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Deep Fried - Infared

A recent letter about sci-fi, evolving and evolution: 

Hey Mark,

I’ve been playing and making music all my life. I’m sure you hear that a lot, but I remember doing Elvis impressions in kindergarten and shaking my ass to Twist and Shout like John Lennon in the first grade. My mother says that when I was a baby, she would rock me to sleep and sing “Stay Awake” from Mary Poppins, and I would hum along. I was born and raised in Texas, went to college in New Hampshire, slugged around in St. Louis, and now I’m getting my law degree in California. Throughout the whole journey, I’ve been playing music and writing songs. This latest iteration, I’ve finally mustered the courage to form a band and get serious about putting my music out there. We’re called Deep Fried, and I’ve never had so much fun figuring shit out.

My music is inspired by two main themes that have always been a part of my life. Religion/religiosity and science fiction. Sort of like a musical version of Flannery O’Connor mixed with some Burgess/Vonnegut/Asimov. When I was little I would sing in the church choir. It was my main reason for going to church, to sing gospel songs. But I also loved reading the bible, if only because it had such fantastic stories and unfathomable  images. And then I got into William Gibson and Isaac Asimov, and basically I was a Jesus-worshipping sci-fi nerd my whole lonely, adolescent life. Although I grew out of the religiousness, I’m still a dedicated sci-fi nerd.

This translates into songs I’ve written like “Goldfish” which is an ode to San Francisco, and has a host of sci-fi and religious characters/events occurring (like St. Peter praying near San Quentin). Or “Twin Rays” which is about the sun getting eaten by a mouth in the sky, only to be spat back out, but now there’s two. And there are jeweled snakes writhing in the sky, to soak up the twin rays, and we’re just laying with our bellies on the ground, land-navel gazing and sunburned. 

Although those songs aren’t recorded well enough to be heard by the public, I’d like to share another track with you I recently recorded (all recordings occur in my bedroom, with a mic, a guitar and amp, and a computer). I have this weekly goal of writing and recording a song in 24 hours, to help me hone my home recording skills. It’s proven really useful, and along with a lot of promising material that I can bring to my band, sometimes I come away with some decent solo tracks. 

The song is called “Infrared,” inspired by dreams that kept me awake at night. I went through this weeklong period of waking up screaming. The images in my head were so disturbing or upsetting, that they created a physical reaction.  I felt like “Infrared” was an appropriate name.

Our band is getting ready to play its first show on 4/20, at our bassist’s house. Hopefully, after we’ve gotten some shows under our belt, we’ll have a full EP to share with you. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and thanks for putting together such a cool blog!

Sincerely,

Austin Dillon

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The following was sent to me as a Letter to YVYNYL, but Mark Trecka   also wrote it as “a reflection on travel, in general, and on experiences accrued while traveling in October 2013 while on tour with Angel Olsen and her band.” He is one third of Pillars and Tongues, along with Ben Babbitt and Beth RemisListen to their latest End in Memory EP, released last week.

On the night of December 8th, 2012, while sleeping in a dank room at a decaying resort in a small vacation town on the southeast coast of England, I dreamed the kind of intoxicating, deep dream that can leave one altered for days and weeks following. In this particular dream, I found myself in a profoundly distant future — perhaps even as far ahead in time as the year 5151 — walking among stalls in a bazar. 

Whereas in contemporary Western society, the Abrahamic religions have a hold on our conception of time and the language of day-to-day life (for example, the calendar classification of “A.D.”, or the common exclamation of “Jesus Christ!”), the day-to-day life of the year in which I found myself proceeded from a religious foundation predicated on an already-occurred return of Isis.

So while our very concept of time is based on the myth that Jesus Christ has come and gone and that this occurrence essentially reset time, in this dream, three thousand years ahead in time, life was going on after a return of Isis in an already distant past. In place of the Judeo-Christian sentiment that underlies so much of Western society was the implication of a Cult of Isis, an Isisism.

I walked around, bearing witness to dense collections of popular devotional items offered at stalls: graven images of Isis on plates and posters, as statuettes, not unlike the representations of Our Lady of Guadalupe that one sees at a Mexican market. 

There were, as well, striking images of some other mysterious figure, a sort of combination of the Elephant Man, Jo Jo the Dog-faced Boy, and a horned Beelzebub. Tapestries hung, many for sale, that featured this man, imaged in black and white, in partial profile, dressed in a suit and wearing an armband with the number “1515” on it. I can remember the image so very clearly. 

Haunted as I was by these particulars, it was the peculiar sense of undeniable difference that struck with the greatest force. The difference was undeniable and profound, but the difference was not garish or large. The particulars were consistent, convincing, and twisted only by degrees from what I know reality to be in my waking life, resulting in an absolute sense of the uncanny. I have often felt, while traveling, that the most stirring experiences of foreignness come in the most familiar forms. Just the other side of familiar is where the strangest sensations reside.

(In another part of the bazar I was made privy to a product called Roma soda; consistent, perhaps, with a long tradition of branding products with appropriated images and names of things and ideas and groups of people deemed exotic.) 

Ever since having this dream, I have been attuned to an impressive flow of synchronicities involving Isis, and even of her horned, cynocephalous consort. Only a month or so later, a friend showed me a topographical map of a particular location in rural Canada where the hills form a remarkably striking image of a sort of “native” looking woman.  Indeed, the first impression I had when looking at it was that she resembled, rather impressively I thought, Isis. Upon scanning the surrounding environs, I discovered that a nearby cluster of hills resemble Isis’ consort from my dream, about as much as anything I had ever seen or have ever seen since, in waking life.   

Short of a year after having this dream, I arrived in Hudson, New York, and went directly to the venue, a converted factory building just near the river for which the city is named. It was here that I was engaged for the evening, to do my work of arranging instruments in a space and performing in front of people. In this instance, the spectacle was to take place in a particularly beautiful space, but what was more striking than the beauty was the eerie sense of familiarity. I had been to Hudson before, on at least two occasions that I can remember, and so of course, there was that to consider. Yet my arrival this time gave up virtually no familiarity that was obviously associated with those previous visits, received as I was, this time, by acquaintances I had made since I was last there. There was a particular interest in Hudson among the group as Beth is able to trace considerable family history to the town. 

I was soon enough moved to take a short walk alone in a field just east of the venue. Traveling in a large group, as I was, demands such activities. The grasses, knee-high, moved as though inhabited, seemed to and possibly did conceal inhabitants, as I moved through. Sun still golden in that particularly autumnal character, swimming its way through structures of use now forgotten or reconsidered. 

