Tuesday, December 27, 2005

My New Dog!

adopt your own virtual pet!
Just When I Was Coming to Terms With Religious Institutions...

This crap happens. Read the article, then read what I have to say.

So this is just flat out ridiculous. Ever wanted to just yell out curses in the middle of church, just to shock people into reality? Maybe that's just me, but I want to do that to this preacher so badly. This sort of stuff is what angers me so much about The Suburban Christian. They're in an insular world, shielded from, as the preacher puts it "all that revelry going on," and giving themselves a pat on the collective back and giving away a $120,000 house. WTF. Of all the things that a church can do, such as get off its ass and maybe help people, these idiots plan on serving themselves a nice big piece of "We're Holier Than You," complete with "Twelve finalists — symbolizing the 12 apostles," as if they needed religous symbolism to make this act of selfishness palpable.

And this guy who builds it, he charges the church for this? I mean, let those fools do as they may, but at least give the thing away. Or maybe, here's a f*cking good idea, use that $53,000 you used to build a house for a probably non-deserving American family and sent it someplace like Sudan where they are wiping out more Christians than these people can even comprehend. Who actually understand the meaning of sacrifice. Maybe you can save a child from death instead of chanelling money into a f*cking tax write off.

This, this is why I cannot identify, nor wish to identify, with Christianity as it is today. Instead of helping people, these zealots do the best they can to seal themselves off from the world and live like a commune, shielding people from the "dangers" of life, when in reality, they are the most dangerous group of people in the world. In the best possible scenario, whoever wins this thing will sell it and use the money to set up a soup kitchen. Or build a school in Africa. Who knows. In reality, the person who wins this will probably praise God for helping them, focusing on the "me, me, me" mentality of Christians (i.e. "God's plan for MY life"), move into this house and go in to debt decorating it to keep up apperances. All the while praising God's plan for their lives. Disgusting. Please, prove me wrong.

Road Trip!

So I don't know exactly how this is going to turn out, but hopefully I'm leaving tomorrow, headed for somewhere North. The main objective is to be in Decatur on the 30th. What happens in the two days prior to that is kinda up in the air. Anyways, anyone have any good driving music suggestions?


Sunday, December 25, 2005


Maybe I was a bit overly cynical on the last post, but I do think some of my statements are valid. Anyways, Christmas has come and gone, and all in all today wasn't too bad. My mom bought me a new wallet, but she bought an eel skin one, so it's all shiny and looks like something a pimp would use. So I talked my dad into trading with me. Sorry, Dad. They also got me that book by Bob Katz that I wanted, so I've been going through that most of the day, he has some pretty good pointers.

I'm working on a short story that's turning out to not be very short at all, maybe I'll figure out its direction soon. I don't know how writers are supposed to write, but I find myself not knowing the ending of whatever I write until I get there. I'm just not good at formulating things like fiction beforehand. So yeah, Merry Christmas, world.


Saturday, December 24, 2005

Christmas Eve...

There's this part of me that has to wrestle with the fact that I might indeed be an uncaring jerk, especially around the holidays. I really don't know what my problem is, but I think it might stem from the fact that I'm stuck here in Columbia without much interaction with people that I like, and that in turn, coupled with the sense of utter boredom, makes this quite an unpleasent Christmas season. I used to get excited for Christmas (even last year, but I suspect that was because of my selfish desire to unwrap that iPod -RIP) , but ever since I've gotten home I haven't been very enthusiastic about it. I think my pissed off college student self has gotten the best of me, because I can't stand the commercialism and cheerfulness for the sake of appearences that seems to pervade this time.

Like the whole thing about how Christians are upset because they think that Christmas is being compromised by secular society into something less than holy. I mean, give me a effing break. No one, on Christmas morning, is giving a crap about Jesus. Let's be honest, it's all about the gifts, and the commercialism. They might talk a big game about how Jesus is the reason for the season, but what does Christmas build up to? A huge ass tree and presents and a myth. Let's all just agree what Christmas is now actually about (material things) and quit bitching about loss of meaning. Christmas lost meaning when gifts were given, regardless of the religious symbolism. When it turns to "what did I get" it automatically shuts out what is supposed to be remembered, and tacking it on over a prayer during lunch isn't going to change that fact.

