Steve’s Media Blog

Archive for September 2008

Usually, video games fly really low on my radar.  I tend not to notice them – mostly because I don’t have any fancy “Next Gen” systems.  However there are occasional games where they’re so big, I can’t help but hear/read about them.  This new game for the PS3 however, snuck up out of nowhere and blew me away with coolness.

LittleBigPlanet is hard to define because I don’t know exactly what it is; from what I understand, it’s a platform game that is highly customizable.  You can create objects that affect the gameplay with your cute little Sackboy.  To get an idea of only a BASIC part of how it works/looks, try creating a widget or wallpaper from their official site.  It’s a little trippy, though.

Anyway – it’s a lot of fun, and probably worth getting a PS3 for.  I still refuse to do so, however.  Maybe now I’ll get around to getting Katamari Damacy…

So I decided that while I enjoy writing about music, I feel like there are some subjects I also enjoy writing about that I’m not able to because this is a music blog and of course you can’t write about anything but music on a music blog.

So I changed my mind.  This is now my “media” blog.  This will let me write about what I want.  I will still primarily write about music (because really, my TV is limited to 90210, Dexter, and reruns of What Not To Wear), but now I can talk about other things that don’t have a direct relation to music.

In other news, here’s yet another shameless plug for my buddy’s show on CKCU: Audio Sensory Resuscitation.  I don’t know why he picked the name, he really can’t say it on the air properly.  Nevertheless, have a listen at 2pm today – at 93.1 FM if you’re in the Ottawa area, or online at http://www.ckcufm.com.  Check out the Facebook group to talk about the show, artists, make requests, etc.

I heard Britney’s latest song on the radio this morning; is this another one of her come back attempts?  I’m not sure what to think of the song at all, to be honest.  I’m rather neutral – I don’t hate it, but I don’t particularly like it either.  Probably would prefer something from her last album (what was it called?  Blackout?) than this track.  As a side note, I appreciate that she called her latest album “Circus”, as that seems to describe the Spears family of late.

I meant to write about something else yesterday I forgot about; came across a blog post about some Pete Seeger covers, and I wanted to let people know about it.  I have no opinions on the music listed there as I haven’t had the chance to listen (don’t you hate it when you are away from the house for almost 14 hours?  At least I got free yogurt).

There are two songs that are stuck in my head on a constant basis these days (well three, if you include When I Grow Up, or four if you include Hot & Cold by Katy Perry), and I don’t know how to get them out – but figured I’d try this method.

1) One Step At A Time – Jordin Sparks

There’s nothing that I particularly like about this song that makes it stuck in my head over any others, but it’s there.  I don’t know why.  Heck I don’t even know what it’s about except that she says learning how to fly takes one step at a time (I think).  I think part of it is my girlfriend told me to get this song and I haven’t done it yet; perhaps it is my mind’s way of telling me I should get on that ASAP.

2) Pocketful of Sunshine – Natasha Beddingfield

At least this one, I can recognize why it’s stuck.  It’s catchy, and I kind of like it.  The only song from Natasha that I’ve heard other than this one though is “Unwritten” – and having heard that song several billion times while working at my college’s internet radio station, I can tell you without a doubt that I much prefer Pocketful of Sunshine.

That’s really all I had today; I haven’t gotten much new music.  I was going to check out the Pussycat Dolls’ latest offering, but after previewing the tracks on their website, I can honestly say that other than When I Grow Up, there’s nothing on this new album that makes me want to go get it.

Sometimes I hate that I appear to be a sponsored supporter of Apple‘s products.  It just seems to work that way (back in my college radio days I seemed to play a lot of “free single of the week” songs from iTunes).  But how can I be blamed if I truly enjoy the products they put forth?  They’ve got a solid mp3 player in the iPod, and they operate a well-oiled marketing machine.  I respect that.  And their music store is pretty much top notch.

