Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Heidi in her military coat.

so last night was a great new mexican revolution rehearsal, made me feel really good, but i didn't have time to work on anything for today. that's big trouble...

so i woke up this morning and started on this, singing the middle bit with the guitar, just trying to come up with something. i had those odd chords on the guitar, and the odd turnaround phrase. so i listened to that for awhile and wanted to bookend it with something, so i started tuning the guitar in silly ways and got these neat sonic youth-style moments, all in 10 or 5, with the drum machine doing all the little details.
i figured i'd have to stop there, 'cause i had to go to work, but jill called and put off work for another hour, so i had time to play the moog and that slide guitar part. i think that's about it. oh, and the accordion. it's droning in the back like an organ or something.. e and b and a. ha!

i just love the sound of Heidi in her military coat. ha!

i got pretty muddy at work today, that can be fun.

Monday, February 27, 2006

music editor blues

today: a day of awkwardness and loathing and teenage tantrums. go with it.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Inside Out

whew.. so obviously, it's getting kinda late.

emily and i woke up and got to work on another song, which was coming along nicely, but i just couldn't get anything for verses.. it was very frustrating, so much that we decided to give it a rest and take a break. i ended up watching two musicals, hedwig and the angry inch (which was great) and gay pur-ee (which was not). so we didn't get home and working again until about five, maybe later..

and we decided to just write another song.. all things considered, it was a good idea. i was stuck.

we came up with Inside Out, which has this really confounding harmonic thing going on.. a bunch of dominant seventh chords or something, it's a little odd.

like a lot of good things, once the ball got rolling it couldn't stop.. it's mostly piano and drums and vocals, which is nice. i've been on a kick with mandolin and chimalong lately. emily did a kick ass job singing all these harmonies at the end, it's the best part of the song. she's a genius.

now i get to share a drink with morgan. it's his birthday. or tomorrow is. whatever.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

One Hundred Flowers

whew.. after drinking late last night with jill and wes and julia and jeff, we went to work landscaping again this morning. ugh..

anyhow, i love this new song. One Hundred Flowers blooming at the same time. i started it last night, just playing the drums as a kind of joke experiment.. back in college i was real into south african drum ensembles and such. so it started off vaguely traditional.

then i put banjo and slide guitar.. bass, things like that. and started to figure out some lyrics..

but the real magic started today, after work.. i was kinda tired and cranky, but the song just kept getting better and better. the poppy la la la sections, then the big sung outro.. i was falling in love, love love. then i had this hole in the middle, and i couldn't figure out what to do with it. stupid g major solos.. but once i figured out what the hole lacked, i was smitten all over.. little frustrations, big rewards. it was awesome.

i actually jumped around and danced when it was finished i was so happy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

so this is an island?

ahh, friday. it means i dont have to do any landscaping/yard work today. i get to work at the mercury! yeehaw!

and, in more good news, i think i'm gonna finally get that high-speed internet everyone is always talking about. that should be good.. it should increase my productivitiy by at least twenty minutes a day. perhaps i can use that extra time to get to the theatre early. ha!

anyhow - last night i got home and ate dinner and wrote some lyrics, sorta dancing around the idea of making your parents proud, but being kinda mean and they don't know it. that and nikki put a comment on myspace that "sometimes your songs make me cry" - which i think is a good thing.. i hope.

so after dinner emily started playing piano and came up with this, which is pretty neat. it goes back and forth with Cmaj and Cmin in a really subtle way, sounds great.. then we sang three rounds of harmonies (wow) and a little tag at the end, so this is an island?.. and then we recorded the lonely dog across the street. emily played ukelele, making a pretty hip almost jazz sound come out of it. that's talent.

i think the dog can hear us make music and he wants to join in.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Try Not To

so, i've been working hard suddenly, doing landscaping work with jill in the sw hills of portland. man, i'm tired and sore and dirty.. it's a bit of effort just to come home and think, let alone write songs.

luckily, emily picked up all the slack for me.

