All right, so it’s one thing for a kid to have an amazing level of mechanical skill, but Billie Tweddle is the absolute definition of genius in my mind. She is yet another singer-songwriter, singing about heartbreak and what have you, and she does it really, really well. I mean, this is real poetry, folks – some of the best use of language I’ve ever heard, I think. Seriously. There is some kind of twisted level of depth achieved by this here girl, and on top of it, her voice is friggin’ polished, as is her ability to express herself through her performance in general. And she’s twelve. She’s TWELVE, for God’s sake! Aaaaarggghhh!!!!!! Shoot me right now in the face! Aaaarrrrggghhh!!!!! Seriously, you should watch this.
You see what I mean? You see? I give up. I quit. Okay, not really. I think instead I’ll just drink heavily for several days to get my bearings and be on my way. You take care of yourself, too. Bye now!
Yo. I wanted to share this video because of the strangely profound effect it has on me. For me, this video represents some kind of eerie depth of reality that inspires in me a weird combination of feelings. There is a feeling of strangeness – I feel slightly uncomfortable, but in a good way – mixed with some sort of simmering excitement and and at the same time, peaceful warmth – like I feel whole and complete.
I think this response has something to do with the series of spiritual experiences I had about ten years ago. I also did a lot of reading back then. One of my favorite authors at the time was Lewis Thomas, a guy who wrote a whole bunch of essays in the seventies on the topic of biology. He wrote one essay entitled “The Music of This Sphere,” in which he celebrates the sounds life on Earth makes, observing that more than anything else, creatures love to make noise. From here, he draws an analogy to music, suggesting that if we could hear all the sounds life’s creatures make all at once, it would sound like the most incredible musical composition we’ve ever heard. After first reading this a decade ago, I was standing outside the woods one summer midnight while hanging out with some friends, and I was just listening to the noise of the insects emanating from the mysterious blackness of the forest, imagining a great symphony, with each species as a different instrumental section. The experience was really something.
I was high at the time, of course.
You see, music is really magical for me. I’ve thought about this a number of times. There’s something really unique about music. I mean, there’s more to it than just “really cool sounds.” The experience of listening to the sound effects in Star Wars is very different from the experience of listening to a really good piece of music, even if there are no lyrics. We feel “moved” by music. What the hell is that? I mean, neuroscientists tell us that our brains are wired from birth to appreciate music, and even more fascinating is the fact that the most ear-pleasing pairs of frequencies happen to be perfect mathematical fractions of one another. Music is it’s own animal in the human experience. There’s nothing else like it. Because of this, music is a surefire way for me to tap into spiritual feelings.
Now, I know that most bird formations will probably not sound pretty when translated into musical notation, and I know that if we actually heard the biosphere’s collective noise, it would probably just sound like static, and I know experiences influenced by The Sweet Leaf should probably be taken with a grain of salt. Scientific skeptics will surely explain away all of my feelings whilst rolling their eyes, but I’m not so naive that I haven’t already considered such explanations, and quite frankly, as atheistic as some of my song lyrics may seem, scientific skepticism is one of my great pet peeves. I don’t see any value in what seems to me to be a dogged effort to strip magic from a reality which is full of magical things, magical things which we’ve renamed with “proper” words, like “electromagnetic energy” and “sinusoidal plane wave frequencies.”
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I see music, math, and nature line up like they do in this video, I get the staggering feeling that I’m witnessing a glimpse of reality in its totality, rather than in little bits and fragments like we usually experience. And that centralized, holistic, and fundamental truth of all reality is how I personally define God, in contrast with the bearded old man in the clouds.
So, yeah, it’s God on YouTube, I guess.
Also, there’s this:
Try to imagine a wedding that this band wouldn’t ruin. If you can, you have a better imagination than I. 2:07 to 2:24 is my favorite.
Hey, here’s a really good song from upcoming New Zealand singer-songwriter Alayna Powley. It’s called “Seeking Happiness.” Check it out! Oh, and you can find the lyrics here.
Pretty neat, eh? Yes, I thought so, too. Oh, and sorry for my extra-lame internet presence as of late. I think I’ll be able to put up another YouTube video this week, and in about a month’s time I’ll be in super active mode with a super-radical recording space which I’ll probably show you in a video or something. Ooh, look! A good weekend! Have it!
