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SBTS – This Time by Thought Beneath Film

“This Time” by Thought Beneath Film is the final track of their debut album Cartographers. Today, vocalist Brent Wirth walks us through his creative process.

-Mark

 

The process of writing a song (or an album for that matter) is often non-linear. Fragments of melodies, lyrics and ideas can often drift around one’s consciousness for weeks, months, even years in some cases before a purpose or place is found for them. Some may even be forever condemned to musical purgatory, never finding that purpose or place within the context of a song.

 

Ultimately, “This Time” is a culmination of remote fragments and ideas that had been drifting around in my mind merging together and finally finding their place to form a complete thought.

 

“This Time” began with the simple pentatonic melody that is featured throughout the verse sections of the song. I can’t recall the specific place or time that I stumbled upon it, but most of my creativity seems to strike in the small hours of the night when all of the filters in my brain finally shut down. Knowing this trend, I often force myself to stay awake far beyond the point that my body wants to just in case a great melody or idea presents itself.

 

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Unfortunately, they don’t always come and it’s easy to become discouraged. Given this simple fact, having patience and faith in the notion that another great idea will eventually strike is vital to being successful as a songwriter.

 

I recently read The Pinkerton Diaries by Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo and I think he really epitomized the process with an analogy he made in one of the essays featured in this book. He eloquently compares being a songwriter to being a hunter:

 

A more successful approach is stealth. Farmer’s cats are known to shut their eyes, believing that as they can’t see, neither can they be seen, stalking the cow’s milk pail. Every day I try this. I casually enter the garage, stroll as if without purpose in the direction of my guitar, and at the last moment, pounce, and strum furiously, and sing and hope I’ve caught a tune unawares. Most often they’ve seen me coming, and fly off laughing. But not always, and this is the reason I keep trying. (The Pinkerton Diaries, p. 106)

 

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Although I felt very strongly about the melody, I didn’t really have a clear sense of which direction to take it in. So, the melody remained dormant in my mind for months. The funny thing about songwriting is that it’s not always a melodic idea, rhythmic structure or harmonic progression that illuminates a path for a potential song. Sometimes, it can be vague, abstract and disparate ideas randomly merging together in your mind. This notion was definitely true in the case of “This Time”.

 

I remember experimenting with an EBow (a hand-held electronic device for playing electric guitar in which the strings are moved by the electromagnetic field created by the device, producing a sound that is reminiscent of bowed orchestral strings) one day and having what I thought was an ingenious idea at the time: composing a piece for an EBowed guitar quartet – kind of like a futuristic version of a traditional string quartet. I quickly banged out and recorded a few measures of a four-part arrangement in G flat major (one of my go to keys for one reason or another) for EBowed guitars.

 

The sound was interesting, but not interesting enough to appease my appetite for sonic novelty at the time.

 

The lingering hunger pains inevitably led to the crazy notion to digitally reverse everything I had just recorded to completely change the attack and dynamic envelopes of the sound. Finally! The sound that I was looking for! The only issue was that, by reversing everything, the melody and harmonic progression were backwards and no longer sounded coherent (this very recording was actually added to the end of “This Time” and serves as the song’s outro). This forced me to re-recording everything backwards (a tedious process) with the intention of it being reversed for the sonic effect.

 

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After listening back several times, I quickly noticed the similarities between the melodies in the recording I just produced and the pentatonic melody that had been floating around in my brain for sometime. I hastily worked out a fingerstyle guitar arrangement to house the pentatonic melody that had been haunting me for all of those weeks and crudely dovetailed it to the reversed EBow music.

 

With minimal meddling, the parts worked together quite well. From that point, the ideas started to flow and the remaining sections of the song came together quite quickly. It was as if a bridge finally formed between a divide. I was finally able to reach the other side and complete the song.

 

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Despite being one of the band’s oldest songs, “This Time” was never featured on our early demo and EP releases. Much like the writing process behind it, it was a difficult song to record. Every section of the song is so sonically diverse that it was difficult to give any recording of the song a sense of cohesion. However, upon our most recent attempt, I think we managed to finally capture our vision of the song on record. All of our patience and faith finally paid off and “This Time” finally found its place by becoming the closing song on our debut full-length album, “Cartographers”. In my opinion, it’s the most sonically adventurous and structurally unique song on the record.

