Recently in Music Category
Here’s a chiptune cover of Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’ I made during some time off I had last December. I just haven’t gotten around to posting it until now (though I did make a few tweaks yesterday). I think we were watching Glee at the time and remember thinking a chiptune version would be even better than theirs. It was made with FamiTracker, and this video is of the song being played in FamiTracker:
You can listen to and download the MP3 from its 8bitcollective page. Or download the NSF (what’s an NSF?) and play it in an NSF player, such as my own Chip Player. Or perhaps something a bit more stable like Audio Overload.
My 10,000th birthday (in binary... that's 32 for you non-nerds) was last week, and it's really been a music and gluttony filled weekend to ring in the new year. Thursday night, I saw Kid Koala at the Abbey Pub. He is a fantastic turntablist which you just have see to believe. This is no ordinary DJ... even those that scratch and mix. He just takes it to a whole new level. For a brief insight to what he's capable of, check out this Real video clip from the BBC of him remixing Henry Mancini's Moon River, live. I don't think even that video does him justice, but it's a start for newbies.
Saturday morning, we went to Cereality (hooray for stupid Flash intros!), a cereal bar and cafe. Thanks to Chicagoist, I've been looking forward to this place for months. And after reading Metromix's review, we decided to check it out. I loved it! Granted it was more like dessert than breakfast, with the sugar cereals and whole milk. They do have non-sugared cereals and skim milk, but what's the fun in that! And I can get my sugar cereal fix without buying a whole box. I'm looking forward to some Alphabits next time.
Saturday afternoon and evening was spent at Lollapalooza. Granted this was no Lollapalooza of old where you could see new and budding bands. I got to see the Pixies, again, Billy Idol, Primus, and Weezer. Okay, so we opted for the single day, and I didn't know half the bands that played on Saturday, so maybe there were some hip bands and I am just getting old to know who they are, but it was still a great time! I'm so glad they decided to play in Grant Park, rather than the usual places, such as Tinley Park or Alpine Valley. It was great to step out my front door a few feet and stumble to the show.
And to top off the weekend, we went to the ethereal Margie's Candies. Best. Butterscotch. Banana. Split. Ever. There's not much more to say, really. I'm still in a food coma, so check out Chicagoist for more info.
I saw the Pixies last night at the Aragon Ballroom. It was really surreal to see them play. Their legendary status has been built up so much in the last 10 years or so, it was hard to know what to expect. They have aged a bit, and Black Francis' voice isn't what it used to be. They still rocked the house, though. They played all their good stuff at least once, playing "Wave of Mutilation" and "Gigantic" twice. As they were leaving the stage Black Francis was saying good night to the rest of the band... "Good Night, Kim", "Good Night Joe", "Good Night, David", Kim replied, "Good Night, Charles" referring to Black Francis', aka Frank Black's real name, Charles Thompson. Dunno why, but I found that rather amusing.
Last Thursday I saw M83 at The Empty Bottle. What a great show... I learned of M83 from Salon. Then I heard a few more songs from KEXP DJ John Richards. So, I went out and bought Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts (after reading the Pitchfork review, of course). And the CD lived up to all the hype. Very soundscape-ish, and electronic, yet warm and full of emotion. But that was the interesting thing about the show. They looked like a typical rock band: drummer, two guitars, and a bassist. Yeah, the lead guitar player also played keyboards, most of which were pre-programmed, but the whole live instrument aspect really made the show kick ass. I was totally expecting one guy with a laptop and a few other components. It's refreshing to see a nice rock-electronic cross over like that. Anyhow, M83 is good stuff. Check 'em out. Their website is pretty kick ass, too. And you can listen to all their songs, once you figure out the user interface.
