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Manage Your Mega-Massive Music Library By Ditching iTunes And Your External Hard Drive

I loved iTunes. Up until pretty recently, too. But you know what? Fuck iTunes. What used to be the most intuitive and seamless experience has turned into a glitchy piece of shit that freezes whenever I try to do something as simple as search for a record or play a song. It won’t let me do anything quickly, which is both iTunes’ and my fault, though. My music library lives on an external FireWire hard drive and is roughly 1.5 TB, which is admittedly pretty fuckin big. But decent software should be able to handle this; iTunes can’t because it’s bloated, trying to be a comprehensive media manager & store. I know others have jumped ship well before me and there are tons of other articles about the why and how, but I haven’t seen too many address the biggest issue I’ve had: a huge, cumbersome music library. So that’s what I hope to do with this post, let you know where I was, where I’m at now, and why I’m much happier.

My previous setup was pretty straightforward. My (2011?) Macbook spent most of its time sitting plugged in at my desk where it could be connected via FireWire to my Western Digital MyBook Studio 3 TB external hard drive. The hard drive had both my digital music as well as the iTunes library and database files. Eventually I got fed up and started looking for other software & storage solutions. So many people had recommended getting a NAS (network attached storage) setup, so that seemed like the next obvious move for storage. Software was a bit more problematic, because as most of you probably know, there’s not a whole lot of decent iTunes alternatives out there, especially for Macs. I did tons of research on which NAS brand/model to buy and the software that would replace iTunes, and ended up with this:


qnap ts-251swinsian


Storage: QNAP TS-251 NAS (Intel Celeron 2.41GHz, 8 TB (2 x 4 TB), 4GB RAM) – $669
Software: Swinsian – $20


Why the QNAP TS-251 & Swinsian?

There are tons of reasons why you might prefer a NAS over a straight external hard drive, but the big draws for me were being able to access the content anywhere (anywhere at home, anywhere away from home) and not having to worry about my external hard drive dying and having to buy a new drive and restore my cloud backups, which is a a huge stress and a major pain in the ass.

The big debate seems to be between QNAP or Synology for your NAS brands. I opted for QNAP because of this review and lots of recommendations. I knew I wanted 2 hard drive bays so I could run a RAID system which allows the two drives to mirror each other without any extra work on my part. This means when one drive has a little glitch or if a file gets corrupted or anything like that, the QNAP will replace the broken info on one drive with the good stuff on the other drive. I wanted a decent amount of RAM and not an Intel Atom processor because I plan on streaming movies off of the QNAP in the near future as well. Which is also why I chose to get a model with an HDMI output, which is not a common feature. I wanted 4 TB of storage because that gives me a little room to grow from my 1.5G TB music and less than 1 TB of video, and I chose to buy the drives pre-installed because buying just the empty NAS case and then getting the drives separately ended up costing about the same. Lots of other nice stuff about this model, too, like hot-swappable drives. Depending on what you’re doing, you can get away with a much cheaper model than what I got.

Swinsian was the only software I actually downloaded and tried out. The rest of the stuff I looked at from a distance via reviews and such, and that’s because I could tell just from reading that so many of the other apps wouldn’t suit my needs. I wanted something that looked visually similar to iTunes (namely, being able to browse by album artwork), I wanted to be able to stream content via AirTunes/AirPlay, I wanted to be able to sync my iPod Classic, and ideally, I would be able to import my iTunes data so I wouldn’t lose play counts, playlists, and the like. Swinsian does all of this, and it claims it’s “designed to be responsive even with the largest libraries.” It’s one of the few apps that costs a decent amount of money ($20) but it comes with a full featured 30 day trial, so I didn’t have to drop the money blindly.


Setting Up

Setting up the QNAP was pretty much as easy as taking it out of the box and turning it on. I had some weird network issues that were unrelated to the QNAP but eventually got things running and accessible via my Macbook. QNAP has a nice web interface where you can do everything from file and sever management to running apps and stuff. After the initial setup, I plugged my external hard drive directly into the QNAP via USB and copied over the entire contents using QNAP’s web file manager. I had some errors when copying which I’m 99% sure were due to insanely long file names/paths. I ran some queries on my external hard drive to identify the extra long ones, then I edited them down, and was successful in copying everything over to the QNAP.

To test things out, I tried running iTunes from the QNAP over wifi. Since my previous setup involved storing my library & database files on the external hard drive (instead of on my Macbook), I did the same with the QNAP. Shit results. Moving the library & database files to my Macbook but keeping the media on the QNAP resulted in better performance, but still worse than when I was running everything from my external. But at least everything was working.

Next was setting up Swinsian to work with the QNAP. This is where shit got crazy. Like I mentioned before, Swinsian has the option to import your iTunes library so you can retain iTunes specific metadata. I tried this and it seemed to go ok. It didn’t take very long (still, multiple hours) to import the library XML (side note: if you don’t have an iTunes library XML file because you’re using the newest version of iTunes, which changed from XML to ITL files for its library/database, you can easily & quickly export your library as an XML file in iTunes to import in Swinsian, which will only import an XML). However I quickly realized some of my music was unavailable. When I had Swinsian reveal the file in Finder, it was looking for my external hard drive. Apparently iTunes was still using some of the music on the external hard drive instead of the QNAP. I have no fucking clue why this happened.

My first (unsuccessful) step to resolve this was to go back into iTunes and consolidate my library so iTunes would know all the music was on the QNAP. My library was too big for this to work, it kept hanging, crashing, and throwing errors. So I said fuck it, I don’t need my iTunes specific data, I’ll start over and just have Swinsian scan the QNAP directories for my music. This took forever but eventually looked like it was finished scanning. It wasn’t. Swinsian was showing songs in the library with no ID3 tags save for the mp3 filename, it wouldn’t play those songs (they had a running time of 00:00), and it wasn’t showing everything. I tried this QNAP directory scan a couple times to make sure it wasn’t just Swinsian. It wasn’t just Swinsian (although I think it was part of the problem). Apparently the files from my external hard drive didn’t get copied over to the QNAP properly the first time I was setting it up (even though I’m fucking certain they did). So I connected the external drive to the QNAP and repeated the copying process, choosing to skip files with the same filename. I had Swinsian scan the QNAP again and still ran into problems, so once again, I said fuck it. I returned to iTunes, but instead of working with my same library as before, I created a new library by pointing iTunes at the QNAP. That way I had a library file that knew where all my music was. I imported that XML library to Swinsian, and finally have non-iTunes software that can access all my music on my NAS.

All of that scanning and importing and copying took a fuckton of time. I typically would let something run overnight when I knew I wouldn’t be using my music the next day. At most, I think a scan/import/etc took less than 24 hours with a wired ethernet connection.

Speaking of wired connections, once I realized my wifi was garbage, I decided I needed to connect everything directly (Macbook -> router, router -> NAS). That’s not to say you can’t do this wirelessly. I’m pretty sure some weird shit is happening in my home which is a combination of old busted routers and every type of signal interference you can think of. So your mileage will absolutely vary.


Playing with Swinsian

I’m way into this app. It’s super fast. Like, super fast. None of the lagging jumpy glitchfest that is iTunes. Searching is a breeze, everything happens more or less instantaneously. That bit about being responsive with even mega-massive libraries is 100% true. Editing tags is the best. Again, it’s super quick & easy, especially if you have the tag editor frame open all the time (which is a killer feature). It supports Regex, which is a ridiculously robust search and replace function that has a decent learning curve, but when you don’t have Doug’s AppleScripts anymore, you’re probably going to want to take advantage. Swinsian basically does everything you used iTunes for: album art fetching, smart playlists, Last.FM scrobbling, gapless playback, AirTunes/AirPlay streaming, etc. It also does lots that iTunes couldn’t do, like support for FLAC and multiple genres (!!!).

