Category Archives: Music

midnight highway

The second song on the Kill Bill Volume 1 soundtrack is a fantastic rockabilly number called That Certain Female. It has this great thick guitar riff with a lot of echo and delay and, for me, it conjures up images of Route 66 under a new moon, windows down and radio blaring as a ’58 Chevy puts miles between its mysterious driver and Chicago as fast as he can lay them down.

This music fills the dark and bug-spattered spaces between Amarillo and Tucumcari, staccato white lines flashing by in the headlights, the smell of exhaust and old tobacco swirling with dust.

Is he running toward something or away from something? Or is it a she behind the wheel? What’s in the trunk? What’s in the backseat? When we see the driver’s eyes in the rear view mirror, briefly lit by the glowing cherry of a cigarette, are they determined? Resigned? Afraid? Tear-stained? Vengeful?

Maybe they are all these things.

The road goes on.

 

 

mona lisas and mad hatters

When I was little, like, really little, before my brother was born in 1976, my parents were really into Elton John. One of my earliest childhood memories is sitting in the living room of our tiny house in the valley (where it was still all farmland), listening to Captain Fantastic and Goodbye Yellowbrick Road and Madman Across The Water while I sat on the yellow shag carpeting, and my parents sat on the black and white checkered couch.

When I was that little, I didn’t know the words, or what they meant, or anything, really (I was 4, after all), but sometimes, I play those albums, and Caribou and Honky Chateau, and I have this sense memory that feels like a security blanket that I can’t see, or touch, but is there nevertheless.

Tonight’s been one of those nights.

Marian Call’s new album is out!

My friend Marian has released her new album, Sketchbook!

This is a collection of new songs from Marian Call — and it comes from the heart, from home, from the road. These are not fancy polished studio tracks, they are simple, clean, imperfect, transparent, all about the music and the words. ‘Sketchbook’ is very small and focused in scope, deep like diving.

The songs are about love, lightning, time, birds, and hope.

This album was recorded all across the country, mostly in homes, in the bedrooms of friends, neighbors, and house concert hosts — people who probably never anticipated that they would be producing part of an album in the back room for a wandering musician.

Sometimes the art comes and seizes you and shakes you and demands to be let out. So you let it out. “Sketchbook” is a collection of little sketches from the road, pieces that would not wait any longer, pieces that have blessed me and left me raw from the honesty. I’ve ripped pages from my journal because I thought you needed to see them.

I hope you enjoy these songs, I hope the simplicity is refreshing, I hope one of them speaks to you sometime when you need it.

Remember — you can make music and art anywhere, anytime. Just do it.

Give it a listen, and then give her your money so she keeps making records:

And while you’re at Bandcamp, you can download the first chapter of the audio version of Just A Geek for the low price of free! Yay!

woob – repurpose (plus a guide to ambient)

I woke up before the sun, and flew in a lawn dart from ORD to IND on a little over five hours of mostly-restful sleep. As I walked through the airport, I heard the muted voices of gate announcements echo off the walls, and it reminded me of the Pink Floyd song On The Run. The similarities took on a surreal, dreamlike quality when I ended up in a tunnel, on a moving walkway, under rainbows of neon tubes, surrounded by fellow travellers in various states of running to their gates.

A few hours after I landed in Indianapolis, I checked into my hotel, fed myself, and came back to my hotel room to do some maintenance work on my blog. While working, I listened to the entirety of Dark Side of the Moon, followed by Echoes from Meddle.

That’s when my arm began to itch. This has been going on for months, and nobody knows why, but I get the worst itching in the world between my elbow and wrist on the top of my left arm. It feels like it’s coming from my nerves, doesn’t respond to scratching or topical creams at all, and sometimes itches so badly it feels like I’m being pricked with tens of thousands of tiny needles. It sucks, and the only thing that helps at all is benedryl. So here I am, a little loopy on not enough sleep and two benedryl, listening to Pink Floyd like some kind of throwaway joke character in an HST pop-up book for children, when Echoes finishes up and this album called Repurpose by woob starts to play.

And this is what I set out to write in the first place, which I suppose could have just been a link on Twitter: woob is one of the essential ambient acts, and the (relatively) new album Repurpose lives up to expectations.

Here, take a listen:

 

If you’re intrigued, and want to know more, you may be interested in the following, which I wrote in 2008, referencing something I wrote in 2005:

I’m always happy to share this type of music with people, and if I have an opportunity to turn people on to music that really opened my mind (without the assistance from any chemical or mind-altering substances, I always feel compelled to add) I always seize it.

