06/04/2013 by Focl

I left Los Angeles around midnight with few possessions. Little did I know I’d soon be in the land of the flyover people. It’s a sad place. They call the USA a fast-food nation, yet, driving across it, in many parts you can’t locate a Starbucks for more than two miles off the interstate without a GPS system and a prayer, the latter of which are plentiful. My destination was Omaha. I hoped Nebraska might offer some relief. No more cowboys or casinos. No more endless mountainous country. Just corn and flat, fertile land.

I intended to write about Omaha’s grassroots music scene and meet those responsible for Saddle Creek, the record label at its heart. The collective has grown to have an outsize influence on the inbred world of independent rock, drawing the attention of A&R executives on the West Coast and magazine editors back East. Last year the buzz culminated when one band, Bright Eyes, began to get some mainstream attention for their record Lifted or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground. It was featured inThe New York Times Magazine and Rolling Stone, and the group appeared on the David Letterman show, where Dave joked about the fact that you could buy the record on vinyl.

The “group” is actually the project of one 23-year-old manchild, Conor Oberst, and whoever he can get to join him. Last year his collaborators began to grow more interesting. On the professional side, Sony Music gave him a publishing deal, putting him in the company of Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan. On the personal side, Peoplemagazine photographed him kissing Winona Ryder in a Los Angeles parking lot, soon after two sold-out shows at the Henry Fonda Theater. Lifted has sold well over 100,000 copies, a staggering number for an indie.

For some, however, the actual music has been the source of much vexation. Oberst’s voice is a distraught, post-adolescent warble. Though it’s rightfully gotten him tagged as a Gen Y Bob Dylan, Oberst’s persona seems like an adaptation of Dylan at his worst — impetuous, portentous, yet without gravitas. For many over the age of 21, that’s enough reason to dislike him. There’s no denying, however, that there’s something special in the music, something bold, and forged at the intersection of ambition and youth.

Top Five Guitar Riffs of All Time

15/02/2012 by Focl

Riffs are the backbone of a lot of guitar music, and they are the instrumental sections which stick in your head all day. For a guitarist, riffs are the opportunity to create an iconic and memorable moment that will echo throughout the history of rock. This list compiles the top five guitar riffs of all time, and explains why they’re so awesome.

5: Layla – Derek and the Dominoes

Despite the group being best known for Eric Clapton, this melodic riff was actually written by Duane Allman. The faced paced lead-in to the wailing, bent notes creates a crescendo of energy, which is all released with the long guitar howls that make up most of the riff. This riff is massively expressive and undeniably catchy.

4: Iron Man – Black Sabbath

Tony Iommi’s crushing, uncompromising riff to “Iron Man” is arguably the most recognisable electric guitar riff in metal. The steady rhythmic pounding of the power chord run is coloured with small slides, which bring the underlying melody of this riff to light. Osbourne’s vocal melody follows the riff, and further cements the run of notes into the mind of the listener.

3: Sweet Child O’  Mine – Guns N’ Roses

The legendary opening to “Sweet Child of Mine” was originally written as something as a joke by Slash. He was messing around, playing what he described as a circus-style riff, and then the rest of the band took notice. Slash wanted to ditch the riff, but the other Guns members convinced him to keep it. It is a simple run of notes in E minor, but the melody has endured and become one of the most well-known guitar riffs of all time.

2: Voodoo Child (Slight Return) – Jimi Hendrix

The off-shoot of “Voodoo Chile,”  a more bluesy track of Hendrix’s, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” was created when a TV crew was visiting Hendrix’s band and asked them to “look busy.” What resulted was arguably the best guitar track in history, complete with Hendrix’s expressive and creative lead work and an endlessly enjoyable riff. The bluesy yet ballsy swagger of the opening riff made it into an instant guitar classic.

1: Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

If this would have been a list of ultimate guitar songs, Hendrix would have probably taken the top spot. Because this is a list of riffs, “Smoke on the Water” is the undisputed master. It is difficult to think of another riff that people will as readily “sing” along to when it plays. The four-part, pounding riff is only made up of four chords, and Richie Blackmore originally thought it was too simple to use in a song. The beauty of the riff is in its simplicity, but it also happens to be a head-banging classic and shockingly catchy.

Live Wedding Bands: 5 Tips For Getting It Right The First Time

06/07/2011 by Focl

Wedding planning demands a lot of organization and attention to detail if you want your special day to be a success. From the wedding venue, to catering and the place cards, everything must be carefully planned so nothing is left to chance. Yet, your wedding will still be a success if your place cards are not up to scratch. But neglect the music and your guests will talk about your shortcomings for months.


