Tuesday, May 12, 2009

So Sad We Ain't Superhuman

Every once in a while it happens. You come across an anthem.

I had been in Atlanta for four months, and despite having gained a reasonable amount of independence and sense of adventure, I was every bit as uncomfortably lost as I had been when I arrived in August. My Friend David and I were trying to work on some songs. The vision for our project was rough, and often-times we were side-tracked.

“Do you like the band Hey Mercedes?” he asks. I rush into memories from years ago. Suddenly I am sixteen again, with the windows down singing “Let’s Go Blue” at the top of my lungs with my best friends. Later we would shoot fireworks at each other in parking lots. It’s been ages since I’ve heard that band.

But that was a long time ago and now it’s December and chilly. David is showing me TELEPHONO, an ambitious musical project he developed. “Their lead singer helped out on this.” I tell him that Hey Mercedes was one of my favorite bands in high school. “How do you know their lead singer?” He doesn’t reply to my question, he just smiles while he puts the record on and turns up the volume.

And suddenly Robert Nanna’s voice is delivering me to what I’ve been aimlessly stumbling towards for six months. He lyrically articulates the ambiguousness that has haunted me since last year when everything shed off of me: there was a death in the family, a relationship was lost, a band disbanded, and my college career closed. But Robert Nanna knows how it feels to set out to conquer and return empty-handed. He too has realized that our lives cannot be set to plan:

“My heart poppin’, the apology ended, I should have ran off right before we began. I could have driven to the river and plunged right in! I’ve never been so unbelievably broken. I had a plan, how the hell did we fall? Suffice to say we’re not superhuman after all. Human, after all.”

There’s something hidden in the melody that you won’t get from reading lyrics. Between the erratic rhythms there is a feeling that has been lost to me, the need for aspiration and purpose. Despite the complete failure of my past ambition, it evokes that vital part of me. It’s time to try it all over again!

So maybe this song is not just my song of the day, but rather my theme song until otherwise stated. I’m still filled with ambiguousness, but my hopes are starting to take form, and this time I’m setting my sights higher.

The Telephono project that David started is inspiring. Please read more about it here. “So Sad We Ain’t Superhuman” is listed with the songs, but if you want the full effect you will need to get a hold of the vinyl sets that David has.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Short Love Story in Stop Motion

A SHORT LOVE STORY IN STOP MOTION from Carlos Lascano on Vimeo.

This is a short-film by Carlos Lascano that found via slashfilms.com. It's one of the most stunning short films I've ever seen. Through his masterful combination of stop motion and digital animation Mr. Lascano evokes the powerful nostalgia of a childhood love. There's something about stop motion that makes me think of childhood. Remember Gumby? Or Wallace and Gromit? Those weird shorts in Sesame Street with talking oranges? Who doesn't watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer at christmas? Carlos' technique is more reminiscent of Tim Burton. The way that the children and characters are formed border on the gothic-esque work that is seen in "A Nightmare Before Christmas." It's Carlos' use of lighting and illustration that keep you from the dark places that Burton takes you . The end result feels more like the classic illustrations of "When We Were Very Young," or "Winnie the Pooh" coming to life before your eyes.

Sigur Ros also helps his cause. Listen to those first three notes. Didn't you play something like that as a child, sitting at a piano bench for the first time, with your infant fingertips gracing the ivory keys one note a time, your feet dangling in the air? More instruments enter and you are carried away to that limitless place that you haven't been to since you were so small.
This film picks you up from your every-day, hour-by-hour life and carries you to a place that you forgot even existed.
Let's all give a hip-hip hooray for Carlos Lascano.

