Monday, June 25, 2012

Recording Report

Just a few of the amps available at Invisible Sound Studios
My band spent the weekend at Invisible Sound Studios in Baltimore, MD recording our “debut album.” It was an amazing experience and we got through basic tracks for all 10 songs. We will spend a few weeks at home adding overdubs, keys, and vocals. After that, we’ll head back to the studio to mix and master. We hope to be completed by early September.

We’re still raising funds through our Kickstarter campaign. Please support us if you feel so inclined.

And here are some pictures from the sessions. For those of you that are gear junkies, you may want to brace yourself.

Vox AC15 Reissue and 65 Amps London

Tonebenders, Treble Boosters, and a TS808

Reverend Goblin into Cordavox Rotating Speaker Cab

AC30 Reissue and 65 Amps London

Vintage Deluxe Reverb

'58 Tweed Deluxe - Sounds like the end of the world

Friday, June 22, 2012

Recording our First Album

The Band is going to Invisible Sound Studios in Baltimore tomorrow. We’ll be spending Saturday and Sunday recording the basic tracks for our “debut album.” It’s not too late to join our Kickstarter campaign. Just last night we received our first $100 backer. I can’t wait to find out what song they want us to learn and play at the album release party. Anything goes. I secretly hope they chose Oops, I Did It Again – I think we can do a unique take on it.

Back to recording. Invisible Sound calls themselves the North American Guitar Amplifier Museum (because they have over 150 vintage and boutique amps). I intend to use over $10,000 worth of amps over the weekend. My short list is: 65 Amps London, Vox 50th Anniversary AC15, and a vintage Fender Tweed Deluxe. I’m especially excited to attack these amps with my new secret weapon – the Homebrew Electronics Germania Treble Booster.

We’ve been practicing like crazy and we plan to do the basic tracks “live.” Meaning we all record at once in one big room. We’ve budgeted an hour per song for basic tracks. I’m cautiously optimistic that we can hit that goal. Theoretically, we should be able to record five minutes worth of music in one hour. But to do this, it means we each have to get through the song (together) with no mistakes. Or at least no mistakes that are picked up by other mics around the room.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pappardelle with Garlic Scape Pesto

I’m loving our new CSA. Last week they gave us three things I had never before tried: red Russian cabbage, bok choy, and garlic scapes. I’d always heard great things about garlic scapes, but I had never tried them.

I decided the best use for the scapes was to make a pesto. It turned out great. It had the aroma of fresh garlic but a milder flavor. Don’t get me wrong though – it’s still an intense garlic flavor.

I used about a tablespoon of the pesto to flavor the sautéed red Russian cabbage. On Sunday night, I made pappardelle and tossed it with about 1/3 cup of the pesto. It tasted like summer. This pesto would also be great on toasted crusty bread. And I think putting a little on a piece of grilled salmon could be great. hocofood@@@

Pappardelle with Garlic Scape Pesto Recipe

  • Cook pasta according the instructions on the box
  • Toss with 1/3 - 1/2 cup of the pesto
  • Eat

Chocolate Milk in School Cafeterias: Why?

Earlier this week, my eldest took a “kindergarten tour” with her pre-school class. She starts kindergarten in the fall, and this is a way to show the kids around the “big” school and get them prepared for the transition. As part of the tour, they get to buy lunch and eat it in the cafeteria.

As she was telling us about her tour and all of the cool things they did and saw, she offered this amazing nugget: “…and we had lunch in the cafeteria. They even had chocolate milk, but I had regular milk because chocolate makes me crazy. And it’s just so chocolatey.”

Chocolate milk?!  Chocolate flipping milk!

Can someone please explain to me why on earth they are still serving chocolate milk in schools? Stupid me, I thought we were smart enough to have stopped giving our kids useless added sugar at school.

Just last week, the president of our local health foundation wrote an op-ed urging parents to stop serving sugary snacks and drinks after sporting events. I’m 100% on board with that. In her op-ed, she stated “If we can eliminate even one sugary drink a day from a child's life, we can cut out pounds and save lives.” And no doubt, she’s right. But why on earth are we blaming only parents and focusing on cutting that sugary drink from sporting events? Shouldn't we also be cutting it from the place where every kid spends five days a week?

