Tag Archives: music

Music of 2014: A year in review

The last 12 months were interesting ones in music. Ignoring pop and rap, because I don’t listen to or enjoy those genre’s – nor do I really think there’s anything interesting happening in them – the rock/metal genres took interesting turns in 2014. One of the most important to note was the complete dearth of new and interesting music in hard rock.

The Foo Fighter’s release, Sonic Highways, was excellent, and a very interesting example of a unique way to record an album, but it didn’t completely blow me away. The new Rise Against album, The Black Market, stood out to me, but again, it wasn’t groundbreaking, it was simply good. Even the “new” Pink Floyd album, The Endless River, failed to blow my mind (nor was it designed to, it was basically a B-sides album for The Division Bell).

Rock was, seemingly, a let down for new music in 2014. A few of my friends have said so as well. Which left me with a single genre (with many sub-genre’s) to fill the void: Metal. Now, I am a self-professed metal head (not a purist, however), so this may not come as much surprise to anyway, but about 90 percent of the music I listened to last year was metal in one form or another. There were quite a few excellent albums released, although none that I would call truly groundbreaking or mind-blowing (I’ll touch on this again later).

This said, here’s a look at my top 10 (metal) albums from 2014:

10. Every Time I Die – From Parts Unknown (maybe?)
Number 10 is a bit of a toss up for me. There are about five albums I’d like to slot in at number 10 but I think I’m going to give it to ETID based on the fact that I saw them live this year, and they put on a phenomenal stage show (as always). Also, “Moor.”

If you haven’t given the new ETID album a listen I recommend starting with track 6 – “Moor” – first. If you’re familiar with ETID, this track will come as a surprise. If you aren’t, will offer an interesting look into their particular brand of metalcore. Beyond “Moor,” the rest of the album is a solid offering from the Buffalo-based group, highlighting Buckely’s impressive vocals and demonstrating how a band nearly two-decades old can still bring some new, impressive force to their music.

9. Caliban – Ghost Empire
Number nine is another metalcore album, with no apologies. Caliban is a fairly recent discovery for me (yeah, I know, weird), and I honestly blown away by this album. The ninth release from the German five-piece, Ghost Empire picks up where I Am Nemesis left off in the evolution of Caliban’s sound and takes it the one step further this band needed I think. The album blends in clean vocals more smoothly than their earlier releases and has some pretty heavy-hitting stand outs on it – specifically tracks 5, 6 and 7, “I Am Ghost,” “Devil’s Night” and “yOUR Song.” If you’re not a Caliban fan, check this album out and maybe give them a second chance, they’ve certainly won me over very quickly.

8. Primordial – Where Greater Men Have Fallen
A fairly later release of 2014, the eighth album from old-school folk metaler’s Primordial was an excellent addition to the year. With their particular blend of black metal and Irish folk music, Primordial has been a favorite of mine since I was introduced to folk metal and they continue to impress. Where Greater Men Have Fallen provides a solid entrant into the annals of folk metal that I believe holds up equally well against the subgenre’s earlier contributions and modern metal. If you’re a fan of black metal, folk metal or even Irish folk music, I highly recommend giving the album a listen.

7. Mastodon – Once More ‘Round The Sun
Mastodon certainly make waves with their followup to 2011’s The Hunter. While I personally wasn’t a huge fan of The Hunter, it was arguably a critical step on the path from the band’s earlier releases and Once More… Between the controversy over twerking in the music video for “The Motherload,” and the immediate fanfare over the album’s first single, “High Road,” Once More ‘Round The Sun made it onto a lot of top metal album lists this year, and mine is no exception. It’s difficult for me to pin down what I like so much about the album, other than it’s true to form for a band that hasn’t disappointed me yet, even with my general “meh” feelings about The Hunter, and continues to evolve their sound in interesting ways. *The below video is potentially NSFW.*

6. Agalloch – The Serpent & The Sphere
Somehow I managed to miss the existence of this band until earlier in 2014. Though they’ve been around for almost 30 years, The Serpent & The Sphere is only Agalloch’s fifth studio album, but it’s an impressive one. The album capture’s much of what I love about doom metal, the atmospheric dissonance and carefully constructed waves of sound that seem to lull me into a peacefulness. It also offers a very organic, natural sound, lending credence to the band’s other subgenre labeling of neofolk. I’d recommend this album to fans of nearly any subgenre of metal, and folk as well.

