August 08, 2008
The Vitamin String Quartet
My sister Jenna watches a lot of reality shows. A lot of them. On my own, I watch just Best Week Ever and The Soup to catch up on all reality shows, but don't actually watch them. But since we've been spending a lot of time here at my parent's house, I've been watching them too.
On "So you think you can dance?" (where clearly by the later rounds the answer to that question is... ah, yes! because everyone is amazing) I heard a really nice lushly orchestrated song which sounded so familiar. Then I realized it was a Paramore song.
Turns out there is this group called the Vitamin String Quartet who re-records a ton of rock songs as instrumental music. They are VERY prolific, and their music is gorgeous. Look them up on iTunes. They do Coldplay, U2, Paramore, Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park, Under Oath, to name a few.
Since I only write with instrumental music playing (vocals and lyrics are too distracting to wherever it is my mind needs to be to write story and dialogue) I really appreciate new instrumental music whenever I can find it.
The only problem with these might be I'll sing along in my head because I know the melodies and the lyrics. I'll have to test them out.
July 25, 2008
Writing Some Black Family Music
Tonight Darby, my brother Josh, Nathan, and me all got together to actually start writing music for the Black Family Singers... We treated it kind of like a comedy show's writers room. We took a song title and each of us just wrote down any idea that entered our heads for about five minutes. Then we started sharing our ideas with each other and then the magic of collaboration happened. It was.. surprisingly fun and easy and we came up with some real gold. In the end we had most of the material for three songs.
Good times. Lots of laughs.
March 14, 2008
Also, about music
When I write, I cannot listen to music with lyrics. I concentrate too much on the vocals, and can't clear my head enough to focus on the storytelling. But silence doesn't help me either. What I do is listen to really intense movie soundtracks, and lately it's all been music written by Hans Zimmer. Specifically, I listen to the soundtracks from Pirates of the Caribbean, Gladiator, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron, and The Last Samarai.
It makes all my screenplays feel so epic and important while I write them.
New Music I'm listening to
Well, I was asked for any music recommendations, so I'll talk about the things I've been listening to lately.
Bob Dylan Essential Recordings
When I was working on the poster for my professor's play, I decided I should try to get into his head a little better. He had been telling me how much he loved the music of Bob Dylan. Now of course I'm not a cultural hermit, so I was somewhat familiar with his most popular song. But hearing all his great songs is really an ear-opener. Highly recommended! He's a fantastic lyricist and songwriter.
I decided to download this album (legally, I'm a stickler about that) and I've not been disappointed. Kind of cool emo guitar driven music with a fantastic female lead singer.
Sia - Some People Have Real Problems
I first heard of Sia when her song was used as the soundtrack to the final scene of the excellent HBO series Six Feet Under. I was blown away at the time. Now this album is stylistically pretty different than that song, but it's still very worth listening to. Really inventive music here.
Thrice - Come All Ye Weary
A highly recommended acoustic EP from Thrice. It's really great music.
Eddie Vedder - Into the Wild Soundtrack
I listened to this hauntingly beautiful acoustic album about a thousand times at the end of last year. You have to know these songs.
The Weepies (and Deb Talen)
The Weepies are a songwriting duo (I think they're married) and any of their albums is worth listening to. I prefer Deb Talen to the guy in the band, so I love her solo work as well. I do like the guy, but sometimes he reminds me too much of Jars of Clay.
November 08, 2007
Update on the Radiohead experiment
Here's a rundown of how they did. The summary? 62% of people didn't pay a dime for the album. They got an average of $2.26 per album downloaded. Doesn't sound so great, except if they were to release the album through "traditional" artist label channels, they'd have only gotten a buck. So more than half of their fans can be greedy little jerks and they still can make double what they would have if they had released it through a company of greedy little jerks.
October 20, 2007
the casting out ep available in itunes
Their 7 song self-titled ep can be downloaded now, check it out. It's really good. (By the way, "Prey" is actually "Alone."
August 08, 2007
The Best Live Bands Out There
I had the great pleasure of seeing the band Muse last night in NYC, at Madison Square Garden. If you ever have the chance to see them, do it. In fact, make that chance. It's worth it. They will blow you away. This tour in particular they have really increased the visual aspect of their concert. The lights and the video are just fantastic. Not at the level of a "zoo tv," but aspiring towards that.
