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.

All The Pretty Things Between

Face The King Lyrics copy 1

So. Hard. To decide.

Which Face The King song to feature. Because my head is all . . . blurry.

Being in love does that.

And Eric Zirlinger has a voice to fall in love with.

The first song I heard by the New York City based band Face the King was All The Pretty Things Between. With one chorus—the band had me. It’s just such a . . . Lemonheads thing to say. (Yes, they’re still around, who knew?) All The Pretty Things Between. It’s a book title. A movie. A life. Plus, the infectious, poppy chorus reminds me of the Stone Roses, on a really good day. Caffeinated.

Then there’s The Science Apart, which takes its cue from the early music of U2. And You, Me & the Sound, a whirl-around-the-room song, that again, makes me think of Bono.

But I think The Stage is the Face The King song I love the most, so that’s the one I’ll post.

“Well I just want to be

Onstage

When the lights go down . . . ”

On their website, the members of Face The King call themselves an “independent alternative hard rock band”, and they definitely are. But on The Stage, the first verse is whispered, and the languid vocals of the first chorus have a delicate beauty that builds until Eric Zirlinger slides into a falsetto so full of yearning . . . it’s like a spill of late afternoon light.

By the end of the song Zirlinger is practically shouting, and that works too. If you’ve ever wanted something so badly you’ve cried for it, you’ll feel this song.

I imagine Linkin Park fans in particular will love The Stage, and some listeners might even say that the song is graced—just for a few gorgeous notes—by the spirit of Jeff Buckley.

 

You say that I’m a dreamer . . .

But you’re calling my name

You say that I’m failure . . .

But you’re calling my name

 

Well I just want to be on stage,

When the lights go down

I just want to be on stage,

When the lights go down . . .  

 

You say that I’m a liar,

But you’re calling my name

You say that I’m an alien,

But you’re calling—you’re calling my name

 

I just want to be on stage,

When the lights go down

I just want to be on stage,

When the lights go down . . .

 

They’re calling my name

They’re calling my name, (I just want to be)

They’re calling my name, (I just want to be)

You’re calling, You’re calling, You’re calling my name . . .

 

I just want to be on stage,

When the lights go down

I just want to be on stage,

When the lights go down . . .

 

They’re calling my name, (I just want to be)

You’re calling my name, (I just want to be)

You’re calling my name . . . 

 

Face The King is Eric Zirlinger (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Dan DelVechio (lead guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), Joey Dammacco (bass, synth, backing vocals), and Randy Palumbo (drums, percussion).

Singer Face The King

Face the King Guitar

Face The King Bass

Face The King Drums

PS Great news: You can get these songs for free, along with one more. A stadium ready, anthemic tune called The Burning and The Falling Down. The five songs comprise The Sound, a preview EP that’s newly released in anticipation of the band’s full length CD.

I don’t know how long Face The King will be giving away The Sound, but for now it’s available to download.

And then you can listen to it over and over.

The Commuters

COMMUTERS

As I Make My Way starts with a scratchy guitar riff that morphs into a burst of late Beatlesque sound then moves into a groove that for some reason, although it’s slower, makes me thing of Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend. Maybe it’s not the rhythm, maybe it’s the lo-fi production, (which I love), or that rough around the edges guitar part, but I swear, there’s a little bit of Sweet’s megahit in there.

And then, As I Make My Way is nothing but The Commuters, with their very own pop/rock, anthemic sound. And even though it’s a band sound, the mix never gets crowded, never becomes a wall of music, and stays refreshingly lo-fi—that hint of Sweet’s Girlfriend, all grown up, and possibly holding a U2 CD in her hands—with vocals that are sometimes tough, sometimes tender, always honest. Grounded.

I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
Reflected light from the other side of day
I’m seeing light from the other side of morning
I’m seeing light, my mind is blown away

…My mind is blown away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I watch the world from the other side of owning
The things I’ve held, I’ve let them go away
I watch the world from the other side of owning
I watch the world, desires have slipped away

…Desires have slipped away — away
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way

I walk through time with a different understanding
Embracing what I see along the way
I walk though time with a different understanding
I’ll figure it out, as I make my way

…as I make my way — my way
I’ll figure it out as I make my way

I’m on a journey, I’ve got my faith
I don’t have to worry about my fate
The planets align as the will dictates
I’m writing it out as I make my way…

Siren Zeeshan Zaidi, frontman and founder of The Commuters, was generous enough to share the story behind As I Make My Way.

“This song is about the vision I had all my life of becoming a professional musician and just going for it. I’d been in and around the music industry much of my life, but had put my own musical dreams on the back burner. One day I was deep in thought and said to myself: Some day I will die. And when that day comes I don’t want to look back on my life and kick myself for not doing what deep down inside I’ve always wanted to do. So the song is about that moment, and going for it, and not worrying too much about outcomes — about giving it your all and just trusting that things will work out as they are supposed to.

