The Friday Morning Listen: The Oxford American Southern Music Issue – The Music of Louisiana (2012)

So I decided a while back that it would be a good idea for me to start backing up stuff from my computer. In addition to all of the written material there are tons of images (scans from old family photo albums) and scads of music files. The closest I’ve come to saving anything at all was the time I zipped up all of the reviews drafts and mailed the file to myself. Yeah, it’s not enough.

There are a ton of online backup solutions, but being the technophobe that I am, making that step to figuring out what might be the right solution was something that “I should do this weekend.” I’ve been saying that for several years. After my work laptop bricked this past summer, it seemed that maybe I should get on the ball backup-wise. That was (of course!) nearly six months ago and I’ve done nothing. Not so smart.

So a couple of days ago, I took the step of going with the premium version of Amazon’s cloud player. For a mere twenty-five bucks a year, I would have five gigabytes of storage space plus the ability to upload up to 250 thousand mp3 files to their cloud servers. The music is available for streaming from pretty much anywhere, via a web browser or smartphone app. In addition to that, you can re-download the files back from the cloud. I don’t have my entire collection ripped (not even close), so this would be for the stuff that I have ripped over the years plus the review material that arrives on a daily basis. Playback via an Android app would be perfect for late night listening and reviewing sessions.

I bought the software, installed the uploader program (twice, actually because…well, I don’t know, it just wanted me to), pointed the uploader to my directory of music, and clicked “Go.” It is now Thursday evening and my (sadly small) collection (not quite 5,000 mp3 files) is not yet fully loaded. It’s been a stunningly slow process. Also, somewhat horrifying. And by that I mean that I can’t believe they wrote this software relying only on the meta-data embedded in the files. If you’ve ripped your own music and neglected to give the correct information, you’ll get things like albums split into a pile of separate albums, one per song. Oops.

In the middle of all of this, my copy of the Oxford American’s Southern Music issue arrives in the mail. As it’s centered on the music of Louisiana, I’m expecting it to be full of Cajun stomps and whatnot. So much for my weak knowledge of that region of the country. Sure, there’s some butt-shakin’ Zydeco, but that’s on top of the garage rock, country, rock and roll, R&B, funk, soul, and even some hip-hop and whack jazz. The highlight to my ears is “Hanging Johnny,” done by the Valparaiso Men’s Chorus…freaking chorus of Tom Waits-inspired madness and doom, is what. The freshness and good times vibe of the album pushed my anxiety about this nutty cloud experience right out of the picture.

I notice in the late afternoon that the imported song count in the Amazon cloud player is stuck. I figured that we’d had a power glitch at home, causing my laptop to power cycle (because yes, this Luddite can’t be bothered to replace the battery that hasn’t held a charge in a couple of years). I get home to discover that the uploader window has gone black, is unresponsive, and is now sucking up nearly a gig of memory. Awesome, eh? So I kill the process and restart it, wondering why a program doing something with such single-mindedness of purpose could suddenly go off into the land of memory leaks and frozen behaviors.

Well, here’s the answer: the uploader application uses Adobe Flash. I have no idea why they’re using it, but it’s causing trouble. C’mon Amazon, really? Flash? We’re in the year 2012 and you’re using the potato battery of web software. One wrong move and an electrode falls out, spoiling everybody’s fun. There’s no reason to consider that bug-ridden piece of junk unless there’s some kind of serious reciprocal agreement action going on.

Hopefully, the online potato battery will not spoil my fun. I’ve got some serious listening to do.

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Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Christian

    You actually get 50gb with the $25year paid subscription, I went the same frustration trying to get my music in order and I found out amazon looks for “album Artist” to be consistent instead of Artist… editing the file tag with a nice software called “mp3tag express” will get you your music collection looking as nice as you want, check out youtube for a quick tutorial, the amazon mobile app is the second to none, I just miss having cross fading and I also wish Amazon release a api for developers.