Showing posts with label Walls. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Walls. 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.


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. 


* 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:

Thursday, February 5, 2009

A Mural

I came across this illegal graffiti mural as I biked along the San Lorenzo River last week. I like the colours, and it has been a couple of months since I posted a wall photo, so here you go.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Reflections of Santa Cruz

made a quick trip to the post office early this morning and found that all three drop boxes were completely full and nearly overflowing... stuffed with last-minute holiday cards. I shoved three envelopes into a space in the box, and continued down the street. I hadn't gone far when I noticed a mural reflecting in a pool of rainwater that had accumulated over night. I quickly pulled over and grabbed my camera.

I was stabilizing my awesome little Cannon Power Shot A710 IS against a no parking sign when, out of the corner of my face, I saw a car pull up and stop next to me in the no parking zone. I cast quick a glance toward the visitor to determine whether I needed to run, fight, or prepare to meet my maker. Fortunately it was only a Santa Cruz Police officer.

I continued taking photos of the large puddle when I was approached by the officer who politely asked me what I was doing. It was all too obvious, but I answered his query by telling him that I was attempting to photograph the reflection of the mural before the sun hit the wall. He asked me if I was a photographer, and I said no, but that I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a picture of the reflection. As another squad car pulled up for backup, he told me that he had stopped because I looked weird* the way I was squatting on the curb, leaning against the pole. I laughed, and continued snapping photos. He bid me farewell, and politely wished me a good day.

I felt a bit rushed in the presence of the authority figures, therefore the pictures didn't turn out nearly as well as I had hoped. Excuses excuses. Hey, I'm not a photographer... but I play one on Rhetro TV.

* Wow! I feel like I've accomplished something today. It's tough to look weird in Santa Cruz, and I did it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ritz a la Tooele: le Rhetro Futuristique

You've never seen a theater like Tooele's Ritz. These days the theater experience is dominated by the mega-plex, where customers are herded and processed like dumb animals. With so much of the same old same old, it's good to know that a place like the Ritz Theater in Tooele, Utah, still exists in spite of the Borg-like mega-plexes that seem to be taking over the projected entertainment realm.

The Ritz has a long and colorful history. Tooele's third* theater, the Ritz was built by SL Gillette, and opened in 1939. It was a good time to open a movie house in Tooele. Dugway Proving Grounds opened in 1941, and Tooele Ordinance Depot** opened the following year. Both brought well paid contractors, scientists, officers and enlisted personnel who were happy to get away from the desolate restricted areas of the depots, and enjoy modern movies in a ritzy theater with their dates or families. Tooele prospered.

In 1962, the Ritz was purchased by Ralph W. Bradshaw, and has remained a family-run operation since. Ralph's son, Alan, is the current owner/operator of the Ritz. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Alan at the Ritz, and talk to him about his unique and historic theater.
The Ritz has a fully-functional cry room where bawling babies and unruly children can be taken, away from other patrons.
Don't you wish every theater had a cry room? Once inside the cry room, a nursing mother can enjoy the movie through a large window and in-room speakers. My own mother tells me that when I was a baby, she took me to the Ritz to see Mary Poppins. My first movie. I'm told that I didn't like it at all, and had to spend a bit of time in the cry room. I still don't like Mary Poppins, but have learned to control myself a bit better when I see her.

Although the cry room is unique, what is most interesting about the Ritz, to me, is the rhetro-futuristique mural that spans the inside walls of the theater.

I asked Alan about the mural, and he told me that he remembers being thirteen years old in 1964 when his father hired the artist who drove from Salt Lake to paint it. Alan remembers watching with interest how the artist air-brushed the space scenes on the theater walls, but unfortunately didn't know the name of the artist. I suggested that the artist may have left his signature somewhere on the mural, but Alan was pretty sure that there wasn't one. As I enlarged the following image of the planet Jupiter, I noticed what may be the initials of the mysterious artist.
Even though we can't identify the artist, evidence of the mural's age can be found in the image of the Mercury era capsule plunging through Earth's atmosphere upon re-entry. The space program's project Mercury ended in 1963. Project Gemini began in 1965, so it makes sense that the mural was painted sometime in 1964 as Mr. Bradshaw recalls.
The assassination of President Kennedy was still an event of recent memory when the artist did his part to keep the dead president's dream of landing a man on the moon alive. When the unknown artist painted this depiction of a lunar landing, the now familiar Lunar Module hadn't been designed, therefore he was left to his own imagination to create a landing vehicle.
I noticed that Florida, home of Cape Kennedy, is featured prominently in the images of both the re-entry and the Lunar landing scenes.
Alan told me that the artist didn't work with any source materials for his ideas, and that the process looked pretty spontaneous. His ideas came from out of thin air so to speak, and they're still there, on the walls of the Ritz. The future isn't what it used to be.Since my most impressionable times, I've gazed at the mysterious mural with wonder and speculation. I hadn't seen the familiar myriad of crafts, planets and stars for many years, and it was a bit like seeing an old friend.

For unruly children who don't appreciate the space mural, and need a reason to cry, the Ritz still displays these incredible Mexican velvet clowns.
Have a nice cry!

* Preceded by the Nick and the Strand, respectively.

** Later became Tooele Army Depot

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who's Your Baghdaddy?

I recently stumbled upon this stencil of Saddam Husein near the Rite Aid./(soon to be) Whole Foods bldg in Santa Cruz. It is a bit faded, but still legible.

Sunday, December 30, 2007


I took this photo from the Amtrak Zephyr as we rolled out of Reno heading East.