idiotprogrammer on 03/14/2016 at 02:37AM
Monk Turner is a talented and prolific songwriter who has glommed onto the “concept album” genre (producing about 25 concept albums so far). (Note: He won the grand prize for his birthday song in the FMA birthday song contest). I wrote a long profile of Monk Turner a few years ago and have followed his recent releases over the years. A few years ago the concept was “Emergency” (imagining disaster in Los Angeles). More recently the concept was colors; each song was about a different color — and that includes a lot of obscure colors like fuchsia, cerulean, Zymenchlora (yes, it’s a color — I checked). (Check out my 6 word review of it). A central aspect to the concept album is that it lets the artist explore a variety of moods and styles within a certain theme. Turner mashes a lot of retro pop styles with contemporary instruments and idioms. All the albums have elements of 50s rock and 60s folk and funk, but they still feel “new.”
For this concept album, each song is sung by a different Greek god or goddess (but transplanted into an era of modern suburban angst).
My questions when approaching a Monk Turner concept is to ask: will individual songs stand out more than the concept itself? Is the melody decorating the lyrics or vice versa? Also, how much do the songs abide by traditional pop song formats (in terms of catchiness and production values)?
For this album, I feel that the overall concept stands out more than individual songs, that the lyrics drive the melodies (PS, they’re also hilarious!) and that the songs are quintessentially anti-pop; I don’t even think it would fall into the category of alternative (though there are certainly rock elements on the edges). In fact, the songs strike me as very theatrical — something which belongs onstage or (heaven forbid!) a Disney animation movie. To invent a category for this album, the first thing which comes to mind is offbeat suburban rock opera.
Turner wants to make the Greek gods recognizable to modern audiences, so he depicts them with modern personalities. We are supposed to sympathize with their perspectives and see a little bit of ourselves in them.
idiotprogrammer on 06/07/2011 at 02:00PM
(See also Robert Nagle's article profiling Monk Turner, Monk Turner's official website and Monk Turner's musical blog. All of his albums mentioned here are free for downloading and available on FMA) His Emergency Songs album was reviewed on FMA in March, 2011.
How has your biography or geography affected the kind of music you make? What do you think is unique or different about your music?
When I started playing guitar, I learned mostly classic and alternative rock with deep roots in the blues. Then when I did the band thing, my focus became surf, hardcore punk and Latin music. Towards the end of my ‘band’ career I was playing gospel and country music. I had grown up playing in bars since the tender age of 15 and was getting burned out on it. I loved the art of songwriting but I was done playing music for drunk people and making money for alcohol companies. It was at this time I started focusing my efforts on writing and recording.
Geography has also definitely played a huge role in my music. I’ve been doing solo music under my name for 10 years as of 2011. For about 4 of those years I lived in Texas where, as you probably know, the weather sucks and there isn’t much to do. During this time I had the most creative output but a lot of those songs are pretty rough around the edges. Living in LA where the weather is almost always beautiful and there is an abundance of distractions, my output has slowed down quite a bit. I’m lucky to get one album released a year. The flip side is that quality of my music has improved dramatically because of the incredible pool of talented musicians in Los Angeles. Living here is an inspiration unto itself.
As for the music itself, what makes it different is that I’m not restricted by genre, distribution, band members, or money. There aren’t a whole lot of people doing concept albums these days either.
What other musician or musicians have inspired you?
Elvis Costello is a huge influence and is by far my favorite recording artist. Not only do I love his voice and his music, but also I also love his artistic integrity. He’s never compromised and always made the music he wanted to make without worrying about a label liking it. That is such a rarity and thanks to that philosophy he’s got such a deep range of music.
That said, I’ve always considered myself more of a fan of music than a music creator. I just love good music regardless of the genre. I’m constantly inspired by music that is completely opposite from what I do. I’m also inspired by the musicians who play on the albums. The majority of the time when I sit down to write a song, I have a specific person in mind who I think would sound great on it. Duke Ellington did the same thing when he was writing his horn parts.
Can you name someone who is NOT a musician who has provided inspiration for your creativity?
I can think of something that is not music related that constantly inspires me. That would be advertising and the creative process. I studied creative advertising at University of Texas which gave me a strong foundation in conceptualizing. Think of a campaign like the famous ‘Got Milk.’ That is a huge idea that has been executed a ton of different ways but maintains its strong central idea. I also feel the role of the copywriter and art director in advertising is similar to the role of a lyricist and composer. I draw a lot from the ideas of effective mass communication when approaching a concept album.
Click below to read more of this insanely long interview!!!!!!!!!
idiotprogrammer on 06/23/2010 at 10:11PM
Just a reminder: there exists other music than what you find on FMA.
Lately, I've been listening to a lot of archive.org's old time radio mp3s and found some boffo stuff by Benny Goodman.
So I took the next step and compiled a list of the best free Benny Goodman downloads from archive.org . The stuff on archive.org is good, but nothing is labeled right, and searching is a nightmare.
Out of all the Benny Goodman stuff, here is an amazing find: 10 25 minute live concerts on the radio. Sure, a lot of the tracks are elsewhere, but it's great to hear more real and raw performances. 9 of them have the commercials edited out, so aside from the announcement giving brief title names between songs, it's 100% free music! AFSE!
idiotprogrammer on 06/05/2010 at 11:34PM
Ok, I've started to produce some FMA playlists (after doing a LOT of listening).
First, I've put all my FMA and Jamendo playlists on a separate page on my own site. Also, now that I've installed a media play on my blog, I'm now able to make playlists on-the-fly for mp3s on archive.org. Here is my Benny Goodman playlist/free mp3s.
Here is a listing of my FMA playlists so far. I've finished most of them, but haven't officially published a lot of them until I listen to them again.
- Gentle & Carefree Living, a combination of light-hearted and upbeat tracks, with a few oddballs thrown in.
- Philosophical Rock. Songs that are philosophical in mood or theme. Starts out with guitar (and Brad Sucks). Ends with electronica.
- Lackadaisical Mind-Stretches. Surreal and otherworldly stuff.
- Songs with an Attitude. Mainly vocals with a grudge.
- Neverending Music.... Some music just goes on and on and on.
- Frantic Playfulness. Fun/zany music. A lot of pop and electronica.
- Solemn Fluttering. Impressionistic electronica.
- Unlikely Combination. Music with crazy juxtapositions of styles.
- Mechanical Musings... Electronica with strong rhythms.
- Racuous & Rowdy Vocalizing. Some music just likes to go crazy. A lot of female singers listed here.
- Other Histories.. Music that belong to different eras (or lands).
In the interest of fair play, here are some great playlist by other FMA members:
- Down Home Radio is one of Oddio-Katya's finest. I just loved this playlist to death. Lots of country-sounding (but not always country) songs.
idiotprogrammer on 05/19/2010 at 11:40PM
I've still been listening away to FMA.
I just wanted to mention a few things while I gather more gems for future playlists.
Katya's Down Home Radio really is one of the best mixes I'd ever heard (and I thought I didn't like country music!)
Also Sakee Sed (on FMA) is an amazing and zany Italian rock band.
idiotprogrammer on 03/29/2010 at 12:26AM
"what people dont understand, is there is awesome free shit everywhere." (anonymous comment on a creative commons music sharing site).
idiotprogrammer on 02/20/2010 at 07:34AM
I am new to FMA, but I am a longtime fan of good free music and wrote a long article called 11 Incredible Musicians You can Download for Free . I got most of the albums from jamendo and Internet Archive; haven't yet checked to see what's on FMA. Anyway, this article of mine is great. Not only does it list a lot of titles, but I include interviews with most of the musicians I included on the list.
Out of Jamendo’s 29,000 free albums, I’ve listened to about 2200+ albums and downloaded 400+ musical albums for free. In the article I list my 11 favorite.