Friday, February 29, 2008

Stuck In Head Tracks # 1 (Six Month Stickies)

These are the tracks of music that at one time or another,
got stuck in my head in the course of the last six months.
(In no particular order)

*Click Image to download a rar of the compilation

Longwave – Everywhere You Turn

While his voice is affected, and overly E.Q’ed
there is still something dizzyingly affirming about this song.

Xiu Xiu - I Do What I Want, When I Want

I think Xiu Xiu is hit or miss.
But their best songs are really fantastic,
this one is up there with “I Luv the Valley, OH!” and “Clowne Towne”
I really like the use of voice as abstract horns.

Hot Chip – Wrestlers

This song was love at first sight. Perfectly cheesy and groove-able.
I imagine a music video of my Friday night drawing group
dressed in crappy wrestler/super hero costumes
doing slow motion elbow drops on our sketch pads at restaurants
and walking in cheesy dramatic slow motion.

Sticky point:

“He’s not dressed for a cage.
He’s robed in garments strictly for another age.
Here we come, drop kick,
half nelson, full nelson, Willie Nelson…Willie Nelson.”

Animal Collective - Banshee Beat

I didn’t like animal collective for years,
Then they suddenly clicked with me.
This song was the first to really infect me,
the slow silken intro,
becomes peppered with clacking drum sticks,
increasingly melodic vocals,
then the orienting tom hits eventually explode
into full blown yodeling of “swimming pool”.
So satisfying.

The National

I need to just say first off:
Boxer (most recent National album) is mind-blowingly amazing.
It has that very rare, special “extra”,
that makes the album far greater then the sum of its parts.

It’s the most cohesive and deeply penetrating album I’ve heard in years.
I don’t remember being this impressed with an album
since OK Computer over a decade ago.

Every week a new song off the album got stuck in my head.
These two were the most penetrating.

The National – Slow Show

This song took the longest to really hit me, but made the strongest blow.
I imagine sitting on the couch waiting,
watching my future wife dressing through a open doorway,
before we go out to dinner.
Like the Eric Clapton song “Wonderful Tonight”, but much less on the nose.

I love the moaning guitar scratching in the background and the outro,
with its simple driving drums and introduced piano,
with the deceptively simple (and therefore all the more powerful) lyrics and vocals:

“You know I dreamed about you. For 29 years before I saw you.
You know I dreamed about you. I missed you for, for 29 years.”

Sticky Point: 1:42

“I better get my shit together, better gather my shit and
you can drive a car through my head in five minutes,
from one side of it to the other.”

The National – Start a War

This was the first song to infect me.
Speaks directly to my somber sentimentality.
I love the ambiguity of the central threat in the lyrics.
The quite background ringing that almost sounds like a choir
swelling up throughout the song, a beautiful understated touch.
My favorite lyric:
“You were always weird but I never had to hold you by the edges like I do now.”

Bob Dylan – Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

I love Bob Dylan, but for some reason this song was on time release for me.
Suddenly it became fiercely stuck in my head
and I was thinking about it throughout the day for at least two weeks.
The poetry is so compelling.
I imagine a music video starting with him sitting on a stoop of a farm house at dawn.
Pulling on boots, caked with dirt, then starting down a country road,
the camera tracking with him at a front three quarter angle,
keeping him and the increasingly receding farmhouse in the frame.
He is non nonchalantly singing the lyrics, as if to himself,
and takes a harmonica out of his army surplus jacket pocket
to join in on those sections.

Tones On Tail – Lions

I just discovered this band,
and instantly fell for their semi vacuous space
swimming with synth sounds and bass beats.
This song I think gels their sound the best,
and plagued my brain for about a week straight.
I like the clacking wood peppered throughout
and the slight change in tone in the vocals at 2:15.

The The – This is the Day

Deliciously cheesy,
and that’s all I have to say about that.

Secretary Bird – Morning Horses
Secretary Bird – Freaks and Hessians

I got a lot of really good bittersweet music in the last six months,
and Secretary Bird was one of the best.

More active than Low, but not as heavy as Red House Painters.
A good blend of sounds and sensibilities.
I love the sparse, echoing piano in Freaks and Hessians.

