Monday, December 11, 2006

ShuffleLog 6-Dec-06: Some New Stuff About the New Stuff

Over the past few days, while neglecting my ShuffleLog duties, I've gotten around to sampling some of the new music that I picked up over Big Game weekend. My old 20 gig iPod has been a useful surrogate, allowing me to add 6 new albums to it without disturbing the delicate (and disturbing) ecosystem we have here for ShuffleLog.

What's the word on the new stuff?
  1. Junior Boys, So This Is Goodbye -- Our expert editorial staff here are work claim that Junior Boys "remodel new romantic pop as etherealized neo-soul". All I know is that this record is amazing, ethereal, haunting, melodic and beautiful. Great moody pop stuff with fun synth hooks, they remind me of The Postal Service, which is a flattering comparison in my book.
  2. Sufjan Stevens, Greetings From Michigan - The Great Lake State -- I first saw Sufjan Stevens perform live at the Beacon Theater this past August during a benefit for Dave Eggers' 826 Writing Project. He's an amazing singer/songwriter, and Greetings From Michigan is a beautiful, expansive sample of Americana folk. I really like this record, and listening to it provides a nice contrast to the daily grind while walking around New York.
  3. Lady Sovereign, Public Warning -- I'd seen Lady Sovereign, contributor to the UK's alleged grime scene that includes The Streets, for free this summer at Summer Stage. I dug her style, but the venue and sound system didn't lend themselves to Lady S-O-V's machine-gun rapping or mockney accent, so most of the time she was undecipherable. Studio production makes her debut record, Public Warning, just awesome. She's got definite skills, and some laugh-out-loud funny rhymes ("I don't have the biggest breastes / But I write all of the bestest"), and a unique cadence and style that evokes Mike Skinner as well as reggae. Catchy and cheeky.
  4. Gym Class Heroes, As Cruel As School Children -- My brother recommended these guys, who are a hip hop quartet that play all of their own instruments rather than rely on sampling. Sort of like the Beastie Boys on Check Your Head. They sound very tight, and their musical range is pretty impressive. As I'd said, some of the lyrics seemed a little cliche, and some of the subject matter just doesn't reach me, like "New Friend Request" exhorting someone to add them as a friend in MySpace.
  5. Tenacious D, The Pick Of Destiny -- It's funny, because the original order of this list was random, representing what I picked up in the order it was found in the bag. But it's clear that the order -- kinda like ShuffleLog -- belies some inner pattern. For example, the quality of the record or my initial reaction to it. Here' Tenacious D's new effort is definitely at the bottom of the ladder. To be fair, I only listened to part of it as iTunes was ripping it, but what I heard was pretty unimpressive. Imagine some of the more pedetrian tracks on the debut Tenacious D record. Say, "Rock Your Socks", where the wit and creativity of Tenacious D yields to cliche. Well, imagine a whole record of this. That was my first impression of The Pick Of Destiny: sort of a tired concept that outlived its usefulness. I'll give it a few more shots, though.
  6. DJ Shadow, The Outsider -- I was warned that the new DJ Shadow record was apparently one of the most annoying mixes a KALX DJ had ever heard. But I dig DJ Shadow, and had to check this out. Based on the first 5 or so tracks, I'm afraid that the unnamed KALX DJ may be right: a mix of styles, eras and genres that felt jarring rather than integrated. I'm definitely going to spend more time with this one.
That said, here's the second of the 20 gig iPod's ShuffleLogs. Some interesting tidbits in there, making me scratch my head and go back to my entire battery of music to see what I've been neglecting lately.

ShuffleLog 6-Dec-06
  • Ladytron, "Startup Chime" - Light & Magic
  • Deep Dish, "Part 1" - GU025: Toronto
  • Fingerfest Inc., "Autoporno" - GU021: Moscow
  • Fugazi, "Burning" - 13 Songs
  • ABBA, "One Night In Bangkok" - N/A
  • The Knuckleheads, "Turn That Fucking Music Up" - GU005: Tokyo
  • The Cult, "She Sells Sanctuary" - Love
  • Lyrics Born, "Hello Remix" - Same !@#$ Different Day
OK, no repeats, since it's a different iPod (albeit with somewhat of a superset of what's on the nano). But some interesting results: the predicatable representation of the Global Underground catalog, as well as Ladytron and Lyrics Born, repeat ShuffleLog participants.

But, oh, how cool is it to have an ABBA remix of Murray Head's "One Night In Bangkok"? I have no idea where I got that, by the way. Also, the perennial Cult track "She Sells Sanctuary", which inevitably reminds me of being drunk in my friend Tony's Volvo station wagon on the Bay Bridge late at night. Have I revealed too much?

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

ShuffleLog 5-Dec-06: Something Old, Something New

I'd like to welcome another new guest ShuffleLogger: my old iPod.

During an action-packed weekend back in NorCal (read: 17 straight hours of drinking on Saturday), I got the chance to visit one of my favorite record stores on the planet: Amoeba Music on Telegraph in Berkeley. Always a chance to stock up on new stuff, despite the fact that I always forget what I want to buy the second I cross the threshhold.

