Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review Mirror

As the new Starflyer 59 album is getting ready to ship, I thought it'd be nice to look back at some concert footage from the band's early days. 

The music in this is so awesome, but the interview is so awkwardly sad.  It's curious to hear these tunes again as an old man because I remember hearing my friend's older brother play them all the time.  I only heard noise then, but now I'm stunned at how genius early SF59 tunes - especially coming from such a young guy.  I really dig how nonchalant Jason Martin is about his sound too.  "Oh, I really like surf music and cool heavy metal riffs and just try to put those two things together, man..." 

Heavenly Riffs Video Show - 59 from Heavenly Riffs Video Show on Vimeo.

Monday, December 10, 2012

What Steve Bergeron Knows

"While you were waiting to tell me the truth, I imagined your head was that dusty fish bowl you keep on your kitchen counter, and whatever you wanted to tell me was the dead goldfish that’s been looking at me the wrong way since Monday. We should have a proper funeral for this."

Oh!  That just about nails it.  You make the arrangements, I'll bring a deli tray.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Monday, November 19, 2012

My story got published.

I gone and done got my self published like a boss.  

It's funny to compare the first draft of this story to the published version.  I can only self-edit so much before I decide something is finished.  At least, I'm only motivated to self-edit so much.  Until now, most everything I've written has ended up in the metaphorical waste basket.  I was fortunate enough to have input from a few gracious writers, who are better looking and more accomplished than myself, that pushed me to make the story better.  Being good readers, they offered suggestions and encouragement that eventually worked the story to it's present form.  Maybe it could stand one more solid rewrite, I don't know.  As it is, it is published.  And that's exciting enough for the moment.

I love the process of writing fiction, though I find it emotionally exhausting.  An idea for a story might come easily enough, but meaning is much more elusive; always dancing in flickering shadows, peripheral thoughts, and lazy imagination.  Then there is the editing, the editing, the editing to make it better,  make it longer, make it shorter, make it pop, make it more subtle, make it right.  Although the effectiveness might be questionable, I'm happy that this story was able to say what I wanted it to.  

Thanks Matt, John, Courtney, and the whole Paper Darts crew!  

My story is here.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Swing State

I've always liked Matt Pond's voice.  There is something about his reedy baritone that designates a strong sadness; the voice of a survivor that must go on living after the explosion, the wreck, after losing the thing that mattered most.  I wonder if the artist whose career stems from heartbreak and loss would trade their creative production, fame, and fortune to have their heart put back together as if it were never broken.

I suppose that, with each release, Matt Pond PA sounds more redundant and tired.  This has less to do with the subject matter than it does with the execution.  The newest Matt Pond PA album, doesn't explore any new musical territory than any previous album.

This does give the band a comfortable lived-in feeling; timeless pop music with sing-along words.  But you'd have to be a dedicated fan to really put up with them for more than two or three albums.  

Still, redundancy notwithstanding, there is always one or two gems on every new release.  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

As Dead as an Old Flame

Happy Halloween, boys and ghouls.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The "Truth" Hurts

This ad is currently running in Iowa.  It echos a refrain of many Republican candidates all over the country, including Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan last night at the VP debate.  

Yet NPR reports: writes that "Ryan says Obama turned Medicare into a 'piggy bank.' Not so." It has previously written that "Republicans claim the president's $716 billion 'cuts' to Medicare hurt the program's finances. But the opposite is true. These cuts in the future growth of spending prolong the life of the Medicare trust fund, stretching the program's finances out longer than they would last otherwise."

Biden stated that the consulate in Libya didn't need more security before it was attacked on September 11.  

But The Washington Post's Fact Checker responded quickly to that assertion. It pointed out that that Biden's claim had already been "contradicted by State Department officials just the day before, in testimony before a congressional panel and in unclassified cables released by a congressional committee." (also from NPR)

This illustrates how politics can not only reframe facts to fit ideologies, but willfully and blatantly ignore them to further their agendas.  In normal, everyday life, people call this behavior lying

Whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or any other political party (or non-party), it's important to admonish these behaviors from our representatives and leaders.  It's easier, to be sure, to recognize the lies when they're coming from a politician you don't agree with.  However, no one can claim the moral high ground of an argument without, in good-faith, representing the facts to the best of their ability.  Therefore, it is in everybody's best interest to press their own political affiliates to represent the truth as best they can, and not just frame them in a way that advances our own ideology and bias.  

