Taylor Swift – Speak Now (2010) [Country/Pop]

•June 28, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Speak Now Review

June 28th, 2012

Written by Lyla Page

Edited by Troy Swiatek

★★★★★★★★☆☆

            Two questions often associated with Taylor Swift’s music are “Why do all her songs sound the same?” and “Has she ever written a song that’s not about a guy?” Yes…and no. Her latest album, Speak Now, answers those questions. Like her previous albums, Speak Now is loaded with ballads like the wistful “Dear John”, which presumably chronicles her relationship with John Mayer. Swift’s signature storyteller lyrics of the heart-wrenching “Back to December” can be interpreted as an apology to a broken-hearted Taylor Lautner. Of course, there’s the upbeat, in-your-face “Better Than Revenge”, which takes a stab at a mystery girl who “stole” Swift’s boyfriend. However, the theme of the album is not romance, but the bridge to adulthood. Swift touches on the bliss of childhood with “Never Grow Up”, seen through the eyes of a lonely adult. Even her catchy love songs like “Mine” and “Sparks Fly” demonstrate a deeper understanding of relationships in relation to her previous albums. (“I was a flight risk with a fear of falling/Wondering why we bother with love if it never lasts”) and (“It’s okay, life is a tough crowd/Thirty-two and still growing up now”). The album’s closer, “Long Live”, shows that Taylor Swift may be looking back at her high school days, but her experiences have helped her to make a solid, more grown-up version of her music. Yes, many of Swift’s songs may sound similar (the sign of an artist who’s successfully developed a signature sound), but like any good song, each track on Speak Now stands out in its own way – demonstrating Taylor Swift’s best effort yet.

  • Musicianship: 7
  • Lyrics: 8.5
  • Overall: 7.5
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Flying Colors – Flying Colors (2012) [Progressive Rock]

•June 19, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Flying Colors’ Debut: A Review

June 19th, 2012

Written and Edited by Troy Swiatek

Mike Portnoy Supergroup Flying Colors Debut Release

★★★★★★★★☆

I picked up this album alongside Adrenaline Mob’s Omertà during my last visit to my local record store. They’re both recent Mike Portnoy supergroup releases, so of course I had to get both. Fortunately, the two albums were on two separate sides of the spectrum: heavy metal in Omertà and progressive rock in Flying Colors. The genre for this album, however, is debatable, so let’s just call Flying Colors eclectic progressive rock for now. Luckily for me, I don’t have to copy and paste that damned “à” for this album name. Not to mention the fact that I’m completely in love with progressive rock at this point.

Since its release, there have been many positive reviews of this album. Unfortunately, this one is but another in that haystack.

The album cover truly intrigues me. Of course, it caught my eye and was one of the reasons I purchased it – I was looking for it for a while, but couldn’t find it until I saw the easy-to-spot album art. The album cover has a sense of diversity to it, which reigns true throughout the album; there is a certain diversity on every track; a different musician shines on each track. Of course, there is a bit of similarity between all of the tracks: the annoyingly cheesy lyricism. The lyrics were simply.. stupid on this album. That, however, does not interfere with the fact that the musicianship on this album is perfectly executed.

Any who, purchasing this album was a no-brainer for me. It features many of the progressive/rock musicians I’ve come to know and love in my past three years of music exploration. There’s drummer Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Neal Morse, Liquid Tension Experiment, etc.), keyboardist (and vocalist, not to mention guitarist) Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic, solo), guitarist Steve Morse, who is of no relation to Neal Morse, (Dixie Dregs, solo, Kansas, Deep Purple, etc.), bassist Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Planet X, Steve Morse Band, etc.) and one who I am relatively unfamiliar with, vocalist (alongside keyboards and rhythm guitar) Casey McPherson. Transatlantic also happens to be my favorite modern progressive rock band, so another collaboration between two members of the band I’ve come to love couldn’t possibly be bad. Well, it could, but that doesn’t happen here. I also happen to absolutely adore Steve Morse’s work in Dixie Dregs. Basically, the musical portion of this band had to be phenomenal. No letdowns there, I assure you. Then there’s the vocalist whom I have no prior experience with: Casey McPherson. Surprisingly, his and Neal’s melodies were beautiful throughout the album. No complaints on the musicianship. The vocals, however, were a slight nuisance on a few songs. The lyrics.. well, relatively cheesy throughout. Flying Colors, however, manages to incorporate almost everything I love about progressive rock into this album, hence the 8.5/10 rating.

