Phenomenal Menomena

Menomena Cover-1

I did a show with Nada Surf last year and had a really nice experience with the fine folks at Barsuk. They really are some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. They also put out some great music. The next big one on Barsuk is the Menomena album. Van just sent some advances and I’ve been playing it at least a couple of times a day. The first time I put it on I had at least 5 people ask me what I was listening to. That almost never happens. People either tell me to turn it down or turn it off.
Friend and Foe,’ their third album, and first for Barsuk, will be coming out on January 23. I haven’t heard their previous albums, but if the new one is any indication, then I might have to go out and get them. The greatest thing about the album is it’s super accessible. And I don’t mean that in some sort of silly music industry talk kind of way. We have a pretty diverse office, so when those 5 people asked me about it, I felt somewhat validated. It’s not a conventional album. The instrumentation isn’t what you might be used to hearing, but you’ll still be tapping along to it.

For fans of: Bloc Party, Mercury Rev, TV On The Radio

Download: Wet and Rustling

Google Google Google

I was talking to Michael earlier today and urged him to give gmail a try. His reaction was something to the extent of Google being a sign of the apocalypse. Hey, at least I’ll go down very organized and informed. I recently started using Google Apps for Your Domain for and a then today switched from the beloved NetNewsWire to Google Reader upon reading a post on Johnny’s Brain. It’s already changed my RSS habits big time.

Gadget Envy

I’ve not only had the same Blackberry for well over a year, I’ve had the same RAZR for just over a year as well. That’s a record. I rarely keep gadgets for over 6 months on account of a severe case of gadget envy. I’ve been wanting to go back to a single device and as of Friday I will be the proud owner of a Samsung i607 (a.k.a. BlackJack). I’m really excited and it’s cheap enough that I won’t feel guilty when I switch to the Blackberry 8800 when it comes out next spring. Cingular was the last provider I wanted to go to, but that’s who we have a deal with at work. I love Verizon, but they’re expensive and T-Mobile is just great. I’ve never had a complaint. People complain about Cingular a lot, but hopefully being a business customer will help out if I ever need to call customer service.

eFax Sucks

I’ve been an eFax customer for a number of years and I’m sick and tired of them raising their rates. When I went to the site to try and cancel my service, there wasn’t an option. You really can tell a lot about a company that makes it difficult to cancel your account. When I went to search their help section, the article on ‘canceling your service’ couldn’t be found, so I contacted customer service via their online chat utility. Here’s how the conversation went:

Welcome to chat.
The session has been accepted.
{Dan B.}    Hello. Welcome to j2 Global online support. I am Dan, your online Live Support Representative. How may I assist you today?
{me}    i would like to cancel my account please
{Dan B.}    I am sorry to hear that you wish to cancel. Could you please provide me with your Fax number and PIN for verification purpose?
{me}    xxx-xxx-xxxx / xxxx
{Dan B.}    Thank you for providing your information. Please give me a moment while I go through your records. In the meantime, please type the number corresponding to your reason for cancellation:
1) Moving to another provider
2) Bought a Fax machine
3) Business or role changed
4) Short term project completed
5) Financial reasons
6) Problems with Faxing or Billing
7) Dissatisfied with Quality of service
8) Too Costly

{me}    8
{Dan B.}    As per records you have paid for our annual subscription till 5th December ‘2006. I suggest you to make use of our service for sometime more so that you can receive and send any pending faxes that need to be done and you can also inform your friends and contacts them about the decision. Thereafter you can get back to us again. We are available 24 x 7.
{Dan B.}    After the completion of annual period, if you feel that the fax number does not serve your purpose, you can get back to us immediately without any further obligation to stay back. We are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Please feel free to contact us at any time.
{me}    Can’t you do something so that it cancels at the end of my term?
{Dan B.}    We have provided you the date to contact us so that you can make a note in your monthly calendar and get back to us.
{Dan B.}    Will that be fine with you?
{me}    You’ve got to be kidding me. Cancel it now please.
{Dan B.}    As a good will gesture I would also provide you with an additional gift usage balance of $10.00 with which you can send up to 100 pages of faxes per page per minute within US and Canada for free along with the monthly credit.
{Dan B.}    After the completion of annual period, if you feel that the fax number does not serve your purpose, you can get back to us immediately without any further obligation to stay back. We are available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Please feel free to contact us at any time.
{Dan B.}    If however, you still feel that you do not have any use for our services by the end of annual period, then you can always contact us back anytime.

