Dumb Luck

DUMB LUCK

Dumb Luck is too much for me

Dumb Luck is too much for me

I want to believe it

I know I can treat it

Dumb Luck is too much for me

Pleasure is all I can bear

Pleasure is all I can bear

Never surrender

I ain’t no pretender

Pleasure is all I can bear

Take the oxygen mask, light a match

Tell me you don’t want me to go

Take the oxygen mask, light a match

Tell me you don’t me to go

Take the oxygen mask and relax

You don’t have to tell me to go

Heaven is Hell on my heart

Heaven is Hell on my heart

Poisonous treasons

I don’t want your reasons

Heaven is Hell on my heart

NEW Children of Kids!

I am a huge fan of Children of Kids. HUGE FAN. If locking The Beatles, The Raincoats and Animal Collective in a broom closet was possible, they might sound a little like this. The amount of talent and creative power here is unfuckingbelievable.

Children of Kids are working on a full-length album to be released on their label, CTPAK Records in early 2014.

Own Your Apathy: It’s All THEIR Fault!

control-emotions-therapy

I try to keep my posts apolitical here because politics in America has devolved into a celebrity worshipping, sports-like experience. Everyone’s rooting for their “team”. The ones who say the right things in front of a camera. The glorified public personalities we’ve chosen to physically embody our values.

And everybody hates them. Everyone. Congress’s approval rating is what? 10%? Less? But didn’t we vote for them? Aren’t these the same fools we just vouched for and blasted our Facebook friends for ridiculing…less than a year ago?! No matter what side of the coin you’re on, everyone is pissed about the government shutdown. It is emblematic of everything we hate about our political discourse. And it’s THE OTHER SIDE’S FAULT! ALL THEIR FAULT!

mirror_mirror____by_S_LancasterAmerica, I got something to say. This clusterfuck of irresponsibility and disapproval is OUR fault. We may be at the mercy of congress but we are the ones who made it that way. Our elected officials are a reflection of the people who elected them. We are a fractured society pushing each other to the fringes because we are no longer willing to respectfully disagree or compromise. Or talk to each other.

It’s extremely easy to judge a situation from the comfort of your couch. It’s uncomplicated, there is no one to debate with. That is the nature of television. But television is entertainment and if you think the news is not intended to entertain, go watch a network broadcast from 1975 and tell me if they haven’t punched it up a bit? CNN anyone?

If you believe that you are capable of understanding a different perspective by watching television or cable news, you are sadly mistaken. There is no nuance on Fox News or MSNBC. If you think you can learn everything about someone’s circumstances or viewpoints by hearing a 15 second sound byte, you are wrong. Could you tell your life story, or your own point of view intelligibly in that amount of time? Spoiler: no, you couldn’t. Why would you think you could make heads or tails of a complicated political situation the same way?

OWN YOUR APATHY.

No one benefits more from our prejudices and our apathy than the political class. Yes, congress knows you hate them. Yes, they don’t care. The less you care, the less you pay attention. The less attention you pay, the more power they have. The more polarized we become, the less they have to do. Because they “can’t”. The other guys on the other side with the equally-extreme-but-opposite viewpoint won’t let them. Their team is the “good guys” and they are fighting the conspiratorial efforts of the “bad guys”.

Look how hard they're fighting against/for you.

Look how hard they’re fighting against/for you.

This ain’t a John Wayne movie. This is our LIVES! Are you really willing to let others suffer for your prejudices and lack of tolerance for the viewpoints of others? Ask yourself that question. What are your values worth when you have no idea how they affect people outside of your own head? What are your beliefs worth when they are exerted with no tolerance for the beliefs of others? Liberals? Conservatives? What are they worth?

If we want to “fix” our government, we need to “fix” ourselves first.

Peace+Light+Love

PG

The Entirely Immovable You

Hellooooooo from the Ether Space! It’s Patrick Galactic, alive and ready to opine! I hope everyone’s had a good summer. Mine was awful…ly interesting. I am living in a new place with new people. It’s been a fascinating shift in perspective that I will share with you in the following weeks….

