A new album to close 2018

ghostnotesMan, did I start late on this but I just finished a body of musical work for this year. Work I should’ve started in the spring at the latest. I could’ve been done around summertime if I did.

Anyway, I still managed to come up with 8 brand new songs in a matter of 2 months! That’s a rarity for me nowadays. Plus I also reprised (did a remake of) 3 of my old songs from around 20 years ago! I performed these on a recent Wyoming Singer-Songwriter competition and thought the arrangement needed a makeover. For one, I could no longer hit the high notes like I used to back then so I had to sing them on a different key now. And play them on different instruments, as well!

So, 11 songs recorded this year! Not too shabby for having just started this project in September. I have not had that many songs recorded in a year since 2005! Or 2004, if we’re talking original songs!

As always, the album is quite varied in style. It’s the most diverse album I’ve ever made, actually! It’s called Ghost Notes. Check it out. I hope you like it.

Rage! Rage!

ratmI remember hearing Rage Against The Machine for the first time on the radio. I thought, another sub-genre in music had emerged. I’ve never heard so much shouting in a song that I took the liberty to call it Holler Rock. Honestly, it wasn’t Zach’s political yawp that got my attention, initially. It was the fact that the band sounded like something from the primitive 70’s. I just love Tom’s approach to the guitar, with the wah wah and the lead work that strays far far away from the traditional shredding that had already been done to death, at the time. And I believe, he took this approach even further later on, in Audioslave. But that’s for another post.

Since I’m not much into politics, I pretty much ignored whatever message their songs attempted to convey but instead simply grooved to the rockin’ beats that made me realized, they were truly one of the greatest bands of the 90’s. And eventually, I got used to the yelling I even began to like Linkin’ Park. But that’s for another post, too.

Meanwhile, here’s something you can’t understand… my fave Rage track. This song’s a riot! Check out the video. Oh, and the lady doing the intro, I wonder who’s mom she is?

The Great Gig in the Sky

You’ve probably heard by now… Rick Wright, Pink Floyd’s genius keyboard player has left the planet today. He was only 65. A sad day in music, indeed. And the end of a great era, perhaps. Pink Floyd is one of those bands that never gets old, I don’t think. Probably because they’ve always been quite ahead of their time, to begin with. They’re just way too cool to be lumped in with the rest of the oldies.

goodbye rick

One of my all-time favorite songs happens to be Echoes, from the album Meddle. A piece of epic proportion. It highlights not only Rick Wright’s keyboard playing but his voice, as well. It’s one of those rare moments when he sings alongside David Gilmour. The song is very melancholic in its melodic structure and I love it. Here they are playing the song amidst the ruins of Pompeii.

But as much as I will forever love the Floyd, they better not put out anymore music together under the same name as it might only dilute their legacy. It’s great that they were able to at least reunite one last time during 2005’s Live 8, but I’m afraid it’s now time to lay all things Pink Floyd to rest, as a sign of respect, if anything.

Rick, however, is now free to play that great gig in the sky! Go Rick… shine on!

Paint me a song

blue chicksMy taste in acoustic guitar music developed during the 90’s. Before then, I was just your average headbanger who dabbled with everything else every now and then. But acoustic guitars seemed to have made a big comeback after a decade of dominance by the Jacksons and the Marshalls and the AquaNets. I used to acquire a new acoustic every couple of years. At one time I had six different ones. But I still have four left today, thank goodness.

One of the groups I had always admired that played acoustic music was the Indigo Girls. I remember gigging at coffee houses around Venice Beach in California and playing a set of their tunes. Something about their music always grabbed my attention. They’re very simple yet deeply poetic and emotional. They sound very personal and close to the heart. One song I’ll never forget is Closer to Fine. It’s one of my favorite acoustic songs of all time. When you listen to it, it feels like the words and melodies/harmonies transform into oil on canvas. Like it’s painting the song, and you can hear every brushstroke. Weird, I know. I just don’t know how else to describe it.

Put another dime in the jukebox, baby

groovyOne of my favorite rock bands of late is an Aussie group called Jet.

Before I even heard their music, I already knew I was gonna like them as their name hinted on Band on the Run, which is one of my all-time favorite albums. And then, a friend at work loaned me her Get Born CD, and I was instantly hooked. It’s a nice blend of AC/DC and sixites British Invasion garage rock, which never gets old in my book.

