Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Folk Posse

While sifting through my itunes I decided it would behoove me to make a "folk posse" playlist comprising my favorite folk artists. These artists however are more than just favorites, they are near and dear to my musical heart. They are "super favorites", like the friends you invite on vacation with you. They are as follows:

(In alphabetical order)

1. Bon Iver (Justin Vernon)- the music of justin vernon is pure genius. He combines simple structures with heavy overdubbed (but raw) falsetto vocals and just wonderfully beaten down sounding acoustic guitars. Despite just the aesthetic pleasure of the music, his songwriting is impeccable and his use of soul influenced melodies makes for some really awesome melodic lines. Luckily he is not TOO soulful and tactfully stays FAR FAR away from the likes of maroon 5/james blunt types -live by himself -off the album

2. Damien Rice- I kind of want to say he is the best songwriter I have ever heard. Every song this man writes is amazing and full of passion. His is one of the most honest artists i can think of. I've seen performances of him playing a song "Rootless Tree", which he has probably played a hundred times over, and he is still so passionate in his performance that his face is red and his hands are shaking by the end of it. Not to mention he has a fantastic group of musicians behind him, and HAD the incredible voice of Lisa Hannigan to accompany him. Unfortunately he seems to be one of those tragic "unfaithful to women" types, driving away his lovely accompanying talent haha. -EXPLICIT don't be offended

3.Eddie Vedder- okay this may not TOTALLY count, being that his work has been 98% within the confines of what has been called the greatest American rock band (Pearl Jam). HOWEVER, Eddie Vedder to me IS Pearl Jam, and all the great folky songs you hear in their albums are a result of him, I could list way too many to prove my point. Besides this his solo debut by way of the "Into the Wild" soundtrack, is amazing and has become a significant influence in my thinking of certain methods of songwriting.

4. Emiliana Torrini- again she may not REALLY count, because other than her album "Fisherman's Woman" her music is mostly some sort of indie/blues/pop/electronic/rock thing, which is a typical choice of non-mainstream women with good voices, and it is a much easier sound to identify than describe haha. The "Fisherman's Woman" album however is very stripped down, mostly consisting of just vocals and acoustic guitar, and is simply beautiful, and extremely meaningful when you learn the story behind the album. She wrote it after her fiance died before they could be married, makes some of the songs INCREDIBLY sad when you see them in relation to this.

5. Fionn Regan- this young Irishman is probably in my top 3 favorite songwriters and one of my favorite artists in any genre. He may have dropped a few places after his most recent album became much more "band" oriented (this i find is the downfall of many folk musicians after a successful first album). His lyrics don't make much sense, but thats okay, because they're are still clear and interesting. His guitar work and the production/atmosphere created by his music is what I love most about his music. -really cool -my favorite song of his, but I really love the studio version.

6. Iron and Wine (Sam Beam)- apparently he got the name "iron and wine" from a vitamin bottle? Iron and Wine is the exception to my rule that folk musicians are ruined by getting a band after they become popular. One of my favorite things about Iron and Wine is in fact his ability to use all the excess instrumentation to create a totally unique aesthetic. Sam Beam is one of the first people I remember using and incredibly breathy hushed voice as if it was normal, and then harmonizing and layering with it. This makes it like his voice blankets every song in a soft windblown sheet. I can't say enough good things really about his music I love the lyrics the vocals the production the guitar work, and the ever present but subtle use of slide guitars, in a NOT bluesy fashion. Blues slide guitar is awesome and I love it, but thankfully some people recognize it can be used in other ways haha. good example of the use of slide and using the extra instrumentation well.

7. Jose Gonzalez- only recently have a gained a strong love for Jose's music. He has a very unique sound using only finger picking and strumming on a nylon string guitar (aka classical guitar) and then combines this with a very straightforward unassuming way of singing. Its not hushed, but somewhat subdued. He uses nothing but the guitar to make beats and rhythms, but not in a cliche looped sort of way, and the end result is almost transic. He may be more of an acquired taste for some, but he is in no way abrasive, and I love his stuff.

8. M. Ward- somehow M. Ward is probably the most well known/famous/successful of these musicians, maybe second to Damien Rice. He is on the borderline of being in my "folk posse" and being just a favorite. But my love of his first album "Duet for Guitars #2" solidified his place in the group. He is more of your traditional strum and sing type singer-songwriter. But his old-timey and nostalgic feel is what draws me most to him.

