Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Other Country

ha! i finished a song..

today was a pretty great day. i sat around all morning working on music, mostly this song.. then we went out to eat with two lady friends of emily. i suppose they are my friends too. we had thanksgiving, or christmas, or both together. i ate too much and raced back home to finish this guy. sorry about leaving so soon, michelle. pretty good evening, pretty good day.

anyhow, the Other Country. heh.. this song was cool to put together. it started as a lil guitar bit i was trying to use for this puppet opera music.. but i liked it too much, and kept screwing around with it until it had four guitars and two keyboards. that made me laugh, so i paused for awhile and thought up some lyrics.. it's about this guy, Eli McPhay, who lives up in the mountains, who started loving some wild animal, like a cougar or wolf or bear, even.. and has all these beast demon children, then the humans place a bounty on the monsters, but they're intelligent and cunning, and create a new political empire with their strength, or something.

and it's got me and emily singing some major chord harmony stuff near the end! whoohoo.

Monday, January 30, 2006

We Don't Want

ugh. mondays are tough.. for everybody, i suppose.

i'm kinda excited, 'cause i'll be driving around listening to The Woods, the new Sleater-Kinney CD i got.. it's pretty great, full of noise rockish guitar and sonic youth-style stretches of rock. it's just tough to sing along with. ha! but i'm excited, it should help me navigate the streets of portland with a new artistic abandon.

i got a bit of work done over the weekend, with bits and pieces of stuff all over the computer.. i've been spending a lot of time figuring out odd voices and re-tuning the guitars and such. it's made for some neat noises and atmospherics and such. of course, i dont think that has anything to do with this song. We Don't Want was recorded yesterday afternoon/early evening.. admist bouts of television.. i wrote it pretty fast while idly strumming the guitar, i even came up with lyrics before i was finished with the music. once i had a few guitars and the drums on, emily jumped in with two accordion tracks and violin.. then i put down bass. i think that'd be it.. i thought about organ or harmonica, but it already seemed so busy, better left alone i suppose.

then we went back to watching televison.

ahh sundays.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Saint Patrick's Day

ha! so i stayed up kinda late last night working on this lil' guy.. it was actually pretty cool, i was layering pretty guitars and organ sounds and such.. and then we woke up this morning and stayed in bed, drinking coffee and watching rambo: first blood. that's a good movie.

anyhow, as soon as that was over, we got up and put down violins and tin whistle, and then a few percussion tracks.. emily played the big drum part, which i really like.

i think that was pretty much it.. emily's getting a lot more confident on the violin, it wasn't hard at all, i didn't freak out and delete them in a frustrated fit. i think that's a good sign.

if you're going to make an irish tune, it seems obvious to find one called Saint Patrick's Day. but that's only because there wasn't one called 'James Joyce'.

we're still kinda lazy today.. moving slow, emily's making spanakopita in the kitchen while i type. i think i can work on a few more songs today before i give up and watch the television some more.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Her Majesty

man oh man.. last night was a big night. those march fourth marching band kids get kinda groovy..

clowns and people on stilts and puppets and Myshkin's bass player had a new upright bass.. i broke a string in Tramp, and ran off to restring the guitar during Paranoid, and while i was tuning the string snapped. jeez. so i just played the rest of the set without.. it happens. oh! plus Heroes & Villians did a great cover of Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite..

so here you go: Her Majesty, also by the Beatles..

it wasn't much of a day today.. emily and i worked on some irish tin whislte tunes, which i think i'll record. i played the harmonica a bit. my fingers really hurt, my eye hurts.. i broke my glasses, somehow.

it was a big night.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Fuck the NW Fest

friday is finally here! the new mexican revolution is gonna rock tonight, i can feel it.. and there's gonna be some crazy clowns, and the march fourth marching band.. wow. it should be a spectacle. the mercury wrote it up, the willamette mentioned, it should be a big night.. probably the single biggest night in the entire month of january, in portland. probably.