I’ll point those of you who are interested to a portion of a post I made in 2005 (my god, how is it that it simultaneously feels so long ago and so recent to me?) about ambient music. The “it” I refer to is an ambient song I made in GarageBand called Lakeside Shadow:

If you like it, you’ll probably like some of the artists who influenced me over the years: Woob (especially 1194, and especially the track strange air) Dedicated (especially Global Communication, also called 76 14), and Solitaire (especially Ritual Ground). Also, Instinct Records (still alive) andSilent Records (sadly, tragically, defunct since 1996) released an amazing number of genre-defining ambient discs in the 90s. And now, just to prove how hardcore I am, I’m going to throw out Pete Namlook, and the FAX Label, but their stuff is far more experimental than the rest of my list, and isn’t what I’d use to introduce a new listener to Ambient music.

Finally, if you can find it, Silent Records put out an incredible record called Earth to Infinity (I think in 1994) which was pulled shortly after it was released, due to some sampling issues. I think it’s one of the greatest ambient recordings of all time, and don’t ask me for it because I’m not going to jail for you, Chachi.

I think I could have said “incredible” a few more times. Allow me to emphatically pulverize this dead horse deep into the ground: if you only get two ambient records in your whole life, they should be 1194 from Woob and Earth to Infinity (holy shit there are two available from Amazon). If you can only get three, add 76:14, and thank me before you touch the monolith and journey beyond the infinite.

Okay, as I said in 2005, most of my ambient CDs are from Silent, Instinct, and Caroline, and I have a metric assload of FAX recordings that I don’t listen to very much any more. If I were to expand on the artists and albums I mentioned three years ago into a list of essentials, I would add Pelican Daughters‘ breathtaking record BlissConsciousness III (or Lunar Phase) by Heavenly Music Corporation, and the 2295 compilation from em:t.

If you’re intrigued, and want to know what some of this stuff sounds like without waiting, please go directly to Magnatune, and fire up their ambient mix. They’ve got artists over there, like Robert Rich and Falling You, who make truly incredible music. (I really think I need to say incredible and really more. Really.) Soma FM has magnificent downtempo and ambient streams, as well. Groove Salad and Dronezone rarely disappoint.

The thing to understand about ambient, though, if you’ve never heard it before, is that it’s slow and deliberate. It takes its time. It doesn’t work in the car, and it doesn’t work if your brain is cranked up to eleven. It’s best enjoyed when you can relax, and let it fill the room around you as you slowly sink into it and out of yourself, like you’ve stepped into a giant gelatinous cube.

Hrm. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. Go ahead and fill in your own: “______________.”

Yes, that’s it. That’s it exactly.

This is not the first time I’ve talked about this album, but it will be the first time I’ve linked to woob’s newest album, Have Landed, which is brilliantly described as “The soundtrack for every classic sci-fi movie that should have been made.”

Have another embedded player:

It should come as no surprise that I encourage you to go buy these albums and give woob your money so he/she/it/robot/angel/devil/sentient fungus/ makes more music for us. I hope that, if you’ve come this far, you’ll go a little farther and dig beneath that one tree by the wall to find what’s there.

nothing to prove

My brilliant friends The Doubleclicks made a beautiful video to go with their awesome song, Nothing To Prove. I’m honoured to be part of it.

This song is “Nothing to Prove” by the Doubleclicks:http://thedoubleclicks.com.
You can submit your own sign at http://geekgirlvideo.tumblr.com.
This video was sourced from amazing geek girls around the world, as well as from some awesome Geeks: Kelly Sue Deconnick, Amy Berg, John Scalzi, Josh A. Cagan, Adam Savage, Paul & Storm, Wil Wheaton & more… THANK YOU!

The video concept is by Josh A. Cagan and the Doubleclicks, and the video was directed and edited by Angela Webber (of the Doubleclicks.) The concept was inspired by the book trailer for “Dear Teen Me.”

Do not read the comments. They are, sadly, a cesspool of predictable, adolescent misogyny from the sadly loud and obnoxious idiots who are the whole reason we keep having this conversation.

I have many stories and pictures to share from Comicon, which I’ll do just as soon as I fully recover from the trip.

Endsville Eddie

I’ve spent the afternoon ripping old vinyl into digital files, mostly as an excuse to listen to these records I have in brilliant analog sound. I’m using an ION turntable I got from Think Geek* and Audacity to get it all done, and it’s easy and fun.

