Scott Andrew

Gnarled JavaScript warlock, musician, and cartoonist.



Just a few notable things!

Twenty years ago this past July, singer-songwriter Shannon Gunn and I, under the moniker Pet Rock Star^S, co-wrote two folkpop songs over 24 hours while being on separate US coasts as part of the 2003 Blogathon charity event. Last month I rescued the original blog with all of the song snippets and lyric clips from the Wayback Machine. Special thanks to Phil Ringnalda for hosting the audio for over two decades! Or maybe they just forgot?

Also in July but 11 years ago, Jerin Falkner and I released the first Kin to Stars track, "Hello Ohio." Once every so often I'll go back and listen to our small song catalog and pine for the pre-2016 years.

Just one year ago this week: Car Trouble! The new record! Which I'd been working on since at least 2013. Alas, I parked the Car Trouble live band indefinitely, awaiting a future date when I feel safe going back into music venues. I still love this record and listen to it several times a month. I take it as a good sign when I don't get tired of my own tunes.

And finally, this August marks 20 years living in Seattle, and 20 years at my day job. Surprise! I have a day job. I've always had a day job. To stick with it for 20 years though, feels...weird. Sometimes I look around and I feel like a time traveller.

I have no wisdom to share. Let's just attribute it to luck, and an extremely high tolerance for bullshit.

Posted August 16, 2023

Lance Reddick


Posted March 19, 2023

New Car Trouble single: Suburban Girl

You can't improve what's already perfect, so if you're going to cover a perfect pop song, at least strive to do it justice, right?

Before his tenure with Guided By Voices and Nada Surf, guitarist Doug Gillard launched his own Cleveland-based rock outfit called Gem. Gem released their album Hexed in 1994 and the only major FM station to have a local music show put the single "Suburban Girl" into rotation.

I'm a few years younger than Gillard and was also kicking around the NE Ohio area playing in bands around that time (we've never met). From the first listen, "Suburban Girl" lodged itself deep in my brain. There's the droll lyrics about being impressed by your girlfriend's dad's lawn. There's the not-quite deadpan delivery. The guitars that feel like summer heat radiating off the pavement as you kill time before your evening shift. There's just something very midwest about the whole thing. Power pop from the land of Pere Ubu and Cobra Verde.

So, this song, stuck in my brain for almost 30 years.

And then, in 2020, while working on Car Trouble songs, I made a demo. And I just kept messing with it for another two years, poking at it, putting my own spin on it and finally pulling Patrick (from Explone, you know that by now) in last year to cut a most worthy guitar solo.

You can't improve what's already perfect. Did we do it justice? I'd like to think so! Please enjoy our version of "Suburban Girl" by Gem, now available on your favorite streaming service. And thank you, Mr. Gillard, for the 3-minute time machine. Ohio remembers!

Cover art for the song 'Suburban Girl' by Car Trouble.

Posted March 13, 2023

New release: The Analog Kid!

There's a new single over at the Car Trouble website: a loud, pop-punked-up cover of "The Analog Kid" by Rush. I've written about this band's role in my life, and when (drummer/audio engineer) Don invited Pat and myself over to his studio to record this tune, it just seemed like a fun idea. Pat and I took turns singing verse and chorus, and Don mixed and mastered the result you'll hear below.

A confession: I played this bass part with a pick, which may seem like sacrilege, but let me assure you it's just as difficult to play with a pick as with fingers.

There was never a plan to release it, but we almost did in 2020 when Neil Peart passed. Then two years later I had the idea to put it out as a Car Trouble single. I mean, why sit on this? So Pat and Don are now offically ad honorem members of Car Trouble.

Please enjoy our cover of "The Analog Kid." Now available at all your favorite streaming services.

