SXSW 2014 Cover Art is Posted

I have just posted this year’s album art for SXSW, the Music festival in Austin in eleven days.

But all is not well. SXSW has offered one track from each artist as a download (as a .torrent) since at least 2005. According to the Unofficial SXSW Torrents site, while there are a small number of tracks available so far, SXSW has decided to put the files up on Soundcloud, instead. Soundcloud works hard to prevent capture of the music they play, which makes downloading the tracks… difficult.

Go to the cover art page to get this year’s art, and find out how to let SXSW know that you don’t like this.

SXSW Showcasing Artist Cover Art

Enjoying the hell out of iTunes Radio

iTunes Radio is a revelation to me. Not that I didn’t know what it was going to be like, I mean, intellectually. I’ve used Pandora, after all. But Pandora was annoying, browser-based, finicky, and I never used it very long. When I first tried iTunes Radio yesterday, while trying to write, I picked some of their pre-programmed “stations” and was all, meh. Their “iTunes Top 100: Alternative” has too much Killers in it. Which is to say, any Killers is too much. My taste is definitely Alt, but I like my alt more eclectic than that. And that Fallout Boy song (Alone Together) sounds like Rihanna in drag.

But today I made my own “station” based on a song in heavy rotation in our house, Little Brass Bear by Rachel Goodrich.

And it turns out, basically, that iTunes Radio is like Genius, but with the entire iTunes catalog as your library. Which is freaking awesome.

Of course, it also turns out that iTunes Radio is just like Pandora, Rdio, etc., but without the hassle of using something added on to my ecosystem. I am, as stated elsewhere, fully entrenched in the Apple ecosystem, and in here I am as happy as a bug that is snug in a rug.

My playlist so far:

Jaymay (one of my favorite songs, Gray or Blue!)
Woody Guthrie
Matthew and the Atlas
Kimya Dawson
Langhorne Slim
Thao
Laura Veirs
Lindsey Ray
The Colorful Quiet
Malvina Reynolds
Lucy Wainwricht Roche (dang there are a lot of Wainwrights, no?)
Cast Spells
Rachel Goodrich

I’ve heard of… six of those artists. I own one of the songs I have heard so far. New music! Which is what makes this so awesome.

Album cover art and torrent download for SXSW 2008

Hello, visitors from the Intarwebs.  You grace my site with search queries about the SXSW Music conference, and I have decided to give you what you want:

  • Here is a link to the cover art I made for the SXSW 2008 music.  You may use this cover art (a 600 x 600 pixel jpg file) however you like, though I suggest using it in iTunes.  Other years are also available in that post, as is proper credit to Ben Millett, who made the first example of SXSW cover art I found.
Have at them.

Rickrolled by my baby

So YouTube is busy celebrating April 1st by Rickrolling all the Featured Videos on their front page.  How fun, I thought, I haven’t seen Rick Astley since, well, the Eighties.  So, at breakfast, I visited YouTube and clicked on a video about a monkey.  Sure enough, there was Rick, singing in his too-deep tones with random dancers doing random Eighties moves.  I shut the window and started surfing another site when I heard the dulcet tones of my own little songbird.  He (the two-year-old) pointed at the laptop and said, “Again!”  And then, when it was done, “Again!”  And, “Again!”  We watched the video a total of five times this morning, and now I can’t get the song out of my head.  I do believe I have been Rickrolled, by my baby.

The last memorable commercial: United’s use of Rhapsody in Blue

Just heard George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue on the radio, and I immediately wondered what a United Airlines commercial was doing on NPR. Seconds later I realized that it was a performance of the Gershwin piece, not an ad. I don’t watch commercials anymore, with TiVo in the house, but United’s campaign predated my TiVo by quite a bit (they licensed the song in 1976), and seems to have burrowed deep into my brain. Good on them, I am impressed.

Lancelot has died: Robert Goulet, 1933-2007

Robert GouletYou have to understand something about my family, to know why I care that Robert Goulet ((Here is his Wikipedia entry, and his official site.)) has died. Besides being that rare performer that is comfortable making fun of himself ((While he appeared in several comedies, including an episode of The Simpsons, this Emerald Nuts SuperBowl commercial is my favorite.)) (a quality that endeared him to today’s youthful generation), Goulet portrayed Lancelot in the Broadway production of the musical Camelot, alongside Richard Burton and Julie Andrews.

My mother had the record of the original Broadway cast when I was growing up. When I was old enough to put records on by myself, I used to rotate Camelot with a Spider-Man record I had, and a record about Sparky the talking piano/train? My memory is fuzzy on that last. But I spent the next two decades immersing myself in all things Arthurian. My mother had a lot to do with that, and it’s been a bond between us forever. We even made an Arthurian heraldry quilt together.

I’m not quite suggesting that Robert Goulet is responsible for the man I turned out to be, but thinking about him now makes me remember all those parts of my life that were affected by the Arthurian legends. As a kid I drew a lot of swords and sorcery stuff, I played Dungeons and Dragons, I read a ton of fantasy novels (not the least of which was Le Morte d’Artur, but most more along the lines of The Lord of the Rings), I was, in short, that kid in high school.

I found out this morning that my wife shares some of the nostalgia I felt on hearing of Goulet’s death. Turns out, her mother had the Camelot record, and she, too, listened to it as a kid.

In honor of Mr. Goulet’s influence (however small) on my life, I went and bought the Camelot soundtrack on iTunes this morning, and I have been listening to it this morning. Turns out I miss musical theater.

Where are the protest songs?

We’re doing our morning chores when Washington Bullets by The Clash comes on the iTunes mix, and after about half the song, my wife (who did not bring The Clash to our marriage) asks from the other room, “Is this the Clash?”

Inimitable. But it made me wonder, for the umpteenth time in the last four years, where are all the protest songs? What happened to music as a political outlet? And don’t give me John Mayer. That song could have been so much more than it was. Poking sly fun at your own fan base is one thing, testifying against your irresponsible government is another. I want the latter.

Maybe we just don’t hear it on today’s radio. Which is a whole ‘nother rant.