Archive for Posted Tracks

Chillwave

When I was in Seattle a few months ago, Kenneth Piekarski–whose hovse I was staying at–had decided to start a chillwave band (wait for it…) called Chillwave. Being the bvbble-dweller that I am, I didn’t even know what chillwave was. Bvt I liked the name. Well, I gvess what I liked was that vsing -wave as a svffix has come into vogve, finally svpplanting -core, which really made no sense most of the time.

While I was arovnd I played drvms (really sloppily) on Chillwaves’s first track, and it even got written abovt in the local mvsic rag. The idea I had, based on what little I knew of the genre, was to do like the Talking Heads did on “Once in a Lifetime,” which was to record lots of layers on different tracks and then create the strvctvre of the song–the verses and chorvses–with the mixer, fading different parts in and ovt for the different parts.

Well, since then I’ve read a covple Wikipedia articles (some bands I like are said to have contribvted to the genre), read a covple articles on a website called hipster rvnoff (and learned that chillwave coincides with rise of “alt-bros” and the mainstream-ization of indie (more on this monolithicization in a bit)), and listened to a few tracks of what Last.fm thinks fits the “tag.” And I have decided that prisms make me navsciovs and that works in the genre generally want inspiration. Thovgh there’s some interesting stvff here and there, the lack thereof is typcically compesated for with a wash of fvzz and reverb. Gets old kwick. Real fatigving.

Since Kenneth involved me in the band Chillwave, I decided to take my own stab at it. So I set ovt to write the stvpidest song I covld — lifting lyrics ovt of oldies songs and rehashing sonic ideas of Joy Division/New Order and shoegaze bands. Bvt I think what happened is that besides the distortion it tvrned ovt not too different from most of my mvsic.

Just Another Snake Cult – I Know She Does by Just Another Snake Cult

***

A covple weeks ago a friend showed me “Exit Throvgh the Gift Shop,” the docvmentary by street artist, Banksy.  [semi-spoiler:] It chronicals the creation of a hack pop/street artist, MBW (Mr. Brainwash), who instantly becomes the darling of the L.A. art world, his works selling for tens of thovsands of dollars. One line that stvck with me is Banksy’s comment that most artists spend years and years developing their style and their craft wherease MBW basically became an artist overnight, making stvff that pretty mvch jvst looks like other people’s work.

See where I’m going with this? Mvsic! There are some people who bide their time, developing their techniqves, themes, ideas, style, aesthetics. Perhaps have a long-ranging vision. Concepts to explore, develop.  And then there’s those other people, the ones that all these 3-year-trends attest to. The ones that so many people are fixated to in the “now,” bvt who really didn’t develop anything themselves.. or anything new.. jvst lifting a pop aesthetic (mvch like MBW), shallow iconography, sonic emvlation. Really, yovr mvsic is chill and yov have a prism obsession? Did yov come vp with that on yovr own? (I don’t mean to go overboard, I’m svre all in different ways see a bvnch of prisms and think, “I really think I’m a prism person.”)

Which of the two do yov want to listen to? Which is more interesting? Which is going to have more character? Which is going to be more timeless? Are yov ok with liking something that doesn’t “matter.” And where are yov going to find it?

We’ve all heard the story — before the internet, the major labels were all-dominating, and indies strvggled becavse they didn’t even have any way to be heard.. and now they do, so what? I look at the internet and see that potential. There is svch an insanely large amovnt of people on this planet — more and more so by the day. Svch an insanely large amovnt of those people are on the internet and listen to mvsic. With the internet they covld be searching for those vniqve sonic compliments to their sovls. It offers a chance for greater variation — more varieties of mvsic, a larger pool of mvsicians connected to fans arovnd the world.

Is this happening? or is the heard-instinct too strong? are people vsing the internet to discover mvsic specific to their hearts, or is it reinforcing monolithic strvctvres like never before?

What does indie vs major label matter if there’s not going to be space for things that are DIFFERENT? (In “Exit Throgh the Giftshop” I saw no difference between MBW’s art+methods and those yov’d find coming from an advertising firm.) Major label, or blogosphere hype machine? Practically-speaking, it’s the same beast if it’s going to be constricting and controlling the game (and I’m not even talking financially, I’m talking abovt the creation of cvltvral and personal valves).