When I returned from my walk, I was introduced to the director of the venue, Melissa, a colorful, warm and engaging woman who, I noted immediately, wore a gold charm in the image of Isis on a delicate gold chain around her neck. I have no interest in claiming that, for example, in this instance, there is any sort of magical connection between my dream and this woman’s Isis necklace. Of course, lack of interest in making this claim does little to negate my belief that such connections are valid in some way or another. Either that night or the following afternoon we would go on to talk about Isis — her cat is named Isis, she feels a strong connection to the image of Isis, and so on.

In the midst of the act of arranging ourselves in the space, evening light streaming through high factory windows, a friendly looking dog entered the room, ahead of her two owners, skeltered through the space, and exited the other end of the room. Beth, Ben, and I commented pleasantly to each other about the dog, and I smiled at the humans trailing it. When we finished our work, I wandered into the next room and found the dog and its owners, sitting on the floor. The dog greeted me in a fashion consistent with its apparent demeanor and, asking about its name, I discovered that the dog was called Weezie. Beth’s maternal grandmother was, affectionately, named Weezie. 

That first night in Hudson, after the performance, a number of people convened at the Half Moon Saloon. Months later I would re-read Lorca’s Media Luna and think of this night.

La luna va por el agua.

¡Cómo está el cielo tranquilo!

Va segando lentamente

el temblor viejo del río

mientras que una rana joven

la toma por espejito.

There were no frogs that night at the Half Moon, that I know of, but perhaps things were mistaken for little mirrors. 

The Half Moon had relatively recently come under new ownership after passing through a two-year limbo phase. The previous owner, Fred Martin, had committed suicide in the saloon, allegedly behind the bar. Local mythology pointed toward gambling debts of a magnitude that anything less than an exit could not solve.  

Beth’s family on her father’s side is from Hudson. Our second night there, we went in search of stories relating to those people, the Dolans. As the Half Moon is closed on Mondays, we were directed to the Iron Horse Bar where, Melissa advised us, we were not to play the jukebox if Jeopardy was on the television. 

When we entered the Iron Horse, we were observed, though not necessarily greeted, by two men, one perhaps in his seventies, the other certainly in his eighties; the latter sitting behind the bar, the former, at it, both with an air of matter-of-fact melancholy. The television was not playing Jeopardy but Wheel of Fortune, and in addition, served to provide a significant portion of the illuminating light in the room. I asked if the light above the pool table could be turned on so that I might shoot pool and the old man behind the bar nodded, but made no move to assist me. The jukebox was also off. Beth ordered me a beer — a seven-ounce bottle of Budweiser for one dollar — and herself a whiskey and joined me at the pool table although before long, she found herself seated at the bar. Jeopardy came on the television.

"I remember a Fingers Dolan …” Frank Martino would cough a little behind the bar and drone memories of various Dolans in response to Beth’s questions, occasionally tipping his head forward and down and ceasing to talk, as though he had been suddenly taken under by sleep. Before long, the man would recover, lift his head and one hand, slightly, and continue. It seemed as though the act of remembering had to be compartmentalized, that a certain amount of energy needed to be diverted to the process of recalling memories — images and opinions — in order that it would be possible at all to respond. That is to say not that Frank seemed to be concentrating, but that strategic remembering was an action which could only be undertaken at the exclusion of other actions. And all of this only during commercial breaks. Fred, the patron, was also happy to entertain such memory exercises, as far as one might conflate happiness with willingness or even eagerness.

It became apparent that Frank Martino, in addition to fronting a band in the 1940s called Frankie and His Golden Notes, had also been acquainted with the actor Paul Newman. Framed photographs on the wall attested to both of these details, one featuring Frank in the improbable posture of sitting on the back of a bucking horse in the street. Whether time had worn this photograph or time had rendered antique the technology of the particular camera that captured that moment, something lent the image a peculiarly gauzy quality, somehow both more than and less than faded. Frank’s hypnogogic storytelling continued with the subject of Paul Newman, who received a notably tender touch. Though muted by the process, Frank was in some way elated to explain that Newman was very much like a normal person, that to sit next to him at the bar and strike up a conversation, one would not necessarily take him for a movie star, that he always seemed to be a normal person, just like you or me, though, at Beth’s goading, Frank was quick to admit that Newman’s striking features and charisma were exceptional; if he looked you in the eye, you did not want to break his gaze. Newman had made the film Nobody’s Fool in the town and partially in the tavern itself, in the early 1990s. That film also features a twenty-something Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was born 250 miles west in Fairport, NY and who died twenty years later, 150 miles south in Manhattan. 

Frank Martino owned, and had been operating, the Iron Horse since his father died behind the bar 42 years earlier.

We left after a few hours and a few 7 oz. Budweiser bottles, to drive 20 miles south, where we slept in a double-wide trailer on a horse ranch. Frank Martino died twelve days later.    

The following evening, eleven days before Frank’s death, I arrived in Northampton, Massachusetts, and went directly to the Iron Horse Music Hall, where I was engaged to do my work. After what could be described as an evening particularly devoid of engagement, I was directed to Ye Old Watering Hole and Beer Can Museum, before moving on to the home of the couple who would host us for the evening. In between the Watering Hole and the couple’s home, a portion of the group and myself were brought across the street to peer through the glass panes of the overhead rolling doors at Harold’s Garage. 

This business, apparently a wrecking service, housed and perhaps utilized vintage tow trucks — monstrous and anachronistic or, at least, this is the treatment that my memory has given them. The trucks seemed out of time and place; more than the sort of novelty that the “Beer Can Museum” had offered, but not quite as absurd as the photograph of Frank Martino on the bucking horse. The absurdity delivered by that evening came still a bit later, after settling into the home of our gracious hosts, our large group spreading out within the relatively tight confines of this New England home. We were, all of us, shown where the fruit and cereal was kept so that we might help ourselves in the morning; we were shown to the tiny bathroom and shower, and offered homemade cider of a sort of Bretagne style, but made by one of our gracious hosts. 

In the kitchen, I fell into conversation with one of my traveling companions in what felt like truly one of the very few calm moments in a day of nearly constant travel and cycles of adaptation and readaptation. Soon, our host had made his way into the kitchen and collapsed to the floor. I lifted his limp body, weighing certainly a third more than mine, and put him in his bed. He sat up and asked what had happened. His partner, our other host, explained to him that he had imbibed Ketamine. He was incredulous: “Are you serious? That’s crazy.” He then attempted to stand up and fell back down. For one straddling the event horizon of a “K-hole”, unremitting subjectivity and cycles of memory loss, adaptation and readaptation, lead to incredulity. Experiencing the effects of Ketamine at this stage effect an inability to remember imbibing the ketamine. For those spontaneously tending to someone in a K-hole, this situation can effect a kind of parallel psychedelic state. This is all simply to say that our host went in and out of consciousness every 60 or 90 seconds for the next hour-and-a-half, asking the same question every time, trying — and failing — to stand every time, and very much requiring tending. In the morning, he would be happy to talk about the experience at great length, stating over and over that he had “never seen anything like it” in all of his experiences with Ketamine. I wondered what he meant, as I carried a persistent sense that he was the only one who had not observed the experience.

