Posts Tagged ‘Grumbling’

Dick Moves: A Musical Collection

January 31, 2016

As some of you might know from my various FB posts, tweets, & Instagram shots, I host the local Open Mic Night here in sleepy Port Macquarie, New South Wales, Australia every Tuesday night at a lovely little (dive) bar. It is not everyone’s cup of tea, but the longer I am there the more I can feel it turning into my kind of place. Things have settled into a nice groove of sorts (pun intended), but of course, like any job, it is not without it’s own perks and particulars.

For starters, there was….the start.

I was riding my bike out to school one fine sunny morning, perhaps last April, maybe May, when I get a phone call from a person whom I had never received a call from before. It was the owner of the venue. My mind immediately went into a state of worry, and anxiety took over as I waited for the inevitable. You see, a few days prior I had actually been at the venue, and somehow on my ride home I must have crashed into something, because I woke up the next day with a fairly dinged bicycle and a shoulder injury that still isn’t quite right.

Mark, you blew it. You are in trouble for sure.

I assumed he was calling to tell me that I had crashed into a car in the street or something like that, and that I’d have to pay for damages and that I would be banned for a year or…you get the idea.  You can imagine my relief when he merely wanted to talk about Open Mic Night. That was all. No need for panic.

So, yada yada yada, he gets to the point which is this: “We’re looking for someone young, who’s talented, who’s got the personality, who’s going to help bring all the hot girls in on Tuesday nights, and I was thinking…”

Yes? Go On.

-“That you could help us find someone?”

Oh.

Long story short, I did help them find someone young, talented, & good looking, but he was kind of boring so they eventually asked me to take over and here we are.

Of course, I have a habit of overdoing things, and this is no exception. Instead of simply bringing a guitar and setting up the PA and making sure the night runs smoothly, I’ve started bringing in more gear like drums, a bass amp, & a guitar amp in the hope of fostering more of a musical community and generally just trying to make things a little better. After all, if someone is blowing chunks on guitar and destroying a song on stage, it can make things a little better if they’ve at least got a steady beat behind them.  Not a lot better, mind you, but better nonetheless.

With that in mind, I’ve compiled a list of Dick Moves that appear from time to time…

1. Don’t ask to go up again: you’ve already played once. You’re not going to get any better. I’m sorry there are more people here now than there were before. Life is very unfair. You should know that by now.

2. Don’t hop on the drums and tune them up and change everything around. This is not a “gig”, you are not a superstar, and none of this shit matters. If you can’t make music on what is already there, you can’t make music period.

[As a rule of thumb, the more uptight and wanky someone is about their gear, the more likely they are to suck as a musician.]

3. Don’t try and bring your own drums in either. No one cares. It’s a beat. Play it.

4. Don’t murder well known songs. Seriously, this is not practice time. This is a chance to show the world a new song you’ve been working on, or show off an old favourite. Whatever, just don’t turn someone’s delight at hearing the first chords of “oh, this is a song I like” into “What the fuck is he doing?!?!”

5. This is not art, but it can be. If you don’t know how to walk that fine line, best not to try. [Trust us: you probably don’t know how to walk that fine line.]

6. Don’t sit in the front row and sing along to shit you don’t know. Best not to sing along at all, really, but some forms are acceptable.

7. Wonderwall: Just. Don’t. Do. It.

I bet there’s more than I’ve drunkenly scribbled down somewhere and lost, but all of this is really just a lead-up into posting a video that we did for the latest Royal Chant LP and forgot to post it for you all to see.

It’s called “Dick Move”, of course, and was created, filmed, and edited by my very good friend Matt Clements who is a film-maker living in NYC. I’ll spare you the details on how we managed to appear in the video without leaving Australia, but you can probably figure it out on your own (if you haven’t already).

[FYI: this video was banned from ABC Television here in Australia because “it contains excessive commercial branding.

As stated in the ABC Editorial Policies:

11.7 Product Placement must not be unduly frequent or prominent

12.2 Commercial references must not be unduly frequent or unduly prominent]

Seeing as how we’re a broke-ass indie band, all we can think is A) give us a break. No one cares, and B) what else we were supposed to use? Geez….

