Ep. 66: Song “Based On A True Story” (Influenced by Radiohead)

Today’s episode is about a song I wrote back in high school called “Based On a True Story.” It’s influenced by a Radiohead tune, “Bulletproof… I Wish I Was” from their album, The Bends.

My goal was to create the same type of atmosphere with the acoustic guitar strumming and a softly plucked electric guitar part. Here’s a clip of my high school band, Made In The Shade playing the song at one of our early shows in 1999.

After a while, we wrote other songs and phased this one out so it sat on the shelf for several years. I finally recorded it in 2012 for my 50 songs in 50 weeks project. I kept it pretty true to my original vision. In addition to acoustic guitar and vocals, I added an electric guitar part with a “flange” effect to give it a washy sound. There’s also an electric guitar part played with an ebow, organ and tamborine.

Never thought I wanted you so much
And every wish I’m longing for your touch
There’s else for me to see, yeah

Never thought I’d run and jump the gun
Now I’m left and staring at the sun
What else is there for me to be, yeah

I must pretend in spite of who we are
I must pretend and go about in my own way

I am not here, how can this be
I wish you’d all go away from me
I am not here, how can this be, yeah

Any moment I have felt the pain
Seeing you with only me to blame
There’s nothing left for me to be, yeah

Never thought I’d run and jump the gun
Now I’m left and staring at the sun
What else is there for me to be, yeah

I must defend in spite of who we are
I must defend and go about in my own way

I am not here, how can this be
I wish you’d all go away from me
I am not here, how can this be, yeah

Nobody knows the pain

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Ep. 40: 5-10-15-20 (Music That’s Inspired Me Over The Years)

Pitchfork.com does a feature on their website called “5-10-15-20” where an artist talks about what they were listening to and influenced by during different ages in their life starting with age 5, than age 10 and so on. I thought it would be fun to do it myself.

Age 5 – Miami Vice Theme Song
imagesMy parents used to have a cassette tape to the soundtrack of Miami Vice, the TV show. It was very 80s – synthesizers, heavy reverb on the drums, epic guitar solos, etc. Very cheesy. It sounded like video game music, which is probably why I liked it.

Age 10 – Beethoven: “Ode to Joy”
I was really into classical music at this point. The first CD I bought was Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which I was mostly interested because of the big “Ode to Joy” section (which I had heard in cartoons and advertisements). I used to pretend I was Beethoven conducting a big orchestra. By now, I had taken a few years of piano lessons and started playing violin in the school orchestra.

Age 15 – Radiohead: “Karma Police”
ok-computerBy this time, I had been into alternative rock music for a few years. Around 12, I watched the “Beatles Anthology” special on TV, which started my Beatles obsession (which continues to this day). I bought a cheap guitar for the sole purpose of learning Beatles songs. Later, I got into Oasis (because they sounded like the Beatles) and being from the Seattle area, I couldn’t help being influenced by the aftermath of grunge (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden). At age 14, I started writing my first songs on piano and guitar and started my first band. By age 15, I was into Radiohead, especially the album “OK Computer.” It was rock music but it was smart and artsy. It was new and fresh but also had a hint of Pink Floyd and the Beatles. I loved the song “Karma Police.” Later in high school, I was introduced to emo and indie rock music (Sunny Day Real Estate, Built to Spill, Modest Mouse, Pedro the Lion, and Death Cab For Cutie), which had a huge influence on the type of music my band wrote and played.

Age 20 – Debussy: “Clair De Lune”
When I was 20, I was in the middle of serving for 2 years as a missionary in New York City. We weren’t allowed to listen to rock music so I got re-acquainted with lots of classical music, particularly Debussy (I love “Clair De Lune”), Chopin, Schubert and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. On our days off, I still played piano and wrote my songs. Occasionally, we’d have dinner with a member of the congregation that had a guitar so I got jam.

Age 25 – Fleet Foxes: “White Winter Hymnal” album_fleet_foxesAfter my mission, I continued playing music influenced by the indie rock bands I was into during high school, as well as discovering some new artists: Arcade Fire, Memomena, The Decemberists and Vampire Weekend. By age 25, my band mates from Declaration had graduated college and moved away so we called it quits. I was looking for some new sounds and came across the Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal,” which reminded me of my parents CSNY record. I loved harmonies and simplicity. It was upbeat without feeling fake. I was also digging deeper into Wilco, particularly their album “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. Inspired by these sounds and wanting to do something interesting with all the acoustic songs I had kicking around, Adding Machines was born.

