Thursday, April 29, 2010

Oh Girl and Bottling Lightning

Lightning never strikes the same place twice.  But every once in a while you can anticipate when it will strike.

I've been in a music project for the last 7 or 8 months called Oh Girl.  We play at Clancy's in Long Beach about once a month and make up songs on the spot and turn some of those made up songs into actual written songs by messing with the arrangements, actually setting lyrics, etc.  We practice every so never, but when we do, something inexplicable happens.  We actually pay attention to each other and have fun.  And forget about being so perfect and well-rehearsed and knowing the parts and making sure everything lines up just right.  We groove and experiment and fall flat on our faces sometimes, but every once in a while we come up with something that makes us supremely happy.  And even more rare are those times when we're actually paying attention and documenting.

So without further ado... here's some documentation of Oh Girl.  "The Hills" with jazzy intro.  Enjoy...

Oh yeah, we're playing at Clancy's tomorrow night if you're so inclined to check us out in a live capacity.  Much thanks to be playing for peoples in a live setting...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Music Monday #3

Contradictions Collapse by Meshuggah

----- tuesday, 4/20/10, 00:10

I'm not a metal kid.  I never have been a metal kid.  But I admire the precision with which metal is executed.  And it is executed.  You don't casually play metal.  You wood shed and learn your instrument backwards and forwards and sideways and in weird time signatures and over strange chord progressions and you drill until it's second nature and every hammer on and false harmonic squeal and blastbeat is executed to perfection.  That's what I admire most about metal.  In it's precision, there is a beauty and a frailty.  Because any misplaced note is anomalous to the whole. 

For the metal albums I review, it seems like it will be easier to focus on moments rather than songs on the whole.  Meshuggah for me equals odd time signatures... damn... the bridge in "Erroneous Manipulation" is ridiculous.  2:34... layers of guitars and drums and musical theory that I barely understand but I can feel it, imperceptibly.  Drummer Tomas Haake is indescribable.  It saddens me to think that people who categorize metal as "the same aggressive jock bullshit over and over again"... if that's all you think metal is... listen to the musicality coming out of the guitar solo at 3:44... dynamic, sparse, thematically transitioning until the song returns to the verse.  Meshuggah's instrumental breaks keep me coming back.

A huge part of metal for me is that I can zone out on lyrics and concentrate solely on music.  I'm most likely missing a huge part of the point by ignoring lyrics, but I'm okay with that.  I nod my head and air drum and lose myself in the inability to articulate but regain composure in the fact that it still makes me feel.

"Abnegating Cecity"... best song title ever.  Aggressive, more so than usual.  This is a "horse" song... a term I've coined for metal songs that follow a "gallop" rhythm.  BadaDUM badaDUM badaDUM badaDUM... There's plenty of group chanting on this album... I'm gonna have to google lyrics.  2:37... more polyrhythms.  I wonder how they hell they would keep track of all of this playing live.  3:07... impossibly complicated rhythms meshed with a quickened pace and a more urgent vocal yell.  This album has so many moments that take you out of straight forward and bring you back to a smooth head nodding in the groove I could almost choreograph a hip hop routine to this feeling...  The outro of this song is beyond description.  4/4 guitars (feels almost like 2/4 guitars) repeating a 4 chord theme with Tomas Haake octopus polyrhythms underneath... Oh, sweet multi-limbed genius-ness...

I'm so happy that I decided to review a metal album.  It's been a long time since I sat back and really listened.  There's a musicality to all of this aggression.  I would liken the poetry of metal to a mama elephant protecting its young by any means necessary.  Beautiful violent aggression for the sake of survival.  One thing that Meshuggah always accomplishes: under all the polyrhythmic impossibility there are still moments you can just sit back and nod your head to...  The dynamics of metal are unparalleled.  A lot of times there are upwards of 10-15 musical themes in one song, so you set them apart using dynamics, different strum patterns... Fredrik Thordendal's solos are so distinct and his guitar tone on this album is amazing. 

Half past midnight... I should so go to sleep...

----- wednesday, 4/21/10, 23:15

"Qualms of Reality"... Meshuggah is one of those bands that makes me think about math while I'm listening.  The time signature manipulation of this band is one of the reasons I love them so much.  I'm also realizing that it takes a certain mood for me to really be able to digest metal.  I'm not so much in the mood for that tonight so this may or may not be a fair time for me to be reviewing this album.  Another thing I admire with Meshuggah is that it never seems to be overkill when they're playing.  They're not trying to fit as many notes as possible into a finite space.  Their virtuosity and complication serves the songs and the genre.  And their dynamics proves this point.  They know when to go a mile a minute and when to take their time and flesh out a more musically subtle theme.  At 3:45 of "Qualms of Reality" is a perfect example of this.  A jazzier, neoclassical feel punctuates the straight ahead aggressive metal in this song.  Then when the driving blast beats return, it's that much more vicious, dripping with that much more animal aggression.

