Posts Tagged 'Music'

A Positive Rage

What is a web log for if not to occasionally complain and rant about things that get under your skin? While such pedantry has no place on a professional blog, I believe this subject breaches protocol in an apropos fashion becoming of my online persona.

I recently saw the Hold Steady in concert with my good friend Christi. I know I’ve probably mentioned it before, but it was likely the single most exhilarating concert I’ve ever experienced. The energy and love emanating from the band on stage was unsurpassed by anyone I’ve ever seen perform. It certainly didn’t hurt that they were my favourite band to begin with.

To prepare myself, before the show, I listened to nothing but their music for two weeks prior. As I learned from seeing Ben Folds live, I sometimes will not know a song they perform. Though well versed in the catalogue of Ben, he played some unfamiliar ones that, while still enjoyable to witness, were not as fully experienced as the ones I knew by heart.

So, in those preceding weeks, I did some research. Despite it’s often bad rap, wikipedia is a great compendium of information regarding bands and their releases. Through it, I discovered that the Australian version of Boys and Girls in America had four bonus tracks and the European version of Stay Positive had three. As I already owned the American release of Boys and Girls in America, I set about locating my missing tracks via various means. Said tracks were fairly easily located.

The Stay Positive bonuses, however, were slightly more elusive. The copies I was able to find were poorly ripped and had many glitches reminiscent of mp3s from the late nineties. As I did not own Stay Positive legitimately, I promptly ordered the UK version used from amazon.com. Though cheaper than new, it was still a good eight or nine dollars more than the American version. I was quite happy with my purchase, seeing it both as a worthwhile investment in a good band and a guarantee of the unadulterated tracks. For a while, I was content.

Fast forward to last night. Or rather, a few days ago. Last night is really the climax of the story. I was browsing the hold steady dot com and found their twitter link. As they do not post prolifically, I though following them would not bloat my twitter feed and so I did just that. Some promos were tweeted about their upcoming DVD/cd. These I largely ignored as I try to make a point a) not to buy live albums and b) not to waste time watching videos online.

On a side note, the reason I do not generally buy live albums is this: archive dot org is a great source of live recordings. It also highlights what sucks about live recordings: shoddy recording by a fan will not get one the full effect of the live performance. Also, if you weren’t at the concert in question, at least for me, you don’t get the feeling of reliving the experience, so this point is kind of in the same vein as my first. Still, the site is a great way to get a feel for an artist you may have not heard yet or even heard of and offers a legal way to sample their music.

Likewise, the hold steady live compendium is a great source for all things live by Craig Finn and company. The quality is what you’d expect, but if that’s what you’re looking for, it won’t disappoint.

My general distaste for recorded live music aside, I did not ignore a tweet regarding a stream of one of their new tracks off the album. The track was so excellent that I utilized a certain firefox plugin to allow me to encode the stream as an mp3 to take with me until the album arrived. Oh yes, I forgot to mention that that song alone convinced me to order A Positive Rage.

Amazon shipped the two disc set very promptly and I ripped it then stuck the disc in my car stereo and have been listening to it since. It’s great! I can’t speak for the DVD just yet but will update when I can give an opinion.

Last night, as I mentioned earlier, was the moment of truth. I put the cd in and ran the program to get my free bonus tracks. As these programs usually are, all it contained was a link. This link required my e-mail address. Soon, I was e-mailed a link to download the songs. Excitement!

The one track was the one I loved, 40Bucks, now owned legitimately (something I hope someday to say of all my music). The second, a new track called Spectres was one which I’d never heard. The remaining three, however, were the very tracks I bought the UK Stay Positive for: Ask For Addedall, Cheyenne Sunrise and Two Handed Handshake !!!

A Positive Rage boiled through my veins!

Truly, the previous statement was only aimed to be hyperbole. Also, I wasn’t particularly angry, per se. It just kind of sucked. I suppose had I waited and done my research, I’d’ve known what the bonus tracks were. That, however would’ve required buying Positive Rage before Stay Positive, which isn’t something that would have happened. Regardless, for a live album, A Positive Rage is quite well recorded; ’tis a far cry from those found at the compendium. Plus, the pleasure of the new song and the the legal version of my favourite song was well worth the money.

The moral is this: patience is a virtue and will pay off in the end. Also, don’t steal music. Thank you.

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On Music

benfoldsWhile the blog can be viewed as “the new resume” — another way for employers to get a look at who you are and how/if you fit into the culture of the work environment — can it also relate to an aspect of dating? Could would-be suitors find your writing pedantic and thus write (sorry, intended) you off as a prospective mate? With the prevalence of this so-called “social networking” and such news items as the scandals related to sixteen year olds finding older men on MySpace, it seems that online dating and its variants have become a social norm; one of the numerous acceptable modern versions of courtship.

How many people do you know that’ve had online relationships? Or kept up a long distance relationship via their Facebook and/or e-mail? Considering the amount of personal information we make publicly available through the various avenues of the InterHighway, is it a stretch to believe that a potential companion can write you off because you mentioned that you liked the movie Labyrinth? I don’t think so.

