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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

29 in 2009 - The Allman Brothers Band: "Eat a Peach"

The Allman Brothers Band: Eat a Peach
Originally Released: February 12, 1972
Genres: Rock, Southern Rock, Blues Rock
Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

So I got the idea several weeks ago to listen to this album in one sit down and to have my write-up of it be a "live blogging" of my first listen. Not as insightful as some other posts, sure, but different. Here goes.

"Ain't Wastin' Time No More" - Already I've felt that I've made the wrong choice here. I should've listened to this album tomorrow. That's what I've been saying for a month now...(1:33) I like the song so far. It's a very soulful rock and roll song. Digs for sure. (3:11) Yep, this is defintely a really good song, and while I'm not familiar with The Allman Brothers Band at all, this is kind of what I imagined them sounding like.

"Les Brers in A Minor" - (0:14) Just looked at the tracklisting and saw that this was 9:07 long. Great! Of course it could be worse (see track 4). (2:01) Is there an old saying that I'm unfamiliar with? "If you can't find a good way to start a song, don't?" (2:56) Yep. Probably. (3:46) Oh great, an entirely different song! Great to know the last 4 minutes weren't completely worthless....(5:47) I guess this is just a random jam song. Good to know. I swear if any singing comes in in minute 8 I'm going to be completely dumfounded! (9:03) Nope. No singing.

"Melissa" - (0:08) This song is on an AT&T commercial. I figured that out in 8 seconds. During the last song I looked up the band on Wikipedia. Turns out that the band's most commercial songs, "Ramblin' Man" and "Jessica" (two good ones, I think) were featured on the next album. Not this one. At least I can say that I know some Allman Brothers Songs though. That's good. (1:50) I know this song too, and I like it a lot. I never knew this was them (I've found myself saying that a lot during this 29 in 2009 thing). (3.30) A really smooth, melancholic song. Good stuff. So far a really good CD.

"Mountain Jam" - This song is 33 minutes long, and according to Wikipedia, originally covered two sides of an LP. (0:35) My gut is telling me to just skip this song or at the very least, take a break from listening to it and finish it some other time. After all, the readers (you) will never know that you didn't do one whole listen. Integrity, people. That's what's keeping me here. On a related note, my Top Album of 2007 was shorter than this song. (2:50) I'm just going to go lay down while this plays. Maybe play some Peggle. (11:29) This is definitely the same band that did "Jessica." That sounds gross. (12:25) Missed a note on the guitar but it's cool cause it's "improvisation" oooh! (19:01) I'm imaging that the rest of the band just went backstage and got super blazed during that 6 minute drum solo. The bass player was the first to finish his pretzel and cheese Combos (they had those then, right?). (21:49) REALLY cool bass stuff going on. You don't hear that often! (22:38) How the heck am I supposed to get 400,000 points on this challenge?!?!? (30:15) I'm very concerned that I still have 5 more tracks to get through. (32:07) I feel like this is a really satisfying jam, though I would've hated to be there when it was recorded. Any time a band breaks out into an extended jam at a show....gosh, I'm just not a fan.

"One Way Out" - (0:38) This is beginning to sound like another jam. (1:05) Lyrics! Yay!! (3:47) At this point the once-awesome guitaring is losing a bit of it's appeal. Still cool, just not as impressive as it was 40 minutes ago. The lyrics on this song and the vocals themselves are not all that impressive either. Of course, I'm not a huge blues fan either.

"Trouble No More" - (0:14) The riff sounds familiar, though I'm not sure if that's just my mind playing tricks on me. This song has a bluesy feel to it as well. (1:18) Already better than the previous song. Much more emotion coming through on this one. Nice.

"Stand Back" - (0:35) I'm really digging the southern rock. This song is fairly bitchin' thus far. (2:04) Oh yes, this song is definitely one to remember; the standout track on the album for me at this point! Has there been a bad song on the album up to this point? Nope. I'm actually surprised by how much I'm enjoying this!!

"Blue Sky" - Sounds like a pretty standard single. *Checks Wikipedia* Nope, but apparently Dickey Betts is singing lead vocals for the first time. That means nothing to me, but hey, fun trivia! (2:15) I'm finding that a lot of the solos for The Allman Brothers Band sound similar. Maybe that's just their style, you know, something that will make them immediately identifiable. It's good. But unvaried. Maybe it evolved more as the band went on. I'm still new to this whole thing.

