Sunday, November 10, 2013

New Single Available Now for Free Download

Friday, October 4, 2013

New Single Dresser Drawers available October 10th

For the past couple months I have been squirming with impatience, waiting for my finished album to return from the mastering studio in its fully matured form.  At last, it has arrived. And although some final pre-release tasks for The Rafter must be completed (i.e. album art and CD printing), I can confidently say that the first single from the album, Dresser Drawers, is presently barrelling it’s way through cyberspace towards your favorite digital music retailer. Here’s the album art courtesy of Robin Sathoff, if you haven’t seen it already


Since the new single will be available for free download, it will be replacing my previous free release, It Took Five Years but Now We’re Doing Fine. After all, I have given away about 1,000 copies over the past few years. So please click on the link to my bandcamp page below and get the EP while it’s still free.

By the way, it’s nice to meet you.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Mix, listen, mix, listen, mix, listen, repeat

I never thought of myself as a sound engineer. But the restrictions of my budget laid necessity on me to take on a new challenge and learn a new skill. At this point my album is successfully mixed. I have forwarded it to a few trusted ears and currently wait for the “go-ahead" to send the tracks for mastering.  But getting to this point was not always easy.

Just in case you don’t know, mixing involves raising and lowering the volume of individual instruments in “the mix" so that they sound good in relation to one another. But it’s more than that. You also have to compress and EQ (adjust the bass, treble, and mids like you would in your car stereo) for each individual instrument so that you can hear it clearly. Add to that, echo, reverb, and panning left/right and I had a big mess on my untrained hands.

Mixing my own music was like riding the proverbial “emotional roller-coaster".  At times, when things lined up so easily and the sound in my imagination matched what in reality entered my ears, the feeling of success was euphoric! I felt as if the end was in sight! Then I would burn to CD and listen in my car stereo and it would sound terrible. Depression inevitably ensued. “Will I ever get this thing finished", “Is it going to sound any good when it’s done?"

If I have learned one thing from this whole ordeal it would be this: stick with it. Mix, listen, mix, listen, mix, listen, repeat.  Just keep at it until it sounds like you want it. It’s tedious, for sure. And having a 6 year-old computer that crashes when I work too fast did nothing to ease the situation.

Toward the end, I could hardly hear the songs as music at all. My compositions failed to stir in me, the composer, any emotion at all. I completely forgot the inspiration behind my own art.  I was tweaking a blurry mess of frequencies like someone might straighten each square tile in a colorful mosaic and completely miss the image that they collectively portrayed.

When I reached my limit, I left it for a week to give my ears some time. A few days later, I let a friend riding with me in my car listen to the first track. To my surprise, it was there….the song. It was good! My friend didn’t ask me about frequencies, reverb, or EQ. He asked me about the lyrics. “Why did you write this song?" he asked.

It moved him.

It moved me.

Thursday, May 23, 2013



 My previous experience with recording was hemmed in by a $40/hr bill at the end of each session.  I arrived each day over-prepared with a rigid “to-do” list and a nervous glance at the clock every 15 minutes or so. Restrictive.
Recording at home brings with it the glorious freedom to experiment with sound, released from the restrictions of my “starving artist” budget. On my own terms, I can make mistakes, erase them, make other mistakes, keep them and realize a sort of unpremeditated naturalness in my music. Liberating.

Taking things into my own hands however, has brought a number of challenges. Occasionally, I wish I had a second set of ears the owner of which would speak up to say, “No, that sounds completely ridiculous” or “Yes, that was it!”. A second set of hands to hit the record button would be helpful too.
But by far the most uniquely frustrating challenge has been that of finding a quiet place to record vocals. Needless to say, my humble home recording studio/office/bedroom does not include a vocal isolation booth. But I’ve been told many a tale of singers hanging blankets and pillows in closets and bathrooms to accommodate their art, so I figured it wouldn’t be too much of a problem. However an obstacle presented itself when I realized that simply parting the hangers in my wife’s clothes closet would not suffice. The wire wrack is too low. Sure, I could get in, but if I stood up too straight, I would bump my head. Not conducive to an unencumbered and expressive vocal performance.

The next step would be to empty and remove the entire unit. Not too difficult. But, need I remind you of the emotions connected to a woman and her clothes closet? Because the time allotted to my recording efforts is limited to one day a week when my home is empty and silent, and since having one’s closet dismantled and the floor of one’s normally tidy home “mantled” is the pleasure of no man’s ever-supportive wife, I knew my solution was short lived.  The conclusion? For three Wednesdays in a row, while recording vocals, I disassembled and reassembled the clothes closet in time for my wife to return home none-the-wiser at 4:30pm to her peaceful, tidy abode just as she had left it earlier that morning.
Ahh, the challenges of home-recording.  But it’s worth it. And my wife hates not the object of my creativity. She and her well-pressed clothes still support the project.

Monday, April 15, 2013

the story behind the Hammond

Every good instrument should have a story, a touching journey through time and the elements endearing every wise and weathered note to your nostalgic ears. Take for example the stories of Paul McCartney’s old Hofner violin bass with accompanying decade-old black and white photos so iconic that one forgets all about the instrument’s characteristically weak tone and appalling lack of sustain.
My Hammond Romance Series Stage II Rhythm, is accompanied by no such charm. Just a call from my father-in-law about a call from his best friend about a call from his plumbing customer whose anxieties about her leaking fixture were compounded by the lack of space in her garage. That dusty old organ that hadn’t been used in years. “I’d like it to go to a good home” the elderly woman said. Mine is a good one.
Romanceless, indeed. However, the faded plastic buttons and retro style of the organ piqued my curiosity as to it’s origin and led me to do a bit of research online. My results were equally mediocre. One had just sold on for £1.49. But every good instrument should have a story.

“It was 1977 when the two young lovers eventually decided that New York City was not a place to raise a child. Brooklyn was home, but too many bad news reports and police sirens rang in their ears along with the persistent nagging of an uncle who was retiring in Florida and who had just scored a  piece of land for an incredible price in a place called Deltona. It sounded to the couple that the town would be safe for the newest addition to their family who would irresistibly come in just a matter of months now.

The young father remembered his young father playing the wall piano in the sun-drenched dining room on Saturday afternoons. His home too would be filled with music. So, after the baby came and all the necessities were arranged in her white and yellow room, Mother acquiesced to her husband’s insistence.  Considering the ample income from the young man’s new management position at the dairy plant, within several weeks, the Hammond would complete their home.”
I am in love with this organ. It’s quirky multi-colored buttons labeled with pictures of instruments the sounds of which share no correspondence to the noises coming out of the speakers are none-the-less adorable. The click-buzz-hummmmmmm that welcome’s you when you flip the switch seems to say, “Hey, there. It’s been a while. So glad you plugged me in, let’s jammmmmm-hmmmm”
I embarked on The Rafter project determined to capture a warmer, fuller sound than I had on my previous EP.  My mind’s ear heard keys of some sort, MIDI organ sounds probably. But as I moved the recording process to my home, I am now left working with what I have on hand. So I rolled the Hammond from the living room to my office/studio, stuck a condenser mic in it’s mouth and hit the record button.

Below is a sample of a riff from the Hammond that you will hear again on the album. I’m quite proud of it: