Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Song of the Day

"I never travel far/without a little Big Star!" Alex Chilton and friends give us our Thanksgiving theme song.

Big Star - Thank You Friends

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I meant to upload a bunch of tracks from this week's new releases, but I spent too much of the night loading them onto my iTouch. Tomorrow expect a mega-post of new material.

So today here's a rare Wilco track that was available as a free download earlier this year. You may recognize it from a series of Volkswagon commercials.

Wilco - The Thanks You Get

Monday, November 24, 2008

I Love My iTouch!

How does Apple do it? It seems like every year they come up with a new Ipod that I just have to own.
This year it’s the Ipod Touch. Yes, they have been around for a couple of years, but a couple of months ago saw the release of the latest generation of players, including a 32-gig model. That’s still too small for my tastes, but it goes without saying that I’m obviously not a typical music listener.
Basically, the “Itouch” is an Iphone without the phone…or an Ipod with internet access. Even if you don’t use the online features, though, it’s a much more convenient player than the “classic” Ipod models.
This convenience comes from a touch screen (hence the name), which is much easier to navigate than the wheel on traditional Ipods. Anybody who has ever attempted to bring up an artist, track, or album towards the end of the alphabet has been annoyed by the time it takes on the classic Ipods. One the Itouch, you just touch the first letter and a quick scroll gets you to whatever you desire to hear.
Once you have made your choice, or picked a playlist (including the new “Genius” feature, which creates playlists based on a song of your choosing), the screen is filled with the album artwork. Info on the artist, album, and track is shown at the top of the screen (although I’d like to see the size of this material to be increased). More controls (pause, skip, replay, etc.) are shown at the bottom of the screen. Turning the player in any direction causes this material to shift accordingly.
Obviously, the bigger screen makes video playback more enjoyable on the Itouch. You’re still limited to material that’s in the QuickTime format, though, so most treats found online won’t play without a conversion program. With Itunes increasing their video choices, this may eventually become a more popular feature.
As stated earlier, the Itouch is more than just an Ipod. Here are some of the additional features:

Online Access. A number of programs are built into the Itouch that requires an internet connection. Apple currently does not have subscription programs for the Itouch (hopefully they will soon), but you can connect to any Wi-Fi setup.
Once connected, the online experience with the Itouch far exceeds what I’ve found available on any “smart phone”. Pages quickly load on Apple’s Safari browser, and sections of pages can be enlarged for easier reading by using two fingers to “un-pinch” the desired section. To enter web addresses (or any text), a touch pad keyboard appears on the screen. This takes a bit to get used to, but again it is preferable to any cell phone keyboard.
YouTube. Instead of accessing YouTube through Safari, the Itouch has its own viewer for the site. Searching for videos is a breeze, and is automatically set for optimal viewing. You can also save your favorites, or email the links to friends.
Other Online Features. Just like blackberries or smart phones, the Itouch has the usual programs for email, contacts, notes, and calendar. You can also check stocks (who would want to these days?), take a peak at the weather forecast, and get directions. But you’re not just limited to what’s built into the device.
Apps. This latest generation of Ipod Touches also includes access to Apple’s “App Store”, where you can download hundreds of games and programs. Many of the games play like those on the Nintendo Wii, where moving the actual player determines how the game proceeds.
Some applications are available for a fee, but quite a few cost absolutely nothing. An overview of what’s available could fill multiple pages, but here’s a few free music and social networking apps that I’ve found quite useful:

Social Network Applications
Facebook and Myspace. Sure, you can just use the web browser to access your myspace or facebook accounts. These apps, though, are written especially for the Itouch, and are actually easier to navigate than their traditional online sites. Facebook, in particular, is much more organized, as you’re never more than one click away from any of the features of your account.
Twitter. There are a handful of apps that allow you to update your twitter account. Currently, I’m using Twittervision, although the fact that your subscribed Twitter friends aren’t accessible will probably lead me to check out another app. Still, just being able to remotely post is enough to keep me satisfied for the time being.
Yelp. Have you just had a wonderful (or terrible) meal at a local restaurant? Conversely, do you want to know what people think of a business you’re considering frequenting? The yelp app allows you to not only read and write reviews of any business, but will provide information such as phone numbers, parking, and directions.