Anyway, if you like the video please show the director some love, because in a cruel twist in the ways of the world, the band always gets credit for a film clip, even though all they did was write the song and then stand around for a bit in front of the cameras. I’m not saying that writing a song is no big deal, but in terms of man-hours that go into a music clip, the people involved behind the camera are the only ones doing any actual work.

Here’s the album, if this is your kind of thing. It’s free, because of course.

That’s all from here. It’s Sunday AM. The cat is awake. I’m on my third cup of tea already. I’m going surfing.

xoxo

 

 

Thursday. Waste. Reflect.

February 27, 2012

Here is a shorthand, non-poetic summary of my Thursday evening:

Night off, planned to spend it writing but instead
get a call to do something I don’t really want to,
but hey, it’s for the kids at school, so fine,
I get a ride and go.
It sucks and I’m not needed in the end,
though that was clear as soon as I arrived.
So I’m stuck there, grumbling to myself,
drinking with money I really don’t have,
getting mad at anything and everything,
not least of all myself.
I put $10 bucks on a dog that comes in 5 to 1,
so I’ve got this winning ticket
but it’s too late to cash it.
Get a lift into town, drinking ciders all the while.
Hang out at soul night for a bit,
making an ass of myself.
Heading over to the pub to cash my ticket,
50 bucks quickly becomes none, shouting drinks
for friends and strangers alike.
Walk to someone’s home with some other strangers,
spill some red wine on their floor.
Wake-up early and get a lift home,
tongue parched, headache, self-pity and self-loathing.
Hate the world as well, just for good measure.
Want to spend all day in bed, but drag myself
out of it in time to teach a lesson at 4 PM.
Collect my money and go home, and straight back into bed.
That song remains unwritten.

Besides being not productive, I found some comfort in the following lines, as I am wont to do…

The first comes from T. S. Eliot, in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:

“I have measured out my life in coffee spoons”

Then my favourite Morrissey line from my favourite Smiths songs, “Half A Person”:

“And if you have 5 seconds to spare
Then I’ll tell you the story of my life”

And lastly, a line from Youth Group’s Toby Martin, from “All This Will Pass”:

“But you’re talking to yourself,
you’re as lonely and as desperate
as a kettle boiling with no-one there to get it.”

I shall not compare T.S. Eliot with Morrissey, or Morrissey with Toby Martin, or any other configuration of some non-existent trivalry.  That would be pointless, besides sheer folly.  All I will say is that I love each of those lines in my dark, brooding hours and look upon them as being very, very spot on.  What they describe, they do so very well.  It almost hurts how perfect they got it.

Cheers to you all.  Better days ahead, I hope.

The Hag Of Beare

September 26, 2011

In an angry mood, I thumbed through my Faber Book of Irish Verse and fell upon this. I liked it, and it calmed my raging, nonsensical storm. Or, perhaps it made it worse and I merely felt better. There is no specified translator of this 9th century Gaelic piece, so at the very least I’d like to credit the editor of the book, who also translated many of the works in this volume. I’m sure that if he had done this particular piece he would have credited himself, (as he does numerous times elsewhere), but alas, there is none. Tip of the hat to John Montague, just in case.

The Hag Of Beare

Ebb tide has come for me:
My life drifts downwards
Like a retreating sea
With no tidal turn.

I am the Hag of Beare
Fine petticoats I used to wear,
Today, gaunt with poverty,
I hunt for rags to cover me.

Girls nowadays
Dream only of money–
When we were young
We cared more for our men.

Riding over their lands
We remember how, like nobles,
They treated us well;
Courted, but didn’t tell.

Today every upstart
Is a master of graft;
Skinflint, yet sure to boast
Of being a lavish host.

But I bless my King who gave–
Balanced briefly on time’s wave–
Largesse of speedy chariots
And champion thoroughbreds.

These arms, no bony, thin
And useless to younger men,
Once caressed with skill
The limbs of princes!

Sadly my body seeks to join
Them soon in their dark home–
When God wishes to claim it,
He can have back his deposit.

No more gamy teasing
For me, no wedding feast:
Scant grey hair is best
Shadowed by a veil.

Why should I care?
Many’s the bright scarf
Adorned my hair in the days
When I drank with the gentry.

So God be praised
That I mis-spent my days!
Whether the plunge be bold
Or timid, the blood runs cold.