anyhow.. yesterday i went out and saw king kong, which i had wanted to see for awhile now. i like big movies on big screens, i like the loud sounds and overwhelming visuals, and popcorn. it was cool.

then i came home, and had really no time to do anything, so i wrote this rap song! ha!

it's funny, and doesn't have any noise rock guitar solos anywhere.. it was actually a loop experiment to begin with, lifting a little bit of emily playing the piano and making it fit into this midi grids and such.. i think it worked, for what it was.. and the bass started out live, and i looped it. i'm getting better at this stuff.. i don't have a sampler or anything, so i'm moving blocks of digital audio around to create it..

and then i rapped. emily heard it and called me a dork.

Fuck the NW Fest - i really did play one time, years ago with the Volumes.. but i've been turned down every year since, in two different bands that were both good. hmph. but i don't have any actually bad feelings about it.. portland is chock full of great stuff, and i'm sure nobody even knows who i am, let alone has anything against me. hmph.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Flowers Lonely Girl

whew.. i'm so jacked up on coffee right now. i feel like balzac.

or how i imagine he must've felt.

today's installment is a nifty little number.. Colin sent emily and i some lyrics and we spent some time just staring at 'em, trying to figure something out.. it was hard. some times things just spill out of me, some times it's like pulling teeth. so i sat at the piano for awhile, and wrote some neat things, but couldn't get anything to work. frustrating. finally, yesterday i guess, i started to put things down on the computer and built up something close.. it had me playing guitar and bass with a drum machine, and harmonica.. it wasn't that great.

then emily came home! and played this crazy piano stuff all over it.. and i felt better, and basically re-did the whole thing.. with live drums and all that. i had the idea that i wanted strings on it, but then i realized i was jacked up on coffee, and i let it go. i feel sick, and need to eat food.

Flowers Lonely Girl is the title, but i don't remember if colin gave that to me or not. i think it was just written at the top, or something.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Goddamned Man

ahh.. rock and roll. i like it.

the new mexican revolution is working on a song (sporadically at best) called 'god fearing man' or something similar.. at least that's the lyric that gets repeated. for awhile i thought he was saying 'i'm a god damned man' over and over. i really liked that, and was sad when it wasn't the real lyric.

so i took it for my own, and wrote this.

i'm a Goddamned Man! yee haw!

i worked all morning on three different songs, but couldn't be happy with any of 'em, so i wrote this instead. it made me happier in less time than all the others. stupid songs, they're so frustrating.

emily should be home from work soon, and maybe she can breathe new enthusiasm. she's like a gently rising water of happy.

i gotta practice some stuff for the show this friday at dante's, and it's started to stress me out a bit. ha!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Baby Shakes


not going to work is the best.. i worked on two songs, and wrote this! and it's only 2:30!

well, actually.. jacob wrote these lyrics awhile ago, and i've just been sitting on 'em, trying to find something.. then, this morning, after working on pink elephants for awhile i wrote the guitar bits for this..

it's got bass, a bunch of guitars, moog, drums.. umm.. maybe that's it. i was definately ripping off smashing pumpkins early on, but i think it's got it's own life.

Baby Shakes

this is the note jacob left at the bottom of the lyrics:

----I've been doing a lot of work with Aristotle lately, and the names of the "girls" are these weird mideval mnemonic codes for certain forms of deduction...it's all in the vowels. For instance, "Barbara" a-a-a, is of a dedeuctive form: all A are B, all B are C, ergo all A are C.

i don't get it.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Your Problems

the weather in portland, oregon is good, right now. the sun is out, no rain, it's not too cold.

i need to take a shower, but i'm gonna wait.

this is a song i did last night/this morning after coming home exhausted from the astoria experience.. i'm glad it came out as well as it did, because i had a hard time mustering enthusiasm and staying awake.

the secret to my success?

