Yumi Zouma.

Photo courtesy of Yumi Zouma’s website.

It’s been over a decade since I’ve really fallen in love with any music, but the New Zealand group Yumi Zouma has created some of the best music I’ve heard in decades.

I love this group. Give them a listen (link to Apple Music).

Agenda.

Pet Shop Boys have released an EP called “Agenda”. Pardon my language, but it’s fucking brilliant. “Clash” features a review.

The theme of the four track EP is on point. Described as “three satirical tracks and one sad track”, it sounds like classic Pet Shop Boys with modern lyrics. The last track, “The forgotten child”, made me cry.

Here’s the track listing, you can probably figure out the overall theme on your own.

  • “Give stupidity a chance”
  • “On social media”
  • “What are we going to do about the rich?”
  • “The forgotten child”

I’ve included the lyrics to “Give stupidity a chance” to portray the vibe of the EP. It is available on Apple Music, Spotify, etc., and the CD is available for pre-order from their official website.

“Give stupidity a chance”

Intelligent people have had their say
It’s time for the foolish to show the way
Let’s lead this world a merry dance
Let’s give stupidity a chance

We’ve heard quite enough of experts and their dealings
Why face the facts when you can just feel the feelings?
Let’s lead this world a merry dance
Let’s give stupidity a chance

Forget political correctness
I mean W-T-F
I don’t wanna think about the world
I wanna talk about myself

Instead of governing with thoughtful sensitivity
Let’s shock and awe the world with idiotic bigotry
Let’s lead this world a merry dance
And give stupidity a chance

You say corruption, I say justified reward
Keeps the cronies loyal chairmen of the board
Let’s lead this world a merry dance
And give stupidity a chance

Forget political correctness
Let’s talk man to man
Chicks are always up for it
You gotta grab whatever you can

We need a leader who knows that money means class
With an eye for a peach-perfect piece of ass
Not a total dumb-cluck, just one of the guys
Let’s give stupidity a prize

Let’s lead this world a merry dance
And give stupidity a chance
Let’s give stupidity a chance

Help Me.

This version of Joni Mitchell’s “Help Me”, as sung by k.d. lang, moves me to tears. This live performance is absolutely brilliant.

Hello, Piano.

The first time I went to college (right out of high school), I went to study music education. My plan was to become a music teacher. I went on an instrumental study, having originally auditioned as a vocalist but after being rejected by the school I went and tried again as a tuba player. It was easy for me to get into the music school as a tuba player, tuba players are rare. I had played tuba since the fifth grade. I wasn’t exceptionally good nor passionate about it, but it helped me fill in the “bottom” of a given band, so I was good doing my part.

As a Music Education major I took many music theory classes. In depth study of how good music is constructed was quite interesting to me. In many ways music is math. Musical passages are fractions of the song and a well constructed piece of music makes use of equal fractions. I was always interested in how classical compositions related to modern music, especially dance music of the time. The college had just constructed its first electronic recording studio in the summer of 1986 and was offering classes in music recording, editing and the like. Because I was a music education major and because the equipment in the studio was very expensive, I was denied entry to any of these classes. I sometimes wonder where I would be in life today if I had pursued that line of music instead of the more traditional music education track.

One of the best ways for me to get centered for a work week is to listen to a composition of well constructed electronic dance music. It’s not really EDM in the sense of going to a rave and getting hyped up on E or anything. The intensity of the track needs to be subtle. Lyrics should be minimal and actually I prefer vocalizations that are instrumental contributions rather than the centerpiece of the creation. The use of real instruments, are at least very accurate representations, soothe my being. The track needs to have a “flow”; a logical construction that tells a story.

Please enjoy “Hello, Piano” by Inkfish and David West. This track is near perfection for my ears. Someday I’m going to figure out what the vocalizations are saying but I don’t get lost on trying to discern their meaning. I just let them blend in with the other instruments, the flanging between my ears adding to the bliss I feel when I listen to this track.

Best enjoyed with headphones.

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The iTunes Conundrum.

