Archive for the ‘Music’ Category.

SpinTunes #10, Round 1 According to Jutze

Here are my impressions from the first round of SpinTunes #10 (listen here!) – written and presented in the order in which I listened to the entries. The rating at the end reflects a) sympathy and b) nailing the challenge.

Gorbzilla – First Kiss: The ride cymbal is a bit too prominent in the mix. Otherwise, this is a good tune that suits the challenge/mood perfectly. It has this movie soundtrack feeling to it. The lead guitar in the middle is restrained enough to not distract from the romantic mood. The breaks come at the right moments. Good vocals, by the way. The mood reminds me a bit of “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Beatles (which itself suits the challenge well). 9/10

Governing Dynamics – Introvert Asks to Spend the Night: The big question here was whether I can still enjoy Travis’s music now that he cut his hair. The answer is yes. The song sounds a bit fast for a candlelight soundtrack. I might have prefered a more melancholic tune, yet it brings a smile to my face to find Governing Dynamics in a good mood. Rock on! 6/10

Jailhouse Payback – Another Line: A nice pop song with a bit of country here and there. The production sounds good (harmonica! slide guitar or pedal steel or whatever that is); the vocals are okay. The few minor chords in between spice things up in a nice way. 8/10

Pete Murphy – (I Wanna) Get It on With You: Whoa, professional production. Funky guitars. Soundtrack for a candlelight dinner AT A BAR. Judging from the title this is a bit more straightforward than most of the other entries. (What do I know, I’m only four songs into the round.) The rating is torn between a good fit regarding the challenge and a musical style I do not like that much. 6/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Gag Reflex: The music spreads a mellow summer evening’s atmosphere. Lyrically, mh, forget what I wrote about the previous song; this one here aims way beyond a romantic embrace. Consequently, things get creepy during the song. I wouldn’t want this hear this song during a date (or during a wedding or a funeral for that matter). The final twist got lost on me the first time I listened to “Gag Reflex”. Maybe it should have been featured more prominent. 3/10

Ominous Ride – Open Your Fire: The singing voice is quite low; maybe spice things up with more variation next time? The song starts out very un-intrusive. It takes up pace and ends up in Funkytown. Personally, I prefer the piano parts of the verses. All in all this is a solid effort. The lyrics contain no real surprises – which isn’t that bad for this challenge. 5/10

Pigfarmer Jr – Hold You Tonight: He: Here, have a seat; I’ll just put away that guitar. She: You play guitar? He: Well, a bit. She: Will you play me a song? He: Nah, I don’t know. She: Come on, please? He: Okay *sings this song*. The tune sounds a bit clumsy, but in the scenario I just described it should work perfectly. Nice bass notes towards the end. Charming lyrics. 7/10

Buckethat Bobby – Glad You Came: I find little I like here, sorry. I don’t think the vocal melodies suit a romantic evening. 2/10

Brian Gray – Just You and Me: There is a restless undercurrent that might distract from romantic endeavours. The vocals are great as expected. The breaks are a bit off; maybe I’m still too impressed by Gorbzilla’s entry. Anyway, Brian Gray does not disappoint. 7/10

Charlie McCarron – If You Need Romance: Soft, pop meets jazz. Certainly meeting the challenge. The singer seems a bit reluctant. The ending is, mh, too real to be good? 5/10

David J – Language of Love: Finally, a nice lyrical twist. The music is very laid back. This could have ended up way worse. (But also more to the point, tighter.) 5/10

Dex01 – Get Together: Blues is sort of a contrast to happily getting together music. The resulting song is nice and makes me wish I’d be more generous with my ratings. 4/10

The Buffo Yux Dudes – I Can’t Get Enough: The Buffo Yux Dudes explore their 70s pop roots. This song should help to ‘break the ice’, even if it’s just a relaxed talk about the strange sounds of the stereo. I’m very much looking forward to see Sammy Kablam get annoyed by this one. Meanwhile I’ll give it 2/10

