Archive for the ‘music’ Category

the intarwebzorz are awesome

So I had a great InternetExperience(tm) a week or so ago.

A few weeks back, someone on… I think G+, linked me to an artist I had never heard about on youtube. I think the “deer park” video if I’m not mistaken. Alright, so I dig it. I make myself a youtube playlist out of it. A youtube feature I had never before played with. Congrats on making that completely simple to do.

This becomes, just through the pleasure of listening to it, my default thing to listen to while doing anything on my computer at home for the next several weeks. I am reminded that Christmas is coming up when I mention it, and so I go searching for the CDs. Amazon gives me no love. Oh, and its worth mentioning right here that I am searching for the physical media, not just an iTunes download. @set me=grognard. *shrug*

So I poke around some more, get some more info about the artist, etc, and spend about the next two hours finding out more about this guy, and ultimately, not finding anyplace that sells his stuff. Blah. The best I get is this page. It seems he signed up with them a few years ago. No CDs there, but it was late, I was tired, and the “contact” link was just too inviting. I did not have really high hopes, but what the hell. My expectation at this point is a polite form letter in response telling me that stuff is out of print, yadda yadda, have a nice day.

To my very pleasant surprise, I get an email less than 24 hours later FROM THE ARTIST HIMSELF. Now that is what the internet is all about, goddamnit. I love that. He was kind enough to hook me up this website, which he indicated (by the quick examination of the box at his feet) had about 15 copies of the album I wanted, still in stock. A short transaction later, and my order is in! Now that is just awesome.

We exchanged a few emails after that, chatted about artist’s rights, physical vs. digital media, and BigMusicCorp and such, and so I’m happy to push more business his way if my little corner of the Internet should happen to enjoy his music as much as I have. Thanks Nick! A pleasure doing business with you. Don’t stop making cool music for me to listen to!


Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

I just got back from my first show from this band, and I feel the need to write something down about it. I guess you might look at this as a music review, or you might not. I generally prefer to leave that in more capable hands.

Read more


Pimp My Ride…

This was something I was intending to post in my long term wish list, but my wife beat me to it, bless her heart. Read more


New Shiny

I’m weak. What can I say. New Shiny. I also got the dohickey that lets you turn it into an FM transmitter and play tunes over your car stereo. I’ve yet to test this, but I’m sure it’ll work just fine. Read more


Phish – Rift

I just don’t know. Every time I listen to this album I remember why I started listening to Phish in the first place. Although the discussion is of course disputable between individual Phishheads, this is the hands-down best album imho. There’s not a single bad song in the bunch, and several of them just shine out as diamonds amidst all the other precious stones. Not sure why I wanted to make special note of this now, but whatever.


Now Playing!

I wanted to also try my hand at writing a WP plugin, and the results are the ‘Now Playing’ section over there on the right. Upsides: it has a control panel plugin, and you enter the values you want, and whammo, there you go. The one downside is that right now I’m abusing someone else’s server for the images. I need to either find a site that provides that as a service, or a way to download the images locally first, and then display them from there. I’ll keep working on it.
<edit – 2.21.2005/23:06>
Ok, so I took it down for now. It was pointed out to me that the site I was linking images to was intending for people to download images from, and (as I suspected), not link directly to them. So I need to come up with some code in the plugin that will download the images to your local site somehow, and then work from that instead. This may take a bit.


Music Review

eMOTIVe – A Perfect Circle

Must Have

So yeah. I was doing some reading on their site, as well as a few fansites. There was alot of speculation on some sort of contractual obligation the group may have had with their publisher to produce a third album or whatever. Before purchasing, I was completely convinced that a “covers album” coming from them would be, while perhaps musically pretty good, of somewhat low production value, and perhaps also hastily pushed out the door.

I’m pleased to say that this is simply not the case. This is a tasty piece of work. Production value is excellent, having been handled artfully by Billy Howerdel. The general theme (appropriately timed) is all about the evils of War. While all of them are good, several of the songs stand out in particular.

The remake of “Imagine” (John Lennon) is dark and somber, definitely setting a different tone from the original. It almost gives the song a whole different message, just by changing the tone. “What’s Going On” (Marvin Gaye) is also done in a completely downbeat mode, slowing the song down and making it almost heart-wrenchingly sad. “People are People” (Depeche Mode) was a particular treat for me, since I was a huge fan of DM growing up. In particular note about this one is that the original song is almost completely gone. If you were to listen to just the tune of it, you would never even know what it was. As soon as the vocals begin, though, it becomes obvious, and man, what a great variation.

Finally, to finish off the list is “Fiddle and the Drum” (Joni Mitchell). Holy shit this is good. I can’t compare it to the original since I haven’t heard that. It was both re-arranged by and sung by (all voices harmonized) Maynard. I have to say, this is just a masterpiece. I’ve had several … I’ll call them ‘episodes’ of listening to just this song (all 3 minutes of it) over and over for 20 or 30 minutes. It is completely haunting and melodic. And the lyrics (thanks Joni!!) are masterful and poignant. Phew.

Anyway, I was awed. A definite must have.

[xrr rating=8.5/10]



So I can check this off my list. I got to see Yes, for the first, and given their advancing ages, probably the last time, tonight. It reinforces my belief that if you put enough musical talent together in one place, it will eventually produce something truly profound. They are, as ever, just amazing.

