Monday, January 31, 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

My daughter has impeccable taste. Recognizes characters of Futurama

Matt and I had a great session in the studio last night. Spent the entire time working on a song that was virtually un-started, and got it pretty far along by the end of the night. I sat down to do what we call a scratch track (a reference recording that we have no intention of actually keeping) for the drums so Jeff could have something to go on, but then we decided that the part was simple enough and that I should just go ahead and do the real take. So now I'll have a drumming credit on 2 releases. Yay, ego. I get a little more giddy about playing drums on recordings because it's an instrument that I've never been terrible at but have never been confident enough to allow my inconsistently inconsistent drumming to stay on an actual release, though I've always wanted to be. So thanks to modern technology and Matt's recording savvy, even I can actually end up sounding like a decent drummer, and hey, I'll take it.

I'm looking forward to tonight. We have no plans, and that is exactly why I'm looking forward to it. Also, all the great Thursday night TV shows are back on, so maybe we do have some semblance of plans.

Went to the store yesterday to restock on Lean Cuisine meals, and then forgot to bring them to work. Guess I'll hit the Whole Foods salad bar again.

This is awesome:

The Swell Season covers Neutral Milk Hotel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Anyone know a good trumpet player in the Austin area?

I'm very proud of my wife today. And everyday, for that matter. Today she met a professional goal that she set for herself, and I never doubted her for a second. I always knew she would be successful because she is talented and driven, and also, I thought her goal seemed a little low. She thought it was realistic, and I'm sure it was. I just probably have more faith in her than she does.

We've got a pretty full week ahead, with multiple rehearsals, shows, photoshoots, and even a recording session in there somewhere. I'm looking forward to Thursday night, as it will be the only evening Leah, Harper, and I all have together this week.

The record is starting to come along. I'd say we're about halfway done now, maybe a little more, maybe a little less. We're going to try to play a new song from the record at the shows this weekend. It's pretty simplistic, but we only left ourselves one rehearsal to prepare it. Better cross those proverbial fingers.

Yesterday, I engaged slightly in a Facebook discussion about Calvinism, and one of my best friends from school called me out for not capitalizing "god." I don't generally capitalize it because it's not a name, it's an occupation. I guess I probably should for the same reasons you capitalize "dad" or "mom" and I don't have any problem capitalizing Jehovah or Yahweh or Elohim or Osiris or Allah or Tash or Aslan, etc.

But if you think about it, it's weird that Xians call their god, "God," and not one of his actual names, isn't it? (Sub-question, if "God" has a personal name does that imply that it has peers [i.e. other deities], because why would it need a personal name if it had no need to differentiate itself among others?) I can't think of any other religion that just calls their god, "god." Anyway, food for thought.

I'm reading a book right now that traces a lot of Christianity's history through non-scriptural records and it's pretty fascinating. I think it's really interesting to see how old gods are created, renamed, combined, and then largely forgotten. Makes me wish I'd studied anthropology in college...and also finished college.

Hope to see people at the shows this weekend.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

So you won't be going to see Country Strong, then?


Only 2 1/2 hours before that figurative whistle blows and I get to go see my girls. Tuesdays are always a little rough because, at best, I get to see my wife and child for about an hour after work before I head off to Quiet Company's regularly scheduled rehearsal/recording session. It's certainly better than not seeing them at all, and we really need to get the record finished so I'm sure we'll be in the studio more often and for longer hours in the coming weeks.

My dad came into town randomly for his work yesterday, so I got to meet him for lunch and then he took us to dinner after work. Harper was so excited to see him and behaved really well at the restaurant. She's often in the best moods for company. I'm sure she's very conscious of the impressions she makes.

When I got to the studio, the first thing we did was record the Vivogig podcast with Daniel, from Vivogig. He was British and it was fun. Thanks to anyone who submitted questions for it. It should be posted in a week or two, I don't really know.

After that, I re-tracked the guitar on a song called "You, Me, & The Boatman" which we're tentatively expecting to be the first single we push from the new record. I spent the rest of the night doing the main vocal for another song called "The Easy Confidence," which is easily the heaviest song on the record. I was screaming my balls off, y'all. It's not like Korn, or anything, lest anyone get the wrong idea, but it is very different.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the music that my friends make. I'm fortunate enough to live in a place where the local music scene can go toe to toe with the national scene (quality-wise) any day of the week, and more often than not, probably knock it on it's proverbial ass. All that to say, Austin has a lot of really good bands.

Lately, I've been finding music more rewarding if I actually know the person who made it, even if I barely know them. I guess my brain realizes that, "Any work of art is half of a conversation between two human beings, and it helps a lot to know who is talking at you," as papa Vonnegut said. Anyway, I wanted to blog about a few of the records I've been enjoying made by people I love, like, and/or have recently met.