Four days later, the fuel pump on my vehicle went out on the highway near Vernon Rockville, Connecticut. Ben, Beth and I nearly came to blows with a man who was part of a group of people arguing with a waitress at a Japanese restaurant. 

On July 2nd, 2012, I hurried across badlands, clay slopes, and scoria, to reach a particular place by sundown, where I was determined to camp for the night. I reached my destination just as the sun, muted and somehow lunar, bowed towards a Martian landscape, although by the time I was making camp, the clay and scoria and rattlesnakes had all been overtaken by a dense, hot, swelling dark. A few hours later, and for hours, just after dawn, I slept only very fitfully, a tormented kind of sleep through which anxiety fought to bring me to vigilance: I could hear, across the hills, a raging rain. Sheets of water profoundly falling miles to the earth, echoing over slopes like static — I was certain that it was only a matter of minutes before our camp was awash. 

When I finally roused myself enough to crouch and exit the tent to survey how quickly the rainstorm was approaching, I found only clear skies, the color of honey and pomegranates, hills of sand colored grasses and clay. The sound that had been torturing me was only a breath-like breeze, consistent, and gently rushing through every cottonwood leaf within earshot. Two wild horses trotted through my camp.

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Gaze - In the Crowd

Love getting letters like this one from Tony Zhang:

hi mark,

this is tony from philadelphia who makes music under the name of gaze. first i just wanna say that youre such an inspiration to not only the local music scene but around the world. i always looked up to you so this would be so wonderful if you read this letter or even listened to my music.

anyways, ive been writing songs ever since i was 14 and now im 16. something that really inspired my music was my life and the plant aloe vera, i dont know why but i find that specific succulent amazingly beautiful. it kind of symbolizes my life at this certain age. i remember last summer i would write random songs and record them on my laptop right next to my aloe plants in my bedroom. and some nights i would drink all my mom’s wine and cry and write songs about how boring and dry my life was. not really sure how to describe my music style but dreamy is definitely the word. or maybe chillwave?

what i really focus on my music is the melody and the synths. i dont necessarily spend that much of time on writing lyrics because i know i suck at it but sometimes i get stuck for a while then something just comes to my mind the door gets opened. i only have 3 songs right now on bandcamp but i used to have an entire album on there, i deleted it and have been working on new songs ever since. if you want to listen to more of it definitely write me back and ill send you some of the old stuff and new stuff i worked on. lets be friends and hang one day

yours truly,

gaze n_n

Ps: oops srry man i really suck at writing letters u_u i hope you bared with it 

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premiere: Tunnel Visions - Monera

Michael Floering wrote me about his hype-mellow dream cycle song for me to understand a bit of the creation myth:

Dear Mark,

In 2009 Wil Fady and I became friends. We met at school in Tampa and it was too hot. Tampa wasn’t great but we enjoyed each other’s company. Later that year I transferred to New College.

New College was an hour south in Sarasota with only about 800 students. We visited each other pretty often. We explored. We improvised in a barren place. We each went through a lot. It all brought us closer, and eventually I came to see him as my best friend.

In the summer of 2011 we recorded some sounds Wil had been sitting on. These were beautiful, compact sequences. He has a way with tiny keyboards. By 2012 these songs were beginning to define us (if music did). I could no longer take Sea Things seriously and we both grew into these new songs. We spent as many weekends as we could burning fossil fuel to meet up and work as hard as we knew how to.

In May 2012 I graduated and it was time to get the fuck out of Florida. We’ve always known we would. By this time the songs consumed me. I loved these songs and I loved Wil but I had move, for myself.

I moved to Massachusetts with a gorgeous person whom I love to death. An hour’s drive from Wil became 20. But the momentum was strong. Minus a few dry spells, we worked on the album until October 2013. I learned to mix. (I learned that I have a lot to learn.) I made it hard for myself. I favored the low-fidelity material from Florida - imbued with Gulf Coast humidity and our young alchemy. Even when re-recording would have saved me weeks of looping and slow learning. We called each other daily and tried to bridge the gap.

Now we have an album we are extremely proud of. When I hear these songs they echo out from Florida, a spit of sand, a place of vapor, the husk of speculation. A pit where love cropped up. When I hear these songs I think of my best friend.

We would love to premiere the album with you. The posted release date is April 1st. Are you interested? We would be overjoyed!

More details:

Thank you dearly for your time,
Michael Floering

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Best Friend - Phases of the Moon

Tennessee’s Peter McCarville wrote me about long-distance love in the following letter recently: 

Mark,

Let me preface this by saying this is a great idea for a music blog. It’s very direct and artist friendly, and it’s rare to see something work as well as this does, especially for self publishing artists.

Anyway, this is an album, as you probably noticed from the subject line, called Division. The word that has pretty accurately described everything that had been going on in my life throughout the writing of it. I should preface this by saying this album was like my child. We had just released a (not so great) album a few months before we were contacted by a label, asking us if we’d start working on a new one for them. Even though the deal eventually fell through, I started working on these songs by myself and away from my bandmates. I knew I had to work on our sound so we could avoid repeating the first album. I worked very hard making sure each note made sense and was in the right place. School became secondary, and I even stopped going out a lot so I could work on the songs.

The album is about a long distance relationship and trying to figure someone who I was really fascinated by, but could only do so in pieces at a time. We had met in high school, but had lost contact for a few years, then eventually met each other again during my junior year of college. She lived a few hours away from me and there were many late night drives from Knoxville to where she lived in Chattanooga. Not the longest drive, but finding the time to have a worthwhile visit was problematic at times. I became very accustomed to driving at night and feeling the distance build up.

On the wall above her dresser and across from her bed, there was a moon lamp that lit up according to the different phases. I knew she loved the lamp, but I became so enthralled by what it all meant. Enough to the point where the moon became somewhat of a motif in the relationship. Anything I could find with the phases of the moon instantly I had to have. It inspired the song of the same name, “Phases of the Moon”. It’s about wondering if I could just pack everything up and live near her and be around her all the time, but realizing it isn’t that realistic. It was hard to try and be that honest and direct in writing, even though that’s something I always try to do. It was something that just weighed on my mind a lot for a long time, and writing a few lines about it seemed impossible. There’s a long instrumental section about 3/4 of the way in that was supposed to represent how cloudy my head always seemed to be when I thought about something that serious. 

