Friday, December 14, 2007

My name is Bruce : trailer !!

Ah Yeah!! I can't wait to see this one! Update: The trailer got pulled off of YouTube, but you can see it here.

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: My name is Bruce : trailer !!Add To Yahoo

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why We Fight

An excellent explanation of some of the issues at stake in the WGA strike. Let's support our fellow creatives!

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Why We FightAdd To Yahoo

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Guess I Picked a Good Year to Not Get Cable!

I panicked when the Fall TV season started and I still didn't have cable. However, I kept dragging my feet for some reason. Now that the writer's strike is happening (on Monday) I guess there's no reason to rush. Early 2008 is probably going to be a sad time for TV watchers!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Guess I Picked a Good Year to Not Get Cable!Add To Yahoo

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I'm in Geek Heaven!

I've heard some exiting news in the last several days! First, I heard that Joss Whedon has unexpectedly decided to return to television. He is developing a new series starring Eliza Dushku, called "Dollhouse." There's been all kinds of buzz about this, and another rabid Whedon fan has already created this website, which has quite a bit of info.

The second bit of exciting and surprising news: X-Files 2 is coming out next year! Chris Carter is directing, and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are both in it!! If the rumor I've heard is correct, we may see it in theaters next July.

There's not much more I can say - I'm too overwhelmed with joy. Since some of my geek wishes have been granted, if anyone is listening, here is what will make my life complete:
1. The Star Trek remake doesn't suck
2. "Fray" gets made into a movie
3. Marvel does an "Avengers" movie and DC does a "Green Lantern" movie (no cartoons, though, they should both be live action.)
4. Bruce Campbell does "Bubba Ho-Tep 2," and "They Call Me Bruce" actually gets a theatrical release!

These are a few of my favorite things!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: I'm in Geek Heaven!Add To Yahoo

Saturday, October 20, 2007

On Artistic Expression, Part 2: Pitch

Let me begin this post with a potentially controversial statement: Pitch is an artificial construct, foisted upon us by our culture. Why is this controversial? Perhaps because people such as myself have spent many years and dollars studying a discipline that is centered around the concept of playing or singing in tune, matching the pitches perfectly. Then, we turn around and teach the next generation the same concepts.

Now, technically, pitch is actually the number of cycles per second a sound wave travels through the air, so in that sense, perhaps we wouldn't call it an artificial construct. I am referring instead to our perception of pitch within our western scale -- you know, the one that starts with A and ends with G#?

Of course, the greatest evidence for this hypothesis is the fact that, in some eastern cultures, there are more scale tones to the octave. These are quite foreign to our ears, and usually sound "out of tune." However, to those brought up in that culture, they sound perfectly normal.

In many indie rock styles, it is actually considered inauthentic to sing or play too much in tune. This is most likely rooted in the punk aesthetic. There are also many R&B singers who tend to sing consistently out of tune. In recent years, R&B and rap artists have incorporated non-western sounds into their music. I believe this has contributed to this phenomenon. Popular music was born from a fusion of western and non-western sounds, which may partly explain why pop musicians have never been overly concerned with singing in tune.

I have come to the point in my life where I no longer consider singing or playing out of tune a bad thing. If someone has an interesting sound, but isn't quite in tune, it doesn't bother me. I also no longer consider that solely a reflection of someone's musical ability. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for the listener,) I cannot divorce myself of the obsession with being in tune. Perhaps that will come in time.

Comments, please!

Powered by ScribeFire.

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: On Artistic Expression, Part 2: PitchAdd To Yahoo

On Artistic Expression, part 1

Reading David Thomas' blog post the other day reminded me of some questions I have wrestled with for many years:

  1. Can "Art" exist in a vacuum?
  2. Is a work of art required to appeal to an audience, even if it is only a small one?
  3. Is the artist who is creating solely for their own enjoyment really creating art?

Years ago, my answers to these questions would have been no, yes, and no. However, I'm not sure my motives were pure. At the time, I was trying to be a "rock star," and I was always quick to defend my conscious decision to write "hooks." I also think that deep down inside, I really felt like I was selling out, so I was very defensive.

If you will pardon the pun, I have changed my tune these days. If I am creating purely for my own enjoyment, I still have an audience. It doesn't matter that the artist and the audience are one and the same. An audience of one is still an audience. Furthermore, some art may appeal to a large audience while other art may appeal to only a small, select audience. This does not diminish the artistic quality of either work. Of course, this leads us back to the art vs. commerce debate, but you may refer to my earlier post on the subject.

Please comment - I really want to hear your opinions!

Powered by ScribeFire.

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: On Artistic Expression, part 1Add To Yahoo

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

David Thomas of Pere Ubu discusses MySpace

In his blog post "On The Subject of MySpace" David Thomas brings up some interesting points about being an independent musician outside the mainstream. He also sheds some light on the history of Pere Ubu itself!

