Ep. 18: Song “No Wall” (Influenced by The Beta Band)

brassed-off-640x434This song is influenced by the group the Beta Band. My first exposure to this group was a scene from the movie High Fidelity where one of their songs in played in the record store. I later witnessed the group open for Radiohead, which really got me into them. Their album, Hot Shots II is one of my all time favorite albums. But their song “Dry the Rain” (off their also excellent Three EPs album and the one featured in High Fidelity) is probably my favorite track of theirs.

So, as you will probably notice, my song heavily borrows on several of the production elements from “Dry the Rain”:

  • The strumming pattern of the acoustic guitar.
  • Layered drum machines and tambourines for the beat
  • Double tracked vocals to imitate the sound and mood of “Dry the Rain.”
  • Electric guitars for texture (one has a cool tremolo sound and another has more of light overdrive).
  • A big, epic ending theme that eventually fades out (along the lines of “Hey Jude”).
  • 8 vocal tracks that sing the ending theme with Ohs (As you can hear, I didn’t have pop filter so there’s a lot of wind from my mouth blowing against the microphone but since the song has so many layers, it kind gets buried in the mix so you don’t hear it).
  • For some extra punch at the end, I added to some handclaps and sleigh bells to the rest of percussion.
  • Each time ending theme is played, more instruments are added: organ, strings, brass and a heavily distorted guitar

This is one of my favorites in the project so far. I think the dense layers make it sound really interesting.

Lyrics:
Give me one more try to make things right,
I’ll make it up to you
And I will be right where I belong,
For a night or two, yeah

How far we go depends on you
Whether I’m right or wrong
How far we go depends on you
And I’m standing by

There’s no wall to walk behind
There’s no place for me to hide
When I’m away from you
There’s no wall to walk behind
There’s no place for me to hide
When I’m away from you

Turn me inside out define the flaws
and pinpoint the lies,
And you’ll never doubt that I was wrong
Never wonder why, yeah

How far we go depends on you
Whether I’m right or wrong
How far we go depends on you
And I’m standing by

There’s no wall to walk behind
There’s no place for me to hide
When I’m away from you
There’s no wall to walk behind
There’s no place for me to hide
When I’m away from you

We always dreamed that there was more
But we’d never find the door,
To escape from here
There’s no wall to walk behind
There’s no place for me to hide
When I’m away from you

Download “No Wall” from Bandcamp.


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Ep. 17: Song “I Feel My Savior’s Love” (Religious)

This week, I’m breaking a bit from the usual format by posting a cover song. This one is actually a religious children’s song from the LDS Church’s Primary songbook. I remember singing it as a kid and it’s always stayed one of my favorites.

When I got a little older, I served as a missionary in New York City. We weren’t allowed to have a guitar in our own apartment but occasionally when I would visit a member’s house, there would be one sitting around and this would be one of the songs I played.

Later on when I attended BYU, I found out the music was actually written by one of my music professors, Newell Dayley. Getting to know the person behind the song added another level of appreciation for me.

In the back of my head, I’ve thought to myself, “I need to record this song someday.” With the current state of the world, it seems like there is a lot of friction and frustration and I felt like there were things I wanted to say but this was the best way to say it. I think the message of the lyrics is very simplistic and powerful. It’s about loving the savior and trusting that he’s looking out for you.

Lyrics:

I feel my Savior’s love
In all the world around me.
His Spirit warms my soul
Through everything I see.

He knows I will follow him,
Give all my life to him.
I feel my Savior’s love,
The love he freely gives me.

I feel my Savior’s love;
Its gentleness enfolds me,
And when I kneel to pray,
My heart is filled with peace.

Chorus

I feel my Savior’s love
And know that he will bless me.
I offer him my heart;
My shepherd he will be.

Chorus

I’ll share my Savior’s love
By serving others freely.
In serving I am blessed.
In giving I receive.

