Friday, October 28, 2022

“Fears We Hold” by Among Authors – A Song Feature


      The two most common icebreaker questions presented to all attendees at all-hands corporate events are “What would you tell your younger self if you could?” and “What superpower would you choose for yourself?” Most answers to that first question take the easy approach, such as “Buy stock in Apple.” But there are times when an answer is courageous in its revelation of the person’s imperfections. The willingness to expose your vulnerabilities is something of a superpower, because most of us don’t have the ability to do it.
     Among Authors released “Fears We Hold” as an impactful message to the younger self of frontman Ian Ketterer. They explain:
  "’Fears We Hold’ follows lead singer Ian's personal journey about the day-to-day anxiety he's dealt with that last 37 years of his life due to having been born without a thumb on his right hand nor an ear on his right side. The song is written in the perspective of Ian going back to his younger self to let himself know that nobody is out to get him. People often choose to hold onto negative feelings when we should just let go and embrace our differences. Most importantly, it's a song all about embracing what makes each one of us different and unique, and no longer fearing a false-narrative that's often created in our own heads about the opinions we think people have about us.”
      Ian posted his story and pictures on Instagram (CLICK HERE). The text is included at the bottom of this post (below the lyrics).
     The vocals in “Fears We Hold” are clear, pure, and compelling. And the instrumentation is equally worthy of praise. The song begins with a solemn piano, while other portions are explosive. Interestingly, Among Authors does not include a bassist. The members are Ian Ketterer (lead vocals, keyboards), his brother Jason Ketterer (guitar), Jon Livingston (guitar), and Patrick Brockwell (drums). In “Fears We Hold,” the choir singers are Anna Steinle, Devon Dodgson, and Katie Krupin.
     Among Authors is originally from Wisconsin (Mayville, we believe). The band relocated and is now based in Seattle, Washington.
     “Fears We Hold” by Among Authors
Lyrics of “Fears We Hold” by Among Authors
Take my hand
And walk with me
I’ll show you something
You won’t believe
So give me your worst
How bad could it be
I need you to see
The human in me
Someday you will find
The world is bright
And those living their lives
Are not out to get you
I’ll lend you my heart
The soles of my feet
I’ve walked through the valley of some false belief
That the world was against me
So pull back your hair
And roll up your sleeves
Cause nobody cares
Or sees what you see
Someday you will find
The world is bright
No one’s out to get you
Just let go
Of the fears you’re holding onto
We both know it’s been years
Where have you gone to
Just let go
Just let go
Just let go
Just let go
You won’t even know ‘till you try
You won’t even know ‘till you try to let go
You won’t even know ‘till you try
You won’t even know ‘till you try to let go
When your whole world comes undone
And you feel you can’t outrun
I’ll pull you through
To a place where self-doubt won’t reach you
Posted on Instagram -
   I have struggled with hiding the right side of my body my entire life. Everything from my clothing style down to my body movements and positions are all so ingrained in my subconscious and all tailor around making sure nobody can see my right hand, or my missing ear on my right side. I have worn long sleeves my entire life, long hair, even the seemingly simplest every day tasks like going to get @starbucks puts my head in a space where without even thinking about it, I am pulling out my card to pay for my drink in a specific way so my right hand isn't seen. Or when talking to people, always positioning myself so the right side is hidden. Oh god don't even get me started with when I am approached by someone to shake their hand with my right hand. You know what I do? I grab their hand with both my hands so that they don't sense that I have a missing thumb on my right hand. I have lived in my own self-doubt my entire life.
   As a musician, I have always had this fear that when my band makes it big some day, and we're at some dumb photoshoot, that my big "lie" will be revealed, we'll get kicked off our record label (which we've yet to have) for not being sellable from a look standpoint, and our music career will be over.
   That's all nonsense. I have held onto these unnecessary and irrelevant fears for way too long.
   This is who I am.
   My band Among Authors and I just released a new single called "Fears We Hold" from the perspective of me going back to visit my younger self to tell that fearful kid that the world is bright and nobody is out to get him.
   I started playing music so I could work through the fears that come with being stared at on stage. And this song and the way I am releasing it, with photos of everything I was born with, is an extension of that self-therapy.
   Don't hold onto fear, embrace what makes you unique, show the world how incredible you are, and above all else, love and trust humankind, and love yourself.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Another Opinion on Using Performance Backing Tracks

