I used to work for a record store called Cheapo. It was a fun job. After a year or so, I was one of the lucky few to get transferred to the vinyl department in the basement. The manager down there, Tony, was and is one of the coolest, funniest, friendliest persons I've ever met. At night, I had the pleasure of working by myself, pumping discordant tunes while a combination of older, mentally ‘unstable’ patrons and young idealistic DJs would peruse through our vast collection of vinyl.

Aside from the pay, the only shitty thing about the job was the owner, Al. He was an egotistical jerk and, worst of all, couldn't give a shit about his employees. After about a year-and-a-half, I had the pleasure to discuss with Al face-to-face about my thoughts on the company. He predictably undermined all my suggestions for improvements, which I guess was okay. I could only half-care about a company that hardly cared for me at all.

But then we got on the topic of DRM. Even though no major music group had taken the DRM-free plunge at the time, all signs were pointing toward a DRM-free world. Al, being the naïve businessman that he is, argued with me about the future of digital music as inextricable from DRM. His points were valid from a business standpoint, but they were far from practical. Since most people at Cheapo seemed to fear him for whatever reason, it felt really good to debate on this topic, even though it lasted less than 10 minutes.

That said, it is with exceedingly great pleasure for me to announce that Sony BMG has officially become the last major music group to drop DRM. And according to Hypebot (adding onto a story by Business Week), Sony BMG isn't half-assing this whole thing -- the group intends to make its entire catalog DRM-free. The decision was apparently made last month, and the reformatting of the MP3s could be completed within month.

Of course, a shift to DRM-free MP3s is a business move like any other. With all the negative press DRM has received, the majors are simply trying to create more flexible paradigms in which to sell MP3s in the future. Going ahead without digital restrictions will enable the groups to more fluidly penetrate social networking possibilities, Amazon, and any future businesses/networks that will surely arise. And it will also of course help them fight Apple's clear dominance in the digital music market (estimates are around 75-85%).

Besides, even though the idea of DRM was born out of P2P concerns, the restriction was always more annoying for "legal" purchasers of major label MP3s, not the "illegal" downloaders. Will these consumers have to repurchase their collections in order to get DRM-free MP3s? Will these DRM-free files be watermarked? The majors better suck up to their consumers, as they and the RIAA have been building houses on sand for quite some time now.

After my face-to-face with Al, he asked if I wanted to leave early or help him sort through vinyl. I decided to leave, of course, catching someone stealing a book on the way out the door, and then hopping in my car and listening to King Geedorah on the drive home.

High 5! More Dead Than Alive! Beck to Rock the Odelay Reissue Like a Man from the Catskills

Things that may or may not be included in the “Deluxe Edition” of Beck’s Odelay out January 29 on Geffen:

The original classic album.

A mustache comb.

Two compact discs.

One of those wind-up plastic toy nuns that shoots sparks from her mouth. Nunzilla? This thing.

Two unreleased tracks produced by the Dust Brothers from the original Odelay sessions, “Inferno” and “Gold Chains.”

Your dignity, returned after losing it at the Xmas office party in the supplies closet with “Steve, from accounting.”

International-only B-Sides “Clock,” “Electric Music and the Summer People,” “Lemonade,” “SA-5,” “Feather In Your Cap,” “Erase the Sun,” “000.000,” “Brother,” “Trouble All My Days,” and “Strange Invitation.”

A signed promo pic of actress Greta Scacchi. Whatever happened to her anyway?

“Deadweight,” from the film A Life Less Ordinary.

A Crystal Light single-serving packet (pink lemonade flava).

“Richard’s Hairpiece” and “American Wasteland” (remixes of “Devil’s Haircut” by Aphex Twin and Mickey P., respectively).

A Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless}” cassingle (that’s the one that goes “la-da-dee, la-da-da”).

A cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” recorded at the original Sun Studios.

A “2008 Already Sucks” button.

“Burro,” a Spanish version of “Jackass” recorded with a mariachi band.

A pair of socks. Argyle socks (favorites of dapper TMT scribe Chris Gaerig!).

The U.N.K.L.E. remix of “Where It’s At.”

A dried pickle. Gherkin, not dill.

“Thunder Peel,” co-produced by Mario Caldato Jr.

Fake pool of puke.

A jewel case. Or a soft pack cover. Or a jewel cased boxed in a cardboard sleeve. Or something wrapped in cellophane. With a stupid inventory sticker on the top of it. Whatever the outer package, be prepared to spend two beers, two Advils, and two hours opening the thing.


That is all.

Death Cab for Cutie to Release Their Metal Machine Music? Hey, Stop Laughing.

Death Cab for Cutie are set to release their second album for major label Atlantic this May. Although the record won't feature one continuous "song" -- a concept considered during its initial stages -- the album was described as "really weird" by guitarist Chris Walla & His Completely Objective Ears.

