New mixtape/mp3 playlist! This one’s Songs from the Apartment Complex, and I have to say this is probably one of the quirkiest mixes I’ve made in a while. The Apartment Complex story (still working on the title, folks) has evolved into an unexpected direction for me. Unlike previous book-centric playlists where most of the songs are there to set a mood, many of these tracks here are aimed at specific characters and what kind of person or being they are. Hope you enjoy it!
EDIT: As you may have seen over at Welcome to Bridgetown, I’ve put the Apartment Complex story on hiatus as I’m having even more problems with it than I thought, and need to put it aside for a while. Frustrating, yes. VERY frustrating. But I’m still keeping this up, because I think it’s a pretty interesting mix, and something I’ll listen to when I come back to the project. [And I *am* coming back to it — I just don’t know when.]
MEET THE LIDWELLS! A Rock n’ Roll Family Memoir
“Rule number one in the music business: never start a band with any members of your family.
Sure, it’ll start off just fine, everyone having fun, with big dreams of success and gold records, but then you realize you’re stuck in a stinking, too-small tour bus with your siblings for the fifth year running, and your brother hates you. Next thing you know, the band implodes just as it’s reaching its highest success, your family won’t talk to you anymore, the press is having a field day ripping you to shreds, and you’ll need to start your career all over again as a solo act. If you dare to at that point.
Rule number two in the music business: rules were made to be broken.” — Thomas Lidwell
Meet the Lidwells! is the story of four siblings and two cousins who start a band as teenagers and achieve success beyond their wildest dreams. But while they consistently top the charts with their irresistibly catchy tunes, they’re also fighting their own demons: perfectionism, disenchantment, addiction, exhaustion, sexism…and figuring out how to become an adult in front of millions of fans.
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This past weekend I had this grand idea of creating a panel for the three SF/F conventions that we’ll be going to this year, provisionally entitled ‘The Next Generations of Science Fiction and Fantasy in Music’. I mean, come on — me, a genre writer and a music obsessive? I’d be a perfect moderator for this one. [Mind you, part of the reason why I called it ‘the next generations…’ is because I’ve been to many of these music-themed panels in the past, but alas, they’re always focused on filk, Canterbury folk, and 60s-70s prog rock. I’m not dismissing those, but it’s high time we updated the playlist on this panel idea.]
Which means that between now and early March when FOGcon happens, I’ll need to do some playlist making. Radiohead will of course make an appearance… who else should I include? NOTE: I know my list below so far isn’t all that inclusive (considering I threw this together off the top of my head in a half hour), so if you can think of any music from women/PoC that I can add to the list, it would be most excellent. Thanks!
(Yeah, I know this one’s an instrumental, but I’m tempted to play this one as an excellent example of SF in music video.)
I’m thrilled to report that in the span of one month, I’ve already hit over 13,000 words for the Meet the Lidwells project, averaging around 500 to 700 words day. I’m still on track for a fall release at this point, as I think I’m about a fifth of the way done already!
Meanwhile, here’s a few songs I’ve used for inspiration and reference so far. As you can see, there’s definitely a deep Britpop influence going on.
The Stone Roses, “I Am the Resurrection”: The four-to-the-floor beat of this track was part of the inspiration for the Lidwells’ first major hit, “Grapevine”. Theirs is a catchy track that captures the interest of not just their younger teen fans but also the older ones, thanks to their ability to cleverly mix pop stylings and creative alternative rock. The Lidwells were known for stretching out “Grapevine” live, much like how The Stone Roses did with this song.
The Charlatans UK, “Opportunity”: Keyboardist Danny Lidwell wrote a groovy deep track called “Trust” for their debut album inspired by the keyboard-heavy Manchester bands like The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets. He claims that “Trust” was when he deliberately decided to stop being self-conscious about his playing and just powered through it, revealing his own unique style in the process.
The Real People, “Window Pane”: I’m using this song as a sort of template as to what the early Lidwells sound like aurally: a lot of harmony, a positive and funky vibe, and definitely catchy and fun to dance to.
The House of Love, “You Don’t Understand”: This would be a good example of the type of song they would write, especially eldest member and band leader Jason. In fact, Jason will end up writing a song similar-sounding to this one by their third album.
Veruca Salt, “Volcano Girls”: This is definitely a great example of how I picture the two women in the band, Hannah and Amy, rocking out. Hannah is a badass drummer with no fear, and Amy is one hell of a shredder. They’re both solid songwriters with no filter at all.
