Happy 75th, Superman!

Superman celebrated his 75th anniversary this year. Although Batman is my favorite comic book character, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for Superman. It’s hard to describe, but there’s something about his character that has always resonated with me. I wanted to make a little comic to express some of how I felt about him and what he represents. Hope you like it!

superman_comic

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Song of the Week – Bouncing Souls

Wow. It’s been a while since I’ve done a song here. Time to fix that. And who better to do it with than the Bouncing Souls?

Every year I make my wife a mix for Valentine’s day, since she hates overpriced flowers and chocolate. She’d much prefer I randomly surprise her with those items throughout the year, which is something I’m trying to get better at. But back to the mix tape (ok fine, it’s an itunes playlist). Usually she plays it on and off for the rest of the year while she’s picking the kids up from school, grabbing groceries, and running other errands. The kids usually like most of the songs and sometimes a song here and there stands out. On this year’s mix, it was definitely this song. My 8 year old constantly requests it, and everyone sings along, even my 2 year old. I love hearing the words coming out of their mouths. I hope the meaning is getting through to them too. I want them to hold on to the important things in life, through all the peaks and valleys they’ll face.

With every peak and valley
With every white-knuckled fist
With everything I’ve lost and learned
I won’t let go of this grip
With every storm we weather
I would never miss
I won’t give up, I won’t let go
I’m going down with the ship

If Ever I Stray

I was racking my brain all weekend trying to come up with a post for today. But I got nothing. I headed into work this morning, thinking maybe inspiration would strike. But after working most of the day, I’m still coming up empty. Possibly because I just turned in a new revision to my agent this weekend, and my mind is catching up on some needed rest. Whatever the reason, I’m drawing a blank.

So I thought I’d turn the time over to Frank Turner for some words of inspiration:

Love is free and life is cheap
As long as I’ve got me a place to sleep
Clothes on my back and some food to eat
I can’t ask for anything more

I think this holds true for wherever you are in life. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative things and forget how much we really have. I can honestly say I couldn’t ask for anything more in my life, and I hope you can say the same. Keep smiling, keep living, and keep creating!

Song of the Week – Florence + the Machine

I was back home in Utah for the day last Saturday (more on that later). It had been a few years since I’d been there, and it was great to see my old stomping grounds. One of the best things was seeing the mountains I grew up with. As I drove down the freeway toward home, this song came on the radio. I had heard it a few times and really liked it, but something about being back where I grew up and driving to the house I’d lived in for the first 19 years of my life, made it stand out even more. I’ve been listening to it pretty much nonstop since then. I hope you like it too.

“I am done with my graceless heart
So tonight I’m gonna cut it out and then restart”

Song of the Week – Sick of it All

Me and Lou, Sick of it All singer. Circa 2001

Hardcore is Punk Rock’s louder, harder, more aggressive brother. Hardcore bands range from melodic, such as H2O, to pretty brutal stuff by the likes of Strife, with plenty of variations along the way. My favorite hardcore band, and one of my favorite bands is Sick of it All. They’ve been around for 25 years, helping define the New York Hardcore sound and scene, and have only gotten harder through the years. In my mind they’re the best hardcore band, period. Their shows are amazing, and I’ve been able to meet them a few times. Despite what their sound might suggest, they’re incredibly nice guys. I’ll admit their music isn’t for everyone, but you should give it a shot, even if you only listen on a day when you need some loud, fast, and for lack of a better word, hardcore music. Turn it up.

My little girl likes them too 🙂

Valentine’s Day Mix Tape

My wife isn’t big on celebrating Valentine’s Day. For one thing, she doesn’t like being told when to show someone that you love them. Also, she doesn’t want me buying expensive, marked-up flowers. So we usually don’t really get anything for each other. (As far as I know it’s not a trap) But for the past six years I’ve made her a new mix of songs that reflect how I feel about her. Now, the music I usually listen to doesn’t lend itself very well to this sort of thing, so I kind of have to look outside my normal listening range to find these songs. But it’s fun hunting around and finding new artists to listen to and enjoy. I decided to put this year’s together and share it. Hope you like it! (Be warned: The first song is pretty silly, there are bands you most likely haven’t heard of, and yes, there is a country song.) The track list is below. Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Aquabats – Lovers of Loving Love
Kina Grannis – In Your Arms
Pearl Jam – Just Breathe
Lenka – Don’t Let Me Fall
Mat Kearney – New York to California
Meiko – Reasons to Love You
Brandi Carlile – The Story
Joshua Radin – They Bring Me to You
Regina Spektor – The Calculation
Randy Travis – Forever and Ever, Amen
Kina Grannis – Valentine
Mindy Smith – One Moment More
Coldplay – Till Kingdom Come

