Author Archives: JTV

The Wanderings of the Resentful Adult

Sometimes I wonder if I’ve peaked too late. I concern myself with these things when I can’t sleep which has been recently. My troubles come when I feel as if I know what I’m doing. Doing with my life, my career, my love, my time. I come home from my scholastic endeavors and feel like my peers are light years ahead of me. I’m told that’s not so, that it’s not the case. It’s a life-long pursuit, art. I don’t feel patronized or talked down too and the meddlesome elements of my own mind and doubts are more the cause than anything, but what it creates in my mind is this feeling that I call the Resentful Adult.

The Resentful Adult occurs in the off-hand occasions where the pursuit of life, passions, etc. are overridden by the difficulties of needing to take care of the matters at hand that limit the time, emphasis on time, used for the real elements of life: Family, Love, Relationships, Friends, Art, Dancing, Music and when the other parts take away from these things, I find myself a Resentful Adult. Resenting the needs of others that require me attention – Landlords, Telecommunications Companies, Utilities Companies, etc. when I could be investing in my woman, my guitar, my friends. This may sound like childish prattling, but it’s not the point. The point is that the Resentful Adult is soon replaced by the Aware Adult. Aware of what really matters and that maybe simplifying is the way to pursue a life where the Resentful Adult is slowly given over to the Joyful Adult. The Joyful Adult is the one that doesn’t sweat when life happens, but embraces the fact that the dreams they have are still valid and whether or not the come to fruition in this life are worth having. Because time is all we have and to spend it in dutiful competition with ourselves results in and unending stream of regret and resentment. It’s too short for that. I may never reach the goals that I had a year ago, 10 years ago, yesterday, but I can’t sit around wondering if I should’ve started now instead of 14 years ago. Today it snowed all day. Tomorrow I will continue to master my instrument, tell my woman I love her, and remember and be grateful for my family though I don’t get to see them as often as I wish. And I will be Joyful.

NIN, [With_Teeth]

Though I’m sure I have promised to bring forth other albums in the past post, it seems that through the avenues of school that I have re-walked for the first time in ten years, the process of (continuously) finding work, and of teaching music and learning to become a better person, I had forgotten my promises. Well…that’s just too bad for you and so today we will dive into the mind of a man that has a lot to say in a multitude of ways: Trent Reznor.

I was never a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. I was a younger lad when I saw his first couple of videos on MTV and remember being a little weirded out and kind of scared. I might have peed a little. But, as with most things, age brings a different view and sense of what was into a little bit better or at least not as terrifying a perspective. Thusly, I ventured into the realm of NIN and came up with this album. Particularly because one of the singles that actually had some substantial airplay in 2005 was The Hand that Feeds, and it was reeeeeallly good. So, I left my childish leanings of fear and dove head first into a gritty, honest (brutally), cold, mechanic and large sounding album. This album sounds GIGANTIC!

NIN’s 5th studio album and Reznor’s first original studio album since 1999, With Teeth starts out honestly enough with All the Love in the World. Innocently it starts with a three chord progression held down by solid 8th note bass and some sparse electronic percussion. Upon reaching the chorus a stark and dissonant sounding piano line comes in and there is a longing in Reznor’s vocals that sounds like he’s struggling with something. Comprehension, detox, something that sounds like its constricting his vocal chords and creating this tension. A tension that sees release as the song builds into a four-on-the-floor kick drum beat that then drives the song from longing, soulful ballad to dance floor euphoria, with those gritty Trent vocals reaching a sensationally screaming climax.

To think that this song sets the them for the rest of the album is to be completely dismembered by the very next track. A blitzkrieg of percussion that seems to throw meter right out of the window, it’s a barrage of kick-snare syncopations that rally into a half time chorus of “Don’t you fucking know what you are?!”. Its the perfect set up. Part of listening to music and albums in particular, for me, is to hear a progression, a thought or and idea that occurs, reoccurs, exemplifies an album’s mood. Often times I will use DCFC’s Transatlanticism as a seminal example of this. At first listen I wasn’t sure if With Teeth had anything other than pure cold steel running through its veins. Even the album cover art work leaves you feeling isolated and alone in the Norwegian wilderness in the middle of January. As I continued to listen and read the history of the album it started to make sense. In between the first studio album and this album Reznor had been recovering from alcohol and substance abuse. The ups and downs of the album, the in your face aggression and the thoughtful remorse, the incoherence of meter and the spacial relationships of sound and energy. All of these began to stand out as I trekked on through the songs on this album over and over again.

