Planets Don't Twinkle

by The Granite Countertops

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about

The second Granite Countertops album is here. Our intrepid explorers of sound and thought J Neo Marvin and Davis Jones concoct a stew of skittering rhythms, jangly guitars, shrill organs and lush orchestration, sometimes in the same song. There are epic rants, somber ballads, mind-bending sound collages, and bouncy inspirational anthems. There are new songs, and a couple of reimaginings of old favorites. This time out, the duo takes on David Bowie and the Crabs and finds profound new corners in their songs. Special guest appearances by rapper E-Bone415 and saxophonist Frank Lev. Plus, we collaborate with two brilliant academics who very graciously consented to let us play with their words: Cultural Studies Professor John Storey and composer/film critic Michel Chion. The cover art is a stunning backlit photo of Saturn taken by the Cassini probe and used by permission of NASA/JPL Caltech. A feast for your heart, mind, eyes and ears.

credits

released February 1, 2014

J Neo Marvin and Davis Jones: Vocals and instruments
Plus guests:
Frank Lev: Soprano sax on High Definition
E-Bone415: Rap on Brain In A Chair

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The Granite Countertops San Francisco, California

The Granite Countertops are dark, whimsical, tender existential action heroes J Neo Marvin and Davis Jones, exploring the outer limits of what a duo can create.

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Track Name: Stop Breaking Everything
Chaos is not the thrill it used to be
An insecure world, selling security

Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!
Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!

Angry clowns strut and fret upon the stage
Slash and burn in the name of the golden age

Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!
Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!

Wreckers of civilization pose as keepers of tradition
While you liquidate our future, selling us your austerity dreams

The color of money matters none
I supply your demands
You demand, I supply
You don’t buy, I don’t build
I don’t build, you don’t work
You build, I compete

Price goes down, wage goes down
Poor can’t spend, we all suffer
Rich don’t spend, war ensues
Stupid cycle, got another?

Sucking out the juice, leaving us the shells
We have to live in their garbage while they help themselves
Kingdom rise and kingdom fall, it’s not happy hour, it’s last call
Kingdom rise and kingdom fall, rise up, come together, one and all

In the real world where we live our lives
You try to choke us and split us into tribes
Impose fake values to cut us down to size
We’ve outgrown you and we intend to thrive

Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!
Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!
Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!
Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything!
Stop breaking, stop breaking, stop breaking everything! (etc)
Track Name: Beyond Belief
I used to be a Catholic
I married Jesus when I was ten
In a beautiful white lace dress
I loved him very much
I have a more mature attitude today

I know that he existed
I know that he was hip
I know his voice had been twisted
And I know I had given that scene the slip
I have a more mature attitude today

My mother was devoted
It got her in a fix
A choice of excommunication
Or make baby number six

My father was indifferent
She had her operation
It left her chemically unbalanced
He died alone in the kitchen
I have a more mature attitude today

I prayed a lot to Jesus
I asked to bring him back
I asked to make her happy
Jesus never had my back
I have a more mature attitude today

I learned from Aristotle
That Ethics, Logic, Passion rules
The Three Offices Of Truth, yeah!
Turns out religion is for fools

Where guilt is your savior
An excuse for some forgiveness
A scapegoated mother
Cannot ask for a witness.

I used to love Jesus
I...don't today
I used to love Jesus...
Track Name: Brain In A Chair
Brain in a chair, going nowhere
Stuck in your brain and forgetting to care
Get out of that chair and go get some air
Better start treating your body fair

Mind like a fire, ass like a stone
Can't live on numbers and words alone
So much to remember, so much to forget
And somebody's wrong on the Internet.

Eyes glaze as you're turning a phrase
Limbs fold up as you gaze and gaze
So much stress trying to get things done
Brain in a chair ain't having no fun

Box full of gremlins corrupting the files
I’d think more clearly if I walked a few miles
Waiting two hours for a file to upload
If I can’t finish I’m gonna explode

Haven't had water for twelve solid hours
Riding the wave of my mental powers
All my biology washed down the drain
Nothing left in this chair but a brain

Brain in a chair, going nowhere
Time to stand up and get out of there
Move your body and set yourself free
Go into the bedroom...turn on the TV.

EBone415:
When I’m sitting in the chair for 8 hours a day
My mind gets unclear and I don’t know what to say
Apple and Dell, it’s like I’m in Hell
They keep me chained up, it’s time to rebel
Walk straight through the door, it’s an internet war
Education for all, whether you’re rich or poor
YouTube fame, more books, no user names
Get rid of our passwords, I’m goin’ insane
Turn off your power strip and let’s go for a skip
Let’s stretch our legs and minds, universal space and time
Track Name: Bag Of Hammers
Standing on a ship that’s going down
Fighting bravely for the right to drown
The house is filling up with fire and smoke
While they throw bottles at the fire truck

(This is why we can’t have nice things!)

They don’t know what they’re talking about
But they know how to jump and shout
Raw meat raining on the angry herd
“Liberty” is now a meaningless word

Chasing demons in their wet fever dreams
The future’s scary and it makes them scream
Sincere citizens with godly goals
Modeling hats and digging six foot holes

(This is why we can’t have nice things!)

