Archive for the 'Ska' Category

01
Dec
11

Last.fm

In the digital age we live in music has excelled, not beyond anything we thought it might become, but in how it’s delivered to us. The past 20 years saw the decline of the cassette tape, compact disc, and physical formatting is now all but dead.

So as physical media phases out we turn to more convenient ways of obtaining music (not always done legally now is it?) from services such as Morpheus, Kazaa, Limewire, and most famously: Napster.

So we learned that the RIAA severely dislikes not making money on album sales… so we downloaded even more, torrenting sites becoming more and more popular, The Pirate Bay, for example.

Now I don’t know about you, but in my education I’ve found out that artists usually sign a contract and make most of their money up front. A label will give you, say, $2 million, to buy equipment, record, produce, create music videos, and finish an album. How much of that gets spent on production is usually at the band and manager’s discretion. They are then, most of the time, offered some ridiculously low royalty percentage that means even less after you divide it up between band members and management.

So artists generally don’t make that much off of album sales, but usually off of touring. Ever notice that’s why Bruce Springsteen doesn’t seem to give a rat’s ass about putting out new albums but will sell out stadiums on a yearly basis? Or that U2’s music has been in steep decline since the late 80s but still manage to have gigantic concerts where they rake in obscene amounts of fans a.k.a. money? (And they don’t even pay taxes to the Irish government!)

Before my tenure at Hi-Fi started I was dealt several cease and desist letters for uploading music just to my former blog’s domain just for personal use. Talk about touchy by the record companies!

So where’m I going with all of this? Well, today’s digital music playground is found through music streaming services such as Spotify, Grooveshark, iTunes, SHOUTcast, Pandora and the least famous… Napster.

I’ve tried using all of those, and iTunes, while on my home computer is fine, because I have my library there too, is not viable on the road. With the rest of these you can build and tag artists/genres you like, but c’mon, that’s a huge hassle for us to list all the bands we like and may have an itch to hear.

Last.fm takes care of that. They have a nifty piece of scrobbling software that will record what songs/artists you play the most, it even makes charts! But by far the best thing is, is that you can take your library with you wherever you go. For free. They offer your library streamed to you, they also offer your library with suggestions for similar artists. Which keeps the likes of Maroon 5 the hell out of my easy listening playlist and doesn’t turn me into a fit of rage.

So, if you’re going places, constantly on the move and let’s say maybe you’re trying to preserve some hard drive space, Last.fm is the way to go, take your own music with you and still gives you a taste of similar artists or you can just play a channel as you would on those other streaming sites.

It gives you everything… and what’s yours.

Advertisements
17
Apr
10

Mountain Jam VI – 2010 Line Up

Ah yes, as the spring birds make their voices heard and the flowers begin to peek out from their long winters nap it’s time once again for the summer festival announcements and this year seems off to a very impressive  start. 

I am a self-admitted jam band fan since high school loving any project involving Warren Haynes and/or Dickey Betts; so I’m sure that the 6th Annual Mountain Jam Festival will be well worth the trip. 
This year’s line up is very impressive and also focuses around the 70th birthday of Levon Helm has been contributing the music scene.  Helm will be joined by a who’s-who of musicians ranging from Donald Fagen (Steely Dan), Ray LaMontange (If don’t know who this guy is you need to, very talented!), Steve Earle, and many others.

On other stages or at other times during the festival the line up is equally as impressive and I’m pleasantly surprised at the assortment and variety of artists appearing.

Alison Krauss & Union Station
Les Claypool (Primus, Oysterhead)
Matisyahu
Dave Mason
Toots & The Maytals
The Drive-by Truckers
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Yonder Mountain String Band

These are just some of the bands performing that weekend, there are too many bands to list so check the line up link on the main page.  The Mountain Jam website has a nice free player that lets you listen to an assortment of the artists performing, so if you’re not familiar them initially you can get a better idea of what to expect.  The headling act is Warren Haynes’ Government Mule.  I saw Government Mule and Black Crowes about 10 years ago at The Orpheum Theater in Boston, personally I was not impressed but I would imagine that over 10 years they’ve developed their sound. 