     A recent video from Rick Beato provided an historical explanation of bands using backing tracks. The video is well thought out and informative. The 12-minute video is included in this post.
      Beato’s video caused us to reflect upon our opportunities to see Lorde. She puts on a highly enjoyable live performance. Lorde’s 2017 visit to the Outside Lands festival is memorable, particularly when Jack Antonoff joined her in a cover of Paul Simon’s “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard.”
      On the other hand, we were disappointed in an early Lorde performance, and it was because of the use of backing tracks. Within two months of the release of her debut album, “Pure Heroine,” she visited the San Francisco Bay Area to join a strong lineup for the 2013 Not So Silent Night concert. The issue with Lorde’s performance was that it did not feel “live.” Our conclusion from the experience was that backing tracks should have only a minor importance to the overall presentation. This conclusion does not disagree with Rick Beato.
    Lorde’s early songs were highly dependent upon backing vocals and her early performances tried to reproduce the songs as her fans knew them from the radio and her albums. She was successful, as evidenced in the below video of “Royals” at the 2013 show. But attempting to precisely reproduce the content of the recorded version caused questions as to what contributions were live and which were recorded playbacks.
     This post is not intended to trash Lorde. She is talented! And she now puts on live performances that we fully appreciate. She does not have the limitations that she carried as the breakout artist that she was 9 years ago. We raise her name only because her early performance is relevant to Rick Beato’s interesting video on backing tracks.

Rick Beato: Is Performing With A Backing Track Cheating?

Lorde – "Royals" Live @ Not So Silent Night 2013:

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

“Long Long Summer” by T.O.L.D. – A Song Feature

     T.O.L.D. masterfully reaches a delicate balance between conveying the emotions accompanying loss and the comfort of willful acknowledgment of the reality. While talking about his single, he said, “’Long Long Summer’ is about that melancholic feeling of the summer ending. It’s a nostalgic ballad of acceptance. Accepting that there’s gonna be another winter soon and there’s lots of things we still don’t know about the world.”


     Nostalgia is immediately triggered when “Long Long Summer” begins with what sounds like a rotary telephone dial returning to its rest position, followed by a few seconds of lower resolution guitar. Then, 15 seconds into the single from T.O.L.D., a Robert Smith (The Cure) elegance enters with a clear guitar. The vocals are appealing and the percussion is forceful. Still, the guitars distinguish “Long Long Summer,” which is fitting since the song is from the upcoming EP “As The World Burns I play My Guitar.”


     T.O.L.D. recorded two guitar solos into “Long Long Summer.” The first is introduced by the line “Even as the world is burning I'm still playing my guitar.” The Robert Smith guitar-esque follows, but the second solo is more aligned with Slash during “November Rain,” which is another single with multiple guitar solos.


     T.O.L.D. is the performance name of Daniel James Smith and is an acronym for The Order of Life and Death. Smith explains that the name was inspired by Gustav Klimt's painting "Death and Life." He is a vocalist, songwriter and record producer who was born in Birmingham, UK. Smith is now based in Los Angeles.

     “Long Long Summer” is the second single from the upcoming “As The World Burns I Play My Guitar” EP. It will be the third EP from T.O.L.D. He provided some insight into its motivation:

   This whole EP came from sitting on my bed as LA was burning and playing my guitar… Coming up with a riff and feeling a little better… Jamming some drums and forgetting for a second that it might be the end times... Each song is just me being 14 again – sitting on my girlfriend’s bed as she plays xbox. It’s me hearing her Dad upstairs yelling “All he does is play that fucking guitar.’”


     “Long Long Summer (As The World Burns I Play My Guitar)” by T.O.L.D.





Lyrics of “Long Long Summer (As The World Burns I Play My Guitar)” by T.O.L.D.