BTW, if you have never heard Pere Ubu, you should start with "Dub Housing" and "The Modern Dance," then pick up their latest, "Why I Hate Women." After that, you will want every other album they ever made, and you should! Warning: do not listen to them if you are not prepared to be challenged!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: David Thomas of Pere Ubu discusses MySpaceAdd To Yahoo

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Shock Doctrine by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein

This interesting short doc was made by the director of "Children of Men."

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: The Shock Doctrine by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi KleinAdd To Yahoo

Friday, October 12, 2007

Bad News For The Record Industry

This has been a noteworthy week for the future of the music business. It began when Radiohead released their latest album, "In Rainbows," as a "pay-what-you-wish" digital download. The catch, of course, is that they are no longer affiliated with a record label. Rumor has it they had more than 1 million downloads, and took in a fairly good profit as well!

The same day, rumors surfaced that Oasis and Jamiroquai were considering a similar move.

Now, it looks like Madonna might be thinking about jumping ship from Warner to sign a record/touring/merchandise deal with concert promoter Live Nation, a company which has never been in the record business prior to this.

Of course, the labels have been watching all of this like hawks, as evidenced by this leaked memo from EMI Records.

Things aren't looking so good for our friends at the record labels. Of course, it's tough to feel sorry for them when they are spending their time suing Native American single mothers who make $36,000 a year!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Bad News For The Record IndustryAdd To Yahoo

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

R.I.P. Joe Zawinul

Legendary jazz keyboardist and composer Joe Zawinul died this morning in Vienna after a battle with cancer. Zawinul was a member of Miles Davis' groundbreaking fusion ensemble, then he and Wayne Shorter left and formed the equally groundbreaking band Weather Report.

I don't know about you, but I will be listening to "Bitches Brew" and "Heavy Weather" this morning to mourn his passing.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: R.I.P. Joe ZawinulAdd To Yahoo

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

R.I.P. Hilly Kristal

He was not a musician, nor was he very young, but Hilly Kristal was an pivotal figure in the punk rock revolution of the 1970's. Kristal, founder and proprietor of the legendary punk club CBGB's, passed away Tuesday after a battle with lung cancer.

Kristal also recently engaged in an ultimately unsuccessful battle to keep his club open after 33 years. Two years ago, after fighting eviction for several years, a number of artists staged benefit concerts to raise money. This kept the club open for another year, but it finally closed down last October.

When Kristal opened the club in 1973, he planned to host country and bluegrass acts. As legend has it, the group Television, then fronted by Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell, convinced him that they were a country band and that he should give them a steady gig there. He soon realized that this new style of rock would bring crowds to the club, and gave up on country and bluegrass.

In addition to Television, The Ramones, The Talking Heads, Blondie, Patti Smith, and a number of other bands got their start at CBGB's. It became a mecca for punk, post-punk, and alternative rock over the years. While it's Bowery location ensured it would never become a mainstream rock club, it remained legendary long after it's heyday.

Kristal was 75.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: R.I.P. Hilly KristalAdd To Yahoo

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A life of Smooth Jazz - Is it a choice?

A friend of mine sent me this link. I cannot say anything that will do it justice -- you just have to read it yourself!

No One Sets Out To Be A Smooth Jazz Musician
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: A life of Smooth Jazz - Is it a choice?Add To Yahoo

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Loudness War

There's not much I can say about this. The video says it all.

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: The Loudness WarAdd To Yahoo

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I've been in the process of moving to Boston, so I haven't updated in a few weeks. I should be back at it in another week.
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: MovingAdd To Yahoo

Monday, May 28, 2007

Another indie band "sticking it to the man!"

I'm talking about Common Rotation. I only found out about these guys because one of the band members, Adam Busch, is an actor who had a recurring role on Buffy. The band is making an effort to completely sidestep the traditional music industry and all it's trappings. They have been releasing their own recordings since 1999. On their last tour, dubbed the "Living Room Tour," they played acoustic house concerts, for donations only. Their new website features the "Union Maid," where they offer a free download, either an audio clip or a video clip of a new song, every day. They even wrote a protest song about Clear Channel!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Another indie band "sticking it to the man!"Add To Yahoo

Friday, May 11, 2007

Grrr....Arrrgh part 2

Well, I saw Spiderman 3 tonight. Then, in order to blot out the memory of what may well be the worst superhero movie ever made, and to remind myself that Sam Raimi has made some movies that I like, I stayed up an extra couple of hours and watched Army of Darkness.