Yes, the pricetag in this economy for the plain old one-day ticket is a costly $79.00; tough if you married with kids like me, but perhaps worth the cost for a full day of music and sunshine (if the weather cooperates, always a risk with outside festivals!).  If you are in the New York City area or from Upstate New York where HiFi Central is located, Hunter Mountain (where the Mountain Jam is held) is a very easy drive up or down I-87  and is nestled in among the sleepy Catskills Mountains. 
I am still hoping that one year a reunion of The Hatters (an Allman Brothers-esque band that faded away in the mid-90’s) might happen at Mountain Jam, but I’m not holding my breath.

If you would like more information about this fun summertime festival check it out by clicking here: Mountain Jam VI

08
Mar
10

the Aquabats 2010 Tour!

Yes, it’s true The Aquabats are on tour and hopefully coming to a venue near you!  I saw these guys years ago in Boston and loved the show; fun surf rock with a corny stageshow and worth every penny.  With band members with names like MC Bat Commander, Crash McLarson, Eagle “Bones” Falconhawk, Jimmy The Robot, and Ricky Fitness you’ve got to expect it’s going to be at the very least entertaining, right?

They’ve been hiding out for a year or more not touring so I’m sure they will be full of energy on stage with each gig they will play.  I don’t see New York on their tour as of yet, but I’m hopeful.   If you have kids and have had a chance to watch the show Yo Gabba Gabba they’ve been on quite a bit. 

If you dig ska/surf rock bands like Los Straitjackets, you’ll like these guys too. If you get a chance to see these guys please do and tell us about it.  Here is the link of where they are currently touring for 2010, click here.

If you’ve seen them before, let us know what you have thought of their shows.

04
Dec
09

Long Beach Dub All Stars – Right Back (1999)

It would seem that whenever I choose to work out in the gym  (which is quite rare these days) I’m always challenged with the issue about what I will listen to; usually it is a decision between Tool, Pantera, or some metal mix that seems appropriate.  Yet last night I decided to go past the normal flavor and explore the other 400 albums on my iPod.  I had forgotten about a lost gem of an album by the now defunct Long Beach All Stars entitled Right Back released in 1999.

With the death of  Sublime’s vocalist Brad Nowell in 1996 bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh decided to pursue other musical ventures thus founding The Long Beach Dub All Stars along with free form guest artists, a horn section, and a DJ.  The debut album Right Back was a refreshing sound that resonated with a culmination of reggae, hardcore, dub, and hiphop.  If you are a Sublime fan, this album is a nice continuation of where Sublime left off, minus the vocals of Nowell, it is consistent with the tempo’s and rhythm’s of the Sublime sound.

The beginning of the album starts off with Righteous Dub, a nice dub song to ease one into the album on a mellow but upbeat note.  Songs like Rosarito , My New Life, and Like a Dog resonate pure Sublime and provide some clarity that the bands unique sound did not die with Nowell.  The lead singer of the band Bad Brains (Hr) makes a cameo on the song New Sun and does a nice job adding a hardcore/reggae type funk and tempo to the album. 

Although I’m not the biggest fan of rap I have been drawn back several times to the song Kick Me Down which features a great beat and great vocals.  Perhaps that is why I like this album so much, the variety of different angles the album provides.  Most albums today, in my opinion, songs are often to repetative and monotonous in their style and sound, yes the album might be good, but the songs are begin to sound the same and that is where I begin to lose interest. 

Right Back is a fun album that seems to be an amalgum of styles that keeps the listener wondering what the next song will be, I like that.

Several albums followed after 1999’s Right Back, they are Wonders Of The World (2001), and Sunny Hours (2002).

Sadly, The Long Beach Dub All Stars broke up officially in 2002, but members continued until 2007 under the name Long Beach Shortbus.

The Long Beach All Stars album Right Back gets 4.5 out of 5 stars.

16
Nov
09

The English Beat – On tour?

english_beatYes, it’s true The English Beat (or The Beat if you are cool) are currently touring the U.S.  If you are not familiar with this legendary Ska group pick yourself up I Just Can’t Stop It and you should be converted in a short time. 

I’ve provided a link below of some cities they are hitting for the rest of the year; I would imagine they put on a great show. 

11/20/09 Poughkeepsie, NY – The Chance
11/22/09 Teaneck, NJ – Mexacali Live
11/23/09 Portland, ME – Port City Music Hall 

  Click here to see more scheduled shows.

I’ve provided a sample of their hit Mirror in the Bathroom check it out and tell us what you think.