Newsweek's Napster; Failure guy's success.

Y'know, the Gnome prefers to leave media criticism to, Brill's Content, and maybe Howard Kurtz (though definitely not to that snobby Salon). But Newsweek's June 5 "The War Over Napster" cover story arrives about three months late and doesn't bother to answer the question it poses: "Kids vs. Suits: Who should own music on the Web?" To make matters worse, the magazine lets Lars Ulrich loose, printing his whiny diatribe about how real Metallica fans should eschew Napster. He's also surprised that more artists aren't supporting Metallica's lawsuit. Boo hoo. Napster should scrape all of its Metallica crud from its servers and let other artists benefit from the free exposure. If the record labels would hurry up and make music available digitally, and legally, and at prices that don't gouge consumers, we'd all be spared from this increasingly tiresome "scandal."

And hey, instead of downloading free music, why not go out and spend some of that disposable income at Columbia City's fab record shop Eye and Ear Control? The upstart indie-pop and jazz specialty store is reportedly having trouble attracting customers, even though it's only a few minutes from downtown or Capitol Hill (at 4822 Rainier Ave S, 722-0300). Seattle needs outposts like this, dammit. So go there to put your grubby little hands on the new Belle and Sebastian or Blonde Redhead (or something more obscure, if you're in on the "underground," wink wink). Oh yeah, Eye and Ear Control hosts in-store shows, too; check out the schedule at

Normally, the Gnome and The End don't agree on much, but we agree on On, the new project from ex-Failure frontman Ken Andrews. Seattle's silly radio station threw a tour kickoff bash for On at the Breakroom Sunday, and Andrews and his new band played the entirety of the nifty new disc, Shifting Skin (Epic), including your knobby correspondent's fave new tune, the flanger-fied techno-pop rave-up, "Slingshot." Oddly enough, On's opening act was intelligent dance music agent provocateur Kid 606, who orchestrated his hardcore digital set on two iBooks.

What better way to close out Sunday night than with the less heady dance music and fortified funk of Faze Action and Groove Armada at the Showbox. Both acts featured 10 or so musicians and MCs, and both played energized, dancefloor-pumpin' sets. They also closed out a week of genre-jumping at the 'Box, including a packed Motorhead concerto, two sold-out shows from Elliott Smith, and the triumphant return of Death Cab for Cutie. Add in Saturday night's Dedicated and you've got a veritably array of visual and vocal victuals. You betcha!

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