Willie Simpson, Memory Lane

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on December 31st, 2013 by Willie

UPDATE 12/31/2013: Happy New Years everybody! I just want to let you know that I re-recorded Memory Lane and I updated the music video to reflect all the new sonic goodness! I hope you have a great 2014 filled with tons of dreamy memories.

UPDATE 12/22/2013: Today marks the end of what turned out to be a very productive weekend for me. As you can see below, I updated the song and music video for Chain Letter, and now I am adding a brand new original music video for my song Memory Lane. I wasn’t planning to make a music video for this but my dear friend Sonia and I were wondering around Southern Brooklyn and captured some footage of some swans and ducks and realized we had some interesting footage. Combined with some other stuff we’d filmed over the summer, we found ourselves with a video perfect for Memory Lane. In the clip, you can see me and Sonia bumbling around and excitedly pointing at things by Sheepshead Bay. I hope you enjoy it and I hope it gets you excited for my soon to be released album Funeral Business. Again, big thanks to the ultra-talented Andrew Lee for providing the beautiful electric guitar work to the song. I’d also like to thank Andrew for believing in the song when I was ready to throw it away for some reason. So, without further babbling, here is music video!

Originally Published May 8, 2011:  Andrew and I tweaked the song.  He redid his solo to make it more tuneful, and I redid the chorus to achieve a similar effect.  I’d love for everyone to hear it!

I woke up at 5 am on Saturday Morning and made this, my newest song, Memory Lane.  Well, to be honest, I had written most of the song last fall, but it wasn’t till this past weekend when I figured out how to record it.  Conceptually, I was very much inspired by the Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields single.  But unlike those songs, this one is more universal, and less personal.  The version I present to you is mostly finished.  I might tweak the drums or add a little more guitar color in a future version, but its basically done.  I hope you enjoy it.

Memory Lane featuring Andrew Lee on lead guitar.

(Words and music by Willie Simpson)

Oh, here are the lyrics if you wish to sing along.

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Willie Simpson, Heart On My Sleeve

Posted in Willie Simpson's Original Music on November 2nd, 2012 by Willie

For your consideration, I submit yet another song from my forthcoming album “Funeral Business.” “Heart On My Sleeve” is a moderately paced romantic dance rock song that I am very proud of. The lyrics were all true to my heart, written during a lonely time last year when I extra pathetic, giving it the double layer of heart broken authenticity. The music has that crunchy minor key harmonic wistfulness that I love, and the guitar solo by Andrew Lee soars and roars, but what else would you expect if you’ve been following along? Again, the stunning artwork was provided by Sonia Rapaport, including the sneak peak preview of the upcoming album art for the whole LP. I’m really excited about all this music and art I have laying around, just waiting to find its fans the world over. I hope you enjoy it. All the best, Willie.

 

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Ween Breaks Up

Posted in Ween on May 31st, 2012 by Willie

One of the world’s most creative and innovate bands, Ween, has apparently ended.  The band’s lead singer Aaron Freeman, otherwise known as Gene Ween, has announced the end of Ween in Rolling Stone.  The breakup came as suprise to Mickey Melchiondo, Dean Ween, as he sent out this sad message on facebook.

Obviously it seems that the breakup is sudden and unplanned.  Aaron noted that there is no bad blood, but rather its just a time to just close that chapter in his life.  Is this really the end?  Maybe officially, but probably not forever.  I’m sure some reunion concert/reunion record will come down the road at some point.  Whether that’s gonna be in 2 years, or 20, nobody knows right now, but its truly a sad day in the history of rock and roll.  For Ween fans I have two videos.  The first is a short documentary on the guys from 2000, and the second is Aaron Freeman playing “It’s Gonna be Alright,” an appropriately crushing ballad for the occasion.  RIP Ween…


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The Unicorns, Sea Ghost

Posted in The Unicorns, Youtube Favs on March 20th, 2012 by Willie

I was walking to my new office in Sheepshead Bay this morning when “Sea Ghost” by the Unicorns popped into my shuffle.  As I was strolling down the dirty street towards my destination, I found myself hypnotized by the maritime swing rock of the nautically themed song.  The guitar tone has that perfect garage band crunch, and the melody is both catchy and unpredictable.  In short, its a perfect rock and roll song.  The video below is some crazy fan made video of people running around in ghost costumes, miming the opening piccolo solo, and making merry times to one of the world’s greatest unknown songs. Check it out.

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The Unicorns, Jellybones

Posted in The Unicorns, Youtube Favs on January 3rd, 2012 by Willie

I was given the Unicorns’ album, Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone?, way back in late 2004, and I still have not gotten over it.  Since then, I’ve collected all the demos, music videos, Islands records, Clues records, and bootlegs possible, and am still hungry for more.  The creative genius of Alden Penner, Nicholas Thorburn, and Jamie Thompson still resonate with me, all these years later.  The Unicorns were a frightfully talented trio of Canadian rock perfection; an indie rock band that had ambitions of pop glory and transcendental coolness.  The group’s lead singers and songwriters, Penner and Thorburn, formed a duo of talent and excellence rarely seen in rock and roll.  Frankly, they reminded me of Lennon and McCartney.  A bold and crazy comparison, but hey, they are that good.  The future retro indie rock they made was beautiful, unpredictable, and inspired.  The aesthetic construction of their group’s image was homespun, honest, and original.  I hate that they broke up after only record, because these guys had a chemistry that played to their strengths.  The future seemed unlimited.  Anyway, here is their major music video, “Jellybones.”  It’s fantastic and gorgeous, matching the songs brilliance.  Enjoy.

