I choose Music above all else

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I chose to be born into this dimension, to highlight the groovy and sensual music notes of yester-year, today, and hopefully tomorrow. I want to be a goodwill music ambassador until the day i die. I want to continually turn friends onto new bands that will hopefully open their minds in positive and impactful ways. Then there’s the hope that they’ll also start to turn on their friends to what kind of music they’re currently into and this model of paying it musically forward will continue infinitely. 90 percent of my Facebook posts consist of praising a new band I recently discovered, sharing music videos in general, or posting some of my original music. Its the last portal of truth to exist in an overly jaded, paranoid, politically correct, corporate/fascist reality.

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When we’re faced with the prospect of a never ending Orwellian Wartime Scenario, the comforting warmth of Hendrix on vinyl, Thom Yorke through a nice pair of headphones, or Funkadelic wherever, all become trusty allies towards ones sanity. A healthy, productive, and soul enriching escape. And when engaged in the act of writing music, that singular act is all that matters in that moment. Rumors of Wars, Ebola, and political theater, are all immediately dumped into the darkness of some desolate and meaningless corner of my left brain.

Musical happenings as of late

Miranda – the band I’ve been in for the last 5 years, is finishing recording its second album. We’ve logged about 17 hours of recording and mixing over the last 4 months. The process has been relatively easy, as we definitely put the hours in to prepare ourselves. Whenever someone asks us, “So who/what do you sound like?”, I’m always dumbfounded. It’s like someone asking you what a 3 course meal at a fancy restaurant tasted like. Of course there are a lot of adjectives you could use, but you want to be brief and sum up the experience for the other person. Like how the appetizer was presented, all the textures involved with the actual taste, and so on with the main course and dessert as well. So when you’ve written 12 songs, that touch on many different genres of music, it can be difficult to sum up “our sound” in a few sentences. It’s like I don’t want to sell ourselves short by just saying we sound like band A, B, C, or D. But describing music in general is often tedious and always less than satisfactory.

My other musical project at the moment is a cover band. Well it’s just the two of us, playing acoustic guitars and singing. It’s been really enjoyable over the last couple months, just learning new songs and stretching my vocal range. We have about 40 songs that we want to end up learning, so I can’t wait to see where we end up with playing out live. Plus there’s the promise of getting paid! Which is a definite perk, but I realize I’d be playing these cover tunes at my place or with friends either way, so the pay is just an added benefit.

Before The Androids – Pilot Episode 001

On this initial podcast, I venture to distant lands. Just trying to feel this thing out but it’s mostly oriented around a book about a time traveling musical impressario. I also Talk about comedic impressions I messed around with in my 20s and the general psychology around forming an impression. Michael Caine, Arnold, and the typical New England Jabronie I’ve encountered a few times in life. So hop aboard, it’ll probably get much weirder as we go along and hypothetically crush grapes to arrive at the much coveted bottle of fine red wine.

Spotify and other companies hot pursuit to figure you out

Monday morning meditations go something like this. Find the right music to set the mood for the day. This could come in the form of Brian Setzer, Philip Glass, or Kyuss. It’s hard to say what each particular monday will require in terms of listening, as mood is dictated by many factors or simply what one has eaten/drank the night before? The anxiety or general feeling of “here we go again” can be felt among all of those that pass you in the hallways, in traffic, or at a convenience store. While on the job, it’s of course hard to pass the hours with drink or anything else deemed mind altering, due to the always present paranoia that you’ll be found out to be under the influence.
 
