Tuesday, December 30, 2014

5. Mercer Island

OK, this is one of my favorites.  I really like it.  It's also the very first track that I sang on - ever.  Yep, the first song of my first recording session.  What really does it for this tune is the backing vocals, ably performed by three singers who are way better than I am.  Credit also goes to Johnny my engineer on this and nearly every other project I've done.  He was the one who first suggested having the girls on this.  Me, I couldn't hear it until they were actually singing it.  And then it struck me as an obvious choice.  I couldn't believe how fantastic it sounded.  Plus, it's about architecture.  If you're not from the Seattle area, Mercer Island is a real-live island in the middle of Lake Washington.  In years past, it was something of an exclusive community.  There are still some very impressive fortresses here and there, but the thing that distinguishes it these days is its absolutely terrible architecture.  Sure, every city quarter has its dogs, but on Mercer Island, the dogs are pretty much the rule.  It's astonishing.  When you see a normal-looking house on a normal-sized lot, it seems out of place.  Everything else everywhere is as described in the tune: McMansions, poor designs from the seventies, weird add-ons, odd accessories and much, much more.  You have to see the whole island to believe that houses can look so be yet cost so much.  

Touch the Obelisk of Knowledge!

I dare you!

This has been my view at work for the past week or so.  The sun ducks behind the Continental Place shortly after 3:00 every day, creating a very cool effect.  If I was an early hominid, I'd have no trouble touching this.

Monday, December 29, 2014

4. Belltown

Well Belltown, this is your song.  Until only recently, I didn't like how my voice sounded on this track.  Now I'm OK with it.  I'm not completely enchanted by it, but I don't actively dislike it.  Besides that, it was a chance to write for accordion.  Sure, there's an accordion on TGV, but it's fake.  This one is real.  The trombone and bass are also real.  Everything else is fake: the percussion, the mallets and everything else.  The backup singers also do exist and I'm still quite taken by Alicia Dara's countermelody on the last verse.  Without that, this tune would have been completely hopeless.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

I went to Denny Park on Christmas Eve Day and there were squirrels a-plenty.  This guy was one of them.  He had a very dirty nose.

3. South Park

Prior to writing all the tunes for the album, I went out with a girl from South Park.  I found the place really quite cozy.  Sure, there are lots of weirdos living there, but that's part of the charm.  When I wrote this tune, the main bridge, known as the 14th/16th Ave. Bridge, was being replaced, so there was no direct way in from the east.  That's what the whole "you can't get there from here" thing is about.  I mean, of course you could get there; you just had to go around, up, under and through.  Well, those dark days are over.  There's a new bridge that is a lot less susceptible to collapse.  That's real nice, but it kind of makes my tune obsolete.  Oh, well.  Like I've always said, a lot of these tunes are snapshots of what was happening at the time.  What hasn't changed is the vast toxic plume (mentioned in the song!) beneath most of the neighborhood, so some of it still applies.

Perhaps of slight interest to any songwriters, except for the intro and the outro, which are the same, the chord progression doesn't change for the entire tune.  The melody changes three times (two vocal, one instrumental), but all three follow the same set of changes.  And no, it's not I-IV-V.  It's something else.  That I can't remember.  Anyhow, sometimes I like to see how many coherent melodies I can get out of a given progression.  The record is four.

I made a video of this tune on location, right at the former bridge.  Sure, it's in the vein of "Subterranean Homesick Blues," but it was a lot of fun to make.  I'm trying my best to look like a doofus.  While we were filming (which took about 45 minutes or so), nearly every weirdo in the neighborhood decided to visit.  It was slightly disconcerting, because some of them seemed to be completely against us filming anywhere near them.  Like I said, weirdos.  Here's the video.  It has a whole 64 views:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Golden Hour

 Take that, Werner Herzog!
And that, too!

And then it was over.

Here's Your Damn Postcard!

Sometimes phone photography does not suck.

2. Queen Anne

Sorry for the multi-day silence.  There was this holiday called Christmas.  People are really into it.  Including me.  Anyhow, here's Queen Anne.  It's a big song about a neighborhood that I like.  Of course, I'd never live there, because I'm here.  Y'know, in Belltown.  Don't worry, Belltown gets its due very soon.  And it's a really glum track.  This tune is way more exuberant.  Looking back at it, I would have hired more live musicians, but it stands as some of the best fake drumming I've ever done.  As it is, the only actual live guys on it are Ty the organist and Matt the backup singer.  Everything else is totally fake.  Even the guitar solo.  That's me on my rickety Casio keyboard.  And the thing that sounds like a rhythm guitar is really a clavinet.  And a fake one at that.  It's also my trusty Casio.  So there.  It's all trickery!

Monday, December 22, 2014

1. Bellevue

Here we go.  This is my first album from 2011.  And this tune is what started it all.  I had been writing songs for the better part of a year, not really intending to do anything in particular with them.  But once I wrote this, I knew that I could make the idea into an entire album.  Two months later, I had 17 tracks.  I realize that the Bellevue I sing about is slightly at odds with the Bellevue today.  I don't really care.  It's artistic license.  Who the hell needs to be accurate?  Seriously, if I don't know Bellevue's commercial zoning codes, does that mean my opinion isn't valid?  Whenever I'm in Bellevue, I'm always quite impressed by its blandness.  Sure, it has tall buildings, but honestly, who cares?  It's a suburb of a third-tier city, for Pete's sake!  My rant is merely a collection of impressions that have come to me over the course of many years.  Oh, and the only live instrument on this tune (besides my voice) is the tambourine, ably piloted by Johnny Sangster.  Everything else is a robot slave - brass, keyboards, drums - all under my absolute control.  This tune holds a special place in my heart, even though I catch much hell from my sister and her former in-laws for my brattiness.  For those who live nowhere near Bellevue: it is a place where you can live and die and your existence will not matter, although perhaps your material purchases will be noted.  Come to think of it, you can say the same thing about Seattle - except your material purchases won't count for anything.  You'll just live and die and that will be all.

There are 17 tracks on this album and they're all about various parts of Seattle.  This town and I have never gotten along too well.  I've always planned to move away, but something's always imposed itself in the way.  I'm kind of like George Bailey in It's a Wonderful Life, except if I was never born, it probably wouldn't make too much difference.  This was the way of making myself right with this city.  There is a lot of genuine affection in these tunes.  I was hoping for some reciprocation, but that never quite materialized.  Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this effort is that many of the professional Seattleites - those who make a living writing about Seattle - would not even acknowledge that this album existed.  I quickly found out that those who get paid to have an opinion about this city will dismiss anything that runs even slightly contrary to their core beliefs, the surly old farts.  They generally won't even consider it.  And those whose job it is to promote the interests of Seattle shun an album like this because it isn't, y'know, completely positive.  I don't care about that.  This effort is a statement about how I view my surroundings.  After so many years trying to leave, this was the most affection I could muster.  Hey, I'm trying to reconcile myself here!