It’s very unconventional and, ultimately, I think that’s a testament to the unconventional way the song came together.

-Brent Wirth, Thought Beneath Film

http://www.thoughtbeneathfilm.ca

https://www.facebook.com/thoughtbeneathfilm

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#NowPlaying Giving Life to Greys by Daysdeaf

The song is a hopeful account of the fragile character of a young man enthralled, confused, and motivated by love and ambition.

Manvir Rai, Daysdeaf 

 

https://www.facebook.com/Daysdeaf

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Story Behind The Song – Up & In by Katie Bulley

 

My song “Up & In” was written last summer shortly after I purchased my postwar 1949 Gibson ES-150. That might have had something to do with the rockabilly influence in the song.

 

The first day I brought that guitar home, all I wanted to play was oldies music. Must have been some of that spirit still kickin’ around in the ol’ hollow body. After a few days of playing those rhythms and patterns I developed one that was unique to me and started singing along. In this particular case the melody came along with some lyrics and once that happens, there is a sense of accomplishment. Keep in mind, that is only the beginning.

 

Once the spark of the song caught on, I needed to search for lumber to throw on that fire! I already had the phrase “Up & In” as the “tipi” base so, that was good. I wanted to move the idea of the traditional lyric “Down & Out” forward into a positive phrase that would give the listener as well as myself hope that there is a solution for catching the blues! Searching for my “lumber” was me digging through my memory of those hard times past. That’s where the ideas for the verses came in.

 

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The resolving of the song where I sing “Now I’m Up and In” is where it all comes together (we get to roast marsh mellows if we’re still using the campfire analogy). The song was complete and not only does it move that idea forward, it also pays tribute to it idea by sharing some of my personal low times. We all go through rough patches but we all get to reach those “Up & In” moments to if we embrace our inner strength to get there. I like my marsh mellows roasted golden on a twig, what about you?

 

I hope you all enjoyed my essay. Follow me @katiebulley to stay in the loop about my new album ‘Sun Wolf’ coming this spring! Recorded at the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, TN!

 

Sincerely,

K.Bulley (www.katiebulley.com)

ps. Two of my favourite songs about being ‘Down & Out’ are;
Bessie Smith- Nobody Knows you when you’re Down and Out
Sonny Boy Williamson- Down and Out Blues
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Troublemaker (album) by Levi Cobb & The Big Smoke

It’s hard to find a good album of folk songs. Unfortunately these kind of songs are never heard of for a mainstream music listener like myself.

Thankfully, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke’s upcoming new album would be a good start to the folk music scene, particularly folk rock.

Troublemaker is the Denton, Texas band’s debut album, featuring 10 songs with great guitar and banjo work and an interesting set of lyrics that give each song a narrative of their own. Kicking off with “Heartsick Man”, whose lyrics belie the song’s lively, upbeat rhythm (‘The hole I’m digging ain’t got room for two’), one can tell the rest of the album is something to look forward to.

While a folk rock band, Troublemaker has them incorporating other genres into their music that give it a very unique listening experience, while also infusing a storytelling edge to the whole album thanks to both Kim (she’s also a writer and editor “with a background in drama and poetry”) and lead singer and lead banjoist/guitarist Jesse Thompson, who has an interest in the American South and wrote many of the songs featured.

As guitarist and background vocalist Kim Nall puts it,

“While it is true that we place a strong emphasis on storytelling, we never want to lose the defiant, slightly drunken, freewheeling quality that makes being in this band and playing these songs so much fun.”

With Jessie lending his voice to good effect, and Kim adding harmonics in the background, it does leave this reviewer mesmerized and grooving along to the eclectic mix the band has to offer in Troublemaker. Apart from “Heartsick Man”, “Not My Time” also gives a laidback feel with the slow guitar-and-banjo rhythm. “Waiting for You to Fall” is another similar song, though giving a more melancholic tone as the band sings of unrequited love.

“Cloud O’er My Head” and “Cat & Bird” are far more melancholic tunes, but they really give an ambient feel with every second you spend listening – in the former, Jesse’s lilting voice is accompanied by an equally dreamy instrumental that could make you drift away (and wonder if that cloud really wants him dead); in the latter, it’s a different take of melancholia as Kim injects a sense of foreboding that runs a shiver down your spine.