So of course, I also appreciate the applications they offer for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  Namely, the Remote application.  It’s free, and it’s awesome.  I finally got to play with it a little this weekend, and boy did I have fun.  It’s a very simple application, but sometimes simple applications can be the most fun.  If you’re not sure what the Remote application does, allow me to demonstrate by illustrating the following scenario:

You’re hosting a party, and all your music is trapped on your hard drive.  Your CD player only holds five CDs, so eventually you would have to be switching CDs in and out, and even then your guests might not appreciate your music choices.  What do you do?  You hook up your computer to a set of wireless speakers in your living room, and use your iPhone/iPod Touch to control your musicl ibrary with Remote.  Guests can easily pick music as well without poking around on your computer.  You can even generate Genius playlists with the latest version.

That is the power of the simple Remote application.  It’s easy to set up, and easy to use.  Just thought I’d point out a really cool (free) music-related application.

Finally I’m getting to it.  Took me long enough!  Though I am pretty busy at work right now so it’s going to take me a while to type now.

I really liked this album, as I established in my initial thoughts post.  The only problem is…I’m at a loss at trying to describe the music.  For some reason, it just escapes me.  From the album art you might expect to hear a blue grass album; this is not the case at all (and another lesson I guess in that you shouldn’t judge anything by its cover).  I have it temporarily labelled as “indie”, as that is the catch-all label I use for music I haven’t defined yet, but I’m not sure how to classify it yet.

Perhaps though that is a good thing.  I really don’t mind when a group/artist transcends music genres, it makes for a fun listening experience.  And as I alluded to, Revival Dear is just that: fun.

They’ve got a great old-time sound that I like a lot.  Eddie Orso and Shelley Hayes have put together a fairly even mix of fun, upbeat tunes (see: Ol’s In The Water) and a few slower songs.  To try and give you a better idea, here’s their biography from their website:

There was a time when music was a craft performed by artisans who rode the rails and played from the heart. A time when music was central to communities, bringing people together and inspiring change. If you have ever longed to go back to such a time, then Revival Dear will ride straight into your heart.

Revival Dear has found a way to be a part of the past and a part of the future at the same time. Imagine a marriage between classic rock legends The Band and Fleetwood Mac, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of their sound. Yet Revival Dear’s music is fresh, totally alive, and very relevant in today’s music scene.

I’ve listened to the album in a full sitting at least twice now, and I haven’t heard any low points that makes me want to turn it off.  I would appreciate a few more upbeat tunes so I could pop the CD in the car and drive around, because as it is I don’t think it’s a good album to listen to while driving home from work in busy traffic on a Friday afternoon.

I also initially thought there was a close similarity between Town That I’ve Known and Ol’s In The Water (sort of like how sometimes I confuse “Somebody Told Me” with “Mr. Brightside”), but while there IS a bit of a similar sound, I figured it was because I heard Ol’s In The Water before and it was just something I recognized.  When I played them back to back they were different enough.

Their most popular single is Ol’s In The Water, which reached great heights on CBC Radio 3 (see their One Sheet PDF), and it is a pretty kickin’ song.  My favourite on the album though I think is Watkins ’73, followed by Ol’s In The Water, and then Be Back Someday.

Check out Revival Dear, they have a brilliant sound and I definitely want to hear more from them.

Track Listing:

  1. Town That I’ve Known
  2. Land & Tide
  3. Hog Tied
  4. Ol’s In The Water
  5. Hometown Down Heart
  6. Workin Man
  7. Gold Manitoba
  8. Down That Line
  9. Be Back Someday
  10. Give Me The Blues
  11. Century Toy
  12. Troubled Days
  13. Watkins ’73

My Revival Dear review is coming up later this afternoon, but a thought occurred to me yesterday after listening to Cold Play’s “Viva La Vida” for the hundredth time.

First of all, I don’t like their new song.  I don’t mind their stuff from X & Y but this new one I just don’t like.  I really don’t see why it was released as a single – maybe someone does.

But it just strikes me as a song that is popular because it’s popular.  What I mean by that is, people like it because it’s a band they like and they have a new song.  I’m not about to take away from people’s opinions if they actually do like the song – if you like it, that’s your own opinion.  It’s just that for most songs that are in the Top 40, I can see why it’s popular and I can probably enjoy it.

I just don’t like the song.  I haven’t heard the rest of the album so I have no idea if they have another song that would be more suitable to release.  Sometimes it just bugs me.