Saturday, September 27, 2008

DRM: Digital Remorse Management

So you played by the rules. You purchased your music through Wal-Mart's DRM service. Guess what, you just lost by playing fairly. This isn't right, but it is indicative of what DRM really means to consumers. It's one of the reasons why I still buy CDs...

See Boing Boing 9/26/08:
Beginning October 9, we [Wal-Mart] will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer.
Nothing lasts forever but the earth & sky...

Don't count on it...

Update: Wal-Mart has a change of heart and reinstates their DRM servers "for the present time."

Monday, September 15, 2008

Reviewer's Notes

I always feel trepidation when it comes to "reviewing" someone else's work. Music particularly.

If I throw out my thoughts about the songs on an album should each song be compared against the others on that particular album or should they be viewed individually without reference to the others? On my last review here (Out of It), I did the first--stacking each song up against the others on the album. How would it come out using the other method without that kind of comparison? I tend to think that I would have generalized that they were all very well done and that I liked all of them. The fact is though, I liked some better then others, and I think that's OK.

It's all totally subjective anyway. And what's worse is the fact that an opinion can change from one day to the next depending on the mood you're in and how a song hits you at a particular moment. That's the nature of the art form I suppose.

Not that my opionion amounts to anything anyway, but since I have the temerity to put something up for anyone in the world to see, I want to reflect my view (at that moment) accurately. I mean, it's easy if an album is really lame--you can say that in one line! LOL But when you get something of quality and you're trying to quantify it, it's not so cut & dry.

One liners would be a lot easier in either case but probably not very helpful:
  • This album rocks, you'll love it!
  • This album is hideous, don't waste your time!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Review: Out of It

Out of It by Brad Sucks

Firstly, I am a huge fan of I Don't Know What I'm Doing so I had very high expectations for Out of It. I was not disappointed.

The progression in the quality of production from the first album to Out of It is immediately apparent. Much improved. (Note: I am listening to the 128k mp3 tracks. Bet the sound on the CD is superb!)

Unfortunately (IMO), this album lost to the Loudness War. It is brick walled mastered (you can learn all about it at Turn Me Up!), and according to Audacity it's clipping--fortunately you don't notice it (at least I don't). Unlike the totally unacceptable horrendous clipping all over the place on Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic. Death Magnetic contains some of the best music (and worst lyrics) Metallica has put out since ...And Justice for All but the sound quality is horrible. A real shame. Death Magnetic (according to rumors floating around on the net) was delivered to the mastering engineer in that state--what could he do? You can't remove clipping in post-production.

But I digress...

I don't see brick walling on the I Don't Know What I'm Doing tracks. What's up with that? New mastering engineer? Fortunately Out of It still sounds really good. I'm just really curious, what would it have sounded like if more dynamics had been left in the mix?

The drum sound & patterns are very good, my only complaint is the percussion is in your face on most of the tracks. The drums are just mixed too loud. Everything else seems to be mixed at levels complimentary to the songs--it's just that the drums can be a little overwhelming on some of the songs.

The acoustic guitar sounds superb and is used extensively throughout the album to great effect.

The electric guitar sounds pretty cool in my headphones (not iPod). Unfortunately they sound a little muddy in my car--what can ya do? It's probably my crappy stock car stereo. I should play it in my wife's car--much better sound system.

The lyrics make the songs of course. I just wonder what this fascination with dying & suicide is all about--metaphor, I'm sure (well, I hope anyway)? Artists?! Sometimes you just can't figure them out... Personally, as I was climbing my ladder yesterday to cut limbs from the tress, I was not amused at the thoughts of falling to my death, and I certainly wasn't interested in causing myself personal injury/death by intentionally jumping! (I hate heights enough as it is.) Can't make (or listen to) much music when your impaled on your fence. I'm sure I'm missing the point of some of the songs--still enjoy them.

The synth fills & bridges are tastefully done and add just the right touch to the songs. Effective and not overdone.

The musical arrangements are very well done and you can tell a lot of work and attention to detail were put into them. It all comes together into a really great album....

Dropping out of School **** (The intro was just right for the opening track, definitely. It moves you right from I Don't Know What I'm Doing into the new album. "The teachers are coming to jump you at recess", I guess they save the cop from being killed by "me and my friends... at recess." The hyper-compressed electric guitar is an, uh, interesting choice.)

Certain Death *** (Very cool intro. Nice I Don't Know What I'm Doing feel. "Certain Death, haven't had the heart to yet"? Lyrics, most of the time you have no idea what an artist is thinking! LOL)

Fake It *****(What can I say? It's got it all. The guitar tones are just right. The mix is right on. The lyrics and vocals rule. This song and Out of It are my favorites!)

Bad Sign ****(I really like the guitar parts, they fit the song just right. Nice mix, including the drums)

There's Something Wrong ***("Everybody says it's funny, but I can't say it seems very funny to me." Mix is good.)

Gasoline **("Every time we disagree there's a place you go to because I drove you there.")

Total Breakdown ****("You're gonna do what you want." Oh how true it is (sigh). Why do the vocals remind me of a rocking version of the Beach Boys?)

Understood by Your Dad ****(The drum pattern is awesome. Love how the chorus follows the guitar line. Really rocks.)

Out of It *****(I totally love this song!)

You're not Going Anywhere ***(Bold intro. Single track of vocals and it sounds great.)

Overall it comes in at a solid ****in my book.

I really like this album. It's professionally produced, original, catchy, interesting, very well done, and I highly recommend it!

I want Brad to produce my album!

A note from Brad's website (See the little logo below? if you don't know what Creative Commons licensing is, check it out. It's an artists best friend.):
please steal this cd

I'd appreciate it if you'd copy Out of It and share with your friends. High quality MP3s are also included on the CD if you'd like to send them around.

Updated 09/15/08

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Compressed To Death (Magnetic)

I would really like to know what Metallica's Death Magnetic sounded like before it was sent out for mastering.

It definitely lost (and lost badly) to the Loudness War.

I am listening to The Day That Never Comes right now (iTunes) and they've gone beyond the brick wall, the track is clipping all over the place. Everything is painfully compressed. Compressed to death.

Post-production blues aside, the singles: Cyanide, The Day That Never Comes, My Apocalypse prove Metallica can still rock with old-school fire!