Where Are They Now?

Ever wonder what happened to a particular person? Even if that particular person was “just” a back-up singer? Where’s Camille Henderson? Martina Topley? More importantly, do y0u even know who these people are?!

I do. Between this and some other musicians, I think I have enough for a great little VH-1-type post for today.

Let’s start with Camille Henderson. Doesn’t ring a bell, does it? How about if I mention Fumbling towards Ecstasy? Mirrorball? Surfacing? “Erm … not to piss you off there, Mr. Writer, but those are Sarah McLachlan CDs.” Indeed they are, Mr. Astute Reader. However, the tie Mrs. Henderson has to these CDs is that she was the sultry back-up singer. You know those incredibly high notes you hear in “Fear” from Fumbling? That’s Camille. She is an incredible singer.

So where is she now?

Apparently, she’s content being a mommy! So much so that she has a blog that she and her sister maintain about their mommy exploits. You can read up on her goings-on here.

In the mid-90s, Tricky branched out from Massive Attack to write his own material. His first solo effort, Maxinquaye, is a fantastic listen. He enlisted the help of Martina Topley-Bird. My favorite track is the re-titled Public Enemy cover, “Black Steel.” Great track. “Picture me giving a damn … I said, ‘never.'” She has sung on every Tricky CD so far, the last one being Angels with Dirty Faces. What has she been doing?

She’s been a busy chick. She’s performed with a bah-zillion other artists, released solo CDs, and written songs for video games. To narrow the scope though, she’s been writing lots and lots of good music. Of valuable note are her solo CDs. Her voice is just as smooth and distinct as anything she did with Tricky, and in my opinion, the music is better. Her style is more trance-pop with a sprinkling of ambient. It’s very relaxing.

 

New Music: Weekend Edition

Interestingly enough, I don’t know if this can qualify for “new music” since it’s been sitting on my tower, waiting to be ripped for about a month or more. Truthfully, I don’t remember when I bought it. Oh well. They’re still new to me, right? RIGHT!? So here’s the list (so far):

  • Gray Does Matter – How to Make Millions in Real Estate
  • Ric Ocasek – Troublizing
  • Old Hickory – Other Eras … Such as Witchcraft
  • Ridel High – Emotional Rollercoaster
  • Mumble & Peg – Wondering in Volume
  • Olympus Mons
  • Dan Sartain – San Sartain vs. the Serpientes
  • Magnapop – Fire All of Your Guns at Once
  • Mysteries of Life – Come Clean
  • Year Future
  • B.L.A.M. – The Blam
  • Snow Patrol – Songs for Polar Bears
  • Mighty John Henry – Hot Air Head
  • The Honeydogs – Seen a Ghost
  • Danielle Howle and the Tantrums – Do a Two Sable
  • WIld Sweet Orange – We Have Cause To Be Uneasy
  • Maximum Balloon
  • Chin Up Chin Up – This Harness Can’t Ride Anything
  • The Frames – Black Forest
  • An Angle – And Take It with a Grain of Salt
  • Animal Collective – Grass

I’m familiar with The Honeydogs, Snow Patrol, M&P, Animal Collective, and Ric Ocasek. Other than that, I have no idea what the rest is like. I’ve spun a few random sampling tracks from a couple of these, such as Danielle Howle, Magnapop, Olympus Mons … all of it sounded pretty good so far. Tomorrow I’ll listen to some of this at work and see what happens.

Review: TuneUp Media for iTunes and Windows Media Player

It seems that everything I review lately comes from a recommendation from a tweet. Today is no different, but it’s definitely one worth mentioning.

In my iTunes library, I have a bunch of CDs that don’t have album art. Keep in mind that I have a lot of obscure stuff that iTunes doesn’t recognize anyway. I have to manually fat-finger in the album title, artist, and track titles. That gets seriously tedious. Also, it won’t find the album artwork, so even when I get done entering everything, I’m still without a pretty picture to associate with the CD.

