Revision takes to the road :: Grease powered groove

Most people have heard of cars that run on vegetable oil. More and more people are converting their vehicles to b e able to run on alternative fuels. For about $1,000 you can purchase a conversion kit online that will add a second tank to your car for vegetable oil while the original contains diesel fuel. The diesel fuel is only used to heat the vegetable oil until it can flow freely enough to be used as the primary source.

Revision, a funk/rock trio from Ithaca, NY, travels in a van powered on grease. These guys should receive medals or something. Let’s look at their merits:

1. First off, they’re spreading funky music and good vibes to people wherever they go
2. They travel around in an alternative fuel-powered vehicle
3. There latest album was released on USB thumb drives which can be reused once the content is downloaded off of them

How cool is that? On top of that, they’re good natured, hard working, talented musicians with something to say. Check them out.

New Band, New Music

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As of March, I’ve been working with a new band called GroupThought. We’re a trio (guitar/bass/drums) playing original Progressive-Jam-Fusion. All of us are students at SUNY Potsdam and have been spending time practicing, writing and recording over at the Crane School of Music. 

We self-produced an EP and decided to release it for free. All of the tracks are available for free download on our ReverbNation and Last.fm pages. We’ve played twice on campus in the past week but plan to take the summer off from performing to focus on writing and booking for the fall.

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Check out our music and become fans/friends on our sites:

GroupThought on Myspace
GroupThought on Facebook 

iTunes store goes DRM-free

(As published in the Racquette Newspaper)

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Digital Rights Management (DRM) is the concept controlling what someone can and can’t do with a file. In the world of recorded music, DRM is built into a sound file (.wav, .aac or .mp3). DRM code can exist on individual files purchased online or entire CDs purchased at your local record store. If you have ever tried to make a copy of a DRM-protected music file or burn a DRM-protected CD, you may have received an error message that you had insufficient rights to complete the action.   

DRM code was put in place with music specifically to prevent what is officially known as “unauthorized duplication.” However, the code has no way of knowing whether or not the user is simply making a mix CD of their favorite songs or if they’re making copies to give or even sell to their friends illegally. Some DRM software has been found to act as malware, which makes the host computer vulnerable to viruses. These issues have made digital rights management a very controversial topic. 

It has been argued that laws to back up the restrictions placed on users by DRM don’t exist. The Free Software Foundation, advocates of freeware and open source code, have stated in the past that DRM should actually stand for “Digital Restrictions Management” because of the control that DRM takes over files. 

Until April 1, 2009, the vast majority of the songs available on Apple’s iTunes Store were DRM protected. The only tracks without DRM-protection were referred to as “iTunes Plus tracks.” These tracks were mostly made up of music under the EMI label. Through an agreement with SONY BMG, Warner Music and Universal, iTunes will now be offering all of its music DRM-free.

While Amazon has been offering DRM-free music from all four major labels for almost a year, the songs have only been available in .mp3 format. iTunes songs are available in .aac format, the higher quality successor to the .mp3. The encoding for DRM-free iTunes Plus tracks is 256-kbps (kilobytes per second), twice the bit rate of the original DRM-protected files. The lack of DRM coding also means that songs purchased from the iTunes store are playable on as many Macs or PCs as the listener chooses. 

It is possible to upgrade current DRM-protected iTunes purchases to the DRM-free versions, but the service is not free. Users must choose to either keep their DRM-protected files or upgrade all of them at a cost of 30 cents per song. 

It has been made clear that the lack of DRM-protection is not meant to encourage or allow the pirating of music but instead to allow the listener to use their own discretion when it comes to making copies of the files.

Happy Record Store Day!

Yep, it’s Record Store Day. Go out and support your local independent record store. Most of us have moved on to purchasing music online whether it’s a download through iTunes or an album from Amazon.com but when was the last time you set foot in an independently owned record store? The employees are typically some of the most knowledgeable music lovers around. They know about all the new albums coming out and even some of the fun facts surrounding the releases.

Sadly, with the growth of e-commerce (which can still be a good thing), the independently owned record stores are dwindling. Many are fighting for their lives. They are supported by the dedicated few who love stopping by the local store and browsing through the racks of music or those who want to pick up a new release the day it comes out.

I will be stopping by at Strawberry Fields Music Store in downtown Potsdam, NY (8 Market St.) later today to pick up an album and say hi. I invite you to do the same at your local record shop today. Strike up a conversation too. You might be in for a treat.

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Live Hampton Phish Recordings :: FREE!

Phish has announced that 256kbs mp3’s of the March 6-8th shows will be available on LivePhish.com within 24 hours of the shows. The performances will be recorded with a mobile recording studio and mixed overnight for release the following day. These are the first live performances by Phish since they broke up nearly four years ago.

I will certainly be downloading the recordings as soon as they become available. Expect reviews as well

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“Rawk ‘n rowl!” :: Spinal Tap Reunion Tour

It’s not a joke, it’s a beautiful thing. The members of the 1984 joke band, Spinal Tap (from the movie This is Spinal tap), have reunited for a 30-city tour this spring. If you haven’t seen the film, gather some friends and take some time this weekend to educate yourself with their classic rock mockumentary film. You’ll be quoting it for weeks! If you have the opportunity to catch them on tour, DON’T PASS IT UP! It would certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

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(source: NPR Music)