Monday, January 19, 2009


In December I subscribed to Paste, a magazine of new music. I used one of the gift certificates sent me by my stepmother. I bought an issue at a local bookstore last year and liked a number of the songs on the sampler CD that came with. Then I found out the library has a subscription and -- delightful surprise -- most of the backissues they had on the shelf still had their CDs. (The library also has a subscription to Mojo but only one issue in five has managed to keep its CD.) I ripped a buncha songs from the copies owned by the library. The first issue of my own subscription is supposed to arrive next month.

When CMJ: new music monthly was in good health -- ten years ago? -- I liked being up on new music without having to listen to the radio. I got a lot of songs off their CDs. By the time I let my subscription lapse, however, CMJ's CDs were repeating songs (each month featured at least one song that had appeared previously), there were fewer songs, and what they offered too often didn't impress.

I read writing about music but it's hard to figure out what the music actually sounds like. The writer's personal enthusiasm or critical cred seldom seems to translate into my own enjoyment, when I've followed up. The internet has been very helpful when I've read somebody's effusing -- a MySpace page or a 30 second snippet on iTunes and I have some idea whether I share the opinion. But I do like giving a song the opportunity to play all the way out. A 30 second snippet can turn me off but it usually can't turn me on.

Kent pushes me to visit The Hype Machine, which is a music blog that consolidates a bunch of songs from other music blogs. I've spent a little time there. But it hasn't yet fit the way I listen; I like to only pay half my attention until the song hooks me. If I've got a CD playing then I can make note of which track is piquing my interest and revisit it later. That was the method I got going when I was working at the desk job at the library. While working I couldn't devote my full attention to the music even if I wanted to. For the first few months (working full time) I didn't have anything to distract me but the banging of my own thoughts; when I got my own cubicle I was given permission to bring in a portable CD player. The music perked my brain up. Then we got a new Mac and I could save songs and burn them to CDs.

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