If you've never been to Seattle, I apologize.  Like I said, I'm coming to terms with my cruel fate.  This town is quite pretty at certain times of the year.  I happen to like the rain quite a bit.  I tend to write a lot of music during the 10-month rainy season.  I couldn't do that in Los Angeles.  I did hope that people would see their city in a particular way after listening to this album, but that was a bust.  Funny thing, it's my best-selling pop album.    

This Is the Carousel

Stacey and I went on the carousel at Westlake this evening.  It was actually more fun than I thought it would be.  And I discovered the time-lapse function on my phone, so here is a queasy, nausea-inducing rundown of the ride.  It was really quite cool.  I might do it again - if a grownup guy riding a merry-go-round alone isn't, y'know, totally suspicious.  I like to do these things, but so do really gross people, as well.  

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's a guy from a while ago.  You know, even though squirrels are super-skittish and flinchy, they have this very strong urge to climb up your leg.  I've never been keen on that because their little finely-articulated finger-claws feel creepy.  So when they look like they're about to climb, as this one does, I take a step back and they seem immediately alarmed that I'm not a tree.  There are people out there who actually invite squirrels to climb all over them.  I just don't understand that.  Their claws are sharp and they do a lot of biting.  And that's just one squirrel.  If you have more than one, they start fighting.  Yeah, I would not dig that.  

Friday, December 19, 2014

Instant Classics - The Whole Damn Album

Here's the complete shebang.  You know, I recorded this less than three years ago and I'm a little nostalgic for that time.  In my totally objective opinion, it's a fine album with many a pop gem on it.  Of course, I'm disappointed that it's not universally recognized for that.  I'm still proud of it - much in the same way a parent feels about their ugliest child.  But this album will have its day.  All of my albums will.  I have yet to figure it out, but either I'm just slightly ahead of my time or waaaaay behind.  In any case, something's gotta happen someday.  Or maybe it won't.  Or perhaps the sun will explode tomorrow, making it all moot.    

Thursday, December 18, 2014

15. Somewhere in Antwerp, Pt. 1

OK, last track from Instant Classics.  I like to tell stories and initially, this just seemed like a short story about a guy whose low-key spy mission goes horribly wrong.  But as I kept mulling it over, I began to think that perhaps this could be the beginning of a much larger work with actual characters and themes and all that.  I felt there were many stories to go with a developing narrative.  And thus, a song cycle was born.  I have no idea how many installments this is going to require.  At first, I thought it could be done in eight or nine, but as I developed the story, the scope expanded.  I don't have the whole thing figured out, only the first ten or so parts.  Right now, there are four parts to it, but I can imagine that it might encompass up to 30 tunes.  That's if I'm ambitious.  The other side of this is that nobody seems at all interested in what I'm doing, so it's very likely that I'll have to quit this nonsense.  Sure, recording is a true joy and a wonderful experience; I absolutely love doing it, but at this rate, I'll be out of money by the end of next year.  I was originally hoping to ramp up to releasing three albums a year and keep on that pace for as many years as I could manage.  That plan factored in that I would actually be selling albums or attracting minimal interest.  That hasn't happened, so I'm only doing two albums a year.  But this next record is going to be very expensive.  In response to that, next summer's album will probably be my cheapest, but it'll take what's left of the war chest.  I would love to keep this song cycle (it doesn't really have a name yet) going, but even if I do complete it, I'll be too poor to record it.  Ah well, such are the troubles in this day and age.      

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

14. In the Mud

I was so enchanted with recording Ballard on Greater Seattle that I wanted to do a music hall-esque shouter on every album.  That tune was, for lack of a better word, magical.  We only needed two takes to get it raggedly perfect and I couldn't believe how good it sounded.  I had that same intent for this tune.  In many ways, it's on the same level as Ballard.  This time, however, it's on a real piano; Ballard was on a pianner, or whatever the hell people call piano-y keyboards.  And also this time, Ty the pianist kept messing up, so we had to start over.  When both parts are live, that's what you have to do.  I'm pretty sure it took 15 takes to get it right.  And each time I had to hit it as hard as I could.  You should have heard me on the first five takes!  Thanks to all the flubs, I'm more snarly than shouty, but I'm still happy with the results.  Despite all that yelling, I was able to come back the next day and sing So Gangsta, The Bucking Fus, Simple Past and several other tunes with no difficulty.  But it's not all me on this track.  I was helped out by some additional shouters, among them, my mom, my aunt, my friend Jim and the string quartet who played on So Gangsta.  Much fun was had by all.

As for a music hall track on every album, that practice kind of fell by the wayside.  The last three albums don't have anything like that.  But I'm happy to say that there will be at least two tracks like that on the first of next year's two albums.  One may actually verge on being a show tune and the other is closer to a national anthem, but the tradition will be reborn.  And I'm sure that it will fall by the wayside again.

Today's Sunset...

...through a dirty tinted window with some filterage.

Monday, December 15, 2014

13. Douchebags Walk the Earth

When you write a song called Douchebags Walk the Earth, what are you trying to achieve?  Are you just doing it for joke value or is there any inherent meaning involved?  Well yes, there's meaning.  All I'm trying to say is that we've progressed this far down the evolutionary gauntlet only to be haunted wherever we go by a bunch of selfish, unthinking, lunk-headed slobs.  Of course, douchebags aren't solely male; it's just that the most egregious examples are males.  Here we humans have all these miraculously complex systems within our bodies that keep us alive and in motion, only so that some of us can put on too much aftershave and have loud, obnoxious conversations on our cell phones.  It seems like something of a waste.  I thought that I would put this in the context of the douchebag - pop dub reggae - in order to drive the point home.  And here it is.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's just a guy wandering around in the leaves.  Funny thing, squirrels don't like piles of leaves.  They avoid them.  You'd think that being squirrels, they'd enjoy playing in the foliage.  But no.  They prefer bare ground and lawn to scurry around on.  And that is my insight into squirrel behavior for the week.

12. Bad Advice

Sometimes you have high hopes for a tune.  I did for this one.  I felt that I had written something stompy and compelling.  The subject was fairly evolved for a rock song - wisdom through experience.  The whole point is that you learn more outside of your comfort zone.  However, being prodded beyond that by some charismatic sociopath can be dangerous.  Let's get this out of the way: this is in no way autobiographical.  None of my tunes are.  I do what creative people do: make stuff up.  I'm always amused at those movies about novelists, writers and whatnot who can't write a word unless they've gone through some transformative experience - which they promptly fictionalize.  That's how Hollywood views the creative process.  It can't be written about or described unless it really happened.  Bah, I say.  Bah!  If things worked like that, how on earth would Tolstoy have written War and Peace?  He would have needed a time machine to experience Napoleon's invasion of Russia and its subsequent turmoil in order to write about it, yes?  No.  Bah!

OK, so I've posted the better part of four albums and I'm just saying this: all my stuff is made up.  It's so made up that even my opinions are fabricated.  Case in point: this song.  I don't believe that you should follow a charismatic sociopath anywhere, let alone allow him to call the shots for you.  But that's what happens here.  Like I said, I had high hopes for this tune.  They didn't materialize.  For some reason, this arrangement just falls flat.  There are live drums (as opposed to a drum machine), but everything else is a keyboard.  For the record, I do like the solo (it's a clavinet, believe it or not), but maybe I would have been better off adding a live guitar.  I don't know.  Perhaps it would have helped.  As it is, this is one of those tunes that I almost always skip without hesitation.  It's easy to pretend like I'm not responsible for it.  It's strange that prior to recording this album, I really thought that this track would light it up, while I thought Alsace-Lorraine was just a throwaway.  It turns out that this tune is something of a throwaway and Alsace-Lorraine is the one that I totally dig.  Funny how that works.      

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Here Is a Picture of a Person Dressed as an Otter with a Person not Dressed as an Otter

We went to Zoo Lights last night and managed to flag down the otter just as he was retreating from the public.  My flash wouldn't work and his whiskers are kind of in the way, but this picture is just as promised.  In case you're disappointed, here is a tree kangaroo:

11. Alsace-Lorraine

When I'm writing music, tunes emerge out of their sketches in an organic way.  The music usually comes first, then the lyrics/subject matter are brought into sharper focus after a lot of scanning and crossing out.  But this song was different, because most of my stuff is about something or tells a story.  This particular tune doesn't.  In fact, it's not about anything in particular except the general malaise I was feeling leading up to this album.  I felt that I had a really good song here and just battered my way through until it was complete.  It didn't need a meaning, it just needed to be done.  The result was surprising even for me.  I didn't intend to sing the verses in that abrasive whisper, but it seemed best at the time.  And it was done very quickly.  I believe we just used the entire second take.  The ba-ba-bah parts were murder.  I'm singing all the parts (I was my own backup singer on this entire album) and double tracking them.  To make matters more difficult, it's getting late and certain people who aren't me are getting uncharacteristically impatient and cranky.  But we got everything in the can and I promptly forgot about most of the unpleasantness.  I also didn't expect much from the tune.  But come mixing time the following week, it really stood out as a very fine rock song.  I apologize that it's not about anything.  Like I said, I vastly prefer to write about specific things or tell stories or express flawed opinions and so on.  You don't get that here.  

Friday, December 12, 2014

10. All the Fish in the World

This is exactly what you think it is - a rap tune about fish.  Off the mark, perhaps, but not by much.  I learned a valuable lesson here: it does no good to parody a genre that is already so close to self-parody as it is.  In this case, I thought I'd poke a little well-deserved fun at hip hop.  It really wasn't needed.  I mean, hip hop is impervious to parody because what are perceived as its biggest flaws are actually its greatest strengths.  Limited subject matter, violence, sexism, musical monotony, non-stop profanity, etc., all these things make it the powerhouse it is today.  The first time I heard Wiz Khalifa, I thought he was a parody act because his music was so bad.  I'm not talking beats or feel or the rapping itself (even though none of those was particularly well done); the music within the tune was atrociously bad.  But hey, that's the standard.  Back in the nineties, there was a progressive hip hop movement that was headed up by De La Soul.  It was pretty fun while it lasted, which wasn't for long.  I don't know whether such groups are still out there.  I'm aware of Shabazz Palaces, but I find their stuff vexingly unmusical.  Anyhow, even farther back in the fifties and sixties, there was always this urge in popular culture to ridicule rock 'n' roll for its youth-oriented simple-mindedness particularly by comedians of the age.  The problem was that the more outlandish the parody, the more people were drawn to it.  So basically, the whole thing was immune to all mockery, as is hip hop these days.  That's kind of what I ran into here.  Plus, people aren't totally jazzed about hearing a tune about fish.  But know this: the sarcastic fringehead is a real fish.  And it's very ugly.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Oops, Pt. 2

Here's something else that I forgot, the So Gangsta video.  Jeez, what's wrong with my brain?  Yeah, over two years on YouTube and 251 views.  That's big time, baby!

9. Totally, Completely, Utterly Worth It

This tune is nothing more than the adventures of some single-minded schmo who's way too serious about yiffing.  Despite a disastrous first outing, his passion is undiminished.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

8. Simple Past

Nobody has ever asked me about the best song I've ever written.  And why should they?  I'm just this nobody with a bunch of albums that haven't done much.  But if they should, I would say this one.  This tune was hell to write because the lines kept clashing with each other, so I would have to change one, which would clash with another, which would then have to be changed.  Yes, J.S. Bach perfected counterpoint (and that's what I was writing here), but since I was writing something with jazz inflections, it couldn't sound full-on baroque.  It had to swing and it had to show some its jazz chops, too.  Getting the words to fit and having it make sense were another challenge.  I didn't want it to be a simple boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl story.  No, there's a certain intensity to some relationships that you make while you're traveling, and both these people are hit by this.  It's just that the guy realizes a bit too late that this was a real thing.

Like I've always said, I dislike love songs.  This isn't one of those.  It's simply an account of a guy who completely missed the boat.  It's all his fault and he's resigned to his fate.  Plain and simple.  Some people don't even get that much.  For them, there isn't even a boat.  This guy had his chance and for reason unknown to even him, he passed it up.  For this a many other reasons, this is the best song I've ever written.  It's ironic that it's on my all-time worst-selling album, which also contains some of the best pop music I can offer.  Oh, well...

Monday, December 8, 2014

7. Facts

The live-ness of Bucking Fus is contrasted by the all-electronic Facts.  You know, when I was writing this, there was all this Tea Party idiocy going on around the country.  It seemed the the more outrageous the lie, the more people were inclined to believe it.  Very little of it had to do with anything resembling policy; it was merely a thinly-veiled personal attack on Obama.  And it worked, as the news media was ready and willing to lend credence to these nut jobs because they stood in very vocal opposition to a popular president.  Never mind that they were bankrolled by just a handful of ultra-conservative billionaires.  That was the source, but what about the rank-and-file members of this awful movement?  What, if anything, was going on in their heads?  The Tea Party of several years ago was a complete joke.  It was like they got together conspiracy theorists of every stripe, gave them poorly-spelled signs and turned them loose on the Mall in D.C. for months at a time.  Their arguments had as much to do with factual information as their organizations had to do with real populist sentiment.  At its height, I don't believe Tea Party membership exceeded the numbers of the American Communist Party.  Yet they accomplished their goal of muddying the waters.  This tune isn't about how facts will shine as a beacon of hope or whatnot.  No, the narrator just vows to keep believing in any stupid crap presented to him.  Facts have no value to him or his cohorts, because they're often at odds with their goals.  And that's what I perceived was at the core of the movement.        

