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.

Night Owl

NIGHTOWL

Today I was working on a new manuscript, which really means, I was listening to a lot of new music.

New and new. That’s just what I do. A story has to have a soundscape. A soundtrack all its own.

Later, some songs will fall by the wayside, and I’ll wind up with a playlist made up entirely of songs I adore, that can transport me to my fictional world immediately.

It’s like, double escape. Double journey. Good as double chocolate. If you write, try it. Writing to music is my favorite thing to do, besides maybe singing.

Naturally, I wound up today at the Sirenstories SoundCloud, my secret source for new indie music. In the cloud I found Night Owl, a beautiful, evocative song by Megan McClean.

After listening to Night Owl a few times, I stopped working on my shiny new novel and decided it was time to share the song with you.

Barry Snaith of Wakefield, Britain, who goes by the name, The Inconsistent Jukebox, produced Night Owl, and says of Megan and the song, “I love her voice and it’s a truly beautiful song. It was a pleasure to add what I could to an already haunting piece of art.”

“Megan had originally recorded this on some shitty little mobile phone (probably inside her pocket by the sound of it!). I hope you all like it and can get through the rough sonic quality to see the diamond within.”

We definitely see it Barry. We hear it. We love it.

Megan McClean goes by the nom-de-plume, War Is Noise. On Night Owl she sings and plays acoustic guitar.

Barry Snaith was kind enough to send me the lyrics for Night Owl, with a lovely note that included TONS of amazingness, and this:

“These are the words, but Megan tends to improvise. If you listen, you’ll find that she rarely sings the same way twice – it’s all utterly heartfelt, an outpouring of emotion. That’s what makes it so captivating.”

NIGHT OWL

Lover you pierce my heart


Like a night owl in the dark


And I don’t know how to say these words

Which are unheard

But so simple from my heart.

 

I praise The Lord above 


That is my humble word.


I’m a vagabond


And that is my heritage, dear,


So accept me or not.

 

Lover you pierce my heart


Like a night owl in the dark


And I don’t know how to say these words

Which are unheard

But so simple from my heart.

 

And, with arms stretched so wide


Into the night sky

Past is dead


But you still read what they said.


There is no charm.


Your heart was once warm.

 

Lover you pierce my heart


Like a night owl in the dark


And I don’t know how to say these words

Which are unheard

But so simple from my heart.

 

Album art image by Adrian James Hill.

PS Do yourself a favor and click the link for James Hill. Gorgeousness awaits you.

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.

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.

This Could Be Yours

ThisCouldBeYours

This Could Be Yours is certainly an evocative name, but maybe this Berlin based band should be called They Could Be Huge. They’ve got all the ingredients for pop stardom.

A pulsing  body of an indie/postrock song lying in an atmospheric electronica bed, At Your Feet is intense, yet almost delicate at the same time. It’s driving, but contemplative.

I hit the road
Become insane
If those forces really please you
I will be the one that you never see again

It’s a misery that’s fitting
“Desperation Of The Day”
And you don’t seem to know
All those ghosts around here
seizing hold of your friends

Oh yes, you were laughing out loud
To witness the words that you’re spitting
Shuts my mouth

You never know when to stop
You never fall

Down at my spot
Decomposing and decay
Please don’t open up those eyelids
Don’t you get a glimpse of that
dwarf at your feet

Oh yes, you were laughing out loud
To witness the words that you’re spitting
Shuts my mouth

To silence you once for all 
Every minute that I stayed
This plan did grow
I wanna make you lose
I could have sworn

You never know when to stop
You never fall

This Could Be Yours is Max Wiegand (Vocals, Guitar), Levin Siert (Guitar), Fabian Haupt (Drums), and Jan Möller (Bass).
Max was kind enough to tell me a bit about the band.

ThisCouldBeYoursBandShot

“The core of the band has existed for about ten years now. Everything started in a town called Bremerhaven which belongs to Bremen but is 60 km more far to the north. The three of us (Fabi, Levin, and me ) grew up close to the northern sea. The last missing member, Jan, is from Berlin originally, and took over the bass almost two years ago. We came to Berlin in late 2009, where we went through various changes, not just in line-up but also in terms of music. Also the name ‘This Could Be Yours’ was found here.”

I love the way Max says that the name of the band was “found”, as if it was waiting for them.

The official music video for At Your Feet is equal to the song, a combination of video and animation that is just as pleasing as the mix of musical styles.

This Could Be Yours will announce some new tour dates soon. Hope NYC makes the list, because I love these guys. Even without the stage makeup.

ThisCouldBeYours3

Using Music to Protest Mountain Removal

2:3 Goat

Stream of Conscience from the New York City based band 2/3 Goat (pronounced: Two-Thirds Goat) is more than just a great bluegrass song with an edge, it’s a powerful protest song in the vein of the legendary Pete Seeger.

