Return of the Evil

Well, it’s back. My least favorite show ever. I absolutely cannot stand American Idol, yet here we are, kicking off season X of some poor sot that’s going to win some fake popularity contest. And for what? A contract where the recording industry will pimp them out for millions of CDs that the “winner” will see barely a fraction of those earnings? To sing what they’re told by people who sit around and write canned crap?

Thanks, no.

Oh. And maybe it’s my untrained ear, but EVERYone they bring on sounds exactly the same. The ChristinaGagaBlahBlahMariahLopez sound.

If ever you’re forced to watch this because your spouse is an Idol addict, watch and tell me the next time you hear someone like Regina Spektor. Or Samantha Crain. Or Joana Newsom. Let me know. Cuz that would be worth watching. But this same-sound-year-in-year-out drivel is nauseatingly boring.

What really grates on my nerves are the ones who pin ALL their hopes and dreams on the opinions of 3 judges. The sobbing, the stumbling around in a drunken loss of purpose and inner death … really? Because someone told you you can’t make it? Why are these sots so hell-bent on making or breaking their lives on whether Dog will move them on? Seriously.

I swear … ugh.

Now … having said all that, to be fair, my wife really does just like watching the auditions for “less than kind” reasons. I’m sorry. Yes–there are some that truly should not audition. And you know that these people are auditioning because someone didn’t have the heart to tell them “Dude. Erm … seriously? You’re gonna want to take up an instrument. Cuz your voice ain’t it.”

Know what? I like to sing. I sing in the shower, I sing in the car. Sometimes, I sing for my wife and kids. My wife constantly asks me to join our church choir. It’s not happening. Ever. I can sing along in the car and shower without offending the general public.

Whatever. Show’s over. Time to go catch up on some shows with the spouse. Later.

It’s Not *ALWAYS* Sunny in Philadelphia …

It’s sleeting in Philly.

I know this not because I am a great meteorlogical prognosticator, nor do I have clairvoyance into the goings on of a particular city 2000 miles away. I know this because I have been having a great email exchange with Emily Cahill and Alex Wilson of Gypsy Death and You.

Here’s my problem. I want their CD. I want a hard, physical, in-hand, touchable copy of their EP. I will admit that I have done my fair share of dabbling in the downloading of tunes, and I don’t mean through Apple almighty. However, I do like to give start-up bands their proper by supporting them with legally obtained copies of their audio offerings. Such is the case with this Philadelphia-based duo.

However, after much searching and prodding, all the ususal channels resulted in nothing. No Amazon, no CDBaby, no band site order form … nothing.

I’m nothing if not persistent. When I have an idea, I like to see it through until it’s done. At least when it comes to things I’m passionate about. Like music! So I sent the band an email, asking how I can get a copy of their CD.

Which brings me to the point of the weather in Eastern PA. Apparently it’s sleeting, the roads are slick, and dangerous driving. I applaud Emily on her caution in waiting to go to the post office until the weather clears up. It’s too bad more people out here don’t implement are more strategic mind-set when it comes to driving conditions. I can’t tell you how many people I see on the side of the road with nothing more than a dusting of snow. It would be comical if it weren’t for the potential death rate. Cuz let’s face it–there’s nothing funny about death. At least, there shouldn’t be.

Anyway, Emily has graciously agreed to send me a signed copy of their EP as soon as the weather breaks and she can get to the post office safely! Of course, there will be an immediate posting of what I’m fairly confident will be a raving review, if their two songs on NewBandDay’s site are anything to be used to gauge potential success.

So Emily and Alex, in advance, I thank you profusely for your graciousness and generosity. May the the weather truly always be sunny in Philadelphia!

Review: Widowspeak – October Tape EP

So, apparently I like these guys a lot more than I realized. I’m now taking their band of the day and re-reviewing it. Oh to have an original thought for just once today. Alas–the sun has set; Orion peaks in the southern sky. and I … I am left bereft of the capacity for generating my own ideas.

Oh well! 🙂

Yah … I spent a good deal of time yesterday on their site, poking around and finding new music. Well, new to me, anyway. One band in particular stood out. Widowspeak hails from Brooklyn NY. I was *really* hoping that at least Hope Sandoval was from the same area, but no … she and the rest of Mazzy Star are from the SoCal Left Coast.