Getting back to Spiderman 3, though: The last time I walked out of a sequel of a movie I loved shaking my head in stunned disbelief was Escape From L.A. I think my disbelief and disappointment was even greater this time! 'Nuff Said!!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Grrr....Arrrgh part 2Add To Yahoo

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hi, I'm a Marvel...and I'm a DC. (Mac PC Parody) #1

I'm definitely a Marvel....How about you?

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Hi, I'm a Marvel...and I'm a DC. (Mac PC Parody) #1Add To Yahoo

Sunday, May 06, 2007


My so-called life (actually, my job, if you want to get technical about it) has kept me so busy that I haven't been able to update my blog lately. More importantly, it has kept me from seeing Spiderman 3 and, most importantly, buying Buffy Season 8 issue #3. Grrr....Arrrgh indeed! I hope at least some of you have been able to enjoy these simple pleasures of life...but please don't post any spoilers!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Grrr....Arrrgh!Add To Yahoo

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Show And Tell

A new video from my friend Ben Makinen, showcasing his amazing one-handed mallet prowess!!

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Show And TellAdd To Yahoo

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Alanis Morissette "My Humps"

Thanks to my friend Jeff, who also theorized that this might be Alanis' commentary on the type of music that is winning Grammies these days!

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Alanis Morissette "My Humps"Add To Yahoo

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is Indie Rock Taking Over?

Well, maybe it's not taking over yet, but it is certainly gaining a foothold. A perusal of this week's Billboard Charts will tell you, for instance, that Arcade Fire's "Neon Bible," number one on the Independent Album chart, is number 18 on the Top 200 Album chart, and number 3 on the Top Digital Album chart. There are a few others as well. There is also quite a stir among the experts, who all see the signs and predict that it will continue to grow (see this article by Steven Van Zandt, for instance.)

Does this mean that people are beginning to pay for music that is more "artistic" and less commercially accessible? Eschewing "hooks" for musical integrity? Looks like it to me. Maybe you don't have to be "hungry" to create art after all. What do you think?
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Is Indie Rock Taking Over?Add To Yahoo

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

R.I.P. Captain America

An American comic book institution is gone: Shocking Event for Captain America

(Warning: Spoiler)
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: R.I.P. Captain AmericaAdd To Yahoo

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Another interesting indie business model

Amie Street, an online music store that started up last summer, has developed an innovative business model. All music is offered as DRM-free mp3's. The songs are available for free at first, then as more users download them, the price begins to increase, until it reaches the maximum of $.98 per song. Of course, what this means is that more popular songs will be more expensive. The store takes 30%, giving 70% to the artist or label.

Nettwerk Music Group just signed a deal with the service, so there are some major players involved. The new Barenaked Ladies album was just released there yesterday, so the site is starting to get some press as well.
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Another interesting indie business modelAdd To Yahoo

Monday, February 26, 2007

Countdown to "The Year Zero" Continues!

Another new Nine Inch Nails website has been revealed:

Also, a fourth track has been "leaked," and it's called "In This Twilight" (you can download all four at

If you're not sure what I'm talking about, you might want to read my earlier post regarding the upcoming Nine Inch Nails album!

There is also an article about all of the websites on

And, what I believe is probably the website for the album itself (, and some random graphic at, complete with a short video clip.
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Countdown to "The Year Zero" Continues!Add To Yahoo

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The RIAA Goes After Another Batch of Students

The RIAA has reportedly sent out infringement notices to around 15,000 college students recently. This marks an increase in these notices from last year. The 25 schools involved include Ohio, Purdue, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Tennessee, University of South Carolina, Michigan State, and University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

I am conflicted on this issue. As a songwriter, I don't like the idea of people stealing artist's intellectual property. However, I think the record industry has brought this on themselves with their evil, greed-based practices. I think I would feel better about these lawsuits if I thought the artists and songwriters would actually see a dime from them, but we know they won't.

On the other hand, I often hear file-sharers justify what they are doing using a similar argument: "the artists don't get any of that money anyway!" If this is truly why you are stealing music, then for every track you have stolen, you should send some money directly to the artists and the songwriters!

Links for further info:
Yahoo - AP: Recording Industry Targets Colleges
Digital Music News - RIAA Steps Up University Anti-Piracy Campaign
Hypebot - The RIAA Smack Down Of 15,000 College Students
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: The RIAA Goes After Another Batch of StudentsAdd To Yahoo

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

First Album Recorded on an iPod

Yes, you heard me correctly! Folk artist Jimmy Camp recorded a 10-song CD using only an iPod, with no overdubs. It's sort of a one-man band type of recording, with acoustic guitar, harmonica, vocals, and a few percussion instruments. He recorded it using a live mixer, a couple of SM58's, and one of those $70 Belkin adapters on his iPod.

