expiration date

My itunes music subscription trial is about to expire. That was a quick three months. I won’t be continuing with it. It was kind of cool but I didn’t use it enough to warrant the cost. I did listen to some new stuff but there’s only so much, only a little, new stuff I can consume before wanting to circle back and listen again so that I can get some kind of perspective on it.

I kind of missed out on the whole White Stripes/Jack White emergence and only listened to a couple of those albums now—and he does have a catchy guitar style going. The Dead Weather is good too, with White on drums. They just put out an album: it sounds like Hollywood action movie soundtracks.


, — yak sox @ 8:11 am, October 3, 2015

apple music streaming service

from the perspective of a broke anti-streaming slacker

Thanks to the annoyingly catchy and trendy tv commercials it’s pretty hard to miss the news that apple have started a music streaming service. For anyone that has an iphone and has bought an app, and therefore has an itunes account, it’s very easy to opt into and start the free three month trial of “Apple Music”. Important reminder: go into the settings and turn off automatic subscription renewal.

The first noteworthy thing is that 3 month trial. Three months is a long time. It’s very clever. Not many companies would have the capital to pay for all that initial set up without some return in the near future. More importantly, for schleppers like me three months is long enough to get hooked.

Up til now there have been a couple of global streaming services – spotify and pandora. I tried spotify for about half an hour and was not impressed. They have no free trial. If you want to listen to it for free then they insert lame-oh advertisements after every second song – thus turning your favourite album into bad radio.

So I started trialling the apple service a couple of weeks ago expecting it to be rubbish. It’s not but the jury’s still out on whether I’d actually pay for it. It’s 12bucks a month in Australia so over a year $144 which if you’d decided to take a different path through reality, would be I guess about 6 physical albums. If at the end of that year you cancel the service then you’re left with nothing except those sweet memories. And then there’s always the chance apple will raise the price.

For me one of the big sticking points is that it’s streaming. That’s okay at home using the internet and wireless router but for outside I’m a) on a budget phone plan and use phone megabytes sparingly. I try to make 100Mb last for two months. It doesn’t work but there’s certainly no room for 4Mb per song or whatever it is. B) Even cellular coverage in Australia is patchy let alone the thought of streaming via wifi while out and about. I lose phone reception on the train between Geelong and Melbourne. But at home it’s fine and I was listening to music all day and it didn’t use any noticeable amount of bandwidth here.

The main thing I was dubious about was what music they had available. One neat thing is you just use the itunes program on computer or app on a phone the same as you would with your own owned albums. So for the last two weeks I’ve been quizzing it. I think of some old or somewhat obscure artist and think Oh you got that? – look it up and mostly I’ve been impressed. Although my musical taste has been sliding to a slightly more mainstream point over the last ten years.

They got 13th floor elevators, they got Stetsasonic, they got Ganggajang and they even got this album (just packaged differently) :

 Of course it’s always possible to find the odd artist here or there that’s not on the service, perhaps because the artist had previously taken control of the copyright to their music—taking it from whichever company originally published it. An example it the ‘90s Melbourne indie group, Sandro. Their album Hate Songs is not on there. But then you could trawl five or six music shops in Melbourne and not find the CD there either.

hate songs


Here is a list of other failings I found.

  •  The Bell Sisters. I tried loading up an album of theirs. It was a compilation but I don’t know that they ever really did proper albums. Some music librarian data entry person goofed because instead of those two ‘50s girls voices I got Duke duke duke duke of Earl.

  •  Swervedriver. Despite being a pretty popular alternative crusty UK grungish rock outfit in their time, Swervedriver ended up with a series of record deals from hell—or something like that. A couple of good albums were essentially buried, deleted and difficult to get a hold of for years and years after release (in the ‘90s). And indeed 1995’s Ejector Seat Reservation is missing.

  • Occasionally songs just don’t come through. Like Guantanameraby The Sandpipers. It’s the lead track of their 1966 album, Guantanamera. I click on it – and nothing. Yet the other tracks from the album play. *[Edit]* A week later I try it again and now it’s working.

  • Even for a well known artist like Aphex Twin there’s a whole lot of stuff that’s not there – like (one of my faves) the EP Mike Flowers Pops Vs The Aphex Twin, and the Mike & Rich album. That’s one thing but also Richard D James recorded under a whole load of names (AFX, Polygon Window etc.). The iTunes interface could make it much clearer in linking collections of music made by the same artist. There is an ‘artists you may also like’ thing on the side but then for example on the Aphex Twin page it lumps AFX in with completely unrelated, maudlin try-hards Autechre.

expert knob twiddlers


My other major criticism is the search function is always steering you back to the popular. I look up an artist and you get in order, top singles, top albums, and then ‘albums’. The top result is nearly always a ‘best of’ compilation.