Song of the Week – Rancid

While I love Rancid, this isn’t one of my all-time favorite songs of theirs. It’s still a good one though. There’s a lot going on right now that I can’t really talk about and that I have no control over. So I’ve played my hand, and I just have to wait and see what happens. Fingers crossed!

It also brings to mind a quote I heard about 10 years ago and made my unofficial motto.

“Don’t hurry, don’t worry. Do your best, and let it rest.”

Easier said than done a lot of times, but still a good outlook to have.

Song of the Week: AFI

AFI singer Davey Havok and I. Circa 2000

AFI is one of my favorite bands. Through the years, they’ve evolved quite drastically. If you were to listen to one of their early songs compared to a song off their last album, you might have a hard time believing they’re the same band. Whether or not you like the changes in sound they’ve gone through, they’ve consistently written great music. I’ve been able to see them play a bunch of times and even met them. They couldn’t be nicer guys, and I’m glad they’re getting the success they deserve.

Though I like it all, my favorite music of theirs is from the middle of their discography. They came out with an EP during this period called All Hallows, and it’s perfect for this time of year. Really, a lot of their songs fit the season quite nicely, but Fall Children in particular. If you don’t know about them, check them out. They’re playing much larger venues now, but it’s still worth your time to go see them. They put on one of the best live shows I’ve ever seen, and like I said before, the music is incredible.

Song of the Week: Tiger Army

Cade and I with Nick13. Circa 2001

I know this is kinda late, but it’s finally October!  Fall is my favorite time of the year. As much as I love Southern California winters, I hate the lack of fall’s cool weather and changing colors. Still, I love the season, Halloween in particular. So this month I’m doing fall and Halloween themed songs. Hope you like them!

This week’s song is by an amazing band called Tiger Army. A few weeks back I highlighted Nick 13 and mentioned Tiger Army. Tiger Army is a psychobilly band, which means they combine punk and rockabilly elements (think early Johnny Cash and Elvis), as well as science fiction, horror and other underground topics. On each album Tiger Army does a more country-sounding song, and one of my all-time favorite songs is their song “In the Orchard”. While not specifically a fall song, it always reminds me of this time of year.

I’ve been able to see them play a few times, and they always put on an incredible show. One fall my friends Cade and Korey and I saw them play in Salt Lake City. Cade and Korey carved Jack-o-lanterns and we gave them to the band. They ended up putting them out on stage when they played. Super cool guys and amazing music. Tiger Army Never Die!

Bonus song!
Nick13 covers himself on his solo album. Here’s a more laid-back version:

Song(s) of the Week – R.E.M.

I was driving to work Wednesday morning, flipping through my ipod for something to listen to, and I came upon R.E.M. Now, R.E.M. and I go way back. They were one of the first bands I really identified with. The first cassette I ever bought was their seminal album Automatic for the People, and I ended up buying all their albums, first as cassettes and again as cds. So as I was driving I started with Murmur and just kind of skipped through the albums, listening to all of my favorite songs. When I got to work and got online, there was the news: R.E.M. was breaking up, or “calling it a day” as they said in their press release. No fighting, no name calling or bad tempers. Just a group of friends who’ve been making music for 31 years deciding to shut things down. I have so much respect for that, and for them. I could go on and on about how much I love this band, but instead I figured I’d just put a bunch of my favorite songs below. Thank you R.E.M. Thank you for the years and the songs and the memories.

Along with It’s the End of the World As We Know It, Losing My Religion, and Man on the Moon, here’s one most people will recognize.

Plenty more down below.

