Tuesday Tunes

The Internet is not playing ball. I received a request to delete my opinion, someone tried to steal one of my online accounts, and I’m being scam called from a number that originates in North Macedonia. If these are entirely unrelated, then coincidence is a hell of a thing. I’m not being driven to paranoia, but there’s something fishy going on. I can only conclude that someone wants to remove my presence from the internet, a la De Nomolous from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. It is therefore imperative that I continue to publish this blog so that we may one day reach universal harmony.

The Song(s)
Song: Better Days
Artist: Tadpole
Album: The Buddhafinger - 2000 - EMI Music New Zealand, Antenna Recordings
Method of discovery: Channel Z radio station circa 2000/2001

Theory: The tempo of a song can do a lot to it’s feel, it’s groove. 60 beats per minute (bpm) is at the lower end of the ‘normal’ resting heart rate, and music around this speed tends to make people feel relaxed. 128 bpm, which is where this song sits, is more lively and persistent. If you measured it against a watch, the beat would overtake the second hand, which adds to the urgent mood. The only semi-relief is the pre-chorus, where the title lives, and where the song takes a quick breather - like a struggling swimmer gasping above the surface.

Research: This was Tadpole’s first album, and one of three that they released in their twelve year span (The Medusa isn’t on Spotify). Since their split in 2006, the member have well and truly gone their separate ways, from other bands, to radio host, to politician. The Buddhafinger spent eight weeks short of a year in the New Zealand Charts, and topped out at number 2.

Personal thoughts: Tadpole has a very soft spot in my heart, they were a support act when I went to my first concert. But better than that, they were supporting an international band. You never really forget your first concert. I wasn’t old enough to drink, and it was an all ages gig anyway. I tried crowd-surfing - it didn’t work and they dropped me at the back of the crowd. But I didn’t care. My parents picked me up afterwards and I just sat and stared out the window at the stars above the motorway, wondering in giddy excitement if all concerts were this good. They weren’t.

Give it a go: If you’ve had better days

Give it a miss: If your days are just fine, thank you very much.

Tuesday Tunes, Better Days by Tadpole
Tadpole, The Buddhafinger
De Nomolous

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

It’s rare that I see the word ‘Evocative’ these days. The closest I get is a spell classification in my D&D books. But I feel the world is trending toward individualism; everything can be imbued with your personality and specification. Everything can be made unique. But I definitely think that we could be looking for the similarities in one another more often, and similarity is strong in reference-based jokes and humour. References and Puns are hilarious (no disagreement will be tolerated) because they take the familiar and, to some degree, add their own twist. Today’s tune goes a long way to evoke bangers from the past …

The Song(s)
Song: Stay the Night
Artist: Jukebox The ghost
Album: Single - 2017 - WAX LTD
Method of discovery: Spotify Release Radar

Theory: The song evokes two great piano-pop anthems - Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ and Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believing’. The verses change over I & IV, but listen to the octave bass cutting through the static right hand, which alternates the chords’ tonics in quick succession. The next sections lay over an ascending foundation: I/iii-IV-#Vdim-vi, that ends in a II, and occasionally a V before heading back into itself, or another verse. If Queen wouldn’t have liked the song so far, the bridge (IV-#Vdim-I-V-iv-II-v) almost channels Freddy.

Research: ‘Stay the Night’ was the first single released after a long break between albums and touring. They band played a regular gig for Halloween where they would play two sets, the first as themselves and the second as Queen, as the song supposedly came from there. This particular song was featured on the second (to date, final) season of the Rob Schneider Netflix series, Real Rob. The Three men that make up the Jukebox the Ghost met while at Washington State University.

Personal thoughts: The simplicity behind the lyrics of this song is what really gets me. It’s easy: Stay the Night. The desire to seize the opportunity to do so, and the yearn to make it soon, because life is temporary. Even the number is a temporary thing, written on a napkin like this. The words and the music combine into this feeling of the familiar, Journey being referenced quite directly in the second verse. But it’s mixed with that upward motion of the music, that gradual building in your chest of a new relationship that only seems to climb higher. Maybe you should give in to desire, and just, stay the night?

Give it a go: If you’ve like your familiar with your new.

Give it a miss: If you think nothing can sound quite like the past.

Tuesday Tunes, Stay the Night by Jukebox the Ghost
Social: Website (includes Twitter and the like)
Wikipedia, WAX LTD, Billboard, AXS

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

I enjoy funny things. One of the funniest things I’ve seen is Dara O’Briain alienate half his audience by talking about video games, the routine is hilarious if you are into it but potential gibberish if you’re not. While the subject matter of today’s song has become more commonly popular than twenty, or even ten years ago, I’m certain that some people will have trouble understanding it. So it’s a good thing that it’s set to a familiar backing track …

The Song(s)
Song: Dm Road
Artist: Yahzick
Album: Single - 2019 - Mann Shorts Productions
Method of discovery: Friend Recommended

Theory: Copyright for a song (in general) is for the melody and the lyrics. This means that someone can’t reproduce or play a song, legally, without paying for it in some fashion. But there is a provision of law called Fair Use that means you can reasonably use enough of a song for analysis, commentary, education or similar. Another thing that falls under Fair Use is Parody, because Parody relies on reproduction of the original, and this is why it’s fine for someone like Weird Al Yankovic to make works of parody. (If you are interested in Copyright, then I suggest watching the movie ‘RiP: A Remix Manifesto’)

Research: Charles ‘Yahzick’ Bates’ earliest outing that I could find is The Tongue Tape. It’s still Hip-Hop/Rap, but is less concentrated toward a particular nerd-dom than his latest album Attack of Opportunity, which has more Dungeons & Dragons themed titles. Yahzick, the word, means tongue and is part of the English/Russian hybrid lexicon in ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Yahzick, the man, plays the Dungeon Master (DM) on the YouTube Channel of the Website of the Production Company, Mann Shorts.

Personal thoughts: I fear that this one might lose some people, much like O’Briain alienating his audience with a specific routine. But you know what, it’s been a weird weekend, and I need something funny. The purpose of this blog, in general, is to expose people to music that they might not hear normally. If you are interested in understanding the song in it’s entirety, then I think you need to be exposed to Dungeons and Dragons.

Give it a go: If like me five years ago, you’ve never played D&D, but have been interested.

Give it a miss: If you would rather stay in the tavern while your friends go adventuring.

Tuesday Tunes, Dm Road by Yahzick
Yahzick: The Tongue Tape, Twitter
Mann Shorts: Dm Road Video, Website
Other: Weird Al, Dara O’Briain routine, Rip: A Remix Manifesto

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

I like when things are complete. By that I mean that I enjoy consuming a thing all at once. I waited until Breaking Bad was in it’s final episodes before I binged the entire series. I’ve waited for more than twenty years for winter to come in printed form. So I prefer these days, more often than not, to wait for a whole season to be out, or even for a series to completely end before jumping in. There’s a similar sort of phenomenon that makes me feel the same way about musicians …

The Song(s)
Song: Over You
Artist: Cashew Chemists
Album: Cashew Chemists - 2013 - Self Published
Method of discovery: Spotify Discover circa 2018

Theory: In pop music, chords tend to stick to their function, e.g. Fours and Fives tend to be Major, threes and sixes tend to be minor. That’s why in Roman Numerals chords theory they are written in capitals for Major and in lower case for minors. This song pulls a couple of interesting chords, the Verses cycle around I-iii-vi-V-IV-iv-I, and the Chorus cycles through ii-V-iii-VI-ii-V. See what they did there? They changed the Major IV to a minor iv, and pulled the reverse on the usually minor vi. This is what makes the chorus stand out to the ear, whether you notice it or not.

