Wednesday, February 22, 2017

That new music smell

Finding new music creates a feeling that is hard to explain.  It might be similar to how people feel when they accomplish an extremely difficult task.  It might even feel similar to when you score a goal in sports.  This might sound stupid to some people, but music has been a large part of my life now for over 20 years.  In that time, I have made it almost like a job to find new music to add to my collection.  There was also a sense of urgency to find new bands to put onto my mixes.  I couldn't keep using the same bands for the mixes, I was starting to run out of songs to use.  For my friends, it meant that I would want to go to Media Play, Best Buy or Independent Records (showing my age for sure) frequently to search the multiple shelves for new music.  It would be difficult to try and estimate the amount of time I have spent searching for these new elusive bands.  With persistence, there have been many bands that I have found over the years that have fit well into my own personal music collection.  

My sources for finding new music have changed over the years.  In the first half of my music selection, it meant searching CD shelves at a local music shop.  It also meant paying attention to what record labels bands were associated with at the time.  You could then get their catalogs or search their primitive websites to look for possible bands.  Record labels, especially independent labels, seem to sign bands that have similar sound characteristics.  They would also share similar genres.  You could take a chance and buy an album from a different band on that exact same label.  A high percentage of the time, the bands would meet my picky musical taste.  Very few times would the album end up back at the CD shop looking to upgrade to a better model.  There were also a ton of compilation albums put out by record labels.  These compilations were a perfect way to hear new bands.  Now things have changed rather drastically in how I find my new bands.  The invention of Shazam has changed the game drastically.  While watching a TV show, a commercial or even watching a movie, this wonderful tool can find out who this new catchy song is performed by in a matter of moments.  Unheard of in the first years of my record collection.  I would say that now 90% of my new music come from using Shazam.  The other 10% will still come from word-of-mouth from friends, record labels or reading posts on social media.  Over the past year, there has also been a great addition to my quiver of music capturing capabilities.  This new arrow is the KEXP song of the day podcast.  Every day, this wonderful, unique radio station from Seattle put out a different song on their podcast.  These songs are typically by independent bands that are putting out new music.  Around 40% of these podcasts will give me a band or song that I enjoy.  The rest of the time, the song will not be my cup of tea.  But it has been great to find this new resource for finding new music.

Once I do find a new band that I find intriguing, there's always seems to be a feeling out period with some of them.  There will be a catchy riff that piques my interest or a catchy lyric.  Sometimes it's even an intricate rhythm on the piano or drum kit.  Whatever it is that catches my attention, it will take me a few listens to the song or album to fully enjoy the band.  Many times, I realize upon the second or third listen that they don't really fit in my collection.  Know that this isn't a knock on their musical talent.  It just isn't for me.  But of the bands that make the cut, there is a time where I will finally have that ah-ha moment.  To use a cliche of childhood cartoons, the light bulb will appear suddenly.  Once that light is on for a new band, they will stay in the steady rotation.

Sometimes a new band comes along that will catch my attention on the first song.  Now this is a rare occasion.  I can't really pinpoint the cause of this anomaly.  Once it does happen, these songs or albums totally encapsulate my life.  There are sometimes where listening to this new song or album becomes almost like an obsession.  I will play it over and over and no end.  I remember when I was told by a buddy from college about Matt Pond PA and their album "Several Arrows Later."  From the second bar of the first song, I knew this was a band that I would enjoy.  There was easily a month straight of that year where I listened to that album in the car or at home.  I was also obsessed with telling my friends who enjoy music about Matt Pond PA.  Then a few months after this new obsession, they came to play live in Colorado Springs at the Black Sheep.  A cherry on top of the Sunday.  Seeing them play live was the affirmation to my new obsession.  Such a tremendous showcase of their musical talent in a small piece band.  Plus it was rare to see the use of a cello in a rock band.  Nevertheless, these rare occasions are similar to a piece of gold to a metal detectorist.  They just make work harder to find this new music.

