Open Mike Eagle & Paul White - Hella Personal Film Festival

I came across this upcoming album today on Bandcamp and I am digging the preview track. I like the flow, the lyrics, and the tone of the song and I am very excited to hear more. It looks like I will have to wait until March, but I will just add this to the list of new music I am anticipating in 2016.

Apple Music has issues

I will spare the wall of text that would outline why I am switching to Apple Music but it is partially because Rdio is shutting down and partially because my daughter finds it convenient. So, while I have been paying for a family plan for the last couple of months, I only started to truly use it myself, this week.

I uncovered two major software bugs and one terrible policy issue.

Software Bug #1 - Clicking on 'Albums' did not work. At all.

iTunes 12.3.1.23 64bit for Windows 10

I can't speak to other versions of the software, but the Windows 10 version is where I found all of the trouble. On Tuesday, November 17th, 2015, I discovered this "issue". While trying to rebuild my huge Rdio collection in Apple Music, I realized that if I clicked on the 'Albums' tab for ANY artist, I got an endless timeout. Please note, 'Top Albums' worked fine.

I contacted Apple Music Support via Twitter and began a long conversation using Direct Messages. They took my info and told me they were kicking it up to engineering and that it could take days to see any results.

Let's not even get into the fact that text doesn't render correctly if you have installed a different version of the Helvetica Neue font.

This is what I saw when I clicked 'Albums' on ANY artist

To my surprise, yesterday, November 18th, 2015, the issue was fixed. I got phone calls and more Twitter messages letting me know. 

Software Bug #2 - After adding an album to 'My Music', a subsequent search will not recognize that you have already added that album.

iTunes 12.3.1.23 64bit for Windows 10

Once the first issue was fixed, this new issue popped up. If I clicked on an album after I added it to My Music, the "Remove from My Music" dialog stopped showing up. (See video)

As of this posting, Software Bug #2 has not been fixed. 

Apple confirmed that they were able to recreate these issues on their end.

Policy Issue

It did not sit well with me that I have been essentially doing QA for a multi billion dollar company, for free, as a customer. As a matter of fact, I am paying to help them fix this product. I felt like it was only fair to ask for a credit of 1 month for my Apple Music subscription. This happens all the time with other companies. If Comcast or Verizon have legitimate outages (and boy, do they), they are always willing to offer a courtesy credit for our troubles. It is a very standard practice. 

I spent over 60 minutes on phone calls with at least 3 customer service representatives who all told me that Apple was not equipped to give out full or partial credit whatsoever for Apple Music. They went as far as offering me song and movie credits (which I declined), but they said, if I wanted credit for the service, my subscription would be instantly cancelled. 

It was at that moment I decided to write this article. This entire experience has baffled the hell out of me. How could a company like Apple not QA their product? 5 months in and I am finding these issues? And how could a service launch without the idea that there may be some unhappy customers down the road who would possibly want to remain an Apple Music customer, but would also like some compensation for craziness like this?

I spent my time recording, noting, and explaining major issues for a multi billion dollar company which does not seem to have the ability to credit me $14.95 back to my card for my troubles. I also have been paying for a product that clearly is NOT complete, at least on the Windows side. 

How could any of this be possible?!!?

The quest to design a new vinyl record display stand

In 2011, when I began collecting vinyl records again, I wanted a way to display the record I was playing at the time. I was looking for a small stand that was capable of displaying one vinyl record.

While on a museum visit, I came across what appeared to be an unused plastic display stand. It looked like it would have been perfect for this function. I asked a museum employee if I could purchase this item, but they surpassed my expectations and gave it to me for free. This small piece of plastic did exactly what I wanted it to do for the past 4 years.

Unfortunately, this makeshift vinyl record display stand has met its demise by way of an extra hard fall to the floor.

Because of this sudden loss, I set out to design a new vinyl record display stand using this one as a reference. My first iteration was somewhat successful but a bit bulkier in some areas, most notably, the front feet. This was a design choice to minimize cantilevers so the piece could be 3D printer without support.

I plan on making more iterations of this design.

The Sands of Time

Every now and again, I feel the need to create an eclectic playlist filled with many of the genres of music I love. This playlist starts with 100 songs and will continue from there. The playlists I create are always ongoing stories. The Sands of Time is no exception.

This playlist has tailored ups and downs and also a couple of spots where it is designed to "hangout" for a few, notably when Radiohead and The Promise Ring collide. I also go against my previous rule of not grouping artists together. It seems to work because of the abundance of variety throughout.

I think of the Sands of Time as a Summer playlist that celebrates life and the world we live in while also recognizing the peaks and valleys around every corner.


Wonder.fm - A method of music discovery

I am always looking for more ways to discover music. Tonight, I came across Wonder.fm. This website has a simple and clean layout where it lists curated tracks for your listening pleasure. It will auto queue up songs in the order they appear on the website, which is handy. 

I found two tracks that I enjoyed so far. The first was a modern take on a Phil Collins classic: "In Too Deep" by Basecamp. I am not always up for covers, but this one is interesting enough.

The second track was a song by the band Bully called "I Remember". Bully reminds me a bit of White Lung and The Distillers. "I Remember" has the passion and the energy that I love in rock music. This is a band I would love to see live and I will now anticipate the band's upcoming album. 


Gojira steals the show

This past Halloween I traveled to Long Island, NY to see Mastodon. I have been a huge Mastodon fan for a while now and was very excited to finally see them live. Gojira was a notable opener for Mastodon on the bill. I had listened to their latest, L'enfant Sauvage and liked it very much.

Gojira absolutely stole that show in a number of ways. Their energy blew me away. The venue had terrible acoustics, yet Gojira sounded as good as possible. Mastodon was a let down mostly because Brent Hinds' microphone was off throughout the entire set. Gojira made my trip worth it and I became a true fan of this band. Here is a video I took of their song "Vacuity" which interestingly enough has become one of my favorite songs by them.

Tennis - Ritual in Repeat

Ever since their debut album, Cape Dory, I always look forward to anything new from Tennis. Their sound is a blend of enchanting pop hooks with elements and traces of music from days past. As it goes, I feel that their albums have actually gotten better each time. This being their third full length album, Ritual in Repeat is quite literally the band's best effort to date. 

This is a front to back, cover to cover release. Every song stands strong on its own yet completely belongs to the overall collection of compositions. For my money, there have not been enough albums this year in which every song will grab your attention. This is one of the reasons Ritual in Repeat is so refreshing and welcome. 

The album opens up with a prodding thumper called "Nightvision". This is about as slow as any track takes to get started. Once the chorus kicks in, you know you are in for a treat. When you hear "I knew all the love songs", it is music magic. The only thing you will find here are sounds that move your soul. 

There is no nonsense or filler on this album. Only three tracks go over the 4 minute mark. Everything else is shorter. The first song that started to get stuck in my head was the upbeat pop number "I'm Callin". It borders on being campy but that is absolutely ok. It is written perfectly and will haunt your mind when the music stops.

"Timothy" is another standout track. With the reverb turned up, when Alaina sings "quick to judge", the reverb rolls off of those syllables perfectly. Hearing the nuance in that phrase in combination with the reverb effect has also gotten stuck in my head. Whether done on purpose or accidental, it stands out and gives the song texture. The "ahhs" sung in the background are enchanting as hell and then the backbeat kicks in. Forget it. The fact that the album finishes so strong after this is truly a feat.

The only time this album stops for a breather is for the "Wounded Heart". At a track time of 1:49, I am not sure if there was a shorter song that could convey such emotion so quickly and beautifully. It is a slow acoustic gem and it helps balance everything out.

The way Tennis decided to end this album was interesting. "Meter and Line" could be one of the best songs here and it is the last track. It clocks in at a mere 2:31 and ends abruptly leaving the listener wanting more. Listening to the entire album over again is a great way to get back to listening to "Meter and Line" once more.

Ritual in Repeat may very well be the apex of Tennis. They have hit their stride and in my opinion they hit all of the right notes with each song and with each note they decided to play. This album will be very hard to top. Until this band gives that a go with a fourth release, I will have this album on repeat. 

 

The Bronx - "IV" - One of the best rock records I have heard this year

I discovered IV by The Bronx on Rdio this week as it showed up in my Heavy Rotation section, which highlights albums listened to the most by people I follow there.. Released earlier this year, this is the band's fourth album and I have never heard of them. I clicked play and instantaneously thought this is the type of album that I search and wait for constantly. This is pure, honest, energetic rock. This album sounds like a cage match between Middle Class Rut and The Vines which is then interrupted by White Lung and then bombarded by and finished off by, earlier Local H.

There is nothing fancy on this album. It is straight ahead, straight forward rock driven by great raw melodies and bite sized hooks. While it is easy to recommend IV as a whole, there is a 1,2,3 punch that stands out to me with "Youth Wasted", "Too Many Devils", and "Pilot Light". Those three songs in a row comprise a good meaty portion of what this album has to offer. This album does not relent and I would not want it any other way. 

I am  glad that bands are still creating albums like this. With this album, The Bronx have earned a spot on my running playlist, Best of 2013.

Turn it loud up on Rdio.

Or use my Amazon affiliate link to buy the vinyl version. 

 
The Bronx (IV)
$19.97
By The Bronx