A two-fer! It doesn’t get much more exciting than that.
The first “album” here is part of an assignment I had to write for a grade eleven parenting class. It was some kind of “lifeline” thing, which was basically a selective autobiography outlining important events in our lives. I decided to write a concept album about my life with the ex-family. I figured it would be a good opportunity to take an unhappy childhood and carve it into something incisive and entertaining.
That was my idea, at least. I’m not sure I pulled it off.
I didn’t get around to recording a few of the songs I’d written, and I used a different mastering template for virtually every song, leading to wild fluctuations in EQ and compression settings. So the sonics are pretty inconsistent, with some songs much louder than others.
I never did hand in the audio part of the assignment, because it was never quite finished. But I did manage to get a decent mark for just the lyrics. And here I was looking forward to impressing the teacher and my classmates with my improving guitar skills and the hard-hitting emotional content (hardy har har). It wasn’t to be.
Really, most of the songs are just me having fun while singing a very selective and somewhat sugar-coated account of what went down. But there are some nice moments — particularly the atmospheric one-two punch of First Girl Ever to Bloody My Nose and Temptress (brief bass-driven summaries of two of my first brushes with young puppy love), the latter of which features one of my best early guitar solos during the coda. The rest moves from the twin-guitar assault of The Early Years, to the organ-led bossa-pop of School Days, to the disturbingly catchy piano balladry of The Stepfather, to the death march of The Good Old Days Are Gone. There’s also I’m No Ninja, which is sort of a cross between mellow Lou Reed and a Kids Help Phone commercial.
Brain Glass: an Epilogue is probably the best track, somehow managing to squeeze a mini-rock opera into five minutes. Multiple characters come into play, and my voice for the grandmother character (“I’m a wrinkled prune, and I know you’re a sinner!“) has to be one of the most ridiculous-but-appropriate things I’ve ever done on a whim. Even the alternate takes of the first two tracks are surprisingly interesting. While the lyrics are the same, the music and delivery couldn’t be more different, changing the feeling of the songs entirely.
The other album (WOHIS) is closer to an EP in length, and I got paid to record it. That was a switch. These were songs meant for potential use in future videos made by WOHIS (which stands for Windsor Occupational Health Information Service, though my title was Water Only Hates Itself Silly). I don’t think more than one or two tracks were ever used in anything, but it was fun to limit myself to short, sharp instrumental vignettes for a change.
Again I managed to cover a fair bit of musical ground in a short period of time, from the new-age-sounding piano of 3:00 a.m. Sunrise to the distorted guitar riff-age of Dead Chicken Blues. In the City and Die Young feature some additional tasty guitar playing, or at least as close to “tasty” as I could hope to come at the time (the “harmonica version” of the latter track is the superior one, with maybe the best noise I was able to torture out of a harmonica back then), and I couldn’t resist throwing my voice in briefly on at least one track (Naked ‘Round the Campfire, which ended up being the catalyst/inspiration for the Papa Ghostface track “Juice”).
Neither album is my best work by any means, but taken together they make for some interesting listening, I think.
The Early Years
First Girl Ever to Bloody My Nose
I’m No Ninja
The Good Old Days Are Gone
Some Things Don’t Change
Brain Glass: an Epilogue
The Early Years (alternate version)
School Days (alternate version)
3:00 a.m. Sunrise
Dead Chicken Blues
In the City
Green Leather Boots
Nose Hair Cancer
Die Young (harmonica version)
Naked ‘Round the Campfire
Nose Hair Cancer (alternate take)