I realize that the issue of healthy school lunches (or lack thereof) is a Pandora's Box of misguided policies. But maybe we can start with ditching the chocolate milk?

And please don’t get me started on juice…

That's all for now. But as Pam said in Strange Brew, "Maybe you shouldn't have had that chocolate milk?" hocoblogs@@@

Thursday, June 7, 2012

My Pedalboard, June 2012

I'm always talking about pedals on this blog, but I don't think I've ever posted a picture of my board. Here it is as of a week or two ago.

You might notice that neither the Mojo Hand Huckleberry nor the Danelectro Cool Cat Fuzz are on my board. It doesn't mean that they've fallen out of favor entirely. It just means that I like to mix it up when it comes to fuzz.My fuzz journey has been ridiculous. I think (famous last words) I'm finally all set with a Mojo Hand Huckleberry, a Throbak Stonebender, a EHX "Black Russian" Big Muff, a Fulltone '69 MKII, and a Danelectro Cool Cat Fuzz.I also have a clone of the Catalinbread Merkin and a Danelectro French Toast, but those are just on hand for "crazy sounds."

Pedal Order and Specifics:
Fulltone '69 MKII (*battery powered)
Throbak Stonebender (*battery powered)
Pigtronix Philosopher's Tone Germanium Gold Edition
Menatone Top Boost in a Can
Electro Harmonix Micro Pog
TC Electronic Polytune
Line 6 M9 (used mainly for modulation, delay, and reverb) (expression pedal for univibe speed, runaway analog delay freakouts, and other fun things)
Zinky Master Blaster (clean boost)

It's all powered by a Visual Sound One-Spot. I've long considered upgrading to a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power, but I can't justify the expense because the One-Spot always works fine. I know some people find it noisy, but I have not had that problem.

And yes, both fuzzes (and all of my fuzzes for that matter) are powered by cheap dollar store variety carbon zinc batteries. I know it sounds crazy, but I can hear/feel the difference between using a battery vs. the One-Spot. At least I'm not (yet) using a rubber band to hold on the base plates.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Grilled Romaine Recipe

I always see grilled romaine on menus. For some unknown reason, not only have I never ordered it, but until last weekend, I had never tried to make it myself. I like romaine. I like grills. Why not?

Thanks to a beautiful head of romaine from our CSA, I made grilled romaine on Saturday night. It was great and super simple. The heat intensifies the flavor and the crisping adds to the texture. Mrs. P90 described the flavor as almost asparagus like. I agree. I served it with just a little Caesar dressing and some crumbled feta. It would also be great with a basic balsamic dijon vinaigrette and some goat cheese. I’ll try this next time. hocofood@@@

Grilled Romaine Recipe

  • Heat your grill on high
  • Cut a head of romaine into quarters (length wise)
  • Soak the quarters in water and spin in a salad spinner
  • Grill the romaine for 20-60 seconds (on each cut side)
  • Place on a plate grilled side up and dress lightly  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Grilled Tofu with Gorman Farms Bok Choy

If you’ve read my musings previously, you know that 1. I love grilling and barbequing and 2. I haven’t met many animals I didn’t want to eat. Heck, I once surmised that dolphins must taste like a magical cross between tuna and venison (this was a joke, please don’t contact PETA). But think about it, you know they do.

I won’t deny loving meat, but there is no reason to eat it daily and about a million reasons not to. Add to this that one of the P90 girls is a strict *vegetarian (Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets not withstanding) and you can see why I have been trying to cut back on our meat consumption and looking for other protein sources.

*She’s three, so I assume it’s for taste/texture reasons and not issues of compassion or animal welfare. Side note, Mrs. P90 claims to have never eaten a fast food hamburger (aside from In-N-Out Burger or Five Guys) in her life and to have been a mostly vegetarian child. So who knows if this will stick. I’m fine with it. There is no reason to eat meat if you don’t like it. 