Plus, the lead singer/guitarist/pianist/most freakishly talent man in the universe Matt Bellamy played the Grand Piano for about 4-5 songs and then acoustic numbers on the guitar for another 2. Best show I've seen by them (and this was the 6th one.)
(They're playing this Friday at Penn's Landing in Philly).
It made me think, what other bands can really blow me away live?
I can think of 3 others right now.
U2 – I used to say they were the definite top, but I have to say they have some very strong competition now. So this list is in "no particular order." Every time I see U2, I cannot believe the music they are able to make, and the passion they are able to summon. They are constantly re-inventing their live show, but musically and visually. I've seen every one of their tours since the Joshua Tree, and I'll keep doing that until they break up or stop releasing albums.
Boy Sets Fire – Well, you've missed out if you haven't seen them (though we'll have some awesome DVDs for you to watch...), but I had an even deeper respect for their show after following their tour in Europe. These guys bring it every night, each with their own personalities. There aren't many bands who could capture my attention for 10+ straight nights. They did it. Nathan is just an excellent showman. And honestly, I've probably never seen a more devoted, crazy obsessed crowd. One other nice thing about BSF that is unique, they let just about anybody hang out on the stage with them. Seriously, at their last show at the Troc, there must have been 50 people on the stage. It was like the old time gospel hour meeting time.
Barenaked Ladies I know they are kind of "not as hot" anymore, but I have to give credit where it's due. These guys are so creative, making up songs spontaneously at the moment, rapping, singing, covering songs, telling stories, doing dances. There is a thrill of "what's coming next" at a barenaked ladies show, because it's never the same from one night to the next. They'll change a lyric, they'll compose a new song about something ridiculous. And they are very good at doing it too. I think they got dropped from their major label, and you probably haven't bought one of their albums since "One Week," but I know you'd enjoy their live show.
So, what are your top 4? And what bands didn't impress you, even though you thought you'd like them? I have to say I actually have liked most bands I've seen live. Whether it's Thrice, Ned's Automic Dustbin, One Win Choice, the Indigo Girls, Dar Williams, Tori Amos, REM, Ben Folds, the Fray... over the years I've seen a lot of concerts and really enjoyed most of them. But back in college I was obsessed with Live, and saw them – really looking forward to it – and for one reason or another, even though technically they were incredible, I just didn't enjoy it. And I listened to their albums less and less after that.
July 10, 2007
Vote for One Win Choice
Remember all of the awesome bands that played with us the other night? Well if you could take about 30 seconds and do something nice for our friends in One Win Choice, they would be very happy.
They have been selected as one of the top 40 bands on punkradiocast.com. People can go there and vote for their favorite punk band. The winning band will be featured on the front page of interpunk. Jack has promised anyone who votes for them a personal thank you and a hug.
June 08, 2007
Boy Sets Fire slideshow
Put this together using their photos, they're going to play it looping between sets at their shows this weekend. Sad, huh? What a great band.
But it's not like something completely awesome isn't rising from their ashes.
April 19, 2007
Last Boy Sets Fire Show
Get your tickets here. This will be a sell out.
April 04, 2007
new website for the casting out
If you're like us, you're loving the casting out. And now they have a website, where you can buy their 4 song demo for download.
February 20, 2007
the casting out
I'm proud to announce that former members of boy sets fire, nathan gray and josh latshaw have joined forces with some other awesome musicians, notably my wife Darby, and formed the Casting Out.
They recorded a 4 song demo last week, and it's outstanding. Listen to them on their myspace. I think we're going to be lucky enough to play a show with them in March. Check back for details.
By the way, the photo is from a shoot that Brett Weber, Paul Odders and I did last night. Not bad, right? I think it's darn awesome, actually.
December 17, 2006
The New u2 Video
This is the most impressive music video I've seen in some time. U2's new song uses footage of musical legends and matches their performances up to this new song. You have to see it to fully appreciate it.
October 23, 2006
Inspired by a line
Did you ever hear a line of a song that really means a lot to you in some way? I think that words and the meanings that we ascribe to them can be so powerful when arranged with special thought and care. Lyrics to a song can say things in amazing ways. Here are a some lines that have meant a lot to me.
when I say I'm living with an angel that's you
I need you to give it meaning
I need you to share the view
I know our filthy hands can wash one anothers
And not one speck will remain
-Death Cab For Cutie
It has to start somewhere,
It has to start sometime.