Ironically, even though this was the obvious first single, in the studio, this was one of the last songs to come together. It was lagging a bit behind the other songs and I wasn’t sure if it would even make the album. Then one day I said to Uri — let’s take a cue from the song itself and lay down some cool parts, starting with a great intro, without caring too much about how it turns out. Just let it go. So then I came up with the two guitar parts you hear in the intro and put them down, and Uri was messing around with a keyboard and came up with the really killer synth riff, as well as the scratchy sound at the beginning.
Felt a lot like magic.”

And sounds a lot like magic. So glad The Commuters got it down.

The Commuters are: Zeeshan Zaidi (Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Songwriter, Co-Producer), Uri Djemal (Guitar, Keyboards, Co-Producer), Ben Zwerin (Bass), and Paul Amorese (Drums). Their full 11 song album Rescue was mastered by White Stripes/Ryan Adams collaborator Fred Kevorkian and includes Take a Step Back, a gorgeous ballad that I’m particularly in love with. Rescue is available on bandcamp so you can easily choose the tracks you want, or get the entire album, which is what I recommend.

The music video for As I Make My Way is of the Day In A Life variety, but what makes it so interesting, besides the fact that it uses the band’s hometown of NYC as a backdrop, is that it shows Zeeshan Zaidi as the start of the day not as a musician, but as The Man In The Gray Flannel suit tech entrepreneur that he is in his ‘other’ life.

Six Degrees of Separation. If You’re Lucky.

A 7-year-old girl finds a brown paper bag in the closet of the guest room. Inside the bag, is a handgun.

A mother wakes her teenage daughter in the middle the night and says, “Go outside, wait on the lawn.” Inside the house, the girl’s father considers suicide after losing his job. He has a handgun.

A high school student spends part of his senior year in juvie. Shortly after he gets out, he kills himself with a handgun.

A young man in his twenties who “has it all” kills himself with a handgun.

An alcoholic man in his forties kills himself with a handgun.

A fourth grade boy goes away with a friend’s family for the weekend. “Where is the cabin? What is the phone number? Who will be there?”

The one question the mother doesn’t ask: Are there any guns at the cabin?

A BB gun. The boy loses an eye.

So what do these things have to do with me? It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that these tragedies touched my life, and hurt my heart, and I’m wondering, is there a gun in your life?

When Columbine happened I was teaching music in six different schools to children of all ages. On my lunch break I wrote a song that was so ugly, I put it away without finishing it. I thought to myself, this is a horrible thing to write about. But like Columbine, the song haunted me, and finally, a few years later, I showed it to my friend Rosanne Cash. Rose said, “You have to finish this song, and you have to play it for people.”

Here is Pray, produced by Kevin Salem and  Fletcher Beasley. I’m not sure what good sharing it will do . . . but it’s the only response I can muster after what happened on Friday, besides holding my son close. He turns 7 this week.

Baby got a shotgun
Bought a black trench coat
Small town left stunned
Diary on video

Went into the classroom
Hero with a hit list
Bricks and books became a tomb
For boys and girls who’d never been kissed

ooh ooh ooh
There is only one thing left to say
ooh ooh ooh
Put your hands together, kneel down, close your eyes

Baby in an out group
Nazi skinhead
Can’t blame the neighborhood front stoop
Quiet boy white bread

Baby was a time bomb
Tick tick ticking boy
No singular phenomenon
This suicide kill joy

ooh ooh ooh
There is only one thing left to say
ooh ooh ooh
Put your hands together, kneel down, close your eyes

Pray

Summer Comes Early on Sirenstories

Summertime, rock and roll, a different decade, and innocence; these are a few of the words/images that came to my mind as I listened to Always by Gary T. Carr, a songwriter from California who sounds as if he’s spent time with The Beach Boys and Buddy Holly.

This song is so sweet it hurts. Enjoy.

Look into my eyes and see, how your gaze has captured me, 


And my heart keeps saying . . . always. 


Like the two stars in the sky, shining down on you and I, 


They’re together side by side . . . always.

And when I held you in my arms I knew . . .  I love you, I love you – Michelle.

Like the sunshine in the sky, when a dark cloud passes by, 


There’s a rainbow coming . . . always.

And when I held you in my arms I knew . . . I love you, I love you – Michelle.

Like the stars up in the sky, shining down on you and I, 


They’re together side by side . . . always. 



And the sun up the sky, when a dark cloud passes by, 


There’s a rainbow coming . . . always.

The music of Gary T. Carr is present and past, but I have a feeling his presence on the internet is new.

Click on the lovely photo of Gary to learn more about him.

Last Hour Battle’s White Bear

From what I understand, white bear syndrome is a branch of the OCD tree.  A therapist I once shared office space with when I was a music teacher at a high school for at risk teens, told me that all musicians have OCD. Um.

