#Writing #MusicMonday: The Beautiful Machine by Josh Woodward

CoverI feel like kind of a schmuck.

See, I’ve known about Josh Woodward for pretty much the entire time I’ve listened to Creative Commons music, close to ten years now.

And I kept trying to listen to his music, now and then.

And… I just didn’t care for it. He clearly had musical chops, but something rubbed me wrong about his songs for a long time.

And so, I’ve never really promoted his work. Like, ever. Despite the fact that he’s like the flagship musician for Free Culture (along with Incompetech).

Well, after the Great Laptop Disaster earlier this year, I went and started rebuilding my CC music library, and I revisited a song of Woodward’s that I definitely liked from recently, “Airplane Mode”.

And yeah, it’s fun. And even if it retains a bit of the attitude I disliked in a number of his other songs, it’s well-camouflaged.

Then I listened to the whole album it came from, The Beautiful Machine. And this album, more than any of the previous ones, worked for me. The elements that rubbed me wrong previously do remain, but as with “Airplane Mode”, the songs are fun enough, and bury those elements deep enough, that I can easily ignore them.

And the songs are very fun.

So, finally, I am pushing some of his work. Without reservation. Hie the over and acquire it!

Download The Beautiful Machine by Josh Woodward free from the artist’s own site.


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The Beautiful Machine by Josh Woodward is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Tumbling Dishes Like Old-Man’s Wishes by Jahzzar

CoverWhat!? Six whole months have passed since I shared some of Jahzzar’s music!? Outrageous! Let me remedy that immediately. 🙂

This unusually-titled album is another of Javier Suarez’s explorations of an “Americana” sound, along with previous Music Monday album Blinded By Dust, and one or two that I’ve not shared here. It’s interesting that a Spaniard does such good things with American sounds.

And not only do they sound American, but they’re fun. Cool, groovy, expressive. Lots of words apply, really.

But it’s Jahzzar, so you (should) already know that it’s really good stuff.

You have several options to download Tumbling Dishes Like Old-Man’s Wishes. You can get it free from Jahzzar’s official site, Better With Music.

Or you can get it from BandCamp, with an option to send as much money Jahzzar’s way as you see fit.

Or, finally, you can get it from the Free Music Archive.


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Tumbling Dishes Like Old-Man’s Wishes by Jahzzar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Metissage by Pasqualino Ubaldini

[cover] Pasqualino Ubaldini - MetissageThis is almost inexcusable. Here is an artist I’ve mentioned by name at least twice before, and an album I’ve listened to for years, one track of which I even featured in a podcast, and yet I’ve never made this album part of Writing Music Monday.

Allow me to rectify the hell out of that oversight.

Pasqualino Ubaldini is a jazz guitarist in Italy who is very talented, and sometimes collaborates with Paolo Pavan, another CC jazz musician everybody should know, and those collaborations are how I first discovered his work.

He also takes his love of jazz with a love of other cultures’ musical traditions and mixes them together to come up with works that are very, very lovely.

Metissage has a lot of Arabian and North African influences, and it is a delight.

The first track, “Pietre”, sounds like the launch of an adventure — upbeat, celebratory, exotic, and fun. And the album is an adventure, as much, I suspect, for the musician as for the listener.

It’s a tradition that goes back well before Dave Brubeck. Jazz can absorb and interact with music from any culture, and has, almost from the beginning of its existence. There was, for example, Chinese jazz from at least 1935 onward.

So it’s not at all odd, to me at least, that this Italian man has made such an excellent album of arabic and north African-flavored jazz.

[Ubaldini has several albums available with CC licenses through Jamendo, but Metissage is the only one with a Free Culture license. I haven’t really called attention to it, but I’ve made 2015 the year of All Free Culture Music on this blog. (That said, all of his work is worth listening to.)]

Download Metissage free the Internet Archive.


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Metissage by Pasqualino Ubaldini is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: Pen by Jeffrey Philip Nelson

Pen CoverJeffrey Philip Nelson is a singer-songwriter in the ’70s mold, and I basically mean that as a compliment.

This album of folk-ish songs is quiet, evocative, and entirely appealing. And they’re the product of an interesting life. Nelson didn’t put everything down on “making it” as a musician. He owns a construction business in southern California and has a family. His songs are the result of living life, and his life supports his art.

Isn’t that refreshing?

But back to the actual music. I’m going to say something about it that will be too easily misconstrued, so I’ll try to make clear what I am and am not saying.

The quietness of the songs, the spareness of the arrangements, and the focus on the carefully crafted lyrics put me in mind of Townes Van Zandt.

But I am not suggesting his lyrics and songs are as brilliant as Townes’s work. Nobody’s is, honestly. But Nelson has a bit of the same feel as Van Zandt’s recordings, and some of the soulfulness as well.

This is another treasure trove of lyrics that you can quote freely in your books, with the only requirement being that you give proper attribution for them (Credit and copyright on your copyright page, along with a link to Nelson’s site, and a direct link to the song’s download page would, I think, be appropriate.)

Listen to and download Pen by Jeffrey Philip Nelson free, from Jamendo, from NoiseTrade, or pay for it on Bandcamp (and still get the same license!).


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Pen by Jeffrey Philip Nelson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: What Is Love by Melanie Ungar

What Is Love coverKicking off a second Lyrical April run for Writing Music Monday, we’ve got an EP (but really, nearly an album) that hits all sorts of sweet spots.

First, it’s very good. Professionally produced and performed.

Then, it’s Attribution-licensed. You can use this album for just about anything, including using song lyrics in your novel, so long as you provide proper attribution.

