Blake Snow

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Tagged music

Who said pretending wasn’t any fun?

Rob Walker of the New York Times seemingly belittles the enjoyment level of my latest addiction, Guitar Hero III. And I quote:

“You’re not actually playing the guitar. No matter how good you may get at Guitar Hero, if you decide to take up the real instrument at some point, you’ll be starting from scratch.”

Being that the man writes for the Times, I’m sure he can appreciate the difference between the entertaining fantasy of video games and the dedication required to learn, play, and ultimately enjoy creating live music — in this case with a guitar.

Guitar Hero works, however, because it convincingly feels like you are a seasoned musician, even if you play real guitar like myself.

I’ve played rhythm guitar for 14 years now. I’ve also performed live in several bands to crowds upwards of 300 people. It is a powerful experience.

Why would I play Guitar Hero then? Because I can be the lead guitarist that I never was. Because I can play songs that otherwise would take much more practice to pull off. Because I can stir feelings from my youth — a memorable time in my life that has since past as the adult in me pursues more rewarding ends.

That’s why.

My new favorite musician: Paolo Nutini

Lindsey and I were channel surfing on Saturday night before stopping on PBS HD to listen to the charismatic Paolo Nutini live in concert. I came away very impressed with the 20-year old Scottish-Italian that sounds like a mix of Bob Marly and Bob Dylan. Man, can he sing.

His album, These Streets, features the most original lyrics I’ve listened to all year. Last Request, Rewind, Million Faces, These Streets, New Shoes, White Lies, and Autumn all come highly recommended. Definitely check out this easy listening if you haven’t already.

[Currently Drinking: Shirley Temple]

Why three band members are better than four or more

The image It’s been more than two years since I’ve seen a live band perform, the last being a piano-rock trio named Keane. Before that, it was 2-3 years since seeing a live concert as this thing called life, family, and work slowly takes over.

Tonight I’m going to seeing another trio named Muse with some friends. While I enjoy groups of all sizes (I’m an equal-opportunity fanman), I’ve always liked three-man rock bands for the following reasons: Continue reading…

Playback: “I’m a Fool To Do Your Dirty Work”

I was recently introduced to a new 70’s song over the weekend that I’m completely enamored with: “I’m a Fool To Do Your Dirty Work” by Steely Dan (not to be confused with Stealers Wheel as I often do). I’ve had the song on loop for the last 35 minutes. Love it!

I first heard the track as the outgoing song to Once in a Lifetime, a documentary about the rise and fall of the NASL. It’s an interesting and informative film not to mention a case study on how not to run a business. Despite the league being a flop, soccer moms around the country can thank it for laying the ground work for the sport in America and the some 20 million players here.

You can dload the Steely track from iTunes here. Get that!

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Superb documentary on copyright and remix culture

I’m on a roll with controversial documentaries. I just finished watching Good Copy Bad Copy in which independent Danish filmmakers examine copyright law in the US and abroad. It’s fascinating to see how other countries treat IP, let alone make money from music and movies in ways the RIAA and movies aren’t even close to understanding or trying. I don’t necessarily have a solution to the challenges that piracy creates, but this 58 minute film is a must-see on the subject. Download the torrent here (it’s free!)

[via BoingBoing]

The Best Music Video. Ever.

YouTube Preview Image
I’m on a kick of digging up old-school YouTube videos lately when I should be working, but I couldn’t pass this one up. It’s Radiohead’s most excellent No Surprises video (it’s also my favorite track from OK Computer). Don’t be fooled, though; director Grant Lee used ninja editing skills to make it appear as if lead singer Thom York held his breath longer than he really did.

The sound of progress, effort, and dedication

My wife Lindsey is learning the piano taking formal weekly lessons. She used play when she was younger, but has since forgotten some of her chops. So for the last 6-7 months, she has been practicing often after she puts the baby down to sleep. The sweet sound fills our house. Though she doesn’t yet sound like Mozart, Liszt, or Beethoven, the aural harmony of progress, practice, effort, hard work, and dedication is music to my ears.

