Thursday, November 18, 2010

On Buying a Netbook

Rare are the events in life that change everything.

That's a good thing, too, because such radical change can be a pretty traumatic experience. Trust me. I know.

These are the life experiences that result in major upheaval in people's lives; large scale epiphanies that lead individuals to rethink fundamental life choices.
I have recently had just such an experience. My life will never be the same. I bought a Netbook, and everything has indeed changed.

For those of you not in the know (like me until about a week ago), a Netbook is a mini laptop computer. It has all the basic functionality of a standard computer but in a much more convenient size. Some computer weenies turn up their noses at Netbooks claiming that they are insufficient for certain activities like online gaming. However, since I'm not a 15 year old Asian male I suspect I'll be just fine with a Netbook.

After all, my Netbook has a reasonably fast processor, a large hard drive and a bunch of accessories like a web cam so it's perfect for important things like blogging, Facebook, emailing, Skype, managing photos, etc. It has also been "ruggedized", which is supposed to mean that it can withstand a little more rough-housing than your average electronic gizmo. It's a perfect travel companion.

As a result, I am well prepared to turn my back on over 20 years of a professional career and hit the road. I've had a job my entire adult life, but now I've chosen a different direction. Ah the freedom! No more "bored" meetings. No more last minute panic sessions trying to realize additional revenue before month end. No more regular paycheck. (Hmmm. Perhaps I should have thought that one out a little better...)

Regardless, starting this January me and my Netbook are going travelling. We'll be on the road for over six months - seeing old friends, making new ones and visiting an incredible variety of destinations. It'll all be happening here at Dave's Digglings, too. So please feel free to follow along, or better yet, participate! After all, these sorts of events don't come 'round very often.

(OK, truth be known, certain other events have occurred in my life that may have also had some more than minor influence on this new direction. Like, for example, immediate termination of employment from a large multi-national corporation. But hey, it's my blog, and if i say it's all about buying a Netbook, then it's all about buying a Netbook!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Disposable Music: Dave's Top Ten Tunes for 2009

Is it just me, or is production a thing of the past? Now, I’m not suggesting that we return to the self indulgent over-produced world of Alan Parsons or anything like that. Good God no! But, did you happen to listen to the 2009 release “Horehound” by Jack White’s latest project The Dead Weather? The sound is appalling! I realize Jack is a fan of sparse production, but the cymbals sound like someone hitting rice paper with a spoon and the recording levels are pushed so high that what should be an ear splitting wall of aural pleasure ends up sounding like the shitty speakers in your Dad’s old K-car. And Jack’s not alone. Bad production seems to be the trend in popular music. What gives?

Well, I have a theory, and it goes something like this: you get what you pay for. Those “masterpieces” from the 70’s cost millions of dollars to produce. Even with today’s advanced recording techniques, some basic sound engineering goes a long way to producing a good finished product. Yet it all costs money, and in today’s digital world music is basically free. Anyone with a kindergarten level understanding of economics knows that you can’t earn a living by investing lots of money in something that you give away. The music industry is no exception.

So I think Jack has it right - throw an album together as fast as you can, screw the production and tour like hell. At least people still pay to see bands play live. And with that, here in no particular order are my top ten tunes for 2009:
(Sorry Jack, I just couldn't bring myself to include The Dead Weather. Great live show, though!)

British Port Authority – He's Frank
How is this not the single of the year? Combine Fatboy Slim’s beats and sense of humor with vocals by Iggy Pop and you’ve got an instant summertime pop classic. Roll down the windows and let the sun shine in!

The XX – Crystalised
The first single from this London quartet (now a three piece) is a perfect example of their dual vocals and indie pop style. Worth the hype.

Atlas Sound – Quick Canal
When I first heard Quick Canal I had no idea Atlas Sound was the solo project of Deerhunter’s (whose Microcastle was on my 2008 Top Album list) lead singer Bradford Cox. Doesn’t matter. Quick Canal is a succulent stunner, with just enough background noise to keep me interested.

Spoon – Got Nuffin
Another great track from Austin’s veteran hipsters.

Modest Mouse – Satellite Skin
Ok, gotta admit, I’ve got a soft spot for these guys. Still, No One’s First… is an EP with as much variety as any of their albums. It’s like they didn’t feel the pressure to create a cohesive album, so just compiled some tracks on a long EP. Works for me.

Animal Collective – Summertime Clothes
Man these guys are weird! Ain’t it great?

School of 7 Bells – Wired For Light
Twins! What more can I say?

Fever Ray – When I Grow Up
Has anyone ever heard of a Swedish band called “The Knife”? Me neither, but all you ever hear about Fever Ray is that it’s a side project of The Knife’s lead singer. Regardless, after listening to the album Fever Ray, I’m afraid for her two children. Very afraid. This is dark stuff.

Cymbals Eat Guitars – And The Hazy Sea
They do a pretty good job of filling a very large hole that was created when Pavement ceased to exist. “And The Hazy Sea” opens their debut as well as Stephen Malkmus could have ever hoped.

Kasabian – Underdog
Got their groove back on this one, sorta. Sounds like the boys are still popping pills, which is a good thing for us.

A Place To Bury Strangers - Lost Feeling
Nothing new here, but thank god someone out there still makes music with loud fuzzy guitars and distorted vocals. The Jesus and Mary Chain would be proud.

Obits – Milk Cow Blues
Nothing new here either, but thank god someone out there still likes to rock. April Wine would be proud.

Now, for those of you who were counting, that is actually twelve tunes, not ten. Let's call it "Dave's Top Ten Tunes Plus Two for 2009". And, as a reward for those of you who have been patient enough to read all the way to the bottom, here's a link to where you can download each of these fine tracks for your listening pleasure: . (Download the zip file DigglingMash2009, unzip, and enjoy!)