All posts filed under “Lifestyle

Depicting things that have an impact culturally.

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RJNjr table & chair is a delightful twist to Fake Babies Dirty Soul

In keeping with the unique tones from his dirty soul brethren, Fake Babies, New Haven, CT’s own RJNjr (aka Robert James Nuzzello, Jr.) releases his solo album titled ‘table & chair’. For those of you out there who’ve never heard the local group known as Fake Babies, then you’re missing some great stuff!

Borrowing a line from my last interview with Nuzzello’s group explains their style of music in a nutshell.

“Dirty Soul is a poisonous cocktail of alternative, pop, psychedelic, soul, and electronic.”

So on Nuzzello’s ‘table & chair’ you get a hint of that but in a softer, gentler tone. It carries the same rawness like his work with his band mates, but honesty and vulnerability not seen on most Fake Babies records. It’s the beginning of RJNjr growing as an artist, all on his own.

My favorite tracks is Carriage House and $500.

Carriage House is sneaky, because it’s really a pop song to me but in the most unconventional way.   The guitar and general tone of the track reminds of Prince’s “Darling Nikki.” I know, I know, huge comparison but hopefully you get my drift when you listen. $500 is pure funk, as you can here the jazzy bass rifts climax in the background, slightly behind Robert’s vocals. It’s just dope.

You can grab the seven track album on Bandcamp, and it’s worth the $4 that’s being asked for as it delivers a pure, unique sound that’s not shared by many artists. You have to listen to this more than once to thoroughly appreciate it.

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Ember is Pinterest for design

I am kind of embarrassed to admit that I have taken a liking to Pinterest as of late. It allows me to organize recipes for dinners, home-brew beer recipes and funny t-shirt designs. That however is where it ends for me. In a very similar fashion I use Pocket to save all the stories I don’t have time to read or want to save for future reference.

But what about design work or websites I like? Well, that is where Ember comes in.

Created by the same folks who brought us Clear (the easiest and best looking list app ever), Ember is the digital scrapbook for those who need one.  Ember is all about making it easy to collect, organize and share the things you care about. It is the Pinterest you have always wanted and probably need. More than random boards it is a system that allows for things to be moved around and actually be used.

From full website screenshots to organizing gifs, PDF’s and PSDs the app is a powerhouse. It also allows for easy annotations and sharing.

The bottom line is the app is pricy. Coming in at $49.99 on the Mac and $4.99 for iOS the price is the only reason it isn’t for everyone. As much I find Pinterest useful it is all deeply lacking. If you work in design or want to share a well displayed project Ember is the only way to go.

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Editorial: Major record labels continue to trick artists to hate Spotify and others like it

I’ve grown tired of the propaganda machine that is major record labels. They’re traditional form of making money off the backs of artists is dated — and they know it — despite the obvious continued decline in CD and MP3 album sales.

Since the inception of music streaming services including Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and others; the record label suits controlling all the music publishing rights have made it their mission to gin up hatred from uninformed musicians against these very services trying to help keep money in their pockets.

I touched briefly on similar hate of the internet music companies last year (Pandora hits milestone of 200M users: gives artists another reason to hate them).

See, many musicians have been programmed to believe there’s some hidden treasure being kept away from them by the music streaming providers. More importantly, musicians think these services are contributing to the slow downward spiral that is album sales (MP3’s and CD’s).

For example, America’s sweetheart Taylor Swift, is in a public dispute with Spotify after pulling her entire music catalog off the most popular streaming platform. She started by not including her new hit album ‘1989‘. However, to be fair, similar tactics have been done by other artists as well.

Last year Beyoncé dropped her hugely successful self-titled album, and in the process intentionally blocked out millions of paid subscribers on Spotify, Rdio, and others from streaming the entire album (till this very day you still can only stream Drunk In Love and XO, which is so corny).

(Note: I continue to use Spotify as an example because they lead the music streaming industry in paid subscribers. Personally, I use Rdio).

What has become clear to me is how little these streaming services get in profit, compared to what the majors receive. It’s believed that the Spotify’s, Rdio, and Pandora’s of the world barely collect 30 percent, while labels (master recording and publishing rights holders) get back 70. Streams only account for $0.006 and $0.0084 per play.

On Spotify’s site it’s clearly explained how the pie is split between them and the rights holders.

“Once Spotify has paid a rights owner the total royalties due for their accumulated streams, that label or publisher pays each artist according to that artist’s contractual royalty rates.”

So in other words, if you’re an artist, who feels like you’re being raped (figuratively, of course), you should first take that up with your label.

But in the same vein, Spotify gives Independent artists back 100 percent through the company’s aggregator partners. So the obvious clear choice is to go Independent if you want more money.

So I ask: where is this imaginary trove of cash music streaming services is “keeping” from artists signed to major recording labels? The math simply doesn’t add up.

This is the classic bait and switch that’s been excellently pulled off by major record companies. The goal is to make a villain out of the innovation that music streaming providers bring to the music business, to scare people into continuing to follow the old guard which is buying CD’s. Obviously, musicians make more through that standard, but their rulers (master recording and publishing rights holders) make a lot more.

This thing isn’t rocket science. If musicians want to continue to fight a new wave of making money through music, then it will only be disastrous for them in the long run. People will begin pirating their work even more. What many artists fail to understand is music streaming providers help prevent some of the pirating by giving those same folks “an all you can eat” service for just $9.99 a month.

