Friday, June 18, 2010

We Are NOT From France???

I suppose this is one of those instances where just a bit more research would have done me a world of good.  Let me explain... you see, I only looked to Mr. Meeble’s MySpace profile when I wrote my original entry on the band.  On that page the band claims to be from France.  But, upon scratching the surface just a bit more - visiting other of the band’s sites, etc. - I discovered that they are truly from Arizona.  I feel a bit dopey for not knowing this before writing about them.  I feel even dopier for having to now retract my retraction about not caring for unsigned, contemporary French bands.  As it turns out, France is once again safe to trash - at least in terms of their music.
I can’t help but wonder, though, had I realized Mr. Meeble was an American-born concoction, would I have been as impressed with their output.  I mean, when you have very low expectations, anything even half-way decent sounds great.  I’ll have to ponder this a bit more.  Which will require more caffeine.  So I’ll ponder it later and probably write a bit more at that point, as well.
What I will say for now is that Mr. Meeble (AKA Devin, Michael and Blain - if, indeed these are their real names and the photos [and one drawing] of them at MySpace actually represent real people) is/are intriguing me more and more with their slippery slight of hand.  Works pretty effectively for College and/or Indie band cred... time will tell if this turns out to be an effective tool for connecting with those outside this rather selective group of Ironophiles. 

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Recent Developments and Updates

Apparently my recuperating puppy is feeling himself again.  Despite having his belly laden with a series of bright purple stitches, he still managed to jump over the 3.5’ fence surrounding his sleeping pen during the night and escape into my partner’s office.  Not bad for a sickly little ankle-biter. 
Today is one of those days when I find myself lacking the will to sit down at my computer and spend an hour or two composing some wonderfully insightful, well-crafted mini-essay about some random band or musician or other.  I just don’t have the drive... at all.
I’d much rather open up my music or film editing software and immerse myself in one of several projects I’m working on at the moment.  So, instead of writing something in support of some other person or group of persons I’ve never met, never plan to meet and in whose career(s) I have no vested interest, I will instead regale you with tidbits of what I’m currently up to.
  1. I recently completed a video for the instrumental version of my song “Demeter,” which features a compilation of clips from Nosferatu.  I’ve posted it to Youtube at the following link:                             
  2. I’m finishing up work on a cover of Joy Division’s song “The Kill.”  I’ve got all the tracks complete, just need to get the vocals recorded the way I want them and then I’ll make a video and post the whole thing on Youtube.  Hopefully that will be up and running in a week or so.  I will actually appear in this video.
  3. Still slogging through a video project with LC Messinger for her song “Say Something.”  The schedule for that has been pushed back a bit while LC deals with the passing of her dog Rudy.  I can testify from recent experience with my own infirm pooch that we can grow so attached to our pets that losing them can be as catastrophic as the passing of any other family member.  So best wishes to LC and we’ll get that video posted ASAP.
  4. I’m also beginning work on another video project, this one for my song “Labor Day.”  I did a bunch of filming up on the Russian River a couple weeks back and am currently figuring out how to stage and edit the final piece.  The river itself will figure prominently in the video, and I may make an appearance or two myself.  
  5. I’m working on several new songs and remixing some of my older ones in preparation for an upcoming release of some sort or other - probably a 5-7 song EP.  Once I’ve got a better sense of a release date I will post an update here.
That’s about it for now... Back in a day or so, once my critical muse returns from her/his (hopefully) brief hiatus...

