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January 15, 2007

  12:40 am EDT - GORDON - Review: Leaves' Eyes - Vinland Saga

Leaves' Eyes
Leaves' Eyes Myspace

Vinland Saga

Buy it on Amazon

They describe themselves as Gothic Metal Rock.  I concur.

- 96% - 
Liv Kristine Espenæs Krull - Vocals / Mathias Röderer - Guitar / Thorsten Bauer - Guitar / Chris Lukhaup - Bass / Moritz Neuner - Drums & Percussion / Alexander Krull - Vocals, Programming 

2006 was not a great year in music, for me.  I discovered a lot of good new music, but nothing I would consider great... at least not great enough to write about here.

Then in late November at a Blind Guardian concert, their opening act was Leaves' Eyes.... and my dry spell dissipated.

At the time I described their performance in the DTMan Music Forum (Registration required to post)

Never heard of them before this show... but dizzam.  Definitely on par with BG.  Best opening act I've ever seen, possibly.  Even the crowd wasn't hostile, which says a lot.

These giant metal gods lumber out in the beginning.  They take their power stances, picks ready.  Out walks this willowy blond lass in a flowing red dress, and stands center stage.  She sings out this sweet little melody... and pauses... and all of a sudden the metal gods begin their sledgehammer assault on their guitars, heads banging, hair flying, and the sweet looking little blond girl in the red dress is head banging and flashing the sign of he devil right along with them.  It was surreal.  And fucking awesome.

She spoke a bit between tracks, here's what I gather:  They are Norwegian (except for their Transylvanian lead guitarist...metal).  They do a lot of songs about Vikings, which is very metal all by itself.  The blond chick is married to another vocalist in the band, a typical "growler"-type singer... their singing styles counter-pointed each other very well.  Very kick-ass metal.  Even my old lady liked them.

I put their albums in my "purchase sooner rather than later" queue












And I purchased this album sooner, rather than later.

Very glad I did.

The first thing I noticed was.... this chick (Liv Christine Espenæs Krull) can sing.  Very classic singing style, nearly operatic.  Not Mariah-Carey-operatic... unlike Mariah, Liv not only has a very sweet voice, but the songs actually seem intelligent.  Hell... in reading the lyrics (mostly English, some Norwegian[?]), I actually had to look up a couple words.  There are no songs about girls whining about boys, or vice versa.  Actually, this particular album seems to have a theme... Leif Erikson’s legendary voyage to Greenland in 1000 A.D.... Vinland, as they called it.  In case you didn't know, many of the band members hail from Norway.  "It is a story marked by powerful riffs, melody and string arrangements, which represent a colorful bandwidth of musical styles, truly adequate to the very concept of the album itself and never concealing the Nordic origins of the singer. 'I found my inspiration for many of the pieces in the Norwegian art and folk music, as well as in Celtic melodies," explains Liv Kristine. She knew from the very beginning that a special approach was needed for such an ambitious musical enterprise: "I absolutely wanted to work with actual classical instruments for Vinland Saga to do this great story justice.'"

Now, the band sang at least three songs from this album in the concert I saw.  What I quickly noticed was they really added teeth to the music, live.  On the album the guitars hammer, and the drums thunder, and the other singer dude screams... but it's all significantly mixed down in favor of the songbird's voice.  Her voice is great... but I'd personally prefer mixing her voice down 10%, and the instruments up 10%... at least in the metal songs.  Would add just a smidge more metal to the album without, in my opinion, going overboard.

The entire album is not hard rock.  There are a couple sweet elegies (including one called Elegy), and one or two are almost pop... but not quite.  Just over the line toward rock.  One or two are straight-up Celtic... but updated.  It's all very excellent.  You know, I just realized... you could compare this band to Evanescence.  Hard Rock musician with a girl with a nice voice providing vocals.

This band is big in Europe, and as I mentioned before I'd never even heard of them until they opened for another European band on their North American tour... but this is one band that I could see becoming big in the USA, given half a chance.  Buy their albums so you can say "yeah, but I liked them before they got big."  And this album aint just for the dudes, either.  The wife likes it too, and for the last couple weeks we've been playing it while we eat dinner.  The 15-month-old even bangs his head to it now and then.