Now then, onto the individual track reviews.

The first track of this wonderful album is entitled Blue Ocean. This track really sets the mood for the rest of the album: a fun-loving group of musicians doing what they love: making wondrous music. You can tell at the beginning of the song that these guys simply adore working with each other; that, in my mind, sets the course for a brilliant album. This is probably my favorite track off of the album, and currently my favorite song released in 2012. Mind you, I have never heard Mr. McPherson sing before this track, and quite simply.. I was blown away. His vocal abilities are astounding; his vocals soar right on through the music, flowing beautifully. This is the track that really stands out above all the others on this album. Especially with the “Blue ocean” harmonies, not to mention a brilliantly coordinated solo by Steve. The song caps off with the stellar “Blue ocean” piece. Wonderful, simply wonderful.

Shoulda Coulda Woulda is the second track of the album and the title scared me a little bit. Casey’s vocals at the beginning also frightened me quite a bit. The vocals remain quite.. annoying throughout the entire song. However, the musicianship is simply fantastic, and that alone makes this a song works listening to. Lyrics are also extremely cheesy, and I would advise Casey to avoid these types of vocals for future reference.

Kayla is the third song of the album, and from what I’ve seen has received extremely positive reviews by listeners. Unfortunately, I don’t hear the attraction. The song is actually quite boring and one that I would tend to skip when listening to the album. The music is slightly above average, vocals slightly below average, and the lyrics are pretty.. bleh. I’m unsure what the cause of the extremely positive reviews were, but I could not find anything that truly impressed me here. It’s an overall below average song. That’s all.

The Storm is the fourth track of the album with a title that makes me hoping for a barrage of orgasmic instrumentals alongside relatively ‘louder’ vocals. My expectation was indeed quite off the mark, but nonetheless this song is wonderful in its own right. Excellent musicianship. Soaring vocals. The Morses: keyboards and guitars. An overall impressive track. Not what I expected initially, but I left with a smile on my face and a tune in my head.

Forever in a Daze is the fifth track off the album. The beginning is simply orgasmic, for lack of a better term, and certainly sets the mood for the rest of the song – a soaring bass. Hm. Appears to be another love song, similar to Kayla, but certainly much more impressive. Bass and guitar solo right in the middle. This song is fantastic, a must-listen for any progressive rock lover. I usually despise love songs, but this song is an obvious exception. “You don’t even know my name, but you got me loving you forever in a daze..”. Very nice.

Love is What I’m Waiting For is the sixth track of the album that has me thinking: Another love song? Ah, that doesn’t exactly matter. The lyrics are quite cheesy and don’t appeal to me much. The musicianship, on the other hand, remain continuously impressive and leaves me relatively happy. This is an okay song. The vocals fit, flow and are performed well, but just do not impress me whatsoever.

The seventh track of the album is called Everything Changes. This is probably the softest song on the album with a fairly simply message, as noted in the title: everything changes. And indeed it does. Despite its softness, this song is carefully orchestrated into masterful perfection. Brilliant guitar work. Portnoy flows right along with the rest of the crew. Casey truly shines here, demonstrating his beautiful vocal ability. Quite an impressive song to say the least.

Better Than Walking Away is the eighth track of the album that begins in a way that left me thinking I was wrong about the last song being the softest on the album. Luckily for me, it picks up relatively quickly and morphs into a ‘faster’, ‘heavier’ song about halfway through. The two, Everything Changes and Better Than Walking Away are clearly the two softest songs on the album. That, however, does not diminish their brilliancy. Another nice listen.

All Falls Down is the ninth track of the album that finally starts to pick up the album, once again, into the heavier portion of progressive rock that is this album. Starts off with a combination of Steve and Mike’s brilliant musicianship and quickly transforms into an epic song with some nice ‘harmonies’, or rather ‘chants’ from the group. Excellent guitar playing by Steve on this track, he really shines here. Casey flows right along with Mike’s poundin’. Another great track.