"We'll Never See the Day" might have my favorite metal intro ever.  And not because it's complicated or catchy, but because it builds so well.  It builds steadily with a medium tempo theme, then gradually builds into a more hyper pace.  If there was a "poppy" single of a song on this album, this would be it.  It's one of the more accessible songs, which means that it maintains the same tempo and time signature for more than 45 seconds.    But then at 2:45 it jumps into overdrive and begins to travel the normal Meshuggah time signature shuffle and Thordendal solo work.

And... that's enough metal for today...

monday, 4/26/10, 21:10

Soooooooo... I've learned two things over the last week:

1.  Metal albums are hard to review.  At least for me they are...  Or maybe I just need to be in the right mood...  Hmmmm...

2.  Vacations make reviewing albums difficult.  Especially if the album you're supposed to be reviewing is not particularly liked by the person you're on vacation with...

I'll squeeze in a couple more comments on "Contradictions Collapse"...  "Choirs of Devastation" is so schizo, it's amazing.  Mellow intro, followed by staccato double kick drum and eerie lyrical reading...  There are those polyrhythms again.  The guitar solo that begins at 2:16 is perfectly placed.  Once again, Meshuggah figures out how to squeeze notes in but not make it seem like overkill.  Then the return to the staccato theme... it's really, really haunting.  It reminds me of the latin chanting from "Event Horizon"...

"Cadaverous Mastication"... and the award for best song title goes to...  Tom intro... I'm pretty sure Tomas Haake also writes all of their lyrics, which is pretty impressive.  Drummer/ Lyricist... sweet.  Too bad I can't really understand anything sung on this entire album.  I did google the lyrics and they were semi-interesting from a metal standpoint.  Okay... I'm really just not in the mood for metal right now.  Which may or may not dictate future Music Monday review selections...


Routine and a THANK YOU

I was having a conversation with a good friend earlier this week, and the topic of routine popped up.  Getting into a routine has its pros and cons.  Routine is good when it comes to efficiency and accuracy.  Warm-up routines, the routine of a daily task at work, a routine oil check, routine physicals... all of these things are necessary and extremely useful.  But sometimes falling into a routine can mean falling into a rut.  You're no longer challenged.  You're able to go on auto-pilot.  Hitting a plateau after keeping the same workout routine too long, failing to learn new things musically after you've fallen into a practice and songwriting routine... this last example is of particular interest because I hope that it doesn't happen to me...

But, cons of routine aside, I do want to get into a blogging routine.  I want to have scheduled blog topics because it will make it easier to keep this blog up, easier to maintain it with updated content, easier to garner fans who keep coming back because they know what to expect from me.  I already have two weekly features:  Saturday Songs and Music Monday.  Well, I have a couple different ideas regarding weekly features, and I'll be trying them out over the next couple weeks.  And don't worry, I'll also still be just as random when it comes to other off the wall topics.  As long as I'm stricken with insomnia, my late night ramble sessions will not ever go away...

I'm going on 3 months of blogging, and I just want to make sure I keep it fresh and exciting and new and worthy of your attention. 

Also, a hugely gigantic and appreciative THANK YOU to Marti for all of her comments.  I'm so happy that you take the time to read my blog!!!  I might have to write a song about you soon.  Just let me know what you'd like me to incorporate into it, and I'll get started.

Thanks to all of you for reading.  I'll be here for a while... :)

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Saturday Song #7

Another Saturday Song that's coming to you on a Sunday.  This latest Saturday Song is the first recorded out of the state of CA and also is the first hip hop offering.  Well, as hip hop as a white guy and an Asian guy can muster...

A big shout out to Ben Hammond for writing the first verse.  Man, that was an amazingly creative night...


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Vegas Road Trip Soundtrack

I'm driving to Vegas with Rachel tomorrow.  4 hours in a car means a perfect opportunity to become more intimately acquainted with amazing music.  These are the albums I plan filling the aural space with... (preposition at the end of a sentence... yuck...)

In alphabetical order:

- All the Leaves Are Brown - The Mamas and the Papas
- The Big Come Up- The Black Keys
- Complete "B" Sides- The Pixies
- Hold on Now, Youngster- Los Campesinos!
- In the Dark- The Whigs
- Polly Brown EP- The Sugarplastic
- Sound of Silver- LCD Soundsystem
- Teen Dream- Beach House

Pretty sure that's enough music to get us there.  Not gonna lie.  I'm probably most excited by The Mamas and the Papas.  Home Run Throwback (bonus points if you get the reference).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bad Days

Everyone has them.  Lawyers, doctors, janitors, teachers, electricians, computer programmers... you get the idea.

It's really easy to keep your head up when things are going well.  But what about when they suck?  What happens when the songs you loved now sound like a total waste of time?  How do you carry yourself when you feel like there's no light at the end of the tunnel...?

Well... you write a blog about it.  Then you pick up your guitar and play and love the fact that you have this amazing life.

Sounds like a plan...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Myspace (any social network, really) has so much potential in the right person's hands

But Myspace isn't in the right person's hands.  It's in the general public's hands.  And the general public is an inconsiderate, selfish, impatient, rude, ignorant mass of humanity...