"Little Martha" - (0:49) Sounds like a Nick Drake song. I can say that now because I've listened to him (thanks, guys). More specifically, I could say that it sounds like Pink Moon-era Drake. (1:43) Assuming this is an instrumental, but it would be cool if someone just said the word "cabbage" right at the end all nonchalantly. (End) Nope.

Verdict: Classic

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Ranking the "Big 3" Music-Streaming Apps for iPhone

So long story short, I purchased my first iPhone recently after months of hesitation and self-debating. As you know, the iPhone comes with the option to install dozens of "apps" that open the device up to all sorts of things. As far as music goes, there are 3 big music apps for the iPhone, all of which are based off of popular websites: Pandora,, and iMeem.

I've been spending the last few days growing accustomed to each app in order to determine which works best for me. Below are my findings.


Pandora is easily the most popular music streaming app available for the iPhone today. A lot of that has to do with the success of its online counterpart (or the "Music Genome Project"). Pandora was one of the first internet radio sites that intelligently played music based off of artists or songs that you happen to enjoy. The app is no different in this regard. Simply start by entering the name of a band - say, "Modest Mouse" - and Pandora will work its magic from there. You have the option to rate a song "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down." Ranking a song "Thumbs Down" not only will keep you from hearing that song again, but decreases the chance that you'll hear a song like that one as well. It is a very intelligent system, hence its popularity.

Intelligent streaming
Ability to bookmark songs for instant playback
"Purchase from iTunes" option
Can change audio quality from "Low" to "High"
"QuickMix" allows you to shuffle all stations.

Pop-up ads
Maximum of 6 song skips per hour
Sound quality, even at "High," is not the best
Cannot pick a specific song to play
iMeem is sort of the stepchild of the music-streaming services. Of the "Big 3," it is the least used, both on the iPhone and on the regular interwebs. Longtime readers know that I use iMeem to stream songs and playlists in some of my posts, so I am very familiar with the service and its limitations. Like Pandora, iMeem will create a playlist for you based off of an artist or song and allow you to rate artists or songs. Its system is not as intelligent as Pandora's, but it does work. iMeem also has featured stations on its front page (currently "Top 100," "Summertime Jams," "Discover," etc.). Where iMeem stands apart is its "My Music" section that allows you to play specific songs that you have uploaded to your iMeem profile on your computer. Granted, it is limited to what you upload, but if you had a lot of time on your hands you could free up a lot of space on your iPhone by moving a portion of your iTunes library to iMeem. It's an option; no more, no less.

"My Music" Section
Featured playlists
"Buy from iTunes" function

Pop-up ads
Maximum of 6 song skips per hour
Sound quality is weak sauce
Some lag in between songs

More often than not, I'm listening to my own personal music collection, not internet radio. is a great service because it intergrates both. For the unacquainted, begins with you installing a small file on your home computer. From here, this file will keep track of every song you listen to on iTunes, WinAmp, your iPod or Zune and then upload that information (called "scrobbling") to to keep an accurate account of what you're actually listening to. is also a social networking site too, so you can add friends and listen to their music library station as well. Like the other 2 apps, allows to play stations based off of your favorite artists (not songs). It also as a pre-made recommendation station that plays songs based on your song library and radio plays. Best of all, the app is like a mini version of the site: complete with friends list, events listings, graphical data on your listening trends, and more!

Integration with your full music library, not just your station plays
"Buy from iTunes" function
No pop-ups
No skip per hour limit (I skipped up to 15 without interference)
A fully-functional mobile version of the real thing
No lag in between songs
"My Library" allows to to create a station featuring only songs in your library.
Tells you if the artist you're listening to is on tour, and lets you browse dates.

Cannot pick specific songs to play
Audio quality is inconsistent


Conclusion: For me the choice is clear. offers the most options in a music streaming service, provided that you download the Scrobbler from the website and listen to music on your computer or iPod. If you're more of a CD person, you may find Pandora to be more to your liking. Really the only positive to iMeem is the ability to play specific songs that you have uploaded to the site. This is good if you have a collection of obscure artists that the other stations just wouldn't ever play. But as I said, if you really want the most-personalized and multi-faceted music-streaming app, I highly recommend

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29 in 2009 - The Clash: "London Calling"

The Clash: London Calling
Originally Released: December 14, 1979
Genres: Punk, Rock, Ska
Rating: 7 out of 10

I've been listening to London Calling for over a month now, but with nothing really concrete or interesting to say about it, I've been holding off on this post for some time. Since I started the 29 in 2009 series at the beginning of the year, this has happened time and time again; where I just don't feel like writing about an album. However, it dawned on me this morning that the 29 in 2009 series was never about the words I wrote, it's about the music I'm listening to. My words don't have to be this grand review if I don't want them to be. So with that in mind, I give you my thoughts on London Calling, a very very good record!

