Urban Canals – Night Walks

Colour me surprised today!  I wasn’t planning on posting anything (poor planning, there are tons of things to write about when it comes to music and Halloween!), but I got a surprise Bandcamp notification email letting me know that Urban Canals has a new EP out today!

For me, Urban Canals was last seen 2 years ago on podcast episode #85, where I played their track “Generations”.  Urban Canals is also Alex Hindriks, who I wrote about a few weeks ago.

This new album – called Night Walks – is not exactly Halloween themed except for name alone.  There are a couple of tracks that you could probably stretch into that theme: “Harmless Monster” and “Sabretooth”.  The EP itself has a light pop / indie vibe.

It’s a short but enjoyable listen – I think the standout track for me is “City Breaks”.  It’s a great musical arrangement, and the vocals are fantastic too.  “Down the Street” is great as well – it slows you down from the more upbeat “City Breaks” and sort of guides you through the song.  I don’t think I’m explaining it very well, so I’ll stop rambling there.  Can you tell I didn’t plan this out ahead of time?

The album closes out with a heavier track, “House of Cards”.  So I think the Night Walks EP gives you a wide array of musical styles and you can walk away from the experience satisfied. 

Hope you enjoy it!  Happy Halloween!

Mainstream Monday: What are you streaming?

Rather than putting the spotlight on a specific artist, I figured I would write a little about where I listen to mainstream music.  Simply put, pretty much everywhere. 
I tend to listen to SiriusXM’s Alt Nation the most.  More often than not I find that Alt Nation has new music well ahead of most radio stations that play the same type of music.  I really like the personalities on Alt Nation too.  They don’t usually say very much – they’re very generic when they have talking breaks – but they have good voices and every now and then they have some entertaining stories.  Mostly though I come back for the music – though I find extended listening periods tend to mean a lot of repetition in music, which has turned me off several songs now. 
I used to listen to an Ottawa station, Live 88.5, with the Radio Player app.  However lately I’ve been enjoying Sonic out of Edmonton, Alberta.  Sonic seems to play more of the newer songs that Alt Nation plays, but also sprinkles in older alternative songs.  The personalities on Sonic are much better than on Alt Nation.  I wish I had this station on a local preset but at least now with RadioPlayer it’s convenient enough to tune in. 
After that, I play individual songs via Spotify.  Sometimes it’s music based on what I’ve heard on the above sources, but Spotify does a really good job of curating playlists (the Daily Mixes, New Release Radar, and Your Discover Weekly are pretty great).  Generally though, if I’m on Spotify, I’m probably playing music I’ve listened to before and re-discovering old favourites.  Sometimes I will throw Spotify’s algorithms a wild card and play something like Johnny Cash live from San Quentin. 

Madelyniris – Adventures (2014)

I found this indie / electronic / pop album while researching music for episode 109 of the podcast.  I first heard her track, “Leave and Never Look Back”, and thought it was a fantastic synth-based pop track.  I listened to it WAY more than the other tracks on the podcast. 

So I followed the trail – clicked through Jamendo and found her EP, “Adventures“.  Leave and Never Look Back was the opening track, but I was slightly disappointed to find that the rest of the album didn’t have quite the same feel.  Don’t get me wrong – I still liked the album as a whole. 

It’s a little slow moving, but that’s not something I hold against it.  All of the songs apart from the opening track have the same sort of sound design to it, but they all share a driving base rhythm that move the songs forward.  Madelyniris’ voice sounds really good too, and you can tell that there isn’t much, if any, processing on her voice. 

I wish I could find something more recent to share, but “Adventures” appears to be the only album of any length.  You can check out her other work on her Bandcamp page if you’re interested.  Here’s hoping that she is working on something new as I type!

#109 – New Tracks + Gord Downie

Brand new episode!  Featuring many Canadians, a few new tracks, and I forgot what episode I was recording.  It’s definitely 109.  The songs picked in today’s show were picked somewhat with Tragically Hip music in mind, in honour of Gord Downie’s passing Wednesday October 18th.

Track list:
1. Plastic Light Factory – Robyn
2. The Ladies Of – Deep Possession
3. Not From Georgia – Highway 84
4. Plants – Luminance
5. Madelyniris – Never Look Back
6. Arrow & Olive – Whiskey Woman
7. Mercury and the Architects – The Wolf
8. Stunts – Tragically Hip Hop 
9. Ralph Castelli – Good Morning
10. Lower Loveday – I’d Do Anything You Wanted
11. Rogerthat – Lucky Day
12. Alex Cohen – Good Old Times
13. The Happy Somethings – Happy On My Own

Interested in a good representation of the Tragically Hip’s music?  Consider getting a copy of Yer Favourites, a best-of as voted by fans of the band.

Stranger Things: The Game

Stranger Things: The Game
Stranger Things: The Game

Have you tried out Stranger Things: The Game?  I heard about this a few weeks back in passing, and sought it out.  The gameplay is fairly simple – it’s point-and-click, but is more of an action RPG (in the vein of the original Zelda games).

I’ve only got as far as Chapter 2, but so far it’s a lot of fun to figure out the little puzzles throughout the game.  There are two modes: “Normal” and “1984”, which is apparently next to impossible to play unless you’re a big gamer.  Anyway, I’m on the Normal mode.  There looks to be a ton of things to do.  The game is very well-designed and fun to play, which is  win for me!

It also has a sense of humour, which all of the great action RPG games of old had.  It’s a fantastic homage, but also stands on its own.  I think the mobile gaming world could use more games like this!  If there already are – point them out to me!!

Live Show Alert: The Split

I love The Split – such a great band, from my local area too.  This is just a quick post to let you know that they have a concert coming up, in Wakefield, QC!  Check out the details via Facebook.  The concert is Friday, November 10th.