Think about the power of Myspace (or Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or tumblr or chatroulette or YouTube or...).  Millions of people interconnected.  Opinions and ideas freely exchanged instantaneously.  If you wanted to you could literally find someone in Brazil or Germany or the Philippines or Arkansas and ask them what the weather is actually like.  Not a forecast or a loose prediction based on meteorological hypothesis.  The actual weather.  Which is super trivial, but you can extrapolate to a grander scale.  Ask a government official about the ramifications of the new health care bill.  Put a white collar wall street man on the spot and ask them about the ethics of insider trading.  Ask a doctor a question about that ache in your right knee.  All of those possibilities are right there in front of us...

But that type of exchange of ideas isn't happening on the internet.  Instead we have a video of a kid after a trip to the dentist office.  Or a story about a lion purchased and raised by two teenagers then released into the wild and then "Look!!  He remembers them!!!"  Or Perez Hilton.  Or TMZ.  Or aplusk translating tweets from every country in the world (wait, that last one is pretty cool).  Anyways, there is so much potential online.  And it's squandered because people are too short-sighted to maximize it's potential.

And I'm not saying I'm the right person to change things.  Wait.  Maybe I am the right person to change things... Or maybe just the recognition of what can be done is enough.  If I can instill these ideas in my son's mind and teach him to use these amazing technological tools for something more than midnight youtube searches, then maybe I can change things...

Wow... I just wanted this blog to be about connecting with each fan on myspace or facebook or twitter in a very real and authentic and genuine and symbiotic way.  But it turned into something very different.  And I'm glad...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Music Monday #2

Teen Dream by Beach House

-----monday, 4/12/10, 22:36

I've boarded the Beach House train fairly late.  This album is the band's third, and it has already made numerous best of 2010 (so far) lists.

I love Victoria Legrand's voice.  It's simultaneously youthful and ancient, wise and naive, playful and saddened.  The music is perfectly described as "dream pop".  I just can't decide if it's a nightmare or a fantasy (and neither conclusion would be a bad thing). 

There's that whole full arrangement thing again.  How do you make things sound so full?  How do you know when it fits?  Trial and error, I guess, and from the sounds of it, Beach House has gone through their fair share of trials and errors because they nail the arrangements with apparent ease.

Is it strange that I feel like this would be the perfect "taking a Greyhound bus cross country" soundtrack?  Organ and electric guitar and synthesized drums never sounded so good.

Here I go again... picking up my guitar and writing after listening to amazing music.  Let's see what ambient noisistry pours out of my brain this time around...

-----thursday, 4/15/10, 01:31

Insomnia is a bitch, but it's manageable when you get to listen to and wax poetic about Beach House.  This album is kinda like a "teen dream" in that it makes me fantasize about a girl traipsing around with black and white horses a.k.a. Zebra(s).  What does that mean?  It means I'm tired and this album makes it bearable to be awake instead of asleep.

Bands with 2 people in them make me wonder how they perform live.  And I just went to their myspace and discovered that the only SoCal date they're playing is at Coachella.  This second track has a Beach Boys meets Komeda feel.  Komeda... now there's an amazing band.  Hmmm... if Nico sang for Komeda, it would sound an awful lot like Beach House.

"It's a vision.  Complete illusion.  Yeah."  I can't understand most of the lyrics, and this fact makes me feel inadequate, but isn't that the point of most indie music, nay, the entire "indie scene" anyways?  "You don't understand what they're saying?  And you call yourself a music aficionado... pffffffffffffffffttttt..."

This album solidifies that I'm drawn to music a little more than lyrics.  I only come to find myself connecting with lyrics on the 4th or 5th listen.  Seeing a band live helps with the whole lyrical connection, as well.

"It is happening again.  It is happening again."

Did I mention that I love when songs have outros that morph into intros for the next song?  Well, I do...  Silver Soul into Norway is beautiful... a very good transition.  "Don't you know it's too old.  Norway."  I don't know much about Norway, but I think about vikings for some reason...  "The beast (feast?) it comes to you."  There's some My Morning Jacket residual inspiration here, too. 

For the most part, this album occupies the same aural space and keeps the same tone throughout.  The first four tracks all have similar feelings: electronic drums, layered organs, picked electric guitar parts, that dreamy androgynous warble that makes lyrics seem unimportant...  "In a matter of time, it will slip from my mind."  Hmmmm... Ladytron's Velocifero and whatever the first MGMT album was called (you know the one with "Kids" on it) have strong footholds on this album, too.  Yeah... Velocifero... that was a good album... this is a good album, too, but I'm struggling with whether it's one of those "take it to the desert island" albums.

"More.  You want more.  You tell me.  More.  Only time can (love? loan?) me."  Well-said, Victoria.

"You are coming home.  Are you still alone?  Are you not the same as you used to be?  As the sun grows high and you serve your time, does each day seem like another lie?"  This song makes me sad.  Good sad.  Nostalgic sad.  Epic.  Dynamic.  This is the first song where I felt the urge to google the lyrics.  And I did.  And the song is now that much more beautiful.  This song is the "Ah ha" moment.  This album is now a "bring it to the desert island" album.  As long as you have a way to google the lyrics...  "Coming home.  Any day now."

Thank you, anonymous commenter on Music Monday #1... I will now examine each song of each album I'm going to review.  It's so much better that way...

