Caught between the streams

How I lost one of this week’s songs

Caught between the streams
“Unifying Thought,” Chanel Beads [Bandcamp]

There’s been a lot of discussion—it’s everywhere, look around, you can’t miss it—about the approach Cindy Lee took for the release of Diamond Jubilee, its new album that’s only available as a pay-what-you-want download on Geocities and for ad-free streaming on YouTube. Which is to say: It’s intentionally not on Spotify, Apple, or Bandcamp.

This isn’t the first time Cindy Lee frontperson Patrick Flegel has released new music digitally that eschews mainstream platforms. In a 2023 interview, they explained why they took the self-released route with 2020’s Cat o’ Nine Tails:

Where I’m at right now I feel like goin’ rogue. I think everyone should take their music off streaming platforms. Not even strike, just take it off. They’re begging for a penny a play, and it’s pitiful. Fuck these guys, that Daniel Ek guy is a piece of shit. It’s kinda similar to every other job, where you think you should get a raise, and you probably should, and you just don’t. I don’t think it’s exceptional to music, but it still is bullshit.

I could go off here about how yes, I agree it is not just music and platforms are ruining the creative arts and there’s a reason I launched this newsletter and not this one—even as I continue to post each of my weekly playlists on Spotify—but I’m not (yet!) ready to start an mp3 blog.

Anyway, beyond the pre-streaming nostalgia or pride of ownership or the novelty of it all that’s being paraded around in the press about Diamond Jubilee, I just experienced a real argument in favor of releasing music this way, and to get there I need to switch over to this week’s playlist (Spotify, Apple Music, great segue, just solid).

“Hyper Daddy,” µ-Ziq

So what happens when we’re at the mercy of platforms? Well, in this case, “Hyper Daddy” was pushed to Spotify on Friday, then it was replaced with a different song—probably the actual “Hyper Daddy”—the next morning, but only after I listened to it (whatever it was) nonstop on Friday, all into the evening, and it was now my favorite song, and when I opened Spotify on my phone on Saturday, I couldn’t find it. Apparently I wasn’t the only one.


The platform giveth, the platform taketh away. Whatever it was, my favorite song—a vaguely melancholy piece with anthemic synth interludes and absolutely killer soca drums—was a now-evaporated stream. Or so I thought. I went back to my laptop, and there it was, stuck in the cache. And there it’ll stay—so long as I don’t quit the app or restart or have a kernel panic or who-knows-what, I’ll still have it.

It’s not a great feeling, this will-it-or-won’t-it-play uncertainty, and to me it underscores the existential problem at the heart of platforms: Ownership matters. Music lovers know there are certain moments you need to hear a very specific song. But without a tangible object to return to, satisfying that need is hardly a sure thing.

Maybe it is time to start that mp3 blog.

Hyper Daddy, by µ-Ziq
from the album Grush

“Unifying Thought,” Chanel Beads

If I knew about scenes, then I’d know Chanel Beads is associated with Dimes Square. And if I still lived in New York, I’d have an opinion about Dimes Square. And I suppose it would be negative? I don’t even know? (On the other hand, if anyone wants to hear about which ’90s bands were really part of “shoegaze” and which don’t really count, I have opinions.)

Unifying Thought, by Chanel Beads
from the album Your Day Will Come

“Sand Sandwich,” Feller

This is doing a lot with very, very little. Stripped-down to a core of vocals, a highly effective/earworm-y acoustic guitar riff (that gives way to distortion), and drums that build and build—it’s a familiar combination, but done exceptionally well here.

Sand Sandwich, by Feller
from the album Universal Miracle Worker

“Planetary Vision / 惑星のビジョン,” nubo

The keyboard arpeggios got me. Chirping and unpredictable, they create such a warm, joyous effect.

Planetary Vision / 惑星のビジョン, by nubo
from the album Planetary Vision / 惑星のビジョン

“crystal ball,” rum lunch

Here’s something that came up in my feed a few days ago, and it grabbed my attention then—and then, oddly enough, a TMN reader recommended it a little while later. This is an artist with ~300 Spotify followers, so it’s really a case of what-are-the-chances, and I’m not going to argue with it.

“Centralia,” Chains of Desire

A nice glitchcore throwback here, absolutely crumbling under its own distortion.

Centralia, by Chains of Desire
from the album Youth & Industry

“Enjoy the Silence,” Paraorchestra, Brett Anderson, Gwenno, Charles Hazlewood

This is the last song I’ll feature from Death Songbook, since the album is now out and I suppose that means the pre-release single strategy has now culminated (c.f., platforms). Of all the (mostly) covers on the album, this was the one that interested me the least because of its obviousness. Something about “let’s do a Depeche Mode” song seemed like too easy of a target, an unchallenging, overt crowd pleaser. But it’s not a faithful reproduction, and any cover that makes a song its own is worth noting: First, those drums that give the extra swing here. Second, the way Brett Anderson sings “in my arms” up a full step over the original. (While looking around for any examples of alternate vocal lines for the track, I ran across Martin Gore’s “Enjoy the Silence” demo, and it shouldn’t be missed.)

Enjoy the Silence [with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood] (feat. Gwenno, Brett Anderson, & Charles Hazlewood), by Paraorchestra
from the album Death Songbook (with Brett Anderson & Charles Hazlewood)

“notes on vacuuming,” Pinkcourtesyphone

There is a side of Richard Chartier’s work that falls into the “soundtracks for imaginary films” category—which has been overdone before—yet everything I’ve heard as part of the Pinkcourtesyphone project always stays on the more enveloping side of that. Just enough mood, just enough music, it’s really, really good.

notes on vacuuming, by Pinkcourtesyphone
from the album Arise in Sinking Feelings

“VII,” Jasmine Wood

Some devastating piano work from a devastatingly good album that I need to talk about in the near future.

VII, by Jasmine Wood
from the album Piano Reverb

“Psilosynth,” Harvestman

Like closing your eyes and opening them an hour later. (Which happened to me this morning, I recommend it.) Anyway, I got very lost in the groove here.

Psilosynth, by Harvestman
from the album Triptych: Part One

“Drive a Car,” Blemishes

I can’t say enough good things about this all-out, Can-esque track that burns everything down, eventually settling into a warbling ambient soundscape outro. A lot happening here, and it’s all pretty rapturous.

Drive A Car, by Blemishes
from the album Ambivert