5. The Great Old Ones – Tekeli-Li
The Great Old Ones are a relatively unknown band, signed to an indie French label, but with their sophomore release they have won a place in my heart. Oh, did I mention they’re a Lovecraft-themed black metal band?

The Great Old Ones first album, Al-Azif, introduced their particular brand of Lovecraftian black metal to the world, and Tekeli-Li is an impressive extension of that first album. Themed after Lovecraft’s “At The Mountains of Madness” (which also happens to be my particular favorite of his stories,) Tekeli-Li is moody, immersive and a truly haunting example of modern black metal (or post-black metal) – fitting its theme perfectly.

4. Insomnium – Shadows of a Dying Sun
Melodic death metaler’s Insomnium’s sixth studio release was a breath of fresh air in the death metal scene this year. Interestingly enough, death metal is perhaps my least favorite subgenre of metal, but Shadows of a Dying Sun managed not only to make my top 10 list, but worm its way to number four for several reasons. The first of which is how much of an ear-worm track two, “While We Sleep,” is. A solid album from start to finish, Shadows of a Dying Sun provides a flow that few death metal, even melodic death metal, albums manage.

3. Volumes – No Sleep
Metalcore, and it’s offshoot Djent in particular, is a hotly debated topic in the metal community. While metal purists argue it’s not true metal, all things evolve and I think metalcore is a natural growth out of the technical death metal, progressive metal and nu metal sub genre’s that already exist. And I think few people would argue that metalcore is worse than nu metal.

Despite the argued place of metalcore in the metal genre, Volumes has quickly become of my favorite bands this year with their sophomore album, No Sleep.

Music is typically about emotions, and not just those that go into the songs, but also those that they invoke from the listener. My love of Volumes comes from the fact that they invoke similar feelings that the band Thrice does/did in me. Track three, “Erased,” in particular is an amazing, slower and more emotional track in the midst of a heavy hitting album that does the band’s talent justice and offers up an interesting look at where the metal genre as a whole could be heading.

2. Eluveitie – Origins
While Eluveitie’s Origins may not have been my second favorite album of the year based on the music alone, it earned the spot in part due to its theme – getting back to your roots. Track seven, “The Call of the Mountains,” in particular invokes some extreme emotions that draw the listener not just to a place of comfort, but also fond remembrance. These concepts might seem rare in the metal genre by folk metal has blended the extreme, brutal, often angry themes of metal with calmer, more introspective ideals, and Eluveitie has mastered the integration of these concepts with its particular blend of celtic folk metal.

1. Opeth – Pale Communion
Many in the metal community might take issue with my selection of Opeth’s Pale Communion as my top metal album of the year for the simple fact that it isn’t really a metal album. Opeth has evolved more than any other metal band over the years, from black metal into progressive metal to what some have called jazz metal, with the culmination into their 11th studio release, which could be considered more progressive rock than metal.

What appeals to me from this release, other than the band’s unique evolution, is that it demonstrates so clearly how metal can be more than most people think. Metal has stronger roots in classical than many other genre’s, taking directly from the complexities and intricacies of classical composers while blending all-too-modern distortion and instrumentation, and I don’t think anyone showcases this better than Opeth. Pale Communion is the marriage of metal, classic, jazz and progression rock in a way that I don’t believe has ever been done before, and it was the only album to be released in 2014 to blow my mind and worm its way into my list of favorite albums of all time.

So those are my thoughts on music in 2014. If you feel I may have missed an amazing release in another genre, feel free to leave a comment and I’ll check it out. If you’d like to check out my full playlist of the Best of 2014: Metal, you can listen on Spotify.

Advertisements

Oh hey look at that…

So yeah, it’s been well over a year since last time I posted. Life has been hectic. Work, play, more work, less play, some lifestyle changes, etc. But I’m back! Here’s what has been going on.

I’m in a band now – Origin of Inertia. We do nerd metal, it’s a thing.

I started changing my diet and eating Paleo – which is basically the removal of heavily processed food, most simple carbs and grains and legumes from your diet.  Basically, I don’t eat bread, pasta, sugar, baked goods, potatoes (often), rice (often), cereal or beans (often). It’s interesting, and I definitely feel healthier and like I have more energy.  Plus it’s an awesome excuse to eat steak. Every. Night.

I also started working out – then stopped – then started again more recently with more motivational support. It has been great. I feel stronger and I have more energy (again).

