Upcoming Shows and CD Releases

December 5, 2008

We, The Reeds, had two very successful CD release parties in the past few months. Sept. 26 at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, and Nov. 15 at Tasty World in Athens.  We also have some great shows coming up including Feb. 7 at Tasty World. We have some new band members we’re really excited about, and a lot of new material that will be sounding great soon!

So I knew I wouldn’t be good at doing this regularly, but here I am, again. Over a month after my last post. I may get this whole “blogging” thing down soon.

Why do all web terms sound so stupid. Is it is because they are all blended with the world “web”?

Web log = blog = dumb, web seminar = webinar = dumb, and web episode = webisode = ultra dumb. Why?

Anyway, here is my current, pre-1980, ipod line up in relation to my last post:

Allman Brothers, Bill Mallonee (great (Athens) songwriter), Bob Dylan, Buddy Guy, CCR, Doobie Brothers, Eagles, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Eric Clapton, Faces (Rod Stewart’s old band), Fleetwood Mac (both incarnations), James Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, Led Zeppelin, Lots of blues artists, Miles Davis, Neil Young, Paul Simon (the best), Peter Gabriel, The Police, Robert Johnson, The Rolling Stones, Sam Cooke, Simon & Garfunkel, Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Zombies, Tom Petty, U2 and Van Morrison.

Some of those don’t technically follow the rules (The Police, U2, Peter Gabriel, SRV) but they’re great song writers and close enough for me.  And on that note . . .

Some modernity has slowly creeped in. There are so many great songwriters out there, and I just hearing different words and phrases inspires me regardless of the time:

The Black Keys (can be mistaken as vintage), Iron and Wine (great lyrics), Keith Urban, Mark Knopfler, Ryan Adams (very versatile songwriter), The Killers ( I will buy anything they put out.  I was very impressed after seeing them live.), Old Crow Medicine Show, Jeff Buckley, Bill Mallonee, Coldplay, Sean Costello (God bless) and Amos Lee, among others

I’ve tried to keep these to a minimum along with not listening to much DMB or John Mayer. It is hard to completely do away with modern music. I can be playing Halo with my sister and her computer randomly plays an Iron and Wine song, it grabs my attention (even while beating kids down), and then it is on my iPod, along with eight of his other songs. Whatever.  Like “Passing Afternoon” for instance:

“There are sailing ships that pass all our bodies in the grass 
Springtime calls her children ’till she let’s them go at last 
And she’s chosen where to be, though she’s lost her wedding ring 
Somewhere near her misplaced jar of Bougainvillea seeds”

– Samuel Beam

Really cool song. Unconventional song structure, no real chorus. But I really like the imagery. No matter what the song is about (which I have no idea, I’m not so good at literary analysis) there are really strong graphic images in the writing. You can think, and see, whatever you want about the story. I don’t mind that I don’t fully understand because of the great imagery (I think I could be the only person on earth, outside of a horticulurist, who knows what Bougainvilleas are . . . from my candle-making days).

Full lyrics here:

http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Passing-Afternoon-lyrics-Iron-Wine/02331D388BC88BAC48256EFE000669AF

His song “Flightless Bird, American Mouth” equally as good, and weird.  Below I’m going to paste someone’s interpretation of the initial lyrics:

“This song personifies the lost American dream through the life of a “quick wet boy,” full of innocence and enthusiasm when he “[dives] too deep for coins,” and takes pride in his “plastic toys.” However, this childhood is taken when the cops, society and adulthood, force him to grow up and “cut [his] long baby hair.” When his youthful joys are taken away, he eagerly searches for the meaning of his life.”

Here is the link to the rest of the interpretation, down in the comments:

http://www.metrolyrics.com/flightless-bird-american-mouth-lyrics-iron-wine.html

I mean, I don’t know if I get all that or even care to, I just like the way the song sounds. Maybe this person is right, maybe they’re wrong. I usually don’t even approach a song that deeply, I’m more about the “sound” then the lyrics. I also tend to take lyrics pretty literally at face value.

Until next time . . . could be next year . . . cheers.