Here's someone using modern technology (albeit very lo-fi) to record an album like they used to do in the early analog days. You can listen to the tracks and even see a brief documentary on the process at his website:
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: First Album Recorded on an iPodAdd To Yahoo

Monday, February 19, 2007

Stan Lee Strikes Again!

Did anyone else notice the cameo appearance by (Marvel Comics legend) Stan Lee in tonight's episode of "Heroes?"
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Stan Lee Strikes Again!Add To Yahoo

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Worldwide Listening Party

An online, worldwide listening party will be held Feb. 15 for the new album by the band Air, entitled "Pocket Symphony." All you have to do is sign up for their mailing list. Go to
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Worldwide Listening PartyAdd To Yahoo

Attention Fellow Nine Inch Nails Fans

Regarding the upcoming Nine Inch Nails concept album, the following websites have been discovered by fans, following a clue found on the back of a tour t-shirt:

Finally, here's a link to a discussion thread that ties some of it together:

Update: Three "linked tracks" can be found here:
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Attention Fellow Nine Inch Nails FansAdd To Yahoo

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

More Bad News for Analog Fans

Quantegy recently officially announced that it is discontinuing what looks like almost it's entire line of magnetic tape products. This includes analog reel-to-reel tape, as well as digital audio tapes and video tapes. They will be taking orders through the end of February, so you might want to stock up if you use these products!

This has been a long time coming. In spring of 2005, the company almost had to shut down, but was bought out at the last minute. However, it was obviously only a brief reprieve. Quantegy has been the only company still manufacturing reel-to-reel analog tape for at least a few years. However, ATR Magnetics has promised to pick up the ball, although they have not officially released any tape products as yet.

Still, you might want to stock up on Quantegy tapes, just to be safe!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: More Bad News for Analog FansAdd To Yahoo

Monday, February 12, 2007

A More Important Awards Show

While those of us not living in New York City had to settle for watching the Grammys on TV, a far more important show was happening in New York City. It was not televised, so you wouldn't be able to see it unless you lived there. I'm talking about the Plug Independent Music Awards.

Plug is entirely devoted to independent music, and one could safely call it the polar opposite of the Grammys! I especially like this quote from the website:"PLUG is about the artists who inspire and the music that disrupts the artistic and corporate mediocrity that dominates our culture."

If you're interested, you can see this year's winners listed on the website, and support them by buying their music. You can also vote for your favorite artists next November, and have a say in who wins next year!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: A More Important Awards ShowAdd To Yahoo

Sunday, February 11, 2007


OK, so we all know it's lame...It's an inbred popularity contest, and many of the nominations inspire a "Wha...?" from musically educated people. However, just like an roadside accident you can't look away from, I always have to watch the Grammys. Every year, without fail, there are great moments, and there are cringe-inducing moments.

Here are some of my favorite great moments:
  • The Police!! (Need I say more?)
  • Corinne Bailey Rae, John Legend, and John Mayer performing together!
  • Classy survivor Mary J. Blige getting some recognition!
  • Jazz legend Ornette Coleman honored with a lifetime achievement award, and actually allowed to appear on the program. I was laughing at how many idiots in the audience had no clue who he was!
  • Lifetime achievement awards for the Doors, the Grateful Dead, and Booker T and The MG's. Shouldn't they have been honored many years ago?
  • Realizing that Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks is married to Adrian Pasdar, who plays Nathan Petrelli in my favorite TV show "Heroes."
  • I especially loved the Grammy in the Schools segment, having been involved in that program in the past. It's too bad that the message often falls on deaf ears! The arts will never be a priority in our schools!
  • On a personal note: seeing my old friend and one-time "Fish This Big" bandmate Brendan Buckley (very vaguely on the edge of the screen) playing drums for Shakira.

Now for just a few of the "Cringe-Inducers":
  • James Blunt...I'm glad he didn't win anything
  • Rascall Flats butchering the Eagles! The guitar player messed up twice during the "Hotel California" solo. You can't play such a recognized solo and make a mistake!
  • The ridiculous attempt to seem relevant by staging an "American Idol" type of contest, where the winner gets to perform onstage with Justin Timberlake. Who cares?
  • Justin Timberlake

Of course, there are always a few tearjerkers, especially when they remind you of who we lost in the last year. Is it me, or did we lose quite a few important ones this year? I still can't believe JB is gone, as well as Syd Barrett and Arthur Lee!

It always seems like only about 50% of the music nominated is actually cutting-edge or even remotely relevant, and I'm probably being generous with that number. Next year is the 50th Grammy Award Ceremony. Perhaps to mark the occasion they will actually try to get somewhere near 70%!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: GrammysAdd To Yahoo

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing UsAdd To Yahoo

Thursday, February 08, 2007

What Are Your Non-Musical Influences?