Chorus

Words: Ralph Rodgers Jr., K. Newell Dayley, and Laurie Huffman
Music: K. Newell Dayley

Free Download of “I Feel My Savior’s Love” from Bandcamp.

Ep. 16: Song “Over Me” (Influenced by The Beatles)

With this song, I initially had something in mind close to the Beatles song “Across the Universe” when I started recording it.

I planned on putting bongos but I didn’t have one handy and I couldn’t get any of the midi bongo sounds to sound right. So, I started to drift in a little different direction by layering on the harmonies with heavy reverb and adding multiple organ sounds layered. I think the result ended up more along the lines of Panda Bear’s album “Tom Boy” with the repetitive lines and drones.

I’m think it turned out pretty cool. Take a listen.

Lyrics:
Watching the sun rise
Nothing’s quite the same
Shadows fade away
The light dries up the rain
You wonder who you are
You seem to be alright

Tell me now, how is the sky over me
How are the stars over me
How are the birds over me
How are the clouds over me

Everywhere you go
You stop and say hello
Just wanted to belong
A place to call your home
You wonder who you are
You seem to be alright

Tell me now, how is the sky over me
How are the stars over me
How are the birds over me
How is this love over me

Anything you want
Anything you want
Anything you want
Anything you want is yours

Download “Over Me” on Bandcamp.


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Ep. 15: Song “Anonymous” (Influenced by Mazzy Star)

This week’s song is influenced by the atmospheric Mazzy Star song, “Fade Into You,” which is one of my favorite tunes of all time. I could listen to it over and over again and not get sick of it. For those of you not acquainted with this song, it was minor hit in the early 90s and it’s been on a handful of movies and TV shows since then.

I tried to capture the same atmosphere that “Fade Into You” has by having a similar strumming pattern with the acoustic guitar, the same sort of tambourine part, a fair amount of reverb throughout, and a 6/8 time signature. I used the drum set sound on the keyboard for the kick, snare and cymbal.

Lyrics:
Hello to me, to say I know
To want and dream, your need to fall

For you I die, the tears we cry
I know your face all too well

You never know why we came
You never know what to say
I finally found that I was much more than
I can be alone

To speak and sign
Your heart will try
I wanted nothing but the best for you

I am so in love with you
And I don’t think it will ever pass
I want you so bad but I don’t know what to say
Well I can’t be with you

You never know why we came
You never know what to say
I finally found that I was much more than
I can be alone alone alone

In space you hide, the dark your guide
The pain it brings to end with goodbye

Download “Anonymous” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 14: Song “Lonely Day” (Influenced by Smashing Pumpkins)

Growing up, I was a fan of the Smashing Pumpkins. Their discography (for better or worse) is all over the place stylistically, which I think has kept them interesting over the years. But this week’s song is influenced by the electronica sound of the song “1979“, along with some of dense guitar layers and octave distortion lines on the album Siamese Dream. While I’m talking about the Smashing Pumpkins, they are also somewhat the inspiration behind this whole project. Back in 2009, they started a 44-song concept album called “Teargarden by Kaleidyscope.” They have released songs sporadically (on their website for free) as they were recorded one at a time. I liked the idea of a massive project released one song at a time so I decided to put my own twist on it and try this out.

 

I recorded most of the guitar parts for this song using my trusty Marshall full stack. Killer tones, man! But seriously, although this is a little tiny novelty practice amp, the tones sound surprisingly big, wouldn’t you say?!

The background of this song goes back to around 2001. When I started playing it live with Declaration,  it sounded much slower; more along the lines of Pedro the Lion or Low.

Not having access to a drum set has caused me to use programmed beats a lot more lately, which has steered many of these songs so far in a new (and I hope exciting) direction. I also recorded a tambourine and sleigh bells to add a little more texture to the programed beats.

The song also features several tracks of electric guitar played by an Ebow. In case your wondering what an ebow is, it’s a small box that sends an electric pulse without touching the guitar strings and makes them vibrate in a way that sounds like a cello or other string instruments.