And last, but definitely not least, it’s in a genre for which there is a dearth Creative Commons music: country. Pop country, in fact.

Melanie Ungar’s What Is Love is, by just about any standard, excellent. The only possible objection to it is if you don’t like the genre.

(And even then, country’s not my favorite, but I like these seven songs and twenty-seven minutes very, very much.)

The album’s download page says:

What Is Love is the debut E.P. from Canadian country-pop singer-songwriter Melanie Ungar. Inspired by the honesty in country music, and the fun in pop music, Melanie writes and sings songs about the ups and downs of romance. From the love ballad “Madly, Deeply” to the sassy, up-beat title track “What Is Love”, Melanie’s catchy songs and heartfelt lyrics will keep you singing along.

And that’s not just ad copy. The tunes are catchy. The lyrics are heartfelt. The whole thing just works, and wonderfully.

Download What Is Love free from Jamendo.


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What Is Love by Melanie Ungar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Music Monday: Elijah Drop Your Gun and From The Mouth Of Paris EP by Mieka Pauley

Elijah album coverYes, I am cheating enormously by giving you two this week, even if one is a four-track EP. And while both are Creative Commons-licensed, you have to pay for them. But the money goes directly to the artist, and she kicks ass, so quit yer complainin’.

Mieka Pauley has been an indie performer for more than a decade, winning a number of contests, and supporting herself solely through her music for all that time.

And if you give her work half a chance, it’s not hard to see how she’s able to do so.

Her lyrics are intelligent, thoughtful, often quite wickedly clever, and always satisfying. Her melodies are pleasing, engage the listener directly, and often anticipate and trump the listener’s expectations by doubling back and doing something much better than expected.

I’m also biased toward her because she has done quite a number of songs that make me feel she’s spent time spelunking in my subconscious and writing out what she found there.

Elijah Drop Your Gun is her first full-length album, yet it’s completely mature work. The third song, “Secret”, is just one example of how her lyrics work at multiple levels, setting up your expectations and then pulling the rug out from under you:

Can you keep a secret and guard it with your life
Can you keep a secret, cross your heart, hope to die
Would it stay between us, just simple words between us
Can you keep a secret this time

Those last two words come out of nowhere and turn the entire verse from an expression of cautious trust into a knife in the back, with a good solid twist added in.

I have many theme songs, and Mieka sings several of them. The one on this album is the kick-ass rocker “Be Like The Man”:

Be like the Man, be like the Mob
Be like the State, be like a God

Get mad, get mad, dress yourself in black
This cannot wait, you gotta take it back
Get mad, get mad, dress yourself in black
And prove it, do you want it back

What’s interesting about this song beyond the adrenaline-pumping tune is, again, the complexity. It is an anthem, but it’s also a challenge and an expression of preemptive contempt. (She tells the story of writing the song in live shows — the chorus is what it is because those are the four things “you do not fuck with”.)

albumThe EP From The Mouth Of Paris was originally done as a release for a band, The Mieka Canon, but that project seems to have fallen by the wayside, and it is now listed as a solo. In any case, it is a group of four great songs and no bad ones.

“Colossal” might well be titled “The Sociopath’s Song”:

Be honest, be straight:
Do you wanna make a colossal mistake
As much as I do?

“We’re All Gonna Die” is blackly funny when you know that it’s written from her own life. Her husband is (or was) a stand-up comedian, and she “got” to hear him work up his material from inspiration onward, which meant that he kept telling her about awful news stories as he was sifting through them, things that most people shrug off, but which left her, as she put it one time, curled up on her bed sobbing.

“Faster”, my favorite song on the release, is simply a brilliant piece of songwriting. It captures perfectly the yearning to be healed when you know you’re broken, the “if I could just have x, things would be better”, and each verse demonstrates how “x” is never what you thought it would be once you get it.

Finally, “That Golden Room” is a piece of quiet beauty, a different take on yearning, this time for that moment in your life when everything was Right, but you didn’t realize it until after it had already changed.


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Elijah Drop Your Gun by Mieka Pauley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License
From The Mouth Of Paris by Mieka Pauley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Blinded By Dust by Jahzzar

[cover] Jahzzar - Blinded by DustJavier Suarez makes his third appearance in Writing Music Mondays, with yet another piece of brilliance in yet another genre, this one nearly unclassifiable (at least to me).

Here’s what Jahzzar has to say about it:

Folk-Rock with celt music influences, in the way of [previous Jahzzar albums]”Smoke Factory” or “Home”. This is definitely the most rocking of the three and the celtic sounds that are more in the background. More distorted rhythm guitars in the style of american indie.

And here’s what I say: Blinded by Dust is like the soundtrack to a lost John Hughes film, a teenage romantic comedy set, not in the suburbs, but in a rural high school, for which he hired a Euro Bruce Springsteen to do a “typical rural American” sound.

Doesn’t make sense? Listen to it. Tell me how else to explain the combination of utterly unique yet totally familiar that is this album. (Maybe you won’t agree with the “Euro Springsteen”, maybe it’s more “Euro Mellencamp” or “Euro Neil Young”.)

However you choose to classify it, this has been in heavy rotation on my Android and my laptop, and I like it a lot for background music.

Blinded by Dust is available on Jamendo as well as the Free Music Archive. For some reason, this one is not on Jahzzar’s BandCamp page, but you can still go there, and send him money through one of the other albums to show your appreciation. 🙂


Creative Commons License
Blinded by Dust by Jahzzar is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.