Throwback Thursday: Original Cover Art Sketch

I was going through some files while working on the cover art for the new album, and found my original pen sketch that became the cover art for the first Sci-Fi Romance album, …and surrender my body to the flames.

“…and surrender my body to the flames” original pen sketch

I had not intended to do the cover art. There was another artist lined up at the time, and I drew this to try to communicate the layout I had in mind. I think scheduling wound up being the downfall for his involvement, so I had to scramble and wound up doing the cover on my own.

“…and surrender my body to the flames” cover art

I’m not an illustrator, but I remain proud of how this image turned out. And incidentally, in my mind, I’ve always referred to the woman as “Delilah.” The more you know…

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Six Reasons Why Fall is Inarguably the Best Season

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, otherwise known as the first day of fall, otherwise known as the beginning of the best season.

This is not an opinion. Fall is the best season. There are plenty of reasons why, but here are a few off the top of my head:

1. The Halloween


It seems like Christmas should be everybody’s favorite holiday. You get presents, you know? But Christmas tipped into misery somewhere around the time A Charlie Brown Christmas came out. There are family issues, travel, Fox News stories about the War on Christmas, and just general existential mayhem. So in walked Halloween to take the throne for everybody’s favorite holiday. Sure, there are some awful, lingering issues with the “sexy” version of every conceivable costume out there (Sexy R2-D2? Are you goddamn kidding me?), but at the end of the day, we get to give candy to tiny humans dressed like monsters with gigantic smiles on their faces. What’s not to love?

2. The Horror Movies


You’re grown, Amazon exists, so you can watch horror movies whenever you want. But they feel better around Halloween. For years, a good friend and I did a “Tim Burton Halloween,” which began at a modern art museum with a Plan 9 from Outer Space/Ed Wood double feature. It was amazing. Then Burton made Planet of the Apes and that kind of took the shine off, so I started watching classic horror movies throughout the month of October. Roger Corman, Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, (and yes, some) Tim Burton, as well as less well-known icons like Val Lewton…this is a tradition I would recommend to anybody.

3. The Earth


Summers are getting hotter overall, and if you live in a city like Los Angeles, which was built before air conditioning, that means they are getting tangibly more miserable. Just ask the Pope. But in the fall, the weather cools down…eventually…and the leaves turn. Fall in the northeast United States with a cold Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft is about as good as it gets for me. Which brings me to…

4. The Beer


Fall is when the beers get darker. I’ve never gone in much for lighter beers, so I often give summer beers a pass. Lemon peel is fine and all, but we can do better. And we do. Every fall. Sam Adams Octoberfest on draft is a beer made for a chill in the air. Buffalo Bill’s Original Pumpkin Ale is a seasonal fixture and trumps every PSL that has ever been blended. Do some places take the pumpkin flavoring too far? Sure. But that doesn’t change the fact that the real thing is The Real Thing. Also, that abomination that is Daylight Savings Time gets shown the door, and the sun sets when it should.

5. The Serious Movies

 

I love the summer blockbuster — unequivocally, not at all knocking them — but I literally paced the floor this weekend trying to decide if I would go see a movie about a Boston gangster or a movie about chess. I have more DVDs on my shelf made by Ingmar Bergman and Akira Kurosawa than I have films made in the last 20 years. So when new movies get a little darker, a little more earthy, it’s of-a-piece with the weather, and with the clocks, and with my own emotional rhythms. It’s thoughtful and wonderful, and when I miss one of these more-thoughtful films, I feel a little, quietly sad. Which is very autumnal.

6. The Playoff Baseball

Deeply ingrained in my psyche is the sound of baseball announcers as the weather cools down. Every year I buy the MLB At Bat playoff subscription so I can listen to radio broadcasts of the playoff games. I don’t care who’s playing. It is the soundtrack to fall. One of these days, though, the World Series will end in November, and it will feel deeply wrong.

(bonus) 7. I keep putting out music in the fall


I knew, of course, that I wrote, recorded, and released our EP October in the fall of last year, but I’d forgotten until just this week that I released the first Sci-Fi Romance album in an October a few years ago. Also, just FYI, the first single from our new album will premiere in the next few, autumnal weeks. Keep your ears open…

Five Recording Studio Documentaries

I was going through some of the footage of the band in the studio recording the new album, and it gave me the itch to watch the documentary The Wrecking Crew, about the unbelievably prolific LA session musicians who recorded most of rock ‘n roll in the 1960s. It was really good, so naturally it made me want to watch and re-watch some of my other favorite music documentaries.

I found a bunch of lists online of music documentaries, but to be honest most of them are either concert films (e.g., The Last Waltz) or retrospective interview-style profiles of bands of individuals (e.g., Beware of Mr. Baker). So that made me want to put together a list of some recording studio-centric docs in case anybody else wants to go down this rabbit hole with me.

It’s worth noting this is not an attempt at a “Best of…” list. It’s just some good flicks. We’re off!

Let it Be – The Beatles

This is the real deal, right here. The cameras followed The Beatles through rehearsing and recording what wound up being their final album. You get a sense of the dysfunction in the band, but there are some moments of joy, too, like the famous, impromptu rooftop concert scene. This movie’s been out-of-print for decades, but there are bootlegs floating around.

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart – Wilco

The story behind Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot album is legendary — from the tensions between Jeff Tweedy and Jay Bennett, which resulted in Bennett leaving the band, to the album being passed on by the band’s label, only for them to sell it to Nonesuch Records for buckets of money on its way to becoming a big hit. And cameras were there capturing it all as it happened. This movie was actually how I heard about Wilco.

A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica – Metallica

I don’t know how many times I watched this documentary as a teenager, but it was a lot. A LOT. Part one covers the recording of the black album, and part two covers their first tour in support of it. As much as Metallica became known as self-absorbed blowhards, this is on the whole a fun look at the making of an album nobody had any idea was going to change their lives forever. And the whole thing’s on YouTube.

Sound City – Various

I love Dave Grohl. This documentary tells the story of Sound City, its legendary Neve mixing console, the demise of the studio, and Grohl’s resurrection of the board in his own studio. This is as much fun as I’ve ever had watching a music doc. Appearances by Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Paul McCartney, Rick Springfield, and tons more.

Muscle Shoals – Various

I’m cheating a little because I haven’t seen this one, but it’s about the music scene in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Like The Wrecking Crew, it publicly tells the story of something that was never well-known outside of the recording industry. And also, a bunch of our fellow contributors to the annual Couch by Couchwest festival hail from the Muscle Shoals area.