October EP Now Available

Download the EP for free right here.

OCTOBER by Sci-Fi Romance

After a drought between albums, it’s incredibly gratifying to be able to put out a new EP today and release it as a free download. Two weeks ago, I didn’t even have the idea for this project, and I love that it now exists and is out there in the world, learning how to shamble along and getting its own apartment and all that good stuff. I explained the genesis for October in my last post, but the tl:dr version is that I got the completely indefensible idea to write and record songs inspired by the movies I watched this month, and to do it all as quickly as possible, I dug a 20+ year-old four-track cassette recorder out of the closet. Finding cassettes these days is, as you might imagine, a little tough, but the deed has been done.

Here are some details about exactly what’s on this lo-fi concept-EP of…what? Horror folk? Heartfelt monster confessionals? Well, call it whatever you like.

The Fall of the House of Usher, 1960

The film that kicked off the series of Roger Corman/Vincent Price Edgar Allan Poe adaptations is, fittingly, I think, also kicking off my tribute to classic horror movies I dive into every October. A very blonde Price plays the tormented Roderick Usher, who suffers under the historic weight of the Usher family’s many sins. He goes to great lengths to make sure that he and his sister are the last of the House of Usher.


Dracula, 1931

Watching Lugosi this time around, I asked myself a question I never had before: Why does Dracula leave Transylvania now, and for England of all places? I felt like he was bored after hundreds of years of relative solitude, and (to quote The Smiths) wanted to see people and wanted to see life. But Dracula’s problem is Dracula, wherever he goes.


Ed Wood, 1994

I couldn’t watch Dracula and not watch Ed Wood. Of the many, many lovely things in this, my favorite of all Tim Burton movies, is that in the end it doesn’t matter how terrible Ed’s movies are, it matters that he made them.


The Body Snatcher, 1945

Boris Karloff’s first appearance on the EP comes courtesy of his astonishingly creepy portrayal of John Gray, who steals bodies for “anatomy,” selling them to a medical professor for use in university classes. But when the cemeteries fall under increased scrutiny, it becomes easier for Gray to make the corpses himself.


The Bride of Frankenstein, 1935

It makes me sad that Una O’Connor screeches her way through this film, in which Karloff endows his monster with so much humanity and pathos that in the moment when he first sees The Bride, I want her to love him as much as he wants to be loved. Alas…


The Masque of the Red Death, 1964

Probably the best of the Corman/Poe/Price movies, this movie is endlessly evocative and Price is his at most mustache-twirlingly evil. But watching the film this time, I was struck by Hazel Court’s performance as Juliana, who on paper was no doubt simply a “jealous lover,” but on screen communicated much, much more.


So download the album, enjoy it, roll around in its warm analogueyness. And happy October.

 

New EP Coming

I’ve had the next full-length Sci-Fi Romance album written for over a year, but as it happens, newborn twins slow down recording schedules. The itch to record and get new music out has been terribly strong.

Poe Mug

Hot tea for my voice in a thematically appropriate mug? Check!

And here we are in October. The best month. Every year at this time, my wife and I watch as many old horror movies as possible. Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Béla Lugosi, Roger Corman, Edgar Allan Poe, Val Lewton, and, in a concession to the still-living, Tim Burton. As we sat down to watch the first movie this year, I got an idea. It is undoubtedly a terrible idea, but God loves ugly children, too.

Here it is a week or so later, and I’ve written songs inspired by each of the first half-dozen movies we watched this year. Since the movies are classics, I’m recording the songs in the quickest, dirtiest way possible — on a 20-plus year-old four-track tape recorder I haven’t used since probably 1996. Everything is analogue, and with very few exceptions, each part is recorded in a single take. No computers. Just a few guitars, drums, an old Casio keyboard, some random things that go bang, and me.

Tascam PortaStudio 424.

This is serious lo-fi. The instructions are dated 1990.

Half of the songs are recorded and finished, and by next week the whole thing will be done and available as a free download.

I figure, I made a concept album, why not a concept EP?

Cassette tape and lyrics.

Remember these? Never opened until now.

Bohemian Shindig: August 22nd

Friends, we’re back.

I’ve played a number of solo shows over the last few months as we’ve been getting closer to booking studio time for the new record, but we haven’t played out as a band since last year, due to the arrival of three (count ‘em three!) Sci-Fi Romance babies, and the attendant life-turning-upside-downness of that whole scene.

But Friday, August 22nd we’ll be descending on the Bohemian Shindig in Hollywood, which is a super-cool event featuring multiple bands on several stages, and (I think) 45 visual artists all exhibiting works. Our set is at 10:30 pm on the full-band stage.

Tickets are $15 bucks, but we’ve been graced with a huge guest list and can get folks in for nothing, so hit us up on Facebook if you want to come and we’ll get you taken care of. Here are event details: Bohemian Shindig on Facebook

“Margaret” by Jason Webley

There aren’t a ton of artists I’d do this for, but I wanted to take a minute to direct you to Jason Webley’s Kickstarter project for a collaborative project called Margaret. He’s already blown past his funding goal, so this is really just a recommendation that you pitch in now in order to pre-order the album.

Jason Webley is one of my favorite musicians, and has been for a very long time. Many, many years ago, a friend of mine put Jason’s Against the Night CD in my hand and said “You have to listen to this. I saw this guy last night, and he played accordion, screamed, stomped on a board, told stories, and led big sing-alongs with everybody there. It was amazing.” I listened, and was hooked. A few years after that, when my first child was about to be born, I brought Jason’s album Only Just Beginning with us to the hospital, and it became one of the first sounds my son ever heard in this world. 

