SHINY THINGS and Other Distractions

Shiny things
Call out to you
Shiny things
No matter what you do
Shiny things, shiny things
Shine on you

It’s just a flicker in the distance. But the sparkle is so beguiling. It captivates as it shimmers and gently pulls you to the spirit of the flame.

Shiny Things and Other Distractions, a new CD by Mark McNeil and Kris Rochard, reaches out the same way. Like a talisman of sound, it locks rhythm to the heartbeat of life.

Pulsing backbeats, fiery guitar and hard-driving vocals light the way through tales of love, dreams, regrets and the distractions of modern living. It’s an Education in the Blues, but it’s also a ride past Outlaws of Love, Drifting Dreamers and doomsday Rain Men to search for redemption on the Other Side of the Sun. Sometimes you have to go backwards before you can go forward. Sometimes you need to find yourself. And sometimes you need to crawl into an old town in Mexico in blood-stained clothes to hide from your enemies.


1322106990_kris-mark_RN2[1]Shiny Things and Other Distractions, the new album by singer-songwriters Mark McNeil and Kris Rochard, certainly lives up to its name. Not only does it come in a shiny tin case adorned with a shiny steel guitar, but the songs are as diverting as shiny things are to a magpie…The album is a bit of a pastiche, and each song evokes a different, eclectic influence…a journey through something bluesy, mixed with adult contemporary and tied together with an alternative country rock twang…Whatever your musical tastes, there’s a track on here you can appreciate as the title song says, “Shiny things / call out to you / shiny things / no matter what you do / shiny things / shine on you.”

–Cynthia McQueen, Metro News Toronto

Hamilton singer/songwriter Mark McNeil and Toronto’s Kris Rochard (both formerly of the Lowest Lanes) have teamed up for an amazing CD, Shiny Things and Other Distractions. Mark’s usual roots/country sound is enhanced by Kris’ more modern pop-like sensibilities. Her sultry voice is a great contrast to Mark’s rougher vocals. This combination gives the disc an eclectic, energetic feel. Shiny Things weaves in and out of genres with ease. We have the funkiness of the title track, the country sounds of Outlaw of Love and the softer feel of Sunny Days With You (a runner-up in the International Song of the Year competition).

–Hamilton Blues Blog

Southern Ontario’s Mark McNeil and Kris Rochard have recorded one of my favourites of 2012. They have taken a huge step forward with this album! Great songs lead the way on this one. With a bluesy / folk-rock feel, this collection of originals showcases their insight and sensitive side. As well, their well-tuned harmonies and varied strengths as lead singers shine through. An A+ on this one!!!

–Jim Marino, Freewheeling Folk Show – 93.3 CFMU Hamilton.

Comments about Sunny Days with You
Was a semi-finalist in the prestigious 2011 Song of the Year Awards, a major American-based songwriting competition that attracts entries from around the world.

(The song) Sunny Days with You mixes Rochard and McNeil’s harmonies to perfection. The result is a melody that could easily find a home on a soundtrack.

–Cynthia McQueen, Metro News Toronto

Comments about Old Mexico 
From the Songwriters’ Association of Canada Songposium 2012

I was thinking of who could cover this song and I thought of Jim Cuddy for some reason…I really liked the song. It was a great song. It took me to that place…I quite liked it. I would enjoy the performance this way or another way. This is a very good song so much that I could imagine various interpretations of it…Good work.

— Bobby Gale, music industry veteran, formerly of Polygram Records

I did like the vocal delivery…I think it is really good song that could very much appeal to a Tom Petty kind of a crowd. Good song.

— Brian Thompson, Vancouver based music industry entrepreneur, record label owner, artist manager, marketing consultant

I did enjoy it a lot…it’s a great song.

— Ayah, singer-songwriter

I must say that was my favourite so far on this panel…That chorus is strong… It made me think of Cowboy Junkies.

— Suzie McNeil, singer-songwriter, performer and judge on YTV’s The Next Star.

Shiny Things and Other Distractions covers a lot of musical territory from rock to folk, blues to country, uptempo to ballads.
To help you find songs that fit your tastes and to help radio stations find the tunes to fit their format we’ve but together the following guideto the music.

BLUES Shiny Things The title track is in a Detroit blues style, with brilliant harmonica work by Les Smith. The song is inspired by a conversation. “Why are you so disorganized? You’re always late, losing your keys.” And the other person replied, “I guess I get distracted by shiny things.”

Education in the Blues Inspired from a long ago chat with the late great bluesman Brownie McGhee who said “the only way to play the blues is to live the blues.” The song suggests there should be an honorary “blues baccalaureate” or even PhD to acknowledge this.

Outlaw of Love Is a wild train ride of a country rocker that takes you back to the old west. It’s about being attracted to someone who has “misery in (her) pocket and the devil somewhere up (her) sleeve.”