Sunday, December 7, 2014

6. The Bucking Fus

I was feeling a lot of frustration going into these recording sessions.  Like I said, I thought my first album, Greater Seattle, would have gotten a warmer reception.  But it did not.  Of course, I thought that this album was going to be hailed as a pop music gem.  It also did not.  After five albums with a combined sales total of under 100, I've learned not to expect anything.  Sure, I occasionally listen to the radio and become moderately enraged at the crap they're playing.  That's why I don't listen to the radio much.  This tune is more resigned than angry.  The bus is of course a metaphor for anonymity, oblivion and failure.  All those things.  Ever since I wrote the music for this (I generally start with the music first and add the words later), I heard it as a jazz arrangement with three trombones at the center of the action.  This was a real blast to record.  And nothing came of it.  And I still ride the bucking fus everywhere.    

Your Sunday Squirrel

Fall squirrel!  From yesterday!  Enjoy!

Here's the Westlake Xmas Tree

I was just walking by yesterday and thought I would take a picture.  Pretty, no?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The New Cinerama

Today was my first chance to go to the newly-remodeled Cinerama.  It was quite something.  First off, I saw the latest Hunger Games movie there, which was kind of not very impressive.  The farther they away from kids killing kids, the less I'm interested.  That said, it's not nearly as bad as the Matrix sequels, but it's definitely not great.  You have to care a lot about Katniss et al and I do not.  Sure, I'll see the last, because I've already gotten this far.  But I'll say this, if you haven't seen either of the films or read the books, you will probably hate this movie, because not very much happens.  And the best thing about it is Elizabeth Banks by far.  Anyhow, back to the theater itself.  The Cinerama is at this moment unique in the world as it has this super-HD laser projection system.  It claims that it can show films with greater clarity and definition.  Can it?  Yes, it's pretty stunning.  I'm guessing this is the wave of the future and it's a good thing.  Let's see...what else is new?  Ah yes, new seats.  Behold:
Fewer seats, fewer rows and tons of leg room.  The only thing is that seating is, for some reason, reserved.  You pick your own seat when you buy your ticket.  It was weird seeing people evicting other people from their seats during the previews.  I didn't have that trouble, as I sat where I always sit: right and up.  At first, I thought the seats would be very uncomfortable, as their backs recline in a semi-awkward way, but I was wrong.  They are very comfortable - not sleep-inducing comfortable, but quite nice.  And they're also very wide, built especially for the zaftig movie-goer.  Me, I had at least half a foot to spare.  So basically, if your ass is wide, this is your theater.  Did I mention that there's a lot of leg room?  Here's a different shot:
OK, so this doesn't show that there's around two feet between you and the next row, but there is.  If there was this this much space on your average airliner, passengers would be overjoyed beyond belief.  
This is a bad shot, but it gives you a good idea of the mad speakerage in the place.  There are three speakers just in this small patch of wall and balcony.  I thought that the old system was just fine: loud and rumbly when needed, soft and stereophonic when necessary.  This is much better.  It may be one of the best sound systems anywhere.  Previously, dialogue would get swallowed up in noise during films like Godzilla or Pacific Rim.  It's very clear now.  So there's a lot of noise in the film.  You can still hear the dialogue.  I guess that's thanks to the zillions of speakers all around.

The Cinerama remains my favorite theater in the whole world.  The upgrades in technology really do make a difference.  But be forewarned, every show will cost you 15 bucks.  Since I was seeing a matinee, I kind of took exception to this.  The theater guy explained that they were advised to charge $25 per ticket, but instead it's going to be $15 no matter the time of day.  The thing is that the quality is $15-good for a mediocre film.  It's not $25-good on a Saturday morning at 11:45.  I would pay $25 to see a great film.  Case in point, I'd pay that much to see The Shining or a gigantic version of Citizen Kane or Casablanca.  Absolutely, I would.  But not for Hunger Games - Mockingjay, Pt. 1.  Nope, $15 is my limit and with that film, just barely.  I look forward to seeing many more good films there.  In the past, they've had film festivals that have genuinely stirred my soul.  Seeing Flash Gordon there a few years ago was one of the best entertainment experiences I've ever had.  Let's hope they keep doing that.  Anyways, all hail the Cinerama!      

Oh, and There's This!

I totally forgot about this video!  It's for TGV.  Since making the one for So Gangsta was such fun, I used the same approach for this tune.  Luckily, archive.org had a lot of vintage train footage and also luckily, this song is short.  At 74 views, it is far less popular than So Gangsta.  But both are totally outdone by even the worst cat video ever made.

5. So Gangsta

OK, I don't write love songs.  Or at least I try not to.  So how do I explain this?  Well, all I was trying to do was to make it a character study: an older (but not creepy) guy trying to woo a younger woman with ridiculously outdated urban slang.  That's all.  I had high hopes for this tune, because it's crazy sweet and it's got a fine string quartet arrangement.  I even made a video.  I took all kinds of vintage footage from archive.org and pieced it together.  It was almost as fun to make as it was to record.  You can see it here.  The song's been out for two and a half years and the video has a whopping 250 views, so I guess you can say that those high hopes were thwarted.  Since then, I've learned not to have hopes, high or otherwise.  It's better that way.  I mean, recording is such joy and that's enough.  

Friday, December 5, 2014

4. King of Lies

As an honest person, I'm intrigued by compulsive liars.  My experience is that such people will lie to anyone about anything just to keep in form.  And they won't necessarily remember what they told to whom, so it's very easy to catch them.  After all, it's easy to lie.  Anything more than that is too much work, which is why lazy people do it all the time.  I wrote this tune with the idea that the bigger the lie, the more willing people are to believe it.  Hey, it worked for Communism; it works for private individuals, too.  But the problem is that if you tell huge lies all the time, you'll eventually get found out.  It's the risk you take by telling lie upon lie.  But what do you get in return?  Well, for a brief time you get adulation from a different sort of people.  Of course, when they find you out, they might have you killed, but you can point to a time when they thought you were pretty neat.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

3. Mammoths & Ma$todons

Here's a tune that's much less dark.  Have you ever wanted to see a real wooly mammoth?  So have I.  And I'd also like to see mastodons.  OK, so they weren't entirely pleasant beasts, but wouldn't they be great to see?  Yes, they would.  The concept of reanimating them has been dangled in front of us and I just had to write a song encouraging the process.  I am strongly in favor of it.  After all, wasn't the mastodon initially know as the "American elephant?" It was indeed.  We should find a way to bring them back.  With science!  And then let them wander around to see what happens.  Until then, this tune must suffice.  

