Category Archives: Music

New Ways To Track Your Favorite Bands

I’ve raved about TourFilter before, and now here comes two sites that helps to automate the process based on your iTunes library.  The first is SonicLiving, which take a more manual and web-based approach, where it automatically detects which artists are in your iTunes libraries and you can choose who you want to include. 

The other, slightly easier one to use is iConcertCal, which works as a plug-in to iTunes and creates a visualizer that isn’t a trippy visualizer at all, but a calendar with all your artists on it.

They are both better than Ticketmaster, which continually lets some of my favorite artists slip by while taking great pains to tell me about every Sesame Street on Ice that comes around…

So Let’s See Here…

I haven’t exactly been putting the blogging world on fire here recently.  Things have been busy at work and all, but there are a few things that I would like to point out that I’ve been up to lately:

First of all, I just finished the book Who Are You People? by Shari Caudron.  If you’re a fascinated by the deep recesses of pop culture and how people can be completely obsessed with one thing, then you must read this book.  If you have any interest in human psychology or behavior, you should read this book.  If you just like a good, enjoyable, interesting read, then yes, you should read this book. 

The new Shins album is as good as everyone says it is.

I watched Borat for the third time recently, this time on DVD.   It continues to be as funny and shocking as the first time, though on the third go around, it struck me that the same people who came across as the most bigoted in the movie were some of the most understanding at first.  Watch the dinner party scene carefully and those people put up with a lot of shit (literally) before loosing their temper.  The guy at the rodeo should still be slapped around for being a moron though.  And the extra 30 minutes are golden – rent or buy the DVD to watch it – its worth it.

If you haven’t tried Pink Truck Wine, you’re missing out on one of the best pink wines you’ll ever have.  This isn’t some candy-ish white zin – this is real wine with acid, and flavor, and character.

Aging rockers set to lose rights on early hits

Good article today about copyright issues in Great Britian.  I didn’t know that copyright was good for only 50 years in the UK.

I am surprised that it doesn’t mention the fact that it was only 50 years in the U.S. until some of the earliest movies were in danger of losing their copyright status,  particularly some of the earlier Disney cartoons and creations such as Mickey Mouse himself.  Lobbying led to it  being 98 years.  One wonders what will happen at the end of that.

While I should probably be all for being able to buy the Beatles catalog without paying an arm and a leg for it and I really don’t think anyone associated with the Beatles actually needs MORE money, I do feel like things have probably changed since the 50 year rule was initially instated.  A musician who does his first copyrighted song at age 20 now is much more likely to live to be 70 now than artists were over 50 years ago when the law was probably written.  While the public does deserve access to art, the artist also deserves compensation for his work enough so that he or she doesn’t end up destitute.  It is particularly unfair since the songwriters get covered for their entire life PLUS 70 years, as it says in the article.

Its what keeps the lawyers in Benz and Beamers, I guess…

Do You Know Where You Are!?!?!?

I’ve been to a lot of concerts featuring a wide range of genres of music, from Judas Priest to Peter, Paul and Mary.   And out of the more than 140 concerts and 200 artists I’ve seen perform, I don’t think that there is a single better song to open a concert with than "Welcome to the Jungle" to open a Guns n’ Roses concert.  The initial riffs of the song are a rock idiom that are instantly recognizable and signals the seething power that lies in wait behind the rest of the song.  In concert, those echoing notes are repeated over and over, teasing the audience into a frenzy, making them want the release that only Axl Rose’s wail and screaming guitars can bring.

Last night was the second time I’ve seen Guns n’ Roses.  I’ve never seen them with the original lineup, but fortunately, both incarnations I’ve seen have delivered a great and entertaining show filled with classic songs.   When a band has a catalog as small as Guns n’ Roses, it is remarkable that they do have so many songs considered "classics" and so many that are just so good.  I don’t need to inform you of the fact that we’ve been waiting for years for the new GnR album, Chinese Democracy and who knows if we’ll actually ever see it.  Luckily, in concert, they concentrate on Appetite for Destruction, playing 9 out of the 12 tracks on the record. 

Axl hasn’t gotten over his own self-importance since the last time I saw him back in 2002 – the band came on stage around 11:45 p.m. and played until two in the morning.  No complaints about the set list or the length of the concert, but it is the epitome of inconsideration for their fans who have to work to pay the money they spent to see the band in concert.  Good thing the show is good! 

The only major complaint is that there were simply too many guitar solos that went on for too long, including a disturbing rendition of Christina Aguileria’s "Beautiful" which is an odd choice for a guitar solo at a Guns n’ Roses concert, to say the least.   A better choice was  the other guitarist’s (I seriously don’t know who’s who any more in the band line-up…) solo guitar rendition of the GnR song "Don’t Cry" which was a great way of showing off good guitar work and fitting in another well-loved song.

