Last minute change of RPM plans

In true RPM fashion, I’ve changed my mind re: plans for RPM album. It’s not going to be all about Trump.

While the thought process going into it is more personal/intimate, what I can say is why I’ve decided to switch gears.

In talking with e about the project — because she’s started painting and I wanted to use her art for the album — we started talking about art that challenges the artist and why many male artists (of various forms), in particular, use pain and suffering and misery as inspirations for their art. In music, you can hear it in Trent Reznor (especially early NIN but pretty much everything he’s ever done, ever), Kurt Cobain, I mean the list goes on. Pretty much the entirety of “alternative” music is some dude bitching about how everything is horrible. Isn’t the world bad enough that we don’t need to add more misery and suffering into it through art?

I’m no different. For a long time, I believed that a) all art was created through suffering and b) the only things I had to say were things that came from my own personal angst. I used to channel and hone the worst possible feelings in order to produce music. I would actually make myself unhappy in order to channel that negative energy into art.

Since then, I’ve learned that art (even, gasp, good art) can be made from emotions that are not harmful/painful. For me this is much more of a challenge having believed the other thing for so long.

So, how does this relate back to RPM? Well, the original concept was basically more of the same. It’s easy to get angry about Trump and make art from a place of anger and resistance. But that’s not challenging anything and that’s not changing anything. That’s Trent Reznor’s entire career. Maybe the topic for him has gone to “she dumped me and I’m unhappy” to “the world is shit and I’m really angry about it”, but the basic point is the same “life is shit, I suck, I’m going to go drown my sorrows in some good old fashioned substance abuse”.

We also talked about doing a collaborative project where we’re basically taking the same source/topic/emotion and creating art based out of it. In talking, this felt like a much more exciting project than bitching (musically) about Trump, so I’m much more interested and excited about this idea.

RPM 2017

I’m in it. I’ve committed to doing RPM again this year. It’s been a couple years since I’ve done RPM which basically means it’s been a couple years since I’ve done any music at all and I can’t handle it, anymore. I need to do something.

I hadn’t decided what I was going to do for this year’s RPM, but it’s the 10th year I’ve been a member (though not my 10th RPM — I’ve skipped a couple years), so I wanted to do something special. Also, having a theme has always made my RPM albums better (I think) (see: The Signal and Wasp). I think I’ve decided.

February comes after January, as you know, and January 20th we will be inaugurating into the White House possibly the most terrifying man who has ever held the position of President. This is inescapable. This is fact. It is not some nightmare we are collectively living in. To say that the world will be a less safe place with him running America is an understatement — he’s not even in office and it’s already unsafe for many American citizens.

It seems fitting, then, that as a punk rocker, as a musician, and as we are making albums in the first month of Donald Trump’s presidency, that my RPM 2017 album be about this political cycle, somehow. So here’s my idea:

  1. Every day I sit down to work on a new song, I start by doing a Google search for Trump.
  2. The title of the song comes from the headline of the article (but removes the word Trump. Doing a search today gives me “CNN/ORC Poll: Confidence drops in Trump transition”, so that song title might be “Confidence Drops”).
  3. The song mood/theme is built around the topic/title.
  4. The article body becomes the basis for found poetry. Fragments of sentences/paragraphs become lines and verses for spoken word. (I’m not going to attempt to be so ambitious as to commit to singing, though it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility.)

I have a feeling this will be a very dark album. Just the hypothetical first song title gives me shivers.

30 Most Frequently Played Songs of 2014

It’s the time of year when everyone is making end-of-year lists of various things. I decided to make a list of the top songs I’ve listened to in 2014. Now a few things went into this and there should be some things stated up front.

First — I almost always listen to music on random. Usually it’s a playlist I’ve created and there are a couple playlists I have in iTunes that have been my go-to work music this year. But what that means is that for any single song to appear multiple times it means I was probably listening to that artist a lot.

Second — Since I listen to so much stuff on random, and since that “random” list often comes out of a playlist with a bunch of stuff by a bunch of specific artists, a lot of songs cropped up from the same artist or album. So, in compiling this list, I made an effort to select songs by unique artists so it wasn’t all clogged up by Chromeo and M83 and nothing else.

Third — The way I ranked items was based on a combination of Last.fm stats for the year and iTunes # of plays. Now, iTunes doesn’t reset the number of plays each year, so its’ numbers are cumulative . And Last.fm wasn’t working 100% through the whole year, and regardless, the numbers were very different from Last.fm to iTunes so I really don’t know how these things compare.

The stuff from this list, therefore, has a fair bit of fudging around specific tracks and artists to be a more accurate representation of what has been playing through my speakers this year. Since each artist on the list could be taken as an entry into “most listened-to album“, I also pared this list down based on artists I played more frequently.

Pharrel Williams

Happy
Single – 2013

Washed Out

Eyes Be Closed
Within and Without – 2011

NONONO

Pumpin Blood
Single – 2013

M83

Steve McQueen
Hurry Up We’re Dreaming – 2011

Chromeo

Old 45’s
White Women – 2014

Gotye

Eyes Wide Open
Making Mirrors – 2011

Radiohead

Separator
The King of Limbs – 2011

TV on the Radio

Golden Age
Dear Science – 2008

Beirut

Santa Fe
The Rip Tide – 2011

Of Monsters and Men

Little Talks
My Head is an Animal – 2012

LCD Soundsystem

Yr City’s a Sucker
LCD Soundsystem – 2005

AlunaGeorge

Put Up Your Hands
You Know You Like It – 2013

Grimes

Genesis
Visions – 2012

SOHN

The Wheel
Tremors – 2014

The Asteroids Galaxy Tour

Out of Frequency
Out of Frequency – 2012

Bat for Lashes

All Your Gold
The Haunted Man – 2012

PJ Harvey

This Mess We’re In (with Thom Yorke)
Stories from the City, Stories From the Sea – 2000

The Black Keys

Fever
Turn Blue – 2014

Daft Punk

Get Lucky (featuring Pharrel Williams)
Random Access Memories – 2013

Florence and the Machine

Cosmic Love
Lungs – 2009

Marina and the Diamonds

Mowgli’s Road
The Family Jewels – 2010

HAIM

Falling
Days are Gone – 2013

Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Dull Life
It’s Blitz! – 2009

Mike Doughty

Change
Stellar Motel – 2014

Pretty Lights

Fly Away Another Day
Passing By Behind Your Eyes – 2009

The Arctic Monkeys

Crying Lightning
Crying Lightning – 2009

Ellie Goulding

Only You
Halcyon – 2012

Little Dragon

Only One
Nabuma Rubberband – 2014

David Guetta

Baby When the Light
Best of David Guetta – 2007

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

Jubilee Street
Push the Sky Away – 2013