Monday, January 31, 2005

Today’s Ipod Shuffle

1. The Fall, “Feeling Numb” (50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong)
2. Camper Van Beethoven, “Cowboys From Hollywood” (II & III)
3. The Ramones, “Mama’s Boy” (Hey! Ho! Let’s Go)
4. X, “Adult Books” (No Thanks Box Set)
5. The Flaming Lips, “The Spiderbite Song” (The Soft Bulletin)
6. Television, “Little Johnny Jewel” (No Thanks Box Set)
7. Wilco, “Shouldn’t Be Ashamed” (A.M.)
8. Elvis Costello & The Attractions, “Five Gears in Reverse” (Get Happy)
9. The Jam, “In the City” (Compact Snap)
10. Elliott Smith, “Pictures of Me” (Either/Or)
11. Ryan Adams, “New York, New York” (Gold)
12. Steve Earle, “Lonelier Than This” (Transcendental Blues)
13. Billy Bragg & Wilco, “Another Man’s Done Gone” (Mermaid Avenue)
14. Vic Chesnutt, “Sleeping Man” (Drunk)
15. New Order, “Every Little Counts” (Brotherhood)
16. The Pixies, “Debaser” (Doolittle)
17. Guided By Voices, “Watch Me Jumpstart” (Human Amusements at Hourly Rates)
18. The Pretty Things, “Rosalyn” (Nuggets II)
19. Pavement, “Summer Babe (Winter Version)” (Slanted & Enchanted)
20. The Pogues, “Poor Paddy” (Red Roses For Me)
21. The Action, “I’ll Keep Holding On” (Nuggets II)
22. The Fall, “U.S. 80’s-90’s” (50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong)
23. Ryan Adams, “You Will Always Be The Same” (Demolition)
24. Bob Dylan, “On the Road Again” (Bringing It All Back Home)
25. The Pixies, “Hey” (Doolittle)
26. Morrissey, “The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get” (The Best of Morrissey)
27. The Cure, “The Blood” (The Head On the Door)
28. The Decmeberists, “The Bachelor and the Bride” (Her Majesty the Decemberists)
29. The Jayhawks, “Waiting For the Sun” (Hollywood Town Hall)
30. Low, “Pissing” (The Great Destroyer)
Hudson and His Ipod (from the February 2005 Etc. Sioux Falls Magazine)