One of the records I have I got at a yard sale at least ten years ago. It’s called The New Sounds Of the Weird-ohs, and it’s really great surf/garage pop from 1964. It seems to have been pressed to sell models from the Hawk company, and all the songs are pretty much anthems for one of the model characters you could get, like Huey’s Hot Rod, Hot Dogger Hangin’ Ten, or Endsville Eddie. All the characters have an Ed Big Daddy Roth feeling to them, so the music matches up perfectly.

I’m pretty sure this is out of print (a quick search of the Internets tells me that it is) so I think it’s okay to share one track from the record. If it’s not okay, I guess the NSA will tell me by activating the secret mind probe it put into my cellphone.

I’m not sure how to embed a player in WordPress (I guess I should learn that), but here’s a link to the mp3 file: Endsville Eddie

Wait! I think I got an audioplayer to work! Click the big PLAY thingy: [sc_embed_player fileurl="http://wilwheaton.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/endsville.mp3"]

*They don’t sell it anymore. Sadtimes.

Bye bye, Portland. Get ready, Seattle.

Our show at the Alberta Rose Theatre last night was a whole lot of fun for me, and as far as I can tell, the audience enjoyed it as well (even the 28-minute Captain’s Wife’s Lament). John Roderick was amazing as always, and even let me write his setlist (Blue Diamonds, Honest, and Seven) to which he added the song he debuted on JoCo Cruise Crazy. The Doubleclicks sang a lullaby for Mister Bear, encouraged a Velociraptor, and reminded us about the benefits of classic literature. Paul and Storm added Opening Band at my request, because Anne had bought some outrageously obnoxious boxers to throw at them … and then forgot them at the hotel, so there was a break in the song when I came out, all excited to see a wall of panties thrown at them … only to give an extended Grumpy Cat thumbs down to the audience. There’s probably pictures somewhere.

I stepped out of my comfort zone again, and did about ten or so minutes of stand-up jokes before the usual storytelling. I thought it went well, considering it’s only the second time I’ve done that sort of thing and I’m still leveling that particular skill. It felt really good when the audience exploded into laughter at a joke I wrote, and I understood the appeal of standing in front of people on a stage, making them laugh. I owe Hardwick a case of Fresca for helping me work out my set, and making it easier for me to give myself permission to attempt something I’ve always loved watching, but always been afraid to do. I haven’t decided if I’m doing jokes at ECCC, because my show with Paul and Storm is so early on Saturday morning, and the audience may not be awake enough for it to work. I guess I’ll make a game-time decision.

I’m looking forward to sleeping for most of today, to save up energy for the con this weekend, and then getting my geek on until Sunday. Geek and Sundry has our own space this year, and I plan to spend a fair amount of time there, playing games when I’m not signing stuff.

In other news:

  • My brain doctor helped me increase my brain meds a little bit, and though he told me it would take five days to feel the change, I’m already feeling better and closer to normal. I’m a little sleepy, but that’s an expected temporary side effect that I am happy to endure.
  • The reaction to Tabletop Day has been as positive as I expected, but the sheer volume of responses and events planned already is blowing me away. I made a silly video that should go up today, but may be delayed until tomorrow because the initial announcement was delayed by a day. Check our YouTube Channel (and subscribe if you haven’t) obsessively for the next 48 hours or so.
  • This trip to Portland was shorter than usual, but we had a great show, and I got to spend an entire afternoon yesterday with my sister and my godson, so I’m choosing to view it as a visit of concentrated awesome, rather than a visit that was too short.
  • Scallops the ProspectARRRRR

 

The Nightmare Before Doctor Who Christmas Special

This stained glass TARDIS is one of two in the world. It was made by a friend of a friend who gave it to me for my 40th birthday.

It was a long time ago, longer now than it seems, when Amelia Pond met a man in her dreams.
And the story that you are about to be told about Doctors and Daleks
is centuries old.
Now, you’ve probably wondered where the good Doctor comes from. If you haven’t, I’d say, it’s time you’ve begun!
For there was a Time War and and many were lost
and no one quite knows just exactly the cost.
But The Doctor is now the last of his kind
and when he was forced to leave Gallifrey behind
with a ride in his TARDIS across time and space
he met dear old Sandy Claws, face to bony face.

From The Vault: the nights are darker and longer than they were a week ago

My soundtrack to yesterday was a collection of essential 1990s ambient music from Woob, FAX Label, and Global Communication, and Deep Space Network.

I mentioned this on Twitter, and was delighted to discover that there is a new (to me) Woob album, which should be embedded here:

And this is as good a time as any to cut and paste part of an old post I wrote about ambient music in 2008:

I’m always happy to share this type of music with people, and if I have an opportunity to turn people on to music that really opened my mind (without the assistance from any chemical or mind-altering substances, I always feel compelled to add) I always seize it.