I just finished watching a documentary on the SciFi channel called "The Sci Fi Boys." It brought back quite a few memories. I had forgotten how, as a boy who was an avid scifi and horror fan, some of these people seemed like rock stars to me. Names like Forrest J. Ackerman, Ray Harryhausen, George Pal, Ray Bradbury, and Robert Heinlein seemed like household names to me, while most of my classmates did not know who these people were at all. I, however, was an avid reader of "Forry" Ackerman's magazine "Famous Monsters of Filmland." "Jason and the Argonauts" and "The Time Machine" were probably my two favorite movies as a kid. By the time I was in high school, I had read most of Ray Bradbury's books, and I did indeed read every book ever written by Robert Heinlein!

The documentary was, of course, about how the early directors, writers, animators, makeup/effects artists, and one magazine publisher influenced the next generation of scifi/horror filmmakers. Interestingly, though, these people were also an influence on me, and I did not go into the film business. Of course, if I think about it, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, John Romita, Frank Miller, and many other Marvel Comics writers and artists from the 1960's-1980's held rock-star-like status for me, but I never went into the comic business. I chose to go into music. And yet, comics, scifi and horror were a big part of my life, so they must have had an influence on my later work, even though I went into a different creative field.

When you read an interview of a band, artist, or songwriter, they are usually asked about their musical influences. Just last night in my singer/songwriter class, I asked several songwriters who they listened to. However, you rarely hear musicians asked about what they read, what kind of movies they watch, or who their favorite (visual) artists are. So, I would like to ask any of my blog readers who are musicians right now: What are your non-musical influences? I want to hear from you!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: What Are Your Non-Musical Influences?Add To Yahoo

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

It's All About The Hype

This has annoyed me for many years, but I seem to get more and more annoyed by it as I grow older. You know the type of person I am talking about - the person who exaggerates or just plain lies about their accomplishments just to make themselves look better. We get more than our fair share of these in the music biz, but you can find them almost everywhere, even in academia. For now, we will call these people "Hypesters" (I would have used "hyper," but it's already taken.)

Conventional wisdom tells those of us who do not possess this skill that the Hypesters will eventually "get theirs." However, there are usually enough gullible people who believe the hype, and the Hypesters can often con them into almost anything. Interestingly enough, some Hypesters are very shrewd, choosing lies that will be difficult to verify, while some are not very intelligent about their subterfuge at all. Shrewd or not, many of them get away with it for years, if not their entire lives.

Often, Hypesters have a knack for finding people with alot more talent and alot less self-confidence than themselves. We will call them "Einsteins." Hypesters are usually able to somehow manipulate Einsteins into being their unwitting slaves. As a result, the Hypester will often rise to even greater heights of glory, while the Einstein must hide in the shadows.

Let's face it, we are surrounded by many Hypesters who are wildly successful. It seems like far fewer Einsteins are able to achieve that kind of success. In fact, we are usually very gratified to see a true Einstein achieve success, because we know it was well-earned!

So, would you rather be a Hypester or an Einstein?
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: It's All About The HypeAdd To Yahoo

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Record Label Consolidation

Check out this short opinion piece in O'Reilly Digital Media regarding record label consolidation. In the immortal words of my friend Dr. Kwon: "this is what I'm saying!"
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Record Label ConsolidationAdd To Yahoo

Yet Another Hilarious Video!

This one featuring William Shatner is cringe-inducing, but keep watching it, because it gets funnier and funnier! I can't believe I never saw this before!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Yet Another Hilarious Video!Add To Yahoo

Friday, January 26, 2007

New Free Soundhack Plugins!

Many of my friends and students have heard me rave about Soundhack for years. Well, they just released a free cross-platform bundle of 5 plugins, in VST/RTAS/AU formats. The plugins include a compressor/expander, several noise/distortion plugins, a mid-side encoder/decoder, and a "phasescope." Did I mention they are free? You can get them right here!

You can also download the Soundhack program for free, but it only runs on a Mac. If you are a Mac user, as well as an audio geek, you must download this app! The UI is text-based, and manipulating sounds is often a trial-and-error process, but it's well worth it. I created many of the sounds I used in my electronic project using Soundhack!

You might even want to check out their "Spectral Shapers" plugins. They cost money, but you can use it in demo mode for 14 days. I haven't tried it, but it looks like it does some of the things Soundhack does, but with an easier-to-use interface, and the ability to use it within your host DAW! There is an endorsement by Trent Reznor on the website, so that's good enough for me!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: New Free Soundhack Plugins!Add To Yahoo

Merlin is Already Flexing it's Muscles!

