Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just A Ghost

here's a strawberry plant, for Adrian.

Just A Ghost

this is the song i wrote first thing yesterday morning.. with a neat Amaj and Emin7 going back and forth, and then that giant descending line, which is actually a big part of an old king hen song i thought of last week - but these days i can't even really remember how it went, and this line might be the only part of it that survives.

it's funny, recording in the apartment has a lot of challenges, especially with such a hard deadline.. no drums, can't play loud, can't do all sorts of things early or late, even singing and such - but what i really want are feedback swells with the guitar, and it's impossible to do here and hard to simulate.

how awesome can my guitar parts be without feedback? not very.

anyhow - yesterday after recording most of this one, i got depressed and distracted - singing "in the belly of the whale" all afternoon and trying to nap in the sun, so i figured this one'll have to wait. late last night/this morning i put another little ascending guitar on the second break and decided to call it done. even without the feedback swell.

we did a little minor surgery on jonpaul's xbox last night, which seems to be a success, and that's good news. hopefully we can shoot some zombies tonight.. in celebration.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

In The Belly

In The Belly
of the whale.

i'm going in the belly
the belly of the whale
i'm gonna say i'm sorry
i said i'm gonna make confession

i think i'm gonna kill another
i'm gonna rip apart my brother
i'm gonna open up the roses
i'm cleaning off the cobwebs
i'm shaking all the cats off

wrote two songs today, this is actually the second.. the first one needs another line or two of lyrics, and it'll be all done, i think. it's good to be a few hours ahead of the game, eh?


today was a pretty nice day in portland - the sky cleared up all afternoon, which is pretty awesome.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Doctor Is A Tool

The Doctor Is A Tool

sorta depressing day today, kinda hard to muster up enthusiasm for some song writing, but maybe emily's cake will cheer me up. ha! of course it will. chocolate cake.

i wonder about psychiatry, especially the pharmaceutical side of it. seems suspect.

finished watching The Stand on Netflix.. started off strong, ended pretty poorly - but i guess that's probably old news. we hadn't seen it before, and it was worth watching once.. but it kinda makes me wanna read the book, which is probably a lot better.. also, Twin Peaks is up now, so we might re-watch some of that stuff.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Quiet Room

The Quiet Room

yeah i heard you
i don't think i've ever heard you better
the out-of-focus life is softer
you frame the devil on your dresser
it's a quiet room
i don't think i've ever heard you better

and you need a quiet room
for recording a confession
for pouring over lessons
and if it's happening too soon
the proof is right there in the room

it's a very quiet room
made lesser be the presence
it was right there on the dresser
do you change pictures now when i come over?

wrote this in the middle of the night last night.. if it's a little noisy, i apologize.. it was played pretty quietly, delicate little finger plucks and mumbly vocals, and you can really hear the computer fan. you could probably hear the upstairs neighbor, if you tried. they keep odd hours, i think.

anyhow, we have some *other* recording to do, with *other* people, so there is not a lot of time to write anything today.

also - i think we've got the keys to a new rehearsal space and we're supposed to check that out tonight, and that's kinda exciting.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Nothing but a labcoat

Nothing but a labcoat

this is just a simple song about a sexy scientist. we love sexy scientists. literally.

it started with the lyrics "nothing but a labcoat" and worked backwards from there.

it's been a pretty slow day around here, dark and cloudy with a bit of a hangover.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Reasons On The Way

Reasons On The Way

you said i would never make it on my own
well i guess i have to try
you said within a weekend i'd come home
well i'm proving that a lie

i don't really care if it's raining
i don't really care if it's your birthday
i ain't making no excuses
and i got reasons on the way

the truth is
we were never meant to be together
we were just living on a loan
and the truth is
i don't mind a little stormy weather
if i'm heading on down the road

i don't really care if you're famous
i don't really care what your daddy said
i ain't hearing no excuses
and i got reasons on the way

i wrote this song yesterday, trying to write some acoustic guitar stuff to balance out my future synth-pop experiments.. and use the mandolin, if only a little bit. i almost put accordion on it, but i figured the little organ part was the same thing, essentially - so i left it fairly simple. it sorta reminds me of the rolling stones doing country music, or something..

