So I wanna start today by telling you about the room I work in. It’s the extra bedroom in the apartment we live in, here in beautiful Berkeley, California. It’s a nice-ish little area and I’m lucky to have it. There are CD’s on most of the shelves, books on other ones, along with a few curious and objet d’trash that I’ve foolishly brought home from “the world.”
There’s a plastic toy Hello Kitty Bullet Train, purchased in Kyoto, which has a pre-recorded voice sample that says “SHINKANSEN” when you press the buttons on the top. There’s my toy Obama doll which is still in its original box, although we’re thinking of using reconciliation to break it out. Here’s what I typically look like, bathed in the glow of my MacBook Pro:
There’s my “writing” area, where I am sitting now, which has my laptop and hard drives, a printer, and a desk with varying degrees of paper printouts and CD’s that I really, really plan to listen to soon.
And then there’s the guitars and musical gear, which take up all available corners of the room. My goal has long been to find a way to have the guitars not block access to the shelves, and while I’m getting there, it’s not going well. I bought one of those mega stage racks – the kind you might see by the guitar tech off stage at a gig – and that holds five guitars in a neat, compact and easy to grab for system. I have my Fender amp, in its vinyl protector cover, posing as an end table by the fold out couch bed. I have my old ProTools 002 automated mixing console which I rarely use any more since I now do all my home demos directly on my laptop using Apple GarageBand. While they do not pay me to say this, I would endorse the product if I was better known. And if they wanted me to.
I started looking around the room because The Paul & John are heading back into Mystery Lawn Studios with Allen Clapp to make some more recordings and I’m just taking inventory of what I need to bring and what needs to be cleaned up or restrung for the session. I hate very few things in life more than re-stringing guitars.
More on that, and the whole recording process in later posts, file under “ongoing”.
I think I may have said this earlier, but I just spent over a year researching music from the 70’s and before that, I did a book about the late 50’s and 60’s. Therefore, I am sometimes a few months or a year behind in the music of’ the moment. My ear gets cocked and I gravitate towards new stuff, but between the professional demands of “rock historian” Paul, songwriter Paul and “Has A Life” Paul, the accelerated pace of new music turnover (especially Indie music) has been challenging. Yesterday, we discussed Nostalgia (with a capital N) and one of the other things I recall fondly was having the time to focus only on the newest and coolest music. That desire is still within me, it’s hardwired into my DNA at this point, so I keep trying. With the internet and social networking, it is now possible to hear not only new music but music from every era of recorded sound. So my hands and ears are full.
Here’s a few, of many, things that have impressed me of late.
Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me: A sweetly dark culmination of all that was good about Ms. Newsom’s earlier work but with a refreshing maturity now devoid of tendencies toward “baby voice” affectation, while retaining and building upon her distinct personality. It’s a great bunch of songs, in truth, too much to take in on one sitting, but the name Joni Mitchell was on deck in my mind on more than one occasion. (Is this Newsom’s Blue, but in triple album form?) I’ve yet to memorize the song titles and can’t even begin to tell you what it all “means”, but that’s a good thing. This one will take a bit of time, but that’s okay, I ain’t going anywhere.
Zeus: I actually don’t know a whole lot about this Toronto band, which was tipped to me months ago by my friend Stewart Heyduk, other than the fact that they’re part of the whole Broken Social Scene/Feist, Arts And Crafts Records scene. They’re breaking out now and touring and stuff. Apparently, they were the cover story on Toronto’s Now Magazine this week:
Zeus make really hand made sounding, rustic music (to my ears a bit like Dr Dog or Wilco, if I may make superficial analogies). They’re playing here, at Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, later this month along with Jason Collett and Bahamas. I’ll let you know how that gig went.
Until then, if this Lala link works, have a listen:
Taylor Locke And The Roughs – Grain & Grape
This guy Taylor is from the So Cal power pop band Rooney, and I stumbled upon his new band The Roughs when they opened for my good friends Sloan here at Slim’s two weeks ago. My introduction to the songs on this debut album was in a live context and even there the basic tenets of the music were in evidence. This is what we professionals call “balls up, crunchy, melodic rocking power pop” so expect hooks, riffs and just enough T Rex swagger and Jellyfish chorus mania to keep you humming while you gulp your caffeinated beverage of choice. Taylor is, and probably knows it, a rock god waiting to bust out. Will be enjoying this a bit more as well.
Here’s another lala link to a song called “Hourglass” (hope it works).
After the Sloan show, I met the band and Chris from Sloan and I helped them sort out post-gig snacks in the South of Market district. It was only when I got home and googled it that I put it together that their bass player, Charlotte Froom was in L.A. band, The Like (and is Mitchell Froom’s daughter).
Anyway, gotta go change some guitar strings now. And you know how much I like doing that.