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

2. Silence on the Line

I had expected a warm reception for my first album, Greater Seattle.  That didn't happen, so I was rather disappointed.  With Instant Classics, I felt that I needed to push out in all directions.  I needed more energy, more humor and, in some cases, more existential despair.  A weird thing happens when something you're very proud of and happy with fails to achieve even what you minimally expected.  You feel completely alone in the universe.  People are listening to music but it's not yours.  In fact, you feel that people are averse to every single note that you've written and that your approach to everything is all wrong.  That's how this tune came about.  But of course, I came back eight months later and recorded this album.  Greater Seattle was a thing of the past.  I really liked recording it and I really like many (but not all) of the tunes on it, but it was done.  In retrospect, Instant Classics was even less of a success, but it makes a much different statement.  I'm also extremely proud of it.  It contains some tunes that may well prove to be pop music gems once I've recorded another few dozen albums or I'm dead or some such.    

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

1. TGV

It's the next earliest album.  And this is a tune about riding a fast train in France.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

I went searching for elusive snow-squirrels yesterday.  As I foresaw, there were none in Denny Park.  They were probably all in their trees watching football and cooking shows.  This guy is from last week,  If you don't notice how out-of-focus he is, then it's a pretty enjoyable photo.


I think the entire accumulation in Belltown was limited to the seats on these silly bikes.  It was a nice thing to happen, what with the week beginning with downright tropical temperatures, then pouring rain (that was the day I set up all my parents' outdoor Christmas decorations) and then snow.  It finally feels like we're approaching winter.  I bought a sweater today to celebrate.  Hooray!

Entire Album

Here's the whole shebang.  Next stop, Instant Classics.

Friday, November 28, 2014

15. Last Words

I wanted to do something a bit different with this tune.  OK, so there's no singing.  I just wanted to catalog the last words of famous people.  First off, many of them cannot be verified, but we would like to believe that the great among us can recognize their own mortality and put it into words that would give us some insight into our own lives.  I chose the quotes that required no context and seemed to either highlight a person's bitterness (Edith Piaf), resignation (Edvard Grieg), humanity (Johannes Brahms), disbelief in mortality (Lee Harvey Oswald) or unique miscellaneous/mundane sentiment (Ataturk).  When I played for my backup singers, they misted up somewhat.  I even made a video.  You can watch it here.  I envisioned this being something viral - not super-sensational, just a few thousand hits.  As usual, I was wrong.  And so ends album number three.              

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

14. Section 444, Pt. 2

What began as a simple abduction has become something else.  Our hero has been taken by someone who looks vaguely familiar.  She offers him an avenue of escape.  The only thing he has to do is shoot her.  He tries, but he can't.  Why?  The answer lies further down the road.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

13. Rats Are Learning

I like rodents (especially squirrels) and this tune speculates that when rats finally get organized, we're doomed.  Did you know that rodents make up 40% of all mammals?  So that's a lot of rats.  I do hope that they won't bear too much of a grudge.  OK, so maybe it's not much of a possibility, but there comes a time when a species whose prime talent is adaptation and survival makes the leap towards dominance.  I'm not saying it'll happen tomorrow, but it would be kind of cool to have some super-intelligent competition.  Oh, and I really dig this tune.  It also has no chords but it does have a real definite groove.  Plus, it's kind of weird, which is a definite bonus.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Birdman - A Few Days Later

Don't worry, no real spoilers here.

OK, so I went to see Birdman on Saturday.  Overall, it was a very enjoyable film.  The performances were very good by nearly everyone, but one thing has bothered me ever since: it's this naive belief that in order for art to be real, it has to be dangerous.  The more dangerous, the more real and vice-versa.  Michael Keaton is trying to redeem himself for years of hackery by doing something difficult.  First off, there's an assumption that since what he's doing is outside the mainstream (he's adapted Raymond Carver stories) it is automatically art.  Add the fact that Carver was deeply flawed and you have something worthy of everyone's notice, right?  Well, not really.  And that seems to be incorporated into the film on some level, because from what you see (all of two scenes), it doesn't look that great.  But if you add in the whole art-must-be-dangerous ethos, that seems to give the film a real kick in the shorts.  The only problem is that it's complete malarkey.

Acting, music, visual art, etc. don't require danger.  They need a certain focus on the craft.  And craft doesn't trash dressing rooms, have spectacular meltdowns or go into rehab.  Those things happen when (for the most part) when there's a lack of craft and a full-on belief in art-danger.  The problem is that art-danger makes for a better show, while craft is process-oriented and dull to watch.  Art-danger is quick, exciting and has a limited shelf life.  But here's the thing, very generally speaking, those works that involve heavy doses of craft tend to be the most complete.  In my case, say, if I want a snappy horn arrangement for one of my tunes, what do I do?  I write it myself, using knowledge that I've gathered from years of writing and arranging.  In the studio, I run the players till they get it right.  This is always a very calm and fun thing.  Everything goes smoothly and we're onto the next tune.  My experience is that a musician who believes in art-danger will hire horn players, go into the studio with nothing and then expect something to happen, which it doesn't.  But boy, is there a lot of shouting and drama.  And they usually emerge with a terrible arrangement.  My whole point is that the one way is unfeasible while the other is just unentertaining.  And once you've embraced art-danger, it only escalates.  If you've almost killed yourself over some project, what's next?  Killing yourself for real.  Of course, I'm an adherent of the craft, because it's a way of being good.  But in this world, it's advisable not to be too good, because you'll write stuff that looks/sounds/seems weird when run against mainstream faves.

But seriously, listening to opinions about art is a pretty dry socket.  It's just that there was something about that film that was really bugging me.  And I figured out what.  And it still bugs me, but I can live with it.          

12. Gutterati

At last, a tune about fun-loving drunks!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

Here's a squirrel from today.  There I was in Denny Park; the sun came out and I called this squirrel over.  I had no luck getting him to stand still until I gave him a peanut.  And then he wouldn't move.

11. Common Touch

He's an early try on electro-soul.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

I went to Birdman, but saw penguins instead!

I wish this happened every time I went to the movies.  By the way, I did go see Birdman and it was really good.

