Why I Love and Hate Apple Music

When the digital music age took off, I was one of the first on it. Yes, I might have been on Napster. It’s how I found Belanova. I was all for getting rid of the excess in my life even though I don’t think music is an excess; CDs are.

Before digital, I had lots of vinyl and lots of CDs that I owned. I listened to everything in my collection. I knew all the songs, the tracks, track listings, names of the songs, and knew every band/artist in my collection. You could ask me questions about my collection and I could tell you most anything.

Once digital became the norm,  I ripped them all on to my computer at the highest quality and uploaded them to my iPod. It was the biggest iPod they had at 160GB. My entire collection fit on that one device. I didn’t grab a few files online but once I learned about a new artist, I purchased their music legally. My collection grew.

As I added new music, digitally, I became less connected to it especially as my iPod was set to shuffle all the time. Maybe I didn’t it to myself by shuffling but I have a wide variety of music and want to listen to it all. I stopped buying physical media and only purchased from the iTunes store, until Apple Music.

Apple Music is wonderful. Period. A lot like Spotify, Apple Music gives you music streaming. You listen to what you want, when you want, and they give you recommendations based off your listening habits. This is awesome. I have found so much new music and new artists that my library has grown by leaps and bounds.  And for writing music reviews, this is perfect. I can pull up new music, listen to it over and over while I writing my review, and done. I don’t need to own it, purchase it, or waste money if it’s bad.

That sounds great, right? Its is until your music library is filled with downloaded music that you can’t remember ever downloading. When I find out about a new artist, I don’t always have time to stop right then and listen to them. I might have heard one song that was amazing and I downloaded the album for later. Later never comes because you have still a bunch of other albums still in your later pile. Sadly, there is no pile. It is just taking up space on your “cloud” and you never come back to it.

Just recently, Apple Music gave us “new music” based on our listening habits. Every Friday, we tune into the new music. A good song comes on and I go to add it to my library, just to find out I already downloaded it. A band, SIENNA, had already been added and I didn’t even remember it. This is my life with music right now. I have so much music, that I have too much music.

Without the tangible disc in my hand, I am disconnected with music. I don’t see the names of bands anymore. I don’t know the names of the albums, either. Heck, I don’t even know the names of the songs. There is a band called VEINTIUNO and I really like their music, but I can’t not tell you one name of a song. This is how digital and streaming services have changed the way we listen to music. Or maybe it is just like radio. You hear a song and you like it, but you have no clue of who sings it.

I love Apple Music… and I hate that it has made me disconnected from it too. It seems that unless you stop and play a downloaded album over and over, you never truly connect like you did with physical media.

Thalia bares her soul in autobiography “Growing Stronger”

My love or like for Thalia changes based on my moods and also where she is in her career. During her Melody days, I was all up on her… Even as she moved to EMI but at some point in the course of history, I moved on to “following” other artists and let Thalia live in existence in a world where she realized an album and I bought it. That is it. Yeah, I knew she got married; but any more than that, Thalia and I were on a pure music friendship. I listened to her music, and nothing more.

Who knew she wrote a book? Who knew she has Lyme disease and almost died. If it wasn’t on a CD, I didn’t know. Just recently, I was searching for a book to read for my upcoming work trip. I browsed the entire libraries digital database in the biography section and saw Thalia had a book on there. I immediately knew what I was going to read for the next week.

As a Thalia “music” fan, I knew I wanted the book to cover certain points of her career. Like Ricky Martin’s autobiography, most fans wanted to know about Menudo. I wanted to know about Timbiriche. I got a small part in a chapter. I felt let down. To certain fans, like myself, my devotion for Thalia is based on her experience in Timbiriche. If it wasn’t for Timbiriche, I don’t know how or even “IF” Thalia would be in my catalog of music. Mostly yes, but would I have had enough desire to spend a week reading about her life if I didn’t want to know more about her time in Timbiriche? Probably not. So as I stated, I was let down.

