Well, Hi There!


If you’re new to my blogs, welcome!  Some of you may have popped up via Googling my name after checking out my book A Division of Souls.  In case you haven’t noticed, I run two blogs.  This one, Walk in Silence, is primarily my music blog, wherein I blather on obsessively about non-writing things such as new music releases, favorite albums of yore, and tunage wot I found on college radio, just to name a few subjects.  I try to keep it enjoyable here, so if you happen to be a big music nerd like I am, I hope you enjoy my posts!

If you are looking for my writing blog, you can click on this link here, and it will take you to it:

Welcome to Bridgetown

My writing blog, as you will have assumed, is where I have been talking about my budding career as a writer…well, more like my long, often slow but never uninteresting backstage work as a writer while attempting to make it into a legitimate career.  The blog contains all kinds of commentaries, including thoughts about the writing process, things I’ve learned as a self-published author so far, and a lot of background info about the stories I’m writing.

Never a dull moment here, folks!

Current Book Status: Oh wow I thought I’d be outta here by now

I kind of hinted at this on my LJ yesterday, but I may as well make it semi-official here: I’m planning on releasing Walk in Silence, the book, in April of 2016.

So, what does this mean?  Well, for me, it means that I have six months to get my sh*t together, get a final version written, edited, formatted and ready for publication.  Yes, I will be doing the same as ADoS and self-releasing it through Smashwords and Amazon.  This, on top of working on the final revision and edit of The Persistence of Memories, other projects, and the Day Job.

Why April 2016?  Because that will mark thirty years (April vacation 1986, to be precise) since I’d discovered college radio and kickstarted an obsession that hasn’t gone away. I think an anniversary release would work nicely.  It’ll be tough, but I think I can do it.  It’s not a strict deadline, but that’s the one I’m aiming for.

So what’s the current status of the book, anyway?   That’s…a good question.  I have about six or seven different versions in various states of (in)completion, copious notes, a hell of a lot of reference material, but nothing actually complete.  Sure, it’s kind of crazy for me to think I can get it from complete disarray into a finished product in six months.  Especially when the theme of the book kept changing — I was originally going to write about the ‘college rock’ sound of the mid to late 80s.  Then I was going to write just about my obsession with it.  Then I was going to compile a history of the sound.  And then I realized that none of them really quite connected with what I wanted to write in the first place.  So while I distanced myself from it and worked on the ADoS release in the interim, I kept the project in the back of my mind and let it percolate.  What did I really want to do with it?

I can’t rightly say what it’ll exactly be about at this time, but now that I have time and inclination to complete this project, I’m happy to say I have a much clearer idea, and will be starting in on it this weekend.

In the meantime, don’t be surprised if you start seeing more 80s-themed posts and videos here within the next few months!  :)

New (and Reissued) Tunage

A lot of really good titles out these past few weeks, giving me all sorts of new releases to listen to, which always makes me happy.  Let’s see what’s currently in rotation, shall we?

Silversun Pickups, “Pins & Needles” from Better Nature, rel. 9/25/15
This one took me a few tries to get used to…like Interpol’s last few albums, I really like what I hear but it didn’t quite gel with me the first few times.  However, SSPU continues to write excellent songs, and Nikki is still one of the best bass players out there.  I actually kind of prefer this album track over the new single that’s out (“Nightlight”, though Nikki gets a prime front-stage mix here).

Caspian, “Arcs of Command” from Dust and Disquiet, rel. 9/25/15
I’m usually very choosy about my post-rock and alt-metal, but this one connected with me right from the start (especially with this track) when NPR was streaming it the other week.  They’re like a heavier Mogwai (yeah, I know!) with the mindset of GY!BE (without the overly long noodling), with the drop-tuned heaviness of Deftones and Deathmøle thrown in, and they’re absolutely perfect for my writing sessions.  And they’re a Boston-area band, so yay!

Chvrches, “Leave a Trace” from Every Open Eye, rel. 9/25/15
This band’s sophomore album made even more of an impression on me than their first one, and I think it’s because they’ve really tightened the songwriting.  They know how to write a great and catchy alternapop tune without sacrificing substance for style.

New Order, “Restless” from Music Complete, rel. 9/25/15
The reviews have been spot-on:  this is the album New Order would have made right after Technique back in ’89 if they hadn’t gone on all those hiatuses, done all those solo projects, broken up and gotten back together, etc.  [That’s not to say Republic and the others were bad, just that they kind of felt like they were in neutral compared to previous records.]  This one is a fine return to an earlier form, one that fits them incredibly well.  On a side note, Tom Chapman does fine work as the new bassist to replace Hooky, though there are times I still expect to hear the high-on-the-neck bass riff now and again!