in other news, it seems like a rehearsal space is on the horizon, which may be super cool for the music production.. having a place to play the drums would be pretty nice, and would help the songs out a lot..
it's a big challenge, not using my "first instrument" when i'm writing songs, but it keeps forcing me to be creative.
and i like spending time with the drum machine, trying to squeeze more and more out of it, but it'd be a lot easier to just play the drums, making the changes more obvious, setting 'em up with cool fills.. ha! the drums.


Thursday, April 14, 2011



life came at me sideways
a dirty half-breed
it was fast but not the speed
and the filth,
it was invasive
i stay wasted
so i won't remember shit
i like your new mask
i'll help you lace it up
no friend of love
is the discovery a curious one?

so now you like Judith?
"after a fashion"
more disappointment,
a puppet trying to wrestle with passions

i'm gonna win
Judith ain't never gonna see me unhappy again

i started this song a few days ago, but i wasn't really sure what to do with it.. i had more of the outro rock out bit than anything.. and i tried to work backwards and write lyrics for the first part. and then that changed my ideas for the second part, and on and on, blah blah..

but this morning i really started to like it, and while i was working on another song i kept thinking about it, so i figured it must be time to call it finished.. emily came home and we wrapped it up, doing a little more singing and stuff. we were gonna put real trumpets on it, but we didn't. i've been thinking about the saxophone a lot lately.. that might sound nice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Butter Brickle

Butter Brickle

this was mostly written yesterday, with a bulk of the lyrics and singing done after emily got home, with the help of leah. i don't wanna use her full name 'cause she might get in trouble - but i gotta mention her, because she sang a bunch at the end and helped write lyrics.. always appreciated.

it reminds me of ween, i guess, which is pretty cool.. also it has something about old st. nick and some butter brickle, which is pretty cool.

today i got most of a weird dreamy electro-pop song put together, but no lyrics yet. with another American Friction practice tomorrow night, i gotta plan ahead a bit.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

they own everything

they own everything

on the other side of the mountain
i lost my fascination
dazzling hum of insects
a stranger married my sister
they own everything

this song started on jonpauls' ds-10, using that cool little korg synth/sequencer thing.. all the weird syncopated blip-bloop stuff, that was the ds-10. once i got it into protools, i tried playing all sorts of little noises along with it, trying to build a rhythm track.. another glitch-y nod to radiohead, i'm sure.

i used the rather arbitrary length of the ds-10 source events to define the parts of the song.. if that makes sense, umm.. i just built around what jonpaul exported for me, and tried to find musical bits that filled the holes and stuff.

anyhow, it was a pretty weird day - working on this song a lot(listening to this over and over became really meditative).. as well as two other bits i'm trying to turn into songs.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Something Worse

Something Worse

have you looked at her?
i've never seen her eating..
have you even looked at her?
you'll never catch her sleeping
i don't think she's human anymore..
what was she before?

i must be dreaming -
i can't get close to her
without reaching for a knife

have you taken life before?
there's something worse than wolves at the door

this one comes in just under the wire, i guess.. it's about 10:30pm here, and i'm still kinda thinking about the mix. ha! i should really move on to the next song, right? right.

umm.. this song started off with some odd glitch-y drums and piano loops, (maybe a little bit like thom yorke's solo stuff?) - and just steadily got out of control, with a whole bunch of overdubs. it turned into a bit of a mess, perhaps, but i really like the creepy lyrics.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Focus for Color

Focus for Color

You take a path that I might've taken, but didn't. Goodbye. Good luck! I hope you break a leg!

How do we win the future?
Got to see you in the future.
You (i) might be me (you) some day.
What will you have to say?