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Music becomes the most obvious choice of brain stimulant, in order that the ennui of the day does not dry out ones soul too thoroughly. Spotify affords this instantaneous sampling of music and at times can be overwhelming in it’s sheer breadth of choices. But it seems like going forward, we live in a world where music can be administered as an audio soma tablet. Similar to Aldous Huxley’s view of the many available stimulants available in his book “Brave New World”. Within Spotify there are songs to party to, workout to, focus with, have dinner to, travel with, enjoy holidays to, and everything in-between. Spotify has removed all of the guesswork and has simplified life in a way that your corresponding mood or life’s activity, can be accompanied by the “right” kind of music. But who are the curators that are compiling these playlists? Surely they’re biased and you’re trusting the Spotify brand to a certain extent. But no more digging through your record/cd collection and who has access to this when at work, on the road, or out in nature? This always on approach is here to stay. (no duh you’re probably saying, stating the obvious much) But this is a very recent change, this whole idea of streaming anywhere at anytime, anything. It’s comforting, but feels like listening to music is being forced more into the background of our everyday interfacing with computers. We’re not just hanging around a record player, exchanging glances with lovers and friends, listening to each lyric and guitar solo with bated breathe. Now it’s this accessory that we can wear like a belt or ski cap.

Add to this the exact pill for whatever ails you and our levels of comfort have never been more precise or cushy. Podcasts operate in a similar way, as we’re able to find comedians, philosophers, and musicians that mirror our own beliefs/likes/dislikes. The specificity of culture is really what the 21st century is presenting to us and will continue to present an even more exact model, as the economy becomes much more consumer friendly down to our own DNA and the marketing of products that will benefit us in the future rather than just the present. “Your DNA sequence, lineage, previous cultural influences say that this product will have great use to you in 2 years, so why not give us a down payment for it now…so when it comes out, you’ll be the first to receive it.” I suppose marketing and consumer based products have always revolved around the notion of providing you with something you had not previously realized you needed. (The TV show Shark Tank highlights this notion quite well) It also ties into the data mining that confronts us at every turn, as a definitive profile of our habits, wants, desires, etc. is cultivated as we go to CVS, stop and shop, or purchase something online. Marketing majors and Admen are working tirelessly in order to remove the guesswork from buying product A or B.

It’s more about presenting things to us in a manner that is super personalized, making us feel special and meant for a product. Rather than just said product existing and companies having some kind of blind faith that you’ll discover it on your own. It would seem more advantageous to bring said products to you, based of off what you’ve previously bought and continue to buy. It’s just about weaving these things into your daily digital existence in a subtle and unassuming way, so purchasing them doesn’t feel like a selfish thing but a necessary thing in order to supplement your evolving personality type.

Big Eyed Rabbit – Beatnik’s, Worcester – 1/17/14

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This is exactly the kind of show I was looking for. Beatnik’s is about 15 minutes from my place and they always seem to book bands that just sound great live. Big Eyed Rabbit was no exception and I was swaying to the beat for a good hour and a half. The guitarist played 4 different guitars, starting with a black and white flying V, to a cherry/brown Gibson Les Paul, a dirty sounding acoustic, and finally a 2-3? string cigar box guitar. The aesthetics alone of playing on such different guitars, really made it a full experience especially being a guitarist myself. Initially I thought the band might just be ripping on whats trendy again, blues driven rock with harmonized vocals like The Black Keys. But then as their set progressed, I realized the players on stage had a much wider range than just a condensed blues pop structure ending at the 3:30 mark on the radio.

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The crowd was pretty receptive and grew organically throughout the night. I think the groups ability to start out with a pretty standard blues format where a guitar lick repeats 4-5 times, bass pokes in, and then drums slowly build into a constant rhythm; and then morph into a sustained and interesting jam, is what kept it interesting throughout. For me, hearing blues driven music live is the only way to experience it. Drummers have so much more freedom to accent hits live and let the kit really breathe on it’s on. Also hearing a 15-30 Watt, 1 speaker guitar amp mic’d is infinitely better than any recording being fed through speakers in a car/at home.

