Thursday, January 27, 2011

Upcoming Music for 2011

So as I mentioned in my last post, I have some new things happening musically this year. The first is a sideman gig playing lead guitar in the band Citay.

Citay is the brainchild of my friend Ezra Feinberg. Ezra started Citay as a solo recording project, but he honed the sound and got things popping with a live band and a legit label (Dead Oceans) after moving to San Francisco. While still using Citay as primarily a solo vehicle that is supplemented with musicians for shows, Ezra has now returned home and is in the process of putting together an East Coast version of the band. I'm very psyched to be part of that.

The music is a really fun and genuine homage/celebration of classic duel lead guitar shredding, Italo prog pastoral acoustic adornment, psychedelic space jams and 60's folk via 70's Laurel Canyon pop. My parts are primarily all single line guitar leads, so learning the music has gotten me back into some serious practice. I had plateaued technically a couple years ago, but now my fingers are on the brink of new shred-itude. Ezra's hoping Citay will start gigging in May, so I will keep folks posted on that here and on Facebook.

In addition to Citay, I'm also in the middle of a very creative and productive songwriting mode with my own music. This actually started over the summer, while I was in Taiwan with my family. The language barrier and cultural divide drove me into a deep funk, which then became literal funk. I combed the internet for any and all Prince I could find: albums, unreleased tracks, live shows, etc.

This became the basis for my current batch of songs. Other influential listening that I've done since the summer includes Twin Shadow, Tears for Fears and Bowie's discography from Station to Station to Scary Monsters (essentially the avant-garde cocaine/drinking years in LA, Berlin, and NYC). So all of that has been reflected in this new material, which I think has much more aesthetic and stylistic focus than anything I've done in years. Here are rough mixes of a couple of tunes...



I'll keep sharing songs as they come together and will also try to post some vids/pics that document the songwriting/home recording process as it unfolds.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

Back on the Block

Well it's a been awhile kids...

Not gonna recap too much except to say that daddyhood, new tunes and an exciting new side gig have kept me busy. More on the last two items to come. But for now just wanted to share my experience last night on the Lower East Side.

After FINALLY seeing Abel Ferrara's unreleased strip club dramedy Go Go Tales (which was pretty much a meandering bore except for Asia Argento's tour-de-force strip tease with a dog and her sultry seduction of a horribly bowl-cut Matthew Modine) at Anthology Film Archives, I wanted to take advantage of a rare night out in the city.

Over the years, I've often found myself in the position of wandering around the LES/East Village at various points of the night, hoping to find something "happening". In my head, that "happening" involves a Fellini-esque loft party or an encounter of Bukowski-esque gutter depravity. In reality, it usually ends up with me paying a cover charge to see some bands I've never heard of, hoping that one of them will be good. And 8 times out of 10 they are not good. They are deeply flawed and/or highly formulaic. But that 20 percent success rate is always rewarding and keeps me trudging through the other 80 percent. Thankfully last night, I was on the good end of that figure.

Walking east from the theater, I decided to pop into Cakeshop. I have continued to go to this club despite my personal experience of never liking a show there. I generally find the bands they book to be a bad combination of too twee, too amateurish or too noisy without refinement. But I do read/hear good things about shows there, and I am still naively wooed by critical opinion, so I keep going in the hopes that it has just been my bad luck. Well, last night proved that theory to be correct.

After a likable but unmemorable opening set by local band Guitars, Prussia (from Detroit) went on and immediately took control of the room.

The set began with the singer doing an acapella verse, which served as an inviting call to attention. His voice had a slightly bratty yet romantic and sincere urgency that reminded me of Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys and The Last Shadow Puppets. He was a great frontman. Then the band kicked in and laid down a blistering set of tunes that combined classic 50s pop, 70s Two Tone and contemporary indie/jingle jangle/etc. The vocal harmonies were spot-on, the rhythm section had a deep pocket and the guitars were properly cutting. Their overall delivery reminded me classic Elvis Costello and the Attractions - tightly wound and executed with control, but always on the verge of boiling over.

I'm really glad I rallied through the cold and bad luck to happen upon these guys. As drummer and nightlife icon Don McKenzie says, "persistence beats resistance". Def check 'em out.