imeem Playlists Win My Heart

Hi, everybody. What's that, you say? Long time, no see? Well, I've been out of town for a while, and the summer heat has slowed me down lately. But I missed you guys too. So to celebrate our reunion, I thought I'd revisit one of my favorite topics: imeem playlists.

I've been vexed by the creation process in the past, had to tweak my integration code to deal with strange color problems, and been mystified as to why some songs turn into 30-second clips when you view a playlist outside of imeem's domain.

Those issues haven't gone away entirely, but on the whole, the process of creating a new playlist has gotten much smoother, and the end result is really nice, too. I like the new look and feel of the playlists, and I like that I didn't have to do anything to convert my old playlists to the new look.

So, without further ado, here's a little playlist I whipped up in honor of my least favorite season, summer. Enjoy! (I decided not to upload any of my own tracks for this one, and just take what I could find on imeem - that led to some cool finds, like live versions of Paul Simon songs and such. Woohoo!)

....Just kidding. The text above was the post I had planned to publish. Really and truly. But that was before I saved my new playlist in imeem, did something else for a while, then tried to come back and add more music to it. Due to a bug in their playlist creation module, I can't see any of my existing playlists, so I have no way to add new music to them. Which is my summer playlist is now only 3 tracks long. And to think, I was almost going to give imeem unadulterated praise.

Summer Songs


A One-Man Pandora

Staff Picks by flickr user Troy McClure SFVery often I'm asked by friends or relatives "hey, I like such-and-such band, who do you think I might like that I've never heard of?" I usually can come up with one or two bands, or I point them to Pandora or Last.fm or Slacker and tell them to try those out for some other opinions. But I've never charged for it...before now.

As part of Washington Improv Theater's recent silent auction, I donated my services as a mixtape DJ. The offer was this: you tell me some bands you like, and I try to compile a mix for you of bands I think you might enjoy. That's it. My friend Shawn ended up with the winning bid [a whopping $40!], so I made him the mix below.

Here's what he gave me in terms of guidance:

Recent stuff that I've come to enjoy: Bon Iver, The Hold Steady, My Morning Jacket, Sigur Ros, The Polyphonic Spree, Band of Horses.

Standbys: Radiohead, Ryan Adams, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Coldplay (their latest album is friggin' fantastic), Oasis, Wilco.
I like just about anything, but I've never been a big fan of metal or punk. Not that I'm against power chords, I just like a little melody with them. If you're going to include something like that, think later Clash.

I didn't want to just fill it up with bands that sound exactly like the ones he mentioned, and I didn't want to force him too far outside of his comfort zone by loading him up with Slayer and Megadeth tunes. I also erred on the side of adding a few songs that are pretty similar-sounding, in the hopes of exposing him to more artists he might not already know (the guy is pretty well-versed in music already). So I took a dash of intuition and mixed it with a heaping spoonful of my own totally subjective taste, and came up with this:


I realized while making this that it's hard to mentally separate "songs I love" from "songs I think this person would like." What do you think? Was I way off the mark? What would you have done? [Editor's note: he didn't mention them, but Shawn is also a huge Steely Dan fan. Would that affect your choices?]


Santogold: I Am Late To This Party

SantogoldDo you like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, M.I.A. and Amy Winehouse? Ever wish you could listen to all of them at once plus a little more? Well then Santogold is for you.

I say I'm late to this party because I am - Pitchfork reviewed her album back in May, and I'm sure all the cool kids and hipsters knew about her way before I did. But no matter - I can still enjoy things even if (gasp!) I'm not the first one to hear about them.

I'm not much of a reviewer, so I'll let her music speak for itself, but I will say that this album is, for the most part, great. The three tracks below remind me of the three artists referenced in the first paragraph, in that order. What do you think?

Sorry to use the 30-second clips again, but A) imeem didn't have the tracks I wanted, and B) someone actually bought an MP3 from the last post (thanks!) and now I have a taste for blood.