That said, the music hasn’t stopped and I hope it never does! This devil’s got me good and I don’t want it to let go. I’ve played a bunch of shows, including Death By Stars’ debut performance at Hempfest, which was an incredible experience (video link). We’re in the final stages of recording our EP with CTPAK Records, we’ve got big shows coming up and we’re about to get even busier.

Anyone who thinks that being a musician is more fun than a desk job is right. But they’re right for the wrong reasons. It IS more fun. But it’s also more work. THAT’S RIGHT I SAID IT! I’ve done both for most of my career years and the difference is pretty simple. At a 9-5, you have a boss who has a boss who has a boss who tells them what to tell you to do. In a band, you are responsible for telling yourself what to do. It’s on you and only you. The music, the promotion, attendance at shows…it’s daunting. And it’s thankless sometimes. And it’s worth every second to certain sickos like myself.

I say that to say this…in those thankless moments, be happy you have something to sacrifice for. I have had the disease since I was a babe. I’ve played in bands since I was 14. I’ve marched toward music with a singular focus that so-spectacularly defied logic…it defined anti-logic! I’ve hurt over it. I’ve hated myself over it. I’ve had more pride in myself for it. It’s colored me with curiosity, insight, self-reflection…it’s elevated my consciousness to indescribable heights in the best of times.

It’s a fuckin’ rollercoaster. But in all that, no matter the feelings of the moment, no matter the results of a gig…I always knew what I wanted. Always. In this vastly evolving techno-culture we call home, certainty is hard to come by. In fact it’s impossible. But knowing what you want in life adds a sense of continual purpose, continuity that brings security to the soul. And I’ve had THAT since I was 14.  I know who I am.  I have me, at the very least.

That didn’t strike me as odd until I got older. But now I’ve met so many people along the way who swear they’ve never had a strong passion for one thing or the other. None of them were passionless…they just couldn’t decide or maybe they thought they only got to try once…or perhaps they never felt that passion stirred inside of them before? Whatever the case may be, I know that many people on this Earth struggle to find purpose in their being each and every day.

And that is a fate I will never succumb to. I may not make the greatest money. I may not always play the best nights at a club. But I will fall to my fucking death trying. I will give up my possessions. I will abandon my comforts to feel that spark. I am stirred inside by a force I would call celestial, universal, cosmic. So are you. Don’t ever forget it. Within us all lives the soul of a single note. No matter your circumstances, it vibrates within you at the same pitch day in and day out. There is no government or monetary policy in the world that can change it. There is no corporate master or landlord or drug dealer or school shooter in the world that can affect that vibration. It’s the “you” part of you.

And before you bombard me with “there’s no single string in me” shit….listen harder. Where is the “you” in there? If you can’t hear it, keep listening…keep listening…and learn to pick up on metaphors, haha!

Peace+Light+Love,

PG

Learn to Forget: Nostalgia is a Gateway Drug!

Time and place are the essential ingredients of memory.  Memory is the essential ingredient in expression.  Where and when we exist informs everything we believe, everything we accept, everything we cannot be without.  Technology offers us a suspended state of being where time is nearly unnoticeable.  Our inner state, roaming freely through the corridors of our grand digital motherland, is everywhere at once.

It’s a bit overwhelming, isn’t it?  Sometimes I think we weren’t evolved enough as a species to handle the information superhighway we created.  The sheer volume of foreign perspective, voices we didn’t know or never wanted to know, shocked and awed us.  We couldn’t retreat and pretend not to notice anymore.  Our paradigms, our beautiful myths about the world and our place in it, were rendered meaningless.  I believe many people have been traumatized by the inescapability of this awareness.

So we get nostalgic.  We think back to a time when things were different…better…well, simpler.  But aren’t we really just thinking back to a time before we could see the truth with our own eyes?  We’re longing for the open arms of ignorance.  Complication often breeds strong feelings of regret.  And nothing is more complicated than the truth.  This kind of denial is not exclusive to any political party or agenda.  We will tell ourselves anything to make reality more sensible.

