• USB Microphones

    5. Sep. 2010, 1:13

    I'm always amazed at how technology first breaks new grounds, improves, and then becomes cheaper and affordable as competition intensifies. We see that in things such as Netbooks (though they started out cheap) and hard drives. In Social Informatics we have a name for this type of technological growth: disruptive technology.

    This week I was looking at USB microphones and realized how far they've come along. At first a USB microphone was synonymous with 'horrible quality,' but now when you look at them you can no longer make that connection. You find that the same major brands that design studio microphones are also developing USB microphones, often marketing the same condenser mic model.

    I came across a website that lists hundreds of USB microphone options: USB Microphone HQ. The array of condenser microphone options is amazing when you see the models available. I recommend that site if you're in the market for purchasing one.

    The convenience of recording without the need of an analog/digital converter is wonderful if you're a songwriter wanting to quickly track a song idea, or recording a podcast and wanting quality sound.

    So, I'm curious if you've used a USB microphone? If so, what model?
  • Frank Schweikhardt: Life But No More

    3. Nov. 2009, 17:06

    Originally on Puddlegum:

    Frank Schweikhardt is one of the many Bloomington artists I’m excited about. His debut full-length, Life But No More, is coming out on November 17th on Bloomington’s crossroads of america records, and it’s one of those albums that you feel intimately attached to after a few listens. Frank recorded the album with several seasoned Bloomington artists: Mike Adams (husband&wife), Tim Felton (husband&wife), and Zac Canale (Morrow). You’ll find him on sporadic tours when he isn’t driving the tour bus for other bands.

    Starting out in the regional bands Away With Vega, then playing with Rodeo Ruby Love, Frank immediately has the attention of listeners in the Midwest. He initially released a solo album under the name orangeyellored in 2007, but began performing under his own name in 2008 with the release of Gift EP.

    His music is acoustic-driven and downbeat with sleepy vocals. “Give me life, but no more,” he asks in Softer. With religious undertones in a few of the songs yet always within view of intimacy with others, Frank writes very reflective lyrics. “I did my work, but not a finger more,” he admits.

    A favorite song of ours is Twin Cities. It happens to be the most upbeat song on the album, though that isn’t to discredit the slower songs by any means. “I didn’t see the goodness that she had,” he sings, then echoing the lyrical pattern, “She didn’t want the goodness that I had.” The organ is brooding, with guitar slides in the background that help develop the mood of the song.

    I think you’ll enjoy Frank’s Life But No More if you love David Bazan’s quieter music. It will be available on vinyl, CD, and in digital format on November 17th.
  • Xylos: Bedrooms EP is a pleasant surprise

    17. Dez. 2008, 1:17

    There is a new Brooklyn band called Xylos who are giving their Bedrooms EP away as a free download. Eric Zeiler wrote and recorded most of the five tracks, with Ira Wolf Tuton and Anand Wilder of Yeasayer offering guest vocals. Xylos is now a five-piece band poised to grab attention in `09.

    Bedrooms opens with In the Bedroom, a song about a girl whose life was “left in shambles,” after a stay with a guy she had met earlier that day. Eric Zeiler seems to pull from late `60s early `70s folk-rock (such as Crosy, Stills & Nash), with strong harmonies reflective of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bookends, occasional hints of The Beach Boys (the gentle “oohs” in Testament) mixed with a blend of The Shins. At times Xylos reminds us of Andrew Bird in his vocal delivery, song structures and acoustic guitar strumming.

    Wrapped in a Page showcases Xylos’ eclectic instrumentation. Eric beautifully balances the use of banjo, wooden xylophone, cello and violin, acoustic, hand drums and slight use of analogue synth. The birds chirping in Yellow Flip-Flops add more than just an outdoor element, they help paint bright colors as the song eventually ends with a melody tinged in bluegrass. Testament adds Rhodes, piano, organ, and surprises you with a lead guitar.

    Do yourself a favour and download Bedrooms by Xylos from their website (http://xylosmusic.com/). If you live in New York, don’t miss them this Saturday (Dec. 20, 2008) at Pianos.

