Thursday, July 30, 2015

Blog Birthday

Today, this blog turns three years old. Can you believe it? Happy birthday, blog!
This blog's very first post, on July 30, 2012, was titled "Discovering Bands." Appropriately, the same friend who turned me on to In This Moment and B'z back in those days recently introduced me to a relatively recent Japanese phenomenon that I talked about a couple of weeks ago - "kawaii metal," or cute-metal.

My absolute favorite artist to emerge out of this movement so far has been an act called Fruitpochette. They're not really a band - they basically consist of two anime-worthy girl singers, a bunch of virtuoso studio musicians, and some incredibly talented outside songwriters - but the music they produce has really melted my face. So much so, that I've spent seventy bucks buying their seven-song EP and debut full-length album.
Seriously, I've been listening to that EP three times a day, or more. Like a friend once told me, "you don't care about a lot of stuff, but the stuff you do care about, you care about a lot." Indeed.

Anyhoo, this blog's birthday isn't the only reason to celebrate - I also finished the revisions for Book Two! After one more read-through, I'll be turning in the draft to my editor in a few days. Really excited. With any luck, this thing just might see the light of day before the end of the year. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Stuff That Is Happening

As we speak, Second Player Score is in the middle of two days in the studio. Drum tracks were laid down yesterday, and we'll be doing guitars, bass and vocals today.
Also, DJ Kyelzbub will be broadcasting his radio show live in the recording studio tonight from 6-8pm Pacific Time! He'll be featuring bands that have been recorded by our awesome engineer, Stephan Hawkes, at Interlace Audio. Be sure to check it out!

Then, after a recovery day tomorrow, I'll be at the 7th Annual NW Book Festival this Saturday from 11am to 5pm Pacific Time, along with some of my fellow authors from the Northwest Independent Writers Association.
It'll be at Pioneer Courthouse Square in downtown Portland, and we're in Booth 10. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Status Updates

Album Two Update: Boot Camp for "Deep" is done. Finishing Boot Camp for "Comets" this weekend. Recording still scheduled for next week. Super stoked.
DJ Kyelzbub recording his vocals for the "Deep" boot camp demo while I stand around wondering what's for dinner
Book Two Update: Re-writes are 90% complete. I've contacted my editor to let her know it's coming soon. Super stoked.
Video Game Update: Team Cat lost to Team Dog in the 4th of July Splatfest, even though Team Cat won more matches. Not stoked. Up to level 18 now. Signed up for Team Water Slide for this weekend's Splatfest. I can only play this game for around thirty minutes at a time before I get burnt out, so I found a new hidden gem to take up the time in between: High Strangeness.
So far, this game is like Zelda-lite with a dash of Earthbound-style humor thrown in, which means I totally love it. The 8-bit/16-bit switching thing is very reminiscent of the 2-D/3-D flipping technique in Super Paper Mario or the wall-merging ability in A Link Between Worlds, which is really cool. The puzzles are straightforward and relatively simple, which is good for players like me who have to resort to using walkthroughs to solve the more complex ones in the Zelda series.

TV Update: The new episode of Gravity Falls, "A Tale of Two Stans," aired on Monday. Watched it, came away super stoked.
Daughter and I loved that Ford was voiced by the same guy who did Tenzin in Legend of Korra (and yes, I know that he's done some other stuff, as well). Spent too much time afterwards geekily trying to reconcile the timeline with all of the characters' ages (if Shermy - Dipper and Mabel's grandfather - was an infant when Ford and Stan were seniors in high school, then that means he would have been around twenty-nine when the twins were born??)

Music Fanboy Update: My good buddy from Hawaii turned me on to something cool going on in Japan called "kawaiimetal", or cute-metal. This is when you take the sugary-sweet vocals and choreographed dance routines of J-pop (Japanese pop music) and forcibly graft it onto brutal, face-destroying metal riffage. The result is something like this.
P.S. I bought their album.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Internet Radio

My band, Second Player Score, owes a lot of its success so far to the awesome Internet radio stations that have been supporting us and playing our music ever since our first album, Fortress Storm Attack, came out last November.
For those of you who don't know, Internet radio is a great place to hear unsigned and indie bands that are just as good, if not better than, anything else that is out there right now. So today, I'd like to recognize a few of those stations and suggest that you give them a listen....

Neue Regel Radio
Awesome DJs, great people, and a killer mix of alternative and indie music. They are so cool that they even decided to give a job to my drummer (that's him in the picture above). Be sure to check out his debut show tonight from 6-8pm Pacific Time!

Anarchy Radio
Local Portland legends. Some of you may recall that we played at their 3rd birthday party back in May.

