Monday, October 8, 2007

Ray of Light

I'm probably one of the biggest hypocrites when it comes to music. I'm always going around suggesting artists to countless amount of people. "Oh you should listen to this", "Oh have you heard their new album?", "You have to download this song!". Yet, when it comes to people suggesting stuff to me, I barely give it a thought.

Well, that's not entirely true. But it usually takes me forever to listen to anything that people suggest to me. And I'm always a little skeptical. I used to be a massive massive Dave Matthews fan (I'm still pretty damn big, but I used to be ridiculously into him). As such, the suggestions came flying in. Hey, you should listen to Jack Johnson. Hey, you should get into Ben Harper. And I gotta say - both those artists - yeah - not in my books of good music.

But among that style of music came the suggestion of Ray Lamontagne. And holy wah have I ever been missing out. I mean I listened to Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Damien Rice, Jason Mraz, Teitur - all these acoustic singer songwriters, yet somehow Ray Lamontagne never made it into my collection. And to tell you the truth, I'm not sure why I decided to start listening to him. It all started with Barfly - it was a pretty relaxing song that I'd put on occasionally at night or while I was cleaning up the house. Then recently, during my endless nights of editing - I decided to listen to his whole album, Til the Sun Turns Black. And again - holy wah! Every song just kept getting better and better until it culminated into one of the greatest endings to an album I've heard since, Eskimo. The two tracks Til The Sun Turns Black and Within You create this epic 10 minute or so ending that's perfect for late night whatevers.

I love albums that have a universal feel throughout. Obviously some albums are praised for their diversity and ability to hit so many different notes - and I respect that. But when it comes to tossing on an album, I want an album that I can listen to front to back and not have to change the mood I'm in. Teitur's Poetry and Airplanes and Damien Rice's O are perfect examples of these types of albums. And those albums are held pretty freakin' high in my books.

Ray Lamontagne's Til the Sun Turns Black now joins the ranks. Well done Ray. Thanks for reading.

Nothing Else Matters

Seriously. Nothing Else Matters.

One of these days, I'll stop promoting Apple products. But that'll be the day that Apple stops making products that blow my mind wide open. For you see, last Friday, I finally had the proud pleasure of spending 10 minutes with an iPhone. And being Canadian, that's 10 more minutes than a lot of my fellow residents.

Up to this 25 year mark in my life, I've always toted that the nicest piece of technology I've ever owned has been my Powerbook G4 - and if I ever get around to getting an iPhone, I'm afraid that title might be stripped from my 1-inch thin marvel of a computer. It's completely true what they say - once you get your hands on an iPhone, you'll get it. You'll get what all the hype is about. You'll get why it's been the most anticipated gadget of all time. You'll get why people overlook its many flaws. You'll just get it.

My first pleasant surprise was just how small the thing was. Not that it's any smaller than any phone in its class - but the images and the capabilities make you believe that this thing might be a behemoth of a phone. Quite untrue. When you hold it, it's just one of those things that just feels right. Almost similar to my first seating in a Porsche 911 - it just feels right.

And then it starts.

After reading countless articles and watching countless videos - you put all your iPhone knowledge to the test. You select the iPod app, you start flicking through the artists, you flip it sideways to enter cover flow, and start flicking through that, you hop into photos, and start pinching away, you enter safari, and start double-tapping your way through web pages. It's all there. Everything you've wanted to try just works so perfectly. It's such a pleasure to use.

And part of that is the screen. The animations that greet you with every action you take just make everything so much cooler. Almost like the first time you minimize a window in Mac OS X, your mind gasps a hint of giddyness every time you do something. Even the way the home menu reconstructs itself when you hit the Home button. Besides that though - the quality of the screen is just unbelievable. The black levels are nuts. It's almost as if the home menu is a sticker on your phone and not a screen.

The touch screen is just so absolutely responsive that it feels futuristic rather than primitive (as a lot of other touch screens in my life have felt). But I actually don't think its the response time that's making it so. Most touch screens that I've come across - subway stations, movie theatres etc, use CRT TV monitors - and the distance between the surface of the screen (and consequently your finger) and the actual pixels was always really far. The iPhone on the other minimizes this distance making a lot easier to feel just where it is you're touching.

Now just like all reviews of the iPhone, I must state - of course this phone isn't perfect. But tell me - what product is? What product in the history of man is perfect? If that's all that can be said about the iPhone - "it isn't perfect", then it must be that good to be even considered in that category of perfection. The keyboard - yeah - it's not great. It's useable, but in the short time I spent with it, I wasn't typing all that well. That recessed headphone jack - damn, Apple - why?

Whatever, you've all read the reviews. What I'm saying is that this thing is absolutely unbelievable to hold and touch. If you're at any degree interested in gadgets, you need to get your hands on one of these. Every other phone, every other iPod, none of it matters now. The only thing worth buying now is the iPhone. K, that's a bit of an overstatement. But if you're looking for the basics - an good MP3 player, and good Phone, and good Internet browser, and some other goodies - it can't be beat.

Thanks for reading.