Taking Off With Audio Astronauts

In the Japanese workplace, there’s a philosophy called kaizen.  The word literally means “good change,” but it is essentially the belief that there should be continuous improvement that reduces waste and improves efficiency.  Originally, it was a philosophy that applied to manufacturing and engineering, but over time, other businesses, areas of study, and doctrines have adopted it.  The more you read about kaizen, the more you understand that it is more about tasking workers with the responsibility of examining their own practices in an objective way and finding ways to better their own environments.  As music lovers, why shouldn’t we apply kaizen to the way we select and listen to our music?

While I’ve always been a music analyst, I will freely admit to relating more to lyrics and vocals and not really understanding all the intricacies that go into making the tunes that pump out of my headphones.  That’s why when a musician that I’ve come to really respect announced that he was launching a podcast about audio engineering, producing, and recording, I found myself intrigued.

Two dudes exploring the depths of modern recording – and dedicated to musical kaizen.

Two dudes exploring the depths of modern recording – and dedicated to musical kaizen.

Meet the Audio Astronauts:  Deke Spears and Matt Rowles.  Both fellas are accomplished musicians and studio gurus.  Each Wednesday, these guys spend about an hour (depending on how chatty Deke is feeling) talking about recording equipment, processes, and techniques.  They discuss albums, producers and engineers, playing examples and digging into what makes certain recordings great.

It’s really fascinating to hear them talk about records that I’ve literally been listening to for more than half my life and hear them from a totally different perspective because they steer me into listening to them with a different ear.  Whether it’s hearing a new instrument that I’ve never noticed before, or understanding how individual producers influence styles and sound, I come away each week with a literal earful of new information.  And while I might only really key in or understand two or three things that they talk about, each time I listen to a new piece of music, I’m hearing it through new filters.  And, bonus, I’ve started listening to artists I might otherwise have skipped because it’s not “my type of music.”  Talk about expanding my musical horizons.

The thing I love most (well, other than their rather endearing sound geek senses of humor) is that Deke and Matt are completely dedicated to getting people to not only appreciate, but to demand more, from the music they listen to.  They expect it not only of themselves and others in their craft, but they are giving anyone who listens to music the power to improve their auditory environment.  Musical kaizen.

I’ve embedded my favorite episode below for easy listening (and no, it’s not my favorite just because they give me a shout-out), but you can get to the podcast in any number of ways – by subscribing on iTunes, listening on SoundCloud, or on their webpage.  They also love interacting with people in the community, so if you listen, be sure to touch base with them and let them know what you think.

More Audio Astronauts:  Web | Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | iTunes

New Alpha Rev EP Underway

(A huge thanks to VideoBacon for posting this on YouTube for everyone to enjoy…He/she should get all the cred for the video!)

The boys in Alpha Rev are making a new EP and they need our help.  The band left the Hollywood Records label a few months ago – like many bands today, they found that labels want to control the music but give little support – and are now making a new EP on their own dime. So they’ve asked fans to chip in through their Pledge Music page.  They’ve got some fabulous rewards for donations to the effort!

And because Alpha Rev is comprised of one of the most phenomenal groups of musicians ever, they are setting the bar really high for themselves and recording the EP live.  If you don’t think that’s incredibly cool, you haven’t listened to enough old records. They spent some time rehearsing over the past few weeks and are in the studio this week to record.  Sending lots of luck their way.

As if doing a live EP weren’t badass enough, the guys have also made the decision that a percentage of whatever funds they raise for the EP will go to charity.  The band, and particularly Casey McPherson, has been hugely supportive of mental health charities in the past, and they continue their dedication by supporting Mental Health America of Texas.  They’ve also pledged a portion of the funds to Trade In Hope, an organization which crusades against child sex slavery in America.

Why should you support Alpha Rev when a million other bands are vying for your dollars?  I’ll give you a few good reasons:  1)  They are truly phenomenal musicians.  Listening to Alpha Rev is like a modern day rock orchestra.  They bend melodies in ways like I’ve never heard before.  2)  Alpha Rev left their label because they have standards for their music – they don’t want to compromise on quality to make money.  That, to me, says that they’re making music for the right reasons, for the music…and they want to share it with their fans on their terms.

So, if you’ve got a few extra bucks laying around and want to be part of something awesome, head on over and check out the updates on the record.  The boys are only 56% of the way to their goal with just under 50 days left to go.