Music Applications
Last.Fm. This app is a music geek’s paradise that will potentially increase your Itouch library well beyond its storage capacity. Last.FM is a Facebook-ish site where you download a program to your home computer that monitors the music you play on your computer and Ipods. Besides compiling statistics on the music you and your friends are playing, every track is added to your online “library”.
The Itouch app for Last.FM allows you to access everything you have ever played for streaming on your player. Tracks from your library are randomly played, but you do have some controls. You can skip songs, highlight them as “loved” favorites, or mark them to never be played again. Anything that is played is also added to the statistics on your profile.
Besides featuring your own library, Last.FM also works like Pandora (also available as a free app). Just type in the name of a performer, and you’ll hear tracks that are considered similar in style or sound to that act. Or you can let the site recommend music that fits your profile.
Playback appears similar to when the Ipod is playing. Album artwork is shown on the screen, with the track information listed at the top of the screen. An additional feature, though, is the one-click availability of the artist’s biography. This can be highly useful when you’re allowing Last.FM to choose the tunes, and with a quick click you can also purchase any song from Itunes.
MPR Radio. Minnesota Public Radio offers an app that allows you to stream not only their new and classical channels, but also The Current, their acclaimed indie rock station.
AOL Radio. I’ve always been hesitant to recommend anything under the AOL banner, but their streaming radio app may be the best thing they’ve ever created. Literally, hundreds of “stations” are available in all genres. Besides streams of regular terrestrial stations, there are online stations that range from the obvious to the obscure.
A quick glance at the “alternative” options amazes even a cynic like myself. An all-Radiohead channel? Brilliant. How about an all-Clash channel? Orgasmic. Besides similar channels devoted to other singular artists, one can also find streams of acclaimed indie stations in San Francisco, LA, Portland, and Boston, along with genre-based stations devoted to (among others) ska, alt-country, Britpop, classic punk, goth, and even emo.
Music channels are not the only options. There are groups of channels devoted to comedy, news, sports, and talk radio. WCCO from Minneapolis is a channel of local interest, but sports fans may want to check out New York’s WFAN.
SimplifyMedia. As much as I love Last.FM, this app takes the expansion idea even further. If you’ve got a hard drive full of music that won’t fit on your Itouch, download this program and you’ll get direct access to any song. You can also join up with other SlinkMedia users and get similar access to their libraries. Plus you can also read bios and lyrics of the artists and songs you’re playing. Currently, I can play any of up to 46,000 tunes.
Flycast. This app, along with a program called Orb on your home computer, also allows you to directly access the files on your computer. In this case, you can also play videos. Here’s the big news, though. If you have set up Orb to access your satellite radio accounts, you can now get your favorite satellite channels on your player. The downside to both Flycast and Simplify is that you always have to have a home computer running to access the files.
Future Apps. Every week, Itunes has new apps for both the Iphone and Itouch. While most of these are game-related, there is talk that somebody is working on a satellite radio streamer. In fact, it now appears that Starplayr is close to releasing such an app. If Apple follows through with an internet subscription service, I’ll be pulling out my XM and Sirius receivers out of my vehicle and subscribing to full-time internet on the Itouch. If I wasn’t so emotionally connected to certain satellite shows, the streaming programs (along with the stored music) that I’ve described above would be enough to entertain me on the longest trip.

The Monday Song of the Day

On today's Ron and Fez Show, there was a short discussion on former Yankees Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson, who made headlines in the mid-70's by swapping wives. Earlier this year, REM's Peter Buck, former Dream Syndicate leader Steve Wynn and a few other artists released an entire album of baseball songs. This online bonus track told the story of Kekich and Peterson.

