Friday, March 12, 2010

Viral Darkness & Weak Wind-Ups

So, as I'm wont to do, I spent a bit of time doing different Google searches for my name and the name of my books. The Unearthing has a huge online presence, and slowly but surely, Through Darkness and Stars is creeping up, too. I'm everywhere, of course, but I never have anything interesting to say that's not in a book or else I'd be getting paid for this.

What's really interesting is that Darkness is going viral; it's showing up on eBook sites that I didn't send it to. While traditional booksellers might go all apoplectic over the notion of someone redistributing their work without their knowledge or say-so, the fact is (1) I released it under a Creative Commons license and (2) I'm giving it away for free because it's more important for me to have readers than get paid to write.

What I like about the viral thing is that the book literally spreads on its own. Someone snipes it from an existing site and puts it on theirs, someone else does that to them, and so it goes. What I find strange, though not necessarily a bad thing, is that instead of using the eBook "cover" art, the sites where I found Darkness they were using the Queen of Light and Sorrow concept art which was truncated into the eBook cover. I wonder what their reasoning is on that one.

Here's what they look like, side by side (or top to bottom)

Anyway on the music front, another album I didn't particularly enjoy listening to this week, for CONFRONT Magazine, is the debut CD from Wind Up Radio Sessions. Here's what I had to say:

The Wind Up Radio Sessions: Red Brick House

Mellow, jazzy, folksy tunes that waft up from ‘Red Brick House’, the debut CD from Hamilton, Ontario ensemble Wind Up Radio Sessions. I’m reminded of the early work of another Greater Toronto Area music act, the Barenaked Ladies. Their music has the same dreamy, carefree vibe dripping with witty, self-referential lyrics sung in contralto.

The eleven song debut is jovial and innocuous, pleasant, light and downright tame. Yes, the vocals, instrumentation, and production are all top notch, but WURS aren’t offering us anything new or challenging, even by the milquetoast standards of adult contemporary. “Me and My Doe” which opens the album is pleasant enough, but the tendency to overplay the quirky lyrics is distracting. Likewise, follow-up track “In The Morning” continues the obscure references while sounding like an unauthorized sequel to Barenaked Ladies’ “Pinch Me”.

These guys have the singer-songwriter Folk-Rock-Jazz thing going, but there’s no grit to this offering, no substance. There’s nothing here to really stimulate a listener, no challenge to the music. It’s designed for mass consumption and easy digestion. But it’s entirely too insubstantial.

For example, while they tout Neil Young as an inspiration to them, their supposed homage, “No One Came” is a pale imitation at best, and perhaps the weakest entry on the album. I think that’s the problem with ‘Red Brick House’ overall: it’s like a diluted blend of other people’s music. These pleasing sounds have garnered a lot of critical acclaim, but I have to wonder if everyone’s not cheering the flavour while ignoring the filler. It’s sort of like eating one of those puffed rice caramel wafers; it tastes great, but it’s just an air biscuit, and not very satisfying in the long run.

Wind Up Radio Sessions: Red Brick House
Steve’s Rating: 6/10


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