The brand-spanking-new coalition of independent record labels, "Merlin," has drawn a line in the sand. During the last week, they have been negotiating with YouTube to improve payments to indie labels. However, talks have reportedly broken down, and member labels are preparing to go to court!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Merlin is Already Flexing it's Muscles!Add To Yahoo

Starbucks Will Soon Offer mp3 Downloads

I knew it was only a matter of time before someone decided to do this. Sometime in 2007, Starbucks will offer the ability to purchase and download tracks to your mp3 player. One more toll of the death knell for the CD?
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Starbucks Will Soon Offer mp3 DownloadsAdd To Yahoo

Mythbusters Spoof - Time Travel

Great Scott! Darth Vader will come from the planet Vulcan and melt your brain if you don't watch this video!

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Mythbusters Spoof - Time TravelAdd To Yahoo

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Is "Smallville" Running Out Of Original Ideas?

If you saw tonight's episode, and were also familiar with "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" Season 6, Episode 17, entitled "Normal Again," you might think so! Maybe it's just me, but the plots are strikingly similar!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Is "Smallville" Running Out Of Original Ideas?Add To Yahoo

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

DAW Wars

Recently, I have heard quite a bit of debate and questions concerning DAW's (Digital Audio Workstations.) Of course, this debate has been going on for many years, as long as there have been DAW's. The most common question I have heard is: Which software/hardware combination should I buy? Of course, the contenders are Pro Tools, Cubase/Nuendo, Sonar, Logic Audio, and Digital Performer. Pro Tools has proprietary hardware, while the other platforms will work with a variety of hardware interfaces.

I'm going to weigh in on this, and I think I may end up surprising some people. I couldn't say this a few years ago, but today I can safely state that they are all the same! OK, so they aren't exactly the same, but each application has a similar set of features. Some are stronger in certain areas, of course. For instance, Cubase and Logic have superior MIDI features to Pro Tools, although Pro Tools has been catching up in recent years. In addition, each program has a slightly different user interface. However, by and large, all of these applications are strong contenders, capable of allowing the user to produce professional-quality recordings.

Here are a few things to think about when considering purchasing a DAW:
  1. Portability - i.e., will you be taking your projects to other studios at times? If so, you should use the most compatible DAW. According to the word on the street, most professional studios still use Pro Tools, but Sonar, Cubase and even Logic have a significant piece of the market.
  2. Operating System - If you use a Mac, you can't use Sonar, and Windows users can't use Logic or Digital Performer. I am also of the opinion that Pro Tools and Digital Performer will be more intuitive to longtime Mac users, whereas Cubase and Sonar might feel more comfortable to Windows users.
  3. What are you recording? If you are using mostly MIDI, you might prefer Cubase, Logic or Digital Performer. If you are recording live instruments and don't use MIDI, Pro Tools, Sonar or Nuendo might be more appealing.
  4. Budget - This is where I believe Pro Tools suffers. Their low-budget options are severely limited, in terms of track counts, features, and plug-ins, especially when compared to all of the other programs I've mentioned. There is also a significant price jump when migrating from the "consumer" Pro Tools platform to the "pro" versions. This is largely due to the proprietary hardware requirements.
  5. Stick with what you are used to - A friend was recently considering switching from Sonar on Windows to Pro Tools on the Mac, largely because a music store employee told him he needed to. After he described his system to me, it was clear to me that he could do everything he needed to do with his current system. He had never really used Pro Tools anyway, and he felt very comfortable with Sonar, so there was no need to switch.
I really believe item number 5 is probably the most important. I recently bought my own home DAW system, since I will be leaving my job soon and will no longer have access to the studio facilities. I briefly considered switching to Logic Audio, because I was impressed by the feature set, and felt like I would get a better "bang for my buck!" However, I have been using Pro Tools for more than 10 years, and it just doesn't make sense for me to switch at this time.

The first Pro Tools system I worked on was a TDM Mix system with a maximum track count of 24 mono tracks and only the basic Digidesign plug-ins, and I was still able to produce some great recordings. I can certainly make do with 48 stereo tracks, numerous plug-ins, and sample rates up to 96k!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: DAW WarsAdd To Yahoo

Monday, January 22, 2007

Indie Labels Strike Another Blow for Freedom!

OK, so the headline is a little over-the-top! At the 2007 MIDEM Conference in Europe, an exciting announcement was made this past weekend. A group of independent record labels are joining together to form a new coalition, which some have dubbed a "virtual fifth major" (as in "major label.")

The organization, called "Merlin," will give indies more clout in negotiating digital distribution deals. It is unclear what other tasks the organization will perform, or whether it will be open to all indie labels and artists. As yet, they have no staff, nor do they even have a website, and the details are a bit sketchy. However, I am optimistic that this is another step towards breaking the stranglehold the major labels have enjoyed on the music market all these years!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Indie Labels Strike Another Blow for Freedom!Add To Yahoo

Sunday, January 21, 2007


Apparently, Rage Against The Machine is reuniting for a single gig at the Coachella Festival in April! Has it really been 7 years since they broke up? That's one band I would love to see reunited permanently...Good enough reason to travel to California this spring!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Yes!Add To Yahoo

File Under: People Unclear On The Concept

So, I get this bulletin on MySpace from one of my "friends" who is involved with an organization that I have some ties to. In the past, I have been active in promoting the organization, and one of my best friends is in charge. This guy works with my friend, but I don't really know him very well.

