There's more ads down here, and they help support us so, y'know, check 'em out...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Even Cheaper HD: The $35 Mighty Red HD Radio

Eric Rhoades runs the Radio Ink website (and the related printed-on-real-paper magazine) and he's been a cheerleader for HD Radio for a while while expressing skepticism about how it's been rolled out (to summarize, "ineptly".)

So he's decided to take the bull by the horns rather directly and offer an HD Radio (in reality one that's pretty much identical to the $50 Best Buy HD portable radio) for $35. He tells the story at length at his blog.

$35 is a bit more palatable than $50, yes? So here's where you can buy one - place an order now and you should have it in time to package up for a loved one (do count yourself as one, of course) for Christmas (or whatever Winter Solstice-time holiday you celebrate.)

What's good about HD? With HD, a radio station can actually broadcast itself in far higher quality on an HD1 channel, and offer two things that are completely different on the HD2 and HD3 channels. So the HD1 gives you clarity, the HD2 and HD3 channels give you choice.

Here's your link. Proceed forth with all deliberate speed - this deal won't last.

In the meantime, I'll keep trying to put something together for you to listen to on the lil' wonder...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

And Now For A Change Of Pace...

It's The Muppets with "Bohemian Rhapsody".


(Thanks, BoingBoing...)

Finally! Welcome, 105.3 The Spy

Oklahoma City's 105.3 The Spy is finally up and running - after resolving some nasty networking problems, they raised their flag at 12:01am this morning.

First ten songs (thanks to Radio-Info poster silentx for staying up late):

The Cult - "Revolution"
Depeche Mode - "Everything Counts"
The Kinks - "Cadillac"
The Flaming Lips - "Convinced of the Hex"
U2 - "Sunday Bloody Sunday" (live)
Morrissey - "Hold On To Your Friends"
Regina Spektor - "Dance Anthem of the 80's"
The Sounds - "No One Sleeps When I'm Awake"
Oasis - "Talk Tonight"
The Wombats - "Kill The Director"

Which sounds pretty durn good, in actual fact. Congrats to station manager, music director, chief cook and bottle washer Ferris O'Brien personally - this has been his crusade, and now he's got a signal he can call his own.

In the meantime, now that there's Modern Rock for Oklahoma about some Modern Rock on the Jersey Shore, hmm? (Yes, we're still working on it...)

Monday, November 23, 2009

105.3 The Spy: This Time, Definitely.

Watch at Midnight Central...

Monday's Shows That Matter

Monday, November 23, 2009
  • Pixies at Hammerstein Ballroom
  • Royksopp at Webster Hall
  • Coco Montoya and Tommy Castro Band at BB King's
  • Devendra Banhart at Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Bklyn
Our listings are updated every day (regardless of whether we do an update here on the main page.) For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Altrok Radio Music Update #246

Firstly, the important stuff:

Altrok Radio is at

Please remember to tune in whenever you can - every hour you listen turns into more visibility for the station; we show up higher in search listings, and such like that. And if you'd like to help us keep the stream running, check out the advertisers if they appeal to you; your interest actually helps fund us.

And in the interest of keeping you interested...well, you *do* know about our daily retro feature, right? No? Well...


WEEKDAYS, 11:30a-1:30p EASTERN

Now then, we've got songs to let you know about.

This week, our Grinders (the stuff we play heavily) include music from:

- Burn The Negative
- The Bravery
- Editors
- Exlovers
- LCD Soundsystem
- Julian Casablancas

Plus we've got newly-added music:

- Animal Kingdom - Tin Man (New Version)
- Bear In Heaven - Lovesick Teenagers
- The Big Pink - Crystal Visions
- Bitters - East
- Field Music - Measure
- The Flaming Lips, - Worm Mountain
- Grammatics - Double Negative
- Reni Lane - Place For Us (RAC Remix)
- Middle Distance Runner - The Sun & Earth
- Jemina Pearl - Looking For Trouble
- Sloan - Take It Upon Yourself
- The Soft Pack - Answer To Youself
- Spoon - Mystery Zone
- Weezer - I'm Your Daddy
- The Whigs - In The Dark
- Yeasayer - Ambling Alp

Our Newly-Added Classics:

- ABC - Tears Are Not Enough
- The B-52's - Cake
- Cabaret Voltaire - I Want You
- The Cult, - Love Removal Machine [Extended Version]
- Tim Curry - I Do The Rock
- Damned, The - I Just Can't Be Happy Today
- Game Theory - 24 (Twenty-Four)
- The Jam - A Town Called Malice
- The Lucy Show - A Million Things
- The Teardrop Explodes - Reward

And don't forget the R/SYN Underground night, every Saturday at the Corner Tavern in New Brunswick, where Drew and IronMike keep you dancing with the most advanced playlist this side of the Atlantic (and where, occasionally, yours truly might show up and spin a coupla tracks...ya never know.)