Garbage, “Vow” from Garbage [20th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition], rel. 10/2/15
Daaang…it’s been twenty years already?  A phenomenal debut album from one of the best mid-90s bands out there, and well worth getting the super deluxe version with all the tasty remixes.  [And I’m snooty when it comes to remixes, so that’s saying a lot!]  It was one of the first albums I’d picked up after moving back home in autumn of ’95, and got me through a lot of personal things and writing sessions.

Editors, “Marching Orders” from In Dream, rel. 10/2/15
Oh man, I’ve been waiting for this one since being blown away by that first single, “No Harm” came out back in May!  After releasing the poppier, sunnier The Weight of Your Love back in 2013, they’ve returned to a much darker, more cinematic sound, which really suits them well.  I’ve given this quite a few spins since I downloaded it on Friday, and it’s already made its way onto my writing soundtrack list.


So let’s see, what do I have to look forward to the next few weeks?

Duncan Sheik, Legerdemain (10/9)
Oberhofer, Chronovision, (10/9)
Here We Go Magic, Be Small (10/16)
Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, Angels & Ghosts (10/23)
Guy Garvey, Courting the Squall (10/30)
The Neighbourhood, Wiped Out! (10/30)
Mutemath, Vitals (11/13)
The Comsat Angels, reissues of 7 early albums (!!) (11/20)

Yep, shaping up to be another excellent year for music!

Favorite Bands: Electric Light Orchestra

This past week, Jeff Lynne released the first single from Electric Light Orchestra’s first album of new tracks in fourteen years, and fans have been squeeing with delight at the new song “When I Was a Boy”, because it sounds so much like the classic ELO from the mid to late 70s that we all know so well.  Lynne will totally admit to being heavily influenced by the Beatles during his initial 70s tenure, and you can definitely hear it in their songs.  It’s no surprise he was tapped by George Harrison for the Traveling Wilburys project as well as the Beatles Anthology.

I remember hearing some of the singles early on, like “Showdown”, “Can’t Get It Out of My Head”, “Evil Woman” and “Telephone Line” on the family stereo, but it wasn’t until 1977’s Out of the Blue that I realized how much I liked the band.  One of my sisters had picked up the single for “Sweet Talkin’ Woman” (which was pressed on clear pink vinyl!) and soon after my parents bought us the album for Christmas.  It’s a classic double-album with solid songwriting throughout. It also contains a “mini-opera”, entitled “Concerto for a Rainy Day”, which takes up Side 3 of the album and ends with one of their most well-known hits, “Mr. Blue Sky.”

From there I followed the band to their next album, 1979’s Discovery, with the hit single “Don’t Bring Me Down”, as well as their inclusion in the latter half of the Xanadu soundtrack the next year.  [The movie was interesting in idea but is deeply flawed in delivery, and has not aged well at all.  All that aside, ELO did manage to score some excellent Don Bluth animation with the “Don’t Walk Away” segment!]

The next album, 1981’s Time, was quite the departure from all of the above, and thus was a bit of a headscratcher for many, but I’ve always considered it one of my favorite ELO albums, just below Out of the Blue.  It’s a concept album about a man time-traveling over a hundred years into the future, unable to return to his own timeline, and coming to terms with this unexpected change.  There are a number of great tracks on this one, including the top-ten single “Hold On Tight”:

Another single worth noting is “Twilight”, which only hit the lower half of the charts in most countries.  I for one hadn’t known about it until I heard it way on the back end of a radio station’s year-end countdown, and thought…how the hell did I miss this one??  It’s a fantastic track with crashing drums, a driving beat, and sci-fi tinged lyrics.  In Japan it became a cult favorite as it was used (without permission, though I believe Lynne thought it was awesome and let them fly with it) in 1983 for the opening animation for that country’s science fiction convention, Daicon IV.

The animation was done by a group of diehard SF fans who soon became the anime company Gainax, now known internationally as the production team behind Neon Genesis EvangelionGunbuster and FLCL, just to name a few.  It’s a classic piece of Japanese animation worth watching.  Try to see how many well-known SF characters (and tropes, and spaceships!) you can recognize here!

ELO’s last few albums, Secret Messages (1983) and Balance of Power (1986) did not fare nearly as well as their previous output, but they’re still solid albums with the signature Jeff Lynne sound, with songs such as the twangy “Rock and Roll Is King”, the dreamy “Secret Messages”, and their last hit of the 80s, “Calling America”:

Lynne would retire the ELO moniker after that album (drummer Bev Bevan would continue with Lynne’s okay as “ELO Part II” for most of the 90s) and would turn to music production (and releasing two solo albums).  He briefly reignited the ELO name in 2001 with the Zoom album with the minor single “Alright”, but returned to producing soon after.

