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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

166. "We Got the Beat" by The Go-Go's

Just how lo-fi is this recording? Well, most of it was recorded in a moving car, by Eden in the front seat playing uke and singing into the condenser mic on my laptop (and sharpening up her engineering skills a fair bit in the process). The bits we did record later we did almost exclusively through the condenser as well, in order to match the original sound. The resulting muddle was damned hard to mix, but has a nicely defiant sharpness to it as total sludge goes. In some ways, and maybe it's just my mood at this moment, it feels like one of the angrier sounding recordings in which I've ever had a hand.

I also anticipate that this is but the first of many Go-Go's/lolcats crossover tunes that will doubtless litter the musical landscape before the decade is out.

Eden Hain: lead vocal, ukulele, backing vocal, engineering
Ridley Broome: percussion, backing vocals
Miranda Broome: backing vocals
Rex Broome: bass, guitar solo, assemblage/engineering/etc.

Monday, August 30, 2010

165. "Audrey's Dance" by Angelo Badalamenti

The obvious template for my cover of this probably by-now-iconic piece of soundtrackery is Verlaine's Warm & Cool album, which was roughly contemporaneous with Twin Peaks anyway and definitely explored the same noir territory, but with the bonus of stingray guitar sounds that share a similar lineage anyhow, and which Verlaine had been exploring as his "roots" as far back as the instrumental "The Blue Robe" on his second solo LP Dream Time.

And if you don't care about any of this shit, go ahead and get yourself a copy of Dream Time anyway, because it's one of the best rock and roll albums ever recorded and consistently overshadowed by the records Verlaine made with Television. If you do care about some of this shit, and you like what I did to this piece, but still don't know anything about this Verlaine guy, I still guarantee you'll like Warm & Cool.

But me, I really like Tom Verlaine. He's who I had instead of Jim Morrison, to what I still maintain to have been my advantage.

Personnel: Rex

Sunday, August 29, 2010

164. "And When I Die" by Laura Nyro

Man, did I try a lot of approaches to this one. Even when I settled on this take, after three or four other concepts bit the dust, I evolved it over a whole bunch of takes. And the weird thing is that some of the earlier takes were "better", but I was zeroing in on a sort of "mortifying coffee house vibe" and I had to make it a little more... awkward than what I was getting. I probably worried at it too long... or maybe not, really; it may simply have been that the idea I ended up laboring on the longest wasn't really that strong to begin with.

Well, I don't know.

Personnel: Rex

Saturday, August 28, 2010

163. "Real Shocks" by Swell Maps

I've thought Nikki Sudden was pretty cool for a good long time, but I still haven't gotten deeply enough into this bunch of Swell Maps records I accrued a few years back. This one was fun to sort of reimagine, though. I like what I came up with, even if it does sound a little bit like everything you would hear on Morning Becomes Eclectic five years ago. That wasn't the idea, but it may indicate that I might be more likely to be able to parlay a track like this into some kind of career where I'm on every indie film soundtrack for a year and a half than I would be able to do with some song of my own where I was really trying. I am, after all, a marketing genius.

Personnel: Rex

Friday, August 27, 2010

162. "A Rush And A Push And The Land Is Ours" by The Smiths

I'm somewhat famous in some circles as someone who likes The Smiths significantly less than I'm supposed to. You know, for someone of my age and who is so deeply enamored of so much of the rest of the post-punk pantheon. But what am I supposed to do about it? I tried. Someone proposed the idea that perhaps someone who likes Mark E. Smith as much as I do is doomed to dislike Morrissey. And it's true, I only became aware of The Smiths at the very end of their run-- the album this track opens, their last one, was the first one I heard-- and the irritating nature of post-Smiths Morrissey certainly colors my opinion. But that's not all of it. I dunno.