I like drilling back, finding who influenced who and I just prefer to go about it more studiously most of the time and listen to one album at a time.

Or at least that’s the theory. The convenience of looking up any music you can think of and have it playing a few seconds later is pretty mind-blowing. I’m still in the phase of engorging myself and barely getting to the end of one song before going on to the next thing.

What I’d like, uh-huh

I’d like to be able to search by record label. I type in Tommy Boy, and I want to see a list of the albums released by that label. Same with 4AD and so on.

I’d like to be able to click on that 150 X 150 px jpeg of the album cover and then get a much larger HIRES version of it to look at and if possible be able to flip to the liner notes or inside fold artwork.

For us cellular-challenged Australians I’d like to see a function where an album or selection of songs could be downloaded onto an iphone in a way so that the album could be played once but then be locked—so it’s not being stolen but can be listened to once at least, offline before getting back to somewhere with wifi.

I’d like to be able to use the Siri voice recognition function (on computer as well as phone) to cue up albums or songs using only speech so that I might feel LIKE A GOD.

A whole other thousand words could be written about how streaming audio media is going to completely reshape the experience of music but I can’t do it now. I can barely think because of Jello Biafra & DOA’s Full Metal Jackoff is rattling the windows—I haven’t heard it (or thought of it) since the sharehouse in Westgarth in ‘95.

PS. It was just in the news that Australians love to pirate media more than most countries, and it was pointed out that if movies or whatever were more easily accessible (legally) and priced reasonably then people would go for it. This is where Apple Music is succeeding – in comparison, torrenting albums is arduous. And the streaming service is relatively reasonably priced.

, , — yak sox @ 9:48 am, July 23, 2015

beneath the moonlight

I ended up buying a compilation of Hot Chocolate a few years back because they have so many great, wacky songs. …Cadillac is probably my fav though because it’s so deceptively heavy and has genius use of violins. The above version is especially cool because it is actually live. They must have had the horns and strings off-stage.

, , — yak sox @ 11:35 pm, May 6, 2015

all or nothin’

For slackers like me the Premier Guitar online magazine stuff is great. It’s much easier to peruse and read magazine articles about guitar than actually knuckle down and practice playing guitar.

One day a while back I was reading an article on the history of pedal steel. In short, it’s gone in and out of favour with the commercial country scene since it was invented.

The article mentioned a couple of recent artist who’ve had some sweet pedal steel twanging in their music so I had a quick listen via youtube. Most of it didn’t take my fancy but I came across Nikki Lane and her album All Or Nothin’. It’s got slide guitar on there. Al couple of the stand out tracks are KILLA and were enough to prompt me to buy the album. I still feel woe about this whole buying music digitally situation because it’s so nothing but this album at least came with a digital booklet that has the stuff that used to be liner notes—the stuff that I miss—like reading who wrote the songs, where they were recorded and such.

I guess it’s classified as ‘alternative country’ whatever that is. For me in one way it feels a lot like pop because it grabs you quick with the catchy but then there’s not that many relistens in it because there’s not a lot of depth. Dan Aubergene from the Black Keys produced the album and I can definitely hear his hand in there.


Speaking of interesting, guitar-playing women, I would also mention Courtney Barnett but she’s already getting enough press. Let’s wait to see if her second album’s any good.

— yak sox @ 1:03 am, April 28, 2015

country music

Some time ago I mentioned I’m listening to contemporary country music. At first I was doing it ironically but now I kind of like it. It is interesting – that’s what it is. For a while I’ve waved off all present-day music except for a very narrow sliver of the spectrum – alternative stuff and most of which was coming from artists that I’d known about for a good decade or more.


Commercial FM is full of new stuff that I don’t connect with at all. So anyway, this country music, while very much on the commercial edge of what is called country these days, is coming at lyrics and narrative from a different angle. This first one is probably the best example of that, that I’ve heard in the last couple of months. I was driving along, listening to this song and realised, Whoah – is this guy talking about broaching the subject with his SO of moving back in with his mum? Now that’s country!

As it turned out, this guy Tim McGraw is one of the biggest selling country musicians of all time. So I supposed it wasn’t just luck that he hit on a whacky topic, but is in fact speaking the thoughts of a whole generation of disaffected working class.

OMG! The pathos!


 The conversate continues:

I love the fact that this next one, Toby Keith’s ‘Drinks after work’ contains the line, Let’s conversate for a little while. I can remember years ago J-e used to say “I want to conversate with you!” when she was frustrated with using English.

I really like the chord changes in the song too. The sound really nails that mild, AOR sound that tickles my funny bone in a perverse kind of way. (Reminds me a little of the theme from WKRP in Cincinnati.) This song also introduces one of the big themes of country music: alcohol. Listening to the radio, you’d be forgiven for thinking that most of the south of the US is permanently drunk. Many, many songs revolve around getting to Friday night, it being Friday night and now we are going to drink. This is where Toby Keith shows his mastermindedness in that he wrote a song about having drinks in the middle of the week.

