2014 music wrap-up, and mixtape 147

In only approximate order of favoriteness -- and for the twelfth year in a row (!!) -- here is my year-end wrap-up. As usual, a few of the entries on the following list were released earlier than 2014, but that is when I discovered them, so I'm allowing some slack. Though most were actually released in 2014.

This year I acquired around 62% as much new music as last year: roughly 75 new releases, almost all released within the last 3 years, more than half released in 2014.

That is really a surprising drop! I wonder how much of that can be pinned on how poorly curated SXSW was in 2014. In previous years, I discovered a lot of great music through the SXSW torrents, as well as through happenstance at the festival itself, but this year, not so much.

I should find some better festivals to travel to. Corollary: I should learn to hate traveling less.

Number of those bands that I saw perform this year: 23.
Number of those bands that performed at DNA Lounge this year: 8.
Go Team.

I haven't commented on all of these because I still find it really hard, and anyway, if you want to know what they sound like, that's what the corresponding mixtape is for, right? Scroll down.

I like these things. You should like them too. Here's your shopping list:

  • K.Flay - "Life As A Dog"

    It's a bit mellower and sadder than her previous releases, with more singing and less rapping, but still some of the finest music you're going to find for feeling bad about yourself and your terrible relationships!

  • The Casket Girls - "True Love Kills the Fairytale"

    They've got kind of a faux-60s-girl-band thing going on, like if Bananarama were clinically depressed.

  • The Asteroids Galaxy Tour - "Bring Us Together"

    A good album, though I was a little disappointed that this year's live show replaced the horn section with a keyboardist. I imagine that's a lot of mouths to feed, though.

  • EMA - "The Future's Void"

    I think this might be indie gospel about the Surveillance State. Or something. The acompanying 90s-style cyber-zine that goes along with it is kind of amazing.

  • iamamiwhoami - "Blue"

    It sounds a lot like the previous one, but it's still very good, and I remain impressed at their devotion to the craft of music video and just generally being weird as hell.

  • Gazelle Twin - "Unflesh"

    Hey, remember when I used to listen to industrial music? I guess this is the closest thing to that on this list (and it's not really very close.) This was probably my favorite show we've had at DNA Lounge this year. Even though their live act was two people and a stack of electronics, the freakiness of her faceless urban cenobite performance made it fantastic.

  • Meg Myers - "Make a Shadow"

    More angry music for feeling bad about your stupid obsessions! Often the function of pop music is to let you know that there are people out there with worse ideas.

  • Cathedrals - "Cathedrals"

  • Fujiya & Miyagi - "Artificial Sweeteners"

    This sounds exactly like Fujiya & Miyagi, but that's what I was hoping for.

  • The Faint - "Doom Abuse"

    This sounds exactly like The Faint, but that's what I was hoping for.

  • Brody Dalle - "Diploid Love"

  • Le Butcherettes - "Cry Is for the Flies"

    Please don't kill me.

  • Heartsrevolution - "Ride or Die"

    I think they summed themselves up best with their between-song banter: "I'll be driving my icecream truck around NYC and an Indian cab driver will lean over and say 'this song is awesome' and I'll be all 'I know, right?'" She's not kidding about the ice cream truck, is the thing. And there's a vajazzled guitar.

  • La Femme - "Psycho Tropical Berlin"

    This is the third album on this year's list that prominently features a retro electric organ sound. I find this odd. We had them at DNA in in April, and it was a great show. Much more raucous and sweaty than you might expect.

  • Ume - "Monuments"

  • Giana Factory - "Lemon Moon"

  • Rich Girls - "Fiver"

  • Warpaint - "Warpaint"

    "Third album is self-titled" is still a thing, huh? It's hard to hear them without imagining them singing in super slow motion in front of a fan.

  • Ringo Deathstarr - "God's Dream"

    One of these days I'm going to stop thinking that the line "these shoes aren't going to gaze themselves" is hilarious, but today is not that day. We had them in October.

  • The Dollyrots - "Barefoot and Pregnant"

    "Our friends are always texting us to tell us that they saw one of our videos playing in DNA Pizza" is the most unexpected thing someone in a band has said to me in some time. We had them here in May.

  • Client - "Authority"

    Depeche Mode cast a long shadow.

  • Dead Sara - "Dead Sara"

    They have a bit more of a straightforward "LA hard rock" sound than I usually go for, but their live show here in November was pretty great.

  • Phantogram - "Voices"

  • Keep Shelly In Athens - "At Home"

  • Sinah - "Sleek"

  • Little Daylight - "Tunnel Vision"

  • The Mast - "Pleasure Island"

  • Minipop - "Chances"

And finally, here's mixtape 147, which includes one track by each of the above artists.

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Current Music: as noted

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Classic NES Series Anti-Emulation Measures

Emulator countermeasures are so vicious because the stakes are so low.

As it turns out, these games exploit several tricks and undefined behaviors that make emulating them challenging. This appears to be a deliberate attempt to dissuade copying these games. In the interest of accuracy, I have painstakingly investigated, implemented and chronicled all of the unusual things I've found these games to do. [...]

The processor in the Game Boy Advance has a pipeline that has three relevant stages for accurate emulation: fetching, decoding and executing. In the fetching stage, the memory bus is queried for the memory associated with an instruction. This is then passed to the decoding stage, where the processor figures out which instruction it is. Finally, the processor actually executes the instruction. A naïve interpreter may merge all three stages, either for hypothesized speed reasons, or just an uninformed idea of how processors work. mGBA was actually assuming the decoding and execution stages were combined until recently. However, an important observation was made while digging through the Classic NES Series games' code: the game was modifying an instruction that was very close in proximity to where code was being executed already. [...]