Posted February 27, 2023

Save You From Yourself at 15

It's been 15 years since I released Save You From Yourself, my first proper solo record, and I couldn't let it pass without a little retrospective. This record was supposed to be the start of something, but turned out to be more of a finish line. Which is not a bad thing! I'd been doing the solo singer-songwriter thing for about eight years at that point, and this record was the culmination of everything I'd learned up to then. Sometimes I remember that fans helped me crowdfund this record before Kickstarter was even a thing.

At the time it came out I felt like a solid songwriter and was also a pretty good live performer. But I was lying to myself: I just wasn't wired for things like touring, and I was happy to write blog posts about songwriting to avoid the hard work that comes with actually writing songs. Luckily, pivoting to being a band member brought something into the mix I didn't even realize was missing: friendship! Camaraderie! The satisfaction of being a contributor and helping someone else create. And particularly with Kirby Krackle, a little taste of the Big Time without having to endure a decade of sleeping in the van.

I'm proud of this record and still listen to it several times every year to remind myself of where I've been.

And yeah, I own the domain name!

Posted February 20, 2023

Pleased and embarrassed to announce the new Car Trouble record!

Welcome to 2023, where the new Car Trouble record I've been working on since 2015 has finally been released!

Surprise! It was actually released August 15 of last year!

Yeah, after weeks -- weeks -- promoting it on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and a handful of other places last summer, including the official website, I totally overlooked mentioning it here. My own website. Welp!

I'm determined not to dwell on this! Head over to the Car Trouble website for links to Bandcamp and all your most-hated streaming sites. There are also song lyrics and album credits.

And if you miss the old days of the early 00's, reminder that the Demo Club tracks are up again and available to everyone!

Posted January 2, 2023

The Demo Club returns!

I am pleased to announce the ressurection of the Demo Club, which was a members-only area of this site where I posted demos and work-in-progress songs from around 2003 to 2010 or so. It's now open to everyone, no membership needed! Within you'll find all of the original Demo Club MP3s, along with the Walkingbirds and Pet Rock Stars songs. I've also thrown in Instagram Boyfriend and the unreleased goof track RIP My Mentions, both of which I recorded when the pandemic started.

I stopped updating the Demo Club around the time I joined Explone and Kirby Krackle as a bassist, and mostly because I'd been doing the DIY acoustic pop superhero thing for just shy of a decade and was pretty burnt out on trying to make that work. Listening to these tracks again for the first time in over ten years, I'm surprised at how good some of these sound. I didn't think they'd hold up under Airpods Pro but some of them sound pretty great for decade-old MP3s!

They're not all great, though. Alas, the original high-quality source files are archived somewhere on a hard disk in my closet, relics from a time when I was recording everything through REAPER and a single Shure SM57.


Posted November 21, 2022

The Summer of Car Trouble

Me, in 2020:

This was gonna be the year I was gonna put together a live band for Car Trouble. Oh well! Better luck next year! Or maybe the year after that!

I had my second Covid jab in May 2021. And then, in August, I started a band! I began renting space in the warehouse district and dragged former Explone/Kirby Krackle drummer Nelson Estes back into action. Craig Marois of The Loveless Building joined us a few months later, making Car Trouble a properly-functioning loud three-piece rock outfit.

Smash cut to today, a year later: the Car Trouble record is finally, finally coming out in August 2022.

I've done the solo singer-songwriter thing, where the only person to disappoint is myself, and I've been the supporting player, where I could just show up, play, and get fired if I messed up too much.

Those safety nets are now gone. Can't just skip rehearsal because you're not feeling it! Can't waste time because it's not just your time anymore!

It also RULES. You guys. It is SO MUCH FUN. If you've been thinking about starting a band, do it. Don't overthink it for five years like I did.

Posted July 4, 2022

The Number Ones: Yes’ “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”

I've written about Yes' "Owner of a Lonely Heart" before. This Stereogum article by Tom Breihan is an amazing deep-dive into that song. There are too many great sentences to quote:

“Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is a craven pop-chart move from a band who’d previously specialized in exploratory, filigreed pomp-rock. It’s a total betrayal of everything that the band had done before. Not coincidentally, it also kicks ass. Sometimes, things work out like that.