However, Swinsian isn’t perfect (yet). I do have some complaints…

-AirTunes/AirPlay streaming only allows streaming to one AirPlay device at a time, which sucks when you have 2 or more AirPlay devices. Not only that, but when Swinsian is streaming to AirPlay, it doesn’t even play the music back locally! That’s some stupid shit.

-Swinsian doesn’t use any of the Sort ID3 tags that iTunes used. This is a huge fucking blow considering how much time I spent and how many files I have that use those fields. That means if you want to sort by artist’s last names, or if you have artists that use weird punctuation, you’re fucked. It can’t even handle the preceding periods in “…And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead.” This will take some major re-evaluating of my cataloging practices, which I’ve already spent plenty of time evaluating.

-It doesn’t handle iOS devices, so iPhones, iPads, and newer iPods still need to be synced with iTunes (although this isn’t a problem for me because I don’t put music on my iPhone, and my iPod is an iPod Classic, which Swinsian can handle).

-Swinsian doesn’t rip CDs. Not a huge problem. Other software, like XLD, is fine for this.

-I exported my playlists from iTunes and imported them (and recreated the smart playlists) in Swinsian, so I didn’t loose that info, but play counts, date added, and a lot of other metadata that I relied on in iTunes is gone. This isn’t a complaint on Swinsian features, more about its inability to scan 1.5 TB of music accurately.

So yeah, these things suck, but they’re sacrifices I’m willing to make because of how dysfunctional iTunes became for my purposes.



Absolutely without a doubt worth the effort to toss the bogus bloated Apple mess and unreliable external hard drives for a fast, stable, and accessible Swinsian/NAS setup. Anyone can do this, and should if you have an unwieldy music collection.

While setting stuff up, I went back and forth a hundred times between iTunes and Swinsian. Just when I thought I had shit under control, something else went wrong and I had to revert to iTunes. This was a huge time suck because my libraries got out of sync between apps and it got really hard to keep track of. So a really important tip is to make note of the exact size of your library in a variety of ways (number of songs, number of albums, number of GB, etc.), that way when you get Swinsian loaded up, you can make sure you’re not missing anything.

I haven’t spent a ton of time with Swinsian yet. I’m sure there will be more things I run into that I love/hate the longer I use it. But I also am convinced that it will get better over time, instead of getting worse like iTunes.

I wrote all of this from memory. I didn’t plan on writing this post until after I finished everything and some folks were like “tell me what you did!” So there’s probably parts of this process that aren’t chronological or slightly inaccurate. Sorry!

I’m happy to talk more about this. I glazed over plenty (like how to make a new iTunes library) because I figured you could Google anything you didn’t know. If you have questions or anything like that, comment or email or Twitter or whatever.

13 Reasons Why We Can (And Should) Pick Our Favorite Records: A Defense For The Quantification Of Aesthetics

13 reasons for lists winners podium
Drew Daniel is widely known as that well respected Matmos dude and the guy behind The Soft Pink Truth who just put out that batshit crazy electronic black metal tribute Why Do The Heathen Rage? that “abjures black metal homophobes, racists, and Nazis categorically and absolutely.” The Quietus asked him to share his 13 favorite records but instead he published an article titled “13 Reasons Why I Can’t Pick My 13 Favourite Records: A Rant Against The Quantification Of Aesthetics.” As a guy who got a state college education in Aesthetics, my knee-jerk reaction to that title was “Fuck yeah! Finally someone speaking up about this music ‘journalism’ bullshit.” Then I read the article and found myself shaking my head, going “No, no, no, Drew, you’re not wrong, you’re just totally missing the point.” I literally never feel the urge to call someone out online for being wrong or misguided or whatever, let alone do any sort of long-form writing on AGB, but I felt like Drew was begging for a conversation about this, that he was intentionally pushing people’s buttons (while still being true to his opinions), and that I actually had a strong enough opinion of my own (again, very rare) that I should respond to Drew’s rant and make people not feel bad about saying something like The Tired Sounds Of Stars Of The Lid is their favorite ambient record.

We can and should make Top 10 lists because they’re good exercises in further analyzing records, they’re good conversation starters, and they’re just plain fun. We can and should talk in superlatives and hyperbole about what we think the best Sunn O))) record is because that’s what makes our language and culture so rich. Those are the origins of this article that I never thought needed to be defended, but Drew started it.

Drew had 13 points, in line with The Quietus’ Baker’s Dozen column, and I go through each of them, so this is a bit long and I don’t like to clutter the front page, so the meat is after the jump.
Read the rest of this entry »

Your Favorite Record Shops

me at the record exchange

Me at The Record Exchange, my number one. Credit: my pal Amy


I’ve been doing a bit of research, looking for some of the coolest record shops in America. Reason being, I’m planning a cross country road trip at some unknown point in the future and I’d like to hit up some sweet record shops along the way. The problem is I only know what’s around me, and anytime I see a “best of” or whatever it’s always bloated with places like Amoeba in LA or Shangri-La in Memphis. Not that I’m not interested in those places, I most certainly am, but I’m more looking for the smaller, weirder shops, like Stormy Records in Dearborn, MI or the newly minted Hanson Records in Oberlin, OH. I know about those places because they’re run by artists I’m a fan on, so they’re already on my radar. So here’s where you come in!

First off, this isn’t just about me looking for places to hit up. I actually buy cialis online from canada thought it’d be a good idea to have a list like this, maybe something other people could make use of. So I’m not asking you to omit places like Amoeba. If that’s your favorite place to dig for records, awesome, include it and let us know why. But you know, the weirder the better, that’s the general goal of this, to let other people know about the little places, the holes in walls.

No rules here. There’s no required fields (you don’t even need to share why you like it). You can add however many stores you like (but one at a time please). Don’t worry about duplicates (knowing a shitton of people love Redscroll in CT would be awesome). They don’t have to be in the US. There’s no deadline. The responses will be publicly viewable, and depending on how it goes, I might do something with the data afterwards.

THANKS x1000

Here’s a spreadsheet of the responses.

AGB Guide To Hopscotch

Hopscotch logo
I did one of these things last year because some of yall were interested. Since I’m going to Hopscotch again, and since some of yall are interested again, I went ahead and did one, again.

This is basically my own personal schedule, meaning anything that’s not on my schedule I’m almost certainly not going to. The bands on my shortlist are either ones I already know & love (I am NOT missing Charlemagne Palestine) or ones that have sparked enough interest in me to risk choosing them over a sure-fire winner (maybe Alexander Turnquist is better than either Dan Friel or High Aura’d but come on). I know there’s lots of other cool shit going down at Hopscotch that’s not on my list, that’s what makes it a near-perfect fest, but I can only see one band at a time (hope there’s some top men working on a solution to that) and this is to help me (and maybe you) narrow shit down before you panic in the moment and accidentally see Saints Apollo instead of Cian Nugent.

Anyway, here’s the night-by-night breakdown, here’s my recs in spreadhseet & PDF forms. There’s also gonna be some KILLLERRRRR day parties that haven’t been officially announced yet but keep an eye on Cory Rayborn’s/Three Lobed’s insane Kings Barcade day show. Last year it was one of the highlights of the fest and this year it looks to be even better OMGGGG.

Merzbow by Louis Caldarola


First things first, Black Twig Picker & Pelt dude Nathan Bowles kicks things off at the Fletcher Opera Theater at 8:30 with his high brow banjo, followed by an hour and a half of the intimate dreamfolk from the lovely Angel Olsen at 9:30, which bleeds right into crowdpleaser Grouper at 11. Definitely a stacked chill venue for the opening night.

