Soundtrack: Satan’s Schoolgirls

Satan schoolgirls

Satan’s Schoolgirls has a soundtrack, and I think you’ll like it! Continue reading Soundtrack: Satan’s Schoolgirls

Sunday Songs: SEXYMIX

Perhaps I should explain myself a little. 

One of the most important discussions to be had about the internet is on privacy. The ever-increasing desire for government and business to know what it is you do online is creepy and greedy in equal measure, and I believe strongly in making sure that I am in control of what information I allow out into the world.

One man’s comfort zone is another man’s straitjacket, however, and if you want to spread yourself all over Facebook then go to it. As long as you’re aware of the risks and the tools available to make sure that you’re in control, then your digital life is yours to lead, and it would be remiss of me to tell you what to do.

That argument goes the other way, of course, and I find my ghast occasionally flabbered by a minor privacy issue that gets blown up out of all proportion, particularly when it comes to the “difficulty” on switching on privacy controls. It’s a simple box-ticking exercise that takes 5 minutes. 

Back in February, celebrity doctor and statistician Ben Goldacre and Father Ted writer Graham Linehan got their panties in a pretzel over the fact that Spotify’s sharing controls were defaulted to on. One of the reasons they gave for this being a bad idea was that interested parties could see if you’d put up a playlist of songs you liked to play during sexytime. It was an idea I found laughable then, and still do. 

But it got my little brain cells working, and the very next playlist I put together was a discordant mash of death metal, tooth-gritting avant-garde and sleazy old blues numbers. Of course, I called it Sexymix.  

Graham, Ben, thanks for the inspiration. This one’s for you. 

Tuesday Tunes: The True And Complete History Of Cerise Sauvage

NewImageI like my playlists to tell a story. It’s important for them to have an ebb and flow, almost a three act structure.

Today’s playlist is the soundtrack to a short story I wrote a couple of years back. It was an attempt to write about a nemesis, a totally over-the-top, unapologetic female villain. If you haven’t read it, give it a go while listening to the playlist, which features tracks from St. Vincent, Rilo Kiley, PJ Harvey and Fever Ray.

I present the True And Complete History Of The Harlot, Seditionary and Murderess Cerise Sauvage.

Cerise Sauvage: A History

(The pic is Cherry Bomb by DeviantArt user LekiLuv. Check out the fullsize pic here.)

The Saturday Tracks: Dead In Love

I wanted to try something a little different, in the interests of sharing my broad musical tastes with all-a-y’all. If nothing else, it’ll be a way of getting some quick and dirty postings up. I’ve been lax this week. There have been reasons for this. I choose not to share them.

Continue reading The Saturday Tracks: Dead In Love

Private Dancer: On Spotify, Privacy and Celebrity “Outrage”

The concept of privacy is getting a very public airing in 2012. The Leveson Enquiry on phone hacking throws out more revelations about Sun reporters listening in on our voicemails and hacking our emails every day. Facebook changes its privacy settings once a fortnight, setting off furious barrages of text across the blogoverse about how this is the final straw and Zuckerberg = Hitler (I may have been guilty of a little of this myself). Now good old Spotify has become the latest villain of the privacy war – and this time, I’m with the bad guy.

Continue reading Private Dancer: On Spotify, Privacy and Celebrity “Outrage”

Freedom To Listen, or why ST Was Wrong To Leave Spotify

>20111119-095040.jpgA lot of hablab in the press over the past couple of weeks about artists leaving Spotify. Coldplay (no tears shed there) and Tom Waits (wail of dispair) both denied the service new albums, citing the old saw of wanting people to listen to the works as a whole. We’ve seen through that one for a while. Both records are available on iTunes for you to buy as little or as much as you want.

Continue reading Freedom To Listen, or why ST Was Wrong To Leave Spotify

Free Fallin’ – Spotify And The End Of The Free Era

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Spotify changed my life. I listen to more music now, from a wider range of artists than at any other point in my life. Everything from brand new releases to obscure back catalogue jazz and spookytronica, Norwegian death metal to Arvo Part. I even use it to play my iTunes library – the clean, simple interface is quicker to load and easier to use than Apple’s own bloated monster. I’m not alone. Over a million people across Europe use the service. It’s a serious alternative to piracy, and one that puts a pay-to-play model in place that is of direct (if, as some would have it, limited) benefit to the artists.

But clearly, Spotify need to expand. America is the place to be for this expansion, and in order to do that Spotify needs to play nice with the big American labels. This is always a bad move. The big American labels think nice is a type of biscuit. Compromises have had to be made, and Spotify have ended up honking off a significant chunk of their core audience – the listeners that use Spotify Free, the ad-supported service.

Continue reading Free Fallin’ – Spotify And The End Of The Free Era

Springtime Sounds

I am a busy bunny today, so this is just a quick one. Comedian and all around good egg Chris Addison is putting together a Springtime playlist on Spotify that’s quickly turning into warm, sunshiny, essential listening. It’s collaborative, so any of us can contribute tracks that suit the mood. I’ve just added “Glad Girls”, my favourite Guided By Voices track. What would YOU put on to the list?

