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Posts Tagged ‘Salon De La Guerre’

IYou're Going To Regret What You Did -final (002) turned my attention to fiction writing this year, and slowed down the torrid pace of music releases from the previous two years. Still, my perverse need to bounce around genres had me this summer quickly recording an album of piano numbers and a proto-punk album simultaneously.

The piano album came out a few weeks ago. This month I’m releasing Salon de la Guerre’s punk album, You’re Going To Regret What You Did, a song full of short, fast numbers on political anomie, compulsion, addiction and mental illness. And it’s fun! I wanted to let my listeners know, if they care, that I am determined to go as far as I’d like experimenting with avant-garde music and classical yet still happily come home to the music I hold most dear, which tends to fall on the proto-punk rainbow cast by the New York Dolls, the Stooges and the Velvet Underground.

I recorded the album at my home during the summer on Garage Band and I’m responsible for all the songs and performances. One day maybe I’ll collaborate, but it’s hard enough arranging play dates for my child.

The cover art is by my friend, the eminently talented Corey Brian Sanders.

The album should be available on iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and Spotify in a week or so. Here is the first track:

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From the top of Pikes Peak
To the trough of the isthmus
We traveled in wagons
It was none of your business
When winter came we thought we’d have a talent show
Something to keep us warm in snow

And you dance till you’re dead
Till your soul is fed
And you make your stand
Every woman, every man

As long as there’s some chicken in the frying pan
You know we’re going to make it out to sea

Conestoga wagon’s got a broken wheel
You know that it happens all the time
But we can hunker down
And we could build this town
Harvest the ice and wait a while

San Francisco or bust
You know that prayer is a must
And you do a handstand, every woman every man
As long as there’s a dog in the frying pan
You know all of us will make to sea

San Francisco or bust
You know that prayer is a must
You struggle some when you have a dream
But then you turn on your own
Your house won’t be a home
Anarchy is closer than it seems

But you sing while you can
And you dance a cancan
And you do a handstand
Every woman every man
As long as we got each other
In the frying pan
You know some of us will make it out to sea

You can try to save face
There’s a market and a place
For every living soul to ply his trade
And you make your mistakes
And there’s some give and take
And you’re sleeping in the bed that you have made

But you breathe while you can
And you leave when you can
And you eat what you can
Every woman, every man

As long as we got each other in the frying pan
You know some of us will make it out to sea

–From the Salon de la Guerre album Yipano
Copyright 2018

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Over the next two weeks, I’ll be releasing two new albums under the name of my musical act “Salon de la Guerre.” The first, Yipano, comes out Monday and is my first-ever album of piano compositions, some with lyrics, others totally instrumental. The other is an album of punk songs called You’re Going To Regret What You Did.

Here is a sample of the former, a song called “The Donner Party Follies.” Enjoy.

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The Widowhood of Bunny Album Cover 2This week, I’m releasing my 14th album and my second symphonic/classical work. It’s called The Widowhood of Bunny, and it’s a sequel of sorts to my 2016 album Gravitas: A Life. Like the other album, it has a lot of jaunty classical piano and string arrangements (they remind my wife of movie soundtracks) but also some jazz elements inspired at least in part by 20th century masters such as George Gershwin and Aaron Copland. Like Gravitas, it’s an instrumental suite that follows the exploits of widow Bunny now that hubby Gravitas has dropped dead.

Like its predecessor, The Widowhood of Bunny was made on an iPhone 6S. Gravitas came together because I was stress-testing my phone and wanted to see how rich a sound I could get out of it — the project resulted, to my amusement, in my first 50-minute symphony. Bunny was a fluke, too, in a way. Earlier this year, I shoved a string section into one of my rock songs as a funny interruption (a satirical trick I learned from Frank Zappa that amuses me no end) and found the string part growing to almost five minutes long. I realized I would have to stop and either throw the incongruous thing in the trash as another dunce’s experiment, or save it by writing a new extended work. Then I wondered if my imagination could handle another long-form piece, and of course, idiot male posturing pride set in (“Why the hell not?”) and a determination to grow within this genre. My audience, after all, is small enough to not really give a shit.

