dead professional - pillow talk + MFOA interview

virginia's dead professional has just released another of his studies in artful pop restraint, called 'pillow talk', and for the occasion, i thought i would ask him a few questions about the methods and plans that help achieve his brand of catchy musical asceticism.

MFOA - what is your recording setup like? i know that you have a lot of experience recording in real studios, like with the wolf parade folks. do you find that now with dead professional you have hit your mark with your home setup? a certain 'perfectionism' and cleanliness seems to be a big part of your aesthetic in dead professional and formerly in the cinnamon band. how do you feel about the differences between recording alone at home versus with a band in a conventional studio setting? does home recording help you achieve the aesthetic you are going for?

DP - yeah perfectionism is a good word for it. i can’t afford hours and hours of paid studio time and i hate subjecting other people to my endless tinkering and indecisive experimenting. so i really love being able to record alone. i’ve got an old low-end pro tools setup and i just record, edit and mix on my laptop until I’m satisfied. it think it works to a point but i’m not much of a techy. so i’d still love to get together with the right experienced engineer to really get it how i’d like it.

MFOA - i happened to observe some of your struggles trying to get a full length album 'right' by your own standards with the cinnamon band. i have noticed that with dead professional you have been releasing things one song at a time on soundcloud. is this going to be the dead professional way, or do you have plans for a full length record or physical goods in the near future?

DP - i’ve had a couple of theoretical albums that never saw the light of day with previous projects. it would be easy for me to disappear and work on some full-length dead professional opus for 10 years. but doing these small releases on a regular basis keeps me connected while i work on getting this new project off the ground. I do want to do a longer more traditional release soon. i’ve got songs. i’m just trying to get the stars to align a little first.

MFOA - you have said in other interviews that you strive to be a "songwriter's songwriter" along the lines of nick lowe or john prine. what aspects of the song do you focus on most when you sit down to write, in order to achieve this end?

DP - well, i love listening to songwriter’s songwriters. but striving to become one myself isn’t necessarily my primary goal. musically, i don’t think i ever do anything very surprising or sophisticated. i do aim for elegance i guess and some of my lyrics are clever. but i’d rather the listener be engaged by the content than impressed by the mechanics. i guess it comes down to tasteful editing. Nick Lowe and John Prine are certainly masters of that.

now on to what you all are waiting for, the new dead professional; a harmony laden, ronnettes 'be my baby' drum beat driven bittersweet confection 'about making a mess of things'. here's 'pillow talk'.

barry walker and the tanks - LTD

barry walker and the tanks are aptly named...this pacific northwest country rock quartet barrels through your speakers like a tank. the first song on this release, an original tune called 'LTD', is whistful yet full bore southern tinged rocker, reminiscent of the replacements or the drive by truckers and with a lot of noisy soloing ala tonight's the night era neil young. the second tune here is a similarly gritty version of 'no regrets', a tom rush song made famous by the walker bros. last is a live recording of townes van zandt's 'white freight liner'.

you can buy a full LP by the tanks for $15 from barry's own snake handler recordings, as well as a bunch of other interesting tunes, including the current project SPUR!. you can catch barry playing pedal steel in country band at portland's laurelthirst pub all october during saturday happy hours.

the barefoot band - the should've been tapes 9/25/13

i've posted about wyoming's the barefoot band before, and now this one-man-band is back with a solid live recording in the tradition of a bootleg tape that showcases his blend of hippy-styled acoustic folk with some loop pedal gymnastics. i enjoy the vocal melody of the original tune 'downtown' as well as the inclusion of the traditional number 'walkin cane'.

check out some more tunes by the barefoot band here.

summer blues

summer is ending i reckon. i haven't posted anything on here of my own doing in quite awhile so here are some blues songs a few friends and i recorded a month or two ago. they are about the two most coherent songs that came from a couple hours of fiddling around.

this post is kind of in the tradition of the "internet 45's" i used to post in the earlier days of MFOA. i also wanted to post this heavily "dylan-esque" song that i recorded quite awhile ago but kind of forgot about.

the modern folk music of america.

m mucci - dangerous summer

on 'dangerous summer', m. mucci of ontario, canada, creates extended explorations on 12 string acoustic guitar that explore the territory between american primitive, classical composition, and drone styles. with long songs or song suites and repeated themes, there is an eastern feel and ambiance that lends itself to meditation and reflection. the recording stands out due to the accompaniment of the archaic hurdy gurdy, a medieval stringed instrument that lends to the drone. it isn't surprising to find out that mucci has a day job tending to exotic plants in a university greenhouse. reminiscent of little known american primitive 12 string player suni mcgrath.