But back to our scheduled topic. Last week, we received bok choy from Gorman Farms CSA. Oddly enough, I had never cooked bok choy. I did what I always do with a “new to me” food and checked How to Cook Everything to see what Mark Bittman suggests. I made grilled tofu with stir-fried bok choy. It was delicious. Here's the recipe. hocofood@@@

For the Tofu:
  1. Cut a brick of tofu into four slices
  2. Marinate in Trader Joe’s Soyaki (or the marinade of your choice) (if you use the Soyaki, you might want to use 2 parts Soyaki to 1 part water. It’s very salty and the tofu really soaks up a marinade)
  3. Grill over medium-high heat for three minutes per side (baste with a little more soyaki as you grill)
For the bok choy:

2 tablespoons of water
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
hot pepper flakes to taste
¼ teaspoons of Chinese five spice seasoning (if you like)
  1. Cut the leaves from the stems of the bok choy. Trim the stems as necessary, then cut them into 1-inch pieces. Cut the leaves into wide ribbons and keep them separate from the stems.
  2. Put 3 teaspoons of peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the bok choy stems and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just lose their crunch, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the bok choy leaves and the “sauce.” Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates and the bok choy is fully tender, 5 to 10 minutes; add a little more water if necessary.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Kickstart my Art?

Sorry, this isn't a post about the awesome/horrible Motley Crue song Kickstart my Heart. It's about my band gearing up to record a "proper album."

Last week, we launched a Kickstarter Campaign and we are 40% of the way to our goal. Everyone who "kicks in" $10 or more will get a copy of the completed album. For larger contributions, there are better thank you gifts. Two of those include empty beer bottles (because of Kickstarter rules) that will be filled with sweet, sweet home brew care of yours truly. And I'll also be offering up some delicious pulled pork BBQ.

So come on, support the dadrock stylings of Artistic Differences and KICKSTART MY ART!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Of Monsters and Thrones

Best album of the Year? Worst album cover of the year?
I’ve been remiss. I haven’t told my two loyal readers about my favorite new band. I am head over heals in love with Of Monsters and Men. I’ve heard them referred to as “this year’s The Head and the Heart,” but I’m not feeling that comparison. If anything, I’d call them a magical cross between Belle & Sebastian and Arcade Fire. No matter who you compare them to, their debut album My Head in An Animal is easily one of my favorite 2012 releases and is chock full of great songs.

My favorites are probably Little Talks, Six Weeks, From Finner, and King and Lionheart. Even the girls love Of Monsters and Men, although my eldest says their name is silly. I tried to explain that all of the good band names had been used up by the mid-to-late 1990’s (*insert citation – Limp Bizkit, Hoobastank, Maroon 5) but that’s a hard concept for a five year old. Especially a kid who thinks this about Belle & Sebastian. But I digress.

Maybe it’s because I was late to the party and just started watching Game of Thrones around the time I got this album, but if there ever was a perfect song for Thrones, it’s King and Lionheart.

King and Lionheart
Howling ghost they reappear
In mountains that are stacked with fear
But you're a king and I'm a lion-heart.
And in the sea that's painted black,
Creatures lurk below the deck
But you're a king and I'm a lion-heart.

If I had to recommend just one song from the album, it's this one:

Friday, June 1, 2012

In the Aeroplane over the Sea

Neutral Milk Hotel - In The Aeroplane Over the Sea

If you don't already own this album, chances are you will hate it! Seriously, you can't handle this album. You'll think the singing is off key, you'll say the sound quality is horrible, you won't know what the F to think about a "Two Headed Boy all floating in glass," and then finally, your mind will be blown when you find out that the whole thing is about Anne Frank.

But I think it's one of the most important albums of the 1990's and in the Top 10 of best indie rock albums of all time. And it's available from amazon for only $2.99 right now for the entire album.

So BUY IT! Listen to it three or four times, and then either thank me, or tell me I have the worst taste in music ever.