Anyways, I'm just going to go on record and agree with all those who want to call it "happy holidays," because I'm tired of pretending that his day has religious significance, since it's common knowledge that Jesus was born in like April of May, instead of this arbitrary day that was co-opted from some pagans to make them feel better about becoming Christians.

Really, I want to be happy this break. I think that when I get out of here and visit people I love, my mood will change, but right now, I'm just not feeling it.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

Best Albums of 2005...

According to me. I make no apologies.

15. Ryan Adams & The Cardinals – Cold Roses – Never thought I would enjoy a post Whiskeytown Adam’s album, but this is surprisingly awesome. Better than the Jacksonville City Nights album because he doesn’t seem like he’s trying, which is a welcome change of pace.

14. The Russian Futurists – Our Thickness – That reverb that guy uses, it kills me. And his thousand tracked vocals? So cool. So cool.

13. Stars – Set Yourself on Fire – They could have just released the first song, “Your Ex-Lover is Dead” and still have ended up on everyone’s best of list. I’m actually not sure if this is 2004 or 2005, but I just found it, so it’s new to me.

12. Giant Drag – Hearts and Unicorns – Really, this belongs in 1997 alongside a PJ Harvey record. But the best song titles.

11. Death Cab For Cutie – Plans – Seriously, I loved this album. Walla’s production continues to improve, and the melodies are strong, and Ben Gibbard’s voice is still my all time favorite.

10. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! – S/T – I really think they deserved the hype. I hate all the crap that gets said about “influences” which is overplayed by critics. Sure it might sound a bit like NMH, but shit, I think we could all be happy if everything sounded like NMH.

9. Sigur Ros – Takk – Beautiful. End.

8. The Silver Jews – Tanglewood Numbers – I never listened to the Silver Jews before I saw all these write ups about the new album and how David Berman lives in Nashville. I really hope someday I see him at Grimey’s or something, even though I probably would never be able to tell who he was. Anyways, this is awesome.

7. Bloc Party – Silent Alarm – This probably would have ranked higher a few months ago, and really, it should be. It’s as solid as the come; I just really hope they can deliver on the follow up.

6. Broken Social Scene – S/T – The production gets knocked a bit on this album, but I think David Newfeld did an amazing job, coming from an engineer’s perspective, with managing everything, and I loved his use of distortion on practically everything.

5. LCD Soundsystem – S/T – Definitely lived up to the hype, best live show of the year as well.

4. The Juan MacLean – Less Than Human – There was this one point during the Juan MacLean show where John kept flinging apart the two mics he was using during “Tito’s Way” and at the same time the Theremin player would freak out. It was perfect. Just like this.

3. The National – Alligator – I had been high on these guys since freshman year when they played 2NMC, and I really didn’t think anyone else knew about them. This album stayed in constant rotation since its release, a beautiful record from start to finish.

2. Sufjan Stevens – Come On Feel the Illinoise! – This was my album of the year until I saw him live, which was a terribly disappointing experience. But besides that this album is perfect. I remember driving up to I-57 and “Come On Feel The Illinoise” came on just as I hit the entrance ramp. Tears of joy.

1. Wolf Parade – Apologies to the Queen Mary – When I first heard this album, I was in awe. I downloaded “You Are A Runner” a long time ago on the Sub Pop website, but I didn’t give it much of a listen. I was an idiot. Hands down the most exciting release of 2005.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why is it...

That whenever I have a dentist appointment coming up, I brush my teeth about 50 times more than I usually do, thinking that all this concentrated dental care will make up for my lack of it the past year? Maybe, just maybe, I'll fool them tomorrow.

Do I floss? Why, yes, yes Miss Dental Assistant, I have been flossing, can't you tell?

Oh, of course sir, it looks like you've been doing it for at least 3 years!



P.S. That will totally not happen tomorrow.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Growing Up...

Guys, ever had that moment when you think that maybe you're actually becoming a competent man? Where you take a look at yourself and are like, hell yeah, I can take on the world! Bring me the newspaper! I want to watch the News Hour with Jim Lehrer! 9 to freaking 5! It usually occurs when you do something that the world deems "manly," like fix something. Or eat a whole lot of something. Then, just when you think you're awesome, something comes up that you just can't fix or eat, and you feel worthless again. It sucks.