I'll continue with "Lover of Mine" the next time I sit down with this album... It's really, really good.  It makes me want to revisit all the other albums it reminds me of like MMJ's "Evil Urges" and The Deadly Syndrome's "The Ortolan"...

-----friday, 4/16/10, 22:41

Coachella started today.  Beach House plays tomorrow.  You're lucky if you're there right now.

"Lover of Mine" has a very strong Komeda feel to it.  Would not be surprised if Beach House was familiar with Komeda's stuff.  "The only thing you've got.  You know you're better off without it."  If you don't think this describes what love feels like sometimes, you've never been in love.  Interesting that in a song about love, the word "fear" is so often used...

I lied.  I don't want to review every song.  Unless I feel every song warrants mention in the review.  To set rules and come up with guidelines is to stifle... ooooo... the guitar riff in "Better Times" that comes in at 0:51 makes me very happy...  "My heart stands for nothing, and your soul's too weak."  So much longing in these songs.  There's an optimism that peeks through sometimes, and the sun is that much more beautiful because it has to fight to break through those clouds... Deep, Glynn.  Deep... "How much longer can you play with fire before you turn into a liar?"  Accusations fly.  The contrast between the music and the lyrics is brilliant.  Look! Our organ layerings and sparse guitar riffs over tambourines and synth drums are super peppy... while we sing about being afraid of love and lacking the conviction to stand for anything.

MMJ again... "10 Mile Stereo".  Yim Yames would be proud.  "They say we can throw far, but they don't know how far we throw".  The orchestral crescendo into the chorus (it's really just a keyboard, but it feels like so much more)...  The subtle arpeggiation.  Beach House is a master of subconscious instrumentation.  So curious to see how they would pull this off live...

"Real Love" is the reason I purchased this record.  I was driving home from work, listening to KCRW and this song came on.  I didn't know who it was so I Shazam'd it with my iPhone (I'm hip like that), and I saw that it was Beach House.  I'd heard of the band and the album through the grapevine.  They were indie darlings, which, depending on my mood, instantaneously turns me off to a band.  But something about this song...  Even now, the harmonized "oh"s... I get chills.  It's not too surprising to find out that Chris Coady produced this album.  He's also produced the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and there's that same sparse, compact, complete-ness on these tracks.

I'll save "Take Care" for the next session...  I need to go make things right... right now...

-----sunday, 4/18/10, 00:04

The intro for "Take Care" feels like "Can't Help Falling in Love with You".  "I'll take care of you if you ask me to in a year or two."  Repetitive doesn't sound repetitive on this album for whatever reason.  There's a beauty in the simplicity of Beach House's music.  And maybe that's because it sounds simple but isn't.  It's very intricately arranged but still feels and sounds straightforward.  Once again, kudos to Chris Coady for production.

I listened to the entire album today on a longish drive today.  It is strong from beginning to end.  A true "album".  Sure, you can skip around to specific cuts, but it is almost stronger as a complete body of work.  I can already see myself switching back and forth between favorite songs.  There are legitimately 4 or 5 tracks, which will battle it out for the title of best on the album.  I think my heart will always have a special place for "Used to Be", though, because it was the song that took this album from good to great for me.

I can already tell Music Mondays are going to be one of my favorite features of this blog.  Already I've got two weekly features: Saturday Song and Music Monday.  Let's see if I can't fill another day or two with weekly content.

Next week, I'm gonna be mixing it up with a completely different genre of music.  So far I've gone with: Built to Spill- indie rock.  Beach House- dream pop.  And next week... Meshuggah's Contradictions Collapse.  Good ole metal, baby.  Can.  Not.  Wait!!!!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Coachella 2010- My Virtual Fantasy Impossible Dream Set List- Part 3

Coachella comes to a close today.  I'm sure there was much fun to be had by everyone there.  The twitter stream has had some pretty cool updates.  My jealousy abounds...

It's the final part of my exercise in hypotheticals.  Thanks for reading.


2:10-2:55- Local Natives
It's always a good thing to support local bands, and this OC musical conglomeration is about 3 seconds from breaking massive worldwide crazy everyone will know about them.

3:15-4:00- Mutemath
As brilliant as all of their recorded music has been, I've heard their live show blows everything out of the water...

4:25-5:10- Matt and Kim
Because everyone deserves to be wildly, insanely happy for at least a little while...

4:45-5:30- Sunny Day Real Estate
Because every kid who listened to grunge-emo-melodic-shoegaze in the 90s secretly wanted to be in this band...

3:50-4:40- Yo La Tengo
I'll admit it.  Another band on my "you should really get into this band" list...

6:30-7:20- Spoon
I've heard their live set isn't that great, but I'd rather see them for myself and decide.

7:45-8:55- Pavement
I was bummed I couldn't make their show at the Fox in Pomona on Thursday.  Stephen Malkmus is a genius and Wowee Zowee is the raddest OC to Santa Barbara soundtrack ever.  "Grave Architecture" makes me shake my head with joy every time...

9:00- Thom Yorke
No explanation necessary

And I'm pretty sure Thom Yorke is how I would have ended my Coachella.