pick up this pretty album, as well as many older recordings, for $20 for the vinyl or $6 for the digital download (prices canadian) here. check out other m mucci projects and his radio show here at tall house recordings.

camellia sinensis - pregnant with the day

the latest track from new jersey folk singer camellia sinensis is a quiet, whistful lamentation moaned over subtle nylon stringed guitar. it represents the title track to a new album length project that should be done shortly. look forward to it.

get the previous camellia sinensis recordings here.

satellite high - stan spudowski (video)

satellite high's newest song and his music video debut. one of my favorite of his tunes yet, featuring his trademark wit and verbosity.

download satellite high albums for name-your-price here.

nick szydlowski - past the road

boston's nick szydlowski's (who also makes music under the name hotel universe) newest album 'past the road' is a heartfelt, urgently sung record of classic bedroom folk, in the tradition started by the likes of skip spence and nick drake and carried on by generations of four-trackers. the sound includes sparse fingerpicking, slight stabs of banjo, and electronic touches. the lyrics range from post-modernist rants to personal confessions but are always clever and thoughtful.

get it now as a name-your-price download here. check out some old recordings and other stuff from nick here.

lukas read - ramble man, ramble

lukas read's 'ramble man, ramble' is an amazing album of 'cosmic' country/americana...self produced and released, the album starts with two excellent, reverb and steel drenched lee hazlewood meets the byrds eccentric country ballads, then abruptly switches gears and delivers two cleanly plucked american primitive guitar meditations in the tradition of john fahey. the album veers back and forth between these two pleasant territories for the rest of it's 9 track length. despite the 60's icons i have compared it to, read's album has a contemporary edge as well that you will have to appreciate for yourself. highly recommended.

lukas read is based in austin, tx (that's really been a trend for MFOA lately) by way of pittsburgh, pa, so if you are in the lonestar state, look for him performing live. buy that thing for $5 on his bandcamp site and check out his tumblr for more info.

ben petersen - sandpaper

rarely have a i gotten such a low key email to let me know about a music video/song with such high production values. australian singer/songwriter ben petersen brings a melancholy love song with a whistful video to match, both of which are well put together.

considering these information drenched times, there is not much info to be found about ben petersen, and the rest of the youtube channel hosting this video seems to be comedy sketches. although the song seems sincere to me, it's ok if the joke's on MFOA, i'm happy to post this tune either way.

chris watkins~drunk poets

anchorage, alaska based chris watkins~drunk poets performs introspective singer/songwriterish acoustic rock, with a deep voice and a stirring strum, in the tradition of mid 90's folk-grunge. his latest album is called winter birds. check out the title track here.

head over to his soundcloud to check out the rest of the album and several others.

chilldog - shady grove and rosa lee mcfall

chilldog (@chilldog) is an entertaining tweeter, jam band enthusiast, and as i just found out, the producer of some pretty good versions of a selection of classic traditional appalachian folk songs. these are thrown down simply with garage band, a guitar and a well played mandolin. i'm a sucker for any rendition of shady grove, so i had to share these with you here on MFOA.

browse the rest of the chilldog's soundcloud for some other good covers including some choice grateful dead tunes as well as jimmy cliff's "the harder they come". interestingly, this is the third texas based musician i've posted about today.

sam hadfield - livin' with free livin' on my mind

sam hadfield is a somewhat laid back austin based singer/songwriter with a brand new album out for your listening pleasure. "livin' with free livin" on my mind" sounds like easy back porch pickin' type music, with minimal production that moves the proceedings right along under somewhat nasal yet pleasant singing and classic country themes, such as drinking and travelling.

buy the thing for $10 on the bandcamp as a download or a limited edition CD.

jones street station - perennials

jones street station created a cool story around their unique album perennials. recording a song a week for an entire year from separate locations, collaborating remotely, the band put together this massive 52 track monster which is available for free on their website. if listeners feel inclined to pay, the funds go to one of twelve charities. good music, good causes, massive effort. check it out below.

as for what the sound is like, hey, i've got a real job too, and this is a lot of songs to listen to. basically it's folk/rock/pop. check it out.

havilah tower - out to sea

out to sea is the debut recording from texas "classacoustic" (not my word haha) three piece havilah tower. sparse instrumentation allows the vocals and personal/confessional lyrics to take center stage. the music doesn't lack however, a cello and djembe provide a nice coffeehouse type setting for this tune.

look for the full album, "behind the curtain", to be released at some point this year.


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