The Dreebs bring their avant anti-punk noise pop blasphemy to the Kennedy Theater at 9, then this year’s superhyped-with-good-reason Pharmakon will rupture guts and bang heads with her sleazy atomic darkwave at 10. The new Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) and Eugene Robinson (Oxbow) collab Sal Mineo follows at 11, who I haven’t heard yet and while I’m not a huge fan of either of those dudes’ respective bands, they have an upcoming album on Important so I’m game. Then finally, FINALLY, motherfucking WOLD will play their fifth show ever at midnight. Their nightmarish black noise is not to be fucked with (that recent vinyl reissue of Freermasonry on Ideologic Organ was hellish) and they’ve got that whole mystery thing going for them so long story short I am fuckin PSYCHED for this set. Sadly, there’s a problem…

They’re right in between a killer bill at Kings Barcade. Japanese noise legend and this year’s “Improviser In Residence” Merzbow starts at 11:30 and everyone’s favorite ferocious dudes Wolf Eyes are at 12:30. What’s a noisehead to do? Not only that, but Ohio’s Mike Shiflet will set the scene at 10:30 with his beautiful & precise massive darkness. Fuckin bill of the century right there. A couple of guys named Boyzone start off at 9:30. I don’t know em but their picture on Hopscotch looks like they put on a good show of “playful mayhem.”

Golden Void’s brand of San Franciscan catchy shreddy psych is sure to be awesome, they’re on at 11 at Deep South. Also at 11 but at The Hive is sprawling spaced droner Expo ’70. If you’re looking to math it up, Liturgy’s Hunter Hunt-Hendrix is also in the band Survival, who brings some sweet modernized math rock jams at Lincoln Theater at 10:30, then my #1 guitar tappin lady Marnie Stern will get your existential self racing on an endorphin high at 11:30 (also at Lincoln).

Endless Boogie kinda speak for themselves, and righteously so. They play at 11:30 at Slim’s and I’ve heard their shows are pretty fuckin great. They’re followed by Jonathan Kane’s February, who’s up against Wolf Eyes at 12:30. They’re new to me but with comparisons to Swans and Jon Mueller’s Death Blues set last yet, I can safely say this show will be fucking awesome.
charlemagne palestine

Charlemagne Palestine by Fabio Lugaro


The main stage at City Plaza has Future Islands at 7. Even though I’m not into huge stages/crowds like that, Future Islands are cool enough to maybe venture into that abyss. Plus, nothing else will be going on.

CAM has what seems like a pretty sweet lineup all night with OXYxMORON at 9:30, Helado Negro at 10:30, XXYYXX at 11:30, and Ryan Hemsworth at 12:30. I’ve only heard of Hemsworth but I’ve never listened to anything more than a song or two by him. The other artists sound similarly cool if not more so and the laid back electronic jams, soft pop & sharp hip hop might be a good way to spend the night. And CAM is a great spot too, albeit a little out of the way.

Another venue that has a bill I don’t know much about save for the 100% incredible noise pop of ex-Parts & Laborer (RIP) Dan Friel is The Hive. Friel is on at 10 and if his solo set is anything like a P&L show, be prepared to get the fuck down. Just before him at 9 is Waumiss, a husband/wife duo crafting a strange & extraordinary bedroom pop. Then there’s the new project order generic cialis online uk from Brian Foote of Nudge called Leech, doing what sounds like a minimal classy ambient techno kinda thing at 11, followed by Nightlands at 12 playing a lush harmonic pop with a dash of sunny psych.

There’s two other places, Kennedy Theater & Long View Center, with bills running parallel set times and similar genred bands, but Long View strays more towards the experimental, especially as the night progresses (so they win I think). Kennedy Theater starts with the gorgeous expansive calm of Villages at 9, Alexander Turnquist’s exquisite 12-string picking at 10, MA’s own garage freaks Speedy Ortiz at 11, and the gloomy glamour of Waxahatchee’s brooding folk at 12.

Pair that with Long View Center’s damn near perfect lineup of the thick fuzzy Ilyas Ahmed dreams at 9, Boston’s chief dark guitar drone hero High Aura’d at 10, Daniel Bachman’s dizzying & dazzling acoustic wonderland at 11, and thee mighty Charlemagne Palestine performing some manner of experimental minimal weird perfection at 12. Oh the things you’ll hear.

The killer hip hop show is going down at Lincoln Theater with Alpoko Don at 10:30, Action Bronson at 11:30, and Earl Sweatshirt at 12:30 (assuming he doesn’t cancel). And playing late into the night at Five Star starting around 12:30 is the beloved all over the place Magik Markers, doing stuff for the first time in a long time. Pretty fucking exciting.

Charalambides by Jonathan Pound


Things start off at City Plaza with The Breeders at 6:50 and Spiritualized at 8:40. Not that crazy about The Breeders and Spiritualized is cool but I don’t really listen to em all that much so this is a definite maybe.

Cian Nugent is at the Fletcher Opera Theater at 9 bringing his experimental Appalachian folksy brilliance all the way from Ireland. Definitely a rare set. The slow magic of Low graces the same place at 11. Fingers crossed they’ll do something like that droning 30 minute version “Do You Know How To Waltz?” Smack in between them at 10 but over at Kennedy Theater is Scout Niblett with her awkward & angular sparse creeprock.

Then things start getting dicey with lots of painful overlapping sets.

The Long View Center has a fantastic bill with Pelt, Lonnie Holley, and Califone at 10, 11, and 12 respectively. Pelt plays an incredible folk drone that kinda reminds me of the theme to the show Carnivàle in the best way possible. Lonnie Holley is a 63 year old dude doin some crazy fuckin anti-folk/pop/blues bizarro shit whose debut was just put out by Dust To Digital. So, don’t miss that, obviously. Then the criminally underrated Califone share their patented avant dust rock to a hopefully massive crowd.

The Scottish Richard Youngs plays for an hour and a half at Memorial Auditorium starting at 10:30. Never totally sure what to expect from his sets but it’s guaranteed to be some next level experimental folk genius. John Cale plays after him at 12 if you’re into that but I’d rather put my money on…

The muthafuckin Charalambides at Five Star at 12:30. Tom & Christina Carter’s slow spectral/spiritual folk knows no bounds and is exceptionally exceptional. Before them at 11:30 is the French weirdo High Wolf who plays some warped & spacey psych drone pop stuff. Sure to be out of this world. And before him at 10:30 is Arborea from the wilds of western Maine, and while I haven’t heard much from them, the instruments all hit the sweet spot for me (banjo, harmonium, Basho-esque guitar, etc). Pretty sure this whole lineup is A+ work.

But then there’s the fuckin metal show of the year at Lincoln Theater. Inter Arma is at 10:30 who seriously have one of the best records this year, Sky Burial, which crams heavy psych black post metal death folk doom monstrosities all into one insanely amazing album. Then the almighty doomlords Evoken, who admittedly aren’t the same as they used to be (only one original member remains) but that one dude has been perfecting funeral doom for 20+ years and goodgod they deserve all the fucking medals. Their latest, Atra Mors, is some mantle-worthy shit. Then venerable dopesmokers Sleep close out the night with some hefty fuckin doom that’ll crack open your head and let the craziness soar.

And if the electronic bug is bitin, then CAM is where it’s at with Horse Lords at 10:30, Holly Herndon at 11:30, and Matmos at 12:30. I just saw Matmos and Horse Lords a couple months ago, so I’ll probably skip out on this, but that shouldn’t tell you anything about their awesomeness, they’re both totally worth your time, especially if you’ve never seen Matmos before. Herndon is extra desirable though, her debut from last year Movement is still in rotation here, with some of the best contemporary composition mixed with sweet & sexy strange beats, it’s almost too much for a brain to handle.

Majical Cloudz goes on at 12 at The Hive. That new record is pretty cool in the slow dark catchy sorta way but I feel like it might be less inspiring live. Who knows. There’s also Foot Village closing out Slim’s at 12:30 and their bombastic shriek ‘n’ drums cacophony is hands down one of the best ways to end a fest.

So, pray tell, where are you gonna be?

