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

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)

How To Write A Love Letter To A Bastard.

There is something particularly intimate in songs b an artist and their industry. People who create music are generally passionate about it, and the evidence of this passion is bearing constant small and large rejections, taking mega doses of Optimism X and smiling as everybody dances around you to terrible music.

I would say its almost romantic the relation tween musician and Industry, but it’s closer to God like worship and Devil fueled fears. It’s like being in love with the most popular, coldest, cruelest bastard that ever sprouted legs and walked. You are always left wanting, every day you are Last Years Model.
And we’re all dating the same chick. And one day you are in her favor. And the next day she denies your name.
So to find people kicking against the pricks in song is tradition, even if ‘song’ is the particular prick.
And of course, I love this type of song deeply. Even if you believe a singer comes off as less authentic while singing about love, when singing a bitter tribute to a record label who screwed them.
This is a big subject, worthy of a book…..but I got work in a few, so a random well loved sampling:

Pavement ‘Cut Your Hair’ – a timely guide to getting played on 120 Minutes in the early 90’s. But as relevant today as ever. And if this entire blog can be summed up in to two syllables, it is Malkmus’s sneering of the word ‘career’. He makes it sound like a joke. Which…it is, innit?

Van Morrison ‘Showbusiness’ – As far as I know, not released on anything except ‘The Philosophers Stone’ compilation, but a long, nasty, genius meditation of The Music Business cut with the perfect tone of Irish cynicism.

The Kinks ‘Rock and Roll Fantasy’ – From the Grand Statesman Hisself. This song gives me pause every time I hear it. Not simply cause its beautiful. And full of hope. But the core belief (so core its the actual title) that to dream this dream is to predict this will end poorly. Even if your the fucking Kinks.

Mott The Hoople ‘The Ballad Of Mott The Hoople’ – Mott The Hoople was on the skids when Bowie offered them ‘All The Young Dudes’. And that changed their fate considerably. After touring incessant, then a big Pop hit and endless touring, dressed like 20 year olds, being 40 year olds, feeling 100 years old. In this, lyrically the pulling apart (and simultaneously recreating) The Mott legend member by member, the real point is Ian’s voice, which sounds as weary as weary gets. It doesn’t make having a big hit record sound like that much fun.

The Replacements ‘Left Of The Dial’ – A fine slice of 1985 birth of Alternative history, but slung with enough real rock and roll and subtle lyrical imagery (Paul speaks like a Dead End Kid and it comes off like a modern James Joyce) and unhinged enthusiasm that clearly proclaims ‘We Mean It. Maaaaaaaaaaan.’

Bob Dylan ‘Positively Fourth Street’ – Which gets special notice due to the opportunity that Dylan uses the Music Industry to attack his fans. On the AM radio, even. After Dylan went electric and created an entire new form of this Rock and Roll, his folky fans turned on him. And being Dylan, it wouldn’t do to let that stand. Its viscous and totally on point.
I missed many here. I count on you, dear reader, to write my wrongs and share good F.U. songs to The Music Business.

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