Monday, December 31, 2007

Vinyl vs. CD: An Analog Revival in a Digital World (Part 1 of 3)

(This is the first part of a three part article discussing the format wars between CD and Vinyl.)


Perhaps the only argument that has persisted on longer than the vinyl vs. CD debate is that one about the chicken and the egg. Both camps have loyal supporters. And both camps have strong evidence supporting their preferred medium. Yet neither format has attracted a substantial majority of audiophiles exclusively.

A few months ago Wired published an article about vinyl and its contribution to the "impending" death of the CD. Allegedly pressing houses are at capacity and vinyl sales are up, while CD sales have steadily declined since the dawn of the millennium. Of course, many CD sales have been displaced by MP3 purchases at online retailers such as iTunes, meaning that digital music resides no longer on silicon discs but on servers and hard drives instead. However, even with those MP3 sales accounted for, vinyl's rise as the medium of choice for some music buyers is impressive.

Having been born the year after the compact disc was invented, I have personally witnessed the swift extinction of turntables from the lay person's living room. By the time I was entering junior high, mere ownership of a record player was symbolic of the luddite and his unwillingness to accept the bright future the CD promised us. After all, vinyl records were bulky, difficult to transport, and began to crackle when dusty or scratched. CDs, on the other hand, were small, sleek, durable, and were easily portable for play in car stereos or discmans. CD burners were affordable and put the power of track selection in the hands of the consumer, while I never personally knew anybody who had a $10,000 vinyl cutter just sitting in her bedroom.

Yet, as vinyl vacated the collective imagination of the everday music listener, the medium prevailed in the niche circles of DJs and analog fanboys. DJs often preferred vinyl for its scratching capabilities and for the fact that analog offers a wider range of frequency for listeners than does the CD. Analog purists argued that vinyl provided a warmer, fuller sound, and that CDs sounded sanitized and mechanical. Because digital could only take "snapshots" of the sound, they said, CDs were incapable of presenting a true reproduction of the studio recording. The groove of the analog record, they furthered, is the only medium able to provide true sonic replication because the indentation in the vinyl is a physical manifestation of the actual sound waves and vibrations created by the original instruments.

As I weighed the audible possibilities of vinyl in a music culture rife with silicon, I decided to examine the format differences for myself. Did vinyl provide a richer, warmer sound? Or was CD superior in that it furnished a much more precise tone?

Read the forthcoming Part 2 to continue this musical format journey with me.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Caught On Tape: Rude Boys - 'My Kinda Girl'

I've been a little stuck on my early 90's nostalgia as of late, and have lost some of my usual eclectic flavor. As such, I promise to move forward and find something else to write about into 2008. But not before I present my next video...

The Rude Boys emerged into the rising New Jack Swing movement through the support of Gerald LeVert, and first hit the scene in 1990 on the back of their single "Written All Over Your Face."

In 1992, the R&B quartet returned with another soulful ditty, "My Kinda Girl." Complete with high-top fades and superbly catchy "nah nah nah nah nah"s, the Rude Boys peaked at #4 on the Pop charts.

The video plays from the lyrical detailing of the ideal woman. Though likely offensive to some, the playfully humorous video shows the guys chilling by the pool in their brightly-colored pants, sipping on drinks and singing their hearts out. All the while, an attractive (albeit ditzy) woman in fashionwear attempts to do all the chores, from mowing the lawn to scrubbing the pool deck. What a bunch of rude boys. Any thoughts of male chauvinism and indentured servitude aside, the video is a pure slice of 90's culture.

Throw this track on the next time you have
Kid 'n Play over for a House Party.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boz Scaggs - 'Lido Shuffle'

"I never knew smooth music could rock so hard!"

That was the line used by the Michael McDonald character in soft rock parody Yacht Rock (watch the episode here) upon first encountering the soothing sounds of Toto's 'Rosanna', but it could just as easily sum up the stylish sounds of Boz Scaggs in the late seventies.

