In Brief

The Best Silence I’ve Ever Heard

Really, really loving this collaboration between BT and Christian Burns, which just hit Spotify today but has been available on vinyl for a while. The only negative is that it’s not enough and I want more.

In Brief

2016 was good for something

2016 sucked in many ways, but at least we got new Metallica out of the deal. Can pretty safely say that after listening to it for a few weeks straight, Hardwired…To Self Destruct is one of their strongest efforts in the last couple decades (and has a really face-melting title track that really nails this year). “Now That We’re Dead” and “Spit Out the Bone” in particular are incredible, and I would love to see Alice in Chains cover “Dream No More.”


I don’t hate my music player anymore!

The hardest part about switching to a Mac was the serious hoops it would have taken me to retain Winamp as my music player. The Mac adds a third inevitability to fans of music with local libraries: Death, taxes, and iTunes. iTunes has been a bulky mess for years, especially when compared to a minimal Winamp installation. Sure, there are some alternatives out there for the Mac, but iTunes generally works better.

Today is the day I no longer hate iTunes. iTunes 11 has slimmed down, is easier to move around in, is more functional as a mini-player, and it is fast. (The last part is super-important on a mid-2009 Mac.) I live and die by my local music library (I’m not the only one), so it’s awfully nice that it got some attention.

iTunes 11 is a much-needed win for Apple on the software front, too — they’ve taken a beating with Maps and iOS 6 in general. And if this is where their software design is going, I think I’m OK with that. (Though the use of Helvetica Neue is this decade’s brushed metal look.)

In Brief

20 minutes with Spotify

I’ve had 20 minutes with Spotify Free (disclosure: it was a Klout Perk) and it, so far, has been incredible. With millions of tracks on demand at pretty good quality, no wonder it took so long to reach the States. I may toss some invites out later as I receive them (depending on how many I get).


Tantric’s new album, Mind Control, is incredible

It’s pretty rare when a band pumps out albums in back-to-back years. It’s even more rare when it’s a band that I like that does that. Well, Tantric has delivered with Mind Control, the reconstituted band’s followup to The End Begins, released last April.

The End Begins was a second debut for Tantric, which had a whole new backing band with only Hugo Ferreira remaining from the original lineup. I liked The End Begins, but I could tell at times where I would miss former guitarist Todd Whitener’s licks and harmonies. (Whitener’s harmonies were incredibly apparent on the underrated After We Go album, and you could tell he was missing on The End Begins.) It was a band in adjustment, getting a fresh start.

Mind Control strikes me as a much more cohesive effort. It’s a heavy, aggressive album — and a coming of age for this new Tantric. You really feel the aggressiveness in tracks like “Coming Undone” and “Kick Back,” which is my favorite song on the album and is quickly cementing itself as one of my five favorite songs this year (the chorus is simply incredible, triumphant-sounding). Hugo Ferreira sings in ways I’ve never heard him sing before, with an aggression and grit perfectly suited for his baritone, and it’s great.

I didn’t think the guitar work on The End Begins was anything too incredibly special, which was a letdown after hearing Todd Whitener’s work on two albums (and the unreleased Tantric III songs, which were all aborted after he left the band). Joe Pessia, Tantric’s guitarist (and friend of Extreme guitarist Nuno Bettencourt) completely stepped up his game on Mind Control, though. In fact, he absolutely kills. For crying out loud, there’s an instrumental on this album called “Intermezzo.” I haven’t heard an instrumental on a modern rock album in a long time, it seems like, and Pessia just totally makes it work. I completely dig that, as it seems like introducing an instrumental piece seems like such a gamble these days.

This album deserves to be heard and deserves to make it big. This incarnation of Tantric has bonded, figured each other out, and put out a damn good rock record. Go get it at Amazon MP3 for maximum compatibility, 256-kbit, DRM-free goodness.

Observations Personal

Movin’ to the groovin’

the girl Riot asked over Twitter: “[W]hat songs -move- you?” Needless to say, I’m a sucker for “moving” music, and 140 characters can’t do my list justice, so here we go (with links to listen if possible):

  • Am I Ever Gonna Change? by Extreme. Yes, I fully realize this is the “More Than Words” band. However, this song defined the second half of high school for me. I identified perfectly with its introspective and at times turbulent tone of a person struggling with themselves. The emotion in the song overtook singer Gary Cherone so much that he sang a different lyric at the end of the song. The song is altogether calm, haunting, and jarring at the same time — truly one of Extreme’s best works, and goes far beyond what anybody in “hair metal” (lousy term) was doing at that point. (The entire III Sides to Every Story album is just incredible.)
  • All Systems Go – The Launch from James Horner’s Apollo 13 score. I love instrumentals, and I especially love it when an instrumental can tell a story, and do so in dramatic fashion. Horner nails it here, with the hopeful buildup to the triumphant climax — the launch — and the intense moments during the launch sequence (including when one of the engines failed in the second stage of the Saturn V). It’s an epic at 10 minutes, but it’s so, so worth it. The entire Apollo 13 score gives me goosebumps.
  • Would? by Alice in Chains. This was the defining song of my summer before college. The treatment of Layne Staley’s voice here in the chorus is incredible as he implores the listener to “try and see it once my way”, and Jerry Cantrell’s guitar work is solid and haunting.
  • Gravity of Love by Enigma. Enigma’s mixing in of Carl Orff’s “O Fortuna,” a sultry and powerful drum arrangement, and Sandra Cretu’s vocals make for a song that turns me into a conductor toward the end. I always find myself cranking the volume louder and louder as the song builds to its crescendo at the end. This song particularly inspires creativity and gets plenty of plays.
  • Event Horizon (Live Acoustic) by Blue Stone. The regular electronic version of this song is moving in its own right, but to hear it pulled out to the bare minimums with just the vocalist and piano accompaniment? Powerful. I tend to enjoy the acoustic version more than the electronic version, actually.
  • See What I’m Sayin’? by Boney James. This one moves me literally — I’ve been known to bounce around in the car to this upbeat, uptempo jazz arrangement. If I’m in a bad mood, I can play this once and instantly turn it around. (Yes, this song was once on The Weather Channel.)
  • If Only by Ryan Farish. Yes, another Weather Channel song. There’s something about the piano in the song’s chorus that just riles me up. The song does dramatic pretty much perfectly. Sure, it may not be the most technically challenging song in the world — I can play most of it on the piano and I suck at piano — but it’s still an intense song that gets me focused.