Overall, Troublemaker is a good take on alternative folk rock and an extra reason for those first-time folk music listeners to go out there and listen to more folk songs. Given that folk music now comes in a wide range of music from its humble roots, Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke is one of many talented gems that really are worth the time supporting.

-Calvyn Ee, IndieVerse

 

http://levicobbandthebigsmoke.com

http://www.facebook.com/LeviCobbAndTheBigSmoke

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#NowPlaying This Place by Tales of Olde

Tales of Olde is getting ready to release their debut EP early this year and they are offering a sneak peek with “This Place”, a song that captures their roots as an acoustic folk band.

 

 

“This Place” makes mellifluous use of the band’s signature male-female harmonies that are as soulful as they are dynamic, building from intimate near-whispers to a full choir’s worth of anthemic sing-along sound.

Meanwhile, the simple yet colorful imagery and realistic storytelling in the lyrics perfectly match the warm, natural tones of layered percussion, guitars, and violins.

The end result pays tribute to influences like Of Monsters and Men, Andrew Bird, and Kings of Leon while adding enough indie rock ferociousness to forge new musical territory.

-Mike Del Priore, Effective Immediately PR

 

http://www.talesofolde.com

https://www.facebook.com/TalesofOlde

 

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Write for IndieVerse!

Hey everyone,

IndieVerse will be celebrating its first anniversary on the 2nd of February. We’ve come a long way over this past year.

But we can do so much more. And we need your help!

 

Right now, what we need are more writers. You are free to contribute as little or as much as you like. No contracts to tie you down and no profits involved.

Proficiency in English, solid work ethics and communication skills are required. A good sense of humour is an added bonus.

Here are some of the benefits of joining the IndieVerse writing team:

  • Career opportunities. Great reviews get noticed by PR companies and magazines everyday. Showcase your work. You never know.
  • Build your network and gain contacts. Through IndieVerse, you’ll get the chance to work with musicians you admire as well as other people in the music industry. Make the best of it.
  • Listen to music before the general public. We get tons of demos, pre-release albums and teasers everyday. Stay ahead of the curve!

We are also on the lookout for admins for our Facebook page. This opportunity is limited only to other music bloggers and select publicity firm representatives.

Designers and artists are also welcome.

You can comment on this post, or email me at mark.indieverse@gmail.com for more details.

-Mark

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SBTS – Children by The Henry Millers

Children by New York duo The Henry Millers is the first single for their upcoming  album Posies. 

Bandleader and songwriter John MacCallum writes on IndieVerse, explaining the inspiration and history behind this song.

 

-Mark-

 

As I was getting ready to write this I found myself reading a few other of the musician written articles on IndieVerse. I came across one such article by Kaela Sinclair and I wanted to say first and foremost how struck I was by the essay in general, but more specifically how much I related to one point in particular that she made:

“The need to create permanent and complex art can be satiated with much more ease without the stresses of a budget and timeline.”

I have found that my own desire to make music stems from a need to solve or even simply cope with a problem. Even if it is a story told in the 3rd person, the music we make always has a piece of us inside of it. It has in a way always been a source of therapy and because of that I have always wanted to make music that I personally want to listen to; music that I will enjoy and more importantly music that will help me get through the day. I don’t know what I would do if the only way I could create recorded music was based around somebody else’s ‘budget and timeline.’

It’s unfathomable. Its… without fathom.

 

Our songs always begin with a home recording. “Children” actually began as a song called “Taxi Ride” and was one of the first songs I had recorded. I was going to school in Charleston, SC and at one point when I was back in New York, visiting home, I had an encounter with a seemingly wise old man who was driving me in his taxi. He enlightened me to the hardships of being the caretaker for a family and how difficult the task of raising children can be, especially in a big city. This rather innocuous interaction really stuck with me and eventually led me to write and record a song called Taxi Ride.

As we were finishing up Daisies and I was beginning to write and record songs that would eventually become Posies, I spent time listening to old demos to see if there could be anything to use for new music. The only song that moved me in any significant way was Taxi Ride. I felt a connection to the words and the music that was just as strong as when it had been originally recorded years earlier.

I proceeded to make a new demo at home using the techniques I have learned over the years and that in conjunction with working with Max Drummey and Dan Stringer as producers is what eventually created the version of “Children” you hear now.

-John MacCallum, The Henry Millers