Scaggs first cut his teeth as a member of the Steve Miller Band in the sixties, but then spent the next decade achieving considerable success as a solo artist. Perhaps best known for hit single 'Lido Shuffle,' Scaggs was also responsible for the release of 'Breakdown Ahead' and 'Jojo.' Early in his solo endeavour he also recorded 'Lowdown,' an oldies radio station staple.

'Lido Shuffle' contained all the ingredients of a hit pop song: a guttural vocal, a boogy beat, blues-inspired lyrical content, and an irresistible choral hook manifested as an anthemic "whoooooaaahhhh." But most importantly, it appropriately implemented the synth sounds all too prevalent of the day.

You can stream 'Lido Shuffle' below:

Boz Scaggs - 'Lido Shuffle'

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Biffy Clyro - 'Living Is a Problem Because Everything Dies'

I'm not a big fan of song titles that strain to be clever, but this song by Biffy Clyro rocks!

Biffy Clyro - ' Living Is A Problem Because Everything Dies'

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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Fratellis - 'Chelsea Dagger'

This swanky single from Scottish band The Fratellis has been digging deep into my personal playlist as of late.

You can stream it below:

The Fratellis - 'Chelsea Dagger'

Monday, December 17, 2007

Caught On Tape: The Boys - "Crazy"

What a whirlwind of a night I've had with music videos! Ever since my recent post on Snow, I've felt compelled to reach back into the Pop/R&B recesses of my youth. Well, this evening I rediscovered alot of music (and video) I'd next to forgotten about.

Sorting through the vast archives of YouTube, I initially planned to post on Another Bad Creation's "Iesha" (which I might add, is still recommended viewing). But then, I came across The Boys.

If the name sounds familiar, you may recall their 1988 single "Dial My Heart." The group of four brothers were signed to
MCA around the time the company took over Motown. The Boys were a marketing dream: younger and more talented at singing and dancing than the competition.

With the success of boy bands like New Edition and NKOTB, record companies were eager to sign similar groups to score hits. Motown was looking for the next Jackson 5.

Under the legendary production of L.A. Reid and Babyface, The Boys made an industry splash which rippled into later child acts like Kris Kross, A.B.C., and Soul for Real.

From the beginning, The Boys were capable of writing and producing their own songs, so for their self-titled sophomore album, Reid and Babyface took a lesser role. The chart-hitting "Crazy" continued along the new jack swing vibe that was bringing many artists to the forefront of the music industry at the time.

"Crazy" finds The Boys playfully reenacting scenes from other famous music videos. From a spoof of
George Michael's "Faith," to a full on zombie dance, ala "Thriller," the video is actually quite amusing. However, the funniest part might be reserved for the NightTracks commentary at the very end...

For further reading about the musical journey of The Boys, click here.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

NPR's Best Albums of 2007

All Songs Considered just released an excellent episode not too long ago detailing their picks for best album and song of the year. Additionally, they include their nominees for "biggest let down" as well as "most innovative." Some of the artists they applaud include LCD Soundsystem, Panda Bear, and Levon Helm.

I encourage you to listen to the entire episode or stream songs from the selected artists here.

If you're too lazy or busy to go to the ASC site, I've included a stream of one of All Songs's "biggest surprises." It's 'Please Read the Letter' by Robert Plant & Allison Krauss. (Plan on hearing this beautiful and subtle track repeatedly at a coffee shop near you).
Robert Plant & Allison Krauss - 'Please Read the Letter'

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Lennon's Locks Up For Sale

Wednesday will mark the day when die-hard Beatles fans get their first chance to bid on a lock of John Lennon's hair during an auction in southern England. The Walrus included the hair within a copy of his book A Spaniard in the Works and gave it to his hairdresser, Betty Glasow, as a gift.

Glasow has donated the book and hair to be auctioned off so that real Beatle's enthusiasts could appreciate and take care of the rare collectibles. The book/hair combo is reputed to fetch as much as $6200 at auction.

here to read the full story.

The Motley Cruise

It is only timely that after Hank mentioned in his last article how many eighties hair metal bands have turned into novelty acts, that AllMusic Blog releases this humorous tidbit:

"After the holidays, what better way to recover from the snow and shopping frenzies than a vacation with your favorite hair metal rockers? Ratt, Slaughter, Skid Row, and Vince Neil will be playing for the passengers of a Carnival Cruise ship sailing to Miami, Key West, Playa del Carmen, and Mexico from January 24th to the 28th.

