Posts belonging to Category Music

Holiday, Hyundai, Pomplamoose

For those who might be wondering, the Hyundai Christmas commercials feature a group called Pomplamoose, which consists of Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn.

Here’s another of their versions of Deck the Halls:

Pomplamoose Deck the Halls

Music Finder: Opening Theme from The Shift

Like many viewers of The Shift, I have been looking for the opening theme music from the show.  So far, all of my searches only turned up others who were searching for the same thing.

Taking a guess that the music might be a custom composition for the show, I looked up the show on IMDb and discovered that the music for season one was done mostly by someone named Chad Itskowitz.

For fans, here’s a link to a video of the opening credits from his site.

As a web design note, I have to comment on the fact that while Mr. Itskowitz’s site looks great, it does not do him any service for those seeking him via Google or other search engines.  The problem is that all of his content is locked up in Shockwave Flash and is not indexed.  So even if you knew that he did the opening credits, searching for both his name and “The Shift” would not produce any results.  In fact, the only “keyword” that Google can extract from his site is “Shockwave Flash”.  raspberry

Yet another reason that real content should exist in HTML, like the designers of the web intended.  Otherwise it’s almost inaccessible and invisible to search engines.

Update Note:  It should be noted that I’m referring to the music that is played during the opening credits of the show.  There is also a song that is used in the promo for Season Two that many people are searching for.  According to WikiAnswers, that song is “Something is Wrong” by David Ayers & Felix Tod.

Smooth Operator

In keeping with my affinity for strange remakes, here’s Señor Coconut doing his version of Smooth Operator:

And to cleanse your musical palate, here’s the original: Sade – Smooth Operator

Can You Dig It?

This is quite possibly the funniest damn thing I’ve seen all week:

Via The Fat Guy.

Musical Cleanup On Aisle 5!

In my “spare time” I’ve been re-ripping all my CDs to FLAC-encoded files.  I decided that since I was using my server as an archival storage mechanism for my CDs that I ought to go ahead and use a true archival format.  Despite the fact that the sound quality of 320Kbps MP3 files is pretty high, they still don’t faithfully reproduce the original sound.  Worse, portable players like the iPod don’t really take advantage of the quality of a 320Kbps file.  In fact, I’ve found that using high bit-rate MP3s with the iPod causes significant degradation in battery life.  I think this is due to the extra data fetches that are required (i.e. a 320Kbps file will require twice the memory accesses of a 160Kbps file of the same length).  This isn’t as bad on the Nano as it was with the Mini (which makes sense because the Mini used a micro hard drive, which sucks more juice than flash memory), but it’s still noticeable. 

For those not familiar with audio codecs and compression, it should be noted that there are two types: lossy and lossless.  Lossy compression algorithms throw away parts of the sound data so as to reduce the amount of data to be transferred or stored.  The trick with a lossy codec is to find the point where the data that is lost isn’t noticeable to the human ear.  This is something of an art, though, as some people are more sensitive than others.  I find that I can readily identify any MP3 stream under about 160Kbps (i.e. I get a feeling that it’s not quite right).  Lossless codes, such as FLAC or ALE/ALAC, work much like ZIP to compress the data without modifying the data stream itself. 

Some people (mostly anal-retentive audiophiles) just dump their CD’s to WAV files and have done with it.  That certainly guarantees nothing is lost, since the output is pretty much just a copy of what was on the CD.  But it’s pretty wasteful of space, as a single CD may well be 650MB of data.  Something like FLAC can retain all the original data but reduce the size by half, which makes a big difference in the amount of disk space used.  Better yet, FLAC is natively supported by my Squeezebox music players.  I’d always felt kind of strange feeding music via SPDIF to my receivers from the Squeezeboxes when that music was encoded with a lossy codec (even if it was at 320Kbps). 

My strategy now will be to rip everything to FLAC and keep a synchronized directory of 160Kbps MP3s for use with portable audio devices.  This lets me feed the full, original, audio signal to my receivers via the Squeezeboxes and to put them on the iPod without wasting space or battery life.

So while I’ve been re-ripping I’ve also been investigating how the music is tagged.  Over the years I’d relied on CDDB or FreeDB in my ripper program to get the track data.  I’ve found that this data is often just wrong enough to give me headaches.  I store the music under subdirectories by artist, then album name.  Things like different punctuations and spellings for the same artist would really mess up the tags and make finding the music more difficult.

Consider the following example.  In the old collection, there were three entries for Alison Krauss & Union Station:
turnera@minilith:/data/music/flac> find ../artists/ -type d -iname “*alison*”

I’ve taken pains to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the new collection:
turnera@minilith:/data/music/flac> find Alison_Krauss__Union_Station/ -type d

And it’s not just spelling and punctuation.  Sometimes it’s just plain inconsistent naming conventions between the people who entered the data originally:
turnera@minilith:/data/music/flac> find ../artists/ -type d -iname “*kill*”
turnera@minilith:/data/music/flac> find . -type d -iname “*kill*”

I especially liked the fact that out of five k.d. lang CDs I found that people came up with four different (and wrong) ways of entering her name.  Just for the record, it’s “k.d. lang” (little k period little d period space lang), or at least that’s how she writes it.

