Tag Archives: music

8Tracks: Music Curated

8tracks - handcrafted internet radio

8tracks: handcrafted internet radio. Their apps are pretty cool, too.

I’ve become fascinated with the playlist curation site, 8tracks. It allows users to upload songs from their personal libraries as playlists with tags and cover art, then share, browse and comment on playlists of other members. All for free. Think of it as cloud-based mixtapes with social functionality included (comments, tags, profiles, etc.).

I’d been a casual listener of the site for a while (and similar sites like Pandora), but only when hosting an ’80s-themed party recently did I fully get into the full 8tracks experience.

The two above were the perfect soundtracks. Turns out there are scores of ’80s playlists already hand-picked and battle-tested by folks who care enough to share them with the world. And now I’m making my own playlists.

My 8tracks playlists: singles, covers, guitars…

It’s been fun for me to see who likes these and then to check out their playlists myself. As a person who enjoys discovering new music perfectly suited to my tastes, this is rather exciting, as I now have several promising playlists to explore. Heck, TIME magazine even named 8tracks the best site of 2011. If you’re into discovering and sharing music, you should definitely give 8tracks a try.

What do you think? Have you ever used 8tracks? Is there a similar music discovery site that you recommend? Let us hear from you in the comments.

A New Way For Music: Eno and Soundcloud

I’m a total news junkie. Always reading, listening, scanning; it’s fun for me. And I’m a music geek — that’s practically a religion. So of course I was interested in this story about Brian Eno reported by MarketPlace Tech Report, available via SoundCloud.

Brian Eno

Photo: Brian Eno | Edit: rsmithing | Click for original

Eno has just launched a musical app, Scape, that gives listeners a new system for interacting with the sounds. Interestingly, Eno & his team developed the concept for this years before we all had smartphones and tablets. He describes it as:

…the move from one type of composer to another: the “let’s push the boat out together & see where it lands” type.

Scape

Scape App

So as listeners, we have the opportunity to be something more, while using an artist’s input to make our own creation. Not unlike Instagram, or audio mashups like those by John Boswell, aka Melodysheep.

I’ve never listened to much Brian Eno music, but I thought I’d give this interview a chance. Wow, am I glad I did. Eno is a deep musical thinker, which makes for a highly interesting listen, especially considering his perspective, having worked on such a breadth of projects. Many of my favorite artists have either worked with or referenced him regularly (Depeche Mode, NIN, Devo).

The guy is quite eloquent. Here are some quips from the full interview:

  • On his new album: “A closely-guarded secret launched onto an ocean of indifference.”
  • On using Scape: “You’re making an ecosystem of sounds. You’ve got quite a few creatures you can put into this little garden here.”
  • On curation: “We’re going to have to come up with this type of system to short circuit the vast amount of material that’s out there for us to look at now.”

Putting curation into practice, Eno has a friend whose taste he admires send him a mix CD of new music each month… but doesn’t get the list of artists and songs until one month later, in order to “listen without prejudice,” since as a professional musician, he isn’t necessarily listening to as much music as he might be creating. It’s an interesting concept, especially to hear Eno himself describe it (at about 15:32)…

SoundCloud: I Like It

Besides the content, what really motivated me to blog about this interview was the opportunity to explore SoundCloud at the same time. SoundCloud is a site I’m becoming more pleased with every time I interact with it.

I started listening to the interview on my iPhone through iTunes, having subscribed to the podcast previously. In the brief 4-minute story from the podcast, the host referred listeners to the extended version at the MarketplaceTech.org site. I keyed that in and found a link to the full interview, which played on my phone effortlessly over 3G, streaming through SoundCloud. Having previously registered at the site, I was able to add it to my list of “likes,” and embed a clip here on the blog afterward, since I emailed myself a link and tweeted about it from the site’s mobile page:

https://twitter.com/rsmithing/status/266211918778363904

It’s great to discover and interact with something new — successfully, enjoyably and consistently like SoundCloud.

What do you think? Are you a fan of Brian Eno’s music? What other collaborative art examples does this bring to your mind? Do you have any experience with SoundCloud or similar sites? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Cheap Trick In Color 1998: The Albini Sessions

Cheap Trick - In Color And In Black And White

Cheap Trick’s 1998 re-recording of their classic, In Color

Cheap Trick – In Color 1998

Cheap Trick’s original recording of In Color is from 1977 and is universally considered one of the greatest hard rock/power pop recordings of all time. However, the band has never been satisfied with the album’s finished sound because it didn’t capture the edginess of their style, as anyone who has ever seen them live can attest. So after leaving Warner Bros., the band hooked up with recording purist Steve Albini and re-recorded the whole thing, plus five bonus tracks. Let me just say: it will rock your face off.

After a full 21 years of performing these songs literally thousands of times, the band knocks them out in the studio, guitars blazing, vocals ripping, drums booming. The production is absolutely raw and glorious — and it works here so very well. I came by the recording recently and it gets more satisfying with every listen.

And I can only imagine what satisfaction it must have been for the band to lay down these songs so familiar to them, then finally hear their music documented as they themselves hear it, show after show. And especially in all its edgy glory. That’s when Cheap Trick are at their best. Their debut album (one of my favorite records of all time) captures this, and their subsequent records are is progressively more tidy (except, maybe Budokan), but this one breaks all that down with abandon.

