Sweet Sirens, The Crosswalk Kings

As soon as I heard Our Goodbye I fell in love with the song and the voice of the songwriter, Seneca Block, lead singer and guitarist of The Crosswalk Kings. Our Goodbye is a gentle lullaby of love and loss, and its simple poetry perfectly expresses the profound subject of parting.

Life is a field of green

Between winter snows

So when your heart knows loss,

You will find love to know,

They’re cut from the same cloth.

And I hope that it makes you smile

One more time.

And I won’t forget you.

When I become the earth.

And all the beautiful flowers

To whom I give birth,

Call out your name,

I hope that it makes you smile

One more time.

Don’t you worry away your days.

We will find our way.

So smile, this is our goodbye.

This is our goodbye.

Our goodbye.

Our Goodbye is just under three minutes, and the tempo is moderate, but yet I had to play the song over and over because it disappeared too soon. I wanted to hear it again and again and besides, I couldn’t write. I was crying my eyes out.

Our Goodbye is in 3/4 time and starts with a swaying acoustic guitar. Seneca Block’s voice comes in and lies down gently on top. At about the 2:20 mark the full band kicks in. At this point Seneca sounds like his heart is breaking, even as he tries to reassure us, or perhaps himself, that things are going to be all right. My skin prickles when Jon Simmons comes in on piano, playing a lovely, conversational melody line that for me, is the voice of the person Seneca is singing to.

At 2:50 the piano melody—so simple, so expressive—gives me full on goosebumps, and then too soon, like the song, it’s over. But that melody line answers Seneca’s lyrics, and just as Seneca seems to want to reassure us even as his heart is quietly breaking, the piano sounds as if it seeks to reassure him. The conversation is complete. We’ve been privileged listeners.

Seneca Block’s vocals make think just for a second of John Mayer, and someone else who I can’t quite place, someone who really knows how to sing. To my ears Seneca Block’s singing voice is close to speech, a style that is authentic and soothing and a personal favorite of mine.

When so many people are spilling themselves all over the media, their souls bared to such extremes that their performances are nearly without nuance, hearing the restraint in Seneca’s voice is a relief, a rare breath of artful restraint that promises a gentle, healthy intimacy.

Our Goodbye was recorded at Emerson Radio Station and I’ve included a bunch of pics from the session. I love these photos, they match the honest music of The Crosswalk Kings.

Based in Boston, The Crosswalk Kings have a singer songwriter/pop/rock sound that could be called Adult Contemporary, although I’m not sure if that label is quite right for them. The quiet yearning in Seneca Block’s voice is something we will all know at various times in our lives and resonates like good poetry. I don’t like the idea of putting this band in a box.

The Crosswalk Kings uploaded three songs to the Sirenstories SoundCloud, so I’m sure I’ll post more about them at some point, but really, I can’t wait to hear what they do next in the studio. Click on their pics and you’ll wind up at their Reverbnation page or their fb page where they’ve just posted a few new beautiful demos.

The Ominous Beauty of The First Meeting

Sirenstories takes you to the movies today with The First Meeting. Romantic and hopeful, sad, mysterious, and slightly tragic, this beautiful piece was composed and produced by Copenhagen artists Paul Bjørling and Michele Brustia who work under the name Proofsound.

The First Meeting is a story, and maybe you have one that matches. I’ve talked to a lot of authors lately who are making book trailers and need good music. There’s a lot of music out there that’s canned, and you want to be careful when you’re making a trailer that you don’t use musical clichés. Maybe Paul Bjørling and Michele Brustia have a piece that’s perfect for you. Click on their photo to visit their site.

“We use both acoustic and electronic sound sources. We have an extensive range of cutting edge sounds and synthesizers that we love to blend together with real instruments.”

The First Meeting can be found on the album “Screenplay” (Apollo Publishing – APL 127).

Previously on Sirenstories  Music for Film Featured on Sirenstories

A Siren Who Does Yoga

Go ahead. Give yourself a few minutes to stretch. Or just give yourself a few minutes. Let go of your cynicism and surrender to Freedom, track 6 of the CD, Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra from New Jersey artist Yoji Ananda.

Freedom is a yoga pop song which includes several different Sanskrit and Gurmukhi mantras. The melody is so full of yearning that if you give in to the song, especially just after minute two, when the chorus comes in for the second time, with harmony, you’ll want to listen to it over and over.

Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra is a CD for anyone, but yoga instructors and practitioners especially will love the diverse mix of styles used to create this collection of lovely and mysterious songs.

Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra is a great CD to practice yoga to. Yoji Ananda has a beautiful voice and plays 12-string guitar. She also does drum programming and plays keys on the CD which features her brother John Navarra—The Inquisitive Cobra—on clay pot, darabouka, and konnakol vocals. Other talented musicians play on Yoji Ananda and the Inquisitive Cobra and I especially enjoyed Chris Finnegan’s uilleann pipes.