I hear a bit of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in some of Last Battle‘s angular instrumental lines and their vocals have a slightly raw sound; imagine a younger, poppier Eddie Vedder. Imagine if Pearl Jam was a boy band whose members hooked up with a progressive rock guitarist then rubbed sandpaper on their sound—rubbed it the right way and scraped it up just right.

The Philadelphia based band says, “The white bear syndrome is when unwanted thoughts pop into your head and it’s extremely difficult to stop the never-ending cycle of thinking these negative thoughts.”

Not that I’ve ever had that. Happen. Ah, ever. You? Didn’t think so.

White Bear

How was I supposed to know that everything you said 
Were all the lies you breathed in 
How was I supposed to know 
that everyone is dead 
As the dream we lived in

it’s no surprise 
We’re running out of time 
All I had I offered 
Just so you would 
it’s no surprise 
We’re running out of time 
All I had I offered 
Just so you would break me

How was I supposed to know that everyone is dead 
From the lies they bath in 
How was I supposed to show 
To a closed down skeptic who’s sinking into the night 
That it’s all the same 
That it’s all the same 
Your mind’s playing games 
Your mind’s playing games

it’s no surprise 
We’re running out of time 
All I had I offered 
Just so you would 
it’s no surprise 
We’re running out of time 
All I had I offered 
Just so you would break me

If these walls surrounding 
Are the thoughts of new life 
Then without a creak 
without a whisper 
I will not speak 
Would only listen

It’s no surprise 
We’re running out of time 
All I had I offered 
Just so you would break 
It’s no surprise 
We’re running out of time 
All I had I offered 
Just so you would break me

Love the sparse beginning of White Bear and the semi whispered vocal. The chorus is a real hook, and profound.

It’s no surprise we’re running out of time . . .

I look forward to listening to more of Last Hour Battle. Click on the link and you can do just that.

Oh and feel to leave a comment. Are all musicians OCD? How about writers?


The Best Teachers are Sirens

Meet Mrs. McGee . . .

A total Siren, right?

Mrs. McGee is the teacher featured in What Do You Want to Be? a new picture book written by Beth Carter and illustrated by Leo Silva.

I ‘met’ Beth on author David Harrison‘s wonderful blog about two years ago. At that time, I was going to his blog almost every day for inspiration. David has written over eighty children’s books and runs a Word of the Month poetry contest on his site that’s great fun. If you need inspiration, I suggest you try it, the word prompt will get your pen moving. For me, the experience was more about community than contest, and I felt like my poems had a home on David’s site even though they were all really works in progress.

When she found out that What Do You Want to Be? was going to be published, Beth, who lives in Missouri, asked me if I would write a song to go along with her book. I said yes, and last weekend I went up to Woodstock with #MySonIs5 to record the track that What Do You Want to Be? inspired. Hope you enjoy it!

Here are a few pics of #MySonIs5 recording his part at Kevin Salem‘s studio in Woodstock.

After a while, what starts out as fun in the studio becomes work, and even #MySonIs5 begins to feel the pressure . . .

Finally he finishes, and takes a bow. #MySonIs5 has stamina in the studio and—what? What did you just ask me? Did I actually make him listen to old Grateful Dead on the drive home from Woodstock? Um.

Click on the pic of Mrs. McGee to get a copy of Beth Carter‘s book for your kids. If they like the song, tell Beth and she’ll probably send you a copy, or come back and listen any time here on Sirenstories.

To learn more about Beth Carter, visit her blog, Banter with Beth

What Do You Want To Be?  Song lyrics

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

When I arrived at school today

My teacher smiled and said let’s play

Join me in a circle on the floor

She asked us all what we held dear

The people we loved to be near

And what we thought the future held in store

She gave us crayons & pens & pads

She said, no answer’s wrong or bad

Just think my friends then think a little more

Use pictures, words; free thoughts like birds

Express yourself and you’ll be heard

You’ll learn in part what you are all here for

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me (I don’t know!)

A baker or a builder,                          

Or a swimmer in the sea

A mommy having babies (Maybe!)

Or a maybe a daddy

A dentist, doctor, artist, author                              

Teacher, Forest ranger, or you might like to sing . . . (I’d like that!)

You can do anything!  (Definitely.)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

An astronaut, a lawyer

Or a farmer growing trees (Next stop outer space!)

The president, a fireman

A keeper keeping bees

A dancer, banker, preacher, painter

Help save things are endangered (Yeah, like pandas!) maybe you’ll sew . . .

You can give it a go!  (I think I might want to think about this . . .)

What do you want to be?

Asked Mrs. McGee (A baseball player!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

What do you want to be?

What do you want to be?  (A candy maker!)

Raise you hands high and share your dreams with me

(A cow!)

(I just want to be me.)