Here's what the haul netted:
  1. Junior Boys, So This Is Goodbye
  2. Sufjan Stevens, Greetings From Michigan - The Great Lake State
  3. Lady Sovereign, Public Warning
  4. Gym Class Heroes, As Cruel As School Children
  5. Tenacious D, The Pick Of Destiny
  6. DJ Shadow, The Outsider
I haven't listened to any of this yet, except for Gym Class Heroes, who I failed to realize have a few tracks on the Snakes On A Plane soundtrack. Guess I should have bought that $5 pirated DVD on the 3 train a while back. As Cruel As School Children is a pretty cool record, although I've only given it one run-through. The mix if musical styles coupled with hip-hop is really fresh and catchy without being cliche. However, the lyrics on a few tracks seem to be pretty wack, especially "New Friend Request", which deals with the vagaries of asking some chick to add you to their Friends list on MySpace. Um, yeah.

After returning home, I immediately wanted to rip the new stuff and listen to it on the way to work. But the nano's 4GB was in no shape to accomodate 6 new records at once, and I didn't want a wholesale change in the music composition that's been powering ShuffleLog.

So I decided to trot out my old 2nd generation 20GB iPod. You know, the one with the crappy touch-sensitive buttons that don't "click", with the row of controls above the scrollwheel. Mine always seemed to freeze up and crap out when I lugged it on runs, and the battery life is shite. But damn, it's got 3147 songs on it, 5x what's on the nano.

And while I only got a chance to load Gym Class Heroes on the 20 gig, I lugged it out anyway to see what it would serve up as a ShuffleLog. After fumbling around trying to find the Shuffle setting that I'd never used on it before (it's buried in the menus, rather than its own option in the main menu), I finally got it to shuffle.

Here's what we got:

ShuffleLog 5-Dec-06
  1. Chemical Brothers, "Leave Home" - Gone In 60 Seconds Soundtrack
  2. The Lovemakers, "Is It Alright?" - Times of Romance
  3. Oakland Faders, "Track 38" - Fader Nation Vol. 1
Outstanding. Drag out the old iPod, still get a friggin' Faders track. And a repeat, at that. As well as ShuffleLog darlings The Lovemakers (13 appearances in 276 tracks to date).

In the interest of full disclosure, there were also 3 other electronica tracks that came up on this ShuffleLog. But in its infinite wonkiness, the 20 gig rebooted itself while I was scrolling through the Now Playing list trying to capture the tracks. The 3 above are all I came away with.

Not surprising that some serious Global Underground would come up from the 20 gig. Courtesy of my buddy Sandy, I've got close to their entire back catalog ripped.

The mothership has spoken.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

ShuffleLog 29-Nov-06: The New Skool

Looks like the transfusion isn't getting rejected by the patient, to mix medical metaphors.

Oh, and I finally got a chance to do a non-beanie road test of my new Bose earbuds I've been assaulting you with so much lately. Results? A little disappointing.

I went for a run Wednesday night, knowing that I'd be abusing my body and soul over the weekend at Big Game. It was unseasonably warm, so no need for a knit cap or anything, just the Chinese knock-off Cal camo hat I bought on the street in Berkeley last year. This was the first real test of the earbuds on a run, and while they weren't nearly as shoddy as the stock iPod earbuds, they certainly didn't stay in my ears like I'd expected. I had to adjust them and re-seat them in my ears several times during my run, although the sound quality still came through above my gasping for air. I'm still using the S size silicone tips on the earbuds, so perhaps I need to try another one of the sizes that come with them (M or L). Also, I was wondering if moisture (read: sweat) would cause the silicone to become more slick and therefore more predisposed to dislodging. I'd long lost the spongy black things that the iPod earbuds ship with, but those at least seemed to resist moisture a bit.

Anyway, more testing to come. The upshot? Ever since I watched the end of the New York City Marathon (go, Latvia!), I seemed to have been moderately inspired: twice now I've increased my run by almost 50%, spontaneously, to almost 5.5 miles total from my typical 3.75 miles. Thrice around the Lower Loop.

ShuffleLog 29-Nov-06

  1. Foo Fighters, "Times Like These " - One By One
  2. Outkast, "Chronomentrophobia" - Idlewild
  3. AIR, "All I Need" - Moon Safari
  4. The Beastie Boys, "Gratitude" - The Sounds of Science (Disk 1)
  5. Pixies, "Velouria" - Bossanova
  6. Kasabian, "The Doberman" - Empire
ShuffleLog: now 66% new! Ever since I added some new stuff, ShuffleLog's been slowly breaking it in. Two from Kasabian's Empire, two from J5's Feedback, and now one from Outkast's Idlewild. Not the first time it happened -- when I added Massive Attack's 100th Window back before the rant, it promptly showed up.

I don't know if this is poisoning the experiment or not -- we're still getting plenty of repeats, and trifecas are becoming commonplace, indicating an uncanny affinity for the same stuff and therefore a pattern. But just you wait until next week.

ShuffleLog 28-Nov-06: Golf Clap

Holy shit. We actually have a new CYHSY track? Not a repeat?

Wonderful. We've now played almost 70% of that record in less than 300 ShuffleLog tracks. First to 100% gets automatically removed from my iPod. Unless, of course, you just happen to annoy me for a while.

ShuffleLog 28-Nov-06
  1. Nat Monday, "Waiting" - GU021: Moscow
  2. Peter Murphy, "Cuts You Up (LP Version)" - Cuts You Up
  3. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, "Clap Your Hands!" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
  4. Danny Howells, "Fast Lane" - 24:7 (Disk 1)
  5. Nouvelle Vague, "Love Will Tear Us Apart" - Perfecto Chills Vol. 3 (Disk 2)
Repeats bracketed by new appearances. Almost like the perfectly-spaced medley of new and used. I'll stick my head in the oven if I start tracking that.

Love that Peter Murphy track, by the way. Don't know what it is. Makes me nostalgic for my Bauhaus days, perhaps.