Whatever your obsession or hobby is in your life, I think many of you can relate to this feeling in some way.  I guess my musical taste has been a way to showcase who I am as a person.  I remember growing up looking to do something different from everyone else at school.  But I never had the courage once I got into my teens to do anything dramatic to my appearance.  That was out of the picture for some reason.  Guess that still exists today.  Music was the way for me to make myself feel unique.  To be different to the kids that appeared so early similar.  I guess that's why I have stood so proudly behind my tastes since I was 16.  My music collection was an extension of who I was.  And if someone would comment on it, it was taken as a knock on my personality.  In retrospect now, I can see that this all stemmed from self confidence.  If I was truly confident in my personality, I would know that I had good taste in music.  The comment would be moving quickly off my back and I would know that their opinion didn't mean jack.  Guess it's better late than never to come to this realization.

This second mix on Gordie's picks is a representation of the new bands I have found in the past few months.  Many have come along since I started streaming music through Apple.  Many have come along from the KRXP podcast.  There is a wide range of musical styles on this mix.  To me, that shows progress.  Being 35 now, the thought of still listening to just one genre of music seems horrific.  Allowing change and diversity could be considered a part of growing up.  This doesn't mean I won't drag my heals into adulthood.  

2017 Mix #2: That new music smell

1.  "Elvis' Flaming Star" by Pond (Man It Feels Like Space Again)
2.  "Pyrite Pedestal" by Pretty Girls Make Graves (Elan Vital)
3.  "Thanks Bill" by El Ten Eleven (Transitions)
4.  "Don't Look Away" by The Helio Sequence (Love and Distance)
5.  "Mama" by Headwaves (Headwaves)
6.  "Shelter Song" by Tempels (Sun Structures)
7.  "Azul" by Little Jesus (Norte)
8.  "Buffalo Nickel by Shovels and Rope (Little Seeds)
9.  "Dew in the grass" by Sea Wolf (White Water, White Bloom)
10.  "Postdoc Blues" by John K. Samson (Winter Wheat)
11.  "Moving" by Travis (Where You Stand)
12,  "Magnificent (She Says)" by Elbow (Little Fictions)
13.  "Blue Haze" by Midnight Faces (Heavenly Bodies)
14.  "Bare Hands" by Headwaves (Headwaves)
15.  "Be Still (feat. Marina Prince)" by Manatee Commune (Manatee Commune)
16.  "Some Sunsick Day" by Morgan Delt (Phase Zero)
17.  "Semaphore" by Flock of Dimes (If You See Me, Say Yes)
18.  "Fireproof" by Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (The Tourist)
19.  "Hidden Driver" by LVL UP (Return to Love)
20.  "Honey Dove" by Lee Fields and the Expressions (The 45 Mixes)
21.  "Dominos" by Peter Bjorn and John (Dominoes EP)
22.  "Ready to Shine" by Young Galaxy (Falsework)
23.  "Think (About It)" by The Lions (Jungle Struttin)
24.  "Told Me So" by Starflyer 59 (Slow)
25.  "In the Aeroplane Over the Sea" by Neutral Milk Hotel (In the Aeroplane Over the Sea)
26.  "Sagres" by The Tallest Man on Earth (Dark Bird is Home)

Apple Music Link:  Click HERE!
Spotify Streaming Link:  Click HERE!