I’ve met Jason a couple of times at shows and had occasion to swap an email with him here and there, and he is a good dude, with a tremendous heart that powers his music. As you probably know, I’m a big fan of concept albums, having made one, and Jason’s new project is an astounding concept based on a real-life person, chance encounters, and the universe reaching down to somebody and saying “You will make this so.” He tells the story much better than I can

So do yourselves a favor and pre-order this record, which is going to be lovely and a unique celebration of life and memory. Here’s a sample of it, from when the collaborating musicians performed it in Everett, Washington. 

 

More to Rust

My strength, my enemy
Gone the days I thought I had ahead of me
My strength, my enemy
Work my hands have done I’m told is obsolete

You use words like “Progress,” and you use words like “Change”
And grind your brothers down beneath this onward-rushing train
The world keeps spinning faster, but where’s it taking us?
The more machines we build, the more there is to rust

And I say oh, oh, oh, you can keep tomorrow
I don’t know how to live the life you’re promising
Oh, oh, oh, you can keep tomorrow
If disappointment is all it brings

My pride, my ability
Though the ground may shift and change beneath my feet
My pride, my ability
Haven’t met the mountain yet could conquer me

You can yell your “Progress!” and you can yell your “Change!”
But if this river breaks its banks, we all drown just the same

The world keeps spinning faster, but where’s it taking us?
The more machines we build, the more there is to rust

And I say oh, oh, oh, you can keep tomorrow
I don’t know how to live the life you’re promising
Oh, oh, oh, you can keep tomorrow
If disappointment is all it brings

All it brings…
My strength

John Henry, Part 1

This will be the death of me
And what will I, what will I leave behind?
Will they sing my name
After they lay me in the sand?

There won’t be no victory
For this heart that beats and hands that bleed
What more can they take
Than I gave with this hammer in my hand?

‘Cause maybe I was born
For such a time as this
Yeah, maybe I was born
So this moment could be written

You’re wrapped in chains
And told you’re free by men with force and men with pay
But I’m through selling me
And if I fall, then at least I made a stand

‘Cause maybe I was born
For such a time as this
Yeah, maybe I was born
So this moment could be written

I will rise, I will rise

‘Cause maybe I was born
For such a time as this
Yeah, maybe I was born
So this moment could be written

We Used to Sing

We used to sing of glories yet to come
How the troubles of this life would soon be done
We’d raise our eyes up to darkened skies
And pray for angel wings to bring us home

But I can’t sing those songs the way I used to
The words just feel so empty on my tongue
No, I can’t sing those songs the way I used to do
The way I did before I was in love

We used to sing the songs of the open road
Saying where we lay our head we call our home
Always blind to what we left behind
And never sure what we were running from

But I can’t sing those songs the way I used to
The words just feel so empty on my tongue
No, I can’t sing those songs the way I used to do
The way I did before I was in love

I used to sing a sad, sad lullaby
Alone beneath the distant stars at night
How no fallen world could ever make us whole
And happiness was meant to pass some by

But I can’t sing those songs the way I used to
The words just feel so empty on my tongue
No, I can’t sing those songs the way I used to do
The way I did before I was in love
Not the way I did before I was in love

Tomorrow May Take You

It takes so long to fall asleep, when you’re gone
This aching house just moans and creaks, when you’re gone
No wishing star to shine for me, when you’re gone
When you’re gone

But when you’re here
You’re here and I can make some sense of this life
In this life, everything I need is in your arms
Your arms can hold me fast against tomorrow
Because tomorrow may take you again

I watch your shape fade down the road, when you leave
I feel those footsteps in my bones, when you leave
And I beg the winds to bring you home, when you leave
When you leave

But when you’re here
You’re here and I can make some sense of this life
In this life, everything I need is in your arms
Your arms can hold me fast against tomorrow
Because tomorrow may take you again

Steam Drill Blues

The morning come
Sun-burnt sky
Swing the hammer
Drive the spike
I got a girl
Left alone
‘Cause I’m too many
Miles from home

Gotta go where that money flows
‘Cause love don’t buy too many clothes
It’s a job that breaks your back and soul
But it’s what we do ’cause it’s what we know

The country grows
We make the way
Our blood and sweat
For a better day
But now they say
We’ll be replaced
Machines are coming
To push us out the way

What to do when that money goes?
‘Cause love don’t buy too many clothes
It’s a job that breaks your back and soul
But it’s what we do ’cause it’s what we know

Before the Lord I’ll stand proud
No machine will beat me down
No machine will beat me down
Bring that drill
Coal and steam
Bring it ’round
To hear this hammer ring
Against a wall
A man will fight
I’ll beat that drill
Though it take my life

What to do when that money goes?
‘Cause love don’t buy too many clothes
It’s a job that breaks your back and soul
But it’s what we do ’cause it’s what we know

Broken World

It’s a dry season ’til the rain begins to fall
And it’s a barren winter ’til the ice begins to thaw
Until I knew you, gray was all I saw

‘Cause it’s a broken world
But here we are, you and I
Somehow I found the only one
Who could ever help me see
That in the cracks is beauty

The empty branches give way to the bloom
And the burning daylight yields to the moon
No matter what the distance, you know I’ll hold you soon

‘Cause it’s a broken world
But here we are, you and I
Somehow I found the only one
Who could ever help me see
That in the cracks is beauty

It’s a broken world
But in the cracks there’s beauty