The Tree

 

JC 2

A bleakness of mood that evokes Nick Drake.

Phrasing that raises the specter of Jeff Buckley.

British songwriter and photographer J.C. Wrightson’s stark songs are instantly ear catching. Deceptively simple on first listen, they are minimalist in nature, and grainy in texture, and it is there, in that bit of a blur, that you feel the rub: Wrightson’s songs are not as simple as they sound, not simply sad, not simply vulnerable. They are those things, but they are also something more. A finger crooking, not so much in invitation, but to indicate direction: it is here, look here, in the seam of the song. Listen to the words, and also, listen to the words that are missing.

Something existential this way comes, disguised as an emo neo folk song.

J.C. Wrightson’s brief Twitter bio mentions that he’s living in Stockholm, but that’s pretty much all I know about his personal life. I started this post months ago, and tonight Wrightson’s website is down, so I can’t include the bio that I’d made a note about, the one that I apparently thought was, “as romantic as they come.”

Hopefully I can find out more about J.C. Wrightson in the future and update this post, but I’ve already waited too long to get this song up. Here’s The Tree, recorded live in Carlisle, UK. After you listen to it, you may want to check out the music video below. Nothing is Forever had me holding my breath, waiting to see what would happen—and so much happens, and nothing happens. Beautiful, and heartbreaking, and like The Tree, the video for Nothing is Forever is deceptively simple, and a killer. 

 

The Sea

Face the King

Possibly due in part to Dan DelVecchio’s above mentioned guitar effects, last September I was seriously  s  w  o  o  o n  i  n  g  over the New York based alternative band Face The King and posted their amazing song The Stage.  If you checked out that post, you’ll understand why I was so psyched when the band uploaded their new single, The Sea, to the Sirenstories SoundCloud.

The Sea is an anthemic song that will serve Face The King well this summer when they join the Warped Tour on its twentieth anniversary. (Yep, the Warped Tour is turning twenty, scary, right?) It’s a song that brings to mind U2 at the pinnacle of their fame.

The lyrics to The Sea are gorgeous. Beautiful and darkly romantic. They add so much to the sweeping sound of this epic song—just take a listen. Let the sound waves of The Sea break over you.

The avalanche . . .
The perfect place to hide
The rolling fields
Beneath the quiet and the white

And if you leave you know I’ll follow
Hold onto me and I won’t let go

Here comes the wave . . .
It’s crashing over me
Immovable against the moving sea

I turn to the sea
The water is coming in
And every day
A chance to end or to begin

And if you leave you know I’ll follow
Hold on to me and I won’t let go

Here comes the wave . . . 
It’s crashing over me
Immovable against the moving sea
Here comes the wave . . . 
It’s breaking over me
Unbreakable against the breaking sea

Am I sinking, am I swimming?
Standing still and in between
(Am I sinking, am I swimming?)
The surface rises to my knees
(Am I sinking, am I swimming?)
Should we stay or should we leave?
(Am I sinking, am I swimming?)
Don’t be afraid, hold on to me…
Hold on to me
Hold on to me
Hold on to me . . . 

PS Here’s a pic of Dan DelVecchio, because I knew you’d want to see the guy who uses those effects . . .

Dan DelVecchio

To see the rest of the band and find out more about them and their fantastic music, visit their website, or connect with them on fb and twitter.

Little Heart

How cold of you, little heart

How sweet and liquid you tried to deceive

Little Heart is a subtle Valentine. Beautiful in its simplicity, the song grows more poignant and profound with each listen. Topping out at a minute and a half, Little Heart is short. To catch the full meaning of this delicate, minimalist piece, I recommend that you play it over and over, like I did.

An impressionistic wisp of a song, Little Heart consists only of a lead vocal and evocative background vocals, sung in pure tones and whispers. Vocals that sigh with yearning, even as the lyrics scold.

Lisa West, a songwriter from Denton, Texas who records under the name Faerytale, found her inspiration for Little Heart in the writings of Tolkien, and in the idea that, “we tend to be hardest on ourselves”.

How cold of you, little heart

How sweet and liquid you tried to deceive

Did you honestly believe my eyes did not see?

Now backtrack, little heart, now run

Do you honestly believe you run from me?

Try to find those paths by which you came

And be careful, little heart, you are lame

Cold, grey, victim of your own sway

I was not, we were not

Equals, little heart, friendly, kind

My eyes bore into your motive and we both saw

Run, little heart, run

lisawest

Read more about Lisa West on EaRiE. Connect with her fb.

And—

Happy Valentines’s Day from Sirenstories

X♥X

Hold Your Roses Back

roses for blog

SoundCloud, where the Sirenstories SoundCloud lives, is apparently a great place for collaboration. From what I can gather, among other things, it’s like . . . online dating for musicians, or rather, online making.

With Valentine’s Day fluttering towards us on ickle cupid wings, it seems like a good time to post one of the collaborative pieces submitted to the Sirenstories SoundCloud. There have been quite a few uploaded recently.

Roses is a gorgeous song full of yearning, with a guitar track from Telefan and lyrics and vocals by Linde Sagen. 