The Baseball Project - The Ballad of Mike Kekich and Fritz Peterson

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Song of the Day

"It Don't Come Easy" was a big hit for Ringo, but this recently unearthed outtake from Harrison's All Things Must Pass album shows that it was possibly originally intended for George's use.

George Harrison, It Don't Come Easy

Worst Promo Ever

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Song of the Day

We'll see how long I keep this up before I get bored, but I'm going to start posting a song every day. To get it going, I've got three songs for today.

We'll start with one of the bonus tracks from the Replacements reissue series, an outtake cover of the cheesy 70's bubblegum track "Heartbeat, It's a Love Beat".

Replacements, Heartbeat It's a Lovebeat

The second selection is a bootleg recording of Neil Young covering the Beatles "A Day In the Life" at Farm Aid earlier this year.

Neil Young - A Day In the Life

Those that purchased the limited edition version of Radiohead's In Rainbows received a second disc of material. "Bangers and Mash" should have made the original album, as it was one of the highlights of the show I saw this summer.

Radiohead, Bangers and Mash

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

KSFY News: Tabloids Have Nothing On You

Anybody who has regularly read this blog knows that I’ve been pretty hard on the local news channels (with reason). Yet there’s one station that I’ve rarely take the time to bitch and moan.
Obviously, I’m talking about KSFY. For the most part, I’ve never really been upset with them. I’ve always considered Phil Schreck to be the preeminent weather personality in the area, and outside of the silly “Thor Challenge”, their sports has always been top-notch. Well, at least you can count on them actually giving the scores.
As for their news coverage, while they weren’t outstanding they rarely offended me…which in this town is saying something. I always believed that if their parent company had put some cash behind them they could actually challenge KELO.
Well, if there’s any justice we won’t have to worry about them challenging anybody. For quite some time, I had heard some rumblings from former employees about a new regime but had never really taken the time to check it out. Trust me, there’s enough unintentional humor on KELO and KDLT to get me through each day.
Last Friday, though, I received a phone call that I just had to check out their 10 o’clock newscast. Oh, and to also have my recording system set up, as there was going to be a feature people would talk about for at least a few days.
A few minutes after the broadcast commenced, I felt a sickening feeling in my stomach. Surely this has to be a joke. “Wheel of Justice”? WTF? And this is part of an insipid pledge to “get tough on crime”? Um, isn’t that the police’s job? Isn’t the role of the news to report on crime?
This 4 ½ minute segment may have been the “cringiest” thing I’ve ever witnessed. Forget about the cable access production values. Forget about the cheesy musical backing track in the background. Definitely forget about the uncomfortable interview with a police spokesman at the beginning of the segment.
Like all porn, you have to focus on the money shot. They actually had a wheel with names and faces of people wanted for dangerous crimes such as failure to appear and failure to pay child support. They spun it and showed a mug shot of the “winner”, along with a bio that made it sound like the person in question had gunned down an entire farm town.
Is this really what we desire and/or expect from local TV news? How can anybody involved with this farce show their faces in public? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since seemingly every story they aired that night (and from what I’ve been told every night) is accompanied by over-the-top bombastic “Breaking News” graphics. They’ve become a cross between TMZ, Fox News, and Maury Povitch. Please, I beg you. Just stop it. Give us the news, and leave the tabloid-ish delivery in the gutter where it belongs.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New Springsteen Album In January

NEW YORK (AP) — Five days before he takes the stage at the Super Bowl, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will release a new album written and recorded during breaks in their concert tour.

The release of "Working on a Dream" on Jan. 27, only 15 months after "Magic," is unusually quick for an artist with a reputation as a perfectionist.

Springsteen said he was juiced by the return to a more pop sound on "Magic" and kept writing after its release. Producer Brendan O'Brien, when he heard the new songs, suggested "let's keep going," Springsteen said in a statement.

As with "Magic," the new album was recorded with the E Street Band and O'Brien primarily in Atlanta.