After Spring and Autumn
Come age’s frost and body’s chill:
Even in bright sunlight
I carry my shawl.

Lovely the mantle of green
Our Lord spreads on the hillside!
Every spring the divine craftsman
Plumps its worn fleece.

But my cloak is mottled with age–
No, I’m beginning to dote–
It’s only grey hair straggling
Over my skin like a lichened oak.

And my right eye has been taken away
As down payment on heaven’s estate;
Likewise the ray in the left
That I may grope to heaven’s gate.

No storm has overthrown
The royal standing stone.
Every year the fertile plain
Bears its crop of yellow grain.

But I, who feasted royally
By candlelight, now pray
I this darkened oratory.

Instead of heady mean

And wine, high on the bench
With kings, I sup whey
In a nest of hags:
God pity me!

Yet may this bup of whey
O! Lord, serve as my ale-feast–
Fathoming its bitterness
I’ll learn that you know best.

Alas, I cannot
Again sail youth’s sea;
The days of my beauty
Are departed, and desire spent.

I hear the fierce cry of the wave
Whipped by in the wintry wind.
No one will visit me today
Neither nobleman nor slave.

I hear the phantom oars
As ceaselessly they row
And row to the chill ford,
Or fall asleep by its side.

Flood tide
And the ebb dwindling on the sand!
What the flood rides ashore
The ebb snatches from your hand.

Flood tide
And the sucking ebb to follow!
Both have I come to know
Pouring down my body.

Flood tide
Has not yet rifled my pantry
But a chill has been paid
On many who in darkness visited me.

Well night the Son of Mary
Take their place under my roof-tree
For if I lack other hospitality
I never say ‘No’ to anybody–

Man being of all
Creatures the most miserable–
His flooding pride always seen
But never his tidal turn.

Happy the island in mid-ocean
Washed by the returning flood
But my ageing blood
Slows to final ebb.

I have hardly a dwelling
Today, upon this earth.
Where once was life’s flood
All is ebb.

Slug

May 21, 2011

It is a beautiful Saturday morning here, and I am still in bed.

There is nothing wrong with me, but I was, up until a few minutes ago, operating under the assumption that I would need to “load-up” on my sleep prior to a somewhat hefty excursion we’re about to undertake. Allow me to explain:

Royal Chant has just released our debut LP, Raise Your Glass & Collapse, and with that comes a fair amount of touring and promotion, ideally as much as you can get your hands on and hopefully far more than you think you can handle. (Trust me, we’re not even close to reaching either of those yet). With that in mind, last night we played a previously scheduled show at a quiet country/beach pub called the Valla Beach Tavern. (There is always something truly endearing and honest about gigs like these, and I mean that without sarcasm or condescension. It might be a cliché, but to say that the folks we meet at these gigs are truly salt of the earth does express a certain verity.) We got paid with some much-needed cash, and made it home just before 3 AM. It was loud, the people became rowdy, and there was not a shred of cynicism to be found in the place.

The problem is that a few weeks ago we were lucky enough to score a gig in Melbourne for Sunday night, which means flights, plans, scrambling, and all sorts of lovely hassles. We couldn’t really pass up the gig, as it’s being put on by a radio station and heavily promoted, so we said YES even though the thought running through our heads was HOW?!?!?!

The plan was to leave Port Macquarie at 2 AM Sunday morning to arrive at the Newcastle airport in time for our 6 AM flights to Melbourne. That would have sucked, hence my idea of powersleeping! It wouldn’t have worked or have made any difference, and I knew that, but still, I had to try.

I have since learned, however, that we have some friends who live right near the airport who are happy to put us up for the night, meaning that we won’t wind up landing in Melbourne looking like zombies with a entire day to kill and a gig looming far in the evening distance. That is a plus. But now I have no reason to stay in bed, so into the shower I go, with packing and the re-checking of the air-worthiness of my guitar cases to follow. It is not in the least glamorous or cool, but it is what we do in order to keep playing.

There is always more to say and sometimes more to come, but for now, we must be off….

Cheers & peace to all.

On crack…

April 3, 2011

My parents just left. It was their first visit to see me in Oz, and I can never recount nor express what came to pass over these last 2 weeks other than banal asides and whatnot. They did, however, leave me with a copy of The Fighter, which means that this was the first movie I have seen in the last 10-12 months.

