First Impressions of Trust Issues by The PDX Broadsides

At the time that I’m writing this, I’ve had Trust Issues for a few days. I signed up for the Kickstarter campaign after The Doubleclicks mentioned them. I then went to the PDX Broadsides’ bandcamp page and ended up buying the entire back catalog.

After having heard the album a few times, here are my first impressions:

  • Favorite Song: Robot vs Boy – although it seems like it should be the first track to a concept album and leaves me wanting to know more about the story
  • Most beautiful song: Dolores – about HBO’s Westworld
  • Most fun song: Tiny Little Octopus

Now, track-by-track:

  1. The Weather – I love the vocalizing on this track, but I have no idea what it’s about and why it goes from an ominous song to talking about the weather. So I enjoy listening, but will probably enjoy more when I know what it’s about.
  2. Rocket Science – a song I’d play to kids 7 or 8 and up about how treating others by the golden rule isn’t Rocket Science
  3. Acoustic Kitty – pretty funny premise, but one of the ones I currently like least
  4. Tiny Little Octopus – see above
  5. I’ll Eat You Last – this is a nerd version of the song my brother danced for his first dance. I don’t know what the song is, but it was a young Christipher Walken singing it and somewhat insulting the other person, but still being about love
  6. Noncompliant – a good feminist song
  7. Nerd Love Song – what it says on the tin.
  8. On the case – About Where’s Waldo? Probably the song I like the least
  9. Delta You Delta Me – a song about growing apart. I like how the chorus/bridge go
  10. We Want Rey – a great, fun song about how representation in media is a good first start, but what about representation in merchandising? Also has a part near the end reminiscent of the main verses in We Didn’t Start the Fire
  11. I Go Both Ways – a very fun song about not falling prey to flame wars/culture wars and just enjoying what you enjoy – even if it comes from rival companies. I didn’t get the line about the snails, though…
  12. Dolores – see above
  13. Robot vs Boy – see above
  14. Sign off – a whispered message that freaked out my 5 year old when it played because she didn’t expect someone to be whispering in the speakers.

Last.fm 2016 Listening Trends

For now, my music listening continues to be in decline relative to earlier in my life. Because the babies are often napping, I don’t have music playing throughout the day. And if I’m playing video games I’m usually not listening to music so I can stream. That said, when I do listen to Spotify at work, it usually Scrobbles and that has increased the number a bit higher than it would have otherwise been.

Artists

1. Weezer (185 listens) – After hearing the writer on Song Exploder I started listening to some of the older albums. I’d only ever heard the singles, so it was interesting to hear the albums.
2. 4minute (149 listens) – KPop day at work plus a bug on Spotify and last.fm on Android that makes a song keep getting counted over and over.
3. American Pinup (102 listens) – it’s on my phone, so their songs come up a LOT when I’m driving
4. Chance the Rapper (102 listens) – Chance finally released his third album. I liked some songs, but I didn’t like it nearly as much as Acid Rap.
5. Barenaked Ladies (87 listens) – just jumped back in to a band I was into in High School
6. The Beatles (84 listens) – as usual, they’re always here because I have SO many Beatles songs.
7. Rihanna (82 listens) – Nerdwriter’s look at Work had me listening to some more Rihanna on Spotify.
8. Five Iron Frenzy (75 listens) – I wanted to listen again because it’s been a while.
9. Drake (71 listens) – From listening to Rihanna, I ended up listening to Drake a little at work
10. Ramin Djawadi (66 listens) – After I got into Westworld and its great piano covers of songs, I went to listen to the soundtrack (and eventually bought it) and discovered he was also the composer for the Game of Thrones soundtrack. Spent a while listening to great songs.
11. Paul and Storm (64 listens) – Continued to listen to the closest thing we have to Tom Lehrer nowadays.
12. Thousand Foot Krutch (63 listens) – I went back to see if I still liked it. I don’t like the group as much as I did before, but there are still some fun songs.
13. Relient K (58 listens) – Again revisiting an old favorite band.
14. Billie Holiday (55 listens) – She is awesome. No reason not to listen to her.
15. G.NA (55 listens) – More K-POP!

Songs

1. 4minute — Cut it Out (92 listens) – this is the song that ended up being Scrobbled so much because of the bug on Android
2. Weezer — I Swear It’s True – Pre-Production Recording (46 listens) – it’s funny, I hadn’t realized this was a Weezer song until I went through their albums this year.
3. Drake — With You (33 listens)
4. SG Lewis — Yours (24 listens)
5. Prince — Stare (22 listens)
6. Chance the Rapper — All We Got (feat. Kanye West & Chicago Children’s Choir) (16 listens) – Of all the songs in Chance’s third album, this is the one I like the most
7. American Pinup — The Upper Hand (14 listens)
8. Beautiful Bodies — Invincible (13 listens)
9. American Pinup — Joy Ride (13 listens) – My favorite song from this album, it really has a great feel and I love playing it while I drive around.
10. [unknown] — Star Wars (13 listens)
11. Freezepop — Starlight (13 listens)
12. American Pinup — Storm Chaser (13 listens)
13. Chance the Rapper — Summer Friends (feat. Jeremih & Francis & The Lights) (12 listens)
14. American Pinup — Shelter (11 listens)
15. Rihanna — Work (11 listens)

