Friday, June 29, 2012

How to Explain an Album... (Side 1)

     In a past life, I wasn't really meant to play music or work in the medical field. I was meant to write about music - reviewing albums and shows, talking about musicians, doing write-ups on people, etc...
     Years ago, in that weird span of time between high school graduation and starting my first year of college, I heavily considered being an English major, (What really happened, was a thwarted attempt at a double major for Music and Nursing... That lasted for about a year...), in order to continue my love of writing that I had developed from grade school....(In hindsight, perhaps a double major with English and Music would have been more appropriate...)...
      Either way, I have the sneaking suspicion that I might have a had a life reviewing music for any form of publication, and would've been at least partially okay at it... No matter the limited amount of money I would make...(That's not to say I'm unhappy with the way things turned out; things ended up pretty damn good - But it's nice to imagine an alternate timeline, eh?)...
        My reason for explaining all this is because I'm going to do a little write up on the new Hutson album "From A Transistor Radio*"... I'm doing this because it's my album, and I feel like talking about it, (now that it's completed, and due to be released on June 30th).
        This isn't going to be so much a review, as it is an explanation of the underlying info regarding the songs... So, here we go...

Blacklight Serenade 1:
        I had the chord progression of this song for close to a year, and snippet of the first verse and half of the chorus already organized. Initially, this was one that I liked the lyric parts of, but felt the chord progressions might end up sounding tedious. Luckily, when Andy and Tony came in for their parts,  they organized a much more rhythmic approach underneath the straight palm-muting and strumming guitar part.  Also, the pedal steel, (played by Bryan Daste), added an unforeseen Jayhawks feel tho the choruses.
        This song was a prime example of when you write something with your predisposed idea of how it should sound, and then come out the other end with something different - and better.

Ready To Run:
     This is a song that was written and mostly organized in the band setting, so much  that we were playing it regularly in our sets at the beginning of 2011. By the time we hunkered down and put it to tape, we had a pretty solid idea how it would turn out. Mostly acoustic driven, I felt the need to overlay a large amount of feedback in the background in order to move the song away from a standard  folk-song variation - (this is specifically a trick I nicked from old R.E.M. songs from the early 90's)...
      As far as the lyrics, this song is another example of my fascination with the apocalypse and paranoia over our current status in society, much like the song "Smokescreen" from our Reland EP, (in fact, this song has a line or two specifically written to link it to "Smokescreen", so that it's a continuation of the same idea)... 
Kill Your Scene:
      This song was built around a bass line of Tony's, and I simply augmented a chorus and middle section around it. This is another song that came about of it's own accord during the recording process. The early demo of this song didn't have the mid-section - but I eventually latched on riffy middle area, feeling the need to have something reminiscent of early Black Sabbath records and/or a Queens of the Stone Age feel to it.
      Also, there's a bit of Ennio Morricone in this song, with it's over-dramatized feel, much like those old spaghetti-western soundtracks.
      Initially, the plan was to call it "Kill Yr Scene", with the mis-spelling intentionally in there as a throw-back to Sonic Youth's "Expressway To Yr Skull"... Definitely a music-geek thing that few people would appreciate. However, in the midst of completing artwork, and organizing liner notes, the song title got spelled correctly - and thus, it is what it is.

     The second of 3 songs that were basically written and organized prior to our recording sessions, "Static" was in our set for probably a good six months before we took our break from live shows. This song was written after listening to a bunch of Hold Steady albums, (which seems a bit obvious to me). At one point in time, there was talk of adding some horns to the bridge section build-up, but due to time constraints and forgetting about the suggestion - we weren't able to add any. Which is fine, because I feel the song stands pretty well on it's own. This was also the first song we started on in the recording process.

Porch Swing:
       The oldest song on this album, "Porch Swing" has been written, (and existed), in a demo form since 2004. We've been playing this song in our sets since probably mid-2010, and we finally were able to record it. This was one of the easiest songs to record, probably because we all had our parts organized and it required little extra work to translate it to tape. Again, the beautiful pedal steel on this one is courtesy of Bryan Daste.

Riot Saturday Night:
      Oh yes. There is a stupidity to rock music. There always has been, that's why it's fun. Don't get me wrong, I like serious music. I appreciate it as a form of art. I get that people want to put part of themselves into the music they create.  But I also think that too much of that ends up being really pretentious, and over-thinking - So, to balance out the times our songs are a bit overly serious, I really wanted a song that was just a good rock song - It doesn't take many brain cells to rock - and that's exactly where this song came from.
       I initially wanted it to be a scrappy late 70's punk song, but as always, it turned into it's own thing. And as for the lyrics, well... it's a bit tongue-in-cheek... But it's fun. Because that was the point - (my personal favorite part of this is the hand-claps in the mid-section)...

To Be Continued With Side 2....

*It should be noted that the following guitars were used on this album: Fender Telecaster, Fender Jazzmaster, Epiphone Flying-V, and Epiphone SJ-220 acoustic guitar.

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