Sunday, January 27, 2013

"Look at You" - New Album

Well it needed a little bit of 2013, but my 2012 album project is finally done and has "shipped" - digitally on iTunes, Amazon,, Google Play, and a few other download and streaming sites, with CD's available from CD Baby. I wrote the first new song for this album in a Korea hotel room in September 2011 ("Open Up Your Eyes"), and I started recording with Roger Lavallee in December 2011, shortly after discovering the Black Keys and writing a couple of rock songs inspired by them. Roger produced, engineered, and played most of the instruments on all but two of the eleven tracks on this album. We must have done around 15 sessions through the year, maybe more. The last few songs were done mostly on my PC-based Sonar X1 recording software at home. Roger normally uses ProTools on a Mac but he quickly figured out the new software and continued to come up with great sounds and ideas.

When I learned in early 2012 that our first grandchild would be arriving in the fall, this inspired me to write the lullaby-like song "Look at You" that became the title track. This song includes the lyrics, "Hubble pictures, wonders of the Universe, biggest little wonder lying here, it's true - look at you!" So I decided the cover should feature baby Stella and some sort of Hubble image. I was working with my wife on a design that I thought was pretty good, but when her daughter Rebecca came to visit us in December, she offered to "tweak" our design, which really meant a complete and much better re-design by a talented artist! I'm very happy with the way the art AND the music came out in this project. Here are some brief notes on the songs:
  1. Look at You (Stella's Song) - this is mostly acoustic and has a lot of harmony parts. 
  2. Spring (Rolling Over Me) - this started as a sort of haiku about spring, and the music started from a African-sounding loop that came with GarageBand. Roger expanded it with cool guitar and percussion parts.
  3. Maybe Not -this started with a "smart bass" part played in GarageBand. It's hard to tell whether this bass part is 3/4 or 4/4 which adds some ambiguous tension. I added some spacey synth parts using the Animoog app on the iPad, and Roger played a cool backwards guitar solo because I asked, and because he's the kind of guy who knows how every sound on every record was made. 
  4. Down & Out - the guitar riffs for this came out of an iPhone app called iShred (electric guitar simulator). Roger rocked it.
  5. Drambuie - this is the one old song on the album, a jazzy number I wrote to one of Rob Simbeck's lyrics back in 1978 when we were trying to get a music career started. 
  6. Lady Heartache - one of several Black Keys-inspired rock tunes from December 2011 (that year's company shutdown was very musically productive for me).
  7. Obliviosity - I thought I invented this word, but Google says others have used it, and why would Google lie? Obliviosity is a man thing - you've probably noticed it if you're a woman. The song totally came from my belated discovery of the Gmaj13 chord. 
  8. Open Up Your Eyes - this was the first song started and the last one finished because I didn't like the simple acoustic guitar intro. At the last minute, Roger came up with a cool percussion and electric piano intro, as well as some sweet guitar parts, and now I really like it.
  9. Losing Control (Drowned Cities) - this was a GarageBand instrumental experiment with lyrics inspired by a science fiction novel called "The Drowned Cities." Scary future stuff from rising sea levels.
  10. The Play's the Same - another one of the December 2011 rock songs, in which I argue that writing and recording music is worth doing even if no one else cares or listens to it. Written on acoustic guitar.
  11. My Baby Won't Say So - a straight Texas rock-blues number recorded with "RealTracks" from the Band-in-a-Box software. Real players, just not playing specifically for me. Roger and I didn't play any instruments on this track, but Roger cleaned up the guitar solo parts to make them sound more like a guitar player who knows that there is also a vocal.