On a lyrical note, the songs all seem very introspective and that’s where the honesty begins to seep through the dark and brooding machinery of the music. Even the song titles and the order of the songs starts to reflect this arduous task of being split in half during detoxification. Par example – The Hand That Feeds moves into Love is Not Enough,

“Will you bite the hand that feeds/will you stay down on your knees” into

“Hey, the closer we think we are/Well it only got us so far/Now you got anything left to show/No no I didn’t think so”,

the hand being the drug and do you destroy or attack the thing, the substance that is giving you life and stay a servant to it, into staying a servant to it and feeling the unloved shame and remorse of submitting once again.

Another chart topping single from the album is Every Day is Exactly the Same. This song sums up the over album thematically:

“I believe I can see the future/Cause I repeat the same routine/I think I used to have a purpose/But then again/That might have been a dream

I think I used to have a voice/Now I never make a sound/I just do what I’ve been told/I really don’t want them to come around/Oh, no

Every day is exactly the same/Every day is exactly the same/There is no love here and there is no pain/Every day is exactly the same”

This album is brilliant. Be warned, it is heavy. Listening to it more than once or twice a day will start to feel like you’re dragging sand bags behind you. Wet sand bags. It is an opus of creativity and engineering and one of Reznor’s and NIN’s finest work. The alliterations, metaphors and pure skin and bones that are attached to this album make it worth having in your library and not just sampling on iTunes or jacking via LimeWire. Pay tribute to the artist, please.

You may also like: Queens of the Stone Age, Korn, Marilyn Manson, Deftones

On the Road Pt 1 & 2

I’m by no means a Jack Keuroac.  I don’t think I have the capacity for drugs and drink or the vocabulary.  But I do love the occasional monologue about travel, drive and watching the miles click by on the odometer.  Granted it’s a little more glamorous when you’re cruising in a Lexus, but the feel, the dirt the scenery, the weather on the horizon is still the same as it ever was.  The adventure is the same and affected by the shift in winds and the wet of the road.  The climate of the car can change with a word or a song and therefore contains it’s own atmosphere and stable vs. unstable conditions.  Snacks, salt, sweet, caffeine, songs, jokes, a laugh all add the varying weight of a drives potential energy.  The physics of travel.

I love to drive.  I really will opt to drive whenever I get the chance.  I have only a handful of friends that I think share the same passion for driving as me.  Though I feel that some of them do it out of a desire for control or rather a difficulty in relinquishing it.  I prefer to drive, but not because I don’t trust others to do it.  I have equally as much fun watching the terrain pass by in all of its layered horizons.  How the grasses flit by almost fluid, then the fence posts and telephone poles meandering at a jogger’s pace while the mountains and cows take their time leisurely and deceptive, making the distances seem twice as far.  The beckon for speed and so to them I tip my hat when I have the wheel and oblige their indulgences.  85 the average as we were whisking our way south.

Saugache (pronounced Sa-Watch).  Reminds me of the Antelope Valley where I grew up in So. Cal.  Hi desert.  Sky, upon sky.  The threat of tumbleweeds lingers as the sage and brush are blown by westerly winds.  Saugache is quiet, almost desloate and abandoned.  As we rolled through there seemed to be no people going about their days.  Inside, hunkered down in their A/C and swamp coolers, or off in the hills watching us drive slowly through their town through ancient telescopes and waiting to carry us off to some dungeon under granite.  This may seem far fetched, but they make movies about this shit.  Though my mind does wander I’m not always this morbid.

I think I’m too liberal with my use of commas.

Kyle won the Road Trip Mix Song contest.  We all had 3 to 4 mix CD’s to provide for this sojourn south and the rules were as follows: 1) Everybody gets a turn, 2) No Skipping Songs!  No matter how terrible or obnoxious.  So when Kyle dropped the Angelic Bomb on us he catapulted to the front of the pack for Song of the Trip.  Initially my vote was for Colorblind by The Counting Crows, but it go usurped and rightly so.

Since I’ve been working on finishing this post for almost 2 weeks I’m just going to sum up my feelings about this trip: I love getting to know people better and I think 4 people in a car for 16 hours is a great way to get to do that.  I am super thankful for that.  The show that we went to see was brilliant and I am now on a constant search for Neil Labutte plays to read.  The cast of this show rocked socks and I was super impressed with all of them and very proud to know them as performers and people.  The Bridge Jump was awesome (check out the vid for more info http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_profilepage&v=wHOf5Mdm8eE). People, please speak truthfully at the outset.  And lastly, Colorado, you are BEAUTIFUL!  I love this state and am very excited to have gotten to see so much of it this summer.