1 - a new drum machine, which i really like.. it's just like andy's, but the newer model. pretty rad.
2 - a moog! john paul by way of mattieu let me hang on to this moog prodigy thing, and it's pretty rad, also.

plus, piano and an odd-tuned guitar, harmonica, violins, bass, and singing.. and cymbal swells.. i think that's about it.

all your problems swallowed by the ocean.
for it's own joy
leave a handprint on the clouds
the world is a reflection of our shadows falling down
on the sea

Sunday, January 22, 2006


whew.. sunday evening, and i'm pretty beat. the revolution played a party out in astoria saturday evening, and we had a little too much fun, and we still had to race home and work on some songs. stupid fun, always getting in the way of songwriting.

goodbye/telluride is getting closer to these loose ideas of musicals and such.. i knew i wanted a field holler-type song, and this one is similar to one the volumes used to do live.. i always thought that was the best part of the night. the second bit is trying to figure out some jazz stuff. much harder than i figured. apparently it takes more than twenty minutes to figure out how to "walk" on the bass.. and the piano, and guitar, and drums. pain in the ass.

on the other hand, emily and i tried to do all sorts of rhythmic clapping stuff, i really had a blast with that.. reminded me of some south african impromptu music.

but it has spirit! and i learned an awful lot..

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Cossons, Colorado

i gotta run, here's a quick song about a ghost town. Cossons, Colorado. i went there recently, it's a neat place.

it started off sad, with that the minor key piano bit i wrote... but it got sorta angry and agitated as i worked. probably 'cause i was having a hard time. the drums got bigger, then the noise-rock guitar solo.. i tried to sing a harmony, i think it kinda work - emily said it sounded good.

it makes me think about people who had pride in something, and watched it fall apart around them.. the difficult emotions of it, sad and angry. good times.

i wish i had more time for this one.. but we gotta race off to astoria. right this minute.

Friday, January 20, 2006


man, it's good to be back! i really missed doing the song project, and i was only gone a week.. it's become an addiction, i think. i'm comfortable with that. i think even emily is a little addicted, she was excited to get back to 'work'.

so here we go.. my parents didn't have the piano at the house anymore, so i was kinda sad about that, but i did go on a long hike in the mountains to a ghost town and check out some abandoned mines - that was pretty cool. so i wrote a bunch of lyrics and fragments and bits over the week, and dug into 'em as soon as i arrived home.

the first fruit from said tree is 'Carpenteria' - referring to the carpenter who makes the pine caskets. this is mostly a story in the book Warlock by Oakley Hall published in 1958, it says. i got it from morgan the night we were partying, new year's eve i guess. thanks morgan. It's a great book, a western about a mining town and a marshall and such, very appropriate and coincidental with all the colorado mining adventures i just had.

so i came home and started recording guitars, trying to do less chords and more single lines.. two or three acoustic guitars, a bass (with a neat line!) then a slide guitar, accordion, piano, tambourine.. umm.. drum machine (oh yeah! i got a new drum machine!) lots of singing.. then emily got home from work and sang a bit and put down violin (she did really well), and we went out to eat. we got a bottle of wine.

good to be home. point juncture, wa is playing at mississippi studios friday night (tonight) and then we go to astoria for a saturday party gig, so it'll be tight to get all my songs done and uploaded.. but i think i can do it.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Finally You Get It

whew.. so i leave town tomorrow morning, early, for colorado - back home to see the family for holidays and such. i had been thinking about what to do for the project, if it was possible to write a bunch of songs and manage to post them one a day somehow, or maybe post old songs from sons of jar'el or something, but i think i'm just gonna take a break. i have about 52-54 songs now, in about as many days, and that's a pretty good start.

i get back in about a week, and hopefully i'll have written some other things. my parents have a piano and some guitars, and i won't have to work or worry about anything - it should be very nice. emily has said she'll try and work on some things, so i'm leaving her in charge of the protools rig.. if we had more time/forethought, i'd show her how to mix things down and make mp3s and post 'em, write blogs, etc etc - but i leave first thing tomorrow.. too many little details.

but for today, i have Finally You Get It a song about bodhisattva style enlightenment, where you stave off nirvana in an effort to help the masses. or something like that.. it also makes reference to class structure and society.. blah blah. i think it makes some sense.