It’s hard for me to say. I don’t have an internet connection. Dve to lack of interest, I don’t read any mvsic magazines (online or otherwise). I’ve only even seen Pitchfork a handfvl of times, vsvally a glance at a friends’ compvter. I’ve seen a few interesting blogs, bvt I never got the sense that they were breaking anything new — jvst rehashing the same stvff everywhere else.

I try to find new mvsic. The most exciting mvsic I’ve fovnd comes from seeing bands, or hearing abovt bands from friends. Often those experiences are more notable than a compvter screen ever covld be. Half-asleep hearing Women’s self-titled for the first time at 4:30AM in the back of a strangers’ Corvette on the way to the airport in the next town. Playing a show with a band that jvst blows yov away (this happens so often!). Even jvst a friend playing a tape (or showing yov a YovTvbe video on their iPod or whatever–the technology is irrelevant). The mvsic becomes inseperable from the places and people in yovr life.

Bvt of what the internet does have to offer, I do like Last.fm. It’ll svggest mvsic to me based on my tastes — as opposed to popvlar or otherwise trendy tastes. It does appear to have a popvlarity bias (factors artist with similar play-covnts as being more relavant to each other). And of covrse, it does crowd-sovrce for its data so its recommendations are indeed based on other people’s tastes. Bvt it also means that if I want to hear something like some band that only has 100 listeners, it’ll show me some other eqvally obscvre band. And that’s sort of where it really shines — niches. That’s where people’s tastes aren’t so generalized that they all like the same generically popvlar stvff. Very democratic-like. Instead of svggestions coming from the top, they come eqvally from everybody. My most recent Last.fm find is The Aislers Set, and I’m really digging it.

Bvt one problem is, what I really want to hear, what I feel like is missing from my ears, is not really like anything I’ve yet heard or know abovt! I keep finding more stvff that’s like other stvff I already like.  I think it’s just a matter of being around and having your ears open.

Maybe if more people did just that — branched out from the monoliths — they’d have something to recommend to me. And imagine, if we all did that, how that wovld in tvrn affect the mvsical landscape. A lot less boring, fvzz’d- and washed- ovt, and prism-obsessed for svre! (Not that there’s anything wrong with fvzz or reverb!!! Or prisms for that matter.)

***

I’ve been thinking abovt making a 2010 year-end top albvms list. Bvt mine wovld be different, becavse, well for instance this years’ wovld have OMD’s Dazzle Ships on it. And thovgh some definitely really great albvms came ovt last year, it’ll be a few years before I hear mvch of what will be my favorite of 2010 mvsic.

Anyways, my friend Fletcher (Bird By Snow)’s new albm “Common Wealth” is really good. Mvch of the Seattle gang (Mega Bog, iji, Slashed Tires, Svndance Kids) pvt ovt stvff ovt this year that I’ve been digging. Hvmble Cvb too! I’ve been getting into the Knife and Fever Ray. Hail Seizvres. Still digging Cryptacize a bvnch. Comet Gain too. April March’s Triggers. Deep Breakfast gets an honorable mention. Oh, Dexys Projected Passion Review!!! Grvppo Sportivo 10 Mistakes. Those are the highlights of my 2010 — I’m svre I’m forgetting a bvnch.

Video of You Can Ride My Surfboard

This was a really fun show. There are more videos from this night and I’ll upload them as I get around to it.

City Lights

This weekend I watched the movie City Lights with some friends. Can’t think of any other movie that has made me both laugh and cry.

In other news I started recording a new song yesterday. It’s a folk song that sort of follows the same emotional arc as the movie. It’s a duet with my favorite person. 🙂 I’m getting this out of my system — love songs and stuff. I’m not actually this sweet.

[wpaudio url=”http://freedownloads.last.fm/download/446632821/City%2BLights.mp3″ text=”Just Another Snake Cult – City Lights.mp3″]

I’m still finding that I have more luck with ideas I care less about. But it’s all part of the learning process. Simplifying is something I’m trying to get now. That’s something that I think worked really well on the album — making a song out of a really simple idea, and running it through different scenarios. This track is also though a reaction to my style from the last album where I often had 50 tracks of overdubs. I want to strive to be more concise, especially now that I’m playing with a band.

Not sure where I want to go next musically. There’s a sense where with songs like “Friends …” and “Crush …” from the album I had come up with a formula to run ideas through to make them work and I find myself returning to that with new ideas (such as “Cupid Makes A Fool Out Of Me (I Don’t Know What I Will Do)”). Don’t know if I want to try to develop that further or try experimenting with something different.