Albums

1. American Pinup — Change Machine (100 listens)
2. Swedish Chamber Orchestra and Thomas Dausgaard — Schumann – Rise of the Masters: 100 Supreme Classical Masterpieces (99 listens)
3. Chance the Rapper — Coloring Book (94 listens)
4. 4minute — Crazy (93 listens)
5. Billie Holiday — The Complete Billie Holiday (52 listens)
6. Drake — Views (51 listens)
7. Weezer — Weezer (Deluxe Edition) (51 listens)
8. The Beatles — The Beatles (50 listens)
9. Lana Del Rey — Honeymoon (49 listens)
10. Acerina Y Su Danzonera — Danzones de Siempre (42 listens)
11. Thelonious Monk — Plays Duke Ellington (42 listens)
12. Ramin Djawadi — Westworld: Season 1 (40 listens)
13. Paul and Storm — Ball Pit (38 listens)
14. Beautiful Bodies — Battles (38 listens)
15. Donnie Trumpet & The Social Experiment — Surf (35 listens)

Top All-Time Artists

They all remained in the same rank as last year.

1. Fantastic Plastic Machine Fantastic Plastic Machine (3,595 listens)
2. Anberlin Anberlin (2,768 listens)
3. Five Iron Frenzy Five Iron Frenzy (2,701 listens)
4. The Beatles The Beatles (2,425 listens)
5. Relient K Relient K (1,905 listens)
6. “Weird Al” Yankovic “Weird Al” Yankovic (1,693 listens)
7. Fall Out Boy Fall Out Boy (1,300 listens)
8. Gnarls Barkley Gnarls Barkley (1,121 listens)
9. I Fight Dragons I Fight Dragons (1,011 listens)
10. Gwen Stefani Gwen Stefani (904 listens)
11. Andrea Echeverri Andrea Echeverri (894 listens)
12. DC Talk DC Talk (891 listens)
13. Tom Lehrer Tom Lehrer (875 listens)
14. Lostprophets Lostprophets (827 listens)
15. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (805 listens)

Top All-Time Songs

1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) (116 listens)
2. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah — Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood (116 listens)
3. Jonathan Coulton — The Princess Who Saved Herself (109 listens)
4. Fantastic Plastic Machine — Take Me To The Disco [Malibu Mix] (104 listens)
5. Fantastic Plastic Machine — Steppin’ Out (102 listens)
6. Gnarls Barkley — Who Cares (99 listens)
7. Gnarls Barkley — Just a Thought (93 listens)
8. 4minute — Cut it Out (92 listens)

All of these got dropped a rank by 4Minute JUMPING up the charts thanks to the Spotify/last.fm bug.
9. Gnarls Barkley — The Last Time (87 listens)
10. Anberlin — Audrey, Start The Revolution! (85 listens)
11. Andrea Echeverri — Quédate (85 listens)
12. Gnarls Barkley — St. Elsewhere (85 listens)
13. Gnarls Barkley — Crazy (82 listens)
14. Fantastic Plastic Machine — Love Is Psychedelic (82 listens)
15. Gnarls Barkley — Smiley Faces (82 listens)

Scrobbles at end of 2016: 99,546

Scrobbles in 2016: 6,243 – about 3000 less than last year. Scrobbled music has been on a steady decline for me. Because last year had also fallen by 3000.

Various stats from Last.fm’s year in music page:

  • Avg Scrobbles/Day: 17
  • Total Listening Time: 14 Days 11 hours
  • I mostly listen from 6 AM to 6 PM
  • I listen most on Wednesdays
  • 39% This year was listening to new artists
  • 53% New Albums
  • 48% new songs
  • I beat Dan in scrobbles this year – he doesn’t show up in my Top 5
  • But Dan beat me in artist discovery – 55% vs 39%
  • Longest streak was 39 days from 23 Oct to 30 Nov
  • 13 April I listened to the most music – 394 songs
  • 15 June listened to Weezer 63 times; 13 April listened to 44 tracks from Schumann.

Tomahawk – unify all your cloud and local audio

It’s been a long time since I last took a look at an innovative music player. Back in 2006 I explored Songbird ) and in 2008 I looked at some of the unique features over two posts: Taking Another Look at Songbird and Play the Web. The ability to grab MP3s off of sites, in particular seemed to be a great way to take advantage of the music blogs as a way to discover new music. Some of this has been superseded by certain browser plugins that can grab all files off a webpage based on regular expressions. In the last decade, there has been a big change in the way most people experience digital music. Most people have stopped buying music in favor of either using Youtube or a subscription service like Spotify, Rdio, Amazon Prime Music, or Google Music.

I continue to say that there is a benefit in owning music. For one thing, as we grow older, we tend to add less new bands and albums to our repertoire. So the cost of of albums is less than $10/month for these services. (Although, if they reach the predicted equilibrium price of $5/month, I think it becomes cheap enough that it becomes a “why not?” subscription). Second, some of the bigger artists have decided not to be on these services or to only be on one of them. If this balkanization becomes mainstream, it’ll be as annoying as the movie and TV business with a subscription needed to three or four services needed to get it all. So if you want Taylor Swift, you don’t have a choice – you need to own some music. But not only am I seemingly in the minority, with Google Music you can have access to all your purchased music and (for a fee) all the rest as well.

However, even I have been making big use of Spotify at work since their web-only free tier actually offers a lot of benefits. I can pick any song I want and Google Music is blocked at work. So I’ve become strategic in my purchases (which, I think, is why the music industry has been turning so negative against Spotify and its brethren). Can I satisfy my musical “needs” by listening to a song or artist on Spotify at work (at home I’d mostly be using mobile and without payments you’re stuck in random listening mode – which can be quite annoying) or do I want to buy the album so that I can listen to it whenever I want – including in the car via Google Music? On the assumption that Amazon Music has a lot of the same music (again, I have no idea how much balkanization there is in the music world), I’ve already got Prime. And there’s always Youtube if I want to go searching there. So if I want to listen to a song or an artist, do I want to have to remember where I can listen to it?

