Blue Screen Of Duds

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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Four Music Picks

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Sunday was one of those weekends again when I went over to the music shop and book store to replenish my music and book collections. To my surprise, quite a few of my recent finds have been my old friend – straight out rock – than what has fascinated me in the past couple of years: trance, electronica and house.

The following are my favourite picks from the lot:

Foo Fighters: Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace was the first of the rock lot that I had picked up in a long time. I will happily admit that the reason why I did pick it up was due the music video for “The Pretender,” which is one hell of an explosive track. What I did not expect, though, was for the album to turn out to be as good as it eventually turned out to be, with some 6 tracks are worth listening to over and over again.

Most of the songs in the album start rather softly before exploding right in your face when you least expect it. The production quality is quite clean and polished, with the riffs flowing out fast and clean in what is an outstanding commercial hard rock album. Then again the problem with Foo Fighters is what Nikhil said about them recently: Foo Fighters have songs, they don’t have albums. When you see Dave Grohl, you don’t see an enigmatic rock star who has a larger-than-life presence: you see something that the cat dragged in.

Thankfully, his looks and his presence has no bearing on the quality of the music and that is what makes it an awesome album.

Arctic Monkeys: Favourite Worst Nightmare is more like listening to someone who has a change of personality 90 seconds into every song. Most of the songs take unpredictable twists and turns out of the blue like they got hit by the realization that they needed to put ‘X’ into a song that was going down ‘Y’ and two minutes later it has to go down ‘Z’.

Thus we have riffs and and progressions that take off in the middle of nowhere, speed up, speed down, go quiet on you without any prior notice; all of which is laced with a very quirky sense of humour and a thumping fat bass line which makes the tracks all the more bouncy and thump-some.

: If the Arctic Monkeys have trouble sticking to a single personality through their songs, Wolfmother’s self-titled album is a picture of singular purpose and poise in belonging to the dirty unclean rock-your-balls-off riffs of the 1970s. There is little pretense here. You will find no venue to blame the band for over-engineering the sound and it is an absolute delight to get to listen to something that sounds like a rusty tractor running wild than the usual purring perfection of albums these days.

That said, I still think parts of “Woman” sound a lot like Deep Purple’s Black Night.

Neil Young: Chrome Dreams 2 is a classic. It takes balls to make an album like this in this time and age. It is an album that meanders through all the varieties of the lovely music Neil has gifted us with through his long career and it fittingly starts with the softish “Beautiful Bluebird”.

While “Boxcar” and “Ordinary People” take a different, rockier, turn, things get considerably riffier and harder with “Dirty Old Man.”

Everyone must have a copy of this album as there is a fairly good likelihood that you’ll dust it off someday and appreciate it the way it should be.


Written by shyam

January 15, 2008 at 6:27 pm

Farewell ye (aka monstrosity) iTunes

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For all the elegance that Apple and the Mac franchise brings with it, iTunes, which is the default music player that comes with it is a serious blight on the entire set up. I’ve found it particularly infuriating since I am so used to Foobar in my previous incarnation on Windows that I can’t imagine a player that is represented by iTunes.

But, fear not. Hope is here, in fact two iterations of it.  First one is called Cog, which has the minimalistic pedigree of Foobar and is under constant development. The other one is named pretty obviously as Play. Both are fine players and I am taking my own time figuring out which one is better. Though, sadly, either player (Cog has alpha level support in the nightly builds and it is buggy for now) seems to lack CUE file support in the little that I’ve poked around with it.

On the even brighter side, I am getting spanking good sound quality from either player compared to silly iTunes. And on that very musical note iTunes gets the boot from my dock.

Written by shyam

December 15, 2007 at 7:45 pm

Posted in Apple, Leopard, Music, OSX

Youtube: The future of music distribution?

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YouTube has secured an agreement with the UK societies that collect royalties for 50,000 composers, songwriters and publishers to legitimise the use of recorded music on Google’s popular video-sharing website. From FT, via PaidContent.

