Song Chart Memes – Great Pop Culture Puzzles

I’ve just been introduced to an on-going meme on Flickr where people are creating graphical representations of song lyrics.  It sounds simple, but there seems to be a real art to getting it done correctly.  Here’s a link to the entire Flickr photostream if you’re bored.  Here are two favorites – can you guess the song names?

Canada’s Most Controversial Music Video – Thank You!

I’ve been a big fan of Hayden as a musician for many, many years now. I’ve never really thought his videos were much to speak of though, so I stopped watching for them. His latest album (which is excellent) includes the lead track “Where and When”, and CBC Radio 3’s R3TV showcased it last week. And rightfully so. Hayden introduces it and its premise, we get a glimpse of the Radio3 people’s reactions to it, and the video rolls.

Now, the video itself is actually a fabulously created and delivered observation on today’s video obsessed Internet culture. Through it I learned about another video that this one is riffing off of called “2 Girls 1 Cup“. After reading about the video I understand how it could become so notorious in Internet-land, and heartily recommend that you don’t even try to find a copy of it – it is disgusting and the epitome of all that is bad with Internet video. I stopped trying to find a copy once I read that Wikipedia description, as that was enough for me (and any sane, normal person).

So Hayden has caught part of this video’s momentum and created a video that looks back at those who are watching these kinds of things, at those who are surfing YouTube looking for a certain type of video. He reflects on the state of music on the Internet and in concert halls. He poses questions about who is the audience and who is the performer. Maybe I’m seeing more in this video than I should be, but damnit I really like it. Heck, I love. OK, fine, I think you should go watch it. Oh, and the tune is mighty fine so don’t think you’ll be losing time or anything.

Here’s a link, where you can also see all the previous episodes of R3TV – a podcast that I firmly believe deserves a lot more attention and love than it currently receives.

Arrrr, Eh – RCMP Don’t Want To Go After The Common Canadian “Pirate”

The RCMP apparently have figured out that there are better ways to spend their time than by chasing down individuals for alleged copyright infringement.  Assuming for a second that making copies of music works is illegal (which it isn’t necessarily in Canada), then this decision makes sense.  A lot of time and money can be poured into trying to sue someone for copyright infringement – resources better spent finding bigger fish to fry.

This post is also interesting in that it lets you see the Google Translate in action. It presents you with an interesting ability to hover over the translated text and see the original text.  We all know translations are never perfect, and with this service you can even make suggestions for a better translation right there on the translated page.  Very nice translation feature, Google.

gstreamer Pipelines and VBR

Just to prove that I am still a tech geek (a badge I wear proudly in the right company), I’ve had to comb through the Intraweb for some specific MP3 encoding parameters I want to try using instead of the stock stuff. I wanted to document the pipeline here so I don’t have to write it down for future reference.

VBR (V=4) encoding pipeline

audio/x-raw-int,rate=44100,channels=2 ! lame name=enc mode=1 vbr=4 vbr-quality=4 ! xingmux ! id3v2mux

CBR (128 Kbps) encoding pipeline

audio/x-raw-int,rate=44100,channels=2 ! lame name=enc vbr=0 bitrate=128 ! id3v2mux

Run gst-inspect lame to see the parameters being used here. For example:

mode=1 – sets the lame encoding to use joint stereo
vbr=4 – sets lame to use the “new” VBR encoding algorithm, rather than the old
vbr-quality=4 – sets the encoding bitrate to approximately 165 Kbps, as per the lame settings.
xingmux – pads the MP3 and is only used for VBR settings
id3v2mux – adds the ID3v2 tags to the MP3 (I haven’t figured out a way to add both V1 and V2 tags other than by subsequently using Easytag on the files to add the V1).

Today’s Music Just Sounds Louder – Doesn’t It?

I know, I know. Call me an old codger – but don’t you agree? Whatever happened to those albums that you needed world-cancelling earphones on to properly enjoy? The ones that had suble nuances and sounds that only in total silence could you properly enjoy the album? Today’s music all just seems too … maxxed out.