I don’t want to get all rock star and shyte on you, coz trust me, that ain’t it. Between work and jazz gigs (which make money), Royal Chant shows (which lose money), reading (often), and writing (less often), movies have fallen by the wayside. If it makes any sense or provides some perspective, I have yet to see The Social Network, Black Swan, Avatar, and pretty much any movie released in the last 3 years. If you ever start to ask me the question, “Hey have you seen….”, I will cut you off with a sharp “NO!” before you get to the end of the sentence.

But, seeing how it’s 2:27 AM and I just got done watching The Fighter, between you and me and these bottles of beer I started trolling my mind for my favourite depictions of drugs and drug users in film.

1) I will start by tipping my hat to Christian Bale in The Fighter. Well done. If I was a true Aussie I’d use the C-word and the F-word in conjunction right about now.

2) Samuel L. Jackson as Gator in Jungle Fever. BLOODY HELL! He nailed it! That is exactly how a crack head dances. His mother’s denial and complacency in his addiction is absolutely gut-wrenching.

3) Ewan McGregor as Mark Renton in Trainspotting. Pretty much my inspiration for high school & college, sad to say.

4) Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler. That’s how I see myself in a few years. Barely blonde, bloated, facing defeat, coasting on old success, telling the same stories in the same cadence….

5) Jason Schwartzman in Spun. Yup, that’s meth. John Leguizamo is superb as usual, and Mickey Rourke shines in this one as well.

There is a lot to be said about the movies and characters I have just mentioned, but seeing as how it’s now 2:56 AM and I’m a rather lazy sod, I’ll leave it to you to do the introspection. Goodnight for now…

Definite grumbling…

February 7, 2011

Today I was closing up my room in the music shop when a smiling Mum walked in and proudly announced, “I was on the internet last week and read something very fascinating about the drums!” [Keep in mind that I’m paraphrasing here, I’m not smart enough to remember verbatim, and I didn’t have a tape recorder handy. Possibly because I don’t own one.] “Did you know there was a one-armed drummer from Def Leppard? Isn’t that just amazing, the way he had the willpower to just keep going?”

I’m sure you can imagine that my response was suitably amazed and fascinated.

Are you effing kidding me?!?!?! You JUST find this out? This lady looked like she’s got a few years on me, so if I was a betting man I would have thought that she’d be in the front row back in the day, begging Def Leppard to Pour Their Sugar On Her. Apparently not.

I’ll be honest–I’ve never met anyone who didn’t know about the one-armed drummer. (His name is Rick Allen, by the way.) I remember when it was kinda sorta news and people were talking about it, and now I’m pretty sure that it is an accepted fact and that it’s in the collective unconscious. My unborn kids already know about the one-armed drummer, and I’m pretty sure my grandmother was hip to it, rest her soul.

And that was the highlight of my day. At least, if you count getting mildly annoyed as a break from the norm.

I’ve got a few posts planned….but they keep getting away. If you remember Pee-wee’s Big Adventure, when he’s rescuing the pets and keeps avoiding the snakes at all costs….? That’s pretty much a handy image to use with this latest batch. Things have been busy and rather interesting with the band, so before I sign off for another month or so I though I would share the following kernels of pizazz:

We’ve just released our new single, “Ghosts”. You can get it off of Triple-J by downloading it HERE. Or, you can head over to the Royal Chant Bandcamp page and snag it in a much classier format. Get your limbs moving for 1:37 of snazz.


While you’re over there, you might as well take a look and have a listen to our latest and greatest, Raise Your Glass & Collapse. It is our debut LP and we are immensely proud of it, even though we try our best to be humble. You got an opinion? Then by all means, we would absolutely love to hear from you, good or bad.

That’s all for now. If you’ve got a minute to spare you can head over to Tone Deaf and check out an interview I did. As you read, you might feel your inner worth blossom.

Cheers, that is all for now….

Irreversibly Changed?

November 16, 2010

I was beaten to a bloody pulp over 4 months ago. I looked like this:

Gold Star For Robot Boy

Cheer Up, Squirt.