The La’s, “Looking Glass”: If A Division of Souls had Failure’s “Daylight” as the soundtrack for the final scene, this is the one for MtL‘s finale. This would be Thomas, the youngest Lidwell, singing this as the final song on their final show on their last tour, going out on one hell of a high.
More to come when I have more written! 🙂
Alas, my recent fascination with 70s music has been sidetracked due to my starting in on the Meet the Lidwells project; in this case, I am now immersing myself in the poppier side of alternative rock circa 1990-1996. Not complaining, considering.
I’m trying to avoid the expected hits, the songs that still pop up from time to time: “Unbelievable” and “Right Here Right Now”, Achtung Baby and Nevermind, and so on. I’d like to dig just a little deeper than expected — something I am wont to do for my writing projects anyway — and bring back some of the tunes that were on my Walkman during my college years.
Sure, I’ve often said that the early 90s was definitely an unpredictable era of great highs and miserable lows for me personally, but that’s not the story I’m writing here. [And that’s another blog post entirely anyway.] I’m reconnecting with a lot of the great music that came out at the time, and channeling that energy into the Lidwells story.
The early 90s was an interesting time, for a multitude of reasons anyway. Musically, post-punk and college rock was becoming the new mainstream, 80s pop was aging a bit (sometimes not that well at all), and new voices and sounds were popping up from around the globe. Politically, old walls (literal and figurative) were being torn down, and soon a new President would be entering the White House. It felt like there was a weird positivity in the air that we’d almost forgotten about.
It may have been the political sea change, or it may have been something else. For me at any rate, I was thinking this was the last decade in the millennium, and that we were all looking forward to a more positive future than the sometimes dreary one we’d been recently subjected to.
Musically, I was getting into the wave of Britpop that WFNX was playing (when they weren’t playing grunge, which took me a lot longer to get into). In addition to that, Boston was experiencing a small renaissance of sorts with a hell of a lot of great local bands old and new getting some serious airplay — Manufacture, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Tribe, Heretix, The 360s, Think Tree…a bunch of bands I may not have been able to see live, but I certainly bought most of their releases when I could.
I was also doing a lot of shorter writing at the time — my fiddling with the Infamous War Novel had faded into the background; I’d created my comic character Murph and put him through all kinds of weird universes; I’d finally gotten out of the ‘doom poetry’ phase I’d put myself through and was writing some solid Flying Bohemians lyrics; I was also pushing myself to play around with new story ideas.
This is the energy that I want to use for Meet the Lidwells; a feeling of optimism and strong bursts of creativity. Sure, my story will deal with their personal ups and downs and their eventual demise as a band, but that’s only part of it. This is about celebration as much as it is about struggle.
It’s about the love (the characters’ and mine) of music. 🙂
As I mentioned previously, having a new writing project means having a new playlist. Nearly all of the Bridgetown trilogy music leaned more towards darker atmospheric moods, so the hard switch to a new musical style has felt a bit like whiplash.
Meet the Lidwells! features a family band that plays what some would call power pop: quirky and upbeat, often guitar-oriented, sometimes a bit odd, but never an uncomfortable listen.
Well-known examples would be Fountains of Wayne…
or Veruca Salt…
or Matthew Sweet…
….you get the picture.
So why power pop? Well, the story of the Lidwells is partly set in the late 80s-early 90s; they’re a band heavily influenced by the Beatles (thanks to their parents) as well as late 80s college rock (thanks to their elder siblings). Much like the Beatles, they started out writing simple poppy love songs aimed towards the young teen market. Over the course of five chart-topping albums and numerous hit singles, their sound evolves from that catchy pop to more adventurous alternative rock. And just like the Beatles, weary of the ups and downs of fame and tiring of the game, they decide to go out on a big note with their strongest album.
Right now, while I’m working on notes and piecing together a coherent story, I’m also making it a point to look for more music to listen to that would fit this project. It doesn’t necessarily have to be explicitly power pop, of course…as long as it’s somewhere in the neighborhood. And I’m specifically looking for both male and female singers, as it’s important to the story.
So yeah…if you have any suggestions/recommendations for bands and songs, please feel free to let me know in the comments! I’m always open to new tunage. 🙂
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Get Your Writing Published: Aug. 25, 2018
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