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Inside Music (Jan 7th, 2020)

Note: The Consumer Electronics Show, CES, is this week which means a lot of music-related products are being announced. The newsletters this week will likely feature more audio products than normal, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum and only call out the most interesting or notable ones.

1. Albums is a music-player app specifically made to listen to complete albums. The new 2.0 version of the app just launched and has been redesigned. It features controls and a layout that promotes listening to music in a way similar to vinyl records — from start to finish. One nice touch includes pulling in album credits like creative director, mastered by, packaging, and photography, from Discogs and MusicBrainz. Albums is currently available on iOS with support for local music, Apple Music, and integration with Siri Shortcuts. — IPHONE TICKER

2. Song recommendation: Hether - "In a Dream"

From Cherie Hu: Freelance music-tech journalist, writer of the Water & Music newsletter

"The song combines palliative rhythms and guitar chords reminiscent of early Beatles hits with a psychedelic filter and mysterious, ambivalent lyrics that leave you wondering what exactly the narrator is 'dreaming' about. It leaves me feeling like I'm floating on a cloud, yet still unsettled and burdened by a sense of nostalgia and unrequited... something. I also recommend listening to Hether's whole EP 'Hether Who?' which is excellent and fleshes out more themes and narratives that are fun to dig into as a listener."

3. Bob Dylan is getting a biopic titled "Going Electric." Actor Timothée Chalamet is reportedly in talks to portray the iconic musician in the film, as confirmed by Fox Searchlight. James Mangold, who has helmed the Johnny Cash film "Walk The Line" as well as the recent "Ford v Ferrari", is set to be the director. The film will follow Dylan from the rise of his folk-singer days into rock 'n roll stardom. No release date is currently set. — PITCHFORK

4. Royole, one of the first companies to show off a consumer-ready phone with a flexible display, is now bringing that technology to a speaker. Its Mirage Smart Speaker features an 8-inch touchscreen wrapped around the entire cylindrical device. The speaker's unique displayed isn't well-defined with a use case yet but could show off cool visualizations or be used in conjunction with the included 5MP camera. The speaker is listed at $899. — 9TO5TOYS

5. Jabra announced a couple of new headphones and earbuds which range from on-the-ear Elite 45h headphones to Elite Active 75t wireless earbuds. Personally, I've been impressed with Jabra's headphone offerings over the years as I've found them to be comfortable and reasonably priced with pretty good sound. The new models all look to build on those foundations. The wireless earbuds add more sweat and water resistance as a sport or "active" model, while the headphones claim great sound for $99. — THE VERGE

6. Harmon Kardon has been out of the headphone space for more than five years but is finally returning with Fly TWS wireless earbuds for $150. The wireless earbuds include all the basics like ear-detection, ear controls, and a charging case, but also go further to include sweat and rain, and water resistance. For $50 less you can grab the new Fly BT, which features wireless connectivity to the phone, but each earbud is connected with the previously common behind-the-neck cord. — GSMARENA

7. Punk band NOFX's frontman, Fat Mike, is starting a new podcast called "Unsafe Word" about sexuality and relationships. Fat Mike made the announcement on Instagram and is asking for couples to send in questions and come on his show which starts on January 15. Don't worry, if it sounds like "Loveline," it won't be because Mike says Dr. Drew is "boring and doesn't know what he's talking about." — CHORUS.FM

8. The guitar effects company Boss has a new pair of headphones that take a guitar amp and put it on your ears. Made for practicing, the Boss Waza Air uses a wireless connection from the guitar to the headphones and cuts out the middleman, trying to recreate the experience in a quiet way that only you can hear. The Waza Air features a gyroscope to 3D model your physical space and adapt the sound based on how you're positioned. Engadget had some hands-on time and says the headphones are neat, but a little niche and a little expensive at $400. —  GUITAR WORLD

9. Olive Union has announced a new personal hearing device called Smart Ear aimed at assisting those who are hard of hearing. The hearing aid market, or amplifiers, in this case, are starting to butt up against the wireless earbud market with similar features. The Smart Ear is a more dedicated device than wireless earbuds and can be compared to medical devices ranging in the $1000s. With the Smart Ear retailing at $249 though, it's harder to make the case for something like it over AirPods with Apple's added listening feature, which also amplifies sound next to an iPhone microphone. — ENGADGET

10. Pianist Samuel Fu has composed a medley of music from the movies that defined the 2010s. It's a neat 11-minute trip down memory lane, starting with "Inception." The video features a side-by-side of the films the music comes from, without which I don't think I'd have been able to identify more than a few. Each clip seamlessly flows into the next so even if you don't appreciate the film aspect, it makes a nice listen. — THE AWESOMER

Tyler Hayes is a writer and early adopter in both music and technology. He's based in California and has contributed to Fast Company, BuzzFeed, and Billboard, among others. You can reach out at @TylerH.

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