As I was thinking about the blog as the new resume and the social network profile as the dating equivalent of a resume, I combined the two ideas; what if a girl reading my blog decided that she liked me (or didn’t!) from what I wrote? Sure, she could go to my Facebook profile and read about the movies I like, music I listen to, and what I do in my free time. However, the profile only shows a piece, a vague overview. Kind of like how a resume only briefly covers your “accomplishments” without actually going over your specific role in any given project (or like a GPA shows how well you did, but not what you did well in and why).

The above, as it turns out, was just a long-winded seguing into something that popped into my head last week, so please bear with me.

One could potentially cheat, having never met me, look at my Facebook profile and see my “favourite bands” et cetera, and never really question it. But then all the fun of our first meeting is gone. Furthermore, what then would be the icebreakers on a hypothetical first date? All the basics have been discovered on Facebook. Here, again, I will reference my perceived similarities of dating to job hunting; the first date is like the post-resume (Facebook Profile) interview. Here, two people take the general information they have on each other and expound upon it.  Amongst music nerds, the conversation would probably revolve around your favourite albums and artists. But they wouldn’t just list them off to each other. One might attempt to explain why their favourites have achieved that status; to show a little bit about them as a person and what affects the decisions made in music choices (and from that, perhaps, one could make assumptions and inferences about their life outlook).

In that vein, I set about trying to determine my five favourite songs. Perhaps of all time, but at the very least, those which currently hold relevance. How did I define this? First of all, I thought they would probably have to be songs I’ve listened to many times and I still can listen to without being bored through repeated listenings. This did not yield a list of five. So I set about to do it systematically and came up with the following diagram.

As an aside, Christi called my need for charts and graphs “anal” but “endearing.” I find them helpful; from budgeting to deciding what netbook to purchase, I love lists, charts and graphs. I abhor math, but I like the visual representation of things in decision-making. Otherwise, I sit and ponder for hours and hours, stressing and never concluding.

chartFor the record, most comments henceforth will relate to this image and whatever’s going through my head. Very stream-of-consciousness.

Jets to Brazil, The Hold Steady, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (I still can’t get over swing and they do it so well), Belle and Sebastian and Damien Rice are clearly at the forefront of favourites in the artist category. Aside from holding the highest number of top songs (it was too hard to weed them out!), they are the bands that I can constantly listen to without becoming sick of.

Jets to Brazil were my favourite emo band back in high school (my high school self is yelling at me to clarify: they aren’t technically “emo,” they’re “post-emo indie rock,” but I digress). To this day, their first two albums are amazing, able to be listened to straight through with nary a missed beat. Top notch in their genre and definitely something I will continue to enjoy for years to come.

Christi burned me several mix cds featuring The Hold Steady. I listened to these, not really getting it at first. Craig Finn’s style definitely took some getting used to. To be honest, I don’t even remember when I decided I liked it, but I did. I unscrupulously obtained all their albums and then realized that I enjoyed them so much that I had to own the real thing. That’s how I can gauge my liking of an artist – when I like the album so much that I cannot bear to have just a burned or downloaded copy. I now own all their albums and listen to at least one straight through every week.

I break one of my own rules with Damien Rice. Though I love to own real cds, last summer I bought 9 via iTunes’ Music Store and only own the digital copy. Often times, I forget I own the real thing and that I really did spend money on it, but there it is, registered in my name. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing Damien Rice is. I saw him live with only a vague knowledge of his music and it was probably in my top 2 concerts ever (it doesn’t hurt that I’ve only been to 5 or 6 in my life though…) The man’s a genius. And he’s Irish to boot. Can’t pick a more winning combination.

Another band that’s been with me since high school: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. At some point during the big ska phase in my life, I dabbled into a little swing. I don’t know if it was the movie Swingers or something else, but these guys still ROCK. The swing lover in me just can’t get enough of them, and I dare you to listen to them without at least tapping your foot. It’s wonderful. Sure, they’re often “simple songs, about simple things,” but they are catchy, upbeat and incredible danceable.

Finally, we come to those twee Brits, Belle and Sebastian. Not so much two people as much as, like, 8, but a great, poppy band that has everything I like in music: British accents, guitars, harmonic melodies, catchy tunes, and the occasional horn and steel drum section. Mister J.Lauck gave me much of their catalogue and I’m in the process of purchasing The Life Pursuit and Dear Catastrophe Waitress. And by the way, I remember the exact place and situation in which I was in when I heard my two favourite songs off those respective albums.

My top five albums based on being able to listen to them straight through, not skipping a track (not in any particular order):

Regarding Damien Rice’s O: 9 cannot be disregarded as a wonderful, wonderful album either. It is freaking brilliant. Still, it’s a little harder (i.e. less mellow) and can’t be played in front of your mother. Also, I often skip a few of the tracks, making it slightly less of a perfect album to me next to O.