We allow our politicians to stretch, bend, exaggerate, or ignore the truth, in order to make short-term gains.  Yet, the long-term effects from accepting this behavior will only hurt all of us.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Defending definitions

In this New York Times article, Frank Schubert discusses his role as an opponent of gay marriage. Schubert is dangerously effective when he appeals to people's fear of coming off as a bigot if they oppose gay marriage.  Schubert helps move the argument away from the position that gay marriage is wrong, but that you can't call it "marriage" when two gay people decide to dedicate their lives to one another.  

The divorce rate in this country has been hovering around 50% for a while now, making the "defense of marriage" argument sound thin, presumably even to opponents of gay marriage.  One would suspect that if there was  any real interest in defending marriage, people would start attempting to regulate divorce.

Schubert has helped reframe the argument to appear more palatable to both supporters and opponents.  The New York Times article ran this quote:

'“Everyone has a right to love who they choose,” says an ad now running in Minnesota, “but nobody has a right to redefine marriage.”'

Of course, it's inaccurate to submit that someone doesn't have the right to redefine a word or the act that a word represents.  Your state might have reduced the legal limit of blood-alcohol content when you're operating your car from .10 to .08, effectively redefining "drunk driving".  

And if nobody as a right to redefine marriage, then somebody needs to call the definition police, because Merriam-Webster is in violation.  

It turns out that the definition of marriage has already been changed. So what are people actually going to be voting on this November?  In states that are directly voting to allow or reject gay marriage, regardless of their position, voters will be faced with a moral choice.  

I wonder and worry what it will say about our supposedly great country if couples are denied the right to marry each other.  I wonder what it will mean not only for my friends who are gay, but any of my friends that ever want to get married.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Bilting an Army

When I was played in a band, I never gave too much thought to my gear.  I basically played a telecaster through a ProCo Rat and a Line 6 DL-4 into a Fender DeVille.  At the time, I thought I had all that I needed.  

After the band broke up, and I didn't immediately fall in with another group, and I stopped playing for over a year.  Don't ask me how it happened, but it did.  It might have something to do with moving to Minneapolis and trying too hard to have a girlfriend.  By the time I realized that I hadn't been playing, I had completely forgotten how to altogether.  

As I started relearning how to play, I also became more interested in the gear I was playing on.  I learned of the stark, yet technically subtle, differences between overdrive, distortion, and fuzz; as well as the universe of options among them.  

My interest in guitars, amps and effects waxes and wanes depending on how interesting I find a particular item.  For instance, I became obsessed with tracking down a Greenline Overdrive from Smart People Factory because the guitar player in one of my favorite bands played one on their last record.  The pedal was just modded TS-808, and I already had another, more versatile, TS clone.  But I had to have that pedal.  Once I obtained a Greenline, I wouldn't have to worry about another overdrive pedal for as long as I lived.  Yeah right...

I love the Telecaster, and I've owned three of them. I sold one to pay for repairs and modifications to another.  I sold my first telecaster because I didn't know how easily I could have repaired the parts I didn't like about it by myself.  

I've flirted with the Jaguar, but it's shortened scale continues to be too small for my clumsy hands.  I decided that I'd have to settle for a Jazzmaster, which was fine, I just preferred the look of the Jaguar.  

Again, through all of this gear hunting, I keep telling myself that I just needed ONE more thing, and then i'd be set.  I'd be able to start a band again.  I'd amazingly become a better player because I had that guitar, or that pedal, and I was playing through that amp.

I've really made an effort to focus on playing and not the gear I was playing with.  I'm not that serious of a player, and if I want to obsess about gear, I told myself that I had to play in a band.  That worked for a couple of months until I came across this company that makes guitars right in my hometown of Des Moines.

El Hombre Deluxe, Lake Pelham Blue from BilT Guitars on Vimeo.