Matt first told me about Stoney a few weeks ago. I don't know how Matt met him but he came to our show at Emo's and I met him there. Another nice British man living in the ATX. Matt had told me that Stoney's record was cool, so when I saw ran into him again at a mutual friend's show last weekend, I was pleased when Stoney gave me a copy of his EP, The Soar Before. I've been playing it incessantly ever since and my only complaint with it is that it goes by far too quickly. Four songs is not enough to satisfy me when something is this good.

The Rocketboys have been some of our best band friends for a long time. They are all genuinely lovely people and a phenomenal band. I've been especially impressed with their latest EP, Wellwisher. Brandon's lyrics are great, and there are a lot of really cool things about the production of this EP. Once again, my biggest complaint with this is the length. Fuckin' EPs, man! Four songs is just not enough.

Tommy began telling me about Buttercup almost immediately after joining the band over 5 years ago. They're from San Antonio, where Tommy went to college and he would regale me with stories about Buttercup shows he'd seen and the crazy shit they did on stage. Buttercup likes to periodically make their shows into strange events. For example, the first time we played with them, they took the stage in winter clothes and snuggies, playing slow, somber songs. As the night progressed, the tempo picked up and the layers came off, until they were dressed for summer and pumping out appropriate jams. It's weird. We've played with them a few times now and I finally got a copy of their latest record and now that I've had time to absorb it, I've realized how great their songwriting is. Joe has been sending me some demos of new stuff so I can also say that the best is yet to come for Buttercup.

Jason Poe is probably my favorite songwriter in Austin, which is saying a hell of a lot, honestly. On top of that, he's just one of my favorite people. I was also a big fan of his old band, Jets Under Fire, which had another one of my favorite people, Todd Meador, on bass. The songwriting hasn't changed drastically from Jets to this. Jason's more focused on piano than guitar now, but that's about the only change. If you enjoy thoughtful lyrics, emotive melodies, and distinctive voices, then Jason Poe is the man for you. I really can't say enough nice things about the guy.

The New Frontiers aren't a band anymore. Haven't been for quite some time. However, I'm including this album because it's simply that damned good. Their breakup is one of the sadder band break-ups in our band clique. They were great people, making equally great music, and they are missed.

Friday, January 14, 2011

If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.


Also, PLEASE go to the Austin Chronicle website and vote for Quiet Company in all applicable categories for the Best-of-2010 list. Getting on this list is really helpful so we really appreciate you taking the time.

Also Also, we're the first band to be featured on the new podcast, Vivogig, and you get to help shape the interview. Just go to the Vivogig page and submit any question to be featured in the podcast. It can be about anything, so go ask away.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

I started singing and they told me to stop...

2010 was a great year for me, musically and otherwise. At the end of 2009, I did a top 10 list and I remember it was really easy because I had only bought 11 records that year and really liked them all. This year, that is not the case. I've bought way more than 11 records and almost all of them are great, so it will actually take some thought to place them in a Top 10.

Someone posted a quote on Facebook the other day, and I forget who said it, but it generally said that listing your belongings in order of your favorite to least favorite is a behavior only appropriate for 8-year-olds. I agree...

Here's my top 10 list for 2010: (The two most important criteria are A) how addictive a record was, i.e. how much it was in my player, and B) how much did I connect to it on a personal level.)

10. Sufjan Stevens - The Age of Adz
I don't really feel that emotionally connected to this record, which is why it's at the bottom of the list. It is undeniably great though, all the same, which is why it's on the list at all. I expect to see it on a lot of other top 10 lists.

9. The New Pornographers - Together
I fell in love with the New Pornographers with Twin Cinema, but was disappointed when their next record didn't live up to the promise that Twin Cinema implied. Any disappointment was forgotten in 2010, however, when they released this gem.

8. OK GO - Of the Blue Colour of the Sky
I feel like some people look at OK Go and see just a pop rock band. Sure, everyone applauds their creativity where Youtube videos are concerned, but I don't think they get the respect they deserve for their song craft. Every record has them pushing themselves further into new territory, which is something few pop bands have the balls to do. To my knowledge, they have 3 full length albums, which means they have 3 very distinctive albums. With this record, they actually worked with one of my favorite producers, Dave Fridman, who apparently, in classic Dave Fridman style, showed the band how to make drums sound huge, fucked up, and awesome.

7. Eminem - Recovery
I don't know a lot about rap, I admit. But I know what I like, and I like Eminem, especially when he raps aggressively and with purpose. With this record, Marshall Mathers spends the lion's share of his time confessing his, very personal, shortcomings, thanking his fans for sticking around when even he thought he sucked, and proving that he is still the most articulate, and venom filled, artist in hip hop. It's not, by any means, a perfect record, the most noticeable flaws being with the beat programming, but I love hearing that angry son-of-a-bitch spit rhymes.

