sweh: (Max Headroom)
[personal profile] sweh
So because I got an Amazon Echo for Christmas I've been looking around at Amazon Prime Music. After all, it's free and it's what the Echo can play from. Mostly I'm just playing with it ("oh, I own that on CD, let's add it to my music").

Yesterday I noticed that Depeche Mode's "Spirit" album (released last week) is available, for free. Well, OK! This gives me a chance to check it out...

Now whenever I get a new album I typically play it on constant repeat for a few days (for the periods when I listen to music), and then let it fit into the shuffle random play sequence. This meant I needed to get this music onto my phone so I could play it. Ah, good; there's an Android app for Amazon Music. Download... yup, there's the music. Oh good, let's download it so I'm not dependent on streaming (my commute goes through some bad reception areas). Great; all set up for the morning journey.

Morning comes, turn on Bluetooth headphones, press play... wait, what? That's "All Out of Love" by Air Supply! Not DM... Despite the Amazon Music app being running and showing up on the lock screen as being active it doesn't appear to register itself as the active music player. Stupid. (Same thing happened on the evening commute home).

Other annoyances with the app; it searches and finds _all_ music on the phone. I can't work out how to limit it to just Amazon Music. So now the album is hiding in amongst 7000+ other songs. It's not got the best UI for finding stuff either.

And, for some reason, every so often in the middle of a song it freezes and I see the "play" icon spin. Now it does this "spin" frequently without side effects, but sometimes it gets stuck doing that and music playback stops. I have no idea WTF the player is doing; sending stats to Amazon? Trying to refresh DRM keys (Amazon Prime Music is DRM encumbered... well, it _is_ free). But when playback from a local file is breaking then there's a problem with the software.

Conclusion: Amazon Music android app is a POS.

Now as for the album itself...

I listen to music in the background. While commuting I might be reading a book or playing a game (backgammon, typically). This means the music isn't my primary conscious focus. First play of an album may make me focus on it, if it's good.

And the first two songs are really good. They sound like the DM of old. I like them. But the third song... it's OK, but not good. So far a typical album; some good, some not so good. It's why I buy more "greatest hits" than individual albums!

But I noticed, as the album went on, that the music was getting _annoying_. Wow, that's actually crap. Songs 15, 16 were so bad they almost made me skip and 17 had me wishing "let's get back to song 1". Ah... nice music again!

The evening commute I hit the same thing, so I looked closer. Huh, those last 5 songs are remixes of earlier songs. Screw that, jump back to song 1.

When I got home I did some googling. Ah ha! The Amazon album is the "Deluxe Edition" which contains the "bonus disc". Those 5 remixes are part of the bonus. Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete.

Now we're down to 12 songs, which range from OK to very good.

If you like classic DM then you'll probably like "Spirit".

I think tomorrow's commute will be better!

Side note on the DRM... I know why it's there; the music is only available for free with Prime membership so they need to be able to revoke access if I cancel. But it's annoying; it means I can't play this music as part of my normal cycle. Particularly it means I can't load it onto my Mac Mini that I use to play music when I'm home (I'm currently listening to some random 80s song; normally I'd be listening to this album).

It means that Amazon Prime Music may be usable as a way of listening to new albums risk free, but it won't replace CD purchases.

Which may be why new release albums are on Prime in the first place!
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