What's imperative to understanding what's going on in this block of code is to realize that, once the instruction has been fetched by the pipeline, changing the memory that backs that address is irrelevant. This is similar to how cache coherence works, but is even more stringent. This means that if your pipeline is long enough, the instruction that enters into the pipeline during the write is the one that stores 255. If it's too short, it stores 0. As it turns out, the games will fail to boot if it finds the value 0 in register r1, but boots fine if it's 255.

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I have always wanted to fail a Turing Test.

Cyranoids are people who do not speak thoughts originating in their own central nervous system.

Their findings suggest people fall for it pretty hard. The cyranoid illusion worked just as well when the 12-year-old boy and the professor, played by Gillespie, switched roles. Subjects thought the man seemed a bit dim for an adult living in Britain -- he botched a question about Margaret Thatcher and was unable to list the country's most recent prime ministers -- but they gave no indication they suspected his answers weren't his own.

On one hand, maybe that's not so surprising. Our brains didn't evolve to deal with people speaking through the body of someone else, notes Jeremy Bailenson, who directs the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford. "Our brains are wired to treat something that looks and acts like a person as an individual person."

But that's increasingly not the case, Bailenson says. "What's changed since times of Milgram is that this identity replacement has become the norm for online interactions." From online games to online dating sites, people act through virtual versions of themselves (or assumed virtual identities) more and more.

This is another area Corti and Gillespie want to explore in future cyranoid research. One experiment, for example, might look at whether people can tell when the person in front of them is being fed lines from a chatbot.

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Argentinian Presidential Duties include:

Being Godfather to Werewolves.

In the early 1900s the legend of the 7th son transforming himself into a werewolf was so widespread and believed that it was causing a lot of children to be abandoned or given away for adoption, and it is said that in some cases the parents killed their own son. Because of this, the president passed a law in the 1920s by which the 7th son of a family automatically receives the godfathership of the president of Argentina! Through this, the state gives him a gold medal on the day of his baptism (when the president officially becomes his godfather) and a scholarship for all of his studies until his 21st birthday. Supposedly, this ended the phenomenon of people condemning their children for fear of the werewolf. The law is still in effect, and it is popularly known, and the presidents have always attended at least some of the baptisms, especially during election season.

Werewolf scholarships. Not to be confused with the Chewbacca Defense.

Previously, previously.

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It's not easy being Buzz Aldrin

The Dark Side of the Moon

Twenty minutes in, Christina starts her hand motions. Wrap it up, Buzz. It would be a lot easier if he just had a canned presentation, a little motivational speaking for the people, dream the impossible dream, reach for the stars -- normal hero stuff. But that is not Buzz. He is a man of science. He has important space concepts to share, beseeching mankind to understand. He's delivering the speech he would to serious space-minded politicians and science foundations thirty years ago, but now the audience has morphed into Trekkies and Star Wars hobbyists.

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The Toxoplasma of Rage

This is a long walk, but it's pretty great:

Replicators gonna replicate.

What would it mean for a meme to have a life cycle as complicated as toxoplasma?

Consider the war on terror. It's a truism that each time the United States bombs Pakistan or Afghanistan or somewhere, all we're doing is radicalizing the young people there and making more terrorists. Those terrorists then go on to kill Americans, which makes Americans get very angry and call for more bombing of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Taken as a meme, it is a single parasite with two hosts and two forms. In an Afghan host, it appears in a form called 'jihad', and hijacks its host into killing himself in order to spread it to its second, American host. In the American host it morphs in a form called 'the war on terror', and it hijacks the Americans into giving their own lives (and several bajillion of their tax dollars) to spread it back to its Afghan host in the form of bombs.

From the human point of view, jihad and the War on Terror are opposing forces. From the memetic point of view, they're as complementary as caterpillars and butterflies. Instead of judging, we just note that somehow we accidentally created a replicator, and replicators are going to replicate until something makes them stop.


Imagine Moloch, in his Carthaginian-demon personification, looking out over the expanse of the world, eagle-eyed for anything that can turn brother against brother and husband against wife. Finally he decides "YOU KNOW WHAT NOBODY HATES EACH OTHER ABOUT YET? BIRD-WATCHING. LET ME FIND SOME STORY THAT WILL MAKE PEOPLE HATE EACH OTHER OVER BIRD-WATCHING". And the next day half the world's newspaper headlines are "Has The Political Correctness Police Taken Over Bird-Watching?" and the other half are "Is Bird-Watching Racist?". And then bird-watchers and non-bird-watchers and different sub-groups of bird-watchers hold vitriolic attacks on each other that feed back on each other in a vicious cycle for the next six months, and the whole thing ends in mutual death threats and another previously innocent activity turning into World War I style trench warfare.


(Also, wasn't The Toxoplasma of Rage a Public Enemy song?)

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Say hello to my new little friends

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jwz mixtape 146

Please enjoy jwz mixtape 146.

Looks like Youtube, in the interest of getting better every day, has removed the ability to edit start/end times in playlists at all -- before it was just stupidly difficult and flaky, but now even the option is gone -- so some of these have useless cruft padding them. Hooray.

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Current Music: as noted


Colin Christian:

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