Missing Records

February 6, 2007

One of the side-effects of re-ripping your CD collection into iTunes is that you get an idea of which CDs you used to own have disappeared. Can anyone help me out by admitting they borrowed one of these CDs and have neglected to return then?

(Rob and Karen — I’m looking in your direction…)

Living with a Hernia

January 18, 2007

Karma’s a bitch. After spending most of the previous few days giggling to myself while replaying the music video to Living with a Hernia to myself in my head, I did something odd to a muscle somewhere deep inside my gut. Don’t ask me which muscle it is, but it’s the one that you really need in order to get up out of a seat, roll over in bed, bend over to pick something up, sit down on the toilet … you get the idea. Doing any of these things result in incredible pain.

I think I got this injury on Saturday afternoon by getting into Rob’s car (an average-sized Subaru station wagon from the 1980s), but I’ve got no idea how. Maybe I was tense from listing to Rob and Sam bitch and bicker like an old married couple. Regardless, I’m well on the road to recovery now.

I’m hoping I’ll be close to 100% by Saturday, as I really want to go to The Tote to see The Bakelite Age’s CD launch. Fans of good time rock ‘n’ roll should do the same.

“Weird Al” Yankovic

January 9, 2007

Anyone else interested in coming along to “Weird Al” Yankovic on March 23rd at Hamer Hall? I’ll be getting my tickets later this week.

I’ve finally figured out a way to run Impulse Tracker under Mac OS X.

  1. Download DOSBox and Impulse Tracker. DOSBox emulates the DOS operating system and some common hardware, including the SoundBlaster 16 and Gravis UltraSound sound cards.

  2. Unzip Impulse Tracker and put it inside an otherwise empty folder. I created a folder named DOS inside my home directory, then copied Impulse Tracker into another directory inside of that.

  3. Install and run DOSBox. Installation is as simple as copying DOSBox.app into your Applications folder.

  4. Once DOSBox has fired up, you’ll need to mount a directory on your hard disk as your C drive. To do this, type MOUNT C /Users/craiga/DOS into DOSBox (where /Users/craiga/DOS is a folder that contains Impulse Tracker).

  5. Switch to the C drive by typing C:, then fire up Impulse Tracker using the command line IT s7. This will force Impulse Tracker to use the emulated Gravis UltraSound (there seems to be some trouble with the emulated SoundBlaster 16).

  6. Impulse Tracker will now be running and will be usable, though playback will be a little jumpy. To make it smoother, switch to full-screen mode by hitting Command-Option-Shift-Return. To switch back to a windowed view, use that same key combination.

OMFG!!!

December 8, 2006

Friday, 23rd March, 2007. It’s gonna be awesome.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cover Bands

September 4, 2006

The discussion between Andrew and Polly about cover bands (and why they’re hated) has really got me thinking.

Writing a good song is really, really hard. Walking into any original music venue in Melbourne will tell you that. While I’ve got all the respect in the world for bands getting out there and plying their trade, most of their songs suck. The bands I’ve been involved with are just as guilty of this as anyone else.

So why wouldn’t you start a cover band? The hardest part of starting a band is writing songs, so why not draw on the collected efforts of every songwriter who has gone before you? You could say that it’s the difference between being a musician and an artist, but who would deny the artistry of Johnny Cash, Miles Davis or the multitude of other great artists who have made great careers out of (at least in part) performing the songs of others?

Most successful bands get around their average songwriting by being entertaining. I don’t think that U2 have ever written a really great song. U2 became popular by working hard and having a really good live show; not by being great songwriters. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Most successful bands are in the same boat. Many of them have written one great song that got them noticed, but their continued success is due to hard work and providing entertainment.

This is why most bands fail. They’re just plain boring, or they just don’t work hard enough. Again, I’ll put up my hand and admit I’m guilty of this, too. I guess a bad band is just a bad band, but a bad band playing good songs is better than a bad band playing average songs when you’re trying to sell bourbon and coke.

I was browsing the iTunes music store last night when I noticed they were selling this box set of three Bob Dylan albums (Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind, and Love and Theft) for $0.99, which is even cheaper than the equivalent on allofmp3.com. If you’re interested in Bob Dylan, you might as well grab a copy while the going’s good.

