Showing posts with label Awards. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Awards. Show all posts

Saturday, April 20, 2013

BEST Album of 2012 - Brad Stock's Atomic Clock - Timeless and Timely

It isn't uncommon for someone to give me a copy of their personal music CD to review. It is, however, uncommon when the gift engages my interest. And then, there's the one in a million that turns out to be something special. 


Brad Stock's Atomic Clock is Something Special.

Last year, I drove to Salt Lake to watch Pink Floyd's The Wall at Brewvies Cinema Pub where Salt Lake's local, listener-sponsored community radio station, KRCL, hosts a monthly Night at the Movies to help fund broadcast operations costs. I hadn't seen The Wall in a theater since it was first released in 1982, and I was looking forward to watching it on the big screen again. 

As I sat in the dining area awaiting the theater doors to open, I spied an unassuming gentleman sitting at the bar wearing a Pink Godzilla T-shirt, a rare and unusual sighting behind the Zion Curtain.

Pink Godzilla is a sushi restaurant on 41st Avenue in Santa Cruz that the locals all call Pinky G's. "Maybe he's from my little beach town," I mused as I approached him and asked:


"Did you get that Pink Godzilla T-shirt in Santa Cruz?" 

"Yeah, did you get that DJ's Mini-Mart T-shirt in Santa Cruz?" was his reply.

I had forgotten that I was wearing my DJ's T. As you might have guessed, the gentleman wearing the Pinky G's shirt turned out to be Brad Stock. He was there to see The Wall too, and apparently had thematically selected his shirt for the occasion. I'm happy that he did, otherwise, I may have never met Brad Stock or heard his amazing Atomic Clock, Rhetro Zenberg's selection for BEST Album of 2012.

As Brad Stock and I chatted before the movie began, I learned that he was an avid surfer and had picked up the Pinky G's shirt whilst on a surfing trip to Santa Cruz. He also told me about his newly completed CD that he was obviously very excited about, and presented me with a fresh copy of the Atomic Clock CD along with some Blorbs - decal replicas of the disc image that I'm seeing stuck on signs nearly everywhere I go these days.


Brad made me promise that I'd wear headphones the first time I listened to his album. He wanted to ensure that I'd have the opportunity to appreciate the quality and depth of the music. I was tempted to play it in the car on my 40-minute drive home, but I refrained, and waited until I could listen as Brad had prescribed. 

Time to Hear the Atomic Clock

I prefer to listen to new music on headphones for my first listen anyway, so I was comfortable with the notion of taking time late at night, to sit alone in the dark. With no visual distractions and the phones snug against my ears, I pushed play, laid back, closed my eyes and heard "the Sun" rise. Before I knew it, "the Moon" was coming up like a big bald head and I had completed my first experience with the Atomic Clock. The music had drawn me in so deeply that I felt as though I had been meditating. 

The first time hearing the Atomic Clock was moving in a way that was natural and cosmic... kind of like the first time that I heard Pink FloydNot to say that the Atomic Clock is anything like Pink Floyd or progressive rock in general for that matter. The Atomic Clock doesn't overwhelm the listener with the excessive experimentation that occasionally* drags down progressive rock compositions. The Atomic Clock resonates with a vibe of goodness, whereas prog rock tends** to be a bit gloomy. There's no time for doom n gloom on the Atomic Clock - which is more of a soundtrack for living and celebrating life. It's all good.

Clockwerks

The Atomic Clock consists of ten unique and nicely woven compositions that eclectically bridge any genre gap. The songs are all cleverly written, and obviously composed by someone who possesses a wide scope of life experience and musical influence.***  The songs demonstrate a broad variety of flexibility and depth that keep the listener intrigued and engaged. No two are alike, nevertheless, each has its time in the spotlight. To me, one quality that stands out on the Atomic Clock, is its timelessness. It doesn't seem to be restricted to time and space or style.

For the most part, the Atomic Clock is feel-good music that makes a nice soundtrack for anything you might be doing. Brad told me that he wanted to make music "that would move and reach people." It turns out that the Atomic Clock is the result of a late night wish in Hawaii. Brad recalled that night, "while standing outside, looking up at the night sky, I put my wish out there." 

