Monday, 1 August 2016

Bonus tracks.

The bonus tracks, and only the bonus tracks from the reissues of three relatively esteemed indie rock albums originally released in the twentieth century.  Yep, I'm throwing something new at ya'll this week.  Enjoy.


Original Content: Bonus tracks.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Serving The Situation

Different situations require different approaches. If you do the same thing in each situation, you might not be doing the best thing for each situation. I find this is often a difficult concept for younger drummers to understand. I think this is mainly because younger drummers routinely only have one concept of how to play drums. Now this is not their fault, this is just a product of inexperience. As we learn and grow, we also hopefully expand our horizons. 

At 28, you should know more than you knew at 18. At 38, you should know more than at 28, and so on. It's only when we get older, that we can look back upon the arc of our career, and see things with clarity. Experience is indeed the greatest teacher.

This leads up to today's topic: serving the situation. I think even for many experienced drummers this can be a great reminder/refresher. If you play mainly in one band, or one musical situation, when you need to play outside of that, your instinct might be to bring the same experience to the newer situation. So let's look at some different approaches.

Live vs Studio

This is always a big conversation with as many opinions as there are drummers. First, let's look at the difference between the two situations. Live is a very in the moment experience. You play the music and it's gone forever. For the audience, each song is much like a train going by. You don't have the time to concentrate an any one car, because things keep moving. Eventually the train goes down the track and disappears. Then another comes along and the whole thing is repeated, although with many differences.

How we play serves the bigness of the moment. Live, we may want a specific type of sound, so we use specific drums and cymbals that project more. Our playing may be made of more big gestures and fewer notes that are played harder, because we need to project.

The studio is very much like a musical microscope that looks at everything you do in great detail. Because of this, small gestures that may get lost on the live stage, are magnified and visible to the listener. Sitting within a forest of microphones, the need to project is not as important, thus you may choose to use different equipment. Smaller drums and cymbals are much easier to control and often can lead to a cleaner, better recording. So many drummers use different gear live vs in the studio.

Another aspect is that a recording is forever. People can, and will, replay the music over and over. Musical elements that you add to the music can be looked at by the listener under their own microscope. Things that in a live situation will come and go, remain with a recording. In the studio, great care must be taken to make sure everything is in place and correct.

Serving the Song

As a young drummer, the tendency can be to play your favorite licks or flashiest beats in any situation. "I worked on this for weeks and it's a great way to show off my technical prowess." Ah, the exuberance of youth. But just because you can play something doesn't mean you should. As you get older and more experienced, you (hopefully) learn to self edit your playing. 

Why do drummers like Jim Keltner, Steve Jordan, and Steve Gadd get so much work? They always serve the song. All 3 of them are great drummers, possessing great technique, but they've learned to play what the song needs, not what their ego needs. They often play extremely simple parts. It takes maturity to decide and play just a shaker and a bass drum on a track because that is what fits the music best. Learning to self edit is one of the most important things. 

I find that as I get older, I tend to play less notes, but each note has more meaning.

The Gear Equation

Many big name drummers have a lot of gear, some even have a small warehouse filled with drums, cymbals, and percussion. This is not necessarily because they are rich. More often than not, it is because they use different gear in different situations. They realize that one set up doesn't necessarily cover all musical situations.

A good example of this is Steve Smith. He is currently out on tour playing drums once again for Journey. For this tour, he put together a big, double bass drum kit. In various jazz situations, he tends to use a smaller kit and different types of cymbals. I've seen Steve use a small 10/13/16" BD Jungle kit live, because it fit the situation. Using the Jungle kit in Journey wouldn't work. Conversely, using the huge double bass kit wouldn't have worked in the same gig where he used the Jungle kit.

Steve Smith with his Jungle Kit

Similarly, I've seen Paul Wertico play a gig using a single headed REMO Legero kit. The thing to remember is that each situation is different from another. Make conscious choices about what you play musically, and what you use gear wise. Don't just look at each situation as the same.

~ MB

Deconstruct Yourself™

Original Content: Serving The Situation

Friday, 29 July 2016

Viv Akauldren - I'll Call You Sometime (1987, Akashic)

Viv Akauldren sprouted from the remnants of an early '80s Detrot combo, Trancegland, who amended their moniker after a roster shakeup in 1985.  A co-ed trio featuring axe-slinger Jeff Phry and drummer Deb Agolli mixing things up on the mic, Viv Akauldren brewed a subterranean alchemy in a cauldron (get it?) of their own warped design, purloining heavily from psych, but also inserting goth, and even folk flavorings.   I'll Call You's howling opener "Of," is full-bore intensity with all the subtlety of a Mack truck.  While there's precious little else here that's on quite the same frantic wavelength, Viv's sophomore effort tantalizes in varied ways on the distorto-pop pearl "Firewater," and the icy, noir "Inn'er Circle."  And maybe it's just me, but the sprawling spoke/sung "City Magic" strikes me as something of a template for Sonic Youth's "Eric Trip."  Hmmm.  The extensive liner notes in Viv's final album, 1990's Vivian's Fountain, imparts the following regarding I'll Call You Sometime.