I also discovered that Toby Keith is a multi-millionaire and owns a chain of bar-restaurants across the US - mainly in the south and midwest. When he tours, he does gigs in these places. No doubt he sings this song, everybody drinks up and buys another beer.

 seat 7a

The first thing this reminded me of was I’m On A Boat but it’s different in a way that illustrates the difference between the hip-hop dominated pop scene and this commercial country genre. Even though the on a boat song is a send-up it’s that ‘hey look at me, I am very good!’ strutting that pop is all about these days. And then there’s Dierks Bentley getting drunk on a plane—why? because he’s having relationship problems. That’s the second theme of country. Sure, most popular music is about boy-girl problems, but a lot of pop seems to come at it from the angle of ‘I’m right, you’re wrong’. Country songs like drunk on a plane tend more to the bluesy sorrow and woe is me feeling.

Intertextuality with Taylor Swift

Even though it’s 9 or so years old, some of the songs from Taylor Swift’s first album still get played on this particular station I listen to. The station has a very narrow range of songs they play and you can often hear the same song twice in one day even if you’re only listening to the radio for 15 minutes total, but Taylor’s so damn popular they make exceptions of the age of the album.

This song is definitely right on the edge of pop and contemporary country but I can appreciate the craft in the songwriting and if the wickerpedia page is to believed she wrote that whole album pretty much by herself when she was 16 or 17. It’s ballsy to write a song called Tim Mcgraw when you’re just a newb on the country scene – very clever to pay homage but also hitch a little ride on someone who’s guaranteed to sell platinum.



, , — yak sox @ 10:49 am, December 18, 2014

The Four Of Us Are Dying

I haven’t been watching much old TV but one thing I have been going through from its very start is the original Twilight Zone TV series. It’s pretty damn impressive. The first season was waaaay back in 1959 and a lot of the story lines still stack up well. It’s far back enough that almost none of the actors in it cross over into other tv shows from the mid to late ‘60s that I’ve seen. The only exception so far was the episode title People Are Alike All Over that has an actress who later went on to also appear in the pilot for the original series or Star Trek. Funnily enough the pilot leaned heavily on the storyline of the Twilight Zone ep.

There’s been several episodes dealing with the Cold War that I would’ve thought would be too touchy to talk about then plus a bunch of plum science-fiction speculative ideas that were really impressive. The fifties really were a highpoint for SF in book form so it must’ve rolled on into other media too.


Maybe it’s partly the silver-screen effect but the women seemed really beautiful then too. Interesting hairstyles or whatever. I dunno. The above image was schlepped from the TZ wikia site and is from the episode titled ‘What You Need’. I could’ve hunted it down myself but that would mean turning on the other computer.

The title of this here blog post is actually the name of one of the episodes which was also used by the band Nine Inch Nails as a song title 48 years later. To me that’s a great example of how edgy the Twilight Zone was for a TV show. And as such it was stuffed away in the Friday night 10 to 10:30pm timeslot. Wouldn’t want anyone actually seeing it now would we?

That particular episode contained lashings of noir/Hitchcock style lop-sided frame shots and as it happens is available to view on yootoob.

In some ways a good comparison is the X-Files except the Twilight Zone probably had a lot less budget and crammed all its goodness into half an hour. In fact it seems like Rod Serling did a lot of the sourcing, adapting and writing for the first season himself. So the next time I hear The Simpsons or something parodying his quirky narration style I’ll have a better appreciation for how ahead of its time the Twilight Zone was.


In hindsight The Black Keys don’t need me promoting their new album. Mainstream media seems to be doing a fine job of that thankyou. After a few listens I’m kind of underwhelmed by it too. I should qualify that by saying that I didn’t really like their album before that either. I mean, it was okay but not as good as their early stuff. I know there’s only so many places you can go when you just got a guitar and drums, and that was always the thing about the earlier albums; as good as they were, I could only listen to an album and a half before the structures were all too samey. I was listening to the Turn Blue album while washing the dishes and in that dumb way that iTunes does, it started playing the next thing straight after. The next thing was the El Camino album and I tell ya I didn’t know it. ie there’s no difference in the sound of the two albums.

With Turn Blue, some of the production aspects (that this chap danger mouse contributed) sound tacked on. Also as a wannabee bass player the bass sound they used on several tracks sounds really unenthusiastic. And lyrically it’s heavily influenced by Dan’s relationship break-up with some famous woman. Jilted/love songs will always be popular but a little hard for me to relate to in this part of my life.

