You know me so well

I may have sorted out my music issues.

If I was looking for some sign or other to push in any given direction, it came with Spotify’s official entry into the SA music market earlier this week.

Of course, there have always been ways of enjoying Spotify on your devices in SA, but it’s so much easier now that it’s all street-legal. And Spotify was always going to be gold medal, given that a lot of the BBC 6 Music stuff is regularly uploaded onto playlists on the platform.

I’ve only subscribed to three playlists so far, but wow – the algorithm has got me all sussed out already.

I lobbed on a bit of Eels while I was writing yesterday’s blog post (probably just to chill out a bit) and when that had finished, Spotify followed it up with some stuff it thought I might like. And it got it right, time after time:

Eels – The Deconstruction [audio video]
Supergrass – Feel Alright [glastonbury 2004]
Beck – Dear Life [lyric video]
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth [live at google]
Belle and Sebastian – The Boy With The Arab Strap [video]
Elbow – One Day Like This [video]
PJ Harvey – Shame [video]
Richard Hawley – Heart Of Oak [video filmed near Sheffield]
The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots [glastonbury 2003 (I was there, front row)]
Dandy Warhols – Bohemian Like You [my blog post]

I could go on…  it did – admirably selecting suitable banger after suitable banger. And yes, I’ve added links so you can enjoy some quality music too.
This might even be a great start to my first Spotify playlist*.

Thing is, there’s not a huge amount of information that I have (knowingly) given Spotify in order for it to have got things so right so often in such a short time. So I’m not sure what it’s been looking at and listening to to get my tastes bang on.

But hey, if completely forgoing my privacy and opening my digital soul to scrutiny and subsequent analysis results in this sort of musical perfection, I’m all for it.

 

UPDATE: Obviously, I made a playlist. See here

The Bleak House spin off

I blogged about a photo of a hotel yesterday.

Here’s a spin off post from that post: Passenger’s cover of that Eagles song:

Nice. Much guitar.
And a laid back version while wandering through a US ghost town in Golden Hour, meeting various accompanying musicians along the way.

Exactly what you want from a cover of this song.

We Love The 90’s

[sic]

I’ve somehow remained on the mailing list for concert organising company Bergen Live, almost two years since we popped over to Norway to watch a-ha there. They (Bergen Live, not a-ha) have been in touch again to tell me about an upcoming concert, conveniently arranged for our wedding anniversary (although Natt Till 1.Mai, as well).

Wow.

That’s quite the line up (completed in no small part by the MC: Howard). From headliners Hanson (Mmmbop, obvs), through German techno experts Scooter (The Logical Song, Nessaja), with a touch of Dutch Eurodance in The Venga Boys (We’re Going To IbizaBoom Boom Boom BoomWe Like To Party) and some Spanish Latin Pop and Dance with Los del Rio (Macarena)*.

And we haven’t even begun on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth lines of the bill.
(Although we did jump ahead and mention Howard already.)
(Just too exciting to resist, see?)

Lob in some American House from Robin S (Show Me Love), a bit of the infamous Italian Eurocheese outfit Capella (U And Me, Move On Baby, U Got 2 Let The Music – you know, this one):

…mix it up with some Trinidadian/German legend Haddaway (What is Love?LifeI Miss You) and add a pinch of the Swedish/Nigerian hip-hop/reggae sounds of Dr Alban (It’s My LifeHello Afrika) and you’ve already got way more than half your 1993 Dance MegaMix Double CD covered.

And some Hanson. Sticking out like an aging, long-haired hippie trio.

Incredible.

Tickets for this amazing gig are an absolute snip at anywhere between 794 NOK (R1,202) and 1,209 NOK (R1,831).

And given the ages (Dr Alban is sixty years old. Eish.) and energy of the performers, you’d surely be foolish not to go top end for what must likely be one of their last ever performances.

To be honest, I can’t afford the time or money to go to Bergen again next month. But if I could, I would.

The concert (and Howard) would just be an added bonus.
Bara pappa pappa pap baam.

 

* And you thought some of the others were one hit wonders!

