rfunk: (guitar)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 10:32am on 14/03/2007 under , ,
There's a new music startup in town: Slacker
According to the AP, it is supposed to be somewhat similar to Pandora. However, they intend to produce portable Wi-Fi devices and car kits (both of which will store music so a network connection isn't always necessary), de-tethering the music from the PC.

Sounds like something to watch.
Music:: Gipsy Kings - Hotel California
Mood:: 'curious' curious
rfunk: (guitar)
I admit it: I've had some musical obsessions recently.

One is Cake Or Death, a side project of the leader of the band Black Lab. Black Lab is decent, but not nearly as interesting to me. (I heard both on podcasts, and first heard Cake Or Death on the TPN Rock podcast.) I love the haunting quality from the mixed male/female harmonies and the minor keys. Too bad track 3 sucks and track 6 is just mediocre.

Another is The Darling Buds, a female-fronted late-80s / early 90s alternapop band. You might've heard one or two of their songs before, like "Long Day In The Universe". Every time Pandora played them for me I loved it, so I bought all three of their CDs.

Other bands I've been getting into a lot tend to share qualities with those two, especially the women singers.

For more harmonies and minor keys, I still love Tegan and Sara, especially their So Jealous album. Oddly, it's one of those rare albums that puts the best (or at least most single-worthy) songs in the middle rather than near the beginning. Gotta love "Walking With A Ghost".

For something with some serious 80s synthpop flavor, there's The Sounds (both albums!).

For something a bit harder, there's the Sahara Hotnights (especially the Jennie Bomb album), and The Donnas' last two albums (Spend The Night and Gold Medal).

Interesting that both The Sounds and Sahara Hotnights are from Sweden.

Oh yeah, on a more indie Latina-pop-punk note there's Go Betty Go, whose Nothing Is More album is much better than I expected. My favorites there are the two songs in Spanish, though some here might enjoy "The Pirate Song". I might have to get the EP that preceded this album.
Mood:: 'bouncy' bouncy
Music:: The Sounds - Painted By Numbers
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 03:18pm on 17/01/2007 under , , , , , ,
As noted at LWN, Adobe has finally announced the official release of the Flash 9 player for Linux. The last release for Linux was Flash 7; there was no Flash 8 for Linux, so much of the modern Flash-based web content, especially videos, has been unavailable to Linux people for a long time. (There were a couple of betas of the Flash 9 player in fall, but now we have the real thing.)

For a long time I was a Flash hater, and it still doesn't take much for Flash to annoy me. It bogs down the computer, it adds unwanted visual (and sometimes audible) noise to whatever I'm trying to read, and occasionally it crashes my browser. And these things can't be fixed by the programming community because Adobe (previously Macromedia) keeps it binary-only proprietary software, not allowing programmers outside the company to improve the code. This results in another problem, that a Flash player doesn't come with Linux like everything else I use does. So with the various problems, I tend not to have it enabled by default. Often I don't even install the plugin in my main browser (Konqueror), while still installing it in an alternate browser (Firefox). Or I might install it but tell the browser to allow it only for vertain domains. When I use Firefox, the FlashBlock extension is essential, since it allows me to only run the Flash that I want to run.

Despite its problems, here are three reasons that Flash is worthwhile for me:
Pandora - music player organized by musical similarity (or similarity to my taste)
YouTube - videos depicting such essentials as treadmill power-pop
Homestar Runner - well, mainly Strongbad answering his mail
Mood:: 'pleased' pleased
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 01:56pm on 10/10/2006 under , , ,
I've been intending for a while to mention Last.fm and comparisons between that and Pandora for purposes of discovering new music and generally listening to music you like.

The short version is that with Pandora, you tell it what you like, and it uses musicological traits and mysterious algorithms to determine similar-sounding music. While with Last.fm, you tell it what you're listening to (automatically via a "scrobbler" plugin to your music player), and it compares your listening habits to other people, then can play you things that other people with similar listening habits also listen to. At least that's the theory; I haven't played much with the Last.fm playback mechanism, and the web site is extremely unresponsive. (But it does often know what I've been listening to.)