And that’s it. I don’t want to waste another second on words. You must listen to this track, and then please, spread the word.

Music has the power to change the world, and I hope the metrobilly of 2/3 Goat does exactly that.

Although I don’t often post video, I’m including the music video for Stream of Conscience here, because it’s amazing, and because it will show you what mountain top removal mining looks like, if you don’t already know. Plus, it gave me goosebumps. I’m happy that 2/3 Goat found Sirenstories, and proud to feature their music on the blog.

A few words about the video from 2/3 Goat:

“Protest footage (courtesy of Jordan Freeman) is from the March on Blair Mountain, a march to save historic Blair Mountain from being demolished by mountaintop removal. The 2 men on the sign: Sid Hatfield, sheriff of Matewan, WV, and his deputy Ed Chambers. The pro-unioners were shot and killed on the steps of the courthouse while awaiting trial. This led to the Battle of Blair Mtn (1921). 2/3 Goat is against the destruction of any Mountains. They are all part of our rich history and our livelihood.”

Stream of Conscience is the title track to the second album from 2/3 Goat, and was recorded entirely on vintage equipment. Get Stream of Conscience here.

Learn more about 2/3 Goat and earn yourself some karma points by liking their fb page, thank you!

Allow

Breathe. Listen. Feel. Watch.

Allow.

After the events of the last few months, tonight, just sitting and being open to music, feels like a luxury.

Working, talking, rushing. These things are sometimes a balm, sometimes a burden. So I’m setting aside unfinished work—unfinished thoughts even—to simply listen. To allow the soothing guitar lines of Merlin and the Fox to wash over me. To let the voice of Francesca Baines draw me away from this desk, away, away . . .

Woods rise up in my mind along with a memory of Joni Mitchell, and further back now, Annie Haslam. The walking pace of the guitar takes me back to a pre ironic time, where I discover  a lovely voice I’ve never heard. The voice of a Siren from Kinsale, Ireland.

Suddenly, as I listen and write, as I stop worrying about who’s reading, and allow the song to open me up, tears form in my eyes, and I realize just how generous the artists who contribute their music to this blog really are. Offering us their work, song after song, because they want us to hear it. Because they want to give us what they love. Because they must make music, and unless shared, music is not complete.

Francesca

He dwells in the forest with the sleeping owl 
The infants of his oak crack on the ground 
The distant cry of a horn turns to a nearing howl 
Approaching are the huntsmen and their hounds

The fox I feel him falter, wild-eyed and panting fast 
Together we’ll be surefooted let us be calm 
And turn our gaze to the grandfather trees that open out their boughs 
To the outlaws, to the travelers seeking alms

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child 

My path it strays in the maze to the line of men holding their guns 
I fight my flighting urge to turn and run 
And offer them my heart ‘though their foe is more my friend 
We greet each other in a foreign tongue

Cloak him in the scent of heather and the stirring leaves 
Soothe his shaking body still as stone 
Shroud his beating heart in the lichen and the moss 
‘Till fur and the forest become one

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child 

And Merlin you were near as the shots ran out so clear 
As I held a glowing acorn in my hand 
Like a bullet how it shone, like the eyes of your feathered one 
That left a tawny token where I did stand

Vivienne! You were sly as he was wild 
Broceliande bore this child

Restez toujour un âme sauvage 
Ne les laissez pas vous apprivoiser

From Vela, released 21 October 2012
Francesca Baines: voice, guitar, whispering forest
Bruno Hollemaert: accordion

Francesca Baines says:

Merlin & the Fox was written whilst walking in the enchanted forests of Broceliande in Brittany, home of the Arthurian stories. I was looking for the tomb of Merlin when I could hear a fox hunt happening. I started singing a song of protection for the fox and was reminded of one of Merlin’s stories; how he grew up wild and nurtured by the forest itself, and how Vivienne, Lady of the Lake, entrapped him by encircling him in a silken bind, in which he was invisibly tied to her for life. She trained him in spellcraft and gave him many powers, and yet he was a wild man enslaved. Sadly on this day, as I regarded a bright acorn, I could hear the gun shots of the distant hunters. And as I felt the shock of a dead fox, an owl feather fell to the ground – the bird associated with this fine wizard. So this song is for the wild and the untamed.
Working on the song in Foix at the foot of the Pyrenees, I stayed with a man, Paulin, who told me his experience of walking with a Mongolian shaman woman, who sang in clicks, buzzes and hums. By accentuating the consonants within the lyrics and merging the voice with recordings of woodland walks I have endeavored to evoke the elemental nature of a witch’s intonements to echo the aliveness of these whispering forests. French accordionist Bruno Hollemaert brought so much depth of feeling to this song written on guitar and voice.”