random stuff

someone should write a pulpy, jazzy detective novel called “trumpet trouble”.

just got this little guy back not long ago. thanks to kelly for taking good care of señor trumpet over the last few years.

i’m lucky enough now to know some people who, unlike me, can actually play brass instruments, and who are open to doing session work. if you’re thinking that might stop me from using the trumpet and the bugle to lob occasional dissonant curveballs at songs that don’t seem to want them, well…i’ll probably keep doing that here and there until the end of time. ha!

you can never have too many acoustic ballads with random atonal free jazz trumpet solos.

remastering update #2.

hark! i hath passed the halfway mark!

98 songs down. 90 still to go.

more surprises and mostly-forgotten little audio relics:

  • an unused kick drum part to bolster the stomping and tambourine-shaking on “everything he asked you”
  • drums recorded for “creepy crawly things” but left out of the final mix
  • the rain at the beginning of “wait all morning” fades out just before i get into an argument with the sky, asking for (and not receiving) thunder
  • as with “raccoon eyes”, “everything matters, everyone cares” started out as some improv behind the drums recorded with the idea of building some music around it after the fact; unlike what happened with “raccoon eyes”, i ended up casting out the initial drum part once it became clear it didn’t play well with the music it inspired
  • some out-of-tune piano over the bridge section on “what i would do for you” that was junked at the mixing stage
  • the tenor banjo at the end of “i love you” goes on quite a bit longer than the CD mix would have you believe (and longer than i remembered), growing even more crazed and dissonant
  • an unused bass harmonics overdub in the middle of “95 streets (is where i will find the heart of you)”
  • an alternate lead vocal for “fat mouth” that does some pretty serious attempted springsteen-channeling circa darkness on the edge of town
  • some acoustic guitar accents recorded for “absence makes the heart grow fondue” right where the drums kick in, but abandoned after about thirty seconds and not present in the final mix
  • several foul-mouthed arguments with an interrupting phone and/or fax machine
  • more forgotten riffs and licks sandwiched between proper songs

i’m still not as far along as i’d like to be, but i’m beginning to think i might actually finish this pet project someday.

foodography.

a little while back i was talking with johnny smith about how much our culinary horizons have broadened in recent years. not to blow our own brass instruments too much, but at this point i think we make quite a few meals at home that rival some of the better dishes we’ve eaten in restaurants.

i thought it would be fun to document some of our creations. so i started doing that, taking the occasional picture with the trusty little pentax point-and-shoot camera i’ve had since this blog’s infancy.

the image at the top of this post is johnny smith’s famous chili. for my money, the only chili in the universe that rivals it is the vegetarian chili they serve at with the grain in guelph. that stuff is godly. all others pale in comparison.

here’s some shrimp linguine. we take the tails off our shrimp. you hear that, lazy restaurant chefs?!

this is one of the roughly five thousand salads i’ve made between the hours of two and five in the morning. i put a picture of one such salad up on facebook a few years ago. to this day it’s the most likes and comments anything i’ve posted has ever generated. share some music you’ve been working on for a long time and are proud of? twelve people like it. share a picture of a salad? it gets a hundred likes.

good old facebook — ridiculous to the last drop.

here’s some jambalaya. the picture doesn’t begin to capture how good it tastes. one of the keys to its power is the honey garlic sausage. you gotta go all-out when you’re making jambalaya.

french toast with strawberries. because why not?

chicken greek salad. do you think we put enough black olives in there?

improvisation on a nicoise salad. take it from me: those fresh artichokes are sex.

salmon salad. i think maybe we like our monstrous salads…

now, here’s where it gets interesting. i snapped a picture of tonight’s dinner with the brand new camera, just for something to do. didn’t dig into any of the manual settings. i was hungry and impatient. i just pointed it at the food, got it in focus, and pulled the trigger.

so here’s steak stir-fry.

the difference in clarity between this and the pentax pictures is blowing my mind a little. i think i like this camera.

