Saturday, August 11, 2007

George "The Fat Man" Sanger

I live in Texas. And I'm big into video games.

Sooo ... I'm surprised I haven't written about George "The Fat Man" Sanger on any of my blogs.

He's been doing music for games for like 25 years. He's super talented on the musical front, and from from what I understand from friends of friends, pretty cool. The guy's done it all -- from MIDI to orchestral, for something around 250 games (averaging 10 games a year, for you non-math whizzes).

And you can hear samples of his stuff on his Website. I'm particularly fond of "Tiny Hero" (which is fun and poppy and deep, kinda like toned-down They Might Be Giants or hyped up Peter Murphy); "Chapel Pain" (which sounds like something from the TimeSplitters 2 Notre Dame level); "Crotchtower" (first for the name, and secondly for the 60s vibe); and "Mr. Death", because I'm a Tom Waits fan).

I met him a year or two ago. Turns out he's not fat. He might be phat, but physically, he's kinda wiry. At least last I saw him.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Brian Vander Ark

Last night, I went to see Brian Vander Ark (previously of The Verve Pipe) at the Cactus Cafe at the University of Texas.

It's a small venue, and there were just south of two dozen people there.

I'm amazed the place wasn't packed, but I'm selfishly glad to have had such an intimate experience watching and hearing one of my favorite artists.

Brian did two long sets, which netted out to around a couple of hours, and played a lot of stuff from his albums "Resurrection", "Within Reach", and "Angel, Put Your Face On" (the latter two I picked up after the show). He also did one (maybe two) songs that aren't on any albums as of yet. "Evangeline" is really neat.

Brian came across as fun, funny, easy-going, confident in his own skin, and thoughtful. It made for a full-flavored night, as I laughed at his wit, and was alternately lifted or stung by his songs. He's a really pleasant guy with whom to talk, too.

I really enjoy all of his stuff, and have been a fan for a long time. Recent favorite tracks include "Another good man" and "I don't want to be a bother" (both from "Angel, Put Your Face On") and "!229 Sheffield" (from "Within Reach").

Of course, my all-time favorite is still The Verve Pipe's "The Freshman". And Brian did an amazingly powerful, heart-wrenching a cappella version which I feel blessed to have experienced (there's a cool live a cappella version on "Within Reach", but for me it doesn't hold a candle to seeing it).

So, yeah, it was a great, great night.

As an aside, Brian did a lot of the music for the film Pineapple, and is a strong friend and supporter of The Bohemian creative troupe.

You can hear Brian's music on his Website, and buy albums. Why buy when you can hear the music online? Reasons vary from person to person, but for me, it's important to support contributing artists, and I firmly believe in the importance of the whole "Give the worker his wage".

Friday, April 06, 2007

Year Zero (Nine Inch Nails)

year zero, the new NIN album doesn't come out until later this month, but right now they're streaming the album in its entirety for free.

I'm listening to it now. And digging it. And still really liking NIN. Been a fan since the beginning.

Check it out:

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Plans (Death Cab for Cutie)

I'm listening to Death Cab for Cutie's Plans again.

This is such a good, soulful, clean-sounding kind of album. And great for overcast breezy days.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Rainbow Quartz showcase (SXSW 2007)

I wanted to catch one showcase (Rainbow Quartz) and one band in particular (Youth Group) as part of the South by Southwest 2007 (SXSW).

I did catch Youth Group, but other than preceding band Gasoline Cowboy, I missed the other bands -- which sucks, because I really wanted to see them. Note to self: Find new music buddies.

But Gasoline Cowboy was good, and I liked them.

I liked Youth Group a lot, and their set was amazing. I dig passion and poetry in lyrics.

The venue was no-cover Latitude 30, which sounds good, until you realize at 1 a.m. most people at a no-cover venue are there to hang out and drink, and aren't there for the bands. So there were some seriously discourteous folks there. Which was too bad.

But the space is interesting, and the two bands I got to hear are great.

And I know the others, so you should check them out, too -- here's the full-showcase lineup:

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Arcade Fire

Is there anything from Arcade Fire I don't like?

Not so far.

And the new album comes out soon. Though, through various weirdness, you can basically get the whole thing -- legitimately -- online already. I'm too lazy to pull all of those links for you. So I'll let you do the work.

Friday, January 26, 2007

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture (vol. 1 & 2)

I'm a big fan of this film, and think it represents Leonardo DiCaprio's most daring work to that point.

So when was doing a clearance on the 1996 versions of the William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture, Volume 2, I grabbed both of them.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture:

The first album (a soundtrack, really), has got great stuff from Garbage ("#1 Crush"), early, dada-esque Everclear ("Local God"), solid track from The Cardigans (Lovefool), and the way under-rated Stina Nordenstam ("Little Star"). Oddly, only the love song theme from the movie from Des'ree ("Kissing You") leaves me a bit cold.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet: Music From The Motion Picture, Volume 2:

I hate this album. Freaking passionately.

Not because of the content -- that's actually amazing. We're talking phenomenal instrumentals intro'ed or outro'ed or overlayed with actual Shakespearean dialog from the film, which is a cool device.

The problem is this is one of the most poorly mixed professional albums I own. I have a lot of music, and this and another album have the same problem. I have to turn up the volume to catch some of the whispered, dialog, then have my eardrums virtually (literally) ruptured by the next track.

This forces me to work the volume nob constantly between tracks, rather than be able to sit back and enjoy the powerful, heady stuff. I've been trying to normalize the volume on my digital jukebox without ruining the songs, which is not going well. There's a decibel differential of 12 to 28dB (the biggest differential of any album I own), sometimes back-to-back, causing me aural pain and putting my speakers at risk. Normalizing the tracks as a batch is alternately muddying their sound or causing clipping problems.

I'm ticked that I have to spend so much time to make an album I bought listen-able. And I do a fair amount of sound work.

Again, the content is (for me) amazing, with (for me) only the "The Montague Boys" track feeling a little off.

But the technical side will keep from letting this disc live in my CD player for weeks on end, which I think it would have otherwise.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Orphans (Tom Waits)

Tom Waits and Nick Cave are two of my favorite musical artists, and when the 3-disc Orphans compilation came out in December, I snagged a copy as part of my year-end shopping binge (I've been a good boy this year).

Each disc has a different flavor, with Brawlers being uptempo, non-Latin bragadocio; Bawlers has ballads; and Bastards is, uh, all over the place (the editorial review calls it "a funhouse of angular characters, spiky anecdotes, shaggy dogs ..." -- I'm good with that).

These songs are things that were done outside of core Tom Waits projects, or songs that didn't fit on targeted albums. While this could at best be a recipe for a vapid release (or at worst, a death knell for listability), this may be one of Waits's best albums.

The songs are soulful, moody, poetic, spoken word, quirky, playful, dark, dogmatic -- you name it, and you're likely to find the deep emotions thorughout the album. And even the fun surface stuff isn't superficial.

Great album. Listen to some clips on -- then buy the album somewhere once you're sold on how great it is.

Tom Waits should do music with Danny Elfman on a Tim Burton film. And I should be in the film. My head would probably explode. But it would be worth it.