Research: Cashew Chemists draw heavily on the Beatles for influence on this album, which was unsurprising given the groove of this song. But what did surprise me was to find out they hail from Singapore. The band was named after Cashew Road, where most of the members grew up and where they made their music. The band split around 2017 and started pursuing their own interests.

Personal thoughts: I’m not suggesting that these guys will never jam together, but I’d bet that if they did it would be as something new. Cashew Chemists, for all intents and purposes, has finished. I really don’t mean this in a bad way, either. I love it. There are so many artists in the world that keep creating, and dear god I don’t want that to stop, but I like happening upon these little self contained bubbles that will likely just stay there, undisturbed, ready to be happened upon by new fans who were too late to be part of the crowd. I like going through their whole catalog (which you should also listen to) and I enjoy the idea of these little bubbles, not being perfect, but being pristine in capturing something that was, and will likely never again be.

Give it a go: If you enjoy the Beatles, or bubbles

Give it a miss: If you don’t even like Cashews

Tuesday Tunes, Over You by Cashew Chemists
Facebook, Soundcloud, Interview, Singapore Government Website

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

I can’t remember when I had my first Pavlova. Surely it was at Christmas, but I can’ t be sure. As a kiwi I’ve been surrounded by the Dessert all my life, so it’s completely unclear when it actually entered my lexicon, awareness, or mouth. But for as long as i’ve known about Pavlova, I’ve also known about the ‘friendly’ rivalry between Australia and New Zealand about which country invented it (here the countries are listed alphabetically, but this should not suggest significance or opinion). Even the Wikipedia page details the dispute, and researchers have not been able to reach a conclusion as satisfying as the cream-covered construction. The same sort of dispute abound with this week’s song.

On a side note, the new place is relatively set up so that I can continue to blog, so thanks for sticking through this brief hiatus.

The Song(s)
Song: Misirlou
Artist: Yiannis Kotsiras
Album: I Smirni Tou Erota - 2012 - Minos EMI
Method of discovery: Trawling thorugh several different versions of the song, though, originally ‘Pulp Fiction’

Research: Most people, in my experience, know this song from it’s inclusion in Pulp Fiction. It was the instrumental surf-rock version by Dick Dale and his Del-Tones that is featured in the movie. Many covers on Spotify if you search for Misirlou (or Miserlou) say ‘ - From Pulp Fiction’ afterward. But just like Pavlova, it has its first records in the early 20th Century, and many claim it as their own. It is traditionally a folk song touting admiration for an Egyptian woman of beauty, and it’s modern name has linguistic roots in Greek, Turkish, and Arabic. The version I’ve chosen was far down the list, but has connection to Ancient Greek. Yiannis Kotsiras is a greek musician, so I can’t help but feel this is closer to a traditional rendition. During the 2004 Greece Olympics (which Yiannis released a song for called ‘Pass the Flame’), the song was declared one of the most influenceial Greek songs of all time.

Theory: Misirlou utilises the double harmonic major scale, which probably doesn’t mean much to most people. If you want to have a good starting point, ‘Do Re Mi’ from The Sound of Music utilises the major scale (and solfege; Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do). Now imagine you de-tune the ‘Re’, that lowers the note of the scale and creates a jump between the lowered ‘Re’ (‘Ra’) and the ‘Mi’. Repeat this for the sixth note (‘La’ into ‘Le’) and you now have the Double Harmonic Major. Its got two big jumps in it that give the scale, and the song it’s middle-eastern sound.

Personal thoughts: I love the movie, but I do prefer versions of Misirlou with words. Maybe it’s just my own affinity for language that gets in the way, but I really feel that the guitar heavy versions saturate the search results to a point where the original is almost lost. When the melody is slowed down and given more than a persitent drum beat to play off, it feels more expressive, and less like a challenge to be played as fast as possible.

Give it a go: If you only know it as ‘that one song from Pulp Fiction that the Black Eyed Peas sampled’

Give it a miss: If you prefer Jan August’s Piano version of the song anyway.

Tuesday Tunes, Misirlou by Yiannis Kotsiras, Dick Dale and his Del-Tones
Misirlou, Pavlova, Solfege
Yiannis Kotsiras Website

Geoffrey Rowe
Hiatus (Two Weeks)

Hey Team,

I like to spend time doing ‘Tuesday Tunes’ so that it’s something I’m proud of, rather than pump out regardless of quality. I’m also packing this week to prepare for moving this weekend. Splitting my attention between the blog and the move could mean I mess up one, or both. So I’m choosing to take a short break from the Blog while I’m packing and unpacking, plus, it gives me time for the Internet to be sorted at the new place.

Thanks for being cool about it.

I shall commune tunes soon.


Geoffrey Rowe
Luthiery Log - 06 and 07/2019

I’m building a guitar, and logging the progress on the 7th of each month. Here are Months: One, Two , Three, Four and Five.

Trevor told me it would take seven to nine months to build a guitar. I sit here, six months after first walking into his build-shop, with my new guitar firmly in it’s brand new case. It’s done. Finished. I am beyond excited to share it with you.

Session Twenty-Three
Having routed a path for it last time, today was all about securing on the Edging to the Body. This meant the return of the side-bending apparatus so that I could roughly match the contour of the sides again. It was a little more particular this time around, having a small amount of material to bend and a very hot pipe to bend on. Once all the sides were bent, we ran glue along the edge and taped the edging into place. This took the whole night.

Session Twenty-Four
After removing the tape, the edges were grubby with glue and burns from the bending. So this session was all about removing those marks and sanding the edging flush with the body. I was late from work, so I was rushing to get things done tonight. I did manage to grab some before and after shots below. Again it goes to show not to rush. I was using an orbital sander (which i’d never used before) and in not trying to hit the body, I took too much off of the edging where the Neck will meet the body. you can see that it’s the light diagonal bit in the last picture.

Session Twenty-Five
Back in session Eight, we routed a dovetail in the Neck. Today we routed the gap for it to fit into. The gap is a littel deeper than the joint on the Neck, so that if future maintenance is needed a Luthier can drill through the 15th Fret and use steam to soften the glue around the joint. The rest of the session was spent fining up the headstock again after my mathematical mistake. In the picture below you can see the mahogany dowels we used to plug the holes, you can’t see them from the front. Trevor was unsure which terrible film would be selected tonight for his regular movie night: I recommended ‘Black Dynamite’.

Session Twenty-Six
’Black Dynamite’ was a hit. Everyone enjoyed watching it, and I’m sure you will too (if you enjoy a little sillyness, of course). This session was largely about me watching Trevor finish the fretwork on the neck. First I drilled the holes for the Tuners (properly this time) and free-handed a curve at the end. Then Trevor explained every step as he used more and more specialised tools to equalize, curve down, and put softer edges on the frets along the entire neck. He exaplined that this is the one part of the process that he always does, as it has a massive affect on playability and sound. The last picture is all of the metal dust over the neck. We finished the session by gluing the neck to the body.

