Sunday, May 31, 2009

ever more tenuous

as always what goes up must come down. i don't think the east coast tour is going to happen. it's not looking good- i haven't heard anything from anyone that i've contacted at all which is not a good sign. no sir. given the fact that we weren't able to secure any college shows, our current shitty financial state and the fact that i still want to get another record released before the end of the year (for what reason i have NO idea whatsoever) and the whole 'i want to work on my debt. seriously.' stance that i've been taken as of late i figured that a doubtless money-pit of a tour would probably not be the best idea right now. at this point i think we might just try and do a one-off or a few later on- maybe go back down to kc and play at the record bar again (always fun to do). why not?
i am having an awful lot of trouble santising what's going on with this 'band.' it's hair-pulling frustrating. nothing short of maddening at this point. we're in the unique and sad position of reaching some truly amazing heights all while relatively no one is paying attention (or at least not the powers that be, the movers and shakers, the people who 'matter' as it were). i'm not real sure what to do- if we were in a punk band, a folk duo or an experimental noise group i would know exactly what to do and we could go on a long, ridiculous tour no problem whatsoever. unfortunately our uniqueness is now becoming a hindrance (let's be honest though- that's ALWAYS been our problem). how did this happen? damned if i know... right now we are in the position where we can book our own shows and people will come to see us play, but we can't get any shows at any other venues no matter how legitimate or illegitimate as the case may be... i haven't heard a peep from the guy who books at schuba's. not a peep. i think he's emailed me back a total of four times max in the four years that i've been emailing him and the four cds i've sent him. it's getting to email blow-up territory. at this point i really feel like it would be a perfect time for us to play at schuba's- live strings and whatnot would work really really well there. beautifully well in fact! and what better place to do something like that? we can draw enough people to justify an opening slot on a weekday night. we have the means and the equipment to pull it off well. we are primed. what's the fucking holdup? if you're reading this mr. rucins please feel free to answer.
i think i know the answer- we aren't playing the 'game.' playing the game is something i've never been good at my entire life. i don't know why this is- i wish i could play the game, but unfortunately it's just not within my power to do so. i have more important things to do. i don't think of this even as much of an 'integrity' issue or anything like that- i just have a very finely-tuned bullshit detector and if it's going off when i'm talking i find it very difficult to make it a habit. thus playing the game becomes a bit difficult as it's going off like sirens when i'm in the midst of that.
so now we're in a position where we're releasing these great records that hardly anyone reviews or hears and we're completely unable to get a reasonable flow of shows going, we aren't able to make the necessary connections to book anything even remotely resembling a proper tour- when we do get one booked it's usually tenuous at best and we either end up playing a bill that's completely inappropriate and mismatched to the point where we might as well not even be there or we're boxed into a local scene that we *sort of* fit the mold for, but not quite. i think the phrase in our 'sharp darts' feature will be our epitaph- 'they're unpretentious innocents straddling two scenes where a little healthy pretentiousness can do some good.' i'm mis-quoting and paraphrasing here. so what are we supposed to do? i don't know if i can keep releasing records only to have them be ignored time and again and i don't see the point of touring if we can't seem to find our niche. the best thing about all of this is that there is no one around who can help us because NO ONE i know who's playing music right now is even remotely in the same position as us. i am beginning to understand the reactions that we get at shows- i used to think that it was a bit of a muted apathy or polite and forgiving fake enjoyment but i am now beginning to see that what the reaction is is complete and utter befuddlement. i never thought of us as being that unique, but as it turns out we really are... so much so that no one knows quite what to do when they see it face-to-face. i'd always thought that i was flattering myself when i thought this but now i see that it isn't necessarily a good thing. we're like island people...
maybe that should be the new name for our band- islanders.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

back to the ways of old...

