Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Listen: Half Waif's "Turn Me Around"

Fronted by Nandi Rose Plunkett, Brooklyn-based Half Waif's Turn Me Around is my new jam. Ethereal harmonies seamlessly weave into a soundbed characterised by innovative use of claps and snaps that's quintessentially melodic perfection. Listen below -

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tech Roundup: Facebook Lifestage, Google Progressive Web Apps & More

[A recurring feature on the latest in Science & Technology.]

Default apps order gets rearranged in new iOS 10 beta
  • To partner with game developer Unity on a new initiative that allows developers to port their games to the social network.
  • Releases a new video-oriented social networking iOS app called Lifestage targeted at people 21 and under.
In other news:
  • July 2016 once again breaks temperature records to become the hottest month ever; the month was 0.78°C warmer than the 20th century average, reports Japanese Meteorological Agency.
  • August 8 is declared as Earth Overshoot Day (or Ecological Debt Day) for 2016, the day on which humans' resource consumption exceeded Earth's capacity to regenerate those resources for the year.
  • Car maker Ford to release autonomous cars without steering wheels or pedals by 2021 as Uber prepares to test driverless-cars in Pittsburgh later this month.
  • Apple announces plans to open its first R&D center in China by the end of 2016.
  • Snapchat acquires search and recommendations app Vurb for more than $100 million USD.
  • Shipments of Xiaomi fall 38% in China as Huawei takes lead.
  • Uber makes it easy for riders in India to hail a cab without even having to install the app; lets users book a ride by visiting the site dial.uber.com.
  • Ride hailing startup Lyft tried to sell itself unsuccessfully to Apple, Google, General Motors and... Uber (which wasn't ready to pay more than $2 billion USD), reports the New York Times.
  • Online rental service Airbnb begins testing a new app called Airbnb Trips that offers city guide-like features.
  • HP announces a new gaming-focussed desktop/laptop lineup called Omen.
  • Pinterest plays catch up with rival social networks Facebook and Twitter; begins testing video ads.
  • Networking giant Cisco plans to cut 5500 jobs as it drifts focus away from hardware to focus on security, Internet of Things, collaboration, data centers and cloud services.
  • Verizon plans to pre-install apps from big brands on Android smartphones (aka bloatware or brandware) in exchange for payment, reports Advertising Age.
  • Samsung to shutdown Milk music streaming service on September 22 after it fails to gain traction.

Listen: Frank Ocean's "Blonde"

Frank Ocean has finally released his much-anticipated sophomore album Blonde and you can stream it right here exclusively via Apple Music -

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Listen: Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal"

Are you thinking what I'm thinking? Yes it's indeed Michael Jackson's 1988 monster hit Smooth Criminal. I have always loved this song for its cinematic feel, its irresistible dance vibe, and the kind of delirious joy it imparts, but I am now kinda obsessed with it. And how can you not? So here you go -

Heavy Rotation: A. R. Rahman, Achu Rajamani, Devi Sri Prasad & Santhosh Narayanan

A. R. Rahman, Achu, DSP and Santhosh Narayanan in this week's selection of Indian music!

Rasaali (A. R. Rahman, Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada) - A. R. Rahman has had many a hit in his illustrious career as a musician, but this incredibly tuned semi-classical melody is easily a standout, made possible by the fantastic vocals of D. Sathyaprakash and Shashaa Tirupati.

Nila Nila, Aagayamey (Achu Rajamani, Yaanum Theeyavan) - Achu set a very high bar for himself with his musical debut Maalai Pozhudhin Mayakathilaey, but he, like Manikanth Kadri, is one composer to definitely look out for. Case in example, Yaanum Theeyavan.

Pranaamam (Devi Sri Prasad, Janatha Garage) - DSP's score for Janatha Garage is largely a disappointment barring Pranaamam, a catchy pop number that gets a whole new lease of life in Shankar Mahadevan's crystal-clear rendition.

Jadoo Rawan (Santhosh Narayanan, Kabali) - Maya Nadhi is a stunning Ilaiyaraaja throwback from Santhosh Narayanan, but in its Hindi variant, he spruces things a bit by adding a subtle layer of tabla, making it all the more captivating.