Boy meet strange

It's time to turn to face the world again

What you don't know could reach the horizon

There's backwards gravity

And there's subtle magic far too strange to be known by a machine


I know it's not set in stone

But I really hope you say so

I don't wanna let go

I can never let go

This long long summer was far from a bummer but it's gone now

This long long summer is far from a bummer but it's gone now

This long long summer was far from a bummer but it's gone now

This long long summer is far from a bummer but it's gone now


Now the sun extends my shadow

Like I'm seventeen feet tall

And there's fires in the meadow

Ashes falling to the floor

Smile, smile

There's no need for your despair

Even as the world is burning I'm still playing my guitar


I know it's not set in stone

But I really hope you say so

I don't wanna it let go

I can never it let go

This long long summer was far from a bummer but it's gone now

This long long summer is far from a bummer but it's gone now

This long long summer was far from a bummer but it's gone now

This long long summer is far from a bummer but it's gone now

Monday, October 24, 2022

“Zoetrope” by Supercaan – A Song Review

     Supercaan infuses warmth into instrumentation that conveys vitality and urgency to accompany lyrics that are politically aware and socially insightful. “Zoetrope” begins with an 18-second, 3-step intensity buildup that crests when the percussion enters. The song does take a breath before its midpoint, but is primarily high energy. Still, the lean in the direction of lower frequency instrumentation and deep vocals lends a warmth to “Zoetrope.”
     From the lyrical perspective, Supercaan describe “Zoetrope” as “a sharp observation on the double standards of the people in the top echelons of society who ‘get to set the rules’ but ‘play by different rules.’” The band does not shy away from exploring political and social topics. Supercaan attempts to provide solace and answers in a world that’s not so clear. It helps that the members have diverse backgrounds. The five members are from London, Birmingham, North Shields and Denbighshire, Wales.
     “Zoetrope” is a techno-flavored Post Punk single from the band’s upcoming album “A Tiger Walks the Streets.” We admit to having to look up the meaning to the title – a “zoetrope is a 19th-century optical device consisting of a cylinder with a series of pictures on the inner surface that, when viewed through slits with the cylinder rotating, give an impression of continuous motion.
      The members of Supercaan are Greg Milner (vocals), Tom Whitfield (synth, lyrics), Stuart White (drums), Justin Januszewski (bass) and Ralph Frost (guitar). The band started as a trio in 2003, when Milner, White and Whitfield met at university. Januszewski and Frost began joining the others for live shows and are now fully under the Supercaan umbrella. Interestingly, “Zoetrope” was built “brick by brick”, with each band member recording his part remotely.
     “Zoetrope” by Supercaan