"I hope `Working on a Dream' has caught the energy of the band fresh off the road from some of the most exciting shows we've ever done," Springsteen said. "All the songs were written quickly, we usually used one of our first few takes and we all had a blast making this one from beginning to end."

Springsteen is the latest rocker to perform during halftime at the Super Bowl, after the Rolling Stones, U2 and Paul McCartney. This year's game will be played Feb. 1 in Tampa, Fla.

The album also comes a week after the inauguration of Barack Obama. Springsteen performed at some rallies for Obama this fall.

The album has 12 tracks listed, with two more — "The Wrestler" and "A Night With the Jersey Devil" — considered bonus tracks.

Complete Track Listing:

01 Outlaw Pete
02 My Lucky Day
03 Working on a Dream
04 Queen of the Supermarket
05 What Love Can Do
06 This Life
07 Good Eye
08 Tomorrow Never Knows
09 Life Itself
10 Kingdom of Days
11 Surprise, Surprise
12 The Last Carnival
13 The Wrestler *
14 A Night With the Jersey Devil *"

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bill Maher Nails It

From Real Time Nov. 14, 2008

The one part of the economy that is doing well I swear to god is the gun industry. Since Obama got elected gun sales have shot up because there's a, you know, this is, I read this in USA Today, a survey of Americans, how they felt about Obama's election, 67% proud, 59% excited, 30% pessimistic, 27% afraid. So we'd like to f#%k with those people right now. The people who are afraid. A little something we call Obama World.

In Obama World all guns will be confiscated and melted down to make a giant statue of Allah.

The National Anthem will be changed from the Star Spangled Banner to Gin and Juice.

The colors of the American flag will be changed from red, white and blue to black, black and leopard print.

The Department of Health and Human services will now be the Department of Earth, Wind and Fire.

And the Obama Cabinet will consist of Shaft, Dolemite, Foxy Brown, Mandingo, Cleopatra Jones, Superfly and Blacula.

And finally the government will listen in on your phone calls, search you without a warrant, arrest you without charges and hold you without a trial. Oh wait, that's now.

Monday, November 10, 2008

New XMSirius Music Lineup

This wasn't entirely unexpected, as one of the ways this merger will cut costs is by merging duplicated channels. Yet I'm not really excited that XM's alternative channel has been chosen over Sirius' Left of Center.

4 – 40’S on 4
5 – 50’s on 5
6 – 60’s on 6
7 – 70’s on 7
8 – 80’s on 8
9 – 90’s on 9
10 – The Roadhouse* was America
11 – Nashville^ Clear Channel
12 – Outlaw Country* was X Country
13 – Willie’s Place
14 – Bluegrass Junction
15 – The Village
16 – The Highway* was Highway 16
17 – Prime Country* was US Country
18 – Elvis Radio+ NEW CHANNEL
20 – 20 on 20
21 – KISS^ Clear Channel
22 – MIX^ Clear Channel
23 – SIRIUS XM Love* was The Heart
24 – The Pink Channel^ Clear Channel
25 – The Blend
26 – The Pulse* was Flight 26
28 – Escape
29 – BBC Radio 1* replaced Upop
30 – Pop 2k* was XM Hitlist
32 – The Message
33 – Praise* was Spirit
34 – enlighten
39 – Led Zeppelin Radio
40 – Deep Tracks
41 – Hair Nation+ was BoneYard
42 – XMLM
43 – SIRIUS XM U* was XMU
44 – 1st Wave* was Fred
45 – The Spectrum* replaced XM CafĂ©
46 – Classic Vinyl* was Top Tracks
47 - Alt Nation* was Ethel
48 – Octane* was Squizz
49 – Classic Rewind* was Big Tracks
50 – The Loft
51 – Coffee House+ NEW CHANNEL
52 – Faction+ NEW CHANNEL
53 – Boneyard (returning in January when AC/DC is gone)
54 – Lithium* was Lucy
55 – Radio Margaritaville+ NEW CHANNEL
56 – Jam_On+ NEW CHANNEL
57 – Grateful Dead Radio+ NEW CHANNEL
58 – E Street Radio+ NEW CHANNEL
59 – Underground Garage+ NEW CHANNEL
60 – Soul Town* was Soul Street
62 – Heart & Soul* was Suite 62
64 – Groove
66 – Shade+ was Raw
67 – Hip Hop Nation* was The City
68 – The Heat
70 – Real Jazz
71 – Watercolors
72 – Spa*~ was AudioVisions / moved
73 – SIRIUSLY Sinatra* was High Standards
74 – BB King’s Bluesville
75 – On Broadway~ moved
76 – Cinemagic~ moved
77 – SIRIUS XM Pops*~ was XM Pops / moved
78 – Symphony Hall*~ was XM Classics / moved
79 – Metropolitan Opera Radio*~ was VOX / moved
80 – Area replaced The Move
81 – BPM
84 – SIRIUS XM Chill* was XM Chill
85 – Caliente~ moved
86 – The Joint~ moved
87 – The Verge~ moved
88 – Air Musique~ moved
89 – Sur La Route~ moved

