Cynthia Alexander

News came last month that singer/songwriter Cynthia Alexander is leaving the Philippines for good. She’ll be heading for Seattle, Washington where I know she’ll be doing great.

There’s a few arguments going around on how Filipinos don’t appreciate our own talent and will wait for others to appreciate them before we recognize the artist. Contrasts between Cynthia Alexander and Jessica Sanchez of American Idol fame has been made as well. Jessica Sanchez is an excellent singer in her own right, but comparing her to Cynthia Alexander’s situation is a bit off.

I’ve been a fan of Cynthia for more than a decade now. I discovered her from NU 107 when her first single from the second album was out, titled U & I. With deep lyrics and a great melody, I had to buy her album, fast. After which I got to memorize all her songs from that album called Rippingyarns. Me and my brothers were lucky to find her first album, Insomnia and Other Lullabyes after years of being out. There was a time in college that I got to see her live at least once every month while me and my brothers trekked all the way to Quezon City just to catch her at Conspiracy. Good times indeed. I already moved to Singapore when she started playing at 19 East, nearer our house, but was lucky enough to get a copy of her album, Walk  Down the Road, from my brothers.

Cynthia has a special place in my musical heart because she is just magnificent. The way she structures her songs, to her deep lyrics and her evolving melodies, her music is just pure art.

People are asking why she’s not famous in the Philippines and why not more people appreciate her songs considering she has won multiple awards in the Philippines and overseas. My personal take is the Philippine market is just not mature for her music. I’m lucky enough to have been exposed to several genres and develop my own taste of music. My aunt, who lived in the states for a while, always blasts 80s music and this gave me my own musical identity. Cynthia’s lyrics are deep, some people don’t get the melody, some just can’t appreciate it and more importantly, people just don’t get as exposed to it as others.

Philippine local music stations has been slammed before for not playing as many local tunes as to songs from the US. I always hear R&B, hip hop and club songs, but not as much Original Pinoy Music (OPM). After the death of NU107, one of Philippines only rock station, knowing more local tunes became much harder. I always thought that music is a great equalizer as anybody can appreciate music but then again, local stations has control on whose music they play and unfortunately most of it is not from the Philippines but from the US. I highly doubt it that we don’t have good bands as I hear them all the time. I guess to be appreciated by the masses, it’s takes more than just talent.  (darn luck :P)

Cynthia Alexander has three studio albums and one live album. You can check out her music at http://www.myspace.com/cynthialexander

If you want some vids, here are a couple of my favorite ones I found on youtube.

I took the picture above during one of her rare gigs here. Such a fitting image for her departure. I know she’ll make it big in the US and I’m happy for those Seattlelites who’ll be catching her gigs soon.


Zune 4.0 Review

I’ve been an avid user of the Zune since I got my first Zune pass and I’ve been downloading tons of music and getting to know amazing artists all through out via the marketplace. With the release of the Zune HD, the Zune team also updated the software that comes with it and I have nothing but praises so far. (read my zune pass post here for some context)

Well this ain’t a review on Zune HD just because I don’t have one and I don’t think I’ll have one anytime soon. (Darn restrictions! I bet I’m not alone) This is about the Zune 4.0!

The Zune team made a great job of updating the player in so many aspects. I’m always a firm believer that small changes have great impacts and this update just screams it right into my face. There was no major UI change but rather small functional updates that just makes the experience overly enjoyable. From viewing the mix art to the smart DJ, the Zune just has this easy feel to it that it’s actually a joy to fiddle around and get lost.

The first screen introduces a number of new things that you can do. Focusing on the common things that one does on a music player it gives you easy access to the things that you would most likely do. Rather than wasting your time looking for that album, Zune arranges things for you and gives you place holders for your favorite music.

Smart DJ is something new as well. They have this magic algorithm that lines up related music based on the artist that you feed it. Not just that, but it also connects to the Zune Marketplace for you to discover related artists (this I love).

Mixart was changed to be more viewable. I don’t know if the bigger albums have any significance but I do enjoy looking at this more than before.