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Song of the Week – The Bouncing Souls

And now for something a bit faster.

The Bouncing Souls are one of my favorite bands of all time. They’re a punk band from New Jersey who often mix poignant lyrics with their fast and melodic sound. Over the years their music has only gotten better and better. I actually got the name for this blog from one of their songs. They have their fun with songs about playing soccer and bmx bikes, but their songs about love and life really get me.  They recently celebrated their 20th year as a band, and I’m hoping there’s plenty more to come. Enjoy!

Song of the Week – Nick 13

I’ve noticed something kind of interesting. I’ll ask people what kind of music they like, and the majority of the time they’ll say something like “I listen to everything but country”. The small judgmental part of me whispers to myself that this means they like “everything” a certain radio station plays, be it pop or rock or alternative, and that they don’t really care enough about music to be open to new things. But I tell that part of me to be quiet, because the rest of me is pretty understanding.  Then I say “what about Johnny Cash?” And they’ll almost always say something like “Well yeah, but that’s different”. I guess most people don’t realize the irony of this statement.  But it’s understandable. The poppy crossover country music of today is vastly different than what the term originally connoted. But throughout the years country has had many different subgenres, from western swing to rockabilly to outlaw country and many others, and the modern pop country is just another offshoot.  But there are still people who play more traditional country, and even those who play the “old-time” style, and that music still resonates with a lot of people. (Note the bluegrass revival that came in the wake of the Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou?)

One of the people making that type of throwback music is Nick 13, the lead singer/guitarist of pyschobilly band Tiger Army. (I’ll be getting to Tiger Army another time, don’t worry.) Nick recently released a solo country album that is miles away from almost anything you’ll hear on country radio stations today. The eponymous album hearkens back to the early days of country music, back when, as the great songwriter Harlan Howard (who wrote Patsy Cline’s I Fall To Pieces among many other hits) said, “Country music is three chords and the truth”. Is the album a bit twangy? Yes. Does it have fiddle and banjo and steel guitar? Indeed. And those are some of the reasons I love it. I can still remember how I felt when I first heard Johnny Cash. It was as if I was hearing something for the first time that I’d known all my life. There’s a truth and purity to the music, and to me that’s what real country music is. And that’s what Nick 13’s album is. I hope this album is successful enough that he’s able to keep making them, and I hope it reminds people that this type of music shouldn’t be forgotten.

Song of the Week/Quote of the Day

I love music. For about 80% of my waking hours, I’m listening to some sort of music. And of that time, very little of what I listen to gets played on the radio. I’m not saying I’m ultra hip and have better taste than everyone else, or that everything on the radio is horrible. My tastes do tend to be pretty broad though, and the radio is very limited in what they play. Anyway, I thought I’d steal an idea of my good friend Mandie, and post some music once a week. It won’t always be obscure, because hey, there’s got to be something to what’s on the radio if they keep playing it. But hopefully if you check back you’ll hear something new and maybe even something that you like.

This week’s song is by the band Metric. I’m actually not even sure how I first heard them, but I really like their sound. I finally picked up their latest album Fantasies last week, and have been listening pretty much nonstop. One of my favorite songs on the album is Twilight Galaxy (nothing to do with sparkly vampires. Kinda sad that if you use the word Twilight now you have to qualify it like that.) I love the album version of the song, but then I came across this acoustic version and fell in love again.  I hope you like it too!

“Did they tell you
You should grow up
When you wanted to dream?

Did they warn you
Better shape up
If you want to succeed?

I don’t know about you
Who are they talking to?
They’re not talking to me”

Quote of the Day #22

I have some pretty exciting news about my short film that I can’t announce quite yet. But I’ll post as soon as I get the okay to. In the meantime, I give you Frank Turner. I’ve known about him for a while and really enjoy his stuff. Some of the songs can tend to get political, so if that’s not your cup o’ tea you might not enjoy all of his stuff. But then there’s this song. I heard it for the first time yesterday and have played it over and over since. Just an incredible song. I hope you like it too.

And I still believe in the need
For guitars and drums and desperate poetry.
And I still believe that everyone
Can find a song for every time they’ve lost and every time they’ve won.