Saturday, January 06, 2007

Radio radio

I've been a huge fan of Pandora for close to two years now; actually my obession with it tends to wax and wane, but it's always there when I want it. If you've never checked it out yourself, give it a try--practically guaranteed to change your music-listening life--and if you're already hooked, you might want to investigate this list of 15 ways to get more out of Pandora. (Mac alert: many of these are PC-only, but the comments section of the post contains plenty of Mac-friendly variations.)

I found this item from LifeHacker, a long-established site I just recently discovered. I thik of it as a kind of "Hints from Heloise" for the tech generation. Today, for instance, there's a tip on wrapping headphones so they don't get tangled (although many commenters seem to prefer this method). Here's a quick link to LifeHacker's music-related tips.

Back to Pandora for a sec: as a soft-rock afficonado, one of my favorite stations out of 14 I've created is a salute to quiet pop mostly from the mid60s through the mid70s, but with a few more recent choices (since Pandora is built not around chronology or genre but the actual sound of a song). It's anchored to two bands: the Association and the Free Design. I call it ...

... Free Association.

While the Association and I go way back to my childhood (when my older sister somehow convinced me that "Windy" was about an owl), the Free Design (those current hipster darlings who emerged from Western New York in the late 60s) is much newer to me, and the station is a great way of working through their fairly large discography one song at a time.

In addition to the two namesake groups, this one plays songs by artists I already knew I liked (Badfinger, Wings, Andy Kim, Art Garfunkel and his sometime pal Paul, the Zombies, the Carpenters, Spanky & Our Gang, Todd Rundgren, Jim Croce, the Beach Boys, America, Steely Dan, and even the Velvet Undergound and Brian Eno) plus some I know but kinda cringe about (the New Christy Minstrels, Pure Prairie League, Showaddywaddy, the Anita Kerr Singers). But the real thrill is the growing list of acts I've never heard of till now. Some are solo performers old and new (Bob Dileo, Richard Swift, Pat Shannon, Sandy Salisbury, Jf Robitaille, Samantha Juste, Stan Rogers) and some are recent bands I've heard a teensy bit about (Ollabelle, Maritime). And then there's a steady stream of groups whose very names evoke a long-gone era I can't get enough of(Friends, Jon & Robin, Owl & the Pussycat, the Ivy League, Titus Groan, the Millenium, the Roosters, the Brokedown, Lady & Bird, Scene, Fancey, the Castaways, Gandalf). It's like a trip down somebody else's memory lane, and I dig it, man.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Another year over, and a new one just begun

1. If the blog as a whole looks kinda naked right now (depending on when you're seeing this), that's because I decided tonight was the night to do something I've been putting off for months, namely switching to the new version of Blogger, which apparently entails, among other things, losing certain features you've spent years developing (like my list of a hundred or so music-related links) and spending hours creating new ones (like tags for all posts past and future).

2. Speaking of losing your work, it's kind of a late Christmas miracle that I'm not screaming and hurling objects through the air at this very minute, because I just spent the last, oh, 2 hours composing a lengthy post divulging the winners of the 2006 Ehmke(e) Awards--another task I've put off for the last month--only to have my browser crash before I could save a draft, thus wiping out the whole thing. I guess I'm either in a state of shock or too tired to care at the moment.

Perhaps this was an omen, and the world is truly not meant to know what some guy in Tonawanda, NY thought was the Song of the Year.

Oh well. It'll have to wait for another night now. instead, I'll wish you all a happy new year, and try to forget the staggering waste of time I've just experienced on the last night before a truly overpacked January kicks into high gear. (Oh, sure, I could resolve to turn over a new leaf and post here on a regular basis, but we both know me better than that by now, don't we?)