- Sean Carolan

Altrok Radio
On your computer now at
On the radio Fridays at 11pm, at 90.5 The Night

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Spy Hits The Wire

A news blurb about Oklahoma City's 105.3 The Spy confirms that the new station is indeed (nearly literally) a mom & pop operation...and, more specifically, a mom & pop operation that's committed to the station's format and future.

We'll try to be keenly aware of every move they make...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thursday's Shows That Matter

Thursday, November 19, 2009
  • Joshua Radin at Webster Hall
  • Flatlanders at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown NY
  • Dirty Projectors at Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Bklyn
  • Slightly Stoopid at Terminal 5
  • Bob Schneider at World Cafe Live, Philly
  • Bob Dylan & his band and Dion at United Palace
  • Ray Davies performing with The Dessoff Chamber Choir at Town Hall
  • Less Than Jake, Casualties and Swellers at Nokia Theatre
  • Reigning Sound and A-Bones at Maxwells
  • Zack Deputy and Mutlu at The Saint
  • Grant-Lee Phillips and Winterpills at Union Hall, Bklyn
  • Beth Arentsen at Living Room

Our listings are updated every day (regardless of whether we do an update here on the main page.) For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

In Oklahoma City...Is "The Spy" Coming In From The Cold?

Today, I received a rather happy bit of news about a good old signal in Oklahoma City that might light up Alternative again...

Get your best FM antennas out and tuned to 105.3 MHz,'s gonna be a bumpy ride!

Of course, I like to look at the bigger picture, and to me it looks like the big radio congloms are staring despondently at their ledgers, noticing that the "accounts receivable" section doesn't even come close to covering the section marked "debts past due", and then wondering what they can sell cheap to get some money in the door, and then thinking...maybe they can sell some of those stations they overpaid for.

What that means is...fringe FM signals cheap! Within the purchasing range of the true believers! And our old Altrok pal Ferris O'Brien is certainly a true believer and, of course, the standard-bearer for the classic 105.3 The Spy (even continuing with his SpyRadio show for quite a long time at nearby rock station KATT, as well as his stint here at ...will he get his wish? Stay tuned.

By the way, Oklahoma Citians, it's easy to make a really good FM antenna that pulls in weak stations. Get some speaker wire (about 15 feet will do), some electrical tape and a long, thin stick. Starting at one end of the speaker wire, split the two wire leads and spread them so that they make a "T", with the unsplit wire making the base of the T and the two split wires making the top of it. Tape the split wires to the stick so that the top of the "T" is as close to straight as possible; for 105.3 MHz, the top of the T should be exactly 4 feet, 5-11/32 inches wide, with the unsplit wire coming in right at the center. Then connect the unsplit end to your FM radio's antenna leads, and point it in the right direction...

In the meantime, here in central NJ, that antenna would measure 5 feet, 2-1/16 inches wide for 90.5 ... and have I mentioned the rather nice Insignia HD Radio at Best Buy?

Wednesday's Shows That Matter

Wednesday, November 18, 2009
  • Dirty Projectors at Bowery Ballroom
  • Stephen Lynch at Count Basie Theatre
  • Cranberries at Nokia Theatre
  • Bob Dylan & his band and Dion at United Palace
  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd at BB King's
  • Astrid Williamson and more at Sullivan Hall
  • Matt Keating at Living Room
  • Mike Montrey Trio, TJAY, Kelly Carvin and more at KatManDu, Trenton
Our listings are updated every day (regardless of whether we do an update here on the main page.) For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tuesday's Shows That Matter

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
  • Roger Daltrey at Count Basie Theatre
  • Skinny Puppy at Nokia Theatre
  • Genitorturers at Gramercy Theatre
  • Eugene Mirman, John Wesley Harding and Jonathan Ames at Highline Ballroom
  • Shonen Knife at Brooklyn Bowl
  • Bob Dylan & his band and Dion at United Palace
  • Roots at Highline Ballroom
  • Jessica Pomerantz at Bitter End
  • Blind Pilot and Laura Veirs and The Hall Of Flames at Maxwells
  • Chris Ayer and Joanna Burns at The Saint
  • Dead Weather at Music Hall Of Williamsburg, Bklyn
Our listings are updated every day (regardless of whether we do an update here on the main page.) For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Monday, November 16, 2009

Making Your Vinyl Sound Good: Clean It

I've embarked on an ongoing effort to get my vinyl digitized, and I've learned rather a lot about how best to do it...and I'm posting my findings here because (a.) it's nice to have new stuff up here every now and again, and (b.) I'd like to hear more advice if anyone's willing to share it.