Jutze – This Could Be the Night: I was trying to channel Chris de Burgh. My vocals suck, but I just had to do a ‘serious’ entry. I’m rather satisfied with the backing track production. ?/10

The Ken Kesey Fan Club – How to Seduce Women: Pigfamer Jr gone bad? Creepy stuff. Lyrically AND musically. It somehow underscores the difficulty of approaching this challenge with sarcasm. I find little to like here, sorry. 1/10

Atom & EV – Tarzan and Jane: Simple, primal, effective. At first the song is weird, and in between it gets a bit dirty. Nevertheless, I find the concept refreshing. The execution reflects the primitive story of (mutual?) affection. 6/10

Ben and the Angel Fish – Love’s Lost: Beautiful piano playing. The voice is nice, but its production is somewhat poor. I’m afraid, the song is too sad for the challenge. It’s not too sad for my taste, though. The challenge demanded a soundtrack for a candlelight dinner – NOT necessarily a song about a candlelight dinner. Consequently, “Love’s Lost” could work, after all. 7/10

Ben Taggart – The Story of Us: It’s easy to rate this one, but hard to comment on it. The vocals sound somewhat undecided. The guitar is lonely rather than romantic. The lyrics don’t stand out, go on a tangent or two. The song remains too plain to be sweet in my ears. In the end, it’s a solid effort but nothing I’ll return to when compiling a date CD. 4/10

Megalodon – Can’t Weight: Another song that’s more suited for a date in a bar than for a date at home. Bonus points for the saxophone – not an instrument I usually enjoy but the definite romance instrument, anyway. Moving the lyrics to space is a nice idea, one of the more successful attempts of humor in this round (in my opinion). In the end, it’s just my personal taste that prevents a higher rating, sorry. 4/10

Emperor Gum – Tianjin: This tune sounds rather bland to my ears. I’d consider this dating music only if it were played quietly – at which point almost all music becomes dating music. Okay, not all music. This is more a soundtrack for an old black and white home movie than for a candlelight dinner. Maybe for an old black and white movie about a candlelight dinner? 3/10

Julian and the Self – Love Is in the Air: High male vocals meet uninspired vocal melodies – is this going to be a progressive rock song? No, it’s not. It keeps lacking direction. A mellow acoustic guitar meets a hungry cat. The mood is consistent throughout the song, but (apart from the solid lyrics) I don’t see much dating soundtrack potential. 2/10

Taylor Rundell – Make a Move: Could be the sonical backdrop in a club or at a bar. The song doesn’t appeal to me. The lyrics leave a taunting impression on me. The mellow moments in between are a tiny bit irritating. Make a move, but hey, just relax? The production is all right. Certainly not one of my favourites, though. 2/10

Dr. Lindyke – Date Night: A song about a date rather than for a date – the mood is good. The performance is flawless (or rather quite appropriate), as I’ve come to expect from Dr. Lindyke. The tone of the lyrics might be a bit too offensive.  5/10

Army Defense – Sexiest Sex: Various stuff happens throughout this song, but I struggle to connect it to a romantic date. The electric guitar has a few nice moments. The lyrics have a hard time being subtle. Musically, I would have liked more direction. 2/10

Ross Durand – I Wish: A song about a date AND a song for a date – Ross Durand doesn’t disappoint. It helps that he has a great voice. The song develops in a nice, cozy fashion. The guitar playing is spot on, the additional tracks enhance the song without taking away from the main melody and overall mood. The part before the ending is a bit too loud, I guess. Then again, the actual ending is just beautiful. 8/10

Domingo – Escondidas: A song in Spanish (which I don’t speak) – tricky. It suits the candlelight dinner rather well. The middle parts a bit too dense. The vocals lose their emotion here. Anyway, the song could suit a date, so I’ll give it 4/10

Adam Sakellarides – All I Wanna Do: Sheryl Crow did it better, I’m afraid. This tune here aims at a similar groove. It should facilitate good feelings rather than romance. The ending, well, doesn’t really facilitate either. 2/10

