Between seeing a band live and getting its tunes onto your computer or other music-player, there has to be some kind of link -- or you probably just won't get around to it for awhile. Usually that means buying a CD at a show and ripping it to your computer, but lately you might see formats like download cards at shows, as labels and bands scramble to figure out what's next.
A couple of months back, I ran into singer Lauren DeMichiei and guitarist Joe Serkoch, formerly of local band Lushwell, who told me they were trying a different music format for their new band, Dawn Canon. This week, the band, which includes Allison Neusch and Dave Neuhart, is releasing a self-titled EP via iTunes and other download services, and physically on a bright red USB drive keychain emblazoned with the band's logo.
The USB stick has some history as a way to sell music. In late 2007, several major labels announced they would release some albums and movies via USB. From the scant number of USB albums currently available on Amazon.com -- a literal handful of titles by the likes of The Mars Volta, Bullet for My Valentine (shaped like a bullet, naturally), The Rolling Stones and Ringo Starr -- it doesn't seem like it went very well.
A frequent criticism is that the drives cost even more than CDs: Matchbox 20 released Exile on Mainstream on a USB bracelet containing the album, videos, digital album art and other extras ... for $35. Back in 2005, when a 128 MB drive was actually fairly expensive, Barenaked Ladies, of all people, beat everyone to the punch, releasing an album with lots of extras, "incredibly low priced at $29.98."
As a promotional tool for a new band like Dawn Canon, though, it seems like a pretty good idea. In addition to transferring music more easily than a CD, the USB is reusable for more than a coaster. If you use it with any frequency, it might remind you about the band or spark a conversation about its music even when you're doing non-music-related things. Dawn Canon's red USB contains simply the EP artwork and five guitar-driven alternative-rock tracks, kicking off with the celebratory cheer "Dawn Canon!" over a raunchy garage-rock riff.
Dawn Canon's release show is 9 p.m. Sat., Oct. 3, at Shadow Lounge, with guests Kill the Drama and Blindsider; tickets are $6. And on Oct. 14, the group plays live on WPTS 92.1 FM. For more on the band, including a video for its song "Scrod," visit www.dawncanon.com