Inside Song: Overcoming Writer’s Block

From around the middle of 2009 until late 2012, I didn’t write any songs. There were three days in the summer of 2010 where I banished myself to the basement and recorded the music for three songs, but was unable to generate any lyrics I could tolerate, so I don’t count those. In effect, I had a three-year “dry spell.” As someone who identifies as a songwriter, it was difficult to stave off an identity crisis.

IMG_7230The first six months or so were easy. I was busy, I’d gone through some life changes. I’d had little songless stretches before. No big deal. At the end of a year I looked back and thought, “That’s kind of strange.” By the end of year two I knew something was wrong, but there wasn’t much I could do about it. I had no songs to write, and I was getting far enough away from the process that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to find it again.
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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

Some of this week’s newest music and genre station highlights on Pandora, fresh from our curation team!

Artist Debuts

Mark Ballas

Singer-songwriter who is better known to most as a professional ballroom dancer on the ABC program Dancing With The Stars. As a youth, he was member of a pop trio called 2B1G (2 Boys 1 Girl) along with fellow dancers Julianne Hough and Derek Hough. He premiered his debut single “Get My Name” on a recent episode of DWTS and had the track trending worldwide on Twitter, moving the song to #24 on the iTunes Top Singles chart.

Light Fantastic

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 10.26.47 AMSan Francisco’s Light Fantastic plays their jangle-pop with one foot planted in the sand and the other in the paisley underground. With ample help from Rex John Shelverton (Vue, Tamaryn), Light Fantastic’s Byrdsian jangle gets the post-shoegaze treatment with tasteful washes of reverb and gauzy guitars that sound like the Rickenbackers from Beachwood Sparks and RIDE had a baby. Singer Terry Sowers sounds like he could be the missing link between The Beach Boys and Allah-Las.
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Inside The Collection: Weekly Curator Picks

This is what our music curators are listening to this week on Pandora!

New Artist Additions

DJ Cassidy
A New York DJ who is known for his work at celebrity functions, including the 50th birthday party and 2009 inauguration of President Obama, and the 2008 wedding of Beyoncé and Jay-Z. He is gearing up for his debut album Paradise Royale, out in June, where he will bring together a 14-piece string section and musicians like Nile Rodgers (Chic), Ray Parker Jr., Mary J. Blige, Chromeo, Estelle, Cee Lo Green, Robin Thicke, Jessie J and more. His recently dropped single “Make The World Go Round” features a guest appearance by R. Kelly.

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Nightbringer
Nightbringer are one of those rare black metal bands that can swirl their cacaphony of guitar maelstroms to sound like a beautiful orchestra of evil. With equal parts restraint and tantrum, they’re absolute masters at reining in their chaos. Also, their singer sounds like he can gargle glass and barf blood into a Shure SM-58 microphone.
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Inside the Collection: Western Swing

Most times, the first things you’ll notice are the hiss, pops and crackles of the antiquated fidelity. The genre’s earlier recordings are delightfully haunting – as if you’re hearing ghosts play scratchy old records. And then the slide guitars and fiddles sound like they’re laughing joyously over buoyant rhythms. But when those bouncy horns, piano and guitars saunter in; that’s when you’re hearing some top-shelf Western Swing. And should some cartoonish vocals pipe-in with a high-pitched, “A-ha!” you can be certain that you’re listening to Bob Wills, the king of Western Swing.Screen Shot 2014-05-01 at 12.12.51 PM

Every few years I go through a Bob Wills phase – and by proxy, a Western Swing phase. Subsequently, I just updated Pandora’s Country & Western Swing station with a bunch of my all-time favorite tunes from this realm (as well as some Classic Country and Honky-Tonk for complimentary flavor).
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