New Bands (to me) from this mix:
- Pond -  An Australian band that has come into my collection swinging from the KRXP podcast.  Their entire collection is great, but I really enjoy their album "Beard, Wives, Denim."
- Pretty Girls Make Graves-  A band that I found through using Shazam.  I can't remember where I first heard them, but have enjoyed their stuff.
- Headwaves -  Another band that I found from the KRXP podcast.  I have only heard this album, but have enjoyed the album thoroughly.
- Temples -  KRXP band as well.  Seem so similar to 13th Floor Elevators, the psychedelic band from Austin Texas in the 60's.  Good stuff on this album.
- Little Jesus -  KRXP....again.  There might be a theme here.   A Mexican band that has me intrigued.  Only listened to this album, but they seem like a solid act.
- Shovels and Rope -  A band that I saw open for Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats.  Didn't listen to them much that night, was catching up with an old friend.  Apple Music has allowed me to get reacquainted with them.
- John K. Samoson -  Found on KRXP, but recognized his voice immediately.  John K. Somoson is the lead singer of the Canadian band The Weakerthans.  Interesting voice, so similar to the Weakerthans.  Hard not to enjoy.
- Elbow -  I heard about Elbow at The National concert at Red Rocks this past summer.  This woman raved about them, and I now conquer.  Interesting sound from this huge staple from the British music scene.
- Midnight Faces - KRXP has struck again.  Haven't listened to their album yet, but enjoy this song.
- Manatee Commune -  KRXP....again.  Another band I haven't heard their entire catalog.  So far so good.
- Morgan Delt -  (insert repetitive podcast name here)  Thumbs up for what I have heard!
- Flock of Dimes -  Pete Holmes raved about this band on a podcast once or it might have been their other project Wye Oak.  Love her voice and their mellow sound.
- LVL UP -  Guess where I found this band?  Easy guess.  Sounds good from what I have heard.
- Lee Fields and the Expressions -  This band I found the old fashioned way!  Have really enjoyed Sharron Jones and the Dap Kings.  Found out they were on Daptones Records.  Went to their website and just started listening to their bands.  This band stood out quickly.
- The Lions -  A Shazam find.  Can't remember where, but enjoyed their reggae sound immediately.
- The Tallest Man on Earth -  Saw him perform live at Red Rocks when he opened up for The Head and the Heart.  Great sound with some interesting arrangements.  For being Swedish, you can't pick out the accent.  Really enjoy his entire collection.  His album "Dark Bird is Home" really stands out form the other.

Until next time...happy listening!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017 bueno! bueno!

Not a proud moment.  Embarrassing to say the least.  A concussion caused by a stupid choice. But this time has allowed me to take some time and finally create a blog for my music obsession.

I guess the obsession started back when I was a teenager.  Playing music in the school band quickly shifted into listening to music with a close childhood friend.  Sharing music became a regular thing.  It started with making mixed tapes to share my new favorite bands with friends.  Hearing their approval was like a great feeling, very euphoric.  Putting the songs into a specific order to allow the songs to mesh into one unified sound was always my goal.  It almost became like a science to me.  It has worked many times, but has also failed many times.  As the years went by, searching for new bands to put onto these mixes became very addictive.  I spent many hours searching through shelves and shelves to find the perfect CD to get just one song.  My collection began to grow and grow.  The mix tapes began to pile up.  Then came the ability to burn CDs with my mixes.  This technology allowed me to make the mixes in an easier fashion.  Changing the order of the songs, making sure the end of one song meshed with the beginning of the next, again; one unified song.

Once I completed a mix, it was then time for the first listen.  This was always the award ceremony so to speak.  Either I would earn the blue ribbon or get laughed off the stage.  Either way, what was always gratifying was that it came from me.  Not from someone else.  I was never a good enough musician to actually create my own music.  I could read music and play it well enough to fit in a concert band.  But to make something that was from me, I always struggled to get the notes on the paper.  These mixes allowed me to use someone else's voice to help find my own voice.  In some ways, you could call me a ventriloquist.  You could also call me a hack or a plagerist.  But what you think doesn't matter to me.  The feeling I get about myself when I complete a mix is what matter most.

Last January, I decided to complete a 364 day music challenge.  I wanted to put one song onto a playlist for each day for 364 days.  At the end of every 25-30 days, I would then take those songs and make a new mix.  This was a lot of fun for me.  13 mixes made over the year.  It allowed me to be creative and got me listening to music more regularly.  It also got me back into an old obsession; searching for new music.  Hearing new music or finding new bands does two things for me.  First, it gives me the opportunity to expand my collection.  An ever-growing music collection.  Secondly, it allows me to share these new bands and songs with my friends.  That's where this blog comes into place.  This is my chance to share my mixes with fiends, family, strangers,people with similar musical interests or anyone else who cares to listen.

Fast forward now to December 2106 when I signed up for Apple Music.  For a few years, I debated signing up for a music streaming service.  Felt like buying the music was a way for supporting the musicians.  The shift in how entertainment is shared now pushed me off the dock and into the streaming community.  Apple Music has brought upon another level to my obsession of making mixes.  Paying the monthly fee has now allowed me to find even more music.  It has helped me find new bands or artists.  It has also allowed me to dig deeper into the catalogs of my favorite bands.  My list of albums to buy has now been added to my collection with just a touch on a screen.  Apple Music has given me the ability to own my own record store.  Putting albums into the cloud is like stocking your own shelves.  Choosing the stock your shelves with the bands that you like and the styles of music you enjoy.  Almost like being John Cusak in the movie High Fidelity.  Overall, paying for the streaming service is well worth it.

