Flavor of the Week: Sept 22-28

Last night, I went to Stromae’s show at The Gothic theater here in Denver, and it essentially only ignited my incredible love for his music…so this week’s flavor of the week is only a slight variation, but nonetheless, here it is…

  1. Bâtard by Stromae
  2. Carmen by Stromae
  3. Quand C’est? by Stromae
  4. About The Money by T.I. feat. Young Thug
  5. Solo feat. Dorrough by Waka Flocka
  6. Randy Savage by Waka Flocka
  7. Cologne by Clean Bandit
  8. New Dorp, New York by SBTRKT feat. Ezra Koenig
  9. Cooler Than This by Rizzle Kicks

Hi-Res Audio: Can You Really Hear The Difference?

In a recent article from The Guardian, authors Samuel Gibbs, Tim Jonze and Jason Phipps debate whether or not one can actually hear the difference between the various audio formats. Just as a little background, the formats discussed in this particular article are MP3, CD and 24-bit audio.

If you know nothing about the different audio formats, this article probably means nothing to you or just flat out confuses you. But I’m sure we’ve all downloaded the occasional mixtape or free track via the Internet and found the sound quality to be less than awesome. This always leaves us consumers who don’t understand the world of audio in a state of confusion as to why something that sounds this awful exists. This article provides some insight for those of us playing catch up with the audio world. If you’re curious as to what I’m discussing, read the article here, and then come back and read more.

The authors of this article each delve into their personal experience listening to the different audio formats, noting the differences they hear or the lack there of. For the most part, they all seem to come to the conclusion that they can’t actually really tell the difference between the formats. They did, however, notice when the audio file was really low quality/awful compared to the hi-res file of the song.

I found this article interesting because the authors had the opportunity to listen to all available formats at Linn Records through a high quality system and speakers. Last year, I was asked to do a similar assignment by my audio production professor, but I was listening to the tracks on my Macbook Pro via my cheap $10 earbuds purchased at Target, so I wasn’t 100% sure that my findings had any sort of relevance. For the assignment, I was to create a playlist and blindly listen to two different versions of four different songs: one lossless file and and one compressed audio file. I was then to guess which was which and report my findings. My findings were half and half—I guessed right 50% of the time, which I’m guessing was just luck. My overall finding was that there is little to no difference between hi-res and low-res (or lossless vs. compressed) audio files to the average listener.

Of course we have audio engineers who are trained to hear and create a sonically superior (shout out to Patchwerk Recording Studios right there) product, but as consumers is it really relevant or pertinent information? In my opinion, no. I think for the majority of music listeners, they aren’t all that interested in the science behind the music. Of course most people want the highest quality product, but do they really care for it to be advertised? Again, no. So the question becomes: how do we make it relevant for the average listener?

Despite the fact that the average listener can’t tell the difference between different audio formats, it doesn’t mean that quality assurance in audio isn’t important. We have recently seen the marketability of products such as high quality speakers and headphones, which have been inherently successful. Maybe instead of attempting to market a somewhat “intangible” product (the audio itself), the world of audio should continue the focus on the things that are tangible that enhance the the hi-res audio provided. In the past, we have seen the physical changes of audio: vinyl, 8-tracks, cassette tapes, CDs, etc. But once we happened upon digital audio files, it became less apparent to listeners what was “good sound” versus what was “easily available” sound. Digital audio files became more convenient with the rise of MP3 players, the iPod and now, smartphones.

However, what most consumers don’t consider, is that the sound quality wasn’t necessarily better, just more convenient. Ultimately, convenience won, and now we see audio professionals advocating hi-res audio files versus the so-called “crappy” and low-res MP3 files we’ve become accustomed to listening to. So in a sense, maybe it is smart that the world of audio is attempting to raise awareness around hi-res audio so that when it eventually is marketed to consumers, they can understand why.

The only potential problem I see with the marketability of such a product is that it’s going to take awhile for consumers to understand the why. Why is this product better? Why should I pay for hi-res audio? How is there a difference if it’s all still digital? For those of us [businesspeople] in the music industry, the world of audio engineering has become a bit more like secondhand knowledge here than it has to the rest of the world. Because the evolution of audio has become less tangible with the arrival of the digital age, I think it will take a bit more time for consumers to understand the transformation of digital audio.