I’ve listened to Roses over and over for about twenty minutes. There’s something elusive about the song. The form sounds loose, feels organic. The lyrics seem a little loose as well, as far as rhyme, and at times, even reason. And yet . . . I love the lyrics. Love the surprising sentiment of the song: Hold your roses back.

Jim M from Philadelphia, who goes by Telefan, is a guitar player who has collaborated with dozens of artists on SoundCloud. He was the one who uploaded Roses, so I looked him up to find out a bit more about the song, but found only this lovely note: “Linde Sagen created some amazing vocals and lyrics for my music. It was an honor to work with her again.”

I’m sure Linde Sagen would say the same about Telefan. His jazz inspired guitar playing has a beautiful, clean tone. I look forward to listening to more of his collaborations.

Roses

Do you remember our very first night; we were busy chasing green lights
Time was raining on with crazy love, holding hands, dancing with a free mind
And the smell of green grass was never greater

Hold your fancy roses back, don`t buy me with a bunch of fancy crap
Hold the speed of your words, what does it matter now, wrong or right
Hold your roses back, I don`t need them anymore
See whatever that comes around, you’re begging me for more
I said hold your fancy roses back, I said hold your fancy roses back
I don`t need them anymore

Dazzled away by roses, dazzled away by a bunch of fancy roses
It’s hard tonight, imagine what the world would be without you
Just a bunch of fancy roses (those days are over)

Hold your fancy roses back, don`t buy me with a bunch of fancy crap
All I know it’s better than before, all I know his living for the moment
Roses, all I know he`s breathing on me now. This boy never read the weather
All I know he`s breathing on me, don’t you ever stop
I see you holding back the future, I see us falling back to pieces
Hold your fancy roses back
Where does he run to, where does he run to now
I`ll never lay me down in his bed of roses . . . 

Linde Sagen – lyrics, and vocals.
Telefan – guitars, and bass.

God Damn I Don’t Know.

Michelle Held painting

The availability of digital recording software, apps, and dyi culture, coupled with the constant state of flux of the music industry, has allowed the process of home recording to become just as sophisticated and creative as studio recording. These days, plenty of talented musicians make their records at home.

And then there are the musicians that make their records sound like home.

That’s the case with Michelle Held—whose name is a speck of a song all its own, go ahead, say it aloud—a singer songwriter from Detroit, who “has a big heart and a guitar” and whose gorgeous song, God Damn I Don’t Know, (which she recorded at home), is a thing of beauty and provocation.

Somebody said I should believe in you 
And somebody else said that you’re just not true 
And the other guy he claims it’s just a vibration between the two 
He said we’re always in motion 
And the other guy says that’s just some magic notion he made up 
To fill in the gaps

Everybody’s walkin along at their own accord tryin to get some sort of award 
Cause they think it means somethin 
But I don’t know I don’t know what it means anymore 
I’m tryin to clear my head 
I’m just walkin along thinkin about people who’re passed and dead 
And I don’t know where they gone to

Thinkin about em makes me sad and blue 
And it makes me wanna stay so damn true 
But I don’t know I don’t know who to stay true to 
Everybody’s right and singin their own song and if they sing it loud enough 
They’ll be able to prove you wrong 
But I don’t know I don’t know anymore

And the other guy says that I do know 
And I got all I need to prove it’s so 
But I don’t know I don’t know if he knows what he’s talkin about 
Everything now seems strange to me 
You seem weird too but don’t take that personally 
Cause I don’t I don’t know what I’m talkin about

And if it’s true if it’s true that I do know 
And I got all I need to prove it’s so 
Well if that’s true if that’s true then why do I feel so God Damn blue 
And now I’m afraid I just offended you 
But those are just some letters that somebody threw together 
And who’s to say who’s to say they have to remain that way

Maybe all that was once tried and true has grown 
And what was set in stone has been blown it ain’t new no more but old 
And all the stories we were sold how can you be sure that they still hold 
Maybe the person who said it was black or white or good or bad 
Was just as sad and blue as you and me and 
Maybe he was trying to find his own way tryin to find a way to break free too

And the other guy said just take the time commit your mind 
And sooner or later you’ll be fine 
But I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know if he’s right 
But I hope he’s right I hope what he’s sayin is true 
And I hope this fight takes me from here to you 
Cause if it don’t take me somewhere well that don’t seem fair

And you gotta remember the joy’s in the journey 
But does the joy end after they wheel you out on that gurney 
I don’t know I don’t know anymore . . . 

Michelle Held has contributed several songs to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and God Damn I Don’t Know is my favorite. Although there are plenty of differences in style, for example Held’s voice is unparalleled when it comes to vibrato, Michelle Held makes me think of Rickie Lee Jones, early Michele Shocked, and Elizabeth Cotton—quite an aural cocktail.

God Damn I Don’t Know is a song written out frustration with  life; not knowing what to do with it. Think Held’s figured it out, yeah?

Love the tags she used on SoundCloud: Indie. Folk. Tired of the Bullshit. Question Everything.

Please follow Michelle Held on fb and twitter.

Then check out Libby, still going strong at 92.