All right, remember that really great bluegrass band I posted about a few weeks ago, The Henhouse Prowlers? Well, these guys are even better. And they’re, like, 10 years old. Jesus Humphrey Christ. I watched this video two or three times, racking my brain to try to figure out whether or not these kid’s heads were somehow photoshopped onto some adult’s torso, only to see another performance of theirs on Letterman. You may have seen this because it was a big YouTube hit a year ago, but in case you haven’t, I thought I’d share. Watching it was a pretty surreal experience for me, like some sort of eerie, twisted dream. Why do people like this exist? Are they trying to make me look pathetic? I mean, when I play the guitar, there is a persistent, lingering fear that every single one of my plucks will miss the strings entirely, my awkward, contorted fingers trembling and aching from the crippling effort of producing simple chords. Where do these…these…infants get the gall to embarrass me like this? I think they need to be thrown in prison. Enjoy.
Okay, so this is awesome. Just watch!
I think my favorite stuff on the internet is this sort of thing. This kind of creative effort that really reaches into multiple media to create something that nobody’s ever seen before. I’m not saying this is the only guy in history who’s ever done anything like this, but I’ve sure never seen anything like it before. What’s awesome about it, though, is that we’ve all seen the individual elements of it many, many times. Everyone has heard songs, and everyone has seen card tricks. But when the two are combined in such a clever way, it amplifies everything that’s impressive about them individually. It helps that the song’s lyrics are already clever and allude to playing cards, and it helps, of course, that this guy is already amazing with his sleight of hand skills and his inventiveness in crafting his tricks. But when the two are joined into a single act, it has this exponential effect, and the vision to harness that is what makes this guy really brilliant.
I’ve always thought that was the essence of creativity, really. Not to create something out of nothing, which I think is impossible anyway, but to take different familiar elements and join them in a way that is unfamiliar and yet somehow seems completely logical and even inevitable. I think when people try to just be “original,” they sacrifice their audience’s ability to connect with the art. The audience needs to see something familiar in order to understand the art, and so they can have a frame of reference with which to recognize and truly appreciate what’s “new” about it. They need to contrast the new with the old.
It also makes the art more impressive if the audience can see the challenge the artist overcame. If I invent something completely new, like, say, a Goolakfa Brump, nobody will be impressed that I’ve created such a thing because I had no boundaries against which to struggle. It took no effort to create it because I didn’t have any rules by which I had to abide in order to create it. I made up my own rules. But if I start with two already established things, like two different film genres, and combine them, I have to follow the conventions of each and make them line up in a way that fits and even makes it seem like they were supposed to be together all along. If I can achieve that, people will be really impressed because they will recognize the challenge of what I did. In that sense, art is more like a game than people realize, I think.
Okay, that’s Matt’s philosophy lesson for the day. Happy Thursday, everyone!
Sorry for not having posted anything in almost a week, but I’m still losing my mind from my new sleep schedule. Also, I will soon be working frantically on fixing up a new house, so I may not be able to post as much of my own stuff in the coming weeks, but try I must! It’s a good thing, though, because with the new house, I’ll finally be able to really get some recording done, and you should see a good deal more output from me pretty soon.
For today, I thought I’d share a really fun video I got to take part in. My friend Dan submitted this video to a film editing competition in which contestants were asked to use footage from three separate Nicholas cage movies to creatively edit together a single movie trailer for a silly, nonexistent, new Nicholas Cage movie. The source footage was taken from the films Raising Arizona, Face-Off, and Ghost Rider. Dan decided to go for a 1960s-style James-Bond-type trailer for a fake sequel called Archer: The Second Helping (if you haven’t seen Face-Off, the protagonist’s name is Sean Archer), and he asked me to provide the voice over, so I tried to do a cheesy, old-school movie trailer voice. You know, Mid-Atlantic accent and everything, although I didn’t have time to properly learn the accent, so I sort of faked it. Anyway, I think Dan did a really good job with this. I know he put a lot of work into it, and apparently, it paid off because he won second place. Hellz yeah. Anyway, here it is. Enjoy!