POP Sunny Days with You Is a pop duet that was semi-finalist in the 2011 Song of the Year Awards, a major international songwriting competition. Metro News Toronto said the song “mixes Rochard and McNeil’s harmonies to perfection.”

FOLK Old Mexico A folk/rock song about a breakup that seems typical at first. At the 2012 Songwriters Association of Canada Songposium, music industry veteran Bobby Gale said “it took me to that place..It was a great song…it’s the kind of song Jim Cuddy would do.” Vancouver music industry entrepreneur Brian Thompson said, “I did like the vocal delivery…I think it is a really good song that could very much appeal to a Tom Petty kind of a crowd.” Singersongwriter Suzie McNeil said “that was my favourite on this panel…That chorus is strong.”

Drifting The folkiest song on the album reflects on drifting with the forces of nature with a surprise in the last verse.

There’s a great divide
Been coming between us
Crept into our lives
before we could see it
I don’t know how
Or how I know
But I`ll be staying here
In old Mexico

I`m so sorry, dear
but I ain’t coming back
Need to find myself
Inside my tracks
And feel the sea
Drift through my soul
Live the dream
Of old Mexico

Old Mexico
Old Mexico

There`s a part of me
You do not know
It rides the night
In blood-stained clothes
The hounds bark out
I become a ghost
Chased away
to old Mexico

Oh, Mexico…

They say you need an education
Learn about science and history
Take some study about arithmetic
Learn to recite your ABCS
But I took a different kind of lesson
When I fell in love with you
You gave me a course in heartache
An education in the blues

I got a blues baccalaureate
Going for a Master’s degree.
The way it’s going
I’ll be enrolling, to get my PhD

So that’s what B.B. means in B.B. King
It stands for Bachelor of the Blues
But everyone knows he’s got more letters than that
It’s just that B.B. sounds cool
I got a blues…

To know the blues you need to study hard
But you won’t find it any book
You need to have somebody break your heart
Right after they stick it with a hook
I got a blues baccalaureate
After all this studying with you
You left me crying
Broke down and dying
With your education in the blues
An education in the blues…

I’ve seen your kind before
I tell you I don’t like what I see
There’s misery in your pocket
and the devil’s somewhere up your sleeve
Your revolver’s still warm
from the lover you left to die on the street
You shot him in the heart while he was down, down on his knees
Down on his knees

I don’t like the way you speak,
the way you sip your gin, and wink your eye
But there’s something about the way you look at me
The way you move. The way you smile
Your hand’s so cold
as you lead me down the hall and out the door
You say it’ll only be one night.
No matter what, there won’t be any more
Won’t  be  any more

I hear what you’re saying,
all’s fair in love and war
You’ve been on the run
and you plan to run some more
You’re an outlaw of love, a lady of flight
But don’t you dare knock on my door tonight

I’ve seen your kind before
I tell you I don’t like what I see
There’s misery in your pocket
And the devil’s somewhere up your sleeve
But our hearts pounded hard,
in a night of tender bliss
You left in the morning,
with just one kiss

Outlaws of love, some say they love the best
But leave you lying with hole in your chest
I hear what you’re saying…

I think it’s just a matter of time
Till you drive me insane
You say I’m being a little dramatic
But hear me what I say
You know you’re always
Leaving a mess while making another
Running around unhinged
All you got to say for yourself
You’re distracted by shiny things

Shiny things
Call out to you
Shiny things
No matter what you do
Shiny things, shiny things
Shine on you

I’ll tell you honey, I try to do my part
What’s expected of me
But when something shiny comes along
It knocks you off your feet
I know you’re always
Losing your keys, showing up late
Fingers tied with string

I don’t know why. It’s just because
You’re distracted by shiny things
Shiny things
Flashing in your view
Shiny things
Everywhere like jewels
Shiny things, shiny things
Shine on you

You say it’s just the way you are
A spirit needs to be free
But I don’t know it sounds a lot
Like some kind of A.D.D.
Because you’re always
Letting me down, leaving me stranded
I take it on the chin
That’s what happens when you get messed up
With someone who likes shiny things
Shiny things
Call out to you
Shiny things
You make front page news
Shiny things, shiny things
Shine on you

If I was a sailor, out on the wave
I’d head through the channel
To where deep water plays
Let the sail out
And go drifting, drifting away

If I was a cowboy, alone on the plain
I’d sleep ’neath the stars
As the embers pop and flame
And when morning breaks
I’ll go drifting, drifting away

Wandering free
Like dust in a breeze
Carried by fate
And drifting away
Drifting away. ..

