As Bono came in chanting and The Edge power-chorded his guitar for the radio-friendly chorus of “The Miracle (Of Joey Ramone)” today, we hoped for a revitalized big-arena rock band performance from the biggest Irish rock band of all time.
What we got was the boys miming a well-rehearsed, highly-produced single that sounds like anything but The Ramones. Bono sings, “I was young/Not dumb/Just wishing to be blinded/By you/Brand new/We were pilgrims on our way” and, frankly, we wish they were young again. We wanted to be blinded by rockstars, but we really only got an ad for Apple.
At first listen, Songs of Innocence is a musically safe choice, a collection of songs that will sound just fine in the background as you wait in line for your first latte of the day at Starbucks. This isn’t the same band that had us thrilling to “In the Name of Love,” or “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” let alone snake-dancing to the mysterious syncopations of “Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses” or the gospel-tinged “One.”
The new album is being pitched by the band as intensely personal, but it comes off as more craftsmanship than artistry. It’s not all bad, and chances are U2 super-fans would have bought it even if it weren’t free, but the music lovers in us were a little disappointed.
Sony is hoping to boost digital record sales with a new iPhone app that offers a discounted album every 24 hours. Prices are slashed by as much as 70 percent in the Album of the Day app, and all purchases are made through iTunes.
Dream your way into space with the new IFTTT NASA channel, put notifications and widgets on your desktop with Übersicht and make the perfect cup of coffee with the latest AeroPress timer. This week we even have an app just for processing B&W photos.
Listary, my favorite iPhone list app, now syncs with Dropbox instead of Simplenote (which in turn means no easy nvALT syncing), adds smart lists, a URL scheme that lets you ad tasks from apps like Drafts, icon badges and sharing. It’s also free, with an in-app purchase to unlock advanced features. $Free
Now you can get an iPhone notification eery time an astronaut enters space. This radness is thanks to the new NASA IFTTT channel, which offers seven triggers that can feed their info into other IFFFT actions. Want to flash the Wi-Fi-controlled lights in your house every time the International Space Station passes overhead? No problem! And best of all it’s free – you just need an IFTTT account. $Free
Now Vox, the Mac app that streams music from internet radio along with pretty much any music format stored on your Mac (it integrates with your iTunes library too), now works with SoundCloud, which is the place all the cool kids publish their music these days. It supports SoundCloud queues and Collections, and grabs the highest-quality stream available. It’s free, with an in-app purchase to unlock the good stuff. $Free/$3
MediaFire, the service that forces you to click and load way too many web pages just to get an image from your email, has relaunched its iOS app as a photo-sharing, media-streaming powerhouse. v2.0 now auto-syncs your iPhone and iPad photos to its servers, along with improved streaming of audio and video. The service also adds a new pricing plan, starting at $25 per year for a terabyte of storage. Take that, Dropbox! $Free
JoliCloud’s Drive is both a front-end for the privacy-focussed Norwegian cloud storage service (which I use and love), as well as a place to combine all your other cloud accounts. You can access Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, MediaFire and more, plus the amazing cloud torrent service Put.io. You can also use it to view and edit photos, watch movies, edit photos, listen to music and even read ebooks. Now the web app is even better thanks to a new large-icon grid view for your files. How much? Amazingly, it’s $Free.
Tonality takes your boring old color photos and turns then into amazing B&W images. It works with most images, RAW and JPG included, and does most of what Adobe’s Lightroom does, only it’s focussed on monochrome images and doesn’t do anything for color. You can tweak the color channels to really play with the B&W result, and there’s even gimmicky a one-touch-HDR feature. But the best part is layers, letting you save yourself to a bigger app like photoshop. I like it quite a lot, but I miss Lightroom’s built-in cataloging features. Regular or Pro for $20/$60
You know how cool the TED talks are, where super-smart folks tell you about awesome things? Well Learnist is kind of like that, only instead of lectures it curates lessons, and now it comes on the iPad too. People like Gus Van Sant add lessons, along with qualified teachers concentrating on specific subjects. It’s also free to download and browse. $Free
If you don’t have an AeroPress then go out and buy one right now. Pick up a burr grinder while you’re at it, and some delicious, freshly-roasted beans. Got it? Good. Now you can enjoy the free AeroPress Timer app, new and improved and at version 2. The app provides a whole slew of recipes, with extra recipe packs for $2, available as in-app purchases. Choose a recipe, get your gear set, your water hot and your coffee ground, and hit Go. The timer will count you down to the perfect cup. $Free.
Equalizers haven’t been a fashionable tech feature since Boomboxes went out of style in the 90’s, but Spotify just released a major update to its iOS app and I can’t stop playing with its fun new equalizer.
Spotify’s 1.1 update includes a number of other new features like a redesigned Artist page on iPad and new Discover feature, but the simple equalizer is perhaps the most useful new addition, allowing users to customize presets with six sliders.
Apple’s recently acquired music streaming service, Beats Music, just received its biggest update since getting scooped up by Apple at the end of May, adding new features that let you fine tune your musical tastes on the service and view songs that were just served up in The Sentence.
I’ve been playing music for coming up on 30 years now, and I’ve tried a ton of music gear. These days, I run a fairly bare-bones setup, with a smaller amp for those close venues, a couple of dual-effect pedals (Visual Sounds’ Route 66 and H2O), and a Boss VE-20 vocal harmony box to thicken up the background vocals in my disco band.
I’ve always had a thing for multi-effect boxes, though, running through my share of a few complicated ones that never quite gave me what I needed in terms of both effects sounds and onstage ease-of-use.
When I heard about TC-Helicon’s new VoiceLive 3 mega-stomp box, with a huge range of guitar effects and amplifier modeling, an amazing vocal-harmony processing system and a stage-quality looping feature, well, I had to try it out.
The album is dead. So dead Amazon thinks customers won’t even care if all the songs in its new music-streaming service have been spun out of tune by DJs across the country for months.
To boost its digital offerings, Amazon is planning to launch its own music service, reports BuzzFeed, but rather than stocking up on the latest hit songs, Prime Music will shun new releases in favor of a potluck offering of songs and albums that are at least six months old.
Drop the needle on avant-garde musician Brian Eno’s latest album release (on vinyl, of course), and you’ll hear all sorts of future-retro electronic sounds composed to stir your emotions in sometimes unpredictable ways.
Aim your iPhone at the very same vinyl record, and if you’ve installed the app made for the purpose, you’ll see a whole different scene, a 3D hologram-like cityscape that rises up from the spinning platter. Check out the video (below) for a sneak peek.