so yeah. i guess this is a food blog now, at least until i post something music-related again in a few days.

some people want to fill the world with spanish love songs.

spanish-love-songs

remastering update: 70 songs down. that would seem like some solid progress — and it is — except for this part: 118 songs still to go. woof. if you’re one of the two or three people i’ve promised a mega package of music to, this is the main reason it’s taking me so long to put it together for you. i want you to hear these albums the way they’re meant to be heard. hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.

discoveries made along the way so far:

  • a piano intro for “do the mountain hop” that was mixed but never used
  • several song ideas/sketches i have no memory of coming up with or recording, hiding before or after the main tracks for various songs, some of which are very much worth revisiting and developing
  • a bit of night ranger’s “sister christian” sung a cappella at the end of “brooke ballentyne claps her hands”, apropos of nothing
  • a bit of “amazing grace” played at the end of “and i failed”, again for no apparent reason
  • a harmony vocal recorded for “random confessions of a failed lothario” but left out of the final mix
  • “what will become of luke perry’s nipples?” begins with me having a foul-mouthed argument with a fax machine that keeps interrupting the take
  • a goofy forgotten a cappella intro to “purgatory waltz”, mixed but never used
  • i double-tracked the vocal for the unlisted track at the end of CHICKEN ANGEL WOMAN but decided it worked better with just the initial vocal take on its own
  • i kept playing piano through the synth-driven closing sections of “the ass, enchanted with the sound” but muted it in the mix
  • there exists an alternate mix of “weak bladder blues” with stomping and clapping
  • at the end of “the penultimate kiss” a few minutes survive of me working through the music at the piano, trying to figure out how i want to play it and swearing quite a bit along the way
  • “a solution improvised with yellow electrical tape” has both a vocal harmony part (muted in the mix until the final few seconds) and a lead chord organ part, making it appear that i thought about making it an instrumental before the wordless wailing happened
  • at the end of “some things are better left buried”, i recorded two guitar parts for a slowed-down take on “what she wants” (from way back on BEAUTIFULLY STUPID); i was considering dusting that one off at the second mackenzie hall show
  • i recorded a very harmonium-sounding chord organ part for “mismatched socks” that was abandoned when the slide guitar felt like a better accent and the two tracks didn’t want to play together
  • after finishing work on “shoelaces of the world, untie” on new year’s eve, i recorded the piano idea for “evil kid has a square torso”, singing the melody i ended up playing on melodica, and then a few minutes later went ahead and recorded the whole thing good and proper

one or two things aside, i have no memory of any of this stuff. and when it comes to music, my brain doesn’t tend to do a whole lot of forgetting. so it’s been fun digging up all these little surprises.

what else?

yesterday i got down bed tracks for a song called “la noche está viva con la locura de los hombres”, which translates to “the night is alive with the folly of men”. it’s sung entirely in spanish and features tender lyrics about walking naked on the moon and urinating in silence, “as god would do if he drank a lot of beer”. i want to see if i can get someone to play mariachi trumpet on it, because it think that would be hilarious.

AFTERTHOUGHTS landed inside the top ten on earshot’s national folk/blues/roots chart last week. i’m not sure how that’s even possible when CJAM has been the only station in the known universe to get a copy, but the earshot chart don’t lie.

i didn’t find out about this until i got an email from marlo, who counts down the weekly folk/roots/blues chart on a show she hosts over at CJRU in toronto called the rodeo. thanks to her for the tip-off, and for playing “dorsal venous” on her show.

sound the alarm.

fire-alarm-2

dave konstantino’s revolution rock radio show and its companion blog have both been around longer than this blog of mine, which is coming up on its ninth birthday next month. dave just posted some thoughts about AFTERTHOUGHTS, along with a funny story about a renegade fire alarm forcing the entirety of the album onto the airwaves in one shot. a sly cosmic joke directed at its absence from the charts, or a simple fluke? you be the judge.