That sound you heard was my jaw hitting the floor.  Me likey.  

Friday, September 14, 2012

It's Blowing Quality

"All love is love in the dark"

Friday, August 24, 2012

BRONCHO Rids Again

I'm really digging BRONCHO right now.  I heard about them through an effects pedal company and like what I heard of them before their album was released.  I'm not generally into the late garage rock/early punk stuff, but BRONCHO had an authenticity and urgency that kept me listening.  I supposed it didn't hurt to learn that Unwed Sailor members Jonathan Ford and Nathan Price were in the band too.  But no matter what I think of the members' other projects, it doesn't mean that they can automatically sell me on their new projects.  

I caught them at the Vaudeville Mews on Tuesday.  Singer Ryan Lindsay spied my t-shirt from half a block away and we began talking right away.  We drank copious amounts of drinks at and the band was gracious enough to geek out with me about gear and our favorite bands.  Ford even politely suffered my telling him that he was one of my all-time favorite bass players.  

I dig that the songs are blistering fast; nothing on the album lasts longer than 2.5 minutes, and there isn't a dull one among them.  I think the band is making a video for every song on the album, which makes sense because they're all singles.

I'm thinking about driving to Iowa City tonight to catch them again. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Two Lines

"On my side of things, you used me up.  I traded a fuck for what I thought were feelings".

This is my favorite song from the few Decibully tracks that have accompanying videos.  It's not the first song I heard from the album, and I always like it when bands have the balls to place their single so deep into the album that by the time you get to it, you've already heard a half dozen other songs that could have been singles too.  

"Somewhere in the World" opens with an exceptional dueling guitar intro and a rocking drum fill that consists of only three total drums even though it sounds like a 16-piece Rush kit.  

This songs, and, indeed, most of the album, highlights the balancing act of noise that Decibully so expertly mastered in their years together.

The quote used above is the first couple of lines of the song.  They absolutely tear me up, especially after a messy break up. And the way that the song ends, with a broken whisper rather than a bombastic smash, completely conveys the song of a used-up broken heart.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Reflection. Analysis.

I don't do nearly enough reflection and analysis in this space.  That should probably change soon.  I think I'm afraid that I won't find enough new music to really keep me interested, or that what I have to say about anything won't be anything to keep whoever might read this interested.  I could write about music that really does "it" for me, but I don't want this to turn into sentimental crap.

I've been listening to a lot of the new Beach House record.  It's beginning to grow on me  And I'm always listing to bands like the Lassie Foundation, Starflyer 59, and Unwed Sailor.  I'm looking forward to something new that can really get me going in the head, hard, and pants. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cooper Pots

This is one of those songs that always gets me thinking about starting a band.  I listen to this band a lot, which explains all my half-cocked ideas that lead to delusions of grandeur. Quickly, Robin, to the basement!

Unwed Sailor Tulsa, OK from christopher long on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mark Mallman

Saw Mallman at 80/35 yesterday.  Despite the heat, he rocked it like he always does.  I came across this stripped down version of "True Love" that I'm mostly posting because the guy that introduces the video looks awesome.

Monday, June 4, 2012

I have heard this song before, but I really heard it for the first time at my cousin's wedding this weekend.  I think it's a pretty emotionally charged song, and not just for the hyper-happy sing-song-y nature of the tune.  I've checked out several live versions of the band playing this and they bring the same wanna-get-up-and-dance-around infection every time they play it.  But nothing could compare to the dancing disease that was going around at the wedding on Saturday night in a barn in Iowa.  I hesitate to to use the word, but it was fucking magical.  

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"I hope the love that you need is the love that you find.  Even if it's not mine."  Or do I?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Dog-eared Map

Some things amaze me so much that I begin to be troubled by them.  Sam Beam's voice is one of those things that's so mesmerizing I can hardly believe it exists, let alone that he actually pulls it off live.  There are a few Iron and Wine songs that I think are inspired by something greater than my understanding or ability to perceive.  When I hear songs like this, I'm just dumbified.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The only thing better than watching this cute blond number make sexy "do me" eyes in this video is having her make those eyes at you while she is singing live.  And again this June!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What you had and what you lost

I'm struck by the story behind the making of this album. But you didn't hear that from me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Misty as mountains.