Bag of hammers on a bed of nails
Freedom trains are flying off the rails
Jumbo packages of cheap concerns
Country fiddles while the planet burns

(Oh, damn it!)
Don’t you know you’re being played for a fool…
Bag of hammers, raging over nothing…
It really doesn’t have to be this way…
(Ytrap aet ton a si noitulover a.)
Track Name: High Definition
(Cool, this is really kind of a nice book! "Silence of direct sound...")

"The fans find it necessary to locate their pleasure in relation to the ideology of mass culture. They 'internalize' the ideology, they 'negotiate' with the ideology, they use surface irony to defend their pleasure against the withering dismissal..."

“A sound recording’s definition, in technical terms, is its acuity and precision in rendering of detail. Definition is a function of the width of the frequency band (which allows us to hear frequencies all the way from extreme low to extreme high) as well as its dynamic range (amplitude of contrasts, from the weakest levels to the strongest). It is particularly through gains in high frequencies that sound has progressed in definition; high frequencies reveal a new multitude of details and information, contributing to an effect of greater presence and realism.”

“The arena of conflict was mass-produced urban culture: movies, advertising, science fiction, pop music…”

(Yeah, break up the sing-song)

“I am speaking of definition (a precise and quantifiable technical property, just like definition or sharpness in a photographic or video image) and not of fidelity. The latter is a tricky term; strictly speaking it would require making a continuous close comparison between the original and its reproduction, which normally would be difficult to physically arrange. Someone who listens to an orchestra on a sound system in his living room is not likely to be able to compare it with some orchestra playing at his doorstep. It should be known, in fact, that the notion of high fidelity is a purely commercial one, and corresponds to nothing precise or verifiable.”

“The values, images, myths, and styles will be different depending on whether for example it is blues, country, dance, folk, heavy metal, jazz, rap, rock and roll, 60s rock, or soul. At the very least each genre of music would produce different political articulations in terms of class, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality and generation.”

“However, it happens that today definition is (mistakenly) taken as proof of fidelity, when it’s not being confused with fidelity itself. In the ‘natural’ world sounds have many high frequencies that so-called hi-fi recordings do capture and reproduce better than they used to. On the other hand, current practice dictates that a sound recording should have more treble than would be heard in the real situation (for example when it’s the voice of a person at some distance with back turned). No one complains of nonfidelity from too much definition! This proves that it’s definition that counts for sound, and its hyperreal effect, which has little to do with the experience of direct audition. For the sake of rigor, therefore, we must speak of high definition and not high fidelity.”

“There was a blacksmith in a village who had committed a capital offense. The court decided that the crime must be punished. But as the blacksmith was the only one in the village, and was indispensible, and as on the other hand there were three tailors living there, one of them was hanged instead. In this example, the chain of association and effect has shifted dramatically.”

“In the cinema sound definition is an important means of expression with multiple consequences. First, a more defined sound, containing more information, is able to provide more materializing indices. And second, it leads to a more lively, spasmodic, rapid, alert mode of listening, particularly to the agile phenomena that occur in the higher frequencies (e.g. , a feeling of temporal acceleration, very distinct in recent films.”

“She likes to read short pieces about people who have had certain problems, and how such a problem can be solved: ‘I like to read about how people deal with things. You learn a lot from other people’s problems, and the advice they give.’”

“What is rendered is a clump of sensations. Why is this so, and why should sounds ‘render’ their sources all by themselves—a belief that sound effects people are obviously completely disabused of? No doubt because sounds are neither experienced objectively nor named, and through a magnetism related to all the vagueness and uncertainty surrounding them, sounds ‘attract’ affects for which they are not especially responsible.”

“It might be believed that the question of rendering boils down to that of translating one order of sensation into another. For example, in Truffaut’s sequence, rendering would involve ‘transliterating’ tactile sensations into auditory sensations: the rustling of nylon stockings would have to render the touch of legs sheathed in silk.”

(SIGH)
Track Name: Unexpected Impact
Well come on now, take a look around
Well come on now, take a look around
There’s so much to be done
And there’s no excuse for being bored

They might tell you there’s no future for you
Don’t be too sure when the future comes
That you won’t be right there too,
So what do you want to see around you?

Well I’ve got a few ideas
And I’m not the only one who does here
There’s a time for shifting gears
And this bad book is overdue!