Current lineup: Rick Wakeman (keys), Alan White (drums), Steve Howe (guitars), Chris Squire (bass) and Jon Anderson fronting. Many of their older favorites were present in the lineup. including Awaken, Starship Trooper (encore), All Good People, Sweet Dreams, Owner of a Lonely Heart, America (Paul Simon), Wonderous Stories and many others.

They still do righteously rock the house.



Ok, so I went and ordered (and today received) an iPod. 20g version. I feel so dirty. Say whatever else you want about Apple and their products, but they have product marketing and packaging and presentation DOWN PAT. All their products (ok, maybe there are a few exceptions) are pretty to behold. The iPod itself is light, compact and holds a buttload of music. Battery life and other such measures will become apparent pretty soon.

At the moment I’m downloading some 2000+ songs to the damn thing. To be more precise, I’m downloading 2225 songs that will take up 13.37 gig of space. As I continue to rip new stuff off my CDs, I’ll fill the rest, but this is a good start, to be sure. I also ordered a dock (I’ll most likely end up using that at work or in the data center when I want to keep it charged, and eventually get little speakers (or just take ones I already have to use with it. We’ll see. Convenient portable music, blah blah blah. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that music is a pretty central part of my life, and that I couldn’t very well live without it. I’d go so far as to say that when I don’t have music in the background, my life is less full, less rich. It feels empty when it isn’t there, like something’s missing.

Now that I’ve blathered on about the philsophy of this for a bit, I suppose I’ll give some specs. First, all my music that I store for any length of time (barring stuff that I’m “testing” to see if I want to buy), is ripped from my own CDs. This is a personal decision, I realize. Many see the Internet as a mechanism for free music. More power to them. In fact, I have a theory about this. It is pretty indisputable that there is a percentage of the population that downloads music for free from the Internet without paying. In fact, I freely admit to doing just that (under the above listed caveat). However, I believe that there is a portion of the population (and it includes me, so I know the portion is at least *that* big), that only did so because they had no mechanism to otherwise support their ‘music habit’, being in college, jobless, or under some other similar financial duress, BUT FULLY INTEND to purchase the (rights to the) music once their resources are restored or gained. I want to support the artists that produce the wonderful stuff that is so central to my life. The same holds true for computer games, movies or really any other form of media that has become ubiquitous in this day and age. I don’t necessarily agree with the manner in which publishers manage the rights and profits of those artists, but that is an evil (I think) that will fix itself. Look at me, guys. I AM YOUR TARGET MARKET. I am the one who WILL pay (eventually) if the quality of the product is sufficient.

Boy, that turned into a rant. Oh well. In any case, music specs. I use EAC for ripping to WAV, and LAME for conversion to MP3. with the following settings:

  • --alt-preset standard -Z
  • 160Kbits/sec
  • VBR
  • High Quality

Argue all you want. This is the right balance point for me for quality/file size. So instead of the advertised 5000 songs, I will probably only get about 3000. Phew. Wow, I feel so slighted.

I was pleased to see that it supports behaving as a ‘drive’, so I can just copy files over to it, however, in order to get MUSIC to play, you have to use one of the supported programs so that its internal indexing/playlist/database is updated and can “see” your files. Thats an acceptable balance, I think. I was disappointed to see that the version of IEEE1394 in my Audigy doesn’t fully support the RFC, and as such, won’t work with the iPod for file transfers. While USB is working fine, I’m a geek, and I want the things I buy to work. Is that so much to ask? I wasn’t even aware that the Creative Labs implementation wasn’t full until this didn’t work right. Ah well.

So far so good. Music quality is good, no skips or jumps from motion, volume goes to VERY loud. earbuds are adequate (I’ve never been fond of them, the little bastards). Installation was quick and painless. Software is intuitive and easy to navigate. I think I made a good choice.



It was certainly our intent to see the last Phish show in Coventry, VT. Tickets purchased well ahead of time, flights, rental cars, friends to tag along with, etc. Mother Nature, apparently, had made other plans.

The closest we got was about 25 miles from the campsite before Mike Gordon got on the radio with the local constabulary and announced that they were going to begin turning people away. We were roughly 15 miles from where they were going to setup that roadblock. Being the pseudo-responsible citizens of the world that we are, we turned the car around, and went home.

A significant portion of the people in the immense snake of cars, though, had different plans. Some 2100-2500 groups abandoned their vehicles on the interstate and hiked the rest of the way in, and saw the show. In retrospect, it would have meant abandoning our food/drink filled cooler, slogging along 25 miles on a gouty foot (yes, my gout took that opportunity to flare up on me) and spending the remainder of the weekend muddy and/or wet. Did I miss an opportunity there? Sure. Do I regret that we turned back and avoided alot of pain in the process? Not so much.

Additionally, based on an official statement from the band manager, folks who still have unripped tickets will additionally get free downloads of the show and sound checks from their site, as well as an exclusive, signed photo book of the band. No, it isn’t a replacement for the missed show, but it goes at least down the right road of giving us some recompense for the trouble we went through. On the whole, I’m pretty ok with the whole thing.

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