I’m drinking less. What?

I’m running a biweekly Call of Cthulhu game, woo creativity!

So what does that mean for Aberro Specus? Well, with all the “lifestyle” changes I’ve been making the primary goal is, kinda obviously, to be happier. And non-work-related writing makes me happy, so my goal is to start posting here again, and stick with it (the hard part). I’m going to make it easy on myself with some sub-goals.

  • Post once a week.
  • Post quality content.
  • Talk about shit that is actually going on in my life as well as random musings.

That’s it. The Nerd Fitness community takes a gaming approach to fitness and setting goals, so I’m going to incorporate this into mine. So hopefully that will keep my posting. There are several new types of posts that will show up then, in order to keep myself organized and motivated:

  • Workout related stuff (sorry if you don’t care)/weekly journal of fitness and nutrition.
  • New life goals
  • Home improvement projects

That last one might have thrown you – but the idea is that I’m funneling money saved from drinking less and some other things into getting some new furniture, and more importantly, building new furniture – as well as some other things for the house. So stay tuned there.

That’s it for now – Stay tuned for the first weekly fit/nut update on Monday.


The Silent Comedy, a Review

The Silent ComedyOnce in a while, I bother watching film/television show/video game trailers online. Usually only if someone points it out to me, it’s something I’ve been anticipating… or just something that looks really cool. This week pulled two of those on me. First off, The Tony Stark ExtravaganzaAvengers trailer looks fantastic. Much snark, much explosion, much awesome. I’m looking forward to that one. Then yesterday I noticed a video game trailer someone posted online that had an interesting title – Dark Souls. Fairly generic, but you don’t see many games with generic titles like that, so it actually caught my interest. I watched the trailer, and while the game looks interesting (sort of a dark, medieval, horror fantasy style game) I was more caught up in the song that played through the trailer. Amusingly, the thing that sold me most in The Avengers trailer was also the song (Nine Inch Nails – We’re In This Together, fantastic song), which fit really, really well… so this was a running theme last week apparently.

So, Dark Souls trailer, song… yes. The band is The Silent Comedy. The song in the Dark Souls trailer can only be described as western rock… almost like a split between The Raconteurs, Murder By Death, and old blues. While not all of the band’s songs are quite this style (though most are similar), it’s definitely a fantastic sound (and doesn’t quite fit with the game trailer, which has an interesting dynamic). Fast-forward a day…

Listening to the album Sunset Stables I can definitely get a feel for the band. This is their first album, which is impressive. Very, very well produced and put together. It has a very nice sound, and flows very well. Reminiscent of The Raconteurs, as I mentioned earlier… with a bit of a Mumford & Sons sound in there as well. The similarities with the latter are in fact impressive, considering they formed around the same time I believe.

Spinning through the tracks on the first album, it’s a cohesive and fun sound. Enjoyable to listen to, not too ridiculous, not too boring. Something I can sit down and listen to “cover to cover” and not skip any songs. But again, nothing overly impressive. Nothing in particular that stands out and grabs me. Onward to the second album!

Common Faults is the band’s second album. This album has a bit more of that bluesy feel to it that I mentioned earlier. The song from the Dark Souls trailer is on this album – “Bartholomew” – and is definitely a favorite for this album. The album starts out extremely strong with “‘49” and continues to soak into your skin. Unlike their first album, which, while impressive for a first album, is simply good, this album is damn fantastic. Some of the tracks stand out more than others… but like the first album, it’s all very well put together, and the production quality of this album is absolutely fantastic.

So songs… songs are important. I should mention the really good ones. Bartholomew, as previously mentioned, is fantastic. “‘49,” “The Well,” “Moonshine,” “Exploitation,” …and “All Saints Day” are the other really good ones off of the second album (Yes, I realize that’s just about half the album…). If I was going to recommend one song for you to listen to, though, it would be the whole albumBartholomew. It’s my favorite anyway… It captures that old blues underdog power that many, many songs try for, and most fail at. It just drives forward, beating you down and lifting you back up. “Moonshine” has a similar feeling to it, but doesn’t quite have that unexpected boom that “Bartholomew” has. So yeah, that’s my recommendation there.

The Silent Comedy live

From The Silent Comedy's website.

