Thursday, July 30, 2009

Download Free Music Samplers for Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals

The Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festivals are among the biggest celebrations of these music genres, and the folks at NPR Music are offering a free MP3 sampler of 12 songs for each of them. This is a good way to get up to speed on some of the musicians who are playing at this year's festivals and hear some of their tunes for free.

You can download the free Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival samplers at this site, and see what tunes are included in each collection. Among the songs in the Folk Festival sampler:

  • "I and Love and You" by The Avett Brothers from I and Love and You
  • "I Keep Faith" by Billy Bragg from Mr. Love & Justice
  • "Easy" by Deer Tick from Born on Flag Day
  • "Chains, Chains, Chains" by Elvis Perkins in Dearland from Elvis Perkins in Dearland
  • "Mykonos" by Fleet Foxes from the Sun Giant EP
  • "Look at Miss Ohio" by Gillian Welch from Soul Journey
  • "Belated Promise Ring" by Iron & Wine from Around the Well
  • "God Is God" by Joan Baez from Day After Tomorrow

As usual, NPR Music will be covering the Newport Folk Festival (which is celebrating 50 years) with live broadcasts and Webcasts, and will also be checking on on the Newport Jazz Festival. Check these sites for details and schedules.

Also, check out FolkAlley's list of the 100 most essential folk songs, and stream them on your computer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Last Days for July's 50 MP3 Albums for $5 Each

Each month offers a selection of 50 MP3 albums for $5 each, and as you've probably noticed from the calendar, July is almost over.

As usual, the 50 span a range of musical genres and time periods. I picked up Bob Mould's new Life And Times album. Among the other titles you can find for five bucks for the next few days:
  • alt and indie rock including Grand Duchy (with Frank Black), Interpol, Matt & Kim, Meat Pupets, Coldplay, and Gomez;
  • classic rock such as Billy Joel, Aerosmith, the Beach Boys, Heart, and David Bowie;
  • soul and R&B including Marvin Gaye, Ray Charles, Louis Armstrong, and L.T.D.
I miss not having the liner notes with info on who's playing what instruments, who sang on which tracks, lyrics, etc., but you can't beat the price. And if this Apple/record label project to offer digital albums with liner notes and other features pans out, as I mentioned yesterday, that may no longer be a problem.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Apple Looking to Save the Album with Tablet, iTunes Extras

Apple, the company that has sped the downfall of the CD by becoming the top (legal) provider of recorded music, is now said to be making moves to save the album format.

As originally reported in the Financial Times and explained here on All Things Digital, Apple is planning to release a long-awaited tablet computer before the holidays, bigger than an iPod touch but smaller than a MacBook, that is being "prepped to launch alongside a next-generation digital album format Apple is cooking up with the four largest recording companies, one designed to gin up sales of CD-length music."

The Financial Times mentions a September release for the Apple tablet (the same time that the company usually refreshes its iPod lineup), and suggests that the tablet will have a 10-inch screen. It also says that Apple has been working on the project, codenamed "Cocktail," with the four major record labels.

All Things Digital calls the project a "new music format that will gather songs, photos, lyrics sheets, video clips and liner notes into a sort of interactive booklet." notes that, "The main idea is to get people spending $10-20 at a time on iTunes--on a multimedia-bundled album--instead of $1-2 on one or two single-song downloads." The site notes that the concept will not really bring a lot more money to Apple, but could be a boon for the music labels that partner with the computer maker.

Will these kind of extras encourage people to buy albums instead individual tracks? Would they get you to buy an album? As a guy who grew up with the album format (going all the way back to vinyl LPs, in fact), I've always liked the idea of a cohesive group of tunes, so I buy albums anyway (unless I find during sampling that there are only one or two good tracks on it).

It will be interesting to see if this project, assuming it comes off as predicted, will nudge other music consumers to do the same.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

"Lost" Comic-Con 2009 Panel - VIDEO

What's coming up for the final season of "Lost"? If you're a fan of the show (like me) you'll want to watch the videos of the Lost panel from this week's Comic-Con conference in San Diego for some hints. Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse give some insights on the upcoming season, below on his Web site. DocArzt will have his own videos posted at this link later on, and his site has videos of actors Josh Holloway, Jorge Garcia, and Nestor Carbonell in the press room.

