Friday, July 30, 2010

Long Weekend Playlist

It's a long weekend in Canada!  Most of Canada, anyway.  It's known as the Civic Holiday here in Ontario; it's also known as "We Just Wanted Another Long Weekend in the Summer".  Personally I'll be heading to a friends' cottage and relaxing.

Here's a playlist for the long weekend - it's a little short, because I didn't have as much time this week to work on it.  I started it off with some reggae/ska music, and it eventually turned into some really nice soul.  Enjoy!

Long Weekend Tunes

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ASCAP: We Misinform

Perhaps that title is a little mean-spirited.  Just by a smidgen.  I think it's well-deserved though, especially considering the latest letter that makes this debate seem like an argument on a web forum.  I was going to post a follow-up to my own opinion pieces to help clarify the position of Creative Commons / Free Culture, but I felt Lawrence Lessig did that just fine on his own.  And now we have this to contend with.

Here's a quick summary:
  • ASCAP said that "copyleft" advocates are trying to undermine copyright, and asked for donations to eliminate the Free Culture Movement
  • The Free Culture Movement collectively fired back and pointed out that the purpose of most Creative Commons Licenses is to allow people to use other works without mountains of red tape.  Case in point, this podcast is only alive because of music deemed "podsafe"; if I were to shoot a documentary, I would be able to use music by a wide variety of artists because of their generosity without having to get permission from some corporation.
  • Lawrence Lessig challeneged ASCAP's President Paul Williams to an open debate, in part to try and clear the air.
  • Williams has now said that attempts are being made to silence him by "copyleft" proponents.
This situation is just downright nutty.  Anyway my stance is now this: I respect ASCAP's position in that it simply wants to protect its artists and members.  However, the organization is grossly misinformed when it comes to the core purpose behind the Free Culture movement, and is acting accordingly (read: like a big baby).  I think a healthy debate would have saved Paul Williams from looking like an absolute dick.  Maybe he should talk to Wil Wheaton?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Self-Referential

Sometimes I ask myself why I even have an Internet connection at home.  I find I'm usually completely disconnected from it: on weekends, I barely touch my computers, and that's usually the same after work on weeknights.  I have my Blackberry for e-mails, facebook, and twitter, so when you break it down, there's really no need for me to hang on to the Internet at home.  But then I wouldn't have any way of uploading my podcast, would I?

As a result of this disconnection though, I usually am scrambling Monday mornings to catch up on a few missed e-mails, emptying out my Google Reader (which can have hundreds of new articles show up in one day, let alone a whole weekend), so on and so forth.  It makes it difficult to keep posting new music!  So I decided today that I'd do a lazy search and find something self-referential.  Or at least, perform a self-referential search: I plugged in "Jamendo" in the search box on jamendo.com.

I came up with this: Jamendo 4 the World: Free Music.  I have no idea what it is, or who is responsible for it.  I'm just listening to it now, and it just looks like a mix tape thrown up on Jamendo.  It actually sounds pretty neat, from the first track.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Playlist: I Like to Dance

Today marks the first "official" Friday Playlist!  I decided to put together a little electro/dance playlist for your listening pleasure - be sure to crank it up on the way to the club!

My starting point was Kellee Maize's Future Remix from her album Aligned Archetype, available on Jamendo.  I had avoided her for a long time - I'm not sure why - but my buddy Mike recommended her, so I thought I'd give it a chance.  It's some great stuff, so if you like my selection check out the entire album.

Check out this week's playlist!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Bi-Polar Bear - Today I Found Happy

Bi-Polar Bear - Today I Found Happy

FrostClick.com posts a lot of great free music - some of it I've already discovered on my own, but usually they find some cool stuff before I do.  Read the full review on FrostClick for more details about this Hip-Hop duo, but be sure to listen.  The lyrics are explicit though, so shield any innocent ears necessary.

The album is really good - and it's not just because I've been in the mood for some good Hip-Hop lately.  There are numerous samples on this album and many of them feature some strong brass sounds.  For some reason this really appeals to me; I guess it gives it a more soulful sound, which I tend to enjoy.

You'll probably be hearing a little from them in upcoming podcasts.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Playlist: Test Edition

I believe that I've fixed the iTunes RSS feed - I haven't been able to test it, however.  I also ran it through an RSS validator, which highlighted new errors, but none that seem to affect the iTunes feed.  Critically, anyway.

