Thursday, June 26, 2008

What (Really, Please Tell Me) Am I Listening to Today?

This band. From Morocco. They're called Aisha Kandisha's Jarring Effects and I had no idea at first why they were on my computer. I had to rack my brain as well as the infinitely knowledgeable brain of google to remember that I have their album "Shabeesation" because Bill Laswell plays bass on it.

Laswell came into my musical sphere with his involvement in Praxis with one of my favorite guitarists Buckethead. But on reading his wikipedia entry, I've been listening to him in one form or another from Motorhead to Herbie Hancock. So big ups to him.

The album isn't your standard world music affair, of course. There are off the wall samples and the beats range from house to hip-hop. They delve into a dub version of a song about racism and have hand drums galore. It's actually really interesting to see how they fuse traditional Morocaan music with Bill Laswell's craziness, imagine Herbie Hancock's "Future Shock" if it were produced in Africa, then take away the electro 80s vibe, then you'd be getting close.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Air Up There

Remember that movie? I would have been 12 when it came out, and I think there's a real possibility I went to see it in the theater during the "cheap kids movies in the summer" thing they used to have.

Anyway, I'm listening to the French-electro band Air, and I'm a little embarrassed that I only have their newest record on my computer. I remember their album Moon Safari being a really big deal when it came out, and I have it somewhere in my piles of compact discs in the basement. I'll have to get them all uploaded, but it will be to late for this listening unfortunately.

Last night after my 80s hip hop moment, I listened to AFX, the first moniker donned by Richard D. James. But more on him in about a week or so, when I get to the meat of his work.

I'm in the process of installing Firefox 3 Portable onto PRBLMSLVR, my trusty thumb drive. I'm stoked, since I hope it will solve a scripting error I've been encountering on my portable firefox lately. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lookin' For The Perfect Beat

After a little break, I'm back to my iTunes collection. I started with the one Afgan Whigs album I've uploaded to the computer, 1965. I've always liked the Afgan Whigs, but they haven't ever stood out as a big influence on me. That's one thing that I like about going through my collection this way, it forces me to revisit stuff I wouldn't normally. Like Afrika Bambaataa.

I'm listening to the only full album of his I have, which is the Looking for the Perfect Beat retrospective of his big hits between 1980 and 1985. I recently thumbed through a great book by Jeff Chang called Can't Stop Won't Stop detailing the orgins of Hip Hop, and attempts to define the "hip hop generation," of which Afrika Bambaataa plays a large part. He would unite all of the different burroughs of New York, and literally march between them when others stuck to their own neighborhoods, to gather kids together for block parties. To say he is a legendary and influential artist in the world of hip hop wouldn't come close to describing Bam, so I'll stick to this: I love the hip hop sound of the 80s that Bam helped shape. The old school 808 beats, the non-sensical words shouted out at during choruses in place of hooks, the fun that is epitimized in tracks like Unity Pt. 1 ("Peace, Unity, Love, and Havin' Fun" is the opening chant)...simply awesome.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Alpha Bits N' Pieces

Right now I'm listening to one of my favorite albums, Aesop Rock's "Labor Days." I've talked about Aesop Rock here before. All of his stuff is great, but "Labor Days" is by far his masterwork and an example of a perfect hip hop album.

Getting to Aesop Rock led me to another realization about this A-Z experiment; iTunes classifies some albums as compilations, which will appear after the Zs of normal albums. So I have more Aesop Rock and others that seem like they should be in the As at the end of this project.

In unrelated news, I went to the Missoula Osprey's home opener against the Billings Mustangs.

The Osprey lost, but I found solace in the fact that the Mustangs are the Cincinnati Reds farm team. The Reds are my team, so maybe this bodes well for their future. Baseball is one of the only sports I can sit and watch, so it was fun. Plus, my co-worker Gail got us great tickets behind the plate, although I don't think there is a bad seat in the tiny stadium.

The only bone I'd have to pick is that they advertise stuffed pretzels that are not filled with any discernible stuffing. It wasn't bad, but maybe they should call it something else. I was expecting cheese or some filling, not just jalapenos in the dough.

Oh well.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

They'll Need a Crane

Last weekend Darcy and I watched as a smaller crane, put together this much larger crane right near our house. There were about 10-20 people gathered to watch. In Montana, construction on this scale is big news since we never get to see it, at least not downtown. In 2009 We'll have a fancy new bank, but now we have a neat crane.