 

I’ll point those of you who are interested to a portion of a post I made in 2005 (my god, how is it that it simultaneously feels so long ago and so recent to me?) about ambient music. The “it” I refer to is an ambient song I made in GarageBand called Lakeside Shadow:

 

If you like it, you’ll probably like some of the artists who influenced me over the years: Woob (especially 1194, and especially the track strange air) Dedicated (especially Global Communication, also called 76 14), and Solitaire (especially Ritual Ground). Also, Instinct Records (still alive) andSilent Records (sadly, tragically, defunct since 1996) released an amazing number of genre-defining ambient discs in the 90s. And now, just to prove how hardcore I am, I’m going to throw out Pete Namlook, and the FAX Label, but their stuff is far more experimental than the rest of my list, and isn’t what I’d use to introduce a new listener to Ambient music.

 

Finally, if you can find it, Silent Records put out an incredible record called Earth to Infinity (I think in 1994) which was pulled shortly after it was released, due to some sampling issues. I think it’s one of the greatest ambient recordings of all time, and don’t ask me for it because I’m not going to jail for you, Chachi.

 

I think I could have said “incredible” a few more times. Allow me to emphatically pulverize this dead horse deep into the ground: if you only get two ambient records in your whole life, they should be 1194 from Woob and Earth to Infinity (holy shit there are two available from Amazon). If you can only get three, add 76:14, and thank me before you touch the monolith and journey beyond the infinite.

 

Okay, as I said in 2005, most of my ambient CDs are from Silent, Instinct, and Caroline, and I have a metric assload of FAX recordings that I don’t listen to very much any more. If I were to expand on the artists and albums I mentioned three years ago into a list of essentials, I would add Pelican Daughters‘ breathtaking record BlissConsciousness III (orLunar Phase) by Heavenly Music Corporation, and the 2295 compilation from em:t.

 

If you’re intrigued, and want to know what some of this stuff sounds like without waiting, please go directly to Magnatune, and fire up their ambient mix. They’ve got artists over there, like Robert Rich and Falling You, who make truly incredible music. (I really think I need to say incredible and really more. Really.) Soma FM has magnificent downtempo and ambient streams, as well. Groove Salad and Dronezone rarely disappoint.

 

The thing to understand about ambient, though, if you’ve never heard it before, is that it’s slow and deliberate. It takes its time. It doesn’t work in the car, and it doesn’t work if your brain is cranked up to eleven. It’s best enjoyed when you can relax, and let it fill the room around you as you slowly sink into it and out of yourself, like you’ve stepped into a giant gelatinous cube.

 

Hrm. Maybe that’s not the best way to describe it. Go ahead and fill in your own: “______________.”

Yes, that’s it. That’s it exactly.

So there you go. As the weather changes, the leaves begin to fall, maybe something here will help you through the nights that are darker and longer than they were a week ago.

Three fantastic Halloween music compilations you really want to download

I love Halloween. As long as I can remember, it’s been my favorite holiday. I think it was Warren Ellis who called it “Goth Christmas”, and even though I’m not Goth (Goth-adjacent since 1987, though), it’s pretty much my Christmas. Of course, this year I’ve been sick and busy, so not only do I have no costume tonight, I never even decorated the house. But a cold, the flu, and a few thousand miles of travel haven’t stopped me from enjoying the usual amount of Halloween music, which is what this post is about.

When I was a kid, I had the Disney Haunted House record (both releases), a whole bunch of kiddie records with scary stories told by people like Boris Karloff, and the usual collections of sound effects records.

One night a few years ago, while wandering around the Internet, I came across some fantastic music blogs that had links to long out of print Halloween-themed records (look up Frankie Stein and His Ghouls for what I consider the canonical Halloween 60s pop), as well as links to this blog called Scar Stuff, that was like hitting the motherlode of awesome Halloween nostalgia.

Jason at Scar Stuff made two Halloween music compilations that are in heavy rotation every October at Castle Wheaton. I don’t know why I’ve kept them to myself all these years, but I’m correcting that Trick by offering this Treat: Spook Party and Ghoul-arama, by Jason at Scar Stuff.

If that whets your appetite for more human flesh gallons of delicious blood brains fantastic Halloween compilations, allow me to point you over to WFMU’s Rock ‘n Soul Ichiban, where you will find Kogar’s Spooky Spectacular.

Oh, and as a stupid bonus, here’s the first and only (so far) Halloween Radio Free Burrito that I made a few years ago.

Happy Halloween, everybody! I hope it’s fun, especially for those of you who are drying out from the Superstorm.