Gilded Lilies b-w Young, Wild & Free

New Single

We’re back, and you can’t stop us! We released a new single yesterday, and Slitzky has once again emblazoned the work with the “doesn’t suck” stamp he keeps right next to the Neve master bus. Bastard.

Sidle over to KellerGlass.com or to our bandcamp page to take a listen and, y’know, support the cause. Niles is looking mighty thin these days.

Gilded Lilies

This outing’s eponymous effort is a slow burner called “Gilded Lilies.”

OK, so what’s it about?

I think often these days about Samuel Clemens, the man who coined the term “Gilded Age” and who described it with unparalleled mirth. But it is his very early career that fascinates me the most, his time on the river, and those first steps away from that river and towards the sunset, a literate man traveling westward amid the spectacular vistas of the Great American Desert.

I wonder what Sam would have thought of our own times, and I wonder at savagery with which he would have tormented the politicians of our age. It also saddens me to reflect on how familiar our current politics would be to him; fear of foreigners who don’t share our religion or way of life; the complicated and sometimes volatile relationship between white and black citizens; the ever-changing role of women in our society; oligarchs and their seeming lock on political power; debate about the role of America’s military might in the world; the sense that there is decay at the core of the great American experiment, but little agreement about where it lies or what its remedy might be.

But it’s nice also to think of him before all of that, after he’d left his riverboat career and was beginning to make his way across the short grass prairies, carrying with him the stories of his time on the river which would soon launch his career and provide him his new name. I imagine him as a young man with dark hair and a shaggy mustache, sitting on a wagon, enjoying a “rank old pipe” beneath a sunset that he must have thought was as iridescent and impossibly huge as the American experience itself.

“Gilded Lilies” is kind of about that… I guess.

This tune was tricky to record. Unlike a lot of the electric material we’ve recorded recently, this song required tracking multiple acoustic instruments in the same room. Also unlike most of our material, this song required overdubs of instruments that we had already recorded in our annual winter recording session.

The final iteration features Dan Sauve-Rogan, Niles Krieger, and David Slitzky playing live together, with my parts layered in later. I tracked the guitar in my home library late at night, as my wife slept upstairs and my dogs napped in the adjacent room, occasionally lifting their heads to peer through the glass French doors as I labored into a microphone, a glass of bourbon bearing witness on the desk.

We take these things for granted now, but I still marvel that we can play at different times and produce a piece of music that occurs in a single time and space. It’s black magic. And, to the extent that it works artistically, it is due to the awesome skill that David Slitzky has brought to bear on this project, and to the unique relationship that we, the players, have built over the years. It works because it is planned and executed carefully, and because, even separated by time and space, we can anticipate each others’ playing in an intuitive way. I’m grateful for all of it.

Oh, and we recorded a cover. Slitzky’s calling it his magnum opus. You be the judge.

A Plea

Not guilty!

I jest. If you’ve read this far, and you’ve listened to this music, then I think I can assume you like what we’re doing. Do me a favor, think of someone you know who likes this kind of music and point them our way.

This is a bootstrap project. No labels. No A&R. It’s just us working our tails off between our day jobs. We’re going to keep doing this as long as the muse visits, but the only prayer of us ever bringing in a few shekels for our efforts is for word to spread.

So please, help us spread the word.
Thank you,
Keller

Over the Battlements b-w Kids

New Single

Hope everyone had a delightful winter break. The last time we sent a single out, there had recently been an election, and so too we now find ourselves releasing music amid the wake of a major event. Suspicious though it may seem, I assure you that such overlaps are entirely coincidental.

None-the-less, we have a single. Our fearless leader, Slitzky, assures me that this recording, “doesn’t suck.” High praise from a man who can’t stand U2. Ask him about it.

Over the Battlements

And with that observation in mind, we now turn to the lyrical content of this particular piece, and so return to one of my more uplifting preoccupations: the trenches of WWI.

Astute listeners will note the odd time signature, which I derived by repeatedly botching a riff while trying to write a Son Volt inspired rock anthem. Most of the song is in 7/4, which is a tough time signature to play in; you constantly feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you. 7/4 has a fine tradition in rock music, most notably “Money” by Pink Floyd and “Solsbury Hill” by Peter Gabriel, but it is unusual and examples are far and few between.

