September Rocks with Cat Power, The xx, and Bob Mould


This September has been a great month to buy music. I’m really liking new albums by Cat Power – Sun, The xx – Coexist, and Bob Mould – Silver Age

Nothin But Time on Cat Power’s Sun is absolutely stuck in my head. I’ve been listening to it over-over-and over. Totally awesome. The pitchfork reviewer has this fun to read quote …

“Marshall (Cat Power) wrote it to cheer up her ex’s teenage daughter, and the longer it goes on, the truer its optimistic truisms ring, the stronger the urge to holler them along with the rest of of voices (”You wanna live!“). It’s an odd but fitting peak. By the sixth minute, when Iggy Pop’s voice comes in god-sized and benevolent, it’s like some sort of peyote daydream where one of the faces on Mount Rushmore stoops to talk to you and has only the kindest things to say.”

The xx just do “quiet” the best. The new album “coexist” adds more of these gems to my music collection. It’s amazing how popular they are right now. There are 40 reviews to-date on metacritic of this album. That is a lot.

Bob Mould is car listening at it’s finest. He’s mellowed, but I like that it reminds of his Husker Du days without the “blistering pace” of Husker Du. I’m too old for that (most of the time) Awesome guitar noise …. Warning many people may absolutely hate this.

Wow! TubeDAC Revitalizes My Stereo — Sounds Amazing


“OMG the TubeDAC 11 is absolutely amazing!”

In a nutshell the weak link in modern audio is the DAC ( Digital to Analog Conversion ). I knew this. It makes sense that a DAC miniaturized to fit into an iPod has to have some serious compromises, but I kept asking myself, “So what … How much difference does a good DAC really make?”. I found out the answer a few weeks ago visiting my friend Iain T. That answer is “A LOT”. Even with songs ripped at 128k, but the real payoff comes with Lossless.

The difference is so big that every person comments on it. On every song — irregardless of music style. From Miles Davis to Van Halen.

Purchasing Lossless Recordings and using them in iTunes

This then begs the question. Can you buy a Lossless recording? The answer is yes some independent labels are doing that. For example this past week Merge released the new M. Ward album A Wasteland Companion in lossless form (FLAC).

Getting FLAC into iTunes Lossless format takes some work. Here is a good “HowTo” set up the xld FLAC to ALAC software.

How Do You Connect the DAC?

I connected it via USB port from my computer and the Tube output is connected to the CD inputs on my old amplifier. ( You can use the auxillary or the CD player inputs. ) Here is the full setup diagram.
Note that one needs specialized equipment to by-pass the iPod DAC. After some searching I feel that the only real solution is to commit to playing music from a computer. This did hold me back, but once I heard it. I was convinced.

Bottom Line

If you like to listen. Just buy one. It is amazing. The only negative is that I’ve now got some re-ripping to do.

My 5 Star 2011 Playlist

  • 1. The Summer Place / Fountains of Wayne
  • 2. Secretary Song / The Go! Team
  • 3. Is It Done / J Mascis
  • 4. Get It Wrong, Get It Right / Feist
  • 5. Weird Summer / Mike Doughty
  • 6. Real Love / Beach House
  • 7. Pumped Up Kicks / Foster the People
  • 8. Santa Fe / Beirut
  • 9. Shell Games / Bright Eyes
  • 10. Unkind / Sloan
  • 11. Sing / Ben Lee
  • 12. The Long Goodbye / Army Navy
  • 13. The Answer Was You / Sloan
  • 14. Dig A Little Deeper / Peter Bjorn And John
  • 15. Take Me Over / Cut Copy
  • 16. The Dreamer / The Tallest Man On Earth
  • 17. Locked Away / Keith Richards
  • 18. Wonderful (The Way I Feel) / My Morning Jacket
  • 19. Voyager Reprise / Surfer Blood
  • 20. Holdin on to Black Metal / My Morning Jacket
  • 21. Culture of Fear / Thievery Corporation
  • 22. I Want You Back (For Michael With Love) / Sheryl Crow

iTunes playlist

My rules are that I’ve purchased the music in the past 12 months. The music itself can be of any age, but it has to be new to me in the last year. ( I broke this rule with 17. Locked Away Keith Richards. My excuse is Vintage Vinos is within last 12 months. )

More Albums that got a lot of “rotation” were: J Mascis Several Shades of Why, Sheryl Crow 100 Miles From Memphis, Adele 21, Feist Metals, Fountains of Wayne Sky Full of Holes, Go! Team Rolling Blackouts, and Thievery Corp Culture of Fear.

Not Pop Music Isabelle Faust Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin, Paul Hillier A Bridge of Dreams

My 5 Star 2010 Music Playlist – Jonsi, Sufjan, Spoon, Superchunk, BLK JKS, more

Here is my 2010 5 Star Playlist. Enjoy 🙂

  1. Boy Lilikoi, Jónsi, Go
  2. Zol!, BLK JKS, ZOL!
  3. (I Keep On) Rising Up, Mike Doughty, Sad Man Happy Man
  4. The Mystery Zone, Spoon, Transference
  5. Crossed Wires, Superchunk, Majesty Shredding
  6. Lisztomania, Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  7. Heaven’s On Fire, The Radio Dept., Clinging to a scheme
  8. I Didn’t See It Coming, Belle and Sebastian, Write About Love
  9. Save Some Time To Dream, John Mellencamp, No Better Than This
  10. Heirloom, Sufjan Stevens, All Delighted People EP
  11. Too Much, Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz
  12. Modern Man, Arcade Fire, The Suburbs
  13. Animal Arithmetic, Jónsi, Go
  14. Camilo (The Magician), Said The Whale, Islands Disappear
  15. Spectacular Girl, Eels, Tomorrow Morning
  16. Zorbing, Stornoway, Beachcomber’s Windowsill
  17. Your Hands (Together), The New Pornographers, Together
  18. TAOS, Menomena, Mines
  19. Swim, Surfer Blood, Astro Coast
  20. Tired Climb ! VERY HEAVY !, Kylesa, Spiral Shadow

Here is a link to the playlist on iTunes. Iain 2010 5 Star on iTunes

My rules are that I’ve purchased the music in the past 12 months. The music itself can be of any age, but it has to be new to me in the last year.

Honorable Mentions

Many genres do not fit this format. For example downtempo electronica (song length) and metal get the most negative feedback. This year I added more range with song 20, it may be too heavy for some. Some great material that did not make the list are.

  • Impossible Soul, Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz – this song is very long and very cool. Probably my favorite of the year. But at > 25min its just too long for a sampler 😦
  • Pantha du Prince, Black Noise — whole album (try — Lay in a Shimmer)
  • Bonobo, Black Sands — whole album
  • Neil Young, Le Noise — wow!
  • Justin Townes Earle, Harlem River Blues

  • Surfer Blood, Astro Coast — extra note — this is really fun.

“Popular Songs” is a “Grower”

I’ve been playing the new Yo La Tengo album a lot. At first it didn’t jump out at me. But it has been in disc slot #1 of my car for a few weeks now, which is a telling sign. Most discs last a few days. I’m really liking the long jam songs near the end, as well as the more accessible songs at the beginning.

Here’s a long list of reviews. Enjoy