Following are just a few things you must consider when choosing live wedding bands.


Their Credentials

Don’t depend solely on the opinion of your friends and family when choosing your wedding band. Dig up all you can about the band before you book them. Check the website, testimonials from past customers, and ask for references. If you cannot make it to one of their live gigs, request and view a live video stream to one of their performances.


Book Early and Sign A Contract

Don’t take it for granted that you’ll be able to find a good band at the last minute. The best wedding bands for hire are usually booked months in advanced. Book the band, sign the contract and make your deposit as early as 6 months in advance. Make sure you’re comfortable with the cancellation fee policy and verify that the band has public liability insurance.


Size of the Venue

Consider the size of the band and make sure that there’s sufficient space at the venue to fit them. Designate a space where you’ll like to have the band set up early in your planning. You’ll want to place them in a large open pace where the audience can face them. Ensure that there are sufficient power sockets for them to plug in.


Type of Music

Your music selections should be a mix of what both you and your guests would enjoy. Find out if the band can play music from different eras. The older guests would enjoy grooving to music from their era, while the younger ones would want something more in keeping with their time.


Play Time

Plan the start and finish times for the band. Don’t forget to leave room for breaks in between the sets. Sit with the manager or band leader to work out details. You might have to make arrangements for music between the breaks, or find out if the band will set something up for you. Normally an iPod or some other music device will do.


1. “A Spindle, A Darkness, A Fever, and A Necklace”

02/06/2011 by Focl

You turn on a spindle
You’re so much looser now, but you’re not explaining how
You gained such new repose
I touch the clasp of your locket, with its picture held
Some secret you wouldn’t tell
But let it choke your neck
So imagine a darkness, where all shapes divide, solids changing into light
With a burst of heat so bright
Well fine, don’t you do what I want you to
Don’t degrade yourself the way I do
Because you don’t depend on all the shit that I use
To make my moods improve
Near a sea of pianos, there were waves of chords that crashed against the shore
In one huge and pointless roar
And there were girls bringing water, like a dream they came
To cure the fever of my brain and soothe my burning throat
And they made me a necklace, hanging beads of sweat on a string of my regrets
And placed it round my neck, and they were singing,
“Don’t you do what you’ve wanted to
Yeah, don’t destroy yourself like those cowards do
And maybe the sun keeps coming up because it has gotten used to you
And your constant need for proof”

Spatne ID plochy.

2. “A Scale, A Mirror, and These Indifferent Clocks”

02/06/2011 by Focl

Here’s a scale, weigh it out and you’ll find, easily
More than sufficient doubt that these colors you see were picked in advance
By some careful hand with an absolute concept of beauty
They are smeared and these blurs come in random order
And they color the eyes of your former lovers
Hers were green like July, except when she cried they were red
Now, I know a disease that these doctors can’t treat
You contract on the day you accept all you see
Is a mirror, and a mirror is all it can be-
A reflection of something we’re missing
And language just happened, it was never planned
And it’s inadequate to describe where I am
In the room of my house where the light’s never been
Waiting for this day to end
And these clocks keep unwinding and completely ignore
Everything that we hate or adore
Once the page of a calendar is turned it’s no more
So tell me then, what was it for?
Oh tell me, what was it for?

Spatne ID plochy.

3. “The Calendar Hung Itself”

02/06/2011 by Focl

Does he kiss your eyelids in the morning when you start to raise your head?
And does he sing to you incessantly from the place between your bed and wall?
Does he walk around all day at school with his feet inside your shoes?
Looking down every few steps to pretend he walks with you?
Oh, does he know that place below your neck that is your favorite to be touched?
And does he cry through broken sentences, like ‘I love you far too much’?
Does he lay awake listening to your breath?
Worried that you smoke too many cigarettes?
Is he coughing now on a bathroom floor?
For every speck of tile there’s a thousand more
You won’t ever see, but must hold inside yourself eternally
Well, I drug your ghost across the country and we plotted out my death
In every city, memories would whisper, ‘Here is where you rest’
I was determined in Chicago but I dug my teeth into my knees
And I settled for a telephone and sang into your machine
‘You are my sunshine, my only sunshine
You are my sunshine, my only sunshine’
And I kissed a girl with a broken jaw that her father gave to her
She had eyes bright enough to burn me, they reminded me of yours
And in a story told she was a little girl in a red-rouge, sun-bruised field
And there were rows of ripe tomatoes where a secret was concealed
And it rose like thunder, clapped under our hands
And it stretched for centuries to a diary entry’s end where I wrote,
‘You make me happy when skies are gray
You make me happy when skies are gray, and gray, and gray’
Well the clock’s heart, it hangs inside its open chest
With hands stretched towards the calendar hanging itself
But I will not weep for those dying days
For all the ones who’ve left there’s a few that’ve stayed
And they found me here and pulled me from the grass where I was laid

Spatne ID plochy.

