12/30/09

The story behind the song...

My pal Leona writes for MetroLyricsblog.com and she asked me to tell the story behind the song 'Snakes' for her songwriter series of articles.  Would you like to know the story?  Check out her blog and see a live performance of the tune here.

12/17/09

Young and Restless



A few weeks ago I decided to write a little Christmas song for fun.  I'd never done it and I thought it might be a good writing exercise.  I recorded it in my little garage studio and it turned out pretty well.  I posted it online and sent it off to a few folks who were looking for Christmas music for various purposes...I found out yesterday that it will be featured on the Dec 22nd episode of The Young and the Restless!

It's not Grey's Anatomy, but it is the highest-rated soap on the air and it is viewed by millions of people around the world every day.  I'll take it.

Want to hear the tune?    Listen and download it here.

12/11/09

Cool critics



I am not thin-skinned.  I don't mind a little criticism, even if it's heavy-handed.  In fact, I appreciate it when someone takes the time to listen to my music and offer a thoughtful opinion.  No big deal.  Lately, however, I have read a couple of reviews that really got me thinking about music criticism.

First, my pals The Dimes released a new record which has received a ton of critical praise with the exception of one cynical Portland critic.  My other pal John Shipe wrote an excellent response.  Read it here.

Next,  I recently happened upon the site of a singer/songwriter named Allison Weiss.  She released a record and has been getting some attention, including a writeup in the New York Times.  One of the most notable and press-worthy aspects of her career is the fact that she seems to have mastered the social networking game and has built a pretty solid fan base by communicating with her fans directly.

So, someone in her hometown of Athens wrote this review titled "Allison Weiss and the Beiging of America" (implying that Allison represents a trend in music towards less colorful work in favor of broad appeal...this guy's blog page happens to be beige).

He doesn't care for her music as far as I can tell, but I'm not positive because instead of writing about what her music is he writes about what it isn't.  As one reader noted he spends a large part of his article addressing an assertion made by another local critic...confusing, I know. 

He takes issue with her talent, determination and success when it comes to self-promotion.  He takes issue with her DIY status...somehow being a college student disqualifies her from being DIY...what?  She's not bitter enough for him.  She doesn't write about a broad enough range of topics.  Her fans provide too much support.  She is writing beige music for the masses.  On and on.

The overall message seems to be that an artist should not have the nerve to promote their work unless it meets a certain music critic standard.  If they happen to achieve some small success it must be because their fans are dumb.

To my ears, Allison seems to be writing music from an honest place.  Her record isn't going to redefine the art of songwriting or record production but I don't think she was aiming for that.  Her music doesn't have sharp edges or abrasive textures, but does that make it bad?  Why shouldn't she make records?  Why shouldn't she bust her ass to spread the word?  Why is her success so distasteful? 

This guy doesn't offer much insight.  From reading his article you wouldn't know whether Allison sounds more like Miley Cyrus or Edie Brickell.  I know that he doesn't think her record is cool, and I get some clues as to what his idea of cool is, but he offers readers no information to be able to make their own judgment.

It's a line-in-the-sand approach to music criticism.  "Cool is on this side...uncool is over there...don't cross". 

I should probably stop reading music reviews.  They always make me feel so uncool.


 

     




       

12/2/09

My office

I have a serious fascination with recording studios and music work spaces.  I absolutely love being in the environment.  I geek out looking at studio pics on recording forums like Gearslutz and TapeOp...I thought it was about time that I post pics of the space where I work.

Shortly after moving to Seattle, my friends from the band Reily offered me the use of their little studio space.  They let me move all of my gear in and set up shop.  It's modest; just a tiny one car garage with some drywall and carpet, but it is a great space for me to work without distraction.  I love it.

Decorations are courtesy of Grant and Dave.