Falling For Me – Again

April 30th, 2008 |

Have you ever heard that song ‘Falling For Me’ by me? Yeah me too. Ever notice how painfully bright it sounds? Yeah me too. Ever notice that sensation of having a straight razor scratch your eardrum while listening to it? Yeah me too.

So today I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do since about 24 hours after uploading that song to the site: I re-mastered it and made a few slight changes to the mix. I have no idea what I was thinking when I made the thing so incredibly strident but it’s all better now.

This is the reason that, from here on out, I will be leaving the mixing to the pros.

Click here to download the new, more pleasant version of Falling For Me – .wav file

Click here to download the new, more pleasant version of Falling For Me – .mp3 file

Camera Dump Day

April 25th, 2008 |

Today was dump-the-camera day so I thought I’d share.

Last Saturday we went to The Butterfly House. What a cool place. If you look very closely, there are actually 273 butterflies in this picture. See if you can find them all. I’ll wait.

Riley Johnson

Only seconds after this next picture was taken, this sweet little butterfly burrowed into Angel’s ear and ate her brain. We like her a lot better now.

Angel Johnson

After losing her brain Angel wanted to snuggle with me on the couch.

On our way to the The Butterfly House we bought Riley one of his favorite cookies: Burn Victim Happy Face.

Here is what a staph infection boil looks like after it has almost completely drained and healed.

Riley Johnson

You’re welcome.

Here is a close up if you’re into that sort of thing. I decided not to post this one directly because it’s rather disgusting.

I’m Still Here

April 23rd, 2008 |

Every day I tell myself that this will be the day I return to blogging on a regular basis.

I have a strong tendency towards spending far too much time in front of my computer. This can sometimes put my parenting skills in question and always leaves me with a sense of (much warranted) guilt. So the time I spend sitting in this chair needs to be spent wisely and is most often spent recording. Then by the time I’ve infuriated Angel for the day I rarely have enough time to blog.

I have two different mix engineers that have agreed to handle the mixing duties for me in the future: Jacob Detering and J. Christopher Hughes. You may remember that Hughes is the guy who tracked The Formula Kid’s record and mixed ‘You Devil You’. That would be why ‘You Devil You’ sounded far better than all the other tracks, which were mixed by me.

The choice between Jacob and Hughes is not at all a choice between who is better. It’s only a choice between who happens to be the least swamped at the time.

I sent Hughes a demo of a new tune I’m working on and he seemed to like it. He said my demos sound better than most people’s albums. Sometimes kind little lies make my day. He said the drum programming reminded him of the way Dino plays drums. It’s funny he noticed that because I usually try to think of how Dino would play the tune as I’m programming the drum parts. I guess Dino’s playing is just in my blood now after all those years of playing in a band with him.

In the last few days we’ve watched two movies that I really liked: ‘Juno’ and ‘Lars and the Real Girl’. ‘Lars and the Real Girl’ is one of the most unique movies I’ve seen in a very long time. It’s the first movie that ever made me fight back tears watching the funeral of a “love” doll. The whole thing was incredibly touching – no kidding. Great movie.

Juno was a different story for me. By the end of the movie I resigned myself to admitting that I liked it but not without great hesitation. The super-stylized writing was too much for me. Am I honestly supposed to believe that a sixteen year old girl has ever used the words shizzle and cavalier in the same sentence? Her vocabulary was so thesaurusized that it became a distraction only minutes into the story. It didn’t feel like I was watching a movie as much as it felt like I was watching actors recite one forcedly clever line after another. It reminded me of the many times I’ve seen bands play that happen to have one extremely accomplished musician who insists on demonstrating their chops at even the slightest opportunity regardless of the musical context. Nobody likes a Free Jazz freak-out drum solo better than I do but not in the first verse of an Irish folk song thank you. Thus was Juno – a vocabulary jam session in the middle of a troubled-teen movie. But putting that aside, I liked it.

And lastly – Riley has another staph infection. Yay! My favorite.

Mix

April 10th, 2008 |

Recently, I’ve been considering having someone else mix my record. I’ve been recording and mixing my own music for about fourteen years and I’m finally willing to come to terms with the fact that I’m just not a very talented mix engineer. I think my mixes sound better than the majority of mixes coming out of basements around the world but there is a big difference between the quality of my mixes and the quality of mixes done by guys who are seriously talented (and well-funded)  and do this every day of their lives.

I know that to most music fans the difference between a good-quality recording and a great-quality recording doesn’t really make or break their listening experience as long as the song is well-represented. But it matters to me. It’s always been my goal before I die to have a record of my own that I think sounds stunningly beautiful. I’m just simply not going to get there if I continue at the current rate. By the time I become a great mix engineer I’ll be dead, and again, I just don’t have that much talent in that area.

So I’ve started making some strides in the direction of finding someone willing to do the job. I’ll let you know something when I know something.

Sometimes I Learn Stuff Or Whatever

April 7th, 2008 |

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the past few weeks:

1) The ice cream from the ice cream shop at the end of my street is better this season than it’s been in 20 years.

2) My triglycerides are over three times what they should be. (see item one for explanation)

3) Spinach and artichoke chicken Lean Pockets are awesome. (see item two for explanation)

4) Martin Luther’s ‘The Bondage of the Will’ is one of the most viciously funny books I’ve ever read.

5) Elephants paint better than I do.

6) Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium is worth seeing far more than once, though I seriously disagree with its philosophical leanings.

7) Oprah has started a new religion.

Wide is the path that leads to the words ‘new’ and ‘religion’ being placed together in a sentence. This is as disturbing to me as an evangelical church having the word ‘relevant’ on the main page of its website.

New Directions

April 1st, 2008 |

I’ve been having concerns recently about the album I’m working on. The main concern is that it doesn’t sound like an album at all. It sounds like a hodgepodge of songs from different eras and different genres, which is, in fact, exactly what it is. That’s no good.

When I started working on this record I told myself that I was going to go back and finish all the songs I’ve started writing over the past few years. Then I would start writing new stuff after I could consider myself officially caught up. I thought it would give me a sense of accomplishment but it’s turning out to be more of a chore than anything. It’s like I’m forcing myself to eat all of my vegetables before allowing myself any cake. And I want some freakin’ cake already.

So I’ve started writing again. New stuff. New demos. Now I feel like I can write songs with a clear picture in my mind of how I want them all to sound and fit together.

One of the problems with me not having a band is that I have no real framework within which to write. If I write a polka one week and a punk song the next week I don’t have anyone to give me the dirty looks I need to keep my on point. When I was in a band I knew what the band sounded like, what we were capable of, and what Dino would never agree to play in public. Now I don’t have that, and I kind of need that. So now what I need to do is to set out some very specific guidelines for myself and I think I have those in place now.

First of all I want the album to sound like the cover of this book looks.

I saw this book a few weeks ago and I knew that was it. I want my music to sound like this picture.

I’ve also been reading the hymns of Isaac Watts. Good grief! There is no hope that I will ever be able to reach the transcendent majesty of his lyric writing but a boy can dream right?

If I could combine the mood of the aforementioned photograph with the weightiness of Watts’ lyrical approach I think that would be something truly revolutionary. Revolutionary in that the vast majority of music made by Christians over the past 25 years is complete garbage. How on earth can anyone expect to bring glory to the creator of heaven and earth by writing half-baked barf-rock?

I have my work cut out for me but I’m very excited to be writing fresh tunes again. I’ve got the first demo well under way and I think it will serve as a strong signpost pointing me in a new direction.