Mary be the one, unplug…

XMAS ’06 is nearing completion, with Scott’s sax added now to “O Come Thou Dayspring.”  I hope to get it out this weekend, and what happens tomorrow has a lot to do with that.  I also discovered a track recorded last year and saved, which I’d forgotten, called “What’s My Baby Want’n?”  So the new tracks will be:

5. O Come Thou Dayspring – howie&scott
6. What’s My Baby Want’n? – Tape/echoes
7. Jingle Bells – DJ Josh-O
8. Silent Night – Tape/echoes

Then, Sally Ride in another week or two.  Ack – Do you get sick of constant updates to the schedule?  Or is it cool to know where we’re at?


The best non-pumpkin-pie part of the Thanksgiving holiday was drumming with Ben (and Scott, and others who lent a hand: Nick, Kay, Mom…).  We circled up in the evenings in my living room with traditional Ewe drums, and just started in.  Sometimes Ben assigned rhythm parts to a few people, others times we just jammed.  Scottie got the sax out and did some improv, which was a big hit – I’m guessing Ben (my music teacher and choir-leader friend from Ghana, West Africa) had never heard anything quite like it.  We sang a couple traditional songs that I know/learned.

We also sang some hymns, some with drums and some without.  When the German Bremen missionaries first visited Ben’s area of Ghana in the 1800’s, they brought their hymn book and translated over 200 hymns into Ewe language.  Having grown up in churches, and being currently empolyed by one, many of the tunes are familiar to me.

You’ll be able to hear a little bit of all (traditional African music, new stuff inspired by traditional sounds, and hymns) on Sunday, January 21 when Ben is our guest artist for the morning at SPUCC in KC MO.

Akpe Ma Da Na Mawu

It’s late, I’d love to explain the title above (from Ben) or more about how Sally Ride / XMAS sound, and I will soon.

For now, just this; Katy did a brief analysis on the harmonies Cory and I sang for “David S. Addington and Your Democracy,” and it turns out we’re bitonal at least, maybe polytonal.  Which puts us in the company of some compositional greats.  Interpreted into Rock, that means “backup vocals so weird and awesome your brain will probably explode.”

Coming Soon to the internets near you…

A Bad Feeling About This

Cory and I recorded his parts for Sally Ride today.  It was rad.  We moved FuriousSound over to Jody’s attic (aka Where The Barbies Live) this morning, ran his guitars, then his vocals, then figured out what the hell to do with “Cause 2 B Uneasy.”  Cory’s ideas were amazing and added different colors to the songs.  It’s a rowdy, gnarly mess and we’re super stoked about it.  Serious mixing will begin after Thanksgiving and I expect it to go pretty quickly; we’ll have this puppy out before Christmas, I promise (and mean it).

This is the first time ever we’ve completed a recording project (meaning just Cory’s parts) is less time than planned – we’d figured on working tomorrow afternoon, but will be at Waldo Pizza instead. 

Off to the Hurricane for 5*C late show TONIGHT (one hour, about). -h


This is Cory please help.  Howie (“Master”) made me play “musik” all day and I only have so much time and please send help.  My fingers are all bloody and ruining his computer. 

Seriously though, I really need the police to come to arrest us FOR MURDER BECAUSE WE MURDERED THE CRAP OUTTA THEM TRAXXXX.  I will say that the mixes right now are out of control, but in a good way.  I mean, some of the crazy stuff will get toned down and maybe smoothed out a little bit but not too much because my fingers fell off.

All for now!

Forehead Typingly Yours,

Cory Alan

The Meaning of XMAS

First, a short PSA:

THANK YOU to the gracious, kind phone-answerers at apartment complexes across the KC metro over the past two days.  I am humbled by your patience with my efforts to extract information from you, offering no immediate benefit in return.  As long as we share such courtesy with each other, there is hope in the world.

Howie, C******* Real Estate (this week).


