Monday, July 31, 2006

Radiohead - The Bends

OK, I'm cheating here a little bit. These reviews are supposed to be for albums I've never heard before, but I just downloaded The Bends recently. And it was like I was hearing it again, for the first time, OK? So I'm going to discuss it a li'l bit.

It's a great album. I encourage every single Jack-in-the-dust among you to go out and buy it NOW NOW NOW. Consume some media, why don't you.

It really is good. I suppose it's Radiohead at the height of their powers, before they turned to crap. You know what I mean? Go here, check out Amazon's customer reviews for Kid A. They're pretty much split between 5 stars (all the never-say-die Radiohead fanboys) and 0 stars (everyone else). Look at those fools going on about the revolutionary new soundscapes presented in Kid A. Goddam it, I don't want to hear a soundscape. I want to listen to some goddam music. Get it? It all fell into place for me when I was listening to a radio interview of Thom Yorke a while ago. The interviewer asked him, are you guys planning any more albums? His response was no, they'd fulfilled their recording contract and they were going to work on their own projects now. Aha; that's why the last two albums were shite. Gotta get something out there to wrap up that contract. If a few gullible fools buy into your brand new soundscapes, so much the better. I hope you and Björk are very happy together.

But this isn't a review of Kid A, it's a review of The Bends, which is a damned fine album. It's a little on the mellow side, nothing to get really wound up about, perhaps even a little depressing. But that's really standard Radiohead fare, and if you know Radiohead you know what you're getting into. Give it a listen. 4/5.

Bob Dylan - Highway 61 Revisited

I love Bob Dylan's music for the lyrics. I believe I mentioned awhile ago how I'm always on the lookout for songs that use new or obscure words: well Ballad of a Thin Man is the only song I've ever head to invoke the names of both Cecil B. DeMille and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Classy.

I have to admit, I don't always get the imagery, and there's a lot of it to get. But worst case, suppose Dylan doesn't mean anything by it, suppose he's just stringing rhymes together. He's doing a damned fine job of it. Although I never really realized what a misogynistic bastard he is.

Like a Rolling Stone was actually the only song on this album I'd heard before. I thought I was pretty fluent with Dylan's stuff, but I guess I'm more familiar with his newer songs. None of these songs are particularly radio-friendly, clocking in between 5 and 9 minutes. That might explain why I haven't heard so many of them before. Ballad of a Thin Man was probably the best song on the album for me: it's got all the discontent of The Times, They Are a-Changing, expressed more eloquently.

Overall, a great album. My only beef with it is that Bob Dylan's voice is so... well, a complimentary word is "distinctive"... that I can't really take a full album of it. But if that's the tradeoff for some of the best lyrics I've ever heard, so be it. 4 molluscs / 5 cephalopods.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tekken on devhook and Mario 3on3 for the DS

Here at quadraliteral, we do not promote the use of modification devices for the purposed of being an asshole, getting info on modding your consoles is not hard, I will take this moment to remind you that Jesus saves, so there you have it, If ever you ask yourself WWJD, he would prbably save that game to some kinda flash memory. Like Jesus I also like to experiment with testing devices such as the M3apadter and softmods such as devhook (device hook). The last 2 games I was able to test were Mario Basket 3on3 and Tekken on the PSP.

Lets start with tekken, so far this one of the nicer looking games I have seem on the PSP, the gameplay is tight and responsive and for those of you itching for a good button mashing game on your psp this is it. I got it working by grabbing the latest devhook release (45 as of the time of this article). you'll have to track down the FW versions or if you look in the right places you'll probably find full devhook versions with the FW schnizel all included ready to cut and paste. just chuck that shit on your memory stick and throw the game in to the "ISO" folder on the root of your stick and your ready to get your crotch rocked.

Mario Basket 3on3 is a creative take on 3on3 basketball where you control the movement of your character with the d-pad and all other aspects are controlled with the stylus and touch screen.. sounds stupid, but its actually very easy to play and quite fun. If you are familiar with nintendo sports titles you know that its fun over technical aspects and this is no exception.. the point system works by counting the amount of shit you can accumalate before scoring or losing possession. If you are running on the M3 Adapter, you need to download the latest version of the manager (22e), trim rom ok, no software reset and no 4xread.