Next, I added a few layers of synthesizer parts to give it an other worldy, video game like feel. Another synthesizer part accents the bass hits. Last nice organ sound smooths out the whole thing and adds some glue to make it all sounds cohesive.

This is one of the most densely recorded songs I’ve ever done but the results are pretty satisfying.

Lyrics:
I am feeling all alone when you’re not there
And I am feeling safe all alone and I’m not scared

And now I’ve gone too far I can’t go back

I am feeling all alone when you’re not there
And I am feeling safe all alone and I’m not scared

And now I’ve gone too far I can’t go back

Must have been a lonely day
I can hardly speak at all
And I see you waiting there

Fade away until I’m gone

Must have been a lonely day
I can hardly see at all
But I see you waiting there

Fade away until I’m gone
Until I’m gone

Download “Lonely Day” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 13: Song “I Needed More” (Influenced by Lit)

This one is an oldie written back in high school and left unrecorded until now. At one point, I played it with Declaration as a full band with the distortion and full drums kicking in after the second chorus. Keeping it acoustic gives it a little different feel but I think it works.

When I wrote it, I had something in mind of the Lit song “Miserable.”

So, I guess you could call it acoustic/emo/punk? I think it’s a product of it’s time.

Lyrics:
We’re all, we’re all here begging on our knees for you
Silent, silent spaces left for us to wonder

I needed more, my time has come
Again I cry
What can I do, I need someone to tell me why

Falling, falling faster I think I lost my place
Happily, ever after a smile on your face

I needed more, my time has come
Again I cry
What can I do, I need someone to tell me why

I needed more, my time has come
Again I cry
What can I do, I need someone to tell me why

I needed more, I needed more
I needed more, I needed more

Download “I Needed More” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 12: Song “Hello Hello” (Influenced by Death Cab For Cutie)

So this puts me at about a quarter of the way through this project! Only 38 more to go. This week’s tune is influenced by the feel of the Death Cab For Cutie song, Coney Island.

It’s also influenced by the sound of Portishead (the swung drum machine with the electronic piano – although my voice is not nearly as sexy as Beth Gibbons!). 

When I first wrote the song, though, I had something more in the mind of Train’sDrops of Jupiter

But as I started recording it, the feel just didn’t seem right (maybe it needs a full band?) so it sorta morphed into what it is now.

Lyrically, it’s about a fictional plane crash, which causes a shift in perspective about how one views one’s life going forward (something along the lines of the TV show Lost).

Lyrics:

Hello Hello, Where are you?
Step into the plane
The plans are all arranged

Hello Hello, Where are you?
A Million miles away
And not a bit delayed

All the time I spent away has made a change
I always thought that it would be a big mistake
I was wrong

All of the chance, all of the doubt
The plane is crashing down
Survivors bailing out

Gather around, Gather around
The rescue’s on it’s way
The story’s getting out

Situations turn around and make a change
I always thought that it would be a big mistake
Looking back through time is such a waste
Cause moving forward I can find
A destination leading to place in the cloud
All the times that I have failed to work things out
Change who you are
Cause it don’t mean a thing if you don’t get to far
I guess we’ll see

Hello Hello, Where are you?
A Million miles away
And not a bit delayed

Download “Hello Hello” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 11: Song “Change My Design” (Influenced by Travis)

This week’s song is quite possibly the sappiest love song ever written! I wrote it a long, long time ago (election day of 2000, to be exact)! Although its a breakup song at its core, the lyrics were influenced by the idea of campaigning for an election and how it relates to love and relationships; the idea that the decisions we make during a relationships (our “votes”, if you will) can determine what the future course of our life will be and whether the other people will be a part of it. I thought it was appropriate given that we are in the midst of presidential primaries right now.

The music was influenced by the Scottish band, Travis. I saw them back in high school when they came to Seattle and opened for Oasis. I remember liking them so much better than Oasis. I went out and bought “The Man Who”, which remains one of my favorite albums to this day. When it came time to record the song, I didn’t have a snare drum so I ended up using a shoe box instead! But I think it works.

