What’s up bearcats and gentlefolk. Took a bit of a break from blogging the past month. Lotsa stuff flying down the stress sewer. The most important one is that I put out a new record on Tuesday, UNRELIABLE NARRATOR!
And it feels real good. It’s been a year since I’ve have started recording it, and I can now breathe a big sigh of relief that the album baby is slick with placenta and out floundering about the planet!
Big THANKS to everybody(!) especially if you’ve been a purchaser! Right now you can check the record out by clicking on SOUNDS in the above header menu, or just clicking HERE. And for all you Spotify and Rdio heads, full digital distro is coming next week!
In the next number of weeks I’ll probably take some time to flesh out the stories behind some of the songs on the record; I love to geek at other writers when they do that dishing. but for today, I wanted to wrap up some thoughts I talked about in my last post. So I also just finished my first NaNoWriMo, where one attempts to write a draft of a 50,000 word novel (think about the length of The Great Gatsby) in 30 days. There were a handful of times I almost gave up, but I broke the 50,000 words on time, and “won”. Absolutely was a blast. There’s no way I’ll do it again for a couple of years—I have enough editing to do for probably that long—but I learned a number of cool things along the way.
FRIENDS ARE COOL
I wouldn’t have made it without my pals to talk to about the process, especially Daniel and Corey. Feedback, brain dumping, and complaining to them and competing with them helped spur me on. That’s it.
“The good seed cannot flourish when it is repeatedly dug up for the purpose of examining its growth.” – J. C. Kromsigt
My wife and I have been rabid about the Serial Podcast, and have spent many nights in our bed in the dark, languishing while my iPhone 5s spins the sordid tale of Adnan Sayed. An absolute must-listen. Produced by the This American Life crowd. Earlier this year, Ira Glass wrote a superb statement regarding the chasm between your taste and the actual work that many of us make in reality. The whole thing is worth the read, especially when it comes to letting yourself off the hook to just work and not immediately assess.
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
Along with this idea is the continual reoccurring plague. No, not Ebola, but second guessing myself every few days about whether I was wasting my time. I became lost in the whole enormous project, and no longer could see the forest for the trees. I understood why Hunter S. Thompson typed out pages and passages from The Great Gatsby (you just knew this was coming back around–too clunky and Chekov’s gun-ny), to just “feel what it would be like to write the great American Novel.” There is something to this idea. Becoming another’s work for a while. It might be learning a cover song, re-reading the same chapter five times to get the mechanics, or literally re-typing someone else’s work. To inhabit another’s work is to taste the excellency of mechanics. I have a Beatles’ fakebook, and I regularly go thru and learn the songs, and I’ve already seen the impact on my own songwriting.
“For anything great to happen, there needs to be a long obedience in the same direction.” – Nietzsche
Maybe after I edit the novel I’ll throw it up on this site for anyone that likes supernatural thrillers featuring ex-priest “fixers” and evil Nephilim. But until then, you can enjoy UNRELIABLE NARRATOR!
And again, UNRELIABLE NARRATOR is available for:
- The #1 spot on your Best of 2k14 music list
- Working off those T-Giving L.B.’s
- Final Exam study soundtracking
- Digital stocking stuffers
- Making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs
Going to go see Phantogram tonight with my ladybabe. If the (one) definition creativity is combining two things together, those folks really concocted something that has been steadily gaining momentum for 3 or 4 years now. I think I first heard them when they did a live session for KEXP, and I hadn’t ever heard the rhythms and textures of vintage hip-hop beats combined with indie rock guitar and vox ever done like this.
Don’t underestimate the power of rhythms in songwriting.
Personally, I can trace a dramatic shift in my personal songwriting to a couple years ago when I first began really zero-ing in on establishing rhythms first before melodies or chords. I saw new life breathed into my vocal meters and phrasings and I felt like I was re-inventing myself. It was the same sort of epiphany blossoming as when I started writing vocal melodies before chord progressions. When I was a teenager in the late 90’s I really got into a lot of second-wave emo stuff and the type of linear, jazz-influenced post-hardcore featured on albums like The Appleseed Cast’s Low Level Owl. That may have been the first time I started really focusing in on a rhythmic foundation. Take a band like Vampire Weekend, yes they had the indie-pop template down lyrically and melodically, but without the Afro-pop ideas referenced on their first record, I don’t see their meteoric rise to acclaim happening the same way. Even Lennon became “happier” than he had been in years on his last record Milk & Honey when he incorporated Bunny Wailer’s reggae template for Borrowed Time. Ok, ok, he had a brush with death due to a yachting accident and got off the Horse, but still.
And in news of making dubstep bearable, Disclosure took the repetitious bass triplets from the style and expanded it to an ambient modern R&B the ubiquitous Latch. Mercy, that song is EVERYWHERE.
Have you seen these songwriter loops from The Loop Loft? I’ve gotten some packs and they sound delicious. Easy to use and have made recent song demos really pop.
My ol’ pal Corey Wright is producing a new show, so “show” some love and dig out that pocket change!
If you haven’t checked out LadyBabe Ep, you’re the rando that drives by Dunkin’ Donuts on National Free Donut Day. Two of my brothers made these tracks this past year, and it’s really creative stuff. I’m partial because I love those doodz, and I mastered it, but it reminds me of a male Zola Jesus.
Listening: Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
Reading: The John Jay Institute just had a symposium on The Christian Imagination ht Mockingbird
Watching: Orphan Black S2
Playing: Batman: Arkham Origins for Xbox
iTunes announced today it is releasing re-mastered-for-iTunes versions of the Fab Four’s solo efforts. They’re intent on hooking you with a free “sampler”. Although gimmicky, the concept is something that iTunes can potentially continue to do acutely well—that is, curating (only time I’ll every use this word, promise!), distributed content based on concept. These releases are also something that I’ve been severely missing from the iTunes store for quite some time. I’ve really digging into these records the past couple of years and they have had a huge influence on my personal forth-coming record (it’s close). I’m crazy about Plastic Ono Band’s ’70’s dead-as-a-dog drum sounds, slapback vocals and warm-and-warbly piano. George does guitar stuff– both in arrangement and slide performance–extremely well. The trifecta of melody, chord progressions and spirituality-infused lyrics are at his best on All Things Must Pass, but also any time he works with Jeff Lynne, like on Cloud Nine (casting Harrison as The Hellraiser in the cover-that-haunts-your-dreams).
Paul does melodic inventiveness, thematic creativity, goofiness to great effect. And although his pre-Wings stuff is generally inconsistent, his early use of analog synths mark a definitive infancy in “songwriters-goofing-synths”. In this family I’d also propose the inclusion of the Harry Nillsson records Pussy Cats (which was a Lennon collab and production), and the seminal Nilsson Schmilsson as the spiritual brothers of the aforementioned discs.
Worth checking out: someone wrote a memorable alternate history of The Beatles where they never broke up. And playlists abound featuring post-breakup-solo-songs reworked as a fictional 12th band release. I’d probably also add Billy Preston’s Nothing from Nothing as the keyboard sideman was up for vote as a 5th member the time of Let It Be was released.
Yeah, I realize I didn’t gush about on Ringo. Did you really expect me to?
Other thoughts from today:
-Comedy gold. (0:41) In this commercial for a to-do app this lady moves the “task” of watching 12 Years A Slave to her to-dos for tomorrow, sleeping soundly.
-A couple hours ago Thom Yorke just released an album on BitTorrent. Saywaaaaaaaaa