I, Scott Hudson, am now officially a “flip-flopper”.
No, I haven’t changed my mind about that silly downtown events center. And I’m still not a fan of reality television, lip-synch divas, Wal-Mart, or KELO’s Dirk Diggler Doppler 10,000 super-duper weather predictor.
The topic that has labeled me as a flip-flopper concerns the Apple Ipod. As long as they’ve been available, I have been adamant that any kind of MP3 player is useless for me. I never saw the need for carrying a thousand songs, let alone the 10,000 that can be stored on the Ipod. My theory has always been to just leave the house in the morning with the handful of discs that I think I’m in the mood to hear, along with a compilation or two of my latest favorite tunes. Plus maybe a bootleg or two.
That opinion changed just a few weeks ago when my son received a forty-gig Ipod for Christmas. Suddenly, they looked kind of cool...and two weeks later I had one of my own.
The rise of these miniature devices has created a lot of rambling in the press about the “death of the album”. With online services allowing tracks to be purchased individually, and with Ipod users able to create their own playlists, is there any need for the old-fashioned album? (Note, compact discs are still albums, as they are a “collection of different recordings”.)
It’s a question that’s been raised for decades, and the predictions are always pessimistic. Personally, I don’t see any difference between creating a playlist of favorite songs on an Ipod than making a mix tape twenty years ago or a compilation CDR a few…uh, days ago. Hell, it’s no different than when we stacked a dozen 45-RPM singles on a Close-and-Play turntable in the late 60’s.
There are certain times when you want to hear a full album by a favorite band, and there’s times where you just want to hear a bunch of favorite tunes by many bands in a row. The Ipod actually allows more flexibility by not limiting one to a 90 minute cassette or a 80 minute blank CDR. Songs that I would have never considered for these sorts of compilations have become highlights of my Ipod experience, particularly when the device is in “shuffle” mode. Just today, R.E.M.’s “Wendell Gee” came on – a buried track on Fables of the Reconstruction that I probably haven’t heard in five years – and reminded me of how great their early albums were.
Speaking of the “Ipod shuffle” – much has been made of the mind-reading ability of this feature. It’s spooky. The very first track it conjured up for my pleasure was the Replacements’ “Darlin’ One”, followed by Paul Westerberg’s “As Far As I Know” and Son Volt’s “Windfall”. This machine knows its owner.
Back to the album versus single debate – there has always been artists that are known as album artists, and others that don’t translate well to the album format. I doubt if there’s many Destiny’s Child fans who can honestly say that their entire albums are top-notch. That’s the main reason why greatest hits and remix albums seem to appear every other year.
This will not change as we proceed further and further into the digital era. Pop stars may see a decline in full album sales, but at the same time maybe there won’t be as much pressure for their computer programmers to come up with a dozen different songs.
At the same time, cutting-edge artists will possibly have more freedom to release experimental tracks and remixes that don’t fit the themes or sounds of their full-length albums. I-Tunes, Apple’s online music store, already offers otherwise unreleased material by acts such as Green Day, Westerberg, Morrissey, and Modest Mouse.
Yet I don’t see the rise of these devices as the beginning of the slow death of the compact disc. Sure, it would be nice to get rid of those discs that I’ve downloaded onto my Ipod. And why am I still buying CD’s when I could buy those same albums from I-Tunes?
I continue to buy “hard copies” not just because I like the artwork and lyrics that come with the CD. It’s from years of experience with computers and other electronic devices – everything eventually fails to work. Sometimes they’re dropped; other times they overheat. Hard drives explode and laptops crack. Portable devices are dropped, stolen, lost, or stepped on.
I know many people who have unloaded their entire collections after purchasing an Ipod, and I can’t wait for the day when their little toy bites the big one. Can you imagine losing an entire music collection in one unfortunate incident?
My policy in stocking my Ipod so far is a three-tiered method. New releases are uploaded in their entirety, with lesser tracks and artists to be deleted in the future as space is needed. Favorite artists and albums are also uploaded in their entirety, although not necessarily the entire catalog. A half-dozen Elvis Costello albums is probably more than enough, and if I suddenly have an urge for one of the 25 Stones albums I didn’t upload it will only take a few minutes to add it in. The rest of the artists and songs were added on a case-by-case decision – sometimes a greatest hits album hit most of the high points; other times tracks were pulled from a variety of albums. For instance, the nine-disc Complete Stax Singles box was narrowed down to mainly Otis Redding, Eddie Floyd, and Sam and Dave.
As for online services, one of the disadvantages of the Ipod is that one must use I-Tunes, which also places a few restrictions on song usage (for example, you can only burn your purchases to CD once). But I will use I-Tunes for guilty pleasures and tracks that aren’t available anywhere else. Compact discs will remain my main source of music, and at the very least they will be my backups for that horrible day when my new toy falls into a slushy puddle. Hopefully, that won’t be for quite some time but it’s an inevitable probability in my mistake-prone life.

The First Shuffle Mix:

