my letter to etymotic

To: Etymotic Research Inc. Customer Support

I recently placed an order with you for accessories for my Isolator ER-6i headphones. I was very disappointed when UPS added an additional brokerage charge of approximately US$27 (plus taxes and duties) to the order. Since the value of the the order was only $43, your courier’s brokerage charge was almost two-thirds the value of the goods ordered.

Please consider using another courier for Canadian orders. USPS/Canada Post’s brokerage charges are much smaller, of the order of $5.

I would also like to note that none of your agents in Toronto seems able to stock these spares. I visited all three of the dealers mentioned on your website:

  • Long & McQuade had no stock, and didn’t seem particularly keen on ordering any for me.
  • Carbon Computers, though very helpful, only had eartips for the ER-6, and didn’t know that they wouldn’t work with the ER-6i.
  • CPUsed sold me an incomplete bag of ER6-14 eartips; only 6 tips for the full price of 10. When they weren’t assuring me that they’d work with the ER-6i, they were trying to sell me a set of Shure E2C headphones, which they said were better.

Up until now, I have been widely recommending your products. Until I know that you’re serious about supporting your Canadian customers, however, I cannot recommend your products to anyone in this country.

best o’ 2005

2005 was a pretty good year for music, but you had to dig for it. My maximal list, in alphabetical order:

  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw — Darkness At Noon
  • Animal Collective — Feels
  • Beck — Guero/Guerolito
  • Bright Eyes — Digital Ash In a Digital Urn/I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • Caribou — Marino Audio: yes, it’s a promo. A combination of the audio tracks from the Marino DVD release and the 2005 tour CD, I much prefer it to The Milk of Human Kindness.
  • The Decemberists — Picaresque: I know all the hip kids had it as MP3s last year.
  • Dressy Bessy — Electrified
  • The Fruit Bats — Spelled in Bones: folk, with just the right tinge of bubblegum
  • Malcolm Middleton — Into The Woods: anyone who can sing about the existential possibilities of Falkirk High station, and also about love & chips, is deep into the Scottish psyche.
  • Of Montreal — The Sunlandic Twins
  • Kate Rusby — The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly
  • Sigur Rós — Takk …: and yet I still don’t know what they’re singing about.
  • Sufjan Stevens — Illinois
  • Teenage Fanclub — ManMade
  • Vashti Bunyan — Lookaftering: don’t dismiss this as merely fey hippy nonsense; it’s beautiful fey hippy nonsense.

We like them, they like us:

  • Dan Jones — Get Sounds Now: Catherine’s elementary school friend rocks out
  • Lazerlove5 — Flicker Mask: fine funkiness from a fellow feg.

Excellent compilations from 2005:

  • Ivor Cutler — An Elpee and Two Epees
  • Charlie Poole & The Roots of Country Music — You Ain’t Talking to Me

Some excellent tracks, but not entirely memorable as albums:

  • Devendra Banhart — Cripple Crow: I’m a Child is crazed genius, but lose the Spanish lounge music, eh?
  • Eels — Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
  • Jennifer Gentle — Valende: I Do Dream You is the perfect garage punk song.
  • John Parish — Once Upon a Little Time
  • Sleater-Kinney — The Woods
  • Wolf Parade — Apologies to the Queen Mary: what was with the lumpen first few tracks?

Next year, look out for The Lollipop People’s We Need a New F-Word. I like their offensive avant-cabaret noise more than I should.

Rockbox rocks my iriver

Red letter day today: the Rockbox team have added peak level meters and on-the-fly gain control to recording on the iRiver H120. They fixed the infamous glitch months ago.

I now have a really good little digital audio recorder thanks to the Rockbox developer community.

music of 2005

It’s getting towards the end of the year, so I’m thinking about what albums I enjoyed most. These are the 2005 albums I have in my collection:

  • A Hawk And A Hacksaw — Darkness At Noon
  • Aimee Mann — The Forgotten Arm
  • Animal Collective — Feels
  • Beck — Guero
  • Bettye Lavette — I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise
  • Bright Eyes — Digital Ash In a Digital Urn
  • Bright Eyes — I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning
  • Calexico / Iron & Wine — In the Reins
  • Caribou — Marino Audio
  • Dan Jones — Get Sounds Now
  • The Decemberists — Picaresque
  • Deerhoof — The Runners Four
  • Devendra Banhart — Cripple Crow
  • Dressy Bessy — Electrified
  • The Duhks — The Duhks
  • Eels — Blinking Lights And Other Revelations
  • Fiona Apple — Extraordinary Machine
  • Gorillaz — Demon Days
  • Grandaddy — Excerpts From The Diary Of Todd Zilla
  • Jennifer Gentle — Valende
  • John Parish — Once Upon a Little Time
  • Kate Bush — Aerial
  • Kate Rusby — The Girl Who Couldn’t Fly
  • Kimberley Rew — Essex Hideaway
  • Lazerlove5 — Flicker Mask
  • Lemon Jelly — ‘64–‘95
  • The Lollipop People — We Need a New F-Word
  • Malcolm Middleton — Into The Woods
  • Marbles — Expo
  • The Mountain Goats — The Sunset Tree
  • My Morning Jacket — Z
  • Of Montreal — The Sunlandic Twins
  • Sigur Rós — Takk …
  • Sleater-Kinney — The Woods
  • Sufjan Stevens — Illinois
  • The Vanity Project
  • Wolf Parade — Apologies to the Queen Mary

I know there are some that won’t make my list (Aerial, for one) but the rest of them all have their moments.


remind me to listen to more caribou. I got a sampler at Wild East at the weekend, and it’s extremely compelling.


The Decemberists were as great as ever last night. We snagged comfy sofas up on the balcony at The Phoenix, so it made up for the usually dire venue.

I’m definitely showing my age, though. When they played a demento-rock version of ELO’s Mr Blue Sky, I was about the only person who could sing along.

Hope that Derek got his laguiole back; it was confiscated at the door …

thank you for the music

Can I just say how much I enjoy music again with my new Etymotic Research ER-6i headphones? They sound great and they don’t fall out. Bonus all round, really.

Shame they’re iPod White, but you can’t have everything.

King Cutler

I’m hosting the MP3s of King Cutler, the 1990 radio series featuring Ivor Cutler, Phyllis King, and many others.

Update, May 2008: actually no, I’m not. Jeremy Cutler asked me to remove them.

liquor CD?

Robyn Hitchcock‘s Mossy Liquor — a limited edition release of out-takes and weirdnesses recorded around the time of Moss Elixir, formerly only available on vinyl (ptui!) — is now available from iTunes Canada. Does this mean that it’s finally coming out on CD?