This is a fairly significant bit of news that was missed by most outlets. It is no great secret that along with print publications, the music industry is the next big player who is undergoing major existential pains because of the online revolution and till date they have reacted to it by going the ‘profits-by-means-of-litigation’ route. The move by the UK societies is the first major indication of a wake up call that has been heeded by the industry.

Till about a year and a half ago, when any of my friends wanted me to listen to a song they liked that I was unaware of, they would send me the MP3 file via email or some other means so that I could take a swipe at it. In the past year or so, almost nobody has been doing that. Instead, they send me links to Youtube. Now, I am not your typical music consumer (I am listening to Karnatic classical set to a jazz arrangement in massive rotation right now), and for people to be sending me links of Youtube pretty consistently (from obscure Japanese pop to more mainstream stuff) would mean that there is a fair volume of music in the sytem there.

Now, if Youtube were to give the record companies a fixed amount of money (they had set apart $500 million for copyright litigation-related costs in escrow), for legally playing out music/music videos and if that fixed amount of money is higher by even a cent, compared to what the industry might make legally a few years down the line, who can honestly complain about it? They get to offload the price of distribution to the Youtubes and unlike a standard distribution deal, this is in all probability a non-exclusive deal; meaning that they can reap multiples of the same deal, depending on how good their negotiation skills are.

I do not think this is the final word in the saga called music distribution, but this certainly is the first step towards recognizing ground realities and let us wait and watch to see to where the story will progress eventually.

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Written by shyam

August 31, 2007 at 3:45 pm

Posted in Google, Music

Bittorrent gets in bed with Hollywood, cluelessness ensues

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Am I the only person who finds the idea of Hollywood studios using bittorrent to distribute their movies being ridiculous beyond any imaginable degree? While going through the latest offering from Bittorrent Inc., of some 3000 odd movie titles, I saw the pricing details that range from $1.99 to $3.99, depending on what you download. Where it gets even better is with the DRM, since they only allow you to ‘rent’ the movies you have downloaded, where they explode expire 30 days into the download, or 24 hours after the first viewing.

One of my greatest doubts about what is being attempted is that it has hidden costs. The $3.99 price is the cost to unlock the movie, it will cost you more in terms of bandwidth to download and distribute the movies. In sharing the files, if anyone has a share ratio of more than 1, it is then costing that user more than what it cost to download him/her to seed the same file. And if there are seedless files, then you lose out on user experience. If Bittorrent Inc runs computers just to seed the files, then it ends up being not very different from any regular online distribution form.

In short, it is a situation where nobody, other than the entertainment industry, wins.

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Written by shyam

February 25, 2007 at 10:31 am

Posted in /etc, Music

Two weird weekend developments

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Sometime ago, I used to be subject to pretty scornful looks when I used to tell people that Justin Timberlake, unlike his ex-flame Britney, is a prodigal talent. And today we have the NYT running a story crowning him as the new king of pop. To be very honest, I had no idea about how good he was during his boyband days. I don’t even remember which boyband he used to be a part of before he started out on his own, but seeing him perform live at some award ceremony on television, with some hip-hop group blew me away. I think it is a bit too early to hail him as the new king, but the guy has got oodles of talent, which is a refreshing change from what mainstream music has come to represent these days.

The other interesting development, which I had no clue about, is that Ministry of Sound has set up shop in India and that too in Delhi of all places. They’ve promised to bring in their star line up, including Pete Tong, to Delhi, which I could not have even dreamed about. Granted, that we have a pretty decent club in Elevate at the NCR, but the crowd there is not exactly the best anymore and it is a pain to trek over to Noida or hop over after work and then drive all the way back. Besides, we badly needed a new club in Delhi, that’s not some old club redone, with a new attitude. Will have to drop by one of these days and check it out.

But seriously, if someone were to have told me that we’d have a MoS club in Vasant Kunj, I’d have laughed my heart out. Then again, let us hope it is not one of those concepts that get ruined beyond recognition once they come to our shores.

Written by shyam

February 10, 2007 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Music, Nightlife