Friday, November 17, 2006

God bless the little iPod...

Well, more to the point, God bless iTunes. Not because it plays digital music files so well - pretty much any digital jukebox software can do that. It does seem to have the ability to dig through my music files and find an appropriate song, or even some forgotten treasures.

Case in point - Northside. Don't worry, nobody but me and their mamma's have ever heard of Northside. They came out during the Madchester scene, with the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, though they really didn't sound much like either of those bands. They simply played decent Brit-flavoured pop music. I bought their CD Chicken Rhythms, in 1992, I guess, and haven't heard it in well over 10 years.

My current project is to convert as many CDs to digital files on a hard drive, in the effort to make a bitchin' media server. So far, I've converted about 400 of the 500 CDs I own to Lossless format - a much bigger mp3, and slightly smaller than a standard AIFF file on a CD. Soon, my entire CD collection will fit on a single 300 GB hard drive, and I figure I can put my albums and tapes on a 100 GB partition.

Essentially, I will soon be able to hold all of my music in one hand. Considering it now takes about four massive suitcases and zippered CD holders, that's amazing.

The Northside CD was never awful; it simply wasn't as good as other CDs I bought back then - the Trashcan Sinatras, Kitchens of Distinction, The Ocean Blue, The Judybats, Jellyfish, James, XTC - all of them and countless others managed to squeeze the little band out of my CD rotation and into the bowels of my collection. A dark place, reserved for horrible lapses in taste on my part (yes, Rick Astley, I'm looking at you), horrid gifts from well-meaning-yet-terribly-misinformed friends (see: Dion, Celine; Christmas Album), or purchases made in good faith towards legendary performers stuck in their "I'm Keith Hernandez!" phase (Van Morrison's gawd-awful mid-70s stuff).

iTunes does not care. Once placed in shuffle mode, it plays any song in the library, regardless of quality, age, popularity or genre. You're as likely to hear De la Soul as Dada as Dishwalla. What it manages to do is find those hidden gems of songs that somehow didn't register the first time (or several dozen) times through.

Another case in point - the new Keane CD, Under the Iron Sea. Not nearly as good as Hopes and Fears; it's a rather dreary listen using the disc's order. However, when shuffled in with other songs, it's apparent that Keane's music is quite good when compared to other music out right now. Is it as good as Hopes and Fears now? No, but it's not as bad as I had first registered.

However, I can safely say that I'm not sure if the new John Mayer project Continuum or the new Carbon Leaf disc "Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat" can be saved yet. And the new Barenaked's just say that their new disc "Barenaked Ladies Are Me" won't push them back up into favorite band status with me anytime soon.

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