Brett vs Laundry. Fight!!

Mitt Romney? Seriously? “I’m sexy and I know it”? Seriously?

I’m glancing at the newspapers (various shades of bias) as I wait for my bagel. The deli has the radio on. I’m waiting for Brett (drummer, Virginia Is For Hoverers 1 & 2) to pick me up and take me to the studio. Cold diarreah falls from the sky. It’s nasty out. My laundry is tumbling in the laundromat next door. Lately, I run around New York nonstop, working, playing cafes, playing open mics, working on the Dirty Girls album, meeting people, “networking”. Mixing. Doing laundry when possible. Working out or at least playing on my phone at the gym. I only spend three nights, on average, sleeping at home. I’m wondering who will win the race: reason and progress or stagnation and bad politics? Beautiful new music or vapid, thoughtless jingles? Brett or my laundry?

Show tonight in Upperville! Where the H is Upperville?

Chris Merritt And The Dirty Girls show 8:00 pm tonight in Upperville, VA at Buchanan Hall:

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It’s the town over from Middleburg on RT 50. Buchanan Hall is the first building on the left. Upperville has a population of like 12! Come one and all for great music…..beer and food as well……great venue and a great band…..

Friday, Jan 27th, 8:00 PM

Dirty Grrlz

Next week’s Chris Merritt shows:  Richmond, VA HERE, Northern VA, HERE.  Also, Brooklyn, New York, HERE.

Recording has started!  After lots of writing songs, arranging, rehearsing, hustling, it’s finally time.  Now the hard work begins.

Brett and I tracked drums in the studio all morning before hunching back into the bitter freeze.  New songs, old new songs, and new old songs.

Scheherazade is finally close to being arranged after five months or so.  It’s going to be……epic, beautiful, ridiculous.  If, of course, it doesn’t fall flat on it’s face….many of these new songs feel risky…..which is a good thing…..but is why I’m insisting on doing close to thirty before choosing the record’s playlist.  That might not be “rational” or “humanly possible”, but I’m doing it anyway.  New songs The Itch and One Man To An Army are exciting my inner fake vibrations.

Here’s a couple (random) snippets of sketches/demos I have sitting on my desktop.  The Dirty Girls have been working hard to make these into something legendary…

Chris Merritt And The Dirty Girls: First Shows of 2012. Legendary Acts On The Bill

UPDATE: Here’s the show info for tomorrow (NYC, Jan 16th, 8:30 PM) http://www.facebook.com/events/273146779413891/

When did this happen?  The band and I have some great shows coming up.

In New York this Monday night (that’s January 16th) I will be performing with some good friends at The Cake Shop.  Michael Holt (incredible, prolific pianist/composer/songwriter as well as hilarious performer) will be there as well as some other amazing artists from all over the world.  David Celia and Scotty Mack from Toronto we be there as well as  Will Hunt from London.  Everybody is top notch.

In Richmond, VA Chris Merritt And The Dirty Girls will be playing with legendary Nashville songwriter David Mead.  Awesome?  Yes.  New songs, great artists.  (January 25th, 2012).  You can’t beat it – it will be an amazing night of entertainment and hot men. Also with Harper Blynn.

(Northern VA – we’re playing a show on January 28th 2012.  More info to follow.)

UPDATE: Here’s the show info for tomorrow (NYC, Jan 16th, 8:30 PM) http://www.facebook.com/events/273146779413891/

Underrated Band – Third Eye Blind

When I site Third Eye Blind as one of my top ten bands of all time, people usually think I’m joking.  Ha.  Well, it’s no surprise, given their appearance in every crappy teen-comedy made in the 90s.  Stephen Jenkins voice has a flamboyant lisp, and the band has many overused/awesomely cheesy devices – Third Eye Blind is an easy target.  Singing “doo-doo-doo” in their most known song didn’t help.

But Third Eye Blind has an element of irony.  Semi-Charmed Life, under the bubble-gum pop facade, is the darkest drug-abuse song to ever be played on the radio (and probably will be forever).  The brighter the songs get, the darker the lyrics (check out Slow Motion).

They also released some incredible albums after their enormous hit record.  Subsequent albums flew right under the radar and contain some of the most masterful, heartbreaking, ass-kicking rock-and-roll songs ever recorded.  I love the contrast of Jenkins cheesy, horny, inch-deep lyrics when the man also happens to be a melodic genius.

Here is my challenge to you:  suspend your forgone conclusions momentarily and pretend these tracks make up an album and see what you think.  They’re some of my favorite songs of all time.

Faster / Wounded / Losing A Whole Year / Company / Red Star / Slow Motion / The Dao Of St. Paul / Persephone / Good Man / Blinded / Darwin

And by the way, Blue is a great album from start to finish.

The digital music debate is obsolete

As far as I’m concerned, there are a few things that once were staples of our society and are now conceptually obsolete (whether they are pragmatically is a different matter).