What better place than here,
What better time than now?
-Rage Against the Machine
I'll be where I've always been
I'll be here for you
-Robert Earl Keen
to accept the view that mankind is so tragically
the starless midnight of racism and war.
-One Win Choice
I don't mind if your halo don't glow like it used to glow
I don't want to find out that I've wasted
my only chance to make a difference...
Don't want to waste my life, waiting for a moment,
I'm not gonna wait until it's over.
I can't remember all the times I tried to tell myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
This is my reason
You are my reason to stay
I have shed this dry hard shell
Traded its comfort for your eyes
Played with denial
And then denied my own defenses
-Boy Sets Fire
Half of the time we're gone but we don't know where,
And we don't know here.
-Simon and Garfunkel
I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose
than to have never lain beside at all
-Death Cab For Cutie
I don't wanna sing about freedom anymore.
I wanna see it! I wanna feel it!
I wanna know that it still sits beyond the lies that we've been told
beyond the wars that keep our families from home,
I know that there's a way.
Dear God, let there be a way
to change the path we're on
and believe in a better day.
-Boy Sets Fire
The angels get a better view
Of the crumbling difference between wrong and right.
Beneath the dust and love and sweat that hangs on everybody
There's a dead man trying to get out
Say I'm a fool,
Say I'm not for you.
But if I'm a fool for you,
Will you come with me
And we'll be ourselves,
And we'll walk into the light
And you can colour yourself
In golden wings
What are some lyrics that have inspired you or meant a lot to you in some way?
October 09, 2006
our myspace player
it actually looks a little funky on here, because i had to shrink it to make it fit. to see it in all it's splendor, click here:
The Look Machine's official Myspace site!
but, before you leave ----[click to continue reading]---->
here's where it gets good. you can have this beautiful music player absolutely free of charge!
here is the code. you can copy and paste this stuff to put our mysace player anywhere you want:
actually, we kind of demand that you copy and paste this everywhere, because, it contributes to our play count, and we want to reach 100,000... :)
i mean, would you please use this code to tell people about our music? thank you kindly.
October 03, 2006
Some of our friends just released an album. They are in a band called the deans. They sound (in my opinion) like if jimmy hendrix and Jet got together and had a child. Check them out!
July 03, 2006
Sunday Bloody Sunday, W-Style
March 28, 2006
Yesterday I attended a funeral for my dad's older sister. It was held at an old catholic chapel on the top of a rolling hills in Cochranville, PA.
Some of the songs they sang were quite beautiful and very comforting. One in particular was "Shepherd Me, O God", check it out. It really is haunting. They had the all the congregation sing the refrain and then a woman would sing the middle parts.
Anyway, in general funerals are pretty darn sad and I was just thinking that someday myself or someone I love would be in a casket and the people who loved me would be gathered and crying and well, that is a sad thought. I'm not going to really analyze it anymore than to say that I hope that is a far way away, and that my loved ones gather with me in heaven not long afterwards.
March 09, 2006
Another New Album
So I just thought you all should know, Thursday is releasing a new album really soon! I'm really excited for it. Collin, Shane, Nathan and I saw them at the Starland this winter and they played some new songs from this record and they were absolutely amazing! I can't wait to hear it.
For a prieview check out their Myspace site.
They are going on tour with Mewithoutyou, one of my favorite bands. I'm going to see them in Sonar in Baltimore on May 8th.
I just sent them an email begging them to let the Look Machine open for them. That would be so amazing! It would really be a dream come true for us. I think they are Shane's favorite band of all time.
January 28, 2006
the new boysetsfire album
I'd just like to take the time to thank boysetsfire for putting out a significant chunk of musical brilliance. It's called The Misery Index: Notes From The Plague Years and it has dominated 80% of my itunes and ipod play for the past 2 weeks.
Now, the album is not for young children. It is also not for people who enjoy bad music. And it is not for ardent Bush supporters (at least those who get angry when another point of view is stated). If you have any one of those limitations. . . whatever, I'm not posting any disclaimers. I'll let Jason do that after me.