So go ahead. Unroll your yoga mat, if you don’t have one just lie on the floor. Breathe deeply, and listen to your body. What kind of movement would your body enjoy? Don’t tell your body what to do, just listen and allow your physical body to reveal what it wants, how it feels. Check in with your emotions. Accept how you feel without judgement or criticism. Allow yourself to be exactly as you are. Be aware of any pulsing in the body, or tingling sensations. Stretch. Breathe. Make a sound.

Stretch. Breathe. Accept. Relax. And tell everyone about Freedom.

PS Click on Yoji Ananda‘s pic and you’ll wind up at her fb page where you may learn some surprising things about her . . ..

Have a beautiful day, and remember to breathe.

In the Head of John Peel

And in the head of Modal Roberts. And in my head. That’s where you’re going. But could that be any weirder than the trip In the Head of John Peel just sent me on? I think not.

When people submit to Sirenstories I listen to their songs and read the notes/lyrics they leave for me. Or not. Some artists don’t seem to understand that I want to write about them, and they leave me nothing but the tune.

But whether or not they leave me a message or few autobiographical facts or links or lyrics I often go poking around online to learn more about them.

In the case of In the Head of John Peel it wasn’t artist Modal Roberts I wanted to learn more about, but the subject of his song, John Peel.

I’m not saying that Modal Roberts doesn’t interest me, because he does. See?

The alternative blues sound of In the Head of John Peel made me think immediately of guitar god singer songwriter Chris Whitley. There’s a certain rawness, something visceral that the two artists share and In the Head of John Peel definitely has that Delta blues flavor that Chris’ music has.

That may be where the similarities end. The more I listened to In the Head of John Peel the more hilarious I found the song, it’s much funnier than any song Chris wrote, any song that I know of at least. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

But okay. The trip I took. I listened to In the Head of John Peel twice and I was like, huh? I’d heard of John Peel but as a sort of DJ legend, I didn’t really know any details about him, so I Googled him.

There’s a ton out there about John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, (August 30th, 1939 – October 25th, 2004), known professionally as John Peel. Wikipedia even has a sample of what they call his “seismographic handwriting style”.

Of the myriad of bizarre facts Wikipedia had to offer about the English disc jockey, radio presenter and journalist who broadcasted regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004, I thought the strangest was that following Kennedy’s assassination in November 1963, he passed himself off as a reporter for the Liverpool Echo in order to attend the arraignment of Lee Harvey Oswald and he and a friend can be seen in the footage of the November 22/23 midnight press conference at Dallas Police Department when Lee Harvey Oswald was paraded before the media. He later phoned in the story to the Liverpool Echo.

John Peel showcased new acts that later achieved great fame on his show, and he was one of the first broadcasters to play psychedelic rock and progressive rock records on British radio. He was widely known for promoting the music of  various styles, including pop, reggae, indie rock, alternative rock, punk, hardcore punk, grindcore, death metal, British hip hop, and dance music.

Here’s the thing:

His favourite single is widely known to have been the 1978 song Teenage Kicks by The Undertones. In an interview in 2001, he stated “There’s nothing you could add to it or subtract from it that would improve it.”

But Modal Roberts doesn’t really believe John Peel, and that is what In the Head of John Peel is about.

Did John Peel really dig the tune as much as he said he did?

The opening guitar chords of Teenage Kicks remind me of Blondie’s One Way or Another which was released the same year. You’ve probably heard Teenage Kicks, Wait—no? Well here you go. It was almost impossible to decide which version of the song to post, but in the end I fell for this one:

Are teenage dreams so hard to beat
Every time she walks down the street
Another girl in the neighbourhood
Wish she was mine, she looks so good

I wanna hold her wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night

I’m gonna call her on the telephone
Have her over ’cause I’m all alone
I need excitement oh I need it bad
And it’s the best, I’ve ever had

I wanna hold her wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night

I wanna hold her wanna hold her tight
Get teenage kicks right through the night

So. Is this the perfect song?

It was almost as difficult to decide which picture of Modal Roberts I should post. Click on the pic above and you’ll wind up at his website where you can check out some other photos of him. Or maybe if you’re lucky you’ll catch him at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Modal is performing at Paradise in the Vault August 6th—14th.

I’d love to see Modal Roberts live, but until I do he will be forever linked in my mind with John Peel and The Undertones, Chris Whitley and maybe even JFK. The fact that In the Head of John Peel made me think even for a minute of Chris Whitley,  whose music I hold above all others, is high praise.

And yes Modal, I did follow the links down the rabbit hole and ended up at the John Peel narrated JFK video. I’m pretty sure that will make you laugh.