The Rock Snob’s Playlist – Week 8 of @Spotify Discover Weekly

spotify discover weekly 8

Ten years ago a small book attempted to codify rock snobbery. The Rock Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge laid bare the confusing rules of obsessive music fans. The knowledge so many music nerds had built quietly and kept secret for decades was now made available to the masses. The horror! Of course, only the rock snobs bought the book, but the secret was out.

rock snob's dictionary

Somehow Spotify is on to me and knows I am a card carrying music snob. It took seven very close attempts, but Week 8 pretty much could have come straight from the pages of the Rock Snob’s Dictionary. While not every single track qualifies as prime rock snob material, it comes pretty darn close. This list is centered on the 1970s and is spot on in its mix of snob-approved tracks, fun surprises, new music and a couple of big hits to keep it moving along briskly.

Sticking with the rock snob theme I have given each track a tongue in cheek snob rating. Ratings are highly subject to change depending on current critical trends and will vary from snob to snob.
Three Snobs – A track like this gets three raised thumbs of approval. This is either undiscovered gold or perennially cool and unimpeachably great music for snobs of all stripes.
Two Snobs – Some serious snob appeal. Likely obscure, rare, difficult, rediscovered, but too popular to get behind 100%.
One Snob – Definite rock snob cred, but probably overplayed or fallen out of favor with cutting edge snobs.
Zero Snobs – This doesn’t mean bad song in any way at all. It just means it wouldn’t get the snort of approval from the self-respecting music snob who has spent far too much time huddled over dusty crates of vinyl.

Now let’s dig into the music.

spotify discover weekly 8

“Burning Airlines Give You So Much More” opens Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy) from 1974, his second solo album. The dark lyrics in this oddly bouncy track were inspired by a Turkish Airlines crash near Paris. One Snob

Iggy Pop inspired the next song. While tripping a little too hard at David Bowie’s place, Mr. Osterberg imagined the TV was trying to eat his girlfriend. Bowie turned this vision into a holographic television for “TVC-15,” the second single and first song on side two of 1976’s Station to Station. One Snob

Hailing from New Zealand, Connan Mockasin plays a slinky brand of dreamy psychedelic pop. “I’m the Man that WIll Find You” is a great song from 2013’s Caramel, his second album. Zero Snobs

Emitt Rhodes did time in sixties pop act The Merry Go Round before going solo in 1970. “Somebody Made for Me” embodies his gorgeous Beatlesque pop songs that were almost forgotten and rediscovered more than thirty years later. He released three albums of great music before a decades-long hiatus. Three Snobs

Eric Clapton’s solo career is one of diminishing returns, but he still had a few tricks left when he recorded Slowhand in 1977. “The Core,” a fiery duet with Marcy Levy that opens side two is one of them. And that’s not even counting the epic guitar solo that makes up almost half of the sing. Zero Snobs

spotify discover weekly 8

Plenty has been written about Syd Barrett, one time leader of Pink Floyd, and his tragic descent into mental illness. However, he did make some compelling music before he faded away. “No Good Trying” comes from his 1970 solo debut, The Madcap Laughs. Backed by David Gilmour and several members of The Soft Machine, Barrett’s rambling song reveals its subtle charms with repeat listening. Two Snobs

Between solo albums and Mothers of Invention releases, Frank Zappa was already on album number 17 when he put out Over-Nite Sensation in 1973. “Camarillo Brillo” opens the album and features Zappa’s signature vulgar humor, incisive lyrics and killer playing. One Snob.

In a perfect segue, we immediately get Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band next. From his 1967 debut, Safe As Milk, “I’m Glad” draws upon fifties doo-wop and sixties soul, but adds the extra twisted something that always comes with Captain Beefheart. Two Snobs

“Vitamin C” comes from Can’s 1972 LP, Ege Bamyasi. While many Can songs evolve into epic lengths, this one is short and sweet, but still manages to capture Can’s uncanny ability to grab a groove and drive it into the stratosphere. Two Snobs

Roy Wood departed ELO after two albums and with 1973’s On the Third Day it became the Jeff Lynne show. Closing out side one. “Showdown” is a straight ahead rocker that got some significant FM radio play and paved the way to their huge success just a few years later. One Snob

spotify discover weekly 8

Tanx was the eighth studio album from T Rex, issued in 1973. It was panned by critics back then, but time has been kind. “Life is Strange” is a slow burner filled with nature sound effects and a wild, whimsical lead vocal from Marc Bolan. One Snob

Who doesn’t love “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by The First Edition? It was a big hit for Kenny Rogers (yeah, that Kenny Rogers) and company in 1967 and soundtracks one of the funniest scenes in The Big Lebowski. I always want to hear this one again. Fortunately, the algorithm agreed and it comes back later in this playlist credited to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. Two Snobs

Few would disagree that Entertainment! by Gang Of Four is one of the most powerful post-punk records from 1979 and let’s take a vote that “Damaged Goods,” their first single, is one of the finest moments off that album. Everybody say aye! One Snob

The Troggs are back again this week with their third single, 1966’s “With A Girl Like You.” It was a big hit in the UK and hit the charts in the US. It’s no “Wild Thing.” but it’s a damn fine pop song. How have I never heard this before? One Snob

Panda Bear is one fourth of Animal Collective. but arguably the defining creative voice behind the band. “Comfy in Nautica” which leads off his 2007 album Person Pitch could easily be confused as a track from his primary band. The lurching, repetitive (in a good way) track drenches Panda Bear’s vocal in reverb and winds up sounding like he took the Beach Boys and ran them through a heavy cut and paste job. One Snob

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“Fresh Air” was San Francisco band Quicksilver Messenger Service’s biggest hit back in 1970. It came from their third album, Just For Love, and features a more straightforward take on their psychedelic rock sound. Zero snobs

Don’t fuck with the formula! The Ramones rarely deviated from the formula that got them into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” is a mid career burst of brilliance from their 1986 album, Animal Boy. Written in protest of Reagan’s visit to a German WW2 Cemetery, the song gave them some much needed critical success in their long slog through the 80s. One Snob

1973’s Stranded was Roxy Music’s third album and first without Brian Eno. Bryan Ferry took the reins and steered the band to a guitar heavy, more direct sound. “Mother of Pearl” is driven by an impassioned Ferry vocal and a vicious guitar attack from Phil Manzanera. One snob

Public Image Ltd reached their commercial (not creative) peak with 1986’s Album. featuring a much bigger sound with heavy handed production. The record’s big single, “Rise,” was written in protest of apartheid and features a who’s who of musicians including Steve Vai, Tony Williams, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Jonas Hellborg, plus production by Bill Laswell. This is definitely one of Mr. Lydon’s finer moments. One Snob