I'll give both these games 4/5 fingers on the hand of Ike scale.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A52Codec Universal

Did you buy an intel iMac? do you love Front Row? do you hate that when you try to play movies with AC3 audio, no sound will play through quicktime? I used to be like you. I searched for a codec that would play the audio in my Quicktime, but to no avail. until recently that is!! I gave up on it at first, but I did some googling recently, and found that "Shepmaster" had made the A52Codec Universal that I had dreamt of, and you too can get it from his site. or from and with this magic codec, my troubles are gone. If I were to rate this codec, I would give it four and a half THXs out of five. the only reason it loses half a THX is because it didn't exist when I first bought this computer. otherwise, it's perfect.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Sex Pistols: Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols

This was another album that I thought would be worth a listen after seeing it pretty high up on Rolling Stone's best albums list. It's not for me. I can see how it was probably very revolutionary and very counter-culture when it came out, but forty minutes of some guy shouting just doesn't do it for me anymore. Or, I should say that if I'm gonna put up with 40 minutes of some guy shouting, the music's gotta be pretty remarkable, and this ain't. I spent a while wondering if I might have enjoyed this album more were I ten years younger, and I think the answer is still no. Then I spent a while wondering if there were any tracks from this album that were worth saving. Another 'no'. Maybe I'm just not angry enough.

Anyways, I think it's fair to say that if this is the best punk music out there, the punk scene's not for me. I must admit, I suspected that might be the case before I listened to this album, but I honestly did try to go into it without any preconceptions. 1/5.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Hothouse Flowers: People

The first time I listened to this album I didn't find anything remarkable about it. Honestly, it was wavering between 2 stars and 3, and I was really hoping I wouldn't have to delete it from my collection, because I knew that I'd have to deal with an angry gwilli. And that's not pleasant.

But the more I listen to it, the more I like it. I'm not coming around to it as fast as I came to enjoy Good News For People Who Love Bad News, but I'm definitely warming up to it.

I was really suprised to learn that this album came out in 1988. It doesn't sound like 80's music. That's a compliment. Many of the songs are impressive both musically and lyrically - I'm always on the lookout for songs that use obscure or unusual words and I'm pretty sure Don't Go is the first song I've heard to use the word "sirocco".

Yep, this one's a keeper. Now I'm wavering between 3 stars and 4, but since I don't give half-marks I'm gonna have to go with 3.

[ps. Let me make a stupid, puerile comparison between these guys and their countrymen: the monologue in Feet On The Ground is strangely reminiscent of Bullet the Blue Sky and the rest of the album has hints of Van Morrison]

Bruce Springsteen: The Seeger Sessions

I'm really happy with this album. I went into it with moderate expectations, and I came away impressed. I haven't been too happy with Springsteen's latest stuff, ie. The Rising, but I was cautiously optimistic when I heard this album was a tribute to classic American folk music. It's great to hear The Boss really growl out some of these songs, like John Henry or O Mary Don't You Weep (best line: "Moses stood at the Red Sea shore/Smote the water with a 2x4"). Sometimes it sounds like he's trying to channel Tom Waits, but that ain't a bad thing.

There's a good range of music on this album, too. It's true that a lot of the songs have a similar sound to them, but it's still pretty diverse, from foot-tapping bluegrass on Old Dan Tucker or Jesse James to the slow, almost mournful melodies of Shenandoah or We Shall Overcome.

Overall, a damned good album. If you're a Springsteen fan, you can't go wrong with this one. If you've never really heard his stuff, it's probably still worth a listen. 4 doors / 5 hives.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Stan Rogers - Turnaround

I first heard Stan Rogers' music ages ago - Fogarty's Cove I think was the album my parents had. The most memorable track from that disc was Barrett's Privateers, which I think is probably the song most people think of when they think Stan Rogers.