Drone Or Noise? How I Got Intimate With My Records


I’ve been wanting to reorganize my records for a while. I had them alphabetized, which was decent enough, but that always felt lacking. I could never remember where I put those weird records (was Pronouncing The Scientific Names Of Seashells Of North America recorded by R. Tucker Abbott filed under “Pro” or “Sea” or “Abb?”). Elise would want to listen to “old & folksy” albums or something similarly genre-oriented. But most of all, alphabetical wasn’t how I pictured my collection. I think of it in terms of genre, the blues or drone records, the kind of African music I have, and how pitiful my soundtracks section is.

I spilled over into a second 2×4 Expedit sometime in the past couple years, which just turned into a catch-all for new acquisitions. I had a full shelf that was alphabetized and one that was roughly chronological. Fuck that. I had a lengthy winter break from work, so it seemed like the perfect time to tcb.

My main concern before I began was that I’d forget where I shelved a record and be unable to find it. A beautifully simple suggestion made by my pal Michelle was to keep track by using the notes field in my Discogs collection (where every record is cataloged, except for a surprising amount of stuff not in their database). But once I started spending more time with my records, figuring out their top-level genre and what my genres meant to me, it seemed almost impossible to forget where I put something. I ditched the Discogs notes idea but still used the site heavily in comparing my impression of a record’s genre with the ones Discogs use.

My plan wasn’t really a plan. I had a vague idea of the genres I’d use (one of which was “Holiday”) and I wanted to cherry pick a few of my favorite record labels to have their own section, so my general hierarchy was Label > Holiday > Genre. Christmas buy cialis thailand With John Fahey Volume II would get filed under “Takoma” but Boże Narodzenie: Polish Christmas Songs And Sketches would go under “Holiday” instead of “International.” And I knew I didn’t want a miscellaneous section. I’ve been taught as an archivist to despise it and I’d be damned if I couldn’t fit a record into an appropriate genre. That was it for a plan of attack, though. I was basically winging it. I had the end result in mind, organizing my collection to mirror my perception of my collection, and I felt that was all I needed.

I wanted to be efficient, which to me meant not deliberating over where to put an individual record for too long and not having to look at/handle a record more than once, so I figured I’d take all the records out of the shelves, store ’em in boxes, and go to town. Except I didn’t have enough boxes. So I took out as many records as I could and forged onward, one LP at a time.

There were some things I knew I’d have to deal with during the re-org that I couldn’t (or shouldn’t) plan for. Should drone & noise be two separate sections? Probably but I’d play it by ear. What about folk & blues? I started out keeping them together but the section got too big & varied, so I bisected it.

I ended up singling out more labels than I initially thought. I think I originally picked about 6 or so and ended up with double that. I’d come across a few special records and be reminded of another label worthy of solo shelf space, like Isounderscore or Editions Mego & its subdivisions. Some of them aren’t very robust but I hope they will be at some point. Plus I have a soft spot for some labels and it wasn’t fair for them to get shafted for having a small vinyl discography (<3 u Enemies List).

I had the idea of making a compilations section (either part of or separate from soundtracks) but I stopped that almost as soon as I tried. It didn’t feel right having a classic rock radio comp next to a New Wave comp next to a ’90s alternative comp. So they all stayed put.

There were lots of problem records, those that walked the line between genres, those that I couldn’t remember well enough to categorize without playing again (one of the perks of spending 3 days with your collection is listening to everything), and those that clearly didn’t belong in the genre I was putting them in but had nowhere else to go. But with each problem I came across, it allowed me to better understand what I had and what I thought of it. In my head, I was putting Mick Barr in my “New Rock” section but as soon as I threw on Coiled Malescence I knew it needed to go in “Metal” (almost “Noise” but not quite).

Sometimes I’d shelve a record in one genre even though it didn’t feel quite right. This lead me to break my rule of efficiency. Once I re-shelved everything and had gotten a feel for what each genre meant, I went through the sections and looked at every record again trying to find outliers. If I had enough outliers, I made a new genre, which actually happened a lot.

Prime example: ’80s music. I honestly never thought I had much of it but I ended up with a pretty substantial “’80s” section, culled from “Pop, Hip Hop, Techno, Beats,” “New Rock,” and “Early Rock, Oldies, Psych,” because Bonnie Tyler and Journey share a very special place in my heart. I pulled the early avant garde/electronic stuff out of “Drone,” and the country & ragtime/dixieland records out of “Folk” & “Blues.” I tried incorporating some new weird folk records into my “New Rock” section but that just didn’t work. Laughing Eye Weeping Eye was pretty much the sole catalyst for starting a new genre. They couldn’t find a home anywhere and I was able to find some other (loosely) similar records to give “New Folk” a spot. None of the new sections were huge but I gathered enough records to warrant them getting their own genres.

As I was going through, I was alphabetizing records within genre so I could still easily & quickly find things. I opted to switch it up for the “International” and labels sections, though. “International” has a bit of a gradient effect that’s organized by broad geography, usually by country or ethnicity, for maximum collocation. Each label is sorted by catalog number/chronology because it looks good (especially with Experimedia & Type). The exception is Smithsonian Folkways, which got kind of a micro-genre sorting because I have lots of them and, again, that’s just how I think about them. It didn’t make sense to have Sounds Of Insects right alongside Khamis El Fino Ali’s Music For The Classical Oud. Doing the granular work on Folkways was a ton of fun and probably my favorite part of the whole project. I’m especially fond of my Folkways collection.

I have a modest sized collection (a little less than a thousand) and felt that was the perfect size to let me do what I wanted and what was needed. If it was any smaller, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with this at all. Any bigger and I probably would’ve needed a better plan ahead of time.

I learned that my collection is unique, the way I think of it is unique, and by necessity the way I organize it is unique. I doubt anyone would categorize my collection the way I did. My genre definitions mean something specific to me and I filed records (mostly) according to my opinion of them. My collection feels much more personalized, and while part of the reason I did this was to help Elise figure out what record she wants to listen to (so she doesn’t accidentally pick out Prurient thinking it’s Phantogram), I feel like no one could navigate my collection properly and no one could mimic my organization. I already felt devoted to my records but that shit just got leveled up.

I’m sure I’ll end up re-organizing my records again at some point. New genres will undoubtedly pop up as my collection grows, but during this project, I couldn’t help but think of what having a genre spectrum without cardboard dividers would be like. There was so much internal debate over genre. How noisy can a drone record be? Are there enough riffs in the noise to be metal? I know the song titles have “Blues” in them, but isn’t this pretty folky? I imagined having my collection as a rainbow of genres with Sutekh Hexen falling between Ash Borer & Kevin Drumm or maybe Big Bill Broonzy sitting in the middle of Leadbelly & Charlotte Daniels & Pat Webb. It’d most likely make more problems than it solves because there’s always problems (but it’d be super fucking fun). A record collection is never neat & tidy. So as hard as I tried, I still ended up with a dumping ground for outliers, a small & pathetic crew of New Age, Bossanova, and college vocal groups, which I could barely be bothered to name.

AGB Guide To Hopscotch

I’ve never done a guide like this before. I’ve gone to ATP both in NY & NJ, but those were basically just two/three stage fests with properly staggered schedules so you could jump in between pretty easily. Thus, if you really wanted to see everyone play at least a little bit, you were able to. Not so with Hopscotch. There’s a dozen different venues that get taken over in downtown Raleigh and you’d kill yourself trying to see the majority of the bands play.

One of the reasons I’m super psyched for Hopscotch is because of the insane variety of music they brought in. Yeah, most fests do this, but Hopscotch seems more in tune with my personal tastes. Namely, lots of weird shit & black metal. So since they’re kinda all over the place genre-wise, I thought it might be a good idea to help out some folks looking for a more AGB themed experience at Hopscotch.

This guide won’t tell you what bands to see when (ok, maybe a little), it’s more to tell you the choices I’ll have to be making come showtime. For example, where will I be Thursday night at 10? The Fletcher Theater Opera for Charlie Parr or the Long View Center for Chuck Johnson? And I’m not gonna lie. This guide mostly started as my own personal endeavor and then a few readers wanted me to share, so, obviously I’ll oblige.

