Testing 1…2….Testing 1…2

Happy New Year, ya filthy bustards (it’s a type of bird and now I have taught you something).

I am a simple machine. I am the definition of sanity in so much as I do the same things over and over and make them fly.

Did I get that right? No, I did not.

So here we are at the precipice of what started this blog in the first place. If you are not aware what that means, start at the first Blog and wit till you get here.

I’ll wait. Dooo Do Doo Doo Duh Dooooo Duh Doo. Dooo Do Doo Doo Duh Dooooo Duh Doo.

(Sing along at home! the words are Dooo Do Doo Doo Duh Dooooo Duh Doo…..)

Done? Sweet.

So here I am home recording a record. A theme record. Even a concept record though the concept is loose and filled with holes. So theme.

As you can recall from just rereading every Blog I produced (you did, right? Right?? RIGHT????) that this Blog came about to take my mind off of making a record. It was a heavy record for me, emotionally, not sonically.

And when I did what people of my ilk do (record a heartbreak record and hide for three years), it was satisfying. A good record too. I’m proud of it. I had one goal for that record: I wanted someone to hear it and understand the wild weeds of how I really felt, I wanted to help someone, to let someone know that they were not alone. And I did get that.

And I should have made the goal mansions and brand new cars. Live and learn.

And then I sunk into the luxury of living a good life. I’m dumb but quite happy. She makes my planet spin and also plays a mean piano.

I always felt my own misery was my muse. I feel like I found myself in situations which would make me miserable and then all the good words flow out. It works too.

At what point though do you need to drive that particular muse to a bus stop and let them go? (See.. that is JpK fun cause a lot of that record was written on busses. I’m so fun. Look it at me. I’m fun.)

Fun.

Anyway…. Right, New Years Misery. Got it.

And by reading this you recognize that this whole process starts again. I did not create this blog as a marketing tool. Though should have. Its medicine.

And here we go again. New record that I have been sitting on has started recording, and again in a similar format to the last: obsession and excess headphone equalizing.

And when I follow myself up that path up my own bum, I will come here and complain, cajole, or worship.

Come on along.

Testing 1…2….Testing 1…2

Brush Your Death 100 Times A Day

After a brief period of death and resurrection (I should note that I neither died nor was resurrected. I do tend to be dramatic ) I have come out the other side of this mortality wormhole with knowledge. Well….not knowledge. ….let’s call them paranoia based lessons to live by. Or die by. Whatevs.

1) when we get sick, we go into Safe Mode. All higher functions miss the Start menu and you lose all ability to color your world or place your self in the frame. It’s hard to consider the Great American Novel when your your thoughts go into rogue survival mode. It’s ok.

2) freedom of choice drives everybody crazy…..to paraphrase X. And without the ability to appropriately focus on my entertainment choices, I let go and listened to satellite radio. That’s my version of giving up. And though I understand the appeal of new music discovery, I found the content was too light, too repetitive. It was good for my distracted state, but what does that say? Is the fear that if we get overly engaged we will drive into the ocean over and over?

3) life is precious. But precious things are by their nature dull. Live agressive.

4) if you survive, show off. Go public. Maybe plan a date to show off how alive you are with a dear cello playing friend. (Klekolo, August 18th @ 7:00 pm)

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Brush Your Death 100 Times A Day

See The Boss Pedal, Be The Boss Pedal: An Argument For Digital Effects In Normal Conversation

As a clear sign that I have been driven mad, I have permanently effected the affects of this particular medulla oblogata with my recording within Dante’s digital pit, I have come to the realization that digital effects are not just for music.

Furthermore, I need to make a miracle machine (which is tricky as the dog ate my engineering degree) that puts digital effects where they belong: conversations. This may require we all walk around with permanent earphones on to get the effect (big and fat), but what are words worth? They are worthless unless you can EQ them to a listenable form and then blast them through BIG reverbs.

Effects will be the new punctuation. They will say. When I create the machine. I will be hailed as yet another distraction (like iphones and Instagram and insulin) that is keeping us from becoming the species we should be, in our most perfect and docile form.

Dull. Dullllllll. Im So Bored with your plain, simply heard speeches. Do me a favor…ask me that in Flanger. Phase me, baby.