Nothing else on Fogarty's Cove really stood out for me, but I wanted to give ol' Stan another try and see if he could be more than a one-hit wonder for me. And the answer is... no. There are a couple good ballads on Turnaround - "The Jeannie C" and "Bluenose" are probably the best - but nothing to touch Barrett's Privateers. Stan's at his best when he's really belting out a song, really getting into it. If you've heard Stan before, think "Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs", that's what I'm getting at. He gets a little bit of the fire in him on "Oh No, Not I", but overall it just seems like he's coasting through this album. I mean I'm not expecting the poor guy to start headbanging or something but I would like to see a little bit more than the maritime version of Jim Croche.

Yeah. There are certainly some tracks on this disc where you get a glimpse of how good Stan Rogers can be, but overall it just doesn't do anything for me. 2 partridges / 5 golden rings. I'm tossing this one.

As an aside - I've been wondering a little bit if I'll know a 5-star album when I see one. After some consideration, I think so. For instance, I think I would've rated Graceland or Wish You Were Here as 5-star albums the first time I heard them. So we'll see.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Avro Pärt: Tabula Rasa

This is another album I've really been looking forward to. I really would like to expand my appreciation for classical music and given Tim Bray's recent glowing review of this album I figured I'd give it a listen. So I followed his advice and actually bought a shiny plastic disc from, and it arrived yesterday.

I like it. I really like it. And it's perfect for this office environment, because I can just play it, and when I need to take my head out of the code for a while, it's right there for me to get into.

Pärt's wikipedia entry describes him as a "minimalist", which I think I can see. The first two tracks are definitely not what I'm used to from classical music, but they're great. Even though the music itself isn't - for lack of a better word - crowded, there's still plenty there to absorb.

I will say, though, that the last 5 minutes of Tabula Rasa sound like the orchestra is filing out of the studio. People are dropping shit on the floor, clearing their throats, sounds like some guy is rolling around a cart or something. Is this gross indecency or some classical 'effect' of which I am unaware, like Syd Barrett slipping little animal squeaks into his songs?

Just as with Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, I think my unfamiliarity with the genre led to some pretty poor preconceptions. I'll admit that the first time I heard this album I thought it sounded more like a movie soundtrack than a classical piece. A couple more listens knocked that idea out of my head though.

Altogether, a great album. Definitely worth the $20 or so that I paid for it - which is something I haven't done in a long, long time. I reckon the last album I bought was probably Radiohead's Kid A - what a goddam disappointment that was. Tabula Rasa: 4 apples / 5 oranges.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

WRT54GS V5, don't do it.

I like to do a little homework on electronics before I buy, I did such research before I got my last router a WRT54GS V2, I loved this thing, I put Hyperwrt+thibor on it and never looked back.. recently I somehow bricked the thing and was looking to get a new router..

I read the reviews that say WRT54GS V5 is a crap router but I kinda refused to believe it was so bad that I couldnt use it. (I wasnt planning to put on special firmware) Aside from the problems I had seen on websites I had encountered the following.

1. the router stops responding: 2mins - 2hours but always happening I cant ping the router's ip. I cant get online but the status on the router says everything A-OK.
2. wireless can see the router, but not connect to it when #1 happens.

I googled for "wrt54GS dropping connection" and found nothing helpful

So this is just a bad machine and just need to be replaced, right? WRONG! I brought that bitch back only to get a new one with the exact same problem.

So I spent like 3 days trying to figure out what on my network could have been causing this.. I called Linksys support and I shit you not, the recording says "due to the response to our new products, your wait time may be longer than expected" spent like 40 mins on the phone, updated the bios all that.. the lady actually asked me if its possible I can get another version from the store.

anyhow.. I returned it, got a dlink which was really cheap and it worked right away and hasnt had ONE hiccup yet.

So if you do get a WRT54GS or WRT54G, look at the serial number, on the box and if V5 or more, then dont get it, its like getting kicked in the nuts by a foot with crabs on it.

CDFB = WRT54G v5.0
CDFC = WRT54G v5.1
CDFD = WRT54G v6.0
CDFE = WRT54G v7.0

CGN7 = WRT54GS v5.0
CGN8 = WRT54GS v5.1

Miles Davis - Kind of Blue

I was really eager to listen to this album. Out of the top 15-or-so greatest albums of all time, it's the one I'm least familiar with. After listening to it, I wouldn't say I was disappointed, but it really made me think about what I was expecting from it, and whether I have an appreciation for jazzy-bluesy music.