Grandaddy - Taster
Grandaddy - El Caminos in the West

Granddaddy is an interesting mix of somber, cheesy, light, and low fi elements
that re-mix in ever changing proportions on a track by track basis.
Taster is more bittersweet
(I especially like the parts “Tell him its OK, we learn this way”)

El Caminos in the west is delightfully strange and his nerdy voice works well in it.

Radiohead – All I Need

This song blew me away from the get go.
It’s quickly become one of my favorite Radiohead songs.
This song turned me into a junkie.
I was up in S.F. and every time I went to a friend’s house
I desperately asked them if they had the track so I could listen to it,
like a junkie hurting for a fix.
The poetry of the lyrics is maybe my favorite of any Radiohead song.
I would quote specific parts, but really the whole thing is gorgeous,
probably one of the most lyrically perfect songs I have ever heard.

Metric – Grow Up And Blow Away

A example of the pansy rock I’ve gotten into recently
like Black Box Recorder, Pixies, Camera Obscura etc.

Pixies – Where Is My Mind?

Do I really need to explain how or why this song got stuck in my head?

Peter Bjorn and John – Young Folks

I didn’t have any choice in the matter,
this song is chemically engineered to get stuck in your head.

The plaintive mopey female vocals are what did me in.
I mean whistling? Bongos? Slow swelling strings?
You can’t resist, don’t even try.

The Microphones – I felt Your Shape

“I felt your fall
Your winter snows
Your gusty blow
Your lava flow

I felt it all
Your starry night
Your lack of night
With limp arms I can feel most of you”

A poignant acoustic guitar song to rival Bright Eyes – First Day of My Life.

Brian Eno - Baby’s on Fire
Brian Eno - St. Elmo’s Fire

The genius of Brian Eno, back when his music was gloriously cheesy,
I like very much the delicacy of the sounds he was to mature into,
but the old brassy and sassy Eno is equally as awesome,
as these tracks evidence.

George Harrison - Awaiting On You All

I recently got into George Harrison,
I always found his persistent religious and spiritual references irritating,
but the ‘All Things Must Pass” album is ass shake-ingly good.
I find it physically impossible to sit still while listening to this song.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – Madeleine-Mary

I inexplicably woke up with this song in my head.
Took a good half week to exorcise it.

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – No Bad News

Sticky point:

The outro: “Hey little bird, thank you for not letting go of me, when I let go of you.”

Joanna Newsom – Peach, Plum, Pear

I’ve been on the fence with Joanna Newsom for years,
I used to think she was god awful,
then settled on her deserving respect,
but sounding too irritating to be worth my time.
Initially I started listening to “Ys” for the instrumentation,
then I found I no longer found her voice annoying,
so I re-imported Milk Eyed Mendor into my library
(after having deleted it years ago)
and wouldn’t you know I fell in love with it.
Peach, Plum, Pear especially.
I like the part where she backs herself up with multiple layering of her voice.

Peter Gabriel – Games Without Frontiers

I finally unlocked the awesomeness that is Peter Gabriel.
This song is by far my favorite.

Sticky Point: 2:00

“Andre has a red flag,
Chiang chings his blue.

They all have hills to fly them on,
except for Lin Tai Yu”

The Futureheads – Hounds Of Love

You know I love me some Kate Bush,
and this is a great cover.

I didn’t like it much at first, then later I did.
And that’s all there is to that.

Emilie Simon – Opium

A French guy, fresh to the states,
started working on the same team with me.
I asked him to recommend some French music to me
after a disturbing conversation
where I discovered all my favorite French singers
are not listened to by French people!
He said not even his parents listened to Fran├žoise Hardy.
When I tried to give him shit for it,
he said it would be like expecting an American to listen to Tom Jones,
and to that all I could say to that was “Touche”

One of the singers he recommended was Emilie Simon,
and this track got stuck in my head.

TV Eyes – She’s A Study

I identified with this track so much it was like looking into a musical mirror.
Actually listening to this track gave me the courage to finally ask out this woman
who worked at the Whole Foods near my work,
that I had a crush on for months.
The outcome was hilarious, but that’s another story all together…

Polaris – She Is Staggering

I recently bought the first two seasons of Pete and Pete,
after fondly remembering the show for years.
I was nervous that it wasn’t going to live up to the mythic memories I had of it.
But it was actually better than I remember.
One thing I didn’t fully appreciate the first time was the music,
and hearing the amazing songs by Polaris weaving through the episodes,
required that I buy the soundtrack.
This song and ‘Hey Sandy’ are my favorite.

