Welcome back everyone. It’s a new year for Evolver.fm; we figured, why not celebrate it by continuing to bring you the best new music app coverage we can offer? (We’d call it a resolution, but we plan on actually following through with this one.)
Welcome to the first edition of This Week In Music Apps of 2012.
This year also promises the continued expansion of our curated directory of music apps, designed to make finding the best musical add-ons for your smartphone, tablet, and/or computer easier than ever. This directory is the first of its kind, and it now includes our picks from the This Week In Music Apps series.
First, to kick off the new year right, here’s a roundup of all the full-length app reviews you may have missed over your holiday recess. Then, as usual, it’s on to the first app picks of 2012 for Apple iOS, Google Android, and your web browser.
- SpotON Turns Spotify into Personalized Radio for iPhone
- The iPad Democratizes Award-Winning Lemur Music Controller
- Remixer iOS App Keeps It Simple, Smarty
- Microcosm: Free, Futuristic, Sonic Snowglobe for iOS
- Find Your Next Favorite Band with SXSW, Last.fm, and Spotify
- Thicket for iPad: Sonic Fingerpainting Re-Imagined
- Audiotool Sketch: Android Arrives as a Music-Making Platform
Pocket Jamz Piano Notes ($3): We figure you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t like music, but, of course, not every fan is a musician (though I truly believe that anyone with the desire can be one.) IOS developers have done a great job bringing educational tools for budding musicians to the smartphone and tablet, to the point that music education is one of the strongest areas in the iTunes app store. The piano edition of Pocket Jamz helps you navigate the ebony and ivory with ease, by showing how to play each note in a variety of popular songs. Some songs are included, while additional ones are available as in-app purchases.
Animoog for iPhone ($1; pictured top right): In the past year, Moog has made a commendable entrance into the music app scene. What else would you expect of a company that’s been pioneering kick-ass synthesizers in the real world since the ’50s? Animoog certainly lives up to brand expectations, and now it’s available on the iPhone as well. However, to save you the disappointment just in case, we must note that you’ll need to have at least an iPhone 4 or 4th generation iPod Touch in order to to run this beast.
This new iPhone version packages many of the features included in the iPad version, and despite the smaller screen, it’s actually quite manageable to navigate, so long as you’re not on stage. I sure wouldn’t want to adjust those tiny knobs in a live scenario. (Beyond the processor requirements, the higher screen resolution on the newer iOS devices certainly helps with small text here.) Most importantly, while it’s just too fun to not be your new favorite toy, Animoog certainly doesn’t sound like one. If you’ve ever entertained owning a Moog and barely paying for it, I’d download the app while it still only costs a buck (the introductory price). It’s worth the standard price of $10, which means it’s practically mandatory at $1.
Audio Audit (free, for now): This intriguing “pro audio” app doesn’t mean much until it’s tested against the proven tools of the trade — something I would do if our we had a calibration microphone at the office. For now, I’m impressed by the range of features that this free app promises: Swept Sine, Stereo base, Phase, and five types of Noise to name a few. Until we can compare it against professional-grade equipment, which we tentatively plan to do, our initial impression is that Audio Audit provides a great set of testing tools, though no discernible way to gauge the quality of the result, so you need to know what you’re looking for.
Alien Beatbox (free): After playing with this one for a while, I can safely say it’s more of a toy than a professional instrument. Even so, you might be surprised, as I was, at the serviceable beats that come out of it. Some of the included sounds — purportedly the tortured cries of captive aliens — are actually pretty cool. Cell animations make Alien beatbox fun to interact with, causing several co-workers to stop and question me on the nature on the flashing disco on my screen. Also, keep an eye out for the “system overload” easter egg, which may or may not come from selecting all the samples at once.
SomaFM Radio Player ($4): If you like radio but hate the usual interruptions, try listener-supported SomaFM. This venerable internet radio service, now available as an Android app, packages 20 always-on channels (plus added seasonal stations) of underground/alternative broadcasting for you to enjoy, commercial free, on your phone. This app version of SomaFM lets you mark your favorite songs and share discoveries on social networks.
My Pink Friday ($1): To be honest, I’m not sure I really “get” Nicki Minaj yet, but she’s certainly generated a lot of buzz since arriving on the Young Money label in 2009. Her debut album, Pink Friday, made chart history during my first writing post, at Billboard magazine, claiming seven Hot 100 singles slots in the same week — something no other artist has ever done. Her mobile app seems to be taking after its chart-topping namesake; the app is currently the number one paid music app on Google’s Android Market, and is one of the few apps in the under-supervised Android app ecosystem to claim straight 5/5 ratings across the board. This app has everything a Harajuku barbie could dream of, with tons of Nicki related content for just a buck (also available for iOS).
Roku Total Control ($1; pictured left): I’m usually hesitant to include remote control apps I haven’t tested myself, especially for Android, because they can be wonky to set up, and all too frequently consume the entirety of time you thought you’d save by using them. I’m not a Roku user, but if you are, check this out, because the interface looks promising.
TuneIn Radio (free): This app was among the first Android apps to appear in This Week In Music Apps. Why do we bring it up again? Because its newly-introduced car mode earns it a second mention. This hands-free option responds to voice commands to queue up stations, or to requests for a specific artist, which brings up any stations with that artist in their queue. (See also Best iPhone Music Apps for Not Crashing Your Car).
Loudcaster Radio ($10, $25, $35, or $90 per month): This web app is an intriguing concept for anyone who’s ever wanted their own radio station — and perhaps also for bands to looking to connect with their fans through live studio broadcasts. First, you sign up for a one of four tiered subscription options, based on music storage requirements (5-20 GB) and audience size (anywhere from 5 to unlimited). Once you’re all set up, you can broadcast your files live through any of the many available broadcasting apps for pushing SHOUTcast or Icecast streams. Alternatively, programming an unattended internet radio broadcast is as simple as uploading your MP3s.