The archive of the old hardlikealgebra.com

Month: February, 2008

Other People’s Words, 28 February 2008

Radiohead remixes for free (and it’s legal!). [via]


I was first introduced to largehearted boy because some smart ass made a tracker that listed how often he posted about the Mountain Goats (short answer: often). So, it comes as no surprise that he would have a great interview on the site with Mr. Darnielle, the day Heretic Pride comes out. I had to avoid reading all of it because I want to have a mostly unsullied-by-reviews reaction to it, but I surely will come back to it later. A favorite part:

SM: “In the Craters on the Moon” talks about “the end of a long war,” but it’s not a political song…

JD: THANK YOU SAM DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW MANY INTERVIEWERS THINK THIS IS A POLITICAL SONG BECAUSE IT HAS THE WORD “WAR” IN IT. I love everybody but seriously people a signpost doesn’t always indicate a road.


Rosemary posted about the free Mobius Band covers album, and proved that you can capture the personal meaning of a song in far fewer words than I usually do.


Maxim reviews Black Crowes album; doesn’t actually listen to it.


David Byrne on yet another music distribution model.


Great shots of the two Doug Fir Mountain goats shows from flickr member xXxBrianxXx.


some flare up with love love love

John Darnielle at the Doug Fir

So, for a while now I’ve been referring to my “Big Three” of favorite bands: The Hold Steady, The Mountain Goats, and Wilco.

I think it’s safe to say I narrowed it down to one.

Darnielle and the boys had so much fun.

It should go without saying that we did, too.

Sleep now. More later.

Mighty Mighty Bloodhounds

I think Nate will truly appreciate this.


I think I want to start a Bosstones tribute band.  Someday, I suppose.

Real update soon, hopefully.  I’ve got some drafts stored up.

Reflections on Musical Gluttony

According to a recent Seattle Weekly article, in November Google VP Sukhinder Singh Cassidy “predicted that by the year 2015, a storage device the size of an iPod will be able to hold 4 terabytes. In seven years, every song ever recorded in the world will fit in our pockets.”

Now, this doesn’t say “and that will totally be an affordable device for the typical consumer,” but then again, it’s also possible that we’re going to be all Shadowrun-ned up with chips in our head. For perspective, keep in mind that blogs as a phenomenon (rather than just a sort of niche market) didn’t exist seven years ago.

The article goes on to talk about a few things, such as:

–having a ton of choice leads to being dissatisfied (sort of a grass is greener approach — if you could torrent a new yard)

–this glut will lead to a transition from actively choosing to just picking from what’s readily available, and

–this leads to an over-reliance on filters (top 40 lists, trusted music sites, social network sites) to give leads on what to choose (or pick).

The writer even astutely notes, “I now find myself getting bored, even in the middle of songs, because I can.”

What’s really intriguing for me, though, is this idea that too much choice still means too much. I’m taking the Buddhist precepts in a few weeks, and a lot of the success I’ve had stemming from this interest has come from trying to live in the present moment. I think that’s probably what a good song and a good show and a good “____” does to me, too–puts me in the present moment.

So how does a big old music fan discover what really, truly moves them, when the choices are vast, attainable, and ultimately producing a feeling that “this is pretty good but I bet if I just keep looking….” It’s thrift store shopping without the physical objects, and in that way, something is lost.

To me this is intriguing in that it reflects how much technology continues to drive music listening. This has been true pretty much since recorded music began, from format (such as how CD’s led to more album filler, or how downloading has moved folks back to singles) to players (quality shifts as radio moved from tinny AM radios to better, FM radios). As each shift takes place, you’ll have people (Luddites? Rabble rousers? Grumps?) that bemoan the change, wonder what we’ve done, on and on. Hell, one of my best friends loves cassette tapes, frequently scours eBay for the best walkman models, and will defend passionately the superiority of the medium.

Tapes were also the first medium I used as a young music fan, and then CD’s. But still, the vinyl albums I really listened to in college have stuck with me because of the fact that I wasn’t about to skip tracks, and because of the ease in which I’d play the same album side over and over. It takes some concentration these days to make sure that I make it to the end of any album I download — and that even means that sometimes i go see “favorite artists” play and realize that what I thought was a “great album” was really “a great first five songs, and sometimes I’d hear the rest,” or, even more accurately, “a great x minutes of songs, where x is the amount of time it takes to get to work in the morning.”

One of the guys over at Yelling About Music wrote quite an amazing post* that relates to all of this, about his music purchasing. For him, the availability of music in general has made his disposable income purchases of music nearly, well, disposable (I say nearly because, like many music fans, he can’t quite get himself to get rid of previously favorite discs).

I have been buying albums more in the last year. Like, vinyl. I love it. I love the huge album jackets, the artwork, the heft. I love that there’s no way that the sound is coming thru my computer (even though it is actually coming thru one tin(n)y built-in speaker), that it’s a conscious decision to put on Last Light again, or Tupelo Honey, or Get Lonely. I think it also makes me appreciate these albums more than the ones that I download from eMusic or Bittorrent; I think I love that part, too.

And yes, I love that the labels caught on…and they finally are including codes for downloading mp3’s of the same vinyl albums, in the packaging.

After all, I still can’t fit a record in my pocket.

*Seriously, “Harry,” I wish I knew how to contact you to tell you how well this was written.

Thirty ain’t lookin’ so bad

There are many shows coming up in my life, and today I found out that Iron & Wine (well, just Sam Beam) is playing at Wheaton College the night I fly in to Chicago. For those keeping track at home:

feb 15 iron & wine (wheaton, il)
feb 16 wilco (chicago)
feb 17 is my 30th birthday wtf
feb 18 st. vincent (back in portland)
feb 19 mountain goats album and vampire weekend vinyl are released
feb 25 mountain goats
feb 26 mountain goats
mar 25 vampire weekend (my new band crush)

Helluva time for music.

Related awesome forum post of the day:

So is Iron and Wine a Christian band or something?


I lost my weird misplaced integrity by downloading the new Mountain Goats album. I tried to not listen to it until I could listen to it all in one sitting but that’s really hard shit to do, yknow? Really hard shit. And now I am getting sick and I’m not gonna lie: if I have to take sick days it’s gonna be all about me, an asthma inhaler, and Heretic Pride over and over and over.


It makes me really happy to know that Adam Voith is responsible for booking the Mountain Goats.