So, where will this blog go you ask?  I'm not really sure as of now.  Maybe it will just be a place to share my mixes.  Maybe it will be a place to share new bands.  It could even be a place to allow myself to ramble on and on about nothing at all.  As for now, I like the idea of it just being what it is; a place for my obsession of music, photography, and my thoughts.

2017 Mix #1: bueno! (Click HERE for Playlist)

1.  "Welcome to Earth (Pollywog)" by Sturgil Simpson (A Sailor's Guide to Earth)
2.  "The Price is Right" by Euforquestra (Fire)
3.  "(Baby) Hold On" by The James Hunter Six (Hold On!)
4.  "Big Wheel" by Saun & Starr (Look Closer)
5.  "100 Days, 100 Nights" by Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings (100 Days, 100 Nights)
6.  "Magic" by Ben Folds Five (The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner)
7.  "Fraulein" by Pale Young Gentlemen (Pale Young Gentlemen)
8.  "The Meat of Life" by Clem Snide (The Meat of Life)
9.  "Shadow People" by Dr. Dog (Shame, Shame (Deluxe Edition))
10.  "Hello My Old Heart" by The Oh Hellos (The Oh Hellos - EP)
11.  "Umpqua Rushing" by Blind Pilot (And Then Like Lions)
12. "Closer" by Travis (The Boy With No Name)
13.  "Kings" by South of France (Another Boring Sunrise)
14.  "Streetlight" by Derby (Posters Fade)
15.  "My Only Swerving" by El Ten Eleven (El Ten Eleven)
16.  "Silly Me" by Yeasayer (Amen & Goodbye)
17.  "Rawnald Gregory Erickson the Second" by STRFKR (S********r)
18.  "Tribeca" by South of France (Another Boring Sunrise)
19.  "Fade out Lines (The Avener Rework)" by Phoebe Killdeer (The Wanderings of the Avener)
20.  "Mess" by Ben Folds Five (The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner)
21.  "Forgive Me, Love" by Clem Snide (The Meat of Life)
22.  "Something's Calling" by The James Hunter Six (Hold On!)
23.  "I'm Not Afraid to Die" by Gillian Welch (Hell Among the Yearlings)
24.  "Sleeping on the Blacktop" by Colter Wall (Imaginary Appalachia)
25.  "Clap your Hands" by Pale Young Gentlemen (Pale Young Gentlemen)
26.  "She Lit a Fire" by Lord Huron (Lonesome Dreams)
27.  "Everything at Once"  by Travis (Everything at Once)
New bands (to me) from this mix:

(This section is going to have a lot of new bands because of my new obsession with Apple Music.  It has allowed me to explore different genres of music that I would have skipped in the past.)

- Sturgil Simpson -  A great country artist that incorporates orchestral arrangements into his music beautifully!
- Euforquestra - Self described as a band that is "blending the roots of funk, soul, afrobeat, reggae and dub music."  Brings me back to my Jazz Band days in middle and high school.
- The James Hunter Six - A band I found through my obsession with Daptone Records.  A British band that has tons of soul.
- Saun & Starr - Another find from Daptone Records.  These two woman were the backup singers of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings.  Also refered to as the "Dap-ettes."  Great soulful sound.
- Pale Young Gentlemen - A friend told me about this band.  Only put out two albums in 2007 and 2008.  Brand new to me, not much known on their history.  Like their use of the piano!
- South of France - I found this song watching the movie "Don't Think Twice" by Mike Birbiglia.  Only one album out.  I like them so far on the few listens I've had with their album.
- The Avener - Another friend told me about the Avener.  House/Dance music hasn't been my thing in the past.  Starting to enjoy it as I get older.  Nice hook here.
- Gillian Welch - Found this singer/songwriter from the movie "Hell or High Water."  Brand new to me.  Love it so far.
- Colter Wall - Also found on the movie soundtrack for "Hell or High Water."  Great downbeat throughout the song.  Sounds similar to Sturgil.

Until next time....happy listening.