Firstly, I've discovered that some of the things you'd think would cause problems actually don't. Visible scratches on a record don't necessarily translate to audible noise. That's because the scratches you see on records generally only affect the top part of the groove, and when your record needle plays what's in you're groove, it's actually nestled deeper inside it than the surface blemishes can reach. (Big scratches that reach deep down into grooves can still make noise happen, of course.)

So what makes most of the pops and clicks you hear when you play a record?

Dirt. Dirt clings to the inside of grooves - the part the needle actually plays - and makes your needle do things that it shouldn't.

So what do you do about dirt? The solution I've heard about that seems to work for me is to wash it out. I fill a spray bottle with three parts filtered water, one part alcohol (91% denatured - check the label) and a couple of drops of the right dishwashing detergent (Dawn, basic, with no additives.)

Using this stuff, I've cleaned off records I used in clubs in the 80's, and I don't know what's been stuck to them all this time, but after it comes off it's kind of a grayish-yellow. (Ew...and to think you were listening to that.) After cleaning, not only do they sound better, they look better.

Set the record on a dust-free cloth (microfiber cloths are good for this - if it's good enough to keep a Porsche's finish shiny, it'll do the same for your records.) Spray on, use another microfiber cloth to dry off the label, and let it sit about a minute. (If you can avoid the label entirely, even better.) Then gently wipe it off.

I also use the water/alcohol/Dawn solution on the edge of a Discwasher record brush soon afterward and give the record a gentle but thorough scrub for about 10 rotations on the turntable, which does a good job further removing the softened-up gunk in the grooves. Then I use a cloth to dry out the record brush so that I can use it to dry off the vinyl.

Don't play the record while wet, though, unless this is a hail-mary digitizing pass and you never plan to play the record again. You'll actually get pretty good digitizing results as the needle pulverizes the soft gunk in the groove, but the end result is that the passing needle turns the wet dirt into wet microsludge that deposits further into the groove, and you'll never get it out after that; it winds up a bit like microscopic cement.

For digitizing, I use the latest Audacity version (which is technically a "beta", but which I've found to be quite stable.) It has a "repair" feature that does a good job of restoring the waveform that should replace individually-selected pops and clicks, but you have to find and select each pop manually. I wish it would go through the music you've digitized and say "this looks like a pop; do you want to repair it?" but I guess that's better left saved for a future version. I used to use the "noise reduction" feature, but I find it removes more of the actual sound you're looking to keep than I'm comfortable with, so I now just remove the more egregious pops and clicks using "repair".

Thus, I'll keep on digitizing, and you'll reap the benefit listening at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

4th Annual Melody Bar Reunion: Saturday February 27th, 2010

Well folks it's time to announce the date for the 4th Annual Pinfield Era Melody Bar Reunion, which just so happens to be Saturday February 27th, 2010. Once again we will be at the Elk's Lodge in downtown New Brunswick. We'll start around 7 pm and rock until midnight. All your favorite DJ's from back in the day will be there spinning all the great music from our glorious past, including Matt Pinfield, of course...

We raised a ton of money for the Elk's charities last year I look forward to us stuffing their pockets again.

As always this is an event for the old school Melody gang from the eighties up to 1992 and the age for admission at the door will be 38 and up, enforced as always by Big John. As we were packed to the rafters last year, the Elks have politely asked that we try to control the size of the crowd a bit more, so please refrain from bringing extras who aren't really Melody Bar alumni. John will be screening out those who weren't really part of the scene so we'll all have a bit more room to dance.

This year we will be charging 1 dollar per person at the door, to compensate Ed Wong for selflessly offering his sound system to us time and time again. It's only a buck, but well worth it. After all Ed has two kids to feed.

As we get closer to the event, I'll send out more updates as necessary.

I look forward to seeing you all on the dance floor soon!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Melody Bar Top 100? Pete Santiago Wants To Know...

Pete Santiago's always been committed to the annual Old-School Melody Bar Reunion (which should be happening this year a bit earlier than usual - late January dates are being tossed around [UPDATE! Looks like it's actually late February! See this post for the hot-off-the-press details.]) but this year he's going further.