Last week I received a phone call from the police, informing me that the accused had decided to plead guilty to the charges laid against him (some form of assault involving terms fancy, hideous, & impressive). What that means is that now I do not have to take the witness stand and go through the ordeal of retelling my story and getting grilled by the defense. That’s a good thing, for me at least, because things have been getting steadily worse in my head since the pulping, and the anxiety of having to go to court and “take the stand” has not been helping. Looming so foreign & serious, threatening to rip me from that snail shell in which I reside.

I would like to pretend that I’m a misfit who is comfortable with crossing & taunting authority, but it is not so. I avoid it and keep to the shadows.

Recently, while roaring through Salman Rushdie’s The Moor’s Last Sigh, I came across this passage, which fairly leapt off of the page. I read it over and over, and marked the pages for later. If you would be so kind as to indulge me….

I punched, while others preferred to kick. With my bare hands I clubbed my victims viciously, metronomically – like carpets, like mules. Like time. I did not speak. The beating was its own language and would make its own meaning plain. I beat people by night and by day, sometimes briefly, rendering the unconscious with a single hammer-blow, and on other occasions more lingeringly, applying my right hand to their softer zones and grimacing inwardly at their screams. It was a point of pride to keep one’s outward expression neutral, impassive, void. Those whom we beat did not look us in the eye. After we had worked them over for a while their noises stopped; they seemed at peace with our fists boots clubs. They, too, became impassive, empty-eyed.

A man who is beaten seriously (as dreaming Oliver D’Aeth had intuited long ago) will be irreversibly changed. His relationship to his own body, to his mind, to the world beyond himself alters in ways both subtle and overt. A certain confidence, a certain idea of liberty is beaten out for good; always provided the beater knows his job. Often, what is beaten is in detachment. The victim – how often is saw this! – detaches himself from the event, and sends his consciousness to float in the air above. He seems to look down upon himself, on his own body as it convulses and perhaps breaks. Afterwards he will never fully re-enter himself, and invitations to join any larger, collective entity – a union, for example – are instantly rebuffed.

Beatings in different zones of the body affect different parts of the soul. To be beaten for a long time upon the soles of the feet, for example, affects laughter. Those who are so beaten never laugh again.

Only those who embrace their fate, who accept their thrashing, taking it like men – only those who put their hands up, acknowledge their guilt, say their mea culpas – can find something of value in the experience, something positive. Only they can say: ‘At least we learned our lesson.

It certainly seems true, but only time will tell if I am being unduly held under the sway of Rushdie’s intoxicating prose. I shall have more to say on that at a later date, but for now, that will do.

I usually look like this:

Hey Short Pants!

Fraggle Rock

Pop, Pulp, Confusion, Sleep

July 30, 2010

So there I was on a dreary day, an arm full of overdue library books and some time to kill.  Might as well pick up something new while I return the goods, hey?  The only problem is that the library is either reorganizing or there have been some severe budget cuts, because it was as if a swarm of book devouring termites had removed massive chunks of their already skimpy catalogue.   This being Australia rather than the American South, I long ago forgave them for lacking Ferrol Sams and even William Faulkner,  but today, not even a Fitzgerald?  It’s not like I wanted to read the Great Gatsby again, but one sort of expects such literary stalwarts in even the bleakest of collections.

The reason I am hoping that there might be some massive reorganization underway is because there were also huge gaps in the alphabetizing, so it would jump from, say, DA to DW.  What happened to all the poor saps in between?  Needless to say, many of the authors I had on my hit list have been put on stand-by.  Even a stalwart such as Wodehouse was missing, but I managed to skirt that particular issue by humbling myself and heading over to the LARGE PRINT section to find a few unread selections.  If I needed yet another reminder that Port Macquarie is really a senior citizens paradise in holiday destination disguise then this did the trick.  Not only is the LARGE PRINT section the largest in the library, it also has a superior selection of novels and literature.  I can take comfort in knowing that I’ll still be able to read Jeeves in the Offing in the event of a complete power blackout, it’s satirical thrust impervious to poor lighting conditions thanks to the VERY LARGE PRINT.

So I’m ambling over to the biography section, which takes me near the CD collection.  Bad idea.  In truth, I think Port Macquarie makes a noble attempt with their CD & DVD collection.  It’s small but diverse, with a modern bent which is a far cry from the stockpiles of classical vinyl and Anne Of Green Gables on VHS which can still be found in many underfunded public libraries.  The Port Macquarie library gained a lifelong friend when I found Rock & Roll Heart, the Lou Reed documentary.

