Posts filed under “Digital Media”

Friday Night Jazz Rock: Magic Numbers

I learned an astonishing fact from the WSJ’s Weekend Adviser: the first CD from The
Magic Numbers
sold a mere 44,000 copies in the US.

That’s astonishing to me, considering what a great CD it is. Long time readers may remember a mention of this from our Best of 2006 music list.

I thought the band’s debut disc, The Magic Numbers, was the best new rock and roll release of 2006.

The band is an amalgam of all sorts of oddities, but the entire assemblage works surprisingly well: Magic Numbers are two pairs of brother/sister teams (from Trinidad/New York/London), running somewhat counter-trend. A reviewer described it as “an unfashionable blend of soft country pop with Fifties and Sixties inflections.” What I liked about it was the strong mix of rock and roll, summery guitars, laid over skiffle and country pop structures. It is spare and at the same time complex, flavored with an inflection of a1960s guitar band.

Somehow, it all sounds very modern, via classic rock instruments — simply guitar bass drums — no synth.

Romeo Stodart, the lead singer/guitarist said “I feel that we’ve made a real, classic debut album”– and that’s an apt description. The songs are jangly, melodic and hook laden; the writing is outstanding. Lyrics and vocals reveal a tender vulnerability. I found the album very addictive — with each listen, you want to hear more.

On the strength of the first CD, I bought the UK version of their next disc, Those the Brokes. It was merely ok, with a few good songs.

Now I learn the new CD is being re-released, in a bit less somber version. Here’s the latest update on the 2nd version of their sophomore effort:

“British rockers The Magic Numbers have something unusual to thank for their new album’s mood: corporate restructuring.

The U.S. version of the CD, “Those the Brokes,” was to come out in February on Capitol Records. But when EMI decided to merge Capitol with its Virgin Records label, the album was left in limbo. Finally EMI’s indie-oriented label, Astralwerks, stepped in, offering to put it out this summer.

The extended delay gave the band a chance to digest some of the complaints (too long, too somber) the album received after its fall release in the United Kingdom, where the band is far more popular. The members reordered the tracks, cut two long ballads and added a shorter, peppier number, according to the band’s manager, Paul Noble.

“It’s not ridiculously sunny pop,” Mr. Noble says. “But there’s a more upbeat flavor to it.”

Be sure to check out the first album — its a must own. You can stream much of the new disc from the band’s website, the Magic

The Magic Numbers – Love Me Like You:

WSJ on the Magic Numbers:


Music: Rockers Reflect, Cheer Up
WSJ, July 13, 2007

Category: Digital Media, Music

Coming Soon: the Touchscreen iPod

Category: Digital Media, Film, Music, Technology

Blade Runner Final Cut in Theaters Fall 2007

Category: Digital Media, Film

More Dow Jones Content Comes Out from the Firewall

Category: Digital Media, Financial Press

Music Sales Fall for 7th Consecutive Year

Category: Consumer Spending, Digital Media, Music

Blade Runner’s 25th Anniversary

Category: Digital Media, Film

What Does the iPhone Teach Us About Technology & Commerce?

Iphone The reviews for the iPhone are coming in, and they are breathless (see below).

Rather than add to the over-the-top-hype about the gorgeous little thing, I would rather think about what lessons can be drawn from its mere existence.

I believe there are quite a few practical things to be taken away from the development and marketing of this. An education is available to those companies, corporate mangements, engineers, inventors and investors who are paying attention:

1. Committees Suck: The old joke is that a Camel is a Horse designed by a committee. As we have seen all too often, what comes out of large corporations are bland-to-ugly items that (while functional and reliable) do not excite consumers.

When a company decides to break the committee mindset and give a great designer the reins, you get terrific products that sell well. The Chrysler 300 does not looks like it was designed by a corporate committee. Think of Chris Bangle’s vision for BMW — and its huge sales spike — and you can see what the upside is in having a visionary in charge of design.

Better pick a damned good one, though . . .

2. Present Interfaces Stink: How bad is the present Human Interface of most consumer items? Leaving the improving, but still too hard to use Windows aside for a moment, let’s consider the mobile phone market: It was so kludgy and ugly that the entire 100 million unit, multi-billion dollar industry now finds itself at risk of being completely bypassed, all because some geek from California wanted a cooler and easier to use phone.

What other industries may be at risk? 

3. Industrial Design Matters:  We have entered a period where industrial design is a significant element in consumer items. From the VW Bug to the iPod, good design can take a ho-hum ordinary product and turn it into a sales winner.

4. R&D is Paramount: While most of corporate America is slashing
R&D budgets (and buying back stock), the handful of companies who
have plowed cash back into R&D are the clear market leaders this
cycle: Think
Apple, Google (Maps, Search), Toyota (Hybrid), Nintendo (Wii). A well designed, innovative product can create — or upend — an entire market. Even Microsoft did it with the X-box;

What other companies have the ability to disrupt an entire market?

5. Disdain for the Consumer can be Fatal: As we have seen with Dell, Home Depot, The Gap, Sears, etc., the consumer experience is more important than most corporate management seem to realize. Ignore the public at your peril.

What other lessons are there for companies in the business of designing products for consumers to use?

For the moment, let’s put the iPhone aside and answer the questions above:  What markets, companies, products , segments are at risk due to their poor designs?  (Use the comments to answer).


Note:  Some of the commenters are missing the point of the post — this is about the business of creativity and innovation.

We are not looking for a discussion of Apple in general; Off topic comments will be unpublished.



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Category: Digital Media, Film, Music, Technology, Web/Tech

Apple iTunes outsells Amazon and Target

Category: Digital Media, Music, Retail

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden

Rocco DeLuca & The Burden
have put out the most interesting new rock album I’ve heard in some time: I Trust You To Kill Me.

Their sound is original — jangly roots-rock romp laced with bluegrass
and countrified leanings.

I agree with the reviewer who wrote that their bluesy debut album "fairly vibrates on DeLuca’s Dobro steel guitar and throaty wail."

DeLuca careens from influence to influence, paying homage to his predecessors and then going a step further.

The music is flavored with dollops of Jeff Buckley, Coldplay and
most of all, Bron Y-Aur Stomp Led Zeppelin.

I Trust You To Kill Me is one of those rare discs where there in not a single weak cut on the CD.

The band’s Myspace page has four songs to stream.

The band has been opening for the likes of Ben Folds and John Mayer.  The next area show I could find is
Tue Jul 31st 2007, Bowery Ballroom, NY


Videos below

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Category: Digital Media, Music

Friday Night Jazz: JVC Jazz Festival NY

Category: Digital Media, Friday Night Jazz, Music