Talk about the album here.



July 16, 2005

  12:40 am EDT - GORDON - Review: Demons & Wizards - Touched by the Crimson King

Demons & Wizards
Touched by the Crimson King

Excellent, old school metal.  I've also seen it described as Progressive and Power Metal.

- 95% - 

I first discovered Demons & Wizards when I was still on the honeymoon with my marriage to Blind Guardian's Nightfall in Middle-Earth album.  I was so in love, then.  Passion that burns with that intensity cannot be sustained, though, and while I still love it, I am no longer IN love with it.  You understand.

Anyway, I was in love with all things Blind Guardian, and I was sniffing around trying to complete my Blind Guardian library when I discovered the BG singer, Hansi Kursch, had made an album under the moniker Demons & Wizards as a side project with the guitarist from the group Iced Earth, Jon Schaffer.  At the time I'd never heard any Iced Earth tunes, but I went ahead and purchased self titled Demons & Wizards album on the strength and trust of Hansi's vocals.

I was not disappointed.  Released in the year 2000 it had the power and craft of old-fashioned metal not tainted by the fuzzy guitars and sloppy execution of the newer grunge "metal" bands.  Don't even get me started on the Nu-Garage movement....  The first D&W album was solid, hard, and an all-around outstanding metal album.  The best thing I took with from Nebraska when I got the hell out of there was this album.  Well, in the Top-10 list, anyway.  I'd recommend it to any rocker looking for something new.

Anyway, years go by, and in the interim I decided, on the strength of Jon Schaffer's guitar work of this D&W album, to check out Iced Earth.  Between then and now I've purchased nearly their entire catalog, and will eventually finish my IE collection.  It's good stuff - from the music I've been exposed to, they are about the only American band making new, pure metal.  And then, a few months ago, I get word of a new Demons & Wizards album.  I'm very excited, but worried that it would almost have to be a disappointment compared to their first album.

My fear was groundless.

The title of this album is a reference to Stephen King's seven volume magnum opus, The Dark Tower.  The first book was issued in 1978 and the final in 2004. It is about the tale of Roland Deschain, the last gunslinger on his quest to destroy the evil Crimson King, who, imprisoned in the Dark Tower, is responsible for all the ills of the world.  I'd been reading these books as soon as they've been released, beginning with book 2 in approximately 1985 (read the 1st and 2nd at this time... I was only 7 in 1978... reading the newspaper already, but not Stephen King books).  I read the last three when they were rapidly fired in 2003 and 4.  I loved the story, and was sad when it ended.

Some tracks are faster, some are slower, it's a perfect balance.

So here I have a love of The Dark Tower, Iced Earth, Blind Guardian, and D&W.  This album was a no-brainer, for me.

Now, I don't really know what "Progressive" means... it seems to me that Prog Metal is just Metal that is more intelligent than the norm.  This "intelligence" can be manifested in melodic and/or lyrical complexity, theme albums, or any combination thereof.  But really, it's all rock and roll to me, and I've been playing this album day and night since it arrived from Amazon 3 days ago.

Which is, to me, the mark of a great album.

Oh, and don't get hung up on the name "Demons & Wizards."  I don't really know what inspired it, but going through the liner notes I can find no thanking of satan, and in the music I can detect no backwards witchcraft incantations.

I've checked album reviews on metal music websites, and all have been very positive.  Would be a waste not to check it out.


NOT RELEASED BY THE RIAA... so support this artist and buy a copy, if you sample it and like it.  I recommend the version of the album with the bonus tracks.

Talk about the album here.



March 25, 2004

  8:10 pm EST - GORDON - Various things

Howdy y'all, but not in a country way because country music sucks.  I'm going to be mentioning a few disconjunct things in a really unconnected manner, now.

I moved all the individual band links from the front page to here, because here seemed to make more sense.

Nine Inch Nail's official website... http://www.nin.com ... how the hell do you get in to it?