I should clarify and say that the “bad idea” was my fault.  I picked up a copy of Day & Age by The Killers.  Yes, I know it has been out for 2 or 3 or 4 years now, but that means nothing to me because I miss anything and everything.  I also took a copy of Alive by the Chick Corea Accoustic Band, simply because I had this on cassette many years ago and I had a notion of liking it.  Lastly, a copy of The Best Of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Vol. 1.

For starters, I think it’s enough to say that Day & Age is already safely back on the shelves of the library, well under 24 hours later.  What the hell was that?  I’m sure that the album has been well dissected by better, more capable hands than these, so I’ll just say that I felt it lacked a true pulse.  I’m not a Killers fan, per se, but I did think Hot Fuss had a certain garage urgency coupled with it’s electro borrowings and lovely songwriting.  Sam’s Town I only remember for the cover, basically because it was so awful.  As far as photos and image go, it wasn’t very convincing.  If it was supposed to be camp, then I didn’t get it, and therefore I could only conclude, reluctantly, that I was supposed to take it at face value, which just plain sucked.  Also, I thought the image, symbol, and metaphor of “Sam’s Town” was pretty much wasted.  A good idea put to no good use.   (And yes, I am well aware of what Sam’s Town is, where it is located, and what it could potentially represent.  I get it, I get it, I get it.)

With Day & Age, I thought the histrionics had been scaled back a bit, and the instrumental “art” efforts wisely abandoned, but what was I left with?  Something that sounded like garbled Christian outreach/crossover, an aerobics mix tape, and evidence of a man’s voice that had somehow gone backwards through puberty.  Well produced?  Of course.   Sonically pleasing?  Well, my ears don’t physically hurt.  Intelligent?  At times.  Does it matter?  Not to me.  For me, it wasn’t human, and I’m not talking about the keyboards and drum machines.  I don’t care about those.  I’m talking about it’s soul, which I found lacking.

Live by Chick Corea Acoustic Band sounded exactly like three really talented guys who bloody well knew it.  It starts off with “On Green Dolphin Street”, but you’d hardly know it.  I could hear maybe, maybe, 4% of the actual melody in the entire 9:14 of the song.  I reckon that when I was younger I may have liked this, but I certainly didn’t understand it.  Now, I understand it, but I don’t really like it.  No offense or disrespect to Chick Corea, Dave Weckl, & John Patittuci though.  To me, this is music whose parts are greater than the whole, which may or may not be your idea of good music.

Right now I’ve got Nick Cave grinding away, and I must confess that I am WAY overdue for this.  For someone who holds Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, Shane MacGowan, Gareth Liddiard, Nick Drake, and Leonard Cohen in high regard, this should have been a no-brainer.  Even worse, anything I’ve ever heard by Nick Cave I’ve liked.  All I can say is that I am a slug.  That’s no excuse, but that’s all I have.

For some, extended poetic diatribes over music may be revolting.  I can certainly imagine that this could be downright boring for some, but for me it will do in spades.  I like letting the words roll in endless reams so that I forget how long the song has been going on or even which song it is.  Also, it’s worth noting that these are actual songs, and Nick is a unique singer with an unmistakable delivery, so it’s not exactly like having to sit through a freshman poetry slam.  This is well constructed stuff that just happens to include one of the finest pure lyricists of our lifetime.  The album kicks off with “Deanna” , which reminds me of a 50s diner being mauled by The Wild Bunch.  Also included is “Straight To You”, as well as “Into My Arms”, which is as haunting and aching as you could ever hope to hear.  Ache is always good.

