Category: Music


In the late 80s teenage me became enamored with industrial and electronic music – very young genres at the time. I had been listening to punk and metal and, thanks to Fishbone, had discovered funk and soul and ska, but it was my part time job at a record store that sucked me into electronic and industrial. Every week I’d dig through the promo cassettes we’d receive and take home a few, chosen solely for their album covers or titles. This is how I discovered acts like Ministry, Consolidated, Die Warzau, PWEI, Nine Inch Nails and especially Meat Beat Manifesto.

A roommate and I started cobbling together used equipment (usually purchased on layaway from the dearly departed Galaxy Music on Stone Mountain Hwy) and learning Twelve Tone’s Cakewalk sequencer – first on DOS, and then Windows 3.1. When my roommate and I parted ways, I bought out all this equipment – an ancient PC, a Roland Juno 2, two Ensoniq Mirage’s (one rackmount, one full keyboard), a Yamaha drum machine I mostly repurposed as a sample triggerer, and all the requisite cabling and MIDI garbage to tie it all together. Armed with this stuff, and an old Yamaha bass, Gibson Flying V, and a no-name acoustic, I would stay up late at night after work and create weird, kind of unclassifiable songs. By 1993 I had enough ‘finished’ material to make an album… so I did. I spent forever trying (and mostly failing) to master these tracks and tie them together. I designed an album cover, and burned exactly one CD, which I shared with no one.

I’ve held onto that CD ever since. I dug it out a few years ago to listen to privately and then – with some trepidation – shared it with my son, who was developing his own musical taste and dabbling in trying to create songs. “This is you!? How old is this? How did you do this back then?”

Listening to it over 30 years later… it’s not bad. In fact, it was kind of ahead of its time, or at least in line with what was considered cutting edge in burgeoning electronic music scene at the time I was making it. It sounds dated, but it’s also fascinating to consider that this stuff wasn’t made with a modern DAW – the samples were recorded onto 3.5 inch floppies, painstakingly manipulated and altered, mostly triggered ‘live,’ and sequenced with Cakewalk, which had only MIDI capability at the time. Many of the samples were me playing, either live or converted from an ancient 4-track cassette recorder. Making this stuff now would be easy. Back then it was insanely time consuming and complex. Much of the grit and grime and audio imperfection and degradation comes from this old process, but I kind of think it sounds better because of this. It somehow sounds more organic and lived-in than the sterile electronic music of today.

The 20 year old me was too insecure to share this stuff with anyone. I wonder what could have happened if I hadn’t lacked the confidence to put myself out there all those years ago. But that wasn’t me. I didn’t share. I quit bands as soon as I felt out of my comfort zone. I still have boxes of old 4-track tapes I haven’t listened to in 35 years – many with musical collaborators who are now dead and gone (including the aforementioned roommate) – 3 ring binders filled with art that no one’s ever seen.

But now I’m old, and we’re in a world so flooded with music and media that putting this out there is like dropping a grain of sand on a beach. My kid didn’t recoil upon hearing it so I figured, what the hell.


Navidrome, Clients and the Compilation MP3 Tag

As I outlined in a previous post, I switched from Jellyfin to Navidrome for my music. While on the whole I’m happy with the change, I discovered that Navidrome handles Various Artists albums such that if the Compilation tag isn’t set, it indexes the album from one into as many as there are artists. And, as outlined in the aforementioned post, this is not a bug, but by design. The intent is to account for different artists with the same album name, and that makes sense.

So I set out to attempt to automate the modification of the Compilation tag – a quest that turned out to be more complicated than I anticipated. The Compilation tag is apparently not a ‘standard’ tag. If you load up an mp3 in taglibsharp and have it vomit out all the tags, the Compilation tag won’t be among them. Here, try it yourself in PowerShell. You’ll have to update the path to your taglibsharp.dll and your test mp3 file.

Here’s an example output:

As you can see, no Compilation tag there. Compilation is technically an iTunes Flag Text Frame, and is set with a Boolean value (1 for Yup, 0 for Nope). It’s defined as TCMP. As of this writing is down, but here’s the archived page on this tag.

Given all this, I threw together the below. As per usual it’s unrefined, has almost zero error handling, and will be something I improve upon over time. This thing assumes your compilation albums are in directories formatted as “Various – Name of Album.”

Bonus: If you, like me, discovered you have a whole mess of compilation albums in directories with the format “VA – Album Title” instead of “Various – Album Title,” This one liner will help correct that.

Navidrome, Clients and Albums With Varying Artist Tags

I’m using Navidrome as my music server now, having switched from shoehorning Jellyfin into that role, and I quite like it. One thing I discovered, however, is that it – and quite a few clients that support it – rely on the Album Artist tag to help index files. Initially I found this problematic because many of my files didn’t have Album Artist populated. I solved this by writing a PowerShell script to copy the Perfomers tag data (Performers = Artist) to the Album Artist tag. I’ll share that in another post.