Hey, guess what? I loved “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” and wanted to hear it again. Well, here it is. This time it is credited to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition. Still a great song worth hearing twice, but we see the limitations of machine curated music. Two Snobs

spotify discover weekly 8

“Walking on the Moon” was the second single from The Police’s second album, “Reggatta de Blanc.” This track typifies the light reggae funk of their earlier work that made them stars. This song hit number one in the UK. Zero Snobs

Link Wray, the man who brought the world the power chord checks in with “La De Da” from his self-titled 1970 album. The instrumentation is bare bones and the production is primitive, but this is mighty fine rock’n’roll at its rawest. That snare drum at the top is someone shaking a can of nails. Go daddy go! Two snobs

“Play with Fire” started out as the B-side to “The Last TIme” in 1965 and wound up on the US edition of Out of Our Heads. Jagger and Richards were the only Rolling Stones who played on this. Phil Spector added bass while Jack Nitzsche played harpsichord. It’s such a pretty song with a dark, menacing vocal and lyric. One of their best early songs. Zero snobs

Once again, we’ve got a repeat song from a few weeks back. Pink Floyd’s “Fearless” from 1971’s Meddle is a delicate acoustic song that fades out with a field recording of the Liverpool FC choir singing Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” It’s a great song, but seems a little early for Spotify to repeat songs. Give me new stuff! I promise you won’t run out of songs. One snob

After three albums with the Nazz, Todd Rundgren went solo and took the song “Hello It’s Me” and rerecorded it for his third album, Something/Anything, in 1972 and wound up with a hit. Rundgren has gone on to plenty of experimental music in his solo career and with Utopia, but this ballad of a man pining away for his ex is still a defining song in his career. One Snob

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Cream said farewell in 1969 with the half live/half studio Goodbye. One of the standouts was the Eric Clapton/George Harrison composition “Badge,” a classic rock staple. The song features Harrison on rhythm guitar billed as L’Angelo Misterioso. Zero Snobs

The Zombies were all but forgotten beyond a couple of AM hits until their final album Odessey and Oracle underwent critical rediscovery and reappraisal somewhere in the late 90s. The gold rush was on and fans dug through all their material. “The Way I Feel Inside” is a Rod Argent ballad with only Colin Blunstone’s delicate vocal and a barely-there organ track. The song comes from their 1965 debut album, Begin Here. You may have heard it in Wes Anderson’s The Life Aquatic. Two Snobs

“White Light/White Heat” is The Velvet Underground’s loudest and rawest album. The title track is all about taking speed and features an aggressive musical attack and a tough lead vocal from Lou Reed. Two snobs

Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother bailed on Kraftwerk and formed Neu! in 1972. They kicked it off with a bang. “Hallogallo” is an epic intsrumental that opens their debut album and is one of Krautrock’s signature songs. The epic 4/4 motorik groove of this song had a huge influence in 70s German rock and beyond. My only reservation is Discover Weekly already served this up for me a few weeks back. Three Snobs

Closing out week 8 is Nico, model, actress and icy Velvet Underground singer,with the title track to her 1966 solo debut Chelsea Girls. Written by Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison of the VU, it is a quiet brooding dirge of chamber pop majesty. Two Snobs

And there it is, the definitive rock snob playlist. Wow! This was the best so far, even topping week 6. There were no new artists and only two songs I hadn’t heard before, Link Wray and The Troggs. We had machine failure with “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” coming up twice. Plus, we had repeats from Pink Floyd and Neu! That being said, this was a stellar playlist. I still want more diversity, but Spotify knows what I like and they deliver. Until next week.

Plus Ça Change, Plus C’est La Même Chose – Week 5 of Spotify Discover Weekly

Spotify Weekly 5 A

Week Five and Spotify Discover Weekly is back on track. After last week’s Adult Alternative easy listening blowout we’ve got more energy and surprises. This week’s playlist is a solid mix of old, new, big and small, but a little harder edge and NO Charles Manson. Listenability is up, predictability is down.

I still want some metal, hip-hop, dub, industrial, or punk but this week stands up to repeated listening. I am playing a lot of difficult music in hopes of hacking the algorithm and seeing where it leads me. This week it didn’t seem to have much impact, but give me a few weeks. I will beat the machine at its own game.

Let’s listen to some music.

Spotify Weekly 5 B

We open with “Peace Frog” from The Door’s 1970 “comeback,” Morrison Hotel. After the dull, dreary Waiting for the Sun and the misfire The Soft Parade (title cut is one of the few redeeming tracks), they fired back with a rootsy, harder sound. “Peace Frog” gives us his “Indians scattered on dawn’s highway bleeding/Ghosts crowd the young child’s fragile eggshell mind” spoken couple allegedly inspired from a horrific accident he had seen as a child.

“Generation Landslide” is a hit-that-never-was from Alice Cooper’s sixth album Billion Dollar Babies, an album loaded with 4 big singles; “Hello Hooray,” “Elected,” “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr Nice Guy.” This one is loaded with hooks. Recommended!

“Sparks” is an instrumental from The Who’s 1969 double LP rock opera Tommy. It explores many of the musical themes found across the album.

It may be heresy, but I’ve always found The Black Crowes to be derivative and tiresome. However, “Wiser Time,” the third single from 1994’s Amorica ain’t the bad. I was definitely grooving pretty hard before I heard Chris Robinson’s vocals and realized I had just fooled myself. Damn it!

The Growlers are a new one for me. They call their style Beach Goth, but it sounds like a pretty cool stab at garage psych. “Big Toe” is a keeper and it’s the lead track from their 2014 album Chinese Fountain.

Spotify Weekly 5 C

Grandmaster Flash nicked the bassline for “White Lines (Don’t Do It)” from Liquid Liquid’s 1983 “Cavern” off the Optimo EP. The original is a no-wave funk classic, possibly my favorite offering this week.

“Every Picture Tells a Story” is the title cut from Rod Stewart’s 1971 third album. He and Small Faces/Rolling Stone bassist Ronnie Wood co-wrote the song. It still stands as one of Rod’s finest moments.

From Smashing Pumpkin’s 1991 debut album Gish, “Rhinoceros” reveals Billy Corgan’s unbridled ambition to create some of the greatest classic rock of the grunge era. They recorded the album with producer Butch Vig who also did Nevermind and was in the band Garbage.

Another new one is Steve Gunn with “Water Wheel” from his 2013 release, Time Off. This is some fine singer-songwriter guitar folk-rock that takes a few listens. Brand new to me, and his catalogue is surprisingly deep.

After the Pixies imploded in 1991 Black Francis became Frank Black and he opened fire with Frank Black in 1993, a powerful opening salvo from an incredibly prolific musician. “I Heard Ramona Sing” is the second track on side one of his solo debut.

Spotify Weekly 5 D

“30th Century Man” is a signature song from former Walker Brother, Scott Walker, from his seminal 1969 album, Scott 3. This album saw his began to distance himself considerable from his past and embrace more challenging dissonant sounds. The only problem is this song showed up already in WEEK ONE!