An article on talks about which "Lost" characters we'll see in Season 6, including Juliet and Sawyer. (Of course, since Juliet was last seen blowing herself up with a bomb, will we be seeing her via a flashback, or will she be one of those rare characters that The Island will be able to magically resurrect?)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Jay-Z Replacing Beastie Boys as All Points West Headliner

The All Points West Festival has confirmed that Jay-Z will be its new headlining act for Friday, July 31st, replacing the Beastie Boys. That band had to cancel all its upcoming shows after Adam Yauch was diagnosed with a treatable form of salivary gland cancer.

APW says that this will be the first time that Jay-Z has played a U.S. festival; he has previously played several festivals in the U.K. and in Scandinavia.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Music News: Siren Fest Wrap, Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys Has Cancer, Scramble for Michael Jackson's Songs

News from rock to rap for this Monday...

Siren Festival: First off, I finally did make it to Coney Island's Siren Festival this year, but didn't get to the festivities until 5:30. So I missed a couple of acts I really wanted to see (Canada's Japandroids and Scotland's Frightened Rabbit), but I did get to see a bit of Grand Duchy (with Frank Black) as well as the full sets by The Raveonettes and headliners Built to Spill, which were enjoyable. I also got to catch a few songs from a band I wasn't familiar with, Brooklyn's own A Place to Bury Strangers.

Beastie Boys' Adam Yauch has Cancer: The band is delaying its forthcoming album and canceling all upcoming tour dates because Adam "MCA" Yauch has been diagnosed with cancer of the salivary glands, it was announced today in a video on the Beastie Boys' Web site. Among other things, this means that the All Points West Festival in Liberty State Park has lost its headlining act for Friday, July 31st. The good news is that the cancer was caught early, is very treatable, and does not affect Yauch's voice, and he is expected to make a full recovery.

Michael Jackson's Unreleased Songs Up for Grabs: Amid all the mysteries and unknowns surrounding Michael Jackson's untimely death, some are actually related to his music: such as what's going to happen to the estimated 150 unreleased Michael Jackson songs, says Business Week. The magazine says the material includes songs he recorded over the last decade, and a comeback album. Jackson's deal with Sony ended with the release of 2001's "Invincible" album, the article says, but it's not clear whether the Japanese firm may have rights to some of these unreleased tunes.

And speaking of Sony, it's come to light today that Sony is said to be bidding $50 million for the Michael Jackson rehearsal film for his "This Is It" tour.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Built to Spill Headlines 2009 Siren Festival on Coney Island

After missing every previous Siren Festival, the all-day, two-stage indie music festival on Coney Island, I'm determined to make it to this year. As usual the festival, which takes place Saturday, July 18th, features a fine lineup of indie/alt-rock acts. Built to Spill headlines on one stage while Spank Rock leads the way on the other stage.

The bill also includes Danish duo The Raveonettes, Scottish band Frightened Rabbit, Frank Black's band Grand Duchy, and up-and-coming Canadian rockers Japandroids. Each stage will have a DJ spinning tunes between sets.

Check the official Web site for the 2009 Siren Festival schedule as well as directions, frequently asked questions, and more information. To answer a few of the main questions:

  • The Siren Festival is totally free, and no tickets are required.
  • The event is an all-ages show, and goes on rain or shine.
  • The live music starts at 1 p.m. (Tiny Masters of Today, on the Main Stage)
  • The last band to play is scheduled to go on at 8:00 p.m. (Spank Rock, on the Stillwell Stage. Built to Spill takes the Main Stage at 7:30 p.m.)
  • The D, F, Q, and N trains will get you to the Siren Festival. Check the official Web site for the stations to use on each line. Note: as the site says, the trains to Coney Island can take about 45 minutes.

You can find updates on the festival at the Siren Festival's Twitter page,

The New York City tourism site has an interview with Siren Festival headliners Built to Spill.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Pixies Celebrate 20th Anniversary of "Doolittle" with a Tour

Here's something that will make a rock-music lover feel old: it's been 20 years since the release of "Doolittle," the landmark album by The Pixies. To celebrate the occasion, The Pixies are hitting the road for a special tour to play the entire "Doolittle" album live. Frank Black, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering will be playing a series of dates in October to play all the tracks on "Doolittle," and the setlist will include B-sides and other tracks related to the album.