1. Replacements, “Darlin’ One” (Don’t Tell a Soul)
2. Paul Westerberg, “Actor in the Street” (Suicaine Gratification)
3. R.E.M., “Radio Free Europe” (Murmur)
4. Replacements, “I Won’t” (Don’t Tell a Sould)
5. Son Volt, “Strands” (Wide Swing Tremolo)
6. Pinback, “Sender” (Summer in Abandon)
7. The Jam, “Going Underground” (Compact Snap)
8. Paul Westerberg, “2 Days til Tomorrow” (Mono)
9. Neko Case, “This Little Light” (The Tigers Have Spoken)
10. Bright Eyes, “I Woke Up With a Song In My Head This Morning” (Lua)
11. Ryan Adams, “Rock & Roll” (Rock & Roll)
12. The Cure, “Plainsong” (Disintegration)
13. Ray LaMontagne, “All the Wild Horses” (Trouble)
14. New Order, “Temptation” (Left of the Dial Box Set)
15. Ike Reilly Assassination, “Our Lady of Arturo” (Sparkle in the Finish)
16. The Wrens, “Faster Gun” (Meadowlands)
17. The Smiths, “Stretch Out and Wait” (Louder Than Bombs)
18. Rolling Stones, “Monkey Man” (Let It Bleed)
19. Paul Westerberg, “Knockin’ ‘Em Back” (Come Feel Me Tremble)
20. Wilco, “Nothing'severgonnastandinmyway (Again)” (Summer Teeth)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I May Be a Lazy Sod, But Happy Days Are Ahead

Ok, I realize that I haven’t posted much in recent weeks. There just hasn’t been any time, and the energy has also been lacking. First there was the post-Minneapolis travels malaise – I had looked forward to those concerts for so long that life was a major letdown after they were over. Then there was the whole Christmas season – finding time to put together my end of year disc, the shopping, and the pomp and circumstance of the actual holiday.

So the New Year begins, and guess what happens? I come down with pneumonia. I had been plagued with a cough for quite a few weeks…hell, I had a terrible cold way back in October. After a week of no sleep thanks to a nasty cough, and chest congestion that had become so loud that I had to drown it out with television to get through the night, the family convinced me that I should probably take a trip to the doctor. A week of antibiotics later, and I finally started to improve.

Life is finally back to normal, or as normal as it can be in my horrific life. Actually, things are looking up. First off, there was finally some new music this week. Low, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, Supersuckers, Marianne Faithful, and a live DVD by the Old 97’s were some of the great finds yesterday. But the highlights would have to be the two albums by 24 year-old Nebraska cover-boy Conor Orbst’s Bright Eyes. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning is the album garnering critical accolades; sort of a country-ish folk album that features Emmylou Harris on a couple of tracks. “First Day of My Life” is the track that caught my ear. Digital Ash in a Digital Urn’s more electronic sound is just a step below the quality of Wide Awake, but is still worth owning.

Three great shows were also announced this week. Stereotyprider hails from Arizona, and formed in 1995 after the dissolution of two other bands, Mandingo and Adam’s Alcoholics. As their website bio states, “two members of each band decided that it was time to create something new and started writing innovative new songs integrated with a power and heaviness to distinguish them from other melodic bands”. They just released a new album, Prolonging the Inevitable, but they first caught my eye earlier last year with Under the Influence, a seven song EP of songs by The Cure, Archers of Loaf, Fugazi, The Pixies, Seaweed, The Descendents, and Quicksand. They’re playing February 1 at the Urban Hermit.

Word also came out yesterday that one of my idols is making a surprise appearance in town. Elvis – the real Elvis (at least in my life) – Costello will be at the Pavilion April 15. Obviously, I don’t need to recite Costello’s bio on this page; if you’re checking out my blog it’s safe to say that you probably own at least one of his albums. His latest, The Delivery Man, may be his best album in over a decade, and one of the highlights is “There’s a Story in Your Voice”, featuring additional vocals by the great Lucinda Williams.

And finally, I took the plunge earlier today and bought tickets to see God, AKA Paul Westerberg, at the Emporium in Kansas City on March 4. I was bummed when he first announced shows on the West Coast, and started to check out Kathy’s fan page (see link to the right) when he started adding Midwestern dates. To celebrate, here’s a solo version of “My Dad” that he recorded for AOL last fall.

