Epic Sax Walrus & other videos of The week

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Epic Sax Walrus

Yep. A Walrus plays a saxophone beautifully while his trainer gives it socks. Hypnotic.

Last Minutes With Oden

Perhaps one of the saddest and most uplifting short films you’ll ever see on the internet. The heartbreaking story of one man’s last five hours with his dog Oden before he gets put down.

Everything Is A Remix

Brilliantly-executed and bang-on exploration of the lack of true originality in movie-making from Star Wars to Julie & Julia to the homogeneity of genre movies.

Creepiest Sports Fan ever?

This Bangladeshi cricket fan appears to be staring into your soul.

Epic Sax Walrus

Yep. A Walrus plays a saxophone beautifully while his trainer gives it socks. Hypnotic.

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SXSW Interactive: “Spring break for geeks”

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South By Southwest in Austin, Texas kicked off 25 years ago as a music festival and conference with 700 participants and 150 bands. It has morphed into a now indistinguishable event. A quarter of a century later and SXSW now encompasses music, film, interactive and gaming, with around 40,000 people expected to arrive in downtown Austin over the course of 10 days. The future happens here.

SXSW Interactive is the one to watch. Last year, the number of attendees at Interactive exceeded SXSW Music with over 15,000 estimated compared to 13,000 for Music (with Film at 10,000 participants) and that trend is likely to continue. SXSW Interactive (SXSWi) is where Foursquare and Twitter created a significant buzz for themselves in recent years. SXSWi has been called “”Spring Break for Geeks” after all.

Web technologies are seen as a key part of innovation in all industries from fashion to music to journalism to branding to advertising and beyond. As the founder of WordPress Matt Mullenweg said in his panel last week: “scripting in the new literacy”. Mellenweg also told the audience at his interview that his open-source blogging platform WordPress now powers 12% of all websites on the internet.

It’s not easy to distill a conference which counts programmers, designers, gamers, brand reps, film-makers, marketers, journalists and CEOs as attendees. Location-based apps, crowdsourcing and the relationship between brands, advertisers and consumers in a social media context were the most dominant themes at the first few days of SXSWi this year. At the time of writing, 80% of panels attended have used the phrase “real-time” at least once (probably a tie in with “Charlie Sheen”). These are social networking times.

There were discussions centered around the recent rise in social media in a political crisis (covering Egypt, Iran and an insightful re-imagining of how Twitter and Facebook would have impacted upon 9/11 had they have been in use). Discussions about publishing, platforms and how to get paid whether as a hobby blogger or as a large news organisation were also prevalent.

Many panels talked about how curation of content on the web will be key in the near future. These days we are faced with quantity overload. How do we find what’s truly relevant to us? Flipboard, a personalised social magazine for iPad suggests a way forward. It was namedropped regularly with many speakers pointing out how it was a great example of new-media and future publishing platform with a social edge and an engaging design. Now, they just need to figure out how to get paid from it…

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Band of Blogs: Villagers session, Robin Pecknold, Braids & more

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Villagers Daytrotter session

Conor O’Brien records a small set of songs acoustically for the revered indie song session site. It features a cover of Leonard Cohen’s Famous Blue Raincoat along with three Villagers originals.

Listen at DayTrotter

Snack Tunes

A free compilation of live material from bands who have played on the Brooklyn-based radio show Snacky Tunes. Includes tracks from Freelance Whales, Frankie Rose & The Outs, Surfer Blood and more.
Listen & Download Finger On The Pulse

Robin Pecknold releases free tracks

The Fleet Foxes singer recorded three slow-burning acoustic guitar songs (one is a duet with Ed Droste of Grizzly Bear) that didn’t fit in with his band, so he gave them away on Twitter.

Robin Pecknold (of Fleet Foxes) Solo Acoustic Set by Thunder Road


Currently lighting up the music blogs are this Canadian-based quartet with nods towards early Animal Collective with loose folky electro songs that still manage to make things pop. Lemonade is the track to get started with.


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Sites of the Week: Cleverbot, Pitchify & All Wired Up

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A chat site with a difference where you talk to an AI robot which chooses its answers from over 20 million conversations that have gone before yours. It’s like talking to the ghost of internet past.



Pitchify collates Spotify links for the best-rated albums on Pitchfork and Drowned In Sound.


All Wired Up

An Irish music technology blog which interviews Irish musicians about their equipment. One for the gearheads.


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How to start the perfect band…on Twitter

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If you’re a Twitter user (or any other social network at all), you’ll inevitably have seen first time tweeters say things like “trying to understand this Twitter lark”, or “how does this work?”. A good explanation is the quote doing the rounds that goes something like “Facebook is for people you used to know. Twitter is for people you’d like to know”.

There’s a succinct truth in that. Social media should be about learning new things, extending your social circle and having some fun in the process. Richard Newman is an embodiment of that ethos. The unemployed Englishman decided he wanted to record a cover of the Rod Stewart song Maggie May to celebrate two years on Twitter. The only problem? He didn’t play a musical instrument.

He didn’t let that stop him however. Newman turned to Twitter and recruited 11 interested musicians and a producer to make it happen. Calling themselves @Tw1tterBand (blog), the band put together a cover of the song having never met. Within a few days, the song was recorded and a video was released. The song was used to raise money for a charity called Macmillan Cancer Support. They followed up that song with an infinitely better cover of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. The project has now raised over £2,000 (€2,328) and has prompted Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr to tweet at them “Nice job. I’m touched.”

Established musicians too have had the crowd-sourcing idea for songs. Prominent Twitter user and singer Imogen Heap is planning to make the most of her 1.5 milllion Twitter followers with an experiment called #heapsong1. On March 14th, people will be able to upload music or sounds for Imogen to fashion into a song. On the 15th, Heap will collect words for the lyrics the same way. The following days will see the collection of visual material for a video and submissions for a solo for the middle of the track. The song will be finished in a week by the 21st of March and released a week later with the accompanying video on March 28th. Electronic producer Tim Exile will also be remixing the song live while hearing the song for the first time.

Another forward-thinking musician, Glasser has also been playing with technology and shared experiences. During her recent TV performance on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, the singer “embedded” QR codes on the stage. Intrigued viewers could then scan these codes with their smartphones where they would be pointed to a 3D visual zone which contained exclusive content including videos, free downloads and links to buy Glasser’s album Ring for a reduced price.

Glasser wanted to go as far as to design special QR codes to represent her album artwork. So she hired a graduate programmer to re-interpret the album cover’s colour and design into the codes. Who knows how many actually used the QR codes while watching, but if you want to see what you missed, check out the 3D-based content.

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