Overall, the band has a fantastic sound that I think few bands even go for these days. And it’s original… as much as this genre of music can be. I mean, hell, in “Moonshine” you’re rocking out along with the song and suddenly there’s a jazz organ jamming away in the background… very unexpected. So if you’re getting really tired of “wubwubwubwub” or the same generic sounding rock/rap/pop/etc. music, this is one of the few newer albums I would highly recommend to you. The new Foo Fighters, Thrice, and Authority Zero would be a few others… but… we were talking about The Silent Comedy. So yes, if you want something that actually sounds “new,” then check them out. I highly recommend them.


Obsession, a new scent, by the Blogenning…

ObsessionOkay, before I go any further, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t wear a cologne invented by these psychos… But anyway! Obsessions. We all have them. Even if you think you don’t… you do. Some people have unhealthy ones (heroin and booze!) and others have productive ones (knitting, writing…) but we all have them. Some of us *cough* have a lot of them.

One thing that has been both my triumph and downfall for most of my life is my wide variety of interests. I act, I sing, I play piano (and guitar, sax, trombone, etc..), I rock climb, I write, I remodel houses, I play D&D, I philosophize, I play around with computers and techy gadgets… and that list barely breaks the surface. I have a lot of interests, and only so much time to spend on them. So I improvise – I focus on one for a while, then switch. The problem with this is that it gets summed up by the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” very well. So how does one get around this?

Jack of All Trades

Bruce Campbell is obviously the exception to the rule...

Focus – Focus on a few interests despite your interest in many. This lets you spend a lot of time on a few… but then you start to feel bad because you’re not stretching your interests. You feel shallow, because you’re not well rounded and exploring new things. This works for some, but not everyone, and certainly not me.

Timeshare – Rotate your interests, as Brandon suggests. Spend a few months on one, then switch. Spend a few months on the new one, and switch to a new one. This works well also, for a number of interests. But when you have “too many,” it falls apart. You end up spending 3 months on one, and then never returning to it.

So how does someone with that many interests handle it? I don’t know… I haven’t figured it out yet :). But what I do know is that I love everything I do. And some of them I would consider myself a “master” of… as much as I believe someone can master anything (which is not at all). So it’s not all bad. The real key is to enjoy what you do, I think. I used to play World of Warcraft – a game that many people call addicting, or an “obsession.” And I used to play it a lot. But when I got bored with the game, I simply stopped playing… and trust me, there are a lot of aspects of it to be bored with. It’s a matter of knowing what you enjoy, and doing what you enjoy.

World of Warcrack

Lovingly dubbed "World of Warcrack..."

In time, many obsessions can be “relaxed.” We call those “hobbies.” But is there really a difference? I’d say no. If it’s something you enjoy doing, and do with some frequency, it can be called an obsession. And on the other side, you can be obsessed with disliking something. I despise a few things… but there are some I’m obsessed with despising. I make sure I know everything about them so I can tear them down. This might not necessarily be healthy… but it sure is fun to come across someone who supports one of those things… heh heh. Yes, I’m evil.

Lately, I’ve finally gotten a breakthrough as a writer. And this is good, because writing is something I’ve never gotten bored with. Sure I’ve taken breaks from it (sadly…) but I’ve always come back around to writing. And now it’s my profession. This I like. I can get comfortable with this. But am I going to sit by contentedly now? No! I’m going to write more! I’m going to challenge myself! Because that’s the other side of the coin for me… an obsession isn’t something you just “do,” it’s something that you constantly strive to be better at.

So what does it mean to be obsessed? A lot of different things… but the trick is to handle your obsessions healthily… and enjoy what you do.


Turntable.fm – Bringing the fez back.

Avatar Tier 1000-9999So, It’s been a few weeks since I wrote about Turntable.fm, and I have to say that I’ve gotten some interesting feedback about it. For instance, most of my spam comments go to that post. Most of my new readers read that post. And that post has had more hits than any other (except if you combine my two posts about Google+). So what makes turntable.fm so magical? Well, some say it’s the social interaction while playing music. Some say it’s the fact that you can discover new music from people with similar tastes. I say it’s the fez.

Turntable’s avatar system is fun to toy around with, and is, currently, the only motivation behind racking up DJ points. I recently hit 1,000 points, which opens up the tier of avatars I was most excited about, a monkey with a fez. For reference…

Aberro Specus Room - Fez!

See! Fez Monkey always rocks out.

