16 October 2007

oh hi.

File under: The Kindness of Strangers. Someone at Blogger thinks this blog is "of note," it would appear. If you're here as a result, welcome! I hope that you enjoy your stay, and that your life is irrevocably altered for the better as a direct result of the roughly 35 seconds you spend here (on average...thanks, FeedBurner!).

In all seriousness though, welcome. Since you're here, I figure it's my duty to point you towards what I have reason to believe is the reason this site was singled out. A quick survey of my recent posts reveals neither notable frequency nor notable quality. I don't fancy myself a terrible writer, but I'm not convinced I'm an especially good one, either. The entire reason I ever got my shit together and made this site was to have a place to put some music that I made, and since you're here anyway, it's only fitting that I invite you to download it. It's free. I'd love to know what you think.

One other thing I should mention during these fifteen minutes of Internet relevance. When something that gets a lot of traffic links to one's blog, one is forced to make difficult decisions concerning comment spam. I've never had a problem with it in the past, but today that's begun to change. I am not going to outright block comments until they've been approved because I don't have much time these days and relevant comments shouldn't have to wait to be posted. So I ask you, valued reader, to be selective about the links you click on in the comment section (duh). If the site starts to get overrun by porn links and traffic piggybackers, I might have to just do some draconian moderation, but I really don't want to.

In actual news that I would have written about here anyway, I've been conducting a slow MySpace-message interview with Mike Miller (from Endless Mike and the Beagle Club). Let it be sufficient for now to say that his way with words extends beyond his songwriting. Eventually I'll post it at amiestreet.com and (in part) at wealsoran.com, both of which I've been regrettably negligent in posting to since the new job. Keep an eye out for it. It's going to be good.

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11 May 2007

all the fuss

I'm happy to report that today I finally accomplished what I originally set out to do with this website: to attract people who do google searches for "foot suck." Welcome, weirdos! I do hope that you enjoy your stay. You will not be judged within these confines.
I saw The Arcade Fire on Wednesday at Radio City Music Hall. Landing tickets to see those guys in this city has proven to be difficult in the past. Imagine trying to snatch a pork chop from the murky, piranha-ridden depths of the amazon river with your bare hands. It's like that, only internet fan-boys and reseller bots have sharper teeth. Their pings will blot out the sun. This time I faired no better, but in the zero hour, a guy that I know who had managed to get a pair, became unable to attend. Score.

The usual suspects have setlists and pictures and David Bowie sightings, and I have little to add to their songs of praise. It's sufficient for this space simply to say that I can now smile knowingly and nod when people say things like "The Arcade Fire is amazing in concert." With my own eyes and ears I have seen and heard, with my own hands I have clapped and with my own voice I have shouted myself hoarse. Do see them if you have a chance. It's well worth all the fuss.

One thing though that I'm going to say even though I can already hear you groaning: The whole time I was watching them I was reminded of another band with a lot of touring members that play multiple instruments: The Beagle Club. It's not that they have a similar sound, it's just a similar chaotic energy. So go see The Beagle Club, too. They're on tour again.

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30 March 2007

i know where my taxes go while my taxes know nothing about me

last night was the beagle club show. i swear to god those guys get better every single time i see them. they opened with "mr. miller's opus" (listen to it over at my mog page), which i think is the best song to come out last year (period), and a great opening track. and they never looked back. i'll write more about how wonderful they were soon in a more visible place than this remote portopotty on the fringe of the internet fairgrounds. i might even post a picture or two.

drew and the medicinal pen (or you can just call him drew) opened. he opened their last show at goodbye blue monday (which i wish i lived closer to) as well, and he's a really nice guy that's really coming into his own on stage; last time i liked him, this time i really liked him. i picked up his cd and i'll spend some time listening to it tonight. the beagle club guys tell me it's really good. he's having a cd release party this weekend that i wish i could go to.

and now, if you'll allow it, i'll plug myself a tad. green dragon podcasted another one of my songs today...new york city this time. i really can't thank him enough for that. you can check out the podcast here (.mp3 link). if you feel like it, leave him a comment mentioning that you liked hearing it. that'd be rad.