This happened to me today. I was living off the high of fixing my car cd player, and then my dad goes "We're going to fix your car today." Now, I can handle a cd player, but the entire car? SOL. So what this really consists of is me standing behind my dad as he fixes my car's brakes and handing him wrenches and saying crap like "I dunno." All of this is a horribly demasculating experience, which culminates with my dad's acknowledgement that I probably will never do anything like this myself. And it's probably true, but at least I know what a brake pad looks like now. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to drink my black coffee.


Sunday, December 18, 2005


I've accomplished too many things, way too fast. I seriously need to slow down. I started working out, built a cable to connect my computer to the RCA inputs on my stereo, fixed my car cd player, started reading All The Kings Men, and, the absolute highlight, bought a sweet bathrobe for $4 at Goodwill. This stuff was supposed to last me at least 4-5 days. I'm going to run out of things to do by Christmas Eve, and that gives me 5 days or so of nothingness until I take my trip. Maybe I'll connect that stereo to the dirt room like Tara suggested...


Thursday, December 15, 2005


Reference this

This topic has been bothering me for a while, and is of great interest to me due to my desire to be a mastering engineer. The article is an interview with top mastering engineers about the lack of dynamic range in today's music. Particulary in today's recording environment, there is pressure to make things as loud as possible, pushing the 0dBfs to its limits, resulting in what, when analyzed in a waveform editor, look like square walls of waves. There's a great image in the article comparing a song from 2005 with a Whitney Houston track in 1985. The Houston track has actual dynamics, while the 2005 song looks like 2 stereo bricks.

Recently I mastered my first album, and I sent demo tracks to the band to see how they liked it. The first track I did, I left quite a bit of dynamic range in the master and sent it off to them. Immediately I was requested to make it louder. Someone, I forget who, maybe Bob Katz, had a great suggestion for that once..Turn up the volume knob! (Also had a great idea to force stereo manufacturers to install compressors in their devices and if people wanted brickwall sound, they could just turn on the compressor button and everything gets squashed without compromising the original source in case someone wanted to listen back with dynamics preserved. I thought it was a good idea) But of course there's the pressure to make their recording sound as loud as everyone else's, and a "quieter" album would not be perceived as good quality. So I ended up mastering that album with about 12dB gain on my compressor (with a 0dBfs limiter) so that I could get the loudness they wanted. Of course, the waveforms look like bricks now, I'm embarassed to say. But it's what the client wanted.

So what's the point of this? None, really. It's just that topics like this highlight the increased degredation of musical quality, sacrificed for commercial profit, even by the most indie of bands. It's not just major label artists getting huge radio play that now have this louder is better mentality, it's nearly everyone (See jazz musician mention in article). At some point, you have to wonder if it's worth fighting it, as it seems that the only ones giving a crap are engineers themselves.

Audio Rant of the Night...Complete!

Things I Want To Do Over Break: The List

  1. Mount the speakers on the wall
  2. Figure out how to hook up my DVD player to that old TV
  3. Write a decent song
  4. Fix my car cd player/install a new one if that fails
  5. Read All The Kings Men, as recommended by Ashley Strosnider
  6. Find a good coffee place, or at least some diner where I can just sit and drink black coffee and read
  7. Practice the violin
  8. Work out every day
  9. Read more books
  10. Find a way to heat my basement
  11. Hook up a cable from my computer to the Stereo Reciever in the main room
  12. Write
  13. Play with my dog
  14. Eat at Bucky's Diner w/ my dad
  15. commadeer a drum set from the school music dept.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


You think Jesus would have found a better instrument to watch over, like a Rhodes Piano. I mean, he's the Son of God, he should use better judgement.

Moral of the Picture: When people try to portray Jesus, he generally ends up looking creepy. No more, please.

Creating vs. Documenting...