Fool in My Heart is the tenth track of the album, leaving me thinking, once again, ANOTHER LOVE SONG? Well, yeah, basically. “I always will love you, forever I will“.. meh. The lyrics somewhat annoy me, but Casey and the crew pull off another okay song, which is rare for me – mind you, I hate songs about love.  Of course, this song contains yet another awesome solo from Steve but quickly picks up back into the cheesiness.

The final, eleventh track of the album is called Infinite Fire. This is the longest song on the album, clocking in at nearly 12 minutes long. The longest by nearly five minutes. It kicks off with.. well, basically a great, nearly two-minute instrumental portion before the vocals pop in. The vocals, in my opinion, flow relatively less here than in other songs, but they still make an excellent sound. LaRue, alongside Portnoy, Neal and Steve all shine brilliantly on this song. The harmonies are also quite intriguing, however cheesy the lyrics they’re singing are. Nonetheless, fantastic solos and genius drum-work truly make this song one of the best on the album. I believe there’s even a keyboard solo by Neal here. Truly a magnificent piece of work Flying Colors managed to create here, incorporating each of the members’ talents so terrifically. It reminds me slightly of Transatlantic’s My New World, although the lyrics there, I believe, are better than those portrayed on Infinite Fire. Nonetheless, this track is amazing and a brilliant closer to a great album.

Alright then, that concludes the individual track reviews. Now, I must admit, my opinion of this album overall altered during the writing of this review. The rating went from a 9.5 to a 9.0, only getting worse for me, and eventually halting at 8.5. I believe this album is quite worth the 8.5, and quite possibly, at best, an 8.75. I could not, for the life of me, find a copy-and-pasteable half-star for the ‘out of 10′ stars under the album cover at the very top – this bugged me for at least half an hour before I gave up and decided to ’round up’ for the star-rating. Any who, this album was well-worth the listen and I can see myself going to see these guys in concert, if they happen to tour. I would also jump at the chance to purchase a new album of theirs, if such a chance arises. I’ll be listening to this album, especially Blue Ocean and Infinite Fire, for years to come. I would recommend the album to any progressive rock fan who can also handle the occasional ‘pop rock’ influence; this influence is mainly held within the vocals, anyway. The musicianship is top-notch, the crew consists of the best of the best, and the vocalist, despite novel to me, really impresses me. I’m honored to be able to express my opinion on this album as a review. 🙂

  • Music: 9.5
  • Vocals: 8.5
  • Lyrics: 4
  • Overall: 8.5

Adrenaline Mob – Omertà (2012) [Heavy Metal]

•June 14, 2012 • 2 Comments

A Review of Adrenaline Mob’s “Omertà”

June 14th, 2012

Written and Edited by Troy Swiatek

Omerta

★★★★★★★☆☆☆

I picked this album up on a whim, being a huge Mike Portnoy fan, while at my local music store (of course, I picked up the brand new Flying Colors album along with it; it will be reviewed at a later date, but I was most definitely more impressed with that release in comparison to this one). Needless to say, with a superstar trio consisting of the magnificent Symphony X vocalist Russell Allen, infamous shredder Mike Orlando – I am quite the fan of his Sonic Stomp albums – and the brilliant Transatlantic (hell, I prefer Transatlantic to Dream Theater and his other projects) drummer Mike Portnoy, I was expecting a mind-blowing release.

However, with an early peek at the album art, I could already foresee a mediocre album. I expected “yet another” average hard rock/heavy metal album, but figured if these beyond talented musicians were participating it could be made into a fantastic album. Unfortunately, after a few listens of the album, this dream turned into reality – indeed, it is a relatively average album, for the most part. There were some surprisingly brilliant tracks, however.