The more you like it now, the less you'll like it later -- trading in all the focus for the color. WE WANT THEM BOTH!

i wrote the music for this one a few weeks ago, trying to come up with cool metal riffs for American Friction. ha! anyhow - i'm not really much of a metal guitarist, or guitarist at all.. so it's almost always luck when i come up with something that i think is super-cool, like this main verse lick.. umm, it's like a Fmaj7 and a Fmin/maj7 back and forth.. with a chorus in Cmin, with some circus-y chromaticism.

or something like that.

i thought it sounded like a sonic youth song at first, sorta.. not sure now, with the crazy double time change and all, and the acoustic guitar skank part.. and the cheesy keyboard trumpet sound. now it's more like the leaning towers, i suppose.

finished it just in time, too - we're gonna go over to jonpaul (i like your new haircut) and indy's house to make CD merch..

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Gravitational Turnstile

gravitational turnstile

One of these days, I will alight.
The stars'll align and you'll see me back in the game.
Until that day, I'm bound to flight.
The planet's a sphere far, far away from here.

This is better, but hard to maintain.
I'll soon be out on the streets again.
I know this can't last for long.
I've already sold myself to a somber song.

Comets only come around once in a while, blazing through the G-turnstile.

this is the music i wrote first thing yesterday morning, that seemed (at the time at least) a little too dark and depressing for a sunny Friday.. when emily heard it last night she liked it right away, and when we woke up this morning we managed to do all sorts of things to it..

in fact, i think she did most everything today.. except the little tiny super-quiet drum part.. i did that. she wrote the lyrics, played the bass, accordion, and trumpet.. and sang, of course. i played the clumsy mandolin part. and the accordion part that got muted 'cause it's full of mistakes.

Friday, April 08, 2011

the not mean song

the not mean song

i'm not gonna say anything mean about you today
it's too beautiful for that
the sun is out
i don't see any clouds
it's just too beautiful to stay mad

it has already been a pretty good day here in portland, oregon.. and it's only noon! yeehaw.

this is actually the second song i wrote today (wow!).. 'cause the other one was too ponderous and minor-key, full of accordion and mandolin and big chromatic walkdown stuff. it was neat, but almost inappropriate, i guess.

so i took a break, pulled out the ukelele and sat in the sun for a moment, and this was the very first thing i played.. words and chords and everything. if there is a record for fastest song i've written, i think this one would win.

which isn't to brag, or anything.. it sounds for all the world like a demo, not as fleshed out as other stuff we post here - and i could've written more words, figured out a cute little piano bit and made it longer.. but all those ideas seemed to take away from feeling of it.. a little rough, but innocent. or something.

anyhow, i think i'm gonna celebrate by sitting in the sun, playing the uke some more. ha!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Making Birds From Angels

Making Birds From Angels

pouring noise like concrete
trying to build a wall
hoping it won't fall

making birds from angels
a cage big enough for all
but they won't return my calls

it seems amazing, but we can't judge before we're through

opened up the floodgates
invited everybody in
all my enemies and friends

once they saw what i was making
some labeled it a sin
others offered to pitch in

it's amazing - what our ambition leads us to..
it seems amazing - just a modern man with tools

i like the lyrics to this one.. odd stuff, which is usually my favorite. i really like the little verse about "labeled it a sin/offered to pitch in".. somehow reminds me of something a little dylan-esque. when i started (with the acoustic guitar stuff, walking up & down the chord changes) i thought i might do a little folksong/storytelling thing.. maybe a southern gothic song, or something. i even had some lyrics written, but it wasn't making enough sense for a 'story'.. oh well.

i also got to use the mandolin on this one, and it's the first time i've played it in 2 years or so, easy... it used to live in Eugene, while i had the banjo, but a few months ago we swapped - which was sad at first, 'cause i really like the banjo, but it's always good to switch it up.

lastly, the outro to this guy is a little tricky.. i kinda see it in 6, but i think you could see it in 10, or a shifting 2 and 4 back and forth.. with the 3 chords moving on top, in a cycle. i spent some time thinking about it, but listening to it now, it doesn't seem that weird.

today's a busy day, with American Friction rehearsal tonight - now that this song is posted, i gotta go write a new one for tomorrow.. whew.

maybe something with mandolin..