From their groundbreaking proto-metal 1968 debut album Vincebus Eruptum, Blue Cheer eviscerated Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues.” It was already a long way from the summer of love, kids.

The New York Dolls were too late for the sixties and too early for punk and wound up being as much a legend as a band. “Trash” is the lead single from their 1973 eponymous debut, produced by Todd Rundgren.

The Flaming Lips continued their wild evolution from lo-fi psychedelic garage punks to widescreen pop craftsmen with 2006’s At War With The Mystics. “The W.A.N.D. (The Will Always Negates Defeat)” was the first single and introduced a much heavier guitar sound than the few previous records.

Al Green delivers a commanding performance with “I’m a Ram.” a much harder funking track compared to his usual soulful approach. It comes from 1971’s Al Green Gets Next To You, his third studio album.

Spotify Weekly 5 E

The great Brian Wilson adds harmony vocals on Mini Mansions’ exquisite dreamy pop concoction, “Any Emotions.” This single comes from their 2015 album, The Great Pretenders.

The band with the most controversial name of 2015, Viet Cong, gives us the wonderful chiming “Unconscious Melody” from their 2014 release, “Cassette”. Two members used to play with the late, great Women.

Meat Puppets II was the first SST release I bought (based on a review in Bruce Pavitt’s Sub-Pop column). I expected punk and got so much more. The beautiful instrumental “Aurora Borealis” is just one of the many gems from this 1983 release.

Emerson Lake & Palmer often evokes snorts and chortles among music fans. They preferred bombast as a way of conducting business. However, Greg Lake’s soft acoustic “From the Beginning” off 1972’s Trilogy showcases their occasional ability to scale back with only a bit of Keith Emerson’s organ gurgling in the background toward the end to remind you of the prog-rock monster in the room.

“Dirty Back Road” opens with the late Ricky WIlson’s space-age surf guitar and then Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson’s vocals chime in. There is only one band that does this so well, The B-52s! From 1980’s second album Wild Planet, this driving song is, yeah, about driving.

Spotify Weekly 5 FStraight out of Perth, Australia, Pond specializes in hard psychedelic rock with nice pop touches. “Moth Wings” is the second single from their 2012 album Beard, Wives, Denim. They share members with Tame Impala and rock just as hard.

The man who wrote “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning,” Chip Taylor, is also the brother of Jon Voight. He also wrote “Anyway That You Want Me.” Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce was still in the middle of the break-up with Spacemen 3 when he released this Trogg’s cover as the band’s first single in 1990.

“Panama Red” is better known as the title tune on the 4th New Riders of the Purple Sage album. However, Peter Rowan (who wrote the song), Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements, David Grisman and John Kahn teamed up as Old and in the Way and here is their delightful bluegrass version recorded live. Owsley, the king of all things LSD, engineered the recording.

“Sunday Papers” is the second song and second single off Joe Jackson’s all-killer, no-filler debut, Look Sharp. My only quibble is this is the second time Jackson has shown up in five weeks. Surely Spotify can work a little harder.

“Long Journey” from the Allah-La’s is another new one for me. It’s damn good modern garage-psych from an Los Angeles. The track is the b-side to their 2011 debut single.

Spotify Weekly 5 G

“Jumping Someone Else’s Train” is the third single from The Cure, released in 1979. It was among their last songs with their early new-wave/post punk sound. Soon after they embraced the more atmospheric, gothic sound they would employ through the next few albums.

“Polar Opposites” showcases Modest Mouse at their early career best. From 1997’s seminal second album The Lonesome Crowded West, the track pummels along with Isaac Brock’s vocals, spiky, angular guitar and pounding drums.

“Train in Vain: is the final track from The Clash’s 1979 masterpiece, London Calling. This track was added to album at the last minute and isn’t listed on the sleeve. On a double album full of incredible, seminal songs, this stands as one of the finest.

Closing out the playlist “I Wanna Destroy You” might be the greatest song that was never even close to a hit. It combines the Beatles, the Byrds and Syd Barrett with a little punk energy and deserves to heard, again and again. It leads off their brilliant 1980 album, Underwater Moonlight. Boom!!

And that’s it. This week was a corker with a brilliant start and killer finish. Again the spectrum is pretty narrow, but this week I am not complaining.  Out of 29 tracks four were completely new. The best surprise was Liquid Liquid. The biggest bummer was the repeat Scott Walker track. The biggest miss was The Black Crowes and that was pretty good. I am a bit disappointed by three other repeat artists, Rod Stewart, Joe Jackson and Al Green. However, I can’t complain about how solid the tracks were.

I am really enjoying each week’s playlist. It is consistently a great mix of surprises, new artists and some songs I had completely forgotten about. What do you think of your discover weekly playlists? I know I look forward to every Monday morning. See you next week.

#NJTech Meetup 63 with Gary Vaynerchuk

NJ Tech Meetup

Gary Vaynerchuk should come with a warning label. DO NOT use @GaryVee if you are afraid of brutal honesty. AVOID @GaryVee if easily offended. @GaryVee may cause epiphany, soul searching and uncontrollable laughter. For best results @GaryVee only as directed.

This past Wednesday night will go down as one of the great NJ Tech Meetups. It was a packed house with barely a seat left. Even with the start moved up at the last minute, everyone got there on time. The crowd was there for one reason, Gary Vaynerchuk, entrepreneur, investor, author and one of the most entertaining and captivating speakers ever to take the stage at NJ Tech.

Like all NJ Tech meetups, Aaron Price @apstartup keeps the trains running on time. He made sure everyone ate, drank, networked and then got down to business. After opening remarks and a shout out to the sponsors, he opened the floor to 20 second asks and offers. About a dozen people gave quick pitches for jobs, services and opportunities.

Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer @dawnzimmernj made a quick appearance and welcomed all attendees. She reinforced her team’s ongoing support of and commitment to the Hoboken, Jersey City and greater New Jersey tech community.

nj tech trophy
There can be only one winner


Each NJ Tech meetup features three quick startup pitches. At the end of the night everyone votes on their favorite. The winner walks away with a stunning recycled baseball trophy.

Startup pitch 1 fusar

First up, Fusar makes wearable tech for action sports. Focused primarily on products and apps to keep motorcyclists safe. they are also working on solutions for skiing, snowboarding, skydiving and more. Their tech features a helmet-mounted camera and eyes-up display so the rider can keep their eyes on the road.


startup pitch 2 cosmic

“My name is Alex and I am building the future of commerce”
Second, Cosmic aims to take the pain out of shopping online. They want to be the pipes of commerce and allow you to buy whatever you want wherever you are. Currently they can sell from websites, apps, blogs, HTML5 video as well as microsites on Tumblr and RebelMouse.


startup pitch 3 gravy


Finally, Gravy is a B2B solution for businesses to send gifts to businesses, people and employees. THey have a custom catalogue allowing users to send the right gift to the right person. They also provide hand wrapping, robust “giftlytics” and high touch support from a single dedicated vendor.

