Thursday, June 17, 2021

Album Breakdown

The tracklist for Petrichor, my new album (released today!), is as follows:

1.  Shadow Puppets - the only instrumental song on any of my six eponymous albums
2.  Light Pollution - about the things that blind us to an objective reality
3.  Rat Race - about dedicating a life to making money for someone else
4.  Out to Get You - about people who believe in insane conspiracy theories
5.  The Regular - about that guy at the end of the bar who is always there
6.  Haunted - about the memories left behind when a person is gone
7.  Plastic Flowers - about the ever-adaptable American Dream
8.  Petals in the Grass - about the self-destructive nature of insecurity
9.  Dandelion Wine (If Only...) - about making the most of what you've got
10. Holiday - about going stir crazy
11. Wasted - about how bad habits can affect the people we care about

I don't really think of my songs in terms of singles, so if there's one in here that you particularly like, by all means, please promote it. Personally, I like all of them and wouldn't have released these songs if I didn't. I just kind of operate on the assumption that if I like my music, then hopefully other people will, too. (I tend to think of comedy in a similar light, where the first step in crafting a joke or a bit is to make myself laugh.)

In case you're wondering, the album cover of Petrichor came from a picture that my spouse accidentally took of the inside of her pocket. I then played around with it in Photoshop until it looked like an abstract oil painting. On the physical CD (available soon), the back cover is also an accidental photo that she took. 

Basically, I like the idea of finding beauty where you least expect it, so I attempted to transform these "happy little accidents" (to quote the late, great Bob Ross) into art. I should note that my partner is actually a very talented photographer. In fact, Jamie took the cover photo for Better Days as well. I remember that the first thing that I said when I saw it was that it looked like an album cover -- even though it would be another eight years or so before I got around to writing and recording it. 

I have a lot of favorite songs on Petrichor (and Better Days, for that matter). Granted, whenever I make something new, that's usually my favorite thing that I've done, at least until the next one, but I really am quite proud of these songs. I hope that you like them, too. If so, please share my music with others and encourage them to do the same. This is how it spreads. It'll be good to spread something positive for a change, don't you think?

Four Years Ago Today

It just occurred to me that it was exactly four years ago that I released my first three self-produced albums. Weather Patterns; Mechanical Bull; and Good Night, Fahrenheit all made their worldwide streaming debuts on June 17, 2017. 

Personally, I think that I've come a long way in terms of production value since those earlier albums, which I more or less made in the order listed above. In fact, If you start with track one on Weather Patterns and listen all the way through to the last song on Good Night, Fahrenheit, I think you can probably hear at least somewhat of an improvement in my producing skills.

That's the thing about being self-taught and learning as I go. While I think that total immersion is usually the best way to learn something, at least for me, I also have to claim responsibility for the mistakes that I make along the way. I'm still learning through immersion, and I am responsible for every single element on all six of my self-produced albums, including the stuff that sucks. Sorry, but that's just part of the process. 

At the very least, I hope that you can appreciate the songwriting in my earlier work. I don't mean to suggest that the production is terrible, either, just that I think I've gotten a little better at this over the past four years. That said, if you wish to continue the experiment of hearing firsthand the slow and steady evolution of my producing skills, which are still very much a work-in-progress, the other three albums in chronological order are: Better Days (2019), Embers (January 2021), and Petrichor (today!).

Thanks for listening. Truly. You are the reason why these songs exist outside of my porch and my sunroom. 

New Album Now Available!

Petrichor is now live on YouTube, Apple Music and Pandora. It should be available on other services very soon, if not already. You can also listen to the full album here:

Thanks for listening. I hope you like it. If you do, please share it with others. 

As a one-man-band, I am also a one-man-marketing department, so I really do need your help in getting my music out there. If everybody who likes my music shares it with two friends who might also like it, I'd be interested to see how far and wide it can spread.

Thank you for supporting independent art. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Rational Numbers

A while back, I wrote about my minor fixation* with seeing how many people in the world are listening to my music on Spotify at any given time. I'm not really the type of person to hold onto obsessive habits, in part because they also have my attention span to compete with, so I kind of forgot about it... until last night, when I saw that there were fourteen people listening to my music at the same time. I felt like Navin Johnson when he finds his name in the phone book. (If that reference is lost on you, then you really owe it to yourself to watch the 1979 movie The Jerk. Everything else can wait.)