When the choice came down to a significant five minute decision at the bus station, Brad remembered the words of a wise friend who had encouraged him to follow his bliss. Brad's journey had led him to a place where he'd have to decide - which bus to take. Brad remembered his trusted friend's advice and heeded his counsel. On the bus ride of life, Brad Stock's alternative destination would have materialized drastically different had he taken the other bus. 

Brad followed his bliss all the way to the Beehive State where he met music producer Matt Winegar**** who had availability in his schedule at the perfect time to produce the Atomic Clock

Matt Winegar told me in an interview that he really enjoyed working with Brad on the project and is happy with the way it turned out. He told me that the song, "It Blows" is one of his favorite tracks on the album, and one of the most memorable. Brad remembers that when they began working on that song, Winegar asked him:


"How Zappa do you want to go on this one?" 

Brad remembered that Zappa percussionist, Ed Mann, was a Facebook friend, and decided to invite him to play on the track. "I sent him the song and he said he dug it and would be happy to play on it..." Winegar remembers that Mann provided a lot of great sound surprises, including a nifty little marimba riff that adds to the already prevalent Zappa nuance. 

The Atomic Clock is awesome and timely on many levels and Matt Winegar's production skills augmented Brad's talent and personal vision of the songs. The track, "Hoot 'n Holler Annie" features some lovely strings***** and a beautiful arrangement for an intriguing song about a toe found on the side of the road. It makes me ponder what a Nilsson/Martin team might have realized had they worked together. "Hoot 'n Holler Annie" is about as close as you'll get. 

The song, "One of My Better Days," is an upbeat semi-Reggae song about a day that is good because of all of the things that didn't happen, such as: 


"I Didn't lose my music to a glitch in my iTunes...
...Didn't get crushed by a random boulder..."   

I don't have a favorite song on the Atomic Clock, but I regularly find myself singing or whistling the ultra catchy tune "Chasing the Buddha...til we meet again."



In conclusion, like I always say, "If life is fair" the Atomic Clock will become a classic. It already is on the Zenberg Blogue and for a handful of lucky people who have already discovered it. Congratulations to Brad Stock, and everyone who contributed to making the Atomic Clock a reality. Tis a fine contribution to the musical universe. God speed to ya Brad Stock!


3D image of Brad Stock standing on Mars at the Clark Planetarium where the Atomic Clock was featured for two runs as a CSI laser show in the main dome. The light show is rumored to be appearing in other major cities in the near future. Don't miss it. 

NOTES 

* Certainly not always.

** Generally but not as a rule. The positive aspect of the Atomic Clock is what ultimately earned it Best Album status. Other albums under consideration this year, (Anywhere by Anywhere and Spine Hits by Sleepy Sun), were a bit dark. 

*** Adrian Belew, Al Stewart, the Beatles, Nilsson, Zappa to name a few

**** Matt Winegar has engineered, recorded and produced for such notables as Primus, Coheed in Cambria, Faith No More, to name a few. His recording studio is located in Salt Lake City.

***** This lovely string section was performed by Callie Reed who played both violin and cello on the track. 

purchase the Atomic Clock: http://www.bradstockmusic.com/

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Best Album of 2011 - Denney Joints' Bedtime - A Midnite Snack Any Time of Day


"I wanted to go the sausage fest* but instead, I was in Watsonville, where nothing happens." Denney Joints.


Living in Santa Cruz, California has afforded me numerous opportunities to see some of the world's most influential** performers. Nevertheless, the local talent from this quaint beach community is among the best I've experienced, anywhere. Most notably, a sort of mad musical scientist of a young man who calls himself Denney Joints and his band, Midnite Snack. I've been fortunate to see Denney play live a handful of times at various venues around Santa Cruz, and the shows have always been a real treat.

Denney Joints, a 4.0 art student at San Francisco State University, is no stranger to the Bay Area music scene. He became locally infamous with an early band called "Happy Meal" and his latter-band, Midnite Snack, has enjoyed positive press and reviews throughout the Bay Area.

A few months ago, Denney Joints released his long-awaited "Bedtime" CD. I love Bedtime, and have listened to it too many times to number. My own words can't adequately describe the simple beauty and angsty edginess of this thoughtful recording, so I talked to Denney and others to gain a better understanding of Mr. Joints, and his Best Album of 2011, Bedtime.