**Trivia note: Gravy founder Aaron Flack was the star of 2007 YouTube sensation “What You Know About Math.” Check out his mad rapping skills below.


Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, investor, social media personality, businessman and much more. Born in Belarus and raised in New Jersey, Gary made a small fortune as a kid selling baseball cards. He turned his father’s wine shop into a multimillion dollar business. He was a YouTube pioneer with the daily online show, Wine Library TV from 2006-2011. Today, he run and his brother run VaynerMedia, a powerhouse social media agency. He also runs VaynerRSE, an angel investment fund. He’s written three bestselling books. Crush It, The Thank You Economy and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right-Hook. Plus, he decided in the sixth grade he was going to buy the New York Jets.


gary vee and aaron price
“I’m very interested and thrilled to talk about myself.”

The fireside chat was the highlight of the evening with Aaron and Gary covering a wide range of topics from his New Jersey childhood to his rise as a social media personality to his current focus on VaynerMedia and future investment plans. His next project is a new venture capital fund that will go after Series B and C investments. While VaynerRSE spread 25 million dollars across 93 angel and seed investments, he hopes to raise 150 million and invest in 10 to 20 companies.

100% confidence and “disproportionate marketing capabilities” are key to Gary’s success in business. He saw his future when he was 12 and making more on baseball cards in a few weeks than his teachers made in a year. He lives for the thrill of the competition and the risk of failure. The man is a soundbite machine with an incredible knack for storytelling.

“I’m a much fucking better businessman than you!”

“I like losing. Being a Jets fan is good for me.”

“A true entrepreneur loves the process more than the riches.”

“The game is my drug. Competing is my oxygen.”

“I love the I told you so. Nothing makes me happier than to stick it to you.”

“We are the ultimate species. And you live in America. Fuck you to complain about anything.”

When Aaron asked if we are in a tech bubble, Vaynerchuk had some pointed words about startups, entrepreneurs and building companies.

“Yes and no. We are in an entrepreneur bubble. A lot of people think they are entrepreneurs who really aren’t. You just say you are. And that’s not real.”

Regarding Zirtual, a company that earlier this week went out of business overnight, he was highly critical of their failure and startups in general who really too much on raising money to survive.

“You control your burn”

“I can get unfancy real quick.”

“You aren’t entitled to anything.”

“Raising money is a real bad way to learn how to build a business.”

Of course, Aaron delved into Gary’s success on social media and his complete dedication to building his brand and telling his story across all platforms. He control his Twitter and Instagram accounts while his team does Facebook. Much of his Medium content is boiled down from interviews with Gary. Again he echoed the absolute necessity of putting in the hours to create great content and connect with people.

“I find time because I find passionate people.”

“The best way to build a following is to provide value”

“Curation is outrageously valuable.”

“I see a lot of dj’s trying to be songwriters and a lot of songwriters trying to be dj’s.”

He has little patience for people who claim they don’t have enough time to succeed in business and no room for excuses. His passion, determination and fierce intensity reached a peak at this ppoint of the evening.

“If you’re complaining I will audit you and find 4 hours.”

“You’ve got time for angry birds and you’re complaining, Fuck you!”

“Your actions are your game. Putting in the work matters.”

As the chat drew to a close, Gary had some tough thoughts on the future and America’s place in the world economy going forward.

“America lost.”

“Fake winning is really hurting us.”

“The market always rules.”

gary hugs woman
How we got to the free hugs from Gary V was pretty amazing

While the crowd could have listened all night, Gary had another engagement. He rushed out  with these final words, “Jersey, I love you!”

Aaron took the vote on best startup. All three gave solid presentations with smart ideas. It was a tough fight, but Cosmic was victorious and took home the trophy!

NJ Tech 64 takes place on Wednesday 9/16 at 6:30 with Kevin Ryan, founder of Gilt, Business Insider, Zola and MongoDB. You can sign up here.

Music For People Who Don’t Like Music – Week 4 of Spotify Discover Weekly

spotify discover weekly header

What started as a glorious fling has settled into the drab day-to-day reality of a relationship that might not be working out. Oh Spotify Discover Weekly, you seemed so right. You understood me. You knew what I liked and you gave it to me. Now, only 4 weeks into our time together, it just all seems so empty. How did it all go so wrong so fast? Maybe it’s me, but I don’t think so.

It’s not that you picked bad songs for me this week, it’s that you curated such a boring mix. The playlist is almost all so listenable, so nice, so predictable, so Adult Alternative. Music that’s good for me, but not always good music.

Much of this week falls under the umbrellas of World Cafe or Music by Starbucks or just plain Dad Rock. I want to curl up with a mug of tea and read a book. It’s music for people that don’t like music, but don’t want anyone to know. Make it stop! Make it stop! Give me some gristle, give me some bone.

I read a great piece earlier this week on Wired about the science of bad music playlists. The gist is the “brain privileges music that’s like stuff you’ve heard before.” Spotify and other streaming services takes advantage of this familiarity and the chemical response in your head. From Wired’s article:

“When you hear music that you find intensely pleasurable, it triggers a dopamine response,” says Valorie Salimpoor, a neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute.

When the music is so predictably similar, “the dopamine response will quickly diminish. It’s why people love improvisational music like jazz—it’s different every time.” So that Discover tab? It’s just giving me a short-term high, then I’m crashing hard.

None of this challenges me. Sure, there are some great tracks here, but I’ve heard it all before. It makes me want to change the channel and find something new.

Let’s get to the highlights, lowlights and the one crazy curveball of Week 4.

spotify discover weekly 1

The playlist opens with “Pretty Good,” the closing track on side one from John Prine’s 1971 eponymous debut. And it is, um, pretty good.

I know I am supposed to like Paul SImon’s solo stuff, but it’s always been a big fat NO for me. Sure, “Kodachrome” was a giant hit from 1973’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon, but why do I have to hear it again? Two songs in and you’re losing me.

However, track 3 has us back in business. The Nerves perfect two minute blast of angsty power pop from 1976, “Hangin’ on the Telephone” (later covered by Blondie) is an explosive rush of despair, passion and just plain awesomeness. Jack Lee, Peter Case and Paul Collins only released a handful of songs, but damn they were good.

“Pressure Drop,” a 1969 single from Toots & The Maytals, is a stone-cold classic. It also appeared on their 1970 album Monkey Man and The Harder They Come soundtrack in 1972.

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“Lungs” comes from Townes Van Zandt’s eponymous 1969 album. With nothing more than an acoustic guitar, tambourine, powerful lyrics and his yearning vocals, Townes hits an easy home run.

