kel mckeown: instructional video


Really impressive DJ Shadow/Cut Chemist/Kid Koala-style video here (WARNING: shitty quality YouTube video). You have to love the bassist — “gotta go, I think it’s time for lunch or something” — and his dedication to both “flange” and “mullet” is, um, remarkable. See, I just remarked upon it.

Tangentially: I always wonder what kind of software people use to create these kinds of video remixes — I can’t imagine doing this kind of work in Premiere or After Effects.

(thanks, Nick!)

~jeff

sonic compression is a frustrating mess


There’s a tremendously great article by Nick Southall over at Stylus magazine on compression in music — not mp3/data compression, but compression during the mastering process of the music’s dynamic range. Modern recording engineers do this to make the quiet elements stand out, resulting in an overall louder average sound and a “poppier” sound, but Nick makes a compelling and, in my opinion, absolutely correct argument against using dynamic range compression while recording or mastering.

~jeff

secret chief


Thanks to the Zorn list, an oldie but a goodie — a 2002 interview with Mr. Bungle and Secret Chiefs 3 guitarist Trey Spruance:

OK, maybe not everybody’s like me, maybe they don’t slave over the fuckin’ thing for a year before getting anything done,” he says, referring to his meticulous work habits in the recording studio. “OK, fine, but still, man, can we at least figure out what we’re tryin’ to say before we start jacking off all over the tape?”

…indeed. I saw him play with Mr. Bungle on the “Disco Volante” tour and it was amazing stuff — the album still stands up, and “Desert Search for Techno Allah” still gets me every time. His exceptional work with Secret Chiefs 3 is worth checking out as well.

~jeff

maybe I hate music in general

  • Russian Circles, “Enter”: Following in the proud and heavy tradition of math-rock guitar bands like Slint, Don Caballero, King Crimson, Mogwai, and yes, Rush, Russian Circles play heavy, fully instrumental, capital-R Rawk. It’s ludicrously energetic music, overstuffed with interlocking patterns and off-time beats, fun to listen to while driving or working out. At six tracks, it’s a little short, but I bet these guys would be completely awesome to see play live. BONUS: no Geddy Lee.
  • Islands, “Return to the Sea”: “Return to the Sea” maddeningly alternates between sounding like a lost Ween album and sounding like a bunch of indie kids and an oompah band falling down the stairs. The unfortunately titled third track (“Don’t Call Me Whitney, Bobby”) is insanely catchy, and could have come off of Paul Simon’s “Graceland”; but one good track does not an album make, and ultimately I found myself finding reasons not to listen.
  • Danger Doom, “The Occult Hymn”: “The Occult Swim” is a free EP available from adultswim.com, but it’s the musical equivalent of a commemorative plastic cup from Burger King filled with warm, flat soda. These charmless remixes manage to ditch everything that was moderately interesting about the original tracks from “The Mouse and the Mask” — they even ditch the insanely catchy loop from “Sofa King”, a personal favorite — and replace them with grating skits from the lamer cartoons from the Adult Swim fare. MF Doom is as skilled as ever, but Danger Mouse seems preoccupied with something else, probably the “Gnarls Barkley” album.
  • Gnarls Barkley, “Gnarls Barkey”: Like the owners of “Butternuts” on Route 9, I wish these guys thought for about five more minutes before settling on a name. No matter — surely the single “Crazy” is a contender for 2006 song of the summer, as I’ve heard it pretty much everywhere I’ve gone for the past couple of weeks. Nothing else on the album comes close, but they deserve props for the Violent Femmes cover (“Gone Daddy Gone”) alone.
  • Phoenix, “Never Been Like That”: French pop group Phoenix ditches a few of their synthesizers in favor of Stokes-style guitars in an attempt to rough up their image; this is roughly equivalent to Mike Seaver putting on a Operation Ivy hoodie and a clip-on earring. I enjoyed their old sound far more, as only a few tracks here come close to the highs reached by tracks on their excellent previous albums “Alphbetical” and “United”.
  • Grandaddy, “Just Like The Fambly Cat”: While Jack Johnson rode his douchebag barefoot pro-surfer cred straight to the top of the Adult Contemporary charts, Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle rode his former amateur-skateboarder cred straight into a ditch — and after several decent yet commercially unsuccessful albums (and one outright masterpiece, 2003’s “Sumday”), Lytle is finally calling it quits on this album. Sadly, this means Grandaddy is ending on a low point; none of Lytle’s future-folk songs have the same pop as the older tunes, and it seems like everyone involved knew it. Here’s hoping Lytle goes on to better things.
  • Ellen Allien & Apparat, “Orchestra of Bubbles”: For years, techno has been drifting into two seperate camps — there’s the floaty, hazy, gauzily electronic type pioneered by Brian Eno and innovated upon by surprisingly non-Canadian groups such as Boards of Canada. It’s the pleasant and dreamy kind of techno you hear in your more upscale coffeeshops. Then there’s the other kind of techno, phone cards which is typified by harsh 4/4 kick-drum beats, sawtooth synths, and repetitive samples; it’s the type of techno you hear in video games in which you shoot people. This album is of the second type, and unless you’re coked up and clubbing, I would avoid it. Even then I would avoid it.
  • Mike Patton, “Peeping Tom”: If you have a neck tattoo, you’ll probably enjoy this album.
  • Sonic Youth, “Rather Ripped”: Disparaging Sonic Youth in their (adopted) hometown of Northampton, MA feels kind of like badmouthing Tony Soprano down at the Bada Bing, but I didn’t love this album. It sounds great — I don’t think they’ve ever sounded more in control of their clean guitar textures, and early highlights like “Incinerate” and “Rats” are instant crowd-pleasers; but nothing on this album connected with me the way that 2002’s “Murray Street” did, start to finish. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve been invited on a short car ride with Thurston and Sil.