Consider how it can really emphasize the conversations you are already having?

Don’t you feel cheated when you are angry and yell at someone and it simply dissipates? Try that with a big hall reverb. Now THATS angry and impossible to ignore.

What about ordinary dull conversations with people in the grocery line? Slip in some Digital Delay…and slowly build it, so your words leave your mouth and are suddenly bouncing, bouncing everywhere, every direction, every corner and crevice of the subconcious till theres no option for anyone but to turn away and look at the Star or People Magazine.

Late night and early morning? Need to talk to people but your too wasted to form words? Compression. Everything you say will have more impact, even if that statement is ‘I’m sorry I dropped the ball on the Perkins account.’. Your manager can only admire your honesty, forthrightness and deep sonorous tones. And this is how you get a promotion.

Tryin to explain away a prior bad act? Speak clearly through a Heavy Metal distortion. Raise the gain. Speak slowly and stare directly into their eyes and watch as they get confused, a little sad and go away.

Need a lil pickup in the bedroom? Ladies love a good Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, brother. Get all Issac Hayes and shit and lay it down.

My point being that we short change ourselves in terms of appropriate dramatics. Sometimes it takes a bit o’ science.

The REAL point being this record is killing me.

(dictated but not read in Vibrato)

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See The Boss Pedal, Be The Boss Pedal: An Argument For Digital Effects In Normal Conversation

How Deep Purple Brought Me To Jesus

I have the image clear: about 7 years old in my older sister bedroom, her and her friends laughing and I’m twisting the long coil of the soup can style fat headphones (the fatter, the better. …I still stand by this, ear buds can’t hang …) and laying on the floor leafing through the LP covers as the vinyl discs get listened to and piled on top of the speaker, long dried wax and incense dust in a permanent drip on the space age black plastic stereo cover.

And though I know there was more, the art, the impossible comic book of album covers, of 4 records sticks in my head:

Black Sabbath ‘Volume 4’, Elton John ‘Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy ‘, Chicago….the chocolate bar covered one and Deep Purple ‘Made In Japan’.

Being 7 or so, the ‘Made In Japan’ cover fascinated me…..and in retrospect, maybe cause it’s the only of these records to show the band in photo. So you can imagine Highway Stars and Space Truckers and examine the front cover action shot and think ‘Yup. That’s what someone who drives a truck on space looks like.

What I did not know at the time was the Deep Purple I was listening too was as close to a true team of comic heroes Rock music would ever produce. And what they did would inform and inspire what I did for the rest of my life.

Because Deep Purple was unique and always would be. They were that Avengers style super team where each member was a fifth of the power, and without these 5 you have….oh I dunno. …Vanilla Fudge. Every member was necessary …. not the instrument they played…..them playing it.

And of course these 5 dudes created a song that went far beyond their generation, far beyond their own life span as a band….and surely as corporal beings. You know the tune. ‘Duh Dunh Dunhhhhh, Duh Dunh Dunh Dunhhhhhh….’ etc.

THE riff of Rock written by bass player Roger Glover, who wrote others. He was perhaps the most restrained, most common in appearance. …and there lied his mutant ability to produce timeless riffs.

Ian Paige was always a cult figure, a deeper Neal Pearl style worship amongst those who know. This was beat (in perfect paradiddle) into my head by my old friend Vic who was so stupidly talented, he learned these Paice driven monsters beat for beat. And to simply watch him play with (big and fat) headphones on was a revelation to me if what drums REALLY did if you watched someone who knew how to play them proper. Ian’s ability was to make it look easy and simultaneously impossible.

Jon Lord. He was the heart if this sound. This was not simple worship of Hammond B3. It was using it as a tool, and pushing the good taste and warm whirly tones into an over driven groans and wails and the low rumble of (big and fat) American automobiles. He was the strong one, the honorable one, the mad scientist who ain’t that mad.

And the difficult one, the dangerous unpredictable one. The one who played with black magic and risked his soul within the complexity of each incredible solo. And the one who started me on my vague obsession with megalomania. Mr Ritchie Blackmore. He was Dr Strange with a stratocaster.

And on vocals and bongo, Jesus Christ.