  • Seabear’s Sindri Mar Sigfusson is back with a solo project

    26. Nov. 2008, 19:38

    Seabear founder, Sindri Mar Sigfusson, is back with a solo project called Sin Fang Bous. Sindri’s debut will be released in Iceland on December 5, and in the US on February 17 (2009). The digital version has already sprung among many online stores. 26 year old Sindri self-produced Clangour in his home studio while working on the next Seabear album (source).

    The album is called Clangour and the twelve driving tracks emphasize layered electronic sounds than the folk-pop sound that defines Seabear. The acoustic aspects are still there none the less, making Sin Fang Bous’ Clangour quite a joy to listen to. If you have a love affair for Icelandic bands, Sindri’s new project will only feed your obsession.

    A 7″ with two songs from the album came out on October 26 and is still available. The vinyl version has two songs from Sin Fang Bous‘ Clangour: Advent in Ives Garden and Clangour and Flutes.

    Sin Fang Bous - Clangour tracklisting:
    01 Advent In Ives Garden
    02 The Jubilee Choruses
    03 Catch The Light
    04 Sinkership
    05 Melt Down The Knives
    06 Clangour And Flutes
    07 We Belong
    08 Carry Me Up To Smell Pine
    09 A Fire To Sleep In
    10 Fa Fa Fa
    11 Poi Rot
    12 Lies
  • Matt Pond PA giving away The Freeep

    26. Nov. 2008, 19:32

    Matt Pond PA is giving away a free nine song EP, titled The Freeep. All nine songs can be downloaded at mattpondpa.com. The Freeep comes with a new Matt Pond PA website and music video. The video is for People Have a Way from the band’s latest full-length, Last Light, and mixes clips of vintage video footage, albeit some of the clips are riskay.

    Musically, The Freeep carries a smooth quality, heavy on harmonies and makes room for electric guitar leads. The band seems to have purposefully left Matt’s vocals uncompressed to add dynamics and emotion. Three tracks are unnamed instrumentals that break the album up into three pairs of songs with vocals. At first glance, The Freeep is reminiscent of Matt Pond PA’s The Nature of Maps.

    Matt Pond journaled about The Freeep: “We took ourselves captive, and became our own producers, manufacturers, and distributors. It was a deferential revolt against inertia, a clearing of the throat to answer the quiet. Or maybe it was an inevitable reaction to seeing Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid. In adherence to our own demands, these songs were recorded in a cabin in Bearsville, NY, as a simple sonic manifestation of our opinions concerning the arguable value of a waterlogged paperback.”

    [video artist=Matt Pond PA]People Have A Way[/video][youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN3GbzR_32k&eurl=http://puddlegum.net/&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]
  • It's A Musical released The Music Makes Me Sick

    12. Nov. 2008, 23:37

    Originally posted on Puddlegum

    It's A Musical released a debut album on called The Music Makes Me Sick (released on 10.28.08 in the US). This Swedish duo will crawl into the hearts of fans of Mates of State or Stereolab. Robert Kretzchmar plays drums and backs up on vocals, and Ella Blixt plays keys and leads the duo on vocals. Abandoning guitars (besides bass), It's A Musical has a simplistic indie pop sound that mixes horns with organs, piano, and drums.

    Ella and Robert met in Malmö, Sweden where the two were involved in their own projects. Ella Blixt was releasing music as Bobby Baby while she lived in Germany in 2005. Later Ella's project evolved into Boby & Blumm when she released an album withF.S. Blumm for Morr Music.