This guide is only for the night shows. There’s another schedule that’ll be released in a couple weeks with the day show stuff and I might do another guide for those, but no promises.

Also, just fyi, my personal fest going style is to see as many full sets as I can. None of this jumping around shit. I know that’s a bit antithetical to the whole festival thing but fuck it. I don’t like to second guess myself and wonder “Oh, but what if maybe Oneida is doing something extra awesome right now…” No. I commit to a band, sometimes even a venue for the night, and enjoy the fuck out of it.

Come September 6-8, you’ll know where I’ll be. If you see me, say hey, lets hang out. And let me know what your must-sees are in the comments!

Guardian Alien via


Long View Center is definitely the venue to camp at Thursday night if you had to chose. The crazy underrated electroacoustic duo of Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp start things off at 9:00, with acoustic guitar guru Chuck Johnson and the abrasively genius Bill Orcutt at 10 & 11, then the much hyped Julia Holter finishes things off at midnight. You honestly can’t go wrong by hanging out here. Except…

You’d be missing out on Jon Mueller’s Death Blues at 9:30 at the Lincoln Theatre. And this is one of my most anticipated sets for the whole fest, so there is no way I’m missing this. There’s a lot of mystery and excitement around the Death Blues project and this may be one of the only chances you have to check it out. I may not know many details about this but I can guarantee it’s going to be a fucking highlight.

If you’re feeling like some killer guitarness that’s not Chuck Johnson, head over to the Fletcher Opera House at 10 and catch the incredible Charlie Parr, the self taught old school blues picker who was on that amazing split Thrill Jockey put out last year with Glenn Jones where he played alongside the Black Twig Pickers. You know you’re in for a treat here.

Guardian Alien is a new project helmed by the bestial Gregory Fox who got more involved with this after he stopped drumming for Liturgy. This is some fucking amazing raga noise stuff like Lightning Bolt gone transcendental. You can see him at 11 at White Collar Crime if you’re into the whole “I saw him first” thing.

The Hive @ Busy Bee has a nice double header with thee Alan Bishop aka Alvarius B. at 11 being weird & awesome followed by the beloved synth/guitar superstar Mark McGuire at 12. Definitely not a bad place to be caught at if the timing’s right.

And if you still haven’t seen Liars or Deerhoof, let me be the last to tell you that you’re missing out. Deerhoof plays a mind bending 2 hour set at Memorial Auditorium starting at 10 and Liars close the night afterwards with a scheduled 1.5 hour set that will certainly find its way chugging into the AM’s nether regions.

Killer Mike via


The City Plaza starts things early with the festival “headliners” or whatever with Zammuto at 5:45, Built To Spill at 6:55 (on the dot), and The Jesus & Mary Chain at 8:45. I could miss Zammuto and not feel too bad, and I’ve seen Built To Spill before (not that they’re not worth seeing many times over), but J&MC is where it’s at. Pretty psyched to see ’em. After them and MBV, I’m just waiting for Slowdive and Ride to make their return so I can maybe put that shoegaze superfecta on the mantle.

If you’re looking for the Friday camp house and you can handle a blackened assault, set up shop at Kings Barcade and get destroyed by all manner of evil metal. I don’t know much about MAKE except that they’re fucking heavy and open things at 8:30, then brutal New Englanders Vattnet Viskar at 9:30, Georgia’s anti-Georgian Withered at 10:30, poster boys The Atlas Moth at 11:30, and Altar Of motherfucking Plagues at 12:30. Almost more black metal than one dude can handle.

There’s a fantastic semi-early double-header at Memorial Auditorium with the subtly masterful and oft veiled drummer Chris Corsano at 9 and Boston hero Glenn Jones’ 1.5 hour long set of massaging 12-string Fahey stylings at 10 (just before Yo La Tengo at 11:30 if that’s your thing). I’ll likely skip out on this one as they’re both pretty common sightings around my area, but that doesn’t mean you should take my lead.

If you’re looking for a quiet and delicate set, Papa M, David Pajo’s understated solo excursion will suite your fancy starting at 11 at the Berkeley Cafe.

The Pour House Music Hall has an insane couple of bands that are sadly interspersed with Corrosion Of Conformity at 11:30 who are definitely not my thing. But at 10:30, this year’s champions of doom Pallbearer will destroy the soundboard. Would love to see these guys as they’re not stopping in Boston on their tour for whatever lame reason. And then the endorphin chasing Dan Deacon closes the night at 12:30. This dude is responsible for two of my all time favorite shows ever. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better time than when he played with the Ensemble at the Middle East Downstairs a few years ago. Nonstop euphoria to the fucking max.

Zola Jesus is pretty awesome, especially Stridulum, and I’ve yet to see her, so this would be a good time I guess since she’s playing Lincoln Theatre at 11:30, especially because immediately afterwards fucking Killer Mike is closing out the night at 12:30. Dude has been blowing up this year with his R.A.P. Music, inarguably rap ROTY. Sure to be a killer set. (yes I did. no I couldn’t help it.)

So that’s three highly covetable sets of stellar sounds at 12:30. Killer Mike, Altar Of Plagues, and Dan Deacon. How the fuck I’m supposed to decide between those I have no idea.

There’s also an hour of sweet spacey krauty jams courtesy of White Hills at Slim’s around 12:30, but I have a hard time imagining myself making it when there’s already so much other incredible shit going down at the same time slot. But just because it’s crowded, doesn’t mean their awesomeness should get discounted.

Sunn O))) via


The Roots start the night off on the right foot nice n early at 8:30, City Plaza. Another big name I haven’t seen, so this would probably be a good chance to indulge, without it interfering too much on the rest of my evening.

But Memorial Auditorium is definitely where you wanna hole up on Saturday. As far as lineups go, and I’m talking in the grand scheme of things, it seriously doesn’t get any fucking better than this. Chicago’s indispensable noise maker Kevin Drumm at 10, Oren Ambarchi’s skillfully precise drones all the way from Australia at 11, and the almighty Sunn O))) gods at 12:30. I have a hunch that Ambarchi will join the mega-doomlords but that’s just me speculating. Regardless, a Sunn O))) set ain’t nothing to fuck with.

The Long View Center is another wholly mesmerizing camp-worthy club, although I’m not very familiar with Secret Cities (who go on at 11). Quiet Evenings, the lovely Rachel and Grant Evans’ sun drone project, start off at 9. Poland’s Jacaszek is stopping by for a rare American hour’s length of his glitchy static shimmer at 10. And at midnight, German minimal turntablist and all around spectacular composer Arnold Dreyblatt is joined by NC locals Megafaun as his “Orchestra Of Excited Strings.” Despite the one off ignorance, this is still going to be a 100% amazing set of sets (matrix?).

The quickly rising Hubble (Zs guitarist) plays at 9:30 at the Fletcher Opera Theater wielding his axe of New Age noise. Definitely a worthwhile show to catch.

If you’re going for the grittier and lo-fi side of guitarings, Amen Dunes will be blasting some low key psych pop jams at 10 in The Hive @ Busy Bee.

Then we have black metal wtfers Sutekh Hexen at the Berkeley Cafe at 11, playing their dark ambient mess of horror noise which I could not be more stoked for.

And 11:30 seems to be the go-to set time for Saturday night, with three separate clubs showcasing a solo performance that’ll give you heart palpitations (well, four if you’re into Laurel Halo, playing at Kings Barcade). There’s Carlos Giffoni at Five Star who might show up with his ear destroying noise freakouts or his new softer droney chill side. There might be weird dancing? Who knows. But it’s definitely going to be crazy awesome. Then there’s Danny Brown at CAM, who put out my favorite hip-hop from last year in the form of his XXX mixtape. This dude has some of the best lyrics, amazing beats, and a totally unique nasally/whiney voice that’s not even the least bit annoying. Love him so much. And finally there’s the inimitable Colin Stetson at The Pour House Music Hall, who legit blew my mind at ATP NJ last year with his sexy as fuck sax prowess that is incredible on record and fucking UNREAL live. This’ll definitely be a tough choice, but having already seen Stetson, I might have to go for one of the other two dudes.