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

dreams of flight

dreams of flight

a long long time ago, back in santa fe, wes shirley (from the New Mexican Revolution) had a song called dreams of flight - which i vaguely remember, but all those vague memories are positive.. i think it may have ended up on his more experimental solo album, but i can't be sure.

in any case, i felt i should mention that, 'cause that must be where the main turnaround lyric comes from.. and while i don't know exactly what his song was about, i can tell you this song is mostly inspired by that movie "the boy who could fly" - i watched that movie a lot as a kid, and i loved it. fred savage burying GI Joe toys in yard, making it around the block on a big wheel.. good stuff. it also had a boy who could fly (not fred savage). and while the movie was more about the power of belief or something, mine is more about dissatisfaction, gravity as the status quo, stuff like that. a real head-y rebellion. ha!

i had trouble getting to sleep last night because i had songs on the brain. this little math-y phrase kept trying to write itself while i wanted to sleep.. so i ended up thinking it all through (sort of) and mapping it out.. and first thing this morning i was able to record it, so that's kinda cool. maybe that'll be tomorrow's song..

the news this morning talked about snow, hail, and thunderstorms.. with a high of 49. sigh.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

another way out

another way out

a large chunk of the music for this song was done on Nanoloop by jonpaul, which is this nifty little iphone app that kinda simulates old 8bit videogame noises, using similar sounds and noises and stuff.. he sent me a short bit that we chopped up and re-arranged for out verse/chorus/rap, and then started to overdub and stuff..

it wasn't too difficult, but the scheduling was - now that emily is gainfully employed we have a narrow window in the early evening, and it's kind of important to plan ahead a bit.. in this case, i spent ALL day working on a completely different song, agonizing over lyrics and such, struggling with it, hoping emily could fly in and save it - but then emily came home and wasn't really feeling what i had worked on, so we just moved to a different song, and this one came together fairly quick.

i think i should have known - if the next song is such a headache during the day, maybe i'll just start another one.

in any case, a big thanks to jonpaul for the 8bit electro-pop.

also, it's cold and wet here. with the promise of more cold, and more wet.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Mister Sun Punch

Mister Sun Punch

we stayed awake
we tempted fate
she asked me to stay
the beast grew tame
a storm astray
a doll with lightning face
another rainy day
but i stay entertained

how could mister sun punch let this happen?

this song took some head-scratching to figure out.. i had this drum groove in 5 from way way back.. i think i came up with it playing drums in The Volumes, many years ago, and then tried using it in a John Elton tune.. and now it pops up here, using my trusty DR-880 guy.. the music started on the moog, with a stairstepping descending line, but the hard part was 'hearing' a melody over the thing, and then coming up with words - but i guess that's almost always the case.

this time, late last night after finishing up with the moving i was able to put pen to paper, and had a whole page of weird poetry/lyrics.. and this morning, with some editing, i was able to put 'em down on the song.

it might've been nice to have emily sing on it, she could make it prettier - but she's busy today, because:

today is emily's first day at work, woohoo! i hope she's not too nervous about it, and that she finds where she's going okay, and her clothes are appropriate.. and i don't want her to have to worry about posting a song today, it'll be nice to let her just come home and relax, so it's probably best just to finish this one up.


Sunday, April 03, 2011

Brand New Man

Brand New Man

grew up thinking this was family
spending all my time at home
they had me convinced but i've learned since
i'd be better on my own

he had the space and desperate taste
it takes to make a man
he got the parts and learned the arts
and came up with a plan

and when they walked down the streets
everybody would cheer
they came to celebrate
the automaton was here

with straight white teeth, a perfect crease
he really looked divine

we'll build a man to prove we can
to follow our own line

and when he started to breakdown
all the people shook their heads
you should have known
you'd be better off alone
just like your father said

this song was pretty fun to write, with emily and i splitting songwriting duties about 50/50.. i wrote the lil guitar line (descending/ascending Eminor) and came up with a chorus, and then kinda recorded those bits w/out having a clear idea what to write about.. the next morning emily and i wrote a bunch of kinda inspired lyrics about a sort-of frankensten's monster character. i've always wanted a robot friend.