I feel like this song this morning.

Monday, April 9, 2012

And I think that dress looks nice on you

"I don't recall the sound of your name"

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Last Laughs From Hospital Beds

"I didn't believe them when they said there was no saving you."

I finished writing a story; submitted it for publication. I should hear back in a couple of months.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Walrus Audio has been doing their thang for less than a year and already have four (what I presume to be) dope-ass pedals available for the discriminating guitarist. I've been in love with their Voyager pedal since day 1 and once I stop being so poor, I plan on asking one to join my pedal board even if it is far too big for someone that isn't even in a band.

I first heard about these guys through a long-time favorite band called Unwed Sailor, that posted a video of them using the pedal at a show I went to in St. Paul with my friend Big Michael. I'm a stooge for guitar effects so I naturally looked into Walrus Audio's operation. On top of their pedal line, they do repairs and mods for several pedals at competitive rates. I had my DL4 modded by them, only to realize later that it was somehow broken and haven't been able to figure out (afford) how to get it fixed yet.

Brady Smith is one hell of a nice guy that seems to like Fender's oblong-shaped guitars as much as I do.

On top of producing some seriously good looking and sounding pedals, Walrus Audio is keeping the starving artist in mind with semi-regular pedal give-away contests. Although I have personally lost this contest at least 6 times already, I am totally stoked for the winners. The pedals are so freaking awesome that it's hard not to be happy for somebody that wins one of them. The company seems to attract a rather non-douchy clientele, so it's like having a friend that you just haven't met yet win. You're totally happy for them.

This week they are giving away a 4-knob compressor pedal. I don't know how to effectively use one, but I can only hope that the winner does. Here's to the winner, and here's to Walrus Audio! DON'T MISS IT!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Liver spots

"What did I learn? It's not that easy when you get burned to go on burning love."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hit and Miss Parade

I always wanted to share this song with someone but never got around to it. So here you go. I think it's one of the most romantic songs I can think of. When I first heard it, at 15 or 16, I wondered if falling in love would be like it is in this song. And I've found that when you're not having your heart ripped from your chest and river-danced on, it is. It is.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A bite from the apple.

Dudebro Michael shared this with me the other day. I can't stop watching it! It's one of the best use of a 5 minute act I've ever scene. We then started a video sharing war of babies crying and we had an enlightening conversation about masturbation. Does that make us creepy?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

You went straight to someone else

I was never a huge Ben Folds fan, but I did get into his first solo record for a while once. I think that this song perfectly captures what he does best; taking a horrible situation and making a sing-along song with a melody that just won't quit. Even as he sings the line "I will consider you gone", which is really just a heartbreaking proposition, the notes are so sugary sweet that the listener's heart is raptured up to that place where beautiful things are borne from the ugliest origins. I'm still waiting for something beautiful to come.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


There might be an awesome song happening here. I wouldn't know because I can't get past this dudes awesome hat. "A mighty chorus sets them free"

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This guy once sang a cover of "If It Be Your Will" with the rest of the Lost Dogs. It broke me down even when I was young. I think I was well out of high school before I learned that it was actually a Leonard Cohen song. Oh well. Live and learn. Gene's loss was tough to take and I didn't even know him, or half of the music that he had his fingers in. I can only imagine what it's like for those who lived and worked with him. My heart goes out to them today.

Monday, March 19, 2012

"If someone could see me now, let them see you."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Bomber's Moon

"On the bomber's moon
I cut the cost
No waiting for if or mourning the loss"

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Skipping over goodbyes.

"Thrown like a lover's I'm gone."

There are a lot of songs about saying goodbye. On of them says that goodbyes are sad. This one suggests skipping them altogether. The worst goodbye I ever got was "I hate you". It's kind of funny how our final interactions with people are the lasting impressions we have of them — how all of the good times couldn't stop them from being so cruel.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

If you could see me now

"Look at me baby, struggling to do everything right. Then it all falls apart..."