Thalia has had a lifetime of professional experiences, as well as personal. This book talks more about the personal side of her world, than the professional. We don’t have major stories about the little things like Timbiriche, Marimar, or any one particular event. What we got stories of is her family, her sadness, her loneliness, her faith, her husband, and all the little things that make her, her. These same stories and feelings follow us throughout the book, in every chapter. How many times do we need to hear that her mother followed her everywhere and was her best friend. How many times do we have to hear Tommy is the love of her life.

As a fan, I want to hear “chisme” or the gossip of Timbiriche, more about what it was like recording this or that. I understand that the book was written for a reason. Thalia has still a lifetime of experiences to live and those may again be added to another book; but this time, we are reading about the change between Thalia then and Thalia now and what it took for her to get to this place in her life.

There were still many things I have learned about Thalia and her career, which is what I wanted to know. There also was a lot I learned about her personal life and how she views things. These views can provide a little of self-help for those who look at the words and come at them with an open mind and heart. Thalia is still an influential person and as a whole, this book might be the light in many of fans who need Thalia to guide them there.

Music, before and after technology

Back before the internet, we had been there. In 1987 sitting on the floor of my living room, I spent hours and hours combing through the Spanish language magazines trying to translate articles so that I could write a monthly newsletter. At one time, I had hopes of being a journalist, maybe even the next Cameron Crowe, teenage music beat writer for the Rolling Stone. I worked on a typewriter and also an Apple II, then an Apple SE computer. I printed out page layouts then cut and pasted photos from magazines as well as promotional photos that were given to me by the record labels. After that, I took the pages to my local printer and photocopied them. With that box full of paper, I collated, stapled, folded, addressed, stamped and mailed all by hand.

And the next month, I did it again. I continued this process for four years. And each month of those four years, the quantities continued to grow. Latin music fans in the US and in Mexico sent cash in the mail and for $2.00-$3.00 a month, they got something that was put together with such love and devotion that they didn’t care it was photocopied photos.

During that time, I could almost count the number of artists I focused on with my hands. Menudo was at the forefront with people like Timbiriche, Flans, Tatiana, and Fandango a close second. Mostly, I wrote about artists I liked and occasionally, I threw in an article based on a press conference I attended about bands I did not know at the time like Miguel Mateos and Duncan Dhu. It was hard to get information back in the 80’s if the artist wasn’t popular enough to be in magazines such as Eres, TV Y Novelas, Ritmo, etc… I was relegated to Top 40 artists.

During the 90’s as the internet began and we were dialing into AOL, I toyed with the idea of bringing my love for Latin pop music back alive. Message boards were big, and we were able to get more and more news. There was also a lot more music coming out of Mexico and surrounding countries that made the selection artists I could cover grow. Teen pop was running hot and there was an abundance of new magazines to get each month. I tried a couple of different ways to bring the orginal “Estrellas Del Momento” back to life, but failed each time due to lack of followers and support. There is only so much you can do in an AOL forum.

Now with the open internet, and the world is connected, you would think that coming back alive should be easy. It is actually a lot harder. The internet has opened up a world of unlimited music from all Latin American countries and you have both major artists and indie artists that are out there promoting their works. Music isn’t about finding it in your local record store, we have digital music for purchase and for streaming.

It used to be that I would browse the genres at my local store and purchase a vinyl, cassette, or CD in order to listen to it and hope that I liked it. Now, I can listen to whole albums on Spotify or Apple Music without having to purchase it. This makes reviewing music cheaper and easier. Yes, cheaper… Easier? That depends on what you think is easy. With only about an hour or two a day, sometimes less…now I have to decide what to listen to and what to review.

I currently follow 648 artists (both indie and major) and that means my feed is going crazy during the day, plus 376 artists are followed on Spotify. There is no easy way to keep track of every artist, nor to see if any of these artists have new music out or even tell if there is any great news to write about. The internet made the concept so overwhelming that one person can not do it all. I even had help for a while and we could not keep up. Something that was supposed to be out of love can easily become a full-time job that no one is paying me to do.