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I suppose at 30, my tastes for live music have become more refined. I rarely see live shows (1-2 X a month) and listen to a few tracks by any given band before I decide to drive out in the cold and pay the cover. But this also makes for a better experience when I do go out, because I’ve done a little research. I have no interest to see a punk, hardcore, or speed metal show. I’ll let the 15-27 year old crowd lap it up and expend their youthful rage. When I see a show live, I want to see people in the crowd smiling, dancing, and just enjoying the night. Doom, gloom, and forced weirdness/absurdity is a major drag to me at this point of my life. I’ve also been listening to a lot more electronic, trance, and dance music in general as of late, so that could explain it. But I definitely love seeing a guitarist that has obviously been at it for some time. It even feels like I’m being transmitted some musical information, that hopefully I can use in my own playing down the line.

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So if you live in Worcester or the surrounding area, definitely check out Beatnik’s on a Friday or Saturday night. The club has a kind of hole in the wall feel, but that kind of makes it feel like you’re in on some underground secret.

Not fighting the vitamin and supplement addiction anymore.

I find that previously, I’ve fallen into traps where I’ll fall prey to quick fix diets, trains of thinking, and false idols to follow. My threshold for following these quick fix “whims” use to be much larger. Like when I was 18 at Salem State College and my roommate John was a vegan. I’d go to dinner with him each night and maybe it was to fit in or I was just a very impressionable person at the time, but I took on the lifestyle. Still eating dairy, but I was strictly non-meat for 8 months. Now at 30, I get urges to stop eating meat, carbs, sugars, caffeine, or anything else and it lasts no more than a full day. This could be from a huffingtonpost article or a conversation I hear on any number of podcasts. It’s like my body has made up its own mind as to its addictions/likes or what it feels like it must have and any kind of new outside condition I force upon on it, will be rhetorically scoffed at and I’ll binge eat the thing I’m trying to avoid the following day. I think when you’re 18, your mind/body is much more flexible with what it can endure and accept for longer periods of times. 18-25 truly is your experimental phase as a human. After 25, maybe metabolically, it’s harder to stray from the meat/potatoes/bread/beer program that is so comforting to your stomach and mind.
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Matters of health and diet have always fascinated me. I’ve spent several hundred dollars on supplements over the years. These are a few just from memory: Omega 3 from fish, hemp, krill, and flax seed. 3 blend mushroom. St. John’s Wort. 5-htp. melatonin. sam-E. coQ10. coconut oil. green coffee bean extract. acai berry. alpha brain by onnit.

I’ve experimented with many things to get some upper edge mentally or just to have more physical energy. Or if I went through bouts of depression, I would scour supplement sites for just the thing that would pull me out of the funk I was in. Not realizing or being wise enough to know, that down moods are necessary for up moods, the rubber band kind of needs to stretch both ways in order for emotions to exist.

I’ve always felt “low energy” as a person, so I imagined there was some magical pandora’s box out there, that contained precisely the right elixir for my body’s makeup. It’s never really happened. Some have worked and by worked maybe I mean “I’ve convinced myself that they’ve done something.” (depending on the cost of said supplement) Most have acted as a placebo. I’ve run the gamut of taking a Centrum 1 a day vitamin, to ordering the most organic vitamins I can find online. (Currently I’m taking Synergy’s Whole Food vitamin) So for now, I’m down to this multi-vitamin and hemp seed oil capsules for my Omega 3’s. And on the note of omega 3s, I’ve been quite neurotic; Trying out fish capsules from wal-mart, to cod fish oil from norway, to krill oil at walgreens ($30 a bottle), and finally arriving at hemp seed oil. The fish oil I’ve taken has always left me feeling more aggressive, hostile, bitter, and just kind of stressed out in general. Of course it could just be how my body reacts to it, but considering how everyone is always giving it high praise, it’s never done much good for me. I don’t get this same reaction by just eating fish. So that’s where I’m at now. I think I’ve gotten the majority of my supplement experiments out of my system, for now. The internet is tricky in the way that a few testimonials or youtube videos, or mentions on a podcast, can get you thinking again, “Maybe I am missing out and this would benefit me..?”