I don't know what it is about the Boss lately, but it's yanking my heartstrings like pulling baby teeth.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

My best was never good enough

"The early bird catches the fuckin' worm."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Who's the Boss?

"Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze? If you've ever seen a one-armed man then you've seen me."

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do you live your life on the run?

"It choses the body, but not the soul."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mandelbrot Set Zoom

It's still not as far as light goes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Flashback to Reality

I just picked up this sweet little guy; spent most
of the week's pay doing it too. I think I suffer from that poor-person syndrome where as soon as there is a little money in my pocket, it has to get spent-TODAY!

Delay pedals are so awesome. The uniqueness of delays is right up there with overdrives and distortions. Even if the effect does the same thing as another one, there are subtle differences and proponents will go to the mattresses over their favorite.

Delay pedals are in a decidedly more complex
category than overdrives though because there are many different kinds of delay effects derived from different technologies that produce their own unique kind of delay. I could go into the important differences between tube echos, tape echos, analog delays, lo-fi delays, digital delays and so on, or I could let someone else do it for me.

There are pros and cons for each kind and it really is a matter of what kind of effect you are trying to get before you start weighing in on a particular unit. Is an $800 vintage Roland Space Echo better than an inexpensive digital delay? Yes, but they make completely different sounds, that's my point.

The TC Electronic Flashback delay is great because it has a wide variety of popular delay sounds packed into a compact pedal. Additionally, it's a lot easier to use than, say, a DL4, but it's not as versatile either. One of the things I wish it had was a tone knob or "x-factor" knob to change some of the parameters within a delay type. For instance: the lo-fi delay voicing is great, but I wish it could get even lower-fi where the repeats are super squawky and chirpy; or on the modulated delay setting, you can't really dial in more or less modulation without getting more or less of the overall effect level.

One of the most inventive features of this pedal, though, is really ground breaking. There is a small connection on the front (depending on how you look at it) of the pedal that allows you to hook up to your computer's USB port and download an artist-created special delay. They call the process TonePrint and I think it's a great ideal. There is a library of over two-dozen-and-growing TonePrints available for this pedal alone. I only wish there was a way of giving the sound a listen before downloading it so as to prevent from downloading them all, because they all seem like they would be useful and usable.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Questions without answers

Somebody get this girl a glass of milk!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The terrible present

"...wild me lost among wild you."

Monday, January 16, 2012

On the Road, Again.

Over a month since a blog post? Something must be awry! Not that anyone reads this, but so many wonderful things have happened that I have hardly had time to collect my thoughts.

First, there was the holidays. The holidays, for me, is a reminder that there are some justifiable reasons to commit suicide. If it's not the stress of dealing with pent up emotional abuse from your childhood, it's the stress of dealing with on-going emotional abuse from your adulthood. Thanks the Lord Baby Jesus for whiskey and beer, even if it's the not-good kind.

Next, there was a move. No, wait: TWO moves. Or three. You can never be sure because the sky keeps on changing. And here I sit in the Windy City (that's what they call San Francisco, right?) and the wind is a-blowin'! I just returned from a short mini-tour with my friend's band. They dropped a new record and it's good enough to allow them to take a professional like me out on the road with them. I did all kinds of heavy lifting and guttural laughing and string tuning, and light mooning. The van had no heat and we were headed north! It was great to be back in Minneapolis for a day and see some old friends and my cuss of an ex-girlfriend's ex-boyfriend's band. Wait, my ex's ex make him my...what? Who cares. I had a blast and got to hang out with a bunch of good old boys, a girl, and a sassy three-year-old.

Has anyone ever thrown you one of these: I can't remember the last time I fucked a super model? I can. BOOSH! But enough about my dreams...

Then there was the guitar, oh, Lordy, the guitar. I am super excited to have it, even if it's only for a limited time. If I can manage to save my dollars, it'll be my second next big purchase. I'm proud that Bilt has made a name for themselves and came out of Des Moines.

Things are really heating up! Kid Rock, Los Lonely Boys, some black guy and... was that Stallone?

Netflix can't keep me entertained.