    The Music Makes Me Sick

    It's A Musical have a chill video for Bad Day, taken from one continuous shot of Ella and Robert riding a bicycle, echoing the simplicity of their music:

    It's A Musical - Bad Day (Youtube)

    25.11.2008 Berlin (D) - Lido w/ Jamie Lidell
    26.11.2008 Innsbruck (A) - Weekender Club
    28.11.2008 Rome (I) - Black Out Club
    29.11.2008 Eboli (I) - Rifrullo
    30.11.2008 Avellino (I) - Black Houses Blues
    01.12.2008 Modena (I) - SpazioLeLune
    02.12.2008 Marghera (I) - Il Vapore
    03.12.2008 Bologna (I) - Sesta Senso
    04.12.2008 Arezzo (I) - Il Garage
    05.12.2008 Boves (I) - Nuvolari Club
    06.12.2008 Fucecchio (I) - Limonaia
    07.12.2008 Brescia (I) - Salò 24
    11.12.2009 Berlin (D) - Schokoladen
  • Remembering the music of The Great War

    11. Nov. 2008, 21:06

    Today marks the ninety year anniversary of the end of the First World War, celebrated in Europe as Armistice Day and as Veteran’s Day in the US. The war that would end all wars saw over twenty millions lives lost. Twenty-one million were wounded, and the psychological affects of trench warfare troubled millions of men for the remainder of their lives. Known at the time as The Great War, it is now often referred to as the forgotten war.

    If you look at the popular songs of the First World War (in the United States and United Kingdom), you’ll find that they were songs that were meant to rally the soldiers and encourage patriotism; songs with titles such as: Your King and Country Wants You, United Forces March, Till We Meet Again, In The Trenches, When You’re A Long Way From Home, Somewhere In France, Dear Mother.

    Arthur J. Mills was a popular lyricist during the First World War. He teamed up with Bennett Scott who put his words to music. Together they would write a number of hits, forming their own publishing company. Several popular songs at the time included Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty, Fall In And Follow Me, When I Take My Morning Promenade. Mills died in 1919, and though the cause of his death is uncertain, it is suspected that he died of influenza.

    Mills connected with the culture of the time with lyrics such as Take Me Back To Dear Old Blighty:

    Jack Dunn, son of a gun, over in France today,
    Keeps fit doing his bit up to his eyes in clay.
    Each night after a fight to pass the time along,
    He’s got a little gramophone that plays this song:

    Take me back to dear old Blighty!
    Put me on the train for London town!
    Take me over there,
    Drop me ANYWHERE,
    Liverpool, Leeds, or Birmingham, well, I don’t care!

    The songs recorded during the First World War precede the recording industry as we know it today. The music industry was beginning to shift from centering around sales of sheet music to recorded music. You’ll find that a successful song was typically recorded by numerous artists, sold on flat discs, and played on hand-turned gramophones. RCA would bring sweeping changes to recorded music in 1919, one year after the First World War, by successfully marketing the radio.

    The process of recording music during this time was still very primitive. Microphones weren’t fully developed, magnetic tape hadn’t been invented yet, and electricity wasn’t used in recording processes until 1925.

    “In 1914 the process was still fairly primitive, though the resulting sound was improved through the use of many technical advances. This was the “acoustic” process: no electric microphone was used. Instead there was a horn made of wood, (later stiffened fabric), that concentrated the vibrations of the singer and accompaniment down to the point of a needle which etched them into wax. There was no such thing as “splicing” a tape; if something went very wrong another “take” was required. The whole aria or song was recorded again.” (Lotte Lehmann Archive)

    FirstWorldWar.com is a tremendous resource for not only documenting the war but also the music of the era, providing over 100 Mp3s of recorded songs.
  • Using The Last(.fm) Music Map

    31. Jul. 2008, 14:23

    There are many great mashups that have been contrived for Last.fm recently. Tonight, I came across a mashup that you might find useful. It’s called The Last(.fm) Music Map, which mashes Last.fm events with Google Maps.

    Instead of tossing thousands of markers on the global map, The Last(.fm) Music Map asks you to search for events by either location or artist. Querying “Chicago” resulted in 450 events, sorted out on 15 pages. Clicking on a marker reveals a bubble with information about the event; artist and venue names are linked to the corresponding Last.fm page, and a photo of the artist is given.

    Searching by artist not only gives you a mapped out tour, but also a list of similar artists, based on the listening habits of Last.fm’s users.