So I mentioned earlier this week that I wanted to try a new feature, the Friday Playlist.  I set up a test playlist over at Jamendo, which means that if you like what you hear you can download it all!  Easy and convenient.  What I couldn't figure out is how to get a player linked on the blog, so you'll have to follow the direct link.

Listen and enjoy - The Test Playlist!

Woops! iTunes Feed Incorrect

Looks like I messed something up with my iTunes RSS feed.  I will fix it ASAP...hopefully before I go out this morning.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

#10 - Creative Commons Sampler Part 2

#10?? Really?  That's really good!  Well, this is the promised Part 2 of the Creative Commons Sampler.  There are a few rough edges in the show this time around, because I was distracted while reading about ASCAP vs Free Culture.  Yeah I think I've said enough about it, and I don't want to go there right now.


  Here's this week's playlist:

  1. The Dead Rocks - My Nurse Wanna Dance With Me
  2. This Co. - Figure it Out
  3. The Dixie Flyers - The Auctioneer
  4. Ray Wylie Hubbard - Portales
  5. Ray Wylie Hubbard with The Cowboy Twinkies - Portales
  6. The A.G.'s - Jesse's Girl
  7. Mountain Mirrors - Immortal Deadbeats
  8. Holy Cobras - Drug Store
  9. Duwende - Electrify
  10. Sean Wright - Johnny the Boxer
  11. This Co. - XX
  12. Seamen - Bullet
  13. The Dada Weatherman - My Summer Sin

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

LarG Productions - I Suck at Titles

Who: LarG Productions
What: I Suck at Titles

This album is slightly confusing in that LarG Productions is actually a record label, not the artist.  It sounds as though I Suck at Titles - a title to which I can relate - is a collaborative effort from this label based in Calgary, Alberta.  This particular album is mostly an Alt-Indie effort, though there are hints of punk in there as well.

This was just released on Jamendo just today, so it is quite fresh.  The music is interesting and easy to listen to (though it is not "easy-listening"), and the album is just 10 tracks long.  There's some cool stuff going on in the songs, and a few of the tracks remind me of the scope of bands such as Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire, or Rural Alberta Advantage.  The sound of the album probably reminds me more of BSS out of any of those three.

Check it out - it's just 30 minutes long, good for your commute to or from work.

Some More Creative Commons Reading

Remember all that kerfuffle about ASCAP claiming Creative Commons is undermining Copyright?  Well, there have been a few statements from the other side since then.  These links were forwarded to me by Jane Park, communications coordinator for Creative Commons.

Creative Commons released an official response last week: "Creative Commons Licenses are copyright licenses - plain and simple."  They go on further in the article to highlight some points about established artists still making profits while releasing their work under a Creative Commons license:

Many musicians, including acts like Nine Inch Nails, Beastie Boys, Youssou N’Dour, Tone, Curt Smith, David Byrne, Radiohead, Yunyu, Kristin Hersh, and Snoop Dogg, have used Creative Commons licenses to share with the public. These musicians aren’t looking to stop making money from their music. In fact, many of the artists who use CC licenses are also members of collecting societies, including ASCAP.

Lawrence Lessig also challenged members of ASCAP to a public debate while responding to their claims.  There are several good links in that article, and is definitely recommended reading.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

New Blog Feature

Hello all!  I'm back from my vacation today!  However this post was still written back on Wednesday July 7th, because the idea was fresh in my head.

I'm thinking of throwing together a new feature for the blog - the Weekly Playlist.  This is separate from the podcast, and my thinking is that it will make use of Jamendo's playlist features.  I may try it out this Friday, and see how things go.

The podcast will be up Thursday - it's produced and ready to go.  If you're resourceful enough, you can probably figure out where to find it for download before then. ;)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Brad Sucks Live

I'm on a short vacation from Thursday July 8th until Monday July 12th. I've prepared some posts in advance so that you don't miss out on the blog :)

Brad Sucks recently announced a live gig in Ottawa; check out the details on his website and a really cool looking poster.

It's at Cafe Deckuf on July 31st, at 8pm.  Cover is $10.  Unfortunately I'm going to be away on vacation on that day as well, otherwise I would check it out.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Creative Fundraising

I'm on a short vacation from Thursday July 8th until Monday July 12th. I've prepared some posts in advance so that you don't miss out on the blog :)

One of the things I really like about the Creative Commons "universe" is that artists are often really creative - both in what they produce and in how they promote their work.  Part of it is necessity, because these artists have to work extra hard to get their voice heard above mainstream music.

