Poetical Playlist

I sat down this morning to put some of my recent happenings into writing. For some strange reason, I thought that it was a good idea to write a poem.

Unfortunately, I’m not much of a poet. I don’t consider myself a particularly good prose write either, but I reckon I can write better paragraphs than stanzas (you can see some previous efforts here and here).

I started off with just a list of single words. It made an interesting list, but I couldn’t get very far with making lines out of each of the words. I was sitting in front of my computer at the time and I realised that I had many songs that matched up with each of the words on my list. So I did some searching and came up with a list of appropriate songs to match the story of my life this year. Now, some of the songs aren’t necessarily a great match but their titles are. Don’t read too much into any of them but I was hoping that it might read out (ie spoken) reasonably well.

I’ve linked to a last.fm page for each of the songs if you are interested in who they are by or what they might sound like, so feel free to click onwards if you feel the need.

So without any further introductory nonsense, here’s my first ever poetical playlist:

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I like… Apollo Up!

Carrying on from lasts week’s post. The last.fm group is up and running and even has a few members. I’ve started a thread where we can put in our recommendations for music others may not have heard. In the interests of saving me from thinking of something new to post, I have stolen my first recommendation from there to put here…

Apollo Up! are a fairly straight forward rock trio. To be honest, there is nothing particularly imaginative or inventive about their music but I have loved it ever since I first heard Walking The Plank when it was featured on some mp3 blog.

The music is on the heavier side but still firmly in the middle of a “Rock” genre. No metal influence, very little punk influence and no electronics. Lead singer Jay Leo Phillips has a voice very reminiscent of Elvis Costello (only harder) and it was that suggestion that made me want to listen in the first place.

They have their own band page where you will find a selection of tracks from their albums to download to get you started. There are also some on last.fm to stream.

If you like them enough to want to spend some money on them, their albums are available on Amie Street and are still very cheap there (cheap as in just over $5 would get you everything!).

To get you started, my favourite track is “The Job’s A Game” (a short but powerful song, not streamed or free I’m afraid) but of the free downloads, check out “Walking The Plank” and “Guilty Fever”.

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Eclectic Hottest 100

For years I used to get upset at the awful repetition you would get listening to commercial radio. In my early 20s I spent a bit of time listening to Triple J (that’s a public “alternative” radio station for those outside of Australia) and realised that even public radio has the same problem. Awful repetition, just different music being repeated.

Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the music well enough. It’s just that once you listened for a week or two you would find yourself listening to much the same songs every day. No different to my current forced radio listening (the radio on at work). Classic Rock 24/7. Nice in moderation.

Here’s what a friend of mine tweeted after the recent Triple J Hottest 100 was announced:

As usual the JJJ Hottest 100 was about as narrow-minded as any commercial radio countdown, which is fine… just don’t pretend it’s better.

That pretty much sums it up. The Triple J listening crowd do tend to see themselves as quite the alternatives, but that’s really just a matter of perspective. And I’m sure similar stations all over the world have much the same attitude. “Triple J” music is a particular sort of music and its listeners don’t have all that much to differentiate them from each other.

Do we all really just listen to a limited playlist like every radio station ever? Here’s a little test…

Last.fm user Anthony Liekens has created a couple of very useful scripts for our desired purpose. They take your top artists from your last.fm user profile and add in all the similar artists to each of them. The more unique artists you get in the total, the more eclectic your musical taste.

Try out the Eclectic Test and if you are truly awesome, the Super Eclectic Test.

If you get a pass result on either of them, give yourself a clap. And then consider coming and joining the Better Hottest 100 group on last.fm. I’ve got this idea that if we get enough truly eclectic listeners joining in, at the end of the year we can create our own chart that would show Triple J and its listeners was alternative really means.

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The Unblinking Eye [review]

I’m a bit slow with this one, but I thought I should give this a good chance before I wrote my review.

Last month, Roger Taylor (of Queen drumming fame, for those not in the know) released a single “The Unblinking Eye (Everything is Broken)”. I’ve always enjoyed the Queen songs penned by Roger and I don’t get much of a Queen fix nowadays, so I bought the mp3 from queenonline the day it was released.

I’m really sorry to say it, but… FAIL.

Here’s what annoyed me in detail:

  • It’s understood that Roger’s voice is not Freddie’s (or even Brian’s for that matter). That doesn’t bother me normally, but the songs he sang as part of Queen (thinking “I’m In Love With My Car”) were so much more rock ‘n’ roll than this track and suited his voice better. He seems to be trying to do too much and fails badly.
  • The music is all over the place. Was he trying to write a ballad, a rock anthem, a protest song (actually, I think he has said this was his goal), a symphony or what? I couldn’t enjoy the tune or the rhythm because it kept changing at inappropriate times.
  • The lyrics. Oh dear. He was trying too hard to make his protest. Look at this: “This Kingdom’s not united; Just a complicated mess; Are we in Europe; Half in Europe; Not in Europe; We’re soulless, spineless, directionless” and this: “Why send our young men out to die in wars that we don’t understand; Why on earth should we be meddling in places like Afghanistan” and worst of all (the first line of the song): “God would weep if he existed”. God would weep if he existed? Please. It’s the same sentiment, though much less eloquently put, than “Is This The World We Created?”.
  • The politics. Not that I necessarily disagree with all of what he says in the song, it’s just that he shoves so much of it into one song. And not even very well.