However, the album is also about the darker side of things there. I learned a lot about this person that I would’ve learned earlier on had I been around more. Things that I wished I could change or help but couldn’t, and realizing I had to accept them and help this person through them unconditionally and willingly. See both “Books” and “Matters”, the closing two tracks on the album. You begin to wonder if you’re really making someone happy when you’re also making them suffer while you’re apart. And the pressure to make every time you see each other great begins to grow as well. Finally, you begin to reflect on yourself and see if you are happy. This is pretty much the first five tracks of the album. Where did I fit in to all of this, and was it going to last? Thankfully, I figured all of that stuff out, and I sleep much better now, even though the person that fascinates me lives apart from me and we are divided by a few hours, we still make each other happy. 

-Peter

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Wolfsburg Sweater - An Eternal Brick in the Park

An artist going by Sky Marsberg set me this letter:

Hi, Mark!! 

I’m a guy from Florida. I have a solo recording project that I call Wolfsburg Sweater. 

It is March 10th, 2014, 12:01AM. I’ve been following YVYNYL for a while now, being especially captivated and drawn in by the “Letters to YVYNYL” collection. My neck is sore and I’m thoroughly exhausted and I should probably be in bed, but I presently - finally!! - feel like I’m in the proper mindset to send something your way. I can say that two events shaped my attitude towards music as a whole.

The first: my uncle passed away two years ago. He was a lifelong blues guitarist who played at local art festivals, family get-togethers and acrid, smoke-ridden bars, always keeping it a hobby – his shelves are still packed solid with records, perhaps numbering in the thousands. Over the course of mere months, I was a close witness as cancer withered him away, reducing his prior booming personality to meek fragility. I had just started recording music around the time – creating little drum loops and guitar lines, figuring out Audacity – and I brought this fact up during one of my family’s biweekly visits to his hospital bedside; of course he wanted to hear some samples. I brought along a CD, a little mixtape of my latest ‘demos’, and passed it along to my aunt one day, one day towards ‘the end’ – I am unsure as to whether he was ever able to hear any of it. At his funeral wake some weeks later, I learned that one of his final wishes was that one of his cherished guitars be bequeathed to me. I took home his heavily used and heavily loved yellow Stratocaster, its surface speckled with travel and age, and I play it daily. I remember once suggesting to him that, in an ideal life, my ‘career’, my life as a whole, would somehow be in making noise; in a way, I feel entirely driven to live up to that assertion.

The second: I once shook hands with Buzz Osborne at a Melvins show. This is a band that kind of ‘defined’ my early high school years, a band whose sheer endurance (I mean they’ve been active in some form since a decade before I was even born!!) I admire so much. I was totally ‘star-struck’ and was probably only able to mumble something incoherent, but remember the moment so clearly: I was standing in the venue’s back hallway when he suddenly walked in, I vaguely introduced myself, his grip was firm, there was a guy to my left in a Yankees hat, we exchanged maybe eight words – he looked me in the eyes – and I wished him a good show, or something alike. And that was it. I spent the show in a daze, attempting to grasp the facts that (a) I had just met a personal idol of mine, (b) I wasn’t dreaming, and (c) my hearing, which was temporarily shot due to the volume of the opening band (Unsane), would eventually return to normal (and it did, some five days later). As brief and as phatic and as seemingly inconsequential as the moment was, it means a lot to me.

I recently put out my first ‘full-length’ album, of sorts. It is abrasive noise-rock, perhaps verging into noise-pop territory, with major shoegaze influences. I am presently in the process of searching around for a label (though I’m pretty ignorant of how such a process works), and am looking into getting something pressed, such as a short run of lathe-cut records.

It’s weird: the music is almost entirely instrumental, and yet I think of it as a personal manifestation of said two experiences. Perhaps one may discern ‘drive’ and ‘energy’ within it, its aural ‘wall of sound’ providing for a potentially intense listening experience! Or maybe it’s boring and monotonous and uninteresting – I know how I feel, at the very least. I’ll let you decide for yourself.

Anyway, it’s titled A Place To Be Sprinkled, and can be checked out here.

Thanks a lot for opening/reading,
~Wolfsburg Sweater

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Pan Astral - I Won’t Be Long

Dreamy single came with a letter from Denver’s Gabriel Otto:

Dear Mark,

Thank you for writing such an unabashedly fanatical blog devoted to exposing the personalities of the artists you feature. I’d like to share my band, Pan Astral, with you in the hope that you find something of interest amongst my meanderings.

Over the last four years, Pan Astral evolved from a two-kids-in-a-basement experiment crossing drum and bass with indie rock into a live act (complete with, yes, a real drummer) in Denver, Colorado. When we started out, I decided that half of the songs we made would be simultaneously created with a mixed media art piece. The songs and works of art didn’t necessarily reflect each other; it was just an excercise that forced me to keep up with my art since music had begun to take up all of my time. I actually hadn’t shown my work in over four years, and I had conceded that my days as a visual artist were probably over. Still, I was burdened by the need to make art.

When the first album was released, Ryan and I decided to attach each single to its respective art piece, augmented with past works for the songs I’d skipped. It was great to hear back from someone in Moscow or New York about how they loved seeing the art pop up onto their screen when one of Pan Astral’s songs was played. It dawned on me that I had inadvertently created a virtual gallery where people could see my art!

Now, working with a full band of four musicians, each song is a culmination of creative input from all sides, which means we are working more methodically on each single. This gives me the time to contemplate an art piece for every single song. The layers of synth pads, guitars, drums and electronic noise have begun to reflect the layers of paper, ink, paint and found objects in each art piece and their execution have become nearly identical in methodology. For me, the processes of creating both music and art have become inextricably connected.

Our newest song, ‘I Won’t Be Long”, was made alongside a 35”x29” collage of Crazy Horse leading a horse. It is a hopeful, unrequited love song, which I suppose is how I feel when imagining Native American heroes like him.

The single we are featuring called ‘I Won’t Be Long’ will be released on Valentine’s Day (2/14). We are scheduled to headline Artopia at midnight at City Hall Amphitheater in Denver, CO on 2/22.

Thank you for considering our music and art, Mark. I hope you find it appropriate for your blog.

Cheers,

Gabriel Otto

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Kid Icarus - Bad Timing Now

Over the weekend, I got this touching letter about love from Eric Schlittler:

Hello Mark,

My name is Eric and I wanted to share a little about my latest tape and myself with you and your readers.

"Another black day is dawning. Just you and your broken heart; the feeling everything is falling apart."