Then we’ve got the batshit crazy “Spill the Wine” from Eric Burdon & War. I remember this song snaking out of AM car radios as a kid. Burdon had already lived two lives as leader of the R&B version of the (original) Animals, then leader of the hippy version of the Animals and now he had teamed up with funk/jazz band War. While Burdon wouldn’t have another hit after this, War went on the crush it repeatedly in the 70s.

What began as a side project for Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen of The Jefferson Airplane became a full time band. Hot Tuna was a showcase for their musical chops and the instrumental “Water Song” from 1972’s Burgers is no exception.

“Farewell Transmission” from Jason Molina’s final Songs: Ohia album, Magnolia Electric Co. is the opening track to a masterful album. Steve Albini recorded the album and Molina was hitting his peak as a singer, songwriter and player. Haunting and gorgeous.

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From the 4th J. Geils Band album, Bloodshot, “Give it to Me” captures their raucous live intensity in the studio. This one found its way into the lower reaches of the top 40 in 1973.

1974’s Natty Dread was the first album released as Bob Marley and the Wailers (as opposed to The Wailers) and the first recorded without former bandmates Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer. “Lively Up Yourself” opens the album and became Marley’s perennial concert opener.

Graham Parker and the Rumour’s “Local Girls” comes from 1979’s Squeezing Out Sparks, their 4th album. Funny how he, Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson were all lumped together back then as new wave’s angry young men.

The first real surprise is Dorothy Ashby, jazz harpist (yes, jazz harpist), laying down a funky groove on 1968’s “Afro-Harping.” This one swings and grooves like nobody’s business. A-plus!

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There’s nothing really wrong with Dire Straits and they managed a handful of stellar tunes, but I just don’t need to hear them too much. “Down to the Waterline” opened their 1978 debut and it’s great. But there’s a reason I walked away so long ago. And I won’t be back very often. Sorry guys

Jerry Garcia lived to play music. In the early 70s when The Grateful Dead weren’t on the road he often teamed up with keyboardist Merl Saunders and they melded rock, jazz, country and blues in legendary live sets. Here they offer up a version of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come” from 1973’s Live at Keystone.

Beck’s surf music inspired “Gamma Ray” from 2008’s Modern Guilt gets roughed up with a ragged Jay Reatard remix. Finally a little volume to counter the soporific haze of Week 4.

One of the biggest clunkers is Phish bassist Mike Gordon’s reggae-light “Yarmouth Road” from 2014’s Overstep, his 4th solo album. I am sure the fans love this one live, but NOPE, just nope.

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In 2002 Broken Social Scene seemed to come out of nowhere with the gorgeous pop of their second album, You Forgot It In People. “Looks Just Like the Sun” is just one of the many great songs on that sleeper album.

Shortly after the Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in 1969, Jimi began jamming with bassist Billy Cox and drummer Buddy Miles. They played four shows on New Year’s Eve, 1969 and New Year’s Day, 1970 at the Fillmore East. Out of these legendary concerts they culled the Band of Gypsys 1970 live album. “Who Knows” is an epic track pitting Hendrix against Miles in nine minutes of vocal and musical improvisation.

Backed by most of Fairport Convention, Nick Drake brings us the electric folk of “Hazey Jane II” from his perfect 1970 album Bryter Layter.

Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso wrote “Panis Et Circenses” (Bread and Circuses), the opening track from the debut album by tropicalia legends, Os Mutantes.

Richard Swift is currently a member of The Shins and a touring member of The Black Keys. In 2008 he released the Ground Trouble Jaw EP. “The Bully” combines his surly spoken vocals with a ridiculous falsetto in a faux-fifties knockoff. Recommended.

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Kraftwerk’s influence on electronic, dance, hip-hop and popular music in general can’t be overstated. “Computer Love” was the lead single from 1981’s revolutionary Computer World. Classic song from a classic album by a classic band.

“Cannibal Resource” opens Dirty Projectors’ 2009 album, Bitte Orca. Arguably their finest work and easily one of the best albums from that year, the music defies easy categorization, but rewards repeated listening.

“Range Life,” the song that got Pavement kicked off the 1994 Lollapalooza tour for dissing Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins, was the third single from Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain.

“Bitterblue” comes from Cat Stevens’ 1971 juggernaut, Teaser and the Firecat. Unfortunately overshadowed by three hit singles, the track still packs a punch 44 years later.

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Then it gets WEIRD. You may know “Look at Your Game, Girl” from Guns ‘N Roses “The Spaghetti Incident?” but it was originally recorded by Charles Manson in 1967. With his weak voice and acoustic guitar, the song is notable only for being a shitty song recorded by one of the the 20th century’s most notorious criminals.

Mike Bloomfield, Al Kooper and Stephen Stills teamed up in 1968 for two days of recording that yielded Super Session. Bloomfield and Kooper tracked side one on the first day while Stills and Kooper cranked out side two the follwing day. Side two features a marathon version of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.”

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The Squonk, the crybaby of mythical creatures

Closing out this week’s playlist, it’s Genesis with “Squonk” from 1976’s Trick of the Tail. A squonk is a legendary creature from the forests of Pennsylvania. If captured it dissolves in pool of tears. Phil Collins reluctantly tracked the lead vocal on this track and became the lead singer in the wake of Peter Gabriel’s departure.

Spotify, my strategy for this week is to game your curation algorithm and spice up our relationship. Everything I listen to this week will be difficult, obscure and unpredictable. I will know Monday if I can beat your machine at its own game.

Ten Days with Fitbit Charge HR

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Two weeks ago I chronicled the sad, but long expected demise of my Nike FuelBand (Fuelband #4 to be exact). It was a poorly made wearable with limited capabilities. Over time I learned to accept my Fuel Points and use the data as a barometer for my general state of fitness. If I made my goal, I knew I had moved just enough for one day. It motivated me to get up, get out and get going.

When FuelBand 4 succumbed to the ravages of time, I opted for a Fitbit Charge HR. I needed something to get me moving, keep me motivated and give me the numbers. How many steps? How far did I go? How long did I run? I need to know.

Ten days ago the Fitbit arrived in the mail and I set it up quickly. I downloaded the complementary app. WIthin a few minutes I was out on my first run. While it’s only been a week and a half, I am very satisfied and thrilled that I moved on from my crumbling relationship with FuelBand.

Here’s a quick snapshot of what the Fitbit Charge HR tracks; steps, calories, distance, heart rate, sleep, flights of stairs climbed. It buzzes when I reach 10,000 steps. It’s a damn decent watch as well. Hell, it even syncs with my phone and buzzes when I get a phone call

The display is clean and easy to read except in bright sunlight. One click tells time, two steps, three heart rate, four distance, five calories burned and six flights of stairs climbed. I like that time is the first display. It works as a watch and it works as a fitness tracker. FuelBand required four clicks just to get to the time. It fits and adjusts like a watch too. The FuelBand was always a bit clunky with its hard casing. While I got used to it, I immediately liked the feel of the Fitbit.