Indeed, lately, I’ve been thinking … “Hmmmm … Son of Gravitas?”

I understand that the sing-songy, jaunty arrangements in these two albums could really turn off people who prefer my pop and rock tunes, annoy serious classical fans by thinking I’ve wandered into muzak or invite the deserved scorn heaped upon pretentious assholes everywhere. But I ask for patience: Bunny and works like it feed my rock music (and vice versa), and allow me to search and discover. I don’t know many good artists who can repeat themselves, even if they want to. I certainly can’t. It usually doesn’t work out for me to repeat concepts and stay within song genres, even if I’ve found a comfort zone within them. The minute I found my sweet spot in my singing voice, for example, I realized that relying on it made my songwriting weak.

But if you’re not a fan of this stuff, there’s good news: I’ve made four other albums this year, and through the luminous mysteries of music distributors, one of them is only days away. That one’s a neo-folk album of nothing but acoustic guitar songs, and I’ll be sharing that too, hopefully by the end of this week. The release of these two albums hopefully demonstrates to you my proud musical, schizophrenia and dedication to keeping it fresh.

I composed and produced the album during the summer of 2017. The work was created in Apple GarageBand for iPhone. Apple’s string arrangements are largely programed through manipulation and furious button pushing. However, Bunny‘s piano, electric piano, bassoon, flute, clarinet, oboe, glockenspiel, and bass violin parts were all performed by me on the program’s piano keyboard.

I’m including here the proper opening track off The Widowhood of Bunny (it follows a prologue). The album is now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and other sites where music is (still) sold.

 

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Driver, Take This Cab to the Depths of the SoulMy 13th album, “Driver Take This Cab to the Depths of the Soul,” by my musical act “Salon de la Guerre,” is now available on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, CD Baby and other sites were music is sold or streamed.

I began this year, like all decent people, in a funk over the direction our country had taken, the amorality of Donald Trump’s election and the violent rhetoric that had become the mainstay of Republicanism only some 30 years after Ronald Reagan’s sunny optimism. I wondered how a person who lied so easily to stupid people, in a populist idiom familiar to failed states, had somehow managed to become the leader of a country whose institutions are often reliably immune to such behavior. I wondered how to tell my child that a person who had spent his campaign bullying, blustering, threatening vulnerable minorities and flirting with treason had somehow succeeded with those very traits to wangle his way into the Oval Office. I wondered if telling my child to be a good human being was still possible, desirable in the world Republicans had bequeathed us.

The only way I could think to deal with our new anomie was to become a better guitar player.

After all, telling people the truth and demonstrating to them exactly how they are wrong–these are somehow no longer satisfactory ways to make change. As I’ve stated elsewhere, any person appealing to a Trump voter is effectively arguing with the person’s Dad. A Bad Dad who has kept this person a child-hostage of abstractions and made him repeat them well into the adulthood, often long after said Bad Dad is in the grave. Hiding Americans’ sins and Dad’s racism are two such abstractions and the pain of disloyalty for the hapless Trump supporter is as close to him as his skin.

Since the violence of the Antifa school doesn’t work to advance decency, and since the current Republican-controlled Congress will ensure that Trump, who is already manifestly guilty of obstruction of justice, flies above the law as easily as whistling, I have no hope for his quick removal, deserved as it is.

I wrought my despair into art. Some of the first few things I wrote for this album were so bad and so angry and shrill that I left them off. But then I found a groove with a song called “Cain and Abel,” a morality tale about the rationalizing of murder and the cost of getting away with it–if there is any. A couple of nasty anti-Trump lyrics remained in other songs, but I noticed as I worked that the album’s tone became sunnier. It seems that I had redeemed myself by making art, if I couldn’t redeem the world.