4. “Something Vague”

02/06/2011 by Focl

Now and again it seems worse than it is
But mostly the view is accurate
You see your breath in the air as you climb up the stairs
To that coffin you call your apartment
And you sink in the chair, brush the snow from your hair
And drink the cold away
And you’re not really sure what you’re doing this for
But you need something to fill up the days
A few more hours
There’s a dream in my brain that just won’t go away
It’s been stuck there since it came a few nights ago
I’m standing on a bridge in the town where I lived
As a kid with my mom and my brothers
And then the bridge disappears and I’m standing on air with nothing holding me
And I hang like a star, fucking glow in the dark
For all their starving eyes to see
Like the ones we’ve wished on, but now I’m confused
Is this death really you?
Do these dreams have any meaning?
No, no, I think it’s more like a ghost
That’s been following us both
Something vague that we’re not seeing
Something more like a feeling

Spatne ID plochy.

5. “The Movement Of A Hand”

02/06/2011 by Focl

You follow the footsteps, echoes leading down a hall
To a room, there’s music playing, tiny bells with moving parts
Here the shadows make things ugly, an effect quite undesirable
And the gold and yellow daylight grows like ivy across the wall
And it bounces off of the painted porcelain, a tiny dancing doll
Her body spins, as she pirouettes again, the world suddenly seems small
On an off-white, subtle morning
You stretch your legs in the front seat
And the road has made a vacuum where our voices used to be
And you lay your head onto my shoulder, pour like water over me
So if I just exist for the next ten minutes of this drive that would be fine
And all these trees that line this curb would be rejoicing and alive
Soon all the joy that pours from everything makes fountains of your eyes
Because you finally understand the movement of a hand
Waving good-bye

Spatne ID plochy.

6. “Arienette”

02/06/2011 by Focl

The fragile keep secrets, gathered in pockets
And they’ll sell them for nothing, a cheap watch or locket
That kind of gold washes off
And the sad act like lepers, they stick to the shadows
They long to ring bells of warning to tell of their coming
So that the pure can shut their doors
And the angry are animals, senseless and savage
They act without order in logical lapses
They stain their mouths with blood
So take my hand, this barren land is alive tonight
Oh, the corn has grown stalks that form a wall too high
But the wind carries sounds that I can’t see from beyond that line
Then the stalks begin to sway
Oh, stay with me, Arienette, until the wolves are away
The wicked are vultures, and they bake in the canyons
They circle in sunlight and wait for their victims
To collapse and call to them
And the desperate are water, they’ll run down forever
As they soak into silence and end up together
In a dark and distant, dark and distant place
So don’t leave me here, with only mirrors watching me
This house, it holds nothing but the memories
And the moon, it leaves silver but never sleep
And then the sunlight turns to gray
Oh, stay with me, Arienette, until the wolves are away

Spatne ID plochy.

7. “When the Curious Girl Realizes That She Is Under Glass”

02/06/2011 by Focl

Tomorrow when I wake up I’m finding my brother
And I’m making him take me back down to the water
That lake where we sailed and we laughed with our father
I will not desert him, I will not desert him
No matter how I may wish for a coffin so clean
Or these trees to undress all their leaves onto me
I’ll put my face in the dirt and then finally I’ll see
The sky that has been avoiding me
Well, I started this letter, I’m gonna send it to Ruba
It will be blessed by her eyes on the gulf coast of Florida
With her feet in the sand and one hand on her swimsuit
She’ll recite the prayer of my pen
Saying, time take us forward
Relief from this longing
They can land that plane on my heart, I don’t care
Just give me November, the warmth of a whisper
In the freezing darkness of my room
But no matter what I would do in attempt to replace
All these pills that I take trying to balance my brain
I see the curious girl with that look on her face
So surprised, she stares out from her display case

Spatne ID plochy.