i wrote it on piano yesterday, but piano didn't make it onto the recording.. i had put down a few guitars and drums, with every intention of overdubbing piano at some point, but i ran outta time. it's got banjo (which was hard) and harmonica, which is nice, but no piano. i gotta get that thing tuned, anyhow. emily also toyed with the accordion, but it didn't pan out. i think she needs more time with me not looking over her shoulder.

so i'll return in six or seven days, have a good week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

One Foot

oh man.. last night was a pretty good night. the famous wayward explorer/writer colin just plopped down in portland again, and i haven't seen him in.. 3 or 4 months or something, and i haven't seen matt in a while either, it seems. between working two jobs and this song project, i've become a lot less social. so last night was whiskey at the aalto.

welcome back colin.

so yesterday i didn't work, and had the opportunity to make this crazy thing.. i really like it. it's one of my better lyrical efforts, i think, plus the structure is good/odd and it has a few mathy bits that fit into the phrasing. it sounds neat to me.

you get twenty things to weigh you down
just one thing to hold you up
now you find it in the mud - cast off
we should lay our hearts on top
of all the secrets we keep locked
no one else will get to know the love we're clutching

you put one foot in front of the other foot
thats how you get through the day
all the life that i've been living
to hope is to waste - it's just been given
by jesters that swim in the sky

when we meet our eyes don't see
that if we bought our misery
from each other we might have a new thing
waking up a week from now
find ourselves wondering how
in the trade-off we ended up losing

this was an easy one to write, i guess. i had the acoustic guitar and drums down right away, with all the breaks and that odd C-C# math bit. then i put down that ambient noise part in the back, all flanged out, and then the bass line. then i started to get lyrics for it, and alternated singing and playing the distorted mandolin until it started to make sense. kinda.
i wanted accordion or piano on it, but by the time i got around to it, the song was pretty full up. no room.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


man.. i've just kinda gotten turned on to these mp3 blogs (popsheep, said the gramophone, aquarium drunkard, muzzle of bees, and a bunch more) - and i really like 'em.. they got all the songs in the world ever, and they seem to really love songs.

so do i. i also love songs.

'Remember' started off as a piano thing i wrote in the early afternoon, trying to write a short major key thing.. i knew i wanted to sing about wistful robots, thinking how time must pass differently for them, and the counsel they supply to young robots would be interesting.. well, it turned into this. ha! it's now a condemnation of a once great robot by the younger idealistic robots.. i bet they're undergrads at liberal arts schools.

emily put down two violin tracks after we got done with new mex rev rehearsal, so it was a late night for us. she crashed and i tried to figure out the lyrics and such, then sang 'em again this morning. just finished. i knew i didn't want any guitar on it, in an effort to find different ways to create things, but i think drumset might've been nice.. even bass. i do like to add things, and add things, and pile more stuff on.

i gotta eat some breakfast. we're all out of coffee. sigh.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Having Teeth Is A Torture

true story: i've been watching and listening to a lot of musicals lately.. i've seen 'once upon a matress' and 'the fantastiks' and 'the music man' and 'jesus christ superstar' and listened to 'sound of music'.. and i have 'hair' in front of me. i have this plan to write something bigger if i ever have a chance, like a concept album or something.. i've dabbled in it before, and i think i can pull something of,. and i've never really appreciated musical theatre, either. i'm not sure that i like it, yet, either, but it's not all bad.

anyhow, the point of this - a lot of these songs are lines of individual instruments, orchestrated together.. the instruments vary, but there's very little in the way of a stated chord.. unlike most of the music i do, unlike most pop music.

so this song started as an attempt to run some lines together.. i was thinking of a sinewy guitar song, like 31knots math-rock style or something.. i ended up with something more similar to Cake or the theme from Peter Gunn, at first..

then it just spiraled outta control. children grow up, and you cant control them forever. 'Having Teeth Is A Torture' became a monster almost immediately, i just sat back and laughed.