Broadcast - Corporeal
Broadcast – Small Song IV

Broadcast is maybe my favorite band of all time.
And there is a constant rotating roster of their songs getting stuck in my head.

“Sunlight creeps across your pillow,
silver leaf falls from the willow.

You are so young,
a flame left from the sun.”

- I feel like Broadcast’s music is birthed from another world, (like Joy Division)
and their music just leaks into our world through a crack in a stone
somewhere in the mountains.

The Black Keys – 10 A.M. Automatic

I don’t know why anyone listens to the white strips
after discovering ‘The Black Keys”,
I love their raw visceral, un-abashedly confident sound.
Makes me want to jut out my lips into a puckered frown
and nod my head decisively.

British Sea Power – A Trip Out

Pansie boy rock march. It’s all good.

Sticky Point:

This will sound admittedly weird…
but the sticky point of this song for me is actually in my imagination
of what I expect to happen, but doesn’t in the track.
Meaning the sticky point isn’t actually in the song,
but in my own version of what I would expect from a moment in the song.

2:27 the lyrics are:
“No la-di-da no picknickers just party party in a tweety land.”

But the sticky point is my imagining
that he is going to sing:

“No la-di-da no sis-boom-ba”

and it’s this non existent part of the song that got stuck in my head
and I kept singing to myself…

Chromatics – I Want Your Love

I’m surprised this is contemporary,
sounds late eighties.
But I love the synth based ethereal quality,
plucky and bass punchy,
sown by a detached woman’s voice and shaking sounds.
This song has nice understated interdependencies
that work in such delicate consort,
yet its so simple and unlabored.
Refreshing sound from a contemporary band.

The Beatles – I Saw Her Standing There

This song has been stuck in my head for almost a year.
Perhaps the most ass shake inducing song I’ve ever heard.
Since I recently got a juicy amp and monitor speakers
(Allowing me for the first time to have high quality audio not via headphones)
I’ve been able to listen to this song blasting in the open air of my apartment.
I didn’t realize how much fun it is to cook food to The Beatles, this song especially.

The Beatles – And Your Bird Can Sing

One of my favorite things about The Beatles,
is how their genius is on time release.
I can hear one of their songs a thousand times,
then suddenly one day it clicks and I’m able to ‘get it’
and the song opens up to me in a new light.
This is a fine example of that

Sticky Point: 1:20

This moment makes it for me,
earlier in the track the same opportunity for release comes up
and is prudently left alone,
making this time around all the more satisfying.

Female Game Character Concepts

I was contacted to design the main character
of an indi game currently in development.

The setting is Victorian era London, with steam punk technology.
The main character is a delusional hobo woman
who thinks she is a elite steam punk knight,
and fights to protect the innocent.

These are some passes at her knight appearance,
as she imagines herself to look.

For reference I was asked to look at the Guilty Gear series,
for it's character design and aesthetic feel.

There were a lot of other factors I had to consider in the design,
But that’s the gist of it.

No Talking Tuesday # 23

The List:

Yea, its much less hectic

Kind of boards of c style

Actually its on my network already,
under digital shades I think.

Hot apple cider
Blueberry muffin
For here

One good earth tea (hot)

Monday, February 25, 2008

No Talking Tuesday # 22

The List:

I got nothing

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

No Talking Tuesday # 21

Alas! I made a mistake!
Or actually one and a half mistakes.

The half mistake happened at lunch
when I almost said “What?”
and instead said “Wha-“,
and then later
after being lulled into a sleepy delirium from a long meeting
I straightened up and began to ask “So what’s different…”

A sad day indeed…

The List:

One blueberry muffin
And iced green tea
For here. please

Monday, February 11, 2008

Open Mike Night Reading

I read some of my writing at open mike night
at the coffee house Java Jones,
in Santa Barbara on Sunday.

It marked the first time I had done anything public with my writing
(not counting the interwebs).