yup! i got my new laptop and yes i am at the coffee shop. welcome back to the old routine- two rambling, bottomless entries every week.
once again i am having great difficulty getting some shalloboi shows booked. grrrrr. isn't it supposed to get easier as you go along and are actually able to draw people? steve albertson, who comes into where i work a lot because he used to work there too, says no. he's been playing in a band for over ten years and they are able to draw a really good sized crowd and he still has problems getting shows booked. so there tyler- don't take it so hard.
i am trying to get an east coast tour going already- but i haven't gotten a response from any of the places that i've emailed. i'm beginning to want to just make it a short trip down to kansas city- the record bar seems to always be game to have us play and it's a super nice place so why not? i just found a diy venue in iowa city- that'd be on the way. we could play in st. louis probably and then possibly bloomington or ft. wayne. not sure though- i should wait a while to see if anything bubbles to the surface. even though stefanie doesn't like to play in new york that much i still really like to do it. i emailed a really cool-looking place in detroit that i'm really hoping we get to play at- it's a strange loft-space kind of place.
'all hope is blind' is almost done. it's very strange- we've been working on it every week at least for the past few months and it seems to be getting finished completely on its own. something's been done literally every week and basically most of it's been done with others besides me doing work so it's very strange in that it feels almost like it's finishing itself completely independent of me. awesome! we have 8 tracks finished out of 18. of those 18 i think there is one that we haven't done the main tracks for yet and that's going to be rectified either today or friday and then i'm going to do more work on it as the week drags on. i am going to need to get together with katelyn and chris most likely after i get back from kansas city where billy and i are going to do some recording. i think we have about seven songs to do. that trip alone will finish at least three tracks. after i get back and get more strings recorded that will probably settle the bulk of the remaining three tracks. i'm going to also get the entire trio together to do some live recording on two tracks that i'm not quite sure what to do with- both have been around for ages and ages. the way that we record has really began to reveal itself to me through this process. basically we did the first 'all hope is blind' track back in november of 2006 or so (it was '4am train'- which we did because i was thinking of playing it at the acoustic show in kansas city that we did at davies uptown and i needed a track to put on a cd for billy) and that track was the first to be finished in about december of 2008. the next was 'down to the willows' which i think was done late one night after the new year in january or february of 2007. everything else seems to have been shelved while we worked on other projects and then picked upagain later on- i got back to work on my own in july of last year and that's where the bulk of the album's tracks were started. we got to the drums and guitars recording in march and there's been a steady stream of those that remained during that period of time. a few of those are already done. 'under the flood' took 10 months to finish, but it's done now. it's very strange to me to see it all start to line up like that because i'm used to not being able to trace any of the process. i took to dating the tapes and tracks- when they are started and when they are finished. i never did that with anything else and the other records have always been very haphazard and a majority of the work was always done by me so it was always a very chaotic and capricious process. a lot of times i'd schedule recording trips just to give myself motivation to get tracks started and going... good stuff...
really, thinks are going pretty well i should say. yeah, it's a bit of a bitch to get shows going right now, but i have a few things on the backburner. something should turn up- the year won't be a complete waste of time. it feels like it might be more of a recording year- kind of like 2007. we hardly played any shows that year and spent almost all of our time working on 'down to sleep.' ideally since we won't release anything in 2010 (how did we get all the way to 2010 i say? HOW!?) we can concentrate more on playing shows. yes indeedy.
i am continuing to chip away at the weeks at work. i'm at week 31 right now. i'm really looking forward to getting out of town for a few days. i had a great time going to kc last time. it was kind of odd because i hardly did anything in that entire three days- i didn't even manage to make it over onto the kansas side. i always manage to do one of my long drives when i'm there- i absolutely love those. my long drives at night in kansas city- a simple pleasure that must've started when i was in high school. it's nice to still be able to carry on the tradition as i get older. strangely i really don't feel any differently to how i did when i was a teenager. i just feel like i'm much smarter than i was back then (which if this was not the case then we'd really have something to worry about here) and i can see things a bit clearer- although the big picture of my own life continues to elude me. realistically i don't think anyone my age can see the big picture of their own life. i need to quit worrying about 'what i'm doing' because what i'm doing is what i'm doing right now and it shouldn't be so much of an issue. of course, worrying about this is going to be an inevitability. there's a girl named zea who comes into work pretty much every day and she's two years older than me and a bit of a kindred spirit- she started telling me about how she sits around a lot just asking herself 'what the fuck am i DOING?' it was nice to know that other people ask that question- most people act like this question is nothing to worry about or even think of in passing. i guess that that might be it in a nutshell- most people do their best not to even let it enter their minds. so there you go. stop worrying about it. sometimes i feel myself getting closer to the point where i'm worrying about stability and all of that other stuff. i just need to remind myself that all i need to do is get my debt down and then stability will come. the instable elements in my life all revolve around my debt- which i have been able to cope with a bit better these days. it's going to happen goddammit! argh!
i'm going to go email a bunch of new places. bye bye, then.

Friday, May 22, 2009

diary 5.17.09- the tint of doom...

here is my 30th birthday playlist. i tried to make one of those embeddable playlists on mixpod, but they were missing too many tracks- i guess i am an obscurist. go me.