9.Patrick Park- he is more of a straightforward type of singer songwriter as well. One notable fact is that he was born to parents who were BOTH professional poets, and his knack for lyrical interest is evident. There is a heavy country influence in his music as well, which would normally mean musical death for me, but luckily the vocals are smooth and not ridiculous. The vocals aren't AMAZING, but are good and the guitar work isn't going to impress. I think there is a good bit of nostalgia that makes me appreciate his music a bit more than I otherwise might.

10. Sun Kil Moon (Mark Kozelek)- this is one of the more remarkable and perfect blends of not so great vocals with great songwriting and atmosphere. Sun Kil Moon is some very soft melancholy music, and there is really nothing remarkable about it, especially since I can never understand the lyrics, its just really good.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Adolescents and Aerosmith....and a change up...this was too much work

First off let me say trying to focus and listen as I had intended on a daily basis AND going down the list alphabetically just takes too much work and planning and attention during the day. Also I now feel it does not allow the music time to properly 'absorb' into my psyche (zen master). THEREFORE I'm gonna switch this up to a blog about a "band(s) of the week". Sorry for the dramatic build up and letdown, but it'll still be nice. PLUS I can get to everyone's suggestions faster than waiting until later on in the year when I get to the correct letter. BUT for today.....


Apparently this band is a punk "supergroup" from the early 80's comprised of other punk bands I have never heard of. I listened intently to their first album aptly named 'Adolescents', and I was pleasantly surprised. Sure its basically what you'd expect from a 1981 punk album, mostly just fast loudness, but there were a few gems in the mix. My personal favorite song 'Amoeba' was featured on one of the Tony Hawk video games, leading to my eventual finding of the album. Other songs like 'Kids of the Black Hole' were entertaining, but this is me mostly keeping an open mind. I was most pleased to hear so evidently the punk influences that early grunge pulled from. Although I am no friend or lover of punk music, I am always drawn to music with energy and very thrashy sounding guitars. Put this on as background noise and learn to love a couple of the songs :)


They have been called 'America's Greatest Rock and Roll Band', but so has Pearl Jam....and there are better American bands than Pearl Jam, so I must assume there are better American bands than Aerosmith. HOWEVER they're good, very good. What has impressed me the most, was not the guitar work or the drumming or really anything I expected. It was the diversity of Steven Tyler. This guy has fun with his voice and is not afraid to use all the screeches and tones he can find a way to control and string into notes, also he plays the harmonica and piano for the band, and initially played the drums. A talented individual, and I admire talented individuals. My only complaint with Aerosmith is that you are not going to experience anything new from album to album on any great level. Bands like Led Zeppelin and Cream have a way of really mixing up their sound and covering a lot of musical territory, but still making it work together as a whole. Aerosmith does the opposite, but not in a bad way. They've found a way to write some good rock songs and they just keep at it. But yeah they're legends so I can't complain too much, unless I one day play the superbowl half-time show haha.

Monday, July 26, 2010

THE COUNTDOWN (give me music!)

I will begin this blog and epic process starting August 1st. Until then please be giving me new bands/artists/composers or professional noisemakers to listen to and review of ANY style. I will be fair and open minded :) and I hope my picture of me with a guitar (on the right) proves that I'm legit. ALSO any particular things like polls or weekly favorite video links you would like to see please let me know!

let rock and roll!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

He's always barking at the picture rectangle

EVERY sunday, and sometimes on thursdays and mondays, my human is jumping up and barking at the little padded men in helmets on the picture rectangle! I have no idea whats going on! I usually just elect to take my new denta-bones (which are extremely tasty, but don't help my breath THAT much) and hide under the coffee table. I figured it must be just some random phase with him, but it seems this will be going on until early next year! We still have the scary mask day, the lots of food day, and the weird music and big flashing tree day! I don't think I can handle all this commotion PLUS him barking all the time.

*Matt from the other room*
"In my defense Ryo barks EVERDAY at NOTHING for absolutely no reason..."