I once made $2.00 for each newsletter I mailed out and at one time, I was sending out about 1000 a month. While you think $2000 a month was good, that had to cover photocopying, mailing, and supplies… and that didn’t include the magazines and music I had to purchase since the internet didn’t exist. Now, in order to just handle all the new music for the year, it would take me all day every day with no money coming in because no one pays to surf my website. Yes, really no money going out either…but how can you be on top of everything while continuing to work a full-time job. You can’t.

No, I am not complaining because some of the best music I listen to now I have found via this website. This website is a labor of love and sometimes, there are days and months when I can’t post. Half the time, I spend looking for the best thing to write about that I don’t have the time when I do find something. I wish life was simpler with the technology of today, because my reach is so much farther that ever. When I was posting regularly, I had about 200 visitors a day, which is about 6000 a month. My followers continue to grow, and grow faster when I am consistently posting reviews. And if I had the time and resources to do this full time, I know that this website could totally rock.

Mon Laferte releases “La Trenza”

There is a big difference between the Mon Laferte who released Tornasol in 2013 and the one who just released La Trenza this past year. They are a world apart yet the progression has been a good one. The album that separated it all and allowed Mon Laferte to grow as an artist instead of just a singer was Mon Laferte Volume 1 (2015), which I plan to review soon.

Many of the chick rockers have been embracing the sounds and influences of the past by turning more to a folk-rock. It slows down the pace and allows the listener to hear the strong vocals and feel the personality of the artist. Mon Laferte’s change reminds me a lot of Natalia Lafourcade, who was a little pop princess who turned her image into representing the “raiz” of Mexico’s past and brought back folk music. Mon Laferte is doing the same thing and doing it well.

This style of music has elevated Mon Laferte to stardom. Just five years ago, she was an indie chick-rocker and now she is becoming a staple in Latin music. It helps that she opened for Juanes and recorded a duet with him for the first single of this album. Juanes’s popularity has allowed more people to experience what Mon Laferte offers, which was something we already knew back in 2013. This girl is going places.

La Trenza continues where Mon Laferte Volume 1 left off, so if you enjoyed the last album, you will love this. I know my wife will as soon as she hears it.

Sergio Lagos – “Solo” (2007)

I first learned about Sergio Lagos on Twitter where I reviewed his most current album, CosmosAfter that, I got three other albums from his record label, including his debut album, SOLO.

To go back in time, Sergio began his career as a journalist and then a radio and television personality, and now finally a musician. In 2007, Sergio Lagos released his first album with Joe Chiccarelli, who had worked in the past with The White Stripes, Tori Amos, and Beck. The level of talent involved with a debut album is incredible, and it shows how good the music is as a whole.

Sergio’s album begins with a song called, “33”, which reminds me like INXS. It is has a very upbeat rock sound that makes you want to get up, bounce around, and sing. But then the music switches gears and becomes this very mellow folk-rock album with a dreamy undertone. The song, “Es Pop” brings the tempo back up again and then we are brought back to a dream-like state. The back and forth of the album keeps it fresh, but can be a tad annoying as I want more music like “33” and “Es Pop”.

There are 13 tracks to the album and about half of them are upbeat, while they intertwine those songs with a dreamy folk feel. Overall, I enjoyed the album. There are songs I like more than others and when I combine the songs from this album with my daily listening music, Sergio Lagos’ “SOLO” will be a very good welcome.

Single Review: Fabulosos 90’s – “Pop Power Mix”

The four members who make up Fab90’s take to singing some of the greatest English-language hits from the 90’s for this little medley. Rene, Luigi, Roy, and Alexa do a good job of singing in a different language. Within this medley, we hear the group cover: Nsync, Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, Hanson, Michael Jackson, and others.