I’m not making this up, really. The digital production of albums today allows producers to really tweak how an album sounds before being pressed on to CDs. They’re able to adjust any and all aspects of the songs – and they do. Some claim they are mastering the CDs louder so that the songs stick out on the radio when played. Trouble is – everyone is doing it. Think I’m making this up? Check out this example analysis of the most recent Depeche Mode album. And I agree with the author – that album does sound overwhelming loud, losing any ability to convey suble sounds and to use volume to help support song structure or tempo.

Makes me want to go buy a record player and switch to vinyl.

Radiohead Tries Something New

Whether or not you’re a Radiohead fan or not, you have to give them credit for pusingh boundaries.

They’ve just released their new album “In Rainbows” and you can surf over to their website and download a digital copy whenever you want.  Yes they’ll be putting it on a CD and distributing it that way, but for now you can download it from their site.  The cost?  Well, their answer is “?”.  What’s the mean?  Well, it means you pay as much as you like.

That’s right, they’re asking you to specify the price when you try to check out of the store.  Want to pay $0.00 because you want to try it before you buy it?  Fair enough.  Feel like going back and paying once you’ve listened to it a few times?  Go for it.

Such a large name in the recording industry is trying something new – I think it bodes well.  I’m not really a very strong Radiohead fan, but I like this album on a quite a few levels.

I don’t beleive the MP3s you download have any DRM on them at all (yea!) but they are also only 160kbps.  Better than iTunes, but certainly not lossless.  “That’s what CD’s are for.” said little Johnny of the band.

Indeed they are Johnny, but they’re not the only way to get lossless versions of the songs.  I refer you again to

An interesting step though into digital distribution by a large name in the industry.

A Great Example of How To Do It Right

I just came home to a wonderfully delivered package in the mail. I recently splurged and bought a digital boxed set. What’s that? Well, – a music store that I think “Gets It” – offered up the entire Great lake Swimmer’s catalogue (at the time) on a USB memory stick – the GLS Digital Box Set. They included a video, band road photos, covers, 2 albums and an E.P.

This is how it should be – $40.00 delivered to my door, carried upon a 512 MB USB drive. Value, convenience, and great music.  Go support

No, I am not an employee (yet – do you know if they’re hiring because I think they’re that great).

An Online Music Store That Gets It –

Has anyone heard of before? Wow, I just discovered it and I am impressed. I made a purchase within 30 minutes of finding the site. Not only are they a Canadian record label that lets artists sell directly to their fans, but they also offer FLAC versions of the albums, meaning lossless. No DRM. Bundled album art. This is, frankly, perfect!

I’ve been struggling with how my CD habit is having such a negative impact on not only my house space (or lack thereof) but also the environment – all those jewel cases are not exactly environmentally friendly. Zunior offers immediate download of either MP3 (192 kbps quality) or lossless (FLAC) albums – no packaging other than what you print out or back up to. I get the album artwithout the need to store away hundreds upon hundreds of plastic cases with paper sleeves.

Price is set for MP3 albums at $8.88 CDN. FLAC versions add $2 CDN. Cheaper than a CD!

I’m sold – this is it. If you’re at all curious I suggest you take a look. Here’s the link to the album I bought (free preview of the songs of course) – just follow the suggestions below the track listing, browse around. This is the first online music store that I can whole-heartedly get behind. No reservations at all!

Well, OK, just one reservation. You can only download your purchases for up to 14 days after buying them. Sure you can do it 1000 times, but only 2 weeks? The Nettwerk store lets me re-download over a year later (but they limit it to 3 downloads total). But that’s the worst of it. Oh, and no PST – GST only (unless you’re not Canadian, then there’s no tax at all).

I think I’m starting to gush, so I’ll just ask that you check it out if you’re at all interested in buying Canadian music.

Bromance – Out Of The Closet At Last

The CBC’s R3TV is a weekly video podcast (sadly known as a vodcast by those who mistakenly believe they are “Hep Cats“) that offers a little insight into the CBC people and a single band every week.

This week’s episode is, frankly, completely hilarious.  Peter Elkas and Joel Plaskett are two Canadian names you’ll be hearing more from in the near future.  They’re going to both be household names if I have anything to do with it.  They’re touring together right now and apparently their friendship has blossomed into a bittersweet “Bromance”.  Not sure what that is?  They’ll even help you open your eyes to the beautiful relationships men can have in today’s liberal world.