One of my biggest Morrissey pet peeves is that he doesn't seem to have any concept of musical meter; his lyrics and melodies read to me like blank verse just crammed willy-nilly into whatever the next piece of music someone hands him happens to be. Hence lots of repeated words, absurdly stretched out or rushed syllables, and moaning to fill out a few bars that he should've known would be there. One man's genius phrasing is another man's obvious slop, I guess. Some of that I "corrected" automatically in the one take I expended on this vocal, all the while trying to find my way into the tune with all the respect I could muster. It sounds a little bit like Wire with a severely stunted intellect to me.

Personnel: Rex

Thursday, August 26, 2010

161. "Sit Down I Think I Love You" by Buffalo Springfield

Paid in full, my friends. Remind me never to get behind on this thing ever again. I'm brutal in holding myself to get back on track.

I did this one with the vague idea of doing this as if it was a John Lennon tune instead of a Stephen Stills tune. There's enough creepy obsessiveness and possessiveness involved for the reading to make perfect sense if sung correctly. So you'll still just have to imagine it.

Personnel: Rex, except for Ridley popping bubble wrap in the background

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

160. "Wishing Well" by The Airborne Toxic Event

Almost caught up, people. The kids saved my sorry butt on this one. I only know the ATE in passing, having read a few reviews here and there and likely having done that because I recognized the reference in their name.

Rex Broome ~ guitars, vocal
Eden Hain ~ ukulele
Miranda Broome ~ bass
Ridley Broome ~ percussion

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

159. "Play With Your Poodle" by Lightnin' Hopkins

Hang in there, I'm generating experimental audio as fast as I can.

I actually was trying to do something specific here, and it worked. For all it's worth.

Personnel: Rex

Monday, August 23, 2010

158. "Love's Been a Little Bit Hard On Me" by Juice Newton

Still got some catchin' up to do. Combining the old karaoke trick and the Braine concept can't hurt, and we did some funny things with this one, including the geek accessories solo and some of Eden's surreal interjections. Yep, she really does shout "DOPAMEINE!" close to the end there.

Performed by BRAINE:
Ridley Broome ~ first lead vocal, chorus, lightsaber (Yoda)
Eden Hain ~ second lead vocal, chorus, sonic screwdriver (10th Doctor)
Miranda Broome ~ third lead vocal, chorus, sonic screwdriver (11th Doctor)

Rex Broome ~ editing and engineering, lightsaber (Luke Skywalker)
The Karaoke Channel ~ backing track

Sunday, August 22, 2010

157. "Stuck in a Loop" by Devo

I assembled and "played" almost all of this one in the Rum Island Bar near my gate at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. I had the idea of seeing just how completely I could recreate the original with such limited resources. The drums are indeed sampled from the original, but everything else was added from scratch. The guitar (the real one that doesn't start until near the end) and vocals were added back home in LA.

Personnel: Rex

Friday, August 20, 2010

155. "Amorcito Corazón" by Jonathan Richman

What I'd thought was going to be a renaissance period for 39-40 has turned instead into a dark nadir. I certainly am learning and performing a lot of covers right now; at this moment I have to prepare for and play four sets with three bands in the next 27 hours. But the covers aren't randomly chosen and there's little time to spare to get the live bands to take a break and record something for the blog. Instead you get crap like this.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

154. "O Mein Papa" by Anna Maria Del Maestro

Unquestionably the most offensive thing I've ever posted on 39-40, if not ever associated myself in any way, there's still something kind of compellingly haunting about this one. Also it is noteworthy for containing mandolin and rain, but still being in no way connected with Bruce Hornsby. And I sort of like how the NYC narrative vibrates against the super-rustic (but kind of spacy) sounds of the backing track.

It is also the very first time ever that I've completely canned the original version and retained nothing but the title. My rule about stuff like that is that I can do anything of that nature-- once. So even if completely up against the deadline, which is happening very often now because I'm so busy doing music that I don't have much time to do music, I'll consider myself beholden to make a nod to the original in some way. I did in fact consider flying some kind of re-speeded fragment of the original into this mix, but that seemed almost too perfunctory.

Midlife Crisis
Chris Dixon ~ vocal
Tom Heckman ~ guitar
Rex Broome ~ mandolin
Music composed by Tom, stereo rain recorded by Rex

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

153. "Old Fashioned Day" by White Animals

I think I got a bunch of these lyrics wrong, and it probably mucks up the meaning. I'm working fast here. I was going for something specific, but you probably can't tell what it is.