"With promises of “non stop entertainment, including meet and greets with the artists,” this may be the perfect opportunity to beat the spandex off Mark Slaughter in a game of shuffleboard or drink away the previous night’s hangover on a deck chair wedged between Dave “The Snake” Sabo and Bobby Blotzer."

You can read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ted's Song of the Week - 12/11/07

The Metal
Tenacious D
The Pick of Destiny

Not too long ago, I got swept up in the Guitar Hero craze that has made an impact on how people interact with their video games. I had played the first game in the series a couple times and it was right after South Park did their signature spoof on the game that I finally gave in and picked up Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock at the local Wal-Mart. The next couple of days were marked by the gentle clicking of the controller buttons and the occasional cursing streak when I missed a big solo.....

It was upon playing GH3 that I discovered "The Metal" for the first time. The track is located in "The Hottest Band On Earth" setlist. Overall, one of my favorite songs to play on the game. Even if "The Metal" bears the classic Tenacious D stamp of not taking itself seriously, it still ends up being a fairly respectable rock song with a vicious guitar riff that rivals the works of

I've always enjoyed Tenacious D's music, but I hadn't really invested much time in listening to their latest musical effort The Pick of Destiny. Obviously, I'm not their biggest fan because I hadn't even seen the
movie of the same title until a couple days ago, but to be honest, it looked kind of stupid to begin with. I wasn't far off with the cinematic critique, but the music still turned out to be entertaining. Either way, you can get a taste of "The Metal" through a variety of mediums, but I would recommend the video game to get the full experience.

Tenacious D - The Metal

90s Flash in the Pan: Virgos Merlot - 'The Cycle'

As others in The Lonely Note crew feel compelled to wax the nostalgic about music of the nineties, I figure I might as well hop onto the bandwagon.

Virgos Merlot was a band that emerged at the end of the last millennium, bearing aural similarity to the sounds that Fuel and Finger Eleven were debuting at the same time. Not quite metal, but not quite Alt-Rock either, Virgos apparently got stuck in the doldrums of Industrial-Grunge limbo, never establishing a clear identity for themselves. Accordingly, the band only released one album.

'The Cycle' was one of Virgo's singles that I remember garnering short lived, but substantial airplay on rock radio nearly ten years ago. For those of us daring enough to defy our parents and stay up late enough to hear the songs terrestrial radio was too afraid to play during the day, tracks like 'The Cycle' served as worthy reward for our sacrifice of restorative sleep.

Representative of the trendy nu-metal sound of its day, 'The Cycle' was a tasty product of its time. You can stream it below.

Virgos Merlot - 'The Cycle'


What do you think of when you think of 80's Rock 'n Roll music?? I'm sure most of you think of hair metal bands like Poison and Motley Crue. You think of bands having wild parties with drugs, women, and long hair. You think of a decade of excess and just dudes having a good time. A lot of people (maybe?) look back on this period of music with longing and wish we still had this of fun-loving, not too-serious music on the air instead of the more serious types of music that would follow it (a lot of these people must live in Des Moines and work for/request songs on Lazer 103.3 --seriously I think they are living in the 80's). Do you want to know what I think of these types of bands? I think of pure garbage.

Without being too disgusting, I compare this music to the vomit that comes out of somebody after a long night of drinking 5 Star Whiskey (at $6.75 a 750 ml bottle -- a great deal!!). Seriously -- a bunch of peroxide-bleach blonde "men" wearing spandex, handling instruments they had no business touching, and singing like their testicles were stuck in a vice. Absolutely no substance to any of these bands at all. And the funny thing is, most of these guys were absolutely horrible musicians (if you don't believe me, seriously watch supposed drum-God Tommy Lee attempt to play drums in the University of Nebraska band during the reality show "Tommy Goes to College." He seriously looked like he had never picked up drum sticks before.) They were all show and theatrics, and no music.