As I sang the lyrics to this song, I had little idea what a self-fulfilling prophecy they would turn out to be.  It’s early Winter, 2013.  I’m singing a song I wrote for my band Kid Icarus in my friend Nate’s home studio in Scranton, PA.  I’ve sang a lot of Kid Icarus songs in various living rooms, basements, bars and private homes in Pennsylvania since I began recording under the Kid Icarus moniker around 1996.  The music I make would probably be considered by most to be a strain of lo-fi indie rock.  Inspired by the high school sounds of Sonic Youth, Sebadoh, Guided by Voices and Pavement; along with a million obscure 7”s and The Velvet Underground (of course).  Have there been other music projects that have called themselves Kid Icarus?  Sure, but I would like to think I might be the first to use it.  What started as a solo recording project slowly evolved into a band organically over time.  With lots of good friends joining me on my quixotic quest and bringing unique contributions, which only helped to make each release its own.

There has never a big breakthrough success for Kid Icarus.  A little critical acclaim, an offer to make another record and the sheer force of will; has been enough to keep the project and the band going all these years.  It’s partially our own fault; we’ve done little in the way of touring.  Instead, I decided to put our efforts and finances towards making the best music possible on a shoestring budget, pressing small runs on CD, vinyl or tape and sending them all over creation.  It was and is the economics of a dream.

Shortly after those aforementioned 2013 sessions that would birth and an all but almost totally ignored split 12” with our good friends, Cold Coffee, came the diagnosis.  My wife, Cassie was diagnosed with cancer.  My best friend since 1994 and wife since 2009, Cassie often lent her voice, art, support, critical ear and even one of her own songs to Kid Icarus.  In the early days, it was mostly just she & I mucking around on my cassette 4 track or boom box, singing made up songs about vegetable girls, turtle soup and other unmentionables.

As the Summer of 2013 crept upon us, the dark cloud of sickness loomed large with so many appointments, treatments, preventative measures and surgeries.  A distraction from the darkness came in the form of an offer from my friend Matt from Hope for the Tape Deck.  An offer to compile a Kid Icarus rarities anthology for his newly minted tape label.  The evenings were now filled with attic excavations, digging through mountains of CD-Rs filled with demos, the humming of my old 4 track and lots of great memories of days and people, now long gone.  The Summer wore into Fall and the mountain of newly reclaimed tunes was whittled into what approximated a single volume anthology of highlights.

It’s now Winter 2014 and my box of tapes have just arrived from the label.  I called it, Dig Archaeology - 13 Years of Lost Songs.  The tapes looked great; replete with old school faux Columbia Records style “Nice Price” cassette trappings (courtesy of Cassie) and a picture of her & I on the front.  A picture taken some 10 years earlier, an old publicity photo for a public that never seemed too interested.  As I opened the tape to inspect the interior art, I noticed a ghostly photo of her lined up perfectly to where the tape rests on the inside of the j-card.  There she was staring back at me: standing in the hallway of our old apartment from so long ago.  I had a moment of realization that she truly has and has always been my muse.  Now, there is much to look forward to.  My wife is now cancer free and we are both free of those dark Summer days.

Take Care,

Eric

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premiere: Ghosttails - Keeping It Sound

Chris Murphy sent me his rad breakbeat EP and the following letter: 

Hello Mark,

I’m a fan of your blog, so I thought I’d send you a submission of my new EP, “Unity”.

I suppose the genesis of this EP has a lot to do with my relationship with my fiancée, Abby. I met her through a friend at a Cut Copy concert, and somehow, about a year later, I convinced her to go out with me. We dated for several years, but never managed to live in the same city. In three years of dating, the two of us lived apart among the cities of Oxford, MS, Gothenburg, Sweden, Atlanta, Savannah, and Miami. Having a typical relationship seemed like a never-ending battle, but we became accustomed to it, and visited each other often. In the summer of 2012, we got engaged, never having lived less than 300 miles from one another.

Abby moved to Miami in July of 2012, and I made this EP in both Miami and Savannah (where I currently live), as I drove between the two for the better part of a year, while I studied for the bar exam and began planning our wedding. Needless to say, it’s been a hectic year. She finally moved to Savannah in May of last year, and it felt like a catharsis I hadn’t experienced in ages. At last, after three years apart (together), we had the chance to actually experience life as a couple. 

While the backstory of this EP isn’t a story of true hardship or profound revelation, it was very much a reality for us. If you’ve ever been in a long distance relationship, you probably understand how incredibly frustrating it can be. I think this EP reflects that in some ways. It’s simply about uniting two people after a long, arduous trek. 

Thanks for listening, 

Chris (Ghosttails)

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Here’s an awesome letter I got late last week from Colette Faulkner along with some of her best photos, including this one of Eli Maiman of Walk The Moon:
Dear Mark,
My name is Colette and I am a 15 year-old  aspiring music photographer looking would love to be a photographer for your site. Now you are probably wondering why in the world a 15 year-old girl from Texas is emailing you and asking to work for your site, so I ask you to put all biased opinions you’ve probably already formed about a teenage girl from Texas that thinks she is a photographer as I tell you the story of why I got into music photography and want to work for you.
My dad has always been obsessed with anything related to cameras. I’m guessing that this obsession stems from his childhood where he grew up in Vietnam and was deprived of any type of fancy-schmancy electronics. Needless to say growing up as a child with him as a dad is probably why I have to much of liking for cameras. I don’t remember a single time in my life that I wasn’t shoving a camera into people’s faces or taking way up close shots of trees and flowers (it was an odd phase). 
When I was in probably 4th or 5th grade I became obsessed with youtube and found out I could make my own youtube videos and upload them to youtube (which I really wish I hadn’t). So then along with shoving cameras in peoples faces and telling them to smile I started recording them and asking them to say random stuff that I found hilarious. This led to an onslaught of extremely horrendous and embarrassing videos being uploaded to youtube, but now have luckily been removed forever.
After that dark (and embarrassing) chapter in my life I entered middle school. I joined band and soon started to care more about the music I listened to. My music choice was heavily influenced by a boy named Evan who was a year older than me. He was a catalyst for my obsession for Blink-182 and alt-rock music. Sixth-grade year was actually the year I went to my first concert. Which was Kiss. Now I wasn’t really a fan of Kiss, but my mom and her friend are so I was forced to go and even though I knew like two of their songs at that time I was mesmerized by just the whole concert experience itself. We were seated in the nose bleed section of a giant stadium, but still the show was pretty awesome. 
Later on in the seventh grade my parents got me Coldplay tickets for my birthday. I have loved Coldplay since the fourth grade and this was the first concert that I had genuinely wanted to go see and I was pretty darn excited. My mom brought her camera to take pictures, but I ended up using it the whole time. After the concert I looked at the pictures I took and thought to myself “Hey, these are pretty cool.” In reality the pictures kind of sucked but I was 13 and thought I had mad skills. From then my obsession grew. I started to save up all of my money to attend concerts. I quickly learned that smaller venues didn’t care about you having DSLRs at shows and you could easily sneak one into venues with stricter rules. So I started to photograph all the shows I went to. Which leads to me where I am today I guess. I really do have a passion for photography and finding new music. I love all types of music from bands like Bombay Bicycle Club to the likes of One Direction (embarrassing I know, but it’s a guilty pleasure.)  I currently reside in Houston, Texas which has a strongly growing music scene. We have a lot of really good local bands and a lot of really good venues that different artists and bands, big and small, are always playing at.
If you want to see some more work of mine you can go to my photography blog. I am not asking to be paid or anything. I just simply want the experience and I am even willing to write reviews for the shows that I shoot if you want. If you do even consider me I promise to work my hardest and meet any and all deadlines you would have. I do understand if you say no, but if you do even consider giving me this chance then I do greatly appreciate that.
- Colette Faulkner
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Here’s an awesome letter I got late last week from Colette Faulkner along with some of her best photos, including this one of Eli Maiman of Walk The Moon:

Dear Mark,

My name is Colette and I am a 15 year-old  aspiring music photographer looking would love to be a photographer for your site. Now you are probably wondering why in the world a 15 year-old girl from Texas is emailing you and asking to work for your site, so I ask you to put all biased opinions you’ve probably already formed about a teenage girl from Texas that thinks she is a photographer as I tell you the story of why I got into music photography and want to work for you.

My dad has always been obsessed with anything related to cameras. I’m guessing that this obsession stems from his childhood where he grew up in Vietnam and was deprived of any type of fancy-schmancy electronics. Needless to say growing up as a child with him as a dad is probably why I have to much of liking for cameras. I don’t remember a single time in my life that I wasn’t shoving a camera into people’s faces or taking way up close shots of trees and flowers (it was an odd phase). 

When I was in probably 4th or 5th grade I became obsessed with youtube and found out I could make my own youtube videos and upload them to youtube (which I really wish I hadn’t). So then along with shoving cameras in peoples faces and telling them to smile I started recording them and asking them to say random stuff that I found hilarious. This led to an onslaught of extremely horrendous and embarrassing videos being uploaded to youtube, but now have luckily been removed forever.

After that dark (and embarrassing) chapter in my life I entered middle school. I joined band and soon started to care more about the music I listened to. My music choice was heavily influenced by a boy named Evan who was a year older than me. He was a catalyst for my obsession for Blink-182 and alt-rock music. Sixth-grade year was actually the year I went to my first concert. Which was Kiss. Now I wasn’t really a fan of Kiss, but my mom and her friend are so I was forced to go and even though I knew like two of their songs at that time I was mesmerized by just the whole concert experience itself. We were seated in the nose bleed section of a giant stadium, but still the show was pretty awesome. 

Later on in the seventh grade my parents got me Coldplay tickets for my birthday. I have loved Coldplay since the fourth grade and this was the first concert that I had genuinely wanted to go see and I was pretty darn excited. My mom brought her camera to take pictures, but I ended up using it the whole time. After the concert I looked at the pictures I took and thought to myself “Hey, these are pretty cool.” In reality the pictures kind of sucked but I was 13 and thought I had mad skills. From then my obsession grew. I started to save up all of my money to attend concerts. I quickly learned that smaller venues didn’t care about you having DSLRs at shows and you could easily sneak one into venues with stricter rules. So I started to photograph all the shows I went to. Which leads to me where I am today I guess. I really do have a passion for photography and finding new music. I love all types of music from bands like Bombay Bicycle Club to the likes of One Direction (embarrassing I know, but it’s a guilty pleasure.)  I currently reside in Houston, Texas which has a strongly growing music scene. We have a lot of really good local bands and a lot of really good venues that different artists and bands, big and small, are always playing at.

If you want to see some more work of mine you can go to my photography blog. I am not asking to be paid or anything. I just simply want the experience and I am even willing to write reviews for the shows that I shoot if you want. If you do even consider me I promise to work my hardest and meet any and all deadlines you would have. I do understand if you say no, but if you do even consider giving me this chance then I do greatly appreciate that.

- Colette Faulkner

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Y M L X L - Kiss Kiss - キャッシュ

Got this very personal letter from Marc Peters about why he makes music:

Dear Mark,

My name is Marc and I am a beat maker and graphic designer from Richmond, Virginia. I have been through a lot these past couple of years and I hope my experiences will inspire others to stay positive, no matter the situation.

My story begins on December 18, 2009. It was the last day of fall finals at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA. All of my classmates and I were in the WRTC lab pushing to finish a coding final that was due that day. Although we were hard at work, I had one of the best times I ever had in college in that room, surrounded by friends I made over the past 3 years. I arrived home that evening, so grateful to be on winter break, sleep in my own bed and be home with my mother. I didn’t know tomorrow, December 19, 2009, would be the day that changed my life forever.

I woke up to a massive sinus infection that no amount of medication would cure. After the cold drifted away in the beginning of January, the sickness came back a couple weeks into spring semester around February, but this time I had lost the vision in my left eye. The week after, I experienced loss of balance and memory loss. 

JMU health center doctors were not exactly sure what was wrong with me and thought I had an ear infection or some form of vertigo. Over the counter vertigo medications such as dramamine made the early stages of MS worse. I felt like I didn’t have my final semester of college with no recreation, parties or anything outside of my dorm. Most of my professors didn’t understand why I emailed that I was sick every other day. The only professor that really understood was my WTRC counselor and professor Lucy Bednar. She made my life so much easier trying to earn my degree. 

There were so many issues I had during the last 3 months of school. After class started at 10 am, I would always come back to my dorm room, eat lunch at12 pm and then sleep from 2 - 9 pm. My roommate Arthur and I would go to the cafeteria at 10 pm during last call for food and then do my homework till 4 ameveryday. I lost a lot personality traits. It was hard to walk, speak and just feel normal. It felt like one day I woke up and I was a completely different person. I had to remember how to walk and talk again and hold conversations with people. I knew I had my work cut out but just couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. I just made the best of every day and did my best to relearn things while trying to earn my final course credits so I could graduate on time. I cherished my last days at JMU and made the best of what I had there.

I made it to graduation on May 8, 2010 and walked across the stage to receive my diploma. I was so happy that I graduated from a major university. When I came home to Richmond for the summer, I had weird chest pains and went to the local ER. Everything tested fine yet I still had no idea what was wrong with me. The ER referred me to the ear, nose and throat doctor and then the ENT referred me to the neurologist who referred me to get an MRI in September 2010.