Enter Tomahawk. This music player has been around since 2011, when it acquired a lot of accolades and then everyone seemed to stop talking about it. The website stopped being updated about a year ago which is when they had their last official release, 0.8.4. However, I checked on github and development continues, even if it’s been forever since their last release. The reason I make a big deal about this is two-fold. First of all, projects (whether open source or closed source) can die. Programmers move on or the need it was trying to solve is eliminated. Second, most distros only package releases — Fedora is stuck on 0.8.4 in the repositories. And many people would rather use releases than nightlies.

So what Tomahawk does is to unify all your music sources so that if you search for, say, Five Iron Frenzy, it will look in your local music, Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Soundcloud, Beats music, Youtube, and a bunch of other places to present you with all the music available. It’s pretty awesome. I don’t need to remember if I have a song purchased or in Spotify (or somewhere else). Also, importantly for me, it will also Scrobble the music no matter where it came from. (That is, send the stats to personal charts website, Last.fm)

More importantly for me, as a lover of music, is the music discovery aspect of Tomahawk. You can use it to discover music in a number of ways. (This could be its most powerful killer app if it could reach 1.0 and become accepted among the musical cognoscenti) First of all, you could become “friends” with someone and it shows you their library. This is the biggest thing I miss from the original Napter and Kazaa apps. Sure, it was amazing in those early days to have access to free music, but the thing I loved to do most was to explore users and see what music they had. I discovered a lot of music that way before it was all closed up because of the copyright infringement. Tomahawk re-enables this feature without the problematic copyright infringement. If I’m following my brother and notice something interesting, I can click on it and if it’s available on one of my services – Spotify, Google Music, etc – I’ll be able to listen to it and the artist still gets royalties! Win/Win!  And I have discovered a lot of new artists from my little brother as we tend to listen to different stuff so I miss out on artists from not following the scene. Also, it doesn’t have to be an active thing. They have a feature called “inbox” where Dan could place a song he wanted me to check out. Second, Tomahawk has a feature to see the charts from various places – iTunes, Billboard, Last.fm, etc – and it’ll find music based on that. So, as I mentioned before, as we get older we tend to disconnect from the places where people find out about new music. So I could periodically check out the top 200 on Billboard and see if I have a new favorite artist there. Finally, the day before I wrote this I was able to use Tomahawk to listen to some music from an artist I’d only heard one song from before. Then I looked at related artists and discovered even more artists I’d never heard of before, but which I liked.

A quick aside that I didn’t see fitting anywhere else – this program is actually pretty awesome for a non-tech person like my wife. The interface makes sense and it provides exactly the functionality she would want – find me this song – I don’t care from where. Right now she often complains about needing to switch from Google Music to Pandora to Youtube to find what she’s looking for.

Ok, so let’s look at my use of 0.8.4 on Fedora. (More on why I’m using an old version later)

Tomahawk - My Collection Strangely missing albums
Tomahawk – My Collection Strangely missing albums

This version has a bug with this view where my albums don’t show up. But when I go to song view, it’s all there:

Tomahawk - My Collection - Song View
Tomahawk – My Collection – Song View

Interestingly, in Google Music, the other view works perfectly:

Tomahawk - Google Music
Tomahawk – Google Music

I went and opened up Weird Al’s Bad Hair Day and here’s the view I got:

Tomahawk - Weird Al - Bad Hair Day
Tomahawk – Weird Al – Bad Hair Day

So, among the sources I was able to add in 0.8.4 – Google Music, Soundcloud, and Youtube – it was able to fill in the whole album. I only had about 3 or so of those songs. All the rest were found on Youtube. Only track 8 couldn’t be found in any of those sources. I wasn’t able to add Amazon Music or many of the others because they don’t work with older versions like 0.8.4. (Another reason they need more stable releases so we can have more up to date stuff in the Fedora repos)

Given the love the developers of Tomahawk have for music and music discovery, I have high hopes for their Last.fm replacement, Hatchet. For now, it just Scrobbles music and provides minimal ability to follow others and see what they’re listening to. It doesn’t have as many resolvers as the Android app or the desktop app – I don’t know if more are coming or of it’s a limitation of the API policies of the sites they’re collecting from. Still, if they can ever get it out of beta, it could potentially be what everyone is disappointed that Last.fm didn’t become – a great place to discover new music.

Speaking of the Android app, it works fairly well. It’s missing a couple key things. First of all, it needs to be able to Scrobble to Last.fm. Until Hatchet takes off a bit more, I’m not ready to abandon Last.fm in favor of it. Sure, Last.fm has been losing money for CBSi (which is dumb, they should be somehow making money off of all that play data) and might go away. But Hatchet isn’t even publicly launched yet. Second, it needs a few settings to, say, only use Wi-Fi if that’s important to me. (And with bandwidth restrictions on the cell network, it’s important to many).

I tried compiling the latest version in git for Fedora last night. I spent a couple hours at it and had to give up when I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Mostly it seems that the Linux devs are working on Ubuntu and/or Debian and so some of the libraries were in the wrong spot. In case any of the devs read this far, I’d like to advocate more releases with smaller dev cycles like Firefox/Chrome/etc so that we can get up-to-date packages on non-Debian platforms (or maybe have a git-based COPR repo). I’ve done quite a bit of compiling in my time (even creating RPMs) so if I couldn’t get it to compile, that means they’re limiting the reach of Tomahawk. To get Cmake to finish I had to create a symlink in /usr/lib/include for echonest with echonest5.