From the press release for the upcoming album:
On Supercaan’s introspective second album, ‘A Tiger Walks the Streets’, the band come face to face with their biggest anxieties for the world. “It’s about the things you look at in society, things that worry us about bringing kids up in this world, and what we are leaving behind for future generations,” says lyricist Tom Whitfield.
In a time where society feels increasingly fragile, polarising and detached, the five-piece’s sophomore offering attempts to make sense of a world where we don’t have all the answers. “We wanted this album to feel like there was something cutting through to the listener,” adds Tom.
It all started with an email Greg sent to Tom following a two-year hiatus: “I want to write an album. I don't know how I'm going to do it, I don't know who's going to do it. But that's what I want to do.”
That was the start of Supercaan, a band name inspired by provocative British author J.G. Ballard’s dark thriller ‘Super-Cannes’. Taking inspiration from groups like Canadian indie collective Broken Social Scene and late ‘90s Nottingham rockers Six By Seven, Supercaan refined their ambitious sound to one that pairs anthemic indie-rock and soaring electronic landscapes, strewn with bubbling, nostalgic synths.
Propelled by Greg’s sonorous, ruminative vocals, the result is a brooding sound big enough for the weighty questions each song tackles. “We ask ourselves how big and bold can we go in that space of a four to five minute indie-pop song,” Tom says. “We’ve always liked artists that have made albums where it feels like you don't want to skip a track because it's all part of a story. That's what we’ve tried to do with Supercaan.”
The band started working on ‘A Tiger Walks the Streets’ in the first lockdown in March 2020. “The Dropbox folder was poppin’!” Greg jokes. By November that year, the group were able to get into the studio in Birmingham to record their individual parts. “Recording on our own gave us more time to really focus on the sound we were bringing to the album, from start to finish,” Greg adds. “We all knew the story the album was trying to tell.”
Their grand ambitions for the second album also meant recruiting two new members, Ralph and Justin on bass and guitar. “I think it's given more of a raw physicality to the music,” Tom says. “It's heavier, quicker. It's a bit darker, a bit broodier.” While their debut tackled the past and regret, Supercaan are looking forward for the first time, grappling with the uncertainty that the future brings while asking whether our society is progressing or regressing.
The record gets its name from a line in their existential, skittering track ‘Nagoro’, about the shrinking, rural Japanese village of the same name that’s filled with eerie scarecrow dolls. “I saw that village as a metaphor about how we think we're progressing in society, but are we actually any happier?” Tom says. “The lyrics talk about jobs being lost to automation and modernization, and the tiger represents that regeneration. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing.”
It’s an album name that also sounds like it could be a children’s book, calling back to the idea of the band growing older and more reflective. “It’s looking at society with that slightly naive wisdom you've got as you get older, rather than that youthful optimism that we might have written with in our 20s,” Tom says. It’s a concept that also matches the cover art designed by Greg – spray painted toy baby blocks that evoke ideas of both childhood innocence and the rigid structure of our world.
These themes are explored throughout the new album, with each song serving as a fable in the collection. The propulsive, urgent first single ‘Zoetrope’ is a sharp observation on the double standards of the people in the top echelons of society who “get to set the rules” but “play by different rules”. A track built “brick by brick”, with each band member recording their parts remotely, Six By Seven’s lead singer and the band’s “hero” Chris Olley adds another dimension to ‘Zoetrope’ in a remixed version of the song.
Then there’s the multi-layered, synth-laden ‘Ricochet’ which tackles the complex hypocrisy of vanity. “You're criticising other people for being vain, but then you're exactly the same as them,” Tom says. ‘Everything Collapses’, meanwhile, is a reflective slow-burner that builds to a heart-swelling crescendo, navigating the loss of former band member Sam Norris, who tragically died in a car accident. “That’s the song I’m most proud of that we’ve ever written together,” Greg says.
As Supercaan enter a new era, ‘A Tiger Walks the Streets’ offers perspective in a time that has left so many of us jaded. In an elusive search for the answers, Supercaan unearth their biggest, boldest sound yet.

Friday, October 21, 2022

“Loud Enough (Live from the Parish)” by Kevin Taylor – A Song Feature


     Equipped with charisma in his voice and a Fender guitar strapped to his body, Kevin Taylor recorded “Loud Enough” at Parish, a live music venue in Austin, Texas. Under other conditions, the calming confidence of the vocals would carry a listener’s attention through the single. However, the commanding presence of the guitar demands equal consideration.

Kevin Taylor's Austin-based version of
the Abbey Road album cover?

     And under other circumstances two and a half minutes into a song is sufficient for proper evaluation. That doesn’t apply to “Loud Enough” because the song has two gears in reserve. First, Kevin Taylor launches an enlivened guitar solo, which then deposits the listener at an intensity upshift. In the official video of “Loud Enough,” it’s a cable discovery that triggers the upshift. Until the discovery, Taylor unsuccessfully attempts to explain to an annoyed sound engineer that something is not right. When Taylor plugs the cable into the sound system, the already strong single gains more strength, motivating the previously uninterested sole patron at the Parish to get up and dance. 

     Taylor said, “This is one of my favorite tunes I've written. This recording was taken from a live a video shoot, and we really felt we captured something special on the day of shooting!” The other band members were Austin Sisler (guitar), Maximiliano Martinez (bass), Sarah Ulloa (vocals, synth), and Jean-Luc Vorster (drums).