But I’ll be constructive. So what could have they done? Five or whatever albums of good, raw guitar & drums -> it’s obvious that they had to broaden their sound somehow. I think I would’ve tried some sort of non crowd-pleasing, long concept album. They’ve earned enough money/fame to do something really nutty so why not go for it? For posterity’s sake I’ll include this pic of Dan Ubergene unintentionally (0((()(??????)())))) getting his Hitler on. This could’ve been the look that tipped them in a whole new musical direction.

Dan UBERbach

, , , , , , , , — yak sox @ 12:48 pm, June 11, 2014


For me at least The Black Keys have really nailed the the promotional/retail stuff. They’ve been lightly spamming the twitter feed for a couple of weeks now, giving a little taster of their next album, Turn Blue. The first single, Fever is kind of okay but the second one really sounds really good. They were linking to the iTunes pre-order of the album but fuck that with the iTunes fatcat tax. The album is available on The Black Keys’ own website – and at usd $11 that’s value. They don’t mention (and they should) but it’s mp3 format and thankfully at 320kbps.

Dan Aubergine has great taste in guitars and he needs more, so buy album!

This is the second single:

, — yak sox @ 2:22 pm, May 2, 2014

arx arcs, hot like an oven


The backyard is a bit of a blank canvas. Barren you might say. I’m hamstrung by not being able to really mess it up because of rental agreements. All up this is the kind of house, we have decided, that would be good to buy, if we were ever going to do that because there’s lots of things we’d like to change. The backyard faces north which is the best I think. The front of a house if for asphalt, road, cars and paranoidly peeking out of curtains onto but the backyard is for living in—and growing stuff in.

I started hacking up some of the lawn near the backdoor along the lines of the permaculture principle of putting the most used things closest. Plus that part of ground probably will get the most sun during winter but I’m not good at geometry so who knows. Believe the hype, there is an app for that but I can’t understand it because again – the geometry.

In right corner of picture is a minor environmental disaster we only just discovered. From the day of moving in there was this terrible strong petrol smell noticeable as soon as stepping outside the backdoor. I couldn’t locate it. Sometimes I’m thick like that. I thought it might’ve been the gas hot water service, but then that’s gas and smells different. It turned out to be a dead patch of grass I guess I overlooked but I assumed no one would ever be so stupid as to pour a can of petrol onto grass. Maybe it was spilled. Either way it happened between us looking at the place and moving in. I had to dig a whole lot out and bin it because after a month it was still just as strong smelling as ever.


*De La Soul* just released a (For Free-z) mixtape of stuff done by hip-hop legend J Dilla. Very cool.

, — yak sox @ 10:12 am, March 29, 2014

I can’t get no Devo

Today we might be remembering Devo because their guitarist Dave Casales died but lets take a look at this track.

The thing I like about this is the drummer and how he was basically doing the work of a drum machine – way back in 1978. Apparently he left after this. It reminds me of what post-rock band Battles were doing 20+ years later.

— yak sox @ 9:57 am, February 19, 2014

Last night on Earth

This is the name of a new album by Lee Ronaldo and the Dust. It should probably be subtitled #firstworldproblems. It’s mostly based on Lee’s experiences of being in NYC during superstorm Sandy. I’m sure a lot of people had their lives or lifestyles messed up by Sandy but I guess the point I’m trying to make is that it’s interesting to compare the effects that natural disasters have on different parts of the world. Rich places: tens of billions of dollars worth of damage and a few people dead, poor places: tens of thousands of people dead and a few hundred thousand dollars worth of damage.

Most of the lyrics are about the weather and being stuck inside, so I can dig that. I actually quite like the album. Enough to have bought it. I only found out about it through that way that ‘friend of a friend’ way that twitter works. I haven’t kept tabs on Sonic Youth since Washing Machine and I was pretty disappointed to hear that Kim and Thurston broke up under messy circumstances and in a way that makes it seem fairly unlikely that Sonic Youth will ever get back together. And so through twitter I saw a life performance vid of Kim’s solo project body/head. I don’t know if they’re stoners – maybe that’s what summer in Germany does to you. And Thurston’s off having an affair—so when I listened to Last Night on Eart I was pleasantly surprised to hear that Lee has basically inherited the Sonic Youth sound. I don’t know what went on with their last however many albums but there was really only one way to go and that was mellower. That’s how this album is and of course it didn’t hurt that Lee also inherited SY’s drummer, Steve Shelley. Kind of like after the Beatles broke up and Ringo ended up living in the guest house at John’s big-arse mansion. And there’s two other guys in there I don’t know who they are.

There are times when the lyrics or singing sound a tad lame, and this is where there is no Thurston or Kim but Ronaldo’s always been a great guitarist and there’s some characteristically sweet chord progressions in there. You can stream the album here

, , , , — yak sox @ 9:29 am, December 3, 2013
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