I might as well mention that I recently asked the local “record store” to order me everything available by The Lemonheads.  Apparently in Australia, that means you get Varshons and The Best of the Lemonheads. That’s not what I had in mind, but I took them both.  Varshons is kind of a rip-off, so even though it’s sort of endearing to me I wouldn’t push it on anyone unless we had been having an hour long conversation about music and we just so happened to agree on everything.  The Best Of… is about what you’d expect.  For some reason I thought of Even Dando a few months ago, and I decided to go through his catalogue.  I kind off miss him and his music, even though each new music generation probably has their own version of him.  His songs are so short and simple that I can imagine that listeners might draw a wide variety of conclusions or opinions about his stature and talent, from “brilliant” to “banal”.  Personally,   there is something unpretentious and disarming that strikes me, and, dare I say it, comforts me.  He’s not a stark raving genius that’s all push-push-push, but he’s certainly not entirely in this immediate sphere.  A bit astral, a bit of a kindly spectre who seems to be there but keeps slipping away when I look.

So finally, I make it over to the biographies.  I’ll spare you the entire grocery list of what I walked away with, but what I was looking for were studies on the group of composers who are typically grouped as the Romantics.  The reason for my search is that, as a collective group,  I have studied them three times now, and the problem is that they are so good and all so talented that by the end of it I get them all confused with each other and I’m right back where I started.  The only one I found was Chopin: The Reluctant Romantic, by Jeremy Siepman.  That would do for a start, so I took that and my armfuls and got out of there in a hurry.  For such a slow town driven by its senior citizenry, I am always impressed by the speed of the library checkout ladies & checkout gents.  They only slow down when a granny or grampy tries to make small talk.  Apparently, small talk makes for slow talk.

That night, I had another case of dreaded insomnia.  What used to be a constant plague now comes & goes, and for improvement in even such a small measure I am grateful.  Anyway, it struck again, so I cracked open the volume on Chopin.  As I was reading the introduction it mentioned that in the back of the book there was a roundtable discussion among leading players and scholars of Chopin about the very nature of Chopin’s playing and the correct interpretation of his works.  Rather than start something massive and new at 3 AM, I flipped to appendix B to see what they had to say.

I found something perfect, something so very right that I when I finished it I turned off the light and drifted off shortly thereafter.

Without boring you with the details (and to save myself from a lot of typing of quotes), I read the words of scholars and artists who cared deeply and passionately loved what they were talking about,  and doing so in an elevated & intelligent manner.  Statements, explanations, digressions, disagreements, hypotheses–the whole lot.  They could have been talking about competing brands of toilet cleaner, and as long as they did it in such a measured and wise manner  I would have been content.  It shouldn’t be such a rarity, but for me it seemed like the rarest of crumbs.  I would not be so bold to insist that they were talking about something that mattered.  For me it was enough that they were talking about something.

Goodnight for now.

Fame ‘n Name ‘n Shame

June 26, 2010

Let’s be honest: if you’re in a band or the music industry or, really, any other creative field where putting yourself and your ideas up for public and critical judgement is kinda part of the deal, then sooner or later you are gonna come up against someone who doesn’t like your stuff, whatever your “stuff” might be.  Hopefully, you’ll also run into some people and outlets that do like your stuff, and in the end it will either even out or quite possibly you will have established global artistic domination in conjunction with a totalitarian regime which vaccinates you against any and all chance of criticism.

This post is not to bitch about a bad review.  Not even a really bad review.  Nor are we here to gloat about some good press or even some really good press. Not even to share some pretty special mother flippin’ news. In the end, they are only opinions, and the negative ones are just as important as the positive.  No, this evening I felt the urge to try and expose, in my own way, a growing cancer of the online music world.  Namely, people and sites that actively seek you out and request your music, and then fail to review or even further acknowledge you or your music.  Maybe it doesn’t seem like much to you, but it’s just plain rude for someone to ask you to take the time to send out a CD and press kit (losing money, mind you), and then going to the post office  on sending it overseas (wasting even more money).  All to be ignored.

We’re used to being ignored.  That is hardly the issue.  If I send you an unsolicited email, no matter how finely or humbly written, I do not nor should I expect a reply from you.  If I do happen to hear back from you then I consider it a victory, however minor.  Even if you told me in gracious or hate-filled language that you weren’t interested, that would at least be a response, and one that I didn’t even deserve.  It’s rather like trying to pick up a date at a bar.  I have no right to expect anything from you, I’m just trying to get laid.

