August 31, 2011 at 6:15 pm

This Week In Music Apps: Cover Songs, Dubstep, and a New Approach to the ‘Turntable’

jamcloudBetween earthquakes, hurricanes, and whatever else they had to deal with this week, we hope east coast U.S. readers made it through okay. (Ed. note: The author of this post recently wielded a chainsaw to reach the highway.)

If you haven’t had the strange luxury of spending the past four days checking your email by candlelight, you’ve missed out on a convenient inconvenience — an ironic intersection of modern technology and forced rusticism. But I digress.

Here’s a list of great new music apps for Apple iOS, Google Android, and your web browser, courtesy of our This Week In Music Apps series. We’ve been at this for a while, so check out the previous installments for more great music apps.

Apple iOS

Cover Song Database ($2): Whether you like a good cover version’s ability to reinvent a popular song, or you’re just looking for a fun twist on an old favorite, this app from Coverville (creators of a podcast showcasing cover versions by popular artists in a variety of genres) can help you rediscover great songs in a new light. The Cover Song Search function allows you to search its library of thousands of redone tunes, as well as read up on the artists who made the original versions. Or listen to recent episodes of Coverville from within the app for a taste of the great music they’ve spotlighted in the past.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Artist Alerts (free): Hot on the heels of the first release from seminal alt-rockers the Red Hot Chili Peppers in over five years (“I’m With You” was released on Monday), we’d be remiss not to give a nod to this timely app, which helps you follow the latest RHCP news on your iPhone. Artist Alerts keeps you updated on tour dates, contests, and everything else in between for a number of artists, in addition to the Peppers, with push notifications from bands’ official websites and Twitter feeds. The Twitter feature allows you to tweet directly from the app to flaunt your fandom, or take it one step further with the Wallpaper Images feature, which lets you choose from a number of band images for your phone’s home screen. This particular Artist Alerts app incudes links to all of RHCP’s songs and music videos, with push notifications sent directly to your device when new songs are made available. Good idea!

Air Scratch ($1): We hold the truth to be self-evident that the iPhone’s touch screen can never replicate the tactile sensation of vinyl, but that’s no fun when there are so many great turntable apps out there, such as Air Scratch (see also: VinylLove), which does its darndest to bring you the best alternative. The app plays music from your phone’s music library, and lets you add cut and scratch effects in real time. You can even place your iOS device on an actual turntable to use your accelerometer to scratch just like you would with an actual vinyl record. Woah. Other add-ons include Reverse, Quartz Lock, a five-band equalizer, AirPlay support, and a Bluetooth output. You can even pair your iOS device with another one running the app to get them to work together — just like the classic “two turntables” DJ set-up.

Google Android

The Jazz Theory Book ($5): Jazz musicians may not be ready to let an app dictate how they play their instruments, but this one deserves consideration anyway. First, it started as a jazz theory book (The Jazz Theory Book), from acclaimed jazz pianist Mark Levine. The app packs over 500 pages of essential text for every serious student of the genre, and covers everything from chord construction to scale theory, chord-scale relationships, and anything else we missed.

WubDub Dubstep Generator ($1): If you just cant get enough dubstep, well then, have some of ours. We’re not going to finish it.  Apparently, making dubstep is so easy, an app can do it. This app furnishes you with all the womp and wub effects you can wobble to for a buck. At the risk of throwing down, I posit that this app, much like the genre it’s named for, is not the most mind-blowingly original concept. But it is good for a laugh. See also the open-source Wub Machine, currently in development, which I’ve heard turns water into womp.

Epic Audio Visualizer ($1): If you like pretty pictures with your music (and why not?), this app enhances your tunes with customizable visualizers. You can preview some of the included effects in this video from the developer. Pro tip: combine this app with the WubDub app above for the best two-dollar party you’ve ever had.

Subsonic Music Streamer (free; $15 one-time fee after 30 days.): This app turns your Mac, Windows, or Linux computer into a streaming music server thats sends tunes directly to your Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone 7 — no syncing, strings, or data transfer cables attached. A thoughtful offline-caching feature lets you store tracks locally, so you’re never without your playlist. The app is free, but a lifetime license to the service will cost you $15. Or you can try it out free for 30 days.

Web Apps

JamCloud (free): We’ve covered plenty of social music apps this year that let you create group listening rooms, such as Turntable.fm and its clones. Even Google+ has joined the group-listening party, but here’s another option. JamCloud lets you create spaces for listening to and chatting about music, or watching videos with friends. The company counts a whopping and 325 million songs and videos in its library, which is nothing to sneeze at. The Adobe AIR app can sync your own songs and videos from a Mac or Windows PC, and it also supports embeds from SoundCloud and YouTube. You share it all via Facebook and Twitter, and maybe best of all, it’s free.