Reflecting for a moment, and maybe going a bit off track, I think about the transition television and film have made with audio and picture quality. By simply advertising DVD and eventually Blu-Ray as somehow visually and sonically superior to the previously available formats, consumers hopped on the bandwagon and made the upgrade. By simply attaching the word “HD” or “Blu-Ray” to the title, consumers went out and purchased new copies of the media, deeming it necessary by the new industry standards. I think this is where the music industry and the film industry differ. The film industry has consistently done an outstanding job marketing and advertising their new formats while the music industry was very lackadaisical about their digital transformation. The music industry is just now catching up on recognizing the value of marketing their products in a similar way. It will be interesting to watch how the industry tries to market hi-res audio in the future…will they make hi-res audio seem tangible? If so, how? I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see…

Flavor of the Week: Sept 14-21

This week’s flavor of the week can be summed up into one artist, and one album at the moment. In preparation for a concert I’m attending next weekend, I’ve been listening to Stromae on repeat. Somehow I haven’t committed to purchasing the album…not sure how. As I’m writing the words, I’m still in wonderment. But it’s been a long week, and I’ve barely had time to think. Nevertheless, here is my flavor of the week playlist. I’ll include the track names, but they’re all by the same artist, Stromae. He’s a fantastic French rapper, if you haven’t heard of him yet, PLEASE go watch all of his amazing music videos. So visually creative and interesting.

  1. Ta fête
  2. Papaoutai
  3. Bâtard
  4. Ave Vesaria
  5. Tous les mêmes
  6. Formidable
  7. Moules frites
  8. Carmen
  9. Humain à l’eau
  10. Quand c’est?
  11. Sommeil
  12. Merci
  13. Avf

What’s Next for the Evolution of Album Releases?

I recently read an article from Rolling Stone that discussed 15 Innovative Album Releases That Shook The Music Industry. If you take a look at the article, it reviews fifteen different album releases from fifteen artists/bands over the past two decades that were ‘out of the ordinary.’ There were certain aspects I found varyingly interesting from each album release listed, and here are my thoughts…

1) Guns N’ Roses: what Guns N’ Roses did for their 1991 album release was very much what we saw in anticipation of the Harry Potter book series. Of course, it was 1991 and this idea of releasing an album at midnight, enticing fans to camp out outside the record stores to wait for the stroke of midnight to purchase the album was entirely new at the time, but it quickly became a popularized marketing tactic after the fact. It is now most commonly used for the loathsome holiday of Black Friday; a day where Americans wait outside department stores to save big bucks on that plasma TV they are so desperate to have. All in all, I think this was an incredible idea for its time, and also for even our time right now for things such as movie premieres (lookin’ at you, Twilight Saga The Hobbit saga), book premieres & media of the like.

2) U2: I personally think U2 just got damn lucky on this one. 2004 was a time where we were all trying to figure out which technology would take off next, and I truly believe this could have been an epic fail or a fantastic win. Luckily enough, it was a fantastic win for U2 to partner with Apple to release their album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb. Along with that, there was the brilliant marketing campaign by Apple with the commercials of shadows dancing holding the iPod with the earbuds and U2’s “Vertigo” playing…it was extremely effective and really only helped boost the idea of this album release.

3) NIN: Well I’m no NIN fan by any means, but I am a Trent Reznor fan. What a brilliant marketing ploy he had—especially for the year 2007. Only a band with a dedicated-hardcore fans like this could pull something like this off. I think it’s pretty impressive that someone found it and took the time to put the puzzle together, so to speak. Once the secret had been leaked, it was bound to blow up. Trent obviously really knew and understood his fan-base—knowing that they would take well to the idea of an interactive online universe to figure out more about the upcoming album. I think that’s really all you can ask of the creator of your music. Fans love the feeling of connection and understanding between themselves and the artist, and I think Trent really proved himself here.

4) Radiohead: Pay what you want?! What a scary idea for its time. In my opinion, this idea is only bound to work so many times for so many bands before the idea dies out and fails, but because it was innovative and new, it worked. I think we’re all getting to be a little greedy unfortunately, and I think the number of people who are willing to pay are a lot less than they were.

5) The White Stripes: I bet all of this made Jack White so furious. Having his grand scheme leaked before it was supposed to, and then the epic fail of iTunes for releasing the album before the street date…eish! Despite the failures of his plan, I think this really could’ve worked out for him if he’d rolled with the punches.

6) NIN (again): Pay what you want, again! And “this one’s on me.” Smart, but here’s another opinion. Rappers have been doing this since…well, day one. Most rappers start of their career making free mixtapes, and even after they are established continue to create, create, create content for their fans at no one’s expense (except their own). I’m not as impressed by this idea in that sense. By no means do I think music should be free, but I think everybody could take a lesson or two from hip hop…those guys have some dedicated fans.

7) Smashing Pumpkins: This idea just seemed…too complicated and reach-y. And it obviously was—the project has yet to be complete. Yawn. The clock is ticking and we don’t care to wait anymore. We live in the time of immediacy, and waiting gets old.

8) Prince: What a diva. Interesting idea, but what about the fans?

9) Kanye West: Well now, I’m biased because I love me some Kanye West, and despite his greatest efforts at being a douche-canoe, I still think he’s one of the smartest businessmen in the industry. GOOD Fridays were a genius idea, and the idea of GOOD Music has only expanded in the past six years. And he got Beyoncé to give music away for free? Genius.

10) Death Grips: Again, divas. Why sign with a label if you knew y’all wouldn’t agree? I think this was more of a “stick it to the man” game plan more than anything. No one hates free music though.

11) Godspeed You! Black Emperor: I have to be honest, I didn’t even know who this band was until reading this article (oops), but this was a pretty impressive ploy to pull off, especially for 2012. Most things were most easily accessible online, but because of their fan base, this worked for them. Sometimes being a dedicated fan and showing up to that show after 10 years works out for you. Cool.

12) Boards of Canada: WHAT. I don’t know how this worked for them, but I think it’s pretty awesome. I’m not super tech-savvy or hardworking when it comes to things like this, so my laziness would have made it impossible for me to get ahold of this album. My reaction: **claps** and nothing else.

13) Jay Z: While this idea was innovative and cool, part of me still thought “meh.” Now maybe that’s because I’m a little brainwashed by my Apple products, but I still got my copy of Magna Carter Holy Grail without the “technology” of Samsung. I’d rather pay for Jay Z’s album than for a Samsung Galaxy, to be perfectly honest.

14) Beyoncé: Again, another time I’m completely biased. When I woke up December 13 and checked my Twitter feed, and next my iTunes Store and saw the words BEYONCÉ in all caps and powdery pink letters, I knew I had to have it. The Beyoncé brand is on top, and we’re all bowing down (get it?). But to be fair, I think almost any huge pop star today could pull this off: Justin Bieber, One Direction…they could all do it.

15) Wu-Tang Clan: Next to the fact that Wu-Tang Clan posted an internship position for their band on Craigslist this past summer, this is also pretty wild. I also think it’s stupid. I personally wouldn’t bid very much to see Wu-Tang Clan at a stadium, let alone a museum. I don’t think this a good idea for their fans because I think it excludes a lot of them, which I think is a bummer, and exclusivity isn’t always a good thing.

I guess the only question left is what will the next big album release scheme be? What will work and what won’t? My guess is that we’ll see a few big failures while we see some impressive successes. We’ll just have to wait and see who goes for the gold next…

Review: Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam

paul3

paul1paul

Ok! Because I mentioned this product in a previous post, I wanted to do a quick review of this product. This has been one of my all-time favorites for so long. I started using this product in high school when my hair stylist put it in my hair and I just fell in love with everything about it.

I have fine, thin, blonde hair that isn’t too long, so I love any product that will make my hair fuller and more voluminous. This product is a light mousse that you can use for anything. I use this daily whether or not I blow dry my hair or use heat. It doesn’t make your hair crunchy or greasy…it’s just a really awesome product.

This product totally adds volume to your hair, and I feel like it honestly makes your washes last longer. I wash my hair every other day, and I feel like this product helps my hair stay non-greasy. With all of that said, this product is also great to use if you are planning on blow-drying your hair. It just gives you a really nice blowout and leaves you with hair that you can do anything with. I always use this product if I think there is even a possibility of me curling my hair. It just adds a little more insurance so you know your hair will last throughout the day.

You only need a little bit of this product to make it go a long way. Another note about this product is that it is GREAT for humidity. I live in the south, and so it’s totally necessary for me to have this as my hair insurance to make sure everything stays in place as long as possible. I used to believe that NO curl would stick in my hair, but this is honestly my holy grail to holding a curl. *To all my ladies who believe their hair WON’T curl, I have a few suggestions to help y’all out down below as well. * But anyways, this product is simply amazing, and it works wonders. As if it wasn’t already amazing enough, the smell is DELICIOUS. It honestly just smells like nothing else I’ve ever used and I truly wish that they had shampoo & conditioner to match this mousse…it seriously smells that good. 

NOW, for the ladies who are having trouble curling their hair: if you have tried mousse, hairspray, curlers, gel…the WORKS on your hair to attempt to keep that curl but nothing works, then my next suggestion is to get a perm. I know it sounds scary and like the last thing you want to do (especially if you’re not in high school anymore), but after I got my hair permed, something with the texture and hold totally changed. I can now do whatever hairstyle I want and guarantee that it will hold. I know the idea of a perm is scary and you might not like it, but if you really want to be able to curl your hair…maybe take this into consideration. Make SURE you are going to someone who has a great track record with perms and be sure that you follow all the instructions they give you post-perm, otherwise you can royally fuck it up (like I did the first time). But that’s my best advice.

