Tuesday, June 4, 2013

me and YOU

           My brother and I have a strange relationship.  We’re different on almost every level.  We were estranged for a few years.  Maybe we still are?  We barely talk beyond small talk and we usually won’t talk until we’re drinking.  Oh yeah did I mention we bought a house together?  Yeah well we did. 

            It probably wasn’t the smartest move but we’re both poor and I couldn’t have done it solo, so my choice was to partner up with this guy or buy a fucking condo and I couldn’t do that shit.  The reality is it was a smart thing for us to do financially.  We own an unbelievable house in North Portland, Oregon.  We got an incredible price without fucking anyone over and the house has polished up nice.  There’s no denying we’re lucky.  Still I think he’s an irresponsible, selfish, ingrate and I don’t trust him as far as I can throw the prick.  But hey I don’t like almost everyone so maybe I’m the one being unreasonable?   

            In any event we’re currently living together and I hope this doesn’t destroy what little relationship we got.  I guess time will tell?  Anyway this post is for that cocksucker. 

            Something most people might not be aware of is the fact that Mark has continued to make music over the last decade or so.  You probably wouldn’t know anything about his music unless you knew him personally because like most musicians he’s got his head firmly lodged in his ass when it comes to business.  Promoting yourself isn’t the fun part of being a musician but it’s something you have to take a stab at if you want people to know your music exists.  I know very few musicians or artists who want anything to do with the business side and there’s good reasons for that.  It feels really self indulgent.  And no one likes to feel that way.  Least of all an artist who is already by nature self indulgent and buried in their own ego. 

            To be fair I must admit that we both fall into that familiar subcategory of modern middle class Americans.  We both have a passion to make marginalized art that will forever be unknown and obscure and we don’t give a shit.  We keep doing it because I guess we can afford to and we don’t have kids which could prevent us from following these passions.  We both have a distrust and disgust with the modern machinations that are called the “entertainment” or “artistic” industry.  We don’t have any connections with said industry and if we did we’d fuck em up because as was already stated we’re disgusted by the pretension, the prostitution, and we’re disgusted by large parts of humanity to boot.  In this regard we must appear to be masterbating while looking into a mirror.  This is a fast growing subcategory of America as I seem to know many artistic types that fit the profile.  Is it masochism or narcissism?  That’s a hard call.  But whatever you do don’t call us artists.  Them’s fighting words.

            We’re both determined to live with our feet on the ground, and like Casey Casem said “reaching for the stars.”  Although the awareness that the stars are fake is always omnipresent.  I guess me and my bro are more similar than I let on. 

            Anyway Mark has continued to grow and change as a musician.  He has been in the pseudo metal/hardcore band DEAD BY DAWN for over 10 years.  Through numerous lineup changes I’m proud to say that Dead By Dawn is finally coming into their own as far as having their own unique sound within the genre.  When they started out I felt like they were ripping off the Oakland band El Dopa what with that metallic post hardcore darkness.  Later when they got a new guitarist they seemed to be ripping off the band Yes if you can believe that.  That is to say if Yes were scarier, slightly ghetto and twice as fast.  Now I have a hard time pigeonholing Dead By Dawn.  It’s not Metal nor is it anything approaching punk.  I like what they’re doing that’s all I can really say about them.  They have since lost their progressive rock minded guitarist and have switched things up considerably.  Also when the last guitarist bailed they made a wise decision not to be concerned at all about their band’s career moves and have made a concerted effort just to compose new songs and play out once every few months.  They may never tour again unless a record label shows interest.  Which could happen.  There are worse metal/punk bands in Portland,Oregon who find themselves with label support.  I’d even go so far as to say that Dead By Dawn may be broaching “Outsider Artist” status within that respective genre just by nature of them trying new things with their music.  So few bands in that genre are trying to branch out.  Just off the top of my head I can only think of a handful: Goreguts, Melechesh, even Rudimentary Peni who have surprised me by being the only anarcho-punk band who have continued to be relevant into the 2010’s.  But that’s probably just because Nick Blinko is fucking insane.  Not to mention wildly entertaining.       