"...a concept work of titanic proportions.  It encompasses vast space and subtle nuance...a classic winter time record which requires attention (and headphones).

My copy of the record was furnished with a bonus single featuring two swirling, stem-winding live cuts, both nearing nine minutes in length.  They are included in this download.

01. Of
02. Is This It?
03. Firewater
04. The Chain
05. The Secret
06. The Maker of the Sun and the Moon
07. City Magic
08. Along the Way
09. Inn'er Current
10. Farrowbone
11. As You Wish (live)
12. The Titanic Mind (live)

Original Content: Viv Akauldren - I'll Call You Sometime (1987, Akashic)

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Random Hold - two singles (1981-82)

So I've been running into Random Hold's records for a long time, and as often is the case, I dare not take the plunge on an unknown quantity until the price is too reasonable to refuse.  Presented here are the fruits of my thrifty spoils.  I had casually pegged these fellows (and furthermore a woman, who would later be added to the final incarnation of the band) as being cut from cold/chillwave cloth.  That assumption proved to be inaccurate, and so were even more egregious prog-rock comparisons leveled by certain music junkies (I suppose a connection to Peter Gabriel might engender that sort of thing).  In actuality Random Hold boasted palpable, post-punk bona fides that were best exemplified on their earlier releases (Etceteraville aThe View From Here) which sadly I don't have.  Not like I could share them anyway since they're back in print, but I digress. 

That brings us to two singles that were released after Random Hold split in 1980. A year later the band's moniker was dusted off and revived to represent a much different lineup (all the gory details are available on Wiki) featuring a new mouthpiece, Susan Raven.  RH v. 2.0 lose some of the original combo's creative edge, but maintain an intelligent air with adequate amount of world-weary tension to hold your attention.  I presenting these four tunes from a static-y vinyl rip, and would encourage you to buy the double CD set, Differing Views, a bonus-sized reissue of RH's Raven-era recordings for a considerable audio upgrade.

The March 7" (1981)
01. The March
02. Dance Feeling

Walking on the Edge 7" (1982)
03. Walking on the Edge
04. Camouflage

Original Content: Random Hold - two singles (1981-82)

Monday, 25 July 2016

Synchronize my afterlife.

From 2011.  Curveball time.  Glitched-up electronica with occasional '80s tangents.  Don't worry, nothing to dancy.  I heard this one in-store a couple months ago and have been listening to it just about every day since.


Original Content: Synchronize my afterlife.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Romantics - Bomp Blues live 1980-83 + Bomp demo

Even at their inception The Romantics must have struck more than a few people as passé.  With skinny ties, leather suits and fluffy hair in tow who wouldn't chalk them up as a passing fad?  Perhaps, but for those who explored the Romantics beyond their two of three mega hits were rewarded with some ace bar rock-cum-power pop that never left a hook to the imagination.  This bootleg compiles a live New Years eve radio broadcast from 1980, a live CBS studio session from the same period, a handful of more concert tracks from 1983, and the band's demo for Bomp Records.  Yep, the smashes are all accounted for - "What I Like About You" "Tell it to Carrie," and the rest.  To the Detroit quartet's credit, "Talking in Your Sleep" and "National Breakout" are more stimulating on stage than the already decent enough album incarnations (though the version of "Breakout" here is truncated - someone didn't hit the record button in time).  The demos sound strikingly similar to the finished versions, not that I'm complaining.  Enjoy.

Live Atlanta 12-31-80
01. National Breakout
02. 21 & Over
03. Tomboy
04. Forever Yours
05. A Night Like This
06. Poor Little Rich Girl
07. interview
08. What I Like About You
09. Ain't Got You

Bomp demos (197?)
10. Tell it to Carrie 
11. Runnin Away
12. First in Line
13. Let's Swing 

Live in CBS Studios, NYC December 1980
14. Ain't Got you
15. What I Like About You
16. A night Like This 
17. Poor Little Rich Girl

Live in San Antonio, TX October 1983
18. When I Look In Your Eyes
19. Gimmie One Chance

20. Keep in Touch
21. Talking in Your Sleep

Original Content: The Romantics - Bomp Blues live 1980-83 + Bomp demo