Ok. Ian Gillan was not actually Jesus Christ. But he did play him on the stage. And through this, at a later age than church would prefer, I came to know The Passion Of The Christ.

It’s hero worship. When your a fan. …a real fan….you track down where your hero’s come from. And in this fashion, me and my friends came to know Jesus Christ Superstar. And despite being Sabbath obsessed darklings, we came to know every word. Every plea, every plot of the Christ story. And to this day, this is where my true understanding of Christ came from.

But one doesn’t get defined by being Jesus. ….Jesus aside. Ian Gillan was one of the best singers in and out of Rock. And looked damned good doing it.

There is no band that ever sounded like Deep Purple. And there will never be again.

Jon Lord left this plane for farther shores. And I think he is still out there, awaiting the call to save us.

SAVE US.

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How Deep Purple Brought Me To Jesus

The Fifth Horseman: Playlists

What is an album?

For the sake of clarity, Ill put a definition on it: approximately 45 minutes of a single artist or group of artists (or ‘band’ as the kids call them today)whose intent is to capture your attention, imagination and share some personal POV’s….or big comic book epic’s about Norse Mythology, whatever.

The expectation was that if you can create a ‘single’, a pop length taste with hooks and ‘legs’ (thats Hollywood talk I’m just misappropriating) then that would serve as bait for you to buy a Long Player. And take a trip inside the mind of the artist.

There’s a certain level of bait and switch in 85% of these releases. We have all bought a record based on a single and came away disappointed. I don’t believe there’s any guile attached to this. It’s only natural to lead with your strongest move, and if you could dance to it, all’s the better.

It’s craft. It’s musicians giving you what you want….but adding in their own acts of personal exploration and musework. And all it costs is 45 minutes of your time. A worthy investment…if the album doesn’t suck.

What is a playlist?

A playlist is a bait buffet. All killer, no filler. No single artist, songs based on moods or holidays or just for kicks. Some playlists capture a time they were created and always bring you to that point. The songs act as photographs reminding you that you of forlorn summer or that you once loved Terrence Trent Darby.

In a sense, you become the artist. You create the moods, call the causes and use your own sense of what works using others work. You mix era’s and genre’s, speeds and volumes based on whatever you feel like. Why make ‘Blood On The Tracks’ when you can create ‘Divorce Playlist Volume 1′?

When we discuss whats destroying the Music Business, let’s call it for what it is: Freedom. The freedom of the listener to cull through the history or recorded music and pick the particular tastes they savor. It is creation. It’s imaginary radio where you are the DJ, the sponsor and audience.

As a recording artist, it is a frustration. As someone angling for that 45 minutes of your time, it’s another obstacle. Another distraction in an increasingly distractable world.

What happened is music making moved beyond the music makers and became the trade of anyone inclined. This is progress. This is new.

And the one thing Playlists offer is discovery. You can find sounds you never heard before but love as much as your ole’ Ian Hunter records. Carefully cultivated and collected in a thematic list.

Spotify is not the problem. Nor Apple Music. YouTube. It’s freedom of choice that buggers us. So we must stop freedom of choice at all costs. Individuals deciding for themselves has made this world sick and shallow.

Do I believe that? Sometimes, yes. Is it true? Yup. The war between being a fan and an artist too is harrrrrd.

As for me….well, I write singles.

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The Fifth Horseman: Playlists

Free To Be Freaky: In Praise Of They Might Be Giants

My Fellow Americans.

I’ve come to you today to discuss the meaning of true Independence. In its most effective form. I am here to praise the American Weirdo.

For I have known them. I have sang their songs, eyes closed, every lyric accurate.

I have clapped and stomped for returning weirdo heroes. I have waved flags and pledged allegiance with simple slogans like ‘Everybody dies frustrated and sad and THAT is beautiful’ or ‘I’ve built a little empire out of some crazy garbage called the blood of the exploited working-class’.

I have seen great mobs of people from every conceivable age, race, religion come together and jump at once to the sound of accordion and large, miked stomping stick.

The uniform they wore was a huge giddy smile. Everyone of them.

For I have been to a They Might Be Giants show.

If you create something that is completely original, wholly unique, a true extension of your weirdo nature, a couple of actions are expected.