Then you have Oneida starting at midnight at Tir na nOg, playing for who knows how long. Although they’re stunning whether they play for 30 minutes or 9 hours. They always know how to rock the fuck out and I’ve yet to be disappointed by them.

And finally you have poor Balam Acab at Kings Barcade competing for the midnight thirty slot with Sunn O))). I know not everyone digs Sunn’s monolithic slabs, so Balam Acab is a worthwhile alternative. Dank and warped beats with his killer flow. Definitely a good way to end the fest if you’re looking for more of a feel good party.
Here’s my personal schedule for Hopscotch spreadsheet style. I might make something prettier and more portable once the day schedule drops, which I’ll post for y’all. Otherwise, take from this what you will and I’ll see you at Sunn O))).

Forgotten Fifteen

This year has been like every other year, in which I don’t review a ton of shit that’s awesome because I’m busy reviewing a ton of other shit that’s awesome. That’s the name of the game. I don’t think I’ve done a mid-year roundup before, not a big fan of ’em, but since that’s definitely the cool thing to do in 2012, and because I know some items on my year end list haven’t gotten any airtime over here, I thought it would be a grand idea to call out some records that I personally have been jamming like a motherfucker. So here’s 15 records I should have reviewed. They’re not ranked but feel free to speculate wildly if any of these might make the coveted number one spot on my Top 10 Drone list come the end of the year/life as we know it.

HorsebackHalf Blood (Relapse)
Probably the best record to come out this year (but best drone record? tough call). This has been my go to since it came out, blending black metal and drone with a dusty psych. Jenks Miller’s vocals are thick & gruff and tear right fucking through the lush guitars. Yeah, everyone & their little sister have been raving about this one but that should just tell you how fucking spectacular it is.

PortraitsPortraits (Important)
Portraits are a supergroup and a half, with Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Evan Caminiti, Jon Porras, Lisa McGee, Gregg Kowalsky, Marielle Jakobsons, Maxwell August Croy, Steven Dye, Tony Cross, and Michael Elrod, all making an impossibly minimal drone that’s almost too beautiful to handle. How they were able to corral themselves into making an album so singular and so seamless is beyond me. It’s a shame knowing their output can never keep up with my hopes because after hearing this I want at least another record every year. Something tells me that’s never gonna happen.

PanopticonKentucky (Handmade Birds / Pagan Flames)
This one might be making Euronymous twitch in his grave. Kentucky is some truly bizarre black metal that’s sandwiched with some old banjos n bluegrass. Panopticon’s always been one for weirdness but this is a whole other level, some tracks could be taken out of context and your gramp would think it was from one of his old 78s. Gives Half Blood a run for its money for black metal ROTY.

Wreck & ReferenceNo Youth (The Flenser)
These Californian devastators seriously don’t give a fuck about genres. This is one that really defies categorization and does a damn good job at evading description. Black metal, doom, noise, sure, all of that, then a decent dose of wtf and leaning heavy on the post-everything. They’re doing their own thing and they’re fucking obliterating everything that stood before them.

Mario Diaz De Leon / ONEIROGENHypnos (Denovali / Shinkoyo)
De Leon put out Hypnos under his own name earlier this year with Shinkoyo taking care of the CD version. Then he decided the sound was different enough from his normal modern classical style music to put it under a different name, ONEIROGEN. All further releases in this style will be using that name. Now, Denovali is reissuing Hypnos on vinyl next month (using the ONEIROGEN moniker). You definitely need to keep an eye out for it because this is fucking stellar and might get snatched up quickly. Crazy thick synths (and guitars?) doing something dark & blissful, noisy & droney, like an industrial/power electronics dude taking cues from OPN and Goblin and scoring a film based on a Poe story. Super fucking awesome. One of the best albums this year.

Pauline OliverosReverberations: Tape And Electronic Music 1961-1970 (Important)
A truly epic collection, 12 discs of Oliveros’ legendary tape & electronics work, early avant garde shit that has mostly never seen the light of day for us commoners. She’s a legit master in her field and having something this comprehensive with detailed liner notes in a sweetly packaged box set is more than I could ever hope for. A thousand thanks to Important and the many contributors for putting this together.

Mount EerieClear Moon (P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Clear Moon may not have the shredding black metal moments that Wind’s Poem had, but that just means this is a little more consistent, it’s no less buy cialis lilly uk bleak or dark, and it’s just as tender. It’s kinda hard not to fall head over heals for everything Elverum puts out but this may be my favorite thing he’s done, ever. Absolutely amazing.

Sutekh HexenBehind The Throne (Magic Bullet)
These dudes are set to take over today’s black metal scene and tear it to shreds. They’ve put out a handful of releases in the past year or two, but Behind The Throne is their latest and it’s the best fucking thing ever. Torrents of noise and vocal static, blistering atmospherics and destructive guitars, this is so insanely good it’s hard to wrap your brain around due to it being melted, etc. So much more than your usual black metal noise.

Man ForeverPansophical Cataract (Thrill Jockey)
Our generation’s Buddy Rich, Kid Millions is out to make sure people fully understand what it means to be a drummer. Man Forever is his drum project that sounds like a Niagara of octopuses playing a Niblockian cacophony. Smooth long form drumming that’s blissful and engaging with a thousand layers of drone to rub you all the right ways.

InfinitasJourney To Infinity (Self-Mutilation Services / Razed Soul)
Solo German black metal project with a debut to make you want to jump out of a plane without a parachute. This is some killer post rock stuff mashed with devastating DSBM, crazy soaring guitars and crushing crescendos with torturous wailing screeches that would be like nails on a chalkboard if if wasn’t so harmoniously complemented by the cloud surfing bleakness.

AufgehobenFragments Of The Marble Plan (Holy Mountain)
When are these guys gonna get theirs? They already have a doting cult of noiseheads that snag everything possible. Maybe we’re just stingy? Whatever, Aufgehoben’s newest slab of concrete chaos is in a sexy gatefold courtesy of Holy Mountain and is absolutely flooring. Honestly, this is some special speaker melting noise, astonishing even to the noise naysayers in its ability to knock the wind out of you. There’s nothing quite like an Aufgehoben record and this is some of their best work to date.

Fenn O’BergIn Hell (Editions MEGO)
You’re pretty much guaranteed something fantastic when Fennesz, Jim O’Rourke, and Peter Rehberg get together, but In Hell takes their killer collabs to another dimension. Namely, a dark and disturbing dimension. All of it was recorded at performances during their 2010 tour of Japan and while it’s generally just an amazing drone/dark ambient record, it takes some unexpected turns with strange samples and furious anger. It gets absolutely bombastic, thick & blissful, melodic static paving the way for sharp shimmer & delicate lullabies. It goes in a hundred different directions all at once, impossible to predict but infinitely awesome.

Duane PitreFeel Free (Important)
Duane’s a dude who’s been doing his minimal thing for years, under the radar and somehow missing his deserved notoriety, until Feel Free came out this year and everyone’s like “whoa this guy is fuckin rad.” Right you are, everyone. This is a group performance of his “Feel Free” composition, an electro-acoustic wonder bringing a much needed elegance to the table. Processed strings & guitars weave their drones through organic plucks & bows, softness & kindness found in every breath. A truly superb album that craves a wide-eyed audience.

Jon Mueller & James PlotkinTerminal Velocity (Taiga)
A match made in heaven, Mueller & Plotkin have taken their respective talents and bestowed upon us a grand work of art. Both enormous & subtle, it’s an album for deep focus, it stretches time like a meditation guru, taking a lifetime to dwell in one space and slowly crawling to a mass of heavy static drones and hypnotic drums. Listening to this will fundamentally change you.

