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

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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!









Listening to the Seventies

You know, for all the classic rock I’ve listened to over the years, I haven’t really focused too closely on the 70s other than the hits.  I’ve got a decent mp3 collection that covers a lot of discographies, but I’ve always tended to limit my ‘classic’ listening to the 80s (my teen years) or the 90s (my college/post-college/HMV years).

Granted, my age was in the single digits in the seventies, so my familiarity with the music from that era comes from the listening habits of my older sisters, the records I took out of the town library, and the usual culprits you hear on classic rock stations like Springsteen, Elton John, Billy Joel and Led Zeppelin.  The rest of it tends to be filled with easy listening pop that we escaped like Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand, and variety specials filled with corny humor and the same central casting guest stars.

It is kind of fascinating, though, when you realize that this song..

…and this song…

…came out in the same month, November 1977.

I’m thinking it’s time for me to do another decade overview, this time of the decade where I was the bratty little kid brother.  I mean, going past hearing “The Piano Man” for the 1,485,035,436th time.  Expanding the genres between punk and sunshine pop, prog rock and early metal.  If there’s one thing I enjoy immensely when listening to music, it’s listening to it within the context of its history.  I’m curious to hear how they all intertwined.

Listen in Silence XXI

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For your listening pleasure, here’s my latest compilation/mixtape that I created a week or so ago.  All the links are to their respective YouTube visuals and will open in a separate window.

On a side note, I’m greatly amused that I’m still using a mixtape name that I created way back in the spring of 1988.  I usually used the LiS title for ‘favorite poppy alternative songs’ mixtapes (whereas Walk in Silence was used for ‘favorite moody alternative songs’).  There was a stretch there in the early 00s when I used a different title and the mixes were more varied (this would be the Re:Defined mixes).  Hey, if the titles still fit, might as well keep using them, right?

Side A

  1. Spoon, “Hot Thoughts”
  2. Colony House, “You & I”
  3. Cloud Nothings, “Modern Act”
  4. Depeche Mode, “Where’s the Revolution”
  5. The New Pornographers, “High Ticket Attractions”
  6. Elbow, “Magnificent (She Says)”
  7. Slowdive, “Star Roving”
  8. Dirty Projectors, “Keep Your Name”
  9. The Orwells, “They Put a Body in the Bayou”
  10. Cosima, “To Build a House”
  11. Beach Slang, “Roadrunner”

Side B

  1. Grandaddy, “Way We Won’t”
  2. Los Campesinos!, “I Broke Up in Amarante”
  3. The XX, “On Hold”
  4. Bastille, “Good Grief”
  5. Arcade Fire, “I Give You Power (feat. Mavis Staples)”
  6. Minus the Bear, “Last Kiss”
  7. Temples, “Certainty”
  8. OK Go, “Interesting Drug”
  9. Japandroids, “Near to the Wild Heart of Life”
  10. Portugal. The Man, “Feel It Still”
  11. Of Verona, “Wish You Were Here”
  12. Dropkick Murphys, “You’ll Never Walk Alone”

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.

Fly-by: Earworm

Sorry, folks…had to head into Concord for the Day Job today, so I wasn’t able to get any music post up.

BUT.

Once I was there, I happened into the little snack shop they have in my building, and they were playing Carmen on the radio.

Which meant I had “L’amour est un oiseau rebelle” stuck in my head ALL MORNING LONG.

Granted, I do love how this aria is basically her trolling Don José something fierce. 🙂

It’s half past four and I’m shifting gears

 

So I ended up buying the new Golden Earring box set, The Complete Studio Recordings, (at a pretty sweet deal — 28 cds for a little over $100, coming out to about $4 a cd) and I’m quite looking forward to giving it a listen.

They’re a band I’ve always wanted to hear more of, especially since their history reaches way back to the early 60s.  Most of you know them from their two US hits “Radar Love” (one of the best 70s bass lines ever) and “Twilight Zone” (one of the most memorable early 80s MTV videos).   I owned their Cut album for a long time and absolutely loved it as a kid.  I never got around to picking up more of their albums though, as they were often hard to find and were never a big draw in the US.

Still, they’re considered the Netherlands’ biggest rock band and what I have heard of their early stuff I quite enjoy.  Including their amazingly ridiculous yet fascinating seventeen-minute prog cover of The Byrds’ “Eight Miles High”.

It’s going to take me a while to sift through this collection, but I’m looking forward to it!