I’ve been playing around with lots of meter changes. To make them really fluid, guided by the melody. At least that’s how I hope it comes across.

I’ve been thinking about rhyming. When I was reading the songwriting book, in a lot of the earlier interviews people placed a lot of importance in perfect rhymes, syllable counting, etc. These were the necessary parts for a great song. It’s funny, because to me rhyming is little more than cute. As soon as you notice the rhyme it becomes an annoying game of seeing how the line will end. I dislike it. Perhaps it would work for me were it transparent.  But then I wouldn’t know.

Hold My Head Up High

Been reworking an older song. The original, “Before I Even Knew You,” I was working on a few years ago for a film a friend of mine was filming. It had a verse, bridge, and outtro. After much thought I added another couple verses, pre-choruses, and choruses. And took out the outtro. Was working on it a few days ago and my thought was back to the drawing board. But was working on it again today and things started slipping more magically into place. The lyrics are still placeholders, and some of the instruments need to be fleshed out better, but I’m getting pretty happy with it. Also, happy that I’m making progress on an old idea that comes from a different approach to songwriting.

Posted Track: Would I Be Strong Enough

I have a Thinkpad T43 that I bought off a friend when she got a new netbook.  I think that generally Thinkpads are pretty good laptops.  But apparently this specific model has a flaw where after years of the case flexing, the solder on the GPu or southbridge comes loose and so if that connection gets broken everything freezes up until you push on the right place on the keyboard and the connection on the circuit board is loosely reestablished.  Also, when it freezes up all the uSB dies (mouse and external harddrive) until it is rebooted.  So basically my computer is more for looking at than touching.  If you touch it too hard or if it isn’t sitting perfectly flat everything goes to hell.  I forget where I was going with this.  It may have had something to do with the fact that the Q and U bttons don’t really work consistently on my keyboard either, bt I’m not sre.

Anyways, a couple years ago we were working on a James Rabbit album and practicing for shows and Tyler announced that everybody was to go to their rooms and come back with a James Rabbit song.  I went to my room and came up with the basic idea for this song, but it was very clearly not at all a James Rabbit song.  So instead, this song became one of the early tracks I was working on for the Just Another Snake Cult project.  I started recording it while I still lived at the Crystal Palace.  Got frustrated and gave up on it twice.  First I thought the recording wasn’t coming along well.. bad tone, sloppy playing, uninspired arrangement, lacking in style.  But then I came back to it again and when I’d forgotten the heights it deserved to reach and was more or less content with what it was.  Then I got stock with the lyrics and could never finish them, as was the case with a whole bunch of the early songs for this project.  Again, the case of having hopes and expectation grander than my abilities.   But a couple days ago I felt the urge to tackle it again and plowed through it.  Again, being removed enough from the grand heights I saw as the song’s potential and being content with it being what it was, I was able to move forward.  (I want to return to and finish all those early unfinished recordings, as they embody the intended spirit of this project a lot better than a lot of the totally random stuff I’ve been doing lately)

[wpaudio url=”http://freedownloads.last.fm/download/422259197/Would%2BI%2BBe%2BStrong%2BEnough.mp3″ text=”Just Another Snake Cult – Would I Be Strong Enough.mp3″]

Still probably a demo, but it’s good to have something done so I can give it some space and take a removed look at it after a bit.

Posted track: Lovers Never Die

Here’s a song I’ve been playing around with.  A dreary waltz of sorts, romantic and cynical.  I just got a melodica, so I was anxious to try it out.  Listening back I think my whole recent “SM-57 on everything” approach should be re-evaluated.  It’s just laziness.  I’d imagine the melodica would sound significantly better with the deeper bass and crisper highs of a condenser mic.

[wpaudio url=”http://freedownloads.last.fm/download/421563266/Lovers%2BNever%2BDie.mp3″ text=”Just Another Snake Cult – Lovers Never Die.mp3″]

I’ve always had trouble writing lyrics that aren’t true – partly because it’s hard to pull things from out of thin air, and partly because I don’t feel comfortable lying.  I also have a strong dislike for nonsensical, psuedo-poetic lyrics (ala the kind I grew up on: Nirvana, REM, Radiohead), mostly also for the latter reason–it’s hard to say something nonsensical with conviction or emotion.  It feels dishonest, let alone really goofy.

But this can also be very limiting.   What’s that leave us with?  Retelling of past events, inward states, and essays?  Doesn’t necessarily make for very interesting music.  (And actually, to be accurate the statement needs no qualifier — “I’ve always had trouble writing lyrics period.”)