There’s plenty more where that came from, too — but there’s something to be said for brevity, after all. :) Now, I turn the question to you — what songs move you?


Stuff I’ve liked lately — the October edition

Back in July I put together a little list of “stuff I like.” It’s been a few months, so I think I’ll do another round.

  • FriendFeed Real-time. It’s friggin’ amazing is what it is. This launched a few weeks ago and it has helped increase my FriendFeed usage substantially. It partially fills the void that losing Twitter IM has created. I like to take the mini-window and stick it in my Firefox sidebar (a trick I picked up from Scobleizer at ConvergeSouth). Try it, it’s fun!
  • Qik on BlackBerry. I nearly cheated on my BlackBerry last week with an iPhone because of iPhone’s Qik capability (despite the fact that you still have to jailbreak it), but BlackBerry reeled me back in with its superior e-mail management, and Qik’s announcement of BlackBerry compatibility sealed the deal for me. The BlackBerry Bold is out on AT&T on the 4th — and my equipment discount eligibility begins the same day. It’s as if they timed it just for me. :) Qik is another one of those technologies I became quasi-obsessed with after seeing it in action at ConvergeSouth.
  • Pandora Radio. Being without my music library at work for a couple weeks has turned me back on to this service, and it’s utterly amazing how effective it is at picking what I like and finding similar music that I really dig. The record companies and broadcast industry are crazy for trying to kill this off, because I’m primed to buy a whole lot more music now than I ever would have if not for Pandora.
  • Tantric’s new single “Fall Down.” The song was originally recorded for the shelved Tantric III album; the III version contained a cameo by Nappy Roots, and I was lucky enough to grab an MP3 before the III stuff was scrapped. Tantric re-recorded the song with the new band, and I must say that it is a lot tighter now. I’m still a bit cool on the remake of “The One,” another Tantric III song that was recut for The End Begins, but “Fall Down” nails it. (I am REALLY BUMMED that I didn’t get to see Tantric when they were in Goose Creek last week.)
  • Internet Explorer 8. I am extremely impressed with the rendering work Microsoft is doing in the new IE. There are still some bugs and things that need improvement (and I’m bummed that MS is squandering an opportunity to push forward with CSS3 here), but IE 8’s new standards compliance mode brings IE’s rendering fidelity right on par with Firefox, Opera, and Safari moreso than at any point in IE’s history. Kudos to the IE team for the good work they’re doing.

Of course, this is just a short list of a lot of things. I like a lot of things on a regular basis, and you can keep an eye on my individual “likes” on FriendFeed.

What have you liked? Sound off in comments!

In Brief

Some chillout music for chilly weather

The machine I use at work to stream my music over iTunes has been offline since I moved offices, so I’ve been taking a lot to Pandora in recent weeks. I’ve crafted up a pretty sweet station of chillout music, seeded with Enigma, Blue Stone, and BT so far. (I call the station Love, Sensuality, Devotion after the Enigma greatest-hits album.) Feel free to take a listen and let me know what you think — it’s been a fantastic soundtrack for the last couple weeks.


Musical musings

I’ve been taking a closer look at my statistics, and it’s been interesting watching the trends evolve. Most notably, there is definitely evidence of my trending away from a smooth jazz/newage/Weather Channel phase back to a more mainstream hard rock selection of music again.

As Per Whatever

My poor, neglected blog…

I’m dusting off the cobwebs here in my WordPress administration panel…been a few days. These are busy times — and they’ve been largely chronicled on Twitter.

Last night was our regularly scheduled blogger/tweeter meetup at Gene’s Haufbrau just west of the Ashley. Great times as always. Eugene and I kicked some butt in pool, and he did all the work at shuffleboard last night. Was great seeing the lot of the gang out once again. I’m hoping to make that next floating meetup. I think it’s pretty rockin’ that we have TWO monthly meetups now.

The weekend is, as usual, packed — I’m going to a baseball game Sunday for my sportswriting class. Going to watch baseball for class is pretty friggin’ cool. It’ll get me into the swing of things this spring; I’ve caught maybe an inning and a half of baseball so far this year, and need to improve upon that.

Again this year, I will be a Bad Young South Carolinian and will miss Carolina Cup. A friend photoshopped me into last year’s Cup festivities (and set it to Tarzan Boy by Baltimora) but locating that photograph and associated song will be left as an exercise to the reader. I was somewhat hoping to bring a decent video camera of some type and do some sort of video production, but not this time — I’m not sure when I’d get to it, and quite frankly, I could see myself being brutally assaulted by armies of pastel and plaid for some of the inevitable comedic twists that I would capture on tape.

On a closing, musical note — Angels & Devils, Fuel’s fourth album and first without Brett Scallions, has really started to grow on me. I’ve listened to it non-stop all week. Clearly, I’ve lost it.