Earlier this month we released our new song "Stuck With Me". IMR published a lovely little review of the song, saying "the beauty in this track is that huge cavernous sound that builds and grows at every turn."
But first we look back- WAY back with this sprawling send-up to giants of the 90s like Smashing Pumpkins, Afghan Whigs, Pixies, and Garbage. "Stuck With Me" is a big earnest love song with huge guitars and crazy drums, and we hope you dig it <3
"all the things I went through to get her
all the rest we'll go through together"
Our newest song "Here's Hoping" is out on Bandcamp now as the 7th installment on our humble exile collection that we've been working on and releasing incrementally since last summer. We explored some different sounds on this latest one, tapping into some dream-gazy 90s & 80s goth vibes. It is a song about seeing this mess we're in and seeing each other for who we are & actually finding some hope in that.
I've been wanting to make something like a dream-pop song for a while now- initially inspired when I fell in love with Mint Julep's Save Your Season (2011) several years ago. My thinking at the time was pretty simple- start with dreamy quiet vocals treated with atmospheric delay and reverb effects and go from there...
More recently I was listening to some Casket Girls and it reignited this interest to try something different like this. For inspiration here I leaned heavily on my favorite part of my favorite song of theirs "Day To Day" (True Love Kills the Fairy Tale 2014) to build from - a bass progression that I lifted & shifted by a half step - my thought/ hope being "will they mind if I borrow this?... they were hardly using it."
The drums on "Day To Day" have such a distinct rhythm that I wanted to be sure to steer clear from - otherwise a foundational homage to this incredible song could quickly turn into a mediocre copy, which I was really hoping we could avoid. So when I engaged Alex to record some drums, I wanted to reach further back further for the sound and capture something akin to "A Strange Day" by The Cure (Pornography, 1982). The tone and treatment of the bass was also drawn from the style of that era.
The recorded drum part that Alex came back with brilliantly distilled this input and nailed a sound that is both distinct and subtle, and just right for the song. As these parts came together, some effects at the beginning provided a not-so-subtle splash of "Plainsong", the opener of The Cure's Disintegration (1989).
I approached the guitars with the intention of doing something different there too - basically looking for a more "spacey" sound - and deployed some effects settings on my amp that I hadn't really tried out before. I'm really pleased with how those parts came out, although in the end I still layered the guitar with the same '65 Twin Reverb effect setting that I use on pretty much every song since Meet My Cat EP (2014). I hadn't really planned to use it again here, but it just brought everything together best in my ears.
We shared the isolated "guitars only WIP" for "Here's Hoping" to Soundcloud to check out if you'd like. What you hear here is pretty much exactly how the guitar tracks ended up in the final mix.
An early working title for this song was some combinations of the words "dark-dream-wave-pop" and our hope overall was to blend these sounds together to create something distinct from its various inspirations, and hopefully better than just a poor copy. Then while in the process of recording, I listened to the new Crystal Canyon release (Yours With Affection And Sorrow, 2021 on Repeating Cloud)- and all the textures and atmospheres - the ones I was clawing around for desperately trying to make work - are right there and it sounds so natural and effortless.
It was inspiring and discouraging in it's own way, making me feel like a tourist watching how the locals get things done. Musically that's a great deal of what "Here's Hoping" is about. Lyrically it is about the mess we are in, and our own responsibility to get ourselves out of it. This is certainly a theme that I thought about in relation to the recoding and mixing of the song itself.
Anyway, thanks for reading all this. It was a bit indulgent, kinda like the song itself. We hope you enjoy it.
"I never pay full price, and my favorite stage of grief is bargaining" - Moving Out
Moving Out is about my divorce. Rio Vista is about my father. And Humans Trying is about suicide, and whatever little spark is there that drives us to keep on living. These are very vulnerable recordings, stripped down arraignments with lyrics laid bare. And some of the lyrics here still feel too personal to highlight and share, and feel much safer left behind in their obscurity. But in the name of vulnerability I want to go against that instinct, and highlight and share what's here once again. Because listening back to these songs this weekend has felt like a true gut-punch for me. Which means that, despite their primitive production and recording imperfections, they succeed at connecting something- even if it is just connecting me with me.
He's trying to connect it back together
the year-end weather isn't helping
he's given up here, he's given up there
he's given up looking, except as
a means to distract from cold setting in
the summer years behind him and not much to show:
a job that keeps him sane, family to not shame
a small furry helpless roommate.
in the parking lot at the store
wondering what's it for
Feel this now and keep trying
She's just trying to keep it all together
her little miracle won't calm down
fear and self doubt, no clear way out
assignments and bills keep piling up
using every ounce of discipline to surrender
again and again and again and again
every day, a leap of faith
and reason to have joy in the face of it all
the future only makes us worry
the past only makes us sad
be present now and keep trying.
while we're here please try to cut me a break, because I'm only trying
while we're here I'm gonna cut you a break, I know you're only trying
I am relieved to say that I can reflect back on these past struggles from a much happier place now. But if you are struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available - please reach out. In the U.S. the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available to call and talk with someone 24/7 at 800-273-8255.
Back in 2012, when I first bought my electric guitar and was trying to write songs & learn to play while singing, I had this concept for my debut that would be basically a story told for different months of the year - specifically the year 2011, since I guess I had a lot of stuff to work through then.
As a related side note, our 2016 "Humble Tracks" is available now on Spotify as well.
