Music

Aweditorium: Great Music Discovery for iPad

Aweditorium for iPad Screenshot

Devs keep on cranking out top-notch apps for the iPad that simply wouldn’t happen on another platform. This time up, we’ve got Aweditorium, an app that takes great music and supplements it with good (yet minimalistic) visuals to make for a great music discovery experience. Aweditorium supplies music, biographical information and photos on new artists, all streamed from their servers. The app has the ability to share a full stream of a song on Facebook or Twitter, and also encourages users to buy songs they like most straight from the iTunes store. (It should be noted that most indie artists get 70% of all revenue from the iTunes store.)

Aweditorium tickles me in all the right places:

  • An excellent example of iOS apps’ capability to let technology help us experience art in new ways
  • A fun and easy way to find and share great music
  • Yet another channel for independent artists to get serious exposure without an evil music label

Yeah, my Apple Fanboy quotient is off the charts today. Blame Aweditorium, they’ve made a first-rate app.

Spain’s Blurred Cultural Divides (or how Newt Gingrich can’t even get xenophobia right)

The Alhambra, from Mirador San Nicolás

The Alhambra of Granada: Muslim Nasrid Fortress; Holy Roman Emperor Charles V's palace; Catholic churches and ex-mosques in view. Photo taken outside the Saint Nicholas church in the Albayzin "Muslim quarter" of the city.

Newt Gingrich states,

“The proposed “Cordoba House” overlooking the World Trade Center site – where a group of jihadists killed over 3000 Americans and destroyed one of our most famous landmarks – is a test of the timidity, passivity and historic ignorance of American elites.  For example, most of them don’t understand that “Cordoba House” is a deliberately insulting term.  It refers to Cordoba, Spain – the capital of Muslim conquerors who symbolized their victory over the Christian Spaniards by transforming a church there into the world’s third-largest mosque complex.” [Emphasis mine.]

I’ll overlook Gingrich’s gross overstatement of the historical facts (this excellent post by a medieval historian refutes his statements in detail) and get to the more glaring irony in his statement. Say hello to the “world’s third-largest mosque complex,” that symbolic victory over Christian Spain (which before the conquest was neither unified in religion nor statehood):

Yep, that just makes ya tremble in fear of Islamist conquerors, doesn’t it? Newt Gingrich uses Córdoba as an example of the Muslim destruction of Western or Christian culture, yet the very building in question stands today not as a mosque, but a cathedral. (Ironically, the world’s third-largest Christian complex lies a couple of hours’ drive away in Seville – a mosque converted into a cathedral after the Catholics conquered the Muslim-ruled Al-Andalus.) Continue reading

Review: “Battle Studies” by John Mayer

Battle Studies

It’s been a while since I posted a music review, but here’s one worth mentioning. Battle Studies is a good new offering from John Mayer – stylistically different from his previous albums, not a pretentious attempt to answer his double-platinum, Grammy-winning release, Continuum.

Musically, Battle Studies strikes me with its layered tones that create a cool, moody backdrop. The tunes have a low to moderate energy level – no hard-hitting songs like “Bold as Love” here. With this album, Mayer mixes his earlier albums’ contemporary pop sound with Continuum‘s predominantly blues theme.

Lyrically, this album is about one thing, and one thing only: a major breakup. The album’s song lineup very closely presents a chronological overview of the his phases in dealing with the end of a relationship. “Heartbreak Warfare” begins the album and sets the stage for what is to come:

“I don’t care if we don’t sleep at all tonight
Let’s just fix this whole thing now
I swear to God we’re gonna get it right
If you lay your weapon down
Red wine and Ambien
You’re talking shit again, it’s heartbreak warfare”

Mayer ponders the depth of his commitment in “Half Of My Heart,” and begins to enjoy the upsides of single life in “Who Says” and “Perfectly Lonely.” Over the next several songs, he begins to feel the true depth of his relationship’s intimacy and the weight of the subsequent falling out, and expresses the full range of his conflicting emotions: “I want you so bad, I’ll go back on the things I believe / There, I just said it, I’m scared you’ll forget about me.” Finally, “Friends, Lovers Or Nothing” is a literal resolution of the whole ordeal, a ballad full of major chords and clear direction forward in the relationship.

This is definitely not my favorite John Mayer album. Each track bleeds of heartbreak, without respite. Also, his cover of “Crossroads” is thoroughly disappointing compared to live performances, and sticks out as a sore thumb from the otherwise cohesive album. To sum it up, Battle Studies is a great piece with some powerful songwriting, but its singular theme is enough to keep me from putting it in frequent rotation in my music library – though I’m sure it’ll be the first album I pull out the next time I’m in a similar situation.

For Broken Strings: New Acoustic EP by Josiah Thiemann

forbrokenstrings

My buddy Josiah is taking the Fort Collins music scene from all angles – he is at once a solo acoustic performer and a drummer in heavy metal band Split Second. (A year ago we got to share the stage in Deliver Me Seven). His new acoustic EP, For Broken Strings (warning: iTunes link), just came out for $3.96.

As always, Josiah’s songwriting comes through as the genuine article: his lyrics are meaningful, unpretentious and contemplative. In  For Broken Strings, he delivers them in the context of acoustic guitars, light percussion, and strings. The title track gradually builds from subtlety to catchy pop-punk.

I suggest you check it out – it’s a steal at under four bucks – and pass along the word to your friends if you like it too.