ShindoTV’s iTunes Download of the Week

Around the same time Style Council’s Confessions of a Pop Group was released on iTunes, the Jam’s Snap! was also made available, this time in its entirety. Paul Weller‘s earliest and perhaps most definitive aspect of his career, The Jam took on a mod identity (much like the Who and Small Faces during the 1960’s) for a new generation of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, and their music shared affinities for power pop, punk rock, sixties rock, and Motown and Stax soul.

While there are many Jam compilations out there, Snap! is the most comprehensive of the collections, offering the hits such as “The Modern Word,” “That’s Entertainment,” and the R&B swansong “Beat Surrender,” and giving the listeners what other anthologies may or may not offer, such as “Man in the Corner Shop” and “Absolute Beginners” (one of my all-time favorites). Here, the listener can follow the Jam’s evolution and see how they went from playing like the Beatles and the Who to the soul style foreshadowing Weller’s work with the Style Council and his solo career. An absolute must for any fan of Paul Weller and/or the Jam, but also a great introduction to anyone discovering this legendary band’s music for the first time.

Also on the iPod
While these albums may have been on my iPod for a while, they deserve some mention.

Lloyd Cole, Antidepressant. The brainy and handsome Lloyd Cole has long toiled in obscurity, whether with his band from the 1980’s, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions, or his own solo work. The follow-up to Music in a Foreign Language, Antidepressant shows Cole as literate and artful as ever, ranging from Leonard Cohen-eque ballads (“NYC Sunshine”), witty story songs with some jangle (“Antidepressant”), and the memorable closer “Rolodex Incident,” which highlights the more instrumental aspect of Cole’s music. Antidepressant is a mature album by Cole, definitely one that won’t be dated in years to come.

Wilco, Sky Blue Sky. Putting behind the Radiohead-ish experimentation of Yankee Foxtrot Hotel and A Ghost Is Born, Wilco‘s latest effort is anything but ordinary. However, their dabbling with the sonic palette in those previous releases pays off in Sky Blue Sky. Most of the songs may be slower paced and more conventionally structured, but you can’t ever accuse Wilco of being boring. Sky Blue Sky may be one of their most country albums in a while (as evident in “Impossible Germany”), but definitely not in the same class as the commercial monstrosities that define country music.

Smashing Pumpkins, “Tarantula.” One of the 1990’s most interesting acts, Billy Corgan and company managed to defy genres in an era heavily fixated on them. Synthesizing heavy metal, goth, power pop, and new wave into something uniquely theirs, the Pumpkins were heavily prolific with their dramatic style. After an eight year absence, Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, and company teases old fans and a new generation of listeners with “Tarantula,” a song off the upcoming album Zeitgeist (due tomorrow). Reminiscent of “Bullet and Butterfly Wings” off Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, “Tarantula” shows the Smashing Pumpkins can compete with contemporary, but comparable bands such as Muse.

Use for Ex-Roomate’s Socks

I certainly wouldn’t wear an ex-roomate’s socks. However, I would cut the foot off and sew up the end to make a sheath for my iPod. I’ve done it with my old socks and I always get, “You should sell them.” Well, that’s a great idea except my handicrafts are more a reaction to what’s out on the market: I can stitch and I’m too cheap to buy an iPod sock.

Featured on Helium: My article on iPod

I write articles for Helium, which is really cool. This gives writers an opportunity to put their writing out there and contribute to collective knowledge. Wikipedia also affords a similiar opportunity; however, it is an encyclopedia and the writing and the anonymity of the writer reflects that. At Helium, the nature of writing is freelance and the writer has an opportunity to build their portfolio in their name.

Sometime ago, I wrote an article giving a complete guide to the iPod. While I only wrote under a thousand words, I gave all the information a user would need if they wanted to buy an iPod. Plus, my enthusiasm for the product is very evident.

Today, my article is featured on Helium’s main page. Scroll down and look for the category “Consumer Electronics.” My article is rated #1 of nine, which is a good feeling indeed. Check it out.

iPod for the Bathroom

This perhaps marks the end of the bathroom books. I was at Fry’s Electronics with a friend this afternoon and I can’t believe what I saw: an iPod dock with a toilet paper holder. If you have to take a dump, you can always bring your music with you. I suppose it can provide music for the shower as well.

While I couldn’t stop laughing about the device, it has some good features. It has a standard dock for the video iPod and Nano. There is also a place to put the Shuffle (1st generation), which most docks don’t have.