One of my favorite music sites, All Music Guide, has recently undergone a facelift, and the result is not pretty. AMG has tons of information for just about any artist, often including album reviews. And the reviews often jive with my take on the albums, so I know that the reviewer is generally a fan of that type of music. It just seems like the new interface is more cluttered and information is too many clicks away. The main artist "Overview" page no longer lists the discography. Instead, we get a bunch of semi-useful information like "Influenced By" and "Similar Artists". While these things are good to know, I'd have to say the discography is a helluva lot more important than similar artists. And then once you view a particular album review, only part of the review is shown with the track listing. If you want to read the whole review by clicking "Read More", you lose the track listing, making it confusing to follow the review at times. And it's not as if there isn't plenty of screen real estate to handle this. It's just poorly managed. I really didn't find too much wrong with the old site. Sure there were some minor flaws, but the only thing that bugged me was their dumb URL scheme. They made it hard to copy and paste a URL of an artist or album into an email or as a hyperlink since the URL looked like it always had some random characters in it. Why couldn't they put the album and artist name into the URL somehow? Something along the lines of Pitchfork record reviews. My advice (as if anyone from AMG is listening): go back to the old site, but fix the URLs!
This album is fantastic, plain and simple. I've been listening to it all day, and I'm still amazed. The emotion tucked away in these songs is so powerful, it just goes to show that electronic and "laptop" music need not be harsh and mechanical. The opening track, "Hands", starts out a little erratic with a nice piano riff and some random drums and symbols. But once the main beat kicks in, I'm hooked and can't stop listening. Even though there are some glitchy sounds in the back, it's done in such a way that just makes the piano and beat even more beautiful and hypnotic. "She Moves She" has a bit more groove with a weird Asian or country mandolin or guitar twang. I think my favorite on the disc is "My Angel Rocks Back And Forth". The harp and sliding static beats pull you in. But again, once the beat starts up about half way through, the song is unbelievable. While very dreamy and sensual, I can't help but feel a little melancholy. "Unspoken" is a 9 minute funky journey with a nice, meaty mid-section. "As Serious As Your Life" is a bit more upbeat. It's a little experimental but not overdone at all and still very catchy. Finally, the closer, "Slow Jam", is a very playful song that makes you feel a bit like a child again and want to smile.
A friend pointed me to Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music. While informative and chock full of samples for all genres, it's also quite sarcastic and funny. Here's how he describes IDM (intelligent dance music):
This is the oddest named genre in the entire world, since it's not easily danceable, it's not certifiably intelligent, and it's arguable as to whether it constitutes as actual music. This is the realm of the uber-pretentious electronic music afficionados, with razor-thin eclectic tastes, who spend most of their waking energy arguing about what IDM is and what IDM isn't. But I guess that depends on what your definition of 'is' is. That's why it's the one genre that doesn't have any kind of cohesive sound. That's also why some of them despise the term "Intelligent Dance Music". So just ignore them. It is fun to listen to, after all.
The Sigur Rós website has videos for download, and quite a few of them, too. Most are just clips from various performances, including one on the Craig Kilborn show. I don't know why, but it just seems a little odd to be playing on that show. Just way too mellow. I guess that's why they cut the song early. The video for "untitled #1" is rather disturbing. Maybe it would make more sense if I understood what they were saying, but it seems that kids are playing in some sort of post-apocalyptic nuclear ash.
Remeber those "hidden" tracks on CDs that became so popular in the '90s? They were cool the first time you heard them, and then just got annoying. They're even more annoying today when ripping these CDs to MP3s.
Generally, there are two kinds of hidden tracks. The first would put the hidden track on the 99th track with all the tracks in between as blank 1 second tracks. The other kind is where the last track is super long, like 30 minutes, with 25 minutes of silence between the final track and the hidden track. The first kind is easier to deal with, as you just don't rip the 90 blank tracks in the middle. The second kind requires manual editing. I use Audacity to make two tracks from the one super long track, cutting out the silence. Of course, you want to do this editing on the original CD file prior to conversion to MP3. Otherwise you'll end up ecoding the file twice, reducing the quality of the MP3.
Amazon Lists are a good way to discover new music. I just found this great IDM list. I think I own about half the albums on that list, so our tastes match up fairly well. I ended up ordering Pause from Four Tet, Audiotacker from Mouse on Mars, and Tides from Arovane. All Music corroborates Greg's picks, and I've had good luck following their suggestions in the past. Amazon doesn't stock Tides, so I ordered it from Forced Exposure. They seem to have a lot of harder to find stuff, so I picked up a couple other albums, too.