1) you alienate everyone
2) the few you don’t freak out are your audience. Cater to them. Water them, watch them grow.

And as you challenge the existing system we call The Music Business, you don’t settle for acceptance. You aspire to more. You create free phone songs and truly groundbreaking videos that quietly kickstart ‘alternative music’ a decade before the term was coined.

And you keep your eyes on the prize. Be good to your audience, give to them fully, freely. Let your enthusiasm, your absolute freak-muse, infect the people.

And keep working. Let the land rise to meet you. These connections will gain there own space and invite you in. And these shoulders will carry you into the wider culture.

But the culture is fleeting. To attempt to capture the culture is to bore the culture. The culture only desires the things that no longer need it.

So be not distracted. And start touring with a horn section cause the opportunity allows.

And you succeed. You become that invaluable element in so many lives. You do it well, and your odd peeps will teach their children using your words, your sounds, your bizarre character.

It’s a truly American story in it’s purity and hope. And how hard work and weird ideas can be a commodity. And it is as true now as ever.

This 4th of July, celebrate appropriately. Put on a big fake prosthetic fore head to cover up your real head. And grab a guitar and sing a verse of ‘Alienation Is For The Rich’ and see who sings along.

Weirdo.

gia

Free To Be Freaky: In Praise Of They Might Be Giants

Lessons Best Learned Via Parasite

It is NOT a dog eat dog world. If it was, there would be many more half eaten dogs laying about. It IS a dog eat dog food world. But as axioms go, it’s a bit thin.

No, the world itself is a dog. Domesticated, generally, but still a wild creature. Unpredictable. It will greet you with slippers almost everyday. But will occasionally bite you. Hard.

No, if you want a lesson within the dog dynamic, let’s call it for what it is: you can’t find a better teacher than the tick.

This doggy world has two types of travelers: the fleas and the ticks. The fleas are not particular in their needs. They have abilities to leap into different worlds (like perhaps your needs would be best served by taking up residence on an Irish Setter?). They have no commitment to this dog in particular. They are shallow and light as air. Bright light would shine right through them.

You know fleas. They generally come up in cautionary tales. Someone who had such potential but they lacked patience. So they bounce. And they will forever bounce until their short life span ticks down. And in those last seconds they wish desperately to come back in some next life as a butterfly or a Datsun.

They lack the courage of their convictions. They bite and run. They irritate and….well, flee. And ultimately the endless fleas become a memorial roll who you barely bothered attaching names too.

Be the tick. Focused. Visceral. Get your hooks in and feed. Become part of your doggy world; let its blood flow into you, become one with it. Own it, at last. Own it. Have no fears of the cigarette end nor tweezer. When they come for you, dig in. And if you can’t stay, can’t outlast, persevere, leave something deep down to remind them of you.

Infect this world. Ride it out. Don’t let yourself be thrown away.

Do not let go. Never let go.

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Lessons Best Learned Via Parasite

High Five My Ghost, Ya’all! (Clap!)

OK, Here I am. But I’m not really here. I hear a mystery ‘click clack’ of keyboards, so I know I exist somewhere. But I’m not here.

This is my state lately. I’m a ghost in this world. I keep my obligations. I show up for appointed work schedules. This week I’ve even performed before a lovely crowd of New Haven eccentrics and held my eccentric own. All of those folks saw me live in technicolor.

But I wasn’t really there. I’m always elsewhere these days. Even as I type this, my real desire is to go find a cheap, build able sound baffle.

I’m making a record. It will be out come spring…
OK, not spring…a hot summer release….
OK, maybe not.
Fall. Definitely fall.

Writing songs, capturing moments of angst or joy, in a slow hymnal or quick yip jump fashion is my calling. And good fortune gave me a voice to sell them with and a rudimentary understanding of guitar that allows the songs to get writ.

What I wasn’t provided with was the technical way of thinking that engineers use to wring out the full potential of simple songs into hushed or clattery moments of beauty. A sense of appropriate miking techniques. A subsonic sense of hearing squeaks and bumps as they happen so they don’t haunt come the mastering. I’ve decided at this point to not only learn all this stuff, but create what I believe will be a proper representation of myself in sound, lyric and style. And one I will die defending.

