oxfordtweed: (Bee Gees - Moriarty)
I love iTunes. I swear by their Genius feature. I love that thing, but it is rather restrictive, in that it only works with what's on your hard drive. Which, sure. I've got close to 12,000 songs in my iTunes, so I get a great selection with the Genius feature. But I still only hear what I've already got. So, I set out to find something new that works on a similar level. Using iTunes as my control, I tested Last.fm, Pandora, and Spotify.

I went looking for several key features:

  • The ability to listen to a specific song, artist, or album at any given time

  • The ability to create a 'radio station' based on the selected song, artist, or album

  • The created radio station to start with the specific song or artist I selected to build upon

Most important for me were the listen to what I want when I want factors. I tested this by inputting Journey's Don't Stop Believin' and telling the services to give me music based on that song.

iTunes )

Last.fm )

Pandora )

Spotify )
oxfordtweed: (Sherlock - Fuck Rule 34)
Been sleeping on the sofa again. Ryan not happy with this arrangement, but it's either that, or me not sleeping at all, which he tends to be even less happy with. I'm having severe hip and knee issues lately, to the point that even the pressure on my knees from having my legs stretched out in front of me hurts.This also makes using a laptop interesting.

I've also written a follow up to In Outer Space, called After. The kinkmeme put the idea into my head, and I'm going to be turning it into a series, appropriately called Sex is Boring. As in this wonderful song (which is also where my tag on this journal comes from):

The series already draws from a lot of personal experience, and is quite uncomfortable to write in a lot of places. It's a pairing that I really don't like, and deals with a very personal issue. But it's also something that I think needs to be written, since the majority of asexuality fics in the Sherlock fandom sort of throw the realism and drama right out the window. These sorts of relationships are all about compromises, and let's face it: Sherlock Holmes is not the sort of man to put other people first.

I've no idea how long this series is going to get, nor do I know how it's eventually going to end. I know that a committed relationship in such a situation is possible. I've been with Ryan for 11 years. But I'm not sure how long I can see Holmes and Watson lasting in this situation. Part of me really wants to break them up. The rest of me isn't sure.

I think I'll just let it play out and see where it goes with you guys.
oxfordtweed: (Violin - Sherlock)
For probably obvious reasons, I've found a collection of music called 50 Most Essential Classical Violin Pieces.

I am annoyed to find that there are only 49 tracks. Could they not actually find one more piece of music? Clearly, they couldn't have called it 49 Most Essential Classical Violin Pieces, because for some reason, 49 does not look as grand as 50.

Seriously. This bothers me for reasons I can't even begin to fathom.
oxfordtweed: (H2G2 - Arthur - Confused)
Just sayin'.
oxfordtweed: (GEEK - Simon)
I got bored last night, and started a band.

I say "band" because it's funny. Really, it's just me. I'm called the Lobsters. Let's see how far this can go.

Like, woah

Jul. 30th, 2010 08:37 pm
oxfordtweed: (Phone - Bernard)
Binaural music tracks + headphones = not a very restful sleep + some very trippy dreams.

That is all.
oxfordtweed: (MythBusters - Hold)
Ralph America is closing its doors on the 15th, after being around for decades. It will be sad to see the last remnants of a great label disappear, but the bands have all moved on in their own ways, so there's not much of a point to stick around.

When I heard about them closing a few weeks ago, I bought a dog tag that had an exclusive download code on it, with the intent of going back closer to the end to get a bunch of shirts at (hopefully) great sale prices. Wouldn't you know, the day after I placed my order, that dog tag went on sale. I was a little upset at this, but I was upset at myself. I should have waited until the weekend to make my purchase, but I didn't. It was not Ralph's fault that I ordered on a weekday, and Mama Ralph (as he -- she? -- calls himself) could not have psychically known that I was going to order that dog tag. So, I just ate the loss, and considered myself lucky to have been able to get in on an exclusive album in the first place.