Lyrics:
Today I’m gonna drift away
And I know that I can’t stay and live with myself
Only one thing is sure in my mind

I needed your love everyday
And I know it’s my mistake I’ll have to live with
And I hope it’s not too late to be there

So change my design and keep me in mind
Please decide the fate of my heart
And keep me in mind I’m leaving behind
Any doubts I had in my heart

Well if I was wrong then I
Hope you’ll move on your own
Without any pain
If you need me I will be waiting when you call

But in time you’ll see all the while
You needed me to be in your arms
And I noticed your burning inside

So change my design and keep me in mind
Please decide the fate of my heart
And keep me in mind I’m leaving behind
Any doubts I had in my heart

In my heart
In my heart
In my heart
In my heart
In my heart

So change my design and keep me in mind
Please decide the fate of my heart
And keep me in mind I’m leaving behind
Any doubts I had in my heart
Please decide the fate of my heart
Please decide the fate of my heart

Download “Change My Design” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 10: Song “Fictional Heroes” (Influenced by John Vanderslice)

So this song has a corny story behind it…. So, one of my friends was trying to get people to come to an activity he put on every Monday but no one would come because everyone stayed at home and watched 24. At one point he said something along the lines of, “What’s the big deal with 24!? It’s just fictional heroes saving cities from fictional disasters!” After he said that, I thought to me myself, “That’s it!” and quickly jotted the line down, which then became the basis for this song. In a broader sense, it’s about our perceptions of reality and how we sometimes think a situation is worse than it really is.

The production is influenced by John Vanderslice and some of his earlier songs. Here’s “Me and My 424”

I used an old retro organ for the drum beat, which I think sounds a little lo-fi and quirky but also fits the song.

Lyrics:

All the fictional heroes saving fictional cities
From disasters that only television can make
Then as I’m watching the villains stepping right in the way
I keep saving myself from making bigger mistakes
Give me a reason to watch then everything is fine by me

And the fictional victims are attempting to flee
From the big budget disaster that’s so hard to believe
Looking for something to keep them in a safe place again
And I’m hiding away in places I’ve never been
But if we cover our tracks then there isn’t a chance they’ll find me

And it never is what it seems
Until we’re watching the final scene
And the fictional heroes talk
As if there’s nothing wrong at all

And a fictional murder keeps me dieing again
and yet I’m feeling alive more than I ever have been
I’m stepping out of a conflict and resolving the plot
And all the fictional people think I’m something I’m not
They say that people can change but they never move more than an inch

As we act out the final scene
It seems the plot is still incomplete
And the fictional heroes talk
As if there’s nothing wrong at all

And it never is what it seems
Until we’re watching the final scene
And the fictional heroes talk
As if there’s nothing wrong at all

Download “Fictional Heroes” on Bandcamp.

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Ep. 9: Song “Predictions” (Influenced by Radiohead)

This week’s song is highly influenced by Radiohead. I’ve been a pretty big fan of theirs ever since OK Computer came out. To be more specific, I would say the song, “Videotape” was a big inspiration for the sound and feel of this song.

I tried a few new things: 2 harmonizing ebow guitar tracks (recorded direct, without an amp), a “choir” of harmony vocals (at one point there are 8 vocal tracks), and a “blippy-sounding” techno beat I created by playing each part on the keyboard, looping it, and layering effects on top. I’m really pleased with the results. I think it’s my favorite song of the series so far. Hope you enjoy it!

Lyrics
You say that I have seen a ghost
And I’ve become too naive to know
And it’s too late to alter my fate

I don’t wanna hear your predictions
Take me down the road where I left off
I don’t wanna hear your predictions
When you tell it like it is again

And now I walk a path unknown
It takes me time to stop these crimes

I don’t wanna hear your predictions
Take me down the road where I left off
I don’t wanna hear your predictions
When you tell it like it is again

And you tell it like it is again


Download “Predictions” on Bandcamp


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