I came across this article on the EQ website, an interview with Howard Bilerman, the engineer for Godspeed You! Black Emporer and the Arcade Fire. At the bottom of the page where the main interview concludes, Bilerman says,

"I I think we need to move back to a place where going into a recording studio is more about documenting, rather than creating. . . . If you take that approach, then you serve the music in a completely different way, and are generally far more sensitive to the artist and their songs. Finding space to be creative within that is the true art of recording."

This presents an interesting debate, particularly for engineers coming up right now. We're all so used to the DAW system and its ease of editing, and how we can create perfection and amazing sounds just by clicking "Process" on a plug-in. I am certainly guilty of this method. I love creating weird sounds from regular audio in ways that are never natural or even replicable in the real world. For instance, I'm a big fan of reversed sounds. When used correctly (i.e. not the stupid way I used to use them on drum loops), they have a lot of power. However, this cannot be replicated or even created by the original source. Now, the obvious jumping off point on this debate is the use of Auto-Tune. I pretty much refuse to use it, but it is so prevalent in engineering these days that to not know how to use it is a handicap. There is too much "Fix it in the mix" mentality, and this in turn affects the musicians, who think that they should be able to play whatever and still have it sounding good.

Also, I've always been told that engineering is another art form, that it's not just technical bullshit, and it's true, the best engineers usally are great musicians in their own right. However, when does the engineer influence the creative process too much? It's a question that I struggle with sometimes, to let the musician handle all the creativity and perfection and let me simply "document" it or to use what I can do to create perfection? Is it lying to your audience? Now it's obvious to me that things like EQ and Reverb, delay, etc, are not things that drastically alter the original performance of the musician, despite being things that can alter it. Such things are not destructive or decietful (well, yes, they are...but in an entirely different way). Where as reverb does not fool you into thinking that a guitar solo was in perfect time, Beat Detective can.
Bilerman adds,

"Tinkering with tempo and pitch diminishes the feel of a song."

Anyone who listens to modern pop music with a critical ear knows that it's all processed and quantized to perfection, and the vocalists are generally doctored up in the studio. It's my opinion that if an artist cannot hit their notes, it's really not my fault. Are they not comfortable enough in their work to present it as is? Do they need me to create the illusion that their intonation is amazing? To do such a thing cheapens the artistic value of the recording. Quite simply, if you cannot hack it, then live with your imperfections. Jeff Mangum wasn't always in tune, but his songs are brilliant. If your material is good, people can live with a missed note, as the emotion is what sells.

That said, I cannot see myself ever recording in a world where I don't have to do destuctive editing. And to be honest, this type of thing has been going on since analog days, ever heard of comping a vocal or guitar solo? I think the key of that though, is the artist was still doing it on her own, without the help of software. But I love the ease and the ability to insert 15 1176 compressor plug ins on my tracks, so while I still have reservations about certain things, I'm not going to be swear off digital by any means.

Ok, enough ranting. The only one who will even really care about this is Ben Stein.


Monday, December 12, 2005


I need some things to occupy my time while I'm in Columbia over the break, so if anyone has ideas of things that I can do, let me know. I've already decided I would read books. But I need something else, ok? I can only handle the hateful stares of the Maury Co. librarians for so long. Maybe I'll write a song? Give me subject matter and I will write one for you. Really, people, it's going to be boring. I need entertainment. Anything!


P.S. I just bought Illinoise on vinyl, which is the perfect medium for that music. Plus the artwork looks so much better when it's record sleeve size.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Three Cheers...

For inheriting socks in the laundry room.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Best Songs of 2005

I'm just going to assume that I will hear no other good songs between now and 2006 and go ahead and post this.

1. "Sugar, We're Going Down" - Fall Out Boy: I wrote about this a week or so ago. Basically, it has the best chorus of the year, despite my total lack of knowledge of the subject matter. Plus I saw the video, and it has a guy in deer horns.

2. "I'll Believe in Anything" - Wolf Parade: The little effed up synth in the beginning? Brilliant. The lumbering drums? Brilliant. That riff? Brilliant. The build up to the "chorus" is such a, for lack of the better word, tension builder, that when he sings "Nobody knows you, and nobody gives a damn," I dare you to try to listen to this without yelling along.

3. "Tribulations" - LCD Soundsystem: I sold my guitars and bought synthesisers.

