Far From Your Worst Nightmare

Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks’ new album Enter the Slasher House not only won’t haunt your dreams, but you might actually enjoy it

enter-the-slasher-house

A swirl of quick-paced rambling, dizzy effects, and beaty drums, Enter the Slasher House is an album that many have waited for. The debut release of Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks, more commonly known as Animal Collective’s Angel Deradoorian and former drummer of Ponytail Jeremy Hyman, Enter the Slasher House is a missing link between digital and physical.

The music of Animal Collective is known for its randomness, and at times, its ‘what the hell am I listening to effect’. While this has certainly helped the band attract attention, it also makes them enigmatic. Even among fans, there are albums that are utterly adored, and others that are despised. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks will appeal to many fans of AC, namely ones that enjoyed Strawberry Jam. Immediately reminiscent of the album, shouty lyrics are backed by organic instrumentals and frenetic electronics. Perhaps more surprisingly, the album draws from Strawberry Jam’s ability to border on rock, something that AC seemingly abandoned in subsequent releases.

Perhaps some of Enter the Slasher House’s appeal stems from the feeling that Avery Tare is not trying too hard to create a modern disco opus. One could dance if so inclined, but is supplemental to the full enjoyment of the album rather than a necessity. Tempo changes from droning to upbeat, vocal styles from schizophrenic to serene, content from grandiose to worldly. The album’s diversity comes not solely from an array of digital effects, but also from song structure and content as well. Instead of mixing in musical arrangements that simulate chewing on tinfoil, Enter the Slasher House provides plenty of variation while staying relatively even-keel.

Electronic dominance appears to have a stranglehold on the indie landscape, but Avey Tare does a good job of creating a balance. These are not 8 minute Apparat songs with sparse lyrics set to an electronic metronome, but rather a combination of electronic and organic elements entwined. Admittedly, some of the album’s slower songs come close to the intolerable slog of modern indie, but these moments are short-lived.

ATSF offers a  glimpse into the recent history of the genre, where electronica only began to invade the realm of indie. A historical account of what music sounded like before the robots took over.

7/10

Enter the Slasher House by Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks Full Stream

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A Night With Kid A

a-night-with-kid-aPlenty of eye rolling to be had today in the world of indie news, as Detroit chef Kyle Hanley presents “A Night With Kid A“, a gourmet food menu based on Radiohead’s 2000 release. It’s got it all, from the Everything In Its Right Place pan-seared diver scallop to the Idioteque arugula salad. The menu ensures that diners will experience the nostalgia of the album by doing something they’ve likely never done while listening to it – eating.

Let me just say, that thank god someone decided to pull the trigger on what has been on the mind of everyone that’s ever listened to How To Disappear Completely: “This song is awesome, but why hasn’t anybody thought of listening to this while eating oil-poached monkfish?”

At $125 a plate, the dinner includes paired drinks and a stream of the album. The perfect experience for anybody that enjoys iconic experimental music and Meyer lemon sorbet. Sure beats the hell out of listening to it alone in your room while eating Top Ramen, right?

Here is the full menu:

kid-a

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Drowners, Not to be Confused with Drowner

drowner-drownersApparently “drowner” is the new “weekend” in terms of band names, which ads to the confusion of what is good and what isn’t. Upon skimming today’s new releases, I was incredibly saddened to see that Drowners self-titled release received septic reviews. Mainly because “You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You” was one of my favorite releases of 2013. Luckily, all was right with the world when I learned that Drowner and Drowners were different bands. Of course, that meant that I would be required to write an album review, which I’ve all but stopped doing.

In all honesty, I’m at a loss as to why “Drowners” received such bad reviews. Granted, the New York-based four-piece is a blatant strokes ripoff, but there’s something about their music that re-creates the sound that made The Strokes a seminal rock group. Musically, the album is a bit uninspired, each song consisting of the same predictable tempo, 4/4 progression and typical indie rock vocals. However, there are some redeeming qualities to the record. The album’s vocals  do not annoy, and dare I say, are enjoyable. Lyrically, the album falls short at a few points, most notably on the second track “Long Hair” during which the main chorus “All the girls had long hair, all the boys had long hair, and you were missing out”. Meh.