Having an iPod dedicated for the bathroom may be a good idea. Just wash your hands before and after use.

Article on the iPod vs. Zune issue

After reviewing the Zune Player yesterday, I Googled “iPod vs. Zune” and found a few results. “10 iPod vs. Zune Myths” on Roughly Drafted is most revealing and fascinating about the issues. Read the 10 myths and let me know what you think. Also, check out the links at the end of the article on this issue.

I mentioned that the Zune had a brown option, which gets lambasted in the Roughly Drafted articles. Brown may appeal to some people as a fashion color, while to others it is the most unappealing choice in the world. It should not be too difficult to see why.

iPod vs. Zune

Everytime I’ve visited a Target during the past couple of weeks, I noticed the Zune Player, Microsoft’s answer to the iPod. A friend of mine also got a Zune for Christmas, and I had the opportunity to closely look at his yesterday. I’m a Mac guy and a devoted iPod enthusiast, so I’m biased. The Zune is approximately close to the iPod in shape and size (which is as small as a deck of playing cards) and colorwise matches the iPod in black and white. For those who would like the Zune to be more coordinated with their wardrobes, there is also a brown option. And then there are the accessories designed to go along with the Zune: car kits, covers, etc.

Right now, the Zune is only supported by Microsoft platforms such as Windows XP and Vista. Since iPod and iTunes have become ubiquitous in the PC realm, the Zune is Microsoft’s attempt to reclaim the PC market from Apple. It will be a matter of time before Microsoft turns its attention to the Mac world and make the Zune more cross-platform. Just as MS Office for Mac is fabulous, the Mac supported version of Zune will most likely be a superior version of its PC sibling.

Here are the pros of the Zune I’ve been able to observe:

  • Customizable desktop. One can use a variety of default backgrounds or use one of their picture files to make the screen uniquely theirs.
  • Flexible screen design. The screen can show an image in a portrait or landscape format. The default screen design is portrait, but pictures and videos can be viewed in landscape, giving the Zune the advantage of screen space.
  • Built-in FM radio. If listening to MP3’s becomes tiresome, one can tune into one’s favorite radio station. To listen to FM radio on the iPod, an accessory is needed.
  • Wireless capability. This enables the user to share music with other nearby Zune users.

Now here are the cons:

  • Primitive controls. The Zune is where iPod was in its infancy. The controls are buttons for the most part. There are two main buttons, one for the menu and one for play/pause. What looks like a dial with a clicker is not so. The dial is more of a four point clicker, which form and function really don’t go together here.
  • Only one size option. The Zune so far only has a 30 GB option, which matches the best-selling model of the iPod. There isn’t the option to go bigger or smaller, depending on the needs of the listener. There isn’t anything comparable to the 60 or 80 GB iPod, nor the flash drive easiness or small capacity of the Shuffles or the Nanos.
  • Limited to one type of operating system (e.g. ones by MS). I’ve discussed this issue above before going into the pros and cons.

I haven’t had the opportunity to look closely at the Zune software or the Marketplace (useless at this point since I have a Mac). iTunes Store offers the option to purchase music from its site similar to how one buys music from a music store like Sam Goody or Virgin, except there is the option to buy songs only and not the entire album. Zune Marketplace, from what I can gather from the site, has individual purchase options like iTunes, but there is also the Pass option. This operates more akin to a music club. With a pass to the Marketplace ($14.99 a month), one can dowload as many songs as they want. As long as a user holds a subscription to the Pass program, the songs they download are theirs. There must be some code that disables the songs if the user doesn’t renew their subscription.

While there is much that can be said about the proprietary nature of the iTunes Store, I’m not sure if I like the proprietary nature of the Pass system. Sharing iTunes purchased music is extremely limited, so the ability to file share more freely with Zune is appealing. On the surface, it sounds like there are no strings attached, but the subscription may hold more strings than the iTunes purchase ever had.

I still like my iPod. I have a couple. While the interface isn’t as pretty as that of the Zune, there is something to be said about simplicity. I can easily navigate through the menu options, and, more importantly, I can read the text without distraction. The click wheel, which has definitely evolved since the iPod’s introduction, is sensous and elegant. The dial is tactile and the clicking points are well integrated. I’m glad the iPod no longer has seperate buttons or a more mechanical wheel. The options of the iPod are the best thing about it. I can get a 30 or 80 GB iPod to store my music library, but if I want something more portable that can take some punishment, I can use a Shuffle or a Nano for music on the go. Good for a walk, a workout, or a drive.