thanks to dave for the kind words. and thanks to the fire alarm for apparently being a fan.

i now know why the album failed to chart. it had nothing to do with a lack of airplay. it’s a bit of a strange feeling when you find out a twelve-year run of being a mainstay in the top 30 has ended with some of the best music you’ve been involved in getting shafted because one specific person didn’t care enough to place it in the on-air library at any time in a span of more than three months (and counting), rendering it ineligible to chart.

and that’s all i’m going to say on that subject.

elsewhere, zara’s album is finished, assuming she’s happy with the way it sounds. now i can finally get back to work on making slick, game-changing pop music like this.

the ongoing adventures of a humble, sex-starved dishwasher

’tis the season to be seasonal.

three-piece

that whole “blog heating up at the end of the year” thing hasn’t really happened. sleep demons have been doing their energy-sapping thing, and there hasn’t been a whole lot to report. there are at least a few bits of things that resemble news, though.

the next papa ghostface album is farther along than i thought it was. a lot farther along. we’ve got eleven songs recorded in one form or another. some still need work. others just need their mixes tweaked a little. and there are quite a few songs we’ve been playing around with and talking about recording, where all we need to do is sit down and…you know…record them.

between what’s already been recorded, what’s yet to be recorded, and whatever surprises fall out along the way, i think we’re headed for an album that’s a little more sprawling than STEW was. and you know how i like to sprawl.

some of those surprises are already showing up. a few days ago i was mixing a solo song. i felt this urge to slather the acoustic guitar in a thick, chewy chorus effect. i knew it wasn’t right for the song, but i liked the way it sounded. thought it might be worthwhile to try building a different song around that effect.

my brain has a habit of taking thoughts like that and running with them before i can even get my shoes on. that happened again here. i came up with a chord progression that was a little bit wonky, a song more or less wrote itself around those chords and the sound of the chewy chorus effect, similarly chewy effects were added to most of the other tracks (i think the bass was the only thing i left alone), and once gord added some insane textural noise guitar to put the musical cherry on top, i mixed it and it was done.

i’m not going to post it here. don’t want to give too many surprises away. but i can tell you it doesn’t sound like anything that was on the last album. on some level i think it was a challenge i set for myself, to see if i could take the music in a really off-kilter, more psychedelic direction, far away from the dark folky thing. given how successful it was, i’d like to try and channel that energy into some of the other songs and aim for a less accessible album with some more out-there production touches.

we’ll see how that goes.

right now i’m working on finishing up the mixes for zara’s album. for a hot minute there it looked like i might be adding a lot more in the way of instrumentation and musical ideas to this one. now i’m not contributing anything at all. i guess some people just want their music to be them and them alone, unadulterated. i don’t think i’m really the guy you want to go to for that sort of thing. there are other people in the city who are better choices for straight acoustic recordings, at least in my opinion. but i can do it, if it’s what the artist wants. so that’s what i’m doing.

i imagine she’ll want to wait to put it out there until she’s got a CD release show lined up. so look for that one early in the new year, probably.

once my work is done there, the plan is to plow straight into finishing up YEAR OF THE SLEEPWALK. it’s about time that thing got all its loose ends tied up. i’d say, “expect it to emerge sometime in the spring,” but every time i try to carve out a timeline for something it seems to blow up in my face. maybe i should start wearing a protective mask.

at least there’s no shortage of stuff to work on. between SLEEPWALK, zara’s album, the next papa ghostface album, THE ANGLE OF BEST DISTANCE (remember that thing?), a second collection of out-takes and misfits, a projected album of songs that return to the “avoid repetition and anything that resembles a conventional song structure at all costs” way of writing, getting back to working on ron’s next album in the new year, whatever happens next with the O-L west, and whatever else might pop up along the way, i’ve got my hands pretty full.

i wonder what the vegas odds are on which albums get finished first…

kind words.

intense-squirrel-violinist

ron leary just did an interview over at the avb podcast. not only is there some great insight into his craft and music-related philosophies, but there’s an unexpected shout-out to me and steve around the 31:50 mark, with some incredibly kind words about AFTERTHOUGHTS. thanks for that, ron. it means a lot.