There is also a severe lack of complexity in the songwriting found on the album. It’s not that simplicity excludes albums from being good by any means, but there is a definite line between not being overly complicated and being mundane. For me, it’s a difficult decision on whether I appreciate the simplicity or whether it’s sort of blasé. Either way, as an overall listening experience, I wouldn’t call it unenjoyable. Tracks like “You’ve got it Wrong” and “Pure Pleasure” are passable, and dare I say, “good” indie tracks, but overall sub-par is the best way to describe the album overall.

Honestly, the horrid reviews are likely a product of indie being largely dependent upon complexity; an assault of ambient effects and unintelligible electronic bullshit. With bands like Warpaint receiving the lion’s share of “holy shit this is an awesome album” reviews, there is little room for bands that play simplistic rock. As a result of tempering my love for pure rock with my appreciation for creativity, “Drowners” leaves me conflicted. I don’t hate it, but I’m probably never going to listen to it on purpose again. This is one of the worst rated albums I’ve seen in a long time, which is likely due to indie being largely redefined in the 21st century. Let’s be honest, even the bands that helped form the late 90′s rock sound have departed from that sound to create spaghetti westerns and “what the fuck, why are there synthesizers” artistic presentations.

Drowners is a bit of a throwback to what we used to love about indie, but simply put – there are probably other albums more worthy of your attention.

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Pretentious is  a word that is seldom disconnected from music as a whole. It stands to reason that many listeners willing to expand beyond mainstream radio and Pandora believe diligence provides the necessary vehicle for clout. Similarly, it stands to reason that many musicians willing to push the boundaries of conventional music will oftentimes be branded as pretentious, and oftentimes with good reason. One of the best illustrations of this idea comes from the book Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk Rock, which provides a first-hand glimpse at the roots of punk music as well as its evolution.

A common theme in the book is the idea that all musicians are assholes; whether it be in the form of ego, selfish self-destruction, or simply a flaw in personality. Not having met all that many musicians, other than friends; who appropriately enough, are assholes, this list is purely a matter of perception and hearsay that may or may not be corroborated. To me, it’s also an illustration of pretension can occasionally be warranted, and that outside thinking is an excusable conduit for ego. And that some musicians are just assholes. Organized in no particular order.

Kevin Barnes – Of Montreal

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The quintessential art snob, Kevin Barnes often references the most esoteric of artistic pieces in his lyrical content. Often siting French literature and Greek mythology, his scholarly style is highly niche, yet crafted with beauty. Even his stage show is an abstract artistic collage, albeit one that undoubtedly falls under the must-see category. Simply being good is a legitimate excuse for pretension, and Barnes may well be the apex.

Colin Meloy – Decemberists

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Lyrically, Meloy prefers a historical context, which is oftentimes relevant only to those within a certain vein. A clear-cut academic, Meloy’s extensive educational background reflects not only in his lyrics, but also the musical compositions of the Decemberists. I guess it’s to be expected from someone that studied English theatre and creative writing. Not to mention someone that plays a bouzouki.

Lou Reed – Velvet Underground

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Call talking shit about a dead person and an icon of indie music bad form, but it’s a relatively well known fact that Lou Reed epitomized pretension. A disciple of Andy Warhol, Reed was part of the artistic scene of 60′s New York, which might well be the Mecca of artistic snobbery. It’s probably worth mentioning that Reed was one of the most innovative and influential musicians of all time, but this remains separate of the underlying topic. His assholery is oft addressed in the text mentioned in the intro.

Noel Gallagher – Oasis

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Like him or not, Noel Gallagher embodies what it means to be the perfect asshole. Although Oasis recordings might not reflect it, Gallagher captures the true ‘I don’t’ give a fuck’ mentality of rock, with the knowledge to back it. And although many aren’t appreciative of his brash form of commentary, he often acts the spokesperson for those unhappy with the state of rock music as a whole.

Madonna

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There was a time when Madonna would not have made this list, but that time has long passed. Being from Michigan, I don’t know many people from Rochester that speak with English accents. In fact, there aren’t any, unless they migrated from England itself. She undeniably helped pioneer the female pop star archetype, which she oftentimes seems overly proud of.