Session Twenty-Seven
By the time I arrived, Trevor had done some pre-math and figured out exactly where to place the Ebony Bridge, but it was still flat when I arrived. My job was to put the appropriate curve into the Bridge. This was achieved by sticking a piece of sandpaper to the already curved Top and sanding the Bridge against the curve itself. It took a long time. We then created a small cap to glue onto the base on the neck and make it look uniform with the Edging. The Session finished by glueing both of these on.

Session Twenty-Eight
This is the moment that most people had been asking me about for weeks: '“When do you get to oil the guitar?”. The answer is, today. We laid a couple of coats of clear on the headstock, and then I donned gloves and used a small soft metal scrubbing pad to apply the oil. I’ve put a couple of shots below so you can see the contrast of with vs without oil. Trevor said we should be able to finish the project within the next couple of sessions.

Session Twenty-Nine
This was a busy one. We could sense the home stretch, and acted accordingly. I sanded back the headstock and lay down the symbol I had chosen (The Seed of Life). It’s purely black on the Rosewood Headstock, and shines underneath another couple coats of Clear. On the Bridge I drilled and reamed the holes for the Pegs to fit into comfortably. Then Trevor super-glued the electronics for the pickup to my fingers. It was a hard job to position these little golden pads correctly, so difficult that I did it once, then Trevor did it twice. We took a little off an interior brace in order to fit the controller for the pickup, and finished by drilling a big hole in the Bass of the guitar to enable it to plug in, and a matching button near the neck to support a strap. One session to go.

Session Thirty
The Final Session. The birth of my guitar. Trevor was wearing a shirt that I gifted him last week, it has my face on it. This session was all about details. I made a little plate to cover the truss-rod hole in the Head, using a specific drill piece so that the screw used to secure it was more flush with the plate itself. Next was fixing in the Tuners. Using a ruler to make sure they were level, I drilled and screwed them into place. This next bit was super fun, Trevor had glued into place the Nut previously to figure out where the bridge goes, and he had marked the top and bottom string. My job was to find the right spacing between the strings using a specialised ruler, then to file into those marks using specialised files. After I was finished, Trevor took over and worked magic in performing the rest of the initial setup and testing the sound: video below.

While this was going on I watched another student sawing fret-holes. It was surreal to think that six motnhs ago I was doing the same, then I look to the right and Trevor is playing the final product. He’s confident with the sound and hands it to me. I sit and play a newer song, and it’s like a first piece of perfectly cooked steak, the feeling of warm laundry, fresh sheets, a cool water in the summer heat, and a warm mug in the middle of winter. It’s more than all of these things. I’m literally giddy. This is one of my life’s dream and it’s coming true in my hands.

We take a few pictures, and I zip it into a carry case (I pick up a hard travel-case the next day). It’s bittersweet to know that I won’t be coming back next week, but that doesn’t stop me from laughing maniacally all the way home.

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

My favourite was always Donatello. If your mind, like mine, jumps immediately to Ninja Turtle instead of renowned artist, then perhaps you grew up with the cartoon. But these days you just as easily could have grown up with the movies, which in my opinion, will always play second fiddle. But there was no real second fiddle in the Ninja Turtles. Sure, there was Leonardo who was the leader, but without the other turtles playing their roles, who would he be? Only a freakishly mutated and trained-to-be-deadly pizza loving Turtle with swords.

Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines
Raphael is cool but crude, Michelangelo is a party dude

The point is; certain things feel good as a set of four. Superheroes (Ninja Turtles, Fantastic Four), Elements (Earth, Water, Fire and Air), Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Beatles, Ghostbusters. Four feels balanced. But what happens when you mess with that balance …

The Song
Song: What You Do To My Soul
Artist: Air Traffic Controller
Album: Black Box - 2016 - Self Published (I think)
Method of discovery: Spotify Discover

Theory: The song, like so many older and newer than it, is in 4/4. Our ears are used to this typical beat, so much it’s called ‘Common Time’. What is the same, but less obvious is the fact that we like to hear four Bars of music, regardless of whether a song is in Common, or some other time Signature. Treating the first line as ‘before the start of the song’ (or if you want to be fancy, an Anacrusis) I would start counting when the music comes in after the word TIME. If you count every fourth beat, by the end of the verse you’ve got to Ten. Ten is not divisible by four. Mind = Blown. My theory is that ATC started with twelve bars, but simply cut out an empty space after ‘ease my mind’ and ‘to my soul’ each, resulting in this ten bar phrase. What it does musically is build a sense of urgency, like these thoughts are bursting out of the singer in a stream-of-consciousness, like a teenager confessing love. And when we get to the chorus you’ll find the even amounts of bars give the main message more stability, speaking of stability, the chords in this song are only I, IV and V. Very happy and stable chords, there is no room for minor chords in this song.

Research: Air Traffic Controller got their name from Dave Munro, who used to do that very thing for the US Navy. They are out of Boston and have won many awards. But perhaps what’s more impressive is the fact that one of their music videos was featured on the homepage of Funny Or Die. It was another track from the same album Black Box, which is their third. You’ve probably already heard their music, given that it’s been licensed for more than seven brands that I recognise.

Personal thoughts: The first time I heard this song it made me want to dance. I didn’t, because dancing does not spark joy in my life. But the fact that it made ME want to dance is incredible. It’s boppy, hoppity, pop. It’s a very well written song that dilutes itself only to the necessary and doesn’t waste space with nothing. Instead, it brims out over the top and announces itself. It makes me feel good.

Give it a go: If you’d like to feel good.

Give it a miss: If you’d prefer to remain morose.

Tuesday Tunes, What You Do To My Soul, Air Traffic Controller
Website, Twitter, Bandcamp
Wikipedia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lyric analysis on Genius.com

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

There are no rules in song-writing. Still, most songs follow a conventional format. First, a verse. Then a chorus. Another of each preceding a bridge. Final chorus and repetition chorus to end. Fade out if you are fancy. Most songs follow a small variation of this format: Insert a Pre-Chorus, start with a chorus before the first verse, second verse same as the first. Without actual rules, most people think its a good idea to keep the chorus the same throughout the song.

The Song
Song: Sun in an Empty Room
Artist: The Weakerthans
Album: Reunion Tour - 2007 - Epitaph, (ANTI-)
Method of discovery: Spotify Discover

Research: Another Canadian band (I swear Spotify is trying to get me to move to Canadia), The Weakerthans derive their name from a couple of movie quotes at least, while the song takes it’s name from a painting by Edward Hopper. You probably have a sense of Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’, though, like me, you might not know whose it was. Many others have written on ‘Sun in an Empty Room’, both painting and song. Dan Ozzi even wrote a eulogy for the band when they seemingly broke up in 2015 (as of publishing - wikipedia states they are on hiatus since 2014). One thing I haven’t found to be talked about is the chorus.

