Courtesy Blake Snow
Here are my latest travel dispatches for Paste Magazine:
Thanks for reading and sharing with the travel lovers in your life.
I get it. I have no business asking you to listen to my songs. I’m an amateur musician after all.
But if you steam my latest records (all professionally mixed and mastered), I’m confident you’ll hear a handful of catchy melodies that could arguably air on popular radio.
Promise they don’t suck. Only one way to find out.
The Breakers (2023):
All songs written, recorded, and produced by Blake Snow. Co-production, mixing, and mastering by Adam Miele. Additional bass, guitar, and backing vocals by Derick Pulham. Additional drumming by Steve Hill.
Less Bad (2022):
All songs written, recorded, and produced by Blake Snow. Co-production, mixing, and mastering by Adam Miele. Continue reading…
Piano is hands down the greatest instrument ever made. Even better than drums. And as far as genres go, classical is, without a doubt, the most timeless music ever.
What happens when you combine the two in their most essential forms? You get this: The best classical piano sonatas ever written.
Before I move on, please note: I use the term “sonata” a bit loosely — my list includes some pieces with no additional movements. But I am using the term “classical” strictly — anything from the common practice period of 1600-1910, spanning baroque, classical, and romantic periods.
So put on your powdered wig. Dress in a frilly shirt. And don’t applaud during the pauses, please. It’s the top 10 best classical piano sonatas of all-time. Continue reading…
Several years ago while traveling for work, I heard 61,000 Aussies belt out You’re The Voice by John Farnham at a college football game in Sydney. While I had heard the song before in that great scene from Hot Rod, I had no idea Aussies could sing it word for word like it was their National Anthem. As a devout musician, it was one of the most memorable moments of a remarkable trip to one of my favorite countries. And a great tune to boot. A message to future generations: don’t let this song die!
I like rankings. Although imperfect, they quickly prioritize the best things in life. At least those that the widest number of people recommend seeing, doing, and experiencing.
After seeing this ambitious list, top 10 greatest things ever (as voted by the internet), I thought to myself, “Oh, this should be interesting or funny.” But it was actually quite good!
Although movies and books should have cracked the list, I think the voters got this 90% right. Here’s my slight re-ording plus commentary: Continue reading…
Hey power pop, indie rock fans. In support of my new third album, The Breakers, coming this fall, I’ve recently released a couple of “hit” singles with my new band that are now streaming on your favorite music store:
In case you missed it, earlier this year I released Fancy Hotel and Word Games, all streaming on all major music stores (including Amazon).
Thanks for listening, liking, following, and sharing my music. If you’re local, my supporting band The Breakers and I are playing at the famous Velour in Provo on Thursday, August 24 at 7:30. Hope to see you there! 🤘💪🙏
The Man From Waco by Charley Crockett is a masterpiece of old Western Country with heavy Marty Robbins, Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, and even Jimmy Buffett vibes. I love it!
Stream (or download) on:
Courtesy Chicago Magazine
We wouldn’t have music in the world if it weren’t for the master wood makers and instrument caretakers like John Becker, whose world renowned and million dollar restorations were recently profiled by Chicago Magazine: “Making that guitar had a big impact on me. I didn’t grow up in a musical family, but I realized I wanted to help musicians. I get that same excitement working with classical violinists.” Love it.
My new single, Fancy Hotel, released today on all major music stores: Spotify, Apple, Amazon, YouTube Music, YouTube, and more. It’s the lead single from my forthcoming third album, out later this year.
I wrote the song in the same hotel room I photographed for the cover art, while on assignment for Paste Magazine in Spain. It’s one of the darkest songs I’ve ever written. But since my optimistic self was the one writing it, the chorus is actually super uplifting. So I’m proud of the mixed feelings it captures, something all of us experience in our own headspace.
I’m also proud of the cover art, which is equally dark. But light is still beaming through the windows. Because there’s always hope. Lyrics after the break. Continue reading…
My wife—hi, hot stuff!—bought me ballroom dance lessons for Christmas. Even though I can cut rug freestyle, I was really excited about taking formal instruction. After finishing the eight week course last week, I am pleased to report it did not disappoint.
I fully expected to learn some new moves, but I didn’t expect the class to broaden my worldview and deepen my appreciation for music. But it did. Here’s what ballroom dance lessons taught me: Continue reading…
I was recently interviewed by the likable Zach Collier of Provo Music Magazine. He did a fantastic job capturing what my music is about. I hope you read the whole profile and listen to my latest album if you haven’t already. Thank you.
