Daniel Parker | As A Junebug

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Rock: Post-Rock/Experimental Pop: Quirky Moods: Solo Male Artist
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As A Junebug

by Daniel Parker

Down-tempo sonic balladscapes and mellow understated acoustic rock songs juxtaposed by feedback guitar instrumentals, distorted keyboards, reverse pianos, and folk instruments loaded with reverb -- thoughtful songs of hope, humor and modern desperation.
Genre: Rock: Post-Rock/Experimental
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  Song Share Time Download
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1. The Focusing Question
3:50 $0.99
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2. Apocalyptic Lullaby
4:17 $0.99
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3. Spaceboy
4:23 $0.99
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4. I'm Okay
4:00 $0.99
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5. The Waves
4:15 $0.99
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6. Home on the Road
5:06 $0.99
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7. Bike Song
4:44 $0.99
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8. Something Good Gonna Come My Way
3:27 $0.99
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9. As A Junebug
3:05 $0.99
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10. Kid Gun
4:25 $0.99
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11. Beat the Odds
4:00 $0.99
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12. If I was the Best One
3:37 $0.99
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13. On Trying to Rewrite History
3:41 $0.99
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14. You Look Hot in that Hat
2:38 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Daniel Parker experiments with music of differing moods. His third solo effort, As a Junebug, is an album of juxtapositions if not downright contradictions. The majority of his tunes are thoroughly thought out, down tempo sonic balladscapes and mellow understated rock songs, hopeful and thoughtful. But there’s also another side. On As a Junebug, Soft, slow acoustic ballads are followed by feedback guitar instrumentals with distorted keyboards. Pianos and other acoustic instruments are played in reverse. Appalachian folk instruments are loaded with reverb and used as atmosphere. Keyboards are used for percussion instruments and bass, while drum machines are enhanced with real cymbals. Not surprisingly, the mood of the album turns like a compass without the north pole -- journeying from hope to humor by way of desperation.

Within each mood there’s a certain raw emotional quality that identifies Parker as a unique, mild-mannered eccentric both in mind and music. As a songwriter, recording artist and music teacher he remains ever-immersed in rhythms and melodies all through the day and night.

On As A Junebug, Daniel Parker Shows Both Sides and More
By Hanley Bodeen

Daniel Parker may not believe in Astrology, but he is more than happy to claim the characteristics of a good Gemini as his own. When speaking of himself, which he claims he rarely does, the description involves words like “two-faced” and “duplicitous.” He says he has “multiple personalities, but not the disorder.”

‘Multi-faceted’ may be a fairer way to describe him. In fact, the songs on As a Junebug, Parker’s third solo album, convey a multitude of raw moods and finely tuned sensitivities to both soft stirring pop hooks and to mood altering moments of sonic tension that could only be born of a songwriter with multiple perspectives.

As a music teacher specializing in Early Childhood Experiential Piano and Musicianship, Parker has worked with children ages 3-12 for the last ten years in Portland, Oregon. Amid the economic disaster and the unemployment spike, and while hundreds of talented music teachers all over the area still hunt for students, Parker is currently carrying 30 students, has a waiting list and in the past year has referred dozens of students to other music teachers.

Parker has a sprightly, jovial nature that must be infectious if you’re in pre-school or elementary school. He’s so enthusiastic for classical, rock and folk music of many cultures that he claims his gentle demeanor and delivery to young kids is second nature when there’s such a rich musical world for student and teacher to explore. The same sense of sonic possibility is what no doubt drives Parker to crave the grueling artistic exercise of writing and recording an entire album solo.

The album opens with “The Focusing Question,” a somewhat uplifting song about friendship, in which Parker appears to be testing the border between quiet feedback and the all-out sonic chaos that builds and wanes on the albums instrumental title track. Parker channels George Harrison’s acoustic and electric guitar style on “I’m Okay,” a beautifully rendered rock love song that morphs after the first chorus into a mellow instrumental, then a lovely refrain, never again returning to a verse and ending on an eerie and questioning note.

Beneath the hopeful melancholy there’s a sense of humor both musically and in the production, allowing for drum and instrument loops to drive certain songs, and the occasional use of 80’s era drum machines, resulting in an odd balance of songs that sound like they were recorded layer upon layer, like a painter would treat a canvas, sometimes without a notion whatsoever of the final product.

The majority of the tunes though are thoroughly thought out, down tempo sonic ballad-scapes and mellow understated rock songs. Parker’s compositions are orchestrated with lots of ear candy moments, which soften the surrounding song structure and help create the mood.

Although his style and execution jive in a way that’s quite unique, Parker’s influences are evident throughout the album. David Byrne seems to come through on “Beat the Odds,” an instrumental with gigantic tribal drum sounds blended with a jumpy rock/jazz beat and an orchestral backdrop.

“Apocalyptic Lullaby” is a soft, gripping and cynical lament with a fire and brimstone chorus that sounds a bit like Arcade Fire. It’s a quiet vision of a dark future not unlike the one described in Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”.

As a Junebug was produced and recorded entirely DIY style by Parker in his home studio over several years in between recording and performing with bands on both coasts including Hunzer B., the folk/pop duo with his wife, knitting designer Adrienne Krey, which received radio play on Portland’s 94.7 KNRK and 90.7 KBOO.