Amazon MP3 Widget: Hot or Not? Also, Some Songs I Like

In my never-ending quest to find more playlist widgets than I could ever possibly use, I recently discovered the Amazon MP3 Clips Widget, which lets you build a playlist of 30-second samples of songs available for purchase in the Amazon MP3 library. I think this is very cool in some ways, but not so cool in other ways. Or to say it another way, I think it's both Hot and Not.


  • You can add a whole album at once.

  • It's really easy to build your playlist. Like, really really super-easy. (imeem, I hope you're reading this).

  • The files are not DRM'd in any way. Eat it, Apple. Eat it hard.

  • It has the potential to make me money. [Editor's note: please purchase some MP3s via the links in the widget! Please! My children need wine!]
  • At first I thought you could only have 1 playlist widget, but now I'm not so sure. However, it still gets an entry in the "Not" category for being unclear on that point in their FAQ.

  • Sadly, Amazon doesn't have every album ever made in their library...and unlike imeem, you can't just upload a song you want in your widget.

  • 30-second clips are lame. Totally lame.

By the way, if you want to read some writeups of the best albums of 2008 (so far), there's a great one over at Music For Ants (thanks to Nate for the link) or you can vote for your own choice at NPR's All Songs Considered blog (or join in the NPR-bashing over at Idolator). Anyway, here's why I chose these songs:
  • That's Not My Name by The Ting Tings
    Like the rest of the world, I've been infected with this ridiculously catchy ear candy and have been unable to shake it. That's all I can say in my defense. I have my brother to thank for introducing me to them.

  • Run To Your Grave by The Mae Shi
    Once again, I can thank my brother for recommending this band to me, when I was looking for stuff to download during the last free-leech period over at waffles.fm. This whole album is totally awesome (and you should buy it from Amazon using my widget), even if most of it seems to focus on the theme of a vengeful deity.

  • Lay It Down by Al Green
    Would you believe I've never actually heard a whole Al Green album before his latest one? That's just one of the many gaping holes in my musical education. Here's some geekery for you: a friend of mine posted to Twitter about the great NPR piece about this album, which led me to "borrow" it from stmusic.org. I don't think any actual human interaction took place in that chain of events. All hail our robotic overlords! Also, this song is really catchy and puts me in the mood for love, if you know what I'm talking about. And I think you do.

  • In The Rushes by Islands
    All together now: my brother introduced me to this band [Editor's note: how do people without siblings hear about new music?] and so far I would give them a solid B. However, they have 2 things going for them: 1) They were started by two guys from the Unicorns, who get a B+, and 2) Towards the end of this song, the band goes totally crazy and starts covering/rewriting A Quick One, While He's Away by the Who, which is without question one of the greatest songs ever written. So that's pretty cool.

  • Here's Your Future by the Thermals
    The Body, The Blood, The Machine is one of those albums I can put on whenever I don't know what I want to listen to, and 99 times out of 100 I'll be perfectly satisfied with my choice. It's another entry in the "vengeful deity" category, and I think the imagery of the lyrics coupled with the simplicity and energy of the music make it a fantastic album whether you're in the mood to really listen to it, or just have it on while you drive around really fast, honking the horn and saying "whoo!" to the ladies.

  • Million Dollar Boots by Lord T & Eloise
    I don't have the words to properly explain these guys, but think "Billionaires for Bush" meets "mediocre hip-hop." I know that sounds terrible, but go watch the video and be enlightened.

  • Chemicals Collide by Cloud Cult
    These guys are amazing. You'll never guess who introduced me to them. They have a new album which I like even more than The Meaning of 8, but this song has been a heavy favorite in the rotation this summer. In addition to being eco-heroes, this band is also able to draw inspiration from really, really sad things and make beautiful music out of it. That makes me hopeful.

  • Dead Fingers Talking by Working For A Nuclear Free City
    Despite their overly long band name, I recently became a fan of these guys through an unnamed sibling. This song doesn't really sound like the rest of the album, but I dig it a lot. I hope you will too. Amazon had 2 entries for it in its database, and for some reason this one seemed to be much higher quality than the other one. So there you have it.
What do you think? What songs are stuck in your head this summer? What's the best album of 2008? Will I ever make a cent off of this widget? Let me know in the comments.