Try Not To is from jesus christ superstar, which is pretty cool. i've been watching all these musicals, trying to figure 'em out a bit (and write our own) and that's one of the better ones. the first act of into the woods is really good too. al jolson's the singing kid, not that great.

anyhow, it was pretty much perfect to come home and hear the lyrics. seems appropriate. like i said, she did most of the work. i think i put a keyboard track in the background this morning before going to work.. but honestly, i can't hear it now. i may have messed up somehow. ha. (that's 'cause i'm tired)


i think the biggest revelation from this song was the backwards stuff, we spun the whole thing around and listened to it like that a few times, almost called it done like that - it was just beautiful. i think we'll do some more work with this...

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bluebird Liquor

awhile back i mentioned i was turned on to these mp3 blogs, and i still am.. i like reading 'em, browsing idly. they're all a little different, with different focuses and such. anyways, Said the Gramophone had a little contest with some lyric writing and a Cat Power CD giveaway (or something, i apparently missed some of this).. and now they have a british ton of lyrics all around this one theme. some are funny, some are sad, some are just odd.. but i collected the four or five winners and one or two others in the list and made a song out of it.

Bluebird Liquor turned out to be (in emily's words) sorta tropical, sorta country. which doesn't sound that great at all, ha! but i like it. it freely mixes old folky bits with much more modern stuff, like swirling delays and variably filtered oscillators. or something.

i was re-reading old copies of the new yorker, drinking coffee and such, when i came across an article on jake leg, and the short and intense period of blues/country songs it inspired (close to twenty songs in three or fours years). so coming across this reminded me of that, and i jumped in. perhaps it'll be part of a canon.

in this case, i played everything on it. emily worked all day and then we ran errands and ate and went to bed, not a lot of time. it's got some acoustic guitars, banjo, accordion, mandolin, bass, drums, moog, birdsong... harmonica, and me singing a few times. i think that's it. one of the vocals in the outro has me singing through a cell phone, but the effect wasn't quite right.. oh well. i think you'll be able to pick that one out clearly.

oooh - i almost forgot. there are some really good lyrics in here (the motivation, no less). i don't think this one was a winner, but i like it a bunch:

"she sipped till she shimmered, till her soul fit to shine
and to wit whispered "hither" and collapsed into mine"

i love that.. there's also about 100 more on Said the Gramophone.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Backdoor to Heaven

yesterday was a banner day, it seems. the new mexican revolution is finally gonna get our album out, Theories of Sun and Rain. we all checked the artwork out for the packaging, and it looks great.. Daniyel (from Cicada Omega) did a great job for us, it's pretty exciting. it just got mastered, and now we're gonna send it off to get printed up.. i think a little over a month or something.

then we had a rehearsal over here, where we've been playing some quieter material for our next show (saturday at mississippi pizza pub). it went well, and at the end of the night we recorded this as a celebration.. it's an old song that the Sons of Jar'el wrote, it seems like an age, now. it wasn't recorded that well - that's my fault, i wasn't thinking too clearly by then, and i can only record with two mics at a time (thats why the drumset is always the way it is, kick and overhead, down in the basement).

whatever - jana plays tinwhistle, emily on tambourine, i play piano, wes played guitar, i think. tony on bass, and jeff on drums. we all sang, i think.. except maybe jana, and jeff. i don't know, it turns out. celebratory.

Backdoor to Heaven

Monday, February 20, 2006

Awake & Adream

yesterday afternoon, after emily and i finished 'cross country' we went for a walk, enjoying the sun and cold and such. when we came back, i sat down at the piano and wrote Awake & Adream, just playing the piano and trying to make up the words as i went..

on the walk emily and i were talking about bands who write super-short songs, all those punk bands with minute and a half songs and such, and i wanted to try that out. so once i had the song in my head, we just recorded it live with my singing and playing piano. that was tough for me, i'm a big fan of click tracks and drum machines and blah blah blah..

anyways, then i went and took a shower and cleaned up for a dinner party with lisa and scott (thanks!), and emily added the violions and trumpet, and it was done.. pretty neat.

we went to holocene last night to check out what the 'church of psychedelia' was up to. it was weird, alright. we didn't really stay long enough to see too much, unfortunately.. but it was weird.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cross Country

sunday afternoon, another song finished.