Mariah Mercedes – As Charming as You: Jazz alarm. Strong vocals. Suitable lyrics. The song suits a cozy date, preferably late at night. A person who likes jazz would give this one certainly more than 5/10

James Young – In the Dark of the Night: Rock alarm. Pop rock. This song is probable suited for a drunk-at-the-bar-sort of date. I fail to see how it should draw two souls closer together. The lyrics attempt to link the song to romance. They just don’t stand out in any way. The wailing solo guitar sounds nice but the last thing you want during the date is the other person making eyes at a fancy guitar player, instead. 3/10

Kolton H – Binary Love: A computer love song that works to a certain degree. It suits an LED light dinner better than a candlelight dinner. The keyboard sounds and the computerized vocals make this song stand out from the rest of the field. I applaud the audacity but the actual song is too flat most of the time to elicit more than a nod. 4/10

Jurek Mika – The Mood for You: Sublety? No way! Not my cup of tea – no clear melody, monotone lyrics, lacklustering vocals. And way too much repetition. 1/10

Melissa Leona –  Rocking in the Waves: Finally, some more 80s drum computers. The production is a bit unbalanced: sometimes the vocals get buried, sometimes the piano becomes rather loud. Apart from this, the song has a subtle tension that suits the challenge. The change to major chords halfway through the song is surprising. I could do without it. Keep the tension and hope that the listeners find a way to loosen things. 4/10

Zoe Gray – Make the Most of It: A good balance between mellow and energetic. The higher vocals in the chorus spice things up before the title line gets back to a more subtle mood. The lyrics seem a bit crammed and over the top here and there. Less sarcasm might have improved the song. Still, it’s one of the better ones this round. 7/10

Red Watcher – Hopeless Dreamer: Do I spot a progressive rock vibe here? And is this a bad thing given that progressive rock is not suited as date music? Is it wrong to write these remark entirely as questions? The lyrics clearly aim at the challenge whereas the music relies on a beat I’d consider unromantic (3-3-2 claves or whatever you want to call it). 2/10

Edric Haleen –  2-14-11: The low voice is a bit creepy. Am I surprised that Edric chose a sarcastic/science-related approach? No. Would I have preferred a cheesy piano ballad? Hell yeah! Linking the song to Valentine’s Day is not helpful, in my opinion. The tune could have been way shorter, too. 2/10

Dota live in Saarbrücken – eins der letzten großen Abenteuer unser Zeit

Dota Kehr spielte heute Abend zusammen mit Gitarrist und Kleininstrumentebediener Jan Rohrbach im kleinen Club der Garage in Saarbrücken. Es war ein hinreißender Auftritt voller Spiel- und Wortwitz. Grob geschätzt 150 Leute füllten den Raum gut, so dass den gesamten Abend über eine gemütliche Atmosphäre herrschte. In diesem Rahmen wurden zwischendurch auch zahlreiche neue Stücke zum Besten gegeben. Jedes einzelne davon gehörte zu den Höhepunkten des Auftritts. Entsprechend erwarte ich nun ungeduldig das nächste Album, wann immer es rauskommen wird. Passend dazu lud Dota zum dazugehörigen Crowdfunding auf die altmodische Art ein, sprich zum Kauf ihrer bisherigen Alben.

Aus ihrem bisherigen Schaffen wählte die auch als Kleingeldprinzessin bekannte Sängerin neben den meisten Stücken des aktuellen Albums “Wo soll ich suchen” allerlei Perlen, bei denen häufig Mitsingen angesagt war (“Kein Morgen”, “Ohrsteckermädchen”, “Astronaut”). Das Schöne dabei ist natürlich, dass die Musik kein plattes “We Will Rock You” war, sondern hochmelodische Liedermacher-Stücke mit peppigen Jazz- und Folk-Einflüssen. Jan Rohrbach unterlegte die Musik mit herrlichen Klangfarben, so dass der Auftritt nicht so eindimensional wie Lagerfeuermusik wirkte. Gleichzeitig haftete den Liedern kein unnötiger Ballast an, also kein wummernder Bass, keine hektische Lichtshow, keine Multimedia-Spielerein. Einfach gute Musik!