I was born in 1980 so I am technically the last year of the Generation X era.  But I’ve always identified with Millenials.  I can’t speak for everyone, certainly, but I can speak for myself when I say we are the last generation born that can remember a time before the internet.  We remember going outside and playing with sticks and dirt.  I was 11 or 12 when I first heard of the internet.  I was 13 or 14 the first time I used it.  And life was never the same again.

This age of technological command, precision, and advancement ripped through the lives of every person I knew.  It changed how we lived, how we communicated.  Newspapers, schools, libraries, all considered gatekeepers of time-honored knowledge, were made irrelevant.  Facts were out, perspective was in.  And quickly we lost control.

Yes, we lost control.  Our mechanized capabilities exceeded our capacity to understand the information, in my opinion.  It was just…SO much.  In the 90’s, what I call the “Wild West Days” we hadn’t adjusted to trolls, rumor-mongers, and other pranksters who delighted in misinforming their digital neighbors.  We had never been able to watch a foreign newscast.  Porn was everywhere (and still is, thank God).  We no longer needed to heed to facts we didn’t support because there would always be someone out there with a different set of “facts” that agreed with our previously-held beliefs.

The internet created a false sense of safety.  It allowed us to craft personal realities, separate from the realities of our physical time and space.  Most notably, it gave rise to anger on a level we had never seen.  I had no idea how pissed off Americans were until the internet and 24-hour cable news finally married each other.  And with all these shades of perspective, facts were harder to agree on.  And ratings don’t care who’s right about an issue.  YouTube and other video sites made it clear that Americans wanted to be entertained, not informed.  At least not until something horrible happened.

Since the turn of the century, we’ve endured several successful terrorist attacks committed on our soil.  We have entered two wars, we have lost hundreds of thousands of lives (American military and foreign civilians), we have lost freedom by way of government legislation (all in the name of protection, of course) and we have watched our economy crash.  We elected leaders who, despite proclamations to the contrary, have effectively carried out a single agenda over the course of several presidencies.

But have we ever received a definitive statement explaining our actions?  Does anybody to this day really know what happened on 9/11?  Many claim to, none offer an authoritative command of the facts.  Has the government ever clearly explained why we were so wrong about WMDs in Iraq?  Again, there are many theories and many explanations offered…but none offer definitive proof.  The Patriot Act was signed and enacted almost universally in 2001.  It explicitly authorized internet-monitoring actions by the NSA that were recently brought to light.  That’s 12 years ago now.  And we are just now aware of this?

If we are truly living in an information age, I have yet to see it.  I believe we are overwhelmed by our capabilities.  The amount of research it takes to prove/disprove a point has never been easier…but…cat memes are so much fun!  I believe technology has slowly evolved the human race and the generation behind mine will be able to navigate this with much more certainty.  I am continually astonished at the rate at which tech has evolved and love the capabilities and conveniences it provides, no matter the consequences.

But convenience, I’ve learned, is dangerous.  Convenience, whether we admit it or not, breeds intellectual laziness.  Nostalgia is dangerous when misapplied.  It’s easy to pine for a simpler time when you aren’t willing to engage in your own time.  I don’t regret the grand march to mechanized nirvana that we have embarked on.  I don’t regret the life I left behind.  It wasn’t better, it was just easier to understand…and even at that, it was not easy.  Life is not meant to be easy.  It is hard.  It’s a journey.  It can be wonderful.  It can be awful.  It will be both.  But we have to do our part.  Engaging with our world, regardless of our capabilities, remains essential.

Music blog

Arsonist – Lyrics

Well I came home and I packed my bags

And I said my goodbye to the Holy Land

And the dream…and the dream…

What kind of law is this?  What kind of flaw is this?

What kind of rapture do we really await?

What kind of freedom can be found on the Sacred Ground

When all we ever do is anticipate?

I made a mark in the mist before I faded

I cursed God and I drank myself to Hades

I never asked for this but I will NOT resist my true nature

There ain’t no Devil gonna steal my soul

What kind of law is this?  What kind of flaw is this?

