Last Year, Part Five

We have reached out to different people within & around the HSAL camp to find out what from the last twelve months inspired them. Over the past month, we’ve posted a series of lists. Our hope is that you will get an idea of where we are coming from. Here’s what Steve Scott, author, poet, & spoken word performer, turned in:

Archival capture of the poet (PC: Annie Jornlin)

The year 2018 was consumed with moving out of our old house/selling it, living in an apartment while the new house was finished so I’m going to base my list a bit on that experience…

#1The mere accumulation of things

(CLICHE ALERT!) How much stuff you can accumulate over X years of living as a family in one place.

#2What stays? What goes?

The hesitations and rationalizations that go through your head when contemplating discarding things/books you will never use/have time to read etc. (you hear about this sort of thing, but the actual experience is inspiring / sobering)

#3Heather Hammers & Nelli Andreeva

Heather Hammers. Always. Nelli Andreeva. Always. These two are singers who need to be way better known.

#4Abide And Go (Missional Theosis In The Gospel Of John)

Michael J. Gorman‘s excellent book on these complementary aspects of spiritual growing as talked about in John’s Gospel.

#5The Gospel of John

John’s Gospel itself. A perennial source of wonder, delight, revelation and instruction. In 2018, as much as any other year…

#5b“Truth & Beauty” (June 30 – September 30, 2018)

The Pre-Raphaelite show at the SF Legion of Honor.

Last Year, Part Four

We have reached out to different people within & around the HSAL camp to find out what from the last twelve months inspired them. In the coming days, we’ll post a series of lists. Our hope is that you will get an idea of where we are coming from. Here’s what Joe Morgan, guitar player (TLVS, asentimentalsong), turned in:

Morgan playing with TLVS, 2019 (PC: Nick Scheetz)

#1 Hopesfall

These guys released an album in 2018 called “Arbiter” and it was their first release in over 10 years. This was a comeback/reunion album from a band I really enjoyed in the early 2000’s. They are a melodic hardcore band with a big emphasis on spacey guitars and atmospheres. I thought this was a very well done record with some great riffs and some catchy vocal hooks. Really feel like they captured their old sound but also put together something new and fresh. 

#2Wayne Robert Thomas

Kyle Bobby Dunn is one of my favorite ambient/drone artists. He has come out with several albums that make sad sound so good. He put out a split LP with Wayne Robert Thomas in 2018 called “KBD/WRT”. This split introduced me to Thomas who is also a very talented ambient/drone guitar player. In fact, his whole discography, besides this split, is available for “pay what you want” on his bandcamp page. I spent a lot of time listening to his releases this last year and grew to really enjoy his sound. It is great to be able to listen to his work and lose yourself in the calming tones and textures of the soundscapes he creates. #

#3mewithoutYou

This is another band that I enjoyed in the early 2000’s that I have followed on and off ever since. I hadn’t listened to them very much until their previous album “Pale Horses” that was released in 2015. They started off their career with a pretty aggressive post hardcore sound that had a unique screaming/spoken word type approach to their vocal delivery. I felt they were getting back to this sound on this album. In 2018 they released the “untitled” LP and the “untitled” EP. They continued this more throwback sound specifically on the LP while the EP contained more calm vocals and tamer songs. The full-length album definitely has some great lyrical content and gets pretty heavy at spots with big drums and great guitar riffs. They throw in some pretty aggressive vocals at the right moments and even have a great reinterpretation of an old hymn. It was nice to spend some time with this album the last year and take in this unique band’s sound.

#4Chihei Hatakeyama

This guy is a very prolific Japanese ambient/drone artist. I have found myself listening to him more and more the past couple years. I got a copy of his album “Scene” on tape in 2018. It is 4 pieces of music and it is some of the prettiest and saddest music you will hear. Lovely quiet drones and textures with so much melancholy seeping through. I feel that everything he puts out is great and I’ve spent a lot of time digging into his large discography this last year. Whether you are looking to dive into the deep drones he creates or to be swept away by the spacious sounds, there is something very special and rewarding about listening to his work.