I had a lot of fun actually describing my virtual set list... Let's see if I can't make it an actual "I get to go" playlist next year!!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Song #6

The Saturday Song series continues.  This is one of the rare songs I've written that took two distinct ideas and combined them into one song.  Normally, when I'm writing a song, I have an idea of what it's going to sound like in my head and I work until the reality of the song matches up to that initial idea.  In this case, two completely different parts meshed and became one song.

I hope you enjoy it, and thank you again for reading!!

Coachella 2010- My Virtual Fantasy Impossible Dream Set List- Part 2

Saturday at Coachella is already in full swing, but what the hell... Let's keep this exercise in hypotheticals rolling, shall we?


12:25-1:15- Rx Bandits
Matt Embree is an inspired songwriter, a surprisingly soulful singer, and a kickass guitarist.  Their album "The Resignation" owned my life the summer of 2004.  I've already seen them live twice before, but I wouldn't be able to pass them up.

3:25-4:10- Girls
Okay.  I admit it.  The only reason I want to catch this band live is to see if they live up to the hype.  So sue me...

4:25-5:15- Beach House
I'm absolutely obsessed with "Teen Dream" right now, sooooo... Also, I'm always curious to see how 2 pieces pull off their live sets.  Do they add musicians?  Is everything simplified?  Are the arrangements more sparse, which means that there's less to hide behind?  I promise you.  This would have been one of the highlights of my hypothetical Coachella...

5:10-6:00- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros
I really, really, really dug Ima Robot while they were a band.  And there's something about creating alternate stage personas that really appeals to me.  And that lead singer guy's beard is pretty impressive.  Beard points alone make them a must see.

6:25-7:10- the xx
A co-worker of mine played some of their tunes for me a whlie back, and I was very intrigued.  Again, this is an example of a band that's been on my radar, I haven't really super gotten into them, but would love to, so why not go catch them live?

6:40-7:30- Coheed and Cambria
I just want to listen to that voice and watch that hair bounce.  Oh, and their guitar work is wicked sweet as well.

7:55-8:45- Faith No More
Really... It's fuckin' Faith No More.  Of course, you're seeing this!!!

10:35-11:25- Les Claypool
Slappin' da bay-yuuhsssss.  A revolutionary musician.

11:05-12:00- The Dead Weather
I have a secre man crush on Jack White.  And I have a secret woman crush on Alison Mosshart.  "Treat Me Like Your Mother" is one of the swaggerest songs of all times...

11:40- Tiesto
Because shaking your ass just never gets old...

Friday, April 16, 2010

Coachella 2010- My Virtual Fantasy Impossible Dream Set List- Part 1

I'm not going...

Not the end of the world, but it would have been super fun because this year's lineup is the best it's ever been.

But if I were going...

(and, yes, I know some of the set times intersect... that's why it's an "impossible" set list... and this is my blog and my fantasy, so you can smoke a bag of... cigarettes...)


1:25-2:05- POS
I saw POS at last year's Warped Tour, and I know one of the big things at festivals is to step outside your box and experience new things, but his show is so high energy and personalized and intimate that I would never miss his set.

3:20-4:05- The Avett Brothers
I was introduced to the Avett Brothers in early 2009, and ever since I've wanted to see them live.  They were characterized to me as an extremely energetic live act with amazing harmonies and intricate instrumentations.  And they've written one of the all time most amazingest nostalgia tear-jerkers, "Murder in the City".

4:20-5:10- Yeasayer
The pundits say that "Odd Blood" could be this year's "Merriweather Post Pavilion".  I've heard so much about this band, but haven't really tasted the forbidden fruit yet.  New experiences, people.

5:05-5:55- Street Sweeper Social Club
Tom Morello and Boots Riley.  You better learn yourself, doggy dog...

7:50-8:40- Them Crooked Vultures
"Super group" is an understatement.  Josh Homme and Dave Grohl have already wowed audiences during DG's stint with QOTSA.  Add John Paul Jones... man, that's just silly awesome...

9:05-10:00- LCD Soundsystem
"Losing my Edge", "Daft Punk is Playing at My House", and "Never as Tired as When I'm Waking Up" are three of my favorite songs of all time.  Plus, James Murphy is an effin' genius...

9:20-10:10- Imogen Heap
I would figure out a way to be in two places at once... don't ask because if I told you how I did it, I would have to kill you.

10:15-12:50- Benny Benassi followed by deadmau5
Dancing, dancing, dancing in a tent with a whole bunch of sweaty festival kids.  If that isn't heaven, I don't know what is...

10:50- Jay Z
If you miss this set, "they're gonna call you crazy for this one, Rick"...

Part 2 tomorrow... with Saturday's Virtual Fantasy Impossible Dream Set List...

Thursday, April 15, 2010


I haven't played out in a long time.  The high of performing isn't something easily duplicated...

Going outside of your comfort zone can yield some interesting and rewarding results.

If you like, it truly doesn't matter what anyone else thinks.

This blog is still a music-focused blog, but I think it's at its best when I let other things leak in like basketball and self-examination and pictures of trips I've taken and insomnombule ramblings...