Anyway, the reason I mention this now is that Pandora is on tour, with an informal town-hall style gathering in Columbus scheduled for Monday, October 16. They want to discuss the following questions:
-How is technology changing the nature of radio?
-How important are community and peers when it comes to discovering music online? What's the best way to foster community? [This one sounds directly related to Last.fm's community-networking nature.]
-Can services like Pandora help create a larger middle class of artists who aren't superstars, but have enough of an audience to support themselves through their music? Do music lovers want more music discovery?
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 10:42pm on 07/03/2006 under , , , ,
A few months ago I mentioned Pandora, the really cool streaming music service that plays music that it decides is similar to what you've told it you like.

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned my SliMP3, the device I bought a few years ago from the then-embryonic Slim Devices. The SliMP3 connects to my stereo in the living room, as well as to my home computer network, and allows me to easily play my 8000+ song music library (stored on my computer running the Perl-based "slimserver" software) in the living room. [livejournal.com profile] nontacitare prefers to use it to play various streaming MP3 internet radio stations. For Slim Devices, the SliMP3 was basically a prototype and proof-of-concept for their line of "Squeezebox" devices, currently at hardware version 3.

Anyway, I recently got an email from Slim Devices announcing that they've teamed up with Pandora to make Pandora accessible through recent Squeezeboxes. (Unfortunately not the SliMP3 or first-generation Squeezebox.) I really like this idea, since Pandora's coolness is somewhat offset by the requirement to play it through a Flash player on the computer, and the Squeezebox would allow that music to go anywhere that the (wired or wireless) network goes.

Of course, taking advantage of this would require buying a new Squeezebox for $300 (or $250 for the non-wireless version). About what most stereo components might cost. A bonus would be that the Squeezeboxes correct the SliMP3's problem of radio interference spread across the FM band (but centered at 100MHz), so we wouldn't need to unplug it to listen to the radio anymore.
rfunk: (Default)
posted by [personal profile] rfunk at 12:23pm on 09/12/2005 under , , ,
Just a quick note to point at that Neil Gaiman is right: Pandora is addictive and really cool. It's like getting a personalized streaming radio station, wherever you are on the net.

It uses Flash to give you a streaming music player that plays (a) music you tell it you like (by artist or song title) and (b) music it thinks you'll like based on what you've told it you like. As far as I can tell, it uses musicological attributes rather than Amazon-style "others who like that also like this...", though there may be some of the latter going on as well. I think it may also try to play similar songs from different bands together.

Unfortunately, quite a few of my favorite bands are indie bands that aren't in their database, but I've also been surprised at some of the more obscure stuff that is in there, including Manda & the Marbles, Scrawl, and The Eyeliners. It's also interesting that it figured out that I'd like Dire Straits before I told it so.

It would be nice if I could specify albums rather than songs or artists. In some cases I like certain albums but dislike others. Though I can pick representative songs (or all of them) from the favored albums.

If you don't like something, you can skip it. If you skip a band twice it won't play that band again.

Apparently I'll soon start hearing ads in the stream, which will gradually increase in frequency until I decide to pay for a subscription. Sounds fair to me.

It's amusing that a favorite author is not only leading me to new written work, but also new music and new ways of getting my music.

http://www.pandora.com/

Update: According to Pandora, I seem to be rather consistent about liking music with vocal harmonies and mild rhythmic syncopation -- as well as, quite often, major key tonality and mixed acoustic/electic instrumentation. Just about every time I ask it why it chose a song, it tells me those (with varying levels of vocal harmonies), along with some other attributes. And the more I listen and look at those attributes, the more I think it's trying to keep similar songs together.
Music:: The Fight - "Don't Tell Me"
Mood:: 'bouncy' bouncy

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