So, you should imagine my surprise when my order arrived in a very large envelope, and quite a bit heavier than a little tiny dog tag and the documentation of the order. Opening it up, I found a Cube-E booklet along with my dog tag. It was not on the order form, and I'd never asked for it. Mama Ralph just sent it to me. Whether Mama Ralph is sending random things to everybody, or just to those who placed an order the day before their item went on sale, I have no idea. Either way, it more than made up for the $5 I spent "extra" on the dog tag.

Early last week, I decided to go get a whole bunch of t-shirts, since the idea of buying clothing from eBay sort of squicks me and I've no idea when I'll be able to get official threads once RA closes. I picked up about four or five different designs, and can only hope that I got the size right. Since my dog tag arrived so quickly, I've been eagerly checking the mailbox downstairs, hoping to see that package and get my t-shirts. But they seemed to be slow in getting here, which was starting to worry me.

By chance, as I was poking around the website to see if there was any news about anything, I happened to notice that the chatroom was active. Better still, Mama Ralph was in there, as was a band member. They were talking with a few people about some of the last-minute things going on, and about how they almost closed up early on account of a few morons spreading bad press. I use the word "moron" because their problem was similar to the one I seem to be having; their stuff never arrived. Well, it turns out that the guy never actually submitted his order, but this was somehow Ralph's fault. I think that's something we've all done at one point, though. Try to put something through on the internet, and miss that final confirmation click, losing everything.

During the ensuing conversation, I'd mentioned how I was eagerly awaiting my own order, and my problem with eBay, and was immediately informed that t-shirt orders are taking forever, because each shirt is custom-printed, I guess so they don't have boxes and boxes of t-shirts taking up space. Also, it's a crazy small shop, and I can't imagine there's too much of a demand for T-shirts featuring a defaced Beatles album cover.

I went to bed shortly after all this, and when I got up later that night (everyone is nocturnal in Vegas, because if you go outside during the day, you will explode) I found an email from Ralph, telling me that my order had shipped, and as of 7:30 last night, it was in Oakland.

In short, doing business with Ralph America has been nothing but wonderful. Thank you, Ralph, for being awesome and helping me fill up my house with music and DVDs that drive my husband crazy.
oxfordtweed: (Halp! - Residents)
I'm talking specifically about music releases, but book and film releases are heading into the digital age as well. Hell, I just spent all of last night watching movies via Netflix's Instant View feature, streaming it through my X-Box 360 to my television.

I think the older readers will be able to relate more to what I'm saying today (or those who, in this single case were lucky, did not obtain internet access until recently). I've never really understood the the full appeal of downloading music, be it legally from sources like iTunes, or via a torrent. I can, however, glimpse beyond the curtain and catch hints of why people do it. There's the convenience of not having to go to the shop, prices can be drastically lower (especially if you get your music from the Pirate Bay or other Peer to Peer sources), and you can pick and choose which tracks from which albums you want.

But... why? Going to the shop to find music has always been something I've enjoyed doing. One of my favourite places to find music when I was in high school was pawn shops. This was a time when the whole Napster thing had blown up, and Limewire was coming into vogue. With computers able to store scores of gigabytes of music, CD players and small stereo systems were being pawned and sold left and right. Every Saturday, I would take about $10-$15 and hit up a chain of pawn shops between my house and the bus station where C-Tran (Vancouver's transit authority) and Tri-Met (Portland's transit authority) shared space, just by the I-5 bridge (this means nothing to most of you, but a small handful will know where I'm talking about). Every one of the pawn shops I'd stop at would have huge spindles of loose CDs up by the register; CDs which had been sold in huge booklets and without their jewel cases, or more often, had been forgotten inside of sold CD players and stereos -- and all at 25¢ or 50¢ each, depending upon the shop. Occasionally, I'd find something to fill a gap in my collection; that Chilli Peppers album I didn't have or a limited release. But that was never the goal when I'd go out to CD hunt. I knew labels and the sorts of sounds they liked to produce. With the internet having been a fixture in my house since about 1998, I knew how to look up bands and see who they affiliated with. If something was familiar, I'd grab it. I'd take it home, lock myself in my room all weekend, and listen to every CD I brought home. I discovered my favourite band in a similar way; Ryan's dad brought home a box of damaged CDs from work that were un-sellable. One of them was called Club Anthems by a band called Ballboy. That was eight years ago, and I'm still in love with those crazy Scottish bastards.