Pete Townshend – The Who

Pete Townshend

In his own mind, he is the driving force behind the success of The Who. Something that everybody on earth but him knows isn’t true. It’s not difficult to find recorded footage and peer-reviewed articles of Townshend being an asshole. Some may disagree, but I feel as though one requires a bit more chop in order to warrant such lording.

Thom Yorke – Radiohead

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Common knowledge would dictate that no list similar to this one is absent of Thom Yorke. Fortunately, his talent and creativity more than make up for his temperament. He’s also an advocate for musicians’ rights, which may be one of the reasons he receives so much flack. I have mixed feelings about not being able to listen to Atoms for Peace on Spotify.

Bono – U2

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Similarly, the frontman of U2 is essentially a synonym for pretension despite his humanitarian efforts. For many, there is a stark contrast between philanthropy and self-satisfaction, which is something that Bono has yet to distinguish between. And although a large portion of U2′s music is beautifully grounded, Bono’s swagger alone is often enough to ruin it for many listeners.

Anton Newcombe – Brian Jonestown Massacre

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Perhaps muddling the mixture a bit, Anton Newcombe’s personality strikes many as intolerable. After having ruined any chance of BJM becoming a commercial success due to an on-stage fistfight, Newcombe is a shining example of how talent often forgives pricky behavior. Although it’s arguable that his raw demeanor is what rock music is currently lacking.

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New Year’s Playlist

Yes! It’s the New Year, full of resolution, full of fresh starts. The past is never to be re-lived, the future is infinite. The person of yesteryear is but a distant memory, the skin has shed, the new individual has emerged. Masters of our fate, captains of our soul, we press on with nothing but the utmost of positivity; knowing that we’ve learned from our past mistakes and that a new dawn is at hand. Optimistic, but far from all-knowing, we press on; with the hope that this year will be different from the last, that we’ve finally learned what it is to be a human being. This is the year that we discard the ineffective, that we finally obtain that which has eluded us for so long.

With open hearts and open minds, we are now ready to face our destiny, realizing that only we can navigate this treacherous terrain, and that the answer has been right in front of us the entire time. And now we have the playlist to accompany the thoughts that have just now been revealed. Happy 2014, and may these resolution be the last that demand immediate attention. Vigilant, yet ordinary, here are the songs for the new year that scream cautions optimism; anthems that illustrate our full potential, while illustrating that we are still human. The closest thing to  true reckoning.

 

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Notable Indie Supergroups

It’s difficult to utter the word ‘supergroup’ without thinking of some shitty ‘hard rock’ outfit featuring The Nuge. But for lack of better terms, it’s the one that’s been chosen. Moving on. In the past, indie was bred in such relative obscurity, that no one musician stood out as having the capacity to form a supergroup. If asked about their thoughts on Lou Barlow departing from Dinosaur Jr. to form Sebadoh, most listeners would have likely replied ‘who the fuck is Lou Barlow’? Of course that’s changed, and now there are scads of indie supergroups, mostly comprised of members of bands that are just now getting the credit they deserve. Keep in mind that even as this list is being crafted, many sources will need to be checked in order to find the bands that most of these people were even in.

Whether it’s the fact that a lot of indie projects that spawned these new collectives still remain in relative obscurity, or that I’ve only got a rough idea of who the hell is even in the band, defining what makes a supergroup is difficult. Readers are free to derive their own decision regarding the definition. Hopefully myself and readers alike will have a few ‘holy shit, that person is in that band?’ moments.

Broken Bells/Gorrilaz/Gnarles Barkley

These three are lumped together because they all share one thing in common, producer Danger Mouse. An undeniable musical genius, he’s not only been an active musician in the bands listed above, but has essentially produced music for virtually any indie musician worth mentioning. Jeff Mercer of The Shins, Cee Lo Green, Jack White, Sparklehorse, Black Keys, Beck, Norah Jones, etc. and of course, etc. These are a few that are pretty well known, Broken Bells featuring Jeff Mercer of The Shins, Gorrilaz consisting of Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Damon Albarn of Blur, and the now-more-popular-than-Jesus and former member of Goodie Mob Cee Lo Green being one half of Gnarles Barkley.

