Should It Stay or Should It Go?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Fabulous Prizes


Sundial
Originally uploaded by bsglaser.
Artists: Antony & the Johnsons; Massive Attack; Sundial
Albums: Hope There’s Someone EP; 100th Window; Acid Yantra
Source: Free w/subscription to Magnet

Shhhh…don’t tell anyone, but I don’t really dig reading Magnet all that much. I mean, I used to—back in ’96 or so, when Option (one of the very best music magazines ever) folded and Puncture was only picking up some of the slack, Magnet was the very best indie-rock mag to be had. The fact that it was published in my very own hometown made it even sweeter, or at least meant they’d cover local Philly acts like Lenola and the Photon Band. The other fact—that they didn’t accept my pitch(es) to write for them—actually didn’t matter much to me. They covered the music I liked, and did so with style.

Then a couple of things happened. First, I got to know some of their writers. Some of the guys (and they’re almost always guys in this kind of enterprise) were OK, but some really irked me. I made the acquaintance of one Magnet scribe at a music festival in NC, and he just rubbed me and my traveling companions the wrong way more times in 2 ½ days than you’d think possible. Before long, it was hard for me to read the magazine without “hearing” the personalities of the people I knew behind the words. Like with magic, once you know how the trick is done, it becomes a lot (or maybe just a little) less entertaining.

The other thing that happened is I stopped being super-duper into the music they covered. Maybe I grew up and/or old(ish), or the scene fractured a bit too much, or they lost the thread a little, or some combo of the above…no, wait.

It was me.

I moved on. A little bit, anyway. I simultaneously became harder to impress with loud, guitar-based pop/rock and stopped getting the promos in the mail. It became more work and more expense to hear more of what I cared just a little less about.

Which is where these CDs come in. When you subscribe to Magnet, you get a free disc, usually connected to a recent article. I guess they do an interview and score a box of promo discs to give away. Everybody wins.

Especially me. At this point, I subscribe when there’s a free disc I want. The year’s subscription is usually cheaper than buying the disc new; flipping through the magazine is still kind of fun (if not the experience it once was when it would guide my purchases and promo requests for the next month or two); and it still feels “free,” which gives me license to try something I’m not sure enough to buy outright. Sometimes I miss as much as a year’s worth of issues, just waiting for the right slate of promos to appear in their subscription ads. Sad? Maybe. But it gets the job done, and overall it still makes me a reasonable faithful subscriber.

A bunch of the free discs have totally worked out (they’ll come up in their own entries here) and some I hated so much that they’re long since gone. Then there are these three, all from different eras of my Magnet-tude. The Antony one I’m still kind of pissed about, but mostly I’m pissed at me: I saw it in the free-disc list, and instead of reading closely enough to notice that it was a 3-song EP (and not the full-length I Am A Bird Now album), picked it over some equally/more worthy discs. So I paid my full year’s nut and all I got in return was this lousy (well, actually, pretty good) short single.

The other two were antidotes to moments of curiosity. I’ve always wanted to like trip-hop more than I think I actually do, so I picked up the latest Massive Attack in 2003. It’s nice, though everyone now says it’s their worst one ever. And Sundial is from a moment in 1995 when I was edging further into the psych-rock abyss (hey, I lived in Psychedelphia!) and the long, acid-soaked distorto-guitar jams sounded like the way to go. Neither is really all that enjoyable now, but they served a purpose at the time. And they didn’t cost me a cent—unless you count the cost of the magazine I didn’t necessarily read all the way through.

SISOSIG? I think this one is pretty clear. Antony stays; I have a feeling I’m going to fully discover him one day, and until then this is a good place to get a foothold. 100th Window and Acid Yantra, on the other hand, are destined to go. I listened to both of them recently, and it’s hard to even remember what I liked in the first place (especially with Sundial—I’ve got a bunch of Bevis Frond records, which do the same job a million light years better). I got my money’s worth (*ahem*) from them, but they’ve outlived their usefulness, even as free gifts or fabulous prizes.

3 Comments:

  • As one of your traveling companions, I hate to remind you that Bill was our main, uh, wiener man. I'll never forget our stimulating breakfasts with him, and the site of milk in his handlebars.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:43 PM  

  • I've yet to discover Antony fully either. But I have discovered Devendra Banhart's cover of Antony's "Fistful of Love," which may be all the Antony you need.

    http://www.cokemachineglow.com/reviews/various_believer2005.html

    By Blogger bh, at 8:54 PM  

  • I stumbled across your blog on a search for "fabulous blogs"...now I know why you are considered fabulous! It looks like we have more in common than blogging!

    By Blogger Fabio has something to say, at 6:25 PM  

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