            I’m getting off subject here.  This post is about my brother Mark’s foray into pop music territory.  He’s been involved in a few projects over the years which have pointed towards a more melodic if not commercial direction.  The first serious “Pop” band he joined went by the name of Re-Up. 

            I wanted to believe.  I really wanted to believe.  But the reality is I hated Re-Up.  Everyone in that group hailed from a more hard rock musical background and they claimed to be crossing the dark pop void.  Instead it felt like they over worked their songs and it came off as mediocre artsy indie rock.  It didn’t speak to me.  In fact it made me wretch.  I kept going to the shows to support the guys because I could hear the hooks lurking in some of their songs.  But they just couldn’t stick to the formula.  The most important “Pop Music” rule: keep it fucking simple.  So the hooks were buried under hours of tinkering in the garage.  I couldn’t hear the rock or the pop.

            We’ve all been in the situation where you go to see your friend’s band and they totally suck.  Sometimes you blow smoke up their ass, but if you really care you know you should be honest in so far as you’re entitled to your opinion.  Mark got pissed when I tried to be honest. Artists are a fickle sort.  I’ve always welcomed any type of response to my work.  Even a negative one.  I can’t even get that so I’ve stopped caring about getting a response of any sort.  I’m totally stroking my own joke just like Mark and his bands but I don’t even have bandmates to share that emptiness with.  At least these guys can play the occasional show to a round of applause.  Once again I will wonder out loud why I’m continuing to do this shit? 

            Anyway, after seeing them over the course of a year I couldn’t fake it anymore.  I was relieved when they finally broke up.  I didn’t have to make up excuses for missing their shows.  Plus now maybe all those players would go back to making good hard rock instead of fake soft rock which is how I always perceived it.

            Some time passed and eventually Mark got another project going with two former members of Re-Up.  I held out hope.  Maybe with less cooks in the kitchen these guys could make simplicity work for them.  Turns out my hunch was right.  The name of their new band: You.  Simple.  I started to get excited.  After a few shows my enthusiasm built up.  And after their first recording I was hooked.  They recently finished a second recording and I’m diggin it as much as the first. 

            I wouldn’t be doing my job as a writer and interpreter of reality without making comparisons and trying to categorize the band YOU.  So here is my take on their sound.  And I might sound like I’m full of shit when I say this but I think that YOU is accidentally following a roundabout trail towards pop bliss that they’re forging alone in the dark.  Sure it takes elements that are already established.  The pop hooks are front and center.  By the end of the song you are able to sing along to a degree.  It verges on Powerpop but doesn’t fall into the same established pattern.  It’s definitely pop, but it’s pop with a unique identity.  Which is a welcome relief from what you think you may have heard before.  I know I’m trying to hype them but the truth is the music does the talking pretty well on it’s own.  It’s not Beatlesque, and it’s not shitty indie pop.  They seem to be moving forward while keeping their feet on the ground.  I suppose I could keep blowing smoke up your ass but I might as well come clean.  I like the direction that YOU is headed and I’m sharing this because I care about Mark and I think that these works of art that we all seem to be “wasting” our lives making need to be heard by more than just our close friends.  Instead this feels like a gift to those who are willing to take the time to listen.  Just like all these blog posts are turning out to be.   
             I don't want to be misleading so I should mention that not all the tunes are upbeat.  A few are slower paced and somewhat sorrow filled but they still got some fire. 

            I have a music video in the works for one of their songs.  You might see that video posted here later in the year.  I also made a video using one of their songs a few years ago.  You can see that and read the story about that bullshit by going here. 

            Of course there is bad news.  According to recent reports from Mark, the band You appears to be currently in a state of flux.  They don’t seem to be breaking up but they might change from their power trio format.  That bums me out a bit but I’m still hoping they’ll keep up that momentum.  And hey, if you got a label and you want to help out YOU keep in mind all these songs have yet to be released in a proper format.  In fact I’m pretty sure you can only find them by downloading them here.               

             They have several songs recorded from two separate recordings.  I'm including just my favorites.  Download them for free below:

YOU- the first recording session (whoops don't have names, sorry!)

YOU- the second recording session (yep with names for songs)
3.  Starting Over Again

I should mention that Mark, as usual is on the drums.