How much further? If you've ever tried to create a top-100 list for anything, you know how much work that can be...but that's what Pete wants to do, and we're fully behind letting him do it.

He continues:

Anyone who has ever gone to the Melody can play along... all you have to is have gone to the melody 1 time between 1984 and 2001 ...I would like everyone to simply send me your top 5 songs and artist that you loved to hear at the Melody...I know only 5 that’s all ya get!!! That you would either ask the DJ or just hear and say... What is that? I love that song!!!! I will post the top 100 a few weeks before the next MELODY REUNION......

...and for emphasis, FIVE SONGS ONLY! If you send more, he's only going to take the first five. I've got my own idea of what'll be Number One, but I only get my five votes...let's let the polls do the talking.

Here's the address he wants you to send your list to. Make it good - all decisions are Pete's, and they're all final.

Thursday's Shows That Matter

Thursday, November 12, 2009
  • Joan Osborne, Holmes Brothers and Paul Thorn at BB King's
  • Rob Thomas, Onerepublic and Carolina Liar at Beacon Theatre
  • Rakes at Highline Ballroom
  • Mavis Staples and Marshall Crenshaw at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown NY
  • Penn & Teller at Gramercy Theatre
  • Drivin & Cryin at World Cafe Live, Philly
  • Kyle Hollingsworth (x-String Cheese Incident) at Sullivan Hall
  • Aster Pheonyx and Mash McLain at The Saint
  • Radney Foster, Mark Erelli and Matthew Ryan at Living Room
Our listings are updated every day (regardless of whether we do an update here on the main page.) For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wednesday's Shows That Matter

Wednesday, November 11, 2009
  • Dan Auerbach at Webster Hall
  • The Academy is..., Mayday Parade, Set Your Goals, The Secret Handshake and You Me At Six at Irving Plaza
  • Ghostface (of Wu Tang) at BB King's
  • Roger Daltrey at Wellmont Theatre
  • Neko Case and Joey Burns & John Convertino at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown NY
  • Joe Perry Project at Starland Ballroom
  • Willy Porter at World Cafe Live, Philly
  • Luke Brindley, Mike Montrey and Domenick Carino at The Saint
  • Steve Conte & The Crazy Truth, Erik J Toast, Michael Imperioli's La Dolce Vita and DJ Sami Yaffa at Bowery Electric
  • Mike Errico at Arlene Grocery
  • Jason Crosby at Living Room
For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday's Shows That Matter

Friday, November 6, 2009
  • Jesse Cook at BB King's
  • Bill Maher at Wellmont Theatre
  • John Pinette at Community Theatre at Mayo Center for Performing Arts, Morristown
  • Dana Fuchs at Highline Ballroom
  • Monsters Of Folk at United Palace
  • Amy Milan (of Stars and Broken Social Scene) at Bell House, Bklyn
  • Bo Burnham at Starland Ballroom
  • Keb Mo and Kristina Train at Tarrytown Music Hall, Tarrytown NY
  • Rick Barry at Old Man Rafferty's
  • Sarah Borges & The Broken Singles at Centenary College, Hackettstown (
  • WPA and Spring Standards at World Cafe Live, Philly
  • Ryan Cabrera at Maxwells
  • Joe D'Urso & Stone Caravan and Outside The Box at Bowery Electric
  • Alex Brumel & Janel Elizabeth at Living Room
For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Nothing Comes Between Me And My Leon

Kings Of Leon launch clothing line.

Are you kidding me?

I mean, okay, I get that there's no reason to expect that their newfound top-40 fame will last forever, and it'd be nice if licensing brings in an extra buck or two, but...there's just nothing about Kings Of Leon that makes me think "that's how I wanna dress." And, assuming I do want to dress like them, there's nothing stopping me going to Target (no slight against Target, mind you) and doing that.

Though I wouldn't mind these FAC-51 Hacienda sneakers...

Got An HD Radio? Here's A Cheap One...