this one i started to write in bed, in that neat between sleep/awake dream spot. i had all the ideas and structure, more or less.. got up, started the coffee and emily and i figured it out. she played this real funky bass, i played guitar and mandolin and drums.

the whole thing didn't take too long, it wasnt a sunday super-sudoku puzzle or anything. ha!

last night we rolled all over town, saw a movie (mystery train) and went to a show, where we saw GTR LKR (i think) and the first song of Monstrous. not bad.. that GTR LKR guy sang into a gasmask rigged up with a mic, that was pretty cool. emily described it as weirdio foolio. true story. then ended up at the goodfoot with Matt and Colleen.. those kids are the best. hopefully matt'll come over this week and we can make some more noise.

Saturday, February 18, 2006



this song was a terrible pain to birth. emily and i started it a few days ago, with just the piano. i had written a bit of it, but didn't have any idea where it should go. it was too weird for me, i think. wow.

on the other hand, emily got a burst of enthusiasm and really started working on it. she played all the piano bits and structured the thing, then laid in violins and trumpets and keyboards.. wow. i played drums and guitar, we both sang. i got up around 10am or so, and it's now almost 4pm. thats a pretty good days work for me.

i got really cranky near the end, and started to hate the song.. but now that it's all wrapped up, i like it. most of the lyrics are inspired by the Sufi tradition, but i'm not really a scholar. back when i was in school, i was reading 'The Mysticism of Sound and Music' by Hazrat Inayat Khan, and i've carried around these half-formed ideas about sufi-ism ever since. i hope it's not too irreverant, i enjoy the bits i know/remember. maybe i should read it again.

i was up late last night, austin city limits had 'death cab' and 'my morning jacket'.. i love that show. both bands weren't terribly impressive, though. death cab was pretty much note-for-note, but really low energy, and ben didn't sing so well. (who am i to criticize? he did great!) and my morning jacket was really cool, better than death cab, but not very inspiring. oh well. i still like all those guys. they do great stuff.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Waiting for the Doctor

friday friday friday. another week down.. i don't feel much older.

it looks sorta cold and windy outside, but clear. sometimes the sun can make all the difference, but it looks kinda sad out there.

in any case, for the past few days i've been working on a wide variety of stuff, just bouncing around from one to the other, trying out ideas and experimenting with toys and ideas. this is certainly a product of that. Waiting for the Doctor reminds me a lot of the beastie boys (!) - but only their instrumental stuff off of check your head and ill communication. those were great albums.. if i remember correctly, ad rock played guitar and mc a played bass and the drumset was mike d and eric 'bobo' something-or-other.. (who also played awesome percussion all over stuff) and the fucking fantastic money mark on all manner of keyboards and such.

that was a golden age.

so they got into doing these instrumental jams.. some of them were loose, some were pretty tight, but by the end they had enough for an EP (?) called the In Sound From Way Out.

this song is definately a nod in that direction.. i think they even have a song called Sneakin' Out the Hospital, but i don't remember if it's an instrumental or not.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A Bridge Is Wanting

whew.. i wrote this last night, in the middle of the night, emily had just gone to sleep. so i played real soft, on acoustic guitars i had all these sorta open/ringy A minor7 things floating around. it was pretty and a little ethereal, in the middle of the night.

i woke up this morning and got right to work on it, but i couldn't preserve the airy feeling it had. not with all the instruments i started trying out. in any case, it started to go in it's own direction which was cool. i tried to sing another harmony line, at the very end. i think this one came out a little better. the main vocal melody, all the verses were so frustrating.. maybe today was just a bad singing day, but i don't know if i have good days. ha! maybe the lyrics are just too convoluted to work with.

it's got a bunch of references around the idea of sacrificing children by throwing them off a bridge, to appease the gods for somthing terrible the captain did.