Anyway, this myspace "friend" says in his bulletin that he is creating a new profile page for the organization. He says he wants to use it to "promote" the organization and promote all the individuals involved with said organization. It is important to know that he uses the word "promote" twice in the bulletin. My first thought is always to find ways to help these guys out, because of my friend. So, I'm thinking, "I'd better add them as a friend and put them on my top friends list. That should help 'promote' their organization."

I send an "add friend" request, and promptly forget about it. A short time later, I get this condescending little message from the guy:

"Thanks for requesting the add. Right now we want to keep this page all (members of the organization.) Glad to have you on my personal page, though."

Now, maybe I've got it all wrong, but I've always understood that the best way to "promote" something on MySpace is to get as many friends as possible. If you try to keep your page exclusive, it is going to be ineffective as a promotional tool. If you want to have your own little exclusive clique, create a myspace group, and make that exclusive.

This gentleman obviously doesn't really understand the true intent of myspace. I also wonder if he assumes that if he only allows organization members to do an "add" request first, they will appear first on the "friends" list. In other words, maybe he thinks people appear on the "friends" list in the order they are added. This is incorrect. In fact, myspace lists people in chronological order according to the date they first created their profile. So, keeping your profile exclusive for a while, then adding outside friends, is useless.

So, what can we learn from this about using myspace (or any social networking site) as a promotional tool?
  1. If you're trying to "promote" something, you cannot really restrict your friends list. If you want to have an exclusive, elite clique, creat a closed myspace group.
  2. If you decide not to honor an "add" request, don't send people a condescending note and make them feel bad, just deny their request. Chances are, they won't even notice anyway, especially if they have over 600 friends.
  3. If you send out a general bulletin, asking your friends to add the new profile you've created, you should probably be specific if you don't intend everyone on your friends list to do so.
  4. Do not, under any circumstances, include in your condescending note, a phrase like "Glad to have you on my personal page, though," as if they are lucky to have you as a friend. Chances are, they have plenty of friends already, and it's no skin off their nose!
OK, so those last three are really about MySpace etiquette in general. Here endeth the lesson!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: File Under: People Unclear On The ConceptAdd To Yahoo

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Oxymoron Of The Day

I saw this headline in a Craigslist musicians-wanted posting: "All Original Arena Rock 80s Band." Need I say more?
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Oxymoron Of The DayAdd To Yahoo


Less that two hours after my last post on a similar subject, this article comes up on one of my news feeds: Indies aim to grab share of online sales. Read it and rejoice!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Amazing!Add To Yahoo

Here I Go Again...

I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I've got to talk about my favorite topic again! If I had a do-over, I would have been born 20 years later, so I could be coming out of college right now. The opportunities available to emerging artists right now are far beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

When I was in original bands, and we were trying to make it, there was only one goal: getting signed to a major label. When that didn't happen, the band broke up and everyone went their separate ways.

Today, there is a much smaller chance that an artist will ever be signed to a major label. On the other hand, there is absolutely no need now to ever be signed to a major label. A band or artist can have an extremely rewarding career and make a good living without ever setting foot in the halls of Sony or Universal.

This is an exciting time to be a creative person! You no longer have to be preyed upon by record industry sharks, greedy entertainment lawyers, or big-money "managers." You can have more control over your own career, and make your own money, rather than make money for some giant multi-national conglomerate!

If you have the business chops, of course you can start your own record label, or you can sign with one of the many excellent indie labels out there. You have to be a bit careful, but there are indie labels out there who give their acts complete artistic freedom, and share profits in a much more equitable fashion. Sure, they don't have the huge marketing machines the majors have, but you can't really get that marketing machine unless you're a huge star anyway. That just means the artist has to work a little bit harder to promote themselves, which is the way the record industry used to work anyway!

Many indies have returned to some of the old ideas that drove the best record labels in the '60's and early '70's: Long-term artist development, the label as a "family" rather than just a big business, releasing a quality album rather than two hits and 8 filler songs, etc.

It's probably too late for me to take advantage of this emerging new system as an artist. However, I can help other young artists reach their full potential in this artist-friendly environment. In fact, that is exactly what I plan to devote the next phase of my life to! More on that later....
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Here I Go Again...Add To Yahoo

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Will Record Stores Live On?