So, as we come to the end, I’d like to say that I’ve learned a lot and matured a lot in the decade since I covered Songbird. While Tomahawk is awesome and SHOULD end up the main music player for anyone who cares about music, I know that the best tech doesn’t always win. (See Amiga or BeOS) Additionally, Tomahawk only works by the grace of the APIs of others. After a nice near-decade when the Internet was being all awesome and open-sourcey, it seems that everyone wants to be proprietary again. Twitter took away its APIs. Facebook and Google have moved away from Jabber/XMPP. The current “truth” is that you have to trap everyone in your walled garden. We’re back in the era of AOL and keeping people off the real Internet. And so Facebook is making it so you can do everything from reading the news to ordering a pizza without ever leaving FB. The websites that Tomahawk uses for resolving where to grab music from mostly need you to have a subscription (Spotify, Amazon Prime Music, Tidal) or be signed in (Google Music). So they’re already getting money from you. And Tomahawk doesn’t hide where the music’s coming from. An icon lets you know that it’s from Spotify or Amazon. So if you know where the music’s from and you’re already paying, you’d think that the businesses wouldn’t care. But, like I said, they don’t seem to think rationally. If they were to remove that functionality, Tomahawk would fall apart.

In conclusion, this music player has a lot of awesome potential. It’s been working to get there for the past 4-5 years. If they can pick up the pace of releases and the APIs don’t close up to them, they could become THE music app to have on the desktop, tablet, and phone. I wish them luck.

Last.fm 2015 Listening Trends

Lots of artists made their spot because I attended a concert or discovered them this year and got very enthusiastic about listening to this new artist. There are also lots of Spotify scrobbles, but not as many as there would be if work’s firewall didn’t keep scrobbles from being counted.

Artists

  1. Anberlin (427 listens)
  2. Fall Out boy (239 listens)
  3. Jim Guthrie (221 listens)
  4. I Fight Dragons (214 listens)
  5. Paul and Storm (190 listens) – A nerdy folksy group that I really like. Their irreverence is my kind of fun.
  6. The Beatles (136 listens)
  7. Anamanaguchi (130 listens)
  8. Lionize (130 listens)
  9. Five Iron Frenzy (128 listens)
  10. Louis Jordan (113 listens)
  11. The Protomen (104 listens)
  12. Beebs and Her Money Makers (104 listens)
  13. Willy Chirino (93 listens)
  14. Katy Perry (93 listens)
  15. Ignacio Cervantes (92 listens)

Songs

Interestingly, only two new songs made the list this year – Talking Body and Know Yourself. Because I don’t listen to the radio, I discovered these via Spotify. The rest are all older songs that I happened to listen to a lot. And Chandelier came from Danielle getting the album and asking me to play it in the car.

  1. Katy Perry – Last Friday Night (TGIF) (17 listens)
  2. Katy Perry – Birthday (17 listens)
  3. I Fight Dragons – Chicago (17 listens)
  4. Katy Perry – Firework (16 listens)
  5. Tove Lo – Talking Body (15 listens)
  6. I Fight Dragons – Pretend (15 listens)
  7. Katy Perry – ET (featuring Kanye West) (14 listens)
  8. Sia – Chandelier (14 listens)
  9. Drake – Know Yourself (14 listens)
  10. Ginuwine – Pony (13 listens)
  11. Fall Out Boy – I Don’t Care (13 listens)
  12. Fall Out Boy – Headfirst Slide into Cooperstown on a Bad Bet (13 listens)
  13. Fall Out Boy – America’s Suitehearts (13 listens)
  14. Fall Out Boy – She’s my Winona (13 listens)
  15. Fall Out Boy – The (Shipped) Gold Standard (13 listens)

Top Overall Artists

A bit of jostling for position, but no radically new contenders. It’s a steep hill to climb to make it in here and I listen to a lot of music on random. It’ll continue to be a long time before bands I don’t listen to anymore like CYHSY, DC Talk, and Andrea Echeverri to fall out completely.

  1. Fantastic Plastic Machine (3587 listens) – No change in rank
  2. Anberlin (2756 listens) – Up from #3
  3. Five Iron Frenzy (2626 listens) – Dropped from #2
  4. The Beatles (2341 listens) – No change in rank
  5. Relient K (1847 listens) – No change in rank
  6. “Weird Al” Yankovic (1682 listens) – No change in rank
  7. Fall Out Boy (1275 listens) – Up from #8
  8. Gnarls Barkley (1117 listens) – Dropped from #7
  9. I Fight Dragons (1001 listens) – Up from #14
  10. Gwen Stefani (899 listens) – No change in rank
  11. Andrea Echeverri (894) – No change in rank
  12. DC Talk (864 listens) – Dropped from #11
  13. Tom Lehrher (856 listens) – Dropped from #12
  14. Lostprophets (816 listens) – Up from #15
  15. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (804 listens) – Dropped from #13

Top Overall Songs

I’m a bit surprised that nothing broke into this chart. However, a lot of Aberlin music is just 5 or so listens away from pushing out the tracks I rarely listen to anymore. This could be a more exciting and dynamic chart over the next two years.

