Saturday, July 24, 2010

DEVO Something For Everybody on Vinyl is here!

I got the latest DEVO album on vinyl today. The album, SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY, is (as I'm sure you know) their first studio album since SMOOTH NOODLE MAPS in 1990 and is well worth the purchase. I did, however, hold out for the vinyl release. Why? The big reason is the fidelity of the album. You may ask, if you wanted the highest fidelity, why didn't you go with CD? Admittedly, there are valid arguments on both sides of the CD v. Vinyl camps. The CD/digital camp will praise Cds clarity, and lack of compression or surface noise (clicks and pops), while the Vinyl camp will champion the earthiness of the analog mastering.

Well, I'm on the Vinyl side. Although stating it is almost a cliche' by now, there is a bottom and warmth to analog that digital almost never gets right. As for clicks and pops, no sounds exist in a vacuum, so to expect music to exist as a phantom sound without any earthly groundings or extraneous noise is just not realistic.

Bigger than all of this, though, is the current process of "Brickwalling" music. That is, in the process of digital mastering, a record label will insist that the sound be as loud as possible; just short of distortion. It's an incredibly common process these days and it, frankly, makes the music sound like garbage. Every sound becomes just as loud as every other sound on the recording and it kills the fidelity. Fortunately for fans of fidelity in their music, vinyl records can't be mastered that way. The reason is, a recording with "Brickwall" mastering will send a stylus flying right out of the groove. Therefore, when studios master things properly to vinyl, everything needs to be carefully EQed and compressed so it sounds right (I say 'mastered properly' because some pressings of current hit records, like Lady Gaga's THE FAME MONSTER picture disc are mastered from a CD, but with a diminished volume so it sounds like lo fi mush, but at a lower volume. The Euro pressing of Gaga's TFM is done properly, sounds gorgeous, and blows the mass produced CD right into the sewer system).

Here's an example of what I mean. Below is a soundwave from the Retail CD of the first track on DEVO's SOMETHING FOR EVERYBODY, entitled Fresh:

Click to enlarge

As you can see
, the track fills up the entire space, with the loudest parts clipped off of the chart. This is unacceptable, since all the listener is getting with this is loudness. There is no nuance; no fidelity. Now compare/contrast with the same track from the vinyl album:

Click to enlarge

Now, the first thing that might occur to you is, "Wow, that seems a lot smaller than the other soundwave." Yes, you are correct. But look at the farthest reaching points of the wave. They fall within the volume spectrum. Nothing is clipped off. Everything that was recorded for the track is perfectly and properly audible. You might think it sounds too low, but that's what volume controls are for. Turn it up and the deep basses, crystal clear highs and crisp midranges all leap out at you. You'll most likely never want to hear a CD or MP3 again.

There's a organization found at that will give you more insight to the problem that is Brickwalling on Audio CDs and digital music files. I suggest you go there and snoop around. Read especially about the "loudness wars" and how recorded music got to the horrific point it's at now.

As for the new DEVO album, you can buy it at or at It's pressed on beautiful translucent blue vinyl and it comes with the Audio CD version that you'll probably use as a devolved drink coaster after you hear the beauty that is the vinyl version.

Duty now.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Shockedelic Radio Show Episode 6:03 "Damned Ennui"

Sorry for the delay. As you can tell from the title of this current episode ("Damned Ennui"), I'm fighting an uphill battle. At any rate, prepare yourself for 80 minutes of the best in International Pop Music. It's the NEW Shockedelic Radio Show! This is Episode 3, Season 6; "Damned Ennui". It's long overdue, so give it a listen.

Listen to it streaming above or download it below:

SRS EP6:03

Legal stuff:

It's a very litigious society, so please understand that this MP3 Podcast is presented as a radio show promoting new and lesser well known artists. All of the music here is copyrighted and the copyright proprietors retain ownership of the material presented here. No rights are given to the downloader or listener or are implied as such. In short, listen to the show and enjoy it, but don't go dissecting the program. If you hear something you like, track it down and purchase it. Supporting the artist is crucial. Make sure you do your duty.