Enter TuneUp Media. This is seriously like the Blarney stone of music. To be upfront and honest, it does cost: $30 for the unlimited use; $20 for one year of use, and free if you have a 100-song library. The free version is almost an insult. Who has a 100-song library …? Even my mother in law has more than that. That’s the equivalent of ~10 CDs.

I obtained the unlimited use version. Once it installs, you have to create an account and use the license key provided at the time of purchase to activate it. After that, you’re up and running, and the fun begins.

It’s not flawless, but it’s pretty close. I had almost 500 CDs that didn’t have cover art prior to installing TuneUp. After it ran the Cover Art clean and scrub, I was left with only 80 CDs without cover art. These are CDs like Nitin Sawhney: Spiritual Life Music, various concert recordings that don’t have an official title, Centipede E’est, Deathmole … those kinds of CDs. Everything else was covered!

You can also clean up your ID3 tags rapid-fire. The software will search high and low to find the CD information and fill in the gaps, like track number, track title, CD title, and artist. If I’m right, it kind of works like a private investigator works: you give it what little information you have, and it finds the rest. Say you have 3 or 4 track titles, but no artist or CD title. Based on those 3 or 4 tracks, it can scour whatever database it uses, find the right CD, and fill in the blanks. Pretty cool, eh?!

If you click on the Tuniverse tab, you’ll find a wealth of information about the artist currently playing. I clicked on a-ha’s “Take On Me,” and I got a brief wikipedia synopsis and eBay auctions for various merchandise. Other available datapoints include YouTube videos, album recommendations, news, concert notifications … this thing is slick.

My favorite tab is the Concerts tab. TuneUp scours your library and reports on what concerts are coming up in your area. So far, I have concerts listed for Elephant Revival, Eisley, St. Vincent, My Chemical romance and Neon Trees (joint bill), The Joy Formidable, Arcade Fire, Deftones, Yanni, Of Montreal, and U2. That’s just amazing. And we’re not talking shows at major venues; locally, we’re talking Kilby Court, In the Venue, and The Depot (one of my favorite venues of all time).

Under the Share tab, you can post your last 5 songs played, Songs Most played, Top Artists in Collection, and Favorite Artists to Facebook. Not seeing any Twitter connectivity … maybe that’s down the road. I don’t know.

Anyway, yah. This thing is wicked awesome. I highly recommend ponying up the $30 and making this a long-term companion to your media player of choice (read: of the two it currently supports).

I Want My *M*TV …

Once upon a time, there was a mystical, magical channel that played *NOTHING* but music. Not only did this channel play music … the music was accompanied by a short movie that generally coincided with the length of the song. This was called a “video.” This channel played videos by all kinds of bands: pop, top 40, rock, metal, alternative, new wave, grunge … just about every genre was represented.

That was then. This is now. Notice anything? Or, more accurately stated, do you notice the absence of anything? Like … MUSIC? Not one show in there has anything to with actual music. There may or may not be musical celebrities attached in some nebulous way to one or two of the shows … but that’s it.

Do you remember the days where Kurt Loader would get us pumped up for the newest [insert band name here] video? Where the hell did Kennedy go? Or Matt Pinfield?

To be fair, I’m sure this is the result of the natural progression of stupidity as a bunch of marketers sat around and decided to “branch out”–trying new show here, throwing in a game show there … but at least the game show/s was/were music related! Hell, even some of the more recent shows (e.g. Pimp My Ride, whatever that “crib” show was) at least occasionally managed to squeeze in a musical artist. Anymore, and it’s “Jersey Shore” and “Skins” that are the channel’s “A-list” shows. And we sit around and wonder why it is that kids are becoming less intelligent.

Whatever. I choose not to even pause on “M”TV anymore because I’m 100% positive that there’s nothing there that could possibly pique my interest. There hasn’t been for years; why would anything change?

And Now for Something Completely Pomplamoose

So … yah. This is the specifc reason I live for finding new music. I’m fairly confident I’m late to the scene with these guys, but better late than never. Right?

