This is a just a little instrumental I made a little while back. I don’t even remember exactly how I made it, so I can’t tell the story! But I like it — it’s got two distinct parts and I think it’s pretty catchy.
05/02/2014 • 12:20 pm 0
04/16/2014 • 11:29 am 0
This song is actually a left-over from the Pizza! era. There were several song ideas that we had floating around before we broke up, but most of them were just instrumental jams. This song, however, was the result of a recording back-n-forth between Duncan and me. He created the backing track – as a sketch for something more complicated later, I guess – then I wrote the vocals, then I went to his house where I recorded my vocals and he sang the background parts.
I guess we would’ve put it through the full band process after that, but we never got there.
It’s fine like it is though, right? It’s more simple than a typical Pizza! song. That’s not a slight on Pizza!, because complexity is both awesome and worthwhile. But simplicity has its own charm. Anyway, I released it last year on the Vanity Projects compilation. You can download that here, by the way. It’s got some good music on it.
I don’t have any idea what this song is about. If you think of something, please let me know.
04/13/2014 • 11:23 am 0
I don’t actually have the desire to make a song for a car commercial, but I thought that this would go well behind a car commercial. Can’t you imagine some hot sports car hugging the turns in the rain as this jam played?
I flatter myself.
Anyway, I was thinking it would be cool to make a fake car commercial, like maybe with Hot Wheels cars or Micro Machines. Is anybody down to help?
04/04/2014 • 11:49 am 0
Look, I did it. This song, “Rollin’,” came pretty quickly and is very simple. Three chords! It’s a song about a feeling that comes in that little bit of time at the end of a co-habitating relationship when you still live together. That fun little bit of time.
I did this at Murderland, which is just a fancy name for my home studio. Is that a bad name? I looked it up online and murderland.com is already taken. Apparently there was some TV miniseries in Britain called Murderland, too (I have not seen it). I have a feeling that Murderland is a bad name, but I still like it.
03/19/2014 • 7:15 pm 0
“People Like Us” is at the emotional core of David Byrne’s 1985 film True Stories. The movie is about a town in Texas and how all of its colorful characters are preparing for the town’s 150th anniversary. Perhaps the most charismatic of these characters is Louis, a lonely man played by a then-unknown John Goodman who spends the movie trying to find love via a video dating service. Louis is adorably pathetic, and Goodman is as good as ever in the role.
This song, which the character is supposed to have composed, is an ode to desperation: “We don’t want freedom, we don’t want justice, we just want someone to love.” He mentions picking up the phone, giving the impression that the “us” in the refrain literally refers to Louis and his fellow dial-a-daters. In one scene, he petrifies a woman by singing it to her, a capella, in her living room.
“It’s awful sad,” she says. “I couldn’t have that sort of sadness in my life. Do you really feel that way?”
“I never thought about it,” he replies after a stammer. His look is genuinely quizzical before there’s a flash of realization: “Maybe I am kinda sad. I like sad songs.”
He looks downward.
“They make me want to lie on the floor.”
03/17/2014 • 11:01 pm 0
Monster is the most maligned of the well-known R.E.M. albums (among people who know R.E.M., the actual “turd in the punchbowl” — to borrow a phrase from Michael Stipe — is Around the Sun), and I remember it being a fixture in clearance bins of the used CD shops I frequented as a teenager. As a band increasingly known for mandolins and ballads, R.E.M.’s mid-90s electric about-face was interpreted as contrived and, because of their supposedly-old age (late 30s? early 40s?), embarrassing.
That’s silly, though.
First, R.E.M. had a long history of both writing rock songs and shifting sounds; the band had turned to ballads and mandolins in a previous about-face only a few years prior to the album in question. Second, Monster is the result of a band trying to break its formula and explore new ground — thus, it’s contrived by its very nature. So, what’s the problem?
It’s not their best record, but it’s still great and it has something that most records don’t have: a unique sound. It may have been the band’s “reaction to grunge,” as some people said at the time, but it certainly doesn’t sound like grunge.
