Archive for April, 2008

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John Darnielle plays with the Weakerthans

April 29, 2008

[embedded YouTube video; if you can’t see it, click here]

John Darnielle (of the Mountain Goats, in case you haven’t been paying attention) made a guest appearance at the Weakerthans concert in Carrboro, NC a few weeks ago. He and John K Samson sang “Anchorless,” originally recorded by Samson’s previous band, Propagandhi.

Probably a good thing I wasn’t there – the critical mass of singer-songwriter goodness might have led to a runaway chain reaction of musical joy in my brain, and a resultant explosion of my head.

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Neophile: Spiraling

April 29, 2008

New Brunswick, NJ-based Spiraling seems custom-designed to appeal to me, given that their music inhabits the intersection of love, indie music, and deep geekiness (like some other bands that come to mind). Their sound isn’t very easy to place temporally – I hear echoes of 70s Queen, 80s synthpop, 90s emo and 21st century postpunk. Despite that, the album hangs together as a consistent whole – it’s a melodic mixture of guitars, piano and synthesizers, capped off with bittersweet and yes, geeky, lyrics – “Modern life is much too hard/with no jet packs or flying cars./This is not the future we were promised.” “I won’t forget the breaking of your heart/All I have to do is step into the time machine/And stop before it starts.” Check them out (even if you’re not a geek like me).

website myspace emusic

MP3: Spiraling – The Future

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DIY ringtones

April 24, 2008

Some friends of mine at Zero G Sounds (based here in Our Fair City) recently released a label compilation, Stuff. It’s a great sampler, but one track in particular, “Demonetics” by The Kooky Scientologist (aka The Kooky Scientist), makes my head explode – something about that hooky electro bass makes me really happy. I decided that I needed to have it as a ringtone, and fortunately Eddie O and company were kind enough to release it under a Creative Commons license. In the last week or so of excitedly handing my phone to my friends and asking them to call me so they could hear “Demonetics”, I discovered that not everyone knows how easy it is to create a ringtone.

The simplest way is to just use iTunes – you set the section of the song you want to use as your ringtone (usually 30-45 seconds), change the MP3 encoder to save it in mono and with a reduced sampling rate (so it’s smaller), and export it to a new file. If you go this route, don’t forget to change the settings back! [tutorial]

The fancier way is to download Audacity, which will not only let you create the ringtone, but also tweak the way it sounds, like setting it to fade up at the start of the ‘ring’. [tutorial]

You do need to have a way of getting the MP3 to your phone, usually Bluetooth or a cable. Lifehacker’s tutorial also includes some nice tips on how to choose a song to use as a ringtone.

Listen to “Demonetics” in all its bassy goodness: myspace [stream], beatport [buy]

MP3: The Kooky Scientologist – Demonetics (ringtone) [approx 45 sec. mono]

Image: Mobile Phone by Flickr user Milica Sekulic, reposted here under its Creative Commons license.

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Coverage: Self, “Ana Ng”

April 22, 2008

Guest blogger Scott says:

I have it on good authority from my other purveyor of indie rock opinions that Self is “made of industrial-grade awesome”. This being their only song I’ve heard, I can’t really offer insight into that conclusion, except to say that, were that so, you’d think I’d have an easier time finding their album for purchase somewhere other than Amazon for ridiculous import prices. Additionally, I’m not aware of any facilities for processing and refining high quality awesome. Maybe overseas in an industrializing country with lower environmental standards.

Like so many impressionable geeks, I was introduced to They Might Be Giants by older, cooler friends at a young age (in my case, sophomore year of high school). And, after years of addiction, obsession, withdrawal, and relapse, I’ve reached a point where of course I buy a tribute album to them. This song is the highlight.

MP3: Self – Ana Ng (They Might Be Giants cover)

More Self: website myspace amazon

Previously: Coverage: The National, “Mansion on the Hill”

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Concert notes: Destroyer

April 22, 2008

[Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA; April 21, 2008]

I heart Dan Bejar. Backed by an able four-piece (plus his own guitar), he put on a relatively brief but typically intense show at the Middle East last night. Much as I liked Trouble in Dreams, I really enjoy the way Bejar’s voice sounds when it is freed of the studio – his albums are so carefully produced that it’s more than usually appealing to hear the sonic variations of the live performance. While I was a little sad not to hear some of my faves from Destroyer’s Rubies (such as “European Oils”), it was a good show overall.

tourdates (on Myspace)

Previously: Got a question for Dan Bejar?; Release notes: Destroyer, Trouble in Dreams

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A taxonomy of electronic music

April 20, 2008

I mentioned in a previous post that getting into techno is a little overwhelming. One of the reasons why is the large number of genres and subgenres. Ishkur’s Guide to Electronic Music (check your speaker volume before clicking) is an excellent place to go to codify the bits of music and the artists that you’ve heard or heard of. It’s a taxonomy of electronic music of all sorts, with an opening tutorial and brief descriptions of the different styles. It’s written in a highly opinionated, pull-no-punches style whose primary redeeming feature is that it balances acrimony with enthusiasm: here’s a sample:

Motherfucking electro! Kraftwerk invented it in 1971. Hip hop hijacked it in 1981. Everyone forgot it by 1991. And then everyone started releasing “Hey! Remember Kraftwerk?” albums in 2001. Goes to show how much things run full circle. All electronic music everywhere pretty much owe [sic]  its existence to Kraftwerk. Right next to James Brown and The Beatles, they are the most influential musicians of all time. It also doesn’t hurt that robots are so totally wicked fucking awesome.

But the real reason to put up with the annoying Flash and non-Edward-Tufte-approved design is for the audio samples of songs from the different genres. If you’ve ever wanted to know the difference between minimal and microhouse, between Ibiza- and Goa-style trance, or between jungle and drum’n’bass (or if you just want to know what those genres are), this is the site. Sit yourself down in front of a computer with decent speakers, give yourself a bit of time, and mess around.

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