Spotify Lands in USA Tomorrow!

Breaking news on Engadget: Spotify will be available in the US as of tomorrow.

Like I said in my last post about Spotify, I’ll give it a shot. I’m a little more excited about this than I thought I would be, but … this is pretty cool. Guess we’ll see what happens, right?

Vika Yermolyeva–Need I Say More?

The other day, I was playing around on YouTube, looking at old Metallica vids. As per the usual, there was a slew of crap vids that made their way in to the sidebar “If you like this video, then you’ll like …” list of other videos that just happened to have a Metallica metatag. One video ended up being pretty cool. In fact, it was jaw-dropping. Wanna see it? Cuz … seriously, it’s untouchable.

So there it is. If you go to her website, you will be further stunned at just how prolific her repetoire is. She covers everything from Depeche Mode to Opeth. Her version of Tool’s “Sober” is unbelievable.

My favorite part of her YouTube vids is that she has a running clock in the background. Not so much to track the length of the video, but to show you that it’s not edited. Everything is done in one take. At least as far as I can see, it is. That’s pretty cool. Amazing, even.

Anyway, check her out. I wish she had some purchaseable CDs, but all the music on her site is free, so that’s nice. She also has a PayPal donation page. Her goal is to get a band together and make a CD, which I cannot wait to hear.

Thank You, NASA

Lit up with anticipation
We arrive at the launching site
The sky is still dark, nearing dawn
On the Florida coastline

Circling choppers slash the night
With roving searchlight beams
This magic day when super-science
Mingles with the bright stuff of dreams

Floodlit in the hazy distance
The star of this unearthly show
Venting vapours, like the breath
Of a sleeping white dragon

Crackling speakers, voices tense
Resume the final count
All systems check, T minus nine
As the sun and the drama start to mount

The air is charged
A humid, motionless mass
The crowds and the cameras,
The cars full of spectators pass
Excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife
Technology…high, on the leading edge of life

The earth beneath us starts to tremble
With the spreading of a low black cloud
A thunderous roar shakes the air
Like the whole world exploding

Scorching blast of golden fire
As it slowly leaves the ground
Tears away with a mighty force
The air is shattered by the awesome sound

Like a pillar of cloud
The smoke lingers high in the air
In fascination
With the eyes of the world
We stare…

These are the lyrics to Rush’s “Countdown” from their Signals album. They were fortunate enough to attend the first shuttle launch in 1981.

I remember watching the first shuttle launch when I was a young kid. It still is one of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen. Today marks the last launch in NASA’s space shuttle program. As I sit here typing this, my daughters are asleep. I think, anyway. Actually, they’re probably awake. I wouldn’t know … I’m sitting in my cube at work on a typical day off, but there’s too much to do before my project can be released. But I digress.

The shuttle is on track to take off in about 45 minutes. I’m torn between racing home so I can watch this with my girls as my mom watched with me back in April 1981. Racing is starting to win out. I can always come back to work.

Yah. Gotta run. Er … drive.

Concert Announcement: Samantha Crain

Just read a tweet from Samantha Crain. Apparently, she’s coming back to Salt Lake again, playing at The Urban Lounge in support of Blitzen Trapper on July 19th.

This summer is just getting crazier with all the concerts. I heard back from Marissa Nadler’s tour booking agent that she’ll be playing here on her next west coast dates, so that’s cool, but she doesn’t know when that’ll be.

Welcome back, Samantha. 🙂

Spotify Coming to the USA

This isn’t what I was referencing in yesterday’s post, but as I was perusing TUAW’s site, I noticed this little gem. I’ve heard enough about it that my curiosity is piqued. Unfortunately, due to my geographic location, their official website only shows me a “COMING SOON” and “Please enter your email addres, blah blah blah” screen. No Google links work; I’m always redirected to the same page. Annoying.

So I’m left with reading what’s on Wikipedia. How  reliable …

There are 3 versions: Free, Paid (~5 Euro) and Premium (~10 Euro). Free is what it is, but it’s an ad-based version. Again, annoying. Paid has no ads, so that’s a perk, BUT you can’t use it with your mobile device. That’s where the premium version comes in. For double the monthy subscription price, you can stream to your moble device. You can also save music for off-line use.

Lots of trending on Twitter about it coming to the USA. Trent Reznor is excited. Things I’m not sold on:

I’m fine with a subscription function to the app. What I’d also like to see is integration with MY music that I can stream to another desktop or to my mobile device. If it can do that, great. If not … hmm. Not sure how I feel about paying approximately $120 a year to stream music. For one, I listen to music mostly at work, occasionally at home. I’m fairly confident that my building is lead-lined; I can never get more than 3 bars. Normally, I get 1 or 2. Streaming is difficult at best, and normally it’s just not worth the hassle of the constant buffering and pausing. Now … for those who can get a great signal or whose company is okay with using their wi-fi access points, I’m guessing this could be a really great tool. However, I’m not one of those people.

I’ll give it a test run when it crosses the pond. Until then, I’m semi-skeptical. Up to $120 a year to stream, plus the typical .99 to download a track? AND that track will probably only be playable on Spotify software since Spotify is based around DRM. Also, they employ the Vorbis audio format. Not sold. But, like I said, I’ll give it a try.




4th of July Festivities

Yesterday was just … wow. We had so much fun. Parade with some good friends, bbq and pool party at our house, then fireworks from a location where we could see about 30 *miles* worth of fireworks. THAT was incredible. No lie, from our vantage point, we could see 10 miles north and 25 miles south. Not to mention everything between Salt Lake and the Wasatch mountains. Little colorful explosions for as far as the eyes could see.

I hope everyone had a fun, safe, awesome 4th.