Out of what is probably misplaced loyalty, I tagged this track with 3 stars (it’s a reasonable song) in my iTunes library, just so that it stayed in rotation properly. It probably deserved 2 (keep only for completeness sake). I’m hoping it might grow on me like the Queen + Paul Rogers album from last year.

Want to make your own decision? It’s on youtube, I suggest you try before you buy. And I think I might be giving the upcoming album a miss.

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What do I like in my music?

If you have ever visited my last.fm page you might wonder random landscape you had stepped in to.

Eclectic. Yes, you could say that. Even just looking at my top 6 you’ll see The Beatles, Iron Maiden and Jethro Tull. Who listens to all that?

So to cast off the rumour that my taste in music is actually no taste at all, I thought I would throw together a list of the things I look for in my music. A tick next to any one of them will get the music a listen. Two or more and I’ve probably found a new favourite.

So without any further ado and in no particular order (except perhaps #1).

  1. A beat that your head can bang along to. Self-inflicted whiplash? Yes, please.
  2. Unusual instruments. Think flute and mandolin (thank you Jethro Tull), operatic vocals in metal music, harpsichord, accordion (button for your Sharon Shannon, piano for Al Yankovic).
  3. Unusual voices. Ian Anderson, Kristin Hersh, Kasey Chambers, Mark Knopfler.
  4. Powerful voices. Bruce Dickinson, Ronnie James Dio, David Coverdale.
  5. Lyrics that tell a story. Mythical themes and folklore for an extra point.
  6. Creative blending of genres within an album (or even a song). Tull (again), Queen.
  7. Folk music (Irish and English and their descendants mostly) and anything that blends it with. Flogging Molly for Irish folk and The Currency for Aussie Folk.
  8. Sadness. Depressing stories and melancholy music. An offering for my inner emo if you like. I have a special playlist on my iTunes I just call “Melancholy”.
  9. Surprises in lyrics or music. Things that you hear that you really wouldn’t expect. Like when Ozzy Osborne sings “They should realize before they criticize that God is the only way to love”.
  10. A bass line you can feel. Steve Harris is the master.
  11. A certain amount of obscurity. No one else has heard of this band? Gimme.
  12. Nostalgia. Some songs just remind me of a particular time in my life and will always be favourites, even if they aren’t very good (hello, Duran Duran old friend).
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Soundtrack for 2009

For an interesting exercise, I’ve created a soundtrack for the forthcoming film of my 2009 NaNovel.

We can dream can’t we?

  • Love Lies Bleeding – Elton John
  • Julie’s Been Working for the Drug Squad – The Clash
  • She’s Invisible Now – Eurythmics
  • Would You Believe? – Roxy Music
  • Superman Main Title Theme*
  • He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother – The Hollies
  • You Know I’ll Always Love You – Budgie
  • Flames of Fire – Machinae Supremacy
  • Super Steve – Machinae Supremacy
  • Laura – Flogging Molly
  • Liar – Queen
  • Blood Brothers – Iron Maiden**
  • Liar, Liar – Castaways
  • For All Tomorrow’s Lies – Berlin
  • Ride of the Valkyries*

* I apologise in advance for the use of the Superman Theme and the Wagner. It was just too hard to leave them out, being a superhero story and all (My MC can’t even fly!)
** I also apologise for the Maiden. But I’m fairly convinced that my muse comes disguised as Eddie, so I’d best make this small offering for the sake of a smooth and comfortable November.

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2008 chart-toppers

OK, this is old news and not terribly interesting, but I’m posting anyway.

2008 was my first whole calendar year using iTunes as my primary music player. I’ve set up a plethora of smart playlists and the like to manage my music (I’ve got plenty of posts to come about that) but at the end of the year I decided to do my own Countdown.

Unfortunately, each of the lists I made ended up being dominated by one or two albums so I’m left with not very much to say. Instead of a top 10 (with 5 being much the same), I’ll just share my most played songs of 2008:

At the end of this year when I do this, I think I’ll make a rule that only the best song from each artist makes it onto the list. It might make for a more interesting post.

Sorry.

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Even more Anxiety

For more of Jason’s band Omaha Anxiety (who played support to Mental as Anything on the weekend, w00t!), check out his youtube page. This is the last I notice to this effect I will put on this site, as Jason now has one of his own (edit 2015, so much for that…). Go there and nag him to get it up and running.

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Amarok! On OS X!

I can’t wait to get home to download this. An installable package of Amarok for my mac! Joy of joys! I kept telling myself that when I got this running I would be donating to the project and I will… I would pay for commercial software of this quality.

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