Written in three quarters time and featuring an accordion and upright bass, here is my latest single. New album out now if you haven’t heard it already. Thanks for listening and sharing.
See also: My first two albums, EP, and singles
My band played our first show last week. As you can see from the 33 minute performance, the crowd and venue were fantastic. Thanks for watching.
Hope you can make it, local readers. Thanks for listening to my music. 🤘
Here’s what I’ve been listening to lately:
- Less Bad. My new album that doesn’t suck. Biased but proud. Listen to Sorta Social, Ricky’s Song, I Did It, and Carry On if you don’t believe me.
- Dropout Boogie. Groovy new Black Keys record that doesn’t disappoint. “Your Team Is Looking Good” is my current favorite.
- The Dream. Super weird new album by Alt-J is hauntingly beautiful and downright fun at times.
- Top Gun Maverick. Terrific score for a terrific movie. 10 thoughtful songs that make you feel good.
- Take The Sadness Out of Saturday Night. The latest album by Bleachers isn’t quite as strong as their first two albums, but this is a solid, softer album that still moves me.
Honorable mention: 12 Carat Toothache by Post Malone
My third book is in the works
An old friend recently asked what I’ve been up to lately. Here’s the full answer as of this year:
- Freelance writing. I’ve been writing full-time for 17 years now. Since the Great Recession of 2009, however, writing explanatory tech and business stories for Fortune 500 companies has made up the bulk of my work. That continues today, writing mostly for software and consulting companies, as well as some travel publications for fun.
- Non-profit speaking. With the generous support of my good friend Craig, I started speaking to local elementary school students as part of my non-profit. We have more events planned in the fall, and it feels good to extend the movement beyond the book. Our first campaign includes giving away cool t-shirts to encourage people to “Live Heads Up.”
- Starting my third book. It’s called Today I Crush All Negativity, and it attempts to explain when and how to be optimistic and when and how to be pessimistic, regardless if you believe the glass is “half empty” or “half full.” If all goes to plan, I hope to publish the by the end of the year. I can’t wait for you to read it. I’ve interviewed a few billionaires for their perspective and hope to do the same with some homeless folks, too.
- Releasing my second album. I am so proud of it, promise it doesn’t suck, and hope you listen to it if you haven’t already. If you listen to just one song, make it “Sorta Social.” To promote the album, I even started a band to tour locally in Utah.
- Middle-age parenting. My family is rapidly becoming an older, adolescent family instead of the early childhood one its been for a long time. I can just feel it—and it feels special. I can talk to my older kids like an adult, and the younger ones are very independent. As part of that, I’m trying to deepen my relationships with them to hopefully avoid any future “daddy issues.” I feel encouraged by that and am closer to my wife than ever before.
You can take a band out of France, but you can’t take French out of a band. Any foreigner who has interacted with a lot of French know precisely what I mean by that. It’s one of the many things Americans and British share knowing looks over. (Or conversely how foreigners share knowing looks over me and my fellow Americans.)
And I only mean that in a slightly derogatory way. I love the French and that’s not a backhanded compliment. I love that they invented modern democracy, cooking, and Daft Punk. Everyone outside of Paris are easily the most warm, welcoming, and endearing people on the entire European continent. I know because I backpacked through their rural towns for a week. Heck, I even like Parisians as much as I do New Yorkers, and that’s a lot.
But for many of us, there’s something slightly off-putting about the French and New Yorkers. In this case, after reading Phoenix: In Their Own Words, there’s a foreign arrogance, seriousness, and overly romantic way in which some of the band members tell their story.
The story is this: the band gives an album by album account of their life from their early years, into their successful years, and onto the recent years where they’ve still churned out incredibly catchy indie melodies. Published just before pandemic started and filled with candid photos, I really enjoyed the account, minus the aforementioned, albeit brief, encounters with foreign arrogance.
The vast majority of the book, in fact, is totally endearing. While I wish there was a little more inside music information, I quickly read the entire thing as an avowed fan and lover of both music and French culture. My favorite part is after being dropped by their label since their first three albums failed to achieve mainstream success, the thirty-something members doubled down, paid for their own fourth album, and turned it into their greatest success to date, both commercially and artistically. Later that year while headlining Coachella, Beyonce and Jay-Z were at the side of the stage belting the lyrics of not only their lead singles, but deep cuts from that album.
What an honor. What a story. What a band. ★★★★☆
After church recently, one of my neighbors approached me and said, “We heard your band while walking by your house the other night.” This phrase always makes me anxious for two reasons:
- I hope my neighbors don’t mind the loud noise coming from my garage
- I wonder if they heard a good performance or a bad one
The tricky part about playing live music is your mistakes are glaringly, embarrassingly, and publicly obvious. If anyone in the band plays or sings a rogue note, it clashes hard with the other voices and sounds terrible.
This especially happens when rehearsing new songs, which my band often does. So I never really know what passerbys are hearing.
“We liked it,” my neighbor reassured me.
It would be so much easier if musicians could make silent mistakes like a misplaced brushstroke. I don’t believe musicians have it harder than other artists, but the former sure do seem more exposed sometimes.
The Atlantic reports: “Old songs now represent 70 percent of the U.S. music market. Even worse: The new-music market is actually shrinking. The problem isn’t a lack of good new music. It’s an institutional failure to discover and nurture it… The moguls have lost their faith in the redemptive and life-changing power of new music.” Continue reading…
I was recently asked what I know for sure. I didn’t have time to answer everything in detail, but upon further reflection, this is what I would have told them.
- We live on the most beautiful planet in the universe. There are over 400 million planets in our galaxy alone and an estimated 21 million more galaxies in the observable universe (i.e. the only part of space that we can see with telescopes and far reaching satellites). So far, we’ve only observed all brown, red, or blue planets with no water or diversity on them. We are literally living on a home that is 1 in several gazillion. The math doesn’t even make sense—it’s that rare, meaning there is a God or we won the greatest evolutionary lottery in the known universe. Either way it’s profoundly beautiful.
- Possessing a human body is a beautiful experience. I love the animal kingdom, but other species don’t hold a candle to the awesome existence of being a human. If you are reading this, again you won the universal lottery for most amazing species in the known universe. It. Is. Wonderful.
- Humans are inherently good. They can be trusted, they really do try, the sometimes change, and they will amaze you if you let them. Don’t let the lemons or fear mongers tell you otherwise. We would have not have gotten as far as we have as a species if that weren’t the case.
- The world is in good hands. On a similar note, people who say that youth cannot be trusted have no idea what they’re talking about because they only talk or listen to older people, especially loudmouth ones on TV. Having worked closely with youth for many years, they are even better than we are, just like we are largely better, more educated, more disciplined, and more empathetic than generations that came before us. Statistics bear this out, in fact. So don’t be old by saying the world is going to hell. It’s not, and younger generations will figure out the future just like we did, even if we don’t understand the new rules they play by. Continue reading…
After hearing my new record, a local musician reached out and asked how I wrote two albums worth of songs in 18 months. The short answer is I dedicate most of my free time to music now.
I recently cut my daily news intake by 95%, halved the number of books I read each year, and since logging off, I don’t do social media, work nights or weekends, or watch TV beyond the occasional sportsball game. This saves me an additional 20-40 hours a week. That’s the math.
The long answer comes in two parts: Continue reading…
Hey friends—I’m live streaming my new album on YouTube next Saturday before it hits stores the following Monday. I’m trying to get 1,000 music fans to attend. Will you please join us for the 51 minute listening party, live chat, and good vibrations? Thanks for your support! 🙏🕺🤘 https://youtu.be/R-kfrzaVFJs
After six months of work, my second full-length album, Less Bad, drops January 31 on all major music stores!
All 14 songs were written, arranged, recorded, sung, and produced by me. The album was mixed and mastered by Adam Miele, my talented brother-in-law whose music has been featured in a SuperBowl commercial. In addition to his sonic mastery, Adam co-produced and played ginormous drums and additional keyboards on songs 3, 8, and 12. Track 9 features studio musician Matt Giella on trumpet. Song 11 was co-written by my good friend Derick Pulham, who also provided backing vocals and additional guitars. You can listen to the lead single and video here.
With their help, this record sounds bigger than it otherwise would. If you like the album, I hope you’ll check out my first record, Mr. Mustache, now streaming on all major stores.