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27 March 2007

my fingers smell like metal

for the first time in i-don't-know-how-long, i just spent two straight hours playing the guitar. it had been so long, in fact, that i spent the two hours in question trying to relearn how to play all the songs on they're more afriad of you than you are of them. so now i can play them again, slightly less well than i could a year ago. i'm a schmuck.

i'm removed enough from it now to admit to you that i've never been happy with the way a lot of things on that record came out. bits and pieces of songs, mostly. but basically all of a viking's funeral drives me crazy. i got overzealous and i got carried away trying to make a song rock hard with a programmed rhythm section and a lot of compression and reverb. but truthfully (and you're just going to have to take my word for it for now) it sounds much much nicer on an acoustic guitar. maybe with a real piano, too.

which brings me to some exciting, albeit slightly speculative, news. rob, the ivory tickling of whom you can hear in i spin forever and scutigera coleoptrata is moving to new york city from san francisco in june. i can't promise much since we've only talked a little bit about it, but i'd be lying if i said i wasn't excited at the chance to play again alongside one of the most talented, intuitive musicians i've ever had the pleasure of knowing. allow me to elaborate: both the keyboard parts mentioned above were recorded in about three takes. i brought a portable recorder out to the piano rehearsal rooms back at brown university, told him what chords to play and slapped some headphones on him, and the rest is history.

so, if he can find any time for me when he's not engrossed in his theoretical physics phd program (show off), well, it'll be pretty cool. i'd love to record some songs with him in which the piano is more than a pretty afterthought. stay tuned.

also. it's the time of year now on new york where the sun is right in my eyes as i make my way home from work on long island back to brooklyn. it's probably for the best that everybody slows way down since nobody can see, but it also means it takes me forever to get home and i have a lot of time to think about things. this evening a lyric from a song sean was working on a while back kept popping into my head: "the sun's in my eyes, interstate 95..." i should make him play that for me again. we can make something of that.

if you can't tell, i'm really thinking seriously again about playing music. it's about time.

oh shit! i almost forgot the whole reason i started writing this post, which was to tell you that if you're around new york, endless mike and the beagle club are playing on thursday (that's the 29th) at a really cool bar in bushwick called goodbye blue monday. sean and i will be there.

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05 November 2006

endless mike and the beagle club at goodbye blue monday

"do you know what this is?"

mike was holding a plastic dinosaur that he had found lying around somewhere inside goodbye blue monday. the whole place is littered with old stuff. all of it is for sale, reportedly. none of it has price tags though. i smiled and shook his hand.

"it's a dinosaur," i said.

"yeah, but what kind?"

avoiding the question because i couldn't remember, i launched into a story about my childhood. "you know, when i was a kid i was convinced i wanted to be a paleontologist and when i told my first grade teacher that she had to ask me what it was."

"the exact same thing happened to me," he said. "at first i felt smart but then we did a dinosaur unit and the teacher kept singling me out, asking 'is that right, mike?' after everything she said. it made me feel like a freak so finally i just said 'i don't like dinosaurs anymore.' but do you want me to tell you what it is? or will it drive you crazy that you couldn't remember?"

"it's on the tip of my tongue. but yeah, go ahead."

"pachycephalosaurus." that's not what was on the tip of my tongue. "when me and matt were kids we were in the drug store with our grandma and we wanted to buy a book because we thought it was godzilla but really it was about dinosaurs and that ended up being the book we used to learn to read. and i guess we just kinda kept going and going and soon enough it was paleontology text books from the library."

mike is this easy to talk to. like an old friend the minute he's a friend at all. and it's partly this willingness to reveal what's underneath in such detail (even when it's just dinosaur enthusiasm) that makes him the gifted songwriter that he is. i'm talking, of course, about mike miller, from endless mike and the beagle club (matt, his brother, is also in the band).

we spent most of the time before the show started reading books we found on the shelf near our table (male sexuality, 101 questions and answers about welding, etc.) and stacking cans of $2 pbr.

a guy named drew opened the show with an acoustic guitar. he was pretty good, but he didn't have any cds with him or anything.