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This is one of my very first iTunes purchases. If you’re not seeing the image above, I’m referring to “What Did I Do To You?” by Lisa Stansfield. It’s the original album version, which encompasses the complete “vision” Ms. Stansfield had for the track. It was purchased in 2003 using my old iTunes username (I don’t think we called them Apple IDs back then). I’ve been looking for the track for ages and was deleted when I finally found it on a backup CD-R with “2004 backup” scrawled in Sharpie across the label side of the CD.

Eager to listen to this track again, I fired up an old iMac and imported the file into iTunes. I was prompted for the password of that forgotten account. Unbelievably, I remembered the password. The file was imported successfully but with a few caveats.

* iTunes Match wouldn’t recognize the track
* I couldn’t add it to a playlist
* The track would propagate to my other Apple devices. No iPhone, no iPad, No MacBook Pro.

I ended up copying the file by hand, using Dropbox, to my MacBook Pro. I imported it there as well after going through the password rigamarole.

Hunting around in Finder, I found the actual file and discovered that it was an m4p file, Apple’s old proprietary format that has DRM (Digital Rights Management) built into it. I converted all of my m4p files to m4a years ago using the iTunes Match service. The track is apparently not available in Apple Music today, as I can only find the edited down 7-inch version. Clicking on “Add to My Library” makes iTunes crabby.

I really want this song to be included throughout my Apple devices. It’s suppose to “just work”, right? Does anyone know how to get this song to become part of a playlist in iTunes? How do I convert it to a friendlier format without spending $40 on a piece of software that I’m going to use only once?

I know that I’m a huge Apple geek, but I’m at a loss on this one. If you have any suggestions (other than telling me to get Windows or something), please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

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Music.

Remember when Top 40 singers could really sing and play instruments and write music all on their own and then sound the same live as they did on the record?

A pure musical masterpiece, here’s Joni Mitchell with a live rendition of “Help Me”. One of my favorite songs of all time.

Music.

So I have been spending a little more time on my Ubuntu computer than on my Mac lately. I have been in “discovery geek” phase this week, trying out different things in Linux and seeing how the whole computing experience works out for a typical user on a computer, but using Linux instead of Windows or a Mac.

For the last 24 hours I have been concentrating on music: how to purchase it, how to organise it and how to listen to it. The program of choice, thus far, is Rhythmbox, which is installed by default when you install the latest version of Ubuntu (which is currently 9.04 or ‘Jaunty’). Rhythmbox has a comfortable interface and is quite intuitive. Mind you, it’s not like iTunes or the Zune interface, Rhythmbox is mostly a player but it allows you to do some purchasing and listening to internet based radio station. Overall, I enjoy the experience very much.

Because of the closed nature of all things Apple, I am unable to manage music on my iPhone from Rhythmbox and that’s okay because frankly I find plugging and unplugging the iPhone from the stereo everytime I get in or out of the car to be annoying. Add to the fact that the Acura has no Aux input built into the otherwise spectacular sound system and am forced to use a cassette adapter instead and you’ll know why I’m not too keen on using an iPhone or iPod in the car. So I have stepped back a few years in time and have begun burning CDs again.

The sound system was definitely designed for the CD player and not the cassette adapter I was using for the iPhone.

I wonder if the average consumer is stepping back in their expectations and ultimately settling for a mediocre aural experience in their vehicle now all in the name of technology. Granted, it’s quite convenient to carry your entire music library on an iPod (or any MP3 player for that matter) and dial up whatever track your heart desires, but if all you can hear from the track you’re listening to is the mid-range portion of the audio then what’s the sense of doing that?

Granted, burning CDs is not as ecofriendly as using an MP3 player. I stand labeled as a sinner in that department. But my goodness, the difference in the quality of the audio from my stereo is quite surprising.

I’m also enjoying music that I want to enjoy versus music that I _need_ to enjoy these days. Not being a regular club DJ anymore is a good thing, I no longer have to keep on top of the latest music trends, I can enjoy the music that I want to listen to and not worry about anyone else that might want to listen to my CDs. I’m not trying to entertain anyone, I’m just being entertained on my own terms.

I like that.

