Fly-By Because It’s Been That Kind of a Week, [feat. Portishead]

Been stupidly busy lately due to the Day Job, so I’m doing a fly-by here.  I’ve been thinking a bit about Portishead lately; I haven’t listened to them in a while and after happening to hear “Glory Box” on the radio, I figured it was time to bring them back into rotation.

I do dearly love that late-90s slinky, smoky trip-hop sound.

We’ll (hopefully) be back to normal next week!

Meet the Lidwells: Musical Inspiration

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.

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More to come when I have more written! 🙂

Boston Rocks

citgo sign

Speaking of 90s music, I’ve been listening to a lot of stuff lately that came out while I was in Boston, college and post-college.  The city has a fascinating musical history, especially where rock and radio is concerned.  [I highly suggest looking for Carter Alan’s Radio Free Boston: The Rise and Fall of WBCN and Brett Milano’s The Sound of Our Town for a great overview.]  There’s always been a scene of some kind in the city over the years, and it’s always been great.  A lot of it is due to its eclectic mix of blue-collar families and college students.

I was glad to be able to listen to, if not go see, a lot of the local bands while going to Emerson College in the early 90s. Here’s a few of my favorites from that era…hope you enjoy!









Everything you’ve ever said is brilliant

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. 🙂

The Official Eden Cycle Soundtrack

Or: Albums Wot I Listened to Incessantly While Writing the Trilogy in the Belfry, 1996-2004. It’s by no means a complete list, as I’ve left out a ton of albums that didn’t get nearly as much play but may have shown up in heavy rotation for a shorter time. I also didn’t list the albums that popped up during the revision years, which would probably be another long list in itself.

I’ve put them in semi-chronological order of release. These are still some of my favorite albums; I would highly suggest checking many of them out, perhaps finding a copy or two for your collection if you don’t have them already. It’s a wide mix; there’s electronica, alternative metal, alternative rock, and even a classical album or two. A lot of these albums still pop up on rotation when I’m working.

To be honest, it does feel kind of odd to finally be listening to a different style of music for my latest project. [Meet the Lidwells! is full of power-pop goodness, so there’s a lot of Matthew Sweet and Fountains of Wayne involved, and a lot of listening to The Power Pop Show on KSCU.]  But I highly doubt I’ll stop listening to Fantastic Planet or Sea Change any time soon…

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Platinum Records

If you haven’t seen my recent post over at Welcome to Bridgetown, I’m currently celebrating the platinum anniversary of my starting a novel (The Phoenix Effect) that would end up morphing into my Bridgetown trilogy.  All this month I will be posting fun things related to the original as well as the trilogy, and I thought I’d do the same over here.

Twenty years ago I was a few months in on my relatively new job as the lone shipper/receiver at HMV Records.  Even though I was one of the oldest hires there (I’m pretty sure I was closer to my manager Tom’s age than the young’uns I worked alongside), I was still feeling my way around.

The biggest change from the years previous was that I had a much closer connection to the music I was listening to.  I was listening to a lot of radio at the time but didn’t have that much money to spend on new releases, but this job let me listen to a lot more stuff (and yes, I may have dubbed a number of cds onto blank cassettes while in the back room, heh!).

But the sounds were changing as well.  The bright bounciness of Britpop was suffering from hangovers and bloating (see: Oasis’ Be Here Now, a solid but WAY overworked album); the American grunge was kind of losing its way (not to mention some of its lead singers to overdoses), and let’s face it: the college rock I knew of then was essentially the commercial rock of now.

That’s not to say the quality (or quantity) of alternative rock was declining…it was merely evolving with the times.  In fact, 1997 featured some fantastic, solid releases from bands both old and new, taking the genre in new and interesting directions.

On a personal level this was a positive and much-needed evolution for me, as I’d been in dire need of a change in my life and outlook.  I’d been broke, angry and depressed for about three years straight, gone through some personal issues that were Not Fun At All, and needed a positive change ASAP.

Not only that, this change in mood is reflected in my writing.  I’d essentially started a new project resurrected from the ashes of one that I had to close down for personal reasons.  And let’s be brutally honest:  back then, I’d had a collegiate view of being a writer.  I was a special snowflake with the Powers of Story [insert sprinkly *whoosh* sfx here] and I wrote Important Life Allegories™.  In reality, however…my writing was crap, I knew it was crap, no one was going to take it seriously, and I was going to need to be a shit ton better than the level I was currently at if was going to get anywhere with it.

So that meant dispensing with the mindset of Writing as Superpower and take it seriously.  Making it a daily process instead of a casual one.  Relearning the basics of story construction.  (This included doing a hell of a lot more reading than before; not just the how-to writing books, but the different genres of fiction and nonfiction I was interested in.  This plan kick-started my habit of visiting book stores on the weekends and, thankfully, a love of reading.)

Music has always been a part of my writing process, and this time it was no different.  This time out I’d be making mixtapes of tracks that would inspire my writing (the four-volume Songs from the Eden Cycle from 1997-8, the sort-of sequels in the early 2000s, and the recent Eden Cycle Sessions mp3 playlists).  Certain albums released during this time would get heavy rotation play on my cd player down in my basement writing nook.  And I’d listen to a hell of a lot of stuff on my fifty-mile commute, which was always a perfect time for me to brainstorm.

I’d made a decision to be a writer quite early in my life, but 1997 was when I decided to take that decision seriously.