  1. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood (116 listens) – No change in rank
  2. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Over and Over Again (115 listens) – No change in rank
  3. Jonathan Coulton – The Princess Who Saved Herself (109 listens) – Dropped from #2
  4. Fantastic Plastic Machine – Take Me To The Disco [Malibu Mix] (104 listens) – Dropped from #2
  5. Fantastic Plastic Machine – Steppin’ Out (102 listens) – Dropped from #4
  6. Gnarls Barkley – Who Cares (99 listens) – Dropped from #5
  7. Gnarls Barkley – Just A Thought (93 listens) – Dropped from #6
  8. Gnarls Barkley – The Last Time (87 listens) – Dropped from #7
  9. Andrea Echeverri – Quedate (85 listens) – Dropped from #7 tie
  10. Anberlin – Audrey, Start The Revolution! (85 listens) – Up from #14
  11. Gnarls Barkley – St. Elsewhere (85 listens) – Dropped from #9
  12. Fantastic Plastic Machine – Love Is Psychedelic (82 listens) – Dropped from #9
  13. Gnarls Barkley – Crazy (82 listens) – Dropped from #11
  14. Gnarls Barkley – Smiley Faces (82 listens) – Dropped from #12
  15. Andrea Echeverri – Amortiguador (80 listens) – Dropped from #12 tie

Scrobbles at End of 2015: 93305

Total Scrobbles in 2015: 9673 – about 3000 less than last year

Last.fm Listening Trends 2015 Q4

This was not a big quarter for listening to music for me. That’s mostly because Sam and Stella were born and so I didn’t have much ability to listen to music as I needed to be able to hear if they were crying or if someone needed help with them. According to last.fm I went from 1,104 scrobbles in Oct to 288 in November.

  1. Beebs and Her Money Makers (94 listens) – one of the songs came up randomly in Amarok which led me to listen through the albums a few times.
  2. The Beatles (55 listens)
  3. Kenny Clarke (44 listens) – A Fresh Air review of a new collection got me interested in him so I added it to my Spotify tracks. Really fun music.
  4. Anberlin (34 listens)
  5. DJ Cutman (33 listens) – I don’t know why, but I ended up with a lot of DJ Cutman music on my new phone and since I don’t like to use bandwidth while I’m driving, I’ve listened to it a lot in the car.
  6. Ignacio Cervantes (32 listens)
  7. Fall Out Boy (29 listens)
  8. Danny Elfman (28 listens)
  9. Katy Perry (26 listens) – all from Scarlett requests
  10. Relent K (25 listens)
  11. Five Iron Frenzy (24 listens)
  12. Jonathan Geer (19 listens)
  13. Vampire Weekend (18 listens) – heard a song so I wanted to re-explore the band. Some of the songs still hit me hard and others have faded.
  14. Sergei Prokofiev (17 listens)
  15. Anamanaguchi 16 listens)

Stats:

Total Songs (in my collection): 16985 (Up from 16088 ) – Mostly from buying CDs with 100 tracks of various classical artists.

Total Artists: 4708 (up from 4626 )

Total Albums: 3601

Average Songs Per Album: 4.71

Average Songs Per Artist: 3.6 (up from 3.47)

Total Scrobbles at End of Quarter: 93,305

Total Scrobbles for this Quarter: 1638 – A thousand less than last time

Last.fm Listening Trends 2015 Q3

After getting to MGMT alphabetically, I tired of going through the list alphabetically. While I have rediscovered some music, I wanted to go back to my auto-playlists which would give me my favorites. I could always get back to going through things alphabetically in the future. One way to accomplish what I wanted was to see which songs don’t have a score – another would be to create a low score playlist I could run every once in a while to see if anything that had scored lowly was now something I wanted to hear.

The updated last.fm scrobbler now scrobbles my podcasts. On the one hand, sure, I’m spending time listening to that. On the other hand, the way it works ends up overcounting listens. Oh well.

  1. Anberlin (147 listens)
  2. Lionize (127 listens) – I wrote up a concert review in which they were one of the openers. I have to say that I have really enjoyed Jetpack Soundtrack and it has definitely earned it’s #2 spot.
  3. Reggie Watts (83 listens) – While I found the one episode of Comedy Bang Bang! that I’ve seen to be obnoxious, I find his humor as expressed in his sounds to be pretty funny. He also has a soul album that’s pretty good.
  4. Fall Out Boy (70 listens) – Because I have them on my phone, they get a lot of listens when I’m with the family. But I also finally got the latest album and have played that a few times.
  5. The Protomen (60 listens)
  6. Ignacio Cervantes (58 listens) – Both this one and the next one are from me exploring very old Cuban music.
  7. Acerina y Su Danzonera (54 listens)
  8. APM: Marketplace (54 listens)
  9. Five Iron Frenzy (51 listens)
  10. Giant Bomb (49 listens)
  11. MC Frontalot (43 listens)
  12. The Giant Beastcast (43 listens)
  13. Willy Chirino (40 listens)
  14. The Beatles (39 listens) – It’s only a matter of time before they take over the top spot.
  15. Louis Jordan (39 listens)

Stats

Total Songs (in my collection): 16088 (Up from 15709 ) – A decent jump, mostly from adding  in video game soundtracks as I completed the games.

Total Artists: 4626 (up from 4571 )

Total Albums: Amarok is glitching and refusing to say…

Average Songs Per Album: Can’t calculate

Average Songs Per Artist: 3.47 (up from 3.43)

Total Scrobbles at End of Quarter: 91,619

Total Scrobbles for this Quarter: 2912 – A bit less than last time, but I haven’t been listening to as much music.