I might have named the song a little differently than “Pop Power Mix” just because the song lacked power. It is definitely is a fun medley; though I felt the songs didn’t flow well together very well. Lots of starts and stops with the music that made it feel like snippets instead of one fluid song. It might have been just where the transitions… Nsync’s “Bye Bye Bye”, Backstreets Boy’s “Everybody”, and Shania Twain’s “Man, I Feel Like A Woman” all have a pause in front of them as if they were starting new songs.

I want more “power” in my medleys. Fans want a consistent craze when these types of medleys are live. It is possible I am just missing that because I am not seeing the energy live, I am just getting the sound. Overall, Fab90’s English medley gets kudos for bringing in new languages. Maybe next up, we can get a little 90’s Brit-Pop, like Garbage and Elastica.

Ilse – “El Rio” (1996)

Ilse is known for being the third part of the Mexican pop group, Flans (or now known as Ilse Ivonne Mimi), but in the ’90s there was a short time where Ilse shared the stage with no one. This is the second and final album of Ilse’s short solo career. Sadly, El Rio determined Ilse’s fate.

When Flans disbanded, both Ilse and Mimi jumped into solo careers; both members had two albums to their name. Ilse’s debut solo album gave Ilse mild success though the album was very good and probably more ahead of its time. The lack of popularity and success from El Rio might have been caused by many reasons. Ilse didn’t have enough international success to pull her music to markets other than Mexico. The lack of shows like “Siempre En Domingo” which allowed fans outside of Mexico to see and learn about the artist’s new music probably didn’t help much. In 1996, younger musical acts were jumping on the scene. Kabah, Jeans, Sentidos Opuestos, and others were ruling the pop charts. Ilse more earthly and adult sound was overlooked by the music-buying demographics.

Ilse El Rio is a mellow, chill-out album that showcases her unique vocal sound.

For Flans fans, we were still holding on to any little hope of seeing Flans again. Having Ilse on her own was better than having none of the members in the media. Mimi was already off the stage for three years when El Rio was released.

Vocally, Ilse is Ilse and she will always be Ilse. Her voice is unique and maybe if we could have had Mimi and Ivonne as backup singers, El Rio could have made a nice follow-up to the Flans’ Adios. The music is pretty mellow and very adult contemporary. It did not have its own voice or a song that could pull it to the top of the pop charts. There were a few tracks that made an appearance on the chart but never spiked. As a whole, El Rio is an album that represented a different genre of 90’s pop music and Ilse knew how to deliver to make and enjoyable musical work.

As I mentioned, we didn’t have much hope for Flans returning at that point…but we didn’t have to wait long. Flans returned in 1999 for a little reunion.

Album Review: Fresas Con Crema – “Fresas Con Crema” (1983)

Blasting through my catalog of music, I came across Fresas Con Crema and went back to the beginning of a four-album history of the group’s music. We start with the debut album from 1983, Fresas Con Crema.

I don’t believe that any music from 1983 was good. The music is too synthesized and doesn’t have a strong bass. It is very metallic sounding and Fresas’s debut album fits the same sound. Tatiana’s debut album had it and even early Mecano and Alaska had the same sound. It wasn’t a good sound. Half the music sounds like it was recorded right from the radio; it’s very one dimensional. It seems like it wants to be disco without the dance beats.

Fresas Con Crema is probably the worst of the four albums. I mean, in everyone’s catalog there is one that is the worst. While that sounds bad, if you had to rate Fresas catalog between one and four, this would fall in position four with the next album at three, the third album at two and finally the last album as the group’s best. I wasn’t not around during this era of Fresas career and didn’t even get to see this group perform at this time. I have no basis for my opinions other than the music just didn’t connect with me.

In 1983, Fresas was the teenage “Timbiriche.” Three boys, four girls, all in their teen stages, but the style of a throwback to the ’70s. Over the years, I have tried to give this album a chance due to the fact that I loved the group’s last album; but it just lacks something great in order to make it worth the listen and I never found it. Even thirty-four years later, the album lacks anything interesting to make the album even a little bit.

