Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Scratch That

In my last post, I said that I was going to walk away from this album for a little while for the sake of gaining a fresh perspective, and so that I could work on some other stuff. So guess what I've been doing.

The "other stuff" mostly just involves reading, which I can do while my ridiculously slow computer processes audio files. I also reasoned that I should probably get these songs as good as it seems like I can before I walk away from them for a few days. 

I already knew of a few issues which each of the songs that needed to be addressed, so that's what I've been doing. Ideally, I am trying to finish up all mixing and re-rerecording before I move on to the mastering phase, which I like to think that I have almost reached.  

You can hear newly mixed versions of all of the songs at my ReverbNation page, or at the links below:

Now we'll see if I can actually walk away from this project or not. I suspect that I already know the answer. When I've got momentum on a big project, I usually like to keep going with it.

Thanks for listening. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Shifting Gears

I think that I am to a point where the best thing for me to do is to temporarily walk away from the album that I am working on for the sake of gaining a fresh perspective. I think that I'm happy with the tracklist, but the next step is the part where I listen to all of the songs and take detailed notes about what needs to be fixed. At this point, I feel like I am a little too close to the material to be objective. Besides, I've got some other, non-music stuff that I need to work on right now.

So here are a couple of songs off my most recently completed album, Embers (2021). Fun fact: part of the reason that I chose that name is because I decided in September 2020 that I was going to write, record and produce another album; then I wrote most of the songs in November and recorded them in December. (-embers, get it?) There was more behind my reasoning than that, but this is the inside joke to myself that I threw in there for good measure, as I like to do sometimes. (My dissertation/book is riddled with them--but that kind of made sense, since it's about comedy.) 

In any case, here are a few of my favorite songs off the album by that name, which I just released about four months ago. The first is called Mixtape. I came up with the riff/chord progression in the same room as where my daughter was putting together a streaming playlist. Taken together, it made me think about the art of making a proper mixtape, and the many hours that I have spent getting them just right. Shortly thereafter, this song came into existence. 

    I made a mixtape on my radio
    It can be your soundtrack wherever you go
    I hope these songs will remind you of me
    The good times we've had and those yet to be
    Please take this mixtape when you go...

The next song that I would like to share with you today is the closing track on Embers. It is called We Are All That We Need. It's a simple song--just electric piano, bass, drums and vocals (and a few sound effects)--but I'm quite proud of it. Structurally, it's one of my only songs with both a prechorus and a bridge, for whatever that's worth.
    Like the water we drink
    And the air that we breathe
    I do believe
    We are all that
    We are all that
    We are all that we need...

Just for fun, here's one more from that same album. This is the song that I wrote about the time that the citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (symbolically) declared their independence from the USSR by holding hands between their capital cities. It's called Black Ribbon Day.

    Two million people strong
    Four hundred miles long
    Of strangers holding hands

If you like what I'm doing, please share it with others who may like it as well. As a one-man-band/DIY recording artist, I am also a one-man marketing and public relations team. That is to say that I need your help in reaching a broader audience. Besides, the less time I have to spend promoting my own work, the more time that I can spend creating it.

Enjoy. Thanks for listening and for supporting independent art. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

There's Always Room for Ebow

I added some more instrumental tracks to Shadow Puppets, including one where I am playing the guitar with an Ebow. You can stream the latest version of it here:

These new songs are all still works-in-progress, but they are steadily coming together. Thanks for listening. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Song Surgery

I spent much of yesterday working on The Regular. I recorded a new bass (baritone) track. I also spent several hours re-recording and playing around with the guitar solo, only to end up scrapping it altogether. I also took out one of the choruses and about five of the backing vocal tracks, which I thought were making the lead vocals sound muddy. 

There was no reason for this song to be almost six minutes long. This took it down to a little over four. It still isn't exactly where I want it to be in terms of the mix and master, but the overall shape of the song itself feels about right now. On the other hand, it's still possible that I may end up re-recording the whole damn thing. 

Thanks for listening, and for taking an interest in the process of making music. I tend to believe that smart people learn from their mistakes, while those who are wise are also capable of learning from the mistakes of others. Unfortunately, DIY music production requires a lot of trial-and-error in order to figure out what works and what doesn't--but at least you can learn from my mistakes. 

If you are interested in this kind of stuff, I encourage you to check back often, as I will continue to post new versions of all these songs until the new album is complete. I also like to share teachable moments from the process whenever possible. 

At this point, I'm also still debating whether or not to take out the opening instrumental track (Shadow Puppets) and/or add another song that I intend to put lyrics to but have not yet done so. 

That is to say that all of this stuff is very much a work-in-progress. Stay tuned for more...

Friday, May 14, 2021

Possible Album Cover

I know that I'm getting a little ahead of myself here--considering that I haven't even finalized the tracklist for the album, let alone finish mastering any of the songs--but I was playing around with a possible album cover this afternoon:

It may very well change as I go forward with this project (the name of which may also be subject to change), but for now, I think that this works.  

The image was a blurry photo that my wife shot. She wasn't sure what it is, but we both thought that it was pretty cool, so I cropped it and played with the colors a bit until this is what it looked like.