• Digital to Analog Audio Converter

    2693407815_499547aabcIf you’re like me, chances are you have an iPod (or two) and a growing library of digital music. And with all the money that music lovers invest in their equipment and media library, we deserve to have the very best listening experience.

    I’m not a super gadget oriented person, so I was surprised when I learned that the type of speakers you employ only partially contributes to the final sound quality of your digital music. When visiting some friends over the holidays, I immediately noticed the rich, deep texture of the music playing over their speaker system when arriving at their home. It was so lush. It almost felt like a live performance.

    They were excited to show me their new ‘DAC’, or digital to analog audio converter box, which they had just got as a Christmas gift. About the size of a small DVD player, the DAC decompresses a digital audio file, restoring much of a song’s intrinsic personality. Many commercial audio systems already come with some form of DAC built in, but systems for in-home use have only recently become necessary. (Unless, like many of my friends here, you still swear by your vinyl. For me, vinyl and toddlers do not mix well.)

    A quick internet search revealed a large range of prices, from $50 to over $3500. Do any of our readers have one? Feel free to recommenced a favorite brand or provide tips in the comments.

  • Oh Snap

    Oh Snap

  • Music Trivia

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    Did you love Rock & Roll Jeopardy? Ever brag about your music knowledge to your friends? Today, you can test your ability with five music trivia questions ranging in difficulty!

    With the invention of smart phones and search engines, trivia has become a game of who can type the fastest instead of who can think the fastest. Not today! See how many questions you can answer without the help of technology.

    1. Which artist (all genres) has the most number one hits of all time?
    2. Which band has been together the longest without member changes?
    3. Who holds the longest span between first and most recent number one hits?
    4. What group holds the record for the most number two hits without hitting number one?
    5. What is the best selling movie soundtrack of all time?

    Answers

    1.    George Strait has the most number ones, with 57 as of 2009!


    2.    The Four Tops stayed together without lineup changes for 44 years from 1953 to 1997, when Lawrence Payton died.  They still tour without their fourth member under The Tops.


    3.    Cher – 33 years, 7 months with “I Got You Babe” (August 1965, with Sonny Bono) and “Believe” (March 1999)


    4.    Creedence Clearwater Revival with five number two hits without hitting number one.


    5.    The Bodyguard with 44 million copies sold worldwide to date.  I’m sure a little song called “I Will Always Love You” helped it along.

    Contributed by Allyson Shelton

  • Telling a Story With Song

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    John Lewis, Britain’s self-proclaimed “favourite” retailer, is playing on viewers’ heart strings to the tune of a 39.7% sales increase. Their method? A recent TV advertisement that has the nation crying in their Earl Grey. If you aren’t familiar with the retailer (as I wasn’t), John Lewis is a High Street staple that sells everything from organic fashion designed by actress Emma Watson to fitness equipment and picnic linens.

    The ad spot chronicles the life of a woman from birth to 70 years old in a minute and a half. Glaringly idealistic and agonizingly believable, the advertisement begins with a baby girl in a crib and follows her through birthdays, college, a wedding, and – oh look! She has her own baby girl! They throw fabulous picnics and make cupcakes, and before you know it, her children have their own children. Blink and she’s 70.

    The message is that life is beautiful, emotional, and fleeting. If you’re going to buy stainless steel cutlery and baby sheets, shouldn’t you get the best deal on the highest quality products available? All of this is reinforced by a low-fi cover of Billy Joel’s “Always A Woman” by The Guillemot’s Fyfe Dangerfield. Encase all of that in hazy, one-take production, and you’ll find yourself watching it with eyes wide and chin dropped. I think I do need new curtains! Where is a John Lewis for crying out loud?! And some tissues?

    Emotional branding expert Marc Gobè describes this approach to marketing as finding “the crucial defining element that separates success from indifference in the marketplace.” Call me bold, but I’d certainly classify a nearly 40% leap in sales as a success. So what was the emotional element that has made this effort so successful? Perhaps it is the trademark restraint of the Brits, but the ad never once highlights a brand name or product price. It’s a departure from what we often see in the States (think: product centered Target ads). Perhaps it’s the careful blend of heartfelt music and visuals that transcend whatever it is we’d be shopping for in the first place.