I’ve been kind of tweeting/facebooking/blog-commenting back and forth with a certain writer out in San Francisco. Every so often, this “Pomplamoose” band name would pop up, and I’d think, “Hmm. Wonder what they’re like.” This volley string has been going on for several weeks. Finally, tonight, I asked about them. She pointed me to a couple of websites, I grabbed the music, and checked out a few videos on YouTube.

I’ve had one other band hit me with the force that these guys have: Muse. Not that they’re at all like Muse; the styles are radically different. Muse is Muse. Pomplamoose … wow. The voice. The beauty of the music. Ignore the fact that the music is pure, organic, and just flat-out amazing. Check the YouTube channel, fer cryin’ out loud. Remember when MTV didn’t suck? Remember how they used to play videos? These are the kinds of videos they should be playing. They’re FUN! And you can tell that they had a lot of fun making them. I’d love to see if their live show is similar to one of these videos. Incredible work.

So who exactly is Pomplamoose?

They are Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn. Their Facebook page says “Northern California” for the location, but I’m guessing that they’re at least close to San Francisco. I could be wrong. I have my reasons for thinking this, but it’s just speculation on my part. Where they are isn’t necessarily important, for that matter. What does matter is their incredible music. Jack’s over-exuberant drum playing, shot from different angles, is a blast to watch. His enthusiasm for everything is infectious and inspiring. Nataly’s voice is pure platinum. I would try to compare her to Feist, but it’s not a fair comparison. Feist doesn’t do her own harmonies. Nataly does. Granted, it’s done over various takes, but ya know what? It sounds awesome.

Three of my favorite tracks so far “Expiration Date,” “Little Things,” and “Centrifuge.” “Little Things” discusses what it really is that makes love great. “Saying that my cooking’s great while you try to hide a stomache ache, you really didn’t have to … Loves the little things that changes everything.” That line is just great. And all their songs are filled with cool lyrics.

To provide you with an example of what their videos are like, check out “Centrifuge.” I love the different angles of everyone who’s contributing. I love that they use an upgraded version of a kid’s xylophone. Around 2:16 they start all these awesome little dances. FUN! Also … watch for the sax solo. Even more fun.

Their music is happy. It’s bright. It’s shiny. They remind me of the Weepies; it’s almost impossible not to smile while listening to either of them. Above all, they’re fun. They’re fun to listen to, they’re fun to watch … I can only imagine what a live show would be like.

So there it is. Pomplamoose–a great find! File this under “shake” cuz you’re gonna want to get up and move!

 

 

 

Where You Can Find Music

I bet you think I’m going to show you places where you can find free music … don’t you? Admit it–that’s the *only* thing that crossed your mind.

Well, you’re wrong. Tonight, it’s not about finding free music–online or mail-order. No no … tonight, it’s about “finding music.”

How many of you have heard of “Stomp?” If you’re not familiar with them, you’re missing out. It truly embraces the concept that music can be found everywhere and in anything.

As I sit here, basking in the after-glow of the Sabres first win under new owner Terry Pegula, I noticed my lonely StumbleUpon toolbar in Firefox looking forlorn and unused. For kicks, I selected “Music” from the Mode drop-down menu. This is the first hit I got. See? Musical!

Have you heard of PS22? Neither had I. There isn’t a song in their repertoire in which they don’t improve upon the original. That’s my opinion anyway. Take, for example, this video of the group covering Owl City’s “Fireflies.” Their cover of Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida” is excellent as well. So far, those are the only two I’ve watched, but they are definitely worth looking into with more depth.

Wonder what hidden gems await at Odd Music? Lots of unconventional instruments. Very cool site!

My point is that music can be found just about anywhere. You can make music by slapping your knees in some kind of rhythm. Kids beat on pots and pans, and while that may give you a pounding headache (if you have kids, that is … if you don’t have kids and someone is pounding on the pots and pans, you might want to invest in a straightjacket), they’re making music. Kids also like humming or yelling through paper tubes–be it an old paper towel tube or a toilet paper tube. Filling glasses up with water and tapping them with a spoon = music.