    Immediately my mind began to think of ways this website could be useful. Beyond looking for upcoming concerts in your area or for your favorite band, The Last(.fm) Music Map is a great tool for artists and industry folk.

    Artists plotting their own tours could search for artists in their genre and discover dozens of venues to contact. Strategic tour routes have never been so important than they are now, due to high gas prices, and artists can glean tour routes from this website.

    If you’re plotting a tour, you can look on the map and get a feel for how supportive people are for music in a particular area. Venues can’t survive if fans don’t buy tickets and beer.

    Since this mashup shows you where the venues are located, you have a better idea of where you’re booking shows… instead of a random bar in Milwaukee that you know nothing about. Turning on the satellite map tells you whether you’re playing downtown with a dense population or at a place where moths flying around lamp posts make up the night life.

    Since event information on Last.fm is driven by a wiki, anyone can enter or edit venue information. This given, the address for each venue isn’t supplied, resulting in stacks of markers that aren’t accurately placed on the venue’s location. For this reason, the designer warned, “Markers on the map could be approximate.”

    The Last(.fm) Music Map: http://lastmusicmap.com

    Originally posted at: http://chasinglions.com/using-the-lastfm-music-map/
  • The Soft Drugs give away 'side a' of Get Back

    30. Jul. 2008, 20:14

    Chasing Lions (formerly Puddlegum)- is a new blog label, combining aspects of both a music blog and record label. The blog label is proud to announce a new partnership with The Soft Drugs from Boston, MA. The band is led by former Pedro the Lion member T.W. Walsh and features percussionist Jason Cammarata, bass player Ken Maiuri, guitar player Mike Murray, and guitar/keyboard player John Beck, blending their American indie roots with traditional rock ‘n roll.

    The Soft Drugs happily offer Side A of their new record Get Back as a FREE DOWNLOAD - due out this fall on Chasing Lions. A limited pressing of 100 copies of Side A is currently available in the store, so be sure to snatch one up before they’re gone!

    Get Back tracklisting: Borrow My Vibe / I Need Space / Kill My Dragon / Let It Be

    To downloadGet Back (side A), visit chasinglions.com.
  • Sixpence None The Richer: new EP and summer tours

    25. Mär. 2008, 2:27

    Sixteen years ago I remember reading about a new band called Sixpence None the Richer. Leigh Bingham was only sixteen at the time, which grabbed my attention since I was also sixteen. I bought their debut, Fatherless and the Widow, and every album that followed. Matt Slocum wrote their songs, crafting them with beautiful instrumentation.

    Before and after their Grammy nomination, Sixpence found themselves caught in contracts with labels that no longer existed. Prior to their self-titled album that brought them to the national spotlight, Sixpence fought for three years to be released from a contract to REX, though the label no longer existed. Four years later they found themselves in a similar situation as their singles played on the radio. This forced the band to wait several years before they were contractually free to put out a new album. The wait took its toll on the band and they decided to part ways in 2004.

    Over the past four years since their split, Leigh (Bingham) Nash had a son, Henry, and released a solo album, Blue on Blue, on her label named One Son Records. Last year she teamed up with Delerium and recorded a side project called Fauxliage. One week after the Fauxliage disc came out Leigh announced that her marriage of ten years had ended.

    In November Leigh met up with Matt Slocum and the two of them decided to reform Sixpence None the Richer. A few hours later Leigh found out the sad news that her father passed away. “Literally a few hours before I was told my father had died, I met up with Matt (Sixpence band mate) for coffee. He got married back in May and had been in Italy for 6 months. I was looking forward to seeing him and hearing about their travels! While he was away we had both been thinking about the band and what we had all those years and what we took for granted.”

    Matt Slocum and Leigh Nash are in the studio now during the month of March and have a few shows lined up in April. An EP will be coming out this summer; “Sixpence is back in the studio putting together some brand new stuff for the new year!” Demos of three new songs from the EP have been posted on Myspace: My Dear Machine, Give It Back, Sooner Than Later.