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Song: Potato Shirts & Skins

Frenetic Stereoear Here’s the fourth song from the album “Frenetic Stereoear” titled “Potato Shirts & Skins.”


This one has some nice bass, but the guitar is sort of, I dunno…lacking. The second half has the guitar doing some off-time thing, which I’m not sure works, but hey, I just went with it. The background sound in the song is from the lightning talks at BarCampMadison3, I think it’s before the talk where everyone was in the room talking to each other, and the recorder was just rolling, so there’s great audio of people talking, but you can’t make out anything that anyone is saying. I threw on some Fuzz-Wah and Platinum Reverb and it worked.

The name was originally “We’re all out of potato skins!” in reference to the night the wife and I hung out with the guys from The Black Jew Dialogues and went to Applebee’s and Larry tried to order from the Gluten-free menu. I ended up changing it to “Potato Shirts & Skins” because I thought it sounded funnier.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being awesome) I’ll give this song a 5. I like how the drums and bass go together. The guitar could be better. Heck, the whole song could be better, but really, it’s not that bad… right?


Song: Snack Saw of Redemption

Frenetic Stereoear Here’s the third song from the album “Frenetic Stereoear” titled “Snack Saw of Redemption.”


I took a jazz beat and slowed it down, and by now you can probably tell I like the phaser pedal. This song managed to go on for 2 and a half minutes, though I’m not convinced it should… The title came about because you can hear a hacksaw in the song, and I originally came up with “Hacksaw of Redemption” not really knowing what it meant, but liking the sound of it, but then I changed “hacksaw” to “Snack Saw” in thinking about the “Shawshank Redemption” and saws, in cakes, and bars (and barres) and that’s what happened. Yeah, that’s how it works.

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being awesome) I’ll give this song a 6. The offbeatness of it, a bit of variance from the bass, and the phaser on the guitar, just sort of work for me…

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Song: Nuthin’ but an 8-bit Thief

Frenetic Stereoear Here’s the second song from the album “Frenetic Stereoear” titled “Song: Nuthin’ but an 8-bit Thief.”


The beginning and end of this song feature some tone generation done with an Arduino. I was hoping to build an Atari Punk Console in February, but really didn’t have time for it… but I did do a bit of playing around with the Arduino’s tone library. And yes, I completely forgot to incorporate the Easy Button in any song!

At some point this song went a little math rock, though poorly done. I admire the stuff that Don Caballero does, but hell if I can pull it off.

The title? It’s an ode to the bleep-bloop 8-bit style sound that the Arduino generated. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being awesome) I’ll give this song a 4. It’s really just some weird noise with a beat. This one is also short. After I recorded this, I briefly considered making the entire album up of songs that were under 1 minute each. In the end, I didn’t do that.


Song: Pancakes for Brains

Frenetic Stereoear Here’s the first song from the album “Frenetic Stereoear” titled “Pancakes for Brains.”


This is the first song I recorded, and I really wished I had spent some time before February 1st getting the sound down and getting used to playing guitar again, since I’ve done nothing but some basic noodling here and there for the past few months.

The background sound is from the recording I did of Milwaukee Traffic at Night, and the drums are from Brian P. Hogan. (Thanks Brian!)

I think it’s called “Pancakes for Brains” because I had pancakes on the day I mixed and mastered this song. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being awesome) I’ll give this song a 6. I sort of like the sound, but it’s poorly written and very short. That’s OK, we’ve got plenty more to come…


RPM Challenge: Done

Frenetic Stereoear

It’s done… Once again I’ve completed the RPM Challenge, to record an entire album in just 28 days.

There were a lot of ups and down this year, as usual, but by February 27th, I’d recorded 13 songs, mixed and mastered them and burned a CD.

Once again I feel that the songs may not be that good, but being forced to play, record, use Logic, and actually make something really helped me to learn new things, and have some fun in the process. For me the frustration isn’t in getting it done, but doing it well. Out of the 13 songs, there’s bit and pieces I like, and maybe one or two songs I think are strong, but overall, I’m really starting to feel that trying to make 10 good songs (or 35 minutes of good music) is tough… really tough… and I’m walking away this year not convinced I’ll do it again. Of course I probably think that every March.

New this year is a Fender Stratocaster I picked up used from the one of the guys in ZyFy. Having a good guitar really helped out. My bass is still the old Ibanez I’ve had for about 20 years. I’d love to have a Fender bass someday, but for now, the Ibanez is fine. I’m also running the guitars into a Behringer Xenyx 802, and from there into the Firewire FCA202. This seems to work well, and I now use the 802 for output from my Mac as well, running into an old pair of Bose speakers I’ve not found any other use for. So if nothing else, I’ve now got a kick-ass audio system in my office.

So anyway, the album is called “Frenetic Stereoear” and rather than just post all the songs here, I’m thinking of publishing them one at a time, with some commentary of each one. That should be fun…

Oh, I should also explain how I make these songs. It’s all improvised, and I don’t learn the songs at all, I build them as I go. I will typically find some drum tracks I like (or build them out of individual instruments) and then hit record in Logic and play along to the drums with either the bass or guitar until I find a riff (or bassline) I like. Once I’ve got something in place, I may do a few additional tracks, and maybe drop in some background sounds, then do a basic level mix and move on. I honestly kick these things out in about an hour, give or take a little. Most of these songs have just one or two parts, no distinct changes in percussion, and no vocals. This is part of the problem… I’d like to get beyond these simple songs. I felt I did a bit with Navasio in 2009 since I only did 5 songs, but I’d like to be able to spend more time on less songs and make them better. Maybe I’ll just record 4 or 5 songs next year and not actually do the “RPM” part of the challenge.