My latest for Paste Magazine: This story begins with a struggling musician in the 1970s who didn’t fit the establishment. Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t like him. Nashville didn’t either. So he said, “To hell with it,” moved to Key West, and popularized a new genre of counterculture music called Gulf & Western or Tropic Rock. He championed “island escapism” over hard work. Made fun of inebriated debauchery. Sang heartfelt songs about retired Caribbean sailors. And paired unapologetic poetry with catchy melodies.
His name was Jimmy Buffett, a name that has since outgrown the brilliant but often overlooked and underrated sound he created during that groovy decade. Not long after, Buffett started capitalizing on the endearing lifestyle he created by the late ‘80s, which grew to “Parrothead” levels by the late ‘90s, and stratospheric status by the turn of the century. Today, Jimmy Buffett is worth nearly $1 billion dollars. His “Margaritaville” empire includes dozens of best-selling albums, cafes, and hotels, three best-selling books, and even a handful of Southern retirement communities boasting thousands of homes. In truth, the “brand” far outweighs the music that inspired it.
Last year during the pandemic, just as the world was entering a second round of lockdowns, Buffett Inc. quietly launched the Margaritaville Island Reserve, its first all-inclusive resort, near Cancun, Mexico. Operated by the well-run Karisma chain of all-inclusives, Buffett’s resort could have easily turned into a tacky, kitchy, money grab. It is anything but. After visiting with my wife this winter, Margaritaville Island Reserve is one of the finest all-inclusives I’ve ever visited, replete with the best all-inclusive food of any resort, a helpful staff worth writing home about, and an impressive attention to detail (i.e. custom furnishings) to appeal to fans and non-fans alike.
About the only “on brand” thing the resort is missing is the debauchery, which no one wants on vacation anyway. Continue reading…
Like many people, my family is the ultimate joy. Although happiness and fulfillment are deeply personal, my wife and children inspire me to be better and make me feel like the luckiest man alive. I am forever grateful to them, and this year was no different. Same goes for the many friends that have stayed with me over the years.
But there are several new things that came into my life this year that I’d like to recognize. Some of them are simple. All of them make me even more grateful to be alive. While I don’t mean to be insensitive to anyone still struggling with this moving goalpost of a pandemic, I can honestly say that I’m happier today than I was pre-COVID.
Here’s why: Continue reading…
I’m putting the finishing touches on my second album right now. I’m very excited to share it with the world in the coming weeks and months.
Until then, I wanted to look back at my first album, Mr. Mustache (streaming on your favorite music store) released last fall. While I believe every song should speak for itself, as a writer I’m also big on context, if not over explaining things until they are crystal clear.
To that end, here is why I wrote each of these songs, how they came to life, and what the recording process was like:
I’ve been on a Ramones kick lately. Love their Beach Boys-like melodies, upbeat songs, and humorous lyrics—not to mention their invention of the genre that made me pick up a guitar and start writing songs (punk rock).
This week I finished reading Hey Ho Let’s Go: The Story of The Ramones by British journalist Everett True. It’s an honest, compelling, and telling read about a “dysfunctional family who still loved each other.” As drummer Marky Ramone explains it, “We were brothers – brothers fight. They make movies out of it. That’s how it is.”
Highly recommended. ★★★★☆ These were my favorite passages:
- The Ramones had to work for a living. They were a real touring band. The Ramones took their thing to each person individually through the years and that’s why we’re talking about them now.
- Although driving five or more hours a day, weeks on end, in a van with someone you never speak to, might seem like a good enough reason to quit. But then, loads of people are in jobs they hate, and stay in them for long past 20 years.
- Even if it was just going back to the hotel, they would stop at a 7–11. To get cookies, milk, something for the hotel room. It was always nice, you know… Pizza was the only ritual before show time – just plain cheese, the round ones, nothing extra. They’d always ask for it on the rider, and be very upset if it wasn’t there.
- They were always bitter about the success they didn’t have. They didn’t have the hit record. They didn’t get the respect for starting punk rock. They didn’t get the respect they deserved for this, that and the other. They were so concerned with what was written about them and their image, unlike any band I’ve ever seen.
- The Ramones represent the truth of the fact that you’re never too old to rock’n’roll as long as you believe in what you’re doing, and you can do it with a purity and conviction. The age of your band is irrelevant. Rock’n’roll is not for the young. It’s for people who refuse not to give a shit.