Personnel: Rex

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

152. "Here in Heaven" by Sparks

I'm not sure I entirely get Sparks. I'm still working on it.

This is probably the closest to missing my deadline I've ever gotten.

Personnel: Rex

Monday, August 16, 2010

151. "Shot in the Arm (Alternate Take)" by Wilco

Another hasty recording. One small thing slowing the process was the fact that for some reason this track, which is exactly what I've called it above, seems to universally labeled as "In a Future Age (Alternate Take)", and I don't know why.

Personnel: Rex

Sunday, August 15, 2010

150. "Somethin' Else" by Flamin Groovies

It's actually a cover of a cover of an Eddie Cochrane song. And I did it FAST. Which is appropriate enough for an EC song. I owe Eddie anyway; I lifted a bit from "C'mon Everybody" for the bridge on one of my better-known songs. Not that any of my songs are that well known; it's just the tune that opens my only album and was Skates & Rays' opening number for a good while. So that's this one.

Personnel: Rex

Saturday, August 14, 2010

149. "The New Frontier" by The Kingston Trio

I'm sure that a lot of people would look at this song as cornball, but it really got me. I'm an unabashed fan of the K3 and their ilk, but I have a pretty low tolerance for "let's all get together and do it" songs. This one, though, is an interesting and somewhat melancholy echo of the Kennedy era. It's hard now to imagine a time when a patriotic song could be forward-looking, pride in America as much about her potential as her past. And ironically, now, we have to look into the past to recapture even that sentiment.

I'm sure another Trio song will come up before 39-40 is over, and maybe then I'll do a rockin' version, but the sensible thing to do with this one seemed to be doing with it what it was meant for: learning it and singing it straight, just like a real folk song. It's probably been a long time since this song was a major part of anyone's repertoire, but right here a little bit of that folk tradition lives on. I like that.

I also love Miranda's voice.

Rex Broome ~ guitar & vocal
Miranda Broome ~ vocal

Friday, August 13, 2010

148. "And Then ...Coda" by Wire

There's a long-standing tradition of self-sampling, modular musical re-use and pastiche in the noble history of the Wire rock band musical combo group. The actual tune I'm covering here is sort of one of those Wire songs that you generally don't realize to exist. You can spin Document and Eyewitness many times, as I have, and never absorb it as an actual collection of songs the way the band's other recordings, however challenging, fundamentally are. Anyway, I've put the backing track together out of bits and pieces of recordings from just about every broad phase of the band's career, including some which already openly cannibalize each other, and what would you know... it turns out dugga.

I'd have to class this as the second rather damned disturbing recording I've posted in a row. Sorry if that's bugging anyone.

Rex ~ acoustic guitar, vocal, assemblage and manipulation
Wire ~ the ex-lion tamer's share of the sampled building blocks

Thursday, August 12, 2010

147. "One Way or Another ("Snoops" Theme Song)" by Blondie

The fact that this song is subtitled "("Snoops" Theme Song)" for all eternity should be an object lesson to somebody. Does anyone remember what "Snoops" even was? Well, I do, oddly, because it had Gina Gershon on it, which was, at the time, reason enough, but it wasn't any good and didn't last more then four or five episodes, so it's really silly to have it appended to the name of a far more immortal song. Maybe that's a "shame on you" to Debbie and the boys, but not really. It's more like a shame on corporate culture type thing, but that's a waste of time, as corporate culture naturally possesses no shame, begging the question of how it actually manages to get more shameless daily. These are the imponderables on my street.

So I tried to deliver a version of this which is, if anything, more true to the idea of the tune than the original performance of it. In a way, I'm just making it more obvious. In another way, really, if you're not just a little creeped out by it, I worry about your instinct for self-preservation.

Jim Broome ~ tractor
Rex Broome ~ guitar, vocal, hedge trimmer

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

146. "Kewpie Station" by Kaki King

Oh, shit, I gotta do a cover of a solo instrumental track by an amazingly gifted and inventive guitarist? Better put the six strings away and try something else. In this case, up to four bass guitars... yeah, that'll do. Haven't had a bass to play for nearly two weeks and now I have this fien, fien Squier lying around the garage, courtesy of Heckman. And better slow the thing down, too. Okay, there. Except it's awful hard to mix it so it doesn't all blob together. And then when I get somewhere with it, there just would have to be one annoying pickup buzz noise that I can't get rid of. But enough already!

Personnel: Rex

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

145. "Love" by The Virgin Sleep

Using GarageBand in a garage surrounded by garage stuff, one eventually succumbs to the impulse to USE IT TONIGHT.

The original song here is something I hadn't really listened to closely before, and it's pretty interesting... I might have to see if I can find anything else by The Virgin Sleep. It's kind of weird even by late '60s psych standards. The chord progressions per se aren't that odd, but they seem to come at you in a nearly random order, making it hard to believe the band knew how to play which part when, but then there's a fairly ornate string part to go along with it, so it's likely more thought-out than it seems. I wonder if the rest of their stuff, if there is any, has the same odd mixture of the ramshackle and the polished. The well of nearly-forgotten bizarre bands from that era seems inexhaustible.

Personnel: Rex

Monday, August 9, 2010

144. "Mammal" by They Might Be Giants

A couple of different ideas collided on this one. Practically speaking ("IRL" if you will, and I'm by no means certain that you will) I just didn't decide on one single way to tackle this tune, with the habitual Billy Bragg approach starting me off, the synth bass being just sort of practical as I don't have a bass guitar with me here in WV, and the club beatz just kind of growing out of that. As far as how it turned out, it's an example of how not having too tangible of an idea what you're doing can result in something a lot more original than what happens when you do. The naff guitar tone isn't really my kind of thing, but it seems to work on this one. The vocal turned out somewhere between John Linell's original and a nerdier Mike Ness.

Personnel: Rex

Sunday, August 8, 2010

143. "The Hawk" by Tom Verlaine

Tom Verlaine is not just one of my favorite guitarists-- even people who have only heard Marquee Moon twice know they're supposed to say that-- but one of my very favorite overall artists as well. I'll make a stronger case for his deserving stature as a great songwriter than perhaps Mr. Miller himself ever would. So it's a bit of a disappointment that at this late date in 39-40, and with so very many Verlaine recordings ratting around in my library (quite a few more than are strictly meant to exist), The Machine hands me a performance of a Kris Kristofferson cover. It's a bit of an obscurity, and my making it available here is thus an accidental public service for which you're quite welcome.

In fact, I wasn't able to find a copy of Kristofferson's original, so this truly is a cover of a cover, although thanks to the Internet I believe I restored some lyrics that Tom got sideways.

I very rarely play guitar without a pick, but here I did, trying to both play and sing very, very softly for a change. The noise on the vocal track that sounds sort of like tape his that seems to rise and fall in volume at random is in fact the wind outside the open garage door here in Great Oak Valley. You may be able to hear some locusts in the background, too, if you listen dangerously closely.

Personnel: Rex

Friday, August 6, 2010

141. "The Salad Song (Accompaniment)" by Yamaha Music Foundation

Eden's been asking me to record a theme tune for her ongoing vlogging programs for a while, so I took the opportunity when handed a somewhat cheesy instrumental by the machine. I was initially planning on writing lyrics for this, but I ended up liking the reconfiguration on its own as instrumental theme music. It just got a little more elaborate as it went on. It's been a while since I did one of these relatively straight-up "remix" covers, and it seems that I've gotten a lot better at it along the way, picking up tricks here and there for other purposes that can be integrated into something a lot less clunky than my early efforts. It's probably imperceptible, but I know it's smoother, and that's growth of a kind. Possibly malignant.

The end results owe a great deal to a period of obsessive listening to The Go! Team and overexposure to the theme song to Phineas & Ferb.

Rex ~ musical things
Eden ~ cover art