Check out the videos for "August" (parts 1 and 2), filmed when the recordings were made. The demo for Don't Even Try was originally recorded on my cell phone in January 2013 with vocals added in November 2020, and the acoustic version of Mop & Bucket was recorded in October 2020.
And the live video of "Blame the Dog" and "Fallout" was recorded in the Murder Room in 2018 and 2019 respectively. Watching these reminds me of how much I miss playing shows right now, but damn these are some good memories that I couldn't help but want to share. Thanks for indulging us!
Our new song "Crusades" is out now. It's the sixth song completed for our humble exile collection, where since July we've been releasing new songs as they are written and recorded one at a time.
"Crusades" was interesting to work on in a couple ways. Alex played bass on this one, and it has been a blast continuing to create new music with him, even if weren't still not rehearsing or playing in the same room these days. And our friend Nick from LFF played the drums this time. His technique and style uncovered an entirely different dimension and dynamic to the song than I ever would have envisioned, and the whole song is better for it.
Lyrically "Crusades" is pretty different too. I've noticed our other songs written this past year tend to have a distinctly internal focus (a lot of "I" & "my", etc) & personal narrative - probably from spending a lot of time in my own head these last few months. "Crusades" is much more externally focused (more "We" & "our") and explores trends that I've come to find quite troubling in recent years and this year in particular- a growing cultish mentality that mixes an abundance of rage/righteousness with a lack of compassion/empathy.
And then in the middle of mixing this song written about a mindless mob of zealots, the January 6 Insurrection Day riots broke out in Washington DC. It was a painful reminder of our violent nature, the divisions between us, and the many ways we remain in the Dark Ages. But I think the instrumental coda of "Crusades" offers something else: a call to embrace REASON and step into LIGHT.
Right before Christmas we tried out a little experiment with some Bandcamp download codes to see how far they'd reach on different social media platforms. We took 30 download codes for our Therapist EP and posted them-
The 10 codes on Twitter were gobbled up in a matter hours. The post received relatively high levels of engagement including retweets from several unfamiliar accounts and about 25x the number of impressions of other recent posts.
Facebook, however, was quite a different story. After 24 hours no one redeemed any of the codes posted on there, despite having 8x more followers on that platform and despite follow-up shares to my personal account to try to extend the reach even further. And sharing the Facebook post on our Instagram account didn't seem to have any affect either.
Codes sent out to the email list weren't redeemed either, but that's not really shocking considering how small it is, the fact that it doesn't reach new people, and the general nature of email inboxes these days.
So this experiment really pointed to Twitter being the better platform to get our music out there on, which was kind of surprising given the general lack of community and engagement we see there. But it makes sense given trends I've noticed with Facebook's organic reach and it's overall diminishing usefulness. So it now feels like the more valuable and interesting interactions are happening over on Twitter. And in addition to those codes being redeemed there (and gaining a couple new Twitter followers in the process), that post resulted in 13 new followers on Bandcamp in less than 24 hours. This certainly wasn't expected, but very welcome since that is really the platform right now where we'd like to be connecting with interested listeners.
Anyway if you happen to stumble upon this post and want a code, here are the leftover ones sent to our email list that are probably still available. Have at it, and consider it a potential addendum to our experiment :)
And in case you somehow missed it, you can redeem your code here:
And to top it all off, hopefully it's not too obvious but the intro is pilfered straight from that infectious Len song "Steal My Sunshine". Overall I think '93 makes a very fitting addition to our "humble exile" and likely the last one this year. But there almost definitely will be more to come. What exactly? I have no idea, except I have 3 or 4 ideas :)
And go ahead & check out the other great releases from Repeating Cloud while you're there. Stay safe and thanks again for all your support.
Oh yeah by the way the song we contributed for the comp is called "Broken Record" and here's a video we did for it-
A new song we've been working on called "Still here doing this" is available now on bandcamp. It's the fourth addition to our 'humble exile' collection, and a kinda dreamy acoustic tune about going with the flow, having a hobby, and the end of the world.
When working on this song I wanted it to start out with a simple stripped down acoustic sound and build to a rich layered finish, and some of the improvised electric guitar layers that I was experimenting with ended up being my favorite parts of the recording. I even thought they sounded pretty interesting on their own, so I pulled some of the stuff buried in the mix back out to make it's own thing- a short spacey instrumental I named "Still Out There".
There's also a lyric video if you'd like to sing along. Thanks for listening and we hope you enjoy the change of pace.
Without being able to rehearse or play shows as normal, focusing on new music became the next logical creative outlet. And as songs started coming out of this I assumed that for practical reasons it would continue to be basically a solo effort (like it was for "SNR" and "What the heck"). While Covid lockdown has possibly made solo writing & recording easier to focus on, it has definitely made collaboration much more difficult.
But then Alex emailed me this great song idea and I knew that this was the next one to work on. And "Having Fun" goes to show that when the song is right, working together on it comes easily despite any practical challenges. So Alex and I coordinated remotely over the past month - which basically entailed him sending me virtually finished & mixed drums, bass, and guitar tracks to sing over. So I added vocals and some lead guitar accents, and really the hardest part for me was trying to make sure anything I added didn't diminish the high quality foundation that Alex set up.
So we proudly present the thing that's been stuck in my head for the past month. It's available for streaming and download from Bandcamp (all proceeds going to the Equal Justice Initiative). And here's a silly lyric video that tries to reflect the beachy vibe of the tune. <3cg
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