Grunge flashback: alternate video for Nirvana’s In Bloom

In Bloom was the fourth and final single released from Nirvana’s Nevermind. The familiar and famous video debuted in 1992 featured the band parodying 1960’s style television musical performances (think the Ed Sullivan show). It’s a tounge-in-cheek humorous production showing a somewhat more playful side of a band whose image (and the social movement it tipified) was generally sullen and full of, you guessed it, angst.

But behold! the original video for the song. Shot in 1991, the so-called “Subpop” version is dripping with aspects of early 90s grunge zeitgeist, including the city of Seattle, flannel shirts, rockers with unkemped long hair, titled-camera angles and cheesey video effects.

Check it out, marvel at the cultural time capsule, and be glad it was scrapped in favor of a better concept.

Booka Shade – Movements: Decent Dark Ambient

I don’t know much about Booka Shade, other than that the duo hails from Frankfurt and that they create electronic music. But I do know that their electronic music is pretty good electronic music. I’m going to be honest though and say that while, overall, it’s good, it just can’t quite hit the spot.

Movements, the group’s second full-length album, was generally well received in electronic circles in 2006, appearing on a number of top lists. It’s easy to see why. The electro-meets-dark-ambient-beats here is cleanly produced and presented well, with a knack for precision and detail. I’m reminded a lot of Esem’s grinding gloominess, but less sinister and more relaxing. However, after listening to the record a handful of times, I just can’t get satisfied. I can’t help but feel there’s something missing.

The main point of contention I have is that it tries to walk a line between stripped-down minimalism and foot-tapping house beats. While Movements walks that line with reasonable success, the music feels like its trying to pull itself in opposite directions, toward more abstractness or more danceability. The effect is to leave a gaping hole in the center that makes you wish would Booka Shade to fill it with something, anything.

Movements does succeed on a handful of tracks where one end of the dichotomy is clearly favored. In White Rooms is almost typical club music, but with the volume turned down. The song possesses a subtle forcefulness and scale that would have been nice to hear on more of the album. By contrast, the closer, Lost High, is almost depressing in its sparseness.

All in all an enjoyable record that reaches toward greatness, but just doesn’t pull it off.

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆
7.25 / 10 Stars

Further Reading:
The Music Re-View

iPod: Sort Your Albums by Year of Release

daft punk sorted by album title
The iPod’s default behavior is to sort alphabetically.
Here’s Daft Punk’s albums:
Discovery (2001), Homework (1997) and Human After All (2005).

Not that long ago, I was asked by a commenter if I had any suggestions for getting the iPod to sort albums chronologically. By default, the iPod’s behavior is to sort albums alphabetically by title. In iTunes, there’s the option to sort “Album By Year” but the iPod features no such function.

At the time, I didn’t have much of an answer for him other than to put the albums in a playlist and just listen to the songs in chronological order. But in an interesting twist, the pixels in that reply were barely dry before Apple released version 1.3 of the firmware for 5G iPods. After some further discussion, this trick was discovered:

The most noticeable change in firmware 1.3 is the application of iTunes’ “smart sorting” (ignoring “a” “an” and “the”), including recognition of iTunes’ custom “Sort Fields” (Sort Album, Sort Composer), for Album and Composer. The Sort fields allow you to enter any text that you want and iTunes/iPod will use that to order the list of items, while displaying the text from the actual field.

Using the Sort Album field, you can easily put albums in whatever order you like. For example, you could put the Halo number of Nine Inch Nails releases in the Sort Album field to have all items, including singles and remix albums, displayed in the order they were released.

For basic chronological sorting, just put the year in the Sort Album field and voila, the iPod will show the album title, but they will be ordered by the year.

UPDATE: The previous version of this post recommended putting the year of the album in the Sort Album field. This, however, effectively changes the name of the album within iTunes’ logic, making it group all albums of the same year together.

The revised method is to simply prepend the year to the album name in the Sort Album field. This way, each album gets a unique identifier that still sorts by year.

Additional caveat: this tip has the potential (there have been mixed reports) to reorder the listings of the “Album” browser, as the Sort Album field may be applied to it. So if you ever use the iPod’s Album View, keep this in mind. See the discussion in the comments for effects and solutions.

For this demonstration, I’ve selected Daft Punk’s three studio albums:

  • Homework (1997)
  • Discovery (2001)
  • Human After All (2005)

As you can see in the image at top, the default behavior is to display the albums in alphabetical order, with Discovery as the first. How do we fix that?

add a year to Sort Album to sort by release date
click to enlarge

  1. In iTunes, get info on the first song of the album.
  2. Click the Sorting tab.
  3. Enter the year of the album then the album name into Sort Album field
  4. Click OK.
  5. Select all the songs on the album
  6. Right-click/Control-click and select Apply Sort Field > Same Album
  7. Repeat for as many albums as you care to customize

When you next update your iPod, the new data will take effect and the albums will be sorted by release date.

daft punk sorted by year
Daft Punk albums sorted chronologically.

This process works for any 5G iPod that has been updated to firmware version 1.3 (and I assume iPods/iPhones released subsequently) So if you haven’t updated yours, hop to it and then get customizing.

UPDATE 2: As mentioned in the comments, if you have an artist who released two or more albums in the same year, there are two options you can use to sort them appropriately:

  1. If you know the more specific album release date, you can prepend that to the album name.
    Example: If one album was released in March and another in October, use 2008-03 and 2008-10 .
  2. If you don’t know the date, you can order them with a number.
    Ex: 2008-1 , 2008-2 and so on.

The Breeders – Mountain Battles: Slow burn to perfection

Sorry for the relative quiet around here lately. I’ve been on a bit of a holiday. Here’s a review posted from a small island ~10,000 miles from home.


After nearly six years in the musical wilderness, alt-rock godfathers The Breeders are back with a disc called Mountain Battles. And boy is it a good one, but its quality may not be readily apparent on the first few listens. The record, only the group’s fourth in its twenty-year career, slowly reveals itself after repeated exposure, its melodies and rhythms becoming lodged in one’s subconsciousness.

While the Breeders have never been known for precision production quality, Mountain Battles feels especially lo-fiā€“almost like a follow-up to Kim Deal’s 1995 side-project The Amps. (though The Amps might as well have been a Breeders project, given the personnel involved and Kim’s control). In true Breeders fashion, however, that low-key, basement fuzz brings with it an inviting warmth.

It’s a borderline tragedy then, particularly given the long span since Title TK, that Battles runs quite short, clocking in at just more than 36 minutes. Spread out over thirteen songs, the music barely gets started before it ends. Then again, that is also true Breeders fashion: always leaving you wanting more. Hopefully we won’t have to wait so long before the next album.

Free Listen: Bang On:

Breeders Digest.