A Bridge Is Wanting.

true story.

i also, in my downtime, wrote this really haunting piano thing, i'm just waiting for emily to get home so i can show it to her, maybe we can come up with something.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

King of the World

so the old testament is a crazy book, you know? full of wrath and vengeance and inexplicable powers of heaven. confusing stuff, to be sure.. and i never understood why the devils and demons and cast-off angels were never more successful, here on earth.

so i wrote a song about it, kind of. the rapture comes and i get passed over (i'm not that diligent on my church-going, you know) - and the angels warn me that the end is in a few days, and i should warn people. then the demons come and offer me the goods if i just keep quiet. so i do. keep quiet, that is. and i become King of the World, because the demons kept their promise. of course.

it started off on piano.. even all the odd time bits, although i couldn't really play 'em. then some acoustic guitars and bass, and mandolin.. i kinda like the mandolin on this one. then emily worked on the piano and accordion for a bit, and i wrote the lyrics and played harmonica. i think that's it.. she was thinking about violin, which i was all for, but we had too little time. oh well.. i think it came out nice.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You Said It Better

happy valentines day!

normally i'd do an appropriately themed cover song, or something.. but not today.

i just finished this one, and i like it too much to let it sit. it's got some more of that sonic youth influence, i suppose. but it's all in this odd-tuned scale, and i play the drums on it, and have this cool guitar line at the very end, all epic guitar rock. it's even got a tiny little moog part in the middle that i just love.. and a feedback swell! ha!

those are hard to do on that little vox practice amp i use.

anyhow, You Said It Better has a little something to do with love.. but it's more about getting out of a bad relationship than anything. oh well. happy valentines day. now i gotta retune all the guitars.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Influence of Ages

yesterday was a big day for me, i suppose.. i woke up and worked on the little sadistic waltz with emily, and when she went to work i made Influence of Ages, this weird sorta pop-rock tune.. i kinda reminds me of pixies/smashing pumpkins style dynamics, but not overwhelmingly. it's got a lot of guitar lines and keyboard lines, moving around, which is cool to do.. a lot of fun to record.

at the very beginning it was just acoustic guitar and drum machine and lyrics, and i kinda liked it.. so i layered a bunch of sci-fi keyboards and spacey guitars around.. that changed it. then i put the real drums on it, which i thought was kinda like the flaming lips' 'kim has got a watermelon gun'. i love that song.. but it didn't come out quite right. oh well.

i got this new song that's all in a floating D mixolydian drone style thing. it's pretty neat.

breakfast and work.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Little Sadistic Waltz

soo.. erik sent me some lyrics the other day, with a short little note describing it as a 'Little Sadistic Waltz'.. and it's true, the lyrics were already waltzing, right there on the page. emily and i just fleshed out the background a bit. she got mad at the accordion today, and i got mad at the banjo. and the moog.

i had a hard time playing the moog today, it got all screwy and wouldn't make any noise other than a static-filled wave. it was fantastic at first, but i couldn't make it stop. so that bummed me out a bit.. instead of a moog, i ran that cheap little keyboard into some time delays at the end. then it got real interesting and i wanted to keep going, with a big sci-fi sorta section with bouncing delays and this ominous descending guitar/bass unison lick.. a big live drum take at the end, rocking out. probably a guitar solo.

that would've been awesome, but i ran outta time. so much stuff to do.. songs take forever to make, sometimes.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

For Plants

hope a little harder sweetheart!

man.. somehow i got kinda drunk last night, at this weird rock and roll show starring the King Hen and Shatterville. i don't know quite how it happened, but i suffered today. which was tough, 'cause emily had plans to go out into the mountains or woods for a drive, first thing in the morning.. ugh. but i saw some nice waterfalls.

anyhow. i made soundscape For Plants, that portland local band/friend of mine that opened for Akron/Family. i don't think they'll like it though - it turned out a little tense and anxious feeling, and i had planned on a more pastoral thing. oh well. the muse does what it wants. when i saw plants play live the other day, they had three different droning song/pieces, and they were kinda pretty.

i take a face melting moog solo in the last 45 seconds or so. that's my favorite part.