Concerts 2015: Lionize and The Protomen

Concerts are certainly a funny bit of entertainment. When you go see a movie, you are going because you like the director or the actors or the idea sounded interesting. You see that movie and that’s the end of it. The same holds true for Broadway shows or Operas. But when you attended a concert, you have a few opening acts you probably don’t know. This is somewhat alleviated nowadays for the well prepared by a quick trip to Spotify or Youtube. After finally seeing The Protomen during last year’s Warped Tour, I was excited about seeing them in concert. My ticket informed me that I’d also be seeing Cowabunga Pizza Time and Lionize. Of course, the difference between concerts and other forms of entertainment is no accident. Opening bands are limpets on the bodies of larger acts, hoping to gain exposure to the fans of the main act. This works best when the organizer has paired up bands that work well together thematically. But, this is the obvious reason why you never know the time the main act is going on stage.

I tried to find Cowabunga Pizza Time on Spotify, but they weren’t there. I did find them on Youtube, but they were not my cup of tea. That worked out well for me because it meant I didn’t have to inhale my food in order to get to the concert on time. I looked for Lionize on Spotify and either through some error on that day or because they didn’t have the rest up yet, the only album I found was a reggae album. They sounded OK, but I wasn’t sure whether I’d bother catching their set. Luckily for me, I ended up getting to the club as Cowabunga Pizza Time was ending (yup, didn’t like their music live, either) and as Lionize was starting. I REALLY enjoyed Lionize.

Lionize lead singer
Lionize lead singer

I have a hard time explaining exactly what Lionize sounds like, but in my head there are all these connections to other bands that refuse to come to the forefront. The best I could come up with is that the band sounds to me like a great 1970s Rock band, probably because of the Wah Wah Synths they make use of. Because I knew I would have a hard time describing the band’s sound, but enjoyed them so much that I ended up buying the album, I asked the band for permission to post a couple tracks from their latest album (at the time – I think a new one’s about to come out), Jetpack Soundtrack. Here’s the song that I think best encapsulates their sound and what I’m trying to convey:

Last year I read How Music Works and it changed the way I viewed concerts. Part of the author’s point was that it is only in recent times that we expect musicians to sound like their albums when we see them live. Instead, we should cherish the live act for what it can give us – spontaneity and a connection with other fans. I hadn’t heard Lionize before the concert (at least not the songs on their set list), but I dare say they’re one of the few bands who sounds better live than they do in the studio. I don’t know if it’s the genre of 70s Rock or just the songs Lionize chose to play, but they lend themselves to riffing and solos that work best in a live environment. Some of the songs that sounded terrific live include Replaced by Machines and Amazing Science Facts.

Even though the thought of going to see a reggae band didn’t fill me with enthusiasm, one of my favorite songs from Jetpack Soundtrack the reggae-inspired Sea of Tranquility. It’s reggae-inspired in a similar way to how D’yer Maker by Led Zepellin has some reggae inspiration.

Of course, the main reason for my attendance that night was to see The Protomen.

The Hype Man
The Hype Man

When it comes to The Protomen, it’s really hard to say if I find it more enjoyable to listen to the CDs or attend a concert. As I said above, they’re two different things – as different as a book and its movie or TV show adaptation. But when it comes to The Protomen, each of their albums with original material (as opposed to their cover albums) is a concept album that tells an adaptation of the story from Mega Man. I had been hoping that in their own concert (as opposed to at Warped Tour) they’d go through one whole album as their set. Alas, the songs were random and contained both covers and original material. Yet, because of the intensity of the story behind the songs, particularly the one where Doctor Wiley riles up a crowd to demand execution of Doctor Light (The Hounds on the Act II album) are incredibly amazing when the entire club demands to know “WHAT WAS HER NAME?” Light up the Night is also particularly awesome (literally) in a club full of fans singing along and pumping their fists. I continue to hold out hope that when the third album in the Mega Man trilogy is released that they’ll do a special show in which they sing the entire trilogy. I also think that it would make a pretty great Broadway show – it would certainly be different than the usual fare.

Although it’s not exactly rare for me to discover new bands that I enjoy when I see the opening acts at a concert, it’s certainly a great treat and win for all involved. Lionize gained a new fan and I gained a new band to watch and see in concert – perhaps one day as the top billing. And I got to see the great stage show that is a concert by The Protomen.

Lionize music used with permission from the band.

Last.fm Listening Trends 2015 Q2

1. Anberlin (171) – Almost the same number of listens as my top artist last quarter (179 for I Fight Dragons). As usual, I continue to enjoy their music and have grown to appreciate some of the ones I didn’t like before. And some of the older stuff seems trite in comparison.
2. Jim Guthrie (168) – As I’ve mentioned before, his folk song compositions are mostly really enjoyable and I like his work on video games and soundtracks.
3. Paul & Storm (138) – I discovered these guys via John Scalzi. I was hesitant to back the Kickstarter for Ball Pit, but I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it on Spotify.
4. Fall Out Boy (101) – A lot of this is from a few recent road trips in which I didn’t want to use data and happened to have Fall Out Boy already on my phone. Doesn’t mean I don’t like the music.
5. Jonathan Coulton (61) – I’ve said so much about how much I enjoy this over the years. Recently Scarlett’s been asking me to play The Princess Who Saved Herself because I got her the book from Greg Pak’s kickstarter.
6. Louis Jordan (58) – I like to kick it to Louis Jordan on the weekends when I want something classic.
7. Anamanaguchi (56) – Some of this was from the high of seeing them live. Some of it was just from really enjoying the music no matter what, especially Endless Fantasy.
8. Jack White (54) – Another artist I’ve been listening to a lot of because of Spotify. His album Lazaretto does not do well on 30 second preview on Amazon. But because of Spotify, I want to buy the album.
9. Kanye West (42) – Most of this came from listening to my music alphabetically.
10. Lostprophets (41) – I may hate what the singer was accused of doing, but these songs still mostly rock.
10. Lana Del Rey (41) – Something I can throw on that both my wife and I like
12. Willy Chirino (34) – Most of the listens came from a greatest hits album on Spotify.
13. Buddy Rich (33) – Another album I wasn’t sure I wanted until I listened to it on Spotify. It reminds me a lot of the music in Cowboy Bebop
13. Five Iron Frenzy (33) – Perennial Favorite
15. Thelonious Monk (31) – something else I like to throw on Sunday mornings.