Theory: The chords are IV-I-V-ii throughout. It’s the minor ii that makes the song sound less like your typical pop hit, substituting out the usual minor vi. The Real trick comes in the chorus, as an attentive reader might now suspect. ‘Sun..’ reverses it’s emphasis. In a typical chorus you might expect the title to be highlighted, maybe even repeated. The title does that, but only as backup vocals, not lead. When you have this type of ‘Call and Response’ technique, it’s usual to have the spotlights on the Call, instead the lyrics of the choruses simply continue to build on the themes established through the verses. There’s a flow to the song enforced by the expected emphasis taking a backseat, which things kind of do when you move house for one reason or another.

Personal thoughts: I like how art is connected. That may not be very philosophical or world changing, but I like it. The song connected to the painting, and now I’ve found it’s used as the end credits song to a Podcast Series called ‘Heavyweight’ (which I will start listening to immediately). The song is essentially about the process of moving, though the reason for the move is never fully established by the lyrics. I think of places I have enjoyed living, in which I’ve made memories. Though I need to move on, it’s that one last look through the place before shutting all of the doors on the way out into the world. Possibly never to return. But at least you’ve got those memories.

Give it a go: If you’ve ever been sad to leave a place

Give it a miss: If you don’t want to be sad again now

[links and sources]
Tuesday Tunes, Sun In An Empty Room, The Weakerthans
The Weakerthans, Reunion Tour
Faceintheblue, The Eulogy
The Painting, Heavyweight

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

My family is huge, and it’s all my parent’s fault. I grew up the youngest child of four brothers. But my parents had a penchant for adopting many more people all the time. My mother would frequently pick up tourists hitching from the side of the road, and after talking to them for a time, would invite them home for a nice home cooked meal. To date, the closest she’s come to an axe murderer is probably a tourist’s body spray. My father, working for the local school, would always volunteer our home for hosting students from overseas. They called it ‘billeting’, as they are from the before time, in the long long ago. So my already sizeable family has gained several more members over the years, from mad Welshmen to Winconsin women. I first heard today’s entries on a mix CD belonging to Lukas, my Austrian brother-from-another-mother.

Blanket Apology: Please forgive my lack of umlauts, slashes, graves, cedillas, macrons or any various missing diacritics. Currently, they elude me.

The Song(s)
Songs: I Don’t Know What I Can Save You From / (and the Royksopp Remix)
Artists: Kings of Convenience / (and Royksopp)
Albums: Quiet is the New Loud/Versus - 2001 - Astralwerks
Methods of discovery: Mix CD imported from Austria / Years later searching for the song

Theory: I knew the Remix first, so that’s where I’ll start. The beginning is a series of simple chord hits, quickening into a sharp pitch shift and then calming again. If nothing else, it forces you to listen to what’s coming next. Next is the rythym and bass, strong and stable. Next is the strong musical hook that links both versions of the song: the arpeggiated chords I9-vi2-iii7-IV, followed each time by a repeating, then descending high melody played on guitar. The song continues through two verses until fading out after a piano piece, in the original it’s a cello piece and some harmonised repetition of the title. The original is closer to the folk I’m into today, and I only found it years later googling the lyrics in an effort to find the remix. Theoretically it’s largely the same, except for the occasional V in the later verse.

Harmonically there is a moment missing from the remix that made me fall in love with the original version. On the line ‘You were at my door’ in the second verse, there lies the only line of harmony in the verses. The relationship between the notes held here is simple and beautiful, just like the song. When the line ends, the vocalists are singing a ‘happy’ Major Third interval. But the interval colours the chord it’s sitting over, and the notes are the 5th and Major 7th of the IV chord sitting below. That Major 7th introduces a discordant note into the line, which to me, tells the listener that not all is comfortable or ‘happy’ about this person showing up.

Research: Both groups are from Norway, but from almost opposite ends; Royksopp is from Tromso and Kings is from Bergen. Quiet is the New Loud became the name for both a movement of songwriters and a book about the album and band. The focus is on softer soundscapes and gliding melodies, like low clouds lazily spilling over the tops of high hills. They are Norwegian successors to Simon and Garfunkel. Royksopp, which is the name of a type of puffball mushroom, is another duo outing. Both bands were involved in the Bergen Wave, which was a turn of the century emergence of newer artists in the Norwegian music scene.

Personal thoughts: There are few songs in the world where I’ll like both the original and the remix/cover. The only other example that comes to mind immediately is Hurt by Nine Inch Nails/Johnny Cash. Heading into winter, I find the Original the type of music that I could snuggle into a blanket with, and read a good book, a video of a real fireplace crackling in HD on the TV. The Remix is something I needed to get some housework done: busy, but calming. I think that the Original is beautiful, and the remix is a testament to how to add a new coat of paint to a song without compromising the message.

Give it a go: If you like folk or electronica or folk/electronica

Give it a miss: If you’re looking for something to get you active

Tuesday Tunes, Kings of Convenience, Royksopp
Kings of Convenience, Royksopp, Bergen Wave, Diacritic
Kings Website, Royksopp Website, Quiet is the New Loud: Book

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

It was in high school that we were made to read John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’. We were made to read the book, of course. But the novel (pun fully intended) part of the excercise for our class was when we demonstrated our understanding of the text by putting on a mock trial of George Milton. As a class we all played different roles of the characters in the book. Myself and the two other members of the debating team were the Lawyers and Judge. It was an interesting experience, and made the book stick in my head far longer than many other books I was forced to read. I was reminded of it when it came to doing this week’s blog, because I had a plan of which song and artist I was going to choose, but then I noticed that another artist I enjoy had recently released a song that needs much more love. Best laid plans …

The Song
Song: She so Fine (2019 Mix)
Artist: Rob J Madin
Album: She so Fine (2019 Mix)- 2019 - Self Published (as far as I can tell)
Method of discovery: YouTube rabbit hole

Theory: ‘She so Fine’ unapologetically slaps you in the face and doesn’t really stop hitting you. The song seems to be in Gm (Intro: Bb-F-C then Dm and D, Verse: Vamp over Gm centric Bass, I think, Chorus: Gm-Cm-D, Breakdown: Cm-Gm-D-Cm-Bb-Gm-D. Theres a keychange up a tone at the end, too). Sorry about that anlysis, I kind of phoned that one in. Mainly because I wanted to talk about the real key of the piece (Pun fully intended): space. The song has guitars, bass, drums, a plethora of percussive sounds, keys, and a few vocal tracks. It would be easy to make this cluttered, but like Lisa Simpson, I’m listening to the parts he’s not playing. Madin’s use of space, particularly to hone in on the lyrics entering the first and second verse, and in every chorus, is masterful to the point of distilling the song to it’s core message: unrequited passion. Below are the unaccompanied words:

First Verse: She got a look that can’t be touched
Second Verse: She got no idea just what she do to me
Choruses: She so Fine - She doesn’t wanna know, so she gotta go, where she gonna go?

The space is created when there is a sudden lack of music, forcing your ear to zero in on the only thing to hear - the words. By creating a busy soundscape, and then riping it out from under you, you grab onto the only thing left, which forces you to continue the listening experience. Or at least me.