The Perils of Pip

Puck (L)  and  Pip (R)

As I began working on my blog this morning I was distracted by a cry of alarm from across the house.  One of my Boston Terriers, Pip, had been developing an infection on his stomach where he’d had an operation a few months back.  We began giving him antibiotics and warm compresses yesterday after taking him to the vet, but when he woke up this morning the infection had begun to abscess.  It looked really bad, probably worse than it actually was, but the site of it caused my partner a great deal of distress, hence the alarming cry from the dogs’ sleeping area.  
I gave up my attempt at writing - just as well as I was really not very focused at the time - and we took Pip back to the vet.  Long story short, we were given a choice of returning home with him and taking a wait and see approach (waiting and seeing for what, I’m still not sure - I don’t think it could have gotten much worse without being life-threatening and I had no idea how to make it better) or to have him go under the knife to fix the problem.  We chose the latter.  So now Pip is at the vet, awaiting surgery, and I am home, biting my fingernails.  
Pip has been a bit sickly since the day we first met him.  He was carsick the whole trip home from the breeders.  He developed a hiatal hernia a few weeks afterward, which mandated emergency surgery and several weeks of recovery.  Since then he’s developed a series of infections along the area where the surgeon stitched him up.  Despite all this, he is one of the most delightful, playful, loving animals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.  His brother, Puck, isn’t half bad, either.  I feel very lucky to have them in my life.
I realize this entry has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject matter of this blog, but I wanted to get a blog entry out today and I’m too worried about Pip to write anything else worth reading.  I suppose I could write a song about the situatioin - I tend to do that whenever things are stressful in my life, hence all the ditties about fights, breakups, nervous breakdowns and midlife crises.  Yes, I do, in fact, perceive the world as my own private catharsis machine and anybody lucky enough to read my blog or listen to my music as my personal confessor.  
Not to worry, though, I haven’t forgotten about the Scottish bands I promised to write about this week.  As soon as Pip’s home and safe I’ll pick up where I left off.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Stuntman Mike's 10,000 Lives

I first wrote about Glasgow band Stuntman Mike this past January after discovering them on DJ Bluetone’s webcast from Scotland.  If you missed that blog, you can click here or simply read the following excerpt, as it’s more to the point:
    ... I can’t gush enough about Stuntman Mike... one of those 
    bands that manage to make pop music which stings a bit - with
    catchy, memorable hooks that, while easily digestible, go down 
    more like really strong, black espresso than the way-too-sugary 
    soft drinks we’re typically served.  Each song takes off from the 
    first note and races ahead, pulling one along by the viscera.  
    They’re loud and driving, with lots of pounding drums, thumping     
    bass notes and searing vocals.  And for a quartet their sound is
    surprisingly rich and full, their recordings incredibly well-produced
    and their live performances faithful to their studio work...
Now I often write these blog entries in the wee hours of the morn - say between 4 and 5am.  As a result, my observations are sometimes insomnia-driven and born upon a hazy wave of semi-somnambulism.  In other words, I sort of sleepwalk my way through much of this and, once in a while, upon waking, realize that some of my initial observations, while sincere at the time, were also a bit baseless.  In other, other words, I often find myself scratching my head and musing aloud: “What the hell was I thinking?”  
Not so, in the case of Stuntman Mike.  And, although it is roughly 5:14am as I write this, I’ve been awake since 3am, so I’m definitely in at least marginal control of my reasoning faculties and steadfast in my affirmative stance as regards Stuntman Mike.  Indeed, after listening to the band’s music for the first time in several months, I can easily say that I continue to stand by my initial assessment of the band’s appeal and musical acumen. 
This is especially true of their recently released single, “10,000 Lives,” a song that I’ve listened to dozens of times and still find it as compelling and listenable as I did from the first.  If you question my opinion, I invite you to visit Stuntman Mike in MySpace-land and judge for yourself.  For that matter, you might look to Youtube for further evidence of my assertions.  Then, you may click on the following banner link and download “10,000 Lives” from iTunes. 

Friday, June 4, 2010

Is Mr. Meeble xenophobic or is their album title just a ploy for attention?

