotion, I discovered that my FTP client isn't behaving, and most the things that were to be posted today are just sort of sitting in limbo on my home machine. Apologies!

In HIGH DEMAND today (abridged):

Seu Jorge -- Oh! You Pretty Things. I don't know how I missed this for over a year -- Seu Jorge's complete recordings of the David Bowie covers in Portuguese originally rendered for use in The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou were finally released all in one place. When I'm feeling particulary crabby, I like to listen to Jorge's covers of the Thin White Duke -- I'm also thinking they might make great lullabies someday... (info)

My Chemical Romance -- Song One (Radio One Live Lounge)
. Yeah, the pretty perfunctory Blur cover -- now in glorious hi-fi (and not a crackly online radio transcode) and collected on the Radio 1's Live Lounge collection out today in the UK that's mostly full of boring duds from bands you won't have heard of (that is, assuming you're not in the UK), much less remember a year from now. The highlights are the versions that were circulated around the blogs days after they were performed on Jo Whiley's lunchtime show on the BBC's Radio One -- the Arctic Monkeys covering the Sugababes, etc. (see also: Franz Ferdinand -- What You Waiting For (Radio One Live Lounge) -- a crowd pleaser if ever there was one, probably because of that seg into "White Wedding" at the end -- or maybe it's hearing Alex sing the line about the Harajuku Girls.) (info)

Bipolar Bear -- Playin' for Keeps
. Ha! Tricked you! Not a cover, but a punchy rocker with plenty of hollerin' and swamp rock boogie action. This rather hotly-tipped LA band (full disclosure: I'm long-time Internet friends with the drummer and her husband!) is totally for fans of Blood on the Wall and the less-stonery-more-cock-rock-y members of the Superprog! revival. If you like what you hear, check out "Bogota," from their label site, and buy a CD and/or check them out if you're in the LA area! (ps -- meet LA Underground, a nice blog I found whilst googling about...) (MySpace)

Ok, I kind of forgot about Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins (with Will Sheff of Okkervil River and The Blow) tonight at Stubb's. Which sucks, because I really wanted to see how The Blow worked in a rather super-huge venue. Someone report back and let me know how it goes. I might make it out to see Cue later at the Beauty Bar, but it's a late show, and there's a very good chance I might just conk out later. The change in weather really is wearing me out something fearsome.

6 Comments:

Blogger paul said...

"It's not that I really have a problem with Starbucks..."

I DO! They're on par with Wal-Mart as far as union busting goes.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 12:47:00 AM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

I try to engage in lifestyle politics as little as possible. Sometimes I'm more succesful than others.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 1:34:00 AM  
Blogger FiL said...

I must admit that homogeneity of any sort gives me an allergic reaction. Just passing a Starbuck's therefore makes me break out in hives. Caffeinate locally is what I say...

On a related note, I was pleased as punch the other week when my 4-year-old son, upon passing a branch of said coffee emporium, commented "There are too many Starbucks."

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 12:02:00 PM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Your son is one sharp tack, Fil! Don't let him know that S$ recently announced that they want to DOUBLE the number of locations in the US. Or something like that...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 1:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Arctic Monkeys covered Girls Aloud, not the sugababes.

Saturday, October 28, 2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger cindy hotpoint said...

Oh, that's right -- it was the other way around. The Sugababes covered the Arctic Monkeys; the Arctic Monkeys covered Girls Aloud.

Sunday, October 29, 2006 12:31:00 PM  

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