Research: Rob J Madin, born in Sheffield, UK, is more popularly known as Brett Domino. Brett Domino has been making YouTube videos since 2008, has gained (as of writing) 192,738 Subscribers and over 28 million views. Rob J Madin joined YouTube in 2006, has 5690 Subscribers and almost 600 thousand views. There is certainly something to be said about presentation. But to say that his success is represented by only those figures would be completely incorrect. Madin has acted in several UK TV Series, composed music for the BBC and Comic Relief, and even written and directed adverts for brands like Kinder.

Personal thoughts: Brett Domino tickles my funny bone (humerus), but Rob J Madin tickles my musical bone (the brain). He has complete albums, and they are well worth the listen. All of the YouTube videos are worth a watch. As The Brett Domino Trio, he and Steven Peavis (and formerly Mitch Hutchinson) are among my favourite guests on ‘8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown. He has studied music formally and holds a degree in Music Production. But his more personal stuff is dwarfed by his success as his Alter-Ego. I can’t help but feel the same, when I write a new song I’m really proud of, and all anybody wants to hear is the funny songs I wrote years ago. Ah well, best laid plans and all that…

Give it a go: if you want to hear something that slaps

Give it a miss: if you’re not a fan of reading into literary parallels (pun fully intended)

She so Fine (2019), Rob J Madin, Tuesday Tunes
Website, Wikipedia, IMDB, YouTube (Madin), YouTube (Domino), Twitter
Of Mice and Men (Wikipedia)

Geoffrey Rowe
Luthiery Log - 05/2019

I’m building a guitar, and logging the progress on the 7th of each month. Here are Months: One, Two , Three, and Four.

So I may have gone a little crazy this month. After coming back from holiday I was itching to get back into Luthiery, and Trevor had more availability, with some students finishing their guitars, and others starting later in the year. So to keep things brief, I’ll combine these sessions into Weekly groups.

Sessions Fourteen, Fifteen and Sixteen
This week was all about the Face and the Neck. We found two short supports for the Face had been positioned badly, and when correctly mirroring the other short supports, they were now too short. Really they had always been too short, but now we had discovered it. Measure, Cut, and Dish the replacement supports, then glue them all into place. Below the X Brace needed a bridge plate to strengthen where the strings will eventually be pulling the top of the guitar, and finally we popped in three small braces to strenthen the sound hole.

We also started marking the Neck to be trimmed down and carved. The main cuts were made on the bandsaw, finishing everything else we could reach with the drum sander. This next part, Trevor said, is his favourite part of guitar building. We put some oil on the Fretboard to bring out it’s natural beauty, before cutting some special wire strips to size and banging them into the neck to create Frets.

Sessions Seventeen and Eighteen
A lot of these sessions went into Carving the Neck. Using a couple of rasps, Trevor would show me how to get the right curve, carve an example patch, and then have me match the curve on the rest of the neck. I was nervous to go too far, and slow to get the hang of this one. I certainly felt better after Trevor confessed he had made seven practice necks before being allowed to touch a real one.

This next part, Trevor said, is his favourite part of guitar building. I used a chisel to pare down the supports under the Face, turning them into real treble-braces and Tone Bars. Trevor showed me how to get very close to the Face without carving into it. During this time I met a couple of other students. Jim was changing professions after a long time serving in the NZ Air Force, so was in Auckland temporarily to learn the craft. He made the beautiful blue electric that you see below. I also met Daniel who was working on a gorgeous Bass, but I neglected to get photos.

Sessions Nineteen and Twenty
This next part, Trevor said, is his favourite part of guitar building. Now that evrything was pared down and sized for the Face and Back, it was time to mark out facets in the Kerfing along the sides. It reminded me of Japanese woodwork, small and intricate. I’m certain that if a Japanese woodmaster saw my work he would call me a barbarian. Neverthe less, we managed to dry-fit the Back onto the sides and were happy with the fit. Before gluing it on, we had to do the same for the top. That way it’s easier to see if which parts needed to be brought in. At the end of session Twenty, we glued the Back onto the sides.

Sessions Twenty-One and Twenty-Two
The first order of business? Glue on the Face. So we did. And it was glorious. Things were going well … a little too well. Next order of business, calculate, mark, and drill the holes for where the Machine Heads, or tuning pegs, would sit in the headstock.

Now I must have been tired that day, because I’m usually good at math.

I added 45 on to 42 and ended up with 97.

It made sense in my head. It looked fine when me marked the placements. It looked fine when we drilled the first hole. The second hole looked great. The third hole was too close. Nope, both the second and third were out by ten millimetres. Solution: Plug the holes with dowels, sand off the face-plate, make a new one. To repeat this work was painful, but a good learning experience to not just measure twice, but to check the math.

This next part, Trevor said, is his favourite part of guitar building. The final session of the month was sanding down the Face and Back until they were flush with the Sides, then routing around the edges to create a track for some lining to be laid on, and strengthen the edges of the body.

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

I wanted to go with something Whale themed. Not for some random reason, but for many random reasons. There’s an old story about Jonah spending three days and nights inside a Whale after rejecting his destiny. I knew it from the Bible growing up, but it’s the same (or similar) in other religious texts, and might even borrow from the Epic of Gilgamesh. Anyway … I was writing a song about numbers and referenced Jonah’s time spent in the Whale. Then when I went to play at the Bunker last week, Caitlin Smith brought up a term I’d not heard before: Jonah Complex. Turns out Jonah Complex is the same (or similar) to Imposter Syndrome, which I’ve been looking into during my day-job. So everthing recently has been bringing me back to the story of Jonah, and thoughts of Whales …

The Song(s)
Song: On The Ropes
Artist: Said The Whale
Album: hawaiii - 2017 - Hidden Pony Records
Method of discovery: Investigating previously favourited artists on Spotify

Theory: Harmonically, the song stays around I-IV-V, and occasionally throws a bVI in there. If you listen along with a guitar, you can hear the changes. I’m also intrerested in the Drumming pattern here, it’s reminiscent of early rock drum beats, although certainly sounds thicker. In fact the whole thing feels very rock-a-billy influenced to me. The lyrics paint a picture of two characters who I think grew up together, but never had the right timing.

Research: Said the Whale are from Vancouver, Cananda, and have had a slew of members over the years, but retain the core trio. And they haven’t let their early Juno Award go to their heads, their instagram showcasing the event they put on for schools, and the money they help raise for said schools. There really is nothing like a picture of a lady wailing into a mic. Not only that, but they even advertise for young musicians to be their opening act. This is a band that gives back. Nice work, Said The Whale.

Personal thoughts: When I had the idea for this post, I put Whale into the serach field for all of my favourited songs on Spotify, Said The Whale represented 14/23rds of the results. I may like this band a little bit. By contrast, there was only one Jonah. I like them for the same reason I like Regurgitator; they keep it fresh by varying their style, not just from each album, but even to each song within albums. They do this while retaining the Core of the band so that my reaction whenever I realise it’s Said The Whale that’s come over my ears my reaction is “Oh cool, I love this band!” and instantly save it. Also I just love the naming convention making it seem like a Whale says a whole lot of stuff.