Watchmen

October 9, 2008

I just finished reading the graphic novel, or series of comics “Watchmen”. The writing and artwork were both really great, especially the writing. It was really thought provoking and paints great images when reading. When I got to the end I thought it was pretty good, but I had seen it somewhere before . . . “Heroes”.  Now, I like the show, but “Heroes” totally ripped off the ending to “Watchmen”, thus diminishing the ending once I got there.  That kind of sucks, because I would have to assume that when the comic was actually published, and the ending was a far more original idea, its impact would be amazing and an instant classic. But since I had seen the first season of “Heroes”, which relied largely on the same idea, except with the opposite result, it didn’t excite me as much.

I find this exact same scenario to be true in music today. What if the first song you ever heard was “Karma Chameleon” by culture club, or the first guitar solo you heard was in a Metallica song.  What would that say about your perspective on music. You would have no frame of reference of what came before it, what was better, like The Zombies or Jimi Hendrix.

Being a musician I’ve been thinking about this a lot.  I want to compose songs like Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles or Bob Dylan.  There is a certain period that is considered “classic” in the history of pop or rock music and that is largely the 60’s and 70’s. There is so much music out there today, and so many styles it is an overload. No one is writing music like that anymore because it isn’t “new” to them. What if the first song you ever heard was “Crossroads” (Robert Johnson).  What kind of song would you write after hearing that? “Voodoo Chile”? “Spanish Castle Magic”?  What if you were a contemporary of Hendrix, what would you write, “One of These Nights”, “Hotel California”? Musicians are influenced by their peers and what they hear in their time and we’re losing touch with the greatest music.

In reaction to this I have decided to remove any music pre-1980 from my iPod in an effort to let classic music affect me and my writing. I’ve been largely influenced by Dave Matthews and John Mayer, and I think I need to change that.  So pre-1980 is really the only criteria.  I may have to develop a few exceptions (Stevie Ray Vaughn, The Police, U2, Ryan Adams, Keith Urban) for groups that are considered classic but post-1980, or great modern songwriters, but I’m going to attempt to only listen to “classic” music as if I lived in a time where there was no music beyond that. Great composing, great songwriting. Clearly there is great music today, but there is something about that time that needs to be revived. I guess we’ll see what happens.

Peace.

I was just thinking its funny that I don’t listen to the Beatles, can anyone tell me why?

Chicanery

August 22, 2008

What is it with recordings past 1977-ish?  I just made that date up. Anyway they just sound too “perfect”. There is no space to let the instruments breathe. The reason I bring this up is because I’m at work and I was listening to some Fleetwood Mac-Peter Green era. That stuff is really good. I thought I liked Clapton . . . I like this guy better. Guitar playing-wise. But then I bought a more recent recording of Peter Green doing a Robert Johnson tune. I really like the song, so I thought the Green version would be cool. And from the 30 second iTunes preview, it did sound pretty good, I liked his voice. But then I listen to it, and the acoustic guitar is perfectly EQ’ed and there are background singers. I just don’t get it. I wanted to hear just Peter Green singing. I rarely care about background vocalists, unless they are another member of the band. I care about the band, not random musicians at certain performances, or on certain recordings. It annoys me to watch a video Eagles concert, or Paul Simon concert, and there are fifteen people on stage . . . three to five back up singers, a bongo player, two keyboardists, five guitar players (to play every single riff from the studio recording). Get those people out of there. Annoying. That is why I like seeing Dave Matthews, sometimes they have guest instrumentalists, but most of the time it is the five of them (peace, Leroi) and they do everything.

Anyway, everyone knows the best recordings came from a dude in the corner of a room with his guitar and a mic. Throw in a drummer and bass player in the same room and you have a classic blues recording. Today every second of song time has some extraneous string arrangement or back up vocal, usually computer generated. That is one reason classic recordings are so good, no fat, just the meat. Their talent shines through, they don’t have to support it with extra junk. You know that legendary band, Cream? Three guys, three instruments. Thats it.

We’ve boiled everything we do today down to an exact science. The process of recording, mixing, and mastering is too predictable and too digital. A lot of older recordings have a lot of reverb on them. I like that, but today there is no ambience, everything is really clean and leveled out, auto-tuned. Drums are too loud today. Listen to older recordings, they aren’t that loud. I’ll throw some dap to whoever recorded the Black Keys record “Magic Potion” because the sound of the recording is pretty “classic” sounding. The first time I heard it I had to ask the person playing it if this was an old group I had never heard of, or a modern group. Because 1. There is pretty much just drums, bass, guitar and voice, and 2. The way it is recorded made the Black Keys sound the way John Mayall and the Bluesbreaker/Fleetwood Mac (original) sounded.