If Kurt Cobain were still alive, and he and Hope had a band-child, that band would be Widowspeak. If you think you would like a mix of Mazzy Star-type stuff with a slight edge of PNW circa 1992, AND you throw in Alison Shaw (of Cranes fame) toned down an entire octave for vocals, you will totally get off on these guys. AND, for the moment, you can check out and download 3 tracks from this EP from this site. Tragically, you can’t download the entire EP like I did. Imagine that I’m doing a happy dance. Cuz really, I am. Free music is ALWAYS cause for celebration. Unless it sucks, which this stuff does not. So … happy dance. In the computer chair. Actually, don’t imagine. It’s kind of a stupid dance. I never claimed to have a good groove move.

There are only 6 tracks, so I can’t justify discussing more than 2 without teetering on the edge of spoiling the whole thing for you. “Burnout,” the slowest of the 6, will lull you into a trance. Molly Hamilton sultrily croons away as she meanders through the song hand in hand with you. The melting riffs of (?=guitarist: Michael Stasiak; else=Robert Thomas) will pour out of your headphones and cleanse your semi-circular canals and right your balance like you never knew was possible. Conversely, on “Night Crawlers,” Molly softly pulls off her best Meg White impression while the guitars and drums churn away in a much more up-tempo beat than any other track.

So seriously, here’s why you need to pick up this CD: it’s hot. It’s moody. It’s slow … ish. It’s dark in a totally not macabre way. It sways. It hypnotizes. It will leave you wondering when the first full-length CD will hit the streets. I have an email in to the band asking if one is in the works. Hopefully we’ll know more in a bit! Until then, this 6-track offering will have to tide us over.

Follow them here on Facebook!

Blogs I Like

So I just discovered a couple of new music blogs that I’m really digging.

http://nwshoegazing.wordpress.com/

http://newbandday.com/

I discovered these in a Lortab-induced stupor this morning, so I can’t remember how I found them … I just k now that I did. They’re GREAT. I’ve been pouring through their material pretty much all day. Well, up until the Jets/Pats beat-down. Sorry, NE fans. That was ugly. Keep in mind that I’m a Bills fan, so I loathe the Jets and Pats with equal disdain and am strongly pulling for Pittsburgh to put Jets fans out of their misery.

The great thing is that they update really regularly and frequently, so there’s new material almost all the time. AWESOME. I have some local suggestions for NBD; I wonder how they handle stuff like that.

Anyway, these two blogs are great reads. I highly recommend checking them out. Specifically, both blogs mention Gypsy Death and You–a duo shoe-gazer band out of Philly that, to date, have one 5-track EP that is impossible to find. I tweeted and Facebooked them to see if I could get a copy. I’m fairly confident that one will be forthcoming. I hope so, anyway! They asked me to send them an email so we could find a way to get me a copy, so I’m guessing that’s a pretty good sign. Ha–speaking of “sign,” I asked if they’d be willing to sign the CD for me. Hey, it can’t hurt to ask, right? But that would just be icing on the cake. I’d be happier than a pig in slop if they can just get me a CD!

If you want to check out NBD’s page about them, here it is.

So hopefully I’ll have something new to review in the next few weeks … along with the 470+ CDs that are coming in the mail. WHERE am I gonna put all of those!?

Living in the Hear and Now

I could be saving money for a new car.

I could buy new faucets for every sink in our house, since every sink could use a new faucet.

I could put more money in savings.

I could save money and go to Portugal in a couple of years.

But I’m not. I’m taking new band suggestions and advice from a guy I’m pretty sure I’ve never met in real life, and I’m  buying CDs left and right. Like … a lot of CDs.

For example, he recommended that I check out Sambassadeur on YouTube. Specifically, this song and this song. I’m very much liking these guys.

So … who are they? All I know is that they’re a Swedish duo that’s been around since about 2002. They have 3 full-length CDs and 2 EPs, all of which are being shipped to my house within the next week. That’s just kind of how I do things.

In addition to the 450+ CD auction, I’ve won a few others as well. All told, I’m getting something like 550-600 CDs in the mail over the next couple of weeks. The question now is … where am I gonna put all of them? I think I have a solution.