    Check out the video here and let me know: what do you think made this a smashing success?


    Contributed by Lauren Cribbs

  • National Record Store Day

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    Vinyl lovers! It’s almost Record Store Day, the annual event that celebrates “the brilliance of vinyl” and the brick and mortar stores that sell it.

    Record Store Day 2010 will take place this Saturday, April 17th–and I always love it. Mobs of people, great discounts and dozens of super limited exclusive releases from labels both small and major alike.

    Call your local record store today to see if they’re participating in the event, and, if so, what you can expect.

    Below is a list of super-limited promotional releases that will be hitting participating record stores this Saturday:
    The Album Leaf – 12″
“There Is A Wind (Acoustic)”/“Landing In Snow” b/w “Resonations”/“Falling From The Sun (Jamuel Saxon Sunburnt Remix)”
    Asteroids Galaxy Tour – 12”
    Beach House – 12″
“Zebra”/“The Arrangement” b/w “Baby”/“10 Mile Stereo (Cough Syrup Remix)”
    The Black Keys – Howling For You 12″
    Bloc Party – Silent Alarm LP w/“Little Thought” 7″
    Bon Iver/Peter Gabriel – Split 7″
“Come Talk To Me” b/w “Flume”
    Bright Eyes – Fevers and Mirrors LP
    Broken Bells – 7″
    Caribou – Odessa Remixes 12″
    Julian Casablancas – 7″
“11th Dimension”(Live) b/w “Long Island Blues”
    Coco Rosie – 7″
“Lemonade” b/w “Surfer Girl” (Beach Boys)
    Coconut Records – ?
    Elvis Costello – Live at Hollywood High 7″
    The Cribs – s/t LP
    DA – Exclamation Point LP
    Deerhoof – Apple O LP
    Deerhoof – Green Cosmos LP
    Ani DiFranco – Live At Bull Moose CD
    Dios – We Are Dios CD
    Drive-By Truckers 7″
“Your Woman Is A Living Thing” b/w “Just Maybe”
    Dum Dum Girls/Male Bonding Split 7″
“Pay For Me” b/w “Before It’s Gone”
    Editors – 7″
    Electric Eels – 7″
“Agitated” b/w “Cyclotron”
    *NEW*
Exit Clov – Cover Boy 7″
“Sing Your Life (Morrissey)”, “Steppin’ Razor” (Peter Tosh) b/w “The KKK Took My Baby Away” (The Ramones), “Mongoloid” (Devo)
    The Fall – 7″
“Bury” b/w “Cowboy Gregorie”
    Fucked Up – Daytrotter Session 7″
    Flaming Lips – Dark Side of the Moon LP
    Get Up Kids – Simple Science CD
    Godsmack – 7″
    Happy Birthday – 7″
“Shampoo” b/w “Alien”
    The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever LP
    Mason Jennings – Live at Fingerprints CD
    Shooter Jennings & Hierophant – Don’t Feed the Animals CD
    Fela Kuti – s/t 10″
    La Roux – 7″
    Ted Leo & the Pharmacists – 7″
“The Oldest House” b/w “North Coast”
    John Lennon – 7″ Singles Bag
1A: John Lennon – Mother
1B: Yoko Ono – Why
2A: John Lennon – Imagine
2B: John Lennon – It’s So Hard
3A: John Lennon – Watching the Wheels
3B: Yoko Ono – Yes, I’m Your Angel
    Steve Mason – LP
    Mastodon – Blood Mountain LP
    Menomena/Helio Sequence – Split 7″
“Pilgrim’s Progress” b/w “Converter”
    Midlake – The Trials of Van Occupanther LP
    Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctic 180g 2xLP
    Mogwai – ? (Unconfirmed)
    Mountain Goats – The Life of the World to Come: A Film by Rian Johnson DVD
    Neu! – 12″
“Crazy” b/w “Euphoria”
    Nirvana – Colored LPs(?) (Unconfirmed)