I was flipping through records at a thrift shop in Raytown last week, and was struck by the sheer volume of Christmas albums.  Probably 1/3 of the vinyl in the crates was holiday-related.  Why do artists make this music?  Why do people buy it, then get rid of it, in such great quantities?

And why would Mr. Furious even think about crashing that party?

With the release of our XMAS 2K6 fast approaching (three new tunes from Tape/echoes, DJ Josh-O, and howie&scott) I recognize that our effort may be in need of a defense.  Or justfication, at least.

Despite the superabundance of Christmas albums, the official holiday canon is restricted to about 30 old chestnuts, which is A) stifling, and B) threatens to strip these great tunes (Bing Crosby, etc.) of their meaning and effect through repetition.  XMAS is our attempt to create some diversity in your yuletide listening habits (but that’s the goal of every other record, too).

It’s hard to find “blue” Christmas music, sounds that express the sadness, loss, and darkness that accompany the season for all of us one year or another, if not always.  XMAS doesn’t shy away from that.

Most important to me is the contrast between what I percieved in the record bins as artless commercial product, and what I hope we can create – which is 100% free, in no way a commodity, and as artful as we are capable of.  I’ve written before about how being a netlabel, a “free record label,” changes something fundamental about the concept of “pop” music (which is necessarily commodified).

That’s the real meaning of XMAS.  Scraping away the commercialism, the religiosity, the cliches and the tired chords and the sentimentalism – salvaging and recasting a few of the old signs, and forging new works out of our own, true, experience of Christmas.  -h

Forced Vacuum

Don’t forget Sally Ride’s It’s A Trap Preview – click “|>”



From Ric Ocasek’s interview with The Onion A.V. Club,

AVC: It’s hard to pinpoint any hard influences on The Cars besides old-time rock and maybe krautrock. What were you listening to then?

RO: As a songwriter, oddly enough, my influences were people like Bob Dylan, The Velvet Underground, and Buddy Holly. Some psychedelic stuff, too. Back then, there wasn’t a lot of press on bands. There was Creem and Rolling Stone, and that was about it. There certainly wasn’t the Internet. You would stay in your basement and create something and then come out. You didn’t have anything to rub off on. You didn’t know what the band down the street was doing, because you couldn’t look it up, and you couldn’t see it on TV. I think people tended to come out with things that were different because they weren’t influenced by their environments as much. I find these days, you almost have to force yourself to stay in a vacuum to become different; if you really want to be different. Maybe you have to have something different inside of you as well.

I recognized something of myself, and of MFR, in what Ric is saying.  As much music as I listen to, I’m very isolated from the pop/rock of the moment – I’m six months behind on indie stuff at least, plus I listen to a lot of older music.  I’ve never been immersed in a scene, save the Crete scene which was only us.  And I my two experiences of real musical vacuum, in Ghana, were highly formative.

We were talking about folk music a while back, and there are some ways MFR functions as a tiny culture with its own indigenous music.  When it comes to Tape / echoes shows, I certainly treat it that way, mixing songs from all our artists AND their non-MFR projects!  Especially Cory and I, working together and also separately (but in parallel & conversation) – I think we’ve written and recorded ourselves out into a sort of vacuum; a bubble in which we have our own aesthetic dialect of pop/folk/rock.

That’s maybe what I most dig, and am most proud of, about this wild beast.  -h

It's A Trap Preview

These are rough mixes. Hope you enjoy a peek behind the curtain; I didn’t have anything worth saying this week. The clips are “Lookers,” “Holy Moses,” “Baby Bells on the Warpath For Profit,” and “New Slow Sea.”  Criticize gently. 


Sally Ride / It’s A Trap

1. Lookers
2. Cause 2 B Uneasy
3. Holy Moses
4. Baby Bells on the Warpath for Profit
5. “Organ”
6. Loose Lips Sink Ships
7. David S. Addington and Your Democracy
8. New Slow Sea
9. People Won’t Stand
10. Back in the Fire