Give it a go: If you’d like to give back to a band who gives to others

Give it a miss: If you have extreme Cetaphobia

On The Ropes, Said The Whale, Tuesday Tunes
Said The Whale:
Website, Instagram
Said The Whale, Jonah, Jonah Complex

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

The brain is the most important organ … according to the brain. The power of the brain is not fully understood, widely mis-represented, and yet alluring. So many movies state that we ‘only use ten percent of our brain’ - False. Cypress Hill were Insane in the Membrane - True. But then there is the power of thought. Now, as a giant nerd (or geek, I don’t mind) I’m of course attracted to the fantasy and/or comic book powers of telepathy and telekinesis (even though teleportation is the best power). But there are those that think, with their brains, that thinking positively about something long enough and with the right passion can will the thought into being. Kind of like how negative thinking can become a self fulfilling prophecy, but in reverse. This ‘Law of Attraction’ (often called ‘The Secret’) has been dubbed pseudoscience. I like the idea that positivity breeds positivity, but too often people think that’s all you have to do. I’d like to see someone avoid getting run over by thinking at the truck really hard, instead of getting off the gosh darn road. Anyway, today’s song is about a different type of attraction …

The Song(s)
Song: Magnetic
Artist: Annabel Jones
Album: Libelle - 2016 - Crooked Paintings/Atlantic
Method of discovery: Spotify Discover

Theory: Magnetic has a VI-I-V-iv progression throughout, sometimes hanging on the V, which is typical of the pop influence. The synth backing to Jones’ ethereal vocals is metronomic (provided we ignore the wind up music box bit at the beginning). But the Vocals are reinforcing the beat, and it’s a game of stress. Count to four - 1,2,3,4. Each bar has four beats, but certain beats are stronger to lay a lyric over: 1 is the strongest, followed by 3, then 2 and finally 4. The same works for sets of four bars, e.g. the first beat of the second bar is weaker than the first beat of the first or third bar, but stronger than the first beat of the fourth bar. What does this mean? If you click along to the song, you’ll find that the Lyrics always start on the strongest beat of the bar (except when it’s the continuation from a previous bar). This is particularly noticeable when (and I may be wrong here) ‘Darker days will clear the sky’ overlaps ‘Shed your way…’ in the second verse. This rhythmic aspect to the lyric is so important that Annabel had to preserve it when the lyrics got too close. Without a drum, and with the Synth doing the heavy Harmonic lifting, Jones chooses to strengthen the beat by singing directly on top of it. The Libelle version, to my ear, also has a bit more processing put over the vocal, supressing it slightly.

Research: Annabel Jones is the daughter of Davy Jones of The Monkees. After the members of her previous band suffered some personal bereavements, she went through a period of introspection. She made contact with someone her mum had met at a wedding, and then things strated to align. She ended up recording Magnetic and releasing it originally in 2014, and then again as part of Libelle two years later. Libelle itself was naemd as a reference to Marie Antoinette, and the slanderous pamphlets that were handed out as propaganda against her and her French husband, Louis.
Disclaimer: The above is mostly paraphrasing an interview I found from google, link below.

Personal thoughts: Magnetic certainly is. When I listened to this song the first time, I was attracted to it. The strong vocals that end up gliding at the end of a line like the end of a heavy curtain caught in a strong wind. Putting drums on this would be gilding the lily at best. It’s frenetic and sparse all at the same time. But beyond the music, the lyrics really spoke to me. That lyrical pounding, always hitting on the downbeat. It’s something I can’t quite put into words. It’s like everytime I try to get a sense of why I’m drawn into this song, I get distracted by the song itself. There has to be something more to it … like magnetism.

Give it a go: If you’ve never confessed ‘Forgive me father, for I have Synth’d’

Give it a miss: If, besides voice, you need at least one real instrument in a song.

Magnetic, Annabel Jones, Tuesday Tunes
Facebook, Instagram, Magnetic on YouTube
Interview, Feature

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

Humans always build on what comes before: Apprentices surpass their Masters. New Cities are constructed upon old ruins, advances in technology allow us to more quickly advance technology. It happens in music too, without a doubt you could talk about the influence of one artist on another, you could talk inspiration or juxtaposition between two. More direct forms of building on what’s come before is Sampling and Remix. Today’s entries deal with interpolation

The Song(s)
Song: ‘Out of My Head’ & ‘Bad Things’
Artist: ‘Fastball’ & ‘Machine Gun Kelly & Camila Cabello’
Album: ‘All the Pain Money Can Buy - 1999 - Hollywood’ & ‘Bloom - 2016 - EST 19XX * Bad Boy * Interscope’
Method of discovery: The radio I used to listen to when I was young and the girl I dated when i was older

Theory: Interpolation, also called Replay, is not sampling, but instead re-performance. To use an office example, sampling would cut out the words you want from one document and paste them onto another, Interpolation is reproducing those same words in your own document. In musical terms this may be taking the existing melody or lyric or both, and reproducing them for a different artwork. This is what links these songs together, the interpolation of the lyric and melody, and to a lesser extent, the Harmony.

Research: ‘Out of my head’ was concieved when Fastball’s Tony Scalzo was feeling like a a self described ‘struggling musician’. The chorus certainly speaks to the recurrent situations he describes in interviews, particularly because it repeats three times with only the Solo to interject between the first and second time round. ‘Bad Things’ takes the melody, and two lyrics from the chorus of Scalzo’s original. The new interpretation of the line ‘I never want to do bad things to you’, replacing ‘never’ with ‘only’ helps to both keep familiarity to the original and support the new subject of taboo desires. Where the original during this time hits a Major II, the new take sticks with a classic minor ii, again reinforcing familiarity. I particularly like that Scalzo is a fan of the Interpolation.

Personal thoughts: I think it’s fitting that a song that has been re-interpreted has lead to a remix of events in my life. I was sitting at work and I played Fastball’s song to break the silence, my colleague showed me the Camila and Kelly’s version in response, which lead to selecting the songs for inclusion as part of Tuesday Tunes. After all, I thought it sounded familiar. During proofing I asked my partner about the office analogy above, and described the songs. She reminded me of when I had played ‘Out of My Head’ for her once, and she had showed me ‘Bad Things’ in response. I suppose if anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing twice.

Give it a go: If you enjoy how influence works, or like Deja Vu.

Give it a miss: If you’ve heard both, or don’t want to think of the theory behind it.

Out of My Head, Bad Things, Tuesday Tunes
Fastball, Machine Gun Kelly, Camila Cabello
Out of My Head, Bad Things, Interpolation
SongFacts.com, Interpolation vs Sampling (YouTube), Billboard.com (Interview)

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

The back of the van always had a mattress in it. The very first blog on this website mentioned my family’s annual trips. We had an old Mistubishi L300 Van, bright yellow, and the mattress was wedged between all of the bags that six people need, a chilly bin full of snacks, and usually one or more of my brothers and I. I’m sure it was highly illegal. To pass the time we would play typical travel games like ‘I Spy’, at some point we had a bunch of magnetic travel games like checkers and chess. But we would also sing. Usually whatever was on the radio, but sometimes things from my parent’s record collection, like the Barron Knights. We never evolved into a full barbershop quartet, but these guys did …

The Song
Song: Little Patch of Heaven
Artist: Crossroads
Album: Crossroads - 2009 - Self Published (As far as I can tell)
Method of discovery: Grooveshark

Personal thoughts: I really enjoy the interplay of voice. When Grooveshark was thing I kept clicking the ‘related artist’ button again and again. I went thorugh several rabbit holes, and one of these lead me to a barbershop phase. I’ve never had the opportunity to sing in a Quartet, but something about them and their presentation lulls me into a false sense of security, and allows them to surprise me with harmonies that I don’t expect. There’s also something beautiful about those long sustained notes at the end of many songs, and also at the end of this, held for just long enough for the rest of the singers to catch up to the final chord.

