Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Haunted Side of Nouvelle Vague

Okay, I realize the Nouvelle Vague album Bande à Part has been out since July, but I'm just now getting into it. Although Courtney likes their self-titled debut album better, I tend to like the darker qualities of this record.

This record follows the formula of the first, pretty simply: bossa nova/lounge-esque covers of new wave classics. Where the band stuck closer to true bossa nova sound on Nouvelle Vague, this record explores a more haunting sound (dare I say, serious). The opening track, a cover of the Echo and the Bunnymen song 'Killing Moon,' is extraordinary in its retelling [download here].

Listen to the first record when you are in a peppy mood and put Bande à Part on when you're feeling more solemn.

One side note about the first album: I was overjoyed to find a cover of Propaganda's 'Sorry For Laughing' from their great 1985 techno album A Secret Wish. Check that one out, too.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Yet another reason to hate Ticketmaster has this nifty feature that is supposed to alert me when my favorite artists are coming to town. Problem is it doesn't work. In the several years that I've had TicketAlerts set up for these artists below, I've not received one advance notice email:

Dwight Yoakam
The Black Keys
Josh Rouse
Dave Matthews Band
Bright Eyes
David Sedaris
Toby Keith

And I know that at least six of these artists have played in Nashville in the last year and I have never received an alert email about these events. However, I am hounded by the Ticketmaster spam with subject lines like "Don't miss Kelly Clarkson." Do I look like a Kelly Clarkson fan?

There is no better marketing prospect to a company than one who has declared his interest in a very specific product or service. Use this data to your benefit, Ticketmaster.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Raconteurs to play City Hall, Nashville

The Raconteurs have announced a Nashville show date: Sunday, November 19 they'll be playing City Hall (a great venue renovated from a warehouse) and tickets go on sale Friday, October 20 at 10 A.M. Central. Make it a night in the Gulch neighborhood and have dinner at Sambuca, Ru San's, or my favorite, Watermark.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Large Digital Music Collections Need MusicIP Mixer

If you're like me, you have a large collection of digital music sitting on a big hard drive connected to your home computer. Some days I just don't want to listen to a specific album or artist; I want my own personal radio station based on my musical mood.

I've spent more time with my new MP3 mixer/player, the fabulous and free MusicIP Mixer. I've written how it scans your music collection and based on the sonic qualities of each song, creates cross-references to other songs you have. The MusicIP model is not based on musicology, or a bunch of people sitting somewhere making connections between songs (see Pandora and Soundflavor). Instead it uses a patented method of actually dipping into the sound waves--the true characteristics of the songs--to create the correlations.

One of the coolest features of the power version of the program (costs you only $20) is the ability to create waypoint mixes. Click here for a demo:

Let's say you're creating a party mix that you want to start out slow, increase in tempo a bit during dinner, get rocking after dinner, then slow down to a bossa nova beat for late night, pick four songs that represent each milestone. Create the waypoint mix (under the Power Tools menu) and the software picks the songs in between each milestone. It's like 'tweening for animators--creating several key frames then letting the software calculate the shapes of objects between each frame. I've a little experimentation to do with this feature but my quick tests prove promising.

There are people out there in the world (like my wife) who always want to "hard code" their mixes--painstakingly choosing each song to play during a listening session. I'm not like that. I want predictable surprise. For those hard coders, MusicIP is not for you.

In college I was a DJ at 91 Rock, and I still listen to it more than any other music station. In the past couple of years it's been much easier to be a regular listener since they've added an automated MP3 player when DJs don't show up or during the summer when it's harder to fill all of the time slots. 91 uses a simple randomization method to automate the playback. No more dead air.

What if they were to incorporate a MusicIP Mixer that truly created automated "shows" based on waypoint mixes? Could DJs actually be remote and control the playback on the station?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Much Great Live Indie Music in Nashville

Time was there didn't seem to be much live music that I was interested in shelling out good money for in Nashville. Maybe my tastes have expanded, maybe more bands are hitting Nashville, maybe there are more palatable venues, maybe I've rediscovered the joy of seeing artists live. Check out this upcoming lineup (and these are only bands that I'm interested in seeing, not all inclusive):

4-Oct: Frank Black, The Mercy Lounge
13-Oct: Beck, City Hall
16-Oct: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, War Memorial Auditorium
17-Oct: Scissor Sisters, City Hall
22-Oct: Broken Social Scene, City Hall
26-Oct: Drive By Truckers, War Memorial Auditorium
28-Oct: Mojave 3, Belcourt Theatre
11-Nov: The Black Keys, The Mercy Lounge

I'm blown away. For those of you in large metropolitan areas, don't mock.

By the way, to keep up with all that is indie hotness in Nashville, sign up for the Grimey's New & Preloved Music (we used to call it a record store) incredible email newsletter here. And shop there, too!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Pee-wee Herman and One Degree of "The Grammar Mechanic"

In the mid eighties I acted in a public television educational program called The Grammar Mechanic. Don't look it up on IMDB, really. Almost twenty years later, I tracked down VHS copies of every episode, and here's a clip of the opening credits and a little bit of the show. I'm the white kid:

Ahh, the show had everything: killer theme lyrics, independent mom, token black kid, token chick, token talking computer. Did the producers foresee the future of this fine republic with laser focus, or what?

There is little more notable about the show (unless you know me and want to mercilessly mock me and my bad acting) except that we had one brush with greatness. Allison Mork was a set decorator and makeup artist on the Mechanic, and soon she would jet off (drive more likely) to work on Pee-wee Herman's new Saturday morning show on CBS.

Here is puppeteer and actress Allison Mork on the Pee-wee's Playhouse episode "The Rainy Day" playing a housewife crank called by Randy and Pee-wee. Mork was also the puppeteer and voices for Magic Screen, Chicky Baby, and Chairry, and I think this may be the only on-screen performance she delivered on the show:

Thanks to Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, we're rediscovering the playhouse and bringing back lots of memories on this 20th anniversary of the show's debut. Grammar-y!