Undaunted is the first track of the album. It starts off pretty well, showcasing Portnoy’s and Orlando’s abilities – not brilliantly, but adequately enough to be slightly impressed. After about half a minute, Russell Allen’s unrecognizable vocals explode into the song. Russell was most definitely trying a new vocal style with this album – I actually loved his vocals on his most recent Symphony X album, Iconoclast (2011), and was expecting the same vibe from Omertà. I don’t think this type of vocals suit him at all; however, it most certainly flows along with the music, which I always love. Not to say that I dislike the vocals, I don’t, but they were surprising at first. Overall, this is a solid track and will definitely convince listeners to lengthen their attention span for the entire album. My favorite part would have to be the chorus and Russell’s pronunciation of “undaunted” within it – “You wannabe, I stand undaunted; you gonna see, I am undaunted“. An impressive track to kickoff the album with.

Psychosane is the second track, with a paradoxical, contradictory title – you can’t be “psycho” and “sane” at the same time! This song was slightly less impressive to me; it was a bit less heavy (hey, my opinion) and flows much less than Undaunted. The lyrics were pretty mediocre, somewhat cheesy at times. What saves this track from being a total letdown was Orlando’s solo near the end of song. Pretty much loved that, despite its relatively short length. Similar to the previous song, my favorite part was the chorus – “Heavy thunder blows my mind, knocks me senseless all the time; the sound of lightning screams, I hear them melt my brain – Lord I’m going psychosane. That alone makes this track re-listenable for me.

Indifferent is the third track, possibly my favorite, of the album. The song starts off very nicely with a catchy riff alongside Portnoy’s drum-pounding – Mike and Mike are definitely in sync on this track. This is one of the softer tracks on the album, but by no means is it a “soft” track whatsoever. The only reason this song is my favorite is that Russell’s vocals are RECOGNIZABLE – it’s the Symphony X vocalist once again, and I love the vocals on this track. I’m also quite indifferent (love the word) to most issues in the world at the moment. Not to mention another wondrous solo by Orlando.. this track is wonderful; in terms of vocal ability, Russell really nails it on this track. Of course, the chorus was also enjoyable – not sure why I’m enjoying these so much on this album. Probably because of Russell. 😉

All on the Line is the fourth track containing a similar vocal-style to the third track. Now, this track is definitely the softest on the album. Although it contains a slightly heavy chorus, the rest of this song is quite ballad-like but nonetheless brilliantly performed. This song definitely showcases Russell’s vocal ability – absolutely fantastic. It also is quite reminiscent of Triumph’s Lay It On the Line, but only in that All on the Line contains the line “I’ve got to lay it all on the line” and they’re both hard-rock “ballads”. This song showcases each of the trio’s unique, legendary talents that has allowed them each to make it in the music industry. This song may very well be my favorite on the album. Simply great. The chorus.. once again.. “I don’t wanna wake up and make the same mistakes, it happens to me all the time; if I lie, I lose it all, if I stand or if I fall, I’ve got to lay it all on the line..“. This song also contains a very slight but perfect solo to go along with the song. Love it.

Hit the Wall is the fifth track on the album, signaling a path back to the heaviness of the album, with the two previous songs being relatively soft in comparison to the rest of the album. I’ll be honest, this song is monotonously boring. I did not enjoy this song at all. There were a few nice guitar licks, but nothing utterly fantastic in my opinion. Portnoy also had a few good moments within the song.. but aside from Orlando’s solo the song was pretty one-way. Definitely a bust.

Feelin’ Me is the sixth track on the album, probably the harshest, in terms of vocals, and nothing short of a kick-ass song. Love the guitar riff, Portnoy flows right along with Orlando and Russell continuously delivers excellently. Not a fan of the chorus – “I gonna stand up and fight, gonna knock out the sky ’cause I don’t give a shit; ya mother fuckers feelin’ me, are ya mother fuckers feelin’ me?” – it’s pretty unwarranted but flows right along with the slight harshness of the song. A great rebound from the fifth disaster.

Come Undone is the seventh track on the album, a cover, originally performed by Duran Duran. I must admit, I haven’t heard the original, but that’s irrelevant when it comes to this song. It’s an excellent song, although I can’t say if it’s a “good cover” or not. The female guest-vocalist definitely fits right in with the song, they perform the chorus flawlessly in my opinion – “Can’t ever keep from falling apart.. at the seams; can’t I believe you’re taking my heart.. to pieces”. The vocals really stand out on this song; don’t notice Orlando and Portnoy as much, which wasn’t a necessarily bad thing, for Russell (and whoever the hell that female vocalist was) really tore it up.

