Author Archives: jmlicari

The “I’ve Been Super Busy” Update

Here are some things that have been going on in my world.

– I’m currently working at a great school in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – teaching general music in grades 3 through 8, directing the beginning, and intermediate concert bands, a modern rock band, co-directing the 5th grade musical, and assisting in chorus.

– I’ve attained tenure, and my professional music teacher certification.

– I’m playing in a new punk band called The Orgonauts.

– I’ve composed a piece titled “A Folk Dance” for my intermediate band that will be premiered in two weeks at our spring concert.

-I’ve also composed a trio for Flute, Clarinet, and French Horn (or Alto Saxophone), which I may post for analysis.

– I’ve had a percussion ensemble piece titled “Perk Cushion On Sam Bull” published by HaMaR Percussion Publications.

Life is great, and I’m still in business, if any of you need my services.

End of Summer 2015 Update

I haven’t updated in a while.  I was working long and hard on an opera by J. Mark Scearce called Falling Angel.  I was fortunate enough to attend a reading session, and I was blown away.

I would like to start doing more writing, so stay tuned for some music reviews, and analysis on newer music, shows, and classical music.

End-of Summer Update

I am proud to announce that I will be engraving the score and parts for a new opera, “Falling Angel” for the Center For Contemporary Opera – music written by J. Mark Scearce, and the libretto by Lucy Thurber.

Mid-Summer Updates

I hope you’re all doing well.  I have some new things in the works for the coming school year as well as the rest of the summer.

1.  I will once again be doing musical examples for Philip Ewell on an article he is writing.  If you haven’t seen his previous articles that I did musical examples for, please visit the Work Samples section of my website, where you will find two articles written by Mr. Ewell.

2.  I just took a course, Composing & Arranging for School Bands with Scott Watson, who is a contracted composer with Alfred Music, does a podcast “What Music Means To Me,” teaches for the Parkland School District in Pennsylvania, as well as various summer college programs.  The course was very interesting, so you can expect to see more band music coming out of this website.  Anyone who wishes to commission me for a band project, will get a major deal (free).  Just email me at jmlicari@gmail.com for more information.

3.  I will be using both Sibelius 7, and Finale 2014 in my studio.  The fighting has stopped, and we’ve shaken hands, and decided to work together.  It’s like In Karate Kid, Part II when Miyagi, and his old friend Sato made amends after the hurricane, when Miyagi saved his life.  It’s exactly the same situation…

4.  On the lighter side of things, I saw a Yankees game, Mets game, The Bouncing Souls, and Huey Lewis & The News so far this summer, and before the summer ends, I will see Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Offspring, and The Vandals in Boston.  I might go see Propagandhi, but I’m not sure yet.

I’ll keep you all abreast of any other musical endeavors.

Two Great Albums Already This Year!

It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about any new music coming out.  So far this year, two bands, who haven’t released albums in a long time, have released some of their greatest material to date – Against Me! with Transgender Dysphoria Blues and The Lawrence Arms with Metropole.  Both bands had experiences changes prior to the release of their respective, long-anticipated albums.

In The Lawrence Arms’ case, their temporary departure from their label Fat Wreck Chords, and becoming the fourth band to release records on both Fat, and Epitaph (their new label) – The Descendents, Propagandhi, and NOFX being the other bands – and perhaps it’s also the distance between the bass player, Brendan Kelly, and the guitar player, Chris McCaughan, who moved to Portland, Oregon, apparently.  The speak about their departure from Fat, and their writing process in this interview from For The Love Of Punk.

Against Me!, however, has gone through other types of changes.  Life-altering.  In the time between their last full-length album White Crosses and their new album, singer Tom Gabel had made a surprise announcement, in which he had come out with the news that he was in the middle of the process of becoming a woman.  You can read the Rolling Stone article here.  Reading this news in 2012 had me thinking about things, like, that took a lot of courage to come out publicly, or how will the punk community handle this news – would they shun her?  For me, what concerned me was that I didn’t know how this will affect Tom’s voice, as he became Laura Jane Grace (awesome name).  That raw, and screaming, yet, melodic quality he had was the sound of Against Me!

The curiosity grew, and finally, I heard the album when it had been streamed on NPR (a website I hate).  I listened to the album twice, and it became my first favorite album of 2014.  New Wave was a decent album.  White Crosses was an average group of songs, as well, but I won’t go out of my way to get it.  Transgender Dysphoria Blues, however, is a throw back to, in my opinion, the crown jewel in the Against Me! catalog – Searching For A Former Clarity.  Oh, and while we’re talking about Against Me!, I’d like to point out that this review of their album, in which the reviewer thinks that this album is punk rock’s Chinese Democracy (referring to the extremely long-awaited album by Guns N’ Roses), is a ridiculous comparison.