Die eigenwillige Stilkombination spiegelte sich auch im Publikum wider, in dem sich diverse Generationen und Geschlechter tummelten. Zwischen den Stücken entwickelte sich der Running Gag vom letzten großen Abenteuer unserer Zeit, das den Scorpions zufolge der Rock’n’Roll sein soll. So wurden dann Autobahnraststätten, Bonustracks, Mitschnipsen und Wackelkontakte zum letzten großen Abenteuer unserer Zeit gekürt, sehr zur Erheiterung aller Beteiligten. Dieser Leichtigkeit, dieser Freude stand in der Musik meist eine gewisse Melancholie gegenüber. Genau diese Mischung empfinge ich gerade jetzt noch einmal. Denn einerseits habe ich die schönen Erinnerungen an das Konzert, dem trotz Deutschem Kleinkunstpreis irgendwie der Geheimtipp-Charakter anhaftete. Andererseits möchte ich die Freude teilen, also der Welt diese faszinierenden Lieder über das verwürschte Leben nahebringen, auf dass Dota goldene Schallplatten bekommt und die Welt ein besserer Ort wird.

Übrigens brauchte Dota an diesem Abend noch nicht einmal darauf hinweisen, dass Fotografieren und Filmen während des Auftritts störend ist. Alle lauschten gebannt und niemand fuchtelte mit seinem Handy in der Luft herum. Sehr löblich! Hier noch die gespielte Setlist:

  1. Hoch oben
  2. Sommer
  3. Warten auf Wind
  4. Neues Lied (Da ist ein Monster…)
  5. Die alte Piratin
  6. Das Wesen der Glut
  7. Im Tausch
  8. Neues Lied (Ich hab die Blumen weggeworfen und die Katze verschenkt)
  9. Risse
  10. Neues Lied (Geld verdirbt den Charakter)
  11. Neues Lied (Bald fang ich wieder an zu kiffen)
  12. Neues Lied (Ich meld mich ab / Erdenbewohnerin / Es gibt Grenzen)
  13. Bis auf den Grund
  14. Kein Morgen
  15. So gut riechst du
  16. Ohrsteckermädchen
  17. Du musst dich nicht messen
  18. Konfetti
  19. Wo soll ich suchen
  20. Utopie
  21. Astronaut
  22. Alles Du

Lieder, die Phrasenmäher covern sollten

Phrasenmäher sind gerade beim Crowdfunden. Im Angebot gibt es dabei die mir liebe Option eines Cover-Songs, der im konkreten Fall preislich sogar im Rahmen des moralisch Vertretbaren liegt. Seit einigen Wochen (!) hirne ich nun, welches Lied ich wählen soll. Hier ist meine vorläufige Kandidatenliste:

  1. WIZO: “Brief/Telefon/Tür” – Eigentlich mein Favorit, aber das “Arschloch” im Refrain könnte deplaziert wirken. Wobei die Band stattdessen natürlich “Gänseblümchen” singen könnte oder “Angela Merkel”.
  2. Martin Sommer: “Drachen” – Sehr Liedermacher-ig, aber eben textlich nah an dem Charme von Phrasenmäher.
  3. Reinhard Mey: “Vernunft breitet sich aus über die Bundesrepublik Deutschland” – Ich mag die Live-Version viel lieber als das Studio-Original. Vielleicht würde die Band hier eine spannende Version kreieren.
  4. Reinhard Mey: “Zwei Hühner auf dem Weg nach Vorgestern” – Diese Stück dürfte auch 40 Jahre nach seinem Erscheinen pfiffig und heiter klingen.
  5. Alphaville: “Leben ohne Ende” – Obskure Mischung aus gutem Pop und futuristischem Text. Glaube ich.
  6. WIZO: “Anruf” – Tolle Melodien, kein Sinn im Text, ja, das würde ich gerne mal in einer Bandversion hören.
  7. Jutze: ??? – Oder vielleicht einen Song von mir? Ach nein, das ist zu narzistisch, zumal ich auch keinen passenden zur Hand habe. (“Fremde Leute”, ein bislang unveröffentlichtes 52-Sekunden-Lied wäre nett, aber ja, nett eben.)

