goin’ up to eleven for twenty ten

This is the music that powered the year for me:

  • Bertrand BelinHypernuit: heard this on the radio. He has an awesome voice. Seeing as it’s all in French, I have no idea what it’s about, but that’s okay.
  • Calvin, don’t Jump!Under Bridges: Kirk Pleasant’s first major outing from his Canadian location. Combines E6 ambient and skronk with some thoughtful songwriting.
  • Colleen and PaulColleen and Paul: happy, sunny, folky, lovely. Enjoy it before it becomes car ads.
  • Dum Dum GirlsI Will Be: Motown meets The Jesus & Mary Chain, with screamy lofi fuzz. Like Strawberry Switchblade (DDG are big fans) with maximal noise.
  • Entertainment For The BraindeadRoadkill: Julia did a banjo album! It’s great — and free!
  • Frightened RabbitThe Winter of Mixed Drinks: juddery Scottish gloriousness with full miserability ahead.
  • JónsiGo: this album’s so sunny it farts marigolds.
  • Peter Stampfel & Baby GrampsOutertainment: dementedly demented, with demented bits gleefully stuck to it. Gramps sings like Popeye’s ancestor, and Peter’s got the caterwauling yawp down pat. They’re having so much fun making this, they don’t care what you think.
  • The Ruby SunsFight Softly: don’t you dare call them Animal Collective Lite. They can dance better, for one thing.
  • Stereo TotalBaby Ouh!: “irritating” is not usually a word one associates with a favourite album, but Stereo Total are completely annoying. I love them for it.
  • Sufjan StevensThe Age of Adz: this is a hard album to like. I was about to completely give up on it when I played it on a long subway ride home. I’m sold. Charming, but difficult.

Here’s six not from 2010 that also helped make the year:

  • Brett DennenBrett Dennen (2005): he’s got a weird little voice in his first album, but Don’t Forget is as catchy as anything.
  • Charlotte GainsbourgIRM (2009): it’s a Beck album! Not sung by Beck!!
  • Kyle CreedLiberty (1977): this is the clawhammer album. Kyle played such a clean banjo; e-v-e-r-y note’s in the right place, the volume’s right, he doesn’t dominate (bluegrass pickers, take note). So brilliant, and finally available on something other than cassette.
  • Major Organ And The Adding MachineMajor Organ and the Adding Machine (re-release): squee! An expanded version of 2001’s mad outing complete with the movie. Spot all your favourite E6 musicians!
  • Raymond ScottSoothing Sounds For Baby (1963): The first volume (designated for one to six months) is about my level. I’d have been tripping spheroids if this had been playing near my crib.
  • The TurtlesThe Turtles Present The Battle of the Bands (1968): a delightful confection of phenomenal songwriting and playing making a very silly concept album. You’d hardly believe it was all done by one band.

Podcast: scruss-best_of_2010 [mp3]

something went wrong

At the automatic podcast today, something went very wrong with the announcements. Hear what I mean.

I was playing with flite‘s new voices, and I think the command line went up the chute.

downtime

Stewart would like to apologise to both listeners of the automatic podcast for the two week downtime. We lost power, and the server’s network connection didn’t come back up properly. All is restored.

I wish I could have captured the sound of all the pudding cups on the plane popping in quick succession as we gained altitude today.

the automatic podcast, by sheevaplug

I’ve now got the automatic podcast running on the sheevaplug. Because I can’t so easily re-encode mp3s, I’ve had to come up with a different way to make the podcast. The file is much larger, but the sound quality should be better.

It might be a few days before it runs from the sheevaplug every day.

how does he do that?

Someone asked how the automatic podcast works. It’s a bit complex, and they probably will be sorry they asked.

I have all my music saved as MP3s on a server running Firefly Media Server. It stores all its information about tracks in a SQLite database, so I can very easily grab a random selection of tracks.

Since I know the name of the track and the artist from the Firefly database, I have a selection of script lines that I can feed to flite, a very simple speech synthesizer. Each of these spoken lines is stored as as wav file, and then each candidate MP3 is converted to wav, and the whole mess is joined together using SoX. SoX also created the nifty (well, I think so) intro and outro sweeps.

The huge wav file of the whole show is converted to MP3 using LAME and uploaded to my webhost with scp. All of this process is done by one Perl script – it also creates the web page, the RSS feed, and even logs the tracks on Last.fm.

Couldn’t be simpler.

Stewart & His Constant Search for Patterns in Randomness

Three consecutive tracks in today’s the automatic podcast from “& His” artists:

  1. May FlowerMike Shaw & His Alabama Entertainers
  2. Call On MeCaptain Beefheart & His Magic Band
  3. ResetCasper Fandango & His Tiny Sick Tears

the little computer that should

My home server went phut last week. There was a brief power outage, and everything else came back on — except the server. It was a three year old Mini-ITX box, and I’m casting about for ways to replace it.

To serve my immediate music serving and podcasting needs, I have pressed The Only Computer That Runs Windows into service, running Ubuntu using Wubi. Unfortunately, I do still occasionally need to run Garmin Mapsource, which only runs on Windows, and also The Only Computer That Runs Windows is also rather too nice a laptop to be sat doing server duty.

I have some options:

  • Get a new motherboard for the mini-itx box. Via still has some crazy ideas about pricing (over $200 for a fanless C7?) but maybe I’ll go for Intel’s snappily-named D945GCLF, which looks okay for what I need and is only $80.
  • I could resurrect the old Athlon box I got in 2002, but it’s big, loud, and its components are probably near end of life. Also, why disturb a mature spider habitat?

What I was really looking for was one of those tiny fanless internet appliance boxes that were so 2007 (like the Koolu and the Zonbu, both of which have moved on to other things), but such units, without the tied storage service contract, are upwards of $500.

My needs are simple:

  • run Firefly to feed the Soundbridges;
  • generate the automatic podcast every day, which realistically means a linux box with Perl, sqlite and the like;
  • have something to ssh into when boredom strikes the need arises. Perhaps unwise having an open machine sitting directly on the internet, but only the ssh port will be open.

I really also need to get rid of all the computer junk in the basement. It now includes two fritzed mini-ITX systems and the world’s slowest PostScript laser printer. Such fun.

cosmic coincidence

Three consecutive space songs in today’s helping of the automatic podcast:

  • The Lovely Universe — Circulatory System
  • See The Constellation — They Might Be Giants
  • Kelly, Watch the Stars! — Air

That’s the thing about randomness – we see patterns that are of no import.

announcing the automatic podcast

Every day, the automatic podcast presents a random selection from my music collection. And I mean random: cartoon incidental music, snatches of folk songs, instrument tuition, and ancient scratchy 78s nestle up against my favourite indie hits. And it’s all introduced by a synthesized compère. I have no idea what’s going to be in it each day, and no records are kept of what was offered yesterday. It’s meant to be a daily snapshot, not an ongoing record.

There are still a few bugs to get out of the RSS feed, but generally I’m happy with how it works. There is some listener discretion required, as I can’t vet what goes into each day’s presentation.

Update, 30 Sep 2008: think I’ve fixed the RSS problems.