Back at it.

•December 16, 2008 • Leave a Comment

My internet was shut down for a while so I was on an unscheduled hiatus.  Luckily I developed a stockpile of new music as well as music I hadn’t heard for a long time before the cancellation occured.  I wasn’t going to insane.  The last few days were a little rough but, I managed to keep myself in check.  I fell into a heavy love affair with feminist, riot girrrl movement bands.  I was rocking a lot of Le Tigre, Sleater-Kinney, Bikni Kill, and The Raincoats.  I dig the chick rock scene.  My bad to anyone who is offended by the term chick rock.  I know it is a negative term while talking about feminist rock bands, but I don’t see it as a negative.  Chick rock bands keep it real more so than male operated bands.  Plus there are very few things more attractive than a rocker chick.  Something about a girl with the confidence and ability to hold her own.

I have been thinking in terms of a Top 10 Albums of the Year list and in doing so been reviewing many of the albums that came out this year.  It is always hard to come up with a list like this because I always feel that I haven’t listened to enough to make a just list.  I know I missed a lot of music out there so I am currently scanning and reviewing other Top 10 lists and checking out the albums on those before I make my final list.

As far as what I have been listening to lately; I was listening to a lot of Mirah, fell into The Duke Spirit, finally checked out She & Him, the new Kanye, looking into M83, a little bit of The Flaming Lips, the first album from The Sounds, and a few other random things.  I still do and always will love Mirah.  I’m really digging The Duke Spirit.  She & Him has a nice sound but feels to old timey country for me.  I am actually digging the new Kanye, even though I thought I would hate it.  Haven’t jumped into M83 enough to give a report.  I now enjoy The Flaming Lips even though I never liked them before.  I am very dissapointed in the first The Sounds album, but I’m glad they are growing because I love their second album.

Outside of all that I recommend that you pick up the new issue of Under the Radar.  They have a large and very interesting article on the Fleet Foxes whohave a spot in my personal Top 10 Albums of the Year.  They also have artist Q&A’s that are pretty interesting.  It’s nice to hear what some of your favorite musicians have been listening to.  You always here people talk about their own music but rarely what music they listen to.  You always end up with a very different set of music than you do while reading a periodical of some sort.  My next post will probably be my Top 10 so keep an ear to the pavement.

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I’ve been on a metaphysical vacation.

•November 23, 2008 • Leave a Comment

You know when sometimes you just don’t feel like you don’t exist alongside everything happening around you.  That seperation that occurs when you just can’t take it anymore.  It’s like everything inside you tells you just not to care.  I guess for me it’s best described as a come that effects everything except your physical pressence.  Nothing matters, nothing feels real, you no longer have a sense of being.  I think I started speaking jibberish their, but then again my brain feels like jibberish.  I guess my “Recently Played” list in iTunes can explain my brain function.  it feels so schizophrenic compared to my usual habits.  Usually their is a mood that drives my music choice, or a desired mood that requires a particular sound.  Right now I don’t know how I feel, or what I want to feel.

My “recently Played” list consists of; Eric B & Rakim, Blitzen Trapper, Enya, Eric Clapton, Xiu Xiu, Bloc Party, Animal Collective, Richard Bona, Blu & Exile, Dillanger Escape Plan, Mike tern, Hiromi, Asobi Seksu, Of Montreal, The Misfits, The Shins, Toky Police Club, Elzhi, MGMT, Mr. Bungle, Husker Du, Girl Talk, Frank Black, Iron & Wine, Massive Attack, Lykki Li, Peter, Bjorn & John, Cat Power, Nisennenmondai, Faith No More, Sugercubes, Blockhead, and further retardation.  This might seem like the normal kind of list to you, but it is very much outside of my normal habits.

Music does make me feels better and has tendency to press my reset button from time to time.  Like while listening to “Muppet Face” by Xiu Xiu off Le Foret.  When it goes from his painful sorrowful howling to a cloud of noise that can’t be determines as anything real, it’s almost like my brain is washed.  I think my brain has been washed about 20 times in the past 2 hours so maybe I should just call it quites for right now.  Maybe a day off is all that I need.  Let’s hope tomorrow does a body good and I’m back tomorrow at full speed.

Slot Music: Next Step in the Digital Revolution of Music? HA!

•November 14, 2008 • 3 Comments

I am here to talk about “Slot Music”, which is what Sandisk believes will be the next step in the digital revolution of music.

What is slot music?

