“Barenaked Ladies Are Me” Is I

Barenaked Ladies Are Me Cover Art

The Barenaked Ladies (BNL) just released a new album called, amusingly, Barenaked Ladies Are Me (which, evidently, is meant to be read “Army”, in reference to folks like me, who are part of their ever growing legions of fans).

Over the last couple of years, this band has really matured. In cooking terms, it’s like when you first make the hummus; if you eat it then, it’s good, but the flavors really haven’t had that chance to intermingle and become something other than individual ingredients. With this album, the hummus of the band has been in the fridge for a day or two, and all of the flavors have come together and become turbo hummus.

The band has gone from having two vocalists, Steve and Ed, to having pretty much everyone take a turn at the lead. (Well, except Tyler, but he’s too cool to sing, I think.) The mixture of different lead stylings allows the album to take some unique turns.

My favorite songs off the album?

  • Sound of Your Voice – a Steven Page sort of 50s-ish almost spiritual that really lifts me up
  • Take It Back – this is Natasha’s favorite too; she likes the sparkly piano and we both like the lyrics, more on that below
  • Fun & Games – an anti-lying politician song — the world needs more of these
  • Down to Earth – a fun, sort of poppy happy song

I’ve got a lot more I like, and there are also a bunch of great singles, like Easy, Wind It Up, and Bank Job (who wouldn’t like a job about a bank job foiled by a surprise case of angst caused by a mob of nuns?), which I didn’t mention, since I think you might be hearing them a bunch soon. 😉
I think Natasha’s favorite lyric, and one I really like as well, is from Take It Back:

Long lines and warning signs
Think of all the lives saved by plastic knives
It’s naive but make believe
We will never lose if we remove our shoes

A cute little snapshot of the era of fear we live in nowadays.

If you want to be REALLY geeky, I recommend picking up the CD the way I did, and grabbing the 27 track FLAC version of the CD. FLAC is a lossless audio format, so you get exactly the same quality you would get had you bought the CD in the store. (And you get more tracks — the physical CD release in most stores has 13 tracks.

Burning the tracks to CD is easy. First, download the FLAC codec (a codec is “translator” software to allow your computer to “speak” a specific format) from the FLAC site. If you’re using a Windows-based PC and the Nero Burining software, FLAC will integrate with Nero so you can burn directly to CD from Nero. You can then re-rerip the CD to MP3 or iTunes AAC format. For Mac users or people using other burning software, if you’re geeky enough to try this, there are lots of other options on the FLAC site.
If that all sounds too difficult, you can download MP3s from the BNL site, and probably be perfectly happy with the sound quality.

Kewl thing about BNL is, they are definitely a group on the forefront of the music industry in a positive way. Notice that the deluxe version of the album has a lot more tracks than most releases, and that if you buy the album directly from them, you can get lossless tracks with no DRM, or MP3 tracks, which also feature no Digital Rights Management (DRM). I’d like to see BNL succeed, as they are really taking the tack of trusting their fans. It’s a big leap to offer for sale things that could easily be offered on a P2P file sharing service and leave you with no compensation for your art. Of course, I think the band also does this because sharing music is a great method of promoting yourself, and generating new fans who might pay for your music.

There’s a great article in WIRED magazine this month on how BNL (and Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group) is leading the digital music revolution. If you’re interested in the future of the music industry, check it out.

Lego Star Wars II

The first Lego Star Wars game designed by Traveller’s Tales games was one of the best Star Wars games ever created. It was a fun game to play with an excellent sense of humor (a feature I think most games lack today). The sequel, which is a Lego take on the Star Wars classic trilogy (IV, V, and VI), was just released, and has out-preordered Madden Football.

I played the demo, and it was a total ramping up of the already excellent fun factor of the first one. Can’t wait to play the new game!

This MTV Review of the new game mentions what I said about the humor.

LOST Video

Just finished watching the 2nd season of “LOST”, and my head is spinning trying to figure out where the writers of the show are going. (I suppose watching “LOST” is kind of like being drunk…somewhat disorienting in a pleasant kind of way, most of the time.) Anyway, for those of you needing more information about what’s going on before season 3 starts, here’s a link to a video from the “LOST Experience” web game.

Disney Quests?

The Orlando Sentinel has an interesting article about a new offering that is being tested at the Disney theme parks in Florida. (Transparency — I work for the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts division, but far removed from marketing. And I read about this on the Sentinel web site like everyone else.) It’s an interactive game themed around Kim Possible, where guests try to solve a mystery using clues they receive in the park and by interacting with Disney Cast Members. You can read more about it in the article.

I love the concept, though I haven’t been able to experience it personally. I play plenty of World of Warcraft (and I’ve played a few other MMOs before that). I’ve often had the though that playing a game like WoW was a little like visiting a theme park. You’re in a different world, visiting the attractions (kind of like the Instanced Dungeons in WoW) with friends, just generally having fun. What was really missing from the analogy was the quest giver characters who give you things to do and then provide some reward when you complete them.

Disney has already done some of that by tying their own MMO, Virtual Magic Kingdom, into the theme park experience by having people complete quests in the parks for schwag in the game. It’s kind of a neat little tie-in — they used to call things like this synergy, but I think that term has hit the tired list — and the idea intrigues me. I’ll be interested to see what other quest offerings we see in the future.

Just as long as I don’t have to bring back 12 Pooh Bear ears for a chain mail vest…too hot in Florida for a chain mail vest!

Here’s a couple of interesting articles from Wired on the subject: