MFR Listening Project 014-017

Here’s the third part of the Listening Project series (pt.1pt. 2); As our fifth birthday approaches in September, I’ve started listening to every release roughly in order, making notes as I go.

  • MFR014 – Bike, “A Wind I Can Lean Into”
    • This has been a brilliant album for me from the moment I heard it.
    • Mastering it was a bear, though, due to the wild variety of sounds, instruments, and tones used in different songs.
    • Nate and I thought for quite a while how to handle the various short songs / segues / song fragments.  I didn’t want to intimidate listeners with 18 separate tracks.  I think the breakdown pretty much works, in that the main songs are always at the start of the file (except the first track).
    • “The Horror! Oh, the Horror!” is a permanent favorite; its weird exuberance is another perfect expression of whatever spirit it is that animates “He Came To Steal Your Children” from “How Is That Possible.”  And coming after “My Blood, My Bones”… damn.
    • You know, I’ve never met Nate in person … or even on the phone … but through Bike, I feel close to him.


  • MFR015 – echoes, “Tonight, the Lone Wolf Rides Alone”
    • After the two punk-ish echoes EPs, I wanted to do something that reflected how my friends actually experienced my music, since I never put a band together (or meant to).  And I wanted to do some covers.
    • I recorded this at Nick King’s then-new house in Liberty, MO, because I didn’t feel comfortable cutting loose singing and playing at my place (which was my landlords’ basement).  So I got a key, and headed up there one day to set up.  He was at work.  I forgot a mic stand… so I had to make the 60-minute round trip to my apartment for one.  When I got to Nick’s the second time, slightly pissed at myself, and continued to set up, I discovered I’d forgotten the special holder for the microphone itself!  So I made a third trip.  I don’t think anything from that first day of recording made the album; I strummed everything too hard and fast.
    • Who knows why “Hymn for our T.M.D. (Technological Manifest Destiny)” AKA “The Picture Song,” is such a hit among friends.  People seem to love it, though.  It’s a hard one to remember how to play, but it has a line that stands out to me, “Only time ’til you and I decide between the torch and tinder…”
    • It was hard to find a Shacker song I wanted to do that wasn’t already on “The Dimly Lit Room,” but “Talk Me Down” worked with some different chord voicings.
    • My sister, Mary, took the photo and made the card that I used for the cover.  Maybe Christmas 2005.  That’s the kitchen table at home, a favorite place for trying out newly finished tunes; you can see the open 3-ring binder in front me.
    • Three cheers for the two local bands that were huge influences for me: The JV All*Stars (“Pushing the Envelope”) and Blacklight Sunshine (“My Time”).
    • I thought Sally Ride was just going to be the one record, “Don’t Let Them Take Us ALIVE,” until I wrote “Holy Moses” one day.  “Holy Moses” was one of those rare tunes that just popped out, fully formed for the most part, and when it was done I had a striking moment of “Oh God.  I just wrote a new Sally Ride song.”  And all that that implied.
    • When it was released, I included a cover of the Foo Fighters’ “A320” (from the Gozilla soundtrack), which I took down after the file received 100 hits.  I didn’t want to scuffle over rights – not that anyone would have noticed! – but of course I love Dave & Co., and would never want to cause them trouble.
    • “Hawaiian Bells” is this intuitive thing… the verse lyrics change every time I sing it.  It’s so slow, and I could listen to/play that guitar figure forever, there’s ample time to kind of improvise the words every time.  I’m pretty happy with how this version came out, but it’s missing some formulations that pop up regularly.  Probably worth it, not to have it be ten minutes long, though!
    • In typical Mr. Furious fashion, the album title is a botched quote from the film “Mystery Men.”  The actual line is “…hunts alone.”


  • MFR016 – Robot, Creep Closer!, “Why Aren’t People’s Heads Exploding?” EP
    • Aggressively fun; R,CC! nail their mission to be weird, loud, semi-lo-fi party metal here on their first set of recordings.
    • Look carefully at the cover art; see the extra robot, creeping the opposite and below the others?
    • Whew!  There’s not much to say about R,CC! – you get it, or you don’t.  It’s visceral, and ideally, bypasses the conscious mind.


  • MFR017 – Cory Kibler/Church Photo Directory starring Benjamin Axeface, “We Have Uh-Oh”
    • This is Cory at his sad-bastard-est.
    • We recorded Cory’s and James’ parts in my office in the church building one weekend.  The cement block walls reflected too much sound, so we hung choir robes from the dropped ceiling in order to dampen the room.
    • “Pretending to Break Strings,” Cory’s spoken-word piece from “Furious Instance,” came from these sessions.  I caught it by accident; I’d clicked the record button, then he launched in to this story without knowing we were rolling, and it was so funny I saved it.  I always laugh out loud when I hear it, which is kind of embarrassing at work.
    • “Where Did I Go Wrong?” is a tune I play myself, live, pretty often.
    • I have a clear memory of driving around midtown Kansas City – actually up 50/Blue Pkwy./Volker from Raytown – listening to the raw tracks Cory had laid down, and writing the vocal harmonies.  For some reason, singing along to something in the car frees up my creativity.  It’s like I’m bypassing the self-editing part of my brain, and just letting stuff spill out.  I’ll put something in the car and drive around singing to it for a few days or weeks until I’ve written something OK for it.

3 thoughts on “MFR Listening Project 014-017”

  1. We always loved the line “You can paint whatever pictures you want to now that you’re on your own.” We wrote a song that sounded like that song, but felt guilty and worried we were ripping you two off. We decided it was a sort of homage though.

  2. Howie,

    I was just downloading some music from back in the day that I don’t have on my mac. For Bike’s “How Is That Possible” two mp3s aren’t available to download

    -Robot Love
    -Great Distances

    Also, do you have an extra of that A320? I used to have it, but not anymore since getting this new computer.

    Just thought I’d let you know. I hope all is well!

  3. …late replying… Drew’s over today, laying down some more Fifty Bears guitars.

    mp3s / thanks for letting me know! both are fixed now. i don’t know how the links weren’t right on our side, but the page for this album was fine.

    A320 / i’ll get it to you! as i was writing last week’s post, i realized that i didn’t have a copy for myself in my iTunes (but it’s still on the studio computer, i’m sure). -h

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