What kind of rapture do we really await?

We sunk our feet in the ground in this cold, dead town

Now all we ever do is anticipate

There ain’t no Devil gonna steal my soul

Well I came home and I packed my bags

And I said my goodbye to the Holy Land

And the dream…and the dream…and the dream…

 

[REVIEW] The West “In Low Light”

Quick Disclaimer: In an effort to get reviews done in a timely fashion (i.e. the opposite of what I do now), I will not be able to review each song from full-length releases.  I will be reviewing five songs from every album, regardless of length.  Onward!

The West is a band I’d heard about for quite a while before I actually heard them.  They were playing choice shows around the Seattle area with a lot of my friends and the reviews kept coming back the same: The West is legit.  So when Anthony Darnell (vocals/guitar/keys) was nice enough to give me a copy of their new album, I was ready to be impressed.  And after hearing “In Low Light” about 35 times and seeing them live a I can tell you…The West is legit.

The band was formed in 2010 by Anthony Darnell and Bob Husak (former drummer of Seattle favorites, The Blakes) before expanding to include Reed Griffin on lead guitar (former Blakes producer), bassist John Swihart and Darnell’s wife and collaborator, Adrienne Clark on keys and vocals.  The band released their debut effort “Don’t Make a Sound” and generated genuine excitement, receiving airplay on KEXP and accolades from the local press.

Their follow up, “In Low Light” finds a band comfortable in their experimentation.  The West has a Party-Indie vibe, remiscent at turns of LCD Soundsystem, New Order and even Bowie.  To their credit and my great listening satisfaction, the band has carefully avoided the rampant clichés of the genre and established a sense of arrangement that isn’t easily accessed on Clear Channel World Fucking Radio.

L to R: Jon Swihart, Reed Griffin, Bob Husak, Adrienne Clark, Anthony Darnell

L to R: Jon Swihart, Reed Griffin, Bob Husak, Adrienne Clark, Anthony Darnell

There is theatricality to the presentation, which heightens the tension and adds some grit to the tracks.  It wasn’t a surprise to learn that Anthony Darnell has a background in acting.  The beats are danceable on every track, the bass and drums romancing the groove, as Darnell and Clark at turns spit some pretty serious fire over the top.  You can easily shake your ass to this but understand one thing: you are shaking to the sounds of serious sadness.  Distrust, betrayal, rejection…alienation is the central theme at work here.  I generally don’t ask artists to explain their lyrics but my guess is that someone somewhere is not on the Darnell/Clark Christmas card list.

“In Low Light” is a 10-track, full-length record.  I’ve picked 5 tracks to review but highly recommend that my readers use the music player at the top of this post.  This is a complete effort and context is important.  That said, onto the tracks…

“You’re in Control” is the second track from the record.  An ominous and foreboding synth part enters abruptly and is quickly joined by a tom-heavy beat.  Another layer of eerie synth, kinda reminiscent of a spy soundtrack, joins the mix before Darnell pointedly sings “Hand on your heart like you were swearing the truth.  Explain the story from your point of view.  Answer my question, don’t hestitate”, before Clark and bassist Swihart join him, “Are you a killer?  Are you a saint?”  Remember that whole thing about distrust and alienation?  The hook is killer, the harmonies are spot on and the lyrics are like a dart aimed at the heart of the matter.  Emotional disaffection is all the rage these days, as you probably well know.  I admire sincerity in modern rock and it’s here in abundance.  The work of Swihart on bass and Bob Husak on drums is exceptional, the breaks flow effortlessly from one to the other.  

“You Won’t” is the fourth track and starts with a burst of guitar riffage before giving way to a ridiculously tight club groove.  Seeing them play this song live is like musician porn.  Adrienne Clark’s keyboard hits on the off beats while the bass and drums dance around it with precision and force.  Darnell and Griffin’s guitars syncopate beautifully.  Betrayal takes center stage again as Anthony sings “Smoke me down like a cigarette that you are holding like a weapon in your hand.”  Damn.  He continues, “You won’t ever answer”.  Have you ever been wounded by someone so badly and they won’t even look at you, much less account for how they’ve hurt you?  The music mirrors the sense of astonishment and anger.  Husak’s cymbal work during the breaks is great, incidentally.