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The Kinks, Autumn Almanac

Posted in The Kinks, Youtube Favs on December 9th, 2011 by Willie

The Kinks.  I love them.  I love Ray Davies, the writer of this song, “Autumn Almanac,” an absolute stunning piece of musical genius from 1967.  A lot happened in 1967.  It was the year when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper to critical and international fame, when Jimi Hendrix was revolutionizing the use of the electric guitar, and when the world’s youth was dropping acid and dreaming of the future.  Ray Davies was thinking of the past; of autumn days, his old school notebook, hiking in the woods, and Sunday dinners.  There is no better writer of nostalgic pop then Ray, and this song is his shining anthem to that feeling.  At his creative height, Ray challenged the Beatles in terms of melodic brilliance and was as good as Bob Dylan in creating emotive original lyrics.  He was that good, and “Autumn Almanac” is one of his best songs and greatest examples of his powers.  The song is a stream of consciousness, both lyrically, and melodically, but its not without coherence, form, and beauty.  The song exists at the limit of creativity a person can achieve with an acoustic guitar writing in the pop song format.  I hope you enjoy it.

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The Black Keys, She Said She Said

Posted in The Beatles, The Black Keys, Youtube Favs on November 28th, 2011 by Willie

The Black Keys are guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney.  Together they have forged a highly successful blues rock revivalist band that are the darlings of the upper tiers of the indie rock world.  I’ve always like them, but have not extensively combed through their catalog.  Perhaps I’ve finally found a reason to.  The reason comes in the form of their cover of the Beatles “She Said, She Said,” from their debut album The Big Come Up.  The original Beatles song, from Revolver, is about one of John’s most infamous LSD trips.  In 1966, he was tripping in LA with the rest of the Beatles, the Byrds, and Peter Fonda.  Fonda, tweaking out, began to obsessively tell a story about how he nearly died as a boy, and couldn’t stop saying, “I know what its like to be dead.”  John, understandably freaked out by Fonda’s dark ramblings, promptly wrote a song, and changed Fonda into a girl to fit the Beatle songwriting mold.  Though, by 1966, the Beatle mold now included feedback, acid drenched distorted guitars, and glorious swirling psychedelic harmonies.  The song was a progressive leap forward for the Beatles, and for rock and roll as a whole.  36 years later, the Black Keys took that song, a song that was still in mid leap mind you, and gave it a real throwback treatment, turning it into a hip 60s blues club rocker.  I love the Black Keys version, as it gives the song a grungy and gritty makeover and reveals the essence of the song’s fantastic pop melody.  Because it is so fantastic, I’m giving you two versions, the unofficial music video, and a cool live performance.  Check em out.

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Beulah, Gene Autry, Emma Blowgun's Last Stand, Ballad of the Lonely Agronaut

Posted in Beulah, Youtube Favs on September 23rd, 2011 by Willie

Beulah was formed in a mail room in San Fransisco when Miles Kurosky and Bill Swan decided they both liked the same music, well mostly.  This is the kind of story yours truly can get behind due to own desire to hatch great ideas when I worked in a mail room.  Robert Schneider of the Apples in Stereo hooked them into Elephant 6 when he heard their first demo, and before you knew it, Beulah was one of E6’s shining stars of indie rock.  The thing I love about the Elephant 6 Collective was how they all intermingled with each other and helped out other bands when they recorded and went on tour.  The “collective” part of the moniker was no bullshit, as this was a band of boys and girls who all loved the same music, and all dreamed of becoming rock stars.  They remind me of the way certain underground comedy teams were forming around this time in the mid 90s like Upright Citizens Brigade and the State.  Creative young people in the 90s all saw the value in sharing, working together, and having fun, despite rivalries, which were never too serious.  Beulah is that band, constantly swapping members with Of Montreal, Olivia Tremor Control, and the Apples.  Musically, Beulah has a gorgeous storytelling quality to their songs.  Most of them begin somewhere in the middle, and the music is so energetic and uplifting, that you just go along for the ride, no matter how out of context the lyrical content seems.  The only thing I know about “Gene Autry” is that it was released on 9/11/01, bestowing it’s sweet sadness with even more mysticism.  “Emma Blowgun’s Last Stand” has some of the greatest lyrics you’ll find in an indie rock song.  Lastly, my favorite, “Ballad of the Lonely Agronaut,” I’ve played 1000 times.  I always kept swept up in its tale of American exploration, and its ceaselessly catchy structure.  The song bursts out the gate with an enthusiastic melody that just hooks you instantly.  Also, the line, “gold is coated with gold on the languid hills, where they wait for hours and hours, cool grey ladies from Shirley’s loan us cheer, as they sat for hours and hours,” is so wonderful, and I have no idea what it means, but its been stuck in my head forever.  Beulah broke up in 2004 because their last record, Yoko, despite the best reviews of their career, failed to go gold, a huge goal for the band never reached.  The recording of that album, which featured the breakup of Miles and his long term girlfriend, and three other band member divorces, was dark and difficult, and took its toll on the group’s psyche.  It was a bit of a burnout for one of the most unique and creative bands of the late 90s/early 00’s, but they certainly left a legacy as one of America’s best underground bands with one of the most devoted fan bases.


