The 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.

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.

More Music from the UK

On the fourth chord of I Sign I broke out in goosebumps. I don’t mean a couple sprang up along my arms, I mean shivering skin, all over my body. And that was before  Zara Kershaw started singing, her voice all breathy and bluesy.

I Sign is definitely part blues, but it’s a lot more. I Sign is pop, it’s alternative, and there’s something about it that makes me think of Broadway at it’s best.

Maybe that’s singer songwriter Zara Kershaw’s musical training showing, or maybe the lush piano and string parts that come in around minute two are responsible for the big sound that says, concert hall.

Then the music starts to swing, to skip towards a section that serves as a bridge but also as the triumphant sounding climax of what is essentially a love story. Although I confess, I can’t figure out if this love is beginning or ending, I absolutely love the concept, “I Sign”, whether to begin, or end, a relationship portrayed in a three-minute song. Brilliant.

Zara Kershaw describes her songs as having “contrapuntal streams of enriched vocal harmony” and towards the end of I Sign I found myself choosing my favorite vocal line and singing along. After a while I created my own harmony and layered it on top.

When the song ended at just over three and a half minutes, I was surprised. It didn’t feel long enough. I wished for a second chorus before the swinging section, or repeated choruses at the end. But really, there’s no problem with I Sign, you must simply play it over and over.

Zara Kershaw is from the UK and I thought I might have heard the influences of Kate Bush and Peter Gabriel in her music, as well as a bit of raw energy that I consider more . . . American. That bit of edgy blues made me think of Melissa Etheridge, but just for a second. Singer songwriter Zara Kershaw is her own artist. If we’re lucky she’ll come over and play a few shows. If she does, you’ll hear about it on Sirenstories. Stay tuned.

It’s June 1st, Time To Start Posting Real Live Sirenstories

It’s June 1st and as promised, Sirenstories begins today.

Our first Siren is Violette a singer songwriter I hadn’t heard of until she uploaded her song to the Sirenstories SoundCloud. Now, because of her deliciously intimate voice, I feel I’m on close terms with her.

I’m trying to write my post while I listen to this French native’s song. Even though it’s the third time that I’ve heard Insomnie, I’m so overwhelmed by goosebumps and emotions I don’t want to do anything but sit back and listen. Again.

At 25 Violette sounds young but polished. Her music is fresh and sophisticated. The production of Insomnie is perfect and leaves plenty of room for Violette’s exquisite vocals. Her sound is tinged with the diverse influences of pop, jazz, and soul.

I chose these pictures from Violette’s website. Click on them and they’ll take you into her world.

Violette’s voice is indeed warm and inviting as the description she posted describes. And she’s a Siren. Definitely. At the minute two mark in her track, I’d totally wreck my ship on the rocks for her.

Thanks so much for sharing Insomnie with us Violette, I’m sure I won’t be your only new fan today.

Violette didn’t post her lyrics. I let her music wash over me, and I wrote some words of my own. As far as I can tell, this is an unedited stream of consciousness that came from one of the characters in a series of YA novels I’m working on.

I knew I wouldn’t fall asleep easily, and what was the point? If I slept, the night would pass faster, morning would come sooner. Tomorrow was not a day a wanted to face. Tomorrow, would be my first day without him.
I lay on top of my white cotton quilt. A light sheen of sweat coated my skin. The summer heat had snaked its way up into the top floors of the granite block vestibule house for the first time since I’d moved to Rock Hook Harbor Light Station.
I’d put my heavy down comforter away months ago but I craved the weight of it, as if the heaviness could hold me to my bed in a way that gravity couldn’t, that sleep wouldn’t—but I couldn’t even pretend I wanted to sleep.
I got up, went to the window. The air was hot and thick. Humidity clung to me, another layer over my white nightgown. The ocean down below my window was quiet, as if it slept even though I couldn’t. Was it the low tide that created the calm? I could see the sand where the water had washed out and left it, as I had been left. Where sand and water met the fog took over. Under such a heavy blanket, maybe the sea had no choice but to doze. I imagined the ocean dreamed of its own dark depths.