Code Zero Radio
New Rock for New Radio, as they say. I bet you'll never guess who's on their Artist Spotlight right now...go on, guess! Or just go and check out their site right now.

XRP Radio
Awesome UK-based station playing the best in unsigned and indie music. Oi! Give it a listen!

Boston Rock Radio
There are so many cool things about Boston that I don't even know where to start. Oh wait, I know, how about this radio station.

Open The Door Radio
Just look at that picture. How can you not love it?

Portland Radio Project
More local Portland goodness. For those of you in this area, they are also on the FM dial at 99.1.

A few more awesome stations:

The Quinn Spinn

Rockers Dive Radio
IAAM Radio
The Irish Jinger Show on W4CY Radio
We did a live interview on this show recently. Salmon pizza rules!

Anyway, don't forget to tune in to DJ Kylezbub's show tonight - I'll be in the chat room, causing general chaos and mayhem....

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Spectraland Saga: Origin Story, Part Two

Catch yourself up with the Origin Story by reviewing Part One here.

By June 2010, I had drafted 5500 words that made up the first three chapters of my fledgling story. The first half of chapter one was the deleted scene with Mitch that I shared with you last week, and the remainder of the chapter included characters named Dave (Joel's friend), Clarissa (Joel's crush), Dad (Joel's dad), and Taylor (Joel's sister).
The early beginnings of what became "A Bad Day" (the final version of Book One, Chapter One) could be seen not only in Joel's confrontation with Mitch, but in his other interactions as well: he wanted to start up a band, but Dave didn't play a musical instrument; he was supposed to work on a science project with Clarissa, but she flaked out on him at the last minute; he wanted to just relax when he got home, but he had to help Taylor make a computer-animated version of something called "Cutey the Lovecat" (yes, I really did write that). As anyone who has read Book One knows, Joel's problems eventually became a lot more serious by time I finished the actual story.

In this early draft, Joel just wanted to escape from everything, so he ended up writing a song on the spot that included lyrics about going to a different world. This song, when he played it, was what transported him to the place that eventually evolved into Spectraland.

Once he got there at the beginning of chapter two, he ran into a dog and a cat, both the size of adult humans, who said things to him like "Eezleprogren! Arma boolie sten-sten?" and "Gilthen aboo larma. Orbo jameely gooten groh." I am not kidding. Also, get this: the dog was named "Cain," and the cat was named "Felicity." I believe may have mentioned something about that before. Basically, the only things that survived from that scene were Felicity's name and the fact that music had magical properties.
Anyway, Cain and Felicity were pretty suspicious of Joel, what with him being this ape-like alien and all, so they took him to see...the Mayor (ooo). Oh, what the heck, here's an excerpt:

"Hmm," Cain frowned. "Let's take him to the Mayor."
Felicity nodded at Cain in agreement. "This is quite confusing for us as well," she said, turning to Joel. "I think we all have a lot of questions for each other."
Joel rolled his eyes [ed.: seriously? Joel would never do this now]. "Yeah, you think?"
Felicity made a little growling noise. Apparently, she understood sarcasm.
"Let's head over to the Town Hall," Cain said. "We can talk more on the way there."
"Sure, why not, might as well check out more of this crazy place before I wake up," Joel muttered as he moved to pick up his guitar [ed: the final version of Felicity seemed to have absorbed a lot of her personality from the old version of Joel].
* RRING * A loud chord sounded from Felicity's harp, and a flash of red light burst from its strings, knocking Joel's guitar out of his reach.
"Whoa, wow!" Joel shouted as he jumped back. "Okay, what was that about? I was just trying to get my guitar."
"Should we let him have it?" Felicity asked Cain. " Could be dangerous."

Anyway, that's enough of that for now. More to come!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Guest Post #5: Felicity's Desert Island Discs

(While Brian takes another week off from the blog to work on Book Two, Felicity fills in once again.)

Hey, so, yeah, I'm back. Can you believe it's been over a month since I last filled in for the guy who normally writes this blog? Actually, to be honest, I could've used a little more time off - I mean, c'mon, it's summertime - but, well, whatever, I guess. He promised that he'd have the latest draft of "Book Two" (again, I have no idea what that is) done by early August and that afterwards, he wouldn't bug me and Joel again for a while, so I'm gonna hold him to that.

Okay, so I really had no idea what to talk about today. When I asked that dude for suggestions, he said something about "Desert Island Discs," which, I guess, is like a list of albums that you would want to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island. I think that idea came from a radio show on BBC, or maybe even a place called "Tower Records," but, well, who really cares, right? The bottom line is that it gives me something to ramble on about for a few paragraphs so that I can get this post over with and go back to playing Portal 2 - um, I mean, doing some random girlie thing, like, uh, I dunno, shopping for shoes, I guess? Ick. Anyway, here we go....

DID #5 - Strung Out, Blackhawks Over Los Angeles
Okay, if you guys haven't heard of this band, you seriously need to check them out. They're kind of technical, meaning they're really good musicians, and I know that people are sometimes turned off by that kind of thing (the people who like simple 3-chord stuff), but believe me, the songwriting is really good, too. Their earlier albums were kinda straight-up hardcore punk, but as they went along, they added a lot more melodic and metal elements, which really helped to define their sound and make them a band that is totally worth listening to. No sarcasm there, honestly.

DID #4 - Iron Maiden, Piece Of Mind
Yeah, all right, I like Maiden, just like Joel. But, I mean, can you blame us? C'mon, who doesn't love "The Trooper"? But it's not only that song, this whole album seriously kicks so much butt. Along with everything else that this band produced. At least, up until their eighth album or so....

DID #3 - The Crash Engine, Extravagaria
I actually discovered this album by accident one day when I was snooping, I mean sifting, through Brian's CD collection. Did I really just call him Brian? Anyway, this is apparently some local Portland band that he played a show with a few years ago when he was in some other band called Council Crest, and when I listened to it, I was kinda impressed. Very strong songwriting that you don't hear a lot these days. I mean, anyone can be an awesome musician with so-so tunes (coughMarshallBylecough), but it takes some actual talent to produce music that connects with people on a real, honest emotional level. When I asked the blog-dude about them later, he mumbled something about going to see them at a local club and that they didn't play his favorite song so he was kind of put off by that, but who cares. Still a really good CD.

DID #2 - The Dambuilders, Encendedor
Joel actually turned me on to these guys. Something about they were a band that was originally from Hawaii...or, at least, two of their members were, and then they moved to Boston or something and got signed, and, well, anyway, this album is really pretty cool. I love the violin player and her singing/screaming deal, it's awesome. I don't understand a lot of their references, though. Like, what the heck is "Slo-Mo Kikaida"? Anyway, on to disc number one, which is...hey, you know, I just realized that this whole backwards countdown thing is totally something that Joel would do - I think I might be hanging around that guy a little too much.

DID #1 - In This Moment, The Dream

I can just listen to this album over and over and over again. It's heavy, but melodic and emotional, and...I dunno, I don't have the right words to describe how freakin' awesome it is. Maria Brink is the best frontman ever.

So there you have it, my top five Desert Island Discs, or whatever, at least for this week. By next week, or maybe even by tomorrow, they may change, who knows. But at least I did my job and filled up some blog space - um, I mean, let you all know about some great music that you might not have heard of before, so go and check these albums out. Until next time, I'm Felicity Smith, and you're not.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Status Updates: Splatooooon!!

Video game update: Alert! Alert! We have a distraction! While Nintendo takes their sweet old time adapting Xenoblade X for the Western Hemisphere (RELEASE DATE ANNOUNCED ZOMGG!!!11!!), we finally found something to hold our attention temporarily, at least.
Splatoon is a simple, third-person shooter game that is like a twisted mix of paintball and Dynasty Warriors. I'll leave the official reviews to others, but suffice it to say that my daughter and I find this game to be a satisfactory time-waster in between our repeated binge re-watchings of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Our shared character is up to level 9, so we're still a relative newbie, but we hope to see you in one of the various arenas soon (we'll be the one with the paint roller).

Book Two Update: Over 2/3rds of the way done with re-writes. I'm very, very excited. If all goes according to plan (yes, I know I should stop saying things like that, but at this point I'm pretty much over the whole jinx thing), I should have a completed, revised draft sent in to my editor by early August. The journey continues, but the end is still in sight, and it will be very much worth it, believe me.

Band Update: We just played a really fun show at Shahanan's this past Saturday with Medium Size Kids and our usual gig-mates Stab In The Dark. Check out a live video sample here! As always, we had a great time. Much mahalos to Nate and everyone who came out to hang with us.
As you may already know, we're scheduled to hit the studio next month to record a couple of songs for our upcoming second album, so we'll be entering high-intensity Boot Camp Mode big time over the next few weeks. By the way, our drummer Kyle just landed an awesome DJ gig with Neue Regel Radio, so be sure to check him out when his show kicks off on July 9th!

Cat Update: Growing up fast and getting into all kinds of kitty mischief. Here's Boots having what looks like a really awesome cat-dream:
Wonder what he's dreaming about? Whatever it is, it must be good.