Till next time,
Vaya Con Dios

Coldplay – Viva La Vida (or Death And All His Friends)

I wouldn’t really call Coldplay’s 2008 Viva La Vida a concept album in the strictest sense of the word. Not concept like Talking Heads or Frank Zappa concept. They’re not that type of band. But what I mean by concept is that Coldplay created an album that conceptualizes them as a band. Viva La Vida is Coldplay. It defines Coldplay as a creative entity, a stand-alone, a force in music and the creation of it.

Discrepancies with Joe Satriani aside, this album puts the group into the affectors of music and not just the affectees. What I mean is that Viva La Vida is the album that will inspire musicians to create. It is free from influence. It is typically epic which has been a staple of the Coldplay diet since A Rush of Blood to the Head, but it provides twists and turns and while at a mere 46 minutes, packs 10 songs with mature thoughts, lyrics, hooks, composition, arrangements and heart to make you wish it were just 10 – 15 minutes longer. The tracks themselves are concepts in miniature and tend to lean towards being in and of themselves ideas that could be albums all their own. From the ominous Cemeteries of London questioning the ability of the ears to hear a God walking in the back yard or the conclusive Death And All His Friends with it’s soaring bridge and ending that wraps up where the album started off, every song could contain 9 – 10 other songs like it on 9 – 10 other albums. This disc is that involved and involving from the first note. The album could have been 14 songs if you listen to it carefully. A number of songs contain songs within themselves, which again proves that the concept behind this album is that Coldplay is not going anywhere anytime soon and has been maturing and marinating for the last 9 years that they’ve been making albums.In the maturing process, something of note has taken place with Viva La Vida: While political sidings and alliances still linger within the tone and lyrics of some of the songs, something much more personal has emerged. Rather than an attempt to align itself with a particular set of ideals or beliefs, Coldplay has sought to infer a sense of moral conviction about life and the quality of it.

There’s a seeking and searching spirit behind many of these songs. Reveling in love, dancing through the streets as the sun rises, common hearts and minds, and a movement away from what death and his followers have offered in the past. This album reveals itself as a concept album in that Chris Martin and crew have a new urgency to communicate with the world; Life is Beautiful and should be absorbed through every pore, but change must happen in our hearts in order for this to happen. Though my favorite track is Lovers in Japan/Reign of Love something resonates within me in the chorus of the finale Death And All His Friends – ‘I don’t want to battle from begnning to end / I don’t want to cycle or re-cycle revenge / I don’t want to follow death and all of his friends‘. And that’s the height to which Viva La Vida takes its listeners – Personal responsibility to a new quality of life amongst the ugliness and hatred that perpetrates us as people. I like that.  X & Y carried with it hints of New Order and Echo and the Bunnymen, Rush moved through the darker realms of life and love, Parachutes brought the strains of U2, and Travis from Johnny Buckland’s guitars and relied on Martin’s falsetto to carry much of the album into the hearts of adoring fans. But Viva La Vida stands alone, on its own as a coming of age for a group that is destined to keep the edges of music sharp. Very sharp indeed.

Highly Recommended
Also Check Out: Parachutes

Back to One

I’ve never fancied myself a songwriter. I like songs. I like the capacity it takes to create songs and many of my friends and family are very gifted songwriters. I’ve had the pleasure of playing with some of them and currently am playing with some of them (Andrew Webb aka Map Water Blue), but haven’t ever undertaken the art seriously. This isn’t a post about what I’m now undertaking as a songwriter. No, this is about being taken back to something. Something serious, something that inspired the movement of music within me. The art of the Soundtrack.

I love movies. I always have. The element of sound and music in a movie is part of why I love them, but more than that it’s a part of why I remember them. A scene in a movie by itself, silent, without music and the only sound is the lips and mouth of the performer creating the sound of speech or a look that creates terror. I can remember that, but I remember a scene, hell, a preview more with the emphasis of a soundtrack. A chord, an orchestra hit, an undertone, an overtone, and I will never forget the movie, time or place.

In school I’m being challenged to compose in a digital format. What this opportunity affords me is the ability to explore a part of me musically that I was sure I could do, but didn’t know if the time would ever be right. It also allows me access to orchestra upon orchestra without the need for live musicians until the time comes.

Here’s the rep for my current projects:
Aaron Copland, Hans Zimmer and Russell Brower (composer of the WoW expansion Mists of Pandaria) for starters.