A few months back I posted several entries re: French musicians (if you choose to click on this link, read only the sections in RED to follow the thread).  I was a bit harsh with my unrestrained criticism which, to be fair, was pretty accurate.  What I found most uninspiring about many of the unsigned French acts I encountered was a detached tone of ennui that pervaded the majority of vocal stylings - like a viral infection that’s caused one to become suddenly bored and unconcerned over the music, the lyrics and the whole music performance experience in general mid-song.  To be fair, French is a very nuanced and lyrical language that, I believe, lacks the drama and punch necessary to really finish off a good rock, pop or post-punk-type song.  Where I found French most effective was in the Goth mode (if you follow the link above I touch on this briefly).
Having said - or written - that, Mr. Meeble is one French act that’s figured out how to maneuver around this language issue by simply avoiding the need to sing much of the time, focusing instead upon what most of the French bands seem to do best: generate dreamy and moody musical sculptures from simple melodies interwoven with layers of resonant harmonies and extramusical sounds topped off with dubbed in, often conversant, vocal samples.  On the occasions when Mr. Meeble music does incorporate vocals, they are sung in English, which I humbly feel is more effective than French.  I realize my critique of French vocals risks reflecting a bit of Xenophobia (or would that simply be Franco-phobia?) on my part.  But, cultural bias or not, I can only report on what does or does not resonate with my personal tastes.  While on the topic of Xenophobia, I must warn any suffering from an overdeveloped sense of post-colonial guilt or a profound drive toward rigorous political correctness in all communications and correspondences, that the title of the band’s debut release Never Trust the Chinese is bound to offend.  But, needless to say, it is an attention grabber.
I enjoy listening to Mr. Meeble immensely.  They remind me of Tortoise in places, Mogwai and even Moby in others.  The band members themselves cite Massive Attack, Radiohead, Bjork and the Cocteau Twins among their many influences. They are a bit industrial, a bit electro-pop and an even larger bit ambient - one of those rare bands that can take a simple progression of several notes and play them over and over for several minutes without ever becoming tedious or boring.  
You can listen to song samples and learn more about Mr. Meeble at the band’s Reverb Nation and MySpace sites.  You can also purchase music at Amazon and iTunes by clicking on the links below.
S.      iTunes

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Russian River Vacation

Been out of town the past two weeks.  I went to San Francisco to see my dentist - yes, I travel 500 miles twice a year to get my teeth cleaned.  Long story, don’t ask.  I also spent Memorial Day weekend up at the Russian River, which is a resort area about an hour or so north of the Golden Gate Bridge.  I used to dislike the River area quite a bit - it’s a bit rundown, lackluster and populated with a fare share of aged hippies and up’N’coming meth-heads.  I only went because a good friend invited me to her “chalet” for a weekend BBQ with several old friends I don’t get to see very often.  Know what?  I ended up having a spectacular time.  Best I’ve had in a very, very long time.  So, as I said, I used to dislike the River, but now I think it’s one of my favorite places in the world.  But enough about that.
I’ve got so much to catch up on... First of all, I’ve got about 10 bands/acts to share, I’ve got music of my own to work on (which is still on hold until I figure out how to get all my studio devices to play well with my Mac - damn you Apple and your silly Snow Leopard!) and I’ve got a video to finish with LC Messinger.  BTW, in my last entry I mentioned that we were putting together a video for LC’s song “Girl.”  While that may be a reality some day, for the present we’ve decided to work on her song “Say Something,” instead.  That should be ready for viewing in a couple of weeks, provided I can get my video editing software to cooperate.  I also collected some great footage of running water and reveling tourists while on vacation that I plan to use in a video for my own song “Labor Day,” which will commence production as soon as I’m finished with LC.
In terms of unsigned musicians, I’ll work on a new blog entry later today and should have that out in the morning.  And I’m planning an expose on bands from Scotland for next week.  I’ve already written about some of these in earlier entries - June, Stuntman Mike - and with DJ Bluetone’s assistance, I’ve come across more Scottish acts that, fingers crossed, will find themselves with a larger audience and lots of cash and fame sooner than later.
So, until next time...