Mister Heavenly

Perhaps the most surprising ‘how the hell aren’t these guys more well-known’ supergroup is Mister Heavenly. Consisting of Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) of Man Man, Nick Thorburn of Islands and The Unicorns, and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse, they’ve cultivated their own unique form of catchy crooning, which they call ‘doom wop’. They even contracted Michael Sera as their touring bassist for awhile. They are pretty much the hipster supergroup. Their first and only album titled Out of Love was released in 2011 on Sub Pop records.

Broken Social Scene

I find it utterly baffling when indie lovers claim to not like Broken Social Scene (you know who you are). Essentially consisting of every notable Canadian indie artist that isn’t in Arcade Fire, BSS was the perfect conduit for highlight the talents of every artist contained within despite being virtually as large as the Polyphonic Spree. Broken Social Scene artists include: Leslie Feist, Emily Haines of Metric, Charles Spearin of Do, Make, Say, Think, and Amy Milan, Evan Cranley, and Torquil Campbell of Stars.

Quasi

Consisting of only two members, Portland-based Quasi is technically the smallest supergroup possible. It features Ex husband and wife Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, Wild Flag) and Sam Coomes of Heatmiser, Elliot Smith’s old band, and formerly featuring Joanna Bolme, a bassist that has essentially toured with every Pacific Northwest indie band you’ve ever heard. Somehow having been around for forever, Quasi is somewhat of a touring staple in the Pacific Northwest, despite its members being involved in a slew of side projects. On a side note, Wild Flag is also a supergroup featuring Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney and Portlandia, but I simply can’t get into their music for whatever reason.

Bad Books

Bad Books acoustic singer/songwriter Kevin Devine and the Manchester Orchestra. Responsible for some of the most compelling and depressing songs since Bright Eyes (although not quite Elliott Smith) Bad Books provides the perfect blend of erratic, peaceful, orchestral, and straight acoustic. Not to mention lyrical perfection more times than not. A must-listen for those that find solace in dark poetry.

Middle Brother

Consisting of members of smaller, yet talented indie bands, Middle Brother is John McCauley of Deer Tick, Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit, and Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes. Formed in 2010, this folky supergroup is riddled with edge and encompasses the true sound of modern Americana. Debuting at SXSW, Middle Brother might be the single most important band in bridging the gap between modern music and country music. The good kind, mind you.

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Best Indie of 2013

Although admittedly I’ve been a bit out of the loop in terms of new music (a blasphemous act), a few albums couldn’t help but dig their claws in. Through either complete happenstance or a recommendation from those better attuned to the world of indie than myself, enough music came through my own myopic mirror to warrant a best of 2013 list. After all, it’s the least that a so-called indie blogger can do for its readers. So here it is. The best albums of 2013 in (roughly) descending order.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor

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For fear of sounding trite, Reflektor is on the list not simply because it’s an Arcade Fire album, but rather because it does possess some  unique elements. Its use of space and ability to blend genres makes it one of the more diverse releases of 2013. Having James Murphy of the now-defunct LCD Soundsystem in the mix doesn’t hurt either. It appears low on the list mainly due to the fact that Arcade Fire’s sound is a shadow of what made them so ‘hip’ to begin with. As far as artistic evolution goes, AF is at the head of the curve, which is impressive in its own right, but may be problematic for listeners hopelessly attached to the past.

Typhoon -White Lighter

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On the surface, Typhoon might sound like an un-neutered version of Fleet Foxes, but further examination reveals so much more. Carefully orchestrated, their music possesses all of the appeal of the ‘too many acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies’ bands currently saturating the indie market, but with more of an edge. I’m not quite sure how many artists Typhoon is comprised of (quite a few I’m pretty sure), but they utilize each element to the full extent. White Lighter might not appeal to everyone, but at very least, it’s an improvement on the existing ‘slow indie album’ archetype.

