Archive for the ‘Aphera Featured Artist’ Category
I’m working on a whole batch of new music right now that I hope to have finished by the new year but until then I’m excited to share the first track that I’ve finished from the bunch. It’s called “Running from Daylight” and I sincerely hope you enjoy it.
I’ve put the track on the player, or you can right-click here and do a “save as” or whatever if you really want the file. Also, You’ll notice the track is credited to Yurij. This is the name I’m recording under now. Boom.
Next topic: Radiohead recently played two shows in NYC and now they’ve recently released tour dates for a bunch of shows for the southern US but fortunately it appears there are more dates coming. But what I wanted to share was a recording from one of their recent NYC shows which features Radiohead opening their song, “Everything in its Right Place”, with Thom Yorke singing a truly beautiful rendition of REM’s “The One I Love”. I’ve included it on the player. As you may have heard, REM recently broke up and it’s a shame because they were a very powerful and benevolent force in Rock and Roll. But hey, it’s not like they’re dead or anything lol. Michael Stipe is still out there and being ridiculously awesome. Watch below: his appearance on the “Reporrrrrrrr”.
Let me also take the opportunity to express my sympathy for all the victims of the Sandusky situation, which sadly not only includes the victims he personally touched but it also extends to all residents of the area surrounding Penn State and all the individuals who have ever associated themselves with the university. I know we’ll have the ability to rebound because us Penn Staters are really tough.
Lastly, I’ve really been listening to too much Neil Young lately so also I’m including one of my favorite Neil Young tracks to the player: “The Loner”. This track was what led me to fall in love with his music and I recently covered it at an open mic (at which I wore my REM shirt) which was fun because I rarely do stuff like that.
George aka Yurij aka Yurchyk
I feel very much so in the giving mood, so I’m about to present something else new for all of our Aphera readers. Eric Weidenhof has long been a musical collaborator of mine. We’ve been playing music together since seventh grade! Over the years these are two tracks that we’ve successfully recorded under two different monikers. The first track, “Spoiled Meat” was a track written by Eric back in middle school that our band, Aphera, played. We recorded it a couple months ago partly for posterity and partly because we couldn’t think of anything else to do. I thus labeled the artist on the track as Aphera because it just felt right.
The second track, “Tunnels”, was a track that I had originally written and recorded on my own but in senior year of high school, the band Eric and I played in called We’re Cooking Quinoa played the song for the battle of the bands. Afterwards, Eric and I recorded it in its new incarnation.
I hope you enjoyed our end of year list and that you all had a nice new year. Well here’s something else new: a new song that I’ve been working on for almost a year now. It’s called “Finally Good Dreams” and I’ve put it up on the player for you and it’s on my website for you to check out as well. Download it here. Thanks!
Listen by clicking on our player and go here for download
I asked him to name the untitled track after me.
We referred to it for a while as “Your song”, and it would have stayed except for that Elton John had already claimed it. George eventually named the song, “Not So Fugitive Visions”, I’m guessing, after Prokofiev’s series of short pieces based a poem by Konstantin Balmont.
I do not know wisdom – leave that to others – I only turn fugitive visions into verse. In each fugitive vision I see worlds, Full of the changing play of rainbows.
Don’t curse me, you wise ones. What are you to me? The fact is I’m only a cloudlet, full of fire. The fact is I’m only a cloudlet. Look: I’m floating. And I summon dreamers… You I summon not.
It’s interesting enough that George decided to deny his piece the status of a fugitive vision because it is “full of the changing play of rainbows.” But maybe George’s choice for a title has to do with the fact that his visions, although they exist, are not turned only into verse. In fact, “Not So Fugitive Visions”, is almost devoid of any lyrics. And while fugitive visions always meant fleeting in my mind, George’s piece is far from fleeting images. In fact it’s most like an amalgamation of every dream one’s ever had, all layered on top of one another – the color blue on top of yellow to make green, the note E on top of C to make major… maybe there are fleeting aspects to this piece, but at the end of the day, nothing has actually exited the scene.
And that’s why when I first heard “Not So Fugitive Visions”, I decided it was the best thing I’ve heard all year. My favorite part is the loop that enters almost halfway through the long piece and continues to play until the end. It’s an uplifting high-pitched sound that almost sounds like someone is running their wet finger over a crystal glass. George took that loop from his Pool Time series. He knows that his friend Eric made the noise, but he’s not sure how. That’s the beauty of it.
And so George is releasing “Not So Fugitive Visions” along with two other tracks today. They are a preface to what is yet in store for us. Each exposes a different side of George – “The Amateur” and “The Swimmer” are innocent and naïve like their names suggest. His singing is serene and almost nervous, “Did you just wake up sometime today and say, I’m gonna be somebody?” he sings but also maybe and subconsciously asks himself.