Music piracy and the music industry have been hot topics in the past ten years, but oddly, no real solutions have been reached.  In my opinion, that’s because there never was an argument:  technology makes things free and easy – music has been set free.  It never was a core physical human need like food or shelter, nor a product, nor a service.  Music has never existed on a practical plane.  It sits on a cloud above the heads of human animals with science, literature, and all forms of art (in other words, all the best milk our beautiful brain-nipples produce).  Capitalism only played well with Art before that sexy home-wrecker Technology came along and made everything free.

By the way, I think even more indispensable to the explosion of piracy is the ease of it’s perpetration.  It’s not necessarily that it’s free, but it’s just so much easier to start a torrent download than to put in a bunch of debit card numbers on a website, or go to a store, or deal with iTunes and DRM issues or whatever.  I would bet that things would be much different if we had something like the following (and I’m not saying this is a perfect idea, but hypothetically for a minute): what if there was a mandatory tax at the beginning of the year, where everyone had to put 400 bucks into a paypal-like Arts And Sciences account, that was super-easy to use to download new music or movies or fundraising opportunities or whatever.  I think people WANT to support the artists/projects they like, but their laziness gets the better of them.  I know, at least, that’s what happens with me….

There are a billion asshats out there who are making worthless (to anyone but themselves) music on Garage Band or Pro Tools or whatever.  I’m not being mean.  It’s great. Sort of.

So anyway, here is my point.  With the spread of technology, music has been set free.  That’s it.  Get over it. It’s discouraging, but then again, I had a very encouraging thought…..

How easy and ubiquitous has paint on canvas been for hundreds of years?  Anyone can make a painting.  But how many great artists have we had?  Many brilliant artists, but probably only the top 1% or less who have ever put brush to canvas.  There’s still a blank canvas out there.  You can still be great at something.  It still matters if you’re great at something.  I, for one, plan on making three records this year that have never been made, and are better, more fun, more insane, and more unique and touching than any collection of notes and rhythms out there.

Resolutions!

Hey there, friends and fans!  I hope you had a magnificent holiday season!  This post is a little overdue….

They say to limit your New Year’s resolutions to just one, but I’ve had surprising success in the last couple months with quitting a few things at once.  I will continue the following:

1.  No drinking
2.  No smoking
3.  No drugs

With these added resolutions:

1.  No kissing ladies
2.  Working out every day
3.  Making a to-do list every night

These resolutions are not goals in themselves, only means to an end.  I am working on a few projects at once, and I aim to finish the best records I’ve ever made this year.

First in the oven is the freshman Chris Merritt And The Dirty Girls release, which will be my magnum opus.  Close to thirty songs are being recorded…weird, insane, beautiful.  No compromises will be made. Brilliant percussionist Brett Ripley will be tying the whole thing together, engineering it to make sense rhythmically, providing meaning and backbeats to support the madness. Other guests will be there too. This album will also include my interpretation of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Sheherzahde, which has taken six months to even arrange and learn to play.  This record will definitely give you tingles in your pynus.

I’ve also been working on with a couple of great young musicians on a new band called Future Caveman. The songs are magical, raw, youthful, simple. We’ve finished quite a few songs and will start recording any day now.  Think Paperface meets White Stripes meets Ash meets a swift kick in The Shins.

And finally, I’m working with a hyper-talented young lady who smashes drums and guitars for a living.  She’s the most rock-and-roll human I’ve ever met.  We have some songs that are so heavy they will melt your face.  More on these projects as they develop.

Now. Won’t you join me in making this year your bitch?  Have some songs:  boom(Mechanical Mind) bap(Margaux) bing(Baby’s Gone) pop(Walking On The Water) snap(Live Or Die Once) crackle(Spider)

Hitchslapped

One of my six heroes, Christopher Hitchens, has died.  I can’t even put into words what a ballsy, intelligent, cool motherfucker Hitchens was, so I won’t even try.  Too much is being said about him online right now anyway, and maybe I’ll wait until the talk of his death dies down before I do a post on how truly influential he was to civilization.
However, I came across an article that really upset me, called Still Praying For Christopher Hitchens.  I thought I would share my pointless argument with believers in the comments.  A Christian Read More …

Conformist little hairless monkey chicks from outer space

I’ve developed a theory that explains everything.  Here’s the summary:  we’ve actually evolved through natural selection to be 99% close-minded mimics, with just enough flexibility of mind to criticize clearly horrible ideas. We’re all just dumb hot chicks, but with ideas (instead of competing, fumbling boys) paraded in front of us, egotistically dismissing those that displease us, and choosing the most socially acceptable.

Evolution and life on this beautiful and hostile planet only started getting interesting about 500 million years ago.  I’m talking eyes (electromagnetic radiation detectors), legs (transporters to the eating and humping), brains (chewing gum wads of neurons), and as far as we can tell (and we can tell, unless you choose to ignore literally mountains of evidence) humans only started rubbing their eyes to the morning sun around 200,000 years ago.  We were smelly and losing our hair and had enormous ass cheeks to help us walk upright.  Our average lifespan was about 25 years.

