Tall Cans EP – Coming Soon(ish)!

I know that I’ve mentioned before that I should have some recordings coming soon to share with all of you. And yes, I know that was in my blog post about my old space, lovingly referred to as The Shine Shack. And yes, I know that post was in June of last year. Just get off my back already. So where’s the tunes?

They’re coming. For reals this time. Last summer I got caught up with my newfound love of busking, and touring ate up a decent amount of time too. I did manage to get a good start on some tracks, but they sat dormant for a few months until I picked them up again this past December. I’ve now got 4 songs finished and sent off for mastering, and I should have another 2 finished within the next few weeks.

The truth is, I’ve been getting bored of recording by myself at home. When my old band recorded, we recorded ‘off the floor’ in a live setting, with everyone playing at once which I think generated a much more pure and true sound. I miss collaborating with other musicians and bouncing possibly insane ideas off of each other. I’m also not terribly technically savvy when it comes to recording either, I don’t have fantastic equipment, and I tend to hold myself to too high of standards. It’s like trying to build the Large Hadron Collider using only materials found in your junk drawer.

Excuses aside, I’ve decided to not let perfect be the enemy of good. Perfection will never be attained (especially not by me), so why fritter away attempting to deliver it? The Tall Cans EP will be available by late April in a solely digital format, because who seriously still buys CDs these days? I’ll give you some samples to whet your appetite as we draw nearer to the release date and I’ll share some cover art with you as soon as I see it myself.

Godspeed!

A very very very fine house.

Hey Hey Hey,

I’d like to begin by mentioning that earlier today I discovered how to time travel. It’s a complicated procedure, but it involves listening to The Prodigy’s “Fat of the Land“, and so far I’ve only figured out how to go to 1997 and back. There’s no time to explain anything else.

Alright, pop quiz hotshots. Which of the following is the best place to hear live music:

A) A nightclub that occasionally hosts live bands, where you can expect to see scantily clad ladies and men who look like they’re trying out for some sort of MMA league.

B) That dingy bar downtown where you’re afraid to touch anything or look at anyone the wrong way.

C) A massive stadium that normally hosts professional sporting events with teams like the Winnipeg Argocats or the Albuquerque Stinger Devil Fighters. Ok, you got me – I don’t “sport” very often.

D) Someone’s living room or backyard.

If you answered anything other than D, you’re incorrect and it’s time to take good hard look at every decision you’ve ever made in life. I’m gonna spell it out for you now why house concerts are the best way to hear and see live music.

Before I moved to Nelson, I hadn’t really experienced house concerts. I’m sure they happened in Victoria when I lived there, but I wasn’t hip to the underground scene. Nelson’s a lot smaller, has fewer venues and a had a great house concert circuit bolstered by a few dedicated and hard-working promoters. A couple weeks after moving there, I saw my first house concert featuring Scott Dunbar and Hilary Grist. It was an amazing night and I was instantly hooked. Here’s why:

1. House concerts are intimate. You’re right there up close to the artists, and the audiences are attentive, quiet and appreciative. People are there to see and hear great music, not to pick up or be picked up, not to get shitfaced, and not to be “seen”. They’re there to listen and watch. As a result, the interaction with the artists and their banter and storytelling is quite often a more prominent feature of the performance.

2. Most house concerts that I’ve been to have been BYOB. If you’re the parsimonious (See:  cheap as all hell) type like me, you can appreciate the fact that you can visit a liquor store before the show, spend $10 on a 6er and save a lot of money over what you’d spend at a bar or club.

3. Meeting people at house concerts is easy. I think there’s more of a communal feeling at house concerts that isn’t present at other venues. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s related to point #2, but I feel like the mingling between performers or sets is filled with pleasant chats with your neighbours. Typically, when I’ve seen a good band at a bar and they’ve finished their set or are taking a break, the soundguy cranks up the house music to the point where screaming directly into someone’s earhole is the only way to be heard. No thanks. I’m deaf enough as it is, so any “conversations” that take place generally consist of me nodding with a weird contorted smile on my face.