Meet Pottörhead

Pottörhead is late to the party that is wizard rock (wrock). Pottörhead will face the challenge and drink up all the leftovers before diving head first into the pool. Crap, there was no water in the pool.

Anyway, here comes the “Happy Dementor“!

Band Websites Suck.

Much like university websites, band websites suck. It is just too hard to archive all news items and to compile a complete list of concerts and releases. There have been some promising sites but one by one they got sacked. A lack of updates would have been bad. Still, every band homepage I’ve ever cherished has been cut down during the past 13 years. There might be a couple of artists I’m not really a fan of who still have a proper web presense. And there are, of course, some fan sites that provide all the info. (That’s what I attempt to do on anglagard.net.) Most offical band pages, however, have simply been replaced by shallow marketing schemes. New album out soon! Winter tour dates. And only then did they stop the updates. It used to make me angry. Now it only makes me sad, because I still don’t see why the old stuff has to go as soon as a new album is coming out. Our rather, a new social media campaign manager is on board.

The Pine Hill Cover Album According to Jutze

Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky announced a new album of cover songs. One of the crowd-funding options is a cover version of your choice. The current price (3,000 US$) is off my limits, so I could just stop there. Or I could fantasize about which songs would make a good choice. After a couple of days of rumination I’ve begun to see a silver lining: It’s terribly difficult to pick just one song. Of course, I still hope they lower the price – but well, here is my current list of potential covers with some remarks.

  1. The Hooters: “May You Always Fit the Shoe” – an unreleased song that was played live in 1992. I only have a noisy live version, so I’d love to get a better recording. The original has some nice vocals by the late Mindy Jostyn, so this would be a great duet for Richard and Lucy. Fun fact: Co-writer Rob Hyman has collaborated with Dar Williams on all of her newer albums.
  2. Dave Carter: “Calvary’s Hill” – another unreleased song that I only heard played by Ron Greitzer and Tracy Grammer (in a lo-fi mp3). A hauntingly beautiful song with great harmonies.
  3. The Brandos: “Hallowed Ground” – my favourite Band with one of their folk-influenced songs.
  4. David Kincaid: “Paddy’s Lamentation” – an Irish traditional with lyrics from the Civil War. This one would suit Richard perfectly, in my opinion.
  5. The Coalminers’ Beat: “Take Me High Above” – a song about violence in Northern Ireland. The combination of male and female vocals makes this a very good contender; also, I’m still not over the fact that the band broke up.
  6. The Del-Lords: “Poem of the River” – it is very tempting to simply list my favourite songs. Still, Richard and Lucy should be able to contribute something unique to the compositions.
  7. Bruce Springsteen: “My Hometown” or “Dancing in the Dark” – Richard already tackled a couple of Springsteen’s songs. I’d love to hear more!
  8. Bon Jovi: “Last Man Standing” – the slower version from “100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong” already hints at the potential of this song as a folk number.
  9. Chris de Burgh: “Last Night” – possibly an odd choice. Yet, it’s a tale told in a song and could possibly be turned from pop to folk.
  10. Iron Maiden: “Alexander the Great” – certainly an odd choice. This one would need a thorough transformation. Not sure how the outcome would sound. Quite a gamble for 3,000 bucks.
  11. Traveling Wilburys: “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” – Richard already did a Dylan cover. This one has more narrative elements and also a group feel to it that maybe could be translated in the duo setting.
  12. Per Gessle: “Elvis in Deutschland” – this is the demo from the re-release of the album “The World According to Gessle”. Another experiment in terms of turning pop into folk.
  13. Genesis: “Smalltalk” – I’m embarrassed that I listed so many songs from major label releases. Anyhow, Richard could make this one even more intense, I guess.
  14. Pat Algar: “Once in a Very Blue Moon” – Richard’s take on this one is stunning to say the least.