#5The Mercury Program

A special vinyl reissue of The Mercury Program’s 2002 album called “A Date Learn the Language” was released in 2018. They also did a small east coast tour that I was able to attend that was in support this reissue. I had seen these guys once before many years ago and it was really neat to see them again. Being older and more learned in my musical knowledge let me appreciate this experience even more. The mix of electric piano, delayed guitars, vibraphone, and a great rhythm section makes these guys a solid act. Their music is instrumental and contains a post rock feel with some jazzy elements as well. Really pretty music that also grooves very nicely. It was really nice to get to not only get this album on vinyl after it being out of print but also to see some really great musicians perform it extremely well.

…a few more thoughts…

2018 was also a great year to spend writing and performing music with TLVS. We created and recorded some great ideas and were able to develop a solid live presentation of our art. I’m looking forward to big things in 2019 with them and also with my solo musical endeavors. I spent a lot of time in 2018 with my family as well. I am very thankful for my lovely wife Amanda and our amazing daughter Hannah. Family is so important and I’ve learned to appreciate the time I spend with them so much more this last year. They inspire me to create new sounds and enjoy the beauty God puts in front of us each and every day. I’m looking forward to a great 2019 with many new and exciting things to come.

Last Year, Part Three

We have reached out to different people within & around the HSAL camp to find out what from the last twelve months inspired them. In the coming days, we’ll post a series of lists. Our hope is that you will get an idea of where we are coming from. Here’s what Andrew Weathers, composer, collaborator extraordinaire, & label head over at Full Spectrum, turned in:

Weathers performing in Lynchburg VA, November 2018 (PC: Nathan McGlothlin)

#1Hudson Valley, NY

The land is its own entity, people are places; how does a place you’ve never lived become a home; we see a glow in the forest, I wash my face in the river and feel my own self alive; to be with friends and not feel the crush of capital is rare and cherished.

#2Littlefield, TX

It takes at least two years for a place to be a home, and we’re not there yet; we’re learning and building slowly, the only way to do it; vision is necessary to see it, not everybody has vision; one day we’ll have a kitchen again; the sheet rock in my life.

#3Arches National Park (Moab), UT

Wake up before sunrise to avoid the incredible heat that sets in by 9 am; you understand water more; you understand fear more; you understand what this earth can do to us; you understand better the rapidly deteriorating climate brought on by the greed of wealthy white men; sleep on a mountain top to stay cool.

#4Saguaro National Park (Tuscon), AZ

The sweet smell of a rotting saguaro in the heat; the cicada brood that makes more interesting music than every fool with a $10k synthesizer; the wash looks just like the trail; two miles in 100 degree heat is not what you think it is.

#5Oakland, CA

A home I have left, but remains close; the powerful resistance to colonization by Tech and fake-cultured suburbanites continues to be a beacon; I still dream about the cool air from the bay; I still can feel the weight of a burrito from El Metate in my hands; I miss my friends and I am grateful that we have the work to do together.

Last Year, Part Two

We have reached out to different people within & around the HSAL camp to find out what from the last twelve months inspired them. In the coming days, we’ll post a series of lists. Our hope is that you will get an idea of where we are coming from. Here’s what Allen Bergendahl, studio nerd & all around great guy, turned in:

Bergendahl: Music Recordist, Taco Lover, Thumb Wrestler

#1 – Friends, though…

Years ago, I met Nathan McGlothlin while recording his band at the time. We made few records together, but we slowly drifted apart – as you do. I was so excited to hear from him in late 2017 and we started laying the groundwork for a few projects we would be working on together in 2018. One of those projects was HSAL #44. I didn’t really know what to expect, but let me tell you, the bands he enlisted were incredible! L.A.Dies, Overlook Hotel, Good Dog Nigel, TLVS, and Quick On My Feet showed up and showed us how it is done! Super fast, super fun sessions with great people! Working with an old friend to make new music with new friends is such a delight for me. I will have the pleasure to work with some of these artists again in 2019 and I can not wait!

#2 – That one band, though…

Sungazer is a band that I have worked closely with in years past and this year saw us get a little closer. Marc Adams plays bass in the band and has a studio setup in his basement and they have been working on overdubs for a new record and for some solo material from the band members. This fall we began a weekly work night at Marc’s studio to make progress on any of our various projects. It is time set aside to get into the hairy details of songwriting and recording. The work sessions are primarily Marc and Matt and let me tell you, it is humbling to look inside the process of such talented musicians. I feel like you learn a lot when trying to keep up with very talented people, I know I am.