My human can complain all he wants about my barking...I'm just keeping him and the other humans safe from mailmen, stray cats, and the evil Lili who resides in our domain. My human has also been commenting that its been "cold" out. I guess anything under 85 degrees is cold now? Whatever he feeds me and I love him for it.

Ryo out, peace

School, work, music, football, repeat.

Before I get into new stuff let me say this about my previous post. I don't know that I necessarily drew any significant conclusions from any of what I said. That was just a good portion of the thoughts floating around in my brain and it was getting a little crowded up there haha. So now I feel much better.

ANYWAYS football has begun!!! My Cowboys are engaging in their usual heartbreaking ways at 1-1 losing 31-33 to the Giants Sunday evening (ryo will have more comments on this). Also fantasy football has taken over an unhealthy portion of my time again (to the right is my team logo). Last year I was the ninja turtles....this year I am ninja turtles 2. Glorious.

So I guess I'm going in backwards order from my title? in that case we have music next! Well I'm doing my best to take the advice of a) Pearl Jam and b) the ticket hosts while talking about the cowboys. I need to basically get out of my own way to get things done musically. The members of Pearl Jam allowed their producer Brendan O'Brien to have a considerable say in their new album. Instead of "trying to make ideas work that probably weren't even good ideas..." the band planned rehearsed and went right in to the studio to make a straightforward, quick, and "fun" album. My opinions of how this actually turned out aside, I do believe I too need to "get out of my own way" and just get some things done musically. Every artist faces the challenge of having either too many ideas or not enough and sometimes both. I've very recently started having just a smidgen more confidence in myself. I finally give myself enough credit when I'm playing around with an idea, that I may not be able to save or record right away, that when the time comes for something like it I will be able to come up with another idea just as good if I forgot the first one. If I track back my songwriting and ideas they've only gotten better not worse, so why would it be any different in the future? haha

Third topic of choice is work a. However I'm not going to talk about how this affects me cause I don't like always getting the response "welcome to being and adult!". Its not like adults don't complain about the fact that they have to do adult things too haha.

School finally is going good and moderately okay at the same time? I have a class I'm very unhappy with, but I've decided to not put more than is necessary for my little A in it. My literature class is ALLLL about Dante's Divine Comedies and is extremely interesting. It also keeps my trying to read about 100 pages in three different books between every class. This is where my little brain rampage from last week came from, however I'm enjoying the mental stimulation. So thats pretty much what I do these days. Work and go to school, listen to and make music, and watch football. Not too bad.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Ryo (aka mopey) and my brain that won't turn off

(Something is wrong with Ryo. She had a pinched nerve in her back a while ago and I think the weather makes her uncomfortable, so she is very mopey as you can see in the picture. Therefore she'll be taking a break this week...and I'll take more than my share of the blog space.)

It's a strange thing in life to think that you've got everything figured out just to learn quickly that you're completely wrong. Then again, maybe you are right but now wrong by thinking you're right. Then again maybe you've never been right and never will be, but the point is try. Then again maybe you used to be right and you're getting closer to being right again, but not in the way you originally thought.......Throw in actual situations and life experiences into the wrongs and rights of this paragraph and you have what my brain has been juggling the past few days.

This is what happens when I do my homework! I was reading through a book for class called "Evil in Modern Thought" and my brain shot off on philosophical rabbit trail after philosophical rabbit trail. The main issue with this is I will get nothing out of it till I write it down, because the trail of logic is not at all simple in my mind. So have fun reading this!

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed/conceived/thunk that in the universe there is a rift between reason and nature, but that this rift is both a blessing and a curse. It is a sort of paradox. We have been made for nature and nature has been made for us. Nature follows natural laws that have logical, tangible, and quantitative orderly paths that we humans have been given the ability to decipher. This discovery gives us unmeasured pleasure and even some essence of purpose. However the tragic half of the story comes in to play in the infinite nature of...well nature. Man has the ability to reason and discover ALL that is logical, but he can never discover all that is logical because its infinite. HOW TRAGIC! To know that one has the ability to accomplish something, yet never will! This goes beyond a fear of failure, this is a problem of fulfillment. However Kant is a man who himself longed for hope, and this he gives to us at least a little. The joy of man is to reach for that which he can never attain. Just think of our fascination with superheroes! We long for that which we cannot be. Man longs to be great than he is; man longs to be God...Mind blown a bit right? Mine was. Especially with the connection that to a Christian the goal is to be "like Christ". We strive desperately to be that which God already told us we are not and cannot be.