    Owl City – 7″
“Fireflies” b/w “Vanilla Twilight”
    Pavement – 7″
“Cut Your Hair” b/w “Grounded”
    Pavement – Quarantine The Past (Fan-Curated Edition) 2xLP
    Phoenix – 12″ (Pink Vinyl)
“Fences” b/w “Fences” (Remix)
    Grace Potter And The Nocturnals – Live In Skowhegan
    Queens of the Stone Age Feel Good Hit of the Summer 10″
    REM – Chronic Town 12″ EP
    Rodriguez – 7″
    Rolling Stones – 7″
“Plundered My Soul” b/w “Down the Line”
    Royce Da 5′9″ – 12″
    Arthur Russell – Calling Out Of Context LP
    Sex Pistols – The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Swindle 180g 2xLP
    She & Him – 7″ (In Tote Bag)
“In The Sun” b/w “I Can Hear Music”
    Simian Mobile Disco – Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release LP
    Sonic Youth – Hits Are For Squares 2xLP
    Soundgarden – 7″ (Orange Vinyl)
“Hunted Down” b/w “Nothing To Say”
    Them Crooked Vultures – 10″
“Mind Eraser, No Chaser”/”Hwy 1″ (Live) b/w Interview
    The Thermals/The Cribs – Split 7″
“Separate” b/w “So Hot Now”
    This Will Destroy You – 10″
    Tutu & The Pirates – Sub-Urban Insult Rock For The Anti-Lectual LP
    TV On The Radio – Dear Science LP
    V/A – Fragments From A Work In Progress 12″ (4AD)
A1: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Menopause Man”
A2: Tune-Yards – “You Yes You”
B1: Blonde Redhead – “Not Getting There”
B2: Gang Gang Dance – “Slime City (Heaven)”
B3: The Big Pink – “With You”
    V/A – SP20: Casual Nostalgia Fest CD (Sub Pop)
(All live recordings)
1. Green River – “Leech”
2. Wolf Parade – “Fine Young Cannibals”
3. The Vaselines – “Dying for It”
4. Obits – “Run”
5. Les Thugs – “Dirty White Race”
6. Eric’s Trip – “Smother”
7. Beachwood Sparks – “You Take the Gold”
8. Blitzen Trapper – “Furr”
9. Flight of the Conchords – “Carol Brown”
10. Iron & Wine – “Woman King”
11. Constantines – “Why I Didn’t Like August ‘93”
12. Seaweed “Baggage”
13. Grand Archives – “Dig That Crazy Grave”
14. Low – “Silver Rider”
15. The Helio Sequence – “Lately”
16. Kinski – “The Wives of Artie Shaw”
17. Pissed Jeans – “Caught Licking Leather”
18. Mudhoney – “The Open Mind”
19. Comets on Fire – “Dogwood Rust”
    Velvet Underground – Live 1969 LP
    Weezer – Raditude Re-release (?)
    White Lies Remix EP
    White Rabbits/The Antlers – Daytrotter Sessions Split 7″
    Wooden Shjips – 7″
“What It Is” b/w “Buddy”
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 7″
“Skeletons” b/w “Skeletons” (Live)
    Yeah Yeah Yeahs – s/t 12″ EP
    Yeasayer – O.N.E. 12″

    Contributed by Steven Pilker

  • The New Killer App for DJs

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    For years, DJs have dreamed of being able to manage their entire music library, create elaborate segways, cross fades, and beat matched mixes on the go–wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.

    Now, with an iPhone or iPad, we can! Mixr’s new DJ app makes it all possible, and takes Digital Dj’ing to another level.

    While I certainly wouldn’t  trade in my Technics, Numarks or CDJ’s, Mixr does offer DJ’s and Remixers the ability to hash out some impressive professional mixes on the go without the inconvenience of hauling around those omnipresent heavy crates.

