Miley!

I was listening to CKOI out of Montréal while working this morning and a new song came on that impressed me very much, especially when I realized it was Miley Cyrus singing.

I’m not a huge fan of today’s pop music, by “Midnight Sky” really caught my ear. I took a look at the video and it has an old school Madonna vibe to it.

Here’s “Midnight Sky” by Miley Cyrus.

Music.

I’ve never liked the quality of music coming from the family Spotify account. I’m not talking about the selection of tracks or the app experience (the former being good, the latter being less good), but I’ve always thought the sound quality of the music sounds way too compressed. Songs I remember having outstanding nuance in the mix (when listening on vinyl and my really good Bose headphones) sound muddy to me on Spotify. The same tracks on Apple Music sound good, sometimes remarkably so, but there’s still a warmth found on vinyl that is lacking on their digital counterparts.

I stumbled across the Tidal Music service a month or so ago. We have a Plex server that stores all of our music and videos for consumption on our various devices and an introduction to Tidal Music came along with my Plex account. I was intrigued by the service, as it advertises “Master Quality” tracks, as well as using FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) as the default file format, instead of MP3s or Apple’s AAC.

The distance is quite noticeable and enjoyable.

I use music by The Carpenters to make the comparison, usually “Superstar”, “Only Yesterday”, and “All You Get From Love Is A Love Song”. First of all, Karen Carpenter may be one of the greatest female pop vocalists of all times. Secondly, Richard Carpenter’s arrangements are very thorough and nuanced. I feel much closer to their music when listening to the Master and “HiFi” (FLAC) offerings from Tidal.

My only pause with Tidal is that it’s quite pricey. As a Plex user, Tidal is $18.99 a month, almost double what an individual user subscription costs on Spotify or Apple Music.

Earl and I talked about it and because I listen to so much music when I’m working, we were able to justify or rationalize the expense.

I’m building a nice selection of Master clock tracks in “My Collection” on Tidal and thoroughly enjoying the experience. My ears are quite pleased.

Friday.

It’s Friday, so here’s some happy music with some happy people singing and dancing.

From 1969, here’s Friends of Distinction with “Grazing In The Grass”.

All I Want.

I woke myself up in the middle of the night last night singing backup vocals on this track. This is not uncommon behavior for me, in some respects I’m happy I was still in bed and not standing naked outside thinking the balcony was some sort of stage or something.

My singing aspirations have usually centered around a group performance with me singing backups. I would love to do that once again with a group before I move on from this life, and this is one of the songs I would love to contribute to.

One of my favorite songs from the 90s, here’s Toad The Wet Sprocket with “All I Want”.

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.