ALSO: one last piece of advice for curling your hair is to maybe look into getting a better curling iron. I’m not talking about dropping mad cash by any means, but I’m pretty skeptical about the curling wands they sell at target or Wal-Mart. your best bet is to find a Sally’s Beauty Salon and to buy one of their curling wands. I personally suggest anything by Hot Shot Tools—everything is super high quality, and I’ve found that these curling irons curl my hair SO much faster than any Conair or Revlon curling iron ever did.

Okay! That’s all. I really hope this review helps and that you go buy this delicious hair product. If not for the volume, hold, or whatever then at least for the smell.

xoxo

 

2facedd 2face

urban stila

Hey everyone!

If you can’t tell, this next review is about one of my favorite eyeshadow palettes. When I first walked into Sephora the day i purchased this palette, I originally walked in to purchase the NAKED palette. Now, this was when I was first discovering high-end beauty products, so when I saw the price was $52, I opted for the next best option. One of the sales people suggested that I check out this Too Faced Natural Eye palette. And oh my gosh you guys, ever since I’ve been in love with this palette. If you are someone who is looking for something very similar to the NAKED palette, but not willing to spend the $54 (I think prices have gone up since 2010), then I highly suggest this palette.

I personally absolutely LOVE the silk teddy base shadow and find that you can really wear it anytime with or without the additional colors in the row to make that perfect smokey eye. I do a lot of mixing with this palette and don’t necessarily always use the colors that are in the same rows together, though.

I love this palette because it offers a very neutral, matte daytime eye that can be for beginners or for people who prefer the natural, non-sparkly look. BUT you can also rock the sparkles during the day and do a soft smokey daytime eye with the second row of colors.

My only hesitation with this palette is the color nude beach on the bottom left. I think anyone who has purchased this palette can agree that the color is crumbly and weird. It gets all over your faces and just puts sparkles EVERYWHERE. I found that frustrating because it looks like such a pretty nude color, but it’s more annoying than anything that it gets all over your face.

I, of course, ran out of the silk teddy way before any of the other colors even had a dent in them. I wanted to repurchase that specific color because I loved it, but we all know that a lot of times Too Faced doesn’t ever sell individual eyeshadows. So my next best bet was Stila’s eyeshadow in “Kitten.” this is honestly the best match you are ever going to find for the “Silk Teddy” shadow. Now unfortunately, I’m super picky and I travel a lot. One time I was flying home or god knows else where, and when I opened up my suitcase and got my makeup bag out, my Stila eyeshadow had totally cracked and crumbled. The mistake was in the packaging, I believe but it was enough to make me look elsewhere for a shadow that was more durable for travel (and the people who throw your bags at the airport).

SO, with that I went back to Sephora in search of a new replacement shadow and wound up with the color “Sin” from Urban Decay. It’s the same exact price as the Stila shadow, but I’ve found it to be much more durable. I’ve repurchased this product twice, and I genuinely love it. I think it’s a great base for all over your eye, and it’s just really pretty and shimmery. My friend recently got me a sample of Stila’s “Kitten”, however, and I have to admit that I am secretly kind of missing that sweet, champagne-y color it gives off.

I hope this helps any of you who are fighting the struggle to or not to buy the NAKED palette, or if you are just genuinely interested in a good, simple palette that isn’t extremely overwhelming with choices.

I personally also love all the NAKED palettes, but wanted those of you on a budget (or just beginners) to know what has worked for me! The pigmentation in this palette is awesome and the colors don’t crease or get dull throughout the day (with a primer, of course, but more on that later).

That’s it for my review today, but I really hope this helps all of you!

 

 

Review: Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Spray

nymI’ve been reading a ton of reviews on this lately, and to be honest, a lot of them surprised me. I saw a ton of complaints that it “doesn’t work” and “doesn’t hold curl” and blah blah blah. the first thing I want to say to all of that is: hold on! let’s rewind. this is texturizing spray — not “I make your hair surfer babe wavy.”

now maybe I’m the one who went into using this product blindly, but when I see “texturizing spray,” I just assume it’s going to give my hair a little more life. it’s going to help with the body of my hair and give it a little something to hold on to, especially when I’m styling my hair. I have very fine & thin hair, so if I’m going to curl my hair after I’ve just washed it, my hair is usually way too silky for my curling wand—it just slips right off! and because of that, I love using this product. a few sprays really gives my hair that extra grip it needs when wrapped around my curling wand.

that being said, I do beachy waves all the time. they are probably one of my all-time favorite, lazy girl hairstyles, and this texturizing spray totally helps with that. it helps me achieve the lazy waves I’m looking for without having to really overdo the amount of heat I use. I still use my curling wand to give me those beachy waves, but I only spend about five to ten minutes on my whole head to achieve this look when using this texturizing spray—it just gives them a little more body, a little more of a natural look, and it smells amazing! 

I hope you found this review helpful in some way! let me know if you go out and buy this product & how you liked it.

xoxo