The song Are You Gonna Be My Girl sounds like it came out of a jukebox in a diner when I was five. It’s got that old-fashioned R&B shuffle beat that makes you want to shake yer booty and party like it’s 1965.

Check it out…

The most powerful voices in rock

… in my unbiased opinion, anyway. And no, I’m not talking about the cookie monster variety either.

Though I may have deep respect and appreciation for the following, they aren’t necessarily my absolute favorites. Except for one, maybe. Actually, a lot of my personal favorites aren’t even on this list, at all. I only thought these singers, in particular, were unquestionably successful in penetrating through, not only the massive walls of their band’s sound, but more importantly, the hearts and souls of their listeners. Their voices are, without a doubt, distinctively melodic yet forceful.

This list is by no means exhaustive, just what’s coming through my mind, at this very moment. So, in no particular order, I give you my choices… for the most powerful voices in rock music.

  • Chris Cornell – I can’t decide whether his voice is classic or unique. Maybe, both.
  • Freddie Mercury –  As Stevie Riks would say, he’s the queen of rock and roll. I agree.
  • Pat Benatar – She sounds like a rebellious operatic singer who broke out of the mold.
  • Ronnie James Dio – When Ronnie sings, don’t look in his eyes or you’ll turn into a pillar of salt.
  • Steve Perry – Could anyone possibly sing this good? I didn’t believe it, until recently.
  • Jim Morrison, Bono, Eddie Vedder – Could they be related?
  • Roger Daltrey – Do you watch CSI: Miami? Enough said.
  • Lou Gramm – He’s got pipes of a Jukebox Hero, that’s for sure.
  • Ann Wilson – Aretha Franklin’s sistah… from another mutha.
  • Melissa Etheridge – My back feels like it’s gonna break when listening to her songs. She’s that powerful.
  • Lane Staley – This guy’s voice can make a cobra dance like a snake charmer’s flute.
  • Kurt Cobain – I prefer Lane but I can’t deny the hypnotic draw of his voice either. Definitely, heir to the throne of Lennon.

Ummm… did I miss anyone? Of course, I did. Ya?

Strike a poser

strike a poseWhen I first heard Soundgarden‘s Jesus Christ Pose, from their CD Badmotorfinger, I thought it was blasphemous. Then I learned that it was about Chris Cornell’s disdain for how magazine models are made to look like god figures. Or higher than mere humans kind of thing. He finds it distasteful, I guess. Though I think it’s safe to say, this goes along with them holier than thou characters and ego maniacs, too.

Well, what else is new in this world, huh?

But hey, the song rocks like it’s the end of days. I say, that’s righteous!!!

U.S. Drag

mpDoes anyone remember this song from Missing Persons? Does anyone remember Missing Persons, period? One of the few new wave bands of the 80’s that I really really dug, they combined typical 80’s pop with technical proficiency. After all, they’re remnants of Frank Zappa’s group. That alone should tell you how good these guys are. Although, their more popular tunes include Destination Unknown, Words and Give – and this is because of their obvious pop sensibilities.

However, if you want to hear (or better yet, see) them flaunt their chops, you gotta check out songs like U.S. Drag. It’s kind of like a disjointed funk. Beware of dancing to this tune – you might sprain your ankles.

Dog & Butterfly

dnbOne of my all-time favorite songs came out of the mid 70’s. A tune by Heart called Dog & Butterfly. I’m amazed that it is not as popular as some of their other songs. But at the same time, I’m really not. It’s not as much a rocker as say, Barracuda or Magic Man.

This song is special, however, because it is deep and poetic and whimsical not only in its lyrical content but also in the feel of the music itself. When you listen to it, it feels like you’re in a garden of flowers and fountains and sunshine.

Dog & Butterfly is one of the few songs you hear today that doesn’t sound dated. Especially, if you’re hearing it for the first time ever. Ann’s voice is so mesmerizing. And Nancy singing in the background sounds like a butterfly trailing all around. Just like the album artwork.

This type of approach to music was lost in the 80’s but was kind of revived in the 90’s. It is simple, basic and poignant. A beautiful and timeless classic, I think.