4. You’re bound to discover some new talent at house concerts. These aren’t big names that are out there on the house concert circuit. They’re small-time musicians who you may not have heard of, but that doesn’t mean they’re not amazing songwriters, musicians, and performers. If you clicked on Scott Dunbar or Hilary Grist’s names above, you know what I’m talking about.

Granted, there are a few downsides to house concerts, like sometimes you’ve got to sit on a hard floor for 3 hours until it feels like your spine resembles a Mobius Strip, but if you plan ahead you can always BYOP (Bring Your Own Pillow) and plant your keister on that for the duration.

If you live in Canadadia, and you’re interested in attending a house concert, or even better yet, maybe you’ve got an amazing space and you’d like to host, then I suggest you check out the websites Homeroutes.ca or AcousticRoof.ca. Give one and try and you may find yourself addicted, I know I am.

Godspeed!

Invert that frown, posthaste.

Bonjourno,

As I sit here sipping a smoothie that closely resembles something that Slimer may have excreted, I feel compelled to mention a fantastic band that I’ve been listening to. Damn, I ended that last sentence with a preposition. Let’s try another swing at that. A fantastic band to which I’ve been listening. Damn, that’s a sentence fragment. Moving on.

They’re called Crooked Still and wikipedia calls them an “Alternative Bluegrass” band, which I think means that they play bluegrass and none of them have grey hair. I’ve only heard their album “Shaken By A Low Sound” so far, but I’ve been captivated by their rip-roaring renditions of classic bluegrass and folk tunes, their technical mastery of their instruments, and their vocalist’s soft cooing, which does bear a striking resemblance to Alison Krauss (a comparison they’re probably sick of hearing).  Check out this live performance of the song “Come On In My Kitchen“. Listen to that cello moan!

Now that I’ve got that out of my system (which will probably soon be followed by this smoothie) I want to mention an interesting thing I’ve been seeing during my many voyages on the intertubes. In what is surely just another inevitable step toward the day when all the best musicians are robots, people are taking songs that are in a minor key (if you’re not musically savvy, think sad, eerie, or sorrowful), and using some software wizardry to modulate them to a major key (think happy, joyful, hopeful). Upon listening to these, I was amazed by how quickly our ears accept the change, and how it doesn’t take long for us to be able to sing along to the new versions. Here’s some links to majorized songs:

Nothing Else Matters

Riders On The Storm

Losing My Religion

Pretty neato, eh? That’s definitely some black magic voodoo business, and I’m assuming several goats had to be sacrificed in order for that program to work like it does. Ok, that’s all for now. I’m going to choke back the rest of this smoothie now and pretend it’s a pint of Blue Buck.

Godspeed!

 

The Paralysis of Choice: A 21st Century + 1st World Problem

As mentioned in my last post (which my analytics have informed me no one has read yet. Saving it for a special occasion, eh? Oh you’re in for a treat!), I’m attempting to be more healthy and fit this year. Years of looking in the mirror and seeing a flabby man-child staring back are nearing an end, although there will probably be days when I miss the insulation my spare-tire has afforded me.

I’m currently following a workout regimen by super-celeb fitness guru Jillian Michaels, which my ladyfriend has informed me may be mostly directed at members of the population with two x chromosomes. I don’t really care though, as the results are astounding; I’ve already lost a cup-size and my ovaries feel stronger than ever. The only issue I’ve experienced is a certain ennui caused by working out to the same music day after day. I like to get my shred on to electro-rockish stuff like Ratatat, LCD Soundsystem (45:33 is a near perfect album), and Justice, but after a few listens I get bored, and it affects my pump. Also, it just seems that there’s too much music out there sometimes, and it’s like when you fire up Netflix, and you’re faced with just too many great choices (but inevitably you end up watching Boondocks).