BUT, if you come up to me & whisper sweet nothings in my ear, give me your phone number, slip me your room key, and tell me to meet you in, say, 6-10 days, I DO have a right to expect something.  Namely, a review.  It implies that you are familiar enough with our music to want to hear more of it, in a concrete & permanent form.  God knows you must have come across us somehow, most likely one of the thousand of free music sites.   OR, you were just sending out random emails and took just enough time to put my name or the band name to make it sound personal.  Either way, that’s just low.

I think it’s laughable and naive of me to even mention “journalism” and “ethics” in today’s online music world of blog rock.  From what I can tell, the reviewers are really more computer and social networking geeks for whom music is a very big part of their background noise, but not something they have ever thought about in an objective or professional sense.  Truth be told, that’s probably good in many ways that the traditional gate-keepers have been side-stepped.  It’s certainly helped us more than it has hurt.  It is democracy with anarchic overtones, and I like it.

With all that being said, I’d really just like to use the power of the internet to crap on two sites that have shown a complete lack of integrity.  Not professional integrity mind you, just simple respect.  They are…

Leicester Bangs — I guess it’s good that they didn’t review us.  It’s a really bland site, but I didn’t mind that when they contacted me.  In fact, it’s usually on sites this bad that you’ll get some really glowing reviews (and they’re highly likely to WAY over do it).  Rude Pommie C—-s is what they are, and I wish I didn’t waste the international postage to find that useless fact out.  Ergo, don’t bloody write me and tell me you need a copy of the CD in the first place.

Ohh! So Famous! — This was just a waste of time.  Everything on this site says either “remix” or “breakcore”, so what the F–K was this doucher wanting our music for?  He didn’t even put us on a  list of “lame acts for the week”.  A real head scratcher.  The last time I checked up on the site, he had made the comment that “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape” featured Leo’s WORST acting.  Huh?  Oh wait, you’re really a 12 year-old girl trapped inside a 23 year old male’s body.  Now it makes sense.  Once again, DON’T WASTE OUR TIME.  We didn’t ask you to contact us, and we wouldn’t have sent anything in the first place, but you asked and we did, so that makes you a certified dickhead.  That stat may or may not be a scientific fact.

If this is the new paradigm, then so be it.  I don’t mind at all, and in fact I rather like the populist and plebeian nature of the whole enterprise.  It means that music is getting highly personal, and the steps between you and the listener, reviewer, DJ, VJ, or label boss are almost non-existent.  This music revolution does not mean that you can start ACTING LIKE ROCK STARS and being dickheads.  If you take the time to ask, then make sure you mean it.

I am outta here, but feel somewhat lighter.  Must have been all my rock-squats….I’m toning up, you’ll see….

Difficult Decisions….

January 2, 2010

Sometimes it’s hard to know what to do in the face of life’s difficult, twisted realities.  For instance, recently the band was in New Caledonia, which is a French-speaking country.  With so much sun and sand to bask in there was hardly any cause to turn on the telly, but on my last night in Noumea, as we were waiting to be taken to the venue for our final show, I had an hour or so to kill, and, having finished my book, decided to see what was on.  Now, as luck would have it, they manage to beam an Australian station onto the island, so surely on a Saturday night there would be something nice coming in from Australia, right?  WRONG.  You know what I got?  Lawn Bowls.

That was not gonna happen, so I started flipping around, and what should I happen upon?  The Mighty Ducks!  That’s my choice?  But then, I had to admit to myself that, geez, I’d rather watch The Mighty Ducks in French that lawn bowls in English.  I hate The Mighty Ducks, so what does that say about televised lawn bowls?  Rather, I suppose I should ask, “what does that say about me?”.  I never would have guessed that, but there it was.

And here it is, a dreary Saturday morning, and I’m trying to talk myself into surfing beneath these grey skies.  Maybe the waves will be OK, but without the sun, I feel like I’m getting ripped off.  As I’m trying to talk myself into making some sort of decision, I flip on the telly (I’m seeing a pattern here), and there’s the video for the new John Butler Trio single .  Wow, that sounds like a really shitty Everclear song, remixed for the next generation, only worse.  So what do I prefer to watch instead of this paublum?  Hannah Montana.

That’s right JB, you got schooled by the Cyrus family, and there’s nothing I can do about it. That just happened.

I should mention, that when I say that I chose Hanna Montana over the JB Trio, that means I watched 40 nauseating seconds instead of 15.  I tried…life is hard.  I’m going outside.