Poison. Ratt. White Lion. Motley Crue. Quiet Riot. W.A.S.P. Cinderella. Warrant. Jackyl. Skid Row. I could go on and on. Can you name a decent band here? Not me. I actually start laughing when I look at this list. Maybe it's because I can turn on Lazer 103.3 and listen to these bands all day just like they came out with a new album yesterday (or at Waterstock Rock, which fellow Lonely Noter Tae is a frequent visitor :-))? Or maybe it's because you can listen to these bands at county fairs all over the fair state of Iowa (and I'm sure other states) during the summer months in front of crowds that consist of mullets, NASCAR t-shirts, and lots and lots of Busch Light. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. When these bands were at their peak in the 80's, did you ever think they would be reduced to novelty acts at county fairs like the Jones County Fair (or my hometown Dubuque County Fair, in which Poison has come twice)?? Me neither. I find it hard to believe that horrible bands like Hinder try and emulate this crap. No wonder listening to Hinder on the radio makes me want to swerve my car onto oncoming traffic.

While these bands were making a mockery of my rock music (it's definitely pop music, although I struggle to even call it music) and coming out with their so called "power ballads" for the ladies (gag me), they were covering up the real rock music that came out of the 80's. Bands like Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Slayer, and Pantera were the real torch-bearers of rock music. They weren't the good looking guys, or the guys who got the girls, or who wore the ridiculous spandex. They just played harder and faster. They could never outsell the hair metalers, but then again when has good music ever been able to outsell pop music (see: NSync, The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, etc..)?? I'll even include Guns 'N Roses in this list. They may have rose out of hair metal (L.A. Guns + Hollywood Rose), but they could actually knew how to hold their instruments and could actually play, something most hair metal bands couldn't claim. GNR had great musicians and were really the only metal band that could sell in the decade.

But the leader of all of these bands was undoubtedly Metallica. They were the best rock band of the 80's, and their rebellious attitude and thrash metal captivated millions of disenchanted youth. Seriously, find a better four song start to an album than the first four songs off of their 1984 release Ride the Lightning. "Fight Fire With Fire," "Ride the Lightning," "For Whom the Bell Tolls," and "Fade to Black" hit you like nothing else. They were yours truly's favorite band until,well, Load, and then Reload. Don't get me started on what Metallica is now, but what they were was incredible and we owe them a debt of respect for making great music in the 80's.

And we also owe a special debt to Seattle music pioneers who founded grunge in Seattle in the mid 80's (thank you Green River and Malfunkshun) and blew it up in the early 90's. Grunge, along with GNR, thankfully reduced the abomination known as hair metal to the jokes that they always were. Grungers were not the prettiest guys, and maybe they were depressing, but they were real, and were incredible musicians (is there ever a tandem that was more in tune with each other than Layne Staley and Jerry Cantrell? They might have had the best chemistry between two bandmates in history). They were substance over style. This is why "grunge" is the favorite genre of yours truly, and was the music of choice for the Lonely Noters as we labored last weekend renovating the Lonely Note offices ("Talk Dirty To Me" was not allowed, although we allowed Tae's suggestion of Bon Jovi's "Bad Medicine" to play, because, well, it's such a bad song it's actually good).

So where am I going with all of this, especially since the title of this post suggests I want to talk about the bassist of a band who played in one of the bands that I have been trashing? Unless you live in a cave, you know that Nikki Sixx was the bassist of Motley Crue in the 80's. I personally can't stand Vince Neil, but I may have found a diamond in the rough? I am currently in South Bend, IN (live in Mishawaka, but work in SB) and listen to 103.9 The Bear daily (an awesome station by the way). I also want to throw props out to the station 105.7, The Point out of St. Louis, where I first heard the song. A while ago, they announced Nikki Sixx had a new band that was based off of his book, The Heroin Diaries. Naturally, I rolled my eyes and waited to hear an absolutely horrible song. I mean, it is no surprise to me that all of the "super groups" today are based off of former grunge bandmates, and not hair metal. Audioslave, Velvet Revolver, and Army of Anyone are just a few examples of their continued success. Where are successful hair metalers playing? Oh that's right, all they do is reform their crappy bands and continue playing bad music. There is a reason they are in no other bands: they only fit in with the other terrible musicians they grew up with so they have to stick with them, even if it means playing at the fabled Waterstock Rock and showing up on reality shows (hey - they have to get paid somehow).