Two new links on the left:  RIAA Radar  and  CD BabyThe first is a little utility to tell you if a specific album was released on an RIAA label, and the second one is a nice indy music store, with song samples and such.

Hard Radio remains an excellent net radio station for hard rock, but Digitally Imported has reduced the quality of their broadcast from 128kps to 96kps, which sucks.

The other day I had the new Saliva CD in my hand, and the first thing I always do with a new CD is rip it into mp3's and add it to the pc jukebox playlist.  I popped it into the pc, and forgot to hold the shift key, and Windows Media Player auto-launched and tried to play the cd.  But it couldn't... interesting.  It couldn't even see the music tracks on the cd.  And, right after, a demo for Warcraft 3 auto-launched.  I said out loud, "Waaa?"  I opened windows explorer to look at the cd files... and the only thing I could see was an executable for the Warcraft 3 demo.  I launched Winamp out of curiosity to try to play the CD, and Winamp said there was no music tracks on that CD.  I opened the drive tray to physically inspect it, and I could actually see the blank "copyright" ring on the damned thing.  The pc was able to read the Warcraft demo, but then that blank ring told the PC the rest of the disk was blank.  Supposedly it would still play in a "regular" cd player, but I'll never know because then I launched my standard mp3 ripper, Music Match (review here), and MM wasn't fooled by the bullshit at all.  I got my mp3's, and fuck the music industry for trying to deprive me of my fair-use rights.  So, again, two new links on the left:  RIAA Radar  and  CD BabyThe first is a little utility to tell you if a specific album was released on an RIAA label, and the second one is a nice indy music store, with song samples and such.  Indy artists don't do that bullshit "copyright" ring to try to screw consumers.



June 28, 2003

  12:40 am EDT - GORDON - Review: VAST - Turquoise


Something like trip/world/intelligent/rock.

- 85% - 

I reviewed this "group" awhile ago, and their third album was just released, sort of.

Since then there have been a few changes.  He released another album, "Music For People."  The critics liked it.  Here are some other changes as far as I've been able to piece it together: Jon Crosby decided he hated his label, and went into renegotiations.  The result of them, as I understand it, was that he still owes the label an album, but he's free to release his own music, independent-style.  His web page went down for a couple years, and the EZBoard forum went up, giving voice to a handful of diehard fans anxiously awaiting news of new music.  I'll say this much for the fan base...they are rabid.  You either love VAST, or hate it.  

For example...Jon Crosby and his management, in splitting with their label, realized how hard is really is to be independent, and still get a product out the door.  Before any of you mad dog fans go into apoplexy from my usage of the word "product," calm down.  Yeah, "it's art, man."  But it's also for sale, and it's how the guy makes his living.  Something for sale = product.  

<Begin soap opera>  You can skip this part if you aren't into drama.

So there was an announcement sometime on the forum in the "Daily Updates from VAST..." as I recall it took 3 days for it to go from daily, to weekly...that Jon had seven albums ready to go, and starting in a few weeks they'd release them once a week, to be called "Monday," then "Tuesday," etc.  The ambiguous "in a few weeks" date came and went.  A while after a hard date was released for the launch of the new site, and new music.  The date came and went.  A cycle began.  A hard date would be announced, it would come and go, and a week later the representatives of VAST would log on, chuckle, shrug, and apologize, and claim "technical problems."  All the fans were patient for quite a while, but when the dam burst, it burst big.

It seemed like the more intelligent fans...the ones who knew something about marketing and business procedures and basically "how to get things done," started voicing their disgust all at once.  Including me.  Many threads were started complaining about how Jon Crosby was getting screwed by those he was trusting to run the show, so to speak.  Missing one deadline after another was a sure was to piss off at least a few fans.  I chimed in one night, since I knew I had plenty of constructive criticism to add.  All the negative posts were, of course, deleted...to be honest, I actually agree with that move.  It's not good business sense to leave a part-by-part analysis of why your company is so fucked up out there for the world to see.  