I guess the biggest reason is money. You can record so much cheaper digitally. Reels of tape and tape machines are expensive. And the time involved to get a take right on tape can be take awhile. When I was a musical fledgling I recording on some reels and you can’t mess that stuff up, no digital editing. It took me awhile because I was so nervous knowing that. The last album we did was all in the computer so I didn’t matter if I messed up. Just drop the cursor back a few seconds and punch in. You can punch in on tape too, but there are a lot more variables. Will I be singing at the same volume, playing the same rhythm? I think that process of being able to mess up, but still cut and paste together a good track lets us musicians off the hook with our skills. You can get lazy.

Back in the day, those guys were on it. There wasn’t that laziness that digital affords us today. I mean I’m sure they did a few takes, but listen to live recordings of early Fleetwood Mac, Jimi Hendrix, any of that stuff is awesome. And in terms of recording its decent, but that imperfectness makes it greater than all the cutting and pasting we can do today. We need to get back to that. Play our instruments better. Work harder. The stuff we pay hundreds, or thousands of dollars for today, in terms equipment, was really cheap back then. And with all our technological achievements, those first guys still sound better, even now? I think we as musicians and songwriters today need to work harder, study what was really good, throw out what is obviously bad, and not polish the life out of our recordings.

I ramble way too much. I’m not sure how I got here, but I need to get back to work. Peace out.

Leroi

August 20, 2008

I was shocked when I found out Leroi Moore passed away yesterday. I had gone to see the Dave Matthews Band in Charleston on July 4th and from most indications it looked like he would be alright. Apparently there were complications from an accident he had and he unexpectedly died yesterday at the age of 46.

I find it sad when anyone passes away, but I actually felt very emotional towards his passing. The music he helped create is such a part of who I am today. And I know a lot of people say things like that, but I didn’t just listen to DMB music, I played it too. Just look at the walls in my room, I’m 27, and my walls are still plastered with my heros. I wanted to, and still want to be, what they are to music today. It doesn’t matter that they don’t have a lot of radio “hits”.  They don’t care. I don’t care. What I care about this band. I want them to do well because they good guys, and they care about what they give to us. I want to treat music they way they treat music . . . as a caretaker of the art. I can’t even quantify how many hours I’ve spent listening to their music. They were the first band where I listened to the entire album. I mean, if I could take five records to a desert island, three of them would probably be Dave Matthew Band records. And to think when they first came out I couldn’t stand them.

See, they care about their fans, which is evident in the thousands upon thousand of people that go to every show. Each show is different. Every solo is changed. That is how music should be. Everyone wanted to watch them experiment and hear something beautiful. Jazz with rock, rock with pop, music with soul. The sax and the violin together.  It is an amazing experience.

There has never been a member of any band that I held so dearly pass away. It is a weird feeling and I don’t know what to take away from it. I’m not his brother, or band mate, or friend.  I didn’t know him. But that is what music does to you in a way so many other arts can’t do.  It isn’t like a painting where you can’t really see the process. With music you attach your own memories to the sounds that other people make, and you take them with you through time.

So I guess what I’m saying is thank you Leroi.  Thanks for wailing on that sax. Thanks for inputing yourself and your soul into what I do. See you in another life, brother.

Josh

Hello

August 19, 2008

Hi there,

My name is Josh Reid, I am a musician in Athens, Ga., and I am in a band called The Reeds. We recently completed our first CD called “Bleed Lust”. What is our sound? We play a blend pop/rock/blues/jazz/folk. If that doesn’t help, you can check out our music at www.thereedsband.com and decide for yourself.

I’m starting this blog to talk about my band, express my passion for music, and deliver any humble opinions I have on the subject. Some things I love, some things I loathe. My attempts at being clever or intelligent will fall short. I generally don’t know what I’m talking about. I accept no responsibility for my grammar (anytime) or for what I may say in any posts after 1 a.m. EST.

I also like religion, beer, football and video games among other things.  In other words, who is to say where we might end up? I think blogs are basically places where we can feel like people are listening.  So if you are, listening, thank you, and feel free to keep up with my blog!