(My mind has not had time to process the religious aspect of this thinking yet so moving on!)

My over thinking situations and life in general led me into depression. I saw little point and little hope in the everyday. The point of everyman is to procreate, love his family, and stimulate the economy. This is the agenda and the life path of everyman, but I as a human have been instilled with the desire to be more! I have been instilled with the desire to be a "superman", to be bigger, stronger, smarter, faster, and be able to accomplish any task set before me. For a while I felt I could do this. I could be a top student and athlete and musician and intellectual and friend and whatever else I wished because I had the ability to make anything I wanted an ability. Yet experience and life demanded of me that I must choose one thing and make that my ability. But nature says no, you cannot have that you reach for, you must only be happy in your pursuit of it.

So believing in this wisdom I set out to do so. I chose to focus my life around music as it was the only thing that seemed worth focusing on anymore. I chose to finally shut up, keep my head down, and do what needed to be done. I can think about it once the job is done and I have nothing else to do. This has worked for me for the past few months, but its starting not to. Through reason I have negated my ability to reason. I have allowed myself to become dull and stupid. My thoughts are only as deep as I am, because they focus on nothing else. I have repeated in my mind repeatedly the phrase "power through". Shut up and get it done, get to work. I still believe this is admirable and necessary for me to succeed and prove myself to myself alone, but there is still a problem. I have negated my lack of motivation not by creating a source of motivation, but by ignoring the lack of such a source. I have moved forward by driving on empty, breaking down, and then pushing the car hoping to hit a gas station soon.

Well the fact is I don't see a gas station ahead, and I don't even know if my car runs on gasoline or something else. Maybe it runs on Willie Nelson's bio-fuel or hamsters on wheels, I don't know yet. But I do know this, I cannot deny my brain higher thought! I cannot deny my tendency to over think. I cannot deny my human self its desire to know all, and never be able to. If I were rich and had a happy marriage and wonderful children and close friends, I could easily be miserable if I allowed myself to be okay with it all. Something can always be better.

My mom has been telling me for a while that I'm one of those people that always thinks "grass is greener on the other side." She couldn't be more right. I long for that which I cannot have, and when I have something its not as great as I had hoped. Unfortunately the same thing happens withing myself. I seek change in my own character and I am always dissatisfied with the outcome. Once I was more proud and I sought humility and my humility brought me apathy and insecurity. When I was eloquent and intellectual I sought simplicity and bliss through ignorance, they made me realize how much I loved the others. Now that my focus is music my brain longs for the challenge of the sciences and mathematics. NEVER before in my life have I said "man I kinda feel like taking Calculus again."

My only conclusion is that I need to strive again to be a superman even though reason tells me I cannot be. If reason has taught me anything as of late its that I should ignore it sometimes. In order to be happy I will allow myself again to be exceptional. In order for my music to thrive I need to be thinking about something else unrelated, that's just how it works for me. If everything is greener on the other side, then I need to be on all sides so that everything may be green.

If you read all this I'm impressed haha,
Matt (get better soon Ryo!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

They must have rabies

So my human barely even says hi to me when he gets home! He just walks upstairs and starts yelling at the computer. He keeps saying it won't "boot up" or whatever that means. Hitting it usually seems to make things work for him. Also he was outside cooking some of that delicious people food on that "BBQ" thing and it started trying to explode! Flames where shooting out the top and bottom of it! He said he just "opened up the propane valve too much" whatever the heck that means. I think its alive and actively trying to stop me from getting some people food... Anyways for some reason my human keeps disguising himself lately. He walks up to the door and his eyes are just gone! Covered by some glass shield! Of course I have to bark and warn my other humans in case the evil glass eye shields have taken over his brain, but they always seem to get mad at me for it anyways. That stupid cat Lili has been entering my human and I's domain and sleeping in the closet on his gym bag lately...frankly I don't get why he doesn't just close the doors and keep her in there...well he has a few times, but he always lets her out and says "awwww I'm so sorry Lili!" We'll never defeat her with that apologetic attitude of his...