The possibly-apocryphal story on “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” is that Trevor Rabin didn’t even think of it as a Yes song, but that he’d gotten up to go to the bathroom while playing a demo tape of his songs for the rest of the band. Trevor Horn heard “Lonely Heart” and decided that it could be a Yes song. I don’t know if this story is true, but I love the idea that all the most important moments in the song’s evolution happened because Trevor Rabin was taking a shit.

There's also a bit on how “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” used a sampled breakbeat from a Kool & The Gang song and basically invented the orchestra "stab" that was so popular in the 80s. The article concludes with a list of rap and R&B songs that sampled “Owner Of A Lonely Heart” in turn.

Some related emphemera I dug up:

Trevor Rabin, who wrote "Owner of a Lonely Heart," shows how to play the sci-fi guitar solo:

Producer Trevor Horn walks through some of the soloed instrument tracks and "whiz-bangs." Utterly charming:

Yes perform "Owner of a Lonely Heart" at their Rock & Roll Hall induction:

Posted April 11, 2021

Pocket Lint (links for 2021-04-04)

Posted April 4, 2021

Exit the warrior

Neil Peart

It's been roughly one year and one month since Neil Peart passed away, and at the time I didn't know what to make of it, so I didn't write about it here.

I do know exactly where I was when the news reached me. I was at my job, in one of those soundproofed one-person cubes meant for making phone calls or distraction-free work. I was preparing for a meeting, and was closing browser tabs when I saw the headline: Neil Peart, drummer for rock band Rush, dies at 67. I sat there, dumbstuck for a second, before my next thought: welp, I guess this is how I'll remember this moment: Neil Peart is gone, and I have a meeting.

The first rock show I ever attended was Hüsker Dü at the Syria Mosque in Pittsburgh, 1987. After that, my first arena rock show was Boston's Third Stage tour at the Richfield Coliseum in Ohio.

My second arena rock show was Rush. I'd made a handful of new friends at college and one of them had a ticket for the Hold Your Fire tour. Styx guitarist Tommy Shaw was the opener, touring his solo album Ambition.

I didn't really know Rush the band at all back then, although "Tom Sawyer" existed in the background radiation of my high school years, and I sorta-kinda recognized "The Temples of Syrinx" during the encore. I had a lot of "oh, so that's the band that does that song" moments.

Anyway, I mostly remember the laser light show and cool video backdrops. Later I would buy a cassette of their live album, A Show Of Hands, and was hooked.

Actually, my first memory of the band was hearing "New World Man" on the radio, likely in 1982 when it peaked at #21 on Casey Kasem's Weekly Top 40, when FM radio was the cultural kingmaker. I was 12 years old.

Also charting that same week: "Truly" by Lionel Richie, "Heartlight" by Neil Diamond, "Jack and Diane" by John Mellencamp, "Southern Cross" by Crosby, Stills, and Nash, "Rock This Town" by The Stray Cats. It was a different time.

Cleveland loved Rush. The song "Working Man" from their first album was embraced by a local station and that buzz helped them secure a record deal. But the Cleveland music scene hated Rush. Local music press wrote scathing reviews of their albums and concerts. The lyrics were too literate, they lacked passion, the playing was too proficient.

Blah blah blah blah blah.

This was when the scene was leaning hard into the authenticity demanded by the grunge and alt-rock era. Oh, you know more than three chords and have a decent relationship with your dad? Move along, poser.

Once, I played in a lengthy battle of the bands at my college. At the semi-finals, our set included "Subdivisions" from Signals. At the next week's semi-finals, our biggest rival also played "Subdivisons." Both bands advanced to the finals. We decided not to play "Subdivisions" again.

