Monthly Archives: August 2013

LUNA

I just got back from an excellent trip visiting family in Indianapolis. There are some great record stores in the world. I find that frequently they’re located near colleges, which in some ways makes me hopeful that upcoming generations are buying/listening to new music. Every time I’ve visited Indie I’ve gone to Luna on 5202 N. College Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46220. The staff are always helpful and well-informed. One year I spoke with the owner, Todd, about the resurgence of vinyl and treasure troves of forgotten artists being re-released by the likes of record labels like Light In The Attic and Sundazed. On this most recent trip I suggested to the clerk (who told me about the artists who created the concert posters for sale and who created their t-shirts) that Luna is like a sister store to Other Music (15 East 4th Street, NYC, NY 10003) for me, they’re that great! Luna’s vinyl offerings are equally if not more extensive than OM. They also host in-store shows and have a whole section dedicated to unsigned, local bands. The clerk even suggested I send my album when it’s finished (James and I are closing in on the beast by the way). So, Lynch, what goodies did you procure? Well Philip, I got Speedy Ortiz latest album Major Arcana, I’m hooked on this track (and the whole album’s great!) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2XHXX_jkKY
Nina Simones compilation, Black Is The Color of My True Loves Hair. : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv9717YTmsQ
Queens of The Stone Age …Like Clockwork: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCy8pjhl97A
Michael Fennelly’s Love Can Change Everything: Demos 1967-1972 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHp8aGdWhqc
Belle and Sebastian’s Tigermilk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ftNbsofBi0
Cleaners From Venus, Vol. 1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcoryX9O9PM

Have a great Labor Day Weekend and righteous listens!!
I’m playing at Bar Matchless 557 Manhattan Ave, Bklyn, NY Friday Sept 6th @ 8PM c’mon out!!

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Distance between ‘reporting’ and ‘making’

First off, a lot of teachers and writers have embraced the notion of ‘write what you know’. I think that’s a great, important jumping off place but I think a lot of unappreciated magic happens in the re-writing, abandoning and starting fresh and or the editing. I think things get dodgy though when one is more reporting than making. When writing a song and maybe anything there’s a question in the air of am I merely reporting how I feel? Retelling an experience? Or am I coloring it in such a way as to suit that which I wish to express. Also the hope of tapping into some greater general truth doesn’t seem (to me) like a wise thing to go for but the hope is to focus on the subject and the truth will out. I’ve tried writing a play before once or twice and found that what impeded me most was that what I wanted to ‘say’ loomed larger than real, living, breathing characters audiences could relate to…we have to hear the characters not the author. I think this is true of song writing as well. I’m not denigrating first person narrative or decrying songs written based on actual events but I think as songwriters go forth matching words, notions, images to melodies it is important to do so with craft. A careful eye to detail. Plus, often our own personal insights aren’t necessarily shared by a ton of people in the world and probably aren’t all that interesting (maybe not dissimilar from this post ha ha!). Lately I’ve been thinking of memory as faulty, as a tool which suites the current moment, whatever the psyche requires, as opposed to a true, unaltered recollection of events. So some reporting isn’t even necessarily closer to a truth than a conjuring up of words and winds of images. Reporting and remembering helps an artist get closer to their own guts (important work) but I think there has to be a letting go of guided thoughts in order to open the flow of creativity. It took me 5 years to write ‘Inkblot’ because I had a set of images which suited a notion but it was incomplete until the oil spill in the Gulf prompted me to re-address my initial idea. It took an event and an open mind to connect the event to something I had written a long time ago. I kind of hate the term ‘open mind’ because it’s been bludgeoned to death but hey if the shoe fits, wear it! (that one I like because I like cool shoes) So hey keep an open mind to unanticipated connections and the songs will flow.
Inkblot’s here:
http://www.reverbnation.com/control_room/artist/1152996/songs

Have great listens! Catch you on the flipside! -p

Alternate Tunings

So a co-worker of mine, Ryan, has been taking guitar lessons from another co-worker of mine, Tom (http://rotaryclub.bandcamp.com/). Ryan swung by my desk one day and said something like “Hey man, what’s the deal with alternate tunings? Why do guitarists do that?”. My initial response was well you get deeper sounds and you can play chords which would otherwise be hard to form in the usual guitar E-A-D-G-B-E formation (strings low to high). Also alternate tunings make slide playing easier. Conceptually though I had to parse through what it means to change the tuning of ones guitar. Some favorite players of mine play in many various alternate tunings, John Fahey, Nick Drake, and Joni Mitchell. John Fahey’s choice of alternate tuning I can grasp easily since he was usually a solo performer performing instrumental tunes and other tunings add variety. It may test an audiences patience asking them to wait while moving from tuning to tuning but alternate tunings do offer very varied sounds. This is a link to his many various tunings:
http://johnfahey.com/TuningsPage.htm
And here’s, ‘On the Sunnyside of The Ocean’, in DGDGBD which is an open G chord:

Here’s Joni Mitchell playing ‘Just Like This Train’ in an open C, CGDFCE

I’m also including this version of ‘California’ with Joni on dulcimer because it’s amazing!

Here’s Nick Drake’s ‘Cello Song’ in (I think) DADGDF# (capo on 1st fret)

Bands use alternate tunings too! Keith Richards (Rolling Stones) uses open G quite a bit and apparently without a low e-string! Stephen Malkmus (Pavement) employs many various tunings. I use a couple on some of my songs. So, in short, I encourage all budding guitarists to de-tune and re-tune your guitars, it opens up sonic possibilities and chord voicings you might not have otherwise encountered!!

I’ll be on the cable access show Deprogramming Hour tonight at 12:30AM MNN4 or mnn.org after Boy Altar, tune in (get it?)!!
Have great listens this weekend and I’ll be more prompt with next weeks post! -p

Had Radiohead heard Tronics?

I am frequently listening forwards and backwards i.e. new tunes to me today from today and new tunes to me from yesteryear. Lately I’ve been digging Speedy Ortiz new album ‘Major Arcana’ and Tronics old album ‘Love Backed By Force’. As time goes on musical relationships real and imagined form in my cranium. Today I will explore an association I made between a Tronics track and a Radiohead track. Both are British bands. Tronics was active between 1979 – 1984 Radiohead from 1993 – present day. So I had been listening to Love Backed By Force a lot and the track that made my ears turn inwards to my brain and pick out a Radiohead track was L.B.B.F. Reprise. It has a dreamy and yet rock edge slow burn like a Radiohead track, but which one? Here:

I was pretty sure whatever the Radiohead track was it was on O.K. Computer. Aha! Found it!! Here:

Now what does this serve? So what? There are songs like other songs and yeah writers take from the past make it their own and progress forward as best they can. I think it’s important to find relations and make connections in the tapestry of time in part to relate, aid communication, and recognize that every maker and made thing has its day i.e. to not lose hope and to not feel isolated.

Tis a brief one folks but you know what? I think I’ve made my point (if I haven’t, feel free to let me know)
Have great listens! -p