I also bought new CDs as well. If I really liked a band, I'd go to used CD bins and complete collections that way. I liked reading the liner notes and looking at all the pictures in the booklets that would come with the CD. I'd read over these as I listened to the music, making it a complete audio/visual experience.

I'd do the same sort of thing with records, only as one might imagine, it was a bit more difficult to find those by this time. I'd have to go to thrift stores and hope to find anything that wasn't gospel or "god knows what." Thrift stores seem to specialise in "god knows what" records.

And what of getting music more cheaply online? New releases on iTunes are just as expensive as they are in the shop, and you're getting less for your money. You don't get all the pictures and liner notes and something tangible to hold in your hands. You get 14 files full of 1's and 0's that only iTunes can decipher. Sure, every CD I own, and a few of my records, have been ripped to .mp3 format, but that's more of a convenience of not having to carry around a CD player with me. .mp3s don't tend to skip or scratch (unless there was an error in the rip process), and you can take thousands with you at a time. So, maybe that's why a digital release and a CD release cost about the same; you're paying extra for the convenience. Sure, some older albums are about $10, but those same albums are about $10 at Best Buy as well.

One of my favourite things about getting full CDs is the experience. I recently reviewed something called Countrysides, an album which I'd picked up on recommendation. I got it from iTunes because I'd heard about it at about 3am, and I was willing to pay for the convenience of getting the album right then, rather than having to wait about eight hours for Best Buy to open, and then hope that they had the album. As I clearly stated in the review, the middle of the album fell very flat for me. I might even go as far as to say that I didn't like the middle three tracks at all. But, I got the album because I heard one song that I had liked. I could have very easily just grabbed that one track for 99¢ and called it good, but I opted instead to get the full album. And most of the album, I wound up really liking. What great songs I'd have missed out on, had I only purchased the last track of the album! And I don't know; maybe after a few more listens, those middle three songs may grow on me. I had that happen with an entire album. I adored Smash Mouth's debut, Fush Yu Mang. When Astrolounge was released, I felt cheated. It sounded nothing like their first album. It was all full of slow metaphors and casually swaying tunes. After a few listens, though, I got it. I mean really got it. I almost think, now, that I may even prefer Astrolounge to Fush Yu Mang. There have been a few other times that this has happened, but Smash Mouth stands out the most in my mind and memories in this case.

Maybe I'm just getting old and rejecting change. I do buy digitally, but mostly because that's the only way I can for some bands. Some of them have gone to 100% digital, only releasing their albums in the form of .mp3 downloads from their sites. The smart ones even include custom package artwork and digital booklets. But I still miss being able to hold that booklet in my hands as I listen to the music. I want to be able to feel the pages as I read the liner notes. No digital booklet and .zip file release will ever come close to reproducing this, and I find myself almost mourning the loss of an old friend.

Or I can just keep calm and carry on, because there's bound to be yet some other advance in technology that will annoy me even more.
oxfordtweed: (Heroes - Where's the Haitian?)
I picked this one up yesterday on recommendation. It’s an older one, from 2003, but I’d never even heard of the band.

Cracker's sound is a twangy, alternative country sort, but in a good way. They seem to almost be taking the piss out of the country western genre, but in a way that reminds me more of Weird Al than David Allen Coe.