In our basement, we have a wood burning stove that has never once burned anything. Not for longer than half a minute, anyway. It’s pretty useless. It just takes up space and lets in cold air in the winter. The wife and I have talked about getting rid of it and turning the area into a media storage rack for our CDs and DVD/Blu-rays. It would certainly hold everything. And it’d look really nice, too. I might even make it myself, but we’ll see. I’m not that great at making stuff, so I’d probably contract out the shelf-building. We’ll see.

So yah. The budget has taken a pretty serious hit the last week. But I bet I can make it all back plus some with the rejects that go to Graywhale or Gamestop. We’ll see.

Music To Soothe the Savage Beast

When I was in high school, I would stay up late and read Steven King books. Carrie, It, Pet Semetary … I read tons and tons of the Master of the Macabre. When I was done, I’d be all wired and wide awake. Unable to sleep, I’d throw on my headphones and cycle through tape after tape after tape. UK Subs, the Cult, Van Halen, Boston, Journey … hey, I never said I always had the greatest taste.

So there I’d lie, wide awake. What could I do? Where could I turn for rest and relaxation?

“… and Justice for All.”

“Master of Puppets.”

“Ride the Lightning.”

How it was possible that James, Kirk, Lars, Cliff, and Jason were able to lull me to sleep is beyond me, but it never failed to do the job. How’s that for bizarre?

How To Amass a CD Collection Overnight

Win this.

That will constitute approximately 1/3 of my collection.

Awesomesauce.

The beauty is that I have no idea what’s in the mix. Could be utter crap, for all I know. BUT either Graywhale or Gamestop will take all of them, and I’ll more than make my money back. At approximately 11 cents per CD, it wouldn’t take much to make my money back 3 times over, at which point I could just get a bunch of CDs I know I’ll want.

But I’m betting I won’t have to do that. Not with all of them, anyway. Guess we’ll know in a week!

Cloud-Based Programs for your iDevice (a.k.a. Death of the iPod Classic Redux)

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that it is entirely possible that we have seen the last large-capacity iPod. 160GB might be the max that Apple goes for music devices.

Maybe. Who knows …

The reason very well could be due to the movement of cloud-based music storage. Apple has bought a few different properties and land that could be the basis for their movement to online storage … probably at a monthly or yearly price point. Exciting, but … hmm. Again, my point is that many of us have music collections that far exceed 500GB. It’s ludicrous to think that Apple will provide a fairly decent-sized hard drive for EVERY SINGLE PERSON who wants to use a cloud-based service.

So what are the alternatives? Is there anything out there right now that can provide a similar service? At what cost? Can I get all my music and stuff to my device?!

Yes you can, and little to no cost.

How about “free”? How about “$20”? No subscription rates, no annual or monthly fees … your library, your device.

I’ve done some digging around and have come up with a pretty good list of applications and programs that will keep you earlobes deep in Funkytown.

Audiogalaxy
This is a *great* audi0 library streaming program. Best part–it’s free.  You create an online account on their website, then download and install a desktop application. Once you install it, you specify what folders you want it to scan for music. It finds all the audio files within those folders. Once it completes the scan, it catalogs what it finds on its server. Next, download the Audiogalaxy app, install it, and log in  using the account info you created on AG’s website. Voila! You have access to your entire music collection!

One drawback: you cannot delete files by simply selecting them from AG’s user interface. “Erm … why would I want to delete music from my library?” Let me give you an example. Right now, I have Terry Oldfield’s and Sally Oldfield’s entire discographies on AG. I … meh. I don’t particularly want to listen to them, nor do I care if I have them in my AG library. In order to get them out of AG, I have to move them to a separate file that’s not in my AG database, then I have to rescan the AG folder. Kind of lame … and I’m not a fan.

Of course, it works best over wi-fi, but it holds up extremely well with as little as two bars on my phone. Buffering is minimal.

Zumocast

First off, if you don’t already have Zumocast downloaded and installed, looks like you’ll be waiting a couple of months before you can get it. Bummer, since it’ll stream audio, music, docs … pretty much anything. So … that sucks. I was looking forward to watching Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Guess that’s not happening. Yet. When it was available in the App store, it was free. Here’s hoping it returns as the same.

