Five Apps Music-Loving Houstonians Need

Categories: Digitalia

Will Smith sings the praises of Loopy on a recent Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.
When you are a music aficionado, the Apple vs. Android debate doesn't matter much so long as you have access to your jams. Since these folks no doubt already have apps like Spotify or Pandora, here are a few unique apps that both rappers and rockers will find intriguing. Whether you feel like rocking out or creating rock (or rap) of your own, there's something here for you.

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Hashtags Are Officially #Over. So Now What?

Photo by Marco Torres
Jennifer Lopez, shown in 2012, hopped on the hashtag bandwagon with 2013's "#liveitup."
PREVIOUSLY: Why #Hashtags Are So Damned Irresistible to Record Companies

This social sphere of readily available media makes it easier for artists to reach their fans on a whole new level, but it also makes those fans able to reach other things with just the click of a button which in turn lessens the modern day music listener's attention span by a pretty big percentage.

The only way Katy Perry's new #smash would benefit from its hashtag would be if her listeners constantly banded together and sent out thousands of tweets about the song to make #smash a trending topic on Twitter, which we all know people besides her diehard KatyCats would not do.

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Why #Hashtags Are So Damned Irresistible to Record Companies

Photo by davitydave via Flickr
This "human hashtag" is proof that even a great idea can get out of hand.
Picture this: you are in a Capitol Records executive meeting. Katy Perry is sitting at the table with her big shot manager L.A. Reid right next to her. It's the final meeting before the label drops the press release announcing Katy's huge comeback single, and there are papers with different versions of the single cover scattered all around the table, white boards with graphs predicting one of the largest first week sales in music history, and Ms. Perry with pen in hand, ready to sign the papers that will give the label the "go."

But right before she touches pen and paper, a scruffy intern with three empty cans of Red Bull next to him stands up with the most groundbreaking look on his face. "Wait, wait, wait everyone...should we add a hashtag?"

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Is Aphex Twin Up to His Old Tricks Again?

The cover of Aphex Twin's Richard D. James album, released in 1996
When Richard D. James stated to a reporter that he possesses a vault of over 1,000 songs, fans never doubted his claim; they, however, wished for him to dump out the entire treasure trove of buried gems all at once.

Be careful what you wish for, especially from Mr. James himself.

One of music's sacred tricksters, James has pulled clever pranks on an industry which prides itself on profitable marketing templates used by artists ad nauseam. Large costumed bears resembling stuffed animals with Richard D. James' face once danced onstage while James lazily laid on the floor, comfortably resting on his elbow while manipulating sounds from his laptop, surrounded by well-sculpted female bodybuilders. Music-industry representatives watched on puzzled by Aphex Twin's performance, or lack thereof, wondering if he cared at all about his equally puzzled audience.

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Five Brand-New Houston Acts on Bandcamp Worth Hearing

Anywhere from 250 to 1,000 new songs, mixes, EPs and albums are uploaded to Bandcamp every day. Investigate the tag "Houston" on the site alone, and the numbers are likewise staggering.

With so many musicians from Hustletown attempting to plant their flag in the 713, discerning good from bad becomes increasingly difficult. In the past, listeners too often relied on corporate imprinting, music journalism and word of mouth to declare a band worthy of 30 to 60 minutes of our lives. But today we no longer have to rely on limited resources and self-professed experts to choose what to listen to.

Here is this month's batch of (almost) random selections from Houston artists on the verge of emerging from Bandcamp's virtual black hole.

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A Few of the Best Hip-hop Emojis Ever Created

Categories: Digitalia

Screen Caption Hi-Art app
If the Ghostface Killah emoji pack doesn't express your inner most thoughts, then something's wrong with you.

So how is your emoji game?

Everyone knows about the evolution of emojis, those symbols of our thoughts that reveal what's in our souls by way of email, text messages and social media conversations. They've gone from punctuation smiley faces :-) (Known as smiley's or emoticons) to a graphic pieces of steaming (or smiling) excrement.

According to the website which tracks new emoji characters, there are 722 standardized emoji characters in use right now across Apple, Windows and Android platforms. And there are plenty more on the way.

As New York Magazine reported in November the world of emoji is growing, and adding more confusing ways for us to communicate. Call it a death of words if you will, but most of us get the message.

"These new emoji range from obviously useful ones like Cloud With Rain and Dark Sunglasses to questionably useful ones like Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended to frankly bizarre ones like Man in Business Suit Levitating ."

But how many of the new crop of emojis are music-related?

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8 Songs Inspired by Castlevania

Categories: Digitalia

Super Castlevania IV
There aren't a lot of games that can hold up their musical legacy like Castlevania can. It's easily in the top five of series that were able to produce memorable soundtracks. The fun thing is that as people who were kids playing the games have grown up they've taken those songs with them into careers as musicians. So today we're going to look at sons that wouldn't have existed without Castlevania

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Meet George West: Bang Bangz Drummer Plays First Solo Show

Categories: Digitalia

Photo by Marcelo QuiƱones
Vik Montemayor is best known as the solid and smooth drummer for Bang Bangz, Houston's increasingly popular ethereal electronica act. Earlier this year, though, Montemayor began branching out with a solo act called George West, and tomorrow night will be the first chance Houstonians will have to see him in this capacity.

"It's just going to be a cool warehouse party," says Montemayor. "It'll be cold, so the music will be a good match for that. Trip-hoppy and downtempo."

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Local Musicians Unimpressed by Stars' Outcry Over Streaming

Categories: Digitalia

Photo courtesy of Nick Greer
If rock stars are upset with streaming-based systems of music delivery, says Houston's Nick Greer, "let them sell one of their houses."
In the September issue of Esquire, Gene Simmons declared that rock and roll was dead, slayed by file sharing and an entitled public ear. Then, in October, Iggy Pop criticized U2 for setting a standard that music should be free, not to mention forcing its latest release onto unsuspecting iPhone owners. And just last week, Taylor Swift removed almost her entire catalog of music from Spotify, only four months after penning an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal in which she stated that "piracy, file-sharing and streaming have shrunk the numbers of paid album sales drastically."

Most end-users would agree that file-sharing is the future, but the transition hasn't been as smooth for the artists who are trying to make a living. During the John Peel lecture at the Radio Festival, even the godfather of punk Iggy Pop admitted that he'd be bartending in between performances if he had to live off the proceeds from his record sales.

Local funk man Nick Greer, however, thinks that it's out with the old and in with the new. The only people he has heard complaining about file-sharing are the artists who had careers before file sharing existed.

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Angel Olsen at Fitzgerald's, 11/5/2014

Categories: Digitalia

Photos by Ivan Guzman
Angel Olsen, Lionlimb
November 5, 2014

Angel Olsen has a gaze so piercing that watching her even from far away makes you feel like you are being stared down by a friend, a lover, and an enemy all at the same time. Watching her perform, and I mean really watching her, can almost feel like you are looking way down into the depths of her soul.

If you were to listen to her debut full-length Half Way Home or her 2014 effort Burn Your Fire For No Witness alone in your room at night with headphones on, you're sure to get the same chilling feeling. The Missouri-based singer songwriter's defining trait is the ability to apply her hushed, fragile voice on top of any background music she pleases and still make the deep, longing emotion in her voice the thing that stands out.

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