Believe Me is the eighth track on the album, starts off extremely weak. Russell utters “Come on!” so weakly that I figured the rest of the song would follow suit. I was pretty much correct in that assumption. The rest of the song is mediocre, relatively monotonous but not as bad as Hit the Wall. Another song I would be tempted to skip upon another listen of the album. Nonetheless, it is by no means a terrible song, I simply dislike it.

Down to the Floor is the ninth track of the album, whose title reminds me of Blood On the Dance Floor. The lyrics on this one are simply atrocious. “I feel the wind breakin’, tires shakin’; I feel the earth quakin’, come on give it some more.” “I bleed the brake line, hands shakin’, red light, sweat breakin’, I’m ready to explode!”. The music is average. Nothing special here, but still not awful.

Angel Sky is the tenth track of the album with a ballad-like title; I admit, the name of the song had me hoping for a fantastic song. Seems I was correct on the ballad-likehypothesis. Russell’s voice is quite nice in this one, but I didn’t find anything special in this one aside from the chorus -“I wish I could see through your eyes, fly through the angel sky, fly so high spread your wings to try.. fly away to a different place in time, won’t you fly away?”. It’s delivered quite nicely by the group and I would listen to the song again just for the chorus and corresponding guitar-licks by Orlando.

Freight Train is the eleventh and final track of the album. It begins with the sound of a freight train followed by a smooth riff. I expected something memorable, it being the final track and all.. unfortunately, there was nothing spectacular except for Orlando’s guitar and Portnoy’s drums. Russell was pretty boring on this track, especially with the annoying chorus – “Freight train rollin’, ya keep on rollin’; freight train goin’, all night, freight train rollin’, ya keep on goin’, rollin’ down the line”. Aside from the vocals, this song was delivered exceptionally and is quite brilliant in terms of musicianship.

As a whole, this album was completely different from what I’m currently exploring – progressive rock – but was indefinitely a solid album. Quite simply, this album is a punch to the face – a kick-ass, rockin’ album that you should play as loud as possible. I would completely recommend Omertà to any fan of the current hard rock and heavy metal scene. I’m actually looking forward to a sophomore release from this supergroup. I believe that as they develop a bond as a group, they’ll perform better and dive into unexplored musical regions with a new album. The talent is there, but the chemistry appears to be absent, which can be improved with extended “bonding time”. Unfortunately, each of the members have other groups to tend to (except Orlando, not exactly sure what he’s doing at this point), and Portnoy’s all over the place with his recent tours, groups and contributions to albums.

  • Music: 8.
  • Vocals: 7
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall: 7

overall incorporates my impressions, how well I felt the music flowed, the lyrics, performance of each member on the album, and a few other unimportant factors; it is not an average of the music, vocals and lyrics ratings

On Guard: The Riot Grrrl Revolution

•May 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

On Guard: The Riot Grrrl Revolution

5/23/12

Written by Holly Reynolds

Edited by Troy Swiatek

They created a subculture that lasted well after the initial movement began to die. Young women from all over the greater Pacific Northwest were rampaging, developing a music scene to explore their feminist thoughts and desires through garage bands. Even if the genre never exploded into the mainstream eye, the girls who riot continue to influence many emerging acts (the ever enticing Lipstick Homicide, and the like) while still engaging a strong cult following which continue to push the original goal of the first riot grrrls – to increase the significance and number of women involved in music.
“You learn that the only way to get rock-star power as a girl is to be a groupie and bare your breasts and get chosen for the night. We learn that the only way to get anywhere is through men. And it’s a lie.” – Kathleen Hanna
Riot grrrl created its own place within a male-dominated punk scene and continue to impact many aspects of indie and punk rock culture today.  Bands such as the revolutionary Bikini Kill often selected their audience, changing the dynamics of punk gigs to create a place where women of the same passionate views gathered in a place where they felt empowered. Female musicians weren’t seen as week and lovelorn, as the riot grrrls expressed their thoughts on issues (like sexuality, patriarchy, rape and domestic abuse) important to their everyday life. It was a time where a woman could pick up a guitar feel her voice is heard.