That summer, the rise of Drake had a serious impact on my life. I’ve been a follower of his since 2007 when I heard “Replacement Girl" featuring Trey Songz from neighboring Petersburg, Virginia. In 2009, Drake came to fame with the "So Far Gone" mixtape. In 2010 with promo for his 1st album, "Thank Me Later," MTV did a documentary "Better Than Good Enough." Drake said he would quit music if Noah "40" Shebib died because of his MS. I used google to understand what MS stood for and found the term Multiple Sclerosis. I realized I had every beginning symptom for MS; blurry vision in one eye, vertigo, tiredness and so on. In October 2010 when my first neurologist, Dr. White, called me in for the diagnosis, I finally found out what was wrong with me.

From 2010 - 2014 I have been on the medication Rebif, which is a self injection I perform 3 times a week. The pain threshold gets better as the months pass. I’ve been denied partial social security 3 or 4 times in the past 3 years, so I live to create my own future through music and art. I’ve been making music since 2005 and blogging since 2008. From 2010 to 2012 I produced and designed my artwork for my instrumental mixtapes and created a website called “CHAMPION SINCE.” I always try to use my MS situation and turn that pain into a positive digital form. Y M L X L means Young Marc Levitation And Lean because my relapses always felt as if I was on a cloud and had no control. Relapse Remitting Multiple Sclerosis for me means I can lose the use of any limb for a period of a few seconds or permanently. Being positive and creative was my way of fighting through all the negativity.  

I want to be a positive influence across the world. I am from the City of Richmond, went to college, learned to live life through MS while at the same time fighting to graduate JMU despite not even knowing what was wrong with me in the first place. I put my pain and everything I have into my music and designs and create what was once negative a positive.

I want to inspire people to understand that they too can make it through their tough situations as long as they remain positive and stay true to what they believe in. I hope my story can help those that need help themselves. Sometimes the inspiration you need is right in front of your face. Don’t give up. Your eyes will notice the signs when the timing is right.

Marc

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Bashe - Splitter

I’ve been getting a lot more letters from small, enthusiastic micro-labels like this one from Texas:

Hey Mark!

My name is Colin Wheeler and I run Olympic Dreams Records along with my roommate Daniel Martinez. We are a DIY cassette label based in Denton, TX.

Daniel and I were at a party back in July when we had the idea to start a record label in Denton. We realized there were a lot of fantastic bands around and the music scene was big enough, but no one was really putting themselves out there or making major “releases” of the albums they were making, aside from burning CDs for their friends with their band name on it in Sharpie. It was then that we also came to see the DIY nature of Denton bands and how seriously they took their music. We really wanted those hard-working acts to have a quality product to be proud of and to sell at their shows to compliment their music. And we decided, what better format than cassette tape? We knew of the history of cassette tape culture and the DIY nature of it all - it just felt right.

Suddenly we found ourselves on the prowl through thrift stores scrounging for cheap blank cassettes, used cassette decks, stereo receivers, wires, cables - what have you - until we had a collection that we thought was acceptable to start Olympic Dreams. Since July we had been talking to a local bedroom chillwave artist called Goldeen, the moniker of instrumentalist Joshua Serrano. We loved his tracks ( he’s still one of the best artists in Denton, in our opinion) and we thought his story fit perfectly with what we were going for - an unknown college kid pouring his heart into his music, playing one man shows for a one man audience (and loving it), and then going home to his apartment to write some more. We recorded his tapes ourselves, printed the sleeves out at the university’s printing center, made some jacket patches from old ripped up work shirts, packaged them up and sold them to a few show goers. We were very happy with the product, and we got him a sizable fanbase, but we still felt like it wasn’t enough.

We then went on to release a cassette from a local math-pop band called Bashe. By then we had more of an idea of what we were doing, so we decided to start off with a run of 20 cassettes to sell at their upcoming show at a local music festival in Denton. We ended up selling all 20 within an hour at their show. A week’s worth of work sold in an hour. Keep in mind I was recording these cassettes one by one in my bedroom on a thrift store set-up, 60 minutes for each cassette. We recently started getting orders in from people out of state asking for our cassettes, and we’re trying to find the time to fit in the recording and going to school. By now our apartment looks like an old audiophile’s junkyard - a hundred or so blank tapes stacked up on our living room table, 3 beat-up cassette decks, 2 old stereo receivers, countless thrift store-bought speakers (some shitty, some surprisingly awesome), cables everywhere - you get it.

We’ve got three or four artists lined up now for our next releases, and we couldn’t be happier, or more stressed out. We’re really grateful that we’re in such a great community as Denton, and even more grateful for the artists that we’ve worked with, and will work with soon. Speaking of which, our next artist up for a release is a Dallas/Denton based electronic artist called Small Topography.

Thank you so much for reading!! (By the way, we love your blog)

- Colin Wheeler

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premiere: Thin Lips - Gemini Moon

Chrissy Tashjian wrote me this excellent letter about fighting anxiety with rock n’ roll, and her this crushing single:

Hey Mark,

My name is Chrissy. I’m a 27-year-old guitar-playing, construction-working, beer-drinking, loud-laughing, Queer ball of love and anxiety.  I know many people say this but I think that rock and roll has literally saved my life.

I’m from the suburbs directly west of West Philadelphia and grew up in a big, amazing Armenian/Irish/Polish/Catholic family - most of whom played music. I have fond memories of watching my dad’s band play Black Sabbath songs, and I started playing in bands myself when I was in middle school. It was also around this time I started to get really afraid of going to school, leaving the house, or my comfort zone in general. These anxieties grew and grew until I was about 16, when it got so bad that even if I made it to school, I could barely stay in the classroom. I went to therapy and was diagnosed agoraphobic with a panic disorder.

Despite these anxieties, I had decided to go to art school after graduation (hah). With some therapy, I was able to move downtown and go to college, but I lived in a very crippled way. By this time I had started avoiding almost anything that caused me feelings of panic: elevators, classrooms, highways, bridges, public transportation. I was able to make it to school, but after a few bad break-ups, and several agoraphobic depressive periods, I was unable to handle the pressure and anxiety and eventually dropped out of school. 

I moved all over Philly (eventually meeting and dating my current partner and soon-to-be band mate) and formed Dangerous Ponies with my brother and other friends/musicians in the Philly scene. I had always been so afraid, but finally there was something that mattered to me more than my primal fight-or-flight reactions to anxiety. My friends and family in Dangerous Ponies were the most supportive, caring and patient people I know. They, and especially my partner, really helped me become a regular person! On our first 7-day tour, I laid in the backseat of the car all the way to Austin and back and took many, many drugs to make it through the trip. 3 years after that on our last major tour, we went out for two months across the country and I didn’t use one drug (other than Tetris on an old Game Boy). 

