heard on the wire

Turn it around, turn it upside down


I used to write news reports when Apple released new iPods. Hell, I’d write a news report when they updated the software from 1.2.5 to 1.2.6. It was significant in those days.

Now, just a few years later when Apple updates its iPod range, still comprising three models, scarcely anyone notices. The device that helped to transform the way we listen to music is almost a curiosity. What do you mean, the next generation will ask, you had to have a special device just to listen to music?

Tell them that we used to pay to download music to the device and before that we used to have to buy separate media…. well, it’ll seem as fantastic and distant as steam power and optimism do to us.

Which makes me something of a Luddite. Like Canute, I vainly resist the streaming tide, while clinging forlornly to my two iPod classics (or iPods classic), each loaded with tunes I’ve paid for, and wilfully mixing my historical metaphors.

With each passing update to the iPod and iPhone lineup those classics become more and more valuable to me. Yes with capacities of 80 and 160GB they can store far more songs than their successors, but that’s not the crucial thing. What is is a setting, album shuffle. I like to listen to entire singles, EPs or LPs and when they finish, listen to another. Life we used to. Since I have many thousands, it’s nice collect a few into a playlist and have my iPod shuffle between them. It’s more satisfyingly complete than listening to one song from here, another for there, each leaving you begging for more of the same.

Album shuffle is arguably the most usefully changeable setting on the old iPods and nowhere to be found on the new ones, nor on iPhone nor iPad. It even used to be a option in iTunes — not any more. Apple doesn’t like albums any more, it hasn’t since Steve Jobs died (or something).

So as long as I want to keep shuffling “albums” — iTunes’ collective term for any pre-defined bundle of songs — I’ll cherish those ageing iPods. Incidentally, it’s in-part because iTunes defines “album” so loosely, that I prefer the term LP to describe any such bundle of more than five tracks (or longer than 25 minutes). And albums are for keeping photos in, kids.

Thus we arrive at the our first musical selection. My last post mentioned that it was to have showcased some Bandcamp discoveries only to get waylaid by one of them. So this post picks up that baton, with some more “albums” that deserve to be heard in full.

The first endures itself before the even the first note is heard, featuring as it does London’s Barbican on the cover and a track called Concrete.

Witching Waves are Emma, Ed and Mark from London and this is the title track from their debut LP.

Witching Waves // Fear of Falling Down// eMusic

Emily Edrosa describes her debut solo record as a self-titled EP. Self-titled it may be, but at six tracks it doesn’t meet the Official Charts Company’s EP criteria. Emily, real surname Littler, comes from Auckland, New Zealand, so she likely and rightly probably doesn’t give a toss. Whatever — this is far too good to trouble the UK charts.

Emily Edrosa // Edrosy

Rosie Walland’s four-track debut definitely is an EP and an excellent one at that. The Canadian singer fronts a five-piece Quebecois band from the French speaking region’s capital, Montréal. I love the cello on this.

Rosie Valland // Mon parfum

Our final track comes from Tonight, a six-track LP by The Positions that was the first record I ever downloaded from Bandcamp. Strangely it’s no longer available there, but you can still buy or stream it from iTunes.

The Positions // Tonight

It was meant to have been the final track. But while searching SoundCloud for Positions tracks I came across their cover of the June Brides’ Every Conversation

The Positions // Every Conversation

The June Brides’ singer was Phil Wilson. I went to university with his brother. I bought an LP from the former, Socialist Worker from the latter. Both helped to define me, albeit in very different ways.

The June Brides // Every Conversation

Photo: Farringdon; some rights reserved.

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heard on the wire is a blog about music old and new, but mostly new. It occasionally uses 21st century file formats that may not be supported by 20th century web browsers. For best results use Safari or Chrome. And If you like the music posted here, please think of the effort and expense that has gone into making it and consider buying a copy of your own.


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