For some reason, when I thought about The Clash I always sort of equated them with The Ramones, Iggy and the Stooges, or the Sex Pistols; this really raw, mostly-talentless, sound that punk rock has always been remembered as. While that may be true for some of their earlier albums that I'm unfamiliar with, that's certainly not the case with London Calling. Sure, Mick Jones has his moments where he's barking out lyrics (like on the title track - the album's best), but the music that accompanies it strays far from the simplistic repetitive nature of their contemporaries.

So oddly enough, I found myself liking London Calling quite a bit, which isn't what I was expecting. The songs on it are incredibly varied in style; from reggae and punk, to rock and pop. There are some songs that don't work for me and are guaranteed skips ("Brand New Cadillac" comes to mind), but for the most part I found the album to be quite short doses. Another reason that it's taken me so long to write this is because, for the most part, I have never been in the mood to listen to this album. It's style doesn't really fit with me right now. A few months down the road, though...who knows?

What should be made abundantly clear, however, is that this album is definitely to be considered a classic, not only for the greatness of some of its songs, but for its ability to set itself apart from the other punk bands of its time. It must be viewed as an essential listen for anyone interested in the genre because it took something that developed in crappy bars and scenes and made it mainstream. Sure, by the time "Rock the Casbah" came around, they may have taken it a bit too far. But London Calling represents a band at the top of their game at the right moment in time. You simply have to become acquainted with it!

Verdict: Classic

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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Thoughts on Michael Jackson

It has all been said over the last two weeks. What will be said below is just some of my thoughts that have been brewing during that time.
  • Dude's albums were spotty, at best. Michael, of course had his success with The Jackson 5 and his various Motown recordings, but for most of us the beginning of his solo career was Off the Wall. It's got some solid songs, and my favorite M.J. track, "Rock With You." It was bested only by Thriller, which with the exception of two songs, is entirely enjoyable. After that, his albums continued to be less consistent in quality, his singles less infectious. All of his albums went to #1, which is incredible considering the length of his career and the various music trends that came and went over those few decades. It says a lot about the man's appeal.
  • That appeal has a lot to do with the fact that he was an absolutely BRILLIANT performer. I would say more than anything, this was his most valuable and entertaining asset. From the early home videos as a child to cheesy videos with Chris Tucker, Jackson f***ing brought it whenever he stepped on stage or in front of a camera. Like many of you, I've spent some time the last few weeks combing over old Michael videos that I hadn't seen in years. Not just his music videos, which are classics in the medium (hell, they REINVENTED the medium), but his live performances as well. Dude knew how to put on a show, and not only that, but how to connect with his fans as well. Such a personal connection to an artist's fans has never been seen, and probably won't be seen again. Which brings me to my next point...
  • Michael loved his fans. This doesn't need to be said, really, but then again it kind of does. Michael lived a very tumultuous life. The paparazzi hounded him, he had multitudes of legal battles, and vas very much a recluse in the latter part of his life. It's not a life that any of us would want to live, but he did it and he endured it for his fans. Michael was a notorious perfectionist in everything that he did, and a lot of that was to make sure that fans weren't disappointed. He wanted to please his fans. Remember, that's why he dangled a baby over a balcony. I bring this up because you really don't see this a whole lot in the entertainment industry anymore, this devotion to your audience. Michael had this from the start he never lost it.
  • Revisionist history will redeem him in the eyes of the public. It has already, and that's for the best. Michael was more than a celebrity, he was an icon. His fame had nothing to do with his bizarre antics or tragic flaws. His legend should have nothing to do with that either! 20 years from now, his music will still be around and still be good (for the most part). Nobody will care about all the other stuff that supposedly happened.
  • The first Michael Jackson album I ever owned was HIStory Book 1. The first tape (1995, remember?) was good ( a greatest hits collection), the second was bad (Shaquille O'Neal rapping) with the exception of "Scream". Nothing really insightful about that comment, just something I thought I'd let you know.
There you have it folks. No unnecessary hype or glorification. Just this way it is for me.

Thanks, Michael.

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