Age 30 – The Dodos: “Black Night”
A few years ago, I turned 30. I’ve been a heavy Spotify user the last couple years and find myself listening to a greater variety than I ever have. I pay more attention to new releases coming out and also dig through entire catalogs of classic artists. Some of my recent favorites are Elvis Costello, Beach House, The Dodos, Father John Misty, Kishi Bashi, and Ben Sollee. In many ways, I’m rediscovering what I want to do musically and the possibilities are exciting.

Spotify Playlist

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Ep. 26: Favorite Music of 2016 – Top Ten Albums

1. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool

a_moon_shaped_poolI’ve been a fan of Radiohead since OK Computer came out. I’ve eagerly followed along over the years as their sound has morphed and changed with each album and enjoyed watching and listening to the twists and turns. I must admit I was a bit disappointed with 2011’s King of Limbs but this year, they’ve redeemed themselves by once again reinventing their sound. It’s a great, soft listen with some beautiful moments incorporating Johnny Greenwood’s strengths as an orchestral composer with the string arrangements. Essential Songs: Burn the Witches, Daydreaming, True Love Waits

Stream: Spotify

2. Chris Staples – Golden Age

chrisstaples_goldenage_1500px_300dpi_rgb_sq-307742039fa55a1256505b38b73322be47d4481b-s300-c85I first heard about Chris Staples back in 2014 when American Soft came out. It was a breezy, mellow, relaxing album and Golden Age is no different, continuing with a sound cut from the same cloth. It’s so pleasant to listen to and filled with so many great melodies and lyrics. He’s a great songwriter but also very tasteful and understated in his arrangements. Occasionally, the production is a bit more elaborate than his last album, such as a the string on “Park Bench” but on the whole he tends to stay pretty sparse and let the songs stand on their own. Essential Songs: Golden Age, Park Bench, Hepburn in Summertime

Stream: Spotify

3. The Lumineers – Cleopatra

cleopatra_album_coverOn their second album, the Lumineers go for a bit of a sparser sound and fortunately, they’ve written a very solid set of songs that stand on their own and don’t require a very elaborate production. I love the echo-y sound on most of the vocals and instruments. Essential Songs: Ophelia, Sleep On The Floor, My Eyes

Stream: Spotify

4. Parker Millsap – The Very Last Day

parkermillsap_cvr_sq-99cc63aad01158603effad73179c4909d785e89f-s300-c85I first heard Parker Millsap perform on Conan earlier this year. He’s got a powerful, soulful voice, especially for only being 21 years old. He’s a great songwriter who creates interesting melodies and arrangements. He’s put together a very solid and enjoyable album. Essential Songs: Pining, The Very Last Day

Stream: Spotify

5. Blind Pilot – And Then Like Lions

blindpilotalbum_sq-6feccf1a40049e1b8f82e756fe6bee45e53256c6-s300-c85Blind Pilot knows how to make relaxing music. I first saw this band a few years ago when they opened for the Shins. The singer has such a smooth voice. I love it. Essential Songs: Seeing is Believing, Umpqua Rushing

Stream: Spotify

6. Wilco – Schmilco

schmilco_wilcoOn their 10th album, Wilco takes yet again another twist in their evolution and goes for a more sparse and immediate sound. The songs are very raw and it seems there was a conscious effort to keep them that way. I kind of think of it as the acoustic counterpart to last year’s album, Star Wars. Essential Songs: If I Ever Was Child, Cry All Day, Just Say Goodbye

Stream: Spotify

7. Kishi Bashi – Sonderlust

kishi-bashi-cover-art_sq-7d85c2244e34db16a6a6bd73705db006254ac559-s300-c85On Kishi Bashi’s third album, he takes the intricate arrangements from his debut and adds dancey, retro elements from the 70s, at times recalling Electric Light Orchestra. Essential Songs: M’Lover, Key Big Star

Stream: Spotify

8. American Football – LP2


This is American Football’s first album in 17 years and they sound like they are continuing right where they left off; with the same intricate guitar lines, drumming patterns and a unique sense of melancholy. It’s a welcome sound to return to with the state of popular music today. Essential Songs: Where Are We Now?, I’ve Benn So Lost for So Long

Stream: Spotify

9. Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

awaken_my_loveOn Childish Gambino’s third album, he ditches rapping for an entirely new sound, incorporating retro R&B and funk with cosmic flavor. It’s a bold direction and I’m loving it. Essential Songs: Me and Your Mama, Redbone

Stream: Spotify

10. The Head and The Heart – Signs of Light

signsoflightThey are back with another set of solid folk rock tunes. Although they take something of a traditional approach, it’s a very pleasant and welcome sound, especially the harmonies. Essential Songs: Rhythm and Blues, City of Angels

Stream: Spotify

Albums 11-25

Spotify Playlist of 25 Favorite Albums of 2016

Favorite Songs of 2016

Spotify Playlist of Favorite Songs of 2016