Jute GyteIsolation (Jeshimoth Entertainment)
What the fucked up black metal for the twisted and depraved. One Missouri soul with a ridiculous amount of releases (10+ in less than 2 years), although not all of them hitting the black metal mark, Isolation is certainly a bizarre beast of hardened blackness. Screechy vocals, lurching rhythms coupled with machine gun blast beats, atonal & wonky guitars, tossing in a droning euphoric track in the middle to make sure you don’t go insane before the hour of demoralized noise is up. “Unique” doesn’t even come close.

You’re Too Kind (Also, AGB Shirts)

WOW. You have all overwhelmed me with your generosity. I wasn’t even sure I would reach the goal of $250, let alone double it. I can’t believe how kind you all are. I’m endlessly grateful for all of your donations. It honestly means a lot to me.

Since I not only made enough to replace my busted iPod (and I’m listening to the new one RIGHT. NOW.) but made that and then some, I’ve been racking my brain as to what to do next. I thought I could make extra mixes of various genres and then you could pick which one suited you most (or just download all of them), I thought I could spend some time ripping my favorite weird LPs that I’ve never gotten around to posting and offer up a batch of 10 or so of those, but that’s still just extra work on my part and pretty much doing things I would do anyway, just more concentrated. And that feels a little lame having you donate extra money and then being like “Sweet, thanks, I’m gonna go buy more records.”

So I thought I might take that extra money and make some AGB t-shirts! I know some of you have expressed interest in that in the past, and I thought I would send everyone who donated a shirt for free, and then sell whatever I had left over. I’d get my wife (Argyle Whale) to draw it up and then get them screenprinted somewhere local. Does that sound like a decent extra reward? And are there any of you who didn’t donate that would be interested in buying an AGB shirt? Just trying to gauge the market. If there isn’t one, I’ll still make some for those who donated.

I’m still working out the details of those extra digital rewards (mixes, old LPs, etc) so don’t hold me to that just yet. But I’ll definitely do something extra awesome because your extra awesomeness will not go un-noticed.

Thank you all so much. You have saved AGB.

Save AGB!

Well, not really. I’m not going anywhere yet. Sorry for the theatrics. Just needed to get your attention. But, I was only sort of joking.

If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a bit of a drought around here lately, and one of the reasons for that is my iPod broke. And I’m not gonna lie. I totally need an iPod to keep this shit going. Daily music submissions with no efficient way of listening to them? I’m never gonna hear new tunes and you’re not gonna hear what I have to say about ’em. In short, I want you to help me get a new iPod!

So here’s the deal. I want you to donate dollars so I could buy one of these. But I’m not a scumbag. I don’t just wanna mooch off of your kindness. I want to give you something in return! And the more you give, the more you get! Like Kickstarter just without Kickstarter. I’m hoping to get around $250 (plus taxes and maybe AppleCare depending on how well this goes). If I reach that goal, I’ll celebrate by posting an awesome mix for everyone to enjoy. Yay! So even if you don’t donate, you can still win.

But there’s extra cool stuff for those who are feeling extra generous. Here’s the breakdown on what kind of things you might get rewarded with.

Donate $1-4
I’ll send you a thank you email for being super nice and I’ll reserve a future high five for you if we ever meet IRL.

Donate $5-9
You’ll get to download the awesome mix before anyone else and I’ll thank you publicly by linking to your website/blog/store/twitter/whatever in the awesome mix post when it goes live/a post of thanks if I don’t reach the goal.

Donate $10-24
You’ll get a physical copy of the awesome mix in the mail with handwritten liner notes and album art printed from my inkjet.

Donate $25-49
You’ll get a physical copy of the awesome mix in the mail with handwritten liner notes and extra special one of a kind album art made by these unskilled & uncreative hands.

Donate $50
I’ll make you a 100% original kickass mix based on the genre of your choosing, as long as I have a robust enough collection of that genre, with handwritten liner notes and extra special one of a kind album art, etc.

Donate more than $50?
You’re crazy and you’ll get the same as $50 but I’ll blast the mix from a boombox outside your residence Say Anything style (if you live close enough). (Please no one actually donate more than $50.)

I’m not doing this on Kickstarter because a) this would be a boring fucking Kickstarter and b) I’m actually going to reward those who donate regardless of whether I reach the goal. If I only get one $5 donation, they’re going to get their own individual thank you post with me gushing about how fucking cool they are.

BUT I’m not going to post that awesome mix unless I reach the goal. So donate away and be sure to leave details in the message section of your Paypal donation in regards to your reward (like your address or whatever).
Update: You’re still welcome to donate, in fact I encourage it, but the whole rewards thing is closed. You won’t receive anything other than a sappy thank you email from me, but that’s worth a buck or two, right?

Donate here and I’ll love you forever. Save AGB!

Music Nerd Meets Archivist: A Guide To Cataloging An Unwieldy Digital Music Collection

image via

If you’ve been paying any attention to me on Twitter, you may have noticed a couple of things. 1: I’m going to grad school so I can be an archivist. 2: I’ve been talking up how I want to do some major cataloging of my digital music library. I’ve always wanted to do a super amazing hardcore tagging system for all my mp3s, but I never got around to it because it would be extremely taxing. But when I took a cataloging class, I got so fucking pumped to actually start working on my own collection that I finally decided to actually put some thought into it and figure out exactly what I wanted to do.

Why am I so excited about cataloging my digital library? The ENDLESS fucking possibilities. I can sort & display & tweak everything about how I view & access my collection in ways that are completely impossible with physical records. If I feel like spending all day today in the 70s, then tomorrow I want to know which Music Ruins Lives releases I’m missing, and yesterday my pal was scoping out my minimal drone, this is easy as hell digitally. But only if my collection is tagged with the proper metadata.

I have never tolerated poorly tagged mp3s. Everything in my library from the moment it gets imported needs to have at the VERY least the artist, album, and song fields filled. If it’s in all caps, I change it. If the song titles have track numbers, I get rid of them (and make sure the “Track Number” fields are filled). I normalize the artist to match the way it’s represented in my library (add or remove “The,” etc). I get rid of any wonky punctuation or excessive description in those fields. I was less strict about making sure there was the year, genre, artwork, etc, but you get the idea.

I use iTunes. Since I switched to Mac all those years ago, I’ve always used iTunes. Yeah, it’s got its downsides and it has irreparably fucked me over on multiple occasions but it’s still the best at combining what I want out of a digital music player and a library management system into one application. And although it generally gets better over time, it’s not there yet. I dream of the day when Apple decides iTunes doesn’t need to be a massive amalgamation of media management and can be strictly for music (as opposed to music, movies, books, games, whatever the fuck else they decide to include in iTunes 11).

But just because I currently use iTunes, I know that the application won’t last forever (nor will my mp3s). So I make every attempt to utilize the mp3 fields that iTunes recognizes and none that other applications don’t. For example, ratings are an obvious one. I’ve never used the ratings system in iTunes, partially because I have no interest in it, but also because that rating data isn’t stored in the mp3 file. It’s iTunes specific data and that makes it non-transferrable. And there are ID3 tags that iTunes doesn’t give a shit about, like the “Publisher” field. That would be pretty fucking great to use for identifying the record label, but iTunes is pretty selective with which tags it supports.

So the purpose of this article is to explain what I’m doing & why I’m doing it in the hopes that you can glean something relevant to your interests. I don’t expect all of my decisions to apply to everyone (or anyone) because what I’m doing is for me. It’s how I want to manage my digital collection and I’ll be doing what works best for me. I just hope that maybe you’ll be inspired to do the same with your collection and I can give you some ideas how to go about it.

