Monday, July 10, 2017

River of Streams: New Music January - June 2017



I haven't posted since my June 5th blog on Ryan Adams, but I'm now back after listening to a ton of new music that has come out from January-June of this year. I've been gathering, shifting and putting together a playlist of now 73 of my favorite new (or newly recorded) songs to share with you from a core list of artists. Growing up in the 1960's and 70's, the album was king and I want to still embrace that. Here are my Top 5 mid-year picks.
  1. Jason Isbell - The Nashville Sound
  2. Ryan Adams - Prisoner
  3. Dan Auerbach - Waiting on a Song and,
  4. Natalie Hemby - Puxico
  5. Sheryl Crow - Be Myself
If you follow my blog you know you're going to get a good dose of Americana music (as reflected in my picks above), but I've got rock, pop, blues and jazz gems to share in this blog as well. I like to think I've developed an eclectic palette for music over the years and I guess that goes along with my indulgences with food and drink as well. I'm banking that you also like to mix it up and not just listen to one genre of music like all the narrow programmed radio and streamed stations out there. Beyond NPR and some college stations , I just had to let radio go...


This leads me to my latest listening habits from the DELIVERY side of the music industry and thoughts of my convenience and dealing with CD's and MP3's from buying, ripping and even storing music. You see, I want the technology to work better for me on my ongoing streaming quest for easy access to music. So, In the last six months I've developed two priorities for my music listening pleasure.
  1. I want any song or album available to me on all my devices anywhere, anytime; and,
  2. I want to save money with my music dollar.
In the past, I've tried and dropped iTunes, Pandora, Spotify and Sirius. I then started creating a MP3 musical vault of all my CD's and new purchases on a backup hard drive and loaded them all onto my phone for offline listening in the car or on a jog. Not a bad plan, but a bit of a hassle to get everything to my phone. What I discovered was that it wasn't enough. I didn't have to listen to FM radio in the car, but I (only) had about 3000 offline songs. I had essentially created my own narrow band music station and found myself hitting skip, skip, skip on the car steering wheel button! What I needed was at least 25,000 songs to get to that wide and endless river of deep music cuts. Believe me, when you get into your 60's you want to hear songs that you've never heard before.


So last Christmas, Mary Kit got me/us the Amazon Echo. We are already Amazon Prime members ($99 per year) and decided to get Amazon Music Unlimited. If you are an Amazon Prime member, Amazon Music Unlimited is $79.00 a year or $6.58 a month. I buy at least one CD a month (say $9.99) so, if I started using Amazon Music Unlimited and stopped buying CD's, I'd be ahead money wise. Not only that, For the price of one CD, I really get unlimited music (Amazon says, "tens of millions" songs) on my computer, phone and Echo and that meets my two requirements above!


So with the Amazon Music app, you can do the following.
  1. Listen to the web app @ https://music.amazon.com/home
  2. Download the computer app to you Mac or PC
  3. Download the iPhone and iPad App @ iTunes or the Android Phone and Tablets App @ Google Play
  4. With Amazon Echo, you just ask, "Alexa, play Jason Isbell, The Nashville Sound." Alexa then plays the whole album. You can tell Alexa to "skip" and it goes to the next song, something my 5 year old granddaughter does all the time with her favorite movie soundtrack albums. Get the larger model ($179) shown here, it has a better speaker.
What is really cool about the iPhone/Android Phone Amazon Music app is that you can download songs to your phone and play them offline without using any of your data minutes from your phone carrier (thank you Shawna McIntosh for that tip)! The Amazon Music app stores the downloaded song in the app but just to let you know, it is not a MP3 or music file that you can then download to your computer hard drive. However, I've been doing a test by watching my data minute use while in the car or on that jog and so far, see no need to even download to the phone app as I've got plenty of data minutes left at the end of the month, yippee!


Here's a little brief of my music listening process these days and how I sometimes turn that into a blog.
  • I think about an artist or band I like and search that name in the Amazon Music app whether I'm using my computer or smartphone. Say it's, The Plimsouls. I view all their albums and hit the + sign to add an album and all its songs to MY MUSIC. As of this writing, I now have 250+ artists and comedians, 1868 albums, 25,061 songs in 46 genres. (I did it!)
  • For new material, I go to the HOME screen and go to NEW RELEASES and NEWLY RELEASED ALBUMS. Then, it's about how much time do you have?
  • For a blog, I usually search and listen to an album's songs in Amazon Music. Do I listen to every song start to finish, are you kidding? I probably listened to 50+ albums for this blog, it does take time, but for me, it's a treasure hunt. When you find a song or better yet, a new album with a bunch of good songs, I stop and smell the music, take it in and + it. 
  • For the album songs that make the cut, I then often go to YouTube and search for the artist and song. If the artist/band has a high quality audio recording video or better, a high quality session or concert song video, it then goes into my YouTube Playlist for the blog. Also, go to my blog about how to block YouTube advertisements just because you can!
So you're thinking, "dude's got a lot of time," maybe but it's a passion and hey, you took the time to read this, now maybe make the time to listen to my Playlists. At the least, I saved you some time with some excellent sorting and shifting of what I believe to be some damn good music and thanks for being a Monday Monday Music reader.

Now this particular Playlist below is a big one (multiple hours in the making), but I DON'T have crazy expectations that you're going to listen to every song. May I suggest my little technique for each song before you skip: play the beginning 15-20 seconds, if it hooks you continue listening, if not skip to the middle and then the last third of the song. You know what you like, but sometimes give a song a chance. For example, I've never been into fast and loud 3-chord headbanging rock, but bands like Japandroids are turning my ear their way. 

Enjoy this new music including several old songs newly recorded by different musicians! And, a special thank you to Glen Campbell for some really memorable songs!

Oh and one last thing, I'm thinking about buying a new turntable and starting to purchase a very "fine wine" collection of vinyl records again for that special sit down "smell and taste the music" time. I was reading somewhere that Elton John's Tumbleweed Connection had just been re-released on vinyl. I was telling my friend Mark this past week how I wore out Neil Young's After the Goldrush in my bedroom in 1970. I'm thinking I kind of want to come back around to that pure analog experience too!

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