No video of me today. I’m starting a night job tonight, and I’ve spent the last few days trying vainly to adjust my sleep schedule, an effort which has left me in a grotesque state of enduring zombification. There’s no way I could possibly smile for the camera or sing today without looking and sounding like a chain smoker on morphine. I could have covered “Celebration” by Kool & the Gang, and you would have shot yourself in the bathroom immediately after watching the video. So instead, here are a couple of really neat YouTube videos by other people that you probably have not seen but really should…
I want to know how long it took them to do this. I wish they’d done the whole song, but it’s absolutely delightful either way.
I don’t think I even need to say anything, other than why in the hell do these people look so goddamned bored? This is so unbelievably cool!
Right. So, I would like to submit these two videos as further evidence in support of my argument that the two best things that ever happened to the universe are human beings and the internet. Unless you wanna add The Lord. I’ll accept that. But he was technically human, so I’m still right. Oh, I also really like spiders and whales, so those can be honorable mentions, I guess. And puppy-dogs. And candy. And birthdays. And sex. And birthday sex. And Fred Rogers. But he was technically human. Okay, I should probably stop there.
Wait, why did I put “birthday sex” and “Fred Rogers” right next to each other? Christ, I need sleep.
Back in college, I was fortunate enough to take part in an embarrassingly amateur 007 film spoof, quite perfectly entitled “Once Is Never Enough.” It was oodles of fun, and I was commissioned (at a rate of zero dollars and zero cents per hour) to write the title song, which was even oodlier in terms of funness. It’s rather silly, so there’s that. Anyway, I thought it would be kind of fun to throw it up on YouTube for all to hear (by “throw up,” I mean “stream,” not “vomit.” And by “stream,” I mean “broadcast digitally via the world wide web,” not “urinate.”) I’ve never thought of myself as someone who is very good at deliberately mimicking musical genres, but I must say I’m pretty proud of just how well this turned out as far as sounding like a James Bond movie title song (at least musically. I know the lyrics are over the top). Well, go ahead and enjoy, why don’t you?
Hey, Remember Emma Louise? I raved about how I thought she was gonna be super famous soon. Remember? Okay, well, I thought tonight I’d throw up a video of myself playing one of my favorite songs of hers. It’s called “Temporary Friend.” Enjoy it, mother-effers. Glaz out, yo.
What up. I know I vanished for a few days, but I’ve been rather busy helping my friend Jerry get married and helping some fictional zombies eat me alive (I had a small role in a short zombie film which shot this weekend). There. That should explain it.
Okay, well, I hope to be a good deal more productive the next couple of weeks while I have the whole house to myself to record. Hip. Hip. Hooray.
For now, why don’t you write some music, too? Take a look at this ridiculous and fun site called Seaquence which allows you to create little biddy musical organisms that play whatever goofy chiptune sounds you want them to and swim around adorably while you giggle. Below you can check out the one I made, but you can create your own, too! It’s jolly, proper fun, if I don’t say so myself. Enjoy!
If you don’t know, metal fans have been arguing for years about whether Metallica or Megadeth is the better band. Well, here’s a video mash-up that gives you both! Hey hey! The Taskmaster takes various songs from each band and combines them into one, and the results are both hilarious and really impressive. Some of them fit better than others, but there are so many that work, this channel has gotten me to think that you can combine any two songs successfully. It’s amazing. It’s not just Megadeth and Metallica, either. Check out the Justin Bieber/Village People mash-up. If only these wonderful artists hadn’t entered the music scene thirty years apart. Sigh.
Yo! Look how awesome this guy is! This is also a long, epic song, but it’s just so darn nifty! What I really like is how interesting and unique it is, what with the instrumentation and all, but it doesn’t have that typical “indie music” style that sometimes feels a bit forced in its attempts at originality, in my opinion. This guy just really seems to love making music without any concern for anything else that gets in the way when people try to make songs. Oh, and I love the really spiritual lyrics. Pretty rare, I say. Anyway, ’til next time, chums!
Oh yeah, and he’s got a website. It’s right over here.