#3 – That space, though…

I began doing a lot of overdub and mix work at Kevin Cornell’s studio and we really hit it off. We started off by working on songs for his band Glass Twin and it snowballed from there. He had built a great studio, but needed some outside input. I was very happy to lend a hand to further outfit the studio and add my vision to the space and the workflow. We’re not done yet, but we are building a space that will be practical and feel like home for any artist that walks through the door.

#4 – That project, though…

Another friendship that was rekindled was with Joshua Britton and his project Psalmships. He sent me some demos of some new songs he was working on and asked if I wanted to help bring them to life. We had worked together on a previous record and I knew we worked well together, so it was an easy “yes“. We talked a lot about influences and the direction we would like the record to go. Joshua writes songs that emote in a big way, so we tried to bring that passion and size to the new recordings. We did a long weekend tracking what would be the basic tracks for *most* of the record and followed up a while later for overdubs and some rough mixes. I even got to play on it a bit!

#5 – That mutual respect, though…

I am not sure exactly how much work we did in 2018, but LJ from V.E. (Various Eggs) is a frequent collaborator and an even more frequent lunch date. We seem to have some session going at all times. In 2018 we saw the release of several singles, a video, and recording some solo piano work that will appear on new releases in 2019. I think I may be only engineer he’s worked with since he moved to Richmond and I like that. He is always a helpful ear for bouncing ideas off of and at this point we seem to speak the same language. LJ is another artist whose songwriting I am privy to all the details of how it is made and he has a deliberate and economical way that he shapes and directs songs. It’s fascinating.

Last Year, Part One

We have reached out to different people within & around the HSAL camp to find out what from the last twelve months inspired them. In the coming days, we’ll post a series of lists. Our hope is that you will get an idea of where we are coming from. Here’s what Melody Ouellette, songwriter/vocalist, & guitar player for L.A.Dies, turned in:

Ouellette performing with L.A.Dies (PC: Nick Scheetz)

#1 – ” Thirst ” by Mary Oliver

This was the first book I’ve read of Mary Oliver‘s, and it’s still my favorite.  The connection she makes between nature, humanity, and spirituality in this collection of poems is something that has really stuck with me throughout this year, keeping me mindful and reverent of the beauty in the world around us.

#2 – March 9th @ The Spot On Kirk, w/ Dover & The Elevators, Def.GRLS

I was really nervous to play this show.  We had just come back from tour with Dover and I think we were all pretty sad to see it end.  It’s easy to get caught up in the anxiety of showing a crowd of people something you made, but it ended up being one of the biggest turn outs we’ve had.  I remember looking into the crowd and feeling proud that we had made music that resonated with people–all the work we had put into L.A. Dies felt worth it.  We had shared a connection with people and made so many friends that regardless of where we would go with the band, we had made it to that point and I was proud of us.

#3First Time Recording In Studio

We recorded in a studio for the first time this year.  Going into it we were all apprehensive because we had only ever recorded at home. We were nervous to put ourselves in the vulnerable position of entrusting our idea with people we barely knew, as well as to put our project, and its production, in someone else’s hands. But after eight hours and a trip to Chipotle, all those anxieties subsided, and the music and new friendships we left with that day could not have been recreated without the collaboration and openness of other creative minds.

#4Tennis

Even though I moved in with three my closest friends earlier this year, we’ve all been so caught up with working and keeping up with our families that we’re rarely all home at the same time–when we are, I try to convince everyone to play tennis with me. We’re so busy trying to be productive and accomplish whatever task is next on our list, that the time we have for doing things simply because we enjoy them is (increasingly) limited. When we’re playing tennis, all we can do is play tennis, together, present in the moment.

#52018 Mid-term Elections

This was the first year I was really excited to vote.  I felt more informed and connected to this election than I ever have.  Regardless of the stress in the current political climate, as I’m sure everyone, no matter how they see things, has been worn out by our seemingly unending cultural divisions, seeing the voter turn out and the diversity of candidates inspired a hope that we were headed in the right direction.