I have been concerned about the fate of "mom & pop" record stores lately, especially since Tower Records, one of the few decent retail chains, closed down. However, the folks at Hypebot seem to have some evidence that there is hope! While sales in the overall industry were down 5% last year, some independent stores and even some smaller chains actually saw an increase in sales. This is great news for a music geek like me!

Ever since I began buying records in the 1970's, record stores have played a significant part in my musical education. I have often purchased some of the gems of my record collection after hearing them played by a savvy record store employee. Given the sorry state of commercial radio these days, a good record store is probably the best place outside of the internet to hear new music!

So, next time you wish to purchase a physical product such as a CD or DVD, don't just mindlessly head to Wal-mart, Best Buy, Borders or Barnes & Noble, and please don't order it online. Instead, patronize establishments such as Vintage Vinyl or Euclid Records in St. Louis, Newbury Comics in Massachusetts, or (my personal favorite) Waxtrax in downtown Denver. Listen to what the employees are playing in the store, and maybe even ask them what new releases they might recommend. Chances are, you'll discover something new every time!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Will Record Stores Live On?Add To Yahoo

R.I.P. Alice Coltrane

Alice Coltrane, widow of jazz great John Coltrane and a fine musician in her own right, died Friday January 12 in Los Angeles. A pianist who later took up the harp as well, she played in her husband's band during his last several years of life. She then embarked on a solo career, often fusing jazz with elements of Eastern music. After recording and performing throughout most of the 1970's, she devoted herself largely to spiritual pursuits, and only produced one additional commercially-released album in 2004. She was 69.
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: R.I.P. Alice ColtraneAdd To Yahoo

Saturday, January 13, 2007

R.I.P. Michael Brecker

Jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker died today in New York City, after a lengthy battle with MDS. For at least the last 8 months, he had been looking for bone marrow donors, and had undergone some experimental treatments, all to no avail. He was 57 years old. He will be missed.
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: R.I.P. Michael BreckerAdd To Yahoo

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I Called It!

I can't believe it, but it looks like one of my predictions is already coming true (sort of.) Due to the new chart rules in the UK (see my earlier post about this,) an unsigned band is about to break into the top 40!

OK, so it's in the UK, but that sort of counts, doesn't it? My prediction said "Billboard Top 100," but the UK top 40 would be just as good, wouldn't it? Oh well, I still think it's exciting news!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: I Called It!Add To Yahoo

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Another exciting development for indies

The UK recently changed their rules regarding how downloads can be counted in the charts. It has already benefitted the indie band Snow Patrol! We're getting closer to freedom, folks!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Another exciting development for indiesAdd To Yahoo

Thursday, January 04, 2007

My 2007 Predictions

I decided to jump on the bandwagon and offer my own predictions for the coming year. Some of these are probably more wishful thinking than predictions. Here they are, in no particular order:
  • We will see at least one more merger of two of the remaining four major record labels.
  • Several major artists will sue the RIAA for a cut of the action from all the lawsuits they have been engaging in.
  • Digidesign will finally realize that the track limits on LE systems are hurting their business, and they will remove them.
  • Digidesign will also finally add MIDI notation editing to Pro Tools, due to their recent aquisition of Sibelius.
  • Several unsigned artists will break into the Billboard Top 100 (I'm not even sure this is possible yet, but if it is, it will happen this year.)
  • Movies will be even worse than they were in 2006.
  • Reality TV shows will begin to decline in popularity, because they have run out of ideas.
  • The Police reunion tour will happen, but get cancelled halfway through when Sting and Stewart Copeland get in a huge fight and they both quit.
  • Millions (okay, maybe thousands) of Windows users will switch to the Mac.
  • The music industry will begin moving away from DRM, finally realizing that it doesn't really work. Amazon's upcoming DRM-free digital download service will be a big hit! However, iTunes either won't remove their DRM implementation, or they will do it too late, and they will lose a significant market share. iPod Sales will not suffer as a result, however.
  • Nine Inch Nails will release a new studio album, only two years after their last one, finally breaking their pattern of a new album every 5 years (ok, I actually know for a fact this will happen, so I suppose it's cheating.)
That's all I can think of for now. If you have any predictions, feel free to comment!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: My 2007 PredictionsAdd To Yahoo

Joan Jett (Short Film)

This is an interesting video. Joan Jett was DIY long before it was fashionable!

Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Joan Jett (Short Film)Add To Yahoo

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Let's hope that in 2007, we will continue to see artists and bands gaining control over their own careers. As the major record labels sales figures continue to shrink, and they continue to grasp at straws by suing children and the elderly, new distribution channels, what some are now calling Music 2.0, and the indie scene in general continue to grow. I think 2007 will be a stellar year!
Add To Digg This Add To Facebook I'm reading: Happy New Year!Add To Yahoo