Friday, April 30, 2010

Sean Burford

For my second installment of local desert musicians/recording artists I’d like to present Palm Springs resident Sean Burford.  Burford is a multi-instrumentalist who brings a variety of influences and styles (industrial/electronic, psychedelic, progressive, classical, lounge blues/jazz, even a hint of bossa nova here and there) to his music, which he adeptly blends into something fresh and original.  His songs, like so much of the music that really grabs my attention and that I find comment-worthy, are both complex and accessible, full of irony and humor, yet also haunting and ethereal.    
Before my unfortunate pinched nerve incident while in Austin last month, Sean and I exchanged emails re: his musical approach.  Here’s how Sean describes his work:
“My music project, Hymnself, consists of a post-religious prophet who connects with the cosmos to deliver the message of the universe. Because of this connection, the one that communicates with the stars and all matter develops human emotions. As a result of this, our chosen voice begins to stretch the boundaries of egotism. Seeking inspiration from various mediums including nature itself, my hope is to create an experience that will develop into a harmonious and a heck of a good time. This will only be so if those that seek enlightenment do so with an open heart and open mind.”
According to his Reverb Nation bio, Sean has been writing and recording for over 15 years.  He used to build guitars from old car speakers, fishing line and 2x4s and recorded his music by overdubbing on multiple 2-track tape decks.  He was trained as a brass instrumentalist, but is pretty much an autodidact in terms of his multi-instrumental performance and recording skills.
From what I understand, Sean does not currently have any music available for sale, however he does provide free downloads at his Reverb Nation page.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Gram Rabbit

And now, as promised weeks and weeks (and weeks) ago, my long-awaited homage to the Mojave Desert music scene:
I begin my expose of talented musicians living and working in or near my adopted hometown of Palm Springs, CA with Gram Rabbit, a band from Joshua Tree that is quickly becoming my favorite (relatively) unknown local band.  Mesmerizing, both musically and visually, GR masterfully blend and bend genres - from Country Rock, to Post-Punk Pop, Electronica and Psychedelia - into their own signature sound that is equal parts ironic, irreverent, haunting and cinematic.  On their MySpace site they describe their music as “other, other, other,” citing influences which include “... jesus, the devil... the desert... the easter bunny... aliens... witchcraft, secret societies... sand in my high-heels, the number 333.”  
Though I have yet to experience Gram Rabbit in a live performance, from what I’ve seen of their videos, I could best describe their act is frenetic, multi-media, post-apocalyptic psycho-cabaret.  Again, the band’s visual program is as eclectic and audacious as their music.  
Vocalist Jesika von Rabbit, GR’s audio-visual focal point, fuses her Dale Bozzio meets Emmylou Harris vocal style into rich layers of instrumental and extra-musical sounds that are as stirring as they are whimsical.  Though it might be a stretch, I keep thinking of GR’s music as sited - in the same way one might describe an art installation or a work of Architecture as being intrinsically tied to a specific place or locale.  Each note, utterance and drumbeat reminds one of the stark, desolate, often lonely emptiness - yet simultaneous sublime richness - of the Mojave.  At the same time, their songs possess a universal accessibility that refuses to confine itself to the a purely desert milieu.  
OK, I’ve gone on drooling long enough.  I highly recommend checking Gram Rabbit out at one of their online venues [MySpace, GR Website, etc.].  And, if you are so inclined, you can click on one of the links provided here to purchase their music at Amazon.  



Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I'm Back... 2

One more thing I wanted to mention.  One of my prime reasons for writing this blog has been to attract attention not only to other struggling, unsigned musicians, but also to garner some of that attention for my own  musical endeavors.  But guess what?  For some inexplicable reason, I’ve got gobs of people reading my blog, but very few sampling my songs.  I mean, would it kill you to at least listen to a tune or two, even if just to pacify my endlessly insatiable ego? 
Also, since last November I’ve noticed that my blogging has been stealing precious time and creative energy away from my songwriting.  So I’m doubly screwed as nobody’s listening to the marginal songs I’ve already recorded and I have little time or energy left to make better ones. 
In addition to all that, I’m not earning any money through my current monetizing strategies - seems along with not having time to listen to my songs, none of you has the ability to click on an ad once in a while!  [Disclaimer - that last statement was not meant as an inducement to click on any Google AdSense ads if you were not already inclined to do so.  I singed a contract specifically stating I would not encourage use of the AdSense program simply to bolster my own earnings, so that’s not what I am doing here.  Honestly.  Simply sharing an observation is all.]
So here’s what’s going to happen from now on.  I will back off a bit on the in-depth analysis of the bands I write about so that I have more time for my other work.  I will pump up my monetizing strategies by focusing mostly on bands that have CDs and downloads available for sale (and asking that you click on the links I provide to access Amazon and iTunes if you intend to purchase said music) and I will begin requesting donations.  Finally, I will start pushing my own music on you with merciless regularity.  
Thanks for your support.  Oh, and please check out some of the links I’ve provided on the homepage of my website,
Peace, Love and Dreams of Income...


I'm Back...

Finally returning to work today after over a month of convalescing from neck, shoulder and arm pain.  I have this condition where, from time to time, bones in my neck rub against certain nerves, irritating them and causing considerable pain on either side of my upper body.  I have occasional flareups, but for over 5 years have been able to control them with exercise and over the counter pain meds.  Apparently, I irritated the nerves in my neck with all the driving I did from California to Texas and for some reason those nerves got a little more irate than usual.  In fact, this time around the problem was so severe that it left me almost completely immobilized and forced to take large quantities of narcotics to manage the pain.  
I honestly don’t know how opiate addicts do it.  My hat is truly off to them.  I mean the Vicodin was great for the first couple of days (or at least it would have been, had I not been in so much pain that I couldn’t really enjoy it), but then my doctor put me on this drug called Norco.  Norco is the same thing as Vicodin, only the narcotic - Hydrocodone - is twice as strong with only about half the amount of Acetaminophen (Tylenol).  Don’t understand how it all works, exactly, but I do know this, without that extra Acetaminophen, Norco makes me feel just really, really awful - dizzy, nauseated, sedated, mentally confused and just sort of icky all over.  I couldn’t decide which was worse, the pain or the pain medication.  
Now the reason my doctor switched to this drug was because she was concerned that I might begin abusing Vicodin, which is pretty addictive, and which, because it has more Tylenol, can damage one’s liver in larger amounts.  So instead, she gave me a stronger drug, which, as I see it, pretty much guaranteed a higher degree of certainty for physical, if not emotional, dependency.  Great thinking, huh?  I think she did it precisely because she knew it would make me feel sicker and thus less likely to abuse it.  Thanks Doc!  Funny thing is, I found that if I took a Tylenol pill along with my dose of Norco, the unpleasant side-effects went away, so I ended up filling my liver with Acetaminophen after all!  
And now I’m having these wonderful drug withdrawals, with the shaking and the nausea and that feeling that I’m seeing the world through a long, dark tunnel and, of course, that fun panicky sensation all over.  All I can say about all this is just say no to drugs, stay in school and never, never trust your doctor.  Oh, and that it really is true that flying is safer than driving.
OK, just needed to vent my considerable woe.  I’ve got so much to write about - stuff I’ve been thinking about for the past month while out of service - and will try and catch up over the next few days.  Provided, fingers crossed, that my neck and arm continue to feel better.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kill The Drama 2

While I’m on the mend I figured I’d point you toward independent music journalist Ana Barbu and her blog site Uncovered Sounds.   I really enjoyed her recent article on Kill The Drama.  Happy reading!
ps.  KTD’s album Close Friends With Sharp Knives is available from Amazon and iTunes:

Apple iTunes

Please Stand By...

While it has been my intention to resume posting new blog entries for the past several weeks now, I have continued to be unable to do so as my neck, shoulder and right arm continue to be of little use.  I am getting better each day and hope that I will be up and writing again early next week.  I apologize for the lack of new content and promise to redress that ASAP.
Thank you for your patience and continued support.