Slot music is essentially an album being released on a micro SD card.  They will take an album, for example Rhianna (bad example, I know) place it onto a 1GB micro SD card, allowing you to put that SD card into your cell phone, MP3 player with appropriate card slot, or PC with the provided adapter.  The content is DRM free so you don’t have to worry about running into a wall while distributing it among your multiple electronic devices.  This also leaves about half the card available for other uses; storing photos, other music, whatever you please.

How much does this cost?

These Slot Music cards will cost the same price as the regular cd right next to it.

How is this a better option for the consumer?

The idea behind this is thatin this medium the music is easily accessible through much of the technology you already own.  Most cellphones can function as an MP3 player through music accessible online through providers or stored onto a micro SD card in your phone.  This also allows you to move the music off the card onto your computer for other uses.

Why I don’t think this will work.

The numbers: 500.5 million albums as CD’s were sold last year.  84.4 Million albums were sold last year in a digital format.  This is taking the total number of individual tracks sold (844.2 Million) and dividing it by ten, to consider a ten track album.  Physical CD sales are down 15%, while digital sales are up 45%, but physical CD sales are still 83% of total music sales.  Overall, including Physical CD’s, and digital sales,  this makes for a total win on the side of the music industry because this is 14% increase from the overall sales in 2006.  They are digging themselves out of the supposed “hole” they have been suffering in, due to illegal piracy of music.  Let’s not get me started on that.

So here is the deal and my opinion.  The majority of sales are still coming from physical CD sales.  Let’s consider the pros of having a physical CD.  You have a hard copy, which can stay in a safe case, take up a space in the growing collection, and you get album artwork and liner notes.  How coll are those?  Honestly, I am a collection hound, and I love reading the “Thank you” portions of CD’s, as well as following along with the lyrics out of the book.  You can take a cd, rip it to a computer, put it on your MP3 player (any kind of MP3 player, iPod, San Disk, Creative, Zune, iRiver), move it to an 8GB micro SD for use on your cellphone, and after all that let a friend borrow the cd and rip it to their computer, but we aren’t supposed to do that right.  The possibilities are endless with a CD.  The same thing is true with the Slot Music program, but here is the real rub.  You then have all these tiny little micro SD cards sitting around which are to small to label and you will inevitable loose them, or you need to go out and buy a whole new binder designed for micro SD cards.  This transition is becoming more work.

Here is the other problem. Apple’s iPod market share of the MP3 player community is still holding strong at 70%.  That means that 70% of all MP3 player owners, own an iPod.  These Slot Music cards mean nothing to them.  They are more of a hassle.  Then think of the people out there who own Zune’s, Sony’s, older Creatives, iRiver’s, Cowon’s, or anyone of the countless number of other MP3 players out there which don’t have SD card slots.  How many people actually use their cellphone as an MP3 player, and of those people would they rather have a 1GB card which is filled up half way by the WAV format CD on that card, or would they rather buy an 8GB or now 16GB micro SD card that can store up to 400 albums?  Sandisk is launching a new MP3 player specifically handling these slot music cards but I can’t help but think this is a frivolous attempt at capturing a portion of the market which is dead set in their ways.  It’s no that we are refusing to change, it’s that we adapted our life and habits around what we are used to and love.  Also Sandisk has nothing on Apple’s share of the market, at least they won’t get enough of it to make it that valuable of a venture.

I know I am biased but I don’t see any up side to these Slot Music cards.  It just doesn’t seem like a positive financial venture.  Let me know what you think.  Am I just speaking rubbish because I am a hardcore supporter of CD’s, or am I making sense?  What is your opinion?  Is this something you would be interested in?

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What I’m feelin’ #3

•November 13, 2008 • Leave a Comment

So I’m back.  I’m really trying to make this a usual thing, I have it on my calender for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.  Todays choice was pretty easy.

The Cure

The newest album release by The Cure, “4:13 Dream”, was release 3 weeks ago, to mixed reviews.  Rather than being a very direct theme as many of their previous albums had, “4:13”, mixes it up a little more.  Where “Bloodflowers” fit into more of a gothic tone and “Boys Don’t Cry” had the dance thingy going on, “4:13” runs back and forth between between the dark and light, hanging out a little more in the light.  So this isn’t quite to the extremes of “Wild Mood Swings”.  I bring all this up because I started off with a distaste for the new album, but it had grown on me pretty efficiently.