Calvin and Hobbes are awesome.  "Would that I could write like this more often."  In the Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary special edition, Bill Watterson wrote this as commentary for one of his comic strips.  Occassionally, I feel like this about my own material.  Except it would go more like, "Would that I could spontaneously create and happen to have the werewithal to document it more often..."

If you're reading this, I love you.  Because you've given me one of the greatest gifts you ever could.  Your time and your attention.  Not that I'm an attention whore (well, a HUGE one, anyways...), but I realize what an important possession time and attention is.  We can never get it back.  Ever, ever, ever.  Every moment is one less we have.  So we need to be picky with how we spend our time.  And the fact that you're reading this blog... wow, I'm so lucky...

This is also why Spam is such a nuisance.  No, wait.  Scratch that.  Spam is not just a nuisance.  It's a representative of so much evil.  It's the embodiment of impatience.  It's the manifestation of complacence.  It's the incarnation of inconsideration.

I can't do this alone.  I'm too selfish to admit it.  I start a lot of sentences with the word "I", which I'm pretty sure means something...

This is amazing and inspiring.

I wrote another song about Chase.

I spend time looking for the brilliance of others when I should be working to create my own brilliance...

It's hard for me to stick to a singular vision.  As soon as I have that direction, I'll be fine, more than fine, amazingly healthy and tremendously motivated to create art that will be what my audience wants...

Indie rock, power pop, power folk pop, Weezer giving Conor Oberst a foot massage in hopes of making the Moldy Peaches jealous... 

Monday, April 12, 2010

Music Monday #1

My goal for Music Mondays is to take a week and devour as much as I can of an album by one of my favorite artists or an artist I haven't taken the time to become better acquainted with or an artist that has been recommended by a trusted friend.  It's basically an excuse to listen to an album over and over again.  How sad that I have to formalize that...

Music Monday #1- Built to Spill's "Perfect from Now On"

Monday, 4-5-10, 22:31

Instrumentally, this album has such an ethereal feel to it.  Album opener "Randy Described Eternity" feels like time stretching into infinity.  Feedback upon guitar solos upon drum licks and a steady beat and a constant bassline.  The sparse lyrics punctuate the instruments as the tempo steadily increases.  Never rushed.  Always with a purpose.  Each transitionary phrase building upon the last. 

"Every thousand years this metal sphere ten times the size of jupiter floats just a few yards past the earth.  You climb on your roof and take a swipe at it with a single feather.  Hit it once every thousand years till you worn it down to the size of a pea." 

Sways back and forth between relaxation and urgency.  A description of heaven or hell or limbo.  A sense of longing.  A recognition of the need to better yourself.   I could spend the whole week on this song.  And now I want to play guitar.  So I will...

Thursday, 4-8-10, 23:56

This album is musically breathtaking.  The soundscape takes you on a rollercoaster of dynamics.  But it's more than a rollercoaster; it's more like a tram tour that spontaneously turns into a boat jaunt that morphs into a skydiving adventure.  The orchestration on "I Would Hurt a Fly" is beautifully haunting.  The cello lends an air of longing.  And the breakdown at 4:07 is the perfect climax to an already powerful cut.  "There's a mean bone in my body.  It's connected to the problems that I won't take for an answer and I won't take that from you because I would hurt a fly..."

I will pull out my Gibson after listening to this album for a bit...

I love when drums are so on point that they feel complicated even though they're completely simple.  The perfect backbone to these driving songs.

The first three tracks of this album raised the bar for the indie rock genre.  Threads of jam band and classical... equal parts testosterone and estrogen.  Shy but in your face... Aggressively passive.  Brilliant and stark and authentic.  "You don't tell me anything.  It's not a dream.  It's not a big lie.  You're not going anywhere.  And you don't care.  You think it's fine." (listening to this album, I'm guessing Rogue Wave loves Built to Spill)...

Sunday, 4-11-10, 22:34

This album makes me realize how difficult it is to actually arrange music.  I do just fine with melodies and harmonies and root chords underneath played in straight time with what I'm singing.  But when it comes to actually "filling the aural space"... I've got so much to learn.  Everything feels so full on this album.  Music that complements and stands alone and stands in contradiction to and feels completely in accordance with and paints a picture and recites a poem...  All of the music on this album is dramatic.  But it hits on so many levels, too.  Built from the ground up, these songs stand up straight and look you right in the eye, daring you to blink, but you won't, can't, shouldn't... because you're afraid you'll miss something important.

Songs on the longer side (the shortest clocks in at 4:56), but every song is the length it has to be.  There aren't any wasted moments.  Each phrase has a purpose, every note is placed for a reason.

And listening to this album is affecting my writing.  I just recorded a few chords, wrote down some lyrics, and saved it under "Built to spill rip off"...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Hope You Hate Me...

I hope you hate me because at least that means I've elicited an opinion.  To reside in the middle, to ride the fence, equidistant from two extremes, is to be unworthy of being remembered.  True art is remembered, regardless of whether you love or hate it.

I can list bands I love and bands I hate.  Bands that I don't have an opinion about?  Well, they're not worth remembering...