If you want to hear their music, go to their website!  http://www.thesplitsoulmusic.com.  I played one of their songs on episode #90.

Mainstream Monday – Beck "Colors"

Welcome to the first edition of “Mainstream Monday”!  While the blog focuses primarily on music released under a Creative Commons license, I also don’t live under a rock.  Mainstream Monday is just a quick listing of what I’m listening to in the world of popular music.

Right now it is most definitely NOT Portugal. The Man.  Well, not “Feel It Still” anyway.  I loved that song when it first came out on the Alternative radio stations (for the record, the station I listen to the most lately is Sirius XM’s Alt Nation), but it’s almost everywhere now.  I hear it on the local KiSS FM station here, which is basically Top 40.  I’m still liking Live In the Moment.

Do you ever feel like you can’t listen to some songs anymore because they cross over?  Luckily I’m not there yet with Imagine Dragons, though they’re not getting near as much airplay as Feel It Still.

What I’m most excited is a new album from Beck, “Colors”.  I’m listening to it right now, as I type it.  I like it a lot.  It’s got a good alternative feel, but is also somewhat light.  The one downside is that it sounds like a lot of his previous work of late.  That’s not really a bad thing I guess, just that it doesn’t feel like it’s entirely new.  More like a continuation.  My least favourite track though is “Wow”, which I heard last year…not really a fan.

What’s got your attention?

Another Weight Loss Angle

Weight Scale - courtesy pixabay
Weight Scale

I wasn’t sure what to write about today, so I thought I’d go with a popular topic in my grab bag – weight loss.  It’s something I struggle with every day, and likely will until I reach my goal (which is a healthy BMI, generally).

I think I got to my lowest and visually best weight three years ago, when I got down to the 240’s for a friend’s wedding.  Actually, looking at my old spreadsheets, it looks like I was in the 230’s (at least according to whatever scale I was using) in 2015.

But now I’m in the 260’s, hovering in that range for quite a while.  That’s not to say I haven’t made progress though!  I ballooned up to the 270’s and in the past year and a half made good progress to come back down to where I am now.  The thing is, it’s slow progress, and I’m not seeing the results I’d like (I can tell that two years ago, I was a lot thinner looking in the face, for example).

And I’ve tried several things.  Most recently I tried looking at my calorie count weekly.  Since MyFitnessPal makes this somewhat difficult, I made myself crazy trying to get Tasker & FitBit to give me daily notifications; once I got it working it was great.  But I found that I wasn’t really paying much notice to it.

So I took a break; I’m back at tracking my calories now.  I saw a post on reddit.com/r/loseit that suggested a hybrid of calorie tracking – use a higher daily limit on the weekends than the weekdays.  Essentially it’s the same as tracking weekly, but I know that I only have so many calories to use during the week.  I haven’t been 100% successful in implementing this yet, mostly because I haven’t figured out how many calories I want to restrict myself to on weekdays.

But the other thing that I thought of on my own was to use MFP’s great “Quick Add Calories” tool to my advantage.  I figure that I should be tracking daily – it’s the best way to keep myself accountable.  And I recognize that sometimes, I do go over my goal, and that’s OK.  What I need to do in order to counter this is to make sure I don’t keep going over my goal every day.

To that end, I’m trying something new this week: adding the calories I overeat back to my log the next day as a “Quick Add” entry.  So Tuesday I went over by 72 calories, and I added it to m Wednesday totals.  Wednesday, I went over by 392 (320 + 72).  Oops.  OK, so I’ll add 392 to today (Thursday).  My goal today is 1568, effectively.

I’m also trying not to eat back exercise calories.  I’m hoping that this works to my advantage, because it also means despite going over my calorie goals, I technically still had room left to eat more.  We’ll see how it works!  I hope I’m explaining myself clearly enough too, by the way.

So far, so good though – I started the week at 265.9, and weighed in this morning at 263.7!  I’m doing a daily weigh-in and taking the weekly average though, because weight can fluctuate so much.  Still, I take this as a success.

Star Trek Discovery Opening Titles

I think this is probably the best opening sequence of any Star Trek show.  It would be cool if they made versions for all of the other shows that look like this.  My current desktop wallpaper is a screenshot of the Discovery from this sequence.  It looks really great.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eipvltuV6iQ

Ghosts of Invention – Galactic Shadows

Ghosts of Invention – Galactic Shadows Release date: October 5, 2017

“Synthwave” is not exactly the most-listened-to category of music in my playback history, nor am I big fan of electronic music in general.  But friend of the blog/podcast Alex Hindriks (you might remember him from Alternative Airwaves #94) sent along a link to a new 7-track concept album featuring some cool, spacey electronic music.  I found myself liking it a lot!

Hindriks, creating the music as Ghosts of Invention, describes the album on his BandCamp page:

This record is a collection of sounds and tunes that remind me of what it would be like to travel through space. In a way, this is a concept album; with most songs having a constant, non-melodic soundscape filling in the space behind them. I started writing this record shortly after David Bowie passed away; which was also around the time I was watching a lot of films based in space.

I happened to read the description first before listening, and I’m glad I did, because I found that it informed my listening experience quite a bit.  I think GoI does a great job re-creating that “travelling through space” feel and you can easily lose yourself in the music.  I was actually recently listening to a few other 80’s-inspired synth music (the Stranger Things soundtrack chiefly among others) and this lines up quite well with them. 

I first listened through the album while at work, and I thought it did a great job at moving me through the work I was doing. 

I highly recommend checking out “Galactic Shadows”, especially if spacey synth music is your thing.

Note: there is a link to the Stranger Things soundtrack on Amazon; at the moment, there are no affiliate links on this blog.