Fuck Buttons – Slow Focus

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A cohesive, ambient creepshow from front to back, the latest Fuck Buttons album is one that truly illustrates their desired creative direction. While Street Horrrsing and Tarot Sport were great releases, Slow Focus displays arrangements divergent from conventional indie-electro and give Fuck Buttons a loud voice within the vein. Slow Focus is essentially a horror soundtrack; a tense production that resonates with the listener and that should only be experienced in the right headspace.

The National – Trouble Will Find Me

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The latest from New York-based crooners The National is one that may  take a few listens in order to fully embrace. It’s considerably slower than such releases as Boxer and Alligator, but still manages to capture their cautious, yet hopeful nature. With a more mature sound, Trouble Will Find Me is almost old for its age, but still has an edge that cool kids will embrace. The nature of their content makes The National a band that many will grow into rather than out of.

Deerhunter – Monomania

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Bradford Cox, AKA Deerhunter is the perfect choice for those seeking something different. His music brilliantly pushes the envelope of experimentation without losing sight of what rock music should sound like. Monomania is the latest evolution in a musical endeavor that provides a great deal of diversity and tension at every turn. It stands out as one of his more ‘otherworldly’ projects, but is still worth being lauded as one of the best rock presentations of 2013.

My Bloody Valentine – MBV

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Although MBV was released 22 years after Loveless, it still somehow feels like a followup. To many, Loveless makes the list of ‘best albums of all time’, with MBV  simply being the ‘next album’. However, if viewed through the scope of music of 2013, MBV is a solid release that does not stray too far from the conventions that made their previous releases so extravagant. There’s a reason that My Bloody Valentine is regarded as the apex of shoegaze music, and even 22 years later they’ve made a strong case to support that argument.

Danny Brown – Old

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Danny Brown’s borderline insane appearance and personality are charming to say the least; and his unconventional, well, everything, makes him a truly fresh face in the rap industry that demands attention. It might be the fact that he’s from the same-ish place, that I’ve been browbeat by his music, or that I’ve listened to him DJ on an indie station, but DB is one of those artists that is inherently cool – in  every aspect. Something that makes his brand of rap stand out as clever, artistic, and possess enough realness to stand up to some of the best. Old is no exception, and the perfect followup to XXX.

Speedy Ortiz – Major Arcana

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Speedy Ortiz is a band that flew well below many radars in the past, and many were pleased to see them finally register. Their barebones makeup (guitar, bass, minimalistic drum kit) produces a sound that has nearly been lost in the archaic world of 90′s music. For those that wish distorted guitar and unpredictable changes were more prevalent in modern music, there is no substitute for Major Arcana. After first listening to the release, many swear that this album was one that they’d heard in passing long ago – and wish they had.

Deafheaven – Sunbather

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Hardcore is seldom a genre that intersects with the indie populous, and is one that many listeners tend to avoid. Couple that with the fact that many indie rockers are now in their thirties, many fans are simply too old to have people screaming at them. Also keep in mind that many of the ex-hardcore kids have moved to post rock as their preferred variety of sonic aggression. Musically, Deafheaven’s Sunbather is absolute post-rock bliss, but combined with one of the best hardcore screams imaginable. For many, it’s the type of release that reminds aging hipsters of why they liked specific genres to begin with. If every hardcore band was as good as Deafheaven, many would still find the genre engaging.

Drowner – You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You

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Speaking of Loveless, those looking for a good ripoff/reproduction should look no further than Drowner. Present in You’re Beautiful, I Forgive You are the same elements that made Loveless so infectious. Not to mention some of  the same melodies and chord progressions. Whether it’s a blatant knockoff or a carefully crafted homage is irrelevant. It stands as my new go-to segue into a conversation about shoegazing once it’s been established that both parties are fans of Loveless. It’s that good.

 

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A Message to the Fleet Foxes

Facilitation of the mundane was likely in the works before the fruition of your band, but nonetheless your existence and success renders the current state of indie music virtually unlistenable. And while the strength of your harmonies are indeed undeniable, the lack of proverbial grit presented in your music and its resonation throughout the scope of budding artists its indeed discouraging. It’s as if the entire genre’s been consumed by a void of island beats, swallowed whole by the thoughtful strumming of acoustic guitars, haunted by the vocal harmonies of Dennis Wilson.