And finally, there was the issue of foreign characters.  When I started ripping the programs I was using didn’t properly support double-byte characters.  The latest version of the programs all use UTF-8 and can handle any characters (it makes entering filenames at the command line a bit messy, though, since my keyboard doesn’t have all those characters; copy/paste and command-line completion have been lifesavers).  So what previously showed up as “stephane_pompougnac/h?tel_costes_quatre” is now more accurately shown as “Stéphane_Pompougnac/Hôtel_Costes_Volume_4_Quatre” (if those show up as garbage characters, make sure your browser is set to UTF-8 character encoding).

As the commands above show, I’m using Linux for ripping, storing, and serving the music.  Well before the Sony rootkit fiasco I had a healthy distrust of the record companies, so I’ve been using Linux for years for all my ripping.  I’m using GRIP with cdparanoia, and they aren’t susceptible to auto-run or any other similar nonsense.

Musical World Melting Pot

Take one Iranian-born rapper from Malmö, Sweden.  Add one Persian, Pakistani, Indian singer.  Take Snow’s Informer and redo the rap in Persian and the vocals in Hindi.  Blend well with some freaky spy-vs-spy stunts.

The result:  Chori Chori from Arash ft. Aneela

You can thank U-POP on XMRadio for bringing this to my attention.


Christmas Goes To 11

It’s funny that upon returning I came across this post from the LawDog about The Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

While visiting my sister last week we caught their show at the World Arena in Colorado Springs.  Although I’m not generally a fan of screaming guitars, I’d have to say that it was overall a good show.  They had one number in the middle that seemed to go on a bit too long for me, but otherwise it was good. 

We ended up in the nosebleed section (stage right), which was probably good in that we weren’t right up on the speakers (thus saving some small remainder of my hearing).  I’d have actually preferred something closer, but by the time I bought the tickets it was too late (the floor and lower level went very fast when they went on sale).  The only real problem was getting to the seats.  They were way the hell up there and when you factor in the altitude to the climb I thought I was going to die by the time we got to the top (compare Co. Springs at approximately 6235 ft AMSL to Keller at approximately 689 ft AMSL).

But I wasn’t the only one, as Tommy Farese (I think) commented about it during the introductions. 

An interesting thing I noticed was that they posted a warning at each door about their use of lasers and strobe lights in the show.  They certainly used a lot of lighting effects.  I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a section of town that browned out when they turned all that stuff on at once.  According to the spiel they gave all the stuff takes 65 roadies and 8 semi trucks to haul around.  I woudn’t doubt it, given the complexity of all the stuff they had up there (this picture gives you the general idea, although they’ve made it even more complex for this year’s show).

Hack vs Pro

I don’t usually comment on the doings of the so-called entertainers we are assaulted with these days, but I can’t help but observe that it’s this sort of thing that really shows the difference between a pretty hack and a real professional.

Former Dallas resident Jessica Simpson was in tears last night after freezing during a song she was performing during the Kennedy Center Honors.

Simpson was on stage to sing Nine to Five as part of the tribute to Dolly Parton, one of the evening’s five honorees. Simpson ended her performance abrupty with the words “so nervous” and ran off the stage. The audience remained silent, giving her no applause.

Simpson appeared to be crying when she and other singers in the tribute returned to the stage.

I would suggest to Ms. Simpson that there exist these things called “practice” and “rehearsal.”  I know those sound weird, but they’re intended to alleviate this very problem.  She would do well to avail herself of them before she faces her next public humiliation.

Proper Preparation Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.

Snap, Crackle, Pop, Shout!

I was listening to the radio this morning as I was getting ready and I heard an old Police song that reminded of one of my favorite song lines:

“We have to shout above the din of our rice krispies / we can’t hear anything at all”

Not sure why this line stuck with me, but I find it amusing.  If anyone is still reading this drivel after my semi-hiatus, feel free to chime in with your own favorites in the comments.


Stephen Green (who found it via another weblog) suggests a little game.  Take all of your music in your favorite software and randomize it and then list the first ten tracks that show up.

Out of 5432 tracks:

  1. Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed – The Afternoon: Forever Afternoon (Tuesday?)
  2. Barenaked Ladies – Maroon – The Humour of the Situation
  3. Jewel – 0304 – Haunted
  4. Alison Krauss and Union Station – So Long So Wrong – Happiness
  5. Vanessa Carlton – Be Not Nobody – Ordinary Day
  6. Enya – The Memory of Trees – On My Way Home
  7. McKennitt, Loreena – The Book of Secrets – Night Ride Across the Caucasus
  8. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys – Take Me Back To Tulsa 2 – Carolina In The Morning
  9. 10,000 Maniacs – Our Time In Eden – If You Intend
  10. Jewel – Spirit – Fat Boy