Maybe the biggest thing is NO Fuel Points! Plus, it seems relatively accurate. Fuel Points always seemed arbitrary, often adding up more when I was driving than when I was actually walking. However, I had become accustomed to them and trying to meet or exceed my goal of 3000 per day had become a daily habit. Saying goodbye was very easy.

Steps vs points makes more sense and speaks a language I understand. 10,000 steps is a broadly accepted standard for moving enough every day. The first time it buzzed at 10K I was a bit shocked, but now I look forward to meeting that goal.

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The Fitbit Penguin March Badge

The Nike Fuel app was never my favorite. It took forever to sync and didn’t tell me much. I did like the simplicity, but Fitbit works faster and better. I thought I would miss the gimmicky FuelPoint badges, but NOPE, Fibit even has gimmicky badges too!

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The Fitbit app is loaded with features, but is still simple and easy to use. It syncs almost instantly through bluetooth and offers an abundance of data right on the homescreen. Steps. Heartrate. Distance. Calories burned. Flights of stairs. Active minutes. Amount of sleep the night before. Plus it allows you to track exercise, log the water you’ve had to drink and number of calories you’ve eaten. You can even set up a food plan.

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My favorite and most insightful feature has been the sleep tracker. Not only does it show how many hours you’ve slept, but also indicates how long your sleep was restless and how long you were awake during the night. What is shocking is how little I actually sleep. I knew I didn’t get enough rest, but my estimation of 6 1/2 hours per night was off. I am averaging less than 6 hours per night. Through Fitbit I’ve set a goal of 7:15 per night.

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I will lose you, but I will always have this picture

Three Small Quibbles

1 The Fitbit needs to be charged every 3 or 4 days. It says 5, but the warnings come early. Charging isn’t hard, it’s just annoying.

2 The USB charging cable is tiny. WHen i lose this, I hope a new one isn’t too expensive.

3 The plastic face scratches easily. I’ve already got a tiny scuff and i know there are more to come.

What happens over the next few months will be the real proof. I went through 4 FuelBands in less than three years. They broke, died and went haywire in rapid succession. Can the Fitbit Charge HR stand up to 24/7 wear and tear and keep going? Stay tuned.

Tell me about your favorite fitness trackers, apps and wearables.

Discover and Rediscover – Week 3 of Spotify Weekly

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Three weeks in and I am still impressed with my Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify. Each week has expanded upon the previous, delving deeper into my musical history and digging up even more unique artists and forgotten favorites. This week is another compelling mix of old, new, hits, misses and never-weres. While previous weeks had a certain flow from popular to obscure or grouped songs together loosely along decades or genres, this week leapfrogs around with delightful unpredictability. The only theme seems to be an overwhelming number of songs form 1967. While a few segues are jarring and there are a few clunkers, this week might be the best yet.

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Opening the set is “Multi-Family Garage Sale (Bargain-Bin Mix)” from the wonderful and almost forgotten Land of the Loops. This was in heavy rotation on my Sony DiscMan way back when. What a joy to hear the cut-and-paste magic of this track from 1996’s Bundle of Joy.

Jumping back almost 30 years we get Neil Young’s stellar Buffalo Springfield Again opener “Mr. Soul,” a classic song from a classic album. So much talent (and ego) crammed into one group. It’s no wonder they imploded.

Then we get what might be the biggest clunker from three weeks of curated music. Daniel Lanois is a brilliant producer, but “The Maker” from 2008’s Acadie is a perfect example of music for people who don’t like music, but don’t want anyone to know.

However, we get right back on track with Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats with the dark garage stomp of “I’ll Cut You Down” from 2011’s Blood Lust. Never heard ’em before, but sign me up for more.

From Animal Collective’s 2004 album, Sung Tongs, it’s “Leaf House,” the mesmerising opening track. They got better with later releases, but this track shows their early promise and brilliance.

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Hard to believe it’s been almost 30 years since we first heard The Pixies, but ‘Caribou” from their debut, Come On Pilgrim, is still a gripping introduction to one of the finest bands of their time.

While their brand new release is promising, Wilco seemed to lose the plot a long way back, but “Handshake Drugs” from 2004’s A Ghost is Born is one of my favorites from Tweedy and company.

Wow! Finally a little bit of classic 70s instrumental soul funk with Billy Preston and “Outa Space.” Spotify delivered on my wish for a broader, more diverse selection. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

I missed out on most of Van Morrison’s 80s output and when I hear songs from that era I am amazed at how damn good he has remained for a half century. “Cleaning WIndows” from 1982’s Beautiful Visions is a keeper.

It’s easy to remember The Lovin’ Spoonful as a mid-sixties hit factory that churned out a handful of Top 40 songs, but “Darling Be Home Soon” is largely forgotten. This lush production with strings, horns and a delicate John Sebastian vocal was featured on the soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s You’re A Big Boy Now in 1966.

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Parquet Courts made their name with Pavement influenced rock, but they are much more than imitators. “Uncast Shadow of a Southern Myth” from 2014’s Content Nausea is a slow burner until the final cathartic explosion of screaming and guitars. The epic 30 second fadeout is a great touch.

Now we are on a roll. The Brian Jonestown Massacre delivers with “Straight Up and Down.” (If you haven’t seen Dig!, the documentary following the parallel careers of TBJM and The Dandy Warhols, stop what you’re doing, seriously.) Anton Newcombe’s musical trainwreck delivers on every album and this song from 1996 is genius. There is an even better 11 minute version out there kicking around as well.

Jim James, the beautiful voice from My Morning Jacket, offers up “Know ‘Til Now,” the lead single from his 2013 solo album. Channeling an old sixties soul vibe, he veers far away from the roots rock of his band.

Then we segue perfectly into the classic white boy soul rave-up “I’m a Man’ from Steve Winwood and The Spencer Davis Group. Hard to believe Winwood was still a teenager  when he tracked this 1967 masterpiece.

The Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” is frozen in the acid-laced amber of 1967. What started as a B-side became their defining legacy. It’s a one hit wonder that captures the hippy zeitgeist at its absolutely goofiest.

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“I Looked Away” leads off the classic Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs from Derek and the Dominos. 45 years on this 1970 album stills kills it with great songs by arguably one of the finest bands ever assembled.

Arthur Russell, who defies easy definition and leaped from style to style gives us the quietly beautiful “Close My Eyes’ from 2008’s posthumous compilation of unreleased material, Love is Overtaking Me. Folk, classical, disco, jazz, Mr. Russell could do it all.