Like a lost love scorched into mental imagery, each new artist resembles you so firmly that your grasp feels inescapable. Distortion and voices like boiling nails seem to have gone the way of the dodo and nineties goatee. What was once a pentameter for youth and social dissatisfaction is now a gentle hum heard only by curmudgeonly critics; the dying wail of a musical age nearing the end of its evolutionary cycle.

I’ve no choice but to blame you, Fleet Foxes. The popularization of timid indie folk intersects with your critical acclaim; its summit yet to be reached, its bounds yet to be determined. How many more bands consisting of all acoustic guitars must we suffer? How long will unkempt beards continue to sculpt the face of indie rock? When will we return to an indie vein that ceases to be simply another artistic archetype? It is indeed the opinion of this writer, that the term ‘indie rock’ has become synonymous with ‘harmonizing pseudo-hippies backed by a replicant Paul Simon’.

If listening to angry and depressing music is perceived as a hinderance to cultural ascension, I will gladly dwell at the bottom. Alone if need be.

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Rdio Vs. Spotify

spotify-rdioRdio pretty much came out of an alternate dimension where people don’t use Spotify, and its effect on the streaming music industry is nothing short of remarkable. So remarkable that I found myself blindsided by  numerous ‘what do you think about the new Rdio program’ questions to which I had no knowledge or prescribed response. As someone who had their eye on Spotify while it was still only available in the UK, I imagined that either Rdio had a better marketing department than Spotify (since despite my constant praise, still seems underused) or it was a far superior program. Results extracted from a somewhat thorough investigation were less than groundbreaking, and readers may find the final verdict as mundane as choosing between Hulu and Netflix. Maybe even less relevant. Anyway, here they are.

Availability

Both Spotify and Rdio are available in a number of counties, and restrictions don’t typically come into play. This is of course coming from someone who has never left the United States, but on a global scale, both programs are essentially congruous. The signup process is also similar in that both applications prefer data mining your social network accounts, but it’s possible to sign up for without the use of these given the right level of pertinence. Left is Rdio, Right is Spotify. Since my reading area is relatively small, click to see full-sized images.

rdio-mapspot-map

 

 

Interface

Spotify’s interface represents something similar to a secondary music player, while Rdio acts more like a website. I prefer the Spotify interface due to the fact that A. I know how to use it, and B. I enjoy its similarity to iTunes, which is what I used before the whole advent of the (quality) online streaming music programs. In what will be a common occurrence in this piece, the interface is essentially a point of preference. The only major difference is the fact that Spotify behaves like an app, while Rdio behaves like a website. In terms of functionality, the interfaces are virtually identical.

SSRdioSSSpotify

Online and Offline Playback

As a longtime Spotify user, I’ll admit that their mobile platform is less than impressive. Difficult to navigate at times and a ‘available offline’ button that requires marine sniper-like precision can be a hindrance, which is something that Rdio does a good job of addressing. The Rdio mobile platform is attractive and easier to navigate, and also allows the storage of a bajillion songs as opposed to Spotify’s limit of 3,333 available tracks. For most people, this won’t make a whole lot of difference, but the Spotify limitations are definitely notable. Both platforms have similar synchronization and playback options, but Rdio has the clear edge, especially when viewed on a tablet device.

rdio-mobile

Music Library

This is arguably the most important element to consider, and one that both programs are closely matched in. During my time spent investigating track availability, I found that both platforms had similar libraries, but might have different versions here and there. This isn’t all that surprising, since my thought is that most artists submit their albums to the companies independently. The only major difference I found is that the search is a bit more fickle for Rdio, and it may be necessary to choose the correct tab in order to find the track or album you’re looking for. For example, finding “Think I Need it Too” by Echo and the Bunnymen on Spotify is as simple as typing it into the search bar, while on Rdio, the returned results will be completely non-sequiter unless the search is narrowed using the proper tab. Spotify gets the edge here, but only because I’m so extremely lazy that the extra click gives me twitchy eye. Most individuals with any sort of  motivation won’t find this to be a hindrance, but may not be able to find certain songs if they are unaware of who sings it or the exact title of the song.