So why are the avatars awesome? Well – for one thing, you can do synchronized DJ’s. We’ve had rooms with all Gorilla DJ’s, or rooms where we had symetrical gummy bear DJ’s – you get the idea. It’s fun. It’s humorous. And like always, an intensive productivity killer. Though I have been able to manage playing on turntable.fm and writing, which is good. Yay multi-tasking.

In all seriousness though, turntable.fm has become my new favorite website. It lets me keep in touch with groups of friends (at the same time), and lets my friends who live states away introduce me to new music, without having to tell me about bands, let me guess which songs are good and listening to them myself. They can play the song, we can discuss while listening, and I can give my opinions right there (and we all know how much I like stating my opinion…). Turntable has opened up an entirely new venue for keeping in touch with friends, and a particularly fun one for myself and my friends, because we all love music.

So if you get a chance check out the Blogenning turntable.fm room sometime. We’re usually in there in the evenings, playing theme games or just ripping it up with good tunes.


Projects: A Current Look

The Cult of Done ManifestoA fancy title for a simple post. Now that I’m not working I actually have a lot more going on than before in my life. Quite a few projects have fallen at my feet since then, plus I’ve reinstated a few that had been tossed aside when I started the overnight hell of Walmart employment. One of those tossed aside ones that I have rebooted is of course the Blogenning. However there are others. So, this is just a list of projects that I’m currently working on/involved in.. kind of to give an update of what is going on in my life.

Lazarus – Lazarus is a movie idea that a friend, and the manager of the local gaming store, approached me with about a year ago. October 2010 he mentioned this movie idea he wanted to work on, and I told him casually “Hey, I’d love to help if you get it off the ground soon.” Well apparently that sparked his motivation, because now I’m directing, and co-wrote the movie with him. We’ve cast it, and are working on getting our location set up and getting some finances in order. It’s a short film, we’re aiming for about 45 minutes, about zombies. We’re attempting to do a different approach to the zombie phenomenon, while keeping it similar enough to the main genre to keep the zombie fanatics (like myself) happy. For more information go check out the Facebook page here.

Critical Table – Critical Table is a gaming/geek culture website that announced it was looking for writers a few weeks ago, and I hopped on board. The site is just getting off the ground, but hopefully once there is a steady stream on content rolling it will be a paying gig for me. I got my first article up the other week, and am wrapping up a second on now. The site centers around game reviews, editorials, and honest reporting. Too many game reviewers get paid to give games good reviews… and it’s ruining the landscape for a lot of gamers. That is what Critical Table hopes to fix. So go check it out!

Writing – I’ve been writing a great deal, and not just on here. I’m working on a short story that I aim to get published. I also have dusted off an old horror movie script I was working on to finish. Also, the comic I was almost done with, but stalled out on while looking for an artist to work with, and I’m pulling together ideas for this years NaNoWriMo, which I hope to actually complete this year. In addition I’m always working on shorts that I hope to do something with one day. I have about 10 completed short stories that are currently sitting on my computer, waiting for a direction. Perhaps I’ll decide what to do with them soon… working on it. And of course there is here… and the Blogenning.

Music – This is kind of a small one, but the band Far From There asked me to write and record a short, spoken word intro to the song they are currently working on. I completed this and sent it to them, and once the rest of the song is mixed and finished I’ll have a link to it on here.

Remodeling – I’ve been remodeling my parents’ house since I quit Walmart. It’s been how I’ve been making a living, so to speak. After completely gutting the bathroom I redid the shower, knocked a wall out and fixed that, painted, redid the floor, replaced some of the various hardware around the room, and over-all made it look entirely different. And they love it, so I’m happy. Since then I also painted their half-bath, and am currently working on the living room. In the living room I sanded the floors and re-coated them, and now I’m going to paint and put up french doors. An easier job. I also installed some ceiling fans and re did the garage and did a massive cleanup in the basement. Oh and cleaned the gutters… there’s more but it’s eluding me currently. So yeah, big project. Here are some photos…

I think that about wraps up the project list. I just woke up so if I forgot anything, sorry. Look forward to a more legitimate post tomorrow!

~Ian


The Great Music War

TurntableOr.. why I choose vinyl over compact disc.

