Author Archives: Alan Cross

The Joys of Floyd

October 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

[My column in today's Metro papers. -AC]

I fear for the future of high fidelity. With every passing month, we seem to be satisfied with sound that is merely good enough. Blame it on a decade of listening to squished MP3s through cheap ear buds.

In the Olden Days, my friends and I would descend upon stereo stores, pretending to be in the market for some new speakers. “Those JBLs look good. Could we hear them, my good man? And then let’s A-B them with those Cerwin-Vegas. No, no — the ones with the 15-inch woofers.”

Songs That Changed The World

October 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

[A thought-provoking piece from The Independent where musicians weigh in on songs that changed history. While you may not agree with their choices, the article at least makes you think about what other songs should be on this list. -AC]

The right song at the right time can change history’ said American folk singer, Pete Seeger’. And while Pete himself would admit he’s been wrong about some things – such as whether or not Stalin was a decent sort of fellow – on this point I’m inclined to agree with him. Think of all the occasions which have been affected or instigated by a popular song.

REM’s Seizure-Inducing Animated Album Cover

October 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

REM's 40-track greatest hits collection will be called Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage, 1982-2011 and is coming November 15th.  It's being pushed as having "the first-ever GIF album cover."

Before you click ahead, I warn you:  you will get very, very dizzy.


I Like This: Shit Robot

October 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Not for everyone, but there’s something interesting about this remix by Berlin’s Planningtorock.  If you like it, grab the guilt-free

U2’s Achtung Baby Reissue: Got Cash?

October 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Ever wonder why we're seeing all the re-releases of albums that are twenty years old?  It's because they're high-margin offerings the labels know people will pay for.  

The 20th anniverary reissue of Achtung Baby is no exception. And just so no one gets left out, there's tiered pricing which offers price points for all budgets--include a package for people expecting Wall Street-sized bonuses this year.

The Wife Says: A Luddite Curses Steve Jobs’ Legacy

October 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

[My actual wife.  She's just as sad as anyone about the passing of Steve Jobs.  Her issue is that her husband--me--tended to buy whatever Steve was selling. -AC]

Amidst all the glowing obits for Steve Jobs can I just say I will be paying for his legacy for the rest of my natural existence. By making gadgets that were shiny and elegant and consumer-friendly, he’s made my life a living hell.

How Many US-Made Guitars Are “Illegal?”

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

From Fox News:

It's as sweet a sound as you can imagine. A $10,000 guitar expertly crafted by the hands of Dave Berkowitz, a master luthier in Washington, D.C.

But Berkowitz's guitars include fretboards and bridges made from Indian rosewood and ebony, which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service declared to be illegal to import in its actions against Gibson Guitar back in August.

Now, every time Berkowitz uses that wood to build his immaculate instruments, he is potentially breaking the law.

10 Ways Steve Jobs Changed Music

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Steve Jobs was not only the best CEO of a generation, he was also a hardcore music geek.  That passion ended up changing everything for all of us. Here's how.

The Only Steve Jobs Story I Have

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

[I posted this a few weeks back after it appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, but with Steve's passing, it's worth repeating. - AC]

The story as recounted to me goes something like this. I have a screenwriter friend in Los Angeles who, back in 2001, was still trying to establish himself in the industry. One day, he got a call from his agent.

"I need you and your writing partner to go up to San Francisco to take a meeting about creating a script for a corporate video. I know you don't like doing these things, but it's a good gig and I think it'll be a good career move. I can't tell you what it is, but please trust me on this one. There are tickets waiting for you at the airport."

With grave reservations, my friend and his partner hopped a plane to San Francisco. A car and driver were waiting and took them to 1 Infinite Loop, the headquarters of Apple Computer in Cupertino. Upon arrival, they were ushered into the lobby and told to wait. Neither of them had a clue what was going on.

Without warning, a thin figure in a black turtleneck and jeans walked past them. "Come with me," he snapped without looking back. It was Steve Jobs.

The Mysterious Numbers Stations

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

When I was a kid, I had a fascination with shortwave radio.  I successfully begged my parents to give me a multi-band radio that could not only receive standard AM and FM, but the aviation band and a limited number of shortwave frequenices.

Late one winter night, I found my first Numbers Station.

You know one when you hear one.  Usually the transmission begins with some kind of note or sequence of musical notes. Then a voice comes on, reading what appears to be a series of random numbers.  The voice might be male, female or even a child.  What the hell?

More Music from the Inbox

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Much comes in.  Only the best make it through the filters.  If you think you've got something that the world needs to hear, use the Music Submissions link in the left-hand column.

Meanwhile, here's what can be recommended today.

The New Rock’n’Roll Solitudes

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

U.N.C.L.E. Promo helps indie bands by getting the word out.  I was asked by editor Dead Air Dave to write a rant for this week's newsletter.  Here it is.

Back in the 80's and 90's, rock was divided into two solitudes. One tribe—let's call them Rockers—was into Van Halen, Led Zeppelin and whatever else their local rock radio station played. The other tribe—I'll call them Mods—were the dweeby alt kids, deep into the Cure, New Order and bands with crazy haircuts. They got their music from campus radio, dark clubs and weird record stores. And if they were lucky and lived in L.A., SF, Chicago, Toronto, or a few other select cities, they had a commercial Alt-Rock station to call their own.

A Cool Connected Car

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

When a prospective buyer wandered into a showroom, the most common question was "What's under the hood?"  Today, the first question is more likely to be "What's in the dash?"

Auto manufacturers realize that infotainment systems are moving cars off the lot.  That's why there's a race to not only add features and sophistication to standard factory systems but to also make integration with smart phones easier and more functional.

Two Cool New Apps

October 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

I have 122 apps on my iPhone with dozens more archived away, so I'm always looking for something new and cool, especially in the music arena.  Here are two of my more recent discoveries.

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