10. Tuesday Night

Here's another tune without chords.  It's just me playing five sax parts over beats.  I was initially a little shocked at how much key noise is generated by all the saxes, especially the bari.  For those not accustomed to the shorthand, that's baritone saxophone.  I don't own any, but I rented one from my sax repair-guy.  It sounded quite good, but the keys were so noisy.  Plus, my tenor has fairly loud keys, as well.  The result was lots of non-musical noise.  Well, there's no taking it back, so I've gotten used to it.

I wrote this tune shortly after the revolution in Egypt.  It was a time when the goodwill following the ouster of Mubarak was beginning to wane and many Egyptians were worse off than before.  So I decided to write a song from the perspective of someone who can see this coming.  It really doesn't matter that it has a latin feel to it.  I didn't want to make it country-specific.  I mean, even though it concerns itself with Egypt it doesn't have to have the arabesque sound.  Anyhow, I wanted to throw in as many saxophone parts as I could and I did.  I apologize for all the key noise, but it is a pretty slick tune.

Friday, November 21, 2014

9. Poor Players

The life of a working musician is often filled with petty indignities, most of which are tolerable if there aren't too many of them or too many of the same sort happening at the same time.  What is completely unacceptable is when someone hires you for a gig and then blames you for ruining it when things don't go according to their inflated expectations.  This generally occurs during weddings, but it happens at regular gigs, too.  In the case of this tune, it's at some swanky party.  The evening is a flop, the guests are a bunch of powerful louts and the musicians get blamed for it.  This is where I make my stand in the tune.  I point out the party's failings and question the nature of all those involved.  In the end, the musicians win because they're doing something they truly enjoy.  After all, if you don't enjoy making music, what's the point?  Seriously, only a very few people can be in it for the money because the money simply isn't there.  Me, I do this because my mind makes up tunes and picks out words, not necessarily in that order.  Anyhow, I've tried to convey at least a partial reality encountered by working musicians and I've tried to set it as a kind of hearty, rustic waltz.  The big open fifths in the upper and lower strings give the arrangement some real heft.  I'm so happy that I hired really good players who could really dig into their parts.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The Other Morning...

...at 3rd & Bell.

8. Supercollider

Here's "Supercollider," a tune about the supercollider!  This is the second track on the album that has no chords.  OK, so it has a few intervals, but zero triads.  Trust me, it's true.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

7. The Old Castilian

If there's one thing I like more than not writing love songs, it's writing songs about amorality.  And if it be made into a story, all the better.  Here we have a guy who kills people.  It's implied that he's experienced enough in the trade to have developed a jargon for certain tasks.  In this case, "the Old Castilian" refers to assassinating a very important official, a fictional king, in fact.  Now, this being fiction, I'm also implying that this guy isn't a constitutional monarch.  He actually rules a country that's big enough to make a difference.  And he is beloved in his country and beyond.  But some shadowy group decides that he has to go, so they hire the tune's narrator who gives the play-by-play.  The rest is pretty easy to understand.  And though he takes great pride in his work, there will come a day when the people who hired him will hire someone else to take care of him.  He accepts that and just keeps hanging out at the beach.

This tune was something of an experiment.  I wanted to see how many different melodies I could stack on top of the same chord changes.  Basically, except for the bridge (the part that tells about the ship blowing up and sinking), you're hearing the same chords all the time.  The tune and instrumentation are different, but the chords don't change.  This hopefully gives the track unity in the face of what seems like too much variety.  It's one of my favorites on a technical level.  There's a lot going on, but it doesn't seem like it.  Plus, it tells a complete story.  There's a beginning, middle and end and at the conclusion, the narrator doesn't come to any great epiphanies.  I wish I could write a song like this every day, but alas, something like this only happens occasionally or by accident.      

Monday, November 17, 2014

6. Maybe Rabies

This is a breezy little tune about not being able to break up with a really annoying person.  It doesn't come from my or anyone else's reality.  I mean, who doesn't know that rabies is a serious disease?  Who's that stupid?  Still the conceit is enough to give the tune a fairly exasperating end for the hapless narrator.

In the semi-interesting facts department, did you know that all instruments except the drums are fake?  Obviously, the backing singers and the claps are also real, but yes, everything you hear - bass, harpsichord, guitar, koto, chinese zither, etc. - are all virtual instruments.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

Have you ever seen a squirrel eating a pear?  Well, now you have!  I saw a lot of squirrels this week, but almost all of them were skittish.  This guy couldn't lug the pear very far, so he had no choice.  When I got too close, he retreated to a bush and glared at me.  I'm pretty sure he ate the whole thing after I left.

5. Your Cool

OK, so the tune itself concerns itself with the fleeting and ridiculous nature of hipness, but there's also something else going on here.  Or rather, there's something missing.  If you listen carefully, you'll notice that there aren't any chords.  There are only single lines going here and there over the churning electro beat.  It all began with a tune from my previous album, Instant Classics.  There's a tune on it that has four different independent parts joining in.  I transferred that practice to this album and wrote this tune.  And another.  In total, I wrote four tunes without chords for this album.  Now, I don't mean to say that tonality isn't at work.  No indeed, each tune is in its own key, but without triads getting in the way, there's a lot of melodic freedom that you can work with.  Also when that happens, the tune - and this tune in particular - becomes quite a bit harder to sing, because there few guide tones.  The melodic line, though prominent, is just one of many.  So you just have to learn how it feels in your throat, otherwise it's gonna sound wrong.

Like I said, this is just the first of four songs on this album that don't rely on chords.  I'll point them out as I post them.      

Saturday, November 15, 2014

4. Freedom & Other Delusions

Complete freedom is not an easy thing to deal with.  If you could choose your ideal life, it is my experience that it will drive you kind of nuts.  I have also found that if a person has a choice of anything they could do in life, there's no guarantee that they'll be good at it.  In fact, there are many people in this world who aren't good at anything.  This doesn't make them terrible people or a danger to others; they're just not good at what they do.  And it doesn't matter what their interest level is.  There are plenty of people who are living their "passion" and are absolutely terrible at it.  I have worked at offices before where almost everybody wanted to do something else besides work at that office and in that profession.  Once they were able to do what they'd always dreamed of, these folks were often very bad at it and it made them quite miserable, too.  They were generally much better doing a job they hated.  So my whole point is that freedom is a double-edged sword.  It can drive you nuts and cast a harsh light on your character.  It's so much easier to stay in a job that you dislike.  It gives you a good excuse to not find out the awful truth.