1. plainsong- the cure- disintegration
2. help me please- sonic boom- spectrum
3. fools- the dodos- visiter
4. springtime can kill you- jolie holland- springtime can kill you
5. life is a problem- spiritualized®- 2008.10.16- london, uk- the roundhouse
6. im not- panda bear- person pitch
7. pretty good love- holly golightly- god don't like it
8. blush- the raveonettes- lust, lust, lust
9. graveyard orbit- crystal stilts- alight of nights
10. second date- vivian girls- surf's up 7"
11. amazing electronic talking cave- the brian jonestown massacre- just like kicking jesus
12. half day closing- portishead- roseland new york
13. keep your dreams- primal scream- xtrmntr
14. there is a formula to your despair- the warlocks- the mirror explodes
15. cut dead- jesus and mary chain- psychocandy
16. ...and dream of sheep- kate bush- hounds of love
17. trying my best to love you- jenny lewis- acid tongue
18. favorite- neko case- the tigers have spoken
19. lord can you hear me?- spacemen 3- playing with fire

Thursday, May 21, 2009

'dandelions' ep

shalloboi- 'dandelions'

1. voices in the air
2. fade to white
3. glasslands
4. petals in a rainstorm
5. sleep now...

also finished another track for 'all hope is blind' today bringing the running total to 6 out of 18 tracks finished.

berfday LOOT!

yeah, i scored on my birthday- just let me say that!

haven't listened to this yet- but i don't anticipate having someone have to twist my arm.

i've listened to this about four times and i've even converted it already and i just put it on my ipod. i'm going to say that this is my favourite gift- and it was a surprise.

i almost bought this for myself at laurie's about a week ago- also a surprise. antony singing 'candy says'- what else could you ask for?

completely forgot i asked for this- love it. probably my 2nd or 3rd favourite flaming lips album.

again, complete surprise- really love it. highly recommended.

i haven't listened to side 2 of this yet- but it's all of the cover versions of grizzly bear songs. i liked the grizzly bear songs side quite a bit- especially the awesome phil spector cover.

i haven't listened to this yet but i have a neil halstead live recording that i did when he came to town back in november and it has a lot of these songs on it.

and of course, this as well. two seasons to go for us. i love season three of this- it has the krazy-eyes killah one. 'delicious- get this man a tissue!'

so, i had a fantastic birthday haul. claire gave me a gift card which i'm going to use to buy some expensive beer at whole foods (probably unibrouie) and nick made me a sweet-looking mix (that i sadly also haven't listened to yet) and my sister and my parents all gave me money- once added together it was enough to buy a refurbished macbook. all told- best. birthday. ever. i'm also pretty sure that this will be one of the last ones where i am able to get cds- at least from anyone besides friends or stefanie. bon chance!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

review- the warlocks- 'the mirror explodes'

for some reason i am on teepee records list as a journalist so they have been sending me emails with full downloads of their upcoming releases- including the new warlocks album which i couldn't resist downloading. since that is the case i wrote a 200-word review that i sent to skyscraper magazine for their consideration and i'll post it here as well. i'll probably continue doing this for as long as they are sending me records. they sent me the new spindrift as well- so i'll write a review for that one once i familiarize myself more with their work. this one was a no-brainer though because i have everything the warlocks have done.

The Warlocks
The Mirror Explodes

The Warlocks have become a parallel being to Mogwai in the sense that they were easy to write off early on as being a sure-fire one-trick pony but instead have gone on to release a string of impressively distinctive albums. "The Mirror Explodes" is no exception. Musically it mixes the gritty "couldn't-give-a-fuck-what-you-think" appeal of "Heavy Deavy Skull Lover" with the overly polished and eager to please "Surgery." The mood swings throughout the course of the album from their patented sense of foreboding ("Red Camera," "You Make Me Wait") to some impressively sunny, almost upbeat mood-pieces ("Midnight Sun," closer "Static Eyes"). The production is very balanced- while the overall tone is generally very clean the distortion still cooks the way it should and the low-end is nice and prominent. The arrangements leave a lot of space for the rhythm section to breathe. This record sounds particularly fantastic coming through car stereo speakers- it's a rumbler. One thing it doesn't offer much of is vocal hooks- there certainly aren't any on par with something like "The Dope Feels Good" from "The Phoenix Album." "There is a Formula to Your Despair" comes closest with it's mantra "everyone feels this way." It also features singer/guitarist/songwriter Bobby Hecksher's most melodic and well-developed vocal performance- he sounds in control and assured. Otherwise, most of the hooks come from the beautifully realized and understated guitar lines that have become the Warlocks' specialty (a good example of this is the fantastic riff that drives "Standing Between the Lovers of Hell"). "Slowly Disappearing" is an impressive exercise in minimalism for a band that has three guitarists and has had previous incarnations as an octet- the guitars are a thick, formless mass of feedback and distorted drones never moving from a single chord, the vocals are buried in the mix and drenched in reverb- they are almost used purely for a textural effect basically leaving the semblance of a melodic structure to the bass which is locked in with the timpani-like use of the drums. The song is driven forward by nothing but a maraca. Hypnotic is a bit of an understatement- it wouldn't be out of the question to say that the band could make good use of this song as an extended set-ending jam which would render an encore worthless. Another charming feature of the album is it's incredibly compact structure and running time- it's over in under 45 minutes and leaves you wanting more. By the time "Static Eyes" fades out you're left with a similar feeling to a fleeting dream- it's gone before you can even make most of it out but it leaves quite an impression.- Tyler Ritter

