Saturday, January 17, 2009

Console Organ for the '00s

This looks like an SNL parody, but this really is straight-faced video from Microsoft Research for Songsmith. As a former usability specialist, I shook my head in disbelief at the line, "Microsoft, huh? So it's pretty easy to use?" As a former intellectual property paralegal, I was surprised that their legal department let this out with a © where a ™ should be, even if it's for a fictional product.

The gist of it: you sing into your computer's microphone, and the software creates backing music with customized effects, all of which sound like the console organs that used to be demonstrated and sold in malls. To get a sense of the results, someone ran David Lee Roth's vocal track for "Runnin' With the Devil" through the program.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Godfathers Tour Cancelled

The Godfathers U.S. tour has been cancelled except for just a single date for the St. Valentine's Day Massacre show in Chicago on February 14. They announced bluntly that it was for economic reasons, even though the Middle East, intended host of the February 11 show, claims it is due to illness.

Damn, if I had the money, I'd sponsor the tour. But as the band said themselves, "I want everything. I want it now."

Here's the official word.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Godfathers Reunion

The Godfathers have reunited with the original line-up for a US tour supporting the reissue of their debut album Hit by Hit. Despite or because of lyrics that reflected the harsh realty of Thatcher-era Britain, they found greater (relative) fame in the States than in their native England. They put on an electrifying show: Peter Coyne snarls on vocals, Kris Dollimore plays a searing guitar, and I am in heaven.

Here are the dates:
Wednesday 11 Boston, MA-The Middle East
Thursday 12 Washington DC-9.30 Club
Friday 13 Cleveland, OH-The Grog Shop
Saturday 14 Chicago, IL-The Metro
Sunday 15 Minneapolis, MN-Seventh Street Entry
Monday 16 Milwaukee, WI-The Shank House
Wednesday 18 Hoboken, NJ-Maxwells
Thursday 19 Brooklyn, NY-The Bell House

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Worst Album Covers

On a less serious note, Red Eye has a gallery of 50 of the worst album covers. At least the Electric Amish and the Frivilous Five were clearly aiming for humor, and Cody Matherson may have been inspired by Kirk Van Houten, Milhouse's dad on The Simpsons, with "Can I Borrow a Feelin.'". The rest of have no excuse.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Best of 2008

For the most part, my favorite CDs of the last year were ones I've reviewed for CDHotlist. Here are highlights, with links to the pages with my original reviews.

Alejandro Escovedo: Real Animal
Maybe because he has never been gotten huge, the Texan still has something to prove. His latest reflects on his life and proves that heartfelt doesn't have to be sappy and squishy.

The Hives: The Black and White Album
Swaggering Swedish garage rockers who show they aren't one-hit wonders.
Ting Tings: We Started Nothing
Fun, cheeky guitar-based pop.
The Pretenders: Break Up the Concrete 
The title of the opening track, "Boots of Chinese Plastic," may be a nod to Bob Dylan's "Boots of Spanish Leather," but the song is all Chrissie Hynde at her finest.

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds: Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!
Only Nick Cave could get away with this many exclamation points in his title and lyrics without sounding like a fool.

Nine Inch Nails: The Slip
The free one for the fans. At the turn of the millenium, fellow '90s future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Billy Corgan was whining about not being able to compete in a world dominated by Britney Spears.  Trent Reznor ignored the commercial winds and just got on with the business of creating music, along the way building a loyal fanbase by relating to them and how they use technology without pandering to them artistically.

And, as much as I love the Wedding Present, I have to say the jury is still out on El Rey. I'm not sure if it doesn't measure up to their older work or even Take Fountain or if it's just that, having not reviewed yet, I haven't listened to it closely enough to appreciate its nuances.