MFR Listening Project 018-019

Here’s the fourth part of the Listening Project series (pt.1pt. 2pt. 3); As our fifth birthday approaches in September, I’ve started listening to every release roughly in order, making notes as I go.

  • MFR018 – howie&scott, “Summer’s End”
    • It had been a little over two years since h&s had been regularly playing shows when we did this day’s worth of sets for Scott’s band students at Plattsmouth Middle School.  Now it’s been almost 3 years since “Summer’s End,” but it feels like it’s gone faster since; “Summer’s End” could feel like just a year ago.
    • We played and recorded 4-5 sets through the day, and picked the best for “Summer’s End.”  The tracks *are,* however, in chronological order among the sets; each song was played earlier in the day than the following one.
    • Engineering-wise, this record was made using one condenser mic placed at the back of the band room.  Bone-simple!  My bass synth ran through my guitar amp to give some presence, and vocals/sax through a PA.
    • The vocal monitoring situation was… non-existent :-(
    • We planned to record that night’s show at Doane, but technical problems prevented that.  It’s kind of a beautiful shame; that night we played some of our best-ever electric performances.  Thanks to those who were there!
    • We just practiced for an hour or something the night before the sets.  Scott and I have always been able to pick back up after a break with minimal rehearsal.  I mean, we’re not The Tightest Band Ever, but we slip back into the groove easily.
    • I don’t know why the photo of Mars seemed perfect for the cover…
    • I should re-learn “Berlin.”  Listening back, I’d forgotten that it’s a pretty good song.  Scott’s clarinet and drum patterns have a lot of character.
    • The toms sound sweet!  See “Berlin” and “Houston.”
    • I’m still searching for the right recording of the “signs” material, still hoping to take another shot at it someday.
    • Hearing the Easter III riff is bittersweet.  I woke up once with an amazing riff from a dream in my head, and actually figured it out accurately, and I thought for sure I’d remember when I got up in the morning.  But didn’t.  The EIII riff is what I worked out from what I semi-remembered, not the original, so hearing it I’m reminded that it’s just an echo of a perfect dream-riff… but it’s an echo I love.


  • MFR019 – Sally Ride, “It’s a Trap”
    • The guitars were recorded at 5*Matt’s (sister’s) house, Cory’s overdubs in an attic bedroom filled with Barbie dolls.
    • Since the album had a political element, I was working to get it out in time for the ’06 elections, but didn’t make it.  Which took some of the piss out of it, I think, hearing it after the events it was written to affect.  Still, today, we haven’t seen near enough genuine outrage at the actions of the Bush administration.  More than plenty faux-liberal self-righteous indignation, but not enough true anger.
    • This has been my biggest experiment in production to date; not only the synth-drums, but no bass guitar – just organ.
    • This album is the middle of my “Kansas City trilogy.”  “Ventura” is about moving to KC, “It’s a Trap” about living here, and “You Have To Wear The Boots” was written as I was mentally preparing to leave.  (But I haven’t.)
    • I’ve told before how “Holy Moses” was the first Sally Ride song after “Don’t Let Them Take Us… ALIVE” and a complete surprise, but its roots are in the tune “Abilene” by George Hamilton IV.  I learned a campfire version on a house-building trip to Mexico, and heard something in an A/Am chord change that triggered my imagination.
    • Not sure what to make of the nautical/military themes… they weren’t conscious when I was writing, they were just how I was making sense of things in terms of narrative and character.
    • I always love to hear my friends singing! (“Holy Moses” / “Back In The Fire”)
    • “Lookers” / “Baby Bells…” – There’s an interesting use of artistic voice here, personifying an organization with malicious intent toward the listener.  I guess the goal would be to give the listener a fictional experience that would provoke a real-life response.  (A similar trick happens at the end of “David S. Addington…” except the group is an “us” instead of a “them.”)
    • “Just Observing” is written with a terrifying detachment.  I guess I still care enough to sing, which is a bare hope, but hope.
    • The album as a whole is deeply skeptical.  Not quite wholly nihilistic, but it’s… rough.
    • I’m not too thrilled with the overall mastering, but I can’t pinpoint what’s dissatisfying.
    • On the third line of “We The People,” I wish I could go back and enunciate “We’*RE* all living…”  It sounds like “We all…” which would be a lame attempt at… I don’t know, rural authenticity or something, but was not my intent.  I don’t know how I missed it in the mixing.