Friday, May 8, 2009

you will watch...

yes... yes...
or maybe not. in any case here is spacemen 3 live in 1989 (at their absolute live peak)-

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

just to clarify a few things

often when i write those length 'meltdown' type entries i feel much better once i've finished writing. it's very cathartic and it works. i took a good hour-long anger nap right after that entry as well.
i am holding to a few things in there, though- i am not going to trust my manager, that is most definitely still my new policy. and i do still believe humility and politeness is a curse.
we saw the vivian girls play tonight (finally). i really don't understand why they weren't headlining the show- it doesn't make any sense. crystal antlers are just another one of those screamy/noisy very indie bands that are about a dime a dozen- they are on touch and go, after all...

Monday, May 4, 2009

when politeness and humility become your curse...

... you begin to realise why people are such raging fucking assholes all the time. i guess that this is just the way the next two weeks are going to be. depression. allergies. happy sun-junkies. cruel yelp reviews. seas of angry parents who hate you because you can't make them three bagels and a sandwich in 30 seconds. that's not even to mention your type-a boss who uses your politeness to abuse you and who thinks they know everything about you when there is such a vast amount about that they have absolutely no fucking clue about that you wouldn't even know where to start.
so where to start?
well, my manager saved all of the fun shit for the very end. the best thing is that he has no idea that anything he does annoys me- or actually i think he knows he just figures because i don't say anything back that it's okay for him to do these things that drive me (and everyone else for that matter) up the motherfucking wall. apparently i'm on a training program on how to work at beans and bagels that is going on almost a year and a half now. he's also a person (and there is no shortage of these, let me tell you) who thinks that quiet, reserved people are insecure and stupid and should be treated accordingly- bullied and rushed about nearly everything. railroaded into doing everything he wants exactly as he wants it before they can work up the gumption to put him in his place- which doesn't normally happen because quiet and reserved people are usually a humble bunch and not really in the habit of telling people where to stick it no matter how much they deserve it. i normally wouldn't think that my manager would think this about anyone if i hadn't heard it straight from his mouth. i've filled in the blanks a bit- but i just got another little how-to lecture today. he likes to 'drive the bus' for customers who can't make up their minds. it doesn't seem out of line to think that he just thinks he can do that with me, too- especially since he does this on a regular basis.
i just don't know what to do- the explosion is coming and it's not going to be pretty. i'm just not very good at making it crystal clear to this lunk-head with absolutely no long-term memory (or short-term memory) to speak of that he is being a total prick. how am i supposed to do this in a way that's not too sarcastic, nasty or inappropriate? i am rapidly reaching the point where i will be too pissed off to care and truth be told i can be really brutal if pushed too far and i can say some truly shitty and hurtful things that have been known to really cut deep. that's not my intention, but people just seem to enjoy pushing me to that point because they have no idea that they're pissing me off.
i don't know what to do- i just want to cry right now. i'm so depressed. i guess that this is deep, dark, black depression take two. yaaaaayyyyyy!!!!! it seems that whenever i sink into these things there is no shortage of oblivious authority figures to help push me that much further down standing around doing their part. thanks you guys! you're a real help. you make depression time LOTS of fun. the most fun part about these people is that they think that i complain about every little thing that bothers me- in fact what i mention is usually just the tip of the iceberg and only an indication of what is really bothering me. the heart of the matter is entirely more complicated and i've found that whenever i've gotten close to actually expressing what i'm feeling i suddenly feel incredibly cold, vulnerable, alone and i get the sudden sense that i'm revealing too much and that this person i'm talking to will store what i'm telling them and use it against me at a later date (this has happened many times as well) and i find that my throat swells shut and i am no longer able to speak. it's not a fun feeling. plus it's always just a bunch of 'oh, everyone feels that way! it doesn't matter! BE HAPPY!' which to me just means 'i don't understand what you mean- but i'll act like i do because that's what i like to do to make others feel like they're not as smart or together as me.' i've often thought about going to a therapist, but i simply don't have the means, plus i actually don't really think that my problems are that serious. i am also not good at talking. i have tremendous amounts of trouble putting my feelings into words- let alone my darkest fears. i would run out of things to say in about 5 minutes. in most people's estimation this means that i have no 'real' problems and that i should 'shut the fuck up and get over it.' yes, i've heard a great deal about this theory. i even had a roommate who at one point just sat me down when i was at my absolute lowest and he decided that it would be okay to tell me about how i didn't really have any problems apart from the ones that i made for myself and that if i'd just get over that i'd be fine. this is sort of a boundary line for when i quit being open with people because it made me realise that if you are open with people they use things you say against you and decide that they know everything about you- even enough to judge you even though you don't do that to them.