“Another Story” follows “You Won’t” and goes in a decidedly different direction.  The club hooks of the previous tracks are not on display here.  This is a mid-tempo indie rock song and a good one.  A minimal tom beat and descending bass part begin the track before Clark’s synth hook joins them.  Darnell and Reed Griffin’s guitars are heard shortly thereafter, one mirroring the descending bass notes and the other melodically reinforcing the chords.  The lyrics take a different tact here as well.  “And she was breathing in my ear.  And she was breathing very slowly.  A whispered lullaby.  Every night is another story.”  Fascinating.  The anger and betrayal is gone.  This narrative sounds weary and captivated to me.  It’s impossible to say what this could be about but The West crafts really provocative lyrics, that is for DAMN sure!  Darnell continues during the chorus “And she was dreaming about herself” as Clark sings softly, “Never wanted never needed nothing else.”  Be it femme fatale or some other such thing, I want to know more.

“Hustler” is the eighth track and breaks the mold for The West again.  I love this track for a couple reasons.  1) I love “Pink Flag” by Wire (if you haven’t heard Wire, get real for Christ’s Sake.  Click here and get up to speed like now) and the guitars on this song have a very Wire-esque feel to me.  2) I feel like this song, for whatever reason, may not get the appreciation it deserves because it is late in the record and less club-friendly than some of the other tracks.  It just SOUNDS like a deep cut.

The West live at High DiveThe track starts off gritty and stays there, guitars, bass and drums spinning together like a washing machine.  “I like your knee-highs, the Polaroid stare.  You’re looking through me like I’m not even there. I want to move you like those girls on TV. Disturb the stillness cause you look too serene.”  If you’ve been in a band long enough in Seattle, there isn’t a lot of explanation necessary.  Darnell’s vocals are bolder, almost goading here.  “But oh no, you won’t dance at all.  I see you standing on the dance floor.”  For all the talk of Seattle’s place in rock history, the city is now infamously a haven for the tragically hip who can’t be bothered to show even a slight interest in the bands they are paying to see.  It’s a conversation I’ve had with so many people so many times, whether you agree or not.  The West does, apparently.

“In Low Light” closes the album and appropriately so.  The track seems to combine most, if not all, of the elements of the previous songs on the record.  Great synth hooks, well-placed dance beats, and the great guitar interplay that those listening to the record have no doubt observed by this point.  The song serves as a great bookend to what the West has accomplished and what they have on the horizon.  “Close your eyes, take a breath, let go of all this aggravation.  Close your eyes, fall asleep, nothing compares to the satisfaction.  Here they come, we don’t know anyone, but alright.”  Striking a hopeful note musically, this songs sounds like an artist taking the ultimate plunge into uncertainty.  Darnell closes the track passionately exhorting the listener to “Let it die!”  Let what die?  The past?  Fear?  The distrust and alienation so present on the rest of the record?  As with all good art, I take my own meaning and make a note to trap Anthony Darnell in a basement someday and, under great duress, force him to explain it all….

Records like this give me faith that I am not the only one who cares about lyrics.  I know that sounds strange to some but as a lyricist myself, it’s jarring how often the words are missed or ignored.  The West stands out to me as a band of nuance, their musical composition is nothing short of professional.  Dynamic tension is so critical to a great record and its abundance here made me smile.  Darnell and Clark (who sings lead on several songs that I was not able to review due to space limitations) both command the main vocal role with passion, agility, and a sense of genuine urgency.

“In Low Light” is an album Kurt Vonnegut could appreciate.  The thought of well-funded college hipsters dancing the night away to the exorcism of a person’s soul is just the kind of twisted irony he found so amusing.  I’m inclined to agree.   The West have documented the dance floor and all its internal politics as well as anyone I can remember.