It's great easy-listening music though, and I often wonder how much my opinion of these albums I'm reviewing is skewed by the fact that I'm listening to them at work; that I'm only giving them about 25% of my attention. But I dunno. Does the fact that I'm sick of all the modern jazz artists who sound exactly like Miles Davis make his work somehow less worthwhile? Should the fact that his tunes have been butchered and abused to make endless hours of elevator and phone-hold music reflect badly on him? Of course not, but coming from a perfect unfamiliarity with this genre it's tough to separate the man from his imitators.

Anyways, I can't not like this album - it's good music, start to finish. It's enjoyable and I'm certainly going to give it a chance to grow on me. But it doesn't move me, at least not yet. So, it gets 3 u.o.q. / 5 u.o.q.

Are you sensing a trend here? 3 seems to be about average. I think it's fair to say that any album I listen to that gets less that 3 is gonna get deleted without further ado.

Piper at the Gates of Dawn

In memory of Sid Barrett, I figured I'd have a listen to the Pink Floyd album that he probably had the most influence on. I'm a big Floyd fan, but mostly of their later stuff, and by 'later' I mean their 70's stuff. I don't think I've ever actually listened to this album end-to-end before.

It's very psychodelic stuff, but I think if you're interesting in hearing some trippy early Floyd you're better off with Meddle. There are several tracks on this album, Pow R. Toc H. for instance, where they've taken a great song and ... well, made it less great by adding chirps and squeaks and yelps and whatnot where they don't really belong, they don't add anything to the track. It's very much a "Several Species Of Small Furry Animals Gathered Together In A Cave And Grooving With A Pict" kind of sound. Continuing with the gimmicks, Interstellar Overdrive does this thing about 9 minutes in where they toggle the sound between the left and right speakers, but it's not done with any synchronization to the music, not like on Any Colour You Like (where stereo is used to great effect) or some of Hendrix's stuff. But the whole album's got a great, genuine feel to it, and it's really evocative of what you want Pink Floyd to be: the innovative, groundbreaking, rocking band that they were before they started re-releasing their re-mastered re-hashed best-of compilations. God, what a disappointment they've become.

I'm gonna go ahead and rate this album 3 u.o.q / 5 u.o.q. Musically, I don't think this album is on a par with eg. The Harder They Fall, but Pink Floyd occupies a special place in my heart as the first band that I really got into. And besides, it's music. Who says I have to be wholly objective about this anyways.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Jimmy Cliff - The Harder They Come

Today's album is The Harder They Come by Jimmy Cliff.

You can't hate this album. It's thoroughly unobjectionable music - and I am not predisposed to enjoy either steel drums or Hammond's organ. But more than that, it's just good music, plain and simple. I haven't heard much in this genre before - I actually needed to confirm with gwilli that this was considered "reggae" in case I was about to make a fool of myself - but this is definitely a refreshing change of pace for me. I have a particular fondness for protest music, and it's nice to hear it expressed in such a gentle, rhythmical melody.

That said, none of these songs moved me enough that I would, say, put them on a mix CD. But they will remain on my hard drive and be given the opportunity to grow on me, which is more than I can say for that execrable Bob Dylan I listened to last Friday.

Overall, I'm gonna give this 3 units of quality out of a possible 5 units of quality.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bob Dylan Live 1975 - The Rolling Thunder Revue

I just grabbed this album from SoulSeek and had a listen to it. I had a hankerin' for some Dylan, but this 2-disc set was an utter disappointment. Turns out, live Bob Dylan is bad, and electric Bob Dylan is awful. Dylan's at his best when he's got an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, and that's it.

This album features entirely too much steel guitar - the bane of 70's music. The steel guitar is to 70's music what the synthesizer was to 80's music: overused and superfluous. If I wanted to listen to this shit I'd have put in Hotel California.

Dylan's been making music since '62, and I think people have been calling him a sellout since around '66. I'm not altogether on-side with that but when your audience asks for a 'protest song' and you play 'Oh Sister', you're a little out of touch.

To sum up: 2 units of quality / 5 units of quality. Some good music but an irredeemably bad performance.