In the great debate over which “physical” music format is better, vinyl or compact disc, the question gets broken into two categories usually. Which format has a higher sound quality, technically… And which format sounds better to the ear. Originally this article started off as an opinion piece. I was going to sit down and chat a little about my enjoyment of vinyl, why I prefer it to CDs, and what makes it such a different listening experience. Then I started doing a tiny bit of research, just to lend some fact and links to the article… and discovered the underground war. Apparently there is a rather bitter feud going between vinyl supporters and CD supporters. With the select few of us who have a preference but use all formats stuck in the middle.

To elaborate. I love music. I have hundreds of CDs, most of which I’ve ripped to MP3, as well as many gigs of other tracks I’ve purchased in a purely digital format. I also have hundreds of albums on vinyl (hundreds of vinyl just sounds odd to me). If I listened to everything I owned, back to back, it would take months (without sleep) to get through it all. And though I listen to most of my music on my computer (and still toss CDs in once in a while for those that I haven’t uploaded yet), I just prefer vinyl. It’s not so much a bidding war for my affection between the three, but an uneasy agreement that all three meet different needs. Vinyl just is, and will always be (for the foreseeable future), my favorite child. Cthulhu forbid I ever have actual children… And yes, I did suddenly throw digitally stored music into the fray. But I will add more to that topic later. For now…

When comparing digital (CDs and MP3s or other compression file types) to analog (vinyl) many listeners will describe the rewarding experience they get from stopping, flipping the album over, hitting play again, and resuming what they were doing. The people who don’t enjoy that experience are the people that don’t like vinyl. It’s an integral part of the vinyl experience… physically interacting with the medium to continue your listening pleasure. To properly care for vinyl you also have to clean it, which adds, again, to this experience. It used to be the case that you could just pop a CD in, hit play, and go off and do whatever – though this function has been nicely replaced with MP3s, making them “music for the busy.” You simply press play and go about your day. This illustrates the biggest difference to me – Vinyl is an interactive experience. If I’m listening to vinyl, I’m committing myself to listening to music. Nothing else I do during that time frame is going to be more important, or at least won’t stop me from immediately flipping that record over when it hits the end. But this doesn’t address the real issue of the format war… Which has better audio quality?

Well, you want an honest answer? Neither. It’s almost impossible to tell which has better “quality” because quality is a subjective term and truly depends on the listener. However, other aspects of the format are measurable. For instance, it is true that digital (CDs and MP3s) records more accurately than analog (Vinyl). But accurate does not necessarily equal better. Accurate means simply that, more accurate sound. But some people would rather listen to an analog sound wave for their music, citing a variety of reasons for it. And even then CDs and MP3s aren’t actually more accurate than vinyl. Uncompressed digital audio is. But in order to fit all the audio information on a CD, or make an MP3 a convenient storing size, the data is compressed a great deal. So you’re not actually hearing the original recording, so to speak, but a compressed version.

Is compression bad? No… not necessarily. When done properly, music is compressed to remove only the silence in a track. This is called “lossless” compression – most commonly represented by the wav and flac file types. Most people aren’t familiar with these however, but the far more prolific MP3 format. MP3s, though, are of the “lossy” compression type, which not only targets silence, but “noise” in the data as well, creating much smaller files – far more convenient for the average listener. But since when are computers always 100% accurate, and how does the computer determine what is “noise” and what is “music?” It gets tricky, and that’s what Audio Technicians are for – people who create the compression software, and study its effect, trying to make it better. But what about the home user? Am I supposed to be able to analyse the compression software as well? Okay… maybe I can, but you? No. Luckily these people are very dedicated to their jobs, and when working properly, high quality (320 kbps bitrate) MP3 compression will not remove anything from the data that the human ear can hear, so it’s a perfectly acceptable format, for most. Go here to read more on compression file types.

Karma Speakers

Owning these might help...

So, theoretically, the only way to really compare the accuracy of digital and analog music is to compare a completely analog recording with an uncompressed digital recording of the same performance. This last part is key, because if it isn’t the same performance of the music you get a variety of environmental factors that affect it as well. And then there’s the equipment used to record… etc. I think you get the picture. None of this is as black and white of an argument as either side wishes. Speaking of…

And opinion article on EE Times degrades vinyl supporters and rails against the arguments of vinyl supporters… without actually offering a real argument or evidence that vinyl listeners are wrong. This is another part of the problem. People like Rich Pell will offer their opinions on the matter, but then offer no proof to back it up, especially when their opinion is that a solidly planted argument uses made up facts… You simply can’t do that without offering proof. And considering that Pell is writing for an engineering news source, it’s fairly sad that A: he doesn’t offer legitimate evidence to support his argument, and B: that his argument is actually wrong. As I stated – compared to uncompressed digital audio, yes, vinyl is less accurate, but this does not make it “worse.” And Pell doesn’t even compare it to uncompressed audio, but CDs – which are highly compressed. Sadly though, I can’t say that the supporters of vinyl usually offer up better arguments… though, from what I have read, they don’t claim that their arguments are 100% truth without proper backup.