I love the creativity in the melodies, the obvious and intentional musical talent that these guys play with, and the passion that they present so eloquently in every song. Hearing this album has brought my respect for these guys one notch higher and I recommend it . . . to those allowed to have it (you see, Nathan swears sometimes). For those of you offended by swearing . . . let me say this. If you can manage to look/listen past it, you'll be inspired, moved, and entertained by some great music.
Thus ends my review of The Misery Index.
Oh, and by the way, I play trombone and trumpet on two songs.
November 11, 2005
Artists of the day:
November 03, 2005
Let's share for a moment.
Here's what I'm listening to and liking.
Depeche Mode's new album Playing the Angel is an unexpected yet welcome return to form for them. It's equal parts Violator and Songs of Faith and Devotion with a dash of Black Celebration thrown in as well. Seriously good music.
Thrice's new album (don't want to look up how to spell it, like Vishniuui or something). I still can't tell if I like it more or less than their last release, but I definitely do like it a whole lot. Something very epic about the way it sounds, with piano and blistering guitars and excellent vocal performances. I especially like the drums. One thing I noticed is they've really gone full-on Christian with this release.
Last night I saw Ben Folds at the Electric Factory in Philly and he had a band opening for them called The Fray. I like them. If you like Coldplay or Counting Crows you should listen to them. . . they're very talented.
I also recently got the new Dar Williams and Imogen Heap (ie Frou Frou) releases, both of which are good, but I have to hear them a little more to really develop an opinion.
So. .. what are you all listening to?
October 26, 2005
Boysetsfire Show This Weekend
I wanted to let you know that this Saturday, our friends, Boysetsfire, will be playing a show in Seaford, DE. They are playing at a place called the Backstage. It is sure to be a great show. They don't play in this area very often, so go see them if you can.
If you don't make it out to this show, try to catch them when they come nearby on their fall tour. Check this page for dates.
October 19, 2005
U2 in Philadelphia
It's no secret that I love U2. Though I can get obsessed with other music, U2 will always be my first musical love. The more live shows I see, the more I appreciate what these guys do in concert. Their shows are equal parts human rights rallies, personal revelation, spiritual experience, policital statements and pure rock fun.
If you've not seen a U2 show, you owe it to yourself to catch the next one that comes to town. Seriously, that the fellows are doing what they're doing in their 40's (when most musicians are lucky to have a Vegas residency) is just incredible to me.
Highlights, Pictures and a short video clip following the link.
Highlights from this particular show:
- Bono singing the Pavoratti opera part in Miss Sarajevo ("I've been eating a lot of pasta lately, so I'm going to give it a try" he said). He really hit it too.
- An acoustic version of Walk On that was just gorgeous.
- Bruce Springsteen joining them for an impromptu jam version of People Get Ready.
- A spirited version of the bonus track Fast Cars (I love that song).
- I will follow every bit as energetic as it was the first time the played it (not that I was there, but you know what I mean). ("We're going to play a song we wrote when we were teenagers." Bono was how introduced it.)
- Bono told a story about how the band first met the Edge when his spaceship landed in North Dublin. When they asked him where he was from, he said, "I'm from the future." How is it there, they asked him. The Edge replied, "It's better." Nice hopeful introduction to a wonderful performance of Miracle Drug. (I song I just love but I know they probably won't play on future tours so I'm glad I heard it.)
The choral drums and vocals ending to "40" to close out the show.
The only thing that slightly bummed me out is that I read that the original set list called for them playing Original of the Species and Bad in one of their encores but they replaced it with People Get Ready and All Because of You once Bruce joined them. I really want to hear Bad in concert again, and I haven't heard Original of the Species either, and I adore that song. Oh well. Though I like it. . . I could do without hearing All Because of You.
Anyway, wonderful night. Wonderful show. Wonderful music and amazing band.
Here's a clip of Vertigo. . . I filmed this mostly because my son loves this song. The sound isn't great, but considering I filmed it with a digital still camera, not too bad. Love the lights. . . whoever comes up with their multimedia deserves a friendly pat on the back.
September 26, 2005
Death Cab for Cutie Video
Hey. What's going on everybody? Things have been really busy for me lately, I've been a little bit swamped with school. However, there will soon be a long and bitter post on the blog from me. Keep your eyes open.