In case you’re wondering, I’m enjoying the likes of Deadmau5 these days and am listening to his album “Random Album Title”. I’m not big on lyrics and his music fits the bill, and my current music tastes, quite nicely.

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American Idol: Top 12.

So I’m going to try blogging while I’m watching American Idol. I’m currently watching it in TiVo time delay. I’m not going to edit; I’m just going to jot down notes and post them at the end of the show. They are singing Lennon/McCartney tracks for the first time.

1. Syesha Mercado. “Got To Get You Into My Life”. Wow, pitch is all over the place, she’s nervous. I’m not impressed.

2. Chikezie. “She’s A Woman”. I don’t remember a Beatles hoe down song. He’s in tune. I’m having Taylor Hicks déjà vu with the arrangement of the track. Soul Patrol! Not too bad, the ball squeezed note at the end was quite decent. I’m somewhat impressed.

Paula seems somewhat “grounded” tonight. WTF. Ryan Seacrest needs to learn the meaning of the phrase “non-partiality” as he rubs Chikezie’s head.

3. Ramiele Malubay. “In My Life”. First thought – Deniece Williams or Stephanie Mills sounding voice. The little person fills the stage very well. I thought she did very well, and I haven’t been a fan of hers. I don’t really agree with the judges.

4. Jason Castro. “If I Fell”. I’m not caring for the unplugged approach to the performances this season. I don’t believe it allows us to focus on the vocals nor does it level the playing field amongst the contestants. On the other hand, I found his vocals to be pretty good and they fit his appearance well. He doesn’t blow my skirt up or anything, maybe I don’t get him.

5. Carly Smithson. “Come Together”. I think it’s a well established fact that I love me Irish. Carly is no exception. I like her take of this song and I find her vocals flawless. She could easily make this a single and do well on an active rock station. I think she’ll be in the final two with David Archuletta.

6. David Cook. “Eleanor Rigby”. (Not a fan of his hairstyle). He’s holding back too much and his pitch accuracy is missing. I’m not enjoying the performance at all. His take on the chorus of the song was kind of good, but I HATED the verse.

Wouldn’t it be groovy if one of the contestants sang the Stars on 45 medley of Beatles tracks?

7. Brooke White. “Let It Be”. She doesn’t seem confident playing the piano tonight. I’m not one to talk, but if you’re going to sing and play piano simultaneously you can’t look at the keys. She’s struggling, both vocally and with the showmanship aspect of her performance. She’s missing quite a few notes with pitch issues. Mumbled words. I like her, but I’m disappointed. I think she knows she blew it.

Crimminy, here Ryan goes with the shoes and feet again.

I don’t like the new American Idol graphic used before commercials. It looks bare without the oval.

8. David Hernandez. “I Saw Her Standing There”. I don’t remember “pizza bistro” being a wink-wink code for “gay bar strip club”. His vocals are decent but I don’t find him to be suited to this type of music. He’s trying too hard.

9. Amanda Overmyer. “You Can’t Do That”. She’s a natural on the stage. I love the way she approaches a track and she definitely has her own style. Not sure it’s marketable in today’s pop climate. Her embellishing on the melody is impressive. She reminds me of a girl I went to college with. Her name was Kayleigh.

I’m glad Simon told Paula to shut up. She needs another distemper shot.

10. Michael Johns. “Across The Universe”. (I prefer Carly’s Irish accent, but that’s probably predictable). He totally reminds me of Michael Hutchence. The performance is not engaging me but the vocals are good. Kind of boring.

11. Kristy Lee Cook. “Eight Days A Week”. Not liking the country spin of the track at all. It doesn’t twang well, though she is nailing the vocals for what it is. Paula was on target with her comments. It reminded me of Carmen Rasmusen.

I really dislike Ryan Seacrest. I twittered the he would be hot naked if he had a gag in his mouth. I was wrong. Even that wouldn’t be hot.

Quick aside during the commercial, the Bimbo Jones remix of Yoko Ono’s “You’re The One” is actually quite fun.

12. David Archuleta. “We Can Work It Out”. Wonder boy forgot the words! He’s stressing himself out way too much. His weakest performance of the competition, still an excellent performer.