Stats

Total Songs (in my collection):  15709 (Up from 15522 ) – just barely increased. I haven’t found too much new music that I HAVE to have. And I haven’t had time to get the free music from the usual sources.

Total Artists: 4571 (up from 4560 )

Total Albums: 3529 (up from 3518 )

Average Songs Per Album: 4.45 (up from 4.41)

Average Songs Per Artist: 3.43 (up from 3.4)

Total Scrobbles at End of Quarter: 88707

Total Scrobbles for this Quarter: 3015– almost 1000 more than last quarter

Concerts 2015: Weird Al Yankovic

The video controls for the concert
The video controls for the concert

I’ve been a fan of Weird Al for about 17 years. I used to have the Disney special Weird Al Going Home, but unfortunately, I lent it to someone and never got it back. Yet, in all the time, I’d never seen a Weird Al concert live. Finally, Weird Al came to Baltimore as part of his Mandatory Fun Tour and I was able to experience an Al Tour. It was a pretty neat experience. It’s only something like the fourth arena concert I’ve been to (even thought it wasn’t technically in an arena). The last arena concert I went to was Rihanna. Interestingly, Weird Al had WAY more costume changes than she did. He had just about one outfit per song with few exceptions. While he was changing, clips played from nearly every video Weird Al has ever been involved in.

The best part of the concert was that he played at least one song from each of his albums. I got to hear all my favorites live, which was quite a treat. Who would have thought he’d still be singing Fat all these decades later?

Weird Al Mandatory Fun Concert - Singing "Fat"
Weird Al Mandatory Fun Concert – Singing “Fat”

Going back to the fact that this is only about the fourth arena concert I’ve been to, I’ve mostly been going to concerts in clubs. That’s partly because I tend to like more obscure bands like The Protomen and I Fight Dragons. And partly because even bigger bands like Anberlin (who played Madison Square Garden for two consecutive nights on their farewell tour) aren’t going to draw enough fans to fill an arena. Having done both fairly recently (Anamanaguchi vs Weird Al), I have to say that I prefer the club atmosphere. There’s something about the band being just a few feet away and the crowd pressing against you, belting out songs, that makes concerts worth attending. Meanwhile I leave most arena concerts thinking it’d be a better experience on my big screen TV at home. While I don’t regret seeing Weird Al live, it certainly didn’t feel as special as some of the smaller venues.

To keep things fresh, both for Al and ourselves, for some of his oldest songs, he did a Lounge Lizard medley. It was pretty fun to hear the songs this way – he should do an album release this way.

Weird Al Mandatory Fun Concert - Lounge Lizard Versions
Weird Al Mandatory Fun Concert – Lounge Lizard Versions

Here is a really short example from two songs:

Some more costume changes:

Appropriately enough, given 2015 is the year of Star Wars, he ended the night with a couple Star Wars songs.

Although he did start it off with a bizarre reference to an earlier joke:

Overall, it was a great experience and I think if he’s still performing when Scarlett’s a little older, I’ll take her.

Discovering Pogo

This may not be your thing. I’m pretty sure my wife will hate it, but I think Pogo’s work is a perfect example of why culture needs to be free and with less onerous copyright rules. I’m pretty sure all of this is within fair use, but it would take a legal fight for him (or her) to win rather than just give up to Disney’s (and other studios) army of lawyers.

Forget:

The Trouble:

Trouble:

Time Machine:

Concerts 2015: Anamanaguchi

Anamanaguchi Show - First Opening Act
Anamanaguchi Show – First Opening Act

Originally my first concert of 2015 was going to be a little later in the year, but with Danielle away for the weekend, the email letting me know about a concert in just a few days seemed quite fortuitous. I’d had a couple chances to see Anamanaguchi in concert, but the timing was never right. This time it was perfect – weekend and wife out of town. So I decided to go.

Anamanaguchi Show - Second Opening Act
Anamanaguchi Show – Second Opening Act

It was an interesting scene and an interesting concert. Lots of men with eyeliner and girls with blue lipstick and pig tails. But also people dressed like they were going to a rave, complete with glowstick fingers and people dressed like every other concert. The only negative was that there were four opening acts so while the show started at 2100, Anamanaguchi wasn’t up until 2300. The selection of opening acts was well-aligned given the sound of Anamanaguchi – pop, dance, and chiptunes. So they had lots of DJs open for them – some with more conventional dance music and some with more chiptunes music. But, given that Anamanaguchi plays with real instruments, I thought a better complement would be a band like I Fight Dragons.