Associated with third-wave feminism, the underground punk rock movement peaked within the early to mid 90s. Patti Smith, Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth and Joan Jett were among the many female musicians throughout the 70s and 80s who greatly influenced the beginning embers of the genre. The first traceable evidence of riot grrrl forming as a genre included an article titled Women, Sex, Rock and Roll by Puncture in 1989, and a seemingly unknown radio show describing itself as “aimed at angry young women” by the name of Your Dream Girl which aired in Olympia where many early riot grrrl acts spawned, largely contained to small garage gigs. The phrase “riot grrrl” developed over time (all due to a letter from Bratmobile member Jen Smith, where she wrote, “This summer’s going to be a girl riot!”), but has since become a very welcomed term embraced by the bands, adding to their image and overall message.

There often comes the common misconception that all riot grrrls are male-haters, who believe in not the equality of sexes but the superiority of women. In fact, this is always rejected, once summarized: “We’re not anti-boy, we’re pro-girl.” Despite the presence of several male band members within the riot grrrl genre including Huggy Bear’s Jon Slade and Billy Karren of Bikini Kill, the bands were not always positively received at shows by male attendees. Although rising after the queer-core movement, the distinction between riot grrrl and queercore is often blurred due to bands like Fifth Column and Team Dresch.

To outsiders, the musical credibility of the riot grrrl revolution is questionable, but to fans, what the movement represents is far more important than the music itself. It’s a way of life.

Recommended listening:

#1 – Dig Me Out by Sleater-Kinney
Notable tracks: One More Hour, Dig Me Out and Little Babies
Ranked at #24 on Spin’s 100 Greatest Albums 1985 – 2005 and often regarded as the album that “defined the band’s sound”, Dig Me Out was the third Sleater-Kinney
studio album, released in 1997. Establishing at the tail end of the original movement, Carrie, Corin and Janet escaped the trap that many riot grrrl bands fell into: never approaching popular acceptance. The trio rose to a to a critically revered indie rock act, heavily due to their harmonious blend of riot grrrl passion, hooky lyrics and ingenious instrumental techniques. Dig Me Out is more than a riot grrrl album to me; this is the pinnacle of all I love, my favorite album, by my favorite band, including my favorite song. Ever, full stop.
#2 – Pussy Whipped by Bikini Kill
Notable tracks: Rebel Girl, Sugar and Speed Heart

Straight from the woman who famously spray painted “Kurt Smells like Teen Spirit” on Cobain’s wall, comes an album containing, undeniably, the most iconic girl-power anthem of the riot grrrl era, Pussy Whipped is the debut studio album by Kathleen Hanna’s Bikini Kill. Occasionally collaborating with high profiles acts such as Joan Jett and Nirvana, Bikini Kill was well known for turning down well-known labels and the mainstream music journalists. “Rebel Girl” appeared on Rolling Stone’s Most Excellent Songs of Every Year Since 1967 for the year 1993. You’ll be screaming she’s the queen of your world, I guarantee it.

#3 – Feminist Sweepstakes by Le Tigre
Notable tracks: Fake French, On Guard and My Art

Kathleen Hanna, centre of the riot grrrl universe and fabulous Bikini Kill front woman, went on to found the “protest pop” Le Tigre. Released in 2001, Feminist Sweepstakes is their second studio album and first to feature JD Samson. They find a sweet point between experimental electro and the riot grrrl ethos Hanna helped create. The entirety of the album is seamlessly fluent, even with each track noticeably unique, it just works. Admittedly, the alternative direction won’t be to everyone’s taste, but well worth trying.