If its listenable. At all.

So as you see me, shake my hand, write me and get written back, know that beneath every word is a distraction. As I provide valuable customer service at my job, I’m really trying to remember the myths associated with ‘Pet Sounds’ and doing the math to see if there is anything in them I can use.

As I drive to said job, I now travel with a coffin sized bag of Cd’s basically encompassing the history of 20th century recorded music trying to note the subtleties / similarities tween Howling Wolf and The Hold Steady.

If you see me shopping and stop me, I will appear completely corporal and present, but I’m really trying to figure out what the fuck lo-fi really means? Is it a reduction of instruments used…or using the standard set up and recording it poorly? Cause one is called ‘folk’ and the other is called ‘garbage’.

Which raises the important question: what is a quality recording?

I grew up listening to the classic 70’s records, as I was force fed classic rock via the radio. This was, in my opinion, the beginning of the Big Record Fetish. Huge monster drums and rumbly bass, cutting guitar and multitudes, many, choirs of virtual angels mixed in with church bells and congas and Moogs by the mouthful.

And this casts my memory back to the days when something called ‘Behind The Music’ was on (kids, ask yer parents) and how castles and haunted mansions, scores of weirdo hanger on’s grabbed a shaker and contributed, and how the record company paid for it all.

Till the bottom fell out mainly based on some crazy culture’s feeling that music should be free. And they freed it.

Not my point….my point is what is a good recording? The BIG records….the Zeppelin’s and Electric Ladyland’s…..the wispy drug fueled progressive records…. are not what I listen too now. And I haven’t for a long while.

What I listen to is best described as stark and minimalist. My Holy Grail, The Mountain Goats. My conscience, Vic Chesnutt. Old Leonard Cohen records. Muddy Waters on Chess. Sparklehorse

What matters to me is purity, subtlety, and this is where I’m drawn. I have no issues with the quality of the recording, the click clank of tape recorders, the shouted out ‘1,2,3,4’, the misplayed chord on a single tracked guitar. It thrills me, to fall in so deep to music, and it doesn’t matter if anyone else understands it.

So then….why do I feel the need to make a BIG record which is clearly beyond my ability and interest?

Whose approval am I subconsciously seeking? Griel Marcus? Yours?

Music is practically free. But now, so is the musician. We need not fit the suit that will make us a Superstar (Johnny Bravo style). Odds were always long and have now gone astronomical. We are free to be what we wanna be, Marlo.

I sound convincing, don’t I? Yeah.

Meanwhile …. there is beauty in creating. Even alone, confused at what to do with my Send’s and BUS’s. Hopelessly lost in my effects. I add a guide vocal for cello recording Sunday (shout out to Julie Kay! Hi Julie, see you tomorrow!) and get lost in a moment, the guitar in my headphones, I sing a sad song and connect with the lyrics I barely remember writing. It all came back to me in a flash and I remembered every injury, every wound that made this record important to me.

Make the record you want to make. Don’t over complicate it. Keep it pure and simple.

And send half your tracks to a legitimate scientist to record.

And if you see me this summer (which you likely won’t. I’m making a record), forgive my distraction, my 1000 yard stare. Pretend I’m there.

But I’m not. See you come fall.free2be

High Five My Ghost, Ya’all! (Clap!)

Sometime’s I Almost Feel. (In Memory Of The Attractions)

A blog on Memorial Day Weekend? Why???

Why not just write it and bury it in the ground? (Cause the geocache’ers will find it and sign there own name and let the coordinates slip).

Is it at least in some way relevant to this Holiday based on memorializing our fallen heroes? (No. Not even a little. I’ll save that for people who just MIGHT get read on Memorial Day)

Why aren’t you outside? (causes your Mama’s not. So there.)

Since I am clearly writing for an audience of one, I’m gonna throw a shout out. Hey JpK! (Hey! High Five! )

No. This ones for me. And it’s about what to me equates to the best band Rock and Roll ever produced. And I’m clearly not seeking a consensus on this.
Take a truly masterful and epic tick tock madmeister of timing, who creates big weird rhythmic Universes within simple and short A-B-AA-B-AA-B song styling, drummer to the Sultans, Pete Thomas)…

Add the quirky twin to this soulful cyborg, a bass player capable of holding down, driving on, creating weird hooky high lines (his work on ‘This Years Girl’ still operates as ‘perfect bass’ to me), a perfect touch for a kiss or a stomp, the 4 string king of suburban soul, Bruce Thomas….