Well, okay … maybe the paper tube thing is a stretch, but it does make a sound, and combined sounds is what gives us music. Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that paper tubes and pots and pans can’t be any worse than Aphex Twin, could it?

Find your inner musician. Let it out. Tapon the bus hand rail with a ring. Stomp on the ground with your feet while you’re banging out a tune on the hand rail. Get someone else to clap. Someone else can … do something else. You can make music wherever you are. You don’t need a guitar, keyboard or drums; you need creativity.

Relaxing Evening with Photomatix and Metallica

Yes, you read that right–relaxing evening with Metallica. Garage Days Re-Revisited. Well, the Garage Inc. Version, anyway. Lots more songs on it than the 5.98 EP, so it works for me.

Is it wrong that I still loathe Bob Rock for taking their incredible sound and literally destroying it? I mean, … and Justice for All was just so amazing, regardless of what Jason Newsted being relegated to almost non-existence. At least for that CD. I don’t know. The black album had some gems, but … it really was the beginning of the end, and for 17 years, they tried denying it. The black album, Load, Reload … just weren’t anything special. Again, some good songs, but … that’s it. It was extremely difficult to listen to those two CDs all the way through without skipping at least half the tracks. Compare that to Kill ’em All, Ride the Lightning, Master of Puppets, and Justice. Every single song on those 4 CDs are winners. Well, okay … if we’re being totally honest and open, Kill ’em All had a few relative duds, but those “duds” still kicked ass over most anything on the 3 aforementioned weak CDs.

St. Anger … what? Does anyone even talk about that CD? Seriously?

Their saving grace from the ultimate “Fade to Black” was writing Death Magnetic. While it definitely shows James’ age and voice deterioration, it also shows that they still have some balls left. I’ve written a review of the whole CD a while back, so no need to rehash it here. It just amazes me that after … I don’t know. They didn’t quite suck cuz they did have some great songs, and hoorah to them for trying to branch out. I just don’t think it worked out in their favor. They might have been commercially wildly successful. That doesn’t mean they were good. Not in my book.

Anyway, ever since I was in high school, I’ve always found some soothing element in listening to Metallica. I can’t explain it. Pantera doesn’t have that affect. Iron Maiden doesn’t either. No other metal-style band does. Of course, artists like Azam Ali, Marissa Nadler, Sarah Fimm … of course they have a soothing and relaxing effect. They’re *supposed* to. So go figure. Not sure what the deal is. Don’t care, either. 😉

Speaking of Photomatix, these HDR images aren’t gonna tweak themselves.

Spamming Spammers and the Spam They Spam

As you’ve no doubt noticed, there aren’t a lot of legitimate comments that get posted here. I’m okay with that. It’d be great if people commented, but really, not a big deal. What I find hilarious are some of the spam comments. I mean … come on. At least *try* to say something non-generic. Or English, since I write in English. At least write something intelligent or legible, as a bare minimum.

These two are a small sample of the hud I receive.

*ahem*

“I would equal to add your journal to my blogroll gratify bowman me what mainstay should I use?” Umm … what?

“Superb blog post, I acquire book credible this internet website so alluringly I’ll see abounding added on this answerable in the answerable future!” Pure joy, right here.

Aren’t those great?! I mean, WOW! It actually makes me cringe. But seriously. How funny.

Update March 6 2011

Here’s another gem–it smacks of “Google Translator.”

Good day Site owner. My companion and i truly just like the posting and the web site all in all! Your submit could be very plainly written in addition to without issue understandable. The Weblog theme is wonderful as effectively! Would definitely be great to know precisely where I can acquire it. If possible keep up the good job. All of us need much more this type of website house owners reminiscent of you online and also much less spammers. Wonderful mate!

Indeed, if at all possible, I *will* keep up the good job!

The Performances of Gord Downie

If you’ve heard of The Tragically Hip, you’re doing well. If you’ve actually heard them, you’re doing even better. I’m not sure why they’ve never really hit the States with much force; they’re an amazing band for a number of reasons. One of the most amazing things about them is their lead singer, Gordon Downie, often just referred to as “Gord.”