But I still live here, in Cell Block Three
The world through these bars
Is all I can see
But soon I’ll break out

And go drifting, drifting away…

No matter how much we talk
There’s always something more to say
No matter how far we walk
It’s always a sunny day with you
Oh, it’s always a sunny day, a sunny day with you

No matter how much we try
Time it always slips away
I really don’t know why
Just want to spend the day with you

Oh, it’s always a sunny day, a sunny day with you
Sunny days, they shine through
Whenever I’m with you
I just want to spend
My sunny days with you

Shadows they may start to grow
When the day begins to fade
But sunshine is all I know
When I spend the day, with you
Oh, it’s always a sunny day, a sunny day with you

Sunny days…

When the rain falls down I will shelter you
I won’t run, I won’t hide
From the world outside
I’ll hold onto you as we wait the storm

And the sun to shine
Sunny days…

There’s a place, where I come from
So long ago, when I was young
But somehow now it calls me to come
From somewhere back of the sunset

I’ll know the place, when I get there
Sweet smell of mist fills the air
Floats above like angel’s hair
Somewhere back of the sunset

Ride my way, ride my way
To the other side of the sun
Ride my way, ride my way
To find out what went wrong

There’ll be a trace from long ago
Behind a wall, beneath a stone
All I know is darkness grows
Somewhere back of the sunset

Ride my way…

I don’t know how I lost my way
But I’ll search the road behind
To find out what got lost in fate
And what got lost in time

Ride my way…

This town’s so pretty
But not big enough for you and me
One day we’ll have it all
We’ll rise and never fall
We’re going to make it out
We’re going to break it down
They’re going to say remember when
We were around

But time moves so slow
We’ve still got so far to go
You work so hard
To pay the bills to fix the car
Sometimes I want to shout
I want to tear it down
I love the people but sometimes
I hate this town

At the end of the day
We wonder where the time went
Work our fingers to the bone
or money already spent
It’s hard to say what it means
It’s hard to say what it meant
We’ve got a lot of plans
But for now it’s all about the rent

We’re dreamers it’s true
But it’s dreaming that
Led me to you
Our hopes and fears
Are bought and paid for with your tears
I don’t need a miracle
I just need a little time
I need a little luck
Just need to know that your mine

At the end of the day…

I can see you when you’re not here
Close my eyes and you soon appear
It’s a little magic I learned to do
That helps me when I’m away from you

’Cause, I can’t help thinking about you
You’re in my thoughts all through the day
And I know
Yeah, I know
I’m dreaming my days away

I used to dream in black and white
But now the colours are oh so bright
With hair of red and eyes of green
You’re the best dream I’ve ever dreamed

’Cause, I can’t help…

Daydreaming about you
Building castles in the sand
One thing I know, no matter where I go
You’re the best dream I ever had

’Cause, I can’t help…

I feel the rain coming
Coming over the hill
It won’t be long till this day
Gets washed out in the spill
Run while you can
Don’t try to make a stand
Rain is coming to the land

The sky is growing dark
The wind is picking up
I feel the spray on my face
Thunderclouds erupt
Better change your plans
Go back where you began
Rain is coming to the land

But I’ll stay here
And hide my fear
The water so clear
Will wash  away, wash away…
My tears

And when the sun comes out
The ground will be reborn
Flowers break through
Robins sing for more.
But I’m forever damned

With tired and weary hands
Waiting for rain to come again

And I’ll stay here…

The old man at the corner is arguing with himself
Does it with a matchstick dancing in his mouth
Arms are flailing, sprays what he’s saying
But no one hears a sound
Just another moment downtown
Just another moment in our town

There’s a guy with a guitar and fingerless gloves
Plays all day but never makes enough
Some people stare
But most don’t care
Just blends in to the crowd
Just another moment, downtown
Just another moment, downtown

Our town, our town
Is lost there on the ground
Our town is waiting to be found
Our town, our town
Will sometimes get you down
But I feel it’s starting to come around

High above the street a hawk looks down
It can see everything moving on the ground
Papers blowing
People strolling
Another lonely crowd
Just another moment downtown
Just another moment downtown

When I woke up I was lying on the ground

I couldn’t get up I was too far gone
Crawling around I saw your face.
You disappeared without trace.

The air was black and burned in my eyes
Somewhere ahead I heard your cries
But I’m trapped outside this stonewall fence
In some valley that makes no sense

Can’t you hear me calling
Won’t you know I’m crawling
Don’t you know I’m falling away

A stream of light, a break in the wall
I follow it through and hear you call
You take me to your secret place
I pull the hair back from your face

Can’t you hear…

All lyrics by Mark McNeil except Sunny Days With You by McNeil and Kris Rochard and The Rent by Derek Evernden, Sean Robb and Rochard.

Copyright Songscribe Music

All Rights Reserved

August, 2011

All songs are from the album Shiny Things and Other Distractions by Mark McNeil and Kris Rochard.




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