Musically, oscillations in “The Amateur” and synthetic drumming in “The Swimmer” bring shades of Smashing Pumpkins circa Adore into the picture. The subtlety in “The Swimmer”, however, shows personal maturity. At the end George repeats the melody and words that have played throughout the piece, “I wanna go swimming,” but he changes the rhythm, elongating every word, and you’re caught off guard until you realize that it’s exactly what you wanted to hear.
And this is what characterizes The Amateur as a 3 song release. Where did this come from? What does it mean? We are almost caught off guard, but we realize it’s the natural stepping-stone from Salt Story to whatever comes next.
I recently paid my respects to three of my favorite artists. I covered a song by each of these artists. For me, the process of recording these covers was in part an exercise and a test; here at school I have a pair of ipod headphones, my iphone, and just my electric guitar to use as recording equipment –it’s a situation that forced me to look beyond the standard instrumentation when making my covers. So, I hope you find them interesting in the least and perchance you’ll like them!
1. Cheerleader, Grizzly Bear
2. Train Song, Vashti Bunyan
3. Waltz #1, Elliott Smith
In the latest installment in the “Apheraware” series we bring you a very promising new artist. His name is Jack Morgan and his music immediately presents itself as a work of skilled craftsmanship. The songwriting tells an interesting story while the music tickles the ears with the sweet sounds of instruments recorded by someone with a penchant for good production. Even more, the songs contain the emotional subtlety that only a solo artist like Elliott Smith or Nick Drake can attain. But don’t be mistaken, there is certainly something more going on here than there is with your average singer/songwriter wielding a good voice and a good guitar (not to say anything of Smith or Drake, just helping you past the stigma). This is evident in the intricacies of his harmonies and lyricism. Just give it a good listen.
Here’s a short interview exchange that occurred via email:
George Woskob: What is your current status as an artist? Searching for record deals?
Jack Morgan: The internet was an important sounding board… I put my demo tracks up on forums as soon as they were done. You should expect that friends and family will respond positively to your stuff, even if it’s mediocre, but people on music forums have no reason to hold back criticism. Before putting my songs on the web, I had very little concept of them resonating with other people, but actually I received a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement.
“There’s a guy in Argentina who emails me about the songs, signing off with “your fan”… I think that’s amazing.”
There was an Australian indie label, wanting to start building an artist roster, which offered me an EP deal, so it’s weird, after making songs for personal catharsis, I’ve been encouraged to feel like there’s actually a place for them on people’s iPods or whatever.
GW: What are you doing to promote yourself?
JM: In terms of something to flog, I’ve bundled 6 of my demo tracks into an EP, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace”, which I’ve put on all the digital music stores through a service called Zimbalam, and I’ve sent a few CD copies to things like XFM Unsigned and BBC Introducing. Hopefully the online “release” will give things an air of legitimacy and I’ll be able to extract some blog/zine reviews before I send off press packs to labels/producers I’m interested in.
GW: Are you playing shows? Where?
JM: I’ve started playing gigs around London, aiming to do at least 1 or 2 a month. I’ve played the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town, the Miller in London Bridge, The Good Ship in Kilburn, and the Cavendish Arms in Stockwell.
My first set was a bit difficult…I played in a busy pub during a boxing match (…on TV, not around the bar). But a young couple who were listening invited me to play their wedding cocktail reception, which was crazy, especially as they insisted I played my own stuff. When I actually did it, even at my most trite it felt very strange singing “you are the one I love and always will be…well probably”.
GW: What do your songs represent? Are they reflections of inner feelings or are they artistic statements? Social commentary? Something more profound?
JM: I don’t know if there is, or should be, an umbrella concept to the music, but I kind of wish the songs were under an artistic brand distinct from “Jack Morgan” (maybe I’ll think of something…), because while they’re necessarily personal, I try to collect different voices and perspectives. If someone listened to the song “Event” and made a literal connection to “Jack Morgan”, they’d think I was a demented school shooter…Anyway, some of the lyrics on “Sleep in Heavenly Peace”, at least in the abstract, deal with losing comfortable mainstream frames of reference, and having to confront a derailed future with lots of guilt, confusion and pining. I like the song “Furtherance” because it’s so muddled in its message – and because there’s something so vague about the word itself – and it was on my mind especially because at graduation you’re presented with the privilege of being able to “further” yourself, essentially towards other privileges, but the question prickles: where am I actually leading and who for?