“Tongue” doesn’t rock, but it does stand alone in R.E.M.’s catalog. The piano-led simplicity, the falsetto… in the midst of a catalogue from band so rich and diverse, this song is still somehow an outlier.
I built my cover off of a sample from the original and released it in 2011 on my EP Diva, but this is a remix that I just did for Zine Fest last month. It’s got bigger beats and more vocals than my first attempt.
This version is a lot better than the first one I did and it makes me want to do rerecordings of all sorts of jams but I must resist. I’ve got to move forward.
03/03/2014 • 6:34 pm 0
Often, the instruments that we use color the sounds that we make.
Well, I mean… obviously! But it goes beyond just timbre or style. We all have certain ways of interacting with our different instruments, and this can impact melodic or harmonic choices as well. On a piano, for example, I’m more inclined to write in C-major because I’m not really that good with piano but it sure is easy to only hit white keys. On guitar, though, I’m much more fluid with key — in part because I’m better at it but in part because of the nature of the instrument; changing key on guitar is usually as simple as moving up or down a few frets.
I’ve had limited applications for the Omnichord since I bought it a few years ago, but I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth. It’s mostly good for flourishes, but it also has an interesting songwriting function because the layout renders all chords equal.
With two hands on the chord buttons (if you just forget about the magical strum pad, which must’ve seemed incredibly impressive pre-iPad), you can find yourself completely liberated from key. Every chord is always in reach — you’re not only encouraged to leap out of key, but you’re enabled by the fact that there’s no mechanical challenge involved.
Hence, this little instrumental.
03/01/2014 • 1:26 pm 1
So Sarah dumped me last week.
I know! I was surprised too. Actually, she did it on Wednesday, the same day that I posted that sweet little rock song about missing her. Our hearts and our minds were in different places, apparently.
I’m okay. The world isn’t over and I’m sure I’ll be back on my feet and for a lot of reasons I’m excited about the future. I’m still sad though, of course. We were together for four and a half years, almost, and our lives are interwoven. I certainly invested a lot in the relationship.
And that’s all I’m going to say. This isn’t Livejournal. I will, however, share this song.
I didn’t write this song for this situation. I have written a few of those – obviously, because that’s how I deal with everything – but I’ve not satisfactorily recorded them yet. Soon! I did write this at a similarly sullen time; I believe it was 2006. It taps into a certain mood that I’ve been rolling around in.
Tyler and I recorded this at his parents’ cabin in Pinecrest, California using a combination of Garageband and a really fancy dictation tape recorder from the Seventies or Eighties.
02/19/2014 • 6:11 pm 0
It’s time to play catch-up on my blog. I recorded this song, like, a year ago! Why didn’t I say anything about it?
This is not a cover of a song by Pink Floyd, but I have a pretty bad habit of naming my songs after other peoples’ songs. Unlike my song “Jeremy,” this one makes no reference to the song that shares its name. It’s just about sitting around at home while my girlfriend is at work. I did this with an iPad and not much else.
My favorite part about this song is that after the first instrumental break there is a second instrumental break. I guess you could count that as one long instrumental break but I don’t.
02/17/2014 • 10:59 am 0
It took me way too long to post this, but that’s no excuse to not post it. I’ve got a backlog of things that I’ve done but not written about, and it’s time to start going through them.
A while ago, I noticed this band on Soundcloud called Lovevalley. They’re from Tokyo. I thought they had cool music, and then I noticed that they’d “liked” a couple of my songs.
I’d always wanted to collaborate with a stranger over the Internet, and this seemed like a good opportunity to try something like that. So, I messaged Lovevalley and they ended up sending me Garageband stems of this song that the singer, Tokimune, wrote a long time ago but never finished to his satisfaction.
I played a little bit of guitar, made the beat, added effects to the parts the band sent me, and sightly rearranged the order of the parts. We exchanged messages back and forth the whole time, with him giving me feedback as I tweaked the production.
It was so fun. I like collaboration in general, but doing it over wires and waves with people in Japan was very special. And it really shows the power of music as a community-maker.
Here is what we did: