Monthly Archives: February 2013

What’s Real?

Somewhere along the lines of this life I’d gotten it in my head that “real” music is made by human beings and instruments to the exclusion of synthesizers, processors, and digital doodads. I had the notion that the contact between the creator and his/her instrument was a communication, a meditation, an unspoken magical bond. Flesh and wood and wire and brass and bone fusing in the name of textures and tones. I suspect this prejudice was born of an early introduction to Philip Glass via Koyaanisqatsi (I dig the premise and the film and everything but I’m an antsy adult you can imagine how I felt as a kid!) I developed exceptions to these notions mainly because the melodies on Another Green World, an album by Brian Eno, were so excellent, the arrangements so rich and memorable that it didn’t matter what they were created on. I credit my older brother with introducing some really excellent stuff to the house, Eno, Velvet Underground, Iggy, Bowie, Hendrix….well I guess that’s what older brothers do. A couple of discoveries of my own, also exceptions to the invisible ban on processed sound, were The Art if Noises ‘Close (To the Edit)’ and Kraftwerks ‘Trans-Europe Express’ (the whole album). These albums were instrumental (pardon the pun) in a budding break-dancers’ oeuvre. What the kids are doing these days is off the hook (by the way).

Oh wow and also, Moments in Love (Art of Noise) I still dig that track. Simple. Melodic. Okay, the whole album (Who’s Afraid Of) The Art of Noise. The video of Close (To the Edit) undoubtedly a play on the prog-rock band Yes’, ‘Close to the Edge’, exemplified the fear of electronic music deftly, disturbingly, and yet humorously. Their anticipation of backlash from those who staunchly adhere to instruments-only was quite heh artful.

Anyways, of late there are a ton of electronically produced songs, soundscapes, dance tunes etc. None of which have especially grabbed me as emotive…many are dance-able and/or novel but not emotive in the songwriter vein (with the exception of Radiohead). Along comes James Blake with his self-titled album and electronic music is once again on my radar, alive and well. Very electronic-sounding, not trying to duplicate or improve upon an already established instrument. Processed voice etc. But for some reason I feel these tunes. At the end of the day that’s all that matters…that someone feels ’em.

Have good listens and a great week! I leave you with this (unrelated note) HOORAY RODRIGUEZ!!

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Elliott Smith, Elvis Costello and Misery

I’m a huge Elliott Smith fan (seen him 4 times, have his albums, some 7″ singles) a reasonable Elvis Costello fan (I have a number of cassettes heh 80s 90s CDs too and yet to see/hear him live) and I am no fan of, yet not a complete stranger to misery. A lot of music obsessives seem to pride themselves on knowing who played on which album and then went on to perform with whom. It’s a fun exercise (especially with jazz) like mixing chemicals. Another exercise is imagining an artists influences. These are creations which fill the gaps unanswered questions leave behind… huh? Well, I tend to try to suppose/imagine how someone might feel given their particular circumstance in life or what might prompt someone to make something at a given time. So I’m going to attempt to draw some conclusions based on common questions…how did someone write a particular song, what were their influences, can we unspin the magic and figure out how it was done? I’m going to do some creative sleuthing here, follow me won’t you?

Elliott wrote “Miss Misery” ….well I don’t know when but in 1997 the tune launched Elliott into the worldwide spotlight when it was used in the film, Good Will Hunting, and was up for an Oscar, best original song…I think they won best screenplay? Here’s that performance:  

Anyway it’s a great song.  Where’s the connection Lynch? Alright, so in 1996 during a soundcheck Elliott played ‘Last Boat Leaving’ from Elvis Costello’s album Spike, 1989…  

…which made me wonder how influenced was he by Elvis? On, “Blood & Chocolate”, released in 1986 the tune, “Home Is Anywhere You Hang Your Head” begins with the line “Here comes Mister Misery he’s tearing out his hair again” here’s Nick Lowe singing it: 

Did Elliott get the germ of the notion for Miss Misery from Elvis? Here’s a lovely version of Elvis doing ‘Last Boat Leaving’ 

Good vibes and tunes to you all!! -p

p.s.: I forgot to add this one!!

Reciprocation

Hello and hope you’re not buried in snow!

I play out with a fair amount of frequency, usually at open mics but sometimes a full hour set. This past week I played full sets at Bowery Electric and Nightingale Lounge. This coming Saturday Feb. 16 @ 3PM I’ll be playing a full set at National Underground (Archie goes on at 2PM). I know a gang of fellow performers who are supportive and talented. We’ve enjoyed each others company and songs. I have, however, sometimes felt the strange pull of “hey, I came to your gig, why didn’t you come to mine?”. Well, why does this exist? Why would I want someone to come to a gig just to fill the space….most of my musician-friends have already heard me, they know what I do. I surely wouldn’t want someone to come to a gig just in order to have me feel obliged to reciprocate. My friends have come to gigs regardless of the reciprocation question (I hope) but more in the name of support. We support each other based on mutual respect and interest in each others process and songs. But we also understand that the ultimate audience would consist of not only musicians but all types of people. Some styles have more selective audiences than others….I don’t think the Beiber crowd would necessarily be down with my tunes for instance. I’ve also felt a twinge of guilt having missed a friends performance. Guilt is useless feeling and moreover it sucks if that’s what motivates you. not.good.vibes. Plus people have lives, things come up and sometimes the brain needs different food than music. I think this desire to have an audience, share songs shouldn’t involve emotional bribery. So basically as long as we respect and support each others endeavors we don’t necessarily ‘owe’ each other anything. Thanks, dear reader, for tuning in (heh, music-blog….tuning?) brutal Lynch just say, see ya next time. See ya next time!! -p

One of the new hats, 20+ people

I subscribe to this service, Indie On The Move, which emails updates of venues looking for performers. The posts sometimes list a go-between person (booker) as a point of contact between the club/bar/what-have-you and the performer. Other times the contact is someone from the club itself.  In these announcements they list what (band/solo), when, where, genres and target demographic. It’s great on one hand because you are apprised of who’s looking for live music and lousy on the other hand because, frequently, there are stipulations like the dreaded we’re charging x-amount at the door and after the first 10 people you’ll then begin making money OR you must have a draw of 20+ people. I have yet to write a song with the intention of making money from it  and I don’t have a ton of friends who can make it out during the workweek. Getting people to come out can be difficult. People have jobs, kids, lives of their own, it can be exhausting to extend oneself beyond ones usual course of action. A lot of my friends are musicians so when they show up it’s often an act of good faith and not necessarily to hear something new. The specific number of people though is a strange pressure/requirement…..what if I don’t know 20 people? Does that make what I’m making less valuable? And while we’re at it, what has the club done to promote live music? I was speaking to my friend, Tom Fitzpatrick (songwriter/guitarist/bassist extraordinaire, http://www.myspace.com/fitztunes) on Saturday about this, he’s been playing in NYC clubs for 20years. I wondered whether live music is on the way out or if now that everyone can more easily make and share music whether there are more players than audience members? Some large shifts in peoples attitudes towards things like art and music remain a mystery in the immediate moment. Tom was of the opinion that clubs definitely used to do more to promote shows. That onus is now on the artist. I’m not very clever or slick about that stuff….I’m pretty sure I’d make a lousy salesman or haphazard at best. I love playing live and will continue to do so but I think my attempts at getting heard are best pursued online these days. Have a wonderous day folks, thanks for reading -p