"All of bedtime is biographical," Denney told me. "I picked up my guitar in the back room at work where I wrote all of these songs and drank quarts of Hi-Life and smoked dope every day," he joked.


One of the major themes throughout Bedtime seems to be escapism, and Denney weaves an emotional tale of partying with friends in Santa Cruz, idealistic abandonment of responsibility, and whimsically wishful fit-in fantasies. The first track, "Cookin" is about the anticipation of a party at Denney's house, to which he had invited a girl from the local grocery store. "She never came to the party," lamented Denney. However, while working out the song in the back room at work, he came up with the two chords, FM7 and G13, which he described to me as, "a lazier-than-punk take on chords that require no effort to play and sound wonderful." Denney Joints' unmistakable signature sound.

Denney seems to possess a natural, encyclopedic knowledge of music, and is comfortable navigating through stylistic changes. He employs numerous subtle musical influences that keep the music entertaining and interesting. But Denney has no desire to become a commercial success, and claims to despise commercial music. "I love simple music," explained Denney, "but commercial music skips the feeling and goes straight for spectacle." Denney Joints' Bedtime is simple, yet thoughtful and deliberate, and according to music critic, Joey McNeill, "exhibits a kind of dreamlike quality, and a kind of farcical poke at pop music." Denney's distance from commercialism has allowed him to maintain a pure vein of creativity with the attitude that, "if people feel it, great, but if they don’t, I will not change anything to make them bite the hook."

The lyrics on Bedtime are witty and are occasionally presented in a code language that Denney calls Scumbag Select, a clever language in which the pronunciation of words are phonetically skewed based on a set of complicated letter-swapping rules that he has obviously mastered and employs with great skill. Half the fun of Bedtime is dissecting the lyrics.

Nick Overhauser,*** lent his expertise to the Bedtime project by playing on and recording the album. Nick told me that, in his opinion, "Bedtime is an ode to an angry young weirdo who sees little value in the ways of the modern world." Gazing out the window from behind the counter at Denney's workplace and, "seeing people in groups getting along and looking quite ordinary." Denney Joints' observations have become something wonderfully creative, entertaining and satisfying. Joey McNeill related that he "hadn't thought about these things for a long time," and went on to say that, "Denney has found common experiences and truths in the boredom and frustrations that we all share in our youth." Denney says that Bedtime is "emotionally autobiographical," meaning that "the lyrics themselves don't address actual events directly." This gives Bedtime a universal, cross-generational quality and appeal. Even my mom would like it.

All of the tracks on the album are noteworthy, and if life was fair, all of them would be known by everyone. I won't attempt to pin any particular style or genre on the music of Bedtime other than to say that it is eclectic, and uniquely Denney Joints. There is one particular track on the album that deserves special attention and can only be described as "timeless". The Creek Song is jovial, happy harmony and blissful balance. A perfect late summer day spent with the best of friends whilst nestled in the arms of a loving Mother Nature. The Creek Song is a masterpiece, and will forever be one of my favorites.

Denney Joints' Bedtime was mastered at Indigital Studios in Santa Cruz, CA by Mason Rothschild, who**** described Denney as, "an amazing jewel of a mad genius," and went on to say that when Denney gave him the original recordings, they were "wrapped in notes and emotional requests about each song." Although I wonder sometimes if Bedtime is comedic, it is obvious that Denney is serious about his music, and, like Beefheart and Zappa, has eccentric demands, from everyone who contributes to his projects. "I knew that I was up against something completely different," recalls Nick Overhauser who described the first stretch of recording Bedtime as "convoluted and wacky", but by the time the album had been completed, Nick considered it to be one of his favorite projects.

I asked Denney about his selection of personnel for Bedtime, and his on-stage band, Midnite Snack. He told me that generally, people bore him with their "lack of focus and musical accomplishment" but praised his own band, saying that they all "exceed the bar" and that their playing is "precise." Midnite Snack is a fluid membership of friends***** who give their all to Denney's live performances that take me back to the newness I experienced at some late-seventies, and early-eighties punk shows. Denney isn't punk, but he possesses some of the same qualities and attitudes. Bedtime is smart, clever and involved, yet maintains a cohesive structure. Nick Overhauser told me, the most impressive thing about Denney's conceptual work to him, is that, "every album follows a theme with repeated lyrical ideas and melodies... without being too obvious or on the nose." Joey McNeill observed that Denney Joints "has taken frustration and made it enlightening" and called Bedtime "a kind of commentary about how carefully and methodically the introvert moves his way out into the public like a reluctant, escaped hamster who, oblivious to his boundaries, nibbles away at the crackers in our cupboard."

Listening to Bedtime is like eating crackers, you just can't quit. BEWARE! Denney Joints' catchy songs get stuck on mental repeat and run through the mind continuously. I usually just give in and play the damn CD to get it out of my head. I've discovered that Bedtime is a Midnite Snack that can be enjoyed any time of day or night, and Rhetro Zenberg is happy to announce Denney Joints' Bedtime as the Best Album of 2011.

Have a Nice Snack!



*
Click here to enjoy Denney Joints' Sausage Fest commercial from KPIG Radio, Santa Cruz


**There are far too many to name them all, but a sampling of my most memorable performances would certainly include: Laurie Anderson, Adrian Belew Power Trio, King Crimson, Ravi Shankar, the Residents...

***In addition to being a recording expert, Nick Overhauser played drums on Bedtime and has played for Sheena, Mountain Animal Hospital, Ship of the Sierras, Midnite Snack, and is currently on tour with Birdhand.

****Audio engineer Mason Rothschild, has played in Midnite Snack and is currently touring with the band, Birdhand.

*****To stay fresh, Midnite Snack changes personnel every Venusian cycle. There have been at least eight members of Midnite Snack so far, including two bassists named Mason, (Rosenberg and Rothschild), and three members of the popular indie band, the Vox Jaguars, (Sam Copperman, Trevor Hope and Mason Rosenberg), but Denney says he has no plans for a Vox Jaguars cover, and now that Denney has moved to Oakland, he may resurrect Midnite Snack there, with fresh faces.

Denney Joints - The Coolest Cat On The Couch

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

WTF? or Peace in Our DaZe

Remember that Sesame Street song that made a fun game out of finding the thing that is different from the other three things? It went like this:

One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn't belong,
Can you tell which thing is not like the others
By the time I finish my song?

Did you guess which thing was not like the others?
Did you guess which thing just doesn't belong?
If you guessed this one is not like the others,
Then you're absolutely...right!

Today, President Barack Obama was awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. A baffling decision considering that he recently deployed twenty-one thousand US troops to FIGHT in the WAR in Afghanistan, and intends to deploy many more thousands of additional soldiers in the near future.

What is wrong with this picture?

Shouldn't the Nobel Peace Prize be given to someone who actually pursues PEACE in our world, rather than someone
who has escalated the WARS in Iraq and Afghanistan, and expanded the WAR on the American people by broadening the powers of the Patriot Act?

Sorry, but a president who deploys troops to kill people with weapons of WAR is not an advocate for PEACE... unless we're living in some kind of Orwellian prison-culture where newspeak redefines terms... like WAR and PEACE.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ninja Warrior Winner Announced

Congratulations to my friend David Campbell of Scotts Valley, California, who has been selected to represent the United States at the upcoming Ninja Warrior 4 Competition in Japan.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

My iTunes Top 50 - 2008

iT's been nearly a year since I posted my first iTunes top 25 list. This year I'm expanding the list to the top 50 most played songs of 2008. My iTunes library contains about three thousand songs now, and I usually, (but not always), play iTunes on the shuffle setting, therefore the following winners are mainly the selections which the computer has chosen to play most often. And as it turns out, the computer has pretty good taste.
1 Streaming in first place with 222 plays, is KZSC Santa Cruz. This excellent local listener sponsored radio station moves up from third place with an excess of a hundred views more than the second place winner. I usually tune in to Platterpus Rising on Tuesday mornings and Here There and Everywhere Thursday mornings. Congratulations KZSC.

2 In second place, moving up from fourth place with 99 plays, is another listener sponsored radio station, WORT in Madison, Wisconsin. Thanks to streaming technology, I can keep in touch with my favorite Wisconsin city and former home.
3 In third place with 90 plays, local Santa Cruz radio station KSCO who came in first place on the previous top list. Unfortunately KSCO stopped their live stream service about half way through the year, otherwise they would have come in first place again. Sorry KSCO. You blew it! Still, third place is not bad.
###-Title-@@@-Artist-@@@-Album-&&&&-Play Count

4
Metropolis - The Vox Jaguars - Good as Gone - 87
5 Crazy Little Thing - Captain Beefheart - Spotlight Kid - 756 Brazil - Geoff Muldaur - Brazil (soundtrack) - 73
7
Frail - The Vox Jaguars - Good as Gone - 728 Send in the Clown - The Simpsons - Songs in the key of Springfield - 71
9
Dust - Adrian Belew - Dust- 7010 Totally Wired - The Fall - 50,000 Fans Can't Be Wrong - 6911 Frame by Frame - King Crimson - B'BOOM - 6712 Kaw-Liga - The Residents - Stars and Hank Forever - 65
13
Angela (Theme from Taxi) - Bob James - Man on the Moon - 6414 I Will Survive - Tony Clifton - Man on the Moon - 62
15
Click Clack - Captain Beefheart - The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot - 61
16
On the Beach Goes the Crimson King - Adrian Belew - Dust - 60
17
Greensleeves - California Guitar Trio - A Christmas Album - 59
18
Chase - Ravi Shankar - Tana Mana - 58
19
And She Was - The Talking Heads - 12 x 12 OriginalRemix - 57
20
Coconut - Harry Nilsson - Personal Best - 56
21
The Robots - Kraftwerk - The Man Machine - 55
22
I'm So Bored with the USA - The Clash - The Clash - 54
23
KUER - Public Radio - Salt Lake City - 53
24
Sheep - Les Claypool's Frog Brigade - Live Frogs: Set 2 - 51
25
Good as Gone - The Vox Jaguars - Good as Gone - 50

26
Trigger Hippy - Morcheeba - Who Can You Trust? - 48
27
Onward - Yes - Tormato - 47
28
Marble Hearts - Master Mason - Lektron - 45
29
Number One - The Rutles - The Rutles - 44
30* KRCL - Community Radio - Salt Lake City - 43
31
Men in Helicopters - Adrian Belew - Side Three - 39
32
MTV Get Off the Air - Dead Kennedys - Frankenchrist - 38
33
Look Into the Future - Journey - Look Into the Future - 37
34
One time - Adrian Belew - Dust - 35
35
21st Century Schizoid Man - April Wine - Classic Masters - 33
36
Sinister Exaggerator - Primus - Miscellaneous Debris - 31
37
Swagger - The Vox Jaguars - Good as Gone - 30
38
Big Blue Sun - Adrian Belew - Dust - 29
39
Smithers Jones - The Jam - Setting Sons - 28
40
Level Five - King Crimson - Level Five - 27
41
Dinosaur - Adrian Belew - Side Four (Live) - 26
42
Goodbye Blue Sky - Various Artists - Back Against the Wall - 25
43
Harvest Moon - Neil Young - Harvest Moon - 24
44
Picnic in the Jungle - Snakefinger - Chewing Hides the Sound - 23
45
The Court of the Crimson King - Asia - Fantasia Live in Tokyo - 21
46
Anna - George Martin - Beatle Girls - 20
47
Fire at Midnight - Jethro Tull - Christmas Album - 19
48
Heroes - King Crimson - Heavy ConstruKtion - 18
49
Mother Nature's Son - Harry Nilsson - Harry - 17
50
Christmas is the Time - Kids of Widney High - Lets Get Busy - 15

The most represented artist on the list is Adrian Belew with three songs in the top 25 and another six in the top 50. Three of them are King Crimson pieces and feature Mr. Belew on guitar and vocals. Congrats Ade!

The second most represented act is the Vox Jaguars with a total of five positions on the list. Their song, Metropolis, comes in on the top of the
songs list in position #4, and another Vox Jaguars song, Frail, at position #7 comes in on the top ten list. They hold three positions on the top 25 list and another two positions on the top 50.
In position #28, Marble Hearts, by Vox Jaguars' Master bassist, Mason, is an electronique version of the Vox Jaguars song.

* KRCL changed their streaming address, therefore its position on the list is not representative of actual plays of this fine station streaming from the City of Salt. Otherwise, KRCL would have been in the top three. Better luck next year KRCL!