It’s really clever for recording companies if you think about it. Distract musicians from what really is the issue, and that’s: labels hoarding the majority of the profits for themselves.

Feature Image: Gerran.Howell

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Girl In A Thunderbolt to drop psychedelic Own Your Bones EP November 24th

Not many artists are brave enough to tackle the psychedelic sound. For attempting such a feat, you can either be a genius or a complete train wreck (trust me, I’ve heard both!). However on the Own Your Bones EP, Girl In A Thunderbolt dares to do what most can’t — and pulls it off.

Now that I think about, out of all the indie stuff I’ve heard, Fake Babies is the only ones who made psychedelic sound good enough for closed-minded music fans to be interested in (those who are uninformed).

Own Your Bones has four tracks: Sayonara My Lover, Turn It Back, All That Glitters, and Silver Phoenix. 

The opening track Sayonara My Lover has a really interesting sound; a sound that’s almost haunting when paired with a battle-cry chant for a chorus.

“I took myself, I shook myself, like thunder to the core / I took myself, I broke myself, and slammed her on the floor / And I know I ain’t ever going back there no more / Sayonara my lover, you won’t see me anymore” 

“Sock it to you daddy, you’re a muthafucka.”

The next track Turn It Back sounds like it should be on James Bond soundtrack. The chords playing throughout the song are hypnotic, it’s something Jim Morrison of the Doors would probably be proud of.

Girl In A Thunderbolt (GIAT) slows it down on the third song with All That Glitters. GIAT turns off the psychedelic, and gives something more pure, beautiful with this acoustic melody. Something you can vibe to when you’re chilling from a long days of work.

Things pick back up with Silver Phoenix. This is a kick-ass punk rock track, with psychedelic undertones — of course. It’s just so damn addictive. It has a mainstream sound that carries a special underground grit. It’s the perfect theme song for rebels.

“I live the life that’s meant for me”

All in all, I was impressed by this EP. Even after writing this review I still found myself casually playing it (which isn’t always the case).

Unfortunately, the album won’t release until November 24th, but you can pre-order it in iTunes and Amazon (link in cover art below). Go check it out!

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Fantastical reigns supreme when it comes to mobile calendars

As much as I love the Apple ecosystem, I despise their poor excuse for a calendar app. It is bulky, confusing and just plain ugly. I need my calendar. I need it to work but I also need it to get out-of-the-way. Calendaring should be easy, not a chore.

In a world filled with calendar app options it is easy to get lost. There are some really nice options that are free but like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Fantastical is different. It understands its role and executes it perfectly. It doesn’t want to over power you but rather allow you and that all comes by being minimal.

On iOS the app is just gorgeous. From the minimal design to the light font the app is in a class of its own. Fantastical displays a running list of what you have going on and offers the option to integrate your iOS based reminders to that list. The top of the app gives you a week ticker and simple swipe down displays your monthly view. No confusing layouts, no condensed views, just your week or month with an easy to navigate list below it.

If that was all Fantastical for iOS was it would still be my favorite, but luckily it doesn’t end there. Fantastical offers the easiest and fastest way to input events and that is true across all platforms. Typing in something like “Write a review for Fantastical for The Trendaholic on November 7th at 10:21am” creates an event with all the information put in the right places. No wonky sliders, not searching for days and times only to find out you put it as an AM task when it was a PM task. It just works and it has forever ruined me for all other Calendar apps.

The Mac app lives in your menu bar and is always a click away. It gets out-of-the-way and yet is always accessible. When the app is opened it displays your month view and a list just like the iOS apps. I cannot stress enough how incredible it is to have this information quickly available without it overwhelming your screen . Again, the natural language input only takes it to the next level.

Fantastical for iPhone is $2.99, the iPad version is $7.99 and the Mac version is $9.99

Mega Emotion
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MEGA EMOTION Uncomfortable single drops December 1st

Mega Emotion, an UK-based indie band, was kind enough to drop me off an early release of their new single ‘Uncomfortable’. Just some quick background on this group. The band is made up by two ladies and one gentlemen, who bring powerful electronics and synth sounds that resemble something reminiscent to the 80’s.

In the new single ‘Uncomfortable’ I got a bit of a Gary Numan feel to it on its synth sound (if you didn’t listen to the album The Pleasure Principle, then you wouldn’t understand). Of course the single is more modern than that album, but you get my drift.

Unfortunately, Mega Emotion won’t be releasing this track to the public until December 1st so you’ll have to just take my word for it that it’s worth a listening to. Be on the look out for it on their SoundCloud page.

They also treated me to a track called LIB, which is a Madonna cover with a nice grittiness to it. The track presents a more international sound that many sub cultures can vibe to, and I can honestly see an MC rhyme on it to give it a more original sound.

In the end, this band is worth getting behind and supporting so hit up all their music links and social contacts below!

Again, keep an eye out for their new single Uncomfortable on December 1.

SHOWS

November 29 – Ladyfest @ The Redhouse SHEFFIELD
January 7 – Fortuna Pop Winter Sprinter @ The Lexington LONDON

Listen: www.soundcloud.com/megaemotio
Follow: www.twitter.com/megaemotion
Like: www.facebook.com/megaemotionband
Watch: www.youtube.com/megaemotionband
Buy: http://megaemotion.bandcamp.com/