Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010 Indie Music Trends: Cats, Beaches, a Venn Diagram and a Playlist

Every year there seems to be one or two prevailing trends in the world of indie music naming and branding. It was my (assumed) job at Paste to document this all for an audience of hipsters who cared to argue about such things at the end of the year. Back then I discovered that...
  • 2007 was the Year of the Deer/Dear bands (Deerhunter, Deer Tick, Loney Dear)
  • 2008 brought the Year of the Bear bands (Care Bears on Fire, Grizzly Bear, Panda Bear)
As we look back on 2010, I'm ready to declare that it was "The Year of the Cat and the Beach (a Little Bit of Each)." Too bad Dr Seuss isn't around to write about this one for me.

Take a look at all the album art that featured furry felines, including releases by Best Coast, The Klaxons, MGMT and Two Door Cinema Club.

But there were just as many surf-and-sand-loving bands to be had, so let's venn diagram this and figure out who the real winner was in 2010.

Four magic bands in the center of the venn diagram?! Amazing!

That's because MGMT gave us...
  • Cat-shaped-wave on the album art
The Klaxons offered...
  • Cat album art
  • An album called "Surfing the Void"
Best Coast provided...
  • Cat (sitting on an ocean) album art
  • A nearly beachy name
But the real winner is Wavves, with its...
  • Cat (wearing a gold chain!) album art
  • Surf-and-sand band name (with superfluous 'v'!)
  • A song called "King of the Beach"
Well done, Wavves. The trinity of 2010 indie music branding.

Here's a playlist of all the bands. They are talented folks. Buy their music, please (... but maybe not the whole MGMT album... that was disappointing).

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Caren Explains the Droid 2

I count myself among the 5% of women ages 25-39 who would choose an Android device over other smart phones. In fact, as of today I am on my second Android device. (You don't scare me, evil Android eye!)

I've only had it for a few hours, but I can see already that Droid 2 addresses some of the concerns I had with the first Motorola DROID after I bought last December.

Most notably it offers worldwide CDMA/GSM support which means I can now use it in London. Gone are the days of toggling between a GSM-supported Verizon phone (so I could receive calls to my US number), my DROID (so I could retrieve contacts) and a British-issued mobile phone (so I could make calls in London). Rejoice, rejoice!

Also, this Droid 2 has an immediate route to file management. I found it impossible to locate files once I had downloaded them to the DROID. Now you can easily see both local files and shared files from the application menu.

One cool innovation on Droid 2 is the ability to switch between multiple profiles. The default suggestions for profiles are "Home," "Work" and "Weekend." As someone who has a bad habit of reading work-related emails and messages while off-the-clock, I can really make good use of this feature. Being able to hide work-related accounts, applications and widgets in one swish of the finger is a welcomed feature.

It is also interesting to see which apps were pre-installed on the Droid 2. Blockbuster and "Need for Speed" apps are new to the menu, though they earlier appeared as "junkware" on the Motorola X, while non-standard/non-Google applications like Skype and Amazon mp3 return on this iteration.

There are also a lot more pre-populated desktop screens on Droid 2. While some -- like a desktop screen for quick-dial contacts -- are helpful, others (namely the news widgets) remind me of Windows Vista features I disliked.

So far so good, but there is one significant UX improvement I hope this Droid 2 will offer: a less-sensitive interface and/or smarter screen- locks during phone calls so I don't hang-up on as many people accidentally....because that's just rude.