I’m tempted to add more songs, say, CCR‘s “Someday Never Comes” and “Brothers in Arms” (Dire Straits); but I think these songs are already perfect. Any cover version would be bound to disappoint on some level. And the list above would already be 42,000 dollars, no need to increase the costs further.

PS: Naturally, I’d love it if they were to include some of their unreleased songs, for example, “Walden Well” (Richard) and “If You Love Someone That’s What You Do” (Lucy).

The Bleeding Dragon

Miracously, I made to the final round of SpinTunes #8. The challenge was:

Painful Progression – Write a song about PHYSICAL pain, and do so using a I-V-vi-IV chord progression in the chorus.

My naive assumption is that I can deal with the musical restriction more easily than the other contestants this round, who are a bit jazzier in my ear. Anyway, for this round I couldn’t just throw out a quick song like I did last round. I’m not a good singer, so a “normal” pop song wasn’t my aim. My first idea was to write some kind of Irish folk song, instead. Even before I picked up my guitar I decided to write about the pain of a menstruating dragon. I had this idea for the first time back in 2006, when I took the Hammerfall song title “The Dragon Lies Bleeding” literally. It took me a couple of hours to come up with a jolly chorus. The rest of the song manifested itself more quickly. I had a percussive click track resembling a bhodran, which I kept in the final version. I went a bit crazy with all kinds of keyboard sounds (including some banjo!) but most of them are buried in the mix. Needless to say, I would have loved to have real instruments. Anyway, there was a deadline to meet and I am quite satisfied with the outcome.

What made me very happy was the following review by Dave Leigh:

This sounds like the sort of thing that Hobbits would sing at the pub. Really demented, sick hobbits. Hobbits who need therapy. Who in his right mind writes a song about a menstruating dragon? Nobody, and that should tell us a thing about Jutze. However, this is the form of insanity that’s just really, really entertaining.

Check out all entries! I also filmed a quick sofa video that ended up with an over-enthusiastic preview thumbnail.

Deep under the mountain in the dark and the cold
Sheltered from the wind and the rain
Sitting on a pile of silver and of gold
The mighty dragon is in pain
Maybe it is time to leave this cave behind
Time to get some fresh air

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
Everybody screams, the children are crying
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take
It looks as if the dragon is dying

Only the elders have seen this once before
Almost a century ago
They shut all the windows and they lock every door
Hiding in the cellars below
Maybe there’s a chance to escape the burning flames
Maybe they will survive

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
Everybody screams, the children are crying
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take
It looks as if the dragon is dying

High above the lake the dragon’s breathing fire
Feeling that the cycle is complete – once again
There’s no way around it, no use in climbing higher
The time has come to bleed
Maybe it is time she should start to procreate
It sucks to menstruate

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
In agony and pain the dragon is flying
Nobody knows how much more it’s going to take
The dragon in the sky feels like dying

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
Everybody screams, the children are crying
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take
It looks as if the dragon is dying

2014 Creative Commons by-nc Johannes “Jutze” Schult

Dar Williams live in York

Dar Williams played at the Fibbers in York on March 11, 2014. She was her usual charming self and played a wonderful collection of songs. Given her back catalogue, it’s impossible to honour all requests. The upside of this is that pretty much every track is a winner. First, there were some gripping songs from her recent album, “In the Time of Gods”, and standard songs from her live repertoire. I was really happy that she played “Buzzer”, not only because I was there with some other psychologists. “The Ocean” and “February” were also personal highlights. The mix of upbeat and softer songs was perfect. Needless to say, the classic songs like “The Babysitter’s Here”, “When I Was a Boy”, and “As Cool as I Am” received the loudest applause from the roughly 90 people in the audience. I was pleasantly surprised that they sounded as fresh as the first time I heard them many years ago.