The beauty of Zumocast is that it will stream audio AND video. That’s pretty slick … except it’s not available right now. Someday …

Sorry if anyone finds the ellipses condescending (YOU know who you are!!). 🙂

ooTunes

Not free. $19.99. And it uses a browser to stream. And it hella-sucks to set up. Unless your last name is “Gates” or “Jobs,” I wouldn’t mess with this. No program should be this difficult to set up.

Air Video

Similar to Audiogalaxy, except it doesn’t play music files; it streams only video files. However, this was too good to pass up. Same process as AG: go to website; download desktop app; install; search for vid files; download iPhone app ($4.99, no freebie version); xyz, blah blah blah. End result: 1300 video files streaming to my phone. Yah. I can deal with with that. I would like to be able to have “one app to rule them all,” as it were, but I can wait until Zumocast is back up and running. Meanwhile, this app will be fine.

There is one *tiny* little drawback, and it’s probably just some tweak that I haven’t properly configured … I can’t get this to work over 3G. It works great on my home wi-fi network, but I don’t know about wandering out of my router’s range. I’ll have to test that later. But if you’re just bumming around the house and you have a wireless network, it’s definitely worth the $5.

End result of all apps tested: Audiogalaxy for streaming all your music; Air Video to stream your vids … UNTIL Zumocast is re-released!

eBay One-Cent Auctions

So here’s a really good reason to check eBay for lot auctions: 20 CDs for just over $7.00.

  • Michelle Malone – Beneath The Devil Moon
  • Danielle Howle and The Tantrums – Do A Two Sable
  • The Honeydogs – Seen A Ghost
  • Mighty John Henry – Hot Air Head
  • Mumble And Peg – Wondering In Volume
  • The Mysteries Of Life – Come Clean
  • Magnapop – Fire All Your Guns At Once (4-song EP)
  • Royal Fingerbowl – Happy Birthday, Sabo!
  • S.O.L.O. – Out Is In
  • Snow Patrol – Songs For Polarbears (pressed advance in jewel case with info sticker on front)
  • Dan Sartain – Vs. The Serpientes
  • The Blam – self titled
  • Olympus Mons – self titled
  • Year Future – self titled 4-track EP
  • Ric Ocasek – Troublizing (pressed advance in cardboard sleeve with printed info)
  • Rob Rule – self titled debut (pressed advance in cardboard sleeve with printed info)
  • Old Hickory – Other Eras… Such As Witchcraft (pressed advance in polythene sleeve with front insert)
  • Ridel High – Emotional Rollercoaster (pressed advance in polythene sleeve with front insert)
  • The Promise Ring – Nothing Feels Good (pressed advance in polythene sleeve – no artwork)
  • Grey Does Matter – How To Make Millions In Real Estate

Someone from NPR has a bunch of CDs they want to unload, so they put them up for auction. One person had a bid in, and I sniped it. HEH.

This is just kind of a random post. I have another one in the works that will be much better. I’m just stoked about getting 20 CDs for so little!

New Music: Tuesday Edition

I had to go to the hospital for a complication that arose after the surgery. Nothing major … just some excruciating pain where no man (there’s a subtle hint as to the location …) should feel anything of the like. This was like nothing I had ever experienced before, and I better *not* have to go through this ever again. Knock on wood. And pardon the horrible pun.

In need of some comfort after this traumatizing experience, I headed over to my local Graywhale store for some solace. I kept it relatively low-key for a multitude of reasons, the least of which was budget constraints, the greatest of which was the dire need to lie down and sleep … but not without my well-earned new stash of tuneage. Here’s the list:

  • From Leaf to Feather – Themes on an Imaginary Winter
  • Nina Nastasha – The Blackened Air
  • Amelia Curran – Hunter Hunter
  • Elizabeth and the Catapult – Taller Children
  • Erase Erata – Nightlife
  • French Kicks – One Time Bells
  • Get Cape Wear Cape Fly – The Chronicles of a Bohemian Teenager

Lookin’ good, eh?! I’ve sampled all of them as they ripped to iTunes. As always, seriously good stuff. I’m most excited to listen to Get Cape Wear Cape Fly and Amelia Curran.

Anyway, that’s the new stuff for today. OH! I also got Florence + the Machine’s Lungs CD, but I picked that up from iTunes.

I’m gonna review these at some point. Hopefully, I can review one or two a day for the next few days. We’ll see …

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