my drum machine is just that toy keyboard's built in rock and roll groove, and then later on real drums.. it's got a few guitars, including one gnarly wah-flanged guitar that cut in and out at the end.. i liked it, it seemed to fit the wilful child. that might be about it.. i played the bass line on it, which was hard. it was a hard guitar line for me, but after playing it for an afternoon, it translated to the bass easy enough. the singing was the really fun part. i'm no singer, but i think i keep trying to get better.. while emily took a bath i put these things down. fun.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Shark Around the Waters


over at 305 SE 3rd i found some lyrics written many years ago, when Colin was a little boy..

we went to work immediately, and came up with this - a suitable reaction, i hope. i didn't actually ask permission, so i hope it suits.

'Shark Around The Waters' is a full-on kids tune, near as i can manage... it doesn't have any toy instruments, 'cause emily wanted a folk tune sound from the beginning, but i think it's sufficiently bouncy and engaging.

a few guitars, a little brushes on the snare action, bass.. slide guitar. umm.. that might be it. and some singing, of course.

thanks for the lyrics and inspiration, colin! love!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


ahhh weekends.. good times. coffee all day, free time, no worries.

anyhow, this morning was mostly spent finishing this song.. which emily had planned on putting not one, but two (!) violin tracks on.. but alas, there is no violin.

we've been having some problems lately, i suppose. i get mad at emily, she gets frustrated with me.. blah blah.

so there you go. 'Quitter' is loosely based around a girl we know.. but it's more particularly about psychology and issues and truth and such. jacob got me thinking about Freud again.. i had a pretty good time writing it, 'cause it's kinda odd.. it's got a bunch of F and Fsus and Ab maj stuff.. weird key signatures and odd times, yet still trying to be poppy. i spent way too much time trying to play the piano.

i bet it would've sounded awesome with a few violin tracks on it, you know.

it's also an experiment in using the drum set to fufill the role of a drum machine.. i spent more time on the actual drums for this one, layering real drums. it was a bit of work, but worth figuring out.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Fill Up The Parking Lots

so there's this guy... a visionary of sorts, a religious type possibly, but he's mostly just motivated. he thinks things can be better, and he's tired of the life he sees around him.

so he tries to gather up all the young and like-minded people around him, by preaching to them about the possibilities of life and how things can be great.

later on, people call it a suicide cult of sorts.. but he had good intentions, i suppose.

that's what Fill Up The Parking Lots is about.. i kinda like it. it's a weird story-lyric, but it's got a hopeful air about it.. and i like the lyrics. i had a hard time with it, but i think it came off alright.

umm.. i played some acoustic guitars to write it.. and then the drums. then i sang a few times, trying to figure out the lyrics and such. then the epic guitar bits.. more major key soloing, which i am starting to really get into. we tried putting violin on it, but i got real mad at emily and deleted it in a fit.. then woke up the next morning sorta regretful, and put the accordion on there.. called it done, and went to work.

now i'm home, posting and trying to write another song. maybe something without a cult reference.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Waiting For Me

whew.. i'm kinda tired, as i stayed up late last night making this little gem after we got home from the new mex revolution practice. it's kinda neat, because i worked around a few small limitations and tried some new things.. for example, i was trying to tune the guitar into an open A major chord.. and snapped a string right away. damn. and i wanted to use some loops and such, but protools by itself isnt much of a loop station.. so i had to be careful and create these loops and sync 'em up with click tracks and such.. kinda silly. and the hand claps, i only had a single clap to work with, so i built up the entire rhythm one clap at a time.. that was inefficient, to say the least.

i should find a cheap drum machine. or maybe a sampler.. that'd be cool.

oh well.. i like the final product, and it gave me another chance to play harmonica.. i'm not so good at it, but i figure it's because i don't play it enough. counting this time, i've probably played it twenty times or so. i should be getting a little better, right?

the lyrics are pretty much about me and emily.. except that whole marriage thing! and she doesn't really sit around at home waiting for me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Make It Better

i gotta go to work real soon, so this'll be quick.