Over the years I managed to pick up their back catalog, and found it just as intriguing as their more well-known tracks.  The first three albums (The Electric Light Orchestra, ELO 2 and On the Third Day) are more prog-rock affairs that featured a mix of baroque strings, electric blues and lengthy suites, but it was the fourth album Eldorado that attracted the attention of new fans, with its more Beatlesque pop balladry.  Their star would continue to rise with Face the Music and A New World Record, until finally hitting it big internationally with Out of the Blue.

There are countless album tracks worth seeking out as well from this band:  Eldorado’s “Mister Kingdom”Face the Music‘s “Fire On High”Out of the Blue‘s “Summer and Lightning” and even the light and fanciful “The Diary of Horace Wimp” from Discovery are just a few of many great tracks from the band worth checking out.  They’re always entertaining, and always creative.

Autumn Tunage, Right On Schedule

…just as expected!  The fourth-quarter wave of new music releases has finally made its presence known, and it sounds like it’s going to be one hell of a good season!  After a few sluggish weeks in August, Friday has taken the New Release Day baton and wielded it high.  The next few months look quite promising.

A few records that have caught my ears so far:

Tamaryn, “Hands All Over Me” from Cranekiss, released 28 August.
The more I listen to this album, the more I hear Curve.  Tamaryn’s vocals have that sultry lower-register sound that’s similar to Toni Halliday’s, and the dreampop noise is more melodic than MBV’s wall of sound.  It’s not often I latch onto an album immediately like this, but it’s definitely worth checking out.

Foals, “Mountain At My Gates” from What Went Down, released 28 August.
A pretty wild interactive video, actually!  My first listen to this album left me wondering what they might be angry about; there’s an uncomfortable tension throughout, even on the quieter songs, like you’re just waiting for something to spill over.

Stereophonics, “I Wanna Get Lost with You” from Keep the Village Alive, released 11 September.
I’ve been a longtime Stereophonics fan from my record store days…they’re one of those bands that may not have the big hits or the widely known singles, but they write great and solid tunes.  Glad to see them back again with another excellent record.

Low, “No Comprende” from Ones and Sixes, released 11 September.
huge favorite of mine right now, this is one of Low’s best records in awhile.  They still rock the slowcore/quietcore sound, but like the new Foals album, there’s an underlying tension that won’t go away that I’m loving.  They’ve even turned up the volume on this album (similar to their Great Destroyer album from ten years ago).

Ben Folds & Nashville Symphony Orchestra, “Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Movement 1” from So There, released 11 September.
A and I saw BF perform this movement with the San Francisco Symphony a few months ago, and we were floored — for me, this was a scrappy dude I saw twenty years ago in a tiny club in Northampton MA (where he sold me the Ben Folds Five debut cd himself), and now here he is, writing a three-movement piece reminiscent of George Gershwin.  There are some fun pop songs on the first half of the album that he performs with yMusic, but it’s worth it for this lovely piece alone.

Robert DeLong, “Don’t Wait Up” from In the Cards, released 18 September.
We caught RD’s live show at Outside Lands last month, and let me tell you — the dude has natural control of his audience.  It’s just him and all those toys and instruments you see in that video, no other musicians; even his entry music was a poorly-made yet hilarious fan video of Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose”, hinting that he’s just some skinny nerd who got extremely lucky and writes some damn fine dance music.

Motion City Soundtrack, “Lose Control” from Panic Stations, released 18 September.
Sure, the new single can easily be mistaken for a Weezer track, but I can forgive them that. The new album feels more lively than some past efforts, like the band has chosen to lose some of their inner demons and just have some fun this time out.  [That’s not to say there’s not some classic unlucky-in-love MCS tracks here…”Over It Now” has my favorite break-up lyric of the week: I kicked around in the big bad world / after you sold all my action figures / I never got in that one last word / So here’s a f*** you ].  Another great release from a fun band.

I’m still awaiting more release news, but I’ll be looking forward to these releases in the next few weeks:

Caspian, Dust and Disquiet (9/25)
Chvrches, Every Open Eye (9/25)
New Order, Music Complete (9/25)
Silversun Pickups, Better Nature (9/25)
Editors, In Dream (10/2)
Duncan Sheik, Legerdemain (10/9)
Oberhofer, Chronovision (10/9)
Here We Go Magic, Be Small (10/16)
Dave Gahan & Soulsavers, Angels & Ghosts (10/23)

All Aboard the Express Kundalini

I was thinking the other day, why is it that I get all wistful and nostalgic come September? Well, the obvious answer is that it’s the start of the new school year.  The excitement of all the college radio stations coming back on the air with new and returning deejays and great tunage.  The remembrance of another year hanging out with friends on a daily basis.  The Best Laid Plan of trying to do better this semester.  And of course, the start of the fourth quarter when all the really good albums by the best bands start coming out.