Humans are unique in that we come up with explanations about our environment and, therefore, change it in our favor.  But here’s the rub:  in a tribe of 1,000 fighting, struggling, farting humans, only one guy has to invent the hand axe.  The other 999 have to be good at one thing:  mimicry and social learning.  For generations after, the humans that survived honored the past generation, learned the mysteries of the hand axe, and didn’t need to come up with any new ideas (creativity, of course, being a hugely inefficient use of energy).

I submit that we’ve bred ourselves, over the past few thousand years, based on these sickening ideals of conformity.

Creative free thinking – progressive explanation-finding – is not the norm for a society.  The free-thinking, science-loving, art-making, debate-prone Greeks are the rare gem in a cultural wasteland of Spartans – honoring the past, scared of progress, strict rule-based education, warring, stupid, boring, etc.  The acceleration technology has been pretty slow up until the industrial revolution – natural selection wouldn’t have had to choose for the acclamation of new ideas within an individual’s lifetime.  Rather, an individual who can “fit in” would do much, much better.  Being outspoken and interesting is dangerous (Archimedes. Galileo. Turing. King. Lennon.) but being accepted by established cultural norms is socially attractive and even considered sexy.  We aren’t downright against new ideas, but most of us require an idea to be accepted socially before we bother with it (free thinkers, of course, are often suspicious of mainstream ideas).

My theory would explain the existence of so many things.  The socially-driven memes of crappy pop music.  Chain restaurants.  The reality-skirting old-world mentality of religion.  The subdued, unemotional patronizing of reality that is NPR.  Why tired old jokes are used in Hollywood films years after they were funny.  Why successful advertising employs derivative cliches over anything else.  Why online daters who are less passionate about their beliefs are more successful.

The Beatles invent a hand axe, I – V – vii – IV, (see Let It Be) and it becomes almost the only chord progression I hear used in modern hits forty years later.  Where the more rare free thinker prefers unique ideas, especially in something like art, most people prefer conformity, proven memes, socially lukewarm bullshit.

Just a little theory.  I have to go now.  I love you. here’s a song I wrote http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etYd60CoQuM

Idioteque

Last night I was walking on 34th street towards Broadway.  It was pretty late, and a restaurant was closing up and, incredibly, blasting Radiohead’s Idioteque into the street.

So many times a day I’m force-fed some techno-pop diva’s vapid hit, or a new dance remix of an Adele song I’ve heard a hundred times (the mere concept of a forced techno beat over her songs absurd), or some tired old 80s hit.

But there it was, Idioteque pumping and reverberating down the street.  I could hardly believe it. It was beautiful. For a brief moment, I was living in a world that made sense to me, and it was striking how rarely I hear music that interests me in a public context.  I had a glimpse of a universe where people played interesting, sweet music in public places, and I pretended that it was normal.  I started singing and bouncing a little in the street – I couldn’t help it.  It transformed New York – the dark, pretty chords and ghostly drum machine vibrating off the buildings made the city shine brighter.  Thom Yorke’s clever melody and sensitive vocals were the soundtrack to the universe in that moment.  It had an obvious effect on everyone around – a random group of people walked by and we smiled at each other.  Soon, our little group of strangers (including some Japanese guy on a business trip) were goofily dancing and giggling as we walked.  We were outright laughing, immediately friends, with no words spoken.

I often gripe about the state of popular culture (my apologies to all my friends, ever).  Sometimes, I doubt my own nerdy ideals.  So often I hear “good music is a matter of taste”, “pop music is just fun music”, “simple songs are what people want”.  And I agree with those things, but many many people define “fun” and “simple” as “lame” and “commercial”, respectively.  But last night I glimpsed evidence in my favor.  Radiohead does play simple songs.  In fact, they’re outright minimalistic.  Harmonically, they’re diatonic and refined.  Rhythmically, they’re outright tribal and instinctive.  But Radiohead’s songs are clever, and interesting, and sweet.  They reflect the mystery and darkness of reality, with a glimmer of hope for optimistic measure.  Idioteque’s melody is singable and “catchy” (can we destroy this term?), but it is also unique and meaningful.  And people pick up on those things.  Stupid people are surprisingly brilliant.

I don’t hate pop music, as many people assume.  I just don’t understand why the great stuff isn’t being listened to.  Where’s Pedro The Lion’s Second Best or Indian Summer?  Where is Rufus Wainwright, Pinback, The Beach Boys?  Do people really enjoy Ricky Inglesias over Tom Waits?  But how is that even possible?  I think it’s only possible in a society that has started to idealize conformity and emotional detachment (yeah, I know that sounds dramatic, but I’m worried I’m right).  Not to mention – where’s the jazz?  Where’s the classic country, where’s the Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash?  If you just want background music that doesn’t require focus and attention, if you want a “vibe”, why not an energetic classical piece by one of the Russian Motherfuckers of the late 19th century?  Why can’t the “vibe” be intelligence and brightness?  Why some annoying, ethically offensive song about adultery?  And seriously, are people still stupid enough to find songs about binge drinking on Fridays empowering or entertaining?  Really?  Where are these people, and how come I don’t know any?

If I ran the world, here are the “hits” I would force feed the masses today, and I say with 100% confidence, it would make the colors of the world more crisp for 24 hours.  http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLCA3C036806D6A86E