The West Official Website: http://www.bandthewest.com

[INTERVIEW] Adam McKinney Talks Squeak n Squawk, Kickstarter

THIS is glory

NOTE: For some fucking reason WordPress won’t let me embed videos from Kickstarter SO…click here, watch the video and consider donating to this very special event.

If you’re a live music fan in Tacoma, you probably know Adam McKinney.  Whether you’ve met him at a show or read his features in The Weekly Volcano, he’s left a large imprint on the city and it’s music scene.  Adding to that, McKinney last year joined with Jena Stedtler to take the reins of the Squeak n Squawk Festival.  SnS has become an institution in Tacoma and last year’s was regarded by many as the best.  In order to top it, McKinney and Stedtler have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise money.  I caught up with Adam and found out a little more.

PG: How did you get involved in the Squeak n Squawk festival?

AM: Squeak and Squawk was originally created by my friends Peter Lynn and Sean Alexander, the latter of whom would continue on with the festival into its second run. But, when Sean Alexander moved to New York in 2011, I felt it necessary to keep the festival alive. It turned out that Jena Stedtler was thinking the same thing, so we joined forces and held the event in 2012.

PG: You made some great videos after the festival last year and spoke with a lot of passion about what had been accomplished. What drives your desire to book a festival like this? What do you find most rewarding?

AM: I had always been a fan of the festival, back when Sean was running it. There’s nothing like it in Tacoma—this weird, independent festival that seemed to draw all of the coolest bands to our neck of the woods. I love Tacoma and want to see it thrive. My thought is that this festival can help. That’s mainly what keeps me going because, honestly, it is stressful as hell planning an event like this. But I always think of the last show last year, when Jena and I could finally put up our feet, drink some champagne, and reflect on the last five days. Actually making the festival work is unequivocally my proudest moment.

PG: Having run the festival on a shoestring in previous years, you are trying to raise a significant sum of money through Kickstarter this year. What should live music fans expect this year with a bigger budget, should you hit your goal? And how is the campaign going so far?

AM: Last year we had about $2,000 to work with when assembling the festival, half of which basically went to paying just one band. In order to grow the festival, we need more money. With the additional money, we’ll be able to book bigger touring acts. What this means is we’ll be able to have our druthers with booking, which means cooler, more eclectic acts. As of right now, we’ve raised a tenth of our goal, which is not very encouraging. Jena and I have discussed acceptable contingency plans for if we don’t make it to our goal, but it’d be a different festival in a lot of ways.

PG: Last year’s event was held in April, this year it’s in September. Was that a conscious decision or a logistical one?

AM: It was a decision made out of necessity. Of course, we would’ve loved to have it in April again (although, as we know now, it would’ve rained the whole time), but timing didn’t work out. April was approaching rapidly, and Jena decided it would be better to hold off the festival than to try and rush to put it together. Better to take our time than end up with a fiasco.

PG: The 2012 festival hosted bands from Atlanta, Brooklyn, and Australia. Where will bands be coming from this year?

AM: Though intensive booking hasn’t quite begun yet (we wanted to get a better idea of how much money we’d have before we started reaching out in earnest), we’ve already been approached by bands from all over the country. Pulling off another international band would be a neat trick, as the band from Australia (Pond) kind of fell into our laps. But it’s our goal to cast the net far and wide for talent. We’ve always said that we want to make this not just another self-congratulatory Tacoma festival. We want to introduce Tacoma to the country and the country to Tacoma. And we already have some amazing bands in mind to help make this happen.

Pat Track Attack!!! The Spider Ferns, “My Direction”

“This is My Direction Now”

Meet the Spider Ferns.  I will be reviewing their beautiful new album very soon.  But until then, enjoy “My Direction”.  I love the simple beauty of this track.  The negative space.  Kelly Fleek’s voice is mesmerizing, soft but fierce.  This is like a Massive Attack track with no beats!  Lyrically, if you can’t relate to this song you are most likely a child or a paperweight or possibly a national politician.

Songwriter. Word Writer. Thought Toilet