- As you or I might love the Ramones, Johnny and Joey loved the Ramones more than any of us could even comprehend. They wanted the Ramones’ legacy to be pure. We will all miss Johnny, Joey and Dee Dee very much. And we all wish we could see them together, just one last time.
I wrote this song to cheer my Father on. He died yesterday after a two-year battle with stroke-induced dementia. He was an amazing dad. I hope you hug yours the next time you see him.
While driving home recently, Basket Case started playing on the radio. Within seconds, my wife, oldest daughter, and I all started singing in unison and rocking out to this remarkable, upbeat, and absolutely perfect punk song.
Written by a 21-year old Billy Joe Armstrong, the three minute track sounds like it’s on speed. It has six breakdowns, numerous chord changes, and amazing melodies. I adore it.
In fact, this was the song that inspired me to learn guitar. Although I had picked up a few open chords before, I was determined to learn this song in its entirety. And with the help of barre chords, I quickly did and never looked back.
So there you have it: the greatest punk song ever that inspired a 15-year old me to learn guitar and eventually write songs for myself. Thank you, Green Day.
My band Super Cover is playing a free, live outdoor music fest on June 12, 5:00 PM, at the Cranberry Farms Clubhouse in Lehi. There will be food trucks, free prizes, games for kids, and three rocking bands. Show starts at 5:00. We go on at 6:00. See our last concert here.
Please bring your family and friends. It’s gonna be an awesome night. 🤘
PS—If you can’t make this performance, please join us for our 80’s only show on June 26, 7:30 at Platinum Music in Provo.
My friend Tommaso and I after eating fresh pasta
Since much of the world is still partially closed or weird, I’ve taken a lot of comfort over the last year in the “simple things.” By that I mean everyday common things that are perpetually satisfying.
For example, here are 10 in particular that are paramount to me: Continue reading…
This is a great read by American Prospect on the decline of middle-class musicians who can no longer make a living.
From the article: “Spotify also pays out absurdly low per-stream rates, though not as bad as YouTube. ‘Last year, the COVID year, Galaxie 500 had 8.5 million streams on Spotify,’ Damon Krukowski explained. ‘We also released a 2,000-copy, limited-edition LP. They raised the same amount of money. Neither is enough to live on.’ Krukowski calculated that to earn the equivalent of a $15-an-hour living wage, a band would have to get 650,000 streams per month per band member.”
This is sad news without a clear remedy.
Courtesy Lindsey Snow
I’m about to try eyeliner for the first time in my entire life this week. Let that sink in for a moment.
Me, a middle-aged, married, father of five, and full-time writer from in suburbia is about to apply smokey, rock star, “guy liner” in an effort to boost my stage presence this Friday, which by the way, I don’t get paid for.
Why am I doing this? Because I love music. I love listening to it, creating it, playing it, and performing it. More specifically, I love Super Cover, the “new wave, dance rock” cover band I co-founded in quarantine, and which I’ve sung in almost every week for the last year.
Because of this band, I’ve thought more about what makes a song dance or strut than I ever thought possible. I’ve agonized over setlists. I bought a sequin shirt on Amazon. I’ve invested more in musical gear than ever before. I borderline obsess over it.
Last week, I woke up in the middle of the night with the following thought: “We’ve never played a show outside before like we will next week. What are we going to do to make sure it sounds good?” I couldn’t go back to sleep until researching outdoor sound tips for two hours.
While I’ve played in a half dozen bands before, all of which were in high school and college, Super Cover is different. Here’s why: Continue reading…
Last year while recording Mr. Mustache, my debut album produced in quarantine, I permanently damaged both of my inner ears. While making the record, I listened to my headphones at volume 8-9 for four straight months. Every day. My ears have been ringing ever since.
Near the end of the recording process, the high pitched “tinging” started. I had also started playing in a live band then but wore ear plugs without realizing that I was letting the problem in the backdoor at the same time.
I read up on the ringing, and after speaking with two permanent “patients,” it was obvious I was suffering from either temporary or permanent tinnitus (pronounced tin-uh-tis). Time was the only way to tell which version I had. All the medical literature says if the ringing stops after 2-4 weeks, the ear cells were able to heal themselves and you’re good to go. If they don’t, the ringing will never go away, according to the latest research. Mine never did.
Obviously, permanent tinnitus, especially in both ears, is an incessant annoyance. But I’ve adapted well. And I’m grateful my ears alerted me to the issue before I was made deaf by music, as the tragic but still hopeful Sound of Metal movie so beautiful demonstrates.
