The Couch Abides

A few weeks ago, Couch by Couchwest, the online music festival for everybody who couldn’t or didn’t want to go to South by Southwest, called it a day. They started in 2011, and they were recommended to me just before we released The Ghost of John Henry in 2012, so Sci-Fi Romance participated in every year but the festival’s first.

As a tip of the cap and a thank you to the festival organizers, who all had their own lives, jobs, blogs, cats, taco recipes, dogs, and beer can pyramids to attend to, I decided to make one more video, and keep the spirit of Couch by Couchwest alive for 2016. So I give you “The Masque of the Red Death, 1964” from our October EP, recorded in my garage two nights ago.

If you weren’t hip to CXCW, it presented a staggering — staggering! — amount of great music recorded in fields, back yards, front porches, living rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens all over the world. Do yourself a favor if you haven’t and spend some time going through the archives on their site. You can catch up on all the Sci-Fi Romance performances here, for instance. But if you only have time for one video, I will leave you with what is probably my favorite: Rosanne Cash and her band playing “A Feather’s Not a Bird.”


Horror Movies to Watch This October

It’s hard for me to believe that it was a year ago today that — without fully realizing what I was doing — I started work on the Sci-Fi Romance October EP. For those not familiar, every October I watch as many classic horror movies as I can cram into my eyeballs, and last year, over ten days I watched six movies, wrote a song about each, and recorded them on a nearly 30-year-old analogue four-track cassette recorder. We’re gearing up for the release of our next full-length album, so I won’t be spontaneously writing and recording songs this year, but I will be doing all the horror-movie-eyeball-cramming.

I wanted to share my planned list of movies, in case anybody else wanted to celebrate the annual return of the best month, and wasn’t sure what to watch.

In no particular order:

  • The Masque of the Red Death
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • The Wicker Man (which I have in a collectible wicker box!)
  • The Tomb of Ligeia
  • The Haunted Palace (billed as an Edgar Allan Poe adaptation, this is actually one of the best H.P. Lovecraft adaptations out there)
  • House of Wax
  • The Invisible Man
  • The House on Haunted Hill
  • Twice-Told Tales
  • Cat People
  • Curse of the Demon
  • Burn Witch, Burn
  • Frankenstein/Bride of Frankenstein/Young Frankenstein
  • Black Sunday
  • Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell

That’s about one every other day. Between rehearsals and…you know, life…I may be able to keep that pace up.

My list is maybe a little Vincent Price-heavy, if there can be such a thing, but I’m…hopeful…I’ll survive. What are some of your favorites? What will you be watching?

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…