"It's really, really good, I think, but it's totally a curve ball, and I think it's gonna be a really polarizing record," said Walla to Billboard. "But I'm really excited about it. It's really got some teeth. [...] louder and more dissonant and... I think abrasive would be a good word to use." So has Death Cab embraced Messiaen discordance? Doubtful. But the fact that the album's partly influenced by metal and Brainiac is a positive sign.

We don't have an album title or tracklisting for you just yet, but we can tell you that David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) and John Roderick (The Long Winters) are guesting on the album. Is that enough to tide you over? Or... I know!

Who says Mr P don't care about you?

Meanwhile, Chris Walla is releasing his solo album, Field Manual, with the cool guys at Barsuk. It's due January 29. Be ready to swoon.

The Mars Volta Delay – Almost Cancel –New LP Because of A Curse; Sometimes Writing Music News Is Extremely Easy

Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez bought a Ouija board in Jerusalem. Shortly afterward, their studio was flooded twice, “equipment was ruined,” the band and their engineer watched tracks disappear from computers at random, and the board “spoke” to the band.

- “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” – William of Ockham (paraph.)

- “The Ouija board we bought contained supernatural powers that we choose to identify as a curse, so we will bury it at an undisclosed location, finish our album a few months behind schedule, and then tour.” – The Mars Volta (paraph.)

- “Are you afraid of the dark?” - Nickelodeon (verbatim)

The Bedlam in Goliath will be released January 29, with a tour coming up that my colleague 8bit was kind enough to write up here.

Anyway, if any of you readers are recording what will no doubt be a sprawling, psychedelic, prog-influenced LP this holiday season, you might want to ask for a new octave pedal or something instead of that Ouija board from an age-old holy land.

Clinic Tour, Medical Puns Follow

As the surgical masks imply, the members of Liverpool's Clinic are specialists. Indie rock's cardiologists can cure one ailment only: Clinic deficiency. This isn't the health clinic that will treat your syphilis, broken arm, or fill your cavity. This Clinic has stuck to the same formula it debuted with on 2000's Internal Wrangler and, over the course of four albums, has only tweaked the dosage. But when you're low on Clinic, there's simply no substitute.

According to the official Clinic website, April's mini tour is just the start of things to come from Clinic HQ in 2008. A female robot tells us "2008 will see the release of the new album (their most psychedelic yet), singles, films and more..."

England tourdates:

Warner Embraces DRM, Bush Cool With Abortion, NHL Approves Knife Fights

One of these things doesn't belong/neeeener neener neen, or so goes the opening line to 2008. It happened, folks -- it's real, and it's here. DRM is toast. It's on the way out the door, and you (the consumer) is at least partially responsible. Did you know that? That you're responsible for something? You twenty-something shiftless layabout slurping Ramen noodles through your scraggly beard, getting salty broth all over your ironically hilarious clothing? Your refusal to support the economy has done some good for once -- getting Warner to drop DRM, instead of hindering my daily trek down to the local mom & pop brothel. The big box wank establishments just don't get the job done properly. I mean, where else do you get specially contoured dinky wipes for the extra bit of sauce that the BBW's roll missed?

Granted, these DRM-free major label goodies are only available through Amazon, an obscure online retail establishment, but it's still a step in the right direction for freedom-loving "liberals." Warner Music Group was the second-to-last last holdout of the four major music companies to offer music from their catalog without draconian restrictions that bind consumers into ridiculous contracts only understandable by a team of highly paid attorneys. Amazon has clearly signed a deal with WMG similar to the ones it signed with the other labels, because the DRM-free music is only available in the U.S. Assumptions could be made here that Amazon is working on deals with the international branches of the RIAA to allow the sales of DRM-free music to other countries, but there's nothing concrete available to the public. So, we'll have to play with a few instances of ‘probably’ here, disguised as the playful circumflex, to gauge what made this possible.

Amazon forked over some change to EMI and Universal earlier in 2007 to allow the sale of unrestricted music in its store, in hopes of carving out a spot in what is clearly Apple's marketplace. This upfront payment came with a promise of a steady return from music sales, and free vouchers to the local brothel. Warner, sorely lacking in the boner department, was worried about getting teased and decided to see if there was any snickering behind closed doors concerning catalog size. Fears were allayed by the retailer; there would be no teasing, but Warner still waited until it became fashionably uncool to be associated with the old way of getting it done. So really, Warner is the dude you know that's concerned about what other the other kids think, which is lame. Like, totally lame.

So, it's all well and good that Warner is finally on the bandwagon, but I want to point out that their jump was one of hesitance.

In other news, WMG's stock dropped to its lowest point at $5.81 on Wednesday.