Inspired.

So I may have mentioned this before, but I don’t always have an easy time of it when I’m writing for this blog. The delays you see generally happen because I just can’t think of anything to write about, and I don’t want to cram the blog with filler.

The thing is, though, I sweat it so much that I practically get performance anxiety. Which is ridiculous all on its own. I mean, it’s only a damn blog entry, y’know?

Anyhow, it occurred to me that there’s one arrow in my creative quiver that I haven’t really used on the blog – I’m a compulsive listmaker. Have been all my life, and it’s still my strongest organizational tool as well. (Hell, let’s be honest. It’s really the only way I know of processing and sorting information.)

Also, 2011’s been, to be frank, a fucking hellish year. January was brutal – money problems, sickness, general anxiety and stress, cabin fever, all sorts of ugly highschool-drama bullshit, depression, no work, short days with little sunlight, post-holiday anticlimax… you name it, I had it. Looking back on it now, it’s like looking at somebody else stumbling through a horror movie. I was definitely operating on the frayed ends of sanity.

February, in comparison, was infinitely better. Not without its share of grief, but the overall amount of trauma was greatly reduced, and things just started to happen. March, so far, has been another giant step up – a huge amount of work dropped into my lap when it was desperately needed, I’ve got a bunch of new art commissions, I’ve made some new friends, and of course there’s an art show the end of April to prep for. Plus next month will feature some live bands and a friend I haven’t seen in a year coming to town for a brief, steak-and-whiskey-filled visit.

By now you’re saying, “where’s the damn list?” Well, I’m getting to that. More than anything (except the art itself, obviously), what’s gotten me through these Dark Times was music. I’ve heard a ton of new(ish) stuff, and it gave me what I needed to keep the hangman from my door.

So without further ado, here’s the good stuff; it kept my creative juices flowing, too:

  • Social Distortion: Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes. This band has been a fave of mine for many years. Sometimes it’s like a gutpunch; other times it’s like hanging out with an old friend. And this new album is as strong as anything they’ve ever done. Highly recommended.
  • The Heavy: The House That Dirt Built, and Great Vengeance & Furious Fire. These guys were recommended to me by fellow artiste and all-around swell guy Snakebite Cortez. They’ve got a great sound, clever lyrics and a great party vibe.
  • The Californian: Sea of Love. Also recommended by a friend (in this case, jazz bassist and brother in arms Lyman Medeiros, of The Funky Supervillain fame). They’ve got a bit of a surf vibe to them, with inevitable influences by the Pixies.
  • Slash: Slash. I resisted listening to this album for a long time, mainly because of some negative reviews I read when it first came out, plus the presence of some questionable guests on it. Then I ran into my old buddy Scott MacLeod, and he said I should at least give the song with Ian Astbury a chance. Turns out the whole album is damn strong from start to finish.
  • Gin Wigmore: Holy Smoke. Strong writing, a quirky voice, good performances all around. Although I’ve gotta admit, “Dying Day” was a bit too much for me at times.
  • Dropkick Murphys: Going Out in Style. God, I love this band. I’ve been a fan for years, and this album absolutely does not disappoint.
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead: “Say Hey (I Love You)”. A pure, sweet, honest sentiment, and a damn danceable tune. First heard it on an episode of Weeds.
  • Cee Lo Green: “Fuck You”. Because sometimes it just has to be said.
  • Hugo: “99 Problems”. An odd little cover of a Jay-Z tune – some tasty guitar, great percussion, and a sentiment I can definitely get behind.

Thank you one and all; I couldn’t have done it without you.

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