Jenks Miller & Nicholas Szczepanik Contest Winner

Through my rigorous & multi-tiered selection process, I have randomly selected a winner out of the pool of zillions of contestants for this glorious Jenks Miller & Nicholas Szczepanik collaborative CD. Since you all were just telling me your opinions, I couldn’t really pick a favorite like I did with the Mamaleek haiku contest. However, as luck would have it, the winner’s favorite Nicholas Szczepanik piece was also my favorite. A-N-D the winner is none other than the exceedingly awesome Joseph Davenport of Millipede fame, who’s got a new album Realms due out soon mastered by Lasse Marhaug!! Here’s what Davenport had to say:

“I’m pretty into Nicholas’ new record Please Stop Loving Me. Further proof that he’s getting better as he goes along. And what musician doesn’t desire to achieve that?”

So, congrats to Joseph for winning this hot piece of noise drone. There were a few others that had some nice things to say about Szczepanik & Miller, though, so I figured might as well share!

Blake Conley, of the band Brother Ares, is a big fan of Jenks Miller’s The Invisible Mountain. “i really enjoy invisible mountain. the weird mix of dylan carlson esque telecaster twang combined w/ some of the best loping, head nodding minimalist basslines, circular tribal drumming and black metal vocals buried just enough in the mix as to not kill the groove really speaks to me and have been inspiring my guitar thought process.”

And then Michael Britten, half of the Music Ruins Lives crew, had a ton of insightful things to say about Szczepanik’s Dear Dad. “Szczepanik’s “Dear Dad” stands out to me in his body of work primarily because it was my first exposure to the artist, but also on account of what the release signifies: an overtly biographical piece in a genre not best known for its exposition. It is always interesting to be able to view art in the context of what forces it is in response to, and with “Dear Dad”, the listener is very much able to inhabit the (assumed) relationship between Nicholas Szczpanik and his father; the cycle of moods presented make me wonder if “Dear Dad” exists explicitly because Szcepanik could muster no other way to approach his feelings outside of his craft. Or maybe the dormant practitioner of literary criticism in me could also just be jumping at the chance to heavy-handedly seek mimesis and catharsis within the authorial intent of the work, who knows.”

Now, if you entered the contest and didn’t win, keep in mind that Small Doses is on their way to giving American Gothic the vinyl treatment very soon. And I would HIGHLY recommend picking this up on some sweet wax because it’s just SO. FUCKING. GOOD.

CONTEST: Jenks Miller & Nicholas Szczepanik CD Giveaway

I got an extra copy of the amazingly amazing Jenks Miller & Nicholas Szczepanik collaboration American Gothic. And even though this is awesome enough to own two copies of, I think that’s a little stingy. Sharing is caring! So I’m having a contest that’s way less elaborate than the Mamaleek one and requires almost no effort on your part.

Just shoot me an email at justin [at] antigravitybunny [dot] com with the subject line “American Gothic Contest” and tell me what your favorite song/side/album/installation/whatever is of either Nicholas Szczepanik or Jenks Miller/Horseback. If there’s a reason or a story behind why you love it so, feel free to share. Submit your response by Sunday night, or more appropriately, before I wake up Monday morning, and you might win a copy of that glorious CD, still sealed in its protective plasticity. The winner will be announced sometime next week.

Go forth, and spread the Miller/Szczepanik love!

Mamaleek Haiku Contest Winner

Sorry I can’t do a grand suspenseful reveal or anything because of that image up there. PATRICK LOY IS THE WINNER! He wins. He is an excellent haiku writer. He is in tune with the Enemies List. He is soon to be the proud owner of Mamaleek’s Kurdaitcha on glorious EL vinyl. Way to fucking go! You should not hate Patrick because he beat you, you should be his friend because he is awesome. And you should also go buy a copy of Kurdaitcha because now you’re fucking missing out. Or go hang out with Patrick and listen to his copy.

I gotta say, you guys are some fucking quality haiku writers. SO many killer haikus. It was insanely difficult picking just one to be “the one.” And it feels wrong to withhold from you the wondrous poems that I got to read, so I’ll share some others that were on the brink of win.

Bass drum pounds our skulls.
Drones wash on, hands touch heavens.
“We wish we were dead.”

-Sam Finer
(If I had to pick a second place, this was probably it. Almost won me over with the excellent choice of lyrics and having a similar haiku style as me.)

It is Krampus Kore:
Scraping your buy cialis las vegas ears like old sticks,
Belching out soul dust.

-Andy Freeburg
(got extra points for including this photo of the Kramps)

When business taints art
Deliver me, sound from blood
Industry killing

-Lukas McCutcheon
(totally nailed some of the EL ideas for me)

i should win your game
because i will then wait for
black metal mailed

-Ed Blair
(I wanted to make Ed wait for black metal records in the mail so bad)

And then there was top notch linguist Mr. Kestigian (of America Addio fame and participant in the HANL live experience) who has one of the best Twitter accounts ever. I was tempted to rule him out because of his association with EL but decided that was unfair (I never stipulated any such restrictions). He submitted a bunch of haikus and they were all fantastic. Here’s a sampling…

Old man chained to chair.
Long beard, nude, taut, tumescent.
Room filling with sand.

I like afrobeat.
what if we add black metal
oh. its black metal

chubby ole bulldog
hangin out at band practice.
wheezing but aroused

I fucking love that bulldog one. Fucking brilliant.

I’m truly honored so many of you entered the contest. Wasn’t quite expecting that much of an audience. Clearly you all enjoyed it, so I’m thinking this won’t be the last AGB giveaway. What say ye?

CONTEST: Mamaleek Vinyl Giveaway

image via EL blog

MamaleekWake Up, Jacob

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HOLY SHIT THIS IS MY FIRST EVER GIVEAWAY. Kind psyched about that. Always thought about doing it but never had something good enough to give away. So when I accidentally pre-ordered two copies of Mamaleek’s Kurdaitcha, I figured if I was dumb enough to not notice I paid for two, then I wouldn’t miss the money that much. So I said “Fuck the refund, give it away to your awesome readers.” You benefit from my stupidity.

Here’s what’s at stake: One copy of Mamaleek’s brand new, just released by Enemies List, hot off the vinyl presses Kurdaitcha. It’s got some sweet ass gold foil stamping on the front for their logo, it has a full color insert, and the record itself weighs about 10 pounds. Fucking heavyWEIGHT. There were only 150 of these motherfuckers made. Super deluxe stuff coming from Enemies List. And the music on here is fucking INCREDIBLE. I already reviewed it (as well as Mamaleek’s self titled debut), so if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know this shit is for real. Crazy fucking black metal with worldly twisted sounds running through, made by 2 mysterious San Franciscans. It’s beautiful & destructive and totally fucking awesome.

So, how do you go about winning one of these glorious records? Pretty simple. I’m a fan of the haiku, so I want you to write one about Enemies List. I figured not everyone knows about the amazing Mamaleek yet, so it might be hard to write a Mamaleek haiku. But Enemies List is literally THEE greatest record label right now (well, maybe tied with Important) and everyone should fucking worship them. So write an ode to EL in haiku form and email it to me by next Tuesday, May 10 at 6:00 (EST) at justin [at] antigravitybunny [dot] com with the subject “Mamaleek Contest.” I’ll pick my favorite and share it with you dear readers (and maybe some runners up if they’re good enough).

Think you can handle that? I know, the awesomeness is overwhelming. If you need a tip, chill out, grab a pot of coffee, and let the caffeine write the haiku for you. And if you don’t win, fear not, I’ll still think you’re cool, and there’s still a few Kurdaitcha copies left that you should buy.


As I’m sure most of you have noticed, the blog hasn’t ben as densely populated with awesomeness lately. That’s mostly because I’m working towards my masters, but specifically these past couple weeks I’ve been working on a research paper. However, even when I don’t have time for blogging, I’m pretty active on Twitter.

I’m not doing shit like @1000TimesYes but I definitely try to keep it as music related as possible. Meaning maybe you might be a little interested in what I’m talking about. What I’m trying to offer you is a different way in which I share music. Even if you don’t have your own Twitter account, you can still follow mine. Just something to keep in mind if you get bored & lonely on the blog proper.