Lamenting this White Whine to my brother, he informed me of a site called What The Fuck Should I Listen To Now? It’s been really helpful in finding new music of a similar vein to what I like, and it’s so simple a “Real” Housewife of Vancouver (or any city really) could use it. Just plop in the name of a band you’re diggin’, and it’ll shit out a band that its computer brain has calculated you should probably maybe sorta like. I plopped in Ratatat the other day, it shat out a band called Copy. So I listened to to them while I lifted my 2lb weights, and when this song came on, I felt like I was in the video game Double Dragon and I started doing crazy roundhouse kicks and broke several lamps in my living room! It was amazing!

So if you’re stuck for new music, give that site a try and see how accurate its algorithms are. Shit, I think I just came up with an awesome band name: The Al Gore Rhythms. Googling it…….., yep, I’m unoriginal.

Godspeed!

2012: Retrospecticus

Aloha legions of fans,

We’re now a few solid and irrevocable weeks into a new year, and I feel like it would be a prudent time to ruminate on the one that has just passed. 2012 held many peaks and a few valleys, but for the most part was a positive year for me. Being the way that I am, I love to partition my optimism and pessimism, my pros and cons, and my triumphs and defeats, and this Retrospecticus will be indeed be segregated as such. Let’s get the negative Nancy bit out of the way first.

Downers:

  1. A small flurry of health concerns reared their ugly heads in March-April, I’m guessing mostly due to the stress of the end of the school year and the overall toll that 2 years of musical school and accompanying partying will do to a fella. In the span of a few weeks, I had Shingles (thankfully nowhere the general public could see……that’s right, it was on my butt), Heart Palpitations that made me think my heart was going to burst out of my chest like that scene from Alien (or was it Adventure Time?), and perhaps this is oversharing, but I found a small lump on one of my man-nuggets. That last affliction was definitely the most alarming, and resulted in an urgent trip to the doctor that involved one of my most intimate instances of Show and Tell, to use the good Doctor’s words. The lump is benign, and has since been named Herman.
  2. I suppose all good things must come to an end, but moving away from Nelson and all  of the stellar people I met there was truly difficult. I’ve especially been experiencing withdrawal when I think about the amazing crop of musicians around there, which definitely includes my wicked trio members Edward T and Patty Pants. I think my ladyfriend and I would both like to get back there some day, but for now I’m enjoying being back on Vancouver Island and making frequent trips to Victoria to see my brother.
  3. It’s been a really financially unstable year, and frankly, it’s really tough to make any sort of money off of music and I get frustrated about being broke as fuck. I’m not going to whine about that anymore though, I’ll just make a concerted effort to change it.

Uppers!

  1. The completion of music school was a huge check on my to-do list that I had been meaning to finish for quite some time. To graduate from the program, coughcough with honours coughcough, felt fanfriggintastic.
  2. I couldn’t possibly omit the highly successful and fun Twin Cans tour with the lovely ladies of Twin Peaks. We had such a great time everywhere we went (possibly with the exception of Quesnel. Sorry Quesnel.), and we’re really looking forward to doing it again soon, but more on that in a later post…..
  3. I scored a film…? Really? Me? Can I do that? I guess so. A few years back when I was talking to work colleagues about my decision to go to music school, I would mention that there was even a film scoring course that I could take, but I really doubted that I would ever tackle anything like that IRL. Who knew? I’ve now seen the finished version of the film, and it came out awesome. It should be made public soon and I’ll be sure to let you know where you can view it.
  4. I began teaching guitar lessons in earnest. Throughout the years I’ve done quite a few little informal lessons here and there with friends and what have you, but I’ve really enjoyed delving into the world of more professional, structured instruction. The funny thing is that I actually learn quite a bit from the lessons as well, like how to be a better teacher.

There’s a cursory glance at the last solar cycle, and I’m already excited about how 2013 is progressing. I’ve made some serious lifestyle changes that I’m already reaping the benefits of, and I’m looking forward to 2013 being a jam-packed and healthier year.

Godspeed!