6. Autolux - Transit, Transit
It was starting to feel like we would never get another Autolux record. I absolutely adored their first record and was immediately ready for more, but it took a damned eternity for Autolux to comply with my desire. Worth the wait, though. Transit Transit is a simply beautiful record. A bit slower, in general, than the first record, but all the same noise, melody, and dynamics are still there, only more mature seeming.

5. Starflyer 59 - The Changing of the Guard
Starflyer 59's music almost feels like one of my oldest friends, we've been together for so long. I was a little nervous that their amazing streak was over, after their last record, Dial M, came out. Thankfully, it was just a minor and brief misstep into mediocrity. It's bound to happen when you're as prolific as Jason Martin, but The Changing Of The Guard is another bright star in an already vast and brilliant sky.

4. Stars - The Five Ghosts
I was blown away the first time I heard Stars. The song was "Your Ex-lover is Dead" off the album Set Yourself On Fire. That album was great, but that song certainly captured a level of brilliance they didn't touch again on that record, and even less so on the next record, In Our Bedroom After The War. It wasn't that the stuff was bad, just that they didn't have anything else as good as that song. I figured that Stars was just a band that I would be aware of and appreciative of but never enamored with. I was wrong. I eventually snagged this record on a whim because it was cheap, and I am so glad I did. There are so many powerfully emotive melodies on this record, it may very well leave you exhausted in the best possible way.

3. Belle & Sebastian - Write About Love
Now we're in the top 3. How exciting!! All the members of Belle & Sebastian must shit gold at this point, because it's becoming more difficult to imagine them producing anything that is less than amazing. I've read some reviews of this record that were a bit lacklustre, but I don't get that at all. All I hear is a damn near perfect collection of delicate pop songs. Plus, the Norah Jones duet, "Little Lou, Ugly Jack, Prophet John," may very well be the most beautiful song I've ever heard.

2. Menomena - Mines
The first time I heard Menomena it made me want to quit music. I'm not trying to be funny, I got seriously sad. I just started wondering why I even try. Well, I've gotten over it, and now when I hear them, I just feel inspired and want to rush over to the studio. This record is fucking amazing. Their catchy, they're quirky, they're brilliant, they're Menomena...

1. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs
I don't know what's left to say about this record that hasn't already been said a thousand times over. It's probably on every top 10 list in North America for 2010, and deservedly so. I think a new classic has been born.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Now I spend my days in ever increasingly complicated ways, convincing myself of the rightness of each word I say.

I'm getting old, you know.

I was sick last week, and continue to be. My girls caught it and got to spend the holiday under the weather. By the weekend I was operating at about 85% so I tried to let Leah sleep as much as she could to knock the illness out, while I took care of Harper. We had a great time because she seemed to have no intention of letting her illness dictate her mood. I hope she's always like that.

She has such personality. Her laugh is simply one of the best things in the universe.

One of the things that I found/find so endearing about her mother is that Leah would do things to make herself laugh and if other people thought it was funny, then great. Sometimes, I catch Harper doing that, and it breaks my heart in the best possible way.

Leah and I spend a large part of the weekend watching Friday Night Lights, the TV show. I put off watching it because, frankly, the premise doesn't attract me. But the show is undeniably good, and speaking as someone who grew up in "small town, TX," they really nailed it. A lot of the characters were hard for me to like because they remind me so much of specific people I grew up around. So far we're into season 3 and aside from a strange, writer's strike induced, season 2 ending, the show is consistently good.

Leah and I recently watched Easy A, that movie with Emma Stone. It provided a few chuckles but the more I reflect on it, the more I hate it. I don't know if there was a single believable character. Clearly, the writer has never been or met a teenager. I was especially annoyed by the Christian characters. Speaking as someone who was part of the overly self-righteous, pious club in high school; nobody acts remotely like that. Amanda Bynes seemed to be playing a caricature of Mandy Moore's character in Saved (which I think is a great film), rather than making an attempt at any relatability. One of the things that I think the writers of Friday Night Lights do extraordinarily well, is capture the role that religion plays in the lives of small town teenagers in Texas. It's such a consistent undercurrent in their culture. The kids are flamboyantly impassioned one day and conveniently detached from it the next, which is what high school religion is mostly like. Peaks and valleys.

Anyway, good writing is good, bad writing is bad.

I don't really have any big goals for this year. We're going to be releasing a new record, which I'm excited about. Shortly after, we hope to release another EP.
Other than that, I'm hoping to:
-watch my daughter grow
-continue adoring my wife
-keep off the 20 lbs I've lost
-live simply
-simply live

Easy peasy.