So step back to Saturday, or rather Monday, when I told y’all
(ed. note: y’all right now few, soon now many) about our weekend shoot. I
reserved only the slightest bit of line space to review my take away from
Skyline Drive, a band led by Derek Thomas, accompanied only by his pedal steel
guitar player. At times there’s a brilliant mix of harmonica, but for the most
part it’s strings, and vocals, killer vocals.
Now, I will venture to say that of you reading this, none
have heard of Skyline Drive before today, and possibly one has heard of Derek’s
former outfit, 60 Watt Kid. They were an “art rock” band, which in layman’s is
probably called an “electro” number. They were LA popular for a quick minute.
Got written up a good deal. I did a Google, a nice amount of stuff comes up for
60 Watt Kid. Found out who they were, where they started (Oakland), why they
were named 60 Watt Kid. Cause they were broke and jacked the laundry room for
light-bulbs. Landlord threw up a sign huntin’ down the “60 Watt Kid.” Pretty
good name, I do say so mah’damn’self.
That band broke up a little over a year ago due to “irreconcilable
differences.” I don’t think many people lost their shit over it, and now a year
removed Derek has found a new musical situation. He jumped from “art rock” to
country, good country, the shit I told you about the other day. That shit that
wins Oscars. It’s a wild switch in tunes, it really is.
I picked up on Skyline Drive by poaching off of my good buddy over here… I dug
the sound of that one track he posted, and I dropped a line on Derek’s
facebook. He in turn peeped our videos, then corresponded via email. We set up a shoot and Derek was
was supposed to drop tracks that same weekend that YoungBlood Hawke laid it down over
at the Love Shack. I was excited for it, because I dig this kind of music.
Unfortunately, Derek had a death in the family and he had to attend the
memorial. Bummed me out, but we found another day for him to drive on down from
Topanga and do his thing.
I didn’t really have a preconceived image of what I
envisioned Derek to look like, but had I, I don’t think it would have been of the man I met on Saturday. Not that he
didn’t look the part. He sure did. He had a Topanga Cowboy number on from top to
bottom, and it looked to be an honest one. He didn’t seem like he wasn’t fittin’ the
boots or the slacks, he didn’t come off like he was tryin’ too hard. Him and his
band mate lingered by their cars while Eastern Conference Champions thrashed. I
trotted over and shook his hand, he assumed my name from our email
correspondence, and I obviously knew his, so there wasn’t real need for
introduction, although we did so.
He was soft spoken, seemed like he thought out his responses and questions a bit
more than maybe their brevity lead on. We shot the shit for a minute, I told
him to come over to the van, have a drink, and listen to ECC. There was an awkward pause, I
walked off on that to return my attentions to some prior business. I’m not sure
if he was offended by that or not, my guess would be not, and that any
misconception comes about by way of him being as previously mentioned, a pretty
thoughtful, introspective (ed. note: seemingly, upon brief meeting) person.
This winds me around to my subject line, because today I came about to hearing
the mastered tracks that our sound wunderkind mixed up from this weekend’s
session. I have played Skyline Drive’s “Yellow Man’s Cliff” on repeat for most
of the day. A day that included much typing, a brief interlude from the hell
that is my head when I am forced to step into the realm of my day job, and then
more typing. Being a creature of habit, I always type with a musical
accompaniment. I find that my most, shall we say inspired typing, comes when my
fingers are being coerced by the soundtrack. Therefore I encounter myself, I’m
sure to my neighbors chagrin, blasting music at high decibels and often times
repeating the same song an obnoxious amount of plays in a row.
It’s been noted that I am always amazed by lyrics, and what they do, how
they work, how they slide right into your head without asking if they can come
in. Well Derek Thomas, his songs impressed me. I like stories, and that one
song in particular, “Yellowman’s Cliff,” he wrote a story in that shit. Tells
you about his first love dying in a fire, and I don’t know if it’s
really something that happened to him, or if it’s something he made up in his
head, or heard from somebody, or whatever, I just know it was damn nice.
It’s a fucker how a lot of the times it’s easier to remember the bad parts of
things, and I suppose a lot of times those types of songs sound prettier. I
don’t really know what got Derek Thomas from art rock to what he’s wailing on
now. I don’t know what weathered him, made him such a soft spoken character, a
real stoic type musician. I didn’t take the time out to ask him on Saturday,
didn’t really think it my place. Don’t much ever think it’s my place to ask
people their past. I just listened, and have now listened for a few days in a
row, and I will say that whatever it is that got him to here, its’ got to be a
cool story, because all of these songs are pretty vivid scenes. They all seem
pretty honest, and for me, they are all pretty good typin’ tunes. I appreciate
them on that level, because they help me think about things that aren’t
necessarily the easiest things to think on.
I’m gonna end this post here, because it’s long, and I have to slide back into
the real world, and despise a 9-5 that to be quite frank, simply burns.
Thankfully I will have these Skyline Drive tracks to annoy my co-workers with
for the rest of the day, and of course, days to come. I’m a leave y’all a list
of some other good thinking tracks, at least good for me over the years. Maybe
you’ll find ‘em useful yourself. Maybe you prefer thinking to I.C.P., which is
fine, whatever gets you there… Ramble West Young Man.
Songs to think on:
– I Will be There When You Die – My Morning Jacket
– Girl from the North Country – Bob Dylan
– The Weight – The Band
– I’m Still Your Fag – Broken Social Scene
– Low Man – Alberta Cross
– Ballad of Lou the Welterweight – The Felice Brothers
– Pale Blue Eyes – The Velvet Underground
That’s a good start, I’ll ad as the day and life goes on…
Links for the Day:
– Rare… (via You Ain’t No Picasso)
– “Young man” da, da, da, da (via RCRDLBL)
– Spank SPANK SPAAAANK ROCK (via Stereogum)
– Not sure I can support this even if it is Tweedy (via The Daily Swarm)
– This is what we call people in DawgTown that shouldn’t be in DawgTown (via Killahbeez)
– New middle school throwback track (via NME)
– Because my dad digs this (via NME)
– Good ole’ grungy schtuffs… (via MOKB)
– Smoove (via Aquarium Drunkard)
– Cool-ass(as)-shit (via Rawkblog)