Music Listening: A History

•May 23, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Music Listening: A History

5/23/12

Written by Kim Dixon

Edited by Troy Swiatek

Thousands of years ago, ancient man discovered that hitting different objects together made a sound that was enjoyable. As time passed, those sounds became known as music and those basic objects turned into complex instruments.
It used to be that when you wanted to hear music, you either had to hire a musician or learn to play an instrument yourself. However, as humans began to harness the power of electricity, it became possible to record sounds on a phonograph, which was invented in the late 19th century by Thomas Edison. Since then, technology has grown at a never before seen, exponentially mind-blowing rate.
Radio became available for public broadcasting in 1920. Records came out around the same time, but the more familiar vinyl records didn’t come into play until the ‘50s. In 1890, the first “nickel in slot” phonograph was invented. By 1940 this kind of phonograph became known as the jukebox. Jukeboxes hit their peak in the ‘50s in popular hangout joints for the young people, but you can still find modernized jukeboxes with the current technology all around.

Records remained the best & just about the only way to listen to music for a few decades, but people wanted easier, less bulky, & more portable ways to listen to their tunes. In the late ’50s & early ’60s the transistor radio, a small portable radio, made it possible to listen to music on the go. In the late 60s the FM radio format, which had been patented in 1933, & played mostly music, became very popular because FM had been adopted by fans of “Alternative Rock” music (“A.O.R.”- album oriented rock)  but it wasn’t until 1978 that listener-ship to FM stations exceeded that of AM stations in North America.


In 1964, stereo 8, better known as the 8 track, come out & allowed for even more portability. They were extremely popular in the states, but remained relatively unknown to much of the world. In the early 70s-80s, the compact cassette became the next must have. Smaller, less bulky & with a rewinding/fast forwarding option, the cassette was a huge leap in music listening as the machine needed to play them could be made pocket size (ex: Sony Walkman), but something was needed for people to be able to listen to music without disturbing others. The answer: Headphones.


The first headphones were used in the early 20th century for radio transmissions. They were primitive by today’s standards as they had very crude audio & were genuinely very uncomfortable to use. Improvements have been made over time, including the invention of ear-buds that fit directly into the ear with little to no discomfort.
In the 70s, boomboxes became popular. Though they were bulky & big in size, they were portable as most models could run off of electricity or batteries. The early models were an attractive hybrid which fused the booming sound of large sound systems and the portability of small cassette players they were typically small, black, heavy, and most importantly loud. The effective AM/FM turner was the most attractive feature of the early boombox – up until the incorporation of input/output jacks into the boxes, allowing the use of devices such as microphones. This development brought boombox to their height of popularity, and as their popularity rose so did the innovative features included in the box. Urban teens loved boomboxes for their portability and sound quality, but most important to the youth market was the bass. The desire for louder and heavier bass led to bigger and heavier boxes; by the 1980s some boomboxes had reached the size of a suitcase.
By the time the 80s rolled around, the world was heading into the digital era. On March 2nd, 1983 the compact disc (CD), was released in the U.S. This date became known as the “Big Bang of the Digital Audio Era”. Expensive at first, the price gradually fell as the disc gained popularity. The CD was an improvement of the cassette because you could skip tracks by just pressing a button.


By the 90s the personal computer (PC) gained popularity as they became useable in homes. In 1993 the mp3( & later iPods) player hit the shelves. Small, compact, & able to hold thousands of songs, it took a few years to catch on, but by the early 2000s it became the most popular way of buying music, because of the ease of use. Gone were the days of listening to a full album, now all you had to do was download the song(s) you wanted to hear.

Sites like YouTube, Last.FM, Spotify, etc. now allow people to be able to listen to music online for free & be able to check out albums to see if you wanted to download/buy them or not. Unfortunately, with the ease of use, came the people who wanted to cheat the system & bands, by illegally downloading songs. As the internet grew the number of legal & illegal downloading sites grew as well. Luckily, the government is taking action against such illegal sites.
Technology just keeps on growing & improving, who knows what will become the next musical must have? What do you think?