Anyhow, what you hear on this track is a nice little arrangement (if I do say so) of fake drums, electric piano and string quartet.  Hopefully, I make my point during this tune.  If I don't, it's still pleasant.  Maybe you think it's terrible.  I don't know.  I'm not you.  But it would be resoundingly ironic for me to suddenly realize that I'm not any good at something I've worked hard at for my entire life.  Another thing about complete freedom is that when you match it up with a certain amount of solitude, one's thoughts stray toward the philosophical.  That's exactly what happened here.  The perpetual struggle is to find subject matter.  I don't write love songs.  I try to avoid cliches like the plague (see what I did there?), but at the same time, I want my tunes to be about something.  Not only that, but I want them to tell stories and make sense.  Plus, most of them are structured so that they have a beginning, a middle and an end.  That means if you swap verses, say, you put the middle verse at the end and vice-versa, the tune won't make sense.  Of course, there's always the option to write a song about nothing.  I've only done that once.  There wasn't anything I could do with the tune other than that.  The results were actually pretty outstanding.  But by and large, I want for my tunes to have structure, content and coherence.  I also want them to sound good.

This is most my "pop" album of the five I've released.  It's also my least focused effort.  That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  In these days of internet fame, all you need is one tune.  And it doesn't necessarily need to be your own.  There are YouTube videos of precocious teenagers covering tunes that rack up millions of hits.  And then there's the example of Psy, as well.  When renown works like that, the album's impact is diminished.  Even among indie bands where the album is still a viable format, most releases are built around just one or two tracks.  When my discs go out for airplay, the result is fairly chaotic, because there is never a clear single.  When I was writing the tunes for this album, my intention was to make every track a potential single, hence the variety (or lack of focus, take your pick).  And as always, the songs that I end of liking the most are not the most compatible with airplay.  Anyway, this post has gotten waaaay too long.  All I can add is that I hope you enjoy this track.  And I hope you're really good at what you do and that it makes you deliriously happy.  And that freedom doesn't drive you crazy.                        


Wish for the Day

Art Chantry posted this on Book of Face.  The main problem is that smart people don't do famous well.

Friday, November 14, 2014

3. Eurotrash

This is one of my better tunes.  It seems to evoke a time and a place that are purely fictional.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2. Basic Cable

I really dislike love songs.  Let me rephrase - I dislike the obligation of having to write love songs.  I have no insights on the subject.  Plus, I roundly hate most love songs that have come out over the last 30 years or so.  Probably the worst sort is the super-idealized drivel that seems to sell the best.  We're talking the "I'll never let you go" or the "I just want to spend the rest of my life lost in your eyes" or the "I feel so safe in your arms" varieties of garbage.  There are many other types.  I've just named a few off the top of my head.  There are other topics to write songs about, you know.  And I try to plumb those depths as best I can.  After five albums, I think I've done a pretty good job.  I've written tunes about resurrecting wooly mammoths ("Mammoths and Ma$todons"), intellectual property ("Creeps") and awful architecture ("Mercer Island") with many other subjects in between.  But occasionally, you're going to write something about a relationship.  This is one of those tunes.  I try for a realistic portrayal; life is a struggle, when we're not out struggling, we're at home watching TV and projecting our lives onto what we're watching.  The word "love" is never mentioned, nor should it be.  It's just a tune about living life with somebody else and escaping with them for a short time.  Alicia Dara joins me on this tune.  Her excellent pipes really make this song into something special.          

Monday, November 10, 2014

1. This Life

This is the beginning of album three.  It's from 2013.  Like all the others, it was a blast to record.  Also like the others, the pervading struggle was to come up with unique subject matter.  This particular tune is about death.  Maybe it's not all that unique, but the message is that being alive is probably better than being dead.  Having never been dead before, I can't say for sure.  I'm just guessing.  But although it's impossible to appreciate being alive much of the time, it's important to realize what it means to be alive at least some of the time.  That's all.  And yes, I did have a friend pass away just like in the song, but he was 33, not 31 and though he had a son, he wasn't married.  I used some artistic license here.  He's been gone for two and a half years and I still miss him.  He was a great guy.  

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The New Calendar!

Here is the cover-squirrel.  Last year, I stuck with Cafe Press, but they were so terrible (and expensive) that I decided to take a different route.  This time around I'm going with Vistaprint.  They're much cheaper and easier to use.  The only thing is that I had a little store via Cafe Press and tried to drum up some business via this crappy blog.  Unfortunately, my sales were zero over the last two years.  So why keep trying?  I'm just going to buy a bunch and give them away.  Like I said earlier, most of my visitors are most definitely spam-bots, so appealing to actual humans seems pointless.  Why maintain this crummy blog?  Well, what else am I gonna do?  I'm stranded in this town for the moment, so I might as well post stuff about it.  

Your Sunday Squirrel

This guy is from quite a long time ago.  I don't know exactly how long squirrels live, but I'm guessing that he's probably playing his squirrel-harp in squirrel-heaven.  I'm not sure how this photo got lost in the shuffle, but I'm glad I rediscovered it.  I liked it so much, I made him part of the upcoming calendar.  He is Mr. May.

The Cinerama's Swell New Mural!

Isn't that sweet?  Lots of robots and aliens and monsters.  What's not to like?  It's a bit tough to see, as there are trees and stoplights and other stuff to block the view.  I for one am really looking forward to having the Cinerama open again.  You know, I didn't really think the place needed renovation.  If I remember correctly, wasn't it renovated just two years ago to accommodate 3D films?  In any case, it's the best place to see a movie anywhere and I can't wait to see the improvements.

Untitled Vanity Project - The Whole Thing

OK, here's the entire album.  I have no idea whether anybody's listening, as I've gotten zero indication that anyone is out there.  I mean, I recently read in my stats that I get around 1,500 page views a day.  I'm guessing that 1,495 of those are spam-bots and 5 are real humans.  Or all of those views could be from lurkers.  The truth may be somewhere in between.  Anyhow, enjoy.  The next album starts tomorrow.

Friday, November 7, 2014

13. Neutralizer, Pt. 3

Last tune of the album!  This is part of the song cycle that will unfold over the course of many albums.  If it sounds like it belongs to the rest of the album, I'm doing something wrong.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

12. The Age of Idiots

Ah, just when you think that the Bush era is gone forever...  When I wrote this tune, I thought we were finally free from our darker deeds of that time.  I would like to think that we are.    

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

11. Things Done

Sooner or later, a person will contemplate the nature of success.  I've found that what most people consider success is merely a wallow in tackiness.  But some will betray and even kill to get there.  This tune is about the point when expedience trumps ethics.  Generally, once this happens, success follows.  And where there's success, there's horrible banality and tackiness.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

10. Bad Tattoos

We've all seen them - terrible tattoos.  Most are as much a product of bad judgment as incompetent artistic ability.  I've got nothing against some ink, but it seems that the more tattoos a person gets, the more the overall quality diminishes.  I've never really understood the compulsion to get inked up.  The whole concept of expressing oneself through someone else's handiwork seems a bit, y'know, stupid.  Like I always say: if you really need to express yourself, write a bad novel.  And no matter how good your tattoo is, you're eventually going to get sick of it.  Unless you can't actually see it, which begs the question: why get a tattoo that you can't see?  What's the point of that?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

This may look like just another squirrel, but it's kind of special.  This wasn't actually taken at Denny Park; it's at 4th & Vine.  There used to be a colony of squirrels in the area.  It looks like they've returned.  I see them fairly regularly around there these days.  They like to hang out in the lawn/shrub side of the building on Vine.  I have no idea where they live, but I'm pretty sure it's not in the trees.  The loud traffic below would certainly drive them crazy, so they're probably shacked up in a nearby building.  I hope this fellow went back to his peoples and told them that I was cool with them being back in the area.