Theory: Barbershop quartets are classically split between a Bass, a Baritone, a Lead and a Tenor (also known as the Barney). They each serve different functions. The Bass typically sets the root note of any chord the band wants to play with, i.e. the C note in a C Chord. The Lead takes the main melody of whatever the song so they usually are the main voice you’ll focus on automatically. The Tenor usually sings in Falsetto, very high, over the top of the lead. They harmonise with the Lead, and occasionally take part in chordal support. The Baritone, in my opinion, is the funkiest of the roles. It provides lower harmonies for the Lead, higher harmonies for the Bass, and little notes that sit by themselves and either cause or relieve musical tension depending on what is needed. It’s the Jack-of-all-trades, to me at least. But it’s really important to note - pun fully intended - that without any one of these voices the others would lack support, particularly that there are no other instruments.

Research: The song was originally sung by K.D. Lang, written by Glenn Slater and composed by Alan Menken for the 2004 Disney movie ‘Home on the Range’, which I have never seen. Perhaps it’s taht mental tendancy to defend the first opinion you hear, but I prefer Crossroads’ version. Crossroads begun singing together in 2007, and only took two years to win the International Champions by the Barbershop Harmony Society. But considering the members were from previous champion quartets.

Give it a go: If you’ve never listened to Barbershop before.

Give it a miss: If you’ve listened to far too much Barbershop already.

Crossroads, Little Patch of Heaven, Tuesday Tunes
Crossroads, DisneyWiki
Barbershop, Crossroads, Homer’s Barbershop

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes & Luthiery Log 04/2019

Tuesday Tunes

“What is this, a cross-over episode?”. Yes. Instead of publishing two blogs on the same day, I have combined them into one, all-powerful mega-blog. Today you get both my (mostly) weekly song recommendation and my guitar building progress. I figure since it’s a guitar centric blog, let’s have a guitar centric song. Also - I have a Gig coming up on the 26th. Check the SHOWS page for the details.

The Song
Song: Sandmonster
Artist: Nick Johnston
Album: In A Locked Room On The Moon - 2013 - No Label
Method of discovery: Spotify Discover 2016

Personal thoughts: I enjoy lyrics. I enjoy the development of ideas they convey. It’s meaningful, then, to recommend a song devoid of lyrics completely. Even ‘Baba Yetu’ has lyrics, albiet in Swahili. It’s so much easier to tell a story with words than an instrument. Where many pure instrumentalist’s pieces tend to strike me as flexing grounds for their chops (I confess ignorance of deeper context), this particular song reminds me of the Hero’s Journey. Nick Johnston seems to possess the ability to state an idea musically, evolve the idea, morph it into something else, and bring it back, changed yet the same.

Theory: Instead of doing only music theory, I’m going to double down on the Hero’s Journey / Monomyth idea by listing parts below (with corresponding Chords). For sake of simplicity I’m going to use Christopher Vogler’s 2007 version. Feel free to listen to the song while reading this and see if you can hear what I hear.

0:00 - Ordinary world (G# - A)
0:16 -
Call to Adventure (G# - A)
0:27 -
Refusal of the Call (C#m - A - E - #A)
0:42 -
Meeting with the Mentor (G# - A)
0:54 -
Crossing the First Threshold (C#m - A - E - #A)
1:09 -
Tests, Allies and Enemies (C#m - A - E - #A)
1:22 -
Approach the Inmost Cave (|:A - D#:|x3 A - G# - B)
1:36 -
The Ordeal (G# - A then D# - E)
2:04 -
Reward (G# - A)
2:18 -
The Road Back (C#m - A - E - #A)
2:30 -
The Resurrection (C#m - A - E - #A)
2:44 -
Return with the Elixir (G# - A)

… or maybe I’m reading too much into it all.

Research: Because I’d like to keep the blog short, and still have guitar stuff to do, I’ve linked a 16 minute documentary that says more than I can about Nick Johnston. Link where the Links are.

Give it a go: If you like the idea of the Monomyth, or if you enjoy guitars

Give it a miss: If you really can’t listen to a song without lyrics.

Sandmonster, Nick Johnston, Tuesday Tunes
Nick Johnston:
Website, Documentary, Sandmonster Video, ‘Artist Spotlight’ Article
Hero’s Journey

Luthiery Log 04/2019

I’m building a guitar, and logging the progress on the 7th of each month. Here are Months: One, Two & Three.

Session Twelve
I’m going on Holiday in a few weeks, so I’m wanting to get the most out of my sessions before departing. When the Dish comes out again, I attack the protruding supports with gusto. Or maybe just with my guts-o. In the second picture you’ll notice the previously-glued-in supports over the right hand inside edge, on the other side they’ve already been sanded flush. Then out come the advanced tools; chisels and a plane the size of my thumb. I talk about the tools I’ve purchased and promise to bring in my planes next week so Trover can have a look at them. Then I get stuck into bringing the supports down to size.

Here’s where I make a mistake.

I take the firt two supports down to the size marked on the laminated plans, instead of the revised measurement Trevor provided. They should be 8mm, now they are 6mm. I am genuinely worried, but prepared to re-do some steps, starting with removing the old supports. Trevor says to put it away for now and he’ll spend the next week reflecting on whether or not we need to correct it. I leave the session very emotionally low.

Session Thirteen
It’s been a busy week at work, and I’m nervous to see if we need to fix last week’s mistake. Trevor is quick to put me at ease, it should be plently strong enough, but we won’t do any shaping on those two supports, just in case. I breathe a sigh of relief and get stuck into today’s work, most of which is just like the supports for the Back: Measure, measure again, cut, mark for sanding, sand roughly, finish sanding with the dish, grab the next piece, repeat.

After all is ready, I notch the ‘X’ supports to slot together. We glue it in. We speak about our relationships with our Fathers, and with Religion, and with Tools. Trevor sets up my Number 4 Plane. I finish the night by taking a curved piece of metal and sanding a slight curve into the Fretboard. I don’t finish before Trevor calls time, but I leave much higher than last week.

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

You may think I’m still at home, but I’m actually somewhere else. Do I think that surprises you in any significant way? Well … no. But it’s like a guiding principle of Magic: Misdirection. Most people are surprised when I say I’m into Rap, and today I wanted to showcase why by sharing with you …

The Song
Song: Yesterday
Artist: Atmosphere
Album: When life give you lemons, you paint that shit gold - 2008 - Rhymesayers Enetertainment
Method of discovery: r/listentothis

Theory: Theory, contrary to popular belief, doesn’t disappear with Rap Music. It just changes focus. Instead of the supporting harmony and chords structure, the bulk of the though goes into the lyrics. Atmosphere uses typical rap techniques with the stressed syllables in most lines, but really i want to focus on the rhymes. Perfect rhyme is ‘Blast : Last’. Same amount of syllables, same ending letters, same sound. Perfect. The more you compromise on any one of these, the weaker the rhyme becomes, e.g. Visit : Kitchen. Where perfect rhymes make us feel complete, weaker rhymes leave a niggling worm in our ear, wanting a stronger resolution. In this song, Atmosphere’s use of weaker rhymes helps to mirror the subject of the song.