A few new songs were played, but they were presented unusually.  Typically, when a band plays a new song, they introduce it as such, telling the audience the name of the song and perhaps the name of the album it is off of – a little free advertising to a captive audience of the band’s biggest fans.  Since no one knows when – of if – the new GnR album will be released and the songs have been leaked onto the Internet for so long, they don’t even bother – they just play them as if they have been around for 20 years.

Instead of playing these new songs, I’d love to hear them play a few more deeper cuts off of Use Your Illusion I or II, albums that still regularly make it into my listening rotation and often stay there for a while.  "Breakdown," "Bad Obsession," "Pretty Tied Up," "Perfect Crime" and "Dust n’ Bones" are among my favorites that would be fantastic to hear.   As it was, it was a nice surprise to hear them play something off of The Spaghetti Incident, an album that I think is somewhat underrated by many people.  "Down On The Farm" sounded great live, complete with Rose’s affected British accent to complete the punk image (does anyone know who originally did this song?  I don’t have the CD here and can’t find anything online!).

In the end, it was a long, late night but well worth it to hear so many great songs – some of the best hard-rock and heavy metal songs ever written – performed live.  Axl sounds great, even though he had technical issues.  He may be showing some signs of maturity for actually working through the issues and now storming off stage and inciting a riot.  The band sounds good, though those more attuned to the technical aspects of the original riffs and guitar solos might notice slight differences from the sacrosanct original versions of the song.  If you’re in the market for a great rock n’ roll show complete with lots of lights, explosions, fireworks, loud rock and a great front man, then it is tough to beat Guns n’ Roses.


I have been woefully lax in in reporting a major piece of cultural news: the closing of Tower Records, and the closing of a few major Virgin Megastores. 

The closing of Tower Records is a particularly sad item, as it marks the end of a era for not only music retailers but for music lovers, independent musicians and music geeks like myself.  There’s been a fair amount of talk about it already, and two of the best articles are this one from Reuters which focuses on the effects on independent musicians and this one written by Mike Dreese, founder of Newbury Comics, now truly my favorite music store.

I suppose this makes me a bit of an old fuddy duddy, but dammit, I like going to a record store.  Yes, iTunes and their online brethren are handy and inexpensive, but I still like the experience of flipping through the CD’s, creating a stack that you think you may want and then culling it down (or not…).  Then getting home, opening each up and exploring the album.  Not just jamming it onto a MP3 player, and waiting for it to come on in the shuffle mix, but really listening to it, reading the liner notes, reading the lyrics and the thank you’s from the artist, seeing who wrote what songs and who’s playing what on which tracks.

Not that I have anything against portable MP3 players – I think it is great that it has made a wider range of music available at more times than ever before.  But the more I think about it, the more I think people aren’t really appreciating the music, but just using it as background noise or the soundtrack buried in the back of their lives.

The Passing of a Legendary Place

Last year I had an opportunity to go to CBGB’s in New York City about a week before they were reported to be closing.   They managed to stay open for a while longer, but on Monday, it was announced that they are closing for good, but opening a place in Las Vegas.  I’m sure the Vegas place will be very cool, but it’ll always be the second generation of a great club that was the birthplace of a lot of great rock music.

Did Fergie Go Down to the Crossroads at Midnight?

Ahh yes, my friends, that is the question at hand:  did Fergie sell her soul for musical success?  How else could you explain the songs "My Humps" and "London Bridge"? 

Its been a while since we’ve had two songs full of such nonsensical innuendo enter the pop charts, never mind by the same artist.  The songwriting leaves much to be desired – "My Humps" has about six different words total, four of which are "My humps, my lumps" that are just repeated over and over again, and yet it sounds like a song. 

The new single from Fergie, her first as a solo artist, is "London Bridge" and its one of those songs that sounds sexy, but then you think about it and its really… well… stupid.  "Every time you come around, my London bridge wanna go down."  Are we to understand that Fergie has had bridge work done?  Or is it a reference to a belt?  To pants?  Its oddly sexual because of the way its sung, but take away the excellent production and instrumentation, and what you have is some pretty lousy 7th grade poetry.

What makes me question the whole soul-devil exchange thing is that both songs are freakishly catchy.  Hear about 10 seconds of "London Bridge" and you’ll have it lodged in your head for about 48 hours.  Unless you hear "My Humps" which will displace it and stick in your craw for a similar time frame.

I wonder if anyone has listened to the two songs back-to-back more than once?  I’m imagining that it might result in their brains imploding on itself.