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Article for Whoa Bro Awesome

This is an article I wrote for a magazine that my friend Josh Flynn is starting up. Feature Story on Dave Segedy's band Whoa Bro Awesome

The first time that I really had an interaction with Dave Segedy, we were both in This Story, and driving back from a show in Chicago. Dave was the comedic entertainment of the car. Some time around one in the morning he broke the exhausted silence from the back seat. “Hey Justin, do you have the ‘Doo doo doo’ song? You know, that one and it’s like…you know…’doo doo doo’?’ Justin, who played marimba and xylophone, was driving that night. He laughed and found a mix he had. We listened to Mariah Carey’s “You Will Always Be My Baby”, or what we now know as “the Doo Doo Doo Song” half a dozen times that night.
It’s hard to believe that was two and a half years ago. Recently Dave found himself driving back to Indiana again. This time he was in the driver’s seat. "I think the reason this tour went so well is because I had no expectations going into it." His voice is often light-hearted, but he was very matter of fact now, "I expected to lose a lot of money, and I didn't expect a lot of people to come to shows."
The skepticism is that of a seasoned performer who is best known as the drummer of Arrah and the Ferns. For the past few weeks Dave has been on tour with his solo effort, Whoa Bro Awesome, a minimalist experimental band whose focal point is Dave’s drumming. On this tour he brought a long a good friend and co-worker from SC to play the keys and guitar.
This tour was different for Dave. Rather than be limited behind his drums, he was behind it all. He booked all of the shows. He drove to most of them. He spent his own money and sold his own music.
Despite all of these accomplishments, some things never change. Dave still doesn't hold himself like a front man. His tall lanky frame and quiet disposition blend him into the woodwork at his shows. But when he grabs his sticks and gets behind his drums, he shines.
"At first I can tell people are like, 'whoa, is he really doing this?' and then as the songs continue and they catch on, they see that I'm really trying to write good songs and they're like, 'yeah, this is cool."
The music of Whoa Bro Awesome is different from what Dave has played before. He started off as a very aggressive drummer when he joined the original line-up of Muncie’s This Story. At the time the anti-folk band was an amalgamation of 10-12 high school musicians playing everything from a violin to a xylophone. All of the melodies in the air made it impossible to drum aggressively. Dave had to adapt.
By the time he broke the ranks of This Story along with Arrah Fisher and Carl Stovner to form Arrah and the Ferns, Dave had transformed. The once heavy-handed drummer was now a minimalist jazz percussionist. He began to navigate his way between his snare, cymbals, bass, and toms as precisely as a cartographer. He was becoming quite the fan of experimentation.
It came as a surprise to everyone when Dave decided to no longer play with the Ferns. The band had just finished recording their second full album, and had come off of the road with one of their most successful tours.
The decision to break rank with the Ferns is still an adjustment he feels was necessary. Friends that he had known from previous tours didn’t really bring the disbandment up in conversation. “Most of the people I stayed with either are good enough friends with us or have paid enough attention that they know what happened.” Dave is avid to vocalize his support of both Carl and Arrah’s solo efforts, Council Idaho and The Woodlands. “I was part of Woodlands when it first started, and I really liked what they were coming up with. I really enjoy what I’ve seen of their performances. And I really like Council’s stuff. Honestly, I wish the best for both of them. I really hope that they stick with it.”
The feeling of coming off of a successful tour entirely of his own making is a sensation that he wouldn’t trade for the world. When he set up the shows he couldn’t have cared less who he played with as long as he was playing. The result often had him sandwiched between hardcore acts and emo bands, hardly an environment encouraging of Whoa Bro Awesome’s music.
For the rest of the summer he will be interning at Secretly Canadian in Bloomington, an experience that is allowing him to see a different of the industry that makes up so much of his life. Dave plans on hitting the road again eventually, although he will make some adjustments in how he goes about booking everything.
“Honestly, I just want people to hear the songs,” he says, “and most of the time people are really encouraging. It seemed to go pretty well. I’ve met a lot of great people.” Dave’s performances have become more than an experiment in rhythm, they are celebrations of sound. The overall effect is as hypnotizing as being able to watch Gustav Klimt work magic on a canvas.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A Rehaul and a Soundtrack

So I've decided to do an overhaul of this blog and turn it into something thematic.
From here on out this will truly be about my "Misadventures." To keep life light-hearted and jovial, I'm going to embark on strange adventures and then write about it.