Friday, February 10, 2006

You Hit Your Head

whew.. sometimes i get carried away with work and fun and forget to post songs!

well, almost forget. emily's in charge from now on.

i'm sorry that You Hit Your Head is a pretty cool sorta funk tune. i guess it's a funk tune - it's got a wah-fueled guitar. ha! wah-fueled. at one piont i thought it was gonna be a hiphop sorta tune, but i couldn't make anything happen.. luckily emily stepped in and finished it all up.

it's got about 8 different drum sorta loops running around in it.. that was a big experiment that worked out alright. then keyboards and bass and guitars. for a short time in it's birth it was gonna be a jamming sorta song, with mandolin and accordion taking solos with the guitar, but it turned out to be a real pain in the ass to play all those instruments really well, ripping awesome wicked solos everywhere. that's tough to do.

rock on chicago, rock on detroit

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Pink Elephants on Parade

last night i went out to Towne Lounge and saw the most amazing band: Akron/Family. most amazing thing ever. kinda made me feel bad about what i've been doing, just kinda bumming around, taking it easy. those guys were great. they were so good, in fact, that after getting home and emily going to bed, i stayed up late working on music. inspirational.

the opening band, Plants, has a friend of mine in it.. and before the show we talked a little about shows, and he mentioned he had some 'different' shows in the future, where it'd be more soundscapes and noise and less pop stuff. that got me thinking about my ol' college days, when i was a lot more arty. so i was working on noise bits.

but thats not what i have today.. Pink Elephants on Parade was going to be for the new mex rev, but we never really got a handle on it, and we're not a band to force anything, or work hard.

so i went home and did it myself.. the best part is probably emily singing, and cracking up right at the end. good stuff. when i was recording all the marching snare drum stuff, it became apparent that i haven't been playing the drums for awhile.. i lost a lot of finesse and control. that was sad.

drunken mice, drunken elephants, dancing.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

the Ocean Will Sing

it's hard enough to make it through the day
without your letters
they can't keep up
we were fools to think that words could make it better
all the people that i used to be
are coming through and out of your memory
things that i didn't want to see
so i'm a quitter
the world will keep on going, but without me
i can't keep up
i was a fool to think the world would hug me softly
it's all a rock in my chest that'll never stop till i hit bottom
the ocean will sing "we finally got him"

sooo.. yesterday, after i posted the song, i sat around waiting for Emily to get off work and wrote this on piano. i didn't mean to, it just happened, but i'm not complaining. it's got a weird chord thing going on, a Fsus4 or Bb thing.. i'm not sure. apparently it doesn't matter on guitar too much, but does matter when you play the bass or piano or mandolin. or chimalong.


anyways.. i like the lyrics to this one. i like the idea of the ocean with a vendetta against me, or something. old greek god vindication. i like sitting around with the guitar playing it. it's got five or six chords in one song!


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Phone Call Rockets

i'm not a very complicated man. my pleasures are simple. i like to move slow, drink coffee.. read in the sunlight, listen to music. emily brought the first (i think) arcade fire album back from pennsylvania with her. we both really like the other album, and so this was cool to check out. and i've been reading old issues of the new yorker.

this song started last week, i think. when matt came over to drink coffee and whiskey with me. it seemed daunting whenever i listened to it, so i let it set until this morning, when i started to hear the bits that weren't there yet. mostly it's an open tuned E maj that matt banged out on guitar, we both sang on it and gave it a bit of structure, and we both played keyboards on it.. this morning i sang some more stuff, straightened out the lyrics and bit, added bass and the twiddly guitar.. that might be it. i call it Phone Call Rockets because matt's lyrics seem to be about setting up a date that might fall through, and i'm singing about how later, hindsight allows you to see what fell through.. bad conversations seem like such a big deal.

it's gorgeous in portland right now.. the sun is out, but it's still a little cold. it's wet, but not raining. i probably won't do anymore work for awhile.

Monday, February 06, 2006

the Whole Plane

i wish i could play this live somehow. thats what i was thinking while i made it. i don't always have those thoughts.. but this one was special. ha!

it's clearly a nod to sonic youth and that new sleater-kinney album, but i don't have a band to reheare it with, so i just started making it. it's got a big ol' outro that i ended up fading out, i just imagine playing it for five minutes on stage, letting the freakiness simmer. good stuff.

it's about leaving town suddenly for your ex-girlfriends funeral, but you just met this other girl last week.. a bad mental space, perhaps. and you're all dazed and upset, and the whole plane seems to be staring at you.

confused and angry and sad and in the burgeoning throes of love. (burgeoning throes? huh?)

and confrontational!

a girl i haven't heard from since i was 14 or 15 found me online the other day. now that's freaky.