I finished AC/DC and have now moved on to The Advantage (Wikipedia here) after a brief stint of even more Aceyalone and a single track from Adina Howard"Freak Like Me." I saw The Advantage a few years back opening for Pinback, and they blew Pinback out of the water. They play covers of old NES games as a full on band. And one of their names is Ben Milner, so they must be alright.

To pass the time, and fully wax nostalgic, I've been playing old NES games over at the site vNES where you can play all your favorite old Nintendo games right from your browser. Top 5 games I've been playing? 1. Excitebike 2. The Marios 3. Contra 4. Duck Tales 5. Battletoads. I'm realizing that I played lots and lots of Nintendo (or No-Friend-O as we used to call it) when I was younger, since I still remember so much about so many games.

Speaking of browsers, Firefox 3 came out today! Go get that right here! They might set a world record of downloads in one day. Plus, its a huge improvement to an already great piece of software. I just got it and its running great, despite a few of my add-ons to work. The only one I'm really hoping the fix fast is DownThemAll.

Alright, back to the games.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What More Can I Say?


Friday, June 13, 2008

This Is Not 'Nam, Dude, There Are Rules

In the beginning of listening to all my songs alphabetically, I assumed it would be a straightforward thing. But it has been brought up by several parties that people are confused as to how this will work, so here's a quick primer:

Rule 1. Whenever I'm listening to music alone, I'll continue listening in the alphabetical order. If other people around me are ok with it, I'll continue in their presence. If not, we switch to the standby of iTunes shuffle. This is more preferable to me, because it will force me to actively listen, as opposed to being distracted by conversation/games/grilling. Also, it will spare my wife and friends the horror of listening to 3 hours of Phillip Glass in a row. Not that Phillip Glass is awful, I'd argue the contrary, but it isn't exactly party music.

Rule 2. I will continue to import music into my library, but I will only listen to it if it falls ahead of me in the list. If I happen to import another ABBA album, as an example, I won't go back and listen to it until I finish with this challenge. I don't anticipate this being a problem until I'm ready for this to be over.

Rule 3. I'll only listen to music in this challenge when I'm in the room and listening. No turning it on and going outside or downstairs and coming back hours later. I'll actually listen to everything in my playlist. Exceptions for quick trips, like taking out the trash, which takes less than 20 seconds.

I think that should about do it. Let me know if I'm missing some important detail, or you think I'm leaving myself a huge loophole. I don't think I am. Right now AC/DC's Back in Black is on its last track. I think I'll be on AC/DC for awhile, and I don't mind. I'm glad that Back in Black came first, because it got me in the mood for more. I'll have 4 more albums from them before I move on.

OK, now its back off to work.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Carying on with the Challenge

So today I'm continuing on with the A-Z challenge and am deep into ABBA's Number Ones. I can't say I mind. They have a very infectious pop sensibility that even I can't deny.

This is the scene here after two days of snow in June. It better heat up soon, because I'm ready for summer. It seems nice now, so hopefully we'll have no snow for the weekend.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The A-Z Challenge: In the Beginning...

I've decided to undertake an almost impossible feat: listening to my entire iTunes library from A-Z. iTunes estimates my collection as lasting for roughly 45 days if I listened 24 hours a day, which I won't. I expect this project to last the next 2-5 years. Maybe. Maybe I'm wrong, but I doubt I'll finish it before the end of this year.

First up is the hip hop group The A-Team. Mr. T doesn't make an appearance, but the first track, and possibly standout track on the album is called "A.B. Baracus." The A-Team is comprised of Aceyalone and Abstract Rude, both of whom I've seen here in Missoula. Both are prominent members of the hip hop community, with Aceyalone founding both Freestyle Fellowship and Project Blowed, and Abstract Rude signed to Rhymesayers. I remember really liking these guys in my Freshman and Sophomore years of college, but I'm not as big of a fan these days. Good for a few tracks, but it gets to be a little much for a whole album.

Thus the curse of this project finally rears its ugly head right from the get go. The worst part may be that I know I won't be able to finish even one complete album before I have to go to work. Oh well, I'm still committed, wish me luck!