Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rarebird's future-shock rant (January 2013 edition)

I read the news today, oh boy...the times are a-changin', and Rarebird isn't digging the changes. I know this post will make me sound like a whiny old dinosaur, but I feel a need to vent right now.

I suppose this first item is not surprising, but to me, it's a bit saddening. Blockbuster Video is closing 300 more of its brick-and-mortar video stores, bringing the remaining total to about 500 nationwide. They aren't saying which stores will close as of this writing. But I have a bad feeling that the store near my home which has remained standing all this time will be gone soon, if not immediately. That entire company is evidently on borrowed time. I did a store search on the Blockbuster website to see if any others remained in my area, and there are only 3 other locations within 10 miles. They used to be everywhere!

1/26/13 Update: I've learned that the Blockbuster store in my neighborhood is indeed closing its doors. Thanks for the memories!

Of course, I am happy to use Netflix and Blockbuster Online. But it has always been nice to be able to go and get a DVD at the Blockbuster store if it was not available for instant streaming, or if we didn't want to wait for it to come by postal mail. Do any other brick-and-mortar video stores exist anymore? I was surprised to see a West Coast Video store still in existence recently, but that store has now also closed its doors. A small independent store in my area is now advertising a going-out-of-business DVD sale; frankly, I'm amazed that this store was able to stay in business for this long. So far, I've resisted using Redbox, but I may start soon. I only hope Redbox continues to do well.

Another saddening item: the latest chapter in the ongoing decline of brick-and-mortar music retailers. The British-owned HMV music chain has filed for the U.K. equivalent of bankruptcy. HMV's debt has been purchased by the private equity firm Hilco Consumer Capital, which is attempting to restructure the 92-year-old company. HMV closed its last American store in 2005. Hilco is expected to announce the fate of the stores in the U.K. and Asia within one month. I wish them luck in keeping it alive, but I think I hear another nail being hammered into the coffin of in-store music sales.

Also, Atari is filing for bankruptcy. I can't even tell you how long it's been since I've used an Atari product; according to this article, the company has had quite a convoluted history since its early-'80's heyday. Still, Atari video games were a major personal addiction during my early teen years. Sometimes I still catch myself longing for the days when video games were adrenaline-releasing no-brainers. That sentimental side of me does not want to see the Atari company go under for good. The good news is that it may not. The reported goal of the bankruptcy filing is to enable Atari to separate from its French parent company in order to secure investments to grow in mobile and downloadable video game markets. So, Atari may survive yet again.

So, do I have anything good to say about current trends in entertainment media? Yes. One modern convenience I have been enjoying is Amazon.com's Cloud service. For those of us who still sometimes purchase physical CD's, some CD's sold through Amazon have a new AutoRip feature, which automatically imports the mp3 files for the purchased CD into your Cloud. Just a few days ago, Amazon auto-ripped sound files to my Cloud from numerous CD's that I have purchased from Amazon over the years. One of them was a CD I purchased way back in 1998, and another was one that I purchased in 2003 and then lost, but didn't want to pay to replace it. Now I don't have to! I must say I'm delighted by this AutoRip surprise, and that brings this old-timer's rant to a happy ending.

There! I feel better now.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Elliott Murphy "Aquashow" (1973)

I've taken care of one New Year's resolution: I've finally added a new Spotlight Album Review to my web site. The subject is Elliott Murphy's Aquashow album from 1973. This was the promising debut album from a Dylanesque singer-songwriter who was never able to achieve mainstream recognition, but who continues to record and perform 40 years later. Here is the page:

http://rarebird9.net/aquashow.html

Friday, January 18, 2013

Thom Yorke: exclusive Dazed Digital mix

Radiohead's Thom Yorke recently provided Dazed & Confused magazine with 25 exclusive minutes' worth of unreleased solo material and remixes. The nine tracks have the type of hypnotic electronic and ambient sounds that we have come to expect from Mr. Yorke, definitely worth a listen for fans. Check it out on SoundCloud:

http://soundcloud.com/dazedandconfused/exclusive-thom-yorke-mix/s-fj76Y

Track Listing:

1. Cycles mk 3 -- Thom Yorke
2. You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry (unfinished rmx) -- Atoms For Peace
3. Mali: Kono, the Sacred BirdÃ≈ -- Mali Musicians
4. Proud Evolution (Thom Yorke 500quid rmx) -- Liars
5. I Don't Need An Excuse (unfinished) -- Thom Yorke
6. Bloom (treatments) -- Radiohead
7. Morning Shiver Down the Black Wood River -- Anstam
8. Give Up The Ghost (Thom Yorke rmx) -- Radiohead
9. The Grind (Average Joe) vs Unless (Atoms For Peace)