Well I sincerely hope you enjoy this “Apheraware” pick as we take it upon ourselves to make selections that will let you say “Hey, I heard about these guys before they were famous.”
And he’s incredible live. Here is his song “Futherance.”
I used to be in a classic rock band. Yes, in ninth grade I sang and played Elton John wearing a huge pair of sunglasses and a blue satin blazer. And in tenth grade I stood at my Korg Triton playing that oscillating organ part in ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’. I cried after both shows – the first, because a video revealed that my out of tune voice ruined the performance for the entire band. After the second concert, our drummer, who panicked mid song and just stopped drumming for a painful 30 seconds, took one of the stools that resided in the back of our band room and smashed it against the wall until there was nothing left. Again, our performance was a disappointment but I saved and still have one of the splintered pieces of that stool.
Those experiences made me appreciate talent, skill and rock music. Our lead guitarist would come in with tendonitis from playing the finger numbing, ‘Big Love’, and our bassist could not only fly through ‘Roundabout’, but could step in and play any of our instruments almost better than we could ourselves. But when trying to play the epic classics, we slipped up, got nervous, and never really nailed the songs.
So even though The Who’s performance at the half time show was lively only due to the pizzazz of the lights, and the familiarity of ‘Pinball Wizard’ in the opening, I felt nothing but awe and respect for Daltrey’s I’m-way-out-of-breath performance.
When it was over I wondered whether it would be refreshing to hear indie music become all about showcasing skill on a particular instrument – if solos ran rampant through songs and if covering a piano or guitar part required training at that particular instrument. I think this would bring an interesting element to the indie music scene, but maybe it would also dismantle it into another genre completely.
As for indie music, there is something to be said for playing the synth with one hand, while holding a trumpet in the other with a guitar slung over your back. I mean, today’s music scene – at least the one we cover – is all about being the master of multitasking. And this is not easy either. I once watched my brother perform his own radiohead-esque composition. It didn’t go very well because he hadn’t practiced timing his loop well enough, while holding down another pedal with his foot, singing and playing the keyboard in between strokes of his guitar. This type of music takes its own precision, genius and songwriting skill – but maybe not the same skill that comes from mastering an instrument.
The Who’s performance left me nostalgic for some classic rock; for five piece bands where I can hear the guitar, keyboard, drums, bass and appreciate the members who can tame these instruments and make them perform at their highest potential.
The first song is from The Rustlanders, a band from my hometown State College, Pennsylvania. They are in the process of making a huge name for themselves – they’ve already opened for Keith Urban when he did a show in PA. The guitarist of my good-old classic rock band mentioned in my opening paragraph frequently jumps in and plays gigs with their lead singer in State College.
Next is Okkervil River – a really simple, down to earth rock-folk-indie band. I get turned on to bands with keyboard parts that are improvisational. I think this is because it’s a skill I’ve never really mastered myself.
For the first time on this blog, and probably not the last, I’m going to take an opportunity to plug one of my own musical projects.
This one is a real special treat and it’s called Excerpts from Pool Time (check out the site for it here). It’s a 30 minute “thing” that my friend Eric and I embarked on over break this winter (Alexander joined us too). It was basically a “jam” (though I dislike the idea of that) that I just happened to record. It’s kind of our version of the Campfire Songs album by Animal Collective, though admittedly neither of us had heard of that album when we were recording this. Also, Animal Collective probably had some sort of a plan going into Campfire Songs whereas Excerpts from Pool Time is 100% impromptu and this is obvious a little too often. Regardless, I think that it’s fun music –especially Alexander’s additions. So you have fun!
Hopkins provides us with one gift, and it’s called intersession – the time between winter break and the start of the semester that occupies most of January. It is a period during which we have time to do everything and anything we want and for most of us, that is doing absolutely nothing.
However, for the more ambitious, intersession gives us time to create masterpieces like what you will find below. A video, made ‘with a lot of construction paper and a guitar.’ The creator, a particularly brainy Hopkins student, admitted that he ‘needed something else to do’ during his free time. Although, in the interview below, he doesn’t consider himself an artist or guitarist, I sure do hope that we see some more creations from him in the future before he goes off to med school. Because I’m pretty sure they don’t grant you anything like intersession there…
When asked what he’d like to tell us about the video, he wrote…
‘First, I am not an artist or guitarist just a hack. I made this video during winter break from college because I needed something else to do. I was playing too much guitar and wanted to give my hands a break-I thought I was getting carpal tunnel. I usually play classical guitar, but onlyhave my acoustic at home and came up with this little riff while messing around playing John Denver and Grateful Dead tunes. The dog that crashes the party is a miniature dachshund puppy named Luigi (Wuigi)!’
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