(side note: if you don’t have a copy of ron’s new album yet, you should grab one and support that magnificent fella.)

i think those construction flapjacks might finally be gone. maybe. before the weekend, they were taking their pylons away. i hear in some cultures the taking-away of pylons indicates the end of a job that’s been drawn out a month or more past the time-frame in which it would have been completed by competent people with some semblance of a work ethic.

plus there’s snow on the ground now. a lot of it, all of the sudden.

if they really are finished torturing me with the noise made by their pretending-to-work-while-doing-mostly-nothing shtick, blog things might be heating up in the casual walk to the end of the year. i’ve got so many things i’ve been wanting to work on over here, my eyebrows are about ready to take flight.

fair play.

bear-waving

it’s the end of an era. sort of. a little bit.

from 2004 to date, every non-compilation album i’ve ever been involved in — from solo albums, to collaborative albums, to things that were recorded/produced for others, even to albums i played on as a sideman without handling any aspect of the recording — has charted on CJAM at some point, without fail…until now.

the O-L west album hasn’t dented the charts at all. from what i’ve read, a new album stays in a radio station’s on-air library for a maximum of eight weeks. it’s been at least five since i dropped off copies of this one at the station. i think the safe money is on it not making any violent ripples in the pond at this late stage.

it was a good run while it lasted. i’m astonished i got the kind of airplay i did for as long as i did. twelve years of consistent charting is pretty crazy any way you slice it. a lot of people at CJAM gave my music an incredible amount of support over the years. many of those people aren’t in windsor or at the station anymore, but i’ll always remember our late-night trysts.

and by “late-night trysts” i mean “bizarre dreams in which they appeared that i will never tell them about for fear of causing them to fall in confused half-love with me”.

maybe this is some long overdue karmic makeup for THE BITTER SIDE OF SWEET — one of my least interesting albums of all time, fantastic cover art from maya notwithstanding — inexplicably hitting #1 on the CJAM charts a decade ago. but it’s probably just that my time has passed.

whatever the case, thanks to everyone who gave anything i did or had something to do with some airplay at some point. it was always appreciated.

getting back into character.

not much is getting accomplished right now, thanks to city workers ripping up our street for no good reason (supposedly it’s a water mains thing, but there was nothing wrong with the pipes we had before).

actually, the street-being-ripped-up part has already finished. now they appear to be driving their equipment around every once in a while to make it sound like they’re working, without doing much of anything at all, seemingly unsure if they want to repave the road to repair the massive damage they’ve caused or just leave it alone.

i couldn’t make this stuff up if i tried.

i don’t mind taking a bit of a break to recharge the batteries with the paint still barely dry on AFTERTHOUGHTS. but if it turns into too long of a break, i’m going to start getting antsy. because there’s a lot that needs working on.

in the meantime i can at least get started on the whole “remastering a few albums that got pushed too hard the first time around” thing. so i’m doing that.

one neat little thing that happened today in the course of working on some of this stuff was hearing “getting out of character” at the actual speed it was recorded at, for the first time in seven years. that one has always been one of my favourite tracks on IF I HAD A QUARTER, odd as it is.

what happened at the time was, i was starting to experiment with changing the recording speed to create harmonies with the bugle — faking my own horn section in a somewhat more melodic way than the dissonant drunk elephant sounds that punctuated some of the songs on AN ABSENCE OF SWAY — and when i had things slowed down quite a bit, the song seemed to become a whole lot more interesting. so i left it slowed down, and never bothered listening to it at the “normal” speed again, until today.

you can listen too, if you like.

getting out of character (original speed)