endless mike and the beagle club

and then, spilling off the stage like they often do, the beagle club took over. i've tried before to put the energy this band has into words and i've always failed. maybe energy isn't even the right word. it's more of a feeling. some members never stop dancing. and some hardly ever leave their position, sitting on the corner of the stage and playing whatever handheld percussion the song calls for. but there's a unity in the group, such that every role, from biggest to smallest, is equally dedicated to creating this experience. endless mike and the beagle club delight in blurring the line between rock concert and performance art. anyone who has ever sat around and dreamed of being in a band has dreamed of being in a band like this one. i can't think of any band i've ever seen that's more authentic.

and the songs are just so good. god damn are they good.

the husky tenor, a record i've been waiting for with baited breath, is finally done and i got my hands on it friday night. in lieu of liner notes, the package contains a six page hand-written letter from mike. a sort of stream of consciousness about what the band means to him and about free will and decision making and it closes with an invitation to discuss it all further with mike's email address and, if you're a fan of pen and paper, his mailing address.

the husky tenor

i, for one, intend on writing him. and you, well you should find a way to see this band in concert. and you should order this record, which i believe will eventually be available here. and you should never ever tell me that rock and roll is dead because i will tell you exactly where it is alive and well.

here's a picture of sean holding a cat. a cat that apparently lives at goodbye blue monday. there are lots more pictures of the show up at flickr.

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17 August 2006

if you want something done right find someone who knows what they're doing

it came to my attention this evening that downloads for two (2) of the songs on the music page were malfunctioning.  fear not, all ye faithful, it has been fixed and the responsible parties have been disciplined accordingly.  as the post below suggests, the record is done.  pending me burning a final version tomorrow and converting all the .wav's to high quality .mp3's, of course.  i aim to remain true to my earlier promise to have it all up for download by friday evening.

in other news, i had a beer with davis and cody from endless mike and the beagle club tonight at the beer garden in astoria.  they're well.  and we can expect their record soon, which is good news for anyone who likes joy and happiness and maybe marshmallow peeps (in moderation).  it will be so much better than mine (and every other record you'll hear this year) that you will cry.  tears of awe.

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22 July 2006

it's like riding a bike

at the behest my little bro, we've been doing some light demo recording of the song we've been working on that he mostly wrote but that we've been rewriting together. it's still a long, long way from done. but it's sounding pretty ok.

it's nice to have someone to make you do shit when it seems that lately if you had to rely on your own motivation you wouldn't get very far. and it's nice to be getting back into a routine of playing and singing at least a little bit every night.

the last song to be completed for they're more afraid of you... is "a viking's funeral," which if you've been following along for a very long time you've probably heard a version or two of already. i kept thinking it was done and posting it and then listening and thinking otherwise and taking it back down.

the last thing it needs is a synth part that i just don't know how to do. it's a tiny thing, too. but now that i've decided i need it i won't be happy without it. so umm...i'm working on it. but it might be a while.

change gears. i wrote before about last.fm. it has totally turned me on my ear. i check it obsessively to see what other people are listening to. i spend a bunch of time listening to awesome shit like springsteen and the smiths and endless mike and the beagle club so that people who see my profile will know that i love good things. it's a pretty awesome way to flex your e-nuts. so yeah. one more reminder from me to sign up for last.fm. it lets you do rad shit like this:



bodacious.

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03 July 2006

the husky tenor

my friends in endless mike and the beagle club just posted a bunch of new songs from their record the husky tenor which is slated for release in the fall. you can listen to two of them at their myspace and two more over at purevolume. please please do. please. thank me later. the new ones are the two on the top at each page.

i was trying to think of a way to tell you how much i believe in this band, and these new songs. but it turns out the only way i know how is with bad words. and my mom reads this sometimes (hi mom!) so i'll take it easy. this band is so gol'darned good. my favorite band, period, end of friggin' story. willickers. ass-hair.

supercalifragilistic-expialodocious.