I highly recommend both of these albums.  Their refreshing, raw, yet carefully crafted, and, most of all, honest art.

The Songs of Tony Sly: A Tribute

Tony Sly – No Use For A Name (November 4, 1970 – July 31, 2012)

On August 1, 2012, I was on my computer, and everything was absolutely normal, until I came across a disturbing post on the Fat Wreck Chords facebook page.  I didn’t believe it at first.  I was completely in shock.  I mean, I had just seen Tony Sly, and Joey Cape the week before in Brooklyn, performing their acoustic sets.  I immediately called my friend Billy, who had introduced me to No Use For A Name while we were in college, both majoring in music.  I had to break the news to him that I thought Tony Sly had died; he didn’t believe me, but then I sent him the link.

That entire day, I sat on my bed and listened to four NUFAN albums, front- to-back, reminiscing about how much of an influence this guy, and his band, had been on my life.  I wasn’t always into punk.  I listened to a lot of nü metal, and classic rock when I was in high school, and I was a huge “grunge” fan in middle school.  Well, I was somewhat introduced to this type of punk rock when I was in middle school as well – Green Day, The Offspring, and Rancid – because these were bands that were on the radio.  But when I heard More Betterness! for the first time, it changed my life.

I got obsessed with drumming faster, catchy melodies, meaningful lyrics, and tasteful songwriting.  I am able to view this as a life-changing moment because this was the band that had influenced a new direction I was about to take in my music making, alongside my friend Billy, who, at that point, had asked me to play drums with him.  In our seven or eight years playing together, we developed our own style, totally rooted in the punk rock we listened to and loved, with No Use For A Name at the forefront.

This path I was heading down led me to where I am today.  I am now a music teacher, performer, composer, and music preparer, but I will never stop listening to punk rock.  To me, the music makes as much sense as any beautiful aria, an intense string quartet, swift jazz combo, or boisterous percussion ensemble.

I knew there had to be some sort of idea to memorialize Tony Sly in the works.  It turns out there was.  Fat Wreck Chords, NUFAN’s record label (they were the second act signed to Fat), announced in April 2013 that they were putting together a tribute album.  The lineup was incredible – Bad Religion, Bouncing Souls, NOFX, Anti-Flag, The Flatliners, Lagwagon, Pennywise, Rise Against, The Gaslight Anthem, Frank Turner, Mad Caddies, even Simple Plan.  The catch was Fat Mike encouraged the contributing bands to cover the songs differently – make the slow songs fast, and make the fast songs slow.  Great idea, but I had no idea how great of an idea it actually turned out to be.

The Songs of Tony Sly: A Tribute was released on October 29, 2013 (I received my copy two days before for some reason) and, all the proceeds go to the Tony Sly Memorial Fund.  I believe it to be the best album released in 2013.  Karina Denike (who is heard singing backup vocals on the No Use For A Name track On The Outside) opens the album with her positively bone-chilling arrangement of The Biggest Lie.  Her arrangement is very slow (because the original is fast), and utilizes the sounds of a vibraphone, and electronic sounds.  Her vocal harmonies are beautiful making use of open intervals as if it were a Medieval motet).  Another high point is Strung Out’s cover of NUFAN’s MTV hit Soulmate.  Strung Out, label mates of NUFAN for years, took a fast song, and made it faster.  I would expect nothing less from them.  They didn’t really change the song too much – added some signature Strung Out guitar hammer-ons, and sped up the drums – but I believe it’s the best track on the album.  Other high points include Bad Religion’s cover of Let It Slide, which is the biggest surprise on the album.  Fat Mike mentions in an interview that he was surprised that Bad Religion is on the album because they don’t do covers.

Notable mentions:

Pennywise – Devonshire and Crown
The Bouncing Souls – Homecoming
Old Man Markley – The Feel Good Record Of The Year (my friend Dave’s favorite track)
Mad Caddies – AM
Teenage Bottle Rocket – Via Munich
Lagwagon – Discomfort Inn
Rise Against – For Fiona

I highly recommend you listen to this album.  If you like what you hear, I’d like to suggest getting a few No Use For A Name Albums:

Incognito (1990)
Don’t Miss the Train (1992)
The Daily Grind (1993)
¡Leche con Carne! (1995)
Making Friends (1997)
More Betterness! (1999)
Hard Rock Bottom (2002)
Keep Them Confused (2005)
The Feel Good Record of the Year (2008)

It’s been a while!

I just wanted to make a new post, and say hi and inform you that some musical examples that I was hired to engrave for an article has been published.

If you would like to check out the collection of research articles, click on the link:

Word, Image, and Song, Vol. 1: Essays on Early Modern Italy

The article title is Strophic Form in the Canzonettas of Orazio Vecchi, Luca Marenzio, and Claudio Monteverdi by Dr. Ruth DeFord.