So far, my record (that I've seen, anyway, not that I'm really looking all that often... honest) is sixteen people listening at one time. I realize that this may not seem like much, but it is in fact 1/20 of the number of people who reside in the town where I grew up. When I was playing live shows, I'd be happy if there were sixteen people present who were actually listening to the music. I don't exactly perform in huge venues, mind you. More often than not, I'm competing for people's attention with close-captioned ESPN and/or their phones. Talk about obsessions.

To the best of my knowledge, Spotify is about the only streaming music site that provides the artist with real-time metrics. I love that people in Argentina, Australia and Mauritania can all hear my music, as can anybody who lives just about anywhere else in the world. This truly amazes me. 

If the "listening now" number ever surpasses the population of my hometown, my mind will be thoroughly blown.

Thanks for listening. If you like what I'm doing, please share it.

* possible band name up for grabs

Three Songs

Hello listeners, fans and people who landed here by accident. Welcome to what I do

Now that I'm done working on the new album (available very soon wherever you get your music), I can get back to sharing individual songs and introducing them as if I was performing for a live audience. Not counting when I was rocking out at the local park a few weeks ago, it's been a while. For more on this, see the picture immediately to the left and/or my Spotify pictures--and yes, I really was playing. I had a nine-volt amp clipped to the back of my belt. I got a lot of cheers and at least a few strange looks from passersby. 

I wrote my most recent two albums during quarantine. It kind of changed my approach to composing, since I wasn't as concerned about performing any of these songs acoustically as a solo artist. This is why so many of these songs are built around instruments other than a guitar, which pretty well dominates my other four albums

Back when I was playing live shows on a fairly regular basis, I rarely brought more than one instrument with me--in large part because I rode my bike. I either had an acoustic guitar or an electric strapped to my back, and that was it. 

Whenever possible, I try to keep things simple

As for the songs that I would like to share with you today, two of them come from the soon-to-be-released Petrichor. Once it becomes available on other streaming sites, I will post links on this blog. For now, the links that I provided before are the same low-resolution versions that I uploaded to my ReverbNation page most recently. 

The first song is called Dandelion Wine (If Only...). This is one of four songs that came out of a particularly prolific week. I imagined the entire video to this song while I was writing it. I'll tell you about that some other time. This track started with an almost painfully slow and simple bassline, and then I built the rest of the song around that. By the time I was done with it, the bassline had totally grown on me.

This song is basically about making the most of what you've got, even if it isn't much... kind of like the open room of a rented house where I record all of my music on a ten-year-old laptop through some forty dollar headphones. Whatever you have, you make it work.

The second track is called Rat Race. This song also started with a bassline and came from that same exceptionally productive week. This might be my current favorite song of mine. It's fun to play and it's fun to listen to loudly. It's structured like a pop song in terms of the chorus to verse ratio, although I wouldn't exactly call it a pop song, per se. 

It's about dedicating a life to making money for someone else as an interchangeable cog in the corporate machine... or, if you prefer, it is about rodents running around in mazes at the behest of scientists who are indifferent to their squalid existence. Either way. I also had a video in mind when I wrote this song. Sometimes that's just how my brain works.

Third, I thought I'd share my song Be Civilized, which comes from my 2019 album Better Days. I played this one on acoustic guitar yesterday for the first time in a while. It's a cool song, and it's quite fun to play.  

It's about reminding ourselves that civilization exists because this is what human beings figured out a long time ago is what we need to do in order to survive, and the more civil we are toward one another, the better our civilization seems to function for everyone. So be kind. Embrace empathy. Always consider the greater good. Be honest to others and to yourself. Don't be an asshole. You know, basic stuff. Imagine if everybody did these things.

Once Petrichor goes live on Spotify and other streaming services, I will let you know. Despite having listened to these songs literally hundreds of times over the past few weeks, I'm pretty excited to hear it. 

I hope you are, too.