What’s more, I haven’t suffered any noticeable hearing loss beyond maybe 5% clarity. Over my ringing ears, I can still hear the soft breathing of my wife lying in bed next to me or even distant sounds. Although the ringing hasn’t gone away in nearly a year, my hearing remains largely intact.
There’s a very specific reason for that. The ringing is by design! The way it was explained to me, ringing ears are like the hissing you hear on a radio while changing the station in search of something new. Similarly, ear cells change their frequencies, if you will, to make up for the loss of damaged cells. The living cells actually re-tune themselves (or ring) in an effort to listen more acutely with the remaining cells at their disposal. Magic I tell ya!
While I wish I never harmed my ears like I did, I often feel gratitude whenever I notice the ringing. It’s proof that my body and maker (be that God or evolutionary biology) care for me more than I car for myself sometimes. Isn’t that comforting?
TL;DR: Don’t blow out your ears, wear protection, and be grateful for how the human body adapts to survive.
It’s wonderful to see pandemic world sprouting in more ways than one this spring. I’m not sure what the future holds, but it sure does feel like society turned a corner.
In my own village, here’s what I’m excited about right now: Continue reading…
While working onsite with a client last week, I met an Englishman that shared my love of music. At some point we diverged into a discussion on the merits of Daft Punk — his favorite band — and where their latest album went wrong. We both agreed that Random Access Memories was better produced than it was written; Discovery was “bloody brilliant;” and their soundtrack to Tron: Legacy was their second best work to date.
As I was about to leave, my new friend excitedly announced, “I have something to show you!” He left the room, then returned with a custom, LED-lit Thomas Bangalter mask. “May I?” said I, giddy at the prospect. “Of course,” he replied. I put it on, struck a pose, then took several snapshots for posterity’s sake before bidding him farewell.
What’s funny is this Englishman had just traveled 6,000 miles from his office in Munich for weeklong meetings with “corporate” in Los Angeles. While most people scramble for chargers and underwear the night before travel, I laughed at the thought of this kindly bloke deciding to bring his shiny keepsake along for the journey. “Ah, yes! Mustn’t forget my smashing mask.”
That’s a fan. Thanks for the memories, Daft Punk.
First published on November 6, 2013
After releasing my debut album this year, I licensed and recorded a few of my favorite cover songs, which resulted in my first EP, out October 15. Hope you like it!
The Atlantic on the death of Eddie Van Halen: “How do we categorize his music? Soft hard rock. Light heavy metal… In the end, they were crossover artists. Beloved of girls, beloved of boys, with Eddie always, always taking it beyond. The far brought near. Excess without vulgarity. America, don’t forget how beautiful you are; you created the conditions for Eddie Van Halen.”
Like 2020 in general, music this year has been both good and bad. It hasn’t been the best since both releases and events are at all-time lows. But there’s been some really good stuff from the little that has been released. Pending any surprise release this winter, these are my favorite albums so far this year:
- The Killers, Imploding the Mirage. From front to back, this is a really well written, produced, and performed batch of 10 brilliant songs. Favorite song: Dying Breed
- Weeknd, After Hours (Clean). Because I listen to music with my kids and already have enough explicit content in my life, I really like the clean version of Weeknd’s latest album. I think it might be his best yet, even though it’s a slight departure from his previous EDM like production. Favorite song: Scared to Live
- Tame Impala, The Slow Rush. Is an okay Tame Impala album better than the best of the rest? If you’re a musical genius like Kevin Parker, the answer is yes. While not as masterful as his previous albums, especially currents, it’s still a good listen with a handful of really strong songs. Favorite song: On Track
- The Academic, Acting My Age. I cheated on this because it’s really an EP instead of full-length album, but the included six songs are deliciously fun, catchy, and unabashedly youthful. Favorite Song: Anything Could Happen
- Haim, Women in Music Pt. III. This is Haim’s best album to date, in my opinion. Delightful, poppy, foot-tappingly good production. Favorite song: Another Try
HONORABLE MENTION: Mr. Mustache by yours truly. I think it’s the best album by an unsigned artist this year, and not far off from sounding, acting, and producing something you’d expect from a professional team of musicians and producers. Now streaming on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube Music, Amazon and more. Favorite song: Shrug. I hope you enjoy it.