But then I discovered a different problem. If an album is a compilation or has variance in the artists from file to file (for example: This Guy feat. That Other Guy), it’d index files into separate albums of the same title. Navidrome’s developers confirmed that this is a feature, not a bug, and it makes sense. The solution for compilation albums is to set the Compilation tag to 1, which I haven’t automated yet but will shortly. The solution for non-comp albums is to make sure the Album Artists tag is consistent.

To accomplish this, I threw together the below script. It’s not optimized, it doesn’t have error handling or confirmation, and it’s apt to be destructive if you’re not careful. Still, it’s something you can build on, just as I inevitably will. As with all my music file related scripts, it requires taglib-sharp.dll. Obtain this file from TagLibSharp. You don’t have to futz with nuget or anything – just download the zipped package, yank the dll out of it, and put it in a subdir you’ll reference in the script.

This script will prompt for the full path to the files you wish to update, and then the name you wish to update the Album Artist tag to.

Powershell and MP3’s

I’ve been trying in vain to organize my substantial MP3 collection.  I know that in the age of streaming MP3’s are passe, but I just can’t quit ’em.  I listen to a lot of music that isn’t readily available for streaming.

One of the things I’m nitpicky about is Genre tagging.  I like that stuff to be correct.  Thing is, sometimes I get lazy.  So, I dug in to see if I could hack out a quick script to scan subdirectories in my collection and root out MP3’s with incorrect or missing Genre tags. This is a very raw little script with zero error handling.  It examines the first file in every subdir, and writes to an output file every directory where that first file’s genre tag doesn’t match what it should.  It requires taglib-sharp.dll.

# uses taglib-sharp.dll

$outfile = "outfile.csv"
$basedir = "I:\SORTED\Classic Rock"
$subdirs = Get-ChildItem $basedir -attributes D

foreach ($subdir in $subdirs) {
$file = Get-ChildItem $subdir.fullname -Filter *.mp3 | Select-Object -First 1
$f = [TagLib.File]::Create("$ff")
$genre = $f.Tag.Genres
$outt = "$subdir `t $genre"
if ($outt -NotMatch 'Classic Rock') {
$outt | out-file $outfile -append
$f = ""

Acoustic guitar drying, cracking

I moved from a super humid place – Atlanta – to two super dry places – first Tempe, AZ and then Bend, OR.  The other day I pulled down my Martin, who is neglected over my Taylor parlor guitar, to practice slide and discovered that the back was splitting:


After first getting over my freakout about my precious (read: expensive) guitar cracking, I did what I always do and took to the intertoobs for answers.  I found a luthier discussion board and read about how they’d try to fix cracks by hydrating the instrument by bagging it with a wet sponge.  This, hopefully, would close the crack and allow for a surgical glue repair.  Guitar, bagged.


4 days later, this is the status of the crack:


Excellent news.  I’m going to keep it bagged for another week or so to see if the crack will close altogether.  Then I’ll remove the strings and see if I can reach into the soundhole to apply a bit of superglue from the inside, so I’m not potentially marring the outer finish.

The Origin of Gwar


The things I’ve held onto over the years.  Here’s what I think is the 2nd edition of Gwar’s handmade origin comic.  Looks like it’s from 1988.  I’m sure I got it from one of their shows at Atlanta’s Metroplex back then.  Download it here.


And Now These Days Are Gone

My first Fishbone show was a transformative experience.  Prior to it I had been a metal head with punk and hardcore overtones.  The show was as intense and physical as any hardcore set, perhaps even more so.  As opposed to other shows, this one was overflowing with positivity.  Slamming and diving were encouraged.  So was supporting one another and keeping each other safe.  Unlike punk or metal shows, if you fell in a Fishbone pit a sea of hands were instantly there to drag you back to your feet.  Midway through the show the whole of the crowd in attendance – young and old, black and white, male and female, punk, metal, funk – were inducted into the Fishbone Familyhood.  We became Fishbone Soldiers, sworn to protect one another and stand up for what was right.  Later in the show the band encouraged a young man to attempt his first balcony dive while the pit below was commanded to ensure the nervous boy’s safety.  He was grinning ear to ear as he leapt into the void and touched down on his new familyhood.  In the end it was less a show than it was a religious experience.  Fishbone broadened my horizons.   Fishbone changed my life.
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Jason Lytle/Grandaddy unreleased music for a good cause

Jason Lytle is a solo artist that originally was the singer for Grandaddy.  His sister has a brain tumor, and this site is offering up a slew of rare and unreleased music in exchange for donations to help defray the immense cost of treatment.  Great music, great cause, great idea.