Saturday Song #5

This Saturday Song actually comes on a Sunday.  I wrote this song driving home from work, and the chorus makes me really happy.  I was in the power pop sweet spot on this one...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Free Throws, Muscle Memory, and Letting Go

Yes, I'm on a basketball kick right now.  And it has made me realize that there are some striking parallels between free throws and songwriting/ performing.  Take a little journey with me...

As the Kaenon receptionist, I used to have a set time for lunch every day.  Like clockwork, noon brought with it the promise of a burger or tacos or a chicken salad sandwich then about 20 minutes of reading articles on  A pretty sweet respite in the midst of business, but not very productive and certainly not life-enriching.

Now in a new position, I don't have a set time for lunch.  In fact, I'm so busy that I have to make time for lunch.  Most days are spent eating lunch at my desk while sifting through the day's numerous tasks.  It's much more efficient that way.

BUT... I still have to clock out for lunch.

AND... the weather has been much nicer lately.

AND... we have a half court right outside our building...

SO... I spend my clocked out lunch... shooting free throws.

I've begun a daily log which keeps track of my free throw shooting progress.  After warming up for a bit, I shoot 10 free throws and keep track of how many I make.  Day 3 is tomorrow.  The first 2 days I shot 7/10 and 2/10.  A whopping 45% free throw shooting, which is really, really, really (think Shaquille O'Neal) bad.

SO... I spend time during warm up working on my form.  Making sure my arm alignment is good.  Remembering to flick my wrist.  Concentrating on focusing on the basket as I shoot.  Trying to keep a consistent trajectory.  You know, focusing on the minutia of free throw shooting.

All of this focus is fine and dandy.  But there's another aspect of free throw shooting that I find interesting.  Every couple free throws, I forget about focusing on the minutia, and I just let go.  I don't think about anything really.  I just shoot the ball and feel it going into the basket.  And, lo and behold, it goes into the basket.  Without me doing much more than relying on muscle memory and instinct and the good habits I've established.

Which brings me to the point of this post:

Free throw shooting is a lot like songwriting and performing.

Yes, you need to focus on scales and chord shapes and tempo and lyrics and rhythmic flow and the minutia of songwriting.  But, every once in a while, you forget about all that, you let go, and you just feel your way through the song.  And it clicks.  The ball goes in the basket.  The crowd gets it.  The song accomplishes its task and touches the listener.

I'm looking forward to shooting more free throws and writing more songs... and letting go...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Shooting Baskets... and Image

I just finished shooting baskets on my lunch.  I'm a little bit rusty, and it shows. 

Shooting baskets or riding a bike or writing songs are pretty similar in that if you don't do it for a long time, you end up being pretty bad your first time back.  You still know the basics and can stumble your way through it, but it's obvious that you've taken a break.  Luckily, I've been writing a lot of music lately, but there's always opportunity to get better.

I don't know what this has to do with shooting baskets... maybe I just wish that I had spent as much time writing music as a kid as I had playing basketball....


I posted this about 8 hours ago and have had some time to think things through.  I've come up with two conclusions:

1) Filler blog posts are about as useful as filler songs on albums, which is to say that they're not useful at all.
2) I figured out what this blog SHOULD have been about.

Shooting baskets made me think about playing pick up basketball at the park.  When I was a kid, almost every holiday meant getting to hang out with my brothers-in-law, which inevitably would lead to us walking to the park to play pick up games with some of the local baller shot callers.  I would always "dress" the part: baggy Nike shorts, my Allen Iversons, sleeveless grey shirt.  This attire let everyone know, "I'm a player.  Don't mess with me.  I'll light you up on that court, son."  Regardless of whether or not I was good, looking good seemed to be good enough.

Such is life.  Image is everything.  The image we put out there, the character we portray, the subliminal messages we send, all of these things make people instantaneously judge us.  When I was playing those games, I might have looked the part, but if I was tossing up air balls and dribbling horribly and constantly turning the ball over, it didn't make a difference.  Image was not everything.  And it shouldn't be everything.  It should only be an indicator of what you might expect.  But the proof is in the pudding.  I don't listen to bands because they look a certain way or fit a certain image.  I listen to them because they have amazing songs, songs that speak to me, songs that get stuck in my head and bounce around for days.

And yes, I know that image is a huge part of success these days.  And yes, image can carry you a long, long way and can even be a part of the formula that pushes your act to the heights of success.  All I'm saying is that if image is all you have, if image is your fallback, if you're gaining eyeballs and ears with image and losing those same potential fans because you suck... maybe you should spend less time on image and more time on the music.  Image should be a piece of the puzzle but it shouldn't trump good ole fashioned talent.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The Good Songs Stay with You

We all know when we like a song.  But it's hard to describe why certain songs mean more to us than others.

Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" is probably the closest thing I have to a favorite song.  From the opening hammer on chord to the pre-2nd-verse lead guitar noodling to the distorted guitar bend punctuation in the 2nd and 3rd choruses to the climactic falsetto on the last "say it ain't so"... I love this song.  And just disproved my theory of being unable to describe why certain songs touch us.