For Our Best Friends

hmm.. i must be slipping. i wrote this song and posted it on saturday, febuary 4th i guess.. but i can't find the blog entry. could that be? did i forget? i have vague memories of writing it, but i have vague memories of everything. nothing is true, everything is permissable. i was in such a daze trying to finish songs and get ready for the trip.

For Our Best Friends, we played shows.

this song is neat, but a mess.. now i'm sure i've written about it before. it's all coming back to me. it's got me trying to do rounds and weave melodies in and out and convolute the phrases. which doesn't work nearly as well as i had hoped. but it's also got a few parts weaving in and out, a lot of piano and guitar and drums.. with odd maps underneath, mostly to interior spaces.

hmm.. well, it's possible i wrote about it somewhere, i'll have to go looking.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Not Yet

sunday evening.. i kinda just got home from the show, turned on the super bowl and finished this guy.. Not Yet started a long time ago, i figure.. i was doing some stuff on the piano with odd times and click tracks, and emily put the first bit on there - which is basically 'phlip' from the new mexican revolution. wes wrote that. it's pretty.
it's also got some world class tin whistling, which i ran through delays and pitch shifters.. it's pretty. weird. ha!

i'm not sure how much more work i got in me. the show last night was really pretty good. everybody at the club was really cool, Ian was a nice guy. i had a real good guitar night, and the sound was good on stage.. good times. hooray for arcata and the alibi. but now i'm tired.

Friday, February 03, 2006


geez.. i'm the most foul mood. a mood most foul?

anyhow.. it's been a tough day. i just dropped home real quick to eat something, but i'm still working - and it hasn't been fun. hmph. i'm so moody sometimes. and i'm a jerk.

yesterday Timothy told me he's leaving..

this is a neat song. i'm kinda proud. it's got this thing called a 'chimalong' that matt brought over for me.. i put it to good use right away, and it worked out well. i've been thinking puppets and shadow puppets and gamelan music and such, so that was a neat chance to nod in that direction. composing a puppet opera is hard work, it seems.

umm.. i don't know. i'm in a bad mood.. the epic outro for this song was fun. i did the drums a few days ago, and the rest of the stuff yesterday.. singing, guitars, piano, bass. on and on.

i suppose it'll be nice to just sit around by myself tonight. maybe it'll be quiet. that'd be nice.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Death of Spain

spending time alone is kinda hard, i gotta calm myself down sometimes..

i stayed up real late last night, kinda working on this song.. mostly watching television. but i got all these lyrics from last nights sporadic work, and that's good news. the song is mostly this convoluted guitar chord thing, that i did a mock spanish fingerpick thing.. i don't have a nylon, or any ability, so that's as far as i went with it. it's got some cool drum tracks shifting around underneath, the main one is a samba groove from the machine, and there's a tamborine and cowbell, and a spare kick drum bit.

i had in mind a much more dramatic ethnic-feeling song.. and i wanted a trumpet, if i could. but i can't play the trumpet. oh well.

pinned up against the wall, you got your eyes on the land
do the math though it twists and turns
"sign him up, tonight - how much time do we have left?"
you don't know him like i do
i'm riddled with prints and my heart hums blue
in the mess of the effort, you spit up
like a wife you can't get rid of
much like it's a bad way across, it's the Death of Spain

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Going Down


matt came over and we drank some whiskey and coffee and made some music..

here's Going Down, a cool hipster country pop tune. i like it,, it's sorta pretty. matt can sing a note or two, and i got a chance to play piano. other than that, it's mostly matt doing guitar and vocal. i play livin-room drums. he plays moog.

there's also a psychedelic bride in the middle, 'cause we can't play a harmonica in g minor, or any key. it's got a swirl of suggestive lyrics.

now we're out of beer and whiskey.