9. Gay Divorce

Not to be too much of a Debbie Downer on the subject, but, like with non-gay marriage, there's always the risk of divorce.  While it would be nice if love lasted forever for everyone in the world, life doesn't work that way.  This tune simply states that gay marriage is at last upon us, but not all unions will endure.  That's all.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

8. 60 Watts

I feel that if I encourage mediocrity enough, it'll just magically disappear.  I have a great belief in reverse-psychology.  Case in point:  in the sixties, people wrote all kinds of anti-war songs and what happened?  There was war all over the place.  Likewise, when U2 informed us back in the eighties that war was bad, all kinds of bad global stuff happened after its release.  And yes, I blame them for all those problems.  So basically, in this tune I'm saying that mediocrity is just fine, but I'm really trying to eradicate it by giving it permission to exist.  Does that make sense?  Yes?  No?  Maybe?  Anyhow, this is a pleasant number and I hope you enjoy it.

Friday, October 31, 2014

7. Sex Tard

I could describe this tune, but it's probably easier just to listen to it.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

6. Off

Hellish travel builds character.  I know.  I've got character to spare-acter.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

5. The Unified Theory

Whoops!  I missed another day!  Well, I hope this tune makes it worth the wait.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

I think it might be time for a new camera.  This fellow chewed on that peanut forever and I was able to take at least a dozen photos of him, but this is the most in focus of all of them.  And it's not that much in focus.  So unless I can convince the focus-bot to do its job, I may have to upgrade my equipment.

Pumpkin Bash

I went to the Pumpkin Bash at the zoo this weekend.  Here are just a few photos:
This is a not-very-good picture of a hippo eating a pumpkin.  You'd think that such a large animal would make quick work of a gourd, but no, there's a lot of chomping involved.
Here are the otters with their pumpkin.  They don't eat them; the zookeepers put fish inside them and the otters have to get them out.  Their pretty hilarious little beasts.  Even without the pumpkins, they're very entertaining.  They caper around and swim and suddenly, they all collapse in a heap and take a nap.

The giraffes below didn't get pumpkins, but I did catch them at a moment when they looked noble and sad.  Plus they were gazing out in different directions.

Storm Damage!

This is just right outside of my building.  It seems that it came off of the pear tree.  Of course, I heard nothing last night.  I slept through the whole thing.  Unfortunately, the tree that I absolutely hate, the cedar right outside my window, is still intact.

3. Mile 359

This is a pleasant tune about positive things.  I always want to believe that my best work is ahead of me.  I also want to believe that life actually gets better.  This tune reflects those notions in its own mellow way.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

2. Guilt Free

Whoops!  I missed a day.  Well, it was bound to happen.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

1. A Catchy Tune Proves Nothing

It begins again!  Here's the first album from this year.  My point with this tune is that one infectious track doesn't mean much without the heft of consistency.  Write a bunch of catchy tunes and we'll talk, OK?  I did make the correct prediction that this album was the first of two for the year, but that's not exactly the same thing as Babe Ruth calling his home run way back when.  I mean, I had a plan and a budget and things turned out right.  In the perfect world, it would have been three albums this year and every year, but since nobody buys anything I make, that limits what I can do.  Anyhow, here is Untitled Vanity Project.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unobscure at Last - Entire Album

Here's the whole damn thing.  Is anyone listening?  For me, that's the eternal question.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

14. Predators, Pt. 4

This is the fourth installment in a song cycle that will continue for years, assuming I don't go utterly broke or give up out of frustration or anything.  Of course, I'm only estimating, but I think the whole thing may comprise of 25+ tunes.  

Monday, October 20, 2014

13. A Little Fight

It's a space-age blues with real horns.  Fun!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

I saw this fellow on Thursday.  He was nice enough to hold still while I crept closer and closer to him.  There were a lot of other squirrels running around, too, but they were really skittish.  They ignore you until you get a few feet away, then they freak out and head for the nearest tree.  As they get older, though, they get friendlier.

Well, the Bikes Have Arrived...

This is what they look like.  I went to the Pronto site to see where all the stations are and you know something?  The bikes are only available Belltown/Downtown/Capitol Hill and in the U-District.  So if I wanted to ride out to Fremont or Ballard, I'd be totally hosed.  Still, it seems like people are riding them.  That's something, I guess.

12. Basically OK

A glum tune about amazing (and fictitious) things.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10. OCDelight

This song is intended to drive nearly everyone with various kinds of audio OCD completely nuts.  You've got dissonances, odd phrases, a slice-and-dice form and lyrics that don't quite make sense.  But it's still very funky.  Enjoy!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Breaking News!

This is what they're doing to the side of Vain, formerly the Vogue.  What does it mean?  Hey, it's art; it doesn't need to mean anything!  Seriously, I think there's much Seattle-referential stuff.  But some of these leave me a little mystified.  In any case, there is a lot going on here.  Well, I can't wait till it's done.  I'm pretty sure they'll be working on it tomorrow.  It's on 1st, between Lenora & Virginia.

3rd & Bell

This morning.

9. Big Wet Mess

I've always wanted to write a song about a hurricane.  One day, I did.  And this is it.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

8. Yoga for Embezzlers

This is a tune about stealing money and getting away with it.  And all the while, it's very danceable.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

6. Adult Situations

I've always been both fascinated and somewhat revolted by bedroom soul.  It's alluring but also completely ridiculous.  It's idealized malarkey that calls for levels of passion and earnestness that cannot be accomplished in the real world.  My solution?  Make romance sound as dry and boring as possible.  I realize that my voice is well outside the bedroom soul norm, but I acquit myself well enough thanks to a big, punchy arrangement and (once again) some excellent performances by the band.

Monday, October 13, 2014

5. Gentlemen Know the Difference

This is the most badass tune I've ever written.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Your Sunday Squirrel

It looks like leaves are sticking out of the side of this fellow's head.  Except for that, this is an OK picture.

4. The Exalted Brotherhood of St. Judas

Saturday, October 11, 2014

3. I Can Fake It Now