Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Repairing metaphors

Over used, depleted, dried up metaphors are everywhere -- they are dogs with no teeth, clouds without rain, umbrellas that won't stay open. 

Most writers I know tend to avoid cliches like the plague (how possible is that?) OR they damn the torpedoes, ignore the critics and assume that if the sun has stood in for God or your true love for all these centuries who are we to question that...

The mountains are much used as image and metaphor. I find myself returning to them regularly. I look for a clever turn of phrase or a fresh angle, but I don't assume a song can't bump along the same rutted path so many other tunes have traveled before.

And I wonder if the prophet's declaration about the wilderness becoming a place of springs might apply even to the metaphor used in that thundering promise.

Writing on the road

Usually when I am on the road I don't have (or take) time to write. This trip I looked for some cowriting opportunities and also tried to plan some extra space. So far the result is good - two half songs, one co-written with Trevor, genius behind the Anabaptist Bestiary Project, the other penned late last night after a conference call that I needed to wind down after.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Review of Watershed by Stephen Ware

I met a musician named Stephen Ware in Nashville. We had a great conversation at an event we both went to serving food and music in a low income neighborhood. He was an unique individual balancing music and a military career, a straight-shooter who was obviously motivated to try to make peoples' lives better. I was shocked when I got an email a few weeks later containing the most comprehensive review I've gotten of the Watershed record to date. Here are some excerpts:

First off, this is a GREAT sounding album. You've got some really great sounding, chunky guitars here, and the musicianship all over is pretty excellent. This album screams old school Weezer and White Stripes. Maybe a bit too much, but I'll get to that. Like I said, I'm brutally honest man, so I won't hold back on either good or bad. BUT keep in yo head that I'm not a regular to this type of stuff (I border either really poppy rock or hardcore metal stuff). I can say that, undoubtedly, this is a definitive indie rock album. From the sound to the artwork. Excellent package.

"Bring Some Trouble" -Great way to start the album. The guitars are great, full, and loud in a garage-rock type way. The first thing that hit me was the similarity between the drums here and the drum patterns Meg White plays. It's a definite inspiration here. It's also great that you bring your voice into the sound right before the song get into the groove of things. Your voice is unique, especially among this genre, and it sets the tone for what's in store on the album.

"The Everything Change"- VERY reminescent of early Weezer (Blue album/pinkerton), but in a good way. The guitars are really heavy but fit the song great. Good choice of tone. Again, though, the drummer falls into the very White Stripish kick snare kick snare kick snare pattern in your verses. It changes a little in the chorus, but it's still pretty close. I think bringing in some really high guitar squeals and some serious amp feedback would assist in building the song into a huge monster right before you drop into the area where it's you and the bass. The dynamic of being so big and huge and then so quiet and calm would bring out a little more emotion. The same idea applies to the very end of the song. Bring it out with a bang.

"Carbon Blanket"- A true standout on the album; a definite strong point. The guitar riff is so simple yet works so well. Obviously the simpelist stuff works the best in music, and you know that. This song just oozes of rock goodness. When I heard the riffs, that was my "holy shit" moment. Really well done. BUT again, we're back into the kick snare kick snare kick snare pattern here with the drums. The pattern is effective, but after a while, it begins to rob songs of their character, because each song uses this beat. There's not a whole lot of variety in the percussion section this far into the album, and the guys that are suckers for great drums may get a tad bored at this point. For the bridge, the lead line sounds great. I would've raised the level just a bit, as it get a little over ran by the rest of the the guitars.

"Timepiece"- We're getting away from the White Stripes' drums, which is a nice change. Nice chord progression in your verses. I don't know about that drum machine in the background. It almost takes away from the real drums you have here. It works well to lead you into the song, but the drummer is playing something quite similar. In the portion where its just vocals and the drum machine, I'd have just killed the machine and let the focus go to your vocals. It's a unique sound, and it's an excellent point to let the listener get close to them with nothing else. The ending seems a bit abrupt.