So I’ve been trying to figure out how to create characters and tell stories that are true, despite being fabricated.  That appeals to me.  Creation without lying.  I’m sure this is what a lot of great lyricists do well, and that’s why I can sing along to a great song without feeling like an idiot.  The narrator isn’t me.  The narrator isn’t necessarily anybody.  The events didn’t necessarily happen.  Yet it rings true.  But where exactly does that leave us?  In the realm of inner truth?  Or the realm of pure ideology and manipulation?  Perhaps it depends on how skeptical you are.  Or maybe you’re ready to admit they’re goofy ways of saying the same thing, and maybe you’re ok with that and it doesn’t matter.

Let There Be No Illussion

This song isn’t going to be for anything – just an exercise.  I guess this is what happens when you start to record a song before you have any ideas for it.  It kind of came out all wrong, but I’m pretty stoked on the keyboard solo.  And I guess by “solo” I mean note-for-note melody.

[wpaudio url=”http://freedownloads.last.fm/download/417426904/Let%2BThere%2BBe%2BNo%2BIllusion.mp3″ text=”Just Another Snake Cult – Let There Be No Illusion.mp3″]

It’s a little free there at the end.  The laziness exemplified by the fact that it was all recorded with a single SM57 lying on my desk comes through throughout.

Ok, download the single.

Just Another Snake Cult - Heavensent b/w Dionysian Season singleSo the EP might be becoming a full-length and I’m working on it more.

For now, download the first single from the upcoming album:
http://www.mediafire.com/?tyuiim2eebm

Or if you’re in a nordic country, you can get it on gogoyoko as well.
http://www.gogoyoko.com/album/Heavensent__bw_Dionysian_Season/

New track: Forget All I Ever Said

Yesterday I recorded a song in the style of something I might have tried to write in high school, which is when I got into a phase that lasted a long time of listening to way too much Magnetic Fields, oldies, and oldies-influenced bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and early Shins and Of Montreal. Lets hope this is the last self-deprecating love song I ever write. Or, eh, I donno – get a sense of humor.

[wpaudio url=”http://freedownloads.last.fm/download/397310579/Forget%2BAll%2BI%2BEver%2BSaid.mp3″ text=”Just Another Snake Cult – Forget All I Ever Said.mp3″]

In high school I also listened to way too much surf rock. And before that, way too much Nirvana. Both of which I still love but contributed to my stinted understanding of arrangement and production. Verse, chorus, verse, maybe a bridge, chorus, chorus. Bascially just two, maybe three, parts; loop it a few times; and you’ve got a song. That’s all I knew, and it’s a box I’ve been trying to break free from since. That’s basically the structure of every Monsters From Mars song I wrote. But in the past years I’ve been influenced by all sorts of more dynamic music – everything from obsessing over Smile-era Beach Boys to playing music with my friends Tyler (James Rabbit) and Dylan (Antarctica Takes It), inspired by their transparently complex and dynamic, yet concisely pop songwriting. For myself atleast, there’s always first this extended phase where all you can do is clumsily emulate aspects of something you appreciate, before it really sinks in and you absorb its essence. I’ve been in that middle period for a long while – it’s taken some time, but I’m feeling myself starting to emerge. A butterfly. A beautiful butterfly.

Track from the upcoming EP, the Dionysian Season

The nihilist-sunshine-pop EP is sloooowly coming along. I have two or three songs for it pretty much finished, and a couple more I want to see if I can get in shape for it. Rachel just sent me her vocal contributions for one of the songs, and so I’ve put together a rough mix.

[wpaudio url=”http://snakecult.tiredmachine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/just-another-snake-cult-the-dionysian-season-rough-mix.mp3″ text=”Just Another Snake Cult – The Dionysian Season (rough mix).mp3″]

Rachel also sent me some back-up vocals to another track, “Heavensent, or A Valkyrie Brings the Seed of Revolution,” that you’ll also be able to hear on the EP. I’ve been thinking the original release of the EP will be available in two mediums – 1) a CD-R with linocut print envelope, and 2) a linocut print poster with download code on the back. I want to try to make the inks out of discarded vegetables, such as beats and red cabbage. I guess more on that as it develops.

In other news I rode my bike out to the music store the other day and rode home with a $65 acoustic guitar, so maybe I’ll play some solo shows soon.