Hovering over an album now gives you options on what you want to do with it. Unlike before where you only had one option: PLAY

More pics below and most of it speaks for itself. Conclusion afterwards. 😉

Picks for ye

Music for ye

Music for ye

You get the point

something new though

Apps for ye!

Apps for ye!

Now this is a Zune HD only thing but the best part is YOU, yes YOU can develop your own apps for it. XNA based, I’m still unclear how you can “sell” your app though or how they’re going to distribute an app you submitted. We’ll see in time.

Overall the whole software was vastly improved. Already great on its own, the Zune team revised it with the launch of the Zune HD.

Try it out by going to http://zune.net/en-US/ Just tell them you’re from US and all’s well 🙂

Any Zune users out there? Give me feedback!

PS. My iTunes updated the same day as the Zune. dundundundun. Although I still hate it coz it looks like a board full of ads. 🙂

Hit me! comments below

~eugene


Using a Zune Pass outside of USA

Just to set the tone, I don’t really own a Zune MP3 player but I do own a couple of iPods. Got me an iPod shuffle (2nd gen) and an iPod Mini (either 1st or 2nd) a long time ago and they’re still working. My mini is more than five years old and I just use it as a storage disk because the battery dies after a couple of hours. Five years ago I used the iTunes that came with it and it was a so-so for me. I didn’t really enjoy the UI, quite confusing setting it up and the inability to transfer files from one pc to another made me revert to good old Winamp with it’s useful plugins. Haven’t been using any other music player since then (A collegue laughed when she saw me using Winamp). Apparently I’ve been living under a rock for not trying out other players out there.

Come 2009 a friend gave me a Zune Pass and asked me to try it out. That Zune Pass commercial also got me curious. Being the law abiding citizen that I am (*wink* *wink*) it was quite fun being able to  have unlimited music for a month and getting to keep 10. I know that iTunes has changed in those five years and I know its UI has definitely changed according to Apple standards but damn…. the Zune UI looks great. Ok I got you confused now didn’t I? (or not) There’s Zune MP3 player and then there’s Zune their media player.

Red Zune

Black Zune

Zune

Minimalist white is the theme of the entire player with a hint of mixart, your album arts made into a mosaic, here and there. I just love the simple UI and how easy it is to figure out where everything is. The best part is when you get yourself a Zune pass, you can search for a multitude of songs and stream or download (with DRM of course) as many times as you want for a whole month. Within that month you can then choose ten songs that you want to keep for yourself.

Tried the search function with one of my favorite artists, Imogen Heap. I don’t have a copy of her first album I, Megaphone and I wanted to hear how much she has changed, so a quick search will get you all of her albums plus extra info on her. Surprise, surprise it also give me her singles that’s quite unheard of (for me at least).

The Immy lover in me just says that Not Now But Soon is worth buying the Zune pass then and there. =)

My recent love for the The Cure got me excited. I knew they were old but I never realized that they have so many albums. Unlimited songs here I come!

Oh yea! I love Pictures of You!

Check out the other pictures below.

and when you’re playing/sleeping they show you cool pictures of the band and some info.

And the best part of it all is the mixart!

OK OK I didn’t deceive you with the title. Apparently, Microsoft only sells the Zune in the US but that’s not going to stop you from getting one right? 😉 So, few things you have to do to get the Zune Marketplace to work in your place and how to get the Zune player itself

  1. Change your locale to United States (Control Panel -> Change country or region -> Current Location: United States)
  2. Go to Zune.net then download the Zune 3.0 software
  3. Register and remember to choose United States all the way

Now the Zune Pass itself is quite difficult to get and my friends say you can only buy it in the states. too bad 😦 You can always use your credit card to buy but having the physical Zune pass card is just cool.

Now having one card won’t make me blog about it now would I? Thanks to Aimee for giving me a bunch! haha If you get a chance to go to the US or a friend is coming back ask if he or she can buy you one at WalMart or one of those stores. Try it out and don’t be hatin.

ping back to yizhe http://cloudfex.com/cs/blogs/cloud/archive/2009/05/17/using-a-zune-pass-outside-of-usa.aspx Apparently it was a double pass as he was the one who went to the states and bought the cards for Aimee. Thanks man!