Why should you care? The good news is, you don’t have to! I’ve achieved things I’m greatly proud of on this album, recorded the best guitar instrumental I might ever play in my life, wrote some probing lyrics that went beyond despair and shrill polemics. The victory is personal and belongs to me. If other people want to hear it, bless them, but I don’t force my music down anyone’s throat. If you, dear reader, are a fan of my stuff, I hope I can still make you happy even as I go off in different directions.

As I describe it on my CD Baby page, “the new album is a collection of pop songs, piano pieces, free form electric guitar jams and weird electronica made in order to navigate our tough political and spiritual times.” I made a switch to electronic music last year and recorded most of my last four albums in Garage Band, using computer instruments. Here, I reintroduce my guitar (which, I learned after a long period of being scared of the idea, can actually be plugged into an iPhone thanks to some clever electronics makers). It was about the same time that I discovered my ability and desire to do fast-finger runs on a guitar, which I think gives the electronic stuff more excitement and dimension.

I don’t think Donald Trump fans will object to these songs, since there are few outright insults. (You can read those on this post!) My greatest desire with my music, if I have any, is to encourage other people to make art–which anybody can do–or if not that, find new things they were capable of that they didn’t know about. Why is it important to me? Because it makes them better people. It reminds them of the constructive acts they are capable of, the creativity and imagination and empathy they’ve always had as gifted mammals crawling out of the caves. The pride a Donald Trump offers them is as ephemeral and cheap as the kiss of a prostitute. While some 63 million Trump voters painfully learn that lesson, it’s important for all of us to remember we can continue to work on things that make us feel good about ourselves. Giving to charity. Helping out our brothers and sisters in distress in Houston and Puerto Rico and Florida. Telling our children to do the right things and not hate–because that still matters. And becoming excited about the next thing around the corner. I found that ability very, very late in life. A cure for bitterness. And I won’t let the current political environment ruin that.

If you’re into it … my first single off the new album.

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In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be releasing my 12th album.

Salon de la Guerre presents “In the Lake of Feral Mermaids,” a pop album about drifters, murder, mayhem, the end of idealism and the quest for responsible retirement planning–mostly set in sumptuous Caribbean locales. A set of radio friendly tunes here, though I threw in a couple of loud rockers for old times’ sake. Cover art by my buddy Corey Sanders.

Click here for the first single:

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The Church of Low Expectations (2)My 11th album, “The Church of Low Expectations” is now available on Amazon, iTunes and CD Baby, released under my nom de rock,  Salon de la Guerre. It’s a pop album of dark doings, where strained, ethically challenged characters straddle the abyss but reach for the light. As I say on the music sites, it continues my “exploration of electronic music as a means of balancing noise and melody. Its lyrics include small vignettes of players and grifters who wistfully muse about life, helplessness and horror.”

This is my fourth album in 2016. I somehow managed to get 65 new songs produced since January after switching to Garage Band software on my iPhone 6s. Again, I don’t know if this is an advertisement for me or for Apple. I did sometimes use available loops and drum beats from Garage Band, but I also discovered a heretofore undiscovered talent to play piano–as long as it’s a tiny piano on a tiny phone. That made the arranging fast and easy.

Though “The Church of Low Expectations” and “Roses Don’t Push the Car Home” (released a couple of months ago) were recorded simultaneously and were really twin albums, I did see them diverging in theme and mood. “Roses” is more poppy and upbeat, and “Church” is more brooding and experimental, much more focused on dark themes like death and isolation, but unlike my album “Toe-Tapping Songs of Pain and Loss,” it’s thrown over garage rock noise for electronica and hip-hop beats.

It was a big leap for me and probably strange for anybody who has heard or liked any of my older albums. But it was worth it. Blame it on Apple, but I found new things I could do with music this year and I don’t know if I’ve ever been as excited or confident about making it.

For now, I’m going to let it rest. Of course, I have more song fragments in my head, but for now I need to attend to my long-neglected novels. If my time with music has taught me anything, it’s that finishing things feels really great.

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