The Insignia pocket-size HD Radio available at Best Buy is actually a very nice portable radio at a fairly cheap price ($50); here's why:
  • It's small.
  • It sounds rather nice when you're listening to regular FM stations.
  • It sounds very nice indeed when you listen to HD radio stations.
  • If the HD radio station is running separate audio streams (HD2 and HD3), it lets you hear them.
...but it's got some negatives:
  • It only has a USB charging cable, so you need to have a USB port to plug it into. That said, there's probably one on the computer you're reading this on.
  • You've got to have a pretty good signal coming from station to receive its HD version. The HD signal is only 1% of the station's analog signal, and while that 1% goes pretty far, it's still kind of only 1%...though I hear they may bump up that percentage a bit.
  • One problem with HD2 and HD3 streams is that they evaporate when you get out of range. If you tend to do your listening in a particular place (as opposed to while driving) you should be okay as long as you get the HD2/HD3 station in the first place. Thos of us who are used to hearing our favorite radio station only when we stand exactly the right way with the radio in one hand and a piece of tinfoil in the other should be used to this sort of thing.
But it is a very nice little radio, and in my opinion, if you actually want to hear a daringly different rock playlist at some point on an actual radio as opposed to a computer, you're going to need one of these, because it's more likely that broadcasters will experiment with one on an HD2 or HD3 signal than on the main signal these days...

(Now to figure out how to make that happen.)

Tuesday's Shows That Matter

Tuesday, November 3, 2009
  • Powerman 5000 at Gramercy Theatre
  • Say Anything, Eisley, Moneen and Miniature Tigers at Irving Plaza
  • Laura Izibor at Highline Ballroom
  • Richard Shidell at World Cafe Live, Philly
  • Laura Warshauer at Red Lion

For more on the next four weeks of shows:

Monday, November 02, 2009

No Pulse? Party!

The odd saga of the signal at the very bottom of New York City's FM dial - so far down, in fact, that it's not actually part of the FM dial - took yet another odd turn this weekend, as the 87.75 FM frequency (actually the audio portion of analog TV channel 6) changed from dance music formatted Pulse 87 run by a now-insolvent nascent media group music formatted Party FM (itself actually a simulcast of Party 105.3 out on eastern Long Island.)

Because of Party 105.3's history, I've got an odd mixture of emotions about this...

On the one hand, I'm very happy for the folks corralled together by Tony Santiago's New York Dance Music Coalition, who appear to really be organized and involved enough to convince not one but two media companies that the dance music genre deserves a spot on New York radio.

On the other...well, the fact that Party 105.3 was once the sister station of WLIR, whose battered husk now unceremoniously makes money pumping out a simulcast of sports-talk WEPN 1050, just reminds me of the fact that Tony and friends were able to do something alternative fans haven't, and that's return a proper alternative station to NYC (or even to NJ Shore) commercial radio. Sure, there's WRXP, which to my mind is a lot like WLIR before it finally went for broke in 1982 and became the station that "dared to be different", but there's little likelihood they'll go for the Full Monty over there, Matt Pinfield notwithstanding.

That's really only a minor dark lining on what, for dance music fans, is really a fully silvery cloud. Good on 'em; they've worked hard for a dance station, and now they've got it (and that station has a voracious horde of committed listeners, who'll stick with the station at least as long as analog Channel 6 can legally stay on the air in New York City...a sunset that nonetheless approaches.)

Perhaps someday alternative fans can accomplish the same feat, but it might be that much harder to corral such a sea of iconoclasts...

Monday's Shows That Matter

Monday, November 2, 2009
  • The Ventures at BB King's
For more on the next four weeks of shows:
Please Look At Our Advertisers (Or The Website Gets It)
Congratulations, you've found the hidden text.
Welcome to, also available at and Here's where the remaining listeners of several fine radio stations have retreated, regrouped, and built a replacement strong enough to stand on its own. It builds on the independent legacy of New Jersey's FM106.3, New York's WPIX and WLIR, Oklahoma's 105.3 The Spy, the pre-buyout mindset of KROQ, WBCN and WHFS and of every other alternative station that was destroyed at a moment's notice - not because they weren't making money, but because there was bigger money to be found elsewhere.
We've stood by as truly independent alternative rock radio died. Sure, something called "alternative" took its place, but we know for sure that anything that "tests well" with soccer moms just ain't alternative. (Even if some of us happen to be soccer moms.) So we've taken matters into our own hands.
This really is independent alternative rock radio, visible here at and audible at our web radio station. It has the classic music that fired our passions back in the day - or that we maybe only heard about from our elders - but it's mostly made of the new music that does precisely the same for us now. We're paying attention to scenes all over the world, watching the energy build, and waiting to see what it creates. Wherever it happens, we'll make sure you can hear about it here. We've been slowly building all this since 2001, and now that you've noticed us, we're glad you're here.
Of course, it's only here because you want it to be here, and it can only stay if you help it along - especially by checking out our advertisers (they support us) and by listening (the more that listen, the more visible we are.) Please use the "feedback" link above to let us know whether it works for you, and what you want it to be as the future unfolds. (And if you need help hearing it, let us know that, too.)