But, Jon Crosby himself responded to the criticisms, as well as an artist can who is trying to address the business side of things.  He addressed one of my issues directly...my suggestion that he fire all the family and friends he had surrounded himself with, and get some real professionals with business knowledge.  His response was something to the effect of, and I'm paraphrasing from memory, "these people have kids, and I wont be responsible for Little Billy not getting his fire truck at Christmas."  I think I heard MC Hammer say something like that during his "2 Legit 2 Quit" tour.

Responding to criticism in general, Jon said, "Does anyone really think that I give a fuck about what people say about me? I'm a fuckin rock star...I have been trashed more times than Axle Rose at an emo concert. Thats my job, getting made fun of. I could care less because in the end it's worth it to make music and travel the world for the rest of my life."

So there you go.  I still say I could run his business better than the trained monkeys he has now, but I can't argue with his attitude.  He's a fuckin' rock star.  Damn the Man.

</soap opera>

His new music was finally put online about a week after the blowup.  Coincidence?  Don't know.  But 10 songs cost $3 to download.  They take "Paypal only," but I don't have a Paypal account and was still able to use a credit card to purchase it.  The songs are mp3 encoded at 128kbps.  People on their forum have complained about what they call the "poor sound reproduction at that sampling quality," but for $3 it's a damned fine album.  I burned them to a cd and played them in my car, no problemo.  The music is, in my opinion, pretty much up to VAST standards.  Jon hasn't taken any dramatic new directions in his style, which I approve of.  Leave the experimentation to Radiohead, I sez.  I like VAST music, and "Turquoise" is VAST music.  Thoughtful, lonely, moody rock.

I'm not going to post any samples, because it only costs $3 to download the entire album.  The link to purchase it is below.  Just buy it, cheapasses.

At the time of this writing, here are the stats from "Payloadz," the website selling the download:

Top Selling Products in All Categories
1. Madonna - American Life 192 Kbps MP3
2. Steely Dan - Blues Beach MP3
4. A Eulogy to Remember -- Downloadable eBook
5. Fleetwood Mac - Peacekeeper MP3
6. Ultimate Troubleshoot & Repair Guide for Playstation 2
7. Trapt - Trapt Debut Album MP3
8. Credit Score Booster
9. Build your own computer ebook
10. Celtic Knot Font - Outline Style for PC Download
Top Rated Products in All Categories
2. Cryptogrammaton: A Curious Compendium of Esoteric Literature
3. Developing and Implementing Web Applications with Microsoft Visual C#™ .NET MCAD/MCSD EXAM 70-315
4. IP Ad Sender
5. OTEP Little Sins eBook Series



Buy it. (At the time of this writing, the only link I could find to purchase is on the front page of their site)

Talk about it.  (Thread lost in forum crash)



 September 22, 2002

  10:45 pm CST - GORDON - Review: Prodigy

The Fat of the Land

Something like techno/rock/metal..

- 92% - 

The first time I ever heard a Prodigy song was in Ohio, before I moved to South Dakota.  I was starting to realize that local radio stations in Toledo played, generally, classic rock and shit.  I hadn't yet realized that MTV was shit of a different color, and would let it play in the background while wiling away the hours.  Long story short, it was the when I saw the Prodigy video for "Breathe."

The video was funky, dark.  There was chordy synthesizers and pounding drum riffs.  There was strobe lights and millipedes and black men with tiger stripes painted on him with grease paint.  How can you go wrong?

I bought the CD and immediately loved it.  Hard techno metallic.  Good tunes, talented vocalists (but not in a classical sense), good mixing of worldly elements.  I liked it from the first track of "Smack My Bitch Up."  How can you go wrong with a song named "Smack My Bitch Up?"  I loved the song "Smack My Bitch Up" a decade before everyone else "discovered" it in the Charlie's Angels movie.

Funny story:  I was working as a Junior Programmer at a local marketing company.  They had a decent set of workout equipment in one of the big conference rooms, and would have aerobics classes after work.  I was never much into aerobics, but I was into the Stairmaster behind all the girls doing aerobics.  I'd Stairmaster and watch the ladies until the class was done and they all left, at which time I'd put in my own music in the stereo and hit the weights.  So, one day I pop in this CD, and "Smack My Bitch Up" starts.  About 60 seconds later one of the girls comes back to grab a forgotten water bottle....and if you check out the song in the Downloads Forum, you'll understand why hilarity ensued.

