Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Song #33: Not Aloud

The sound of this one is inspired from the bands Low (particularly the song "Over the Ocean") and Red House Painters. I would definitely call it minimalist approach (or "slow-core," as it is often cited). The elements of this sound that I emulated: soft clean electric guitar strums, use of brushes and ride cymbal on the drums, whispery vocals with a second voice an octave higher, and a hypnotic repetitive beat and bass line.   

This is one of the slowest and longest songs I've done. With the drummer in my band leaving his set at my house recently, I had access to a drum set for the first time in a while. When I had my studio at Muse, I would usually use 7-10 mics to record a drum set. Since now I'm only using an MBox Mini, I can only record two tracks at a time so it was a bit of challenge to get a good sound with just an a mic overhead and one on the kick but I think it works for this song. I used the Ebow on the guitar to add more texture, which is becoming my trademark sound these days. It ended up being 8 different Ebow tracks! I also added a minimal piano line. Hopefully it's not too long. Thoughts?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Song #32: Based On A True Story

This song is influenced by the Radiohead album, "The Bends" and in particular, the songs "High and Dry" and "Bulletproof... I Wish I Was." My goal was to create the same type of atmosphere with the acoustic guitar strumming and a soft pick electric guitar part. I added a "flange" effect to the guitar to give is a washy sound.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Song #31: Night Sky

Another oldie written during high school. At the time, I was digging the mandolin sounds on R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion." It was kind of surprising to look back and think that a song with a mandolin was such a big radio hit in the era of grunge. As I set out to write it, I didn't have a mandolin so I tried to approximate that sound by playing my guitar with the capo on the 4th fret.

When it came time to record this, I was planning on having the mandolin (which I now have) replace the acoustic guitar (or at least play the main lead part) but it wasn't sounding right, so instead I had the mandolin play a simple part to supplement the two acoustic guitar tracks. I added one vocal track, two tamborines tracks, and a shaker and thought it felt like it was done. Does it need something else?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Song #30: Invisible

I wrote this song in 2003 while I was a missionary in New York City. I was volunteering weekly at the Bronx VA Hospital and I got to be friends with one of the patients. I showed up one week to find out he had passed away. I wrote this song shortly after on one of my days off on the church piano. It's about memories, death and the connection between this life and the next. The style of the piano line and melancholy lyrics are influenced from Ben Fold Five's "Brick" and the drum machine and strings sound are influenced by Coldplay's "Paradise."

This recording features four tracks of ebow guitar, a drum machine, tamborine, three tracks of synth strings, a glass jar hit with a spoon and three tracks of keyboards played at different octaves. This is one of my favorite songs so I took a lot of time to get the production right and I think it turned out great!