    Features like cross-fading, equalizing, cue, BPM and Pitch adjusting, drag and drop tracks, delays and auto filter can all be used in real time.

    While it still lacks the touch and feel of traditional hardware (and I’m skeptical about the functionality on the much smaller iPhone screen) I must admit: this sounds like fun!

    Contributed by Lafouji Alexander

  • The A.V. Club’s Cool New Project

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    The A.V. Club, an entertainment newspaper and website (and Twitter feed!) published by The Onion, have come up with a unique concept. Called Undercover, they’ll chose 25 songs to be covered by 25 artist, who will travel to the A.V Club’s Chicago offices and play their assignments live.

    The catch here, though, is that the first band to show up have first crack at any of the songs on the list. Once that song has been chosen, it gets crossed off. So far Ted Leo and the Pharmacists have chosen the Tears for Fears classic “Everybody Wants to Rule The World” and Seattle via Chicago transplant The Fruit Bats do justice to Hall & Oates “One on One”

    Songs that have yet to be unearthed range anywhere from “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd to Depeche Mode’s “Enjoy the Silence.”

    Check back each week to see what other bands have surfaced to perform a favorite of theirs. Below is the Hall & Oates classic “One on One” performed, once again, by The Fruit Bats.

    http://www.avclub.com/articles/hall-oates,38868/

    Contributed by Alex Espinosa

  • Cute & Crazy Emails

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    We were lucky enough to have a segment about Muzak air on the CBS Sunday Morning program last weekend. Since that program’s audience averages about 4.5 million viewers, and because people watch TV with their laptops, it generated quite a few emails. Among all the messages we received, here are my top two favorites:

    Hi, My name is Jenna F, and I am 14 years old. I heard on CBS Sunday Morning that there are people called Music Architects. I’m interested in making this my future career. What do I have to do?

    In a few years, Jenna, you should apply to attend the Muzak Heart & Soul foundation’s Noise! camp. At Noise! High School aged students spend three weeks over summer vacation learning all about the music industry. You can learn more at heart.muzak.com.

    WHEN THERE ARE ELECTRONIC VOICES/SOUNDS, DANGEROUS MINDS, DANGEROUS MINDS ARE AFTER YOUR JOB, PROPERTY AND MONEY.

    Cue X-files theme music and pass the tin foil hats?

  • ‘Queen of All Media’ Making Good on Claim

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    Like him or not, celebrity blogger Perez Hilton (born Mario Lavanderia) has enjoyed significant success since launching his now infamous blog in 2004. Originally covering celebrities and tabloid gossip (with his own unique custom artwork) Mr. Hilton soon leveraged his readership to feature up-and-coming musical acts in his regular ‘Listen to This’ section.

    Last weekend at his March 20th SXSW event (which featured Marina and the Diamonds, Snoop Dog, Hole and Macy Gray) the blogger announced his plans to host a new weekly music countdown show, exclaiming that it will be “A cooler alternative to Ryan Secrest.” Hilton also stated his intention to “Ask questions that Ryan Secrest would not ask. [...] I can make fun of someone but still be a fan.”

    While his fashion can sometimes be silly, Perez is no dummy. Since earning a BFA from NYU in 2000, the blogger has created a solid career in only a decade. With two lucrative websites, his own record label and this new syndicated radio show, Perez Hilton seems well on his way to truly becoming ‘The Queen of All Media’.

  • Gaga’s Designer Found Dead

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    Lee Alexander McQueen, the prolific designer of many of Lady Gaga’s most outlandish outfits, was found dead in his home of an apparent suicide, at what is widely reported as the height of his career. McQueen was 40 years old.

    McQueen was the mastermind behind some of Gaga’s most memorable outfits, including a set of 10 inch Lobster Claw heels she wore in her video for “Bad Romance”. He also designed outfits for Rihanna, Bjork and Janet Jackson–including the infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ Super Bowl piece.

    Queen Elizabeth II made McQueen a Commander of the British Empire for Fashion leadership in 2003, and Vogue editrix Anna Wintour called McQueen: “One of the greatest talents of his generation.”

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