Music Review: Fleet Foxes, “Crack-Up”

Music Review: Fleet Foxes, “Crack-Up”

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The last time Fleet Foxes released new music, it was 2011 and “planking” was a thing. Since then, a lot has changed: the US has gone through not one, but two divisive Presidential elections; the band’s drummer, Josh Tillman, left to start a snarky, yet successful solo career as “Father John Misty;” and it’s lead singer, Robin Pecknold, moved to New York City to complete an undergraduate degree at Columbia University. Fans have been anticipating new music since 2013, when the group uploaded a teaser pic on their Facebook page, which has since been deleted. It’s almost hard to believe that we’ve been waiting six years for a third Fleet Foxes album – almost. As quickly as their music blew up across college campuses (and even more vigorously in Europe) they were gone – like footprints covered by snow. Winter has thawed to reveal “Crack-Up,” an astonishing work of art: complex, subtle, devastating, introspective, and celebratory all at once. The sound is fresh, yet distinctly Fleet Foxes – mixing folk with New Age and Eastern influences. “Crack-Up” requires just as much patience to listen to as it – undoubtedly – needed to create. But once you wade in, the music breaks over you like a wave, and you’re swept into a new, but familiar space. The album plays host to many memorable moments, including the 9-minute “Third of May / Odaigahara,” which takes a sudden, sorrowful turn roughly 3 minutes in; “Kept Woman,” and “Fool’s Errand,” just to name a few. “Crack-Up” is a classic in the making, and a welcome addition to Fleet Foxes’ small, yet stunning oeuvre. Fleet Foxes is now on tour! Check out their tour schedule here: http://fleetfoxes.co/tour

Throwback Thursday: Madonna Releases Her Debut Album

Throwback Thursday: Madonna Releases Her Debut Album

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On this day in 1983, The Queen of Pop, Madonna, released her self-titled, debut album. Born in Michigan, the pop star moved to New York City to pursue a dance career but began singing in her performance groups. She was eventually signed by Sire Records. Her debut album, “Madonna,” was an upbeat, post-disco sound that used new technology for the time, such as a Moog bass, the Linn drum machine, and the OB-X synthesizer. Five singles were released from the album, including “Holiday” and “Borderline,” which became international top 10 hits. The album set the stage for pop music in the 1980’s, creating an entirely new sound for the coming decade. Madonna’s second album, “Like a Virgin,” released the following year, became her first Number 1 album. Madonna herself would go on to become a global icon: spearheading the rise of music videos on MTV, dictating 1980’s and 1990’s women’s fashion trends, and becoming the best-selling female recording artist of all time. Check out Madonna’s website here: http://www.madonna.com/

 

 

Re-Broadcasting Spotify Connect With The Harman Kardon Omni+ Series

Re-Broadcasting Spotify Connect With The Harman Kardon Omni+ Series

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Blackfire Research partner, Harman Kardon, recently released an updated version of their Omni Wireless Speakers, which they are calling The Omni+ Series. Like the first generation, the new series features the same lightweight, portable design of the Omni 10 and Omni 20, but this time, they’re trading in the glossy exterior for a more sophisticated matte finish (in both black and white.) Additionally, Harman Kardon has added another speaker to the series: The Omni 50+, a wireless HD indoor/outdoor speaker with a rechargeable battery, perfect for your next backyard BBQ. And of course, all speakers in The Omni+ Series feature Blackfire wireless multiroom technology built-in, so your favorite song can follow you from room to room.

 

One of the most exciting updates in the Harman/Kardon Omni+ Series is the addition of built-in Spotify Connect which lets you play your Spotify library through the Omni+ wireless speakers directly from the internet – freeing up your phone to take calls and do other things. But what if you have one or more of the first generation Omni wireless speakers and want to play music from your Spotify account throughout your home? With the addition of one or more Omni+ wireless speakers to your home, re-broadcasting Spotify Connect to your existing Omni collection is as easy as pressing a button. Literally.

 

Whether you have an Omni 10, an Omni 20, or Adapt, the process will be exactly the same. After you add any speaker from the Omni+ Series to your collection, initiate normal setup (make sure you have the latest version of the Harman/Kardon App first):

  1. Place the speaker in your desired location
  2. Connect it to a power source
  3. Open the Harman/Kardon app and follow the easy setup instructions
  4. Make sure you have added the new speaker to the same Wi-Fi network as your other speaker(s) and your source device(s)

 

Now that you have chosen a location, a name, and the correct network for the new speaker, you can begin to re-broadcast Spotify Connect throughout your home!

  1. With all your Omni and Omni+ wireless speakers on and connected to the same Wi-Fi network, open the Spotify App from your phone, tablet, or desktop
  2. With the Spotify App open, click on “Devices Available” at the bottom of the pageHarman Kardon
  3. Find the name you’ve given to your new Omni+ Wireless Speaker on the list of available devices. Since the Omni+ speakers all have Spotify Connect built-in, it will show up as an available device on the Spotify App automatically
  4. Choose your Omni+ Speaker from the list as your playback device
  5. Test the connection by choosing a song to play from your Spotify account – music should now be playing from your new Omni+ speaker

 

While music plays from your new Omni+ speaker, you have two options of how to re-broadcast Spotify Connect from you Omni+ speaker to your Omni speaker(s). You can either:

Press and hold down the “Slash Button” on the top of your Omni+ speaker until all of the Omni speakers in your collection start playing the same song

 

OR

 

Press the “Slash Button” on each individual Omni speaker so you can control which specific speaker(s) to re-broadcast to (in case you don’t want to re-broadcast Spotify Connect to all of your wireless speakers.

These same steps apply if you want to stop re-broadcasting Spotify Connect to your Omni speakers: simply press and hold down the “Slash Button” on your Omni+ speaker, or, press the “Slash Button” on each individual Omni speaker to stop the re-broadcasting.

And that’s it! Re-broadcasting Spotify Connect from an Omni+ Wireless Speaker to your first generation Omni collection is as easy as pressing a button. Now you can enjoy music from your Spotify account played from any speaker, throughout your entire home. Did someone say “Party?”

Featured Music Friday: Witness

Featured Music Friday: Witness

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The Leading Lady of Pop, Katy Perry, is out with her fourth album, “Witness,” a jumble of lackluster, out-of-touch singles trying to pass off as a cohesive pop album. Perry rose to prominence in the early 00’s when teens would download the latest chart-topping single off iTunes for .99 cents and play it back on their iPod Shuffles. Back then, it was all about the single, and Perry was the artist on top. Now, in the era of music streaming, the album is making a comeback, and it seems that Perry’s attempt at a throughline (empowerment and “wokefullness,” a timely motif) is overshadowed by cringe-worthy lyrics and tired, jumbled metaphors. That’s not to say Perry isn’t a talented performer, but when it comes to creating an album (as opposed to a catchy single) a certain subtlety is required to keep the album buoyant- and subtle, Perry is not. “Witness” is weighed down by clichéd lyrics and overproduced styles that are too much – even for pop music. The album’s first single, “Chained to the Rhythm,” (which was first released through a PR stunt of singing disco balls literally chained to park benches in Brooklyn) and accompanying music video, sets the stage for the album’s heavy-handedness. Ironically, on the one track that fans and critics would’ve allowed, even welcomed, an overzealous approach, Perry misses the mark completely. “Swish Swish,” Perry’s highly anticipated Taylor Swift diss track featuring Nicki Minaj, is a dull shot in the dark. Perry has been building up this rebuttal-track for years, and what should have been an album highlight (and tabloid fodder) winds up being just as lame and insignificant as the feud that inspired it. Perry’s lack of success off her fourth album and her awkward promotion of it (see: video of Katy Perry surprising fans but no one recognizes her/knows who she is/really cares) shows just how out-of-touch she is with the genre. In the wake of artists like Lorde and Beyoncé who have transcended pop music from catchy gimmicks made for radio to an all out, soul-bearing artform, Perry has stalled – chained to the rhythm of the prior decade. Featured Music Friday is brought to you by Blackfire Research.