It’s hard to compare Cure albums because they do fit into so many mediums of Rock music, but when it comes to what made them who they are is they Robert Smith’s voice can seem to beckon a hurt soul.  There is something about his voice calling out in pain on a track like “Pictures of You”.  It makes you feel better in that dark place.  People always think I am some weird, sad, dark guy when I say that The Cure is probably my favorite band ever.  Listening to The Cure doesn’t make you sad, it makes you feel okay while sad.  It makes you feels as though someone else is right there with you.  It’s no longer a lonely void.  Dammit, I just proved the weird, sad, and dark theory.  The Cure wasn’t the birth of emo music, blame that on The Smiths.

There is very little music that will move me and my emotions every time I listen to it, and The Cure is one of those bands.  There isn’t a Cure album that doesn’t directly correlate to a particular time period in my life.  Just like John Legends album “Once Again” always reminds me of a big mistake, The Cure’s “Disintegration” reminds me of that rough break-up, “Bloodflowers” was there for the awkward Jr High to High School switch, and “Boys Don’t Cry” made me not care about leaving after High School.  The Cure very well could be the sound track of my life, all the good, all the bad, they influence so much, while nullifying most.

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What I’m Feelin’ #2

•November 11, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I guess this is technically a day late but it is still Monday to me, so by my clock, I’m on time.  I have been listening to an array of things for the past couple of days so it has kind of become a mess, but right now I would have to say I am enjoying “Islands”

Islands

The Islands have an interesting tone and mixture in their sound.  They have an almost generic indy guitar rock sound to them, but they have these tribal style drums in the background, laid out over strings, with a tropical feeling during their relaxed times.  They will jump back and forth between a relaxed tone to being full tilt rocking out.  I can almost see it being a soundtrack to a dream where I am being pulled back and forth between a light world where everything is happy and good natured, and another dark seedy underworld where all things are embodied with bad intentions.  There is a conniving tone to it.

I think the most interesting things would be Nicholas Thornburn’s vocals.  It feels like he is enjoying you along this same journey.  His vocals will fluctuate from a beautiful high note to a low whispered cry, then immediately drop to a scream.  He will surprise you an almost Billy Corganish vibe on a few tracks.  He is very talented, as we all know if you have heard the Unicorns, whom he and other Islands band mate Jaime Thompson were members of.

I feel this journey is very well worth it.  Sit back relax, let your mind wonder wherever the music takes you.  That’s what this music is intended for I do believe.  This isn’t background music, it isn’t party music, you almost have to be ready for it to take you away.  I think I just figured out why I didn’t finish my homework.

I recommend “Arm’s Way” by Islands and if you enjoy that check out “Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?” by The Unicorns.

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What I’m feelin’

•November 8, 2008 • Leave a Comment

I have a reliance on music that strikes some people as weird and uncomfortable.  I can’t stand silence, and I’m not talking about an awkward silence that occurs when two people are in a room and no one is talking, I’m talking about a lack of background noise.  I am always listening to music and if I can’t then I actually get kind of uncomfortable.  Even if I am having a conversation with someone, it is preferable to have music in the background, otherwise I lose my train of thought and my mind wanders.  I have a tendency to listen to a wide variety of music all the time, seamlessly jumping from Bob Dylan to The Misfits without it being uncomfortable.  So I thought something that I would enjoy and maybe reignite a love for a band you haven’t listened to for a long time would be highlighting a band I have been listening to, whether it be old, new, or even archaic.  I am hoping to do this eavery Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

Modest Mouse & Sun Kil Moon

I don’t know if I am listening to Modest Mouse because of Sun Kil Moon or Sun Kil Moon because of Modest Mouse.  I was listening to “Lonesome Crowded West” by Modest Mouse and after running across “Convenient Parking”, and “Truckers Atlas” I decided I had to listen to the “Tiny Cities” by Sun Kil Moon, which is a Modest Mouse cover album.  I made a playlist that was the original track by Modest Mouse followed by the cover by Sun Kil Moon.  It was really interesting to hear the change that happened jumping from the seedy and grand instrumental scale with the angsty vocals of the Modest Mouse original, then hearing the Americana/folk interpretation by Sun Kil Moon.