“Ride Me High” is a delightful, understated 1976 cut from JJ Cale’s 4th album, “Troubador.” Drawing on blues, rockabilly and a bit of country, Cale makes every track sound easy, but under the hood his songs are wildly inventive.

Devo could do no wrong for their first four albums and their commercial peak was 1980’s Freedom of Choice. “Girl U Want” treads the fine line between their early herky-jerky guitar driven songs with their increasing use of synthesizers.

Smith is a band I knew from the inner sleeves of old ABC/Dunhill LPs, but I never knew their 1969 Top 10 cover of Burt Bacharach’s, “Baby It’s You from the A Band Called Smith album. This one’s a scorcher with a kick ass lead vocal from Gayle McCormick.

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“Itchycoo Park” from 1967 is one of the biggest Small Faces’ hits with the unforgettable psychedelic guitar flanging. This was a blockbuster single in the UK and the lead cut off their second album, There Are But Four Small Faces, in the US.

From 1967’s Surrealistic Pillow by The Jefferson Airplane, the acoustic “Embryonic Journey” is a showcase of guitarist Jorma Kaukonen’s talents and a single listen is all you need to confirm his status as one of the great players of the late 60s and beyond.

Galaxie 500 only released 3 studio albums but their legacy and influence have endured since their 1991 breakup. “Strange” from 1989’s On FIre captures their essence perfectly with Dean Wareham’s fractured, vulnerable lead vocals and the band’s dreamy guitar pop. Wonderful.

Slint largely devised the template for post-rock over the course of two albums. All rising guitar tension and no catharsis, “Good Morning Captain” is the masterful closing track from 1991’s Spiderland (and showed up a few years later on the soundtrack to Kids).

From the first notes of fuzzed out guitar The Count Five’s (yes, they wore Dracula capes on stage) “Psychotic Reaction” is one of the great garage classics from 1966.

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The Damned’s “Neat Neat Neat,” is their second single and the opening track on debut album, Damned Damned Damned. From Barney Bubbles’ (RIP) cover art to the 12 songs within, you can’t do better than this classic example of 1977 British punk.

Cass McCombs’ songs always take repeated listens for the music to take hold and carry the listener away. 2007’s “That’s That” from Dropping the Writ is no exception. Each listen draws you in and slowly reveals its quiet magic.

Then, we’ve got Supertramp’s “Bloody Well Right” from 1974’s Crime of the Century. This was likely the first song many heard from this oft-maligned band. I might not have included it on the playlist, but the list will completely change by Monday. Onward!

The penultimate song is The Jam’s “That’s Entertainment,” one of the most powerful moments from a band that delivered dozens of powerful moments across five years and six albums. Ending side one of 1980’s Sound Affects, the song counters a bright acoustic attack with an ironic look at the difficult lives of the British working class.

Closing out the set is Widespread Panic’s cover of JJ Cale’s “Travelin’ Light.” I prefer the original and the whole laid back jam band vibe doesn’t really cut it. However, if I hadn’t seen the band name first, it might have been different. Widespread Panic caused me to, um, panic.

One thing I love about these playlists is right in the title, Discover. Each week I’ve discovered something new and remarkable. This week is no exception. Two new artists and a handful of songs I’ve never heard by artists I know well. It’s also a chance to rediscover things I’ve forgotten. I still hope it stretches far beyond the mostly rock diet it has served up. In the Apple Music vs Spotify war, Spotify is clearly winning with two great hours of music picked for me every week. Again, I can’t wait until Monday.

Social TV Grows Up and Gets Real

Here’s a somewhat tongue in cheek piece I wrote about the state of Social TV for Weber Shandwick’s new platform, Media Decoded, exploring where media intersects with commerce, marketing, creativity, and tech.

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Once upon a time, success in television news marketing was relatively easy. Every November, February and May you bought a couple billboards, some radio spots, maybe some TV Guide ads (yes, kids, your parents used to need a magazine to watch TV), clapped your hands together three times and let the ratings pour in. Broadcast and cable were printing money, and it was good.

You can read the rest here at Media Decoded.

Header photo by Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski, licensed under Creative Commons

NJ Tech Meetup 63: Gary Vaynerchuk (author, investor, biz dude)

Here’s something I wrote for August’s guest speaker at the NJ Tech Meetup in Hoboken. 

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Entrepreneurship is an art. One of the keys to success is storytelling. How well you pitch your business, market your product and keep customers coming back are all part of the story you tell. If you are successful, you know people are really listening.

Gary Vaynerchuk is a brilliant entrepreneur because he knows how to tell a captivating, immersive story.
He mastered the art of online video years ago. He understood the power of social media from the beginning. He cornered the market in content marketing long before anyone called it content marketing. He has been first on just about every social media platform launched. He knew that he had a story to tell and used every tool available to tell that story.

Please read the rest here at the NJ Tech Meetup site.

Goodbye FuelBand, Hello Fitbit

Last Friday I received an email with the subject line, “Legal Notice – Nike+ FuelBand Settlement.” It further went on to say that Nike and Apple “engaged in violations of consumer protection laws and warranty obligations in connection with the Nike+ FuelBand. Nike and Apple deny Plaintiff’s allegations and deny that they did anything wrong. The Court has not decided who is right.”

The key takeaway is as a FuelBand purchaser I am eligible to a $15 refund or $25 gift card from Nike. As if on cue my FuelBand died the next morning. It stopped holding a charge. Dead. I brought it into NikeTown. They tried to charge it up. Nothing. I filed my claim and tonight I tossed the FuelBand and its box. It was the quiet end to a 3 year saga of a should-have-been-better product that overpromised and underdelivered.

FuelBand IV in Happier Times

I got my first FuelBand a few months into the early hype. All the cool kids had them and it seemed everyone else wanted one. It looked pretty sharp and it was the next generation of fitness tracking. I had to have it.

First, let’s step back to the dark ages. I tracked my workouts long before there were apps, GPS and wearables. It was simple. I used a sports watch and wrote my results in a composition notebook. It was important to see how long I ran, how far I biked and if I improved. I even tracked how much time I actually spent skiing in an eight hour day on the slopes (it’s about two hours, kids). The data was valuable in many ways. I could train smarter and get better results by keeping good records of every workout.

Now, some would ask why I even need a wearable at all when I can use any of dozens of running and fitness tracking apps on my phone. Well, I used to wear my a fitness armband with my old phone, but the iPhone 6+ would be something akin to strapping a cookie sheet or personal pan pizza to my arm. I saw someone running with one tonight and it looked silly. Plus, I love the minimalism of running. Shoes, shorts, shirt and socks. A fitness tracker on my wrist keeps it simple.

Once I got my FuelBand I was puzzled about Fuel Points. What did they mean and how much exertion would it require to earn them? I would often earn more points driving my kid to school than I would on a three mile walk. Biking didn’t seem to earn that many either. The only real high scorer was running. However, I accepted the opaque and arbitrary Fuel Point and settled on getting 3000 a day. If I succeeded it signaled to me that I wasn’t just a waste of flesh, fat and bones. I had done something.