Coal, Pressure, Time

BANDLEADER

Coal, Pressure, Time is the latest musical effort from Bandleader, a talented indie group fronted by Vermont singer songwriter Patrick McCormack.

When Patrick contacted me and said he was kickstarting a new project, I was super excited and immediately became a supporter. The campaign was a success, and Coal, Pressure, Time, was released earlier this month. Today I’m psyched to share my favorite track from the CD, Can, Have, Will, a beautiful song that starts with a perfectly recorded guitar part and a vocal that brings Nick Drake to mind—a Nick Drake who isn’t so detached.

The casual, conversational vocal style of Can, Have, Will also reminds me of one of my favorite records of all time, an alt/country CD called Trace, from Son Volt.

Can, Have, Will is full of sweetness. The tune is uplifting, and the lyrics are both a promise, and an apology.

Trust in me I’ll be your first

Drop the reigns, girl I can take your worst

I can take your worst

 

Speak to me, I’ll lend an ear

Tell me things like no one else should hear

You know it’s crystal clear

 

I owe your body and your soul for being so cold

I mistreated you, but I can make it right again

I can, I have, and I will

 

Seagull bones and stones you keep

Take them home, reminds you of the beach

When you went with me

 

Make it known our souls will keep

Spoken code scripted underneath

Scripted underneath

 

I owe your body and your soul for being so cold

I mistreated you, but I can make it right again

I can, I have, and I will

As someone who once recorded in a converted barn in upstate New York, I can imagine what it was like for Bandleader to set up a temporary studio in an old hunting lodge in the wilds of Vermont. Two words: Dream Session. Love this description from Bandleader‘s press kit:

“About an hour from familiar territory, the hand constructed hunting lodge sat cold in the remaining snow beside its recently thawed brook. Only here could the band escape cell reception and all responsibility to focus solely on the task at hand. They recruited trusted collaborator and Chicago based engineer, Jamie Carter. With a mutual dedication to the same ideals, they kept an unbroken focus on distilling a moment, and preserving expressions . . . The release of Coal, Pressure, Time marks the dawn of a young, ambitious band with a solid and determined path. With both eyes on the horizon, Bandleader carries on in search of new and fertile grounds on which to rest their amps.”

pmlodge

Nearly two years ago Sirenstories featured Ovenbird, one of the songs Patrick McCormack recorded as a  solo artist. It remains one my favorite songs on the blog. Please check it out here.  As far as the band, “Bandleader came together as a result of front man Patrick McCormack‘s quest to bring his singer/songwriter material to the stage. After recruiting three other like minded musicians, the band quickly outgrew the notion of playing backup, and instead, an unpredictably colorful sound took life.”

In our back and forth, Patrick explained, “The group consists of myself, Jordon Chamberlin, and Alex Cseh. Our bassist, Dan, is no longer a part of the band, officially. Though he is filling in at our next show, we are currently searching for a new bassist.  At the moment, we consider ourselves a three-piece, that’s the core group.  No hard feelings whatsoever with Dan, he just had too much on his plate, and lives 40 minutes away from us.”

Dan? You might want to rethink that commute.

flare-email-attachment-404599043

Please follow Patrick McCormack on twitter and Bandleader on fb.

PS Isn’t the album art gorgeous? I’ll share info if I get it. Meanwhile, who wants a t-shirt? Yes, please.

French Trailer Music — To Defeat Them All

Jonathan Mayer

I knew if I said French, you wouldn’t be able to resist . . .

Born into a family of artists and musicians, French composer Jonathan Mayer studied violin as a child, then in high school moved on to electric guitar. But it was when he first heard the music of John Williams that Mayer discovered his passion for film music. Movies like Indiana Jones and Jurassic Park inspired Mayer first, and only a few years ago, he discovered that he “could play an orchestra” by himself with soundbanks.

In our back and forth, Jonathan Mayer told me that originally, he composed for fan films—which made me think of authors who’ve honed their writing skills on fan fiction. Then he wrote music for companies who needed it for educational trailers. Now, he’s branching out into commercials and Android video games, and recently an agency in New York contacted him about using his music for TV.

Love this screen shot of To Defeat Them All

Screen Shot To Defeat Them All

We’re quite lucky to have caught Jonathan Mayer at this stage. He ended our last email conversation by saying,

“Here i am now, very busy, but that’s what i looked for.”

Then he apologized for his English, but I found it charming.

Mayer was generous enough to contribute several pieces to the Sirenstories SoundCloud and he sent me a couple of tracks privately, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time listening to his music. Epic, mysterious, bold, moving—it’s all deep and dramatic. In other words, excellent writing music.

SInce it was so hard to decide what to post, I’m adding one more of Mayer’s pieces for your listening pleasure—the name alone made me love it: Biocode.

Those who speak geek might like to know that on Biocode, Mayer uses Spectrasonics omnisphere, Projectsam orchestral brass, EWQL stormdrum 2, symphobia 2 and cinematic strings.

I’m a musician and all but—yikes.

 

Jonathan Mayer

Musicians and composers, please connect with Jonathan Mayer on his facebook page.

Thank you.