Howdy! Yeah, this is a long beast of a song, but it’s got that epic feel that makes that sort of thing okay. At least, that’s what I tell myself to rationalize the grim throes of torment which I so wantonly bestow unto the wailing face of mankind. Seriously, the song’s so long, it took seventeen billion days to export and upload the video. That’s why I’m posting this today instead of really really early today, or really really late last night, depending on how “square” you are. I happen to be “hip,” and thus I prefer the latter. Why am I speaking such nonsense today? Oh, right, because I’m still myself. Whatever. Just watch the video.
I think that’s officially my favorite blog post title that I’ve published so far. It’s like I rolled three dice with random words on them. Or stayed up one drunken night rearranging magnetic poetry. Anyway, here’s another video, just me and the guitar, performing “Existential Pathology.” I like this version. It’s intimate, and painfully bare. You can really wallow in the suffocating abyss of despair (Oops, that rhymes)! That and hear a zany mouth-guitar solo! Hey hey!
This band is really quite impressive. They call themselves the Henhouse Prowlers, and they are a bluegrass band from Chicago, but you wouldn’t guess it seeing them in action. They’ve got the genre down cold, they’re experts on their instruments, and their vocal harmonies are real tight. I saw them perform Saturday at the Two Brothers Roundhouse in Aurora, IL (which is a really neat place in its own right), and they were a whole barrel of fun. See for yourself!
Check out their website for sure. They’ve got show dates and albums on there and everything. That’s it for now. Toodles!
Woohoo! I hope everyone had a rippin’ roarin’ good time for the 4th of July. I wasn’t able to put all of this up last night because the hours just got too late, but look! I put together a fun all-acoustic-guitar arrangement of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just for the balls of it (“balls” = “hell” or “fun”)! Check it out!
Hey, and if you missed the fireworks this year, here’s the grand finale of last night’s show in Ithaca, IL, the largest 4th of July fireworks display in the state of Illinois, which I videotaped for some reason!
So, those are my Independence Day gifts to the world. Later, my fellow Americans (and non-Americans. Hmm…that was awkward.)!
Okay, here is a truly new song (not one I wrote ten years ago and am trying to pass for new). In fact, it’s my newest song. I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. Only one person in the world has heard it up until now – the person about whom I wrote it (besides myself). You get one guess. Correct! IT’S ABOUT CLARISSE, THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You know, I generally don’t like love/relationship songs because EVERY SINGLE GODDAMNED SONG EVERYBODY WRITES IS A LOVE AND/OR RELATIONSHIP SONG. So, you know, I think the topic has been overdone. When I write, I actually make a point to make each song different (especially lyrically), and though I have written a few love songs, I try to keep them in check due to the above all-caps statement. I actually wasn’t setting out to write a love song here. It just turned into one. I guess I better cool it for a while and write a few hate songs. The problem is, I don’t really hate anybody. Except for that one guy. That guy is such an asshole.
Did you notice though? That’s a new microphone! It’s the ADK A6, and I think it sounds fantastic! It’s a stark contrast from the Rode NT1-A I’ve been using, which makes you sound like your vocal chords are made of broken glass. Ooh, and I’ve got a new mic preamp on the way, too, which will make my recordings sound EVEN BETTER! Wait a minute, why am I telling you this? You don’t care. You just want to hear pretty melodies. Balls.
Nothing of mine this time, but I’ve got a friend who’s totally becoming a pop star, and seeing as today is his official “launch date,” I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to exercise my bragging rights. His name is Josh Scholl, and he was crowned Karaoke King last year on ABC’s nationally televised Karaoke Battle USA, a feat which led swiftly to a record deal with Hollywood Records. His debut single and accompanying official music video premiered today, so I thought I’d share it here. One of the most fun things I did in my college years was all thanks to him. He started an a capella group the second semester of my senior year, and I got to be in it those couple of months. It was the sort of thing I had been wanting to do since high school but had always been too shy, and it was a real joy to finally get to do it. Josh’s singing was good even then, but I’m really impressed by how much he’s grown in recent years. He’s got a pretty damn rockin’ voice, if you ask me. Anyway, he’s the nicest guy in the world, so I really wish him well. Here’s his super-slick new song:
See that guy? I know that guy! I know him! How cool is that! Haha! Time to milk him for all he’s worth! Hear that, Josh? Buy me a house, you crazy rock star son of a bitch!