Sydney

July 14, 2006

I just realised that I haven’t written anything about my recent trip up to Sydney.

For the uninitiated, I was invited up to Sydney last weekend to do a DJ set at the launch party for Chaos Is An Order Edition #2, which features an interview with Look Who’s Toxic. I’d always wanted to DJ, so I jumped at the chance to do it — my theory was that if I stuffed it up badly, at least I wouldn’t know anyone in the audience

Despite a serious lack of sleep and the beginnings of a cold, I had an awesome time.

After getting home from Buck 65 the previous night around 1:30am, I was up again at 5:00am and in Sydney by 8:30am. I spent most of the morning wandering the streets of the city, drinking coffee and trying to find some clothes to buy. I didn’t find anything.

My hotel room became available at 2:00pm. I’d never DJed before and was feeling pretty nervous, so I spent most of the afternoon listening to tunes on my iPod, making little notes that would help me along the way and drawing a big, convoluted chart of what songs I felt would run into with other songs well.

Around 7:00pm I found the venue, had a few drinks and met up with the organisers of the party. I wasn’t supposed to be starting until 10:00, but I figured I’d need a few drinks to calm my nerves. Thankfully I got to have a play with the CD players and the mixer, so I was kind of familiar with what I was doing.

The turnout for the launch was pretty disappointing, but that was fine by me — the combination of the whiskey and lower than expected numbers meant I went into my set with my confidence sky-high.

The first song I played (Dang by Buck 65, taken from Strong Arm) was recieved very, very well — pretty girls and record nerds (two of my favourite kinds of people) were coming up to the desk, asking about the song and letting me know they thought it was awesome, which was really cool. Unfortunately some of the record nerds bum rushed my set and started playing an obscure 7″ record from the 80s which was a bit of a bummer, but I got to play out the rest of my set, so that was cool.

After that, the story follows the usual downhill path you’ve probably come to expect from me. I ran into Spod and got talking with the pretty girls from the party, but the ol’ memory starts getting a little shaky after that point. The next thing I remember is waking up in my hotel room alone and fully clothed at 4:00am.

Anyway, in summary, if anyone needs a DJ to play Rock, Pop, Electro, Hip Hop and Country music, give me a call. I’d definitely be up for it again.

Like any good upwardly mobile young man, you’ve got your record collection in iTunes (probably on an external hard drive, because you’ve got way too many tunes to fit on that piddly 60GB drive that Apple shipped the computer with). You also like the idea of making a mixtape for your sweetie (a-la DJ Rob Gordon), but iTunes gives you no option for doing mixing tracks, which is essential to the carefully crafted emotional message you’re trying to convey.

Your options are to shell out hundereds of dollars for something like ProTools (you’re not that upwardly mobile), or hand-crafting your mix in a wave editing program and losing the ability to mark tracks on your CD. This just isn’t good enough.

Enter iMixtape.

This simple application will allow you to grab tracks from iTunes, place them on a grid, fade them in and out of each other and place track markers. iMixtape will then burn it to a CD for you. It’d look something like this:


Those ‘volume envelopes’ indicate the volume of the track. The top of the track indicates 100% volume, the bottom indicates 0% volume. The ‘envelope points’ are the parts that are dragable. There’s always an envelope point at the start and end of each volume envelope. Additional envelope points can be created by clicking on any point of the volume envelope. You can drag these envelope points around inside the track, and the volume envelope will move to create straight lines between them.

Does this make sense? I think I’d buy this application for $20. It would be fun. Would anyone else?Is this a dumb idea or a good idea?

Buck 65

July 11, 2006

Buck 65 on Friday night was the best show I’ve seen in a long, long time.

I was pretty skeptical when I saw that his “band” was a CD player and a single turntable, but within five minutes the entire audience was hanging from his every word. It was inspirational.

The show basically comprises of the character Buck 65 standing at the microphone, delivering his poetic ramblings to backing tracks built from sampled guitars, pianos, synths and long-forgotten country records, punctuated with some extremely sensual appearances from Mrs. Buck 65 (Claire Berest) and some of the most bizarre, poignant stories you’ll ever hear at a hip hop show.

I really don’t know how to describe it properly, but if you’re a fan of Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, Hip Hop music or storytelling, check out sides one and two of Strong Arm, the downloadable mixtape he’s made available on his web site.