Headphones

As a self confessed music nut, I've owned more headphones in my lifetime than I can possibly recall. I can think of no other gadget I've used more in every day life. I've likely spent a wee bit of money on them if I'm honest, the cats…they chew. What are you gonna do?

I've been partial to in ear monitor headphones for years. When you get them fit just right, there's nothing better. I had a not really that cheap pair of Shure sound isolating chaps for years until they gave up the ghost. Um, someone decided to leave them on the floor and tread on them.

These days, Apple Airpods Pro are in my ears every day.

Inertia Creeps

The Good:

Sound quality is excellent. Not Shure excellent, but they're really good. Noise cancellation just works, but flipping to what Apple calls 'Transparency' mode allows outside noise in. Super handy for when you need to hear your own voice on conference calls. Auto connect as you put them in your ears nice. Pulling either air pod out of your ear pauses the music like magic. No cable means nothing cats can chew on.

Take Some Getting Used To:

My first foray into the world of bluetooth headphonery. There's still some room for improvement for the switching between devices. I find I play a game of "no I want to connect them to my Mac, not my phone" more often than I'd like. Remembering to charge them.

Overall I'm very impressed. I suspect it will all be fun & games until one of the cats decide to bat an airpod under the fridge.

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2019 In Scrobbles

So how did the year shake out music wise? last.fm says:

2019 In Music

Looks like I listened to slightly less music this year than the past couple, 23,958 tracks.

The kiddo loves her some Twenty One Pilots so they’re usually a goto when we're driving to school. Hometown and Cut My Lip are two favorites.

The new Drab Majesty album this year was particularly good. I saw a bloke with one of their t-shirts in Starbucks the other week and got chatting about gigs we’ve been to.

In November I discovered Preoccupations and they were the find of the year. If Editors and Interpol had a child, its name would be Preoccupations.

Boy Harsher are an electroclash band and when they get going I defy anyone to not nod your head. Good driving music.

Rush. Because Rush.

Keychains & Snowstorms is Soft Cell’s 10 disc box set. And it’s amazing. The remix of Meet Murder My Angel is sublime. Bless Spotify for having it.

In 2018 Orbital released Monsters Exist and I still loved it this year. The synth melody on The Raid is the best.

And my old muckers Rammstein. Their new album is great. Go watch any of their 2019 concert footage on YouTube.

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Bands From My Youth I haven't Seen Live 2019 Edition

So let's see, the 2019 version of this list is probably something like:

Duran Duran
Gary Numan
The Smiths
The Police
Soft Cell

The Police and Soft Cell reunions are done and over and I missed that boat. Partly because I didn't get to see The Police when they played Phoenix. Partly because Soft Cell's reunion consisted of a London gig only.

The Smiths I don't hold out hope for. And let's be honest, Morrissey's recent questionable take on life has left a sour taste anyway. Would I even go? Dunno.

So I hold out hope for Duran Duran and Numan. Both still tour. Could happen.

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Isolated Vocals

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Listen While You Work

When adding this to my pinboard links yesterday I had a wry smile on my face.

Starbucks music is driving employees nuts:

Earlier this year, irritated Starbucks employees took to Reddit to rage about how they had to listen to the same songs from the Broadway hit musical Hamilton on repeat while on the job. One user wrote that if they heard a Hamilton song one more time, "I'm getting a ladder and ripping out all of our speakers from the ceiling."

Was in some shop or another at the weekend and it played continual country music. Over and over. In the time we were in there I wanted to punch myself in the face. I can't imagine how the employees feel all day every day.

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One Word Album Review, Muse – Simulation Theory

Good.

Over the years I've had an on and off relationship with Muse. The Black Holes And Revelations album from 2006 is great, Map Of the Problematique one of my favorite songs of all time. Their albums following that had a couple of songs I liked, but as a whole they were all a bit lackluster. So when I heard they had a new album out it was a bit like hearing U2 had a new album. You know, mildly interested for nostalgia value, but in no hurry to actually listen to it. This week I decided to give it a whirl.

First a little note. About 18 months ago I wrote about how I'd discovered the music genre known as retro electro or synthwave. Kids making albums that sound like soundtracks to 80s movies & TV shows. Since then I've become fully enamored by all those bands and they're on high rotation in my headphones.

So yeah Simulation Theory. The first thing I noticed was the album cover. It's is almost an exact copy of everything in the retro electro genre. I wondered if that was a teaser for what was to come. It was. It seems Muse have also listened to a lot of those same bands I have in the last year.

And that's not a bad thing at all. I'm only on my second listen through but I'm really liking it so far. Seems like a welcome return to form.

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Walking Videos

Friday's JWZ mixtape post got me thinking about compiling my own list of favorite music videos. As I'm trying to figure out which ones make the short list I'm surprised at how much I like walking videos. You know, where the protagonist just takes a bit of a stroll. Be it down the street, across a field, wherever.

The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony
Depeche Mode – Enjoy The Silence
Massive Attack – Unfinished Sympathy
Bruce Springsteen – Streets Of Philadelphia

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jwz's Mixtapes

For as long as I can remember I've been a fan of Jamie Zawinski's mixtapes. He initially started with streaming mp3s and in recent years switched to compiling videos on YouTube. I've discovered a lot of new bands this way over the years.

This week marked a milestone as he hit the 200th mixtape. This one a little different as it's a 3 hour ride of what he considers the best videos ever made. There is some good stuff here.

I wanted to do something to commemorate the bicentennial (bicentapial?) so here's a double-length mixtape (a pair of C90s) comprising The Greatest Music Videos Of All Time.

Ok, it's not really that, because there are two fundamental problems with that concept:

• First: How is a mixtape of The Greatest Music Videos Of All Time not merely Duran Duran's "The Wild Boys" playing on infinite repeat?

Because really, that's it, you can stop there, that's the one.

There's a rule about recording a cover song: "Never remind the audience that they could be listening to a better band than yours." So let's say you sit down to make a music video. How do you even do that, knowing that The Wild Boys exists, out there, in the world? How do you top that?

• But Second: I am paralysed by choice. My first draft of this mixtape was seven hours long, and it still felt woefully incomplete.

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If You Ever Plan To Motor West

If You Ever Plan To Motor West

Flagstaff, 2018. 

It was cool driving down an iconic piece of Americana.  The kicks I got on this particular route was an awfully nice IPA in a Mexican restaurant.  Yum.  Of course I had Depeche's version of the song in my head while taking this shot.

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