Okay, this isn’t really the greatest song in the world. It is, in fact, a song (which I wrote) entitled “The Greatest Song in the World.” I still think it’s a good song, though. I really do. At least, it’s as good as it can be. Anyway, I was rummaging through a dusty old, cobweb-laden chest in the attic when I stumbled upon THIS BRAND NEW YOUTUBE VIDEO OF ME PLAYING THE AFOREMENTIONED SONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yay! Here’s another YouTube video! This is a song most people who know me have heard, but I’ll bet you’ve never seen the Eyebrow Acting Version! Well, the wait is over, because here it is, at long last! Anyway, I dedicate this video to all of my fellow Star Wars fans, wherever you may be. Enjoy!
All right, I’ve got nothing of mine this time, but here’s something bizarre and (for me, at least) inexplicably funny:
This video was created by a guy named Andy Rehfeldt (I can’t imagine how bummed he must have been when he found out this song didn’t make the cut for The Smurfs soundtrack). Andy is a guy who does all sorts of really entertaining cross-genre overdubs of (usually) famous songs. He does metal and death metal versions of pop songs, but even if you find death metal to be unbearable to listen to, you should still check out his channel because he also does smooth jazz, reggae, and Radio-Disney versions of famous heavy rock and metal songs (like this one), all to hilarious effect. Oh, and he takes requests on his website, which could prove to be quite fun. Anyway, come back in a few days for another video featuring a new song! Right. Okay. Bye.
All right, here’s another one I’ve got up my sleeve. One day I’ll make it nice and pretty for you. But for now, here is some video footage of a grotesque, unkempt figure warbling shamelessly, his shrill, grating howl piercing the gentle night. Enjoy!
Hey, hey! So, remember that YouTube channel of mine? Well, before today (as you know), I had only uploaded videos of myself performing songs I’d officially “released.” I had this absurd desire to only reveal songs for the first time if they were fully mixed, finished products, like I had some sort of duty to the world not to half-ass things, to offer up nothing if not solid, finished work.
Well, I’ve changed my friggin’ mind. I mean, there are all these really great songwriters singing countless songs into crappy webcams on “The YouTube,” and no one seems to mind this because people just plumb appreciate being exposed to good songs, whatever form they come in. And dag gummit, I’ve got all of these songs I’ve been itching to share, and I don’t want to have to share one every month or two until I’m eighty.
Now, granted, I’m not much of a singer (unlike many of the more successful YouTube acts), so a simple bare-bones performance from me leaves much to be desired, I admit. But, bizarre facial contortions aside, it is my hope that a series of solo YouTube performances will give you at least some idea of what my tunes are supposed to sound like, and maybe hold you over while I take the time to cook up some pretty mixes for you to eventually download (or some videos that are substantially more interesting to look at). Besides, it’ll mean less “filler” blogs, right?
So without further ado, here’s the first of a bunch of “half-assed” world premieres:
Evening, friends. Behold! Here is an rather brilliant artist named Emma Louise. You ought to be hypnotized somewhere within the first fifty seconds. Just watch:
Right, so I predict that by this time next year, this girl will be bigger than Adele. I’m serious. Here’s why I think so:
1) She’s spent the last year selling out shows in Australia and signing international record deals.
2) She has a gorgeous voice.
3) She writes her own songs, and they are the types of songs which will appeal to a broad audience.
4) She’s pretty, and that can’t hurt.
5) Not only does she write her own songs, but she writes them at an astounding rate and somehow manages to do so without sacrificing a single bit of quality. Her Youtube channel features some forty songs, all of which she seems to have written within the span of one year. The music is all equally beautiful, and the lyrics are consistently strong and at times, deeply moving.
6) Her debut album is supposed to come out early next year.
Okay, I don’t know about being bigger than Adele, but she’s definitely gonna be a big star. Check out her channel now so that a year from now you can gloat that you knew about her way before any of those other posers did! This is also particularly exciting to me because it’s rare that I come across a pop star whose music I really like, and I very well may be willing to buy her CD when it comes out. On the other hand, major record labels being what they are, all of her songs will probably be arranged into dance beats which feature Jay-Z contributing a hip-hop breakdown after the second chorus. Sigh.