That’s not to say it’s all about my days in the late 80s.  Growing up in central Massachusetts (in “Radio Free Athol”, where stations came in depending on where in town you were and how strong your antenna was), the fourth quarter is when the Day Job started getting busier.  At the record store, that meant a larger volume of stock I had to process.  At Yankee, that meant earlier hours and a busier day.  Some things never change.  But regardless, that was when the days got a little shorter and a little cooler.  The slow pace of summer replaced by the fast pace of autumn.

Love and Rockets often pops into mind at this time of year as well.  For one reason, their first four albums were all released around this time (Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, 11 Oct 1985 in the UK and reissued in the US Nov 1988; Express, 15 September 1986; Earth Sun Moon, 9 September 1987; Love and Rockets, 4 September 1989), and I bought them all soon after release.  For another, I really grokked onto the acoustic/psychedelic sounds of those first albums at the time.  I’d taught myself the basics of guitar playing (both on bass and my sister’s acoustic), and Daniel Ash’s dreamy 12-string work was exactly what I was trying for.  It would take some time for me to get to that level, but those songs definitely left an impression on me.

I mean, take “Saudade”.  It’s often considered one of their best songs.  It’s nearly thirty years old, but it still stands out as an absolute classic.  An aptly titled song at that.  A hint of melancholy and nostalgia in the melody, but also a consistently driving energy that keeps building until it can no longer contain itself.  It’s a lovely, gorgeous song, and also one of the reasons I finally bought myself a twelve-string a few years back.

It’s that time of year again, so of course I’ll be getting all wistful and nostalgic once more, listening to older tracks, playing a few tunes on the guitar, and perhaps even tuning into the local college stations again.  It’s been years since I’ve set foot in a classroom; I can bump into my buddies online whenever I want.

But there’s still something about September that still sticks with me.  For the past few years I’ve been hearing a lot of young, new bands playing the same kind of music I grokked to back in the 80s.  A resurgence of shoegaze and reverb-drenched mood music.  Young bands reinterpreting the sounds their parents and older siblings listened to, and making it their own.

The end of something old and the start of something new, I suppose.

Update for Today 2: More Music from the Mendaihu Universe

As you have probably guessed, I’ve been spending nearly all my writing time focusing on the final edits of the three books in my Bridgetown trilogy.  Which means many hours staring at the monitor while listening to appropriate writing music.  It’s been a mix of new and old lately, going from specific albums I listened to during the initial writing sessions down in the Belfry (mainly releases between 1997 to 2004), and tunes from the last five years or so, starting in 2009 when I finally picked up Book 3 and and finished it early in 2010, all the way up to today.

I’ve been trying to mix it up lately so I don’t end up sticking with the same few albums on constant rotation (*cough*Sea Change*cough*), and expanding on a few themes here and there.  I’ve been making a few new compilations lately that reflect a more eclectic and time-spanning mix.  Here’s a few for your enjoyment

I was never a fan, but somehow The Battle of Los Angeles just hit all the right buttons for me, and I consider it their best album.  And that bass riff?  DUDE.  This is great when I just want something angry and aggressive.

Yes, I know, Failure’s Fantastic Planet is still on heavy rotation during my writing sessions, but “The Nurse Who Loved Me” is by far one of their best ever songs.  It’s a brilliant track maybe about heroin addiction?  But the construction of the song is truly epic, going from quiet to deafeningly loud and back again.  Great for when I need to bleed out the excess energy.  [Also: go to YouTube and look up their recent visit to KEXP, they put on an excellent show.]

Not the biggest fan of this video, but the title track to Foals’ new platter is excellent.  It’s angry and driving and relentless.  As you have probably guessed, I tend to be so laid back that I need music to get me pumping, especially if I need to write a big action scene.  Something like this track (or the whole album, come to think of it) is great for that.

And on the other end of things…

I do loves me some epic mood music full of reverb and darkness, yes I do.  [See, this is what happens when you introduce early-era Cure to a teenager from a small town in the 80s.]  2:54 creates some dark and beautiful sounds, and are always worth listening to.  Extra points for somehow managing to film a video in a pea-soup fog that only adds to the atmosphere.

Tamaryn is a new purchase that won me over on first listen.  Equal parts Curve, My Bloody Valentine and Cocteau Twins — essentially shoegaze nirvana — has been getting repeat listens this past week while I work on the edit for The Persistence of Memories.  Lovely to listen to and easy to get lost in.

In a somewhat similar vein is another recent favorite, Wolf Alice.  I got to see them play a surprise show at Outside Lands last month and they were incredible.  Great melodies that can be alternately dreamy and aggro.  Another repeat listener.

Thanks for listening and being patient!  I promise, I’ll get a more thought-out and enjoyable post soon!   :)