Find the playlist here.

Something of a playlist

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I thought I’d hash together a few of my favourite tracks of the year in a Spotify playlist for you, Dear Readership. This is in no means a comprehensive list of what I’ve been listening to. I’m not even sure it’s entirely representative. My listening habits have wildly randomised. I’ve been known to generate playlists based on a word or a jumble of letters. This then is a selection of the stuff that’s made it through to a second play, or up from that.

Careful observers may notice that there’s little in the way of rap, dance, R&B, soul, grime, dubstep, pop or disco. I listen to all of these, but this is a list of what struck me as notable in 2010, and there wasn’t much last year in those genres that hit me and stuck. No, not even Janelle Monae. No, not even Kanye West. Mind you, I’m still playing catch up quite a bit, and it’s possible I’ve just been pointing my ears in the wrong direction.

Eyebrows may also be up into hairlines at my inclusion of a song featured in an advert. But Motorhead’s slow version of Ace Of Spades was delivered with grace and buckets of cool, and with none of the gurning and grandstanding that made Iggy Pop and John Lydon’s paid gigs quite so objectionable. Plus, if you’ll excuse the pun, it’s ace.

Here you go then. Enjoy, or don’t. And tell me where I’ve gone wrong or right.

Clicky here for The X&HTreats of 2010.

+++UPDATE+++

I suppose I should put a tracklisting up for those of you without Spotify but have a vague interest in what I’m about. And if you don’t have Spotify and would like to see what the fuss is about, I have invites. A click on the R icon in the Welcome sidebar will let you send me a message.

+++FURTHER UPDATE+++ Dom has let me know that the link went to an inactive playlist. That should now have been fixed. If you’re still having problems, let me know. END OF LINE+++

treats tracklist.jpg

Kindle, Spotify and the view outside the box

TLC bought me a Kindle for my birthday. It was bound to happen. She swears by the Sony e-reader I got her last year, and both Leading Man Clive and Wetdarkandwild are advocates of Amazon’s sexy new toy.

I have to say, I love it. It’s as skinny as an overweight fashion model, perches in the hand like an attentive bird, and is almost Mac-like in it’s simplicity of use. It’s funny how many people I’ve shown it to that have begun prodding at the e-ink screen as if it’s an iPad. In a lot of ways the dedicated controls are even easier to use than the swipe-to-turn gesture that the iPhone uses on it’s Kindle app.

My one concern was that it would not be able to read the electronic library I’ve accrued over the last couple of years. This was unfounded. It’ll happily read PDFs, .rtf and even .txt files with aplomb, keeping the formatting impeccably. I have a chunk of cash to spend, which will granted mostly be going to the Kindle store, but I am still downloading and reading other formats – most notably Cory Doctorow’s new collection With A Little Help, available in all kinds of free and paid versions. I hadn’t realised just how much I had to read in electronic form. As publishing models begin to inexorably change, and readers begin to embrace new formats as a complement to the existing ones (I, for example, have no interest in reading comics and graphic novels in an e-format. I really don’t like reading things panel-to-panel, and Comixology’s Guided Technology is just infuriating) it’s going to be very interesting to see how things open up. Certainly, as a writer with a vested interest in new markets and opportunities for my work, it feels like exciting times.

With that in mind,  can I point out that this looks great on a Kindle right now?

Meanwhile, my love affair with Spotify continues, getting sloppier and ickier by the second. I have an Unlimited account, which for a fiver a month gives me all the music I can eat with none of the ads. There are some obvious omissions and holdouts on the service, of course. Most annoyingly for me, The Arcade Fire aren’t there. But then I bought The Suburbs on the day it came out so it’s no biggy.

But the point is that The Arcade Fire was one of about five albums I’ve bought this year, down from a figure that was getting up to ten times that five years ago. I have not downloaded anything from a link that does not have the creators stamp of approval, and does not put money into their pockets. I’m using sites like Bandcamp (where I discovered and bought Zoe Keating’s astonishing album Into The Trees) a lot more. Everything else has been streamed. I’ll probably treat myself to the new/old Springsteen. Apart from that, the subscription has me covered. On those rare occasions when the service does go down, I still have a hundred gigs or so of tunes in the drives. Granted, if the service is ever bought or merged (witness the reports earlier in the year that Google wanted it) it could change in ways that would make it a lot less attractive. But for me, for now, streaming this playlist to our surround amp through Airport Express and Airport, the world seems like a very big, very musical place.

For the most part I use Spotify in conjunction with music blogs like The Quietus and No Rock And Roll Fun, which broaden and open up my horizons without having to budge off the sofa. At this time of year, when all the best-of-the-year playlists come up, Spotify comes into it’s own as a way of catching up and finding new things to love.

Looks like 2011 is the year when I don’t just start thinking outside the box, but living outside it too.