Thursday, May 29, 2008

All I hear is

Here's a potentially not-so-little update on what I'm listening to these days.

To start, the actual "Listening Project" proper, as it were, has been dragging its heals. One reason, mentioned previously in this blog, has been the presence of so many artists that I want to take my time with. Along side that, is that time has been short what with working and all. The other, and possibly bigger, problem has been the lack of a system. When the project started I was commuting to Providence, so I had my car time as project listening. Then last summer I was painting a house in the woods and had all that time to devote to the project. I currently have no system, so things are moving slower. Next up: Gordon Mumma.

Today (or yesterday if I don't publish this before I go to bed)* I basically bought and/or ordered 17 discs. Here's the break-down: 2 I had ordered awhile ago via Amazon and they hadn't come in yet. I called and they are re-sending them. They are Nico Muhly~Speaks Volumes, and Joe Jackson~Rain, the latter of which is the only non-classical disc. Through work I ordered two new releases from Naxos, an Ives and a Varese. And what really kicked things into over-drive was the fact that B&N brought back their buy two get one free sale. So. Online I ordered Time of the Templars (3 discs set) a Lou Harrison disc, and a Ruth Crawford Seeger disc. At the store I bought, Monteverdi (2 disc) Carl Nielsen (2 disc) Steve Reich~Early Works, Kronos Quartet~Early Music, Terry Riley~The Cusp of Magic, and Philip Glass~Symphony #2. The Monteverdi and Templars discs are really representative of my increased interest in early vocal music.

And now, for what I'm being forced to listen to.

ay ya yay ya ay....

At work we listen to mostly crap. I knew this going in. I mean, god forbid we should be a music store that plays cool music. And we listen exclusively to full albums, so you know within a few seconds what the next 40-60 minutes is going to be like. There are a few discs we play that I like, mostly leaning towards the old-guy-rock category. Mudcrutch (Tom Petty's old band) Robert Plant & Allison Krauss, the new Bruce Springsteen. Although some in that range are pretty boring. Steve Winwood sounds like he's been dusting off his old Dead records, and Van Morrison sounds like a Cialis commercial. The most telling moment on the Van disc is when he literally sings "Blah, blah, blah..." for about a minute. The biggest, and most annoying, category we listen to is the female pop singers. Musically, most of them are just a highly produced beat and female voice with very little music. Almost all of them have these moments where the singer hits the highest, loudest, longest note she's capable of. Why? Why is that necessary? Most of them I find to be indistinguishable, except for the fact that I'm starting to learn which songs are certain singers. And the worst offenders are the old broads. Mariah? Who let the dolphins out? Madonna? Hard Candy is basically an admission that her music no longer gets played anywhere other than gay night clubs. The disc I probably like the best right now (at work) is Duffy. She's exploring the same 60's territory as Amy Winehouse, but without the drunken bad girl attitude. I just hope I don't get burned out on it, like I have with Amy (which I like, but we listen to too much.) Now if I could just get Hannah Montana out of my head....

*So I started writing this on Thursday, and I'm just finishing and publishing it on Sunday. Most of the discs I've gotten are pretty damn good, but I have to say that the Nico Muhly disc is quite possibly the most amazing thing I've heard in quite some time.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A little past, some present, and a bit o' future

Last Friday was an interesting gig up in New Bedford. It started out as a double gig with both Banter/3.1 and CockSlap on the bill. Also on board was a noise band called Chaos Character. About a week before the show, Harry texted me to say that House on Fire had been added to the bill. A few days later I got the poster from the promoter and it listed a band called Cyanide Dependency, but no HoF. The day of the show Harry talked to Jason (the promoter) and C.D. had dropped out so they re-added HoF. We get to the show and it's a slowish night. The guy from C.C. was whining to Jason about the attendance, saying he didn't want to play, wah, wah, wah... Harry goes on first and during his set Jason and I decided that b/3.1 will go next and then CockSlap, and that he's making the other guy wait because he's pissing him off. Somewhere during either my set or the CS set the other guy just left, so the entire night ended up just being me and Harry.

As far as the performances were concerned, over-all pretty solid. Harry's House on Fire set was good. A few lost moments, but some interesting surprises as well. My Banter/3.1 set felt very comfortable, but not so much so that it became boring. And CockSlap was way more fun than we had anticipated. I wish we had gotten pictures of Harry in his spelunking head-lamp.

Skipping ahead to the future, I have decided what my next big project is. For right now all I'm going to say is that it is a five part silent film with an all original soundtrack. It will most likely revolve around the character of the Colonial Synth-Rocker.

And now, for now. What may be the most interesting thing for me currently is working on a children's website. Eh? Lemme 'splain. Through work I've re-met this guy Chris who lives above the store next door. Chris is an old punk rocker and a graphic designer. He's currently working on a flash animation website for kids, but funky, like for kids whose mom's have tattoos. The site will have a musical element to it as well. We met the other day in his studio and he wants me to help him out with the project. We didn't discuss any specifics about what I'd be doing (composing? engineering? both?) or about financial compensation, but I figure that stuff will work itself out eventually. If nothing else it will give me a way to keep my skills active. Additionally, this will give me the opportunity to learn Logic. He has a Pro Tools set-up, but he also just got Logic which has a very nice set of integrated virtual instruments. and since you can use Reason inside of Logic, but can't use Logic's instruments inside of Pro Tools I'm suggesting that he just keep it all in Logic and I'll learn that program.

So there you have it. Soon I'll try to post a blog about what I'm listening to.