So they announced Nikki Sixx's new band, Sixx:A.M. had a new songs based off of his book. I imagined garbage, but what I got was...... a pretty cool song! The song was "Life is Beautiful." It starts out pretty melodic, than a huge wall of Nikki's trademark Gibson Thunderbird bass and guitars hits you like a tidal wave. Whoa, where did this come from? The song crashes through the chorus guitar riffs, which sound a bit Slash-esque (ala "Slither"). Then singer James Michael's tenor voice comes strongly through the guitars (his own rhythm guitar, but cool none the less). DJ Ashba was also recruited for the ride. The lyrics are simple, but really paint the picture of Sixx's battle with heroin:

You can't breath until you choke, you gotta laugh when you're the joke. There's nothing like a funeral to make you feel alive

These lyrics, naturally reflect Sixx's 1987 heroin overdose when he was declared legally dead. The song stays hard but up-tempo. I kept waiting for the song to falter, but it didn't. Michael kept a strong wail with his constant wall of sound always in support. There is even a quick, but decent solo which really supports the song (and sounds like it should be played in a Guinness commercial). The songs ends as strong as it starts: quick, hard, and powerful. I was amazed that this song could keep its intensity, but it did not disappoint. I gotta hand it to Nikki Sixx: he looks like he actually went out, stayed sober, and has made a serious band. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised since, well even though I was never a Crue fan, he really was the primary song writer and founder of the band.

I gave him no credit, and he went out and proved their actually was some talent out of the hair metal genre in the 80's. The album has gotten some decent reviews, and dj's are getting plenty of calls for the song. Congrats to Nikki for proving his true musicianship, taking music seriously (something his comrades take for granted), and putting together a decent band and a good album. And seriously, shelve the inevitable Motley Crue reunion and keep making good new music!

Check out the song here

Until next time, yours truly:


Coming next: Yes I am lazy and haven't yet finished my Lollapalooza and Rage Against the Machine reviews. I actually have most of them both written, but haven't yet figured out how to get the pictures off of my camera and onto my computer. They'll be quick short holiday reviews. I also will be writing a concert review on local South Bend band Art and the Artichokes, which includes my medical school attending doc. I also recently saw a drunk Chris Cornell and a (still) fat Shaun Morgan and Seether at the newly renovated and still hot Val Air Ballroom. Maybe something quick on that. Now that residency interviews are done, I actually have some time now!

Sixx:A.M. - 'Life Is Beautiful'

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Jon Lajoie - 'Everyday Normal Guy' (NSFW)

I was watching the latest episode of Epic-Fu when they featured this parody of a rap song from comedian Jon Lajoie. If you like Adam Samberg's digital shorts on SNL, you'll get a kick out of this video.

(Due to foul language, this video is not safe for work).

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Friday, December 07, 2007

90's Extreme Flashback! Snow

In 1993, a white man from Ontario, Canada scored a massive hit with a dancehall single titled "Informer." That reggae-rapper was known as Snow. Armed with superfast rhymes and an unusual dialect, Snow garnered a brief, but renowned success with his album 12 Inches of Snow (with tracks numbered from "inch one" to "inch twelve").

In the wake of Vanilla Ice's strange popularity, Snow was able to break through in the R&B and Pop charts. They even shared chilly-sounding names. Essentially nobody could understand what Snow was rapping about, but that really didn't matter when his sound was so unique to the rest of pop radio. In Living Color even took notice, with Jim Carrey's hilarious send-up, "Imposter" (check out the video here).

Admittedly, I can remember playing Snow's cassette for hours and hours until the tape started to warble. As a youth of the early 90's, I can say that Snow held a special place in my musical upbringing, right there amongst Kris Kross and Another Bad Creation.

But how many of us can actually name another song in Snow's catalog? Well...I mean... I can.

"Lady with the Red Dress" is a personal favorite from 12 Inches... With a much clearer pop influence and a funky keyboard line to back it up, this track finds Snow trading his standard raps in favor of a more decipherable singing voice.

