Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The best goddamn albums of 2010

Let's get this out of the way. The Hold Steady are dead to me. Heaven is Whenever is an abomination. I'm bitter. They're not on this list. OK, onto the good stuff.

There's a lot of pop punk on this list. There's a little bit of indie. It's cold out.

10. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
9. Frightened Rabbits - The Winter of Mixed Drinks
8. The Extra Lens - Undercard
7. You, Me, and Everyone We Know - Some Things Don't Wash Out
6. Motion City Soundtrack - My Dinosaur Life
5. Titus Andronicus - The Monitor
4. Bad Books - Bad Books
3. The Tallest Man On Earth - The Wild Hunt
2. Bomb The Music Industry! - Adults!!!... Smart!!! Shithammered!!! And Excited By Nothing!!!!!!!
1. The Wonder Years - The Upsides

Monday, September 20, 2010

Other blogsz

Haha, I haven't listened to that Damien Marley/Nas CD since May.

I finished the Britney's Spear CD, which I alluded to ever so briefly in one of the other entries here. They'll eventually say how to get it at myspace.com/britneysspear.

In the meantime, I'm making a record again and I have decided to make a new blog about that and use what I think is blogger's most ridiculous template. That can be found at http://sistercityband.blogspot.com.

Will I update this blog again in another four months? Anything could happen?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

First Listen: Nas & Damien Marley - Distant Relatives

My hip-hop credentials are pretty solid, I feel like, so I'm just going to go right into this. Nas and Damien "Jr. Gong" Marley made a record together called Distant Relatives. It's been getting near perfect reviews from a bunch of hip-hop websites; I'm not so sure it's perfect, but it is one of the only decent hip-hop albums to come out in a long time. The record is thematically centered around Africa, past and present, and the common ancestry of the human race (like KevDev's Brothers Blood kinda sorta. Probably the first and last time Kevin Devine and Nas will ever appear in the same paragraph). When the record sticks to those themes, it's very good.

Honestly, I have almost no idea what Damien Marley is saying most of the time, but the meaning still comes through. Tracks like "Tribes at War" and "Africa Must Wake Up" are pretty self explanatory; there are a lot of didactic songs on the album, but the album manages to stay away from sounding kitschy or corny. Nas gives a consistent performance across the thirteen tracks, mostly rapping about the general theme of the song. Despite the occasional dig at his unfaithful milkshake-having ex-wife and the child support system ("Strong Will Continue"), Distant Relatives is a mostly positive group of songs. Unity features prominently: The first track, "As We Enter" features both Marley and Nas in a fast paced call and response, showcasing the best of both their abilities. "In His Own Words" is a vow of solidarity despite different religions, and "My Generation," (featuring both a kids choir and Lil' Wayne!) is a call to arms for change.

Distant Relatives is best when it's thematically in line. The songs with the best production are the ones with aspects of all three backgrounds: hip-hop, reggae, and traditional African music). The straight reggae songs are a little too reggae for my tastes, but there aren't too many of them. The record clocks in at thirteen songs in just about an hour. That's a lot of music, but thankfully they've got a lot to say. It's a lyrically and musically sound collection of songs, and it's hard to argue with their intentions. Maybe there's hope for non-trap music hip-hop after all?

Rating: Prittay, prittay good.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Fight dat Entropy

And so the mixing begins in earnest today.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


It is sometimes important to cleanse and to detox and to wipe your C: drive and to put a shiny new operating system on your shiny old machine. Today I underwent one such rebirth and for compatibility's sake I thought I'd make sure Cubase still played nice with that album thing I'm working on. It does, and so I mixed for a bit and came up with this:

Sister City - 20 (Mix 1) - http://www.box.net/shared/joqnyhu5dp


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Types of songs..

First song in a month and a half, reminding me I can still write songs, song.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

1 vs 7 Billion

Inspired by my friend Greg, who released an EP today (on the off chance you are reading this and don't also read Greg's blog, download the EP here: gregburton.bandcamp.com), I decided I would record some stuff today. Here is a song called "1 vs 7 Billion." It's going to be on the (Person) (Noun) record. It's a little quiet. Deal with it.


I'm sorry for the dying puppies
I'm sorry for the dying kittens
I'm sorry for the dying humans
That I found out about on a commercial break
Right before the million dollar question

And confetti rained down from the ceiling
And someone had to sweep that shit up
At least we're creating jobs
Man sweep that shit up
Man sweep that shit up

And if the highway signs don't make you think of genocide
I fear you're blind, you're blind
And if the starless sky doesn't bring to mind a lack of poetry
You've died, you've died inside

I'm sorry for the starving children
I'm sorry for the unskilled workers
I'm sorry for the third world countries
I can't find on a map
And I'm sorry for the spoiled college students
Who would chastise me for that

And how big can you talk?
Man shut up the fuck up
That's not the way to solve a problem
Man shut the fuck up

And if the highway signs don't make you think of genocide
I fear you're blind, you're blind
And if the starless sky doesn't bring to mind a lack of poetry
You've died, you've died inside