Research: Atmosphere is a duo from Minneapolis, and Yesterday is from their fifth album, and the only one to my knowledge that credits Tom Waits as having performed Beatboxing. Yes, that Tom Waits. And Yes, Beatboxing. The main piano line is a sped up sample from ‘Love Finds its own way’ by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The members of the duo are named Slug and Ant, although they have powers far beyond the creatures for which they are named.

Personal thoughts: This song is about a relationship that the protagonist wishes they could fix, but it’s now outside of their realm of influence. It’s a classic reflection on regret, and how we might use that regret to learn. I know I’ve definitely felt this way, and I’d make a sizeable bet that most others have too. But by sharing his experience of this feeling with us, Slug is, for me, encouraging us to not repeat his mistakes.

Give it a go: If there is something you wish you could change

Give it a miss: If you’re not in the mood for a bit of reflection

Yesterday, Love Finds it’s Own Way, Tuesday Tunes
Atmosphere: Wikipedia, Website
Other: WhoSampled

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

Perhaps it’s reverse psychology. Maybe it’s just good songwriting. This week’s entry is a classic if you’re into country, but the more recent version is my favourite, not only because it introduced me to the song, but also because of my fandom of the band’s wider works.

The Song
Song: Sad Songs and Waltzes
Artist: Cake
Album: Fashion Nugget - 1996 - Capricorn Records
Method of discovery: Listening to Cake discography

Theory: This is a typical country waltz, so like every other waltz I know of, it’s in 3/4. The Verses are sung over a musical pattern of I-V-I-I, IV-IV-I-I, IV-IV-I-IV, I-I-V-I. This is stable and simple, and because it’s Country you can chuck an appropriate 7th in when you’re about to change chords. The only Dominant (V) chords are at the start and end of the phrase, helping it to gain a sense of finality in the singer’s words. The Refrain moves away from the simplicity only slightly, starting with a V resolving to a I, which ramps up to a II before coming back down to a another V, driving us back into the second half of the verse.

Research: Written by Willie Nelson, and originally released by same in 1973 on his record ‘Shotgun Willie’, this song was a reflection on Willie’s feelings that record labels wanted ‘sweeteners’ - commercially viable songs that are easily ‘sellable’ by the company. Funnily, he recorded ‘Shotgun Willie’ outside of his usual recording contacts, which contributed to his ability to pen and release this song. This isn’t the only example of songs that were written in response to this attitude from record labels: see also Sara Bareilles “Love Song” and Weezer’s “Pork and Beans”.

Personal thoughts: The thing that really sells this song for me is the instrumentation. The Electric Guitar is there with a nice clean tone, which the lyrics deserve. The Bass respects the first verse, not coming until the Hook. The Drums are even more sparse, last to enter with the solo and first to fade during the outro. The Bass soon follows. But the star of the whole thing is that Trumpet. Starting and ending the song with long-held high notes, I can hear the longing in it’s melody, and the sad resignation in the short low notes at the end of it’s phrase. It’s given up on trying to love, because it knows now, sad songs and waltzes aren’t selling this year.

Give it a go: If you like Comfort Eagle, Go The Distance, or Cake’s cover of I Will Survive

Give it a miss: If you really can’t stand something removed from, yet rooted in, Country Music

Shotgun Willie, Fashion Nugget
Spotify: Cakes Version, Willie’s Original, Tuesday Tunes, Sara’s Love Song, Weezer’s Pork and Beans

Geoffrey Rowe
Tuesday Tunes

I’d like you to count to Twelve … no, Eleven. Sharing the name of a piece of medical equipment, today’s song fills me with energy, but is incredibly hard to dance to unless you really know how to count.

The Song
Song: Gamma Knife
Artist: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
Album: Nonagon Infinity - 2016 - ATO / Flightless
Method of discovery: Triple J’s Hottest 100 2016

Personal thoughts: I know that psychedelic rock is not everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I’m certain psycheledic rock would be something more surreal than a cup of tea, to be honest. Maybe a flask of viscous, colour-changing liquid that looks like it’s softly breathing. Whatever, I’ll drink it if it means I get this song. There’s a basic guitar riff and an impression of a wolf/eagle hybrid before the drums enter and don’t really let up. The beat is relentless, and the distorted guitars thrum you into submission. The whole song is a drug trip in itself, but there’s a brilliant reason as to how it forces you to sink further and further into it’s distorted depths. The real thing that shines here is …

Theory (General): … the Time Signatures. For those who know music theory, feel free to jump down to ‘Theory(Specific)’. For those who haven’t the foggiest: most music you could think of would be in 4/4, which means there are four (4/4) quarter beats (4/4) in a bar. e.g. U2 - With or Without You. If you clicked or tapped along you’d feel these four beats. 3/4 has three (3/4) quarter beats (3/4) in the bar. e.g. Kermit the Frog - Rainbow Connection. Other songs divide further down into six eighth beats (6/8 - e.g. Queen - We are the Champions). The main difference between 6/8 and 3/4 is where it feels like the first beat sits. Try counting three beats for Queen and emphasising the first beat every time. It feels wrong. Most songs stick to one Time Signature, but what makes Gamma Knife a favourite of mine is …

Theory (Specific): … The Time Signatures. The song is in 12/8 .. no wait, 11/8. Well, both. And sometimes neither. It starts with two measures of 11/8, then before you realise what’s happening the song is in 12/8 for the rest of the intro and the verse (‘Milk and Honey…’). The chorus of ‘Gamma Knife” rises over three bars of 6/8, which serves as a deceptive “half bar” that makes your ear tumble forward in the song, expecting more. The second verse (‘Crack the whip…’) is over 11/8, regaining 12/8 stability for the guitar heavy polyrhythm (a whole ‘nother kettle of fish) playing eight evenly spaced notes over the twelve beats in the bar. This whole thing repeats before we get to the instrumental end of the song, which is punctuated by a heavy drum solo over 11/8. I’ve never had so much fun figuring out whether I should have one or two extra fingers to count on. Our brains like balance. The three most prolific time signatures (4/4, 3/4, 6/8) provide a nice sense of balance. But switching them around, or having an uneven number of beats, serve to unbalance us. Gamma Knife stacks these techniques atop one another to create a sense that we are Alice, falling down the rabbit hole.

Research: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (hereafter referred to as Gizz) are one of the busiest bands in Australia. They’ve released thirteen albums since forming in 2010. If you spread them evenly, the speed they release albums isn’t enough enough time to have a baby (8.3 months per album). Their Fourteenth album is due to release later this month, which is their first since 2017, when they dropped their last … five albums. Gizz released five albums in 2017. And I’m still waiting for Winds of Winter.

Give it a go: If you feel like getting confused trying to count to eleven, twelve, or six.

Give it a miss: If you don’t like to think about music while you are listening

Gamma Knife, Tuesday Tunes
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard:
Website, Spotify, Wikipedia
Gamma Knife (Medical)

Geoffrey Rowe