As far as top five songs go, it is REALLY a tough choice. If there was the dreaded hypothetical (what if you could only listen to five songs ever again) then I don’t know how my choice would reflect this. This really came from months of intensive research… Ok, so I looked through my top played list, then my top rated list, cross-referenced them, loaded my favourites onto my iPhone (bearing in mind an 8 GB capacity, I had to be picky) then chose my tops from there. By no means was it even slightly scientific, and looking at them, I can’t even say that these really are my top five favourite songs. At any rate, I will try to justify this is a similarly introspective way. (Feel free to click to another website, maybe one about kittens, at this point. I am doing this for me and me alone. Cheers)

I didn’t like Belle and Sebastian until I heard Sukie in the Graveyard but I listened to If She Wants Me on repeat one car ride down to Lansing and still love it. Plus I just think B&S are great.

Fired is the best Ben Folds song ever and I am proud to say, I am the only one who knows this. Honestly, I’ve never met another person who holds this opinion. He’s never (as far as I know) played it at a show and the only YouTube videos I can find are of people covering it (ok, so maybe people do like it…). Still, I love the tempo and the style and wish he played more songs like this.

As far as the Ben Folds Five go, I had never heard the Theme from Dr. Pyser until he opened with it in Alma; I was blown away. It was the perfect high-energy song to open an awesome evening. After that, I purchased the extended of Forever and Ever Amen just to get that song. It’s even set as my alarm tone in the morning every few weeks; that’s how much I love it.

I’m finding a lot of these songs (and artists and albums even) are favourites because of where/when I first heard them. What’s Left of the Flag was one of the first Flogging Molly songs I heard, over the PA system in Best Buy. I bought the album then and there and have bought every album of theirs since. I don’t remember when I liked A Praise Chorus first, but I know it was one of the first songs I really loved off this Jimmy Eat World album. Coming from loving Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity sound, this song and album took some getting used to, but I’ll be damned if “crimson and clover/over and over” doesn’t get me every time.

This was a long-winded introspective, aimed at self-discovery. If I am to understand myself, surely my favourite music will help that. Well, it seems that all I’ve discovered is that I am eclectic and indecisive. I also discovered that, though charts are great, they do not work in every situation. huh.

So, now some questions remain:

Does not having a favourite band make me less of a person? Can I ever be happy with one job/life/routine if I can’t settle on something as unimportant as a band? Or is music so important to my life that I cannot limit my choices stylistically? Does the fact that a list did not solve my problem make me die inside? Am I still me?

These are questions I really don’t want to ponder. I just want to continue listening to music and writing meandering blogs to kill time. And so it is.

It looks like I’ve still got a lot of work cut out for me. My indecisiveness underscores my lack of female companionship; there’s not even anything on the horizon. Similar to the job market for me. Someone once said that good things happen all at once. That being said, I should probably go introspective a bit longer, focus on self-awareness before I can achieve self-fulfillment – in any area. After I’ve gotten that far, the ladies already know what I’m into.

It’s time for TSO again

Yeah, it has finally reached the point in the year when I can listen to that guilty pleasure: Christmas music. And relatively guilt-free, i believe. iTunes tells me I have around 24 straight hours of uninterrupted, unrepeating Christmas music. I think that should last another 18 days…and I absolutely love the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Again, a guilty pleasure.

Right now, I am mildly un-motivated but have gotten an hour of work in so far. I am not very productive when the interwebs are right here, taunting me with their endless bounds of internetty goodness and pseudo-information. It was much more difficult to waste time before high-speed internet came my way. Hopefully it will do wonders for my productivity..

So, this just ended up being stream of consciousness, and I apologize. I need to make this look better, but that feels strangely like procrastination, so I really oughtn’t. Need to teach myself CSS as well. Haven’t coded since before FrontPage was big and that was all simple, simple basic html. The stuff you see in Community College Intro To the Interwebs classes. I think Dreamweaver only compounds the problem by making things seem simple.

Anyway; inspiration of the day comes from my cousin Bobby. http://www.robertwitchger.com

Ocarina Patapan

The other night I sat alone in my room for an hour and plugged away at trying to learn the flute part from Mannheim Steamroller’s “Patapan” on the iPhone Ocarina. I think I got pretty close.

http://ocarina.smule.com/score.php?mode=Ionian&root=B%208va&pitches=8+8+15+15+13+15+11+10+11+13+10+18+15+20+11+20+10+19++10+11+10+7+8+10+11+10+8+10+11+13+15+17+15+15+13+15+13+11+10+18+10+11+10+7+8+10+11+10+11+13+10+17+15+20+10+20+8+17+19&width=14&size=small&title=Pat-a-Pan

Brilliant!

As an iPhone ocarina user, this method of notation is BRILLIANT! And so easy to follow…

If anyone else plays, try it out, you’ll be surprised how easy it is..

http://ocarina.smule.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=941

Erm

Have you heard the word? Because apparently “bird” is the word. I’ll keep you posted as this progresses, but I forsee little progression in this inane line of thought.




Hello; my name is Nicolaus E. Witchger. I am a graphic designer from Saginaw, MI best known for wearing bow ties and drinking single-malt scotch, dark beer, and espresso.

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