once it started to head in the direction of ridiculous musical theater, emily was all set.. we just had to spend sometime going over things, trying to get the fermata and outro parts.. this afternoon we overdubbed electric guitars, accordion, organ, trumpets (real and fake).. and some singing. i think this song might be better with a more over-the-top theatrical vocal performance, full of character and what not. oh well.

and in the meantime, helping jonpaul and zach and melissa move. and playing a new mexican revolution show at the tonic (which went well, thanks to alfred) - it's been a kinda busy weekend.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Beauty and Suspicion

Beauty and Suspicion

she's a clean break and i'm quick healing
an open hole of love sick feelings
a laughing accident
you knew exactly what i meant

i thought it best to keep to myself
to decorate my private hell
i got no alibi
i got no heart to try

does beauty lead to suspicion?
you mentioned mystery -
i'd give it all up willingly

i thought this was what i wanted
to see the whole town choke down on it
taste was bittersweet
it was better incomplete

she's a clean break and i'm quick healing
but the whole exchange has left me reeling
it was all an accident
i know exactly what she meant

beauty and suspicion
an ancient mystery
i'd give it all up willingly
for the gods of atlantis
i wrote a symphony
i'd give it all up willingly

i wrote this song in the middle of the night a few nights ago.. chords and words pretty much all at once. if you can find a reasonable melody, sometimes the words come easy.. i wish it was always like that. in addition, yesterday emily and i put together a pretty awesome and hilarious song, which i imagine we'll post tomorrow.

also - now we can stream all the songs throughout the website, which is pretty awesome. i'm using Streampad, which works well on my end, and i trust it'll work for others 'cause i'm surprisingly unfamiliar with some of this stuff.. but so far so good. i guess it just reads html script and finds .mp3 files, and then streams them in a queue. neat-o. it works for the blog, obviously, but also for all the back catalog stuff, each "album" page has it's own streaming thing.. it might be cool to randomize it something, or maybe be more particular, but for now it just goes in order. in any case, i like it a lot. and we can all thank Erik Baldoni for that (american friction's bass player, hoo-ray!)..

so it's pretty tight this weekend, helping jonpaul and zach move, playing a show tonight with the New Mexican Revolution (at the Tonic, 1 of 4 bands.. whew.).. and working on these songs, but i think we can manage.


Friday, April 01, 2011



come from a time when holes had all the meaning
before all this concentration happened
we chose the macroscopic
but now

we're unreadable
with our face to the sky
our lack of shame a disguise
if we can sacrifice all our brothers
we can save all their wives

we're unbeatable
with our pits full of fire
burn our mouths free from the lies

we're unreadable
a machine with two eyes
and we can still change the tide
if we could let go of mother
we could get back our pride

we're untreatable
but don't act surprised
just watch out for the smiles

this song started of with that big simple G, D, C chord progression, and then those crazy horn breaks.. and with that big celebratory thing going, i added on the Dmaj lick at the end (sorta like Rocket, one of my favorite Smashing Pumpkins tunes..), and i had a four minute guitar solo outro, and it's only got like two minutes of song before that.. so i chopped a lot of that off.

then emily added more trumpets.. just to add to the fake keyboard trumpets i was using. that's probably some of the loudest stuff we've done in this apartment, and i think it's about the limit.. i had a fantasy of setting up the kit in here, and muffling it all and playing some real dry old soul/funk style drums, but that'd still be too loud, i fear. oh well.

and speaking of drums, this song has a repeating drum fill that made me think of Matt Sorum playing on November Rain.. same fill over and over, 'cause that's what Axl wanted. so i'm like that.

in other news, it's friday afternoon and the sun broke out in portland, gorgeous and much needed, so i may take a break for awhile and read a book outside.