Saturday, October 28, 2006

New Release: L.E.O. - Alpacas Orgling

Alpacas Orgling
I'm 10 days late on the release, but it's finally here: "Alpacas Orgling" from L.E.O. I don't have it yet, so read this cool review here:

Here a two excerpts in case you're not sure you want to click the link:
The phrase “pop collective” has been used to describe L.E.O., and it’s as good a description as any. The project came about courtesy of Bleu, the singer/songwriter probably best known to mainstream audiences for “Somebody Else,” the song of his that ended up on the soundtrack to the first “Spider-Man” movie. Serving as the album’s executive producer, Bleu pulled together a decidedly diverse crowd of performers, including Paula Kelley, Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish), Mike Viola (the Candy Butchers), John Fields (the Rembrandts), Tony Goddess (Papas Fritas), Matt Mahaffey (sELF), Jason Scheff (Chicago), Steve Gorman (the Black Crowes), and…wait for it…Hanson.

Sturmer even takes lead vocals during a brief portion of “Goodbye Innocence”…though it only lasts long enough for you to say, “Hey, you son of a bitch, it’s been thirteen years since Spilt Milk and, clearly, you still sound awesome, so where’s that fucking solo album already?” (Actually, you might not say that. But that’s totally what *I* said.)

Monday, October 23, 2006

MediaMonkey + = Awesome “Random” Play!

If you have diverse musical tastes, you might find that putting your music collection on "Random Play" can be quite jarring. It doesn't quite flow too well to have White Zombie's "Blood, Milk and Sky" followed by "Hangin' Tough" from the New Kids on the Block. But what if you were listening to some Backstreet Boys? Then flowing into some NKotB would make sense. Actually, I don't know when it ever makes sense to play some NKotB, but hey...

If I haven't already told you about MediaMonkey, you should just know that it is the best available software for managing large digital music libraries. It handles all kinds of file formats, including entire albums in an APE/CUE combo via a clever third-party script (Sorry - getting too technical already). Anyway, whether your needs are simple "I just want to see all my music in one place and listen to it" or complex "I want to carefully organize 50,000 tracks across a hundred genres and rate each track", MediaMonkey is your answer. And, shoot... it's free. You don't have to trust me on this, but you should. I've tried the rest (yes, even foobar2000 and songbird) and MM is the best. I wrote a review a while back. And here's a more recent one from another discriminating music lover.

Ok, so you've got your MediaMonkey going, now I need to tell you about is a social music site that tries to foster the building of relationships between people with like musical tastes. In the background it has an incredible database based on actual listening habits that links artists together. So if you like "Madonna", will be able to recommend a bunch of other artists that it thinks you will also like, based on what Madonna fans are actually listening to.

Now, for the purposes of this article, you do not need to register at In fact, you don't ever even need to visit the site, but I highly recommend that you become a member and "scrobble" all your songs. "Scrobbling" is when the tracks you listen to in your computer's music player automatically appear in your online profile. This is how links you to other people with similar tastes. But that's not important right now.

Today, I want to tell you about a script/plug-in for MediaMonkey that is amazing. It's called ScrobblerDJ. When you queue up songs to listen to in MM, they go into a list called "Now Playing". Normally, when the last song is played in this list, MM will stop and the party's over. With ScrobblerDJ enabled, something amazing happens when the last song in the Now Playing list starts to play. ScrobblerDJ will take a look at what artist it is that's playing and go out to to find another artist that's similar and that you might like. Then it looks to find that artist in your collection and play a song from that artist. If it can't find that artist, it will try another one and if all else fails it will grab a track off of a default playlist that you specify and the process starts over. And it keeps doing this until you tell it to stop... non-stop party of random, but related songs.

Another cool thing is that you can tell it to only play your high rated songs (if you're having a real party with real people). Or you can tell it to grab only un-rated songs (if you want to hear all new songs or you want to get some rarely heard songs rated). With my huge collection, I'm interested in hearing songs that I have not yet rated, so I fired up ScrobblerDJ using the second scenario. I started with "That Is Why" by Jellyfish. Here's what ScrobblerDJ picked out for me to hear after that:
"Our Love Was" by Splitsville
"Arienne" by Kyle Vincent
"The Party Rages On" by Zumpano (I didn't know I had this, it's from a Power Pop collection CD and is a great song! Thanks ScrobblerDJ)
"I Love You Better" by David Grahame (again, something I didn't know, from a different Power Pop collection CD... and also a really good song)
Then, I think it got stuck finding something, so it grabbed something from my default playlist. I told it to use a playlist that is randomly generated grabbing only top-rated songs from select genres (no audiobooks, classical music, spoken word, etc). I forgot what it grabbed, but somehow I ended up getting into a series of songs that consisted of R&B from the '80s and then that drifted into the '90s.

After a bit I stopped it and reset it using a favorite song, "Blackest Eyes" by Porcupine Tree. From there, I heard some Magellan, then Fates Warning doing a cover of "Closer to the Heart", then some Virgin Steele.

If you have a large collection, this will really be a fun way to experience your music. You can read about the plug-in here. Or just download the install package from here.

Note: You need to make sure that MM's built in AutoDJ and Random features are turned off.

Let me know if you need any help with installation or use.

Friday, October 13, 2006

All Hail The Tree

Ok, I know it ain't cool that the last time I posted anything was a month ago about the last concert I went to. We're in a real busy time at work right now... and then, you know, some new TV started up.

Anyway, Rich and I saw Porcupine Tree with special guests The Tony Levin Band on Wednesday night at the House of Blues in Hollywood. To say the least it was amazing! It was a real treat to see Levin. If I heard his intro correctly, three of the five guys up there were part of Peter Gabriel's first solo band. The real highlight of their set was a cover of "Back in NYC" (the 2nd or 3rd best song from Genesis' "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway" depending on how much you like the title track). That song has never sounded so huge and epic as it did here.

Porcupine Tree was doing something really cool. The first half of the concert was all new material, not yet recorded. And... wow. The 12-minute song referred to by singer Steve Wilson as "The Beast" (a nickname given to it on the band's web forum) was unbelievable! I can't wait for the new album slated for next spring. The second half of the show was filled with familiar material, mostly from the last two studio albums (and one or two older cuts). There was none of the showmanship and theatrics that I described in the previous post about Butch Walker. These guys were all about just playing the music and playing it well. That's not to say that Wilson is lifeless on stage. He's engaging enough. The band's stage presence is not lacking at all with music this good.

If you haven't heard Porcupine Tree yet or you're on the fence about them, I really encourage you to give them a fair listen. Try their 2002 album "In Absentia", one of the greatest albums in all of rock history. Seriously.

In Absentia