One last note – there’s a noteworthy omission from my list of 2004’s best releases. If I was to make that list today, I would have to include Arcade Fire’s debut album. Funeral was recorded under duress; three members of the band lost loved ones during the early stages of the band, although on a happier note co-leaders Win Butler and Regime Chassagne were married. The resulting album has been slowly gaining notice by critics and music lovers; here’s “Neighborhood #1 – Tunnels” for your listening pleasure.
Introducing the unauthorized KELOLAND Storm Watch Drinking Game: Winter Edition

This game was forwarded to me by Cade from the KRRO. I was inspired enough to add a few of my own rules:

1. Every time Angela Kenneke says "burrrr" after the forecast - Take 1 drink and blink 10 times.
2. Whenever Scott Mundt converts snowfall to rainfall amounts - Take shot of peppermint schnapps.
3. The last person to yell PEDOPHILE when Shawn Cable announces "bus stop weather" - Takes 1 drink.
4. Whenever a car honks at the "how's the weather on the street" reporter - Take 1 drink (Down your beer, if the reporter gets splashed or blown over).
5. Every time Jay Trobec says, "it's colder because there is snow cover" - Take 1 small sip.
6. Whenever the KELOLAND Forecast Team is shown huddled up in the STORM CENTER - Have a group-hug and never speak of it again to anyone.
7. Whenever reporter throws glass of water into the air to see if it freezes - Dump beer on person to your immediate right.
8. Whenever Kevin Smith from Public Works is interviewed live from City Hall about what the plows are doing, how much de-icer is being applied to the streets, how much is left in the snow budget or which zone they are towing cars - Take a shot of minty Rumplemins.
9. Every time Brian Karstens reminds you to watch "Murder You Wrote", "Madlock" or "Touched by an Angel" on HDTV - take a drink and ask yourself, "Why is the weather guy telling me what to watch?"
• Keep plenty of beer on hand throughout the winter in case KELO-TV interrupts regularly scheduled programming for extended STORM OF THE CENTURY coverage.
• If you followed KELO cub-reporter emergency kit guidance, take the frozen can of pineapple from the your trunk of your car to mix a delicious, tropical cocktail.
• Don't worry if there is no severe weather occurring. KELOLAND will still provide the most up to date, accurate, extreme weather coverage in the eighteen state region.
Hopefully, these simple, but effective rules will turn your storm encounters into a much more enjoyable experience. Look for the new, exciting KELOLAND "Will the Sun Come Up Tommorrow?" drinking game at an Ace Hardware Store near you soon. Also available in paperback from K-Land Publishing is the autobiography, "Hemingweight: The Memoirs, Thoughts and Unsolicited Opinions of an Overweight and Lonely Retired Newsman" and the scandalous tell-all, "Do We Really Want to Know What's in Bobbi's Closet?"

Hudson’s All-Weather Additions

I would like to thank whoever came up with this game, but I have a few other ideas that can be included even when there’s not a storm alert. But does that ever occur? It seems to me that KELO’s studio was the training grounds for the Department of Homeland Security’s silly little color codes. By the way, are we currently in red, green, or aqua?
1. Whenever Shawn Cable advises us on what to wear, everybody has to take off one article of clothing.
2. Whenever there’s a “team report” that’s actually nothing more than a camera angle change between stories, everybody must pass their drink to the right.
3. When Jaine Andrews or Whitney Beam tells us about an exciting new drug for seniors, pop a pill of your choice.
4. Jump to your feet and sing “YMCA” when “Gay-tive”-American Andy Harvey does his nightly West River story. Follow that up with a blended foo-foo drink.
5. If the pimply-faced new Beavis-clone intern does a story, start talking in Beavis-speak. “Yeah, yeah, Butthead, that’s cool”.
6. Call your drug dealer whenever there’s a “KELO connection”.
7. Guzzle a forty-ouncer whenever any KELO reporter pulls out the gang member card, or when the perp walk footage is primarily minorities.
8. Boone’s Farm for everybody when Doug Lund does a puff-piece on any small-town business.
9. Cristal for everybody when their vapid sports reporters rip off ESPN catch-phrases. Those idiots make terminally white Dan Patrick sound like Snoop Dogg.
10. To ensure that you’re drunk by the end of the broadcast, or if you have a high tolerance, take a sip any time their favorite sponsors – Sioux Valley, Wells Fargo, McKennan – are somehow worked into a story. You can also soak up your liquor with a big slice of pizza whenever there’s a story on that fat guy…and I don’t mean Hemmingsen.