Mates of State - Re-Arrange Us

Fans of Mates of State can be heard across the blogosphere griping about how Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel have turned away from their signature organ & drum-based sound from their early days. But it seems to me their latest album Re-Arrange Us is simply a natural maturation of a husband-wife duo that have been making music together for nearly a decade. You really can’t realistically expect a songwriting duo to continually crank out the same sounding stuff over and over again. Change is inevitable over time and so has the sound of Mates of State. And to my ears, it’s for the better. Essentially Gardner and Hammel have realized the limiting factor of cheesy keyboard sounds and the carnival-esque vibe.

So, their musical arrangements have become more conventional with piano, bass and drums at the core of each track. What hasn’t gone away thankfully are their sing-along melodies and tenacious hooks. The album, Re-Arrange Us, is full of them including their solid album opener “Get Better”, “Lullaby Haze” and what’s most likely their strongest tune to date, “The Re-Arranger”. The one thing that does weigh the album down a bit are the lightweight lyrics. The words seem to be secondary to the music. When you hear lots of “da-da-da-da-da” and “now, now, now. Ho! Ho! Ho!” sung over parts of choruses, it’s pretty telling. Even so, the album is very enjoyable and will probably end up being one of my favorites of the year.

Ben Folds - Way to Normal

As a fan of Ben Folds, I’ve become accustomed to “cherry-picking” songs off of his albums. With a multifaceted singer/songwriter like Folds, you pretty much have to. I personally prefer the sad, introspective side of Folds over the snarky, juvenile side. and unfortunately for those like me, we don’t get much introspection on Folds’ new album Way to Normal . What we DO get is a whole lot of sarcasm and cynicism in songs like “Dr. Yang”, “The Frown Song” and “Bitch Went Nuts”. And I’m all FOR variety in songwriting but the majority of these songs simply fall flat and just don’t measure up to his past achievements. Even the epic centerpiece of the album, “Before Cologne/Cologne” feels half-done and doesn’t resonant as strongly as it should. For me, things don’t click until the last three songs on the album - “Brainwascht”, “Effington” and “Kylie from Connecticut”. “Brainwascht”, a bitter yet humorous response to a once trusted friend, has a fantastic hook that just won’t quit. “Effington” features a nice balance of Folds’ humor and “grass is greener” longing. The album closes with “Kylie” a beautiful ballad with cinematic flare. The instrumental middle section of the song is very well done and successfully conveys the internal struggle of the lead character. But those three songs can’t save the album as a whole. Plus the modern mix/loud mastering doesn’t help matters much either.

play your music anywhere in the house!

Like a lot of people, I’ve got a ton of mp3s stored on my desktop computer in my home office. It’s my main computer that I use everyday for work as well as for blogging here on this site. But I also spend time in the bonus room upstairs to relax, lounge around, watch movies and play games. I have an older desktop system set up in there for the kids to use as well as for anyone else that needs internet access. Every so often I get the urge to put on some music but the problem is that most of my music is on the computer downstairs. Luckily, there’s a program that can easily solve this problem.

Share Speaker Player allows a user to share songs across a network and play them on other computers. It essentially lets Multiple computers share a set of speakers. You simply install the program on the various computers you have at home and the software takes care of the hard stuff. The easy to use interface lets you see the computers on the home network and you simply select the computer that has the music you want to play and then select where you want to listen from. It also features a remote playlist so that you can quickly select the songs you’re in the mood for. There’s no need to worry about extra hardware or cables. You simply use your existing home network to listen to your music. Share Speaker Playermakes it simple and easy to share your music.

Frontiers Records reveals tracklist for new Asia album Omega

Frontiers Records recently revealed some new details concerning Asia’s upcoming release,Omega. With the success of 2008′s Pheonix and supporting tour, fans the world over are itching for more from this legendary foursome. I’m particularly interested in the new material especially since learning that producer Mike Paxman is involved with this project. Legacy artists like these obviously know their way around a recording studio but from what I’ve seen, it’s always beneficial to have an outside producer to provide a fresh perspective on their material. Geoff Downes is quoted in the new press release saying “We were looking to create something different with Omega… Of course, the sound of the 4 band members of Asia will always have a certain hallmark when we play together. That’s a given. But we approached the song writing with a mind to getting a degree of variety into these compositions. Hence, you will hear areas of textures where arguably we have never gone before.”