SomaFM is great music to code to

 * @see
if (is_playing('somafm', array('Beat Blender', 'Digitalis', 'Cliqhop')))

When it comes to musical accompaniment for coding or really any work that requires focus, I can never find anything better than SomaFM, a network of listener-supported internet radio stations. Many of them are low-lyrics or no-lyrics, and all are chill and contemplative in their different ways. Also no ads, just the occasional beg for donations.

In addition to the iTunes-compatible streams they also have apps for iOS and even Mac (I usually use the Mac one, though it’s got some bugs).

Some days I wonder why I don’t get anything done, other days I remember to turn on SomaFM. Here are my favorite stations (descriptions from the SomaFM site):

Drone Zone

Drone Zone: ambient commercial-free radio from SomaFM Served best chilled, safe with most medications. Atmospheric textures with minimal beats.


Digitalis: electronica/alternative commercial-free radio from SomaFM
Digitally affected analog rock to calm the agitated heart.

cliqhop idm

cliqhop idm: electronica commercial-free radio from SomaFM
Blips’n’beeps backed mostly w/beats. Intelligent Dance Music.

Beat Blender

Beat Blender: electronica commercial-free radio from SomaFM
A late night blend of deep-house and downtempo chill.

Play the game AT THE GAY BAR.

Kleptones album cover for a night at the hip hoperaFound myself laughing out loud at this amazing Queen + Electric Six (“I wanna take you to a gay bar”) mashup. What an amazing contrast with undertones of awesomeness. Thanx Kleptones.

Mp3 Link.

Screaming, Nirvana and Hype Machine

animal collective portraitAnimal Collective – On a Plain (nirvana cover). You can hear the song at that link.

I’m not very familiar with the original nirvana track, but this cover just blows me away every time I hear it. Something about the thrumming guitar mixed with the random shouting just brings it home like crazy.

hype machine - blog musicFound with the amazing Hype Machine service, which aggregates temporary mp3 uploads posted to this big weird network of blogs where people are constantly posting music for each other. The result is a huge searchable database of songs that you can play in a ton of different ways (popup a player and play everything on the page, or just play one track).

If the song is fresh enough (posted to a blog in the last couple of days) you can also go to the blog and download it for keeps, but the whole thing seems to stay legal because the tracks can’t be downloaded after a certain amount of time has passed, so a lot of them can only be listened to and not downloded (hint: use the ‘latest tracks’ on the front page and you’ll be able to download anything you like). It’s not the best filesharing network in the world for stealing music, but it’s an amazing way to find new songs and it beats the hell out of the radio for surprising you with what you end up liking.

I’ve known about the site for awhile (it’s my first stop when I want to play something for someone and don’t have the mp3 on my computer, way faster than booting up Limewire or the like), hopefully it sticks around for a long time (and doesn’t get sued /woodknock)

[Animal Collective portrait from their myspace page.]

music videos

bright eyes video of the best day of my life Does anyone remember when music videos were really good, when you’d sit down and see something really amazing and thought provoking, something that would make you smile, and maybe cry a little? I guess it was never like that, but there’s always a few really great ones that sneak through the system and blow you away, they mostly just don’t play on the tv.

Normally I find I can take or leave Bright Eyes, but it seems like M. Oberst has been sneaking around when I wasn’t looking, producing amazing videos and not telling anybody. If you’re only going to watch a couple of videos this week make sure at least one of them is “The First Day of My Life”. If you have another three and a half minutes, check out “Lover I Don’t Have to Love”, if only because the artisanship involved in faithfully reproducing the karaoke aesthetic, in it’s unflattering entirety, is worthy of infinite respect and admiration.

Link to First Day of My Life (pictured above).

Link to Lover I Don’t Have to Love.
(both are on a site that uses embedded WMVs at 300k. If it doesn’t work google around and you should be able to find something that does.)

Those first two links suck ass. If you can handle RealMedia files then try these instead:
Lover I don’t have to Love
First Day of My Life

Better films involving ukuleles.

Screenshot from the coney island ukulele film.It may seem like I have a one-track mind here, but Psychedelic Play-Along Ukulele Films About Coney Island and Mermaids are very, very cool.

Also, while we’re at it, Jake Shimabukuro(link goes to another Midnight Ukulele Disco video) does insane things with only four strings and two octaves. He’s huge in Japan.
(thanks, Big T.)

Because I like it when people find me in Google

ukelele informationNoticing that I’ve been getting significant traffic from individuals seeking information concerning my new instrument, I’d like to share some of the good offerings I’ve come across on my journey towards Hawaiian enlightenment (and not just ironically adorable engrish sites). If you’re not interested in the ukulele just skip the rest.

Continue reading “Because I like it when people find me in Google”

The Mountain Goats – Why aren’t you listening yet?

the mountain goats - photo by jeremy clarkeI recently had my mind blown when learning that The Mountain Goats would be performing in Montreal (on the very day I learned it in fact). I then saw the most amazing show of my life. An artist deeply in love with every single chord and word emmanating from his mind. Songs about people you’d never want to meet or be, people you already love.

There’s a kind of stigma that exists around man+guitar acts, I guess it’s a combination of all the cheezy folk stuff out of the sixties and the mildly-retarded emo stuff that hit MTV recently. It’s like you have to be pretentious to think that you don’t need backup or something, maybe there’s some of that here, but there’s also a crushing humility. When he thanks the crowd, he means it, when he tells a story, it’s for the story’s sake, not his own.

Some great stuff is available on their mp3 page (I especially recommend Jam Eater Blues and Going to Bridlington). They are all very lo-fi, audio cassette has a flavor.

Further, they have the good sense to make recordings of their live performances sharable, and thus available at The Village Tavern recording is particularly good and fun, and could easily be said to include “the hits” (it’s available free and in all kinds of formats at that link, banter included).

life is too short to let it go to waste like this,
but i never tasted jam before that tastes like this.
and life is too short to refrain from eating jam out of the jar.
-The Mountain Goats, Jam Eater Blues