Tatiana – “Tatiana” (1984)

Tatiana (Palacios) has spent the last twenty-two years being the face of “kids” music in Mexico, but prior to focusing on the niños, she was just a kid herself and started her career as a teen pop star. In 1984, Tatiana signed with EMI Music and released her first of many albums in the pop music genre. We have reviewed many of her albums, but we are going back to the very beginning where 80’s pop reigned and it was okay to wear neon outside of the gym.

At the prime age of 16, Tatiana was the Belinda of the ’80s. She captivated the audiences with a sweet and innocent voice and the personality to go with it. She talked about first love, wore neon, danced, and smiled like the sweet girl next door. This is why fans fell in love with Tatiana and became the face of teen music in Mexico. Who didn’t love Tatiana then? She had everything to be a teen pop star and didn’t need the drama or sexiness to sell music.

Tatiana’s 1984 album broke ground to a career that has lasted over 33 years.

Songs like “Querido Amigo” and “El Amor No Se Calla” hit the pop charts and help plant her in the homes of Mexico on Sunday for many television performances on the popular hit show, “Siempre En Domingo.” This is where I found Tatiana, though it would not be until the next album did really get into her music and career.

This self-titled debut was great music in the ’80s, but going back to listening to the album now we can pull out all of the album’s flaws and it is easy to do with classic 80’s music. With music written by Miguel Blasco and J.R. Flores, she had the best behind her for this debut. The music has high synthesizers and new wave drum beats and with Tatiana sweet high vocals, it almost seems a little late. This style played more for around 1982, so while the album came out in 1984; it was almost out of date. That didn’t matter much for music fans and radio, the album helped elevator her to the next level and to the album that put her on the pop historic map, “Chicas De Hoy.”

As a whole, Tatiana’s debut album has its place but it is nowhere near her best album. The album originally was released on vinyl, but has since then made its CD debut.

Franco De Vita – “Libre” (2016)

Celebrating 33 years of music, Franco De Vita is promoting his newest album, Libre, with a worldwide concert tour. While the album was released last year, it is still in the promotional stages since it has been eight years since De Vita has released a studio album.

Libre includes nine new tracks and five alternate version tracks making a total of fourteen songs for the new album. De Vita’s music is infused with R & B sounds giving him a classic adult-contemporary sound that he has cashed in on. Franco De Vita has always stayed relevant in the music industry over the last thirty-three years with various hits and awards, including Grammy awards and nominations. De Vita is a solid singer-songwriter and Libre is nothing short of traditional De Vita. If over the years you have liked many of his hits, there is no doubt that you will enjoy the mellow and solid tracks that make up Libre.

Franco De Vita Libre is bound to be a great comeback album for his career

Franco’s first single from the album, “Donde Esta La Vida” is probably one of the best tracks on the album and of his career. The infusion of blues, classic rock, and soul grab a hold of you and makes you think of a time of film noir and old black and white mysteries. The second single that is currently being promoted is “Rompe La Vida.” His current concert schedule will take him to Mexico, Puerto Rico and Argentina.

As a whole, Libre is destined to go down as one of Franco De Vita’s best albums as it is full of life and a great return to new music.

1. Ya No Te Creo con Edwin Luna y la Trakalosa de Monterrey
2. Dónde Está la Vida
3. Pídeme
4. Libre
5. Desde el Principio con Rosario
6. Rompes Mi Vida
7. No Sé Nada de Ti con Lorenzo Fragola
8. No Me Busques
9. Un Año y Algo Más
10. Pídeme (Acústica)
11. Ya No Te Creo (Versión pop)
12. Dónde Está la Vida (Bachata)
13. Desde el Principio
14. Ya No Te Creo (Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa de Monterrey con Franco De vita)