I have something that I want to write about tomorrow, but it’s going to take me a day to make sure I have a predominantly cool head on my shoulders before I spout off. Otherwise, I’m going to rant and rave like a lunatic, and that won’t accomplish anything.

App Review: TuneIn Radio

I grew up in western New York. Buffalo area, to be specific. The radio station I listened to for sports out there was WGR 550. When I moved out here in the mid-90s, I lost the ability to keep home-spun tabs on the Bills and Sabres. Of course, that was about 15 years ago–right around the time the Internet was breaking wide open world-wide.

Streaming media came along, and all of the sudden, I was able to tune in to my favorite sports radio station from anywhere. However, the requirement was a desktop or a laptop; I couldn’t just plug in using my little Sanyo PM8200.

And along came smartphones. As phones got more and more smarter (see the grammatical humor there?) with more and more capability, apps like Pandora and Home Radio hit the app store. WGR thought they could jump into the fray and make their own app. And they did, right? What a great idea! It’s one of the most robust radio station apps I’ve seen. All kinds of awesome interaction–emailing the studio, texting, calling (hi … it’s a phone, after all), audio vault for past programs … great app! If only it would run well on something other than wi-fi.

What it touts as being its best feature in the ability to stream audio live (or at least as live as it can get with a pretty large buffer) becomes its greatest weakness; unless you’re at full bars or on wi-fi, forget it. The app will freeze up, and the only way to get it to function is to close it out and restart it. LAME.

I brought this up on the Sabres message board a few days ago. A bunch of people chimed in and said that they too were having issues, and they really hate the app cuz it’s so worthless. Fair statement. Then someone posted a comment about TuneIn Radio. This person kept raving about how it’s so great, the buffer is strong, and it’s never died on him. With free agency looming, I *had* to find some way to stay connected. I downloaded the app, and … wow. Just wow.

So here are some key excellent points.

First off, the app is an extension of the website, Great name. Easy to remember, very simple. Like it a lot. On the website, the first page you see is a list of local radio stations that you can stream. It lists 8, but you can click the “browse all local radio” link and get a full list. A few of the stations might be greyed out due to a lack of streaming address, so don’t freak out if you run across that. For example, the local radio station at Weber State is KWCR. While it’s listed on TuneIn’s website, it’s not available to stream. Boo. Hiss. I’m going to make some phone calls on Tuesday and find out if they have a streaming address cuz they need one. However, KRCL out of Salt Lake streams. Excellent!

So that’s the website. The app is about the same as the website … but *mobile*! Which, you know … should be, since it’s an app. The beauty of this thing is the sheer number of stations you can pull in with this thing. Fact: you can stream folk music from the Antarctic. Trust me–I know this because I’ve done this. So when I tell you that you can stream stations from ALL over the world, I really do mean ALL OVER THE WORLD. I’ve found stations from Portugal, Russia, Iran, Uzbekistan … that’s right–Uzbekistan. UZR1. No idea what they’re saying, but I’m digging the music.

If you hear something you really like, you can record it to your phone and play it back later. It store a list of your recordings in the Recordings section on the buttons tool bar.

Editor’s note: it should be pointed out that the Uzbek station sounds like it’s broadcasting under water at about 11000 khz. Any semblance to even a decent mono feed is purely coincidental. So while I’m not totally overwhelmed with the broadcast quality, I am more than just whelmed that I can actually pick up Uzbek radio at all.

There are lists according to local radio stations, recently visited, recommended, music, talk, sports stations … you can browse by location or language. Have a hankering for some exquisite Mandarin Chinese? Look it up! Want to eavesdrop on those retarded chowderhead beantown Bruins fans sports radio talk? Look it up! THERE IS A STREAMING STATION FROM BARROW ALASKA. Name of the station? “Top of the World Radio.” HA! That’s freakin’ awesome.

Because I want to come back later and check out what’s going on up there, I’ve added it to my presets by pressing the little heart icon in the top right corner of the Now Playing screen. You can do that with any station or feed. That way you don’t have to come back to it later.

There are two versions in the app store: free and paid. Pony up for the paid one. The free one “only” streams 45000 stations and broadcasts. 🙂 Because let’s face it: 45000 radio stations just isn’t enough, is it?

Now … I know there are other apps that do this kind of thing, with the streaming radio stations. I’ve used them. I’ve even liked some of them. This app, though … man. I just love it. The interface is clean, simple and intuitive. The number of available stations and locations is sick.

Give it a shot. It’s worth it.

Kickstarter Project: Emme Packer

I love the fact that Emme Packer makes awesome music. I also love the fact that she’s local to Salt Lake. I love more the fact that she’s a local artist whose kickstarter project is now 100% funded …

for the first tier.

Ladies and gentlemen, now is the time to rise up and help support an amazing artist. She has raised the inital $1500 she was hoping for, and now she has set her sights even higher: she wants to record a new CD.

She plays beautiful music, her voice is angelic and about as soft as the hundreds of kittens that hopefully adorn her recording studio (you Kickstarter supporters know what I mean), and I’m stoked to be supporting her project. My only regret is that I don’t have more to offer right now. The point is, if I did, I would. I’d go for that $300 in-house concert. How cool would that be?

Speaking of, she has some awesome pledge rewards going on. There are digital downloads, older CDs, DVDs, concert CDs, guitars, in-house concerts, hand-drawn art, t-shirts, guitars … there’s a TON of cool stuff! I’m opting for the 4 signed CDs. I like my hardware signed … what can I say? BUT, like I said, if I had the extra $270, I’d pony up for the in-house concert in a second.

There’s a preview video on her Kickstarter page. Check out her song, and realize that she has 4 CDs of equal bliss. She wants to make a 5th, and I for one am ALL for that.

Help make her dream a reality! She’s worth the investment.


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