The music was great. The guitar was a tad too loud sometimes but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment. And there was, of course, a lot of insightful and funny banter between songs. The unique voice of Dar’s storystelling alone is worth the (humble) price of admission. I do hope there won’t be another eight year until I get to see her in concert again!

Dar Williams - live in York (2014)

Setlist:

  1. The Light and the Sea
  2. The Beauty of the Rain
  3. Spring Street
  4. I Have Been Around the World
  5. Buzzer
  6. Holly Tree
  7. I’ll Miss You Till I Meet You
  8. The Babysitter’s Here
  9. The Ocean
  10. The One Who Knows
  11. As Cool as I Am
  12. Storm King
  13. February
  14. When I Was a Boy
  15. The Christians and the Pagans

Over.

Estimating the Release Date of Richard Shindell’s Next Album

Richard Shindell has been working on his next album for quite some time now. His fans (that includes me) try to be patient. Several new songs have already made their live debut. The album is supposed to be called “Viceroy Mimic” (VM), but a couple of weeks ago he also mentioned “Same River Once” as a contender. Pressed about a release date, Shindell said (during a recent concert in Boston) January 2015. Regardless of this, here’s the statistical perspective – just for fun! The linear trend across all album releases (including live albums, cover albums, Cry, Cry, Cry etc.) suggests that a new album should have been released on November 4, 2013.

Graph: Linear prediction of the release dates of Richard Shindell albums (incl. live albums etc.)

The quadratic trend across Richard’s original studio albums, however, would imply a May 11, 2014 release date for “Viceroy Mimic”. The linear prediction appears to be worse in this case; it the lag between original albums is increasing.

Graph: Quadratic prediction of the release dates of Richard Shindell albums (only original studio albums)

Given the projected 2015 release, a cubic function might be necessary, soon. Anyway, below you can find the detailed data and the Stata code to replicate the graphs.

Continue reading ‘Estimating the Release Date of Richard Shindell’s Next Album’ »

Meet Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

When was the first time you heard Simon & Garfunkel? Which song was it? Did you like it instantly? Do you want to have a similar experience? Then meet Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer. You will hear beautiful harmony vocals, nuanced lead melodies, a folky-edge, and a reckless passion for original music. You will find lyrics that venture beyond beyond the run-of-the-mill nonsense of mainstream pop music. And be warned: You will end up yearning for more even though you know very well that the duo is no longer making new music.

Just like Simon & Garfunkel, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer do not have one typical song. They have a dozen or so masterpieces. And yes, they have some weaker songs, as well. The bleak banjo of “When I Go” is a signature moment; the upbeat number “Gentle Arms of Eden” is another one. “Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love” – a haunting ballad – has been said to have attained the ever-ellusive state of perfection. And then there is “The Mountain”, an enigmatic tune that Joan Baez once played for the Dalai Lama. Personally, I would recommend their 2002 album “Drum Hat Buddha” to newcomers. “Ordinary Town”, its opening track, is the sort of simple song which takes a talented songwriter years to flesh out. Dave Carter’s songwriting, however, is effortless. Tracy Grammer’s clear voice brings the song to life and is augmented by subtle harmonies in the chorus. The second song paints a seemingly complete picture of “Tillman Co.”, mostly thanks to the catchy mandoline hookline and Carter’s poignant vocal performance. I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. The lyrics are remarkably thoughtful, yet the music is mostly positive and uplifting. This is especially true for “Happytown”, the opener of their second album “Tanglewood Tree“.

Sadly, your local record store is unlikely to carry the duo’s works. I suggest you make the effort to get the music through Tracy Grammer’s homepage, webshops, or digital downloads; regard it as an active protest against soulless mainstream plastic songs and music business politics. Or better, regard it as a treat for your ears and your heart.