I Am Not Lefthanded is a band that is doing something really cool.  They're trying to raise £15,000 in order to record and release a full-length studio album.  They've been doing some neat things to raise money but this is one of the most interesting concepts I've ever seen that they just announced: "Investment Incentives".  Here are the details from their press release:

Every £1 invested gets you two tracks of the album and a share in the album sales (think stock-market) and for £5, you're pre-ordering a full copy of the album, with your name in the credits!
 
But for more serious investors, I Am Not Lefthanded are offering a list of thoughtful and intriguing incentives to tempt the music mogul inside you that's just itching to get out.

They've made a video pitch to persuade you to open your hearts and your wallets that you can view here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C4YRVTgcFO8

And here's the full incentive list:

£1 - Two tracks from the album
£5 - Download copy of the album, plus your name in the credits
£10 - CD + Download
£25 - I Am Not Lefthanded T-shirt and Socks
£50 - Special Edition Box Set, including bonus acoustic CD
£100 - Signed Box Set + Live DVD + Personal Thank-you letter/video
£250 - They'll come cook you dinner, or bake you 3 different kinds of cake
£500 - They'll write a song for you, or record a cover of your favourite song
£750 - They'll play a private show for you & your friends
£1,000 - You get to sing or play on one of the album tracks, or star in one of their videos
£2,500 - You'll be involved in all decisions regarding song choice, artwork, early mixes, studio visits, merchandise etc.
£10,000 - They'll name you Executive Producer and give you 10% of all royalties, including record sales, publishing rights, soundtrack placements, comic-book adaptations and more for two years from the
date of the album launch.

If you like what you see, go support these hard-working indie-popsters:

http://www.iamnotlefthanded.com/slicethepie.html

As well as these incentives, the band are posting a Thing A Week on their website and facebook page - these range from live tracks, videos, covers, new material and other oddities.

Find out more here:
http://www.iamnotlefthanded.com/

I don't think they're going to come cook for you if you don't live in the UK, but you never know - this band seems like a fun, spontaneous group.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

How You Can Help Support Creative Commons

I'm on a short vacation from Thursday July 8th until Monday July 12th.  I've prepared some posts in advance so that you don't miss out on the blog :)

I just checked out the Jamendo newsletter, and they had a good little reader about the recent ASCAP vs Creative Commons thing.  Here's what they wrote (and there's a link to donate to Creative Commons at the end).

Precisions about ASCAP and Creative Commons


Recently, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) sent a fundraising letter to its members calling on them to fight “opponents” such as Creative Commons, falsely claiming that we work to undermine copyright.

In their last newsletter, Creative Commons stated that their licenses are copyright licenses -- plain and simple. CC licenses are legal tools that creators can use to offer certain usage rights to the public, while reserving other rights. Without copyright, these tools don’t work. Artists and record labels that want to make their music available to the public for certain uses, like noncommercial sharing and remixing, should consider using CC licenses. Artists and labels that want to reserve all of their copyright rights should absolutely not use CC licenses.

On Jamendo, thousands of artists use Creative Commons licenses to share their work. These musicians aren’t giving up their copyright; they’re refining their copyright’s terms, so that copyright works better for them.

You can help Creative Commons by making a donation or sending a message to support their work.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Postmen

The Postmen - The Postmen

Their name, for no reason other than similarity, reminds me of the Kevin Costner epic; they are The Postmen.  I've picked this group to write a bit about in honour of the Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest, which kicked off with headliner Iron Maiden last night.

The Postmen are a blues group from Switzerland, but their style is probably closer to Blues Rock.  On some of the vocals I was reminded of The Guess Who - the lead singer's voice can be a little raspy.  This is not a bad thing, simply an observation.

Their self-titled album sounds really good, and worth the 20 minute listen.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jens Wennberg - Welcome to 1984

Jens Wennberg - Welcome to 1984

What a hot day today!  At 7:30 it was already at least 30 degress (celsius)!  For Americans, that's 86 F.  All the news agencies are saying that with the humidity, it feels like 40-something.  I learned yesterday though that they mean that it is actually 30 degrees, but the humidity makes it feel like if it were 40 in a desert or something like that.