Sometimes I feel that we’re all pushing a boulder up a mountain
And sometimes I feel like I’m cleaning a giant toilet with a toothbrush
But don’t forget, my friend, when nothing seems effective
Everything we do has an unexpected impact

There is no meaning, baby, there is no script to follow
There is nothing but the sum of all our choices
The feedback from our heartbeats, the ripple from our voices
Everything we do has an unexpected impact
Everything we do has an unexpected impact
Everything we do has an unexpected impact
Everything we do has an unexpected impact
Everything we do has an unexpected impact
Everything we do has an unexpected impact.
Track Name: Soft Shoulder
You started dying slowly
When you took a ride on that machine
You shot off like a spark
Aimed straight into the dark
Weaving down the highway
All overcast with dreams

It's a cycle that goes nowhere
Burning youth into exhaust
Such a raging rebel sinner
You almost were a winner
But now you've lost the path, can't read the signs
And don't know that you're lost

Friends wait along the roadside
Faces blur in the flash
Tunnel vision turns to blue
One last exit left for you
And on the south side of the highway
A soft shoulder when you crash.
Track Name: Rainy Night In Florida (Still Waiting For Justice)
There’s a whole lot invested
In the building of a narrative
If you spin the right fable
It’s transparent but effective

Sit and watch, dreaming of badges
See a boy out walking
You can tell by his color
That he must be up to something

Zero in on your target
Never have to say you’re sorry
You can say anything
He won’t be there to tell the story

‘Cause you’ve got good connections
And the state sympathizes
Oh, they’ll go through the motions
But the outcome, it never surprises

It’s the trial of the victim
We can find out all about him
We’ll invent a real good reason
We’re all better off without him

On a rainy night in Florida
A young life’s blood is draining
Now some people are rejoicing
Other people are still waiting…

For justice
(whisper) Justice
Waiting for justice
(whisper) Justice
Waiting for justice
(whisper) Justice
Waiting for justice
(whisper) Justice
Waiting for justice
(whisper) Justice
Crying for justice
(whisper) Justice
Shouting for justice
(whisper) Justice
Screaming for justice
Justice.
Track Name: FFS
Living in a box
Dreaming of wide open spaces
Found a place to land
Found your psychic homeostasis
Keep the lid clamped down
While your eyes betray your fear
No one ever tells the truth
About anything at all around here

Keep your mind shut down and expect me to shut up
You keep your mind shut down and expect me to shut up

Question time is over now
Excuse yourself, your brain is full
Everything you know
Has to fit in the right sized bowl
School’s out forever, man
You don’t need no education
Things are really bad out there
You’re better off not changing the station

Keep your mind shut down and expect me to shut up
You keep your mind shut down and expect me to shut up

Put the blame on me
For putting on those special glasses
See things as they are
Point it out and lose your access
Façade of a brand new normal
Shut your eyes and call it tradition
If you’re wrong about everything
You’ll always have a secure position

Keep your mind shut down and expect me to shut up
You keep your mind shut down and expect me to shut up
Well, it’s too bad for you, ‘cause we’re not going to shut up
Yeah, it’s too bad for you, ‘cause we’re not going to shut up
Here, have some noise.
Track Name: Daredevil
Make it happen now, don’t turn to the past
Treasured youthful antics fade away so fast
Gorged memories of swells, pops, swigs, sniffs
Mixed up in churning news, forging attitudes
My youth was such a gas

I make it happen and I get there first
Call me a lemon but I’ll quench your thirst
The hands on the switches see me and get nervous
They shut off the power when they see me on purpose
But I get my job done.

The statue of liberties taken
The statue of liberty is taken
My integrity is high and I take liberties
I put my feet down and claim my space
So don’t give me that blue screen face
When you’re in this place!

What people think is only important if you’re not!
The goal is to not be one of those chickens
Looking for approval and getting the axe
Ain’t nobody here but us breakthroughs!

And if we don’t go out tonight, well that’s all right.
Our job is to create the “out”
That people need to go to.

Life is a theater
Especially when it comes to war
It’s all staged, you know.

No doubt the commitment factor
Props up the ability to be an actor
A shared reality that lives in agreement
To make a stand and then convene on it

You are not subhuman
You are not superhuman
You are quintessentially human
So slap yourself! You need to be aroused!

The twisted concaves convoluted
Cover up the mustard cutting blues
Inside this couple’s nuptial dreams,
They are just Harry and Bess.
Be nice to them.
Track Name: Love Is A Verb
Love is a verb, it’s a thing that you do
Love’s not just something that happens to you
Love is a verb, not a hole you fall in
You can wait for an angel to dance on a pin, but listen:
Do you love? Do you love? Do you know what that requires?
Do you love or are you only chasing blind desire?

Poisoned by pop songs and fairy tale clichés
Building pedestals of Babel till you’re mugged by malaise
That’s a con that’s designed just to sell you a sack of dreams
You’ve got a whole lot to learn if you think that’s what love means

Love is a verb, it’s a choice that you make
It’s not a monument of gold, it’s an action you take
Do you love? Do you love when you say that you’re in love?
Do you love? Do you love the one you claim to love?

Be my mirror, reflect me back
See me clearly, keep this monkey mind on track

Love is a verb you create every day
In everything that you do, in everything that you say
Open up, let it go, every moment is a brand new start
Zero in on the reasons this one thrills and warms your heart

Love is a verb, it’s a real activity
It ebbs and flows like the tides, pulled by your own gravity
And it’s light and it’s heavy and it washes over you
So run in, take a swim, get wet, get dry and renew.

Be my mirror, reflect me back
See me clearly, keep this monkey mind on track