~jeff

mytunesrss

MyTunesRSS.jpg

I’ve been watching MyTunesRSS develop for a while, and with the last revision it seems to have gotten good enough to recommend. See, it’s a Java applic — hey, come back! — it’s a Java application, but it doesn’t totally suck, and it will allow you to search, play, and set up RSS feeds of your iTunes playlists. Combine it with a little DynDNS action and you could be listening to your music at work or in class, and that crusty old dean doesn’t even have to know.

~jeff

you are very good looking and you have good taste in music

musicicon.jpg

There’s a extraordinarily comprehensive, excellent article on Pitchfork that discusses some of the new competing digital music personalization and recommendation services — like Pandora, which I like a lot and have discussed before, and Last.fm*, and also new one which I hadn’t heard of before: MusicIP.

MusicIP has the benfit of working locally, analyzing your actual music files and comparing their signature and sound to other music you might find similar, music located both in your local collection and out on the internet. On a good sized collection of digital music, it takes a satisfying amount of time to chug through it all, but once it was done, I clicked on a Django Reinhardt song and it made some fairly astute recommendations, as well as building me a playlist that contained some similar tracks of gypsy jazz that I had kicking around my hard drive. I’m not completely sold on the interface, but hey! it’s free and worth a try.

~jeff

*(which I’ll be honest, looks cool in theory, but I can’t get working right)

i love the smell of an oiled banana hammock.

manowar.jpg
Why didn’t the metal guys in high school realize that Metal was about the gayest thing available? Anyway, the Museum of Bad Album Covers is an extraordinary collection of not only oiled men in leather banana hammocks, but all manner of ill-advised album art. I bet you like, it, don’t you, fag? You like it, don’t you? Homo!

polyphontics gb

PolyPhontics.jpg

If you’re like me*, you love playing around with Apple’s multi-track audio editor but you’re not satisfied with the standard software instuments. I’ve been looking for a way to get my own loops and samples into GarageBand since it came out; Apple has a secret loop utility stashed away on their ftp site but it’s not super useful compared to other looping tools — and it only allows you to make drag n’ drop loops, not “software instruments” that can be triggered via MIDI.

Enter PolyPhontics GB; this cheap ($25.00) little utility allows you to take your own sound files and make software instruments out of them, quickly and easily. The user interface is clear, and the output is perfect; it’s just what I was looking for.

~jeff

*And if you’re even more like me, you’re a little tipsy right now.