Factor in musical prodigy quality music theory and farfisa based dramatics, part Leonard Bernstein, part the Che Guevara of melody, a real Mad Doctor feel and just killer imagination for turning ordinary basic songs into deeply felt cinema scene and themes, the best name in Rock and Roll, Steve Nieve…

And lead by the scurrilous, scabrous bespectacled bard of longing and liking, skilled with abilities to weave syllables into fabric that can coat poor misunderstood boys and girls, to bright for their own goods. The slash and absolute-itude of rhythm guitars, the contorting emotional cannibal originally known as Declan but upgraded, evolved, promoted into royalty, Elvis Costello.

Ladies and Gentlemen (meaning Jason), I introduce to you your favorite music if your not a dickweed, Elvis Costello and The Attractions.

I don’t expect nor care if you agree. Based on all the bootlegs a boy can buy, this was an incredible and unmatched set of lads live. On fire isn’t enough. We need discuss the atomic to get even in the ball field.

Live they combined punk fury fueled by the good ole’ days of cocaine, the beauty of listening to the appropriate amount of music from all over the planet, so the country is country, the soul is soul, the snozzleberries taste like snozzleberries. Wicked twists and turns of tight practiced over toured enthusiastic burning out and upwards.

Let’s talk Long Player records. From ‘No Action’ to ‘I Want to Vanish’ that is decades of brilliant adult themed pop music. And each record has a different feel, a different sound, but is corralled by Elvis’s spit phrasing and Steve’s kooky carnival or sub classical leanings. When you consider that only 2 records separate ‘This Years Model’ with it’s pissed off youth fused punk rock pop to ‘Imperial Bedroom’, which is a different animal, big British, tribute laden by whatever drove the Little Hitler. But clearly the same species.

And consider ‘Brutal Youth’ and ‘When I Was Cruel’ and recognize they not only held there own against the clock, but improved, fleshed out colour with visible brush strokes. While most bands that late into career would be hailed for still being relevant, The Attractions bent the bar into twisted shapes just to make it more interesting to hop over.

And I include ‘Goodbye Cruel World’, considered one of their worst records. But still better than most other bands best. I speak of ‘Inch By Inch’ which is as perfect a tribute to online stalking as any, though written far before the Internet. ‘Worthless Thing’ with it’s accurate view of Rock and Roll myth making. ‘The Comedians’ just for that chorus (and yes, a better version was done by Roy Orbison).

And the songs. Man, the songs.

‘I Want You’…epic and terrifying and beautiful.

‘Less Than Zero’… empty apathy deeply felt, perfectly rendered. OK, his perception of America was a little bit comic book, just like Bowie. But …why not? Elvis Costello was a provocateur. A major mensch.

‘Lipstick Vogue’….Wow.

‘Beyond Belief’… Jumps into the track from the first beat and spins the lyrics, the sheer volumes of syllables and imagery attached and a vibe that is unmistakeably Elvis.

‘It’s Time’….a genius F.U. song…devastating, if the type of relationship ending at all falls in line…

‘Uncomplicated’….plodding, Goon Squad (oh yeah, and ‘Goon Squad’!!!) stomps in the room and lays you to waste, belittles your belief’s, your culture, your very DNA. In short, don’t break up with genius songwriters.

‘Night Rally’…specifically the existing footage from some long gone British pop show….my original VHS copy had weird distorted lines that ran down the left side…and based on the energy, the darkness, the fire that spilled out of every speaker and flickering tube, I miss that distorted stripe. It made this vision of a true warning of impending cataclysm and Nationalism seem like it was viewed in a loop in Anne Franks attic.

Anyway. As you go about your BBQ’s and Parades, as you soak in that sun and soak down them suds (I guess), Remember Elvis And The Attractions. Or don’t.

No one will read this anyway.

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Sometime’s I Almost Feel. (In Memory Of The Attractions)