Cat's Fighting

Seems like it all tends to boil down to this...

Of course, this doesn’t mean that vinyl will overtake CDs in the near future… Less and less consumers care about the music quality, and more about the quantity of it. The most prolific source of music being, of course, digital downloads. Now, of course, charts still show CD sales as the highest source of music acquirement… but that’s because none of the charts take illegal downloads into consideration. That’s because it’s hard to measure… but based off of estimates, digital downloading is the largest source of music consumption in the US. Followed by CD sales, which are on a constant decline. And in third… vinyl sales. Which are on a constant and massive increase. In fact, as of July vinyl sales have had a 41% increase since January. Not too shabby. But I digress… digital sales are on the rise mainly because it’s cheaper. Why buy one album on vinyl… or two CDs, when I can buy five or six albums digitally, download them straight to my hard drive, and either listen to them on my computer or iPod, which is how I listen to music 90% of the time anyway.

Well… I do have a response to that, but it’s not all that logical. I would rather buy it on vinyl because I enjoy vinyl more. When it all boils down, this is an argument about subjective preference. I prefer vinyl for the listening experience. I still buy CDs, either because sometimes it’s more convenient, or the band hasn’t released the album on vinyl… but usually, if I’m going to buy an album, I get it on vinyl. Besides, with all the streaming music media sites like last.fm, slacker radio, pandora, turntable.fm, etc. it’s hard to justify buying music at all anymore… but I do. Especially if I really like the album/band. I own every Tool album (that has been released on it) on vinyl. I own most of Pink Floyd’s discography on vinyl, as well as most of Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s discographies. All original too… none of this remastered crap. Why not remastered? Well, Brandon N Schory summed this up fairly well for me the other day when he said,  “I prefer originals because I get the sound that the artist was looking for when they recorded… not what 30 or so years of experience has changed their mind about. Not to mention the producer and engineer…”

So the war between digital and analog will never truly end. But most subjective wars based purely on opinion never do… And like Brandon just said to me “It’s not about what you own, it’s about achieving, or listening to, the sound you want.”


Turntable – A new face for social media.

turntable.fm

As the new kid on the block, turntable has been making quite the name for itself. The site is a mashup between a music site and a chatroom, where you sign in (via Facebook, though hopefully they will “fix” that once the site is out of beta) and can hang out in a room listening to other people DJ and chat, or add music to your own queue and give DJing a shot. The selling point? It’s free, You can play whatever music you want (if it’s not already in their extensive library,  you can upload whatever songs you want), and it’s entertaining.

I signed up a few weeks ago and turntable has virtually replaced iTunes for me. Two months ago, if I was sitting at my computer and wanted to listen to music,  I’d open up iTunes, or I would go to Slacker Radio if I wanted it to be a bit more random. Then someone linked me to turntable and I started to check it out. I set up my profile and changed my little avatar to one of the nine basic guys (or girls) you can choose from, and hopped into a room. And no one was in the room. “Okay” I thought, “I’ll just DJ and see if anyone comes in.”  Nope.  And if you’re by yourself DJing  you only get a sample of your song and the site auto-mutes it. Anyone else in the room can still hear it. But you can’t. This is to cover themselves legally,  in the same way that (most) other free internet radio services won’t let you pick and choose specific songs (without a premium account anyway) because of copyrights. So I changed rooms. I went into a random room I saw with over 100 people in the room. “Wow… okay… but wait, no DJ spots are open. Ah… well, I guess I’ll just sit and listen.” So I stayed and listened. And I discovered exactly what makes this site amazing.

