I meant to call this the Monday roundup but I was delayed. Just a couple of things here… first, I have a music review of a band called Stray Kites up on Blog of Wax. I had some issues finding an angle on talking about Stray Kites… I settled on talking about lo-fi, but what I would rather find words for is the flighty topic of inspiration.
Back in ’99 my friend Andrew found a website called indiepopradio.com that served a low bitrate mp3 stream of, you guessed it, indie pop. Neither of us had heard of this before. We fancied ourselves musicians; I had started making a habit of writing songs and we had made some recordings on his computer, mostly as a joke (it was also how I learned about Cakewalk). But “music” to us was still defined by what we heard on commercial radio, KCMU being too “weird,” or something… not sure why but we didn’t listen to it.
So we started listening to indiepopradio.com and it was a revelation, because it turned out you could make recordings, release them, and find an audience, all without having to be in the “music business.” And more importantly, the kinds of music that we were now hearing and gravitating toward was cheaply produced and simple — lo fi twee bedroom pop — also something we didn’t realize you could do. Granted, there were higher-fi bands on there too, like Death Cab for Cutie, the Make Up, Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, Sleater Kinney, who played intricate parts and wrote complex music. But there were many others who got away with much simpler, noisier, and equally charming recordings and songwriting.
That was hugely inspirational, and we resolved to start a label and put out our own recordings. I’ll leave off for now discussing our relative success and failure on that front, but my point: the Stray Kites record reminded me pretty strongly of that time, and that feeling of youth and creative energy and possibility that was so important.
Speaking of that feeling, now and again I’ll read the history page on the Elsinor Records website when I want to overdose on it. Vicariously.
In other news, my “residency” at the Benbow Room ended Friday with An Invitation to Love opening for Rosyvelt and the Chasers. That was fun. We were rehearsed just enough, and I was accustomed enough to the room, where playing the set was more or less automatic, and I could sort of sit inside the songs and play the songs rather than the notes. That doesn’t happen every show, and it’s nice when it does, though I could have done without one of my patch cables crapping out.
Speaking of Rosyvelt and the Chasers, both bands were great that night. The Chasers in particular were something else — ultra-pro metalheads who were having a lot of fun with what they do. Kind of Spinal Tap, all very cool.