The album opens with Truckload of Art – an interesting piece of verbal imagery about a truck, which was full of art, that had overturned on the motorway. The style of the music and the rhythm of the lyrics contrast in an interesting sort of way that leaves you questioning just what sort of genre this band is trying to be. Next, is Duty Free; a track that seems to set into place the idea that this album is a storyteller, though not necessarily a continuous one. Each track has a different story to tell, and this is one of a traveller who can’t wait to go home. It has more of 90s pop rock feel – the sort that was labelled as “alternative” rock, despite the fact that everyone listened to that sort of music – than anything. Toward the middle, it breaks from the rhythmic pattern to form a more sort of open verse ramble. I almost get the feeling that they were trying to dabble with phonetic organisation in this one, but I’m not entirely sure.

The next track, Up Against the Wall Redneck Mothers, is a delightful piece of satire. If you just put this track on and hear it, it sounds like any other honky tonk, get-up-and-dance song you’d hear from a jukebox in a bar. But if you listen to it, it’s an entirely different beast. The story in this one is that of a typical Good Ol’ Boy who spends his time in bars and beating up hippies, and how people tend to take these as examples that his mum done raised him well. Or not.

Simaloa Cowboys follows, and is a ballad of two illegal immigrants from Mexico. The brothers come up to California, where they find work doing what the locals don’t want to do – picking fruit in an orchard. About halfway through, the story changes dramatically. They take a job that promises more money for less work – cooking meth in a tin shack. The song ends abruptly and leaves you with a feeling of slight confusion.

The next three tracks didn’t stand out to me at all. Family Tradition, which ironically breaks the cycle of storytellers on this album, is a song about breaking family tradition. While not explicitly stated, There does seem to be an underlying message of the singer (or character; it’s hard to tell) being disowned by his family for ostensibly becoming a sort of bubblegum redneck.

Bottle Let Me Down follows, and is quintessentially cowboy. It’s very slow and not a lot happened. It’s followed by Reasons to Quit, which is the shortest track on the album. It starts out with an interesting juxtaposition against the previous track, but suddenly takes an entirely different route all together. While it starts out lamenting about how giving up drink and drugs sounds like a good idea, on the surface, it’s just much more fun to get high. I can’t say that I particularly cared for this one at all.

The album picks back up again with Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room. It’s another storyteller, about a man who falls in love with a nameless woman in a red dress. It also has a surprise ending, when the distraught man follows the nameless woman while she’s with another guy, and shoots her in her sleep in a sort of “if I can’t have her, no one can” rage. This is another one that ends, leaving you feeling confused and a little lost, but in a good way.

The last track on this album was the first one I heard. Someone had linked to a really lame copy on YouTube during a conversation. The longest track on the album, it also stands out in every way. The country western twang is all but vanished from the music, and apart from the chorus, it definitely carries a feeling of having the words cobbled together because the make sense, and not because they adhere to a structure or pattern.

It tells the story about the last meeting with Virgin Records, the band’s label previous to this album. Only one of them is actually allowed into the building, while the other is forced to stand out in the blazing sun. While he’s sharing frozen treats with building staff, his buddy is busy being lost in the maze of a building, and accidentally finds himself in a room full of master tapes. He steals a few and eventually finds his way out. After that, the story turns into a long ramble about when Mr Redeye was stolen, and suggests that a member of the band was actually the thief. The whole song (well, the first half, anyway) seems to be a big “fuck you” to Virgin records, and leads out with a bunch of name dropping and calling.

Overall, the album is enjoyable, despite the middle falling a bit flat. I get the feeling that it’s not meant to be listened all the way through, or maybe to be heard in the background. Aside from those three tracks in the middle, it’s a very interesting and unique album. I don’t think that it’s something I’ll probably listen to regularly, but it does fit in nicely with the rest of my collection.
oxfordtweed: (Conan - Cool Story Bro)
My mouth tastes like burning soap right now. It's weird. And kind of disgusting.