     “Loud Enough (Live from the Parish)” by Kevin Taylor

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

“Coming Of Age” by China Bears - A Song Feature


     The song progressively “matures,” which fits with the title “Coming of Age.” The beginning is relatively relaxed as the lyrics set the stage. Slightly more than a minute into the single from China Bears, the instrumental intensity is increased. Another step is taken at 2:15, and by the finish of “Coming of Age” aggressive percussion and trumpets take a major portion of the attention. The promotional material is well phrased - chiming guitars, longing vocals and artillery percussion build to a thoroughly piqued peak of triumphant trumpets.


     The single is on the EP “All That Distance.” China Bears explains:

  "The new EP 'All That Distance' is a collection of songs from China Bears at their most vulnerable. Having set up a studio space at home and working on those skills during the lockdown, China Bears took on joint engineering roles to record this EP. With this opportunity, ‘All That Distance’ is a collection of songs of dealing with loss and grief and ultimately trying to figure out your place in the world as you move into adulthood."


     China Bears formed in Summerset, UK in 2015 after twin brothers Ivan (guitar, vocals) and Frazer Proctor (guitar) met James Zealey (bass) and Dean McCaw (drums) at university in Guildford. Other contributors to “Coming of Age” are Rosie Peppin (backing vocals), Kizzie Proctor (backing vocals, synth), and Curtis Day (trumpet).


     “Coming Of Age” by China Bears

Lyrics of “Coming Of Age” by China Bears

Go break a leg you know you got this one

I wish I believed what you said

I used to think that kind of confidence

Would one day greet me like an old friend


Instead I’m hiding tonight in the bathroom whilst you’re all downstairs

Trying to recognise the person in the mirror

Never thought it would hurt this bad or bleed this way

Oh the greatest lie is coming of age


Go break a leg you know you got this one

Those words dissolve in my head

Each year more of me disappears

I forget what the feeling I’m chasing is


I’ve been away for too long for it to go unnoticed now

Any second you’ll be coming to find me

You’ll sit me down, eye to eye, tell me straight

I was sold a lie counting the days

This has all just been a terrible mistake

Oh the greatest lie is coming of age


Instead you put your hand on me

Said “it's okay to feel the way you feel”

Life can drag you in circles and spins

Go at your own pace coming of age


Instead you put your hand on me

Said “it's okay to feel the way you feel”

Life can drag you in circles and spins

Go at your own pace coming of age


A step in the right direction, is one less further away

Go at your own pace

Coming of age

A step in the right direction, is one less further away

Go at your own pace

Coming of age.


Monday, October 17, 2022

“Atmosphere” by Kids of Adelaide - A Song Feature


     The contrast between the two voices in the opening harmonization of “Atmosphere” is the immediate draw. But the final minute of the single from Kids of Adelaide is more powerful than the start. The guitar and piano combination is attention-gripping.
      “Atmosphere” reflects the relationship between the two members of Kids of Adelaide, namely Severin Specht and Benjamin Nolle:
  “’Atmposhere’ is the song on the album (‘The Cabin Tapes) that was written first and, due to its topic, it became the opener of the album. After almost 10 years as a band we noticed that we had somehow disconnected from each other, feeling in the wrong place and lacking a common vision of our future. The song describes this feeling and the process of getting back together, leaving worries and struggles behind. It’s vital for us to create an atmosphere in which everyone can be oneself, get inspired, inspire each other and love what we’re doing. After this song was written and we talked to each other very honestly, sharing our troubles, wishes and ideas we were really ready to work on the new album. Therefore we went to a secluded cabin in the forests to create the “Atmosphere’ we needed.”
     Kids of Adelaide is geographically misdescriptive, since the band is not based in Adelaide, Australia. They are from Germany, but have relocated to the UK. The band’s website explains the name:
     “A band name did not have to be found. Rather, it was created almost by itself. From long nightly conversations about music and the dream of being able to make a living from it, a common vision grew. The vision was so vivid and tangible to both of them that it almost felt like a place and they gave it the name Adelaide. A common goal to which the two now set off together – and thus became its children.”
     Talking on ‘Atmosphere’ Benjamin Nolle commented:”
  "The track describes the feeling of being separated and thus not being where you want to be. But above all it describes the desire to find each other again, followed by the re-immersion in a common atmosphere. For Severin and me as a band, this meant appreciating each other's creative input in its entirety and realizing again that the Kids of Adelaide are always both of us, that only the two of us together can be a band. And that this is our strength. It's a song about finding back to where you were, where you liked to be. And there is always a way back. This is the message we want to convey.”
     “Atmosphere” by Kids of Adelaide

