June 8, 2012 at 5:57 pm

This Week in Music Apps: DJs, Drums, and ‘Using The Force’ to Control Music

As a photographer and design lover, I find it hard to exclude an app with a nice-looking interface, so I’ve included an app we overlooked last year in this week’s selection of new music apps. It may not be new, but this recent Apple’s Staff Favorite is really worth a look.

This week also brings new ways to play music on Android: “Use the force” or “shake it all about” (explanation below). And for DJ lovers, we have two sites that will let you listen to mixes by your favorite DJ’s or become a DJ yourself.

First, some reviews:

The Week in Reviews

  • Eccelsia: A Musical Time Capsule of Endless History
  • Latest Spotify Apps Focus on Radio, Concerts
  • Pitchfork Teams with Intel for Interactive Music Games
  • Video: gTar, Kickstarter-Crazy iPhone Guitar, Makes Music in Ableton Live
  • Ford Sync Drivers with iPhones Can Control MOG’s Music with Voice, Dashboard
  • When Johann Sebastian Bach Goes Open-Source He Goes All The Way

Apple iOS

Recollect (free): The popularity of online radio services like Pandora and iHeartRadio proves that FM radio doesn’t cut it for a lot of people anymore. Recollect is another music app that promises to introduce you to new music via other people and share your taste via Twitter. To recommend a song, you churn out tweets automatically including the artist, album or song name, and link. And there’s a nostalgia-infused hipster twist, minus the criticism: You can check out the recommendations by featured users of the week and others by thumbing through virtual record bins.

Circlo

mulife player ($2): With this app, you create a playlist and get custom visualizations that go along with the music. You can specify the detail level, rate of pattern change, and speed of color change. With smooth transitions as you swipe from one visualization to the next, this is a good choice for people who think music should be seen as well as heard.

Circlo ($1.29): Always on the move, this ambient audio-visual clock plays the calmest music around 1am and 1pm, after which it grows increasingly intense over the following 12 hours. You can choose one of the five color schemes to accompany the sound, or if you’d rather just watch the circles slowly expand and deflate, you can mute the sound. An interesting musical take on an important instrument we usually take for granted.

Radioline ($2): Along the lines of the Radium app included in my wrap-up of Mac apps for music fans, Radioline lets you listen to thousands of radio stations from across the world and view the Top Stations among other users. This app has been around for a while (first covered in April), but it was updated this week with a bugfix that causes your favorites not to be deleted. Last.fm users can also scrobble songs from these worldwide radio stations; if you’d rather listen from your desk, the Radioline app is also available for $10 in the Mac App store, which seems expensive, but is cheaper and better-sounding than a shortwave radio.

Google Android

Wave Control (free): This app kind of made me feel like a Jedi. With simple waves of my hand through the air, I could control my music, even when the screen was in sleep mode. Hovering my hand above the phone paused or resumed the song, waving prompted the next or previous song. Whether you use this app to avoid getting your phone sticky while cooking or to convince your kids you’ve trained with Yoda, this app is a handy trick to have up your sleeve. May the Force be with you.

All-in-One Drum Pads (free): We’ve seen previous drum pads from this developer but this app is perhaps the ultimate set. Using sounds borrowed from the Dubstep Drum Pads, Electro Drum Pads, Hip Hop Drum Pads, Rock Drum Pads and Synthetic Drum Pads apps, you can create your own personalized set. Each button can be further customized by pitch and color.

Shake Music (free): Shake your phone and this music player appears instantly, so you don’t have to mess around with menus, tapping, and the rest of it. When it’s time to change the song, pause the music, or select a new playlist, another shake returns you to your music player. It doesn’t work when your screen is in lock mode, so you, and not your pocket, will decide what to play.

Web Apps

Be Your Own DJ (free): Need a web app to DJ a party but don’t want to pay for it — or for the music to satisfy last-minute requests? Look no further. Be Your Own DJ lets you search for YouTube videos by artist or song and play any two simultaneously. You can create a queue for the rest of the night to walk away from the machine and join the fun, and even share the playlist via Facebook and Twitter for people who couldn’t make it. The standard cross fader is as far as this web app goes in terms of  borrowing from DJ mixer consoles, but if you just need a basic set-up, you’re covered. 

Thefuture.fm (free): Thefuture.fm is for listeners and DJs alike. Sign up to follow famous DJs like Aviccii, or discover new ones. Or if you yourself are a DJ, you can create an account and upload a mix to attract new fans. And these mixes are not monolithic; you can view the playlist for each one, share and favorite them, or buy the songs they contain by clicking through to Amazon or iTunes. It has a wide variety of playlists, from the usual House and Club to Indie and 80s. And with with the new iOS app, you can take these playlists on-the-go.

Photo: Knar Bedian