Says guitarist Rick Neilsen of this re-recording:

As for the re-recorded Albini In Color album, “we haven’t made any plans for it, but we didn’t record it for a joke,” he quips. “We didn’t go at it trying to come up with crazy new arrangements, but sonically we never liked In Color. The songs were good, but sonically it’s wimpy and we’re not wimpy. We left before it got mixed and were told ‘We’ll fix it in the mix’ by our record company (back then) and our ex-manager. Well, they went the other way,” Nielsen says finishing his thought. – via BraveWords.com

Hey man, you ever heard of CDs?

Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander once signed my tape inlay card at a gig.

The original In Color is responsible for much of the band’s success, and will forever be a classic. My point here is just that if you like that, you might like this one, too.

I’m not sure how much longer the tracks will be available on the Interwebs, but a quick search brings up several places currently hosting the recording in its entirety (which I would gladly pay for, as I did my original copy of In Color and all their other records). They have long been one of my all-time favorite bands for their sound, individuality, sense of humor, and enduring work ethic. Having seen them live on multiple occasions, I’ll say this is about as good as it gets to being there. If you like the rock, this revisiting of a classic is worth your time.

Impress your friends: share this on Twitter!

What do you think of Cheap Trick? If you’ve seen them live, what was it like? Do you have an amazing or bizarre Cheap Trick story? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Real Talent: Jamie Laval

Jamie Laval Sitting

Jamie Laval Sitting, foot tapping, violinning. Click for full size.

It’s a funny thing, talent. For those who have it in abundance, especially in the arts, that’s about it. So, you’re a child prodigy writing symphonies as a teen? Yep, gonna’ die before 40. Brilliant painter? Yeah, cuttin’ yer ear off, no doubt.

But this past weekend, I had the unique experience of  attending a private concert at the home of friends to enjoy the music of Mr. Jamie Laval. Not only does he play a mean fiddle (or violin, depending on the style of music), but he manages to operate all four limbs in perfect sync to sound the beat. And not only does he achieve all that, but between tunes he illustrates the scene with wonderful detail, giving us a deeper appreciation of the material. And not only all that, but he also is a friendly, articulate guy who, by my humble estimation, has his act together. At least enough to wow everyone in attendance on this evening. From his official bio:

ONE OF THE premier Celtic violinists on the international music scene today, Jamie Laval creates rapt audiences with his intensely passionate performances of traditional music of Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Quebec, rendered with hints of classical refinement and ethnic music from around the world. Jamie has also collaborated on numerous television, film, and CD recordings, including Dave Matthews’ Some Devil, Warner Bros. Pictures’ Wild America, and recent live performances include the NBC Today Show, as well as a private appearance for Her Majesty the Queen.

Definitely get in touch with him if you own an Irish pub, appreciate four-limbed rhythm & fiddle, or if you just want a CD. Jamie is talented, and is the real deal.


Photos by me, using Hipstamatic Nashville HipstaPak & Noir post-processing 

Jamie Laval Standing

Jamie Laval Standing. Click for full size.

Have you ever attended a house concert? Do you play an instrument? When is the last time you heard a song and it transported you to another time and place? Let us hear from you in the comments!

Occupying Art

“It’s wrong,” the sign said, “to create a mortgage-backed security filled with loans you know are going to fail so that you can sell it to a client who isn’t aware that you sabotaged it by intentionally picking the misleadingly rated loans most likely to be defaulted upon.”

The point of this post is not to debate the merits of the Occupy Wall St. (and other places) protests, but rather to note some connections spurred by communication around the topic. Politics aside, I noticed something last week that I found kind of amazing.

As I commented at the original story by Marketplace, I heard this example of shared communication on the radio (streaming, via my phone), read it online, linked to it on Facebook and Twitter, and am now blogging about it.

I think it’s extraordinary — that this one guy has a thought, it gets adopted by someone in this protest, it’s a highly relevant thought, and now it’s broadcast and rebroadcast via many different channels. Will anything come of it? Who knows; my point is that we are part of communication magic, and it’s worth reflecting upon.

True, there are maddening issues spurring on the protests, and many of them are complex… adding to the maddening. And along those lines, I think this sign captures the thought that originally inspired its content, while also making a statement on the complexity and associated frustration around the issues — while also illustrating the evolution of mass media communication, given the new breadth an individual’s thoughts can achieve through technology… right to this very moment on this blog you’re reading now.

There’s something artful in the expression.

It makes me wonder if we’re indeed in a revolution, at least in terms of communication, what with having the ability to reach and influence in so many ubiquitous, yet simple ways. We walk around with computers in our pockets and can connect with someone on the other side of the globe with ease. Or, maybe I’m just noticing the traceable pathways of the communication. Still, it’s interesting to observe and document. I’m no protester, but I’m intrigued. As Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal noted, it’s all very… “woah.” And so, I was inspired to do photograph & edit this sign made by a protestor in my city over the weekend:

Occupy Winston-Salem, 10.22.11

Turns out I was subliminally giving props to Rage Against the Machine.
Which, oddly, is kinda appropriate:

Rage Against The Machine, 11.02.99

And in fact, I support long-haired freaky people,
and I actually thought I was paying tribute to Tesla

So hey, there’s some art — or at least the convergence of national and local events, mass media, music, and visual design. I think that’s remarkable, and I hope something can come of it, even if only reflection or informed entertainment.

Update, 10/26: not so sure I meant this kind of entertainment, from the people who brought you Puck and Snooki. Oh, well. For the story on how all this started in the first place, see the original author’s follow-up.

Have you had any transcendental communication moments lately? Do you think we’re in a revolution? Do you remember Tesla? Tell us in the comments.