There’s a sense of pride among DIY recording artists who don’t spend money on high quality compressors, limiters, outboard gear and expensive proprietary software plug-ins. It’s much the same feeling you might get from growing your own vegetables in a garden instead of going to the store or from fixing your own leaky faucet instead of calling a plumber.

To the average listening ear, the songs on As a Junebug seem to have an opaque sheen to them. A professional producer will notice the lack of high quality compression and the subtle muddle of the low end caused by a less expensive vocal microphone, but Parker has developed a smooth feel for production and mixing, having done all of the production and 90 percent of the mixing for both As A Junebug and his 2005 album Mend.

Q sat down with the Artist in his cozy and quirky basement studio in the Hawthorne district of Southeast Portland:

Q: So what’s with the two faces? Cheerful educator by day. brooding songwriter and basement dungeon dwelling recording artist by night?

DP: (Laughs) That’s actually not too far from the truth. I’m not so much for the brooding anymore, but it can feel like you are brooding when it’s a beautiful summer day outside and you’re wrangling a 24-track mix for the twentieth time in the dark basement all afternoon.

Q: As a solo recording artist, what was your process for making As A Junebug and how did it differ from your approach to your last solo album Mend?

DP: Well, I recorded As A Junebug at home in my spare time over the past five years, as I’ve done for the last decade thanks to my Mac G4 and my Digi001 simple Pro Tools setup. I’ve done quite a bit of experimenting with sounds this time that would fill the spaces on certain songs with bones that are basically just acoustic guitar and vocals. So I get the basic tracks down and then it’s time for the sonic tomfoolery, which is always a lot of fun. I love finding cool instruments to use like toy piano, autoharp, glockenspiel, accordion, slide whistle, ukulele organ – sounds that you wouldn’t expect but which can fill the space and reach out into the room when touched into the mix of an otherwise simple song.

Since Mend came out in 2005, I’ve been working on these tunes and have slid a bit further down the learning curve toward a thorough understanding of the sonic landscape… as it exists in different corners of my basement.” (laughs)

Q: What is it like teaching music to Kids as young as 3-6 years old?

DP: When you are working with a young child who has yet to develop a sense of pitch and is just beginning to develop rhythm, one might think the possibilities for making music are diminished. I approach each lesson with the thought that the possibilities are still endless, which is why I love to incorporate stream of consciousness songwriting and instrumental improvisation, as well as story telling, dramatics and singing into my classes and private lessons. Some recording too. It’s all really fun. Sometimes silliness is required.

Q: Silliness is also in evidence among the bonus tracks included on As A Junebug, “Bike Song” and “You Look Hot in that Hat” are both hilarious.

DP: Yeah, I wrote “Bike Song” after I won a free bike with 50 other Portlanders in an essay contest through Bicycling Magazine. It actually was played on AM radio during the newscast about the event (laughs). I sold the bike for four hundred bucks and bought a pair of decent studio speakers. (Laughs) “You Look Hot in that Hat” is just a ridiculous thing between my wife Adrienne and I when we perform or record as Hunzer B. She always looks better in my clothes than I do. It’s true. There’s nothing I can do about it, so why not record a crazy song about it? (laughs)

Q: Some of the tracks are quite serious though, aren’t they?

DP: Absolutely. “Kid Gun” is a song I wrote back in 2003 soon after the Iraq war began. It was a powerful release for me back then after seeing millions of people around the world protesting and not being heard by D.C., and then beginning to see reports of dead soldiers. Can’t get much more serious than that. Also, “Apocalyptic Lullaby” is dark and serious, I think, considering it’s about struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic environment. Yikes. There’s my serious face.

Q: Was “Apocalyptic Lullaby” inspired at all by Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”?

DP: No one believes me, but I recorded Apocalyptic Lullaby before reading that book. Then when I read it, I did have to go in and remix it a little. Very powerful book, that one. The song was later mixed a bit further by John Askew who is a great local producer and engineer.

Q: What is the story behind “I’m Okay”?

“’I’m Okay’ is an example of one of my tunes that was an experiment from the start. Just press record and start playing the acoustic into the mic. I play for ten, twenty minutes or more. Then I listen back for a spark or something pretty and more or less cohesive. Great! Let’s cut it out, shape it up a bit and start laying some tracks over it. The lyrics to that one came much later. Since the piece really veers from it’s original purpose, I wanted the lyrics to lead open ended into the instrumental section and the vagueness of the refrain at the end.

Q: What’s next for you?

Rehearsal (laughs). I’ve got to lock down what I want to do live with this batch of songs. I play out once in a while, but I’m a lousy booking agent and I don’t spend enough time on the promotional end of the business. If I’m not writing or recording something, I’d rather be out walking my dog or tending the urban farm or something. I think, like a lot of musicians and artists, the business side just does not come naturally. Some people learn to climb on top of it and manage a career at this. Maybe some day I’ll get there (laughs).

Until then I’ll be seen at cafés and bars only once or twice in a blue moon, and with my fantastic students who work so hard and who make me smile every day. I’m also part way through recording an album for children with my children’s group Salmon Street Singers. Free downloads of some of those tunes as well as a few free songs from As a Junebug are available on my website www.DanielParkerMusic.com.

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