I landed, somewhat accidentally, on this rhythm and thought it would be the perfect backdrop for some thoughts on the horrors experienced by soldiers in war. In my few conversations with veterans about their wartime experiences, I always get a sense of unending tension, interminable stretches of boredom broken by moments of existential terror. I get the sense that the “breaks” are preferable to the monotony, which may go some way toward explaining why some vets find it difficult to transition back to a stable (boring) domestic life.

The western front of WWI seems a particular brand of horror to me; a confined, sodden, semi-subterranean existence punctuated by suicidal forays into all manner of poison and eviscerating obstacles and projectiles. Is it any wonder, then, that the shock of this event cast such a long shadow? From Tolkien’s devilishly mechanized orcs to the rise of Fascism, we see that anyone placed in that situation would question the fundamental truth of their reality.

And so the protagonist of this song, an American Marine, lands in the trenches and oscillates between observations on the absurdity of his position and questions about his seemingly inevitable demise. His sentiment gradually moves from the soldier’s spirit de corps to existential crisis.

I suppose my takeaway from all of this is that we should think very carefully about what could be worth subjecting people to this, and also that we should try, at times, to see the world through the eyes of those who have been through these experiences, both to learn more about them, and possibly, to learn more about ourselves.

This track features the usual cast of characters; Dan Sauve-Rogan, David Slitzky, Niles Krieger, This Guy; as well as a really moving part by Will Violette on Rhodes piano and B3 organ. Will did some work with me on Mobjack and a few other projects here and there, but he’s been kind enough to start sitting in on our annual winter tracking sessions on the regular, for which we are endlessly grateful.

Kids

For our semi-monthly cover song, we selected Kids by MGMT. I’ve always thought that this song was deeper than the bubble-gum EDM it’s associated with. It has an elegant structure, a deceptively simple melody, and a compelling narrative for those who care to stop and listen to the lyrics.

My favorite elements of this particular production are Rob Ashley’s ethereal backing vocals and Dan Sauve-Rogan’s earthy bass line. Niles’ fiddle and guitar parts are similarly delicious, and Slitzky once again turns in a performance with Helmsian subtlety.

Tracking Notes

We got together for our annual recording session in late December and, once again, far exceeded our expectations in terms of both quantity and quality. Assuming our semi-monthly release schedule, we now have enough material to continue through 2018. That’s not a typo; we will be releasing new material every other month for at least the next two years.

Needless to say, we’re ecstatic! Overdubs, mixing and mastering continue apace, but the short story is that this project is officially a going concern. Tell your friends…

Keep your ear to the ground for the next release, and in the meantime, send this one along to anyone who you think would enjoy.

Thank you,
Keller

By the by, my wife Kathy informs me I used the word “existential” twice in this email.

Ununskewing the Polls

Well, it’s been a hell of a week. Like everyone else in the country, the Caddywhompus staff watched in rapture as the results came in Tuesday night.

ABC, 10:12 PM – “Surprising news coming in from Michigan now, it looks too close to call. This was supposed to be a solid Clinton state. Let’s throw it over to our polling expert, Nate Silver. Nate, what are we seeing here?”

Nate, “So far we’re seeing about a 2% error in the polls, and no doubt, Hillary Clinton is in serious trouble in the electoral college.”

Despair sets in. Most of us fear the return of a 5-4 conservative court, trade wars with our largest trading partner, summary execution of journalists, Rudy Gulianni in any position of power, cats and dogs living together; mass hysteria.

Our mail room guy, Biff, on the other hand, is kicking himself for telling Chris Christie to fuck himself when he took the last hotdog in line at a Country Buffett a month ago. “I was in line for a cabinet position for sure,” he said. “Department of the Interior maybe, who knows?”

“Department of taking it up the Interior, maybe,” our CIO, Dave, chimes in.

Around midnight, something in the coverage catches our attention in a big way. Er’… a bigly way.

NBC, 12:03 AM – “Again, Trump is consistently overperforming his poll numbers. We’re seeing a consistent error in the polls, especially in swing states. This is particularly surprising given the numbers we were seeing out of Knudson Polling, Inc. over the past few months.”

“What the fuck did he just say?!” Dave screeches.

The CIO immediately runs to our server room to check the DNS server address for KnudsonPollingINC.com. Sure enough, it’s registered to our company address.

We run, panicked, to Knudson’s office. Locked. We kick in the door.

The window is open, drapes waving in a soft breeze, walls covered with spreadsheet print outs, red lines in lipstick running from one sheet to another, steak knives plunged into the walls at odd intervals, the words “ununskewing the polls” written over and over again on every visible surface, and, in the corner, a tall rack of servers blinking at us to the beat of a nation’s broken heart.
 
Concerned,

The Interns

Huge

It’s been unusually quiet around here… too quiet.

Biff’s back in the mail room, claiming to have given up politics for good. “Really really unfair,” he says mournfully to water cooler passers by, “I can’t be expected to give consistent answers to straightforward questions day after day; it’s not in my nature. Terrible!”

True enough. Last week we asked Biff the whereabouts of a large shipment we were expecting. “I’ve been told by some of my associates, great people by the way, that the order you are referring to was already delivered, but that if it hadn’t been, I would have delivered it myself and made FedEx pay for it. Tremendous.”

“What’s tremendous?”

“The job I’m doing delivering these shipments. Nice.”

“But, you didn’t deliver the shipment. That’s why we’re talking to you right now.”

“Which shipment? Huge.”

“The big one that was supposed to come in last week? Where is it?”

“Big? Like huge?”

“Well… I guess.”

“How huge?”

“I don’t like where this conversation is going.”

“yyyuuuuuuuugggee!”

This isn’t funny any more.

Concerned,
The Interns

It was Agnew, all Agnew…

Well, our mail room manager, Biff Singleton, didn’t make the top ten; quite surprising, really, when you consider that he accounts for over 50% of the cumulative IQ score of the “kids table.” His numbers are so low, in fact, that he may well be relegated further to the third-tier “kindertable” with Rick Perry and Jim Gilmore.

Biff held a press conference yesterday to denounce the statistical basis of the debate roster selection process as “biased and unfair,” then suggested the more sensible approach would be to simply have a one-on-one debate between Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and himself.

Mortimer Knudson, CPA is lobbying Biff hard for a cabinet position, drawing on his experience in foreign policy as his main selling point.

Our Office Manager, Jen, is having none of it, “Getting caned in Singapore does not count as foreign policy experience.”

“Oh no? How the hell do you think Nixon was so effective as a crime-fighter? Because he knew the minds of his adversaries…” he hissed, tapping his temple with his index finger to indicate exactly where the mind is located.

“Crime-fighter? What was he, the Caped Dick?”

“Don’t you talk about President Nixon like that! Don’t you do it!” Mortimer screamed, slamming his fist on conference room table, then blubbering softly into his buttoned-down, periwinkle blue dress shirt, “he was a great man…” After an awkward silence, Mortimer burst into tears and ran from the room as he whimpered, “he never should have resigned. It was Agnew, all Agnew…”

Mortimer Knudson, CPA spent the rest of the day in the fetal position under his desk. Presumably, the audits can wait.

Concerned,
The Interns

Shenanigans

In a brilliant legal shenanigans, we were able to pass off not only the disappearance of the company’s computers, but also the chemical mess in the lounge (including Mortimer’s fish stock) as a natural disaster. The main hurdle was to get around the insurance company’s definition of “force majeure” by sending Mortimer Knudson, CPA to their office. They called us once Mr. Knudson had eaten through the better part of their drapes and floral arrangements to ask that someone kindly stop by to pick him up, at which point we noted that a more focused definition of the aforementioned legal hurdle might speed our arrival.

We received the full claim in our accounts within five minutes and had Mr. Knudson safely back on our premises within the hour.

Also this week, our mail room manager, Biff Singleton, announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination, citing his outsider status as his main qualification. He laid forth several interesting policy positions: building really great walls, extending food stamps to those making more than $300,000 per year, defending the Constitution by changing it, and a rotating first lady position. The majority opinion among the staff is that the final point is what attracted him to the race to begin with.

Our CIO, Dave, pointed out that Biff may have some difficulty differentiating himself from the field, to which Biff replied, “if those Yankees are too stupid to tell a bona fide patriot such as myself from a damned football field, then to hell with them!”

We will keep you apprised of Biff’s progress in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Concerned,

The Interns

There’s Gold In Them Thar’ Computers

You can practically taste the can-do-it-ness around here. Freedom and liberty are in the air. Of course, that could be the fish stock that Mortimer’s been brewing in the company kitchen for two weeks, but there definitely is a whiff of fraternité wafting in on the winds of patriotism… as long as you don’t use too many Frenchy-sounding words to describe it; especially égalité.

We had a difficult morning meeting as our CFO, Mortimer Knudson CPA moved that we begin each work day with the pledge of allegiance, which in and of itself isn’t so bad, except that he also insisted that the pledge be amended to finish “with liberty and justice for all, and for the purity of essence of our bodily fluids.”

We voted down the motion by a slim margin. Mortimer spent the remainder of the meeting muttering “peace on Earth, purity of essence, peace on Earth, purity of essence” under his breath, which led some of us to believe that this was the real reason behind his memo last week urging all employees to change their passwords to “POE.” Luckily Dave, our CIO, put a stop to that.

Dave also took charge of the company BBQ after he discovered that the charcoal that the mysterious Department of Creative Acquisitions procured for the occasion was, if fact, manufactured in Brazil. He instead pulled out three Power Mac G5s that we had lying around and removed the fans and heatsinks, which provided enough heat to cook 30 lbs of hamburger meat in under 20 minutes. One of the interns protested that a) the computers were not made in America either and b) that overheating a device made of lead, zinc, beryllium, tantalum and gold to cook food probably isn’t a good idea.

“Wait, there’s gold in these things?”

Within two hours, the company lounge was wall-to-wall with vats of muriatic acid containing the remains of every computer the company owns. We had to go to the library to finish this newsletter.

Pray the price of gold holds.

Concerned,

The Interns

General

Newsletter, huzzah!

Hi all,

We thought it would be a good idea to get a newsletter going to keep y’all abreast of developments as Keller, Niles and Slitzky get material together; sort of like a journal. Keller thinks it will confuse everyone more than it helps, but that’s just, like, his opinion… so here we go.

The first single did better than we expected, so we decided to add some staff. The day after we posted the CFO position, we arrived at work in the morning to discover Mortimer Knudson CPA sitting on a milk crate in front of our offices.

For those of you not familiar with poor Mortimer: Keller formerly employed Mr. Knudson as the CFO of Caddywhompus Productions when the company based itself in the thriving metropolis of Easthampton, CT and when it derived most of its revenue from the mysteriously-named Department of Creative Acquisitions. Mr. Knudson’s tenure at Caddywhompus came to an abrupt end when allegations surfaced that he had funneled company funds into and Iran-Contra-like scheme supporting punk musicians in Nicaragua. We also suspect that was him behind the interns’ adverse possession claim on lobby of the building; however, we were never able to find an air-tight paper trail.

Caddywhompus Productions simply vacated the building and left Mortimer and the interns to dispute ownership of the lobby with the building’s owners.

Mortimer was last seen in Iowa purchasing a corn dog while caucusing in support of Rick Santorum in 2012. When spotted he shouted, “ThEy HaTe ChRiStEnDoM!!!” and vanished into the inky shadows of the conference room.

At any rate, we had to hire him back because of a wrongful termination suit that he filed several weeks ago in which he claimed that we are the successor company to Caddywhompus (which technically became an entirely new entity when it entered into the wedding business) and that we are responsible for several years worth of federal income taxes which were not withheld from his pay.

The tax thing is true, of course, but only because of an accounting error by then-CFO, Mortimer Knudson CPA. The judge was unmoved and ordered us to hire him back the moment he resurfaced. His first act as CFO of KellerGlass.com was to make fish stock in the company kitchen.

So, Mortimer is back, the newsletter is up and running, and Keller is working on a new single for next month.

Stay tuned,
The Interns

 

New Website and New Single – Pigeon Song

After taking a little time off from my band Mobjack, I’ve decided to dust off some older recordings and to start tracking some newer pieces and releasing whatever comes of it.  The plan is to put out a song or two every couple of months until y’all tell me to stop or until the well runs dry.

The new website is KellerGlass.com (clever, right?) and the new single is on the music tab. You can purchase through that page, which will link you BandCamp where the single is hosted.

This single was recorded with some buddies over New Years weekend 2013-2014.  Niles Krieger, David Slitzky, Dan Sauve-Rogan and Justin Tosti were all on-hand to deliver a boozy interpretation of some songs I’d cooked up over the proceeding months. It is Niles’ professional opinion that these do not suck, and I put a good deal of stock into, well, not all, but a good many of his judgements.

A brief disclosure: you’re getting this email because you were on the Mobjack email list which I unceremoniously raided in the dead of night. Which is to say, if you’re not interested in awesome alternative Americana-roots-rock or whatever, I won’t hold it against you.  There’s an unsubscribe button at the bottom: you’ll never hear another peep out of me.

Except for you, Mom; you have to listen whether you like it or not.

Thank you all for listening and for your support; it means the world to me.

More soon,
Keller

Music

Top 5 Songs With Weird Time Signatures

I love odd time signatures. They’re a great way to take a conventional music form and shake it up a bit, shift the audience out of their comfortable listening. I’ve used them on several of my own tracks, usually tucked into parts of songs to break up the groome. See if you can spot the time changes in these pieces:

And, for the sake of heading a few objections off at the pass: yes, I’ve heard Dream Theater. No, I don’t think they’re awesome. It’s not enough to chart out a series of random time changes and play them back like a computer chomping down on a punch card (if you’re under the age of 40 and don’t know what a punch card is, look it up, you’ll laugh). Music needs to swing, regardless of the meter.

With that said, here are my top five songs in weird time signatures:

7/4 – “Money” – Pink Floyd

Probably the top-charting song of all time that no one even noticed was in a non-standard meter.  Legend has it that Roger Waters recorded the initial sound recordings in his garden shed and cut them up into 7 equal lengths of audio tape, then taped them into a continuous loop which was fed through a tape machine and around a mic stand; pretty ingenious. The effects were played back to the band during initial tracking, making “Money” one of the first songs recorded to a “click” track.

I love that the song goes back to 4/4 for the guitar solo. It’s a decision that speaks to the use of time as a tool to achieve a particular end, rather than being a shtick around which to build pieces. It balances out the oddness of the main body of the piece with pure rock-n-roll, enhanced by cutting all the effects when they return to the main riff in the bridge, and then bringing all the lush reverbs and delays back in with the 4/4 beat to round out the bridge.

5/4 – “My Wave” – Sound Garden

A quintessentially Sound Garden piece. The band claims that they did not intentionally write in different meters and, given how their odd-time pieces feel, I totally believe it. I didn’t realize this song wasn’t in 4/4 until I tried to play it and kept getting tripped up.

Matt Cameron is, of course, legendary for his mind-bending ability to move in and out of different meters without “winking at the camera” as it were. The time sense that he rocked out in Soundgarden followed him to his new gig with Pearl Jam.

Honorable mention to “The Day I Tried to Live” in 15/4, usually counted as a bar of 7/4 followed by two bars of 4/4.

7/4 – “Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel

Another song in 7/4. Each chorus is punctuated at the end with two bars of 4/4 which enhances the lyrics greatly as Gabriel intones “they’ve come to take me home!”

9/8 – “Blue Rondo à la Turk” – Dave Brubek Quartet

Most people would probably put “Take Five” in this slot, and I get why. It’s the piece on Time Out that really drove home the concept of the album, namely that jazz could be played in meters other than four with a swing. But, I’ve always thought that “Take Five” sounded a little forced, like Brubek was trying to prove it could be done.

“Blue Rondo,” on the other hand, sounds utterly playful. Where “Five” can be grinding, “Blue Rondo” shows Brubek and saxophonist Paul Desmond playing with the odd 2-2-2-3 break down of 9/8 and work in traditional 4/4 solos, giving the piece the feeling of having classical movements.

10/4 – “Everything in its Right Place” – Radiohead

Radiohead are certainly no strangers to weird time signatures, but “Everything in its Right Place” stands alone by combining a strange meter with an EDM groove, and making it work. EDM is notorious for its use of standard preferences in DAW software, meaning much of it is produced in the key of C, most of it is at 120 beats per minute, and damn near all of it is in 4/4. Kid A broke the mold in many ways, and from the first beat in “Everything in its Right Place” you knew you were hearing something totally new, no small feat in the already fragmented music scene of 2000.

A discussion of Radiohead weird time signatures would be incomplete without mentioning “Pyramid Song.” This is basically an exercise in polyrhythm. It’s a repeating pattern of 16 beats and there are many theories as to how those 16 beats should be broken up ranging from a repeating 8-note patterns of 3-3-2 to a repeating 16-note pattern of 5-4-4-3.  I find that the easiest way to count it is two bars of 5/4 followed by two bars of 3/4. However it’s actually metered out, it is a singular display of virtuosity that Tom Yorke can sing and keep that time straight in his head at the same time.