We lost. To express no hard feelings, we helped the other band load out their gear. I suspected they were feeling a bit righteous having defeated us: a few months earlier I had auditioned for their band, got the job, then backed out to form my own band. Feathers were ruffled. Because we played similar music, we competed for the same prog-loving audience — the audience that listened to Rush.

A few years later, at one of our last concerts, we invited their keyboardist onstage to play "Subdivisons" with us, splitting vocal duties. The crowd went bananas. Rift healed!

In hindsight, naming our band "Anagram" didn't make things easier on us.

My first "real" band was a six-piece playing covers. Standard early-90s college fare: R.E.M., The Cure, Pink Floyd, U2. And also, Rush. One night our lead vocalist decided to go on a date instead of coming to rehearsal. That night, without our singer, we ended up adding three more Rush songs to our set.

The next day our singer found out and was pissed off. He didn't hate Rush, but did we really need more Rush songs?

He ditched us for a date! What were we supposed to do?

I picked up some 70s-era Rush albums on cassette, blasting them in the car on my way to and from my summer job at the can factory.

I could not believe this was the same band I had seen my freshman year. Where were the synthesizers? Why do they sound like Led Zeppelin? Why does the drummer sound like Keith Moon on hyperdrive?

Wait, the drummer writes the lyrics?!

One late summer night I listened to the Hemispheres album for the first time, with headphones while laying in bed. The title track, formally named "Cygnus X-1 Book Two: Hemispheres" is an 18-minute long sci-fi rock opera. Because what else would it be?

When it ended, I sat up in bed and quietly applauded to no one.

Somewhere buried in a milk crate downstairs is a cassette with a boombox recording of my first band playing "La Villa Strangiato" at an outdoor house party during a humid summer night in Ohio. It was my first gig, ever. We called ourselves Fives and Sevens, after our favorite time signatures.

In all, I saw Rush live five times. Hold Your Fire was followed by Presto, then Roll The Bones. I camped out for tickets for both of those tours, back when camping out for concert tickets was a thing.

I wanted to like those albums, but I found myself not loving Rupert Hines' glassy production. Counterparts brought the band back to big guitar sounds and it was obvious that they'd been influenced by the return of guitar-driven rock to FM radio. The pre-concert stadium music included Soundgarden and Live. Primus was the opener.

I almost skipped the Test For Echo tour, but bought a floor ticket the day of the show. I hadn't bought the album so for the first time in awhile I was unfamiliar with some of the songs. I hadn't fallen off the bandwagon, but I had dropped the pace a bit.

How does an internationally-reknowned rock band with a career spanning 45 years not have a single noteworthy scandal? No outrageous womanizing, no exorbitant drug abuse, no "I'm a golden god!" moments to speak of.

I mean, that I know of.

From what I've seen — and mostly from the Beyond The Lighted Stage documentary — they were basically three goofballs who loved playing music together and made exactly the music they wanted to make and then made a career of that for almost five decades.

Just three friends who created something some people hated, but for which others would probably donate a pint of blood if asked.

When I was with Kirby Krackle, we had a running joke that Patrick and I had a not-so-secret mission to slip a Rush song into a set. Now that I think of it, we missed our chance.

At Kracklefest 2017, the band had to fill time while our leader Kyle changed into and then back out of granny drag for "Grandma's House." We ended up playing Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll," with Pat and I splitting lead vocals. What we should have played was "YYZ."

In the weeks after Peart's death, I listened to a lot of the band's catalog, including the last few studio albums I'd ignored, and rediscovering much of their music through the numerous live albums they'd released as the band wound down in the late 2000s.

Peart's passing meant the end of the band, and the end of something very personal to me. Yet the dominant feeling wasn't grief or sadness, but a strange, profound gratitude. Peart changed rock music, and I was grateful to have been there to witness it. I'm still grateful.

Much like David Bowie's passing in 2016, I took the news of Peart's death as an omen: 2020 was going to suck.

I had no idea. Neil Peart is gone, and I have a meeting.

Posted February 19, 2021