3. by Natalie


  4. No One Asked 1: Spotify’s Grating Hits

    Yet another blog series: “No One Asked.” I see it as a space for my (Tyler’s) opinions about anything that isn’t music. This might seem like it’s about music but it’s not––it’s about Spotify. Later in the series, I’ll write about why I like Instagram, why I like tumblr a little bit, and why I think Starbucks is (sort of) justified in cramming so many copies of itself into very small sections of a city. I also plan to explore why I compulsively start this sort of series. We’ll see if I get that far.

    I pretty much like Spotify––it’s convenient. I like convenience. It’s futuristic––one of the best formats for a digital heap of immediately-available music. Does Spotify cheapen music? RZA thinks so, and he has a point. Musicians aren’t making much on Spotify and the cultural value of music is cheapened by our never having to work to hear it. I don’t feel bad about the finances of Spotify because a) megaupload wasn’t good for musicians either, b) sometimes I buy music, and c) I don’t plan on ever making money from selling bellwire recordings. (Although, to be clear––I would if I could.)

    In terms of the cultural value of these recordings, the excitement that people once experienced from buying/borrowing/trading/talking about albums probably can’t be restored. I live in an era and place of jaded instant gratification, and I’m going with it. If not Spotify, someone would be plugging our phones and computers into a massive library of recordings. Providing that kind of service is irresistible when it’s doable and using it is irresistible when it’s available. And for what we’re losing, we do gain a lot––let’s not understate how nice it is to be able to get what you want right when you start to feel like you want it. So the only time I blame Spotify for anything like “cheapening music” is when they do a shitty job. And the worst thing they do is indiscriminately post repetitive Greatest Hits albums.

    For certain older artists, Spotify curates a collection of >10 very-similar best-ofs, with only one or two actual albums. It’s bad that they all have the same songs, but honestly that’s not the biggest problem for me; they just look so bad. Half of them could pass for exclusive releases with The Dollar Tree. They have that sickening combination of cheap, careless and shamelessly commercial design. Any 15-year-old with a Deviant Art account could recreate these. They’re ugly and lazy.

    Does anyone know why Spotify does this? Is it just that the companies behind each of these compilations want a chance to cash in? Are these especially inexpensive for Spotify to provide? I think there’s a threshold for how many plays it takes for Spotify to write a royalties check––can they save money if everyone listens to a different Best of the Troggs? Do they think no one will notice? Have they noticed? Are they trying to make up for how few of the real albums they have? Are the collections picked by computer programs? Do they hate me? Message me if you know what the hell is going on here.

    Whatever the reason it happens, it makes the band seem filtered through a hundred barely-invested corporate interests. That’s what’s bad; it exaggerates the distance between you and the band, or between you and the time and place of the recordings. Finding this kind of an artist page is a small, but distinct disappointment for me.

    I know it’s tacky to complain about things you get for free, but I don’t care that much. For one thing, Spotify doesn’t feel free––not by 21st century internet standards anyway. I still have to listen to commercials and Spotify belongs to that group of companies that that seeks firstly users and buzz. Well here I am using AND blogging about you, Spotify. So do a better job here.

  5. bellwireusa:

    Ah hell yeah. Two of my favorite guitarists.

    I signed up by e-mail and still get a lot of the republican party’s e-mail spam. Not that I mind––it’s an interesting contrast to all the lefty spam I get. Hoping to write something small comparing the rhetorics.

    (Source: megacycles)

  7. Bellwire
    Twin Berlin
    Twin Berlin
    Twin Berlin
    Green Bullets
    Green Bullets
    Green Bullets


    Thanks so much to Burd and friends for letting me sneak behind the stage for some of these shots. Definitely some of the better photos I’ve taken ever.  Bellwire at Dover Brickhouse on 02.28.14, Twin Berlin and Green Bullets. Full set here.



  8. I got to introduce Billy Collins when he came for a short reading/Q&A at Lesley a few weeks ago.  Thought I’d share what I wrote (skipping the standard list of honors, awards and review excerpts).

    Last spring, as part of my student teaching here at Lesley, I had the pleasure of leading a unit on poetry for a class of seventh-graders.  One of the first poems I picked was “Litany” by Billy Collins.  I chose it because it was one of the first poems I knew I liked.  It showed me the comedy and candor one could fit into a “serious,” carefully-written poem.  So I thought it had a good chance of selling a few kids on the idea of poetry.  It did.

    The kids didn’t get “Litany” at first, because I didn’t tell them it was going to be funny.  Who would expect a poem that sounds so nice to read out loud, that mentions “the evening paper blowing down an alley” to be funny?  Then we watched a video on youtube where Billy Collins reads it to a laughing audience.  He explains that “Litany” aims to make fun of a certain kind of poetry, in fact it mocks a specific, bad poet.  Then the students started to understand what they’d read and one kid yelled out, “He’s mean!”  Actually, most of them started yelling, which they didn’t normally do.  Billy Collins has a very compelling list of awards and recognitions, but what also convinces me of his talent is his ability to make seventh graders––kids born in the 21st century––yell over a poem.

    I don’t mean to make it sound as though he only “does funny.”  Of course, as we’re about to hear, that isn’t true.  To borrow a phrase from Billy Collins: in poetry “meaning only one thing at a time spells malfunction.”  And so he’s often his funniest when he’s his most thoughtful or his most compassionate.

    One could say his poems appreciate the finer things in life, if those finer things include bath toys, hippos, love and language.  They approach you the way you approach a friend you’re meeting for coffee when you have something to tell them.  In fact, some of his first lines work as well for that situation as for poetry––like “I thought of you today,” or “I don’t want to make too much of this,” or, my favorite, “What do you think of my new glasses.”  Since he’s come to be with us today and since he’s the most qualified person to read this poetry that I’m so fond of, I’ll wrap up and let him get started.  Thanks so much, Billy Collins, for being here.

  11. notgingerandalittlebitfoxy:



    my favourite thing about cat yawns is they start off real cute and then get fucking menacing as shit

    every time

    at first i was like haha aww this kitty is so cute but why does it seem so familiar and then i realized


    Everyone except me really added something here.

    (Source: magicalnaturetour, via saltyguardsthecolors)

  13. Jack in the morning.

  14. Sam stays over.

  15. Sam Rheaume