Two weeks after lockdown began this spring, I went to Guitar Center to pickup some gear for my new album. The place was packed. “It’s been Black Friday every day for the past two weeks,” one clerk told me.
Turns out, the sudden spike in homemade music has remained ever since. Gibson, Fender, and others have already broken record sales this year. One guitar maker sold in June and July what they expected to sell for the entire year!
According to the New York Times, “In a narrow sense, the surge made sense. Prospective players who had never quite found the time to take up an instrument suddenly had little excuse not to. As James Curleigh, the chief executive of Gibson Brands, put it: “In a world of digital acceleration, time is always your enemy. All of a sudden time became your friend.””
That was certainly the case for me. My work slowed, and I didn’t watch any Netflix or read any books during the first five months of quarantine. Instead, I spent all of my spare time making music, which resulted in my debut record and forming my first band since college.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish when time slows, whether by design or by pandemic.
When a friend recently asked Blake Snow if he was quitting his day job to become a full-time musician, he answered “No.” But that doesn’t mean his debut album, Mr. Mustache, is a joke or something not worth supporting (or even touring). “It’s a synth-laden rock record that I take very seriously,” Snow says.
Written, recorded, and produced entirely in quarantine, Mr. Mustache is the public culmination of more than 25 years of homegrown songwriting, recording, and performing. “I wouldn’t say this record saved my life, but it definitely saved my sanity during lockdown,” Snow says. “I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I had making it.”
Standout tracks include the lead single, Turn A Corner, the moody Control What You Can, the playful Mr. Mustache, and Snow’s personal favorite, Shrug, which also happens to be his go-to coping mechanism for the current madness.
Listen to the full-length album now on:
Photo by my son, Max Snow
My first album, Mr. Mustache, was released on all major music stores today. I’m proud and excited to share the record with the world. Here are 10 things you should know:
- It’s streaming on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, YouTube Music and more. Additionally you can purchase the album for download from iTunes or Amazon. I get like .00000001 of a penny every time you do.
- With exception to one song (“Show Me,” co-written by friend Chris Morell), the entire album was written, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by me in my home office. I even did the cover art. You can read the story behind all 12 songs here.
- I wrote and recorded 18 songs for the album, but shelved five and will re-record the sixth for a later release. The album was recorded in Garage Band on my Mac mini and distributed by Amuse.
- The record is 41 minutes long, which is the age I turned while finishing the record. I also had a near out-of-body experience while recording this song.
- It was produced entirely in quarantine. Although unwanted, “The Great Shutdown” proved to be the most musically inspiring event of my life so far.
- It took four months to complete, from pre-production songwriting and arranging, to recording and performing, and ultimately mixing and mastering.
- Not since college have I played this much music. Never in my life have I written this much music. I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to make noise while the world sorts itself out.
- There are six synth pop songs on the 12 track record, plus two rock songs, two pop punk songs, and two ballads.
- My friend recently asked if I was quitting writing to become a full-time musician. I replied, “No,” but I plan to release several more albums in my spare time now as an unsigned artist.
- You can ask Alexa, OK Google, or Siri to “Play the latest Album by Blake Snow” and they will. Neat!
After my family played the record for this first time this morning, my wife asked in earnest, “Will you cut your mustache now?” I said, “Yes.” But only after my album release party tomorrow!
Thanks for listening and sharing with anyone who might like it.
PS—If you would review the album on your favorite music service, it would really help it reach more people. Thank you.
I was a mess the first two weeks of quarantine. My wife of 17 years said she had never seen me so stressed.
What did I do to cope?
I started writing music at a frantic pace and recorded 18 original songs in the first three months of shutdown. Twelve of those songs made it on my debut album that’s available for streaming and download on August 20.
One of the songs that really help me move from stress to at least some kind of clarity was called “Control What You Can.” With exception to the bridge, it ‘s only two chords and it has an uneasy feeling, the same feeling most of us felt when the world changed.
But in spite of the uneasy sound, I wrote the encouraging lyrics for myself, pleading to “control what I could” when there was so much I couldn’t control. It was a wonderful realization that help me turn a corner; from stress into action.
When I went to record the song, it was late at night. With my floor lamp and headphones on, I spent several hours on the production and immediately knew I had captured a special sound, arguably the most professional track on the the entire album. By the end, I recorded a simple but righteous guitar solo and sung my heart out during an extended outro.