But aside from the technical aspect of "Say It Ain't So", which is completely describable in a very clinical and musical sense, there is another side to the song.  The artistry of it.  The objective part.  The part that makes it one of my favorite songs.  And all the great hits have it.  Each song that instantly transports you to a specific moment in your life has it.  I hear "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind and can feel the summer after my freshman year in high school.  The opening bass riff of Offspring's "Bad Habit" transports me to the parking lot of my elementary school during sixth grade.  The plucked guitar notes of "Dunn the Worm" by Sugarplastic reach my eardrums, and I can literally visualize my 1st year dorm room at UCI.  Every single song has a special little section of my heart, and whenever I want to visit that section, all I have to do is take a listen.

I want to write and play and sing music like that.  Music that takes you back or forward or just away.  Music that you can't help but remember because it has "it".  I can only hope to touch one person with my music the way each of my favorite songs and bands and artists has touched me.

"I can't help but grin every single time..."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Important Decisions

Sooooo... my last post was about switching to an EP from a full length album for my first solo effort.  And not even a day later, I'm reconsidering.

I'm taking an inventory of all the songs I've written, and it's beginning to become difficult to single out songs for an EP.  Already I can list 6 or 7 or 8 or 12 songs that I would want to flesh out and record.  I really should just record acoustic demos of all of my current songs then go down the list and see which ones fit and which ones don't really gel with the rest.

I also need to decide what type of album  I want it to be.  Am I going power pop full band or stripped down anti-folk or acoustic electronic or indie polka...?  My indecision burns deep.

And do I want to try and make it a concept album?  I've considered making an album dedicated to Chase.  But there are plenty of songs that aren't about Chase that I would want to record.  Also, which songs to put on a solo album and which songs to save for the Oh Girl album?  All these choices are enough to make my head spin.

I think the first order of business should be acoustic demos of each song I've written.  Maybe add basic bass lines and even some sort of drum track...  I've got my work cut out for me... and I can't wait!!!

Saturday Song #4 and Insomnia and an EP

I'm a night owl.  Can be dead tired at 6:30pm, then hit my second wind and stay up till 2am, no problem.  Not so good if you're trying to be up for work at 7 in the morning.  Perfectly fine for those late night bouts of creativity from which so many brilliant songs come.

It's at times like those, the 1:30am creative sessions, that I wish the most for a lockout.  Then I could go hole up and make music till my eyes burn.  And it would be good.  Or horribly horrible, but documented, nonetheless, which means it would be good.

I've decided that I'm going to record and self-release a solo EP.  I'm really excited because just making the decision to record an EP instead of a full length has made things much clearer.  I already have 5 really good songs in mind (possibly 6) and they're all linked thematically and stylistically, which is somewhat of a surprise.  And I've got a title, and ideas for artwork, and an entire campaign that ties everything together.  The way things are going now, I hope to track and mix everything by June and maybe even plan a trip up to San Francisco to do a show, if everything falls together.  At any rate, just typing all of this out is making me that much more motivated to make it happen.  Get.  Her.  Done...

And now for Saturday Song #4!!  This one's a somber one about love and making mistakes and making things right.  Enjoy...

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Say It Ain't So

True or False?

"I don't have enough time to make music."


You have more than enough time every Saturday from 6am to 12pm. Time enough to drive up to your parents' house and have them watch Chase while you track. Even if it means getting creative with acoustic percussion sounds that aren't super loud so you won't wake Chase up if he's napping. Or time enough to track some acoustic stuff for at least an hour every evening. Or time enough to set aside an hour every Sunday to record instead of watching TV. More than enough time.

The title of this post is the title of my favorite Weezer song, which was playing when I first started writing this post.  And I was sitting at work, thinking about making music, and wondering why I don't devote more time to my passion.  Why do I choose to do other things when I'm so drawn towards music?  Why watch TV?  Why surf the internet?  Why not throw on an album, or pick up a guitar, or plunk out a song on the piano, or come up with sounds that mimic drumkits using only household items?  Because that's way more productive than being lazy and a consumer and a bystander and an observer and... a typical, every day, run of the mill person.

It's just so hard, too, though...

In other news, I'm going to be providing some mood music for a fundraiser for A Wish for Animals, a 100% non-profit no-kill rescue for homeless animals.  It's on May 1st and you can find out more info at the event's website:

It's going to be a great event for an even greater cause, and I hope I see you there!!

Self-Doubt is my Self-Helper

Self-doubt is such a creep.  A straight up, makes me wanna punch it in the face kinda creep.  Key its car, flip it off, kick it in the shins kinda creep.  Spread rumors about its penis size, joke about its haircut, make fun of its clothing kinda creep...

Wait.  Let's look at the situation logically and without emotional attachment...

"My music isn't good enough."

How do I know that empirically?  Am I devoting as much time as I can to my music?  Do I practice guitar enough, write lyrics and study them enough, work on my vocals enough?  Obviously, no.  So in a way, yes, my music isn't good enough.  Because I'm not living up to my potential, I'm selling myself short, I'm half-assing it and hoping to just get by.  Which, of course, isn't good enough...

So maybe self-doubt isn't a creep.  Maybe it's just my sub-conscious saying, "Get off your lazy ass and become less sucky because I know you can..."

Thanks, self-doubt.  You've got a knack for motivating me.