How to Properly Destroy A Band’s Income

•May 21, 2012 • 1 Comment

How to Properly Destroy A Band’s Income

5/21/12

Written by Lyla Page

Edited by Troy Swiatek

-~> We all know the feeling of finding out a favorite band is on tour near us – excitement is the first thing we feel, but despite our love for the band, the price of concert tickets often stops us from going to the show. One might wonder why ticket prices have been on a rise for several years now, and the answer is very simple: it’s the result of illegal downloading. Illegal torrenting, through the form of sites like MegaUpload, which was recently shut down for severe copyright infringement (not to mention advocating criminal activity on the Internet), has seared across the Internet, dragging in users with the promise of freealbeit copyrighted – material. The idea of downloading movies and music for free has sucked in millions of Americans, with IFPI claiming that 95% of music downloads are illegal. This form of downloading, often referred to as piracy, is better described, pure and simple, as stealing. Paying nothing for individuals’ copyrighted work is inexcusable, yet sites such as MegaUpload eagerly promote such theft. Granted, MegaUpload offers the “useful” features of sharing files, such as photo albums and documents, options which are highly functional. However, it must be remembered that while MegaUplaod, generally speaking, did not directly host copyrighted files; they offered direct routes to said files. One MegaUpload employee described the nature of the site as “We’re not pirates; we’re just providing shipping services to pirates.” Offering an alternative to piracy, Spotify is a site that offers free music-sharing services, all protected under copyright laws. Data has shown a correlation between the number of downloads since Spotify came on the radar; illegal downloads have noticeably decreased.

-~> One can argue that illegal downloads have also decreased as a result of piracy education. According to the RIAA, only 35% of Americans knew that freely downloading copyrighted files was violating the law. Studies have shown that teenagers who have been educated on the topic of piracy are less likely to download, so it is certainly possible that piracy education will become a cornerstone in ending illegal downloading. A certain irony is found in the debacle – many of the same individuals who complained about SOPA, a bill designed to end piracy and one that would supposedly censor the Internet, were the same individuals that knowingly downloaded copyrighted material. While others’ refusal to illegal download may stem from a combination of morals, education, and Spotify, the ultimate driving force in ending downloading will be increased concert ticket prices. Remember this the next time you go to buy seemingly overpriced tickets for a band like Radiohead, who gave up on (selling) records and instead chose to make their profits through ticket sales – right, didn’t you just download their last album?

May 2012: A Recap

•May 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment

May 2012: A Recap

5/20/12

Written by Christian Purcell

Already, yet another month has passed by in 2012, and the steady stream of new releases isn’t slowing down either. Chronicled here are 6 records/EP’s (and one Single) from May that I believe are essential listening, for any music fan. From the soaring vocals of Laurel Halo, the sounds of rave revival in Lone’s productions, to even the quick and vicious rhymes from hip-hop mainstay, El-P. It’s all here. Enjoy!

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Laurel Halo – Quarantine

– Synth Pop / Art Pop / Bass music

Key Tracks: Airsick, Carcass, and Light + Space

Recommended if you enjoy: Björk, Grimes, or Nite Jewel

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Killer Mike – R.A.P. Music

– Southern Hip-Hop / Hardcore Hip-Hop / Gangsta Rap

Key Tracks: Big Beast, Regan, and Butane

Recommended if you enjoy: Big K.R.I.T., G-Side, or UGK

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Lone – Galaxy Garden

– Hardcore Breaks / Footwork / UK Funky

Key Tracks: As A Child, Crystal Caverns 1991, and Raindance

Recommended if you enjoy: Zomby, Machinedrum, or Chris Clark

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Beach House – Bloom

– Dream Pop / Indie Pop

Key Tracks: Myth, Lazuli, and Irene

Recommended if you enjoy: Chromatics, Tennis, or Real Estate

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Girl Unit – Club Rez EP

– UK Bass / Dubstep / Electro

Key Tracks: Ensemble (Club Mix) & Double Take

Recommended if you enjoy: Jam City, Lil Silva, or Kingdom

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El-P – Cancer For Cure

– Experimental Hip-Hop / Abstract Hip-Hop / Electro

Key Tracks: The Full Retard, Drones over BKLYN, and The Jig is Up

Recommended if you enjoy: Company Flow, Aesop Rock, or Cannibal Ox

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Burial & Four Tet – Nova

– Future Garage / Ambient House / Dubstep

Recommended if you enjoy: Clubroot, Zomby, or Swarms (And, of course, Burial and Four Tet, respectively)