Category Archives: Music

Out: AOL Radio; In: Commercial Free

To paraphrase Milton, if I have to hear one more Geico commercial, I’m going to blow up the building. I don’t care if I’ll save hundreds of dollars on my car insurance. If I do switch from 21st Century (who’s getting way too expensive), it won’t be to Geico. Because AOL Radio plays their commercials on every one of their stations. All. The. Freaking. Time.
     Since they only have two sponsors (Dorritos being the other), I have to drop them to retain my sanity. I previously wrote good things about them, and I’m officially taking them back. I wish I didn’t have to, because I did like the music and the easy links to AMG. Anyway, this is what I’m pimpin’ now:

I found these guys through iTunes, and listen to the Indie Pop Rocks station. Very few interruptions, and a good music selection. Belle and Sebastian, Guided by Voices, Elliot Smith. They also just introduced me to The Go! Team (no affiliation with The Crack Team… as far as you know!), which is next on my pickup list. Also check out the Secret Agent channel, a modern take on 60s lounge music, Bossa Nova, and Connery-era James Bond. And occasionally a little Bollywood flavor throw in. Very chill.

They have a couple indie stations, one modern and one classic (which the announced with King Crimson background music, so it must be good). More cool music, no commercials (although they do remind you they’re listener supported, but that’s way less obnoxious than an insurance commercial).

ChroniX Aggression
What’s sometimes referred to as “alternative metal”. Fear Factory, Slipknot, System of a Down. Good music to get the heart pumping, before you rip it out and wolf it down.

What I like about these stations is that they display the artist and song while they’re playing, so you can punch it into your search bar and get more info. 3wk will even tell you the album and the label its on.

Now I just gotta find a replacement for the WB station… not that I listen to any of that really catchy pop music. You can’t prove it!

Netscape Radio Now AOL

I listen to a lot of net radio, since I’m on the computer a lot and a crave variety in my music. One of my main sources was Netscape Radio, which apparently is now AOL Radio. For a while now, I have experienced problems with my Radio@Netscape player, where it basically won’t start. When it was working, I saw occasional ads for unlimited listening at AOL Radio, and since they’re the same company (until Time Warner gives AOL the boot) I thought I’d check it out. Turns out AOL has the same stations and an interface that looks identical, but offers unlimited listening (Netscape cut you off after a couple hours). The new interface appears to be pure web-based and launches in a popup, unlike Netscape’s, which required a separate downloadable executable. Unfortunately for now, Firefox is not supported, but they promise it will be next month. So it’s time to dust off your IE.

I listen to it often due to the good selection of stations and the ability to rate songs. I have no idea how much my vote counts, but I like to feel listened to (hence this blog). In addition, they link the artist, song, and album to the AOL’s music page which licenses data from the All Music Guide, making it easy to learn about artists I’m not familiar with. My staples are Indie Rock Mix and Electronica, but other notable stations include Melancholia, for when your misery wants company; The WB Radio, the music of Smallville; Xtreme Alt Rock, hard but not boring; and a variety of single-artist stations for bands like The Ramones, The Doors, Yes, and others. Plus just about every other style of music you can think of, and several promotional stations for things like the Warp Tour and Live 8. Overall, a good one-stop music shop.

DualDisc: Less for More?

I read an interesting article on the limitations of DualDisc, and the short of it is that both the CD side and the DVD side have less capacity than their standard counterparts. They have only 60 minutes of CD audio, and the DVD side has a single layer like the kind of recordables you can currently buy (DVD-5). In addition, Denon has said not to use them in their players until they can do thorough testing. I was considering picking up the Keane DualDisc, then I found out the limitations forced them to drop a track on the CD side! Luckily, they also offer a SACD, so I’ll be going with that. It’s a shame there’s so much marketing behind an inferior product, they seem much better off just including a bonus DVD with CDs to avoid the mess.