Anyway all that is to say that I went to Jamendo for some music to go along with this heat wave.  I wanted something light and fun, with a little summery feel.  Jamendo suggested I check out Jens Wennberg, without really telling me anything about him.  So I checked him out, and found that he was exactly what I was looking for!  The music is a little indie-rock, though I'm not entirely sure what he is singing about. I  listened to this at work, so I was concentrating mostly on doing my job rather than the lyrics.

My favourite track is Tux, though the title track, Welcome to 1984 is kind of catchy as well.  I like the cover art too, pictured above.  It has an '80s look to it, and perhaps is in part an homage to Aha's Take On Me video.  He has another album that I'm going to listen to, but Jens Wennberg has definitely earned himself a spot in my music library with this album.

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Copyright Primer

On Monday I wrote a rant about ASCAP's claims that Creative Commons should be shut down.  This is a follow-up to that post; this one is a rant on copyright in general.  All sources consulted will have direct links somewhere within this post (as in the previous sentence).

There are honestly some very good things about current copyright legislation.  The number one strength of copyright is that any work put to paper/computer/canvas/wherever is automatically subjected to copyright law (provided your country is a member of the Berne Convention).  There's no need to pay for protection, nor do you need to put the little copyright symbol at the end of your work.  It's fully protected by law, and no one can touch it without your permission.

Under this free basic protection, your copyright will expire after a certain amount of time, allowing other people to build upon your original work to create something else without asking permission.  That's fantastic, except that the current term is far too long: the length of the author's life plus an additional 70 years!

Why is this significant?  Well, consider how copyright term has evolved in the US.  In 1790, a copyright would last you jusy shy of 30 years.  It was changed in 1831 to over 40 years, up to 50 in 1909, and kept on getting amended until we sit at copyright terms that can last as long as 100 years!

The biggest proponent to get these laws amended was Disney.  They needed to protect Mickey Mouse, and all their other original creations.  I will admit that it's fair that they want to protect the rights of their work so that nobody can profit from Mickey's image, or use him in inappropriate settings.  But how is this fair, when Disney's early movies were all based on public domain fairy tales?

Disney has made enormous profits by taking an existing story and making something original out of it.  Rather than returning the favour, they would rather lock down copyrights and prevent anyone from using their material - forever, if they have their way.  I'm not trying to say that everyone should have the right to create their own original Mickey Mouse cartoons.  I'm instead trying to suggest that the original intent of copyright has been blurred and distorted.

I don't have a problem with a copyright term that lasts for the life of the author - I'm even flexible enough to say that the life of the author plus 10 to 20 years is reasonable.  I think that the author definitely should be able to protect their creations and prevent others from profiting off their creativity - but after the author is dead, what use is the protection?  The current ridiculously long protection really only serves corporations like Disney, and not the individual creator.

I just have a short story to tell in conclusion, related to my post earlier this week.

My brother, a musician with an album on the way, made a comment on my post the other day about ASCAP vs Free Culture.  He said that he prefers the ability to protect his music and maintain creative control over what other people do with it (if he allows other people to use it).  His argument was that by using Creative Commons, he has no such control.  I pointed out to him that there are licenses under Creative Commons that allow you to keep control and protect your rights just the same as a copyright. 

I wasn't trying to convince him to shuck his record label and conventional copyrights, but merely to illustrate that there IS a choice and that it's important to keep that choice available.  While I have strong beliefs about all that's wrong about copyright, I recognize that in its current form it works for some people, and others not. 

Free Culture is NOT evil - it's the corporations that push to protect their copyrights solely to keep making money.  While that is their number one priority (making money), it should be everyone's focus to continue to create new and interesting things and be able to build on other people's work if necessary.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

#9 - Canada Day Podcast

Good morning everyone, and Happy Canada Day!  So far mine's been pretty great - I went to bed sick and woke up feeling fine this morning, and to discover I have some juice in the fridge that I didn't remember making.

I've had this podcast waiting in the wings for a week now, and I've been very excited to release it.  It is 100% Canadian, and features some really great artists that I found mostly on Jamendo.com.  Here's the playlist - now go out and enjoy the day!  I might find myself in downtown Ottawa today, which depends entirely on whether I feel up for biking down there.  If you're looking for some things to do today, check out this Canada Day Guide from www.ottawastart.com.