yesterday morning before work i started this song, recording the piano and such.. when i came home emily had started singing and playing violin over it, so we ate dinner and talked about what to do. we decided she should just sing the whole thing, with no violin and make a feel good epic sorta thing.. you know, you can 'Make It Better' and all that.. and i wanted to sing 'ooh ooh oh' on the chorus. i was really attached to that, for some reason.

an hour and a half later we had this, although it was difficult for emily to be satisfied. she works differently than i do. she sings well. hmph.

i see this song as a kinda cross between arcade fire and the smashing pumpkins.. i like the drums on it.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


it seems very cold this morning.. i doubt it's actually that cold, it's not montreal or anything.. but i'm chilled.

which is suitable for this nightmarish song about creepy rabbits in the basement. the song is a mix of two ideas.. 1 - i always liked that 'man who sold the world' song.. david bowie/nirvana unplugged. that little ascending lick was something i wanted to figure a little bit.. 2 - i was in a basement at a job site a few weeks ago, and it just kinda creeped me out. there were clothes everywhere, bright garish party clothes.. and electric cords. i dunno, i was freaked. i kept imagining a wall full of rabbits staring at me. maybe telepathic rabbits. i'm not sure.

so, you combine those two ideas.. you get this. i wanted it to have a real dark and dreamy feel.. so it's got a mess of echoes and reverse stuff.. and the 'ascending lick' turned out to be kinda hard for me on bass. ha! i'm getting better, but it's all baby steps. it's got keyboard and guitar and bass, drums.. umm.. some processing. that might be about it.

it's creepy.

Monday, January 02, 2006



soooo.. this song is a collaboration between us and jacob mills, out in houston texas, and i hope we can continue with 'em. i think this just turned out great. a lot of it had to do with emily, if i'm lucky she'll get involved and motivated, and it really paid off this time.. i had the music and the basic structure for it, but emily came along and played piano on it, which almost made me forgo the guitar entirely. we sang some, did some handclaps and tambourine.. umm.. two whistle tracks, and a trumpet. orchestral pop.. very sufjan stevens/belle and sebastian.. awesome.

the actual song came together about as well as any other, but getting it out of the computer was a real bitch. i ended up recording it on a cassette tape, then taking the headphone jack out and back into the computer. wow. its a shame, kinda, but it works.

the lyrics are all jacob.. he described it as 'pulling teeth' but i think it worked out alright. just for the hell of it, here's what he sent me:

The F. B. I.
At six ohhh three
What an amazing feeling

And her face
With looks like yellow
Red and claro kill a fellow.

Let's stay in the equation
Ambiguous licentiousness
I know
I know your place but not your motion
I know
I knw your motion but not your place

Wake up and breathe
Or cough and snort
Another day of Latin

Green sweaters
And some tattoos
With her formic sub rosa

Trained in problematics
Ambiguous licentiousness
I know
I know your place but not your motion
I know
I know your motion but not your place

Bondage and fears
Free my friends
From the snowy mouths of tigers

Did not believe
When I spelled it claro

Face transplants
Ambiguous Licentiousness
I know
I know your place but not your motion
I know
I know your motion but not your place

thanks jacob!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

On the Road

wow. ugh. party party party. hangover hangover.

happy new year!

i've pretty much slept all day, but i figured i had to wake up and post a song at some point.. so here we go.

'On The Road' is a sad number, morose, even. i like it, but it was another difficult birth.. it was also the last one to have andy's strat on it, and one of the last for the drum machine.. i gotta find another drum machine somehow. it's got acoustic guitar, that strat, a banjo.. organ, and guitar solo.. plus a few tracks of me singing. i was still pretty sick when i sang the main vocal line to this, but it grew on me.. i sound kinda terrible. ha!

hopefully i can post 'claro' tomorrow.. it's this awesome pop tune me and emily and jacob wrote together, and it came out just great. but protools has sunk it's teeth in again, and i gotta bargain it out. stupid box.

and drink some water.. i gotta do that, too.