I've heard Prodigy referred to as a "Super-group," though I don't know by which criteria the person was making the supposition.  All I can say for sure is that this CD is musically interesting enough that for the last six years it's found its way consistently back into the changer.

Which is, to me, the mark of a great album.

Buy it.

Talk about it.  (Thread lost in forum crash)



 September 14, 2002

  8:34 pm CST - GORDON - Review: The KLF

The KLF  (Not an official website)
The White Room

Something like techno/house/dance/primitive trance.

- 91% - 

The first time I ever heard a KLF song, at the same time saw the video, was in the common recreation area of a barracks at Camp Pendleton, California.  We had figured out how to get free plays on a "Off Road 4x4" video game, and that's what I was doing.  I heard the song being played on MTV, glanced, and didn't pay a lot of attention.

Then I heard the same song at the e-club that night....how do I remember, 10 years later, that I went to the e-club on that particular night?  Because I went to the e-club every night when I was out there.  In fact, at the time, that e-club made the most money of any e-club in the entire American military.  Three separate dance floors....they'd let the local California girls in for free.....$3 pitchers.......but I digress.  Let's just say I went on many a five-mile run at 6 a.m. sweating beer.  But I digress more.

Soon after, a buddy of mine showed me he'd picked up this album on cassette, and said it was much better than the "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey" soundtrack to which I was currently listening (I bought it because of the KISS tune that was on it....and incidentally, this was the same period of time in which KISS drummer Eric Carr died).  His advice stuck in my head, and sometime soon after, I believe when I hit my permanent duty station (and picked up my CD player from Ohio), I purchased this CD.  I can't remember exactly where, but I was stationed in Jacksonville, NC at Camp Lejeune.  So, logically...  

Anyway, I found this album interesting from the first listen.  The first track grabs you with its rhythmic pulsing beat and epic vibe.  The rest of the tracks are intermixed with epic club tunes intermixed with moody, soulful lamentation type ballads.  Some are almost whimsical.  All give the feeling of solitude...to me, anyway.

A couple years ago I hit the web looking for more works by the group, and was disappointed.  They didn't release much more under the name of "The KLF."  Additionally, it was hard finding info on the band itself.  Here's the best research I got:

A couple of music execs in England made a claim that they had the formula for a successful techno record all figured out.  They designed their band, and fabricated a history behind it.  The initials "KLF" officially meant nothing, but you were left to speculate.  Throughout the album they often refer to themselves as "Formerly the JAMS..."  JAMs supposedly meaning the "Justified Ancients of Mu Mu."  "Mu Mu" is mentioned several times as their home to which they long to return.  A lot of this was supposedly based on the "Illuminati" books.

I read that at times, in a club concert, they would just step onstage and fire machine guns over the heads of the club patrons, then leave.  When the patrons would leave the club that night, they were met with hoards of slaughtered sheep in the lobby...pretty funny joke, actually.

Over the last decade, this CD continues to have a place in the CD rotation, which is, to me, the mark of a great album.

Buy it.

Talk about it.  (Thread lost in forum crash)


 September 7, 2002

  3:18 pm CST - GORDON - Review: Type O Negative

Type O Negative  (Older, original page here)
October Rust

Depression metal.

- 90% - 

I actually can't remember exactly why I purchased this album.  I had bought their previous album, "Bloody Kisses" because I liked the song Christian Woman.  That album had another song I liked called Black No. 1, but besides that the rest of the album didn't blow my skirt up.

Then the next album, "October Rust" was released, and I didn't really care for the single getting radio airplay, My Girlfriend's Girlfriend.  It was silly and almost disposable.  Which is why I can't remember why I bought it, but I'm glad I did.