I turn my frustration and my guilt into self-loathing
And I turn my self-loathing into song
In turn I just feel empty
Because my singing isn't helping anyone
It's a paralyzing cycle
Acceptance to denial
Disgust to denigration into song
In turn I just feel hopeless
Because my singing isn't helping anyone

There's tons of good that won't come out of this
But in a superficial way I think we're better off
If we don't think of circumstances
It will be easier to fall asleep at night

Monday, January 4, 2010

A Veritable Wall of Text

The night I got home for winter break I semi-facetiously made up a To-Do list that I taped to a shelf on my desk. It says:


2. Make the b-sides comp
3. Demo all those new songs
4. Figure out holiday gifts
5. Play more video games (reclaim lost youth)

I've been doing mostly #5, but no amount of zombie death seems to mix Carbon Footprint, nor does beating every challenge the original Peggle has to offer make any progress towards demoing the 20 or so songs I've got that haven't been turned into 1's and 0's yet. The b-sides compilation isn't going to end up happening, in large because the songs I was going to put on it aren't as good as I had thought they were. They're also a fair amount more depressing than I'm okay with, or comfortable releasing for mass consumption. So that idea is dead.

I'm writing the following in the sincere hope that when this god damn record is finally complete and released, I will look back at this and laugh and think "stop whining, January-Adam. It wasn't nearly as difficult or as daunting as you thought." For now though, the task of actually releasing this record seems damn near impossible.

On every listen to every song there's something glaringly obvious that needs to be changed or added. And if I want trumpet and violin and timpani, it would seem that I should probably arrange those instruments, find people to play them, teach it to them, and record it. Once it's all recorded, it has to be mixed. Jeezus I hate mixing. Once it's mixed it has to be mastered. I can't master.

When it came time to mix Burning Up, I originally gave it to someone else to do. I paid him and everything. The guy did a piss-poor job of it and I deleted everything and did it myself. Back then I knew way less about that sort of thing, but I still did a better job than him. I'd mix everything completely differently now, but that's irrelevant. I brought the CD to a local studio to master it. The guy did a fine job, but it cost tons of money, and he went on multiple 10 minute cigarette breaks. Not cool.

Part of what has got me so wound up is that I feel like if I want something done right, I have to be the one to do it. I've turned that into an exclusive DIY ethic. I could bring these tracks to a studio, throw down $200-400 per song to mix and $600 for mastering and walk away with something that will sound better than what I'm going to end up being able to do, but at this point I see that as inauthentic. I want to take responsibility for everything. I don't want anyone I don't trust compromising my creative control. I could do it, but it wouldn't be right. It wouldn't be the record I need to release.

For that matter, I don't want to sign to a record label. Nothing would make me happier than being a donation based band. I want to know that I am doing everything I can do. I have always said that I will never require payment for anyone to hear my music. In a perfect world, people are paying what they think the record is worth. The music is in the hands of the fans. It should speak for itself. I know these songs do.

At the risk of sounding like Nietzsche or Kanye West, I know for a fact that I write very good songs. I like them and hundreds of anonymous people on the internet have said very nice things. They didn't have to say anything. In fact, people on the internet are more likely to troll the hell out of you than say one nice thing. Yesterday I got a message on a site I'm on that says this:

"I was looking at you avatar and realized your none other than the Adam Linder my friend that invited me here introduced me to about 2 years back. I just wanted to let you know I loved Burning Up (Lonesome, No More! gives me chills everytime I hear it) and I used to blare it for the entire shopping center to hear when I was the manager at a pizza shop. Anyway, can't wait to hear the Sister City LP."

Some guy I have never met said that something I wrote gives him chills. That's insane to me. I know that I have something to offer. I'm not asking to give people chills. I'm asking for people to say "Yeah, that Sister City album is actually really cool" and maybe even for them to think that it's worth 5 or 10 bucks.

I will be up front. I mentioned that so I could gloat. People (not as many as I would one day like, but good enough for now) give a shit about what I'm doing. It's special. It means something. I have the next two records written. I want to release those. I want to live in a utopian future where I'm putting out albums and people care and I don't have problems falling asleep because the vocals sit *just* above the mix and they won't EQ otherwise without losing definition. I don't want to want to rerecord the vocals for one song and then decide maybe I should rerecord the vocals for all the songs, and honestly if I'm going to that I should probably retrack the guitars or maybe the drums. That is what's taking so long. King of the Hill and Peggle really only provided a venue for my desperate desire to think about anything that isn't the fact that I'm not going to be done with Carbon Footprint until summer at this rate.

I will conclude with a quote from the frontman of Los Campesinos. Their record recently leaked and he had this to say about it. I know what he means.

"We spent four months making a record. We argued, we made up, we started relationships, we ended relationships, we cried in recording booths because it was too much to deal with, we cried in recording booths because we thought we couldn't get it right, and then we cried when we knew we'd got it spot on. I put so much personal and biographical stuff into songs that it as good as breaks me"

tl;dr -- Record won't be out for a while. I have to do it right, even if it breaks me. I also think pretty highly of myself.