it's also getting a bit harder to hide. it used to be so easy and now i feel like i can't hide anymore. i forgot how to do it i guess- i wish that wasn't the case.
i find it tremendously difficult to talk to most people that i run into- i just hit a wall where i can't just smile and laugh and act casual most of the time- i just feel weird and awkward and completely uninterested. there are a handful of people whose company i really enjoy- but as i get older i find it's harder and harder to let people in- let alone trust anyone. my friends understand me. my wife understands me. i'd say it ends there. my parents understand me enough most of the time- and what they don't understand they can at least accept which actually means a great deal to me because that's actually a very unique thing and probably even rarer than understanding.
i ran into jane beachy at the spectrum show and it had a very strange effect on me- normally i dread running into anyone from the past- high school especially- i just find that i have nothing to say and the atmosphere is strained and awkward and i just want to shrivel away because i just have so little to say. but when i ran into jane i was actually incredibly happy to see her- it really was a pleasure to run into her and talk to her. it was almost a bit grounding in a way- it was kind of nice to know that i was still capable of such a thing- actually enjoying running into someone i used to know. i used to carpool to kindergarten with jane- it would be unbelievably sad to me if i wouldn't be able to talk to someone i had known for that long. this is one of the reasons i don't think that i'm just making problems for myself- i'm still capable of relating to people. everywhere i go and everything i do anymore i just feel like this huge, hopeless freak. i honestly can't relate to or pretend to care about anything that about 90% of the people i meet care about. it just escapes me. i'm not even trying. i don't think i'm better than them- most of the time i wish that i could care about those simple things more- i think it'd make my life a lot easier- i just don't. i care about so little these days... the campaign as of late has been 'feel more, care less.' i'm beginning to think that it was a bad campaign to launch and it's not going to end well. my brain just discards things it has no use for- my focus has gotten too sharp. it's getting to the point where i'm almost completely single-minded and i just don't care about anything else, or occasionally even think about anything else. of course what i'm talking about here is making music. it just feels like it's all that i have to offer the world and it just feels so natural and so right and things are starting to surpass my own expectations and that's starting to make the fact that we are so universally ignored hurt all the more. i am beginning to see people way younger than me achieving their goals way faster and getting attention that they don't necessarily deserve and that, of course, creates a huge 'what does it all mean?' scenario. if i've been slogging away releasing my own records for five years without any kind of outside financial support, have sacrificed so much of my own financial stability to this endeavor and gotten so little back in return then why do i continue to bother with it? it seems to be catching on but it just seems like the returns still aren't coming. there's just this endless feeling of the fact that there's only so much i can do and that in the end it's just not going to be enough and that even after we're gone it'll be like we never existed at all. creating something is a way that you grasp at some semblance of immortality- you can't truly be immortal- you can only hope to leave something of yourself behind that will take on a life of it's own and live on in your place and in a purer form...
it's to the point now where i don't even think i can stop if i wanted to... as the dead ends start to multiply it just makes it apparent to you that maybe the fact that you couldn't stop might be your biggest weakness rather than your biggest strength... it's just getting to be very frightening now... i'm not sure what's next and i don't think it's going to be good.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

sweets to the sweet...

i just got back from the spectrum show and i am VERY disappointed. if i hadn't heard how good the two opening bands were it would've been entirely not worth it- the $30 i spent on an igo car to get all the way to the darkroom and the $15 to get into the show. it's amazing to me that pete kember can spend as much time on the road playing the same setlist every night of his life comprised of songs that he's been playing steadily for over 20 years and somehow he manages to not be able to sing them and play like a middle schooler who's been playing guitar for about 3 months. i guess he was on a lot of drugs or he's just toast...
now i have to slog my way through work tomorrow on 3 hours of sleep- which i did last week for neko case. of course, i was happy to do it for neko case because she gave me my money's worth- and i spent $50. i guess i'm glad i finally went to see spectrum and now i never have to go again- what a total let-down.
at least i got a chance to listen to the whole of the new warlocks album (which is excellent btw).