As I sat in the room and watched people chat and bob their heads I learned how to use the voting system. When a DJ plays a song, you hit Awesome if you like it and it gives the DJ a point. DJ’s use points to buy new avatars. Or you can hit Lame if you’re sick of that damn song, and if enough people hit Lame (based off of the number of people in the room) it will skip the song, straight to the next DJ. Also, the only way to make your little avatar bob his head is to hit Awesome… and who doesn’t love seeing a room full of bobbing heads. I know I do. And if you don’t… it means you haven’t been on turntable yet. But back to the story…

Okay, so I’m sitting in this room listening, and the first few DJs play their songs. Then one of them steps down and someone else hops up to DJ. And they are horrible. You see, some rooms on turntable have themes. Only this type of music in this room, or this room is only playing 90’s power pop for the next hour. And if you don’t follow the theme, expect to get booted. Well, this new DJ didn’t follow the theme. They let his first song play, and warned him to shape up. But his next song was even worse. You don’t play bad techno in an alt. rock room. So he got booted. I was ready for this, so I snagged the spot quickly after he was removed. My first chance to DJ for a crowd! Luckily, I had four songs before it got to me (rooms usually have five DJ slots, though some can have less), which gave me time to set up my queue. I added a few songs and got ready. And it was good. People liked me. I got my first DJ points. And the people were bobbing their heads! Instant stardom.

But then my next song got “Lamed.” Oh no! Had I unintentionally broken the theme? Nope… just not many people liked the song. It was okay, I was able to redeem myself with my next few songs. And before I knew it I had a few fans. When you “Fan” someone you basically sign up to get e-mail notifications when they are DJing, so if you’re on, you can hop in that room to chat and/or listen to them. Very cool. But then I had to go. Would I be remembered, or would my DJ name (ravnos, of course) be forgotten as the next DJ started to spin… But no! The next night I signed on and hopped into the same room, and was greeted heartily by a few of the same folks from the day before! It was wonderful. Though once again no DJ spots were available I sat, chatted, and waited patiently till I was able to hop up. And that is one of the wonderful things about turntable as well… the user base.

neilhimself's world of odd - one of Neil Gaiman's rooms.Turntable has possibly one of the nicest user bases I’ve ever seen. Friendly, generally respectful, and quick to put someone down for not being those things. A pleasant surprise, considering the internet is full of these sorts of people… (please note I refuse to give their actual website any traffic… sorry, can’t do it). But really, these are some of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with online since the turn of the century (feels weird saying that…).

Are there any cons to turntable? Well… sometimes it’s hard to find a room playing stuff you like. I’ve signed on, none of the DJs that I “fanned” were on, and I ended up bouncing rooms for twenty minutes before I found a room playing music I enjoy. But that’s not too serious of a negative. And you can always open your own room if you want. I run a room for this site (if you are on turntable just search for Aberro Specus, you’ll find it) which is generally populated with a few of my friends, but we’ve had a few random DJs as well, who I’ve come to know and respect.

So next time you’re looking to listen to some music, go to turntable.fm and check the site out. Remember (sadly) you need a Facebook account to sign on, and even then one of your Facebook friends has to already be on there (though more than likely, one of them is). And hop on. Though don’t do it if you need to get something done, or at least don’t sign into a high population room… turntable is a serious productivity killer. Trust me.

And if you’re interested, check out the Aberro Specus room. I’m usually in there in the evenings.


So Many Albums…

So Recently I was given about eight boxes of records. Two or so of the boxes were box sets of Classical… good stuff too. The rest is all Rock, Pop, Showtunes, Classical, and a few others.

Going through all these albums, deciding which ones to keep, which ones to sell, etc., was a pain, but I finally finished. The ones I’m keeping are the easy part. All I need to do with those is sort through them and add them to my current collection. Once that’s done I plan on going through my collection and cataloging them. Tedious, but fun for the collector, as I’m sure a few of you know. The difficult part is going through all the ones I want to sell, pricing them (which is mostly done) evaluating the condition of them all and adjusting the price accordingly and taking photos of all of them. Tedious, but rewarding if they start selling.

I plan on selling the majority of them on Ebay (and you can reach my Ebay store from my home page) but some of them I will probably try to sell either on here or locally, because I know a few collectors who might be interested in them. Not the majority of them, as they are either Classical, Showtunes, or “oldies” Pop… but some of them. And some of them are in such horrid condition I will probably try to pawn them off for a dollar each just to be rid of them… or enlist of the assistance of my friend Nick to make them into bowls (if you don’t know what I mean look it up 😉 ).

So the point of all of this? Sometime in the near future there will be a rather large catalog of vinyl records appearing on my main website, as well as a large amount of them being posted on Ebay… so keep your eyes peeled.

~Ian