The Drab FourIt was a much more mature and polished effort over their previous.  Gone were the "lets see how fast and obnoxious we can be" songs, replaced by thoughtful, yet hard melodies and arrangements.  Haunting and trance inducing, their lyrics are far beyond mere "girls whining about boys/partying" type stuff.  Their signature instrument, aside from drums and guitars, is a cheesy sounding Hammond organ, ala Paul Schaffer.  But somehow they made it work.

The vocals are usually dark and depressed, and often songs are all played in a minor key.  I've read a bit about the group, and the word on the street is that the singer, Peter Steele, seems to lose about two family members a year which helps him stay nice a depressed for songwriting.

This CD isn't currently in the player (although their best-of album is, "The least Worst of Type O Negative"), but "October Rust" does make frequent trips back into the tray a couple times a year.

Which is, to me, the mark of a great album.

Buy it.

Talk about it.  (Thread lost in forum crash)



 July 28, 2002

  9:00 pm CST - GORDON - Review: Blind Guardian

Blind Guardian
Nightfall in Middle-Earth

Ren-Faire metal.

- 90% - 

I first discovered this group one night in bed while checking out some "alternate" music channel...."alternate" meaning it wasn't MTV.  I wish now I could remember what the station was called....but it had only just been picked up by Midsouth Time Warner cable, and I only saw it once.  Oh, and I usually sleep naked, too.  Which means I was naked when I first heard a song from this band.

But I digress.

The video they played was called "Mirror Mirror," by a group I'd never heard of called Blind Guardian.  It was one of those tunes that caught my attention...it seemed to have depth, it was full of interesting changes, and the singer seemed to have a strong voice.  It was a little "faster" than the stuff I usually listen to....speeding drum beats resound... but it was sprinkled with Queen-like combined vocals, and Iron Maiden style guitar riffs.  It was good enough that I made a mental note of the band and album names.

A month later I picked the CD up in Best Buy in Lincoln, NE and popped it into the CD player before I left the parking lot.  The opening track was some sort of spoken-word-medieval-battle-type thing.  Theater.  It seems corny, but it was saved by the fact they got excellent voice actors who could pull it off.  The album is sprinkled with such dialog to help the story along.

The songs are busy and complex.  It took me about 5 iterations of the album before I could pick up the patterns and melodies, which is ok.  As soon as the album started clicking for me was when I really started to appreciate it.  There isn't any single track that could be called a throw-away, but ironically the song I first saw on TV is the song I like the least;  I still like it.

After listening to it for a couple weeks, I started picking up hints of Tolkien...which, once I cracked the liner notes, I saw it was he to whom the album was dedicated, and that it is based on a story from the book, "The Silmarillion."  Now I have to read it.

This CD has been in the player for a couple months now and isn't going any time soon.

Which is, to me, the mark of a great album.

Buy it.

Talk about it.  (Old thread, already in progress.) [Dead thread]



 July 13, 2002

  8:00 pm CST - GORDON - Review: VAST

Visual Audio Sensory Theater

Trip metal.

- 98% - 

I first discovered this "group" in 1999.  I was living and working in South Dakota, and was jonesing for good rock music...something the local radio stations didn't deliver well.  This was before the RIAA started suing everyone and everything, so I was able to listen to a regular radio station's internet broadcast from Boston, MA.  Great rock music, good DJ's, and I was happy.  Then, I heard them play the song "Touched."  I'd never heard of the group, but I loved the song.  Good, hard guitars, melodic, and it had this really weird, haunting, wailing bit that had the element of, "I've heard this somewhere before" even though you haven't.  Last time that had happened to me was the first time I'd heard "Come Again" by Damn Yankees in 1990.  More recently it was a song from Moby's Play, but that could have just been because I heard the song in a TV commercial.

I paid attention long enough for them to announce the "group" playing the song, and that night after work I hit cdnow.com.  They have some low quality bits of each track on an album, and with that I was able to determine I did indeed have the correct album.  VAST, Visual Audio Sensory Theater.  So I bought it.

It was one of those rare occurrences....I don't know if it is dependant on my mood, the alignment of the planets, or what...but I loved the album from the first listen.