However, the real problem with the FuelBand was simple. It was poorly made. My first band broke down within a few months. Nike gladly replaced it. Number two last for an even shorter period. Replaced again. Three made it nine months. Replaced. Four managed to hang on long enough to hear the class-action judgment and shuffled off its electronic coil. My kids’ goldfish lasted longer. They fell apart, they stopped holding a charge, they just died.

The folks at Nike were always helpful and swapped them out without hassle, but you always got the feeling they knew it was a crappy product. My forthcoming $25 gift card bears out my suspicion.

So today as I mourn FuelBand IV I ponder our legacy of three years together. What kind of elegy can I compose over a poorly made piece of dead electronics? I will keep it short and mostly sentiment free.

FuelBand, you and your 3 older brothers served me adequately for the past three years. You tracked my movement and let me know whether I had completely wasted my day. You were too fragile for this harsh world. We didn’t share the same language. I talked in distance, time and calories burned. You spoke in FuelPoints. We may never have entirely understood one another, but we made it work. May you rust quickly in the great landfill in the sky. I won’t miss your poor syncing abilities, but I will cherish my 3,000,000 FuelPoints. Farewell, old chum.

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So Much Promise, But Will It Deliver?

As I pitched my FuelBand IV, I was busy setting up my new Fitbit Charge HR. Once NikeTown confirmed that FB4 was indeed dead, I ordered a new wearable. Five days of data will go untracked, lost forever, but I go forward knowing that I have taken 55 steps since midnight, my heart rate is 64 and in 26 minutes I’ve burned 46 calories.

Goodbye and Godspeed FuelBand. Hello Fitbit. Let’s get to tracking.

Welcome to the Machine – Week 2 of Spotify’s Discover Weekly

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Welcome to the machine! A computer is making mixtapes just for me and they are better than just about any mortal mix. Yep, it’s week two of Spotify’s Discover Weekly and they just get me, like really get me.

Week one was damn good. Maybe a little heavy on the sixties and seventies, but it was two hours well spent. This week it’s back to the future with a mix that’s centered in the nineties, but stretches from the late sixties all the way up to this year. Of course the playlist dips its toes in the seventies, eighties and oughties (yeah, I just wrote that, sorry).

What I like is my curated mix is eminently listenable from start to finish. Just like last week the sequencing is random, but in a can’t-wait-to-hear-the-next-song way. Jumping from decade to decade and style to style, it’s unpredictable and surprising at times. I guess they’ve got three years of listening data and know exactly what I like.

Well, let’s get to the music.

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First up is The Olivia Tremor Control’s “Define a Transparent Dream” from their debut masterpiece, Dust at Cubist Castle. With its touches of the Beatles and their own psychedelic magic, OTC sets the tone for much of what’s to come later in the mix. Next, TV on the Radio goes a cappella with their 2003 cover of The Pixies’ “Mr. Greives.” Then we head way back for “Is This What You Wanted,” the opening cut from Leonard Cohen’s 1974 New Skin for the Old Ceremony. Then there are a couple of decent 70s rockers, Thin Lizzy’s “Running Back” from Jailbreak and “Funk #49” from The James Gang’s second album.

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Right when I was getting a little bored, Avey Tare of Animal Collective comes through with the murky and mystical “Laughing Hieroglyphic” from his debut solo record, Down There. The mind-bending continues with Austin’s Holy Wave and “Do You Feel It” from 2014. Next up it sounds like a cracked T-Rex or maybe Devendra Banhart, but it’s David Vandervelde from his first album (as The Moonstation House Band). Capping off this rewarding group of songs is the stone 1966 classic “You’re Gonna Miss Me” with its unforgettable electric jug and killer harmonica from The Thirteenth Floor Elevators. Can we possibly go up from here?

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Let’s say we go sideways right into Blake Mills with the power pop punch of “Hey Lover” from 2010. Then, boom, it’s Joe Jackson from his “angry young man” years kicking ass with “I’m the Man” from his 1979 record of the same name. Courtney Barnett doesn’t let up with “History Eraser” from last year’s Double EP. Sonic Youth might have done better songs, but were never cooler than “Dirty Boots” from 1990’s Goo.

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Love’s “Alone Again Or” is a wonderful song and it has been covered by bands like UFO and The Damned, but Calexico’s 2004 version is magical. They capture the original and make it their own simultaneously. The Kink’s cheeseball, but still awesome “Celluloid Heroes” is next. Originally a B-side to “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays,” The Buzzcock’s “Why Can’t I Touch It?” is a minor masterpiece. “Just Like Honey” will always be The Jesus and Mary Chain’s defining song, all pop bliss buried under mountains of feedback and sneer.

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So I am not supposed to like Phish on principle for a lot of reasons, but when I found myself grooving on “Wolfman’s Brother,” I went to the track listing. Who is this? Phish! Damn it. Yeah, this is why Spotify gets me. They find a great song from a band I don’t like.

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Then we’ve got Jason Lytle’s Grandaddy and his loopy lo-fi A.M. 180,” followed by the swirling beauty of Tame Impala’s “Enders Toi” from 2012 and Dinosaur Jr. with the Guitar Hero and Rock Band classic “Feel the Pain.” My Morning Jacket’s 2008 “Evil Urges” with its light funk and falsetto has aged well. So has Built To Spill’s 1999 guitar drenched Keep It LIke a Secret and lead track “The Plan.”

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Again we go sideways and back in time to 1982 and The English Beat’s “I Confess” from their third and last album, Special Beat Service. Next is a live version of “Ride a White Swan,” the first hit from T. Rex going all the way back to 1970. Digging even further back to 1968 it’s the crazy I-never-heard-this gem of this week’s mix and Jacque Dutronc’s 1968 French psychedelic nugget, “Hippie Hippie Hourrah” (covered in 2005 by Black Lips). Alabama Shakes surprised me with this year’s “Future People.” Nicely done.

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Closing out the set it’s REM’s always delightful “Harborcoat” from 1984’s Reckoning, Robert Palmer’s early hit “Sneaking Sally Through the Alley” and Jeff Beck’s 1968 rocking version of the folk classic “Morning Dew” with a young Rod Stewart on searing lead vocals.

I keep hoping for a little more electronic, industrial, soul and hip-hop but it’s only been two weeks. I am impressed at how well they understand my tastes and my fascination with random juxtaposition of songs and styles. Last week I mentioned how I am using my 90 day trial period to test drive Apple Music, but Spotify captured my attention this past week. They haven’t won the war for my money, but they are winning the battle for my time. What do you think of Discover Weekly? Who’s winning the streaming music war? I would love to know what you think.