I got into them late in their career. One that that drew me to them as a band was the collection of live recordings my brother bequeathed unto me. Gord is especially well known for his mid-song rants and story-telling tirades. EVERYthing he does and says is pure improv. The most famous, at least as far as I can tell, is simply known as KWT–Killer Whale Tank, performed during “New Orleans Is Sinking,” for those on the outside. The story is about him as a clean-and-scrub man at an aquarium where he befriends a killer whale. That’s all I will say. If you want to know the rest of the story, you’ll have to listen to the song.

As a college graduation present, my brother and his wife bought my wife and me tickets to see them at the House of Blues in Las Vegas in August 2002. Very nice of them … except my wife and I decided to move to Phoenix a week after graduating, just to test the job market and see what we could do down there. After discussing it with my brother, we decided that the Vegas trip was still on; all we’d have to do is meet them at the hotel, and we’d go to the show, spend the night in Vegas, then head home the next day.

So we went. It’s about a 6-hour drive from Phoenix to Vegas, and there is little to nothing to see along the way until you get to Hoover dam, which is extremely cool to see. Anyway, we checked in to our hotel, met up with my brother and his wife, and we went to the show. Like I said, it was at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay. If you’ve never been to a HoB show, you really owe it to yourself to check one out. the entire venue is open floor, except for the balcony, which also is open, but generally the unspoken rule is that it’s for those who want to enjoy the show but not be bombarded with foreign bodies. The balcony does offer a great location for getting video and/or pics though. No jostling, no harassment … just a great line of site to the stage.

However, on this particular night and show, we came nowhere near the balcony. Instead, we were about as close as we could get to the stage. And what a view it was.
To describe the show adequately is difficult. It was so off the charts on every single level: the music was intense and perfect; the atmosphere was intimate and moody; and Gord Downie … well, he was on a totally different plane of consciousness. He danced and moved like he was the epi-center of an 8.0 earthquake; his rants were so out of left-field that you really have to wonder if this guy is really not on meth, or heroin, or acid … or what he’s on cuz whatever it is, as a writer, I’d love some.
On a scale of 1-10 of intensity and pure entertainment, I would give this show about a 13. Mock the cliche’ off-the-scale reference all you want; it is precisely what it deserves.
So that was the Vegas show. Afterwards, we went back to the hotel, and my brother discovered that they were going to be playing in Phoenix the next night. He and his wife talked it over, and they decided to drive back with us, and he and I would go to the show while the wives stayed back at the apartment and hung out–something they hadn’t gotten to do in months, and they were longing for some “girl time,” which we were all to happy for since it meant we got to go to another Hip show!
We got up the next morning, drove back, got to our apartment, got them situated, then we went to find the venue and buy tickets. Amazingly, with 2 hours left before the show, we were able to secure 2nd row seats just to stage right. Totally different venue atmosphere, totally different vibe to the show. This show was beautiful. It was much more … haunting? I guess? Same band. If you were to blindfold someone, play tapes from the two shows and ask “Is this the same band?”, I would dare say that 8 out of 10 would say “no way.” Gord was much more subdued–more loving with the mic and his guitar, more gentle … more caressing. It was the polar opposite of the show from 24 hours previous, and it was just as amazing as the Vegas show.
What it showed me was that this band–specifically, Gord himself–has more of a range of emotion to his ability to perform than anyone I’ve seen. His swing from one night to the next could almost be construed as schizophrenic, if it weren’t for the fact that he’s as down to earth a person as it gets. As a human, he’s very private; he doesn’t like sharing the minute details of his day to day activities. On stage, he becomes The Hip Gord, and it’s a complete toss-up as to which show you’re going to get to see. Truthfully, it doesn’t matter because either way, you’re going to get an amazing treat.

Personality Test

According to the Meyers-Briggs personality test, I am a EFNJ. That’s interesting, considering I do like to share my opinion and thoughts on stuff, and not just about music. Hmm.

I agree with some of the points, but according to the percentage scale, I’m only 11% extrovert. That’s a load of crap.

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