Monday, January 19, 2009

The Turning of the Tide...

First of all, you may have noticed the appearance of these ads on my blog recently...The Mixtape Jones Report is now a part of the Mog Music Network (check out, and they require these ads to be there. We're working on placing them in a little more of a sensible manner, so please be patient with us.

So, back in the "2 Records, 2 Beers" post, I talked about how certain types of music seem to go better with the later part of the day...especially anything in the more "far out" realm (less accessible types of jazz, non-dance oriented electronic music, more "avant" types of rock i.e. Sonic Youth, etc.). I tried to stick with things that were more familiar and straightforward during the earlier parts of the day, for instance The Beatles, R.E.M., They Might Be Giants, etc. (These are always my examples...sorry.) Lately, the tide seems to be turning a bit, and I seem to be wanting to hear some of these more aggressive, esoteric musics all day...and I suppose it concerns me a bit.

More than anything, I guess it makes me worry that my emotional state might be less stable, or more downcast. Looking back at my life, I can pretty much establish a corollary between listening to "uglier" music and feeling a bit "uglier" psychologically and emotionally. There are things about the current situation that make me feel as though it's a bit different. Mostly, I think my life is really good...It is not without its stresses, but making music full time, having a good marriage, and not feeling a lack for many things is pretty awesome. I think that the real truth is that I'm in such a good place artistically that my inspiration is coming from a variety of sources, even within a strictly musical context. The shuffle on my iPod helps also (see previous entry, "Slave To the iPod"). It's a good day when the Residents mingle with Led Zeppelin, or an 11 minute Coltrane track is followed up by "Break My Stride" by Matthew Wilder. More than anything, it gives me hope that I am NOT growing out of my love for some of these more adventurous musics as I get older. I know a lot of people who have mellowed with age to the point that their taste in art of all kinds has consistently gotten less adventurous with every passing year. I don't want to be one of those guys. I pray that you don't find me in ten years sitting around listening to one thing all the time. Or just going to see rom-coms at the multiplex. Or with a visual art appetite that's limited to old school Calvin & Hobbes comics. This is not my goal. Not that there's anything wrong with Calvin & Hobbes. It's actually fantastically awesome. Maybe Family Circus is a better example. I mean, really. Kill me. Kill me now.

Friday, January 16, 2009

My First iMix

So, how many of you have explored iTunes' iMix feature? I have recently attempted to start playing with it, but mostly as a promotional tool for Dr. Pants and K.C. Clifford (I might make some iMixes for fun, too, but we'll see). Using it as a promotional tool involves making an iMix that has a bunch of artists that I deem to be similar to Dr. Pants or K.C., and putting one of our songs in it as well. Then, if people start to rate it highly, my iMix will show up on the artist pages for some of the other artists on the iMix, and then some of their fans might download it and hear Dr. Pants or K.C. for the first time.

The only thing I don't like about that idea is that the iMix tends to be kind of homogenous (at least, homogenous by my standards). For instance, if I decide I want to put "Sarsaparilla Girl" on an iMix, I'm going to surround it with songs that all have a more power poppy feel to them. That being said, I think this iMix turned out pretty well. I titled it (for pedestrian promotional reasons) Great Power Pop. You can click that and go rate it/buy it on iTunes. Please comment and tell me what you think:

STAR 69-R.E.M.

Here's the description I wrote for iTunes:

"So yeah, not everything on this iMix is probably considered to be "power pop" by most aficionados of the genre. I do think, however, that the genre could be broader than most people think, and that it doesn't begin and end with Big Star and Cheap Trick. Weezer is a power pop band, like it or not (they are certainly a LOT closer to power pop than they are to anything that could be called "emo") and artists with more diverse catalogues (like Ween or Robyn Hitchcock) have certainly dabbled in the genre. You may think the Clash are a punk band, but "Train In Vain" is a power pop song. Also, he may not have guitars, but Ben Folds can kick a high-gear, rocking, hummable melody as well as anyone in the genre. Consider this a treatise not on what power pop IS, but what it COULD be."

Funny, now that I go back and read that again, there are a couple of things I would edit, but I'm learning. Anyway, if you're on iTunes, go rate the iMix.