KMFDM: 20 Years of Glorious Self-Absorption

On Monday I got to see KMDFM on their 20th Anniversary Tour at the House of Blues in Anaheim (continuing the industrial/metal onslaught on Disneyland – Skinny Puppy is up next!). For the uninitiated, they’re basically one of the greatest industrial bands of all time. Very hard, consistent, and fun, one of their trademarks is including their name in their songs. A lot. It’s that kind of self-absorption I can really respect. I like people who recognize how awesome they are.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp Overall, they rocked hard. The first part of the set seemed to concentrate on the later stuff; either that or I’m getting senile. I haven’t been up on the last few albums, like ATTAK and WWIII; the last I can recall was ADIOS, so it’s been about 5 years. But when they did Light, the crowd was electrified, and I found I’m definitely not the only one who thinks ANGST was their best. They followed that with Drug Against War, which also rocked the house, but the house appeared to be getting tired by then (the house is not getting any younger). However, the absence of En Esch meant a lot of KMFDM classics had to be cut. This was a serious disappointment, especially for a 20th anniversary tour, where I was expecting a great big “best of”.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The lineup they did have was solid, though. Sascha was there, of course, the only original left. Jules Hodgson, Andy Selway, and Steve White all did a fine job. The fun, new addition, though, is Lucia Cifarelli, who does all the female vocals. From the back of the club, she looked like a white Salma Hayek. She went from sexy gyrations to tough girl stances, marching and pumping her fist to command the ground troops. Three words. So. Fucking. Adorable. Just something about cute girls trying to act tough that makes them even cuter. I wanted to take her home and put her on display in the living room. She also got the biggest cheers of the night when she walked out after the first encore. We all figured that was it, and were kinda tired, but when she asked for applause – and flashed her silver wonderbra – we all went nuts. As it should be.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp The club itself was decent, and I loved how easy it was to get to, especially in OC. But the vocals were not very clear, and if I didn’t know them already, they were very difficult to make out. Since KMFDM’s lyrics are one their strong suits, this was a letdown. DJ?Acucrack, who opened, also had muddled vocals. Maybe it’s the vocoder, maybe the equipment, but I wanted better. To be fair, I did like what they were spinning, and you can check some of it out at their site.
&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp One of the stranger parts of the experience was the crowd. No, not industrialites in uniform, but the lack thereof! I’m not sure who wins the “most out-of-place” award: the guy in the Cowboys jersey and baseball cap, or the nerdy Asian guy with the white and beige polo shirt, khakis, and black dress shoes. Who am I kidding, the Asian guy wins! I didn’t do much myself, but come on, this is KMFDM. Show some damn respect.

Upcoming Concerts

This is as much a reminder to myself as it is an invite to those interested. Here are some concerts I’m planning to attend:

House of Blues Anaheim
I like this one because parking’s a cinch, as it’s in Downtown Disney. This also makes it a somewhat ironic venue.

9-22   Ministry with My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult and Hanzel Und Gretyl
11-15 KMFDM – 20th Anniversary Tour with support DJ? Acucrack

Never been there, used to be Hollywood Palace. Found this post on their forum about parking, should make it easier/cheaper. And weekday events should help, too.

10-12 Badly Drawn Boy

I’ll also be at Avalon for The Pixies, but that’s sold out. And I would have mentioned The Beastie Boys at Universal Amphitheatre, but all that’s left are extreme-stage-left nosebleed seats.

All For Nothing?

I’ve just been informed about a new site called It is a Russian site (link for English in the upper left corner) that offers digital music at a steal. What’s a steal, you ask? Well, iTunes charges $.99/song, and charges $.79/song + $10/month. So how does 1-2 cents/MB sound? Yes, they charge by bandwidth, and their Online Encoding (OE) system allows you to choose the format and bitrate. Of course, higher bitrate = more data = more money. Some songs cost $.02/MB, so for a high quality, long song, you maybe pay a quarter, but on average it’s a nickel. And some albums are even free.

You’re thinking, “This can’t be legal! It’s too good to be true!” Well, guess what, buster? I think you’re right. Well, it’s definitely true, but I am highly skeptical that this is a legitmate service. They claim they’re legitmate in Russia, which is very possibly true, but they also warn you that it might not be legal in your country. Since they don’t have time to check everyone’s laws, you’re on your own.

One of their payment plans seems particularly suspect. If there’s a CD they don’t have, but you do, you can rip it and upload it for twice their standard bandwidth costs. Something about that just shouts “accomplice”.

Most of the internet lore on them is testimonials, and I haven’t seen any stories of people getting burned. A few believe it’s run by hackers, and even though that claim is largely unsubstantiated, you’re probably best off using PayPal to avoid giving away your credit card number.

I’m curious as to how the RIAA will strike at this. Even if it’s illegal, they’re only finding/sueing those who share music for free. Can they subpoena Visa or PayPal? Get Russian authorities to hand over AllOfMP3’s records? Hard to say. Well, hard for me, at least. Every other review of this site is absolutely sure this is legal, no doubt in their minds, and this includes Tech TV. Granted, it has been around since 2001. Maybe they’re right.

Disclaimer: I have not used this service.