This is that song. It’s pretty moody. And although the music doesn’t sound very uplifting, the lyrics completely are, which is a juxtaposition that I really like and hope you do to.
SHOW CANCELLED: Due to drummer issues 😔, our band won’t be playing this weekend. I hope to announce a rescheduled date later this fall. Thanks for your support. 💪
Music has been good to me in quarantine.
In addition to recording an album, I started a cover band with three local musicians.
We call ourselves “Super Cover” and play energetic, dance rock songs that’ll make you want to sing. As you can see, Ashton Bennet rips on guitar. Caleb Browning destroys the bass and backing vocals. Jayce Ward keeps perfect time on drums. And I sing while playing a mean tambourine sometimes.
Our first all-ages show is Saturday, September 12 on the outdoor stage at the Provo Riverwoods Mall. We plan on playing from 7:30–9:00 pm. Our setlist includes bangers from The Black Keys, Fitz & The Tantrums, Muse, MGMT, Phoenix, Tame Impala, Grouplove, and Awolnation among others, not to mention a couple of ’80s surprises.
Hope to see you there. 🤘
I’m incredibly proud of the album and what it did for me during quarantine. I hope you mark your calendars and enjoy as many songs as possible. Here is the track listing:
- Under Quarantine
- Turn A Corner
- Show Me
- Control What You Can
- Mr. Mustache
- No Longer The Same
- Bad Friends
- Time Isn’t Money
- Going Up
Thanks for giving it a chance. I know it seems weird to have a writer release an album, but I hope you take it as serious as I have. I think you’ll find there are some redeeming, heartfelt songs inside.
Like many of you reading this, the last four months have been the most eventful, strangest, and unsettling spring of my life. But it’s also been one of the best (i.e. bonding with family, completing my second book, starting a band).
In that time, I also wrote, produced, sung, and recorded 16 original songs. I just finished the last one this week and just need to make some finishing touches and final mastering before independently releasing the album to Spotify, Apple, and Amazon Music in the coming weeks.
I’m incredibly proud of the result and grateful for it helping me to cope with this fearful new, but still incredibly beautiful world. I can’t wait for you to hear the whole thing.
Until then, here is the “lead single” entitled Turn A Corner.
With little else to do in quarantine, I’ve been making a lot of music over the last four months. I’ve recorded an album’s worth of original material, which I hope to release this summer, and started rehearsing with a live cover band—a rock quartet comprised of me singing, Ashton Bennett melting faces on guitar, Caleb Browning rocking a ridiculous amount of bass and backing vocals, and Jayce Ward not missing a beat on drums. (video evidence here)
Though both experiences, I’ve learned two important lessons:
- I love making music. I learned guitar and started singing in middle school and played in several bands through college. But with notable exception to listening to lots of new music, I largely quit making it after marrying, having children, and taking up writing. Quarantine changed all of that for the better. It’s a wonderful feeling to make harmonious noise while the world slowly sorts itself out.
- Tambourines are in over 50% of popular music. While recording, studying, and performing more live music than ever before, I’ve been immediately struck by the amount of tambourines used in recorded music (at least the kind of pop and rock that I mostly listen to), and how much better they make live music sound. I realize tambourines are the ugly stepchild of music, but let me explain why they’re used more than even synthesizers when it comes to making popular music.
I was raised on Beach Boys, Beatles, ABBA, Led Zeppelin, and ’80s soft rock hits in that order. My father largely exposed me to the first three. My older sister Cami to Zeppelin. And my mother to the latter.
But it wasn’t until the spring of 1990, at the ripe age of 10, that I thought to myself, “I love this song, and I need to spend money on it to start my own music collection.”
The song was Technotronic’s “Pump Up The Jam,” which is a tasty mix of both hip-hop and house music. So on a visit to an Oklahoman Walmart with my mother, I forked over what I remember being around $8 for the album on cassette. I listened to that thing constantly while pretending to be Michael Jordan with my over the door basketball hoop.
Later that year, I was mesmerized by Metallica’s “Enter Sandman,” so I bought and devoured that album on cassette too. I don’t remember the third album I bought, but I remember borrowing and adoring my sister Summer’s Nirvana Nevermind CD on the regular.
From there my musical tastes traveled far and wide. With exception to select Nine In Nails songs, there are only two genres that I actively dislike: industrial and death metal. Everything else is fair game.
Readers: What was the first piece of music you bought for yourself?