"Doolittle" was the classic disc that gave us some of the most well-known Pixies tunes, such as "Debaser," "Wave of Mutilation," and "Here Comes Your Man," and others.

Tickets for the "Doolittle" tour are on sale now. Here are the tour dates so far (none in the U.S. yet, unfortunately):

Thursday 1st - Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
Friday 2nd - Olympia, Dublin, Ireland
Sunday 4th - SECC, Glasgow, Scotland
Tuesday 6th - Brixton Academy, London, England
Wednesday 7th - Brixton Academy, London, England
Thursday 8th - Brixton Academy, London, England
Friday 9th - Brixton Academy, London, England
Sunday 11th - Jahrhunderhalle, Frankfurt, Germany
Tuesday 13th - Heineken Music Hall, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Wednesday 14th - Forest National, Brussels, Belgium
Thursday 15th - Zenith, Paris, France

The Pixies are looking to keep busy in other ways, according to the fan-run site, which says that Black is also looking to hire out The Pixies to score movies. “The band needs to work with a film director. Quentin Tarantino or someone like that," the site says. "It’d be like, ‘Make some music for our film, you guys be the sound of the film.'”

Meanwhile, Pixies leader Frank Black is a busy man on the road as always, touring with his own solo shows (under the name Black Francis) and with his act Grand Duchy. He'll be doing a series of dates throughout the Midwest and Eastern U.S. until early August. You can find Black Francis tour dates on the Web site.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Google Introduces New Chrome PC Operating System

When Google introduced its Chrome Web browser just nine months ago, some experts wondered if it was the first step in the company coming out with its own PC operating system. Now, Google has done just that: on the night of July 7th the company issued a press release introducing its Google Chrome operating system.

The release calls the Chrome OS an extension of the Chrome Web browser. "It's our attempt to re-think what operating systems should be," the company said. Google described the new product as an "open source, lightweight operating system" that would initially be targeted to run in netbooks, the inexpensive, often bare-bones laptops that have taken the PC market by storm in the last year or so.

Google stressed that the Chrome OS is separate from Android, the mobile phone platform that runs on the G1 smartphone. Chrome is said to be based on the principle of "the Web is the platform." So it should eventually be able to run on PCs, Macs, etc. Google says the Chrome OS is built on top of Linux (the OS that is often used on many of today's netbooks, either as a primary OS or as an alternative to Windows).

And it said that it was rethinking the security underpinnings of the operating system, so that "users don't have to deal with viruses, malware and security updates."

The Chrome OS will be available to consumers in the second half of 2010, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Coming just nine months after the introduction of the Chrome broswer, the Chrome OS is an ambitious new offering from Google that adds a new wrinkle to the operating system choices that computer users have. It will be interesting to see if, since it supposedly uses the Web as a platform, it can be made to run on Mac and other platforms easily.

The odd thing is, why did Google choose to issue its press release at 9:30 p.m. West Coast time (12:30 a.m. in the East)?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Guitarist Orianthi Turning Heads Again - Rehearsing with Michael Jackson (VIDEO)

Australian guitarist Orianthi created a buzz for her sizzling guitar playing on this year's Grammy Awards as a member of Carrie Underwood's band. Now the 24-year-old guitarist is attracting attention again with another TV performance: she's seen performing "They Don't Care About Us" on stage with Michael Jackson during one of his last rehearsals.

If you haven't seen the clip featuring Orianthi and Michael Jackson, you can view it above. Or you can see it and a video of Orianthi playing, and read more about her, in an article at

People magazine's Web site has comments from Orianthi (whose full name is Orianthi Panagaris), on what it was like being part of Michael Jackson's final rehearsals.

Although there won't be any Michael Jackson tour for Orianthi to play, she will be performing at the public memorial for Jackson at the Staples Center in L.A. this Tuesday, according to the Australian news Web site

Originally from Adelaide, Australia, Orianthi moved to Los Angeles after signing a record deal. She has played with great guitarists from Steve Vai to Carlos Santana, and is working on a new album.

Orianthi is now working on her new album, but has a previous one, Violet Journey. And she is also selling some MP3s at the Orianthi fan site,