National Public Viking

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

RPM Challenge: Introducing... Aethers

|current sounds| The Roman Candles- Bang! Bang! Bang!

As far-out and as avant-garde as my tastes get - what Christa calls my "whimsy" - my first love has been and always will be pop music (with metal a very close second). For the past 5 or 6 years, I've all but abandoned pop music for the avant-garde, self-releasing solo guitar albums and improvised collaborations, and putting out free-jazz, ambient and noise CDRs on my label. So when I decided to take part in the RPM Challenge (write and record an album in 29 days, the month of February), I took it as opportunity to make the pop album I've always had in my head... or at least the smattering of ideas that have never congealed.

Aethers is the name of the project, and you'll be able to follow its progress here and on that link. I'm not actually sure how it will all turn out, but more than likely, it will be a tribute to the pop records that shaped my love for the craft in the early 2000s: The World Won't End by The Pernice Brothers, Hate by The Delgados, Leave Here a Stranger by Starflyer 59 and Secret Name by Low. Actually, it's quite telling that I first heard all those albums in my first two years of college.

Starting this Friday, I begin writing and once the rest of the recording equipment comes from Erik, I lay down tracks. Friends in D.C. and abroad have agreed to contribute flute, voice, keys, drums and guitar solos.

Wish me luck. I hate writing lyrics.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Ray Smuckles '08

|current sounds| wyrd funeral folk music

According to this extremely uncomprehensive online quiz, I should back Hillary. Not sure how I feel about that.

93% Hillary Clinton
90% Barack Obama
87% John Edwards
87% Chris Dodd
77% Joe Biden
76% Bill Richardson
63% Dennis Kucinich
62% Mike Gravel
61% Rudy Giuliani
52% John McCain
37% Mike Huckabee
37% Tom Tancredo
36% Mitt Romney
24% Fred Thompson
18% Ron Paul

2008 Presidential Candidate Matching Quiz

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Twilight MP3 Now Up

|current sounds| Long Legged Woman- Nobody Knows This is Nowhere (I'm really flipping out over this. I'm going to put out their 7" single very soon.)

Photo: frankianz

Chris Schlarb has posted a 13-minute excerpt of the Twilight & Ghost Stories live premiere I performed in last December. You can find it at the bottom of his latest blog post, "In Twos."

The festival organizer sent me the full, unedited, unmixed half-hour version a little while ago, but this is a nice meaty morsel from the performance that kinda scraps a few parts that, in hindsight, were a little off. It was interesting hearing it for the first time since that night. Chris was right: my guitar tone sounded incredible. (Now if only I could translate that into the poor demos I record every now and again.) Just for interest's sake, Chris and I begin the piece and my guitar's the one that sounds vaguely like a sitar.

EDIT (1/28/08): The MP3 has been mentioned on Pitchfork's PR-happy "Forkcast" multimedia aggregation. It's at the bottom of their 40 Bands 80 Minutes DVD blurb. My name is included with Daedelus and Liz Janes as "among others." Look out, fame! The Pitchfork effect now takes its course.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I always knew he'd be the first...

|current sounds| sniveling, coughing, other unpleasantness

Congratulations, love and prayers to my brother Erik and Jennifer! Erik, of course, made a huge production out of the engagement, including a massive after-party with family and friends. I expected nothing less and wish I could've been there. Can't wait to have a sister-in-law as wonderful as Jennifer.

Okay, back to oatmeal, tea, bed and sickness.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Best Songs I Heard in 2007 (Last of the 2007 Lists, Promise)

|current sounds| Fleetwood Mac- Tusk

(Click for a larger image to print!)

I didn't want to dredge up end-of-the-year business again, but one of my roommate's friends made a "Best of '07" mix CD for her friends... and I just couldn't resist. My inner nerd was calling.

I qualify the mix CDs as "the best songs I heard in 2007" as opposed to just songs from the Year of the Boar. So among 2007 material, there's vintage Neil Young, apocalyptic reggae, Brazilian psychedelic-folk lovers, great stuff I missed in 2006, and one of the greatest '80s power-pop songs ever recorded (disc 1, track 18).

Long-form songs have been excluded for time constraints, like "Psalm 42" by the '70s Christian commune band The Trees Community and the American debut of "Tevot" by Thomas Ades, a phenomenal piece I look forward to experiencing live myself one day. Therefore, the two mix CDs (you didn't think I could just do one, did you?) turned out fairly poppy and accessible by default. The mixes also miss the incredible vinyl records I purchased last year that are too many to list.

_____ and Dream Away:
The Best Songs I Heard in 2007, Disc 1

01. Jay Reatard "My Shadow"
02. Tahiti 80 "Chinatown"
03. The Mary Onettes "Lost"
04. Tegan and Sara "Back in Your Head"
05. Telenovela "Cinema Scope"
06. Nelson Angelo e Joyce "Vivo Ou Morto"
07. Long Legged Woman "Scalpels in the Sky"
08. Major Stars "East to West"
09. Serpent Throne "Wheels of Satan"
10. Culture "Get Ready to Ride the Lion to Zion"
11. Animal Collective "Fireworks"
12. Milanese "Caramel Cognac"
13. Gui Boratto "Acróstico"
14. ellul "Esophagus"
15. Burial "Archangel"
16. Yeasayer "2080"
17. Sondre Lerche "Say It All"
18. The Toms "Sun"

Download Disc 1

"Wasn't it a good year? Wasn't filled with talking":
The Best Songs I Heard in 2007, Disc 2

01. CJ "Who Knows?"
02. Scott Walker "Hero of the War"
03. The Dirty Projectors "Rise Above"
04. Neil Young "Don't Let It Bring You Down"
05. Cornelius "Breezin'"
06. Panda Bear "I'm Not"
07. His Name is Alive "How Dark is Your Dark Side"
08. Michio Kurihara "Pendulum on a G-String/The Last Cicada"
09. Richard and Linda Thompson "The Calvary Cross"
10. Low "Murderer"
11. Richard Swift "Most of What I Know"
12. Caribou "Melody Day"
13. Citay "Little Kingdom"
14. Jim James & Calexico "Goin' to Acapulco"
15. The Weakerthans "Sun in an Empty Room"
16. Feist "1234"
17. Smokedog "Piano Tuner"
18. Harvey Milk "Get It Up & Get It On"

Download Disc 2

You'll have to order the MP3s once you download the zip files, then click on the image at the top of the post for printable liner notes you can fold in half. It should fit into any standard jewel case.