The weather has cooled down, schools are back in session, and Evolver.fm back to its full-time schedule. Our latest installment of This Week In Music Apps wraps up a bunch of new and noteworthy apps for you to check out, including iOS, Android, desktop and Web apps. But first, some new reviews:
- Celebrate John Cage’s Centenary by Playing His “Prepared Piano” (iOS or Android)
- Top 5 Artist-Specific Music Apps
- Timbre Makes Finding a Concert as Easy as Pressing “Play”
- ToneCraft: Play With Blocks, Make Sick Beats
- First App.net Music App Worth Using: SpotCast (a.k.a. “Turntable.fm for Spotify”)
- Top 6 Apps for Going to Concerts (and Reliving Them)
- NLog MIDI Synth Is Not a Toy – Listen To Us Play It
- WNYC Soundcheck: Evolver.fm’s Guide to Anti-Boredom Music Apps
- 7 Music Apps to Entertain, Educate Kids… and Not Annoy Parents
MetroLyrics (free): Lyrics are one of the most searched-for things of any kind in the world, regularly ranking as a top search term on Google and elsewhere. If you’ve ever searched for song lyrics, chances are you’ve seen the MetroLyrics website. Now, you can access their database of over a million song lyrics on your iOS device in an app that goes beyond mere search. As you play music on your device, MetroLyrics will access the current song’s lyrics, as well as artist photos, videos, and news (see also: TuneWiki). Or, you can search lyrics to a specific song, just like on the web version.
“But wait, there’s more!” It also does rudimentary karaoke, with the ability to scroll lyrics across your screen in real time, as you listen. On top of all that, MetroLyrics also offers a Music ID feature so you can find out what song is playing anywhere (like Shazam and SoundHound), and Map Chart, which show you what people around you (with the app) are listening to. And did we mention that it’s free?
Chopin Alarm Clock ($2): We’ve come a long way from the jarring beeps and buzzes of yesterday’s alarm clocks, but even the harp, xylophone, and timba iOS sounds leave much to be desired when you’re being awoken at some ungodly hour. With Chopin Alarm Clock, you can ease your way out of slumber with one of Chopin’s Polonaises, Mazurkas, Sonatas, Preludes, Waltzes, Nocturnes, or Etudes. This app contains over forty clips performed by Noam Sivan, with additional clips added each year on Chopin’s birthday, which is March 1. (Note: iOS 6 will include the ability to select any song as your alarm sound, so if you plan on upgrading to that, you might save your $2 for something else.)
Soundsnips (free): Soundsnips feels like having the recently-revived VH1 hit show Pop-Up Video on your phone, but without the sexual innuendos, and for classical music only. To use it, first throw on one of the preloaded classical pieces (from Vivaldi, Schubert, Bach, Mozart, and more). As you play the track, Soundsnips will display fun facts about the piece or the performer providing both entertainment and education for classical fans or those who are trying to learn more about the genre.
My Morning Jacket (free): Music and good causes often seem to go together. With My Morning Jacket’s new artist app, you can find out which causes the band supports, and how to get involved. Each month, the band highlights a different nonprofit organization, including those working on music and arts education; environmental sustainability; and poverty. The app also contains standard artist app features (news, tour dates, etc.), as well as a “Jacketcam,” which offers a streamlined way to share pictures from shows with fellow fans.
Awl Music (free): If you’re a fan of The Awl‘s editorial flair (motto: “Be Less Stupid”), check out Awl Music for the iPad. Basically another version of the Awl Music Tumblr page, this app plays music videos handpicked by Awl editors and friends. If you have an Apple TV, you can throw the videos onto the big screen, thanks to native AirPlay integration.
Rap Wars (free w/ ads; $2): Several apps let you record raps and beats for sharing, but Rap Wars is the first we’ve seen designed to facilitate remote rap battles. That’s right: You can battle your friends or other aspiring rappers, no matter where they are. Rap Wars also offers beat samples for you to include in your raps (the free version contains fewer beats). Once your production has been published, others can rate it. With enough good ratings, you just may be crowned the next Rap King. (Also available for iOS and the web).
John Cage Piano (free; $1 for Android tablet): Celebrate John Cage’s 100th birthday by playing John Cage Piano. Using 36 sampled sounds taken from a real life “prepared piano” (a piano rigged with everyday objects like screws and bolts and famously used by Cage), this app lets you create and record your own Cage-like compositions. (Also available for iOS; see our full review).
The Darkness (free): After a five-year hiatus, famous believers-in-a-thing-called-love The Darkness recently released their third studio album, Hot Cakes, with this app to go with it. You can unveil hidden content by using the app’s “Darkness Scanner,” which entails holding your phone over Hot Cakes album artwork, tour posters, and concert tickets. “The Darkness Soundboard” lets you set clips from the new album as ringtones or text alerts. Of course, the app also comes with news, videos, photos, and other standard features. (Also available for iOS).
Flutter (free): Music player apps are largely about easy gesture controls, because hey, they all play the music on your phone. Normally, however, gesture controls are confined to the smartphone or tablet. No longer! Flutter brings smart gesture controls to Mac OS X and Windows. Once installed, you can play and pause music from iTunes, Spotify, Quicktime, and VLC by waving your hand in your computer webcam’s view. The app works best if you’re standing one to six feet away. Soon, the app should also work with YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and Hulu, and include more gesture controls for volume control and skipping tracks. You already knew this, but we really do live in the future.
ToneCraft (free): ToneCraft is a cool, 3D loop-building environment sure to please any Lego maniac, so long as they use Google Chrome, because this is a Chrome app. Each block (or “voxel”) you place on the grid represents a note. Different colors represent different instruments. The X and Y-axis represent time and pitch, respectively, while the Z-axis lets you stack instruments vertically to create a layered sound. The sweeping time line/cursor thing cycles over your masterpiece continuously, turning your blocks into boops and beeps. By placing and stacking colored blocks you can “craft” a wide variety of slick electronic beats with fairly little effort, with which to amaze your online friends and enemies. -Jason Papanicholas (See our full review).