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03 May 2006

main street, johnstown

i have been writing and deleting sentences for thirty minutes. i haven't been able to shut my brain down lately and although i've had plenty of time it's been impossible for me to corral my thoughts into anything i think is worth reading.

remember that band dynamite hack that covered "Boyz-N-The-Hood" and had a little radio hit a bunch of years back? well, i bought that record. it was an impulse buy. so impulsive, even, that i didn't look closely enough to realize i was buying a version that had all the fuckwords bleeped out. (holy shit apparently they have a record coming out this year. i didn't know that until i tried to find them on myspace. maybe they will be my friend.)

well they had a song on that record called "switcheroo" (i think it was the first track) and it had a line that went:
you do the same thing
to someone else
that someone did to you
switcheroo switcheroo
and i've had that line running through my head a lot lately. for a bunch of reasons.

none of which i guess i'm prepared to air out right here. which begs the question: why did i bring it up in the first place? for intrigue, suspense, vinegar, and piss. what?

monday and tuesday nights i went to see endless mike and the beagle club play shows in williamsburg and the lower east side, respectively. they've got some new stuff almost ready to be released and it's even more amazing than their old stuff which is already arguably too amazing for words.

usually when i'm smacked in the face with songwriting as great as what mike's been doing, i get a little bit discouraged. i guess it's natural. like when you walk into a bar full of guys that could benchpress you. this time though, it's more inspiration than envy. mike consistently writes some of the best songs i've ever heard. and talking to him and the rest of the guys in that band just makes me want to get back to something i've been neglecting for months now.

so today i bought a bass (since i've kinda been needing one) and i know it's still just talk until i buckle down and do it but here's to hoping i can finally finish recording this batch of songs and move on with my life to bigger and (hopefully) better things. stay tuned.

oh one other thing. last night i tried to go to my favorite indian restaurant on e.6th st and it was all closed up so i had to eat at an almost identical one right next door with comparable selection, prices, and service. i am outraged. i really hope someone was just sick or something and that my favorite place to eat in all of nyc is not closed for good. i've got my fingers crossed for you, panna. (note: that site provides a phone number but i am loathe to call lest i learn a truth more horrible than i could handle in my fragile state. please, let me stay in the dark just a bit longer.)

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30 January 2006

listen to this show tonight. thank me later.

barring the remote possibility that there are 2 beat up blue ford expeditions in new york city with bumper stickers that ask "have you hugged your cat today?" i was behind the same exact car this morning and this evening on my commute. figure out the odds of that one.

also my big toe on my right foot has been absolutely killing me all day. there is no logical explanation. i'm blaming paris hilton.

the real reason i'm writing is to tell you that one of my favorite bands in the fucking world is playing tonight on the radio and it's in pittsburgh but it streams everywhere so if you're around between 9 and 10 tonight (they are playing for a whole hour!) you really should listen to endless mike and the beagle club on www.wrct.org. pretty much every band you like sucks in comparison to these guys.

unless you like springsteen. he rules no matter what.

i finished a toilet paper roll tonight so i'm going to listen to that whole show pretending i'm a pirate.

***update***
it was awesome. i hope you listened.

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18 August 2005

back pat

i have raved about endless mike and the beagle club before. they are so good. seriously. go listen to them now or you may regret it forever.

but yeah, i got a note today from mike miller (who writes/sings their songs) telling me he liked my songs. holy crap, right? total holy crap.

i mean, one time a friend of james's played the stuff for sean lennon (yeah, that sean lennon) and he said he liked it, but that's a friend of a friend story and i wasn't there and sean lennon didn't f-ing email me.

i dunno, it's just really nice to know that someone who you respect so much also respects you. so if you're drinking*, raise a glass to mike miller for making my week.

*if i were you reading this blabbering, i'd want to be drinking.

[afterthought: anytime i get an email from anyone saying they like my music it makes my week. this is just kinda like, if you were out somewhere golfing and phil mickelson happens to walk by and be like "hey guy, nice swing." it's just kinda cool, that's all.]

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23 June 2005

endless mike and the beagle club

there's a band i've been listening to for a while now that is so good, i can't even take it. the songwriting is so far superior to just about everything else that it's really inspired me to try to be even half as good. so you should check them out. they're called endless mike and the beagle club, from johnstown, pa*. their official site is here, and you can hear some of their music here and here.

when you're done wowing at that, i have a few favors to ask of you. ok just one. join the mailing list. i swear, i send out maybe one thing a month (in may there were zero) but it would mean the world to me just to know you care.

actually i thought of a couple more favors. comment on this blog once in a while so i know you read it. you can do it anonymously if you're shy, i'm down with that. just don't call me an a-hole. and if you do the myspace thing, let's be friends. you'll find the link for watched pots at myspace up to the right.

*springsteen sings about johnstown in 'the river' so you know it's a cool fucking town.

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