{me}    I’m about out of patience and I’m going to stop being polite if you don’t stop trying to get me to keep my account. CANCEL MY SERVICE NOW, PLEASE. That’s all. I’m not interested in anything else you have to say.
{Dan B.}    Okay, I will set your account for auto close at the wend of the annual period on 12/3/2006.
{me}    Oh, so you CAN do that? You just finished telling me you couldn’t.
{Dan B.}    Is there anything else you would like to have assistance with?
{me}    You guys are nearly as bad as AOL. Trying to trap customers into staying with you. I can’t wait to publish the transcript of this on the web for people to read.

What a shitty customer service experience. Seems I’m not alone. Doing a search in google brings up a lot of unhappy customers.

The Week In Concerts

Asobi Seksu
Monday I saw Modest Mouse at The Wiltern, which I wasn’t terribly excited about. I’ve never been a big fan of the band, but they had some good songs. Yeah, “Float On” is one of them. The show felt uninspired, forced and unrehearsed. While it was col to see Johnny Marr on stage with them, the show was pretty unimpressive. I spoke to a few fans of the band after the show who generally agreed. While I didn’t feel the night was a waste (especially since the ticket was free), I walked away even less excited about the forthcoming studio album.
Thursday and Friday were real treats. Despite the fact that Joseph Arthur played The El Rey last month, he played to a packed crowd at The Troubadour on Thursday. It’s weird that I’d never seen him play live before, considering I’ve been a huge fan since I picked up ‘Redemption’s Son‘ years ago. Whatever talent you think he has in the studio clearly comes out in a live performance as well, and he has a fun time doing it. There’s nothing worse that seeing someone on stage that you know could give a shit about being up there (hello Isaac). Arthur loves it. He even dressed up for the occasion in what looked like an Elvis-inspired suite with all kinds of line drawings. Bass player (and model) Sybil Buck also dressed up for the show, which added to the enjoyment for the evening. Art was being made on the side of the stage while Arthur played many songs from his latest, and possibly greatest, ‘Nuclear Daydream.’ “Black Lexus,” “Too Much To Hide,” “You Are Free” and “Don’t Tell Your Eyes” sounded like perfection. It was the kind of show you smiled about as you walked back to your car and reminded you why you love music so much.

The Wrens
If ever there was a band that I regret not having been a fan of it would have to be The Wrens. I bought the ticket to their show mainly because I wanted to see Asobi Seksu, who were good, but seeing The Wrens for the first time, I was in awe. Why the hell hadn’t I picked up one of their albums before? I feel like someone told me I needed to years ago and now I understand why. I’ve rarely seen a band that inspires such a wide variety of people. There were people over 40 screaming along with 20 year olds. Everyone knew the lyrics to every song and there wasn’t a single person that wasn’t moving. It could have been as simple as a leg shaking back and forth to the beat or hitting one of many drum sticks handed out to the rhythm of a song. It was an incredible sight as I looked around and thought to myself, ‘where the hell are these people from?’ It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill LA hipster crowd. And if it was, the music was too powerful for their penchant for arm crossing and shoe gazing. If you’ve never had the opportunity or the desire to see The Wrens, you’re dong yourself a disservice. I don’t care what kind of music you like. They’re the godfathers of indie rock and emo and you’ll thank me for the heavy endorsement. I’m gong to the record store to buy everything they’ve ever released.

Flock Messed Up My Bookmarks

Ok, this is killing me. I installed Flock to take it for a spin and configured the integrated support. Apparently there’s something wrong with it because it mangled all of my date stamps. This wouldn’t be a huge deal except that I have nearly 2000 bookmarks and I often remember the rough order of when I bookmarked something. I don’t remember dates, but I can look at a bookmark and think, ‘I know I saw that before I saw this.’ Well, now I can’t do that and it’s driving me nuts. There’s a thread in the Flock forum, but I haven’t had any luck with someone answering. I saw one post from a while ago and they said they emailed support and they were kind enough to fix it. I’ve tried twice without a response. Is there anyone out there that can help?

Trying To Be A Lefty

I’m having a lot of pain in my right wrist because I spent a lot of time in front of a computer. It happens every once in a while and I’m pretty used to it. I just take a few breaks a day, stretch a little and it usually clears up after a while. This time around I decided to switch hands. So now I’m trying to teach my left hand how to handle the mouse. Sounds slightly obscene, doesn’t it? You should see the mess I’m making. Have you ever tried to switch hands? I’m determined to keep using my left hand until it feels somewhat natural.

The Results Are In

I had a conversation with my dad on Tuesday night. We were both saying how it would be so nice if the Democrats could take back Washington. I said something to the effect of ‘I’m not going to hold my breath.’ And I didn’t. But boy oh boy was I happy when the results started coming in. America has spoken and it was a collective ‘fuck you for getting us into this mess.’ We still have to deal with the consequences, which unfortunately will outlast the Bush administration. And then there was the resignation of Rumsfeld. Wow. Quite a day for America.