KEY: * - merged/adjusted | ^ - Clear Channel Music Channels, w/ commercials
~ - moved channel | + - NEW channel
2 XMX - gone
18 No Shoes - Gone
51 Metallica - gone
53 Fungus - gone (but Lou Brutus is DJing on Octane 48 and Faction 52)
65 Rhyme - gone (Sub Sonic is moving to Hip-Hop Nation)
72 Beyond Jazz - gone
76 Fine tuning - gone
82 The System - gone (will remain on XMRO)
83 Chrome - Gone
91 Viva - gone
92 Aguila - gone
93 Caricia - gone
125 Weather Channel - gone
162 E! - gone

Monday, November 03, 2008

Oh, Sandy!

From KDLT - video is available at the site.

What the owner of Olivia's Adult Supercenter in Tea calls a get out the vote effort angered a candidate he says he supports. A banner on the front of Olivia’s reads "help us support Manny Steele and Sandy Jerstad, vote November 4th." KDLT’s Stacy Steinhagen found out what both sides say it really means.

Olivia's owner David Eliason says, "We wanted to support Rep. Steele and Sen. Jerstad."

David Eliason says this banner went up Saturday. A couple hours later surveillance tape captured what district 12 State Senator Sandy Jerstad thought about it.

Jerstad says to Olivia's employee who asked who she was, "I'm Sandy Jerstad and I'm calling the cops unless you take that sign down immediately."

Sen. Jerstad says of the incident, "I did raise my voice, fine for me to raise my voice, I believe, at that thing being done."

Jerstad says the banner was retaliation from Olivia’s owner for legislation she'd proposed to regulate businesses like his.

Jerstad says, "He didn't like that so he thought he'd get back at me, he'd kind of smear my name by putting my name on his building."

A charge Eliason denies.

"It was good to see Sen. Jerstad and Rep. Steele were both instrumental in getting something passed in South Dakota to put some regulations to regulate these businesses statewide," Eliason says.

Eliason says sales actually are up since state rep. Steele's legislation became law restricting their hours to closing at 2 am and reopening at 8 am and he adds state Senator Jerstad still has his vote. As for his public support of her, police Jerstad called on are powerless against the first amendment.

Eliason says, "The sign is staying right where it's at until I decide to take it down."

Jerstad says, "In the end, after rethinking about it, I thought this doesn't matter at all, it's not going to make a difference at all."

The voters will soon decide what the endorsement means to them. State Senator Jerstad tells us her anger at Olivia’s was fueled in part by several postcards sent out by her opposition.

She says their claims that she'll raise taxes and vote against second amendment rights are false. State representative Manny Steele tells us he believes the owner of Olivia’s wants them in office because the owner believes they're easy on businesses like his. Steele adds it's in Eliason's rights to endorse whoever he likes. And Steele says it's been an advantage for him because several voters have been calling him.