I thought maybe my darkish brooding writing would clash
with the light musical performances
and general theme of lighthearted mirth
of the preceding acts. (I went up last)

But I was pleasantly surprised that people stuck around,
and were really respectful and on board while I read my pieces.

I decided I wouldn’t try to compete with the background noise
(people talking, ordering, shuffling around, squeaking chairs etc.)
by reading more loudly or forcefully,
and instead read in a quite gentle timbre.
But to my surprise
the entire place seemed to respond
by listening with pin quite wrapped attention.
(Makes me think of a study I heard about where researchers
found that people with loud overbearing conversation styles
were listened to less then those with quite sparring ones.)

The pieces I read were well received
and it gave me a lot of encouragement
that my writing could eventually be of value
to more than just myself.

Also, reviewing my writing
for pieces I was to read out loud,
made me re-evaluate my work from that perspective.
As a result I made a few key edits
that I feel made the pieces much stronger.

Here were the pieces and order I read them:

On Almond Street

our nervous hand holds – shaking voices
the warm smashing of our soft bodies
birthed from thin shells
left to drag our tender bellies across the sand

back when you scared me beautiful
like high cliffs or wild oceans

before the cold came
the frosted streets
your wet breath – twisting the air
thin legs, big jacket
biting your lip
left behind

did you fall behind the stove
and rot like an old grape?
or stick to the window
like a wet leaf?

you’re the black pain in my fingers
when i wade through old photos
or icy waters
to capture you in a pickle jar
and wonder why your light went out

i walk the moon and wonder
(the beasts eye me carefully)
would your dark eyes spill from our children?
would you keep your mysteries closer to god?

it’s morning now
red birds scatter like hot beads
and sizzle in the wet sky

i’m waiting for you on almond street.

You Can’t Take Her Picture

A fast stroke of red soot
smeared in haste
across white fences

simmer over low heat
to bring out her natural sugars
or she leaves a bitter coating in your mouth
like an unripe persimmon

she’s the burnt out ends of cloudy skies

she’s laced up and ready to fight

she’s deerskin wrapped tight
around sharp flint

she’s a thin cymbal crashing far away
like a dusty moth you’re not sure is there

you can shout
but in a room full of wounded soldiers,
why should she care?

Clear skies and summer

You said i crushed you
and rubbed you out
your tired eyes drowning
i couldn’t stop laughing

they say
you left by thunder
using the clouds as cover

now the buildings sag together
like soggy fingers
groping the burnt sky
for the hem of your dress

at work i think i see you
i run out
in the middle of negotiations
thinking of your funny faces

its summer now
during lazy sundays
i almost hear you
jingle faintly
behind the cupboards

when the dry heat
splits wild pomegranates
i almost smell you

since you left
everything is chaos -
the cat jumps on the counter
and licks the butter.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

No Talking Tuesday # 20

The List:

Gives me eye of the tiger

It’s still casual in all
Cases, so no real deception

I tell them so

1 hot apple cider please

1 small carrot/orange juice please

He cast off all the stuff on the

That’s irresponsible

Some poor wench had to
stoop over and pick it up

I see

Monday, February 04, 2008

No Talking Tuesday # 19

The List:

I think it got the best recommendation on amazon

You don’t know I don’t talk on Tuesdays?

You can ask Mindy about it

I thought you knew

Well ill tell you all about it someday

About 5 months

I write my order or point

Absolutely no exceptions,
For the rest of my life

Even when I’m married etc.

Only Tuesdays

I can talk on Thursdays

Your expression is priceless

Don’t you think I talk too much?

You should be happy

I would never censor laughter

It would be harder, but not better

Believe me I have enough challenges

Well my spelling is horrible, so that’s not good

That’s part of the exercise

Some people here had a bad reaction

Yea, that’s what I thought

But it disturbs some people

It actually brings out the real personalities of people

Another valuable side effect

Rest of my life

Never mind

See I just caught myself from saying something I shouldn’t have

Another good side effect

Ill never stoop

Ill tell you now

Even when I have kids

No exceptions

Not really, but if someone calls and leaves a message I
can text them back

But one of my rules is I can’t shy away from interaction
on Tuesdays, I have to not avoid it

If that makes sense?

It builds up many things

Yea I guess, more about learning to listen and observe
and think more about how I interact with people etc.


What was the question?

Well thank you

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