Lyrics of “Atmosphere” by Kids of Adelaide
Outside the atmosphere
I can't breathe I can't see clear
Far away from the ones I love
Down on the earth that looks so small from here

I'm losing gravity
Darkness surrounding me
Nothing is like it used to be
Being separated from my dear

I wanna disappear
Into the atmosphere
Back to the start where everything begins
To find the pieces that we lost for years

Where you can build things up
And love the ones you've got
Don't be someone you're not
And you're back in the atmosphere
Back in the atmosphere
Build things up
And love the ones you've got
Don't be someone you're not
And you're back in the atmosphere
Back in the atmosphere

Why can't we just escape
Into the tender shape
Back to the reckless days of our youth
Before we lost ourselves inside the haze

Back in the atmosphere
Worries are far from here
We didn't know the answers to our questions
But now everything became so clear

Where you can build things up
And love the ones you've got
Don't be someone you're not
And you're back in the atmosphere
Back in the atmosphere

Friday, October 14, 2022

“Chasing Sleep” by The Good Williams Fringe – A Song Feature


      It was the skillful coordination of emotional and melodic crescendos that provided the incentive for adding “Chasing Sleep” to our Indie playlist. The first two minutes certainly carry emotion, as the person sleeplessly ponders unrealized dreams and recognizes that the loss is self-inflicted. But at the 2:14 mark, the song swells in synchronization with growth in the display of emotion. The vocals become less vulnerable and more determined, delivering the listener to the final verse of “I want to live.”
     The appeal of the song from The Good Williams Fringe extends beyond the crescendo. The vocal processing is intriguing. Perhaps the intent is to reflect a dream state without using the breathy and reverb processing often used in Dream Pop. “Chasing Sleep” instead employs an approach similar to an early line (“Now she’s hit the big time”) in “Honey Pie” by The Beatles. “Chasing Sleep” does capture an early-recording megaphone feel, much like The Beatles, who are said to have chopped off the vocals at both ends of the frequency range. It would be interesting to know the techniques of The Good Williams Fringe.
     The guitar that first enters at 1:42 is another interesting feature of “Chasing Sleep.” The guitar is allowed to have a low-resolution metallic sound. It is not a sound often heard in recordings having the preparation and quality of the single from The Good Williams Fringe.
     “Chasing Sleep” is the focus single from the seven-track album “No Place Safer,” which can purchased at the Bandcamp site – CLICK HEREThe Good Williams Fringe is songwriter Boone Williams and a rotating cast of friends, family, and collaborators. They are based in Somerset, Kentucky. The credits for the album note that percussion is from Jon Modaff and the female backing vocals belong to Lilly Watkins.

     No Place Safer” reflects a growth and transformation from Williams' earlier work to a darker, more ominous writing style. "I wanted it to feel like dread. Like how it feels just before things turn for the worst," says Williams. The album was released via DanceCryDance Records. 
      “Chasing Sleep” by The Good Williams Fringe

Lyrics of “Chasing Sleep” by The Good Williams Fringe
I can’t stop myself from thinking I
I might have brought this on myself this time
There’s no keeping track of who to blame when I
I might have missed this all in another life
I lay in bed
Chasing sleep
That I’m the one
Keeping me
From my dreams
I lay in bed
Realizing I’ve gone too deep
Hold the light
Stay awake with me
I lay in bed
Chasing sleep
That I’m the one keeping me from my dreams
Oh, I’ve done it again
I’m waking up for a moment in the middle of the night
In a cold sweat again
Oh, you know
And I know what that means
I want to live
I want to live
I want to live forever
I want to live
For a long, long time
I’ll see all of them die