4. "Since U Been Gone" - Kelly Clarkson: There was a reason Pat Benetar was awesome. It's because she embraced the rock. Now we all know Kelly Clarkson was the American Idol winner. We all know that this is manufactured. That still doesn't diminish her enthusiasm for THE ROCK.

5. "Come on! Feel the Illinoise! -Part I: The World's Columbian Exposition -Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream" - Sufjan Stevens: I wrote that I was in love with this song during the summer, and someone, don't know who, called me and left this song playing as the message. Whoever you are, you are awesome.

6. "Abel" - The National: I think I have a thing with the cathartic vocals this year (see #2 and #8) , but when the song starts out with Matt yelling "My Mind's Not Ready!" you just can't help but be sympathetic for the guy.

7. "Chariot" - Page France: So a song about the rapture is probably one of the most upbeat, fun songs of the year. The little glockenspiels and xylaphones are obviously the instruments of heaven.

8. "Ibi Dreams of Pavement (A Better Half) - Broken Social Scene: All these songs are just covered in distortion, that's probably why I love them. They're so dirty and pushing the edges, making them more immediate and beautiful.

9. "Like Eating Glass" - Bloc Party: I really thought they couldn't top "Banquet," but then they lead off their album with this.

10. "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood" - Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: My vote for best bass line of the year/coupled with the best line "There's nothing left to fear, now that big foot is captured."

11. "All Night" - Damian "Jr Gong" Marley and Stephen Marley: WTF. Why is this so awesome? Those guitar hits are perfect. And the doo-wop backing vocals come out of nowhere. That's why it's so awesome. Screw "Welcome to Jamrock," this is the best Marley song of 2005.

12. "Tito's Way" -The Juan MacLean: This song didn't really reveal itself to me until I saw them live w/ LCD Soundsystem. Then I saw the guy use the theramin and I about lost it. Dance, dance, dance.

13. "So Begins Our Abalee" - Of Montreal: I really don't know why this album doesn't get more press, it really is amazing. I first heard this in Aaron Graves' car, and that choir in the beginning was just too good to be true. But it is true, and it's fucking good.

14. "Glósóli" - Sigur Ros: This song combines the best elements of Sigur Ros. Plodding basslines, their new uses of tinkly bell things, huge crescendos, and Jonsi's voice. Sometimes a bit tame (I do wish they'd cut loose a bit more), but always beautiful.

15. "How Can I Love You (If You Won't Lie Down)" - The Silver Jews: 2005, the year in which I learned to love the Silver Jews. "T-t-t-ime is a game only children play well" So brilliant.

16" Oh Mandy" - The Spinto Band: Those Mandolins! Those Mandolins! Those Mandolins!

As always, the offer is open for me to make a CD of these for you. Just let me know and it will be done.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Feeling a bit daring....

I'll upload some more fun music that I recorded this summer. This was the original incarnation of the "Cigars" short story (http://paxford.blogspot.com), I just used cigarettes because it sounded better, lol. The bass is too loud, but it was one of those instances where I had to mix down b/c my computer was threatening to shut down on me and I never bothered fooling w/ it again. Also, I think the chorus is kinda lame. Enjoy!

"Cigarettes and Dusty Roads" - Dime Store Keats

For this one, I was obsessed with creating a song similar to "The Moon" by The Microphones, but with keyboards. I just don't think I got there. But that's the reason for the distorted organs and obscured vocals. But there's no excuse for the Yamaha keyboard drums. None at all.
Fun fact - during the "interlude," for the metallic drum sound, I used a soccer ball and hit it with a drumstick.

My Streets Have Names - Dime Store Keats


Monday, December 05, 2005

Sun, Sun, Sun

I keep listening to the new The Elected album and I can't help but thinking that this is what Bright Eyes would sound like if Conor Oberst didn't suck.


Saturday, December 03, 2005

This is a song that uses banjos and guitars...but no shaker.

So I never really upload my own music anymore (since that wonderful spurt of Columbia Sponge Factory Experience tunes, the well has been dry), but I got bored tonight and threw together a little thing, so yeah, enjoy if you would like to:

10:58, Saturday Night - Dime Store Keats

(rapidshare, so follow instructions!)


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Like looking in a freaking mirror.