It’s very motivating for me to hear this change in action. My line of work is either visual, experiential, or cognitive so my ears don’t get to participate in gauging my development (if any). So outside of practicing musical instruments, I can’t think of many skills where you can hear actual progress aloud. Keep up the good work, Lindz!

My favorite music of early 2007

I like music. I like it even better in iTunes. So with that, here are the artists, albums, and songs heavy in my rotation for early 2007 ordered by ones I’m listening to the most. Nota bene: these aren’t necessarily what have been released in early 2007, just what I’m currently listening to:

  • Ben Kweller(Self Titled): Ben Kweller’s latest album is just awesome. This kid can write, sing, and play good tuneage. I can’t get enough of this album and even my wife likes it. That’s a rarity. “Nothing Happening,” “Sundress,” “Magic,” and “Until I Die” are the standout tracks, but all are good.
  • PheonixAlphabetical AND “Rally” from It’s Never Been Like That Where to begin? Pheonix is one fine electronic/traditional band. Their songs seem a bit flat at times, but flat in a good way. Never overproduced. Just right. Excellent band and a newly discovered one for me in 2007.
  • MagnetOn Your Side AND The Tourniquet. Norwegian songwriter Magnet can do no wrong. Both of these albums will go down as a pair of my all-time favorites. Want beautiful, soft, acoustic/electronic music? Look no further. Magnet is stellar.
  • BeckThe Information. It’s Beck’s new album! What more could you ask for? My favorite track is the current single, “Think I’m In Love.”
  • Teddybears – “Different Sound.” Their Soft Machine album is a bit out there, but “Different Sound” is such an infectious song. Highly recommended track.
  • Daft PunkHuman After All. The. Best. Electronic. Album. Out. Right. Now. Recorded in only six weeks, this one is clearly underrated. Human After All is almost exclusively what I listen to when running (if I’m running).
  • The Clientele – “(I Can’t Seem To) Make You Mine.” I can’t speak for the entire album, but I really dig this bands soothing sounds.
  • Philip GlassThe Illusionist (Soundtrack). Minimalist classical music at its finest. I think I’ve listened to the theme track over 75 times in the last month alone.

Of course, my playlists are also peppered with 80’s, classical, and a bunch of other stuff, but this is what has my attention as of late. I’m also anticipating Air’s new album due March 5 (new single here). Mmmm. Air. What are you currently listening to?

Apple embraces DRM-less music

Steve Jobs posted an excellent article today backing a DRM-less music file for the masses. That means you play the file when you want and where you want independent of music players. Even iPods. From Jobs’s callout to the big four record companies: “If [DRM] were removed, the music industry might experience an influx of new companies willing to invest in innovative new stores and players. This can only be seen as a positive by the music companies… Convincing them to license their music to Apple and others DRM-free will create a truly interoperable music marketplace. Apple will embrace this wholeheartedly.”

UPDATE: iTunes currently protects songs that are already DMR-less at Not to side with the big record lables, but perhaps Steve is up to something else. More here.

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Keane Concert Review

I have been very excited to see Keane live in concert. Their CD Hopes & Fears has been one of my favorites over the past year. Their is a certain freshness to the album, even given that some of their songs do sound similar. But how do the they sound live? How are they as performers?

First off, for those of you comparing Keane to Coldplay, their is no comparison. Keane has outplayed them with only one record to Coldplay’s three. Haven seen both in concert, I must say Keane brought so much more energy, enjoyment and freshness to their live sound. The lead singer’s voice is one of the prettiest, melodic voices I’ve ever heard. It’s that good. The piano player rocks. He constantly was on the verge of knocking over his piano. The drummer is tight and ads the perfect rhythm section san bass (bass is sequenced on a laptop). The two sure do bring a lot of energy and sound for only having two musicians playing . The light and video was something I didn’t expect, but brought an additional level of ambiance to the already full sound at the lovely Abravanel Hall in downtown SLC. One of the nicest venues I’ve ever been to.

The evening was a blast! The music was even better. Very good show! A+