The Joanna Newsom leak

Right-click and steal!
By CAMILLE DODERO  |  September 13, 2006

It was the music-nerd equivalent of Katrina-style looting.

A couple of Thursdays ago, the members-only music forum apparently linked to an easily accessible online directory of mp3s hosted by music site/indie-whipping-kids Pitchfork Media. According to an alleged file list that later circulated online, Pitchfork’s digital treasure trove of more than 300 full-length digital records — an unprotected directory of downloadable files, which is pretty much like leaving the back door open with a note scrawled come steal my shit — included unreleased albums like the Decemberists’ The Crane’s Wife (Capitol Records), TV on the Radio’s Return to Cookie Mountain (Interscope), and the Blow’s Paper Television (K Records). Word of Pitchfork’s unlocked door also ended up in a thread (and who knows where else), where a horde of excited downloaders posted real-time about fiendishly grabbing everything they could (“i'm DLing the new [L]uomo!” and “are we all going to go to jail for this”) before the folder inevitably disappeared.

Though there’s no certain way to tell whether it came from Pitchfork, the biggest unreleased leak the Hipopinioners say they acquired — one that hadn’t already trickled out into the tubes through blogs and You-Send-It drips — was Joanna Newsom’s Ys (Drag City), the fay-voiced, freak-folk harpist’s second release. The album would have been leaked eventually. But this was pretty premature, considering that Ys official release date isn’t until mid November.

Pitchfork editor-in-chief Ryan Schrieber didn’t return e-mails asking for comment.

Ys has only five songs — five long songs, the shortest clocking in at seven minutes and 17 seconds — and features collaborations with Jim O’Rourke and Beach Boys teammate Van Dyke Parks. One co-worker who’s heard it says Ys is “like if Björk and Elizabeth Cotten wrote Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘Oh Comely’ and then wrote four more [songs] that were just as good.” I think it’s sort of like that and sort of like if Glinda the Good Witch ate a Lollipop Kid and then narrated a stage musical while she chewed. Sort of. Anyway, Newsom doesn’t sound covered in boils this time; she sounds more like she’s wearing puffy sleeves and playing the harp with a sparkly wand.

It’s a beautifully weird record. Or so we hear.

Drag City, Newsom’s Chicago-based label, evidently isn’t pleased with the Web leak. One publicity rep told the Phoenix, “We prefer it[’]s not talked about since it was something nobody is happy about and we do not want more people illegally getting the music.”

So you didn’t hear about it from us.

Joanna Newsom headlines “College Night” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Calderwood Courtyard, 465 Huntington Ave, Boston on Thursday, September 28 | Doors at 8 pm | Show at 10 pm | Free for college students | First come, first served.

Related: Poetic justice, On the racks: November 21, 2006, Pluck and determination, More more >
  Topics: Music Features , Joanna Newsom, The Beach Boys, Neutral Milk Hotel,  More more >
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