Anamanaguchi Show - Skrillex Hair Opening Act
Anamanaguchi Show – Skrillex Hair Opening Act

Of the opening acts, I thought the best vibe came from the duo in which one of the guys had Skrillex hair. While others were grooving, these guys were jumping around and really having a good time. It made me want to have more of a good time, myself. I usually go to concerts with bands, so it was interesting to see the 2 two-man DJ groups at this concert. While I understood the gains from a two-man group – one can control the knobs while the other looks for the next sample and/or they can jump back and forth between their tastes, I’m more used to groups like the one between those two where it was a one-man DJ set.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi Crazy Clip Art Video
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi Crazy Clip Art Video

Then came Anamanaguchi. I had a feeling for what they’d sound like live as I have their Live at the Knitting Factory album, but they weren’t nearly as chatty as they were on that album. I didn’t know this going into the concert, but it was the last show on their Endless Fantasy tour. So I don’t know if they were tired after a long tour or if the Knitting Factory album is just an unusually chatty set for them.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi  guy on the right
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi guy on the right

Since a good chunk of any song involves a lot more than the instruments, I was wondering how they were going to perform. Would they have a computer playing the music? So I was surprised to find 3/4 of the band come out with guitars or guitar-like instruments. From what I could tell, the guy in the middle with the white guitar-like instrument was playing the non-instrumentals. I’m not sure exactly what that meant – was he modulating a pre-recorded track? That seems to be the most likely scenario. But I’m not sure.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi guy in the middle playing what I think wasn't a guitar
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi guy in the middle playing what I think wasn’t a guitar

The most interesting aspect of the set was the video screen behind the drummer. Somewhere between a quarter and half of the bands I’ve seen perform use some kind of video in their performance. None have ever matched the trippiness of what Anamanaguchi had going on. For at least one of the songs (Pop It) the video was a remix of the music video. I’m not too familiar with most of their videos, so I can’t say if that holds true for the rest of the songs, but the overall feeling was that of a sentient Internet having seizures and displaying some representation of everything we geek out about. There was povray-looking 3D renders, clipart, anime, and VCR nostalgic recordings.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi crazy background and topless drummer
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi crazy background and topless drummer

There was one seemingly over-zealous fan at the front who I wasn’t sure what to make of until the end of the night when I found out that this was the last stop on their tour and that guy had been on every stop on that tour.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi  enthusiastic fan
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi enthusiastic fan

Overall, I had a very good time and I was jumping and dancing and just enjoying the crowed vibe that is the entire point of going to a concert. It took me a while to warm up to the opening acts and I think that was only partly due to their unfamiliarity. I’d definitely go see Anamanaguchi again. Although, according to Wikipedia, their next album will be chiptunes-less. So I’ll have to see if I like the next album.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi guy on the left rocking out
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi guy on the left rocking out

Sorry the photos weren’t so good, I only had my cell as my wife had the nice compact camera.

Anamanaguchi Show - Anamanaguchi best, clearest image (during the song Pop It!)
Anamanaguchi Show – Anamanaguchi best, clearest image (during the song Pop It!)

Last.fm Listening Trends 2015 Q1

1. I Fight Dragons (179 plays) – Over this quarter I have continued to really enjoy the B Side to The Near Future and listened to them a lot after work. Scarlett likes quite a few of those songs as well.

I Fight Dragons Featured image
I Fight Dragons Featured image

2. Anberlin (74 plays) – For the concert last year I put all their albums on my phone. So when I listen to my music already on the phone, Anberlin comes up a lot.

Anberlin's Last Concert (Nov 2014)
Anberlin’s Last Concert (Nov 2014)

3. Celia Cruz (64 plays) – Been continuing to enjoy her hits.

4. Girl Talk (57 plays) – I don’t listen to Girl Talk as much as I used to, but I listened to it as I went through the artists in alphabetical order.

5. Jake Kaufman (52 plays) – from the alphabetical listens

6. Grits (51 plays) – from the alphabetical listens

7. Jim Guthrie (46 plays) – I got this as part of a Humble Bundle a year or two ago. I really enjoy lots of these songs.  He’s a great talent that not many talk about.

8. Hitoshi Sakimoto (40 plays)  – from the alphabetical listens

9. Fall Out Boy (39 plays) – As happens every quarter, I had an itching to listen to FOB.

10. Isaac Schankler (36 plays) – from the alphabetical listens

11. Jars of Clay (30 plays)  – from the alphabetical listens

11. Hannibal Buress (30 plays) – I really love his dry humor.

Hannibal Buress in Annapolis, MD (2013)
Hannibal Buress in Annapolis, MD (2013)

13. Christophe Beck (29 plays) – from the alphabetical listens

14. Taylor Swift (28 plays) – mostly for Scarlett

15. Gwen Stefani (26 plays) – from the alphabetical listens

Stats

Total Songs (in my collection):  15522 (Up from 15474) – just barely increased. With school and other things, haven’t spent much time trying to get new songs.

Total Artists:4560 (drop from 4562) – A slight drop – probably because I’ve been fixing tags as I go along.

Total Albums:3518 (drop from 3521) – Again, from fixing tags

Average Songs Per Album: 4.41 (up from 4.39)

Average Songs Per Artist: 3.4 (up from 3.39)

Total Scrobbles at End of Quarter: 85692

Total Scrobbles for this Quarter: 2060 – a lot lower than before.

For (hopefully) obvious reasons, we didn’t listen to Prince when I was a kid. (Which was when almost all his albums came out). After hearing about him a few times on Giant Bomb and today’s AV Club article, I hit Spotify to see what the fuss is all about.