Today I return to the Listening Project series (pt.1 – pt. 2 – pt. 3 – pt. 4 – pt. 5); As our fifth birthday passed last September, I’ve been listening to every release roughly in order, making notes as I go.
MFR023 – Pat Bradley, “The Musical Tales of Pat Bradley”
- As leader of Lincoln’s Tangelo, Pat is responsible for one of my favorite records ever (“Year of Saturdays”). Scoring “The Musical Tales…” for MFR continues to feel like a huge coup.
- I don’t know exactly how long these songs were recorded before we released them in March 2008, but Cory had been telling me about this unreleased CDR of Pat’s he’d heard for at least a year. Cory gets full credit for discovering this project, and keeping after Pat until we were able to put it out.
- Since the music was already recorded, my only involvement was mastering. I have really clear memories of driving south on hwy. 71 in KC, just southeast of downtown, listening to test masters and thinking about notes and changes. It took me a long time to master, not because it was hard or the songs were very different in sound from each other, but I think just because I enjoyed listening to Pat so much. I usually am tired of a project by the time the master’s finished, and I need a break from it in order to come back and enjoy it; that was not the case with “The Musical Tales…”
- The songs are amazing, I love how bite-sized they are, I love Pat’s voice and playing… I am always happy when one of these songs comes up in shuffle. Pat captures an honest folk/country feel without falling into genre traps or coming off as affected at all. He just nails it.
- Plus “Sunny Farm” is ridiculously awesome.
MFR024 – “Songs of -h”
- This is kind of an unusual release for us; a CD compilation of my best stuff I put together to sell as a fundraiser for a house-building trip to Mexico. In addition to songs from the echoes EPs and “Lone Wolf,” the first two Sally Ride records, and “XMAS,” it had three unique tunes: an acoustic recording of “Major & Minor,” made especially for the comp, “Stop Walking (live),” an unreleased cut from howie&scott’s “Summer’s End” sessions, and “Set You Ablaze” from Lone Prairie Records’ “Killers in the Nebraska Territory” compilation.
- I had a terrible time with the plant that pressed the discs. A bunch of them had weird pops and clicks. I tried to warn everyone and even give people who I don’t see often two copies in case one was bad, but if you have a poppy one, let me know; there’s a few left, and I’ll get one to you. Because of the bad discs, I had the plant send some replacements – no more than 50, but I can’t remember for sure – so there are some un-numbered copies in circulation.
- Friends & readers helped pick some of the tunes (the acoustic “Open Columns,” “New Slow Sea,” and “The Picture Song”); it always surprises me what jumps out to others as favorites, compared to what I think of as the best stuff. Sometimes there’s consensus, but just as often, not. (I guess that could mean it’s all about the same.)
- It’s always so good to hear others’ voices pop up; Cory, Scott, everybody on “Back in the Fire…”
- Been a long time since I heard this; it sounds better than I expected. Happens with time, sometimes. It’s not as comprehensive as I’d like – there’s sides of my songs that aren’t represented – but that’s my own fault, since they’re from albums I haven’t finished yet! There are days when listening to this could super-bum me out, but this weekend is not one of those.
- I’ll look for the digital liner notes, hopefully to post Monday. (Updated 28 June 2010: Songs of h liner notes.pdf.)
MFR025 – Arturo Got The Shaft, “A Life Without Fireflies”
- My thoughts on this album are already documented fairly exhaustively in the credits/liner notes.
- I remember we’d done a bunch of vocal takes on “Pants and Backpacks,” and Rob was getting a bit tired and frustrated. As we started yet another take and Rob reached the line “We’ll create modern art…” on impulse I ran over to the mic and finished it (“…with some grape pop-tarts”) like we did sometimes live, just to goof off and break up the situation. You can hear that that’s the take we ended up using.
- Looking back, the track sequencing is right on. 1-4 rock pretty hard, with a slight break at 3. 5 takes it all the way down, leading the way into 6’s epic size. 7 starts tight and driving but it takes the vocals a while to enter; the long, taut intro is a sort of palette cleanser for the record’s endgame. So 7-10 mirror 1-4; two rockers, a break, and another rocker, saving the punkest for last.
- “Hey, Gordon Shumway!” is one of a very very few songs with 5-star ratings in my iTunes, and the only one in which I had any part of creating.
- The more I try to explain “Fireflies,” the farther words seem to take me away from its heart. I see myself keep trying, though; it might have something to do with those precious emails from old friends or people who just caught a Shaft show, asking about more music. *Something* is coming across in translation to some folks, at least, and if that’s not enough then what could ever be?
MFR026 – The Sleepover, “The Sleepover EP”
- I hadn’t heard much from Cory about the Sleepover’s first recording sessions for this EP, so I was kind of surprised when he sent it over to master and release. I knew they were doing *something,* but then it was like it just showed up, complete.
- “I’ll take it easy somewhere without humidity / All the booze I can drink” is a rad line, especially for those of us from Nebraska who understand what’s implied by reference to getting away from the damp air.
- As always, I love Kibler’s semi-Pavement-like anti-solos (see also; “What U Do 2 Me,” “Talk Me Down”)
- Great scream in “Always the Liar,” which is hard to do. Tricky to master, too, because the levels at the end of the song are so much higher than at the beginning; had to use a bit of automation to bring the mix down so the output would be more balanced, which the band OK’d.
MFR027 – The Golden Age, “Calla Lily EP”
- For a long time back in late ’04 or early ’05 when this came out, I only had a burned version from Jaimie Tucci, which I was fairly obsessed with. I tried to buy it at Homer’s every time I was back in Lincoln, but couldn’t find it. I was hooked on “Serenade” the way I rarely get with specific songs (it’s usually albums), and it still speaks volumes to me.
- Credit again to Cory for securing Rob’s blessing to re-release this gem. It’s beautiful and perfect, and I don’t know if I can say much else about it. I didn’t touch the audio at all; MFR’s re-release is exactly the original CD EP.
- At the same time we got a hold of “Calla Lily,” we heard Rob had an unreleased full-length…