A video

Busy day. Done lots. Achieved lots. But now tired, and leg hurts.
Stitches out tomorrow.

So, here’s a monochromatic acoustic lyric video from a-ha:

So much moss…

Because when life is just a bit of a struggle, it’s important to retreat to one’s happy place.
Smoky black and white images of Norwegian boathouses, coupled with that voice, seems to be mine.

Moving music

…or “GoodbyePod”?

I read this Pitchfork article today, all about the excitement of owning a Discman back in the 1990s. And they’re right – it really was something special. Compared to its predecessor, the Walkman, it was a massive step forward. Bigger and more ungainly, yes, but then it had to be because compact discs aren’t very… well… compact. But it was worth it for the ability to skip tracks without the guesswork of holding down the fast forward key for twenty or thirty seconds, like you’d have to do with a tape.

Aside from the size (and consequently, the weight as well), there were other drawbacks. The motor would use up the three or four AA batteries in a disturbingly short time and if you bumped, knocked it, the sound would skip would skip skip. But these things were worth the hassle for the sheer joy of digital music pumping into your head.

Of course, I couldn’t afford a Sony Discman. Not the official one. It didn’t bother me too much though because I’d never been able to afford the official Sony Walkman either.

“You’re only paying for the name,” I would argue. And although the sound quality on the real thing was surely far better than on my no-name-brand equivalent, the £1.99 headphones I was probably using would have been a great leveller, anyway.

I enjoyed tolerated my faux-Discman for a couple of years before I moved on to a Minidisc player (a top of the range Panasonic, no less). This was a step forward, but was also a bit of a pain because you couldn’t buy pre-recorded Minidiscs, so I had to buy them blank and copy my CDs across to them. But there were so many advantages: the size was the big one – this would literally fit into your pocket – as would the spare discs. The battery life was better (and it only took one battery), and it was much better at handling bumps without interrupting the music. Best of all though, you could add track names to the music and they would scroll across the screen while the song played.

This then was the future.

And then along came the mp3. I had a couple of small mp3 players before I got my first iPod in 2005. There wasn’t much difference in size beween my sexy Panasonic and my (white) second generation iPod, and while the battery life was a massive improvement, I’d never struggled with that on my Minidisc player anyway, so that didn’t make much difference either.
But while I could have 15 tracks on any given Minidisc, my iPod could hold 1500 or more. Amazing – sure – but I never did manage to listen to them all in one day.

Fast forward (no pun intended) to the present day, and I’m ready to move on again. My current iPod is full and while (as with many Apple things) it is a design classic, it also (as with many Apple things) isn’t the most user-friendly device. Add the disaster that is iTunes to the mix, and I’m actually done with Steve’s nonsense now. It’s time for another change – and I haven’t made that decision lightly, given that I like to listen to a lot of music while I’m on the go. This must work.

The choice, were I living in the UK (for example), would be clear: streaming. And yes, I do have some streaming service accounts and they work quite nicely, just as long as I am sitting next to a big wifi, as you might often find yourself doing overseas. But data in SA is ridiculously expensive and limiting, and instantly destroys any idea of wandering around listening to music over the net. And so while I like to have these things as a back up, the more obvious answer for me is a 128GB micro SD card in my phone: instant access, effortless movement and choice of tracks, virtually zero battery usage and all on something which I was inevitably carrying on my person anyway.

Apparently there’s not much of a market for single-purpose music players anymore. But I suspect that’s partly a matter of amnesia. We didn’t know it in 1998, but we were lucky that our portable listening devices did not badger us with news alerts and text messages. If they had, the euphoria of the Walkman experience would not have been so pure.

OK, so that is one drawback, and it’s true that pretty much nothing would interrupt my Discman experience back in the day (even though I had a mobile phone back then), but times have changed and if I’m honest, I quite like to have the option to keep in touch – just as long as I can choose to switch it off for the duration of any given album.

I’m open to other suggestions if you have any. I need space for about 12,000 tracks (because you never know when you’re going to need to hear Babylon Zoo’s Spaceman or White Town’s Your Woman) and I’m not willing to go back to CDs. (Oh, and I need a solution for my Windows PC as well, please.)