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Of Montreal, Disconnect the Dots, Lysergic Bliss (live), Art Snob Solutions (live)

Posted in Of Montreal, Youtube Favs on September 22nd, 2011 by Willie

R.E.M. broke up yesterday, but worry not, because Athens, Georgia rocks on with their other native sons, Of Montreal.  Of Montreal, famously not “of Montreal,” hail from R.E.M.’s hometown too.  Kevin Barnes, the group’s extroverted introvert genius front man, is peculiar guy.  When he broke into music, his talent wasn’t entirely assembled.  His early home record, Cherry Peel, is pretty terrible.  The only redeeming feature was  the strange lyrical sense.  It mixed a sublimely inspired high brow thing with an almost crass vulnerability.  Even though his early records weren’t great, Kevin kept plugging away, churning out song after song, and record after record, becoming one of the most prolific artists in rock and roll.  Along the way, his talent skyrocketed, and most of Of Montreal’s records were entirely recorded by him, and featured stunning melodies, complex arrangements, and a mashing together of styles that was bold and futuristic.  My favorite Of Montreal record was 2004’s Satanic Panic in the Attic, a modern day Sgt. Pepper if I ever heard one.  That album launched Of Montreal into the mainstream of indie rock, and they have capitalizing on its success ever since, crafting an outrageous David Bowie and Prince inspired live show, and headlining shows all across the world.  The first two songs are from the aforementioned album, and the last one, “Art Snob Solutions,” was a bonus cut from The Sunlandic Twins record that followed in the next year.  These are my favorite Of Montreal songs, and not only reflect the spirit of Elephant 6’s desire to bring vintage Beatles psychedelia back to life, but Barnes’s own dreams of writing hits and becoming a modern day rock star.  Since the middle part of the last decade, Of Montreal has veered towards a more experimental funk disco oriented sound, away from their 60s British roots that I love, and they have become an object of profound love or hate.  Again, like Neutral Milk Hotel, I fall somewhere in the middle, not entirely digging their newer stuff, but not dismissing them at all due to my knowledge of the supreme accomplishments Kevin has achieved with his group.  He is just following his muse down a path where the one rule seems to be, “don’t repeat yourself,” and its a creed I wished more artists would live by.


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Neutral Milk Hotel, In The Aeroplane Over the Sea, King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3

Posted in Neutral Milk Hotel, Youtube Favs on September 21st, 2011 by Willie

Jeff Mangum’s “Neutral Milk Hotel” was the third founding wing in the Elephant 6 Collective.  If the Apples in Stereo represented the happy side of the Beatles, and Olivia Tremor Control were the, ahh, trippier side of the Beatles, then Neutral Milk Hotel was Elephant 6’s approximation of Blonde on Blonde’s Bob Dylan.  Mangum’s breakthrough record, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, was produced by founding Apple Robert Schneider, who matched Mangum’s intensely personal songs about childhood, sex, and death, with a New Orleans marching band on acid.  The album also is said to contain a loose concept concerning Anne Frank, World War II, and the holocaust.  While the lyrics are very abstract and practically impenetrable, Mangum sings them with such clarity and emotion, that somehow, these themes are evoked.  When the album was released in 1998, it was a smash hit in the indie world, and Mangum was in high demand.  Having sold over 200,000 copies of the LP, and offered an opening slot for fellow Athens natives R.E.M., Mangum decided to go into recluse mode, effectively breaking up the band, and only making sporadic live appearances in the last 13 years.  It is rumored that he is on the verge of releasing some new material through this website,  http://walkingwallofwords.com, where you can stream the song “Little Birds (Unfinished Version 2),” a haunting psych ballad.  Besides that track, you can also listen to two of the strongest tracks from his now legendary album below.  The first song is the title track of the LP, is a swirling emotional journey through the sky, and the second, “King of Carrot Flowers Parts 1-3,” is just as adventurous and bizarre.  A lot of people either love or hate this band, but I fall somewhere in the middle.  I’m intrigued by Mangum’s obvious talent and singing style, but have always wanted more songs to get a more complete picture of the guy.  As it is, there exists only two records, some scattered songs, and not much else, which creates a scattered portrait of man only really known by his close friends. I actually think that’s a pretty cool feet for a musicians like Mangum.  Stay tuned tomorrow as we begin to explore the E6’s auxiliary members!

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