I rediscovered this song during college, and have been hooked on it ever since. If you need to get down 90's style, give this one a whirl!

Snow - 'Lady With the Red Dress'

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Radiohead on itunes?

In a recent discussion with, Radiohead manager Bryce Edge revealed that the band was in talks with Apple to release In Rainbows through the itunes store. Nothing has been made official, but should Radiohead's seventh studio album make it onto Apple's digital shelves, it will be the first full Radiohead album available for sale on itunes.

To read more on the story, click here.

If you can't wait for Radiohead to become available via itunes, you can download their newest album for any price you deem fit on the band's official website. In the meantime, enjoy a couple of my favorite songs from In Rainbows.

Radiohead - Bodysnatchers

Radiohead - All I Need

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ted's Song of the Week - 12/4/07


Here is a song I never would have heard had I not heeded the advice of my friend and fellow contributor Steve. "Dice" came across my radar while I was watching an episode of the NBC spy show Chuck. Specifically, the song made its appearance on the episode "Chuck vs. The Sandworm. Aside from the interesting storyline and multiple cliffhangers, the spy program showcases an excellent soundtrack of both popular and underground artists. However, Chuck has not cornered the market on Finley Quaye's handiwork. "Dice" made a previous appearance on The O.C.

Despite another shameless plug from the Lonely Note, I would have to say that "Dice" has enjoyed a very active life on my recent playlists. A great track for a rainy day mix.

Finley Quaye - Dice

Blake Lewis - Audio Day Dream

Blake Lewis was the beat boxing runner-up on last season's American Idol. Combining snappy vocals with a knack for fusing pronounced beats and smooth melodies, Lewis helped to push the envelope of Idol stagemanship in a year that also featured the out-of-this-world Sanjaya.

Audio Day Dream is the debut manifestation of the aforementioned Lewis trademarks, and it makes its mark pretty well. Featuring JT inspired vocal dubs and celebrity cameo, the album's production package provides more than enough glitz and substance to ensure that it will receive at least some airplay during the upcoming winter.

As a sample I'm featuring two songs off the album. The first one showcases Lewis' ability to manipulate existing melody, while the other includes Lewis' beat-boxing talents. They appear in that respective order below:

Blake Lewis - 'Gots to Get to Her (Inspired by 'Puttin' on the Ritz')

Blake Lewis - 'She's Makin' Me Lose It'

The Killers - 'Don't Shoot Me Santa'

The Killers love their Christmas songs. Here's the one for 2007. (It's a little on the unusual side).

The Killers - 'Don't Shoot Me Santa'

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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Video Spotlight: Travis Barker's Crank That Remix

Soulja Boy's "Crank That" has been a huge hit for the last couple of months and has inspired numerous remixes from top-shelf artists in the hip-hop community like Twista and Jermaine Dupri. However, there is an official remix from Travis Barker that makes for the most unique version of the song.

The former Blink-182 drummer does well in providing a more-pronounced percussion influence to the track and, for good measure, adds rock guitar to make for a heavier remix than the competition.

In addition to his version of the song, Barker decided to film an informal music video. While not the most glamorous piece of film, it does do a good job of showing one of the best drummers in rock do what he does best.

If you enjoy this song, the remix is currently available for purchase at the itunes store

Thursday, November 29, 2007

'Tis the season to get sued for breach of contract...

With Christmas right around the corner, it's not a surprise to hear holiday music pumping throughout all venues, but it comes as a surprise that one X-mas tune may find it's way into the courtroom.

The popular holiday song "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer" is now at the center of a lawsuit over a breach of contract. The original songwriter, Elmo Shropshire, may be forced to pay as much as $2 million in damages for his actions which interfered in a merchandising deal for the plaintiff, The Fred Rappoport Co.

To read the full story, click

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Duran Duran - 'Falling Down'

I caught this new single from old hit makers Duran Duran on MTV Hits last week. I tuned in at just the right moment because that was when the song's infectious chorus hit.

Listen to 'Falling Down' from Red Carpet Massacre below:

Duran Duran - 'Falling Down'