Day: May 23, 2011

Getting there.

At this point I’m closing in on the finish line. With the album I’m working on right now, I mean. All of the twenty-five songs slated for inclusion have been recorded. Three need a bit of work,six6 need to be mixed or remixed, and the rest are CD-ready. If the sequence I’ve decided on in my head works outside of my head, there’s a good chance the whole thing will be finished by the end of the week, and then the packaging and post-production fun can begin.

The “lost album” of material that found itself pushed aside when all these new songs came pouring out is almost as substantial — twenty-one songs by my count, all of which have been recorded in some form, though not all of them are finished. I’m pretty sure most of them will turn up somewhere eventually. Maybe even on THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE when I get around to finishing that beast.

Here are a few of those stragglers, just for fun.

Phoenix Descending

Ain’t No Friend


Phoenix Descending was the Guild D40’s final recorded hurrah before I parted with that guitar in favour of the more worldly 1951 Gibson LG-2. I like how there’s three-part vocal harmony more or less running through the entire song, and the piece of shit classical guitar that played a surprisingly prominent role on LOVE SONGS FOR NIHILISTS shows up near the end to provide some nice ambient glue.

I should probably take another pass at the mix at some point. The vocals seem a bit louder than they need to be. I like the song well enough. Just feels a little too bouncy to have a place on an album this specific and bitter. But don’t you tell me there’s no place for a silly rap song, or you’ll have a fight on your hands.

The recording of Ain’t No Friend was captured on video over HERE a little while back. This song is hard-edged enough in the lyrics department to fit right in, but it’s about a different person than the one who ended up inspiring the new album. It also has a certain bounce to it that I decided to sort of mimic for another song that will be on the CD called “Emotional Blackmail”.

A few years ago (I’ve been maintaining this blog for that long now?), I posted an ABSENCE OF SWAY out-take called “I’ll Make a Mockery of You Yet, My Dear” that ended up acting as something of a “study” for the vastly superior “Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fondue”. I didn’t consider the first song to be a complete success, but there were elements of it I liked, so I took the approach I used behind the drums along with the idea of setting percussive ukulele-strumming against piano, and used that as the backdrop for something a lot more interesting. A similar thing happened here, albeit on a smaller scale and with very different results.

In this case, I think Ain’t No Friend is a much stronger song than “Mockery”, and it probably is album material. It just doesn’t belong on this specific album.

Upright has yet to feel at home on any album. feels to me like it either needs to be a beginning or an ending, but to what, I’m not sure.

Maybe part of that has to do with the odd way in which it came to be a song. Way back when Max and I were recording some jazzy improvisations together, there was one little bit of noodling I always liked. It was only about minute long and never turned into anything. More of a between-song riff.

A year or so after the fact, I decided I felt like playing around with it a little. I added some drums and vocals on top of the existing upright bass and piano duet, improvising the words while recording, and then grafted on a whole new second section with my own bass-playing taking over for Max’s, somehow managing to make the new piano track sound like it grew organically out of the old one.

The electric guitar went through a 1955 Mason Model 6, of all things, which looks like this.

It really is as tiny as it looks there. Maybe even tinier. It sits on top of my Fender Twin, looking a bit like a figurative kitten resting on a very large person. It’s only got six watts to it, but the thing sounds great when you crank it and it starts to break up. Someday, if I ever find myself recording a harmonica player who can actually play, I’d like to try the amp in that application. I think it could do a great job getting a bluesy, overdriven harmonica sound.

These might not be the most interesting cast-offs, but then I can’t be giving away all my best secrets too soon, can I?

In other relevant news, I’ve decided to make next month’s Mackenzie Hall show a proper CD release show after all. Though I don’t like sitting on new music, I’ll only really be holding it back for a week or two at the most, and it’s possible this will be the only time in my life a live show and the release of a new album will line up just right. Might as well have some fun with that and make it count.

The album is still free, and after the show it’ll be available in the usual places. But until a week or so after the show, when I’ve recovered from all the nude dancing and Simple Plan cover songs and built up more stock to spread around, the only place you’ll be able to get the album is by coming to the show.

I plan on giving some copies to CJAM like I normally do, so you’ll be able to hear some of it before its “official” release, assuming you listen to CJAM. And if you don’t, hey…it’s never too late to start. What better reason to tune in than some hairy guy releasing an album full of dirty words and romance-bashing?