Because I'm an uncivilised animal, I used my teeth to pry something open, and this was apparently a mistake. I've drank water. That made it worse. I brushed my teeth. That only masked it for a while. WTF? D:

Also, I went to Ryan's little nerd party with him today. When I'm calling people a bunch of nerds, you know it's bad. But, I said I'd go, so I went. I got way bored after about 10 minutes, but managed to stay for about an hour. Finally, when I began to feel my brain trying to escape from my left ear, I decided to just walk home. According to Google Maps, it would only be about a 20 minute walk. At my speed, it would have been about double that, but at least I'd be entertained by walking.

Turns out, one of the nerds that was there was having a serious Panda Express craving at that point, so he offered me a lift. I got home around 7:00 or so. Maybe a bit later. I don't know.

But it's getting on to one in the morning. I'm still alone. I've watched a few DVDs, played around on a few forums, and repainted my nails (and decided that I need more colours. Three is just way too boring).

I've discovered a new band, also. By new, I mean sort of old, but new to me. I've not listened to the album yet, other than the one song I heard on YouTube, because I want to listen to it all the way through, and I've no idea when Ryan will be home.

And, I've run out of things to do. I could do the dishes, but then I won't have anything to do tomorrow. I sort of want to smear paint on something, but I'm not sure I have anything which will work for that. I don't know.
oxfordtweed: Bob Dylan holds up a sign reading 'Dig Yourself' from the video for Subterrenean Homesick Blues (Dylan - Dig Yourself)
Step 1: Put your iTunes or equivalent on random.
Step 2: Post the first line from the first 20 songs that play, no matter how embarrassing.
Step 4: Bold out the songs when someone guesses correctly.
Step 5: Looking them up on Google or any other search engine is CHEATING!

1. I still remember that day in December when you pretended to fall on the stairs.
2. Yo, listen up. Here's the story about a little guy who lives in a blue world. - Eiffel 65, Blue
3.Yesterday, all my troubles seemed far away. - The Beatles, Yesterday
4. When the night is cold and my arms want someone to hold, I think of you.
5. I've been alone with you inside my mind, and in my dreams, I've kissed you a thousand times.
6. Kann man Herzen brechen, konnen Herzen sprechen.
7. I can't quit you, baby, so I'm gonna put you down for a while.
8. In the midnight moonlight, I'll be walking a long and lonely mile.
9. What's a woman going to do but throw away her bread?
10. This is my recital, I think it's very vital. - Tricky, by Run DMC
11. It is seems a little time is needed, decisions to be made.
12. Who guards the truth, oh lord most high, a frightened dove in a starless sky.
13. Me and Mrs Jones, we've got thing going on. - Me and Mrs Jones, Michael Buble
14. Dear Sir or Madam, can you read my book, it took me years to write, can you take a look? - Paperback Writer, the Beatles
15. You look like an angel, and you walk like an angel, and you talk like an angel, but I got wise. - Devil in Disguise, the Residents (originally by Elvis)
16. It's five o'clock in the morning, and I'm just getting in.
17. Jeremy Bender was a man of leisure, taking his pleasure in the evening sun. - Jeremy Bender, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer
18. Here come old flattop, he come grooving up slowly, he got juju eyeball, he one holy roller. - Come Together, Joe Cocker (originally the Beatles)
19. Hello, I've waited here for you, everlong. - Everlong, Foo Fighters.
20. Coming down like a hatchet, Rollin' with the masses, Throwin my matches atop of the gasoline package.

Some of these are covers, but I'll take the original artist. Most of the tracks that came up for me were instrumental, or deliberately unintelligible. I skipped those ones for the sake of being fair.
oxfordtweed: (Default)
Tonight while I was clearing out some of my stuff to make room for the rest of my stuff, I found something I'd forgotten I even had -- Ralph Records' 10th Anniversary Special. Finding it sparked a small and unexpected twinge of nostalgia, so I decided to put that on while I fiddled around with stuff. I credit this odd little gem for my discovery of a fair number of some of my favourite artists, so there's really not any part of this recording that I don't enjoy.

Listening to Penn Jillette lose his mind made me realise something, though. It's been a very long time since I've just put in an album and done nothing but listen to it all the way through. I'm always doing something else, as I am now, using music as something instead to drown out the noise from the AC or the car park outside. In California, I used to do that a lot; go out to the front room with a stack of old records after Ryan had gone to bed, and do nothing but sit in very dim light whilst just listening to the music. Not just hearing it, as one does when they listen to something while doing something else -- really listening to it.

It's quarter after one, and my sleep schedule is so massively fucked up that I won't be getting to sleep any time soon. I can't listen to my records, because alas, I have no turntable, but I've got loads of stuff on my iTunes. I really want to get one of those nifty USB turntables, because I've got so many records that I'm not able to do anything with, other than look at them (okay, one of them is actually framed and on my wall, but it's a collector's item).

I think that's what I'm going to do tonight, though. I'm not sure what I want to listen to, but I'm sure I'll find something.

(No, they are neither in the KKK, nor are they neo-nazis. They're just really odd.)

ETA: I accidentally deleted this. So, uhm... I suck. This was originally posted last night.

Music Meme

Jul. 20th, 2010 04:51 pm
oxfordtweed: (Nicholas - Guns)
Comment on this entry and I will give you a letter. Name 5 songs you love starting with that letter.

[livejournal.com profile] merrymatryoshka gave me B.

Beekeeper's Daughter, by the Residents
Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite, by Eddie Izzard
Brick, by Ben Folds Five
Baby Fratelli, by the Fratellis (I think I may need to put a Spoilers for Hot Fuzz warning on this one)
Breakdown, by Tantric

And a bonus, because I really love the choreography:

Burning Love, by the Residents
oxfordtweed: (Default)
Okay, so my tags aren't completely accurate. I'm actually wide awake right now, but that's the problem. You see, on Monday, I plan on going down to CSN to do some testing before signing up for classes. The last time I did this, I was high as a kite on prescription meds for... something. I can't remember what it was, just that I probably should have gone in on a different day.

Now, it's 4:30 on Sunday morning. I should be in bed right now. But I'm not. Why? Why? Because it's 94° out right now. In an apartment this small, with limited ventilation and a really lame AC unit, it's about 94° inside as well. If I go back to the bedroom, it's even worse. If I go to bed now and crash out on the sofa (like I did this after noon), the husband will just wake me up in two and a half hours anyway.

It is easier to sleep out here, though. For one, it's slightly closer to the lame AC unit, and there's a fan out here (for those of you who have just joined us, no. I cannot put the fan in the bedroom, because there are no outlets in the bedroom. This is because it's not a bedroom at all, actually, but rather a closet that happens to be large enough to hold a bed).

So, whatever. I can either grin and bear it all day tomorrow (ha!) or do my tests totally knackered on Monday. Fuck.

In other news, I got Beautiful Eyes today. It's a compilation album, but I'm really liking it. There are some new versions of previously released songs. I think they're all like that, but I don't have all of the Residents' albums (because there are about a million of them), so I can only vouch for about the 1/3 that I do know. And I really like the recut of My Brother Paul. That was easily one of my favourite tracks from DDA.

I'm rambling. But it's my journal, so I'm allowed to do that. Anyway, I'm going to go finish my supper and find something to do.
oxfordtweed: (Default)

Same band as the last one. Totally different sound.
oxfordtweed: (Default)

Took a week to get it all out of the carpet.


Feb. 1st, 2009 03:19 am
oxfordtweed: (Default)
Hearing Bruce sing this song, and it sounds all patriotic and stuff.

Hearing it with a Scottish accent some how makes it a really sad song.


oxfordtweed: (Default)
Richard Book is Innocent

November 2012

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