The first of these is a personal vendetta of mine.
I'm of the opinion that Wes Anderson has exquisite taste in music. The soundtracks to his movies never cease to amaze.
Making the perfect mixes for people I admire is a habit and hobby of mine. Also, synching music with movies, tv shows, and advertisements is a goal.
So, I have spent the past few weeks compiling a mix that I think Wes Anderson would like. The title of this cd is "The Soundtrack to Your Next Movie." Copies will be sent to Wes Anderson, Jason Schwartzman, and Mark Mothersbaugh. Hopefully the addresses are findable.

I would like to start off by saying that all of these songs were obtained legally, and if you don't believe me I have I-tunes receipts.

So, first of all, how does one put together a mix tailored for Wes Anderson? Listen to his old soundtracks.
I have gathered that he is a fan of lo-fi, yet high quality tunes. He is a fan of the eccentric. And he always dabbles with some more classical pieces. Foreign language use is a bonus. Classic rock and roll (Bowie, the Kinks, The Stones, etc.)
This is what I've got:

"Le Temps De L'amour"- April March
I'm proud of this start. It gets your attention. It says 'hey, I might be at the beach, but I mean business,' and then comes in her lo-fi voice all french singing. You may be familiar with her song, "Chick Habit" featured in both "But I'm a Cheerleader" and "Deathproof."
I was looking for something a little more conflicted than that song. Plus, it's overused. "Le Temps de L'amour" sounds like a 60's beach tune, but it's also very confrontational, and her voice is haunting. By starting off with this song, there is an opportunity for conflict.

"Courez Courez" Hermas Zopoula
Asthmatic Kitty's newly signed french-speaking African musician is a gem. Wes Anderson would love him. He sings light-hearted tunes of faith and love, and is the perfect hybrid of Seu George and Mark Mothersbaugh's child-chorus.

"Tram #7 to Heaven" Jens Lekman
Jens Lekman is one of my favorite musicians. He sounds like what the sun cutting through the leaves of early summer looks like. The only director who captures that kind of light is Wes Anderson. I don't know why he hasn't used one of Jen's tunes before.
I chose this song because it's lo-fi as well as heartbreaking and thought-provoking. Some character could have a tough situation haunting him, and then this song can cue, and everyone in the audience can sympathize.

"Get off of my Cloud" The Rolling Stones

"Que sont devenue les Fleurs" Dalida
Behold! the french Nico! Her low alto is haunting and gorgeous and fleeting. And it brings back in that beachy french feel from "Les Temps de L'Amour". Voila! a theme. Not only am I giving him a mix, I'm giving him a setting for his film! What a lucky dude.

"Lakme, flower duet"
Every Wes Anderson flick has some classical piece. Opera isn't used enough, and this song is beautiful. That's all.

"Paris, Je t'aime"
The best fusion of accordian, jazz guitar, jazz drums, and glockenspiel to ever grace the ears. Carries the french theme, and is super goofy. This song is to the new movie as "Let me tell you about my boat" is to Life Aquatic.

"Christiansen" France Gall
Le Francais continue!

"Moonlight Mile" The Rolling Stones

"Love is Blue" Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra
I bet Paul Mauriat and Mark Mothersbaugh are friends. Or at least it sounds like it. A lot like it. Maybe when Mr. Mothersbaugh receives this mix, it will spark his interest, he will find Mr. Mauriat and then they can become pals.

"Aria" Balanesque Quartet
Our plot! I almost forgot. We need another classical piece that is more haunting and conflicted to cue at the climax of the film, whatever it may be! Well here it is. The balance of violins carrying different complimentary and contradictory melodies toys with your heart strings. Stunning.

"I'm Free" The Rolling Stones
This song says, "this plot is coming to a close, but isn't done yet."

"Daylight" The Kinks
and roll slow motion shot and cue the credits.

So that's the soundtrack. To be continued.
Next update: preparation to send the soundtrack, letters to the recipients, and the send-off.