Month: May 2003

Here are some initial impressions on my recent acquisitions. This is the first time I used Amazon’s Marketplace Sellers (for all but the Gourds)–it worked out great.

Family, The Del McCoury Band. I knew I wanted another Del McCoury CD because I had enjoyed his stuff so much on Steve Earle’s The Mountain and McCoury’s Del and the Boys. So, I was looking forward to this arrival and it did not disappoint. I haven’t listened to it enough to know which I like more, but I’ve heard enough to know it will be close. The music is straight bluegrass and it is very, very good. I’m going to have to add the rest of Del’s catalog to my wish list.

Cow Fish Fowl or Pig, The Gourds. This one is the biggest surprise of the group. I’ve heard a couple of Gourds tracks on Spinner and one of my co-workers is a big Gourds fan, but, honestly, I had no idea what to expect. From the first few notes of the opening track, My Name is Jorge, I knew I was in for a treat. I was instantly hooked. The music is a full and rich mix that’s a little hard to describe. I’d say start with an alternacountry base and then mix in some Phish and then sprinkle in a hint of Buckwheat Zydeco and you’d have a good start. Accordian, mandolin, fiddle, upright bass, and a variety of other interesting instruments mix with quirky/intriguing lyrics to give you a CD you won’t want to take out of the changer.

89/93: An Anthology, Uncle Tupelo. I haven’t given this one the listen it deserves. It’s got my favorite tracks from Anodyne, a couple of previously unreleased tracks and a live version of We’ve Been Had. The album’s an easy way to pick up tracks from the UT albums no longer in print, but I think I’ll still wind up getting those used so I can enjoy each album in its entirety. The liner notes have a cool history of the band. Listening to the album reminds me how much I like Farrar and Tweedy.

Dog Days, Blue Mountain. A bit of an impulse buy. Amazon had recommended it a few years ago based on prior purchases but I skipped it at the time. I like it. It’s a mix of songs that vary between alternative country and those that are very bluesy. Some of the songs sort of remind me a bit of Whiskeytown.

Young Criminals’ Starvation League, Bobby Bare, Jr. Another pleasant surprise. I like the vocals–Bobby’s raspy voice is reminiscent of Paul Westerberg. On first listen, the album struck me as new and different–not your straight alternative country, although there are tracks with plenty of harmonica and steel guitar. For example, a couple of the tracks feature a horn section. Overall, another solid pick.

World Without Tears, Lucinda Williams. Car Wheels on a Gravel Road was and still is my favorite Lucinda Williams album. That’s because most of my CD listening is in my car and that’s just a quintessential road album. When Essence came out, it struck me as extremely mellow–much too mellow for driving–but still a good album. This one feels like it is somewhere in the middle. It’s got a good mix of slow, quiet songs and out-and-out rockers. Moreso on this album than others of hers I own, this one conveys a serious amount of pain and anger expressed plainly/bluntly through her lyrics. Lucinda has never been one to mince words, but this one feels particularly raw. It works.

Wanted: Radio-Amazon bridge

I’ve decided what the world needs is a Radio-Amazon bridge. I don’t want to have to blog music, book, and movie recommendations and then update my Amazon lists. I want one interface for all of my internet authoring. It seems like I ought to be able to make Radio posts that would also upstream to my Amazon Wish List or into my list of ratings for CDs I own, etc. Another cool feature would be a little bookmarklet or something that would scan my posts and find related books/movies/music. It seems like this should all be possible relatively easily using Radio’s UserTalk and the Amazon web services API.

I’m trying something new with Amazon. Usually, I order brand new CDs. Amazon always tells me there are X used copies available for Y amount but I’ve always ignored it. I’m a creature of habit and I thought it might be painful. With my most recent order, though, I decided to give it a shot. So, I searched for the CDs I wanted then clicked the Used link. Amazon lists the folks selling that CD. Apparently there are a bunch of small record stores, individuals, or whatever, that pump their inventory into Amazon’s database.

I bought one new CD from Amazon and four from three different marketplace vendors. If memory serves, three of the four “used” CDs are actually brand new. On average, I paid about half of what Amazon was quoting plus two or three bucks in shipping for each CD. It was pretty simple–you just add the used CD to your shopping cart and check out as normal. Amazon transfers funds from your credit card to the merchant.

The only hiccup I had was my Del McCoury selection was sold out. “Yodelin’ Pig” credited my Amazon account for the price of the CD and then Amazon notified me that it was sold out. So I then had to order it again. I stuck with the used option.

So far, so good. Two CDs (Lucinda Williams – World Without Tears, Blue Mountain – Dog Days) arrived today from the Marketplace vendor in pristine condition. And both CDs are excellent, BTW.

If the rest come in without any problems, it’ll be no more brick-and-mortar used CD stores for me. Except for maybe Cactus in Houston, I don’t know of a single CD store that offers that kind of selection.

Open-source CMS: Prohibitively fractured?. Tony Byrne of CMSWatch has written an article on the current state of open source CMSs. To quote: Linux and Apache continue to win hearts and minds. Interestingly, however, the major open-source content management projects have not advanced as rapidly… [Column Two]

Good article for those of us who have worked with custom, open source, and proprietary/commercial CM solutions. Tony points out that the commercial vendors are actually starting to become more open and standards-based than the open source alternatives.

Death by spam

Saw in the Technology section of Thursday’s Dallas Morning News in an article by Doug Bedell that spam’s percentage of legitimate email increases by 4% each month and is forecasted to comprise 50% of total email traffic by the end of the year or possibly even by this summer.