I've been putting "group" in quotes because, for the most part, the entire band is one guy, Jon Crosby.  Crosby grew up in Humboldt County, California, and at the age of 13, was profiled as a promising guitarist in Guitar Player Magazine. He was nearly signed to the guitar-based label Shrapnel, but decided to turn it down to hone his songwriting skills. Jon soon left high school to do home study, and set out to form a band to perform some demos he's recorded all by himself, under the name VAST. Although he was able to play shows, the band was a revolving door of members, with Crosby still recording demos by himself all the while.  He was 21 when his debut album was released.

This isn't an album to play in order to get tha party started.  It isn't going to set tha roof on fire at which time nobody will care and they'll suggest you just let the darned thing burn.  But, it will keep a thinking rocker's brain occupied for a long time, and will most likely spend a long time in your CD player.

Which is, to me, the mark of a great album.

Buy it.

Talk about it. (Thread lost in forum crash)



 April 8, 2001

 11:39 pm CST - GORDON - Review: Music Match

I don't ordinarily pay for the various applications that work just fine in their freeware versions.  Real Player, FrontPage Express, and CuteFTP all perform the tasks I need accomplished in their free form.  That isn't the case with Music Match...it is very much worth it's $30 price tag for a music lover.

I first discovered Music Match (MM) about three years ago when I was looking for a program with which to rip mp3's.  My buddies were doing a 2-step method, using one app to rip to a .wav, and another program to convert the .wav to an .mp3.  I did a search, and found MM almost immediately.

Three years ago, the shareware/trial version was pretty much limited to playing and ripping mp3's.  Additionally, it would only allow you to rip 5 tracks at a time before it expired.  I must have uninstalled/reinstalled the thing 50 times in order to keep ripping tracks.

One day, I had $30 burning a hole in my pocket, and registered the thing.  I enjoyed ripping entire albums at one time, and did so with most of my collection.  A couple months later I scratched and reloaded my system, and never got around to reloading MM.

Fast forward two years.  Brand new PC, and a new and updated trial version of MM preloaded.  I fired it up to take it for a spin.

What used to be a bare boned mp3 ripper is now a Swiss Army Knife of musical utilities.

Insert a CD, and MM automatically hits CDDB, a database of music, and auto-fills the artist, album name, and track titles.  You have full control of your CD ripping....from the target file, to the mp3 quality, to how the file names are generated...down to what separator character is used between artist and track name.

But the fun is just starting.

Since moving to Memphis, TN, I've been dabbling with internet radio.  My taste in music tends to run a tad harder than your typical N*Suck or Backdoor Boys playin' station.  And in Memphis, you have Blues, Classic Rock, bubble gum pop, or gospel.  So I was intrigued when I saw the list of radio stations in the bottom window.  I hit the "Hard Rock" station...because what else is there?  In spite of the occasional Van Halen track, I'm extremely happy with the music selection.

And yet there's more.

I just now discovered the "Customize Station" function.  It asked me to input my 3 favorite artists, and it built a new selection of artists from them.  I must applaud whatever algorithm the programmers came up with...it chose very well.

I'm on a broadband net connection, and I've never had the music pause or skip.  I mean NEVER.  The sound quality is excellent.  There's only one 6 second MM commercial after every 5th track...very acceptable.  There's a cute little Winamp-style visualization at the top, which works whether playing CD's, mp3's, or net radio.  You can change the skin.  It will meet you at the door with a beer when you get home from work.  It will balance your checkbook.  It will pet your dog.  It will say soothing and comforting things to you when you are depressed.

Last little tech-bit...when I went to enter my 3-year old MM registration code, the new software wouldn't recognize it.  I went to the MM web page, went to their "validate code" portion, and I was told my code was indeed valid.  I blasted off an email to their tech support relaying my problem, and a couple days later I was sent a new code, an apology for the delay, and no questions asked.  All companies should have that level of customer support.

In summary, if you buy one piece of music-style software this year, make it Music Match.  I honestly can't think of anything it is missing.  Tell them Gordo sent you.



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