Modest Mouse has an extremely identifiable sound between the distorted guitars and clamoring drums, while Sun Kil Moon can almost be lost in the sea of contemporary folk music if it wasn’t for a near expertise use of an acoustic guitar and well matched vocals.  I’m not a huge Modest Mouse fan but I like to dabble and they do have a few amazing albums, and a few that fall a little flat for me.  Their best albums in my opinion would be “This Is A Long Drive For Someone With Nothing To Think About” “Lonesome Crowded West” and “Building Nothing Out Of Something”.  What struck my about “Tiny Cities” is that it felt like a personally made best of album for me.  The songs on the album would be my favorites, leaving a few still to be added, but the point being is that the album is composed of their best songs, and covered very well.

Right now I am feelin’ Modest Mouse and Sun Kil Moon’s covers of Modest Mouse.  I have been doing a lot of these playlist projects.  this cover thing, the Bloc Party comparison, and a weird little Cure Mash-up.  What is your favorite kind of playlist?  Do you stick with a genre theme, mood theme, or do you try to mix things up and play with an interesting idea?  I’m looking for new inspiration so let me know.

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Fallout 3…fun?…what?

•November 3, 2008 • 2 Comments

I guess my title is a little over emphasized with my opinion rather than trying to consider other opinions.  This game is getting unreal reviews, people everywhere are talking about it as though it’s the greatest game ever.  I can understand the appeal especially considering how many people loved Oblivion, but honestly, did we really need another Oblivion.  Oh sorry, Oblivion with guns.  And what’s with people saying this isn’t Oblivion with guns?  That is exactly what it is.  You start a mission and it tells you to go to this town.  You go to that town, start talking to people, and they say go talk to this guy.  So you go speak with said guy, he says “Yeah.  I saw yo’ daddy.  Gimme some money or go kill this hooker.”  so you go to kill this hooker but along the way you are stopped by five fucking people who think them finding their family or writing some book is more important than you finding your dad.  Fuck you and your egos.

So now here you are running around trying to find some bitches parents only to find out they are dead then you have to find her brother who got kidnapped by some raiders.  Meanwhile you accumulate 3 more missions along the way.  So now you have 8 freelance missions and meanwhile from the sounds of it your dad is off doing far more badass things.  Is the purpose of this game to ignore the story entirely?  What the fuck is that?  This is a different kind of a RPG game than what gamers like myself are comfortable and I also think it points out a flaw within contemporary game development, where did the story go?

It seems as thought the era of well developed story lines in games have gone down the drain and it’s sad.  There are still some amazing games that are popping up, Tales of Vespiria, Mass Effect, Lost Odyssey, Gears of War, Bio Shock, fuckin’ hell Dead Rising does a better job of exposure to a story than Fallout 3.  I understand the appeal of games like Fallout 3 and Oblivion.  It is cool to have a completely wide open world where you can go anywhere and do anything, but there should be something that dialogue and story progression makes you WANT to do.  I have a hard time finding this in Fallout 3.  Any time it tries to share some of the story with you, it makes you go grab a fucking relay dish.  Come on dude, I got 500 caps and I am sure if I give you these and tell me where my fucking dad is, I will have 500 more for the guy in the next town who is going to ask me to do god knows what.  I don’t care about finding my dad anymore because I am sent on retarded quests that have nothing to do with my dad to find out where the hell he is.  Sorry duder, but I checked out a long time ago.

I do understand where fans are coming from but at the same time I can’t help but think the real essence of games is falling apart.  The escapist platform that video games have the capability of being is astounding, but I rarely see it being executed with contemporary games.  I just think Fallout has the ability of being an amazing game for more people if they would have fired on all cylinders.  I also think it is weird that it is getting such amazing reviews when it is obviously lacking in many places.  Could this just be a product of fear caused by the Kane & Lynch/Gamespot fiasco?  If you look at many of these publications you will see that they are advertisers on these sites.  I’m not going conspiracy theory on this, just pointing something out.

I’m also not saying that a game has to have the most unreal story ever.  Look at Gears of War.  Simple story, badass action, ultra violent, and some pretty sick curb-stomping animation (Doesn’t beat Dead Space in that category though).  Gears is a game that appeals to everyone; a douchebag frat guy, a geek who lives in his mothers basement, a dad who told his wife he bought the console for his kids but plays games after they go to bed, or people like me who are in a weird purgatory between being a core gamer and a casual gamer.  I think Fallout 3 for me is an example of a game doing the little things perfectly but failing at the core of a video game.  But then again I grew up playing Zelda, Final Fantasy, Super Mario Bros., Chrono Trigger, and Metal Gear (original series as well as the Solid era).  Gameplay and story carry me, not big & pretty.

Feel free to yell at and disagree with me.

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