Dangerous Ponies ran its course until we split amicably. Kyle Pulley (who played guitar in DP) and I decided to join forces and wrote new material and found a new drummer; Pat Brier, who had also just left his old band, Tigers Jaw. We made Thin Lips and I couldn’t be more thrilled. I feel really blessed to be where I am, and learn what I’ve learned; but it’s still difficult. That is essentially what “Gemini Moon” is about. This song is short and angry…. It’s about feeling insanely frustrated about feeling stuck in the same mental feedback loop of anxieties, wanting to change and not knowing how, and figuring what parts are just intrinsically you and what parts are able to change and grow. 

Thanks so much for reading.

Chrissy

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The Black and White Years - Little One

Got this note about family, love and death from Austin’s Scott Butler who I’ve covered a few times with collaborators Landon Thompson and John Aldridge.

Dear Mark,

This is Scott.  I am an adult man who cries a lot, like a widowed duchess in a novel, a two year old in a fabric store, or someone five minutes into the movie Up.  It’s not cute.

The work for our upcoming album Strange Figurines began in 2010.  I had written a song which I called ‘Newlyweds.’  I demoed it and thought that it would sound better with a female vocalist - which is likely true for everything I demo.  I asked my wife Adrienne (we were newlyweds at the time, after all) if she was willing to try singing it.

After 9 years together, it’s easy to feel that your partner cannot surprise you.  It’s understandable. Once you’ve farted in front of each other, it’s sort of like ‘Oh, okay. I guess that’s that.’  I had never heard Adrienne’s singing voice. Not in the car, not in the shower, not in our blessedly rare (and strictly seasonal) visits to church - nowhere. Her mother swore Adrienne could sing, but …mothers… am I right? After a few drinks, Adrienne agreed to try, warning me that it would be terrible and not to laugh or be a total dick about it. She went into the bathroom - my very fancy isolation booth (with its very own toilet!) closed the door, and quietly blew my mind.

She didn’t have a great voice in the traditional sense, not like I put on the headphones and Bernadette Peters was in my bathroom. She had a great voice in the sense that it was honest, charming and disarming. Like my favorite Brazilian singers, it was soft and sweet and sounded like communication, not exaggeration or exhortation.

I sent the demo to the band with no explanation of what they would hear.  When I got a response it was not the one I expected. Landon said, “Adrienne should be in the band.” It was as un-Yoko a response as one could get. So we did and she is.

For this album, we chose to work with local legend, producer, drummer and all around handsome dude, Danny Reisch. I could write an entire letter to you (which would look exactly like a middle school love letter, replete with hearts and unicorns in the margins) about the experience working with him.  I will keep it short and say that he is the most talented person I’ve ever met – and brought out the best in me and the band.  I am not an easy personality. I am a control freak, but I am a lazy control freak who throws his hands up at the slightest sign of compromise. Danny was able to navigate the band’s often-treacherous terrain with Sherpa-like poise. The end result is an album which contains easily our best work as a band, and the most finely tuned.

Since we began the process of making Strange Figurines, our little worlds have changed - deaths, births, marriage, major career changes, etc. My older brother, who was also my most constant critic and closest friend, died recently. The first time he saw The Black and White Years playing (our first very glamorous show at a pizza place,) he said, “Keep doing that Talking Heads-y sort of thing. That works for you.” I guess I didn’t realize that’s what we were doing. Months later, we were recording with Jerry Harrison of Talking Heads and Modern Lovers. Stephen was the type of guy who saw right through to the heart of things and called them as he saw them, for better or for worse. We never discussed my band much.  We seemed to talk about everything other than the band. After he died, my parents found all our albums and stuff in a box in his room. Did he like the band and not want to embarrass me - feel like he was jerking me off? Did he hate it and not want to offend me by criticizing my music the way he did everything else? I’ll never know. But he kept the records; at least that. I miss him. I cry a lot. 

The song which I’m including with this letter is called “Little One.” It’s the first single off of our upcoming Strange Figurines – coming out January 21st. It’s about the impossibility of living up to the standards set by our fathers and their fathers. My dad is an engineer who has worked for the same company for over 50 years and raised 5 children. He was in the Army. My grandfather fought in WW2 and worked in a steel mill. I am a weepy adult who writes music, works in retail and has a baffling combination of self-loathing and narcissism. You see where I’m going with this?

I appreciate that you have made it this far into this letter. You win an ending! There are other songs on the album I like better, but this is the one which everyone else seems to like best. I hope you’re one of those. Enjoy!

-Scott

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Noble Kids - Pine

Got this beautiful song and nice note this weekend from Bryce Barsten, one of a Brooklyn trio with Kurt Woerpel and Michael Steiner

Hey Mark,

I was born and raised on a llama farm in Greenacres, Washington.  Just a short drive from Idaho, home of the potato.  I was born into a family of 30 llamas, plus my sister.  I am thankful today for my incredible experience of living in the country on a farm, with acres of green grass to play on as a child.  Most importantly, I was taught the meaning of hard work!  My mother comes from a Mexican/Hispanic heritage, and my father a Ukrainian/Polish.  You can imagine what I look like. Hint: it’s furry and it spits.

Anyway, I played music all throughout high school in multiple bands, as most musicians do, until I found a band that had some serious chemistry.  We worked extremely hard, until it was time for college, and we booked our last show (which was to be the biggest) to open up for Everclear. That night I received a small taste of what it’s like to perform in front of a large audience.  The most important aspect of music to me is the connection between the music and the listener.  The  raw emotion I get when I listen to music is the feeling I want to give others.  It was that night that felt truly connected to a thousand people I didn’t even know. They were strangers.  People I would never see again.

Since then I moved to NYC to study 3D animation and to pursue music.  Two years went by before I found someone I connected with musically. This time felt special. My writing style changed a lot, and music began to take on a new meaning. Our music together (as Noble Kids), feels real, and honest.  We try to keep things simple, but interesting.  We take a lot of influence from the Fleet Foxes, and Justin Vernon.  Both using angelic harmonies, and destructive yet beautiful progressions to create their sound.  We’ve been writing for a year now, and saved up enough money to record a small 4 song EP (titled “Kingdom”) at a studio in Brooklyn.  We just released it a week ago.

I am humbled by your blog, and appreciate the time you’ve taken to read and consider our music. Feel free to offer our music for free download, or to stream anywhere you’d like (if you’re into it of course). Once again, thank you for your time, and support.  I hope you enjoy. 

Best,

Bryce

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