SpotEchoRdioEcho

Price and Subscription

It’s not surprising that both programs have similar pricing plans and accessibility. Spotify might be the seminal program in terms of subscription functionality, and it appears as though Rdio followed in its footsteps. Unlimited web-based playback will cost $4.99 a month, and mobile streaming will cost $9.99 for both services. The main difference is in the free versions. Spotify is free from now to infinity provided you don’t mind listening to intermittent nails-on-chalkboard advertisements, while Rdio only gives a certain number of monthly playbacks before you’re put in timeout. In addition, Rdio only let’s users leech for a certain amount of time before they require users to put a ring on it or get the fuck out. This really doesn’t factor too much into the decision in my opinion, as the free versions are both pretty annoying. Although if I were adamant about being frugal and didn’t listen to streaming music during every waking moment, the Rdio version might be a better choice given the infuriating nature of advertisements. As far as i can tell, Rdio is completely ad-free.

spotify-pricerdio-price

TL;DR

Spotify and Rdio are pretty similar in virtually every way, with a few slight variations. Users will essentially receive the same service for the same price, with the statically relevant difference being the mobile platform and interface itself. I suppose extrapolation could lead to the fact that Rdio seems to be the preferred medium for whatever reason, so individuals interested in hearing what other people are listening to might find better social interaction with Rdio. If you’ve already build your online snob reputation using Spotify, stick with it, but if you’d prefer riding the wave of the next cool thing, Rdio is not a bad way to begin your online musical journey. On that note, Spotify is more largely based in social media, but it’s pretty evident that Rdio is not only in the midst of employing the same strategy, but might already be as socially relevant as Spotify in that department.

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Apparently in the UK there’s a prestigious Mercury Award, something that the quintessential shoegaze pioneers My Bloody Valentine can’t win. Their latest release since the nostalgic Loveless titled MBV is not eligible for the prize since it was released independently on the My Bloody Valentine Website. For music lovers, this is an unfortunate turn of events, since the album itself is actually pretty good despite the long wait. According to  Mercury Prize guidelines, albums must have a digital and physical distribution deal in the UK in order to be eligible for the prize.

In a recent article published in the Guardian, My Bloody Valentine frontman Kevin Shields had some harsh criticisms for the Mercury Prize stating that “It’s interesting to learn that to be as independent as we are is … virtually illegal”. Shields also added that “there are sinister forces at work.” in terms of who received Mercury Prize nominations. And while it’s somewhat surprising that a musician able to thrive in relative obscurity for all of these years would be upset (or surprised) at the conventions of publicized music awards, his point is nevertheless a valid one.

The MBV album achieved a fair amount of commercial success despite being released independently and represents a popular vein of distribution among independent artists. Many will recall the album In Rainbows being released on the Radiohead website, with a sticker price of whatever the hell buyers were willing to pay. Many individuals discouraged with what is an obvious shitstorm in terms of the distribution of music saw this as a way to ebb corporate control over art led by the ever-vigilant and pissy UK rockers. It’s great that My Bloody Valentine has the savvy and perseverance to release their works independently, but nevertheless, it should come as no surprise that they are barred from receiving a music award that (I would suspect) is driven by corporate  entities.

I suppose what bothers Shields and should bother a lot of fans is the fact that MBV simply not existing within the scope of the Mercury Prize  makes the bias a bit too obvious. Surprising to nobody is the fact that a lot of good art goes unnoticed due to lack of exposure, but  MBV simply doesn’t fall into that category. Most individuals can not only pick the name “My Bloody Valentine” out of a lineup, but many can pick out their sound as well, especially after the industry was recently reintroduced to the band.

Ignoring the achievement of their latest release is a pretty weak move from an award that is apparently nice to have on the shelf. Who knows, maybe Mercury just didn’t like the cut of the MBV album’s jib and the harshly-worded criticisms are simply a way to vent the frustration that often comes from a lack of recognition. To classify MBV as not as good as Loveless is fair, to classify it as a bad album is up for debate, to deny its existence is pure madness.

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