This week brings a wave of nostalgia in the form of a cassette app and a modern, multimedia take on the mix tape. Speaking of media, we’ve had an eventful week even with Monday’s holiday, what with Facebook’s introduction of its new camera app (prompting a review of the app with a musical twist) and Kylie Minogue fans going tweet-crazy to unlock a new song.
Meanwhile, Shazam has predicted the hottest jams of the summer, and we’ve started tracking announcements, such as the launch of Spotify in New Zealand and Australia and Songkick’s new Tourbox feature, which helps artists publish tour dates automatically.
Take a look at our latest reviews before delving into this week’s newest apps:
- Here’s Looking At You: Facebook’s New Camera Sees Artists and Fans
- Samsung’s Premium Music Hub Takes on Spotify, Pandora, iTunes/iCloud
- 10 Reasons gTar, the iPhone-Powered Guitar, Justifies the Crazy Hype
- Vinyl Tap, the Incredibly Faithful iPad Record Player, Is Probably the Only One You Need
triqtraq ($2): This sample sequencer is many things, but one thing it’s not is simple. Users have plenty of control — tempo, pitch, sample sounds, sound decay, filters, step-editing — the list goes on. For anyone who isn’t completely familiar with sequencers (like me), it would be wise to see the helpful tutorials before flailing away. However, if you know what you’re doing, this is a handy, well-designed sequencer app for tweaking and arranging samples.
Air Recorder (free): This app lets you record yourself playing instruments through the mic, a cable (if you have the right one), or via WiFi from one of developer Roland Corporation’s keyboards or its other devices that support LAN recording. The song backing feature lets you record voice or instrument over the backing track of your choice — and if you have one of those compatible Roland instruments, you can even send the song there before playing along with it, then send the completed mix back to your iOS device. After adding a few songs to the Air Recorder library, I tested the app by playing Vampire Weekend’s “A-Punk” on the electric guitar, attempting keep up with the band. The sound quality was good, and while the app supports AudioCopy, which is great, I was disappointed to find that I could not share my recordings or download them from my iPod.
Drum Machine Legends ($1): Six different drum kits come with this app, each represented by a 3-by-4 pad of sounds. As the adjustable metronome keeps your beats steady, the app automatically loops what you play, so you can build up complex beats with ease. The best part about this app is that layering beats is just so, so easy. We heartily recommend it picking it up — and if you do, you can email your final product or save it for a later session.
DragOnTape (free): We previously reviewed the web version of DragOnTape. The mobile app lets you do more of the same: creating mix tapes, but not in the traditional sense. First, you can create your own personal playlist of media by searching for music videos or songs via YouTube and Soundcloud. It’s easy to crop and fade clips, or search Twitter by hashtag and import any YouTube videos contained therein. And, of course, you can share your final creation via Twitter and Facebook. I like apps with great design, and DragOnTape qualifies with an easy-to-use, design-driven interface.
Concertwall (free): Like Last.fm’s own Festivals app, this one uses Last.fm’s user profiles and other data to recommend live shows. The home page has a distance meter for setting the farthest distance you’re willing to travel for a gig, while concerts are sorted by date. Clicking on the artist lets you see the venue, share the event, add it to your calendar, and links to the website.
Guess the song (free): Like a musical version of the movie trivia game Scene It?, this app lets you choose a genre before launching into rounds that contain mixes of clips, so contestants can try to name the song or artist. The app keeps score, recording each player’s average response time. The included songs were surprisingly current, and though songs sometimes took a little while to load, this app has clear potential as a fun game to play with pals.
DeliTape (free, $1): Nostalgia-tinged music players seem to be all the rage. This app recently held down the number one spot on iTunes’ music app charts in multiple countries. Like Kitsch Player and Vinyllove, which we’ve recently reviewed, Deli Tape plays your music library using a different vintage medium: the cassette tape. The Apple iOS version and full version for Android have 8 different tape skins, and it’s easy to “rewind” and “fast forward” songs you have added to the tape. While I would have liked some way to see and save the mixtapes I made, Deli Tape certainly makes for a fun listening experience.
Trntbl (free): Have you hopped on the Tumblr bandwagon, and do you like to post songs there? You’ll want to know about Trntbl. This site builds a master list of all songs posted on your Tumblr, and allows you to search for fellow users’ music as well. The homepage features a Top 50; clicking on any mix leads to a simple player page. Overall, we found Trntbl to be an excellent complement to Tumblr, whether on your computer or smartphone (Trntbl works with iOS and other mobile platforms).
Virtual Musical Instruments (free): This site offers up virtual piano, guitar, bongos and pan flute; you can play each one using the mouse or keyboard controls. Though the guitar instrument could be a handy way for beginners to learn chords and train their ear, and all of these virtual instruments provide a nice introduction to their real-world counterparts, I doubt they could help you “learn how to play guitar” (or any other instrument), but it’s certainly fun and to an extent instructive to see how these fascinating machines work.