Perhaps I'll make some iMixes in the future just for fun, where I can fulfill my utopian mixtape agenda more sufficiently (Prince, the Residents AND Cheap Trick! Woohoo!). We'll see. Meanwhile, hope you enjoy this one...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beatles, Roads & Life

First of all, my apologies for the long gap in between blog entries. I totally lost focus during the holiday season, and I am finally getting back into the groove. That said, I don't want to just crank out bland, uninspired blog entries, so I'm glad I finally had something to write about that sounded worthwhile.

So, today K.C. and I drove from Oklahoma City to Lubbock for a gig. On the way, I finished Here, There & Everywhere, Geoff Emerick's book about being the Beatles' recording engineer for most of their career as a band. After that, I took over driving for K.C., and listened to Sgt. Pepper and Abbey Road.

There were portions of the book that were very poignant to me, specifically moments shared between Emerick and Paul McCartney; he was clearly much closer to Paul than the other three Beatles. Emerick not only worked with the Beatles while they were together, he also did some work with them as individuals after the break up. Mostly, he worked with Paul. John Lennon was shot while Emerick and McCartney were working on the Tug of War album, and the description of McCartney's demeanor the day they learned of Lennon's death found me choked up and holding back the tears (I don't know what the rules are for quoting text online from books, so I decided to play it safe and not post an excerpt here...You'll just have to find the book and read it yourself).

During the car ride, I found myself thinking about Paul McCartney a lot, about how he tends to get a bad rap. There are people who think that the genius of the Beatles was solely due to John Lennon, and that McCartney only writes sentimental crap. In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth. I continue to be inspired by that man and his work in ways that I can't even count, they are so numerous. Not only his work with the Beatles, but his current work as well. (Although, I am experiencing a renaissance with Sgt. Pepper for the umpteenth time. One thing that Emerick is clear about is that Sgt. Pepper was Paul's baby, to a degree...Emerick desribes Lennon as a bit detached during its recording. Despite the slightly lopsided nature of it, I still find Pepper to be mind-blowing, and I continue to discover new things in it to enjoy. McCartney's bass playing, which Emerick talks about a great deal in the book, really is the best part. It's absolutely phenomenal, and largely demonstrates why Paul McCartney will always be my favorite bass player.) There are some who will disagree with me, but I feel that McCartney hasn't made a bad record since the early 90's. Off The Ground was the last thing he did that I just couldn't abide, but everything since has been solid (Flaming Pie, Run Devil Run, Driving Rain, Chaos & Creation In the Backyard, Memory Almost Full).

The moments in the book where Emerick discusses Lennon's death, as well as George Harrison's, started me thinking about McCartney and how he probably won't be around for THAT much longer. Mind you, he's 66, and could easily last another 14 years or so (or more...he has obviously taken very good care of himself in recent years), but I can't help but feel the anticipation of the loss I will experience when he's gone. This is made all the more acute by the fact that one of my biggest musical dreams (I mean, it's REALLY big) is to meet him, and maybe even perform with him (just one song...that's all I ask. Preferably "I Saw Her Standing There"). I have a lot of big dreams, but if I didn't believe they were somehow possible, I would have abandoned them a long time ago. Same goes for this one.

My time spent in the car yesterday enjoying the Beatles' music (as well as some Robyn Hitchcock, and some other random favorites on shuffle, like Steve Vai's "Sisters" and Aphex Twin's "Alberto Balsalm") was one of those two to three hour periods that remind me why I do what I do. The inspiration I have received and continue to derive from the music of Paul McCartney and the Beatles is fuel for my own dreams and ambitions...Without it, I might be an accountant by now. I am so privileged to be on the road performing with K.C., and I hope to have the opportunity before too long to take Dr. Pants out on the road like this. I have so many ideas about things that will make Dr. Pants even better than it is now, and I am looking forward to putting some of them into practice. The book inspired me in that way as well...So much about the Beatles' recording process, and how they worked together (before they started bickering all the time) made me realize how much I have to learn about being in a band, and about how to make a band all that it can be.

If you are even a casual Beatles fan, seek out Emerick's book. It's well worth your time. Maybe it will inspire you, too.