Song of the Month – Washing Away’s "So Inevitable"

We’ve reached the last Washing Away song in Part Four and this EP series. “So Inevitable” comes from the point of view of the dumped, with water body references throughout – clearing, pounding, separating, and providing perspective. The lyrical metaphors still seem good, so I didn’t change them. The melody was a challenge and my voice wavers a bit.  I think it works given the subject. This was also the first time I adjusted the equalization at all. I was getting some distortion on my S’s in “seems so …”, so I turned it down at 10K.

The music has a melancholy hook and plods along, building to the end.  There is a bit of a climactic moment as the verses reach the chorus, but it’s just a bittersweet taste of the unfulfilled hope of making it as a band.  This is the second song to include bass chords – the first was in the introduction on “This Game.” I used some consonant ones in the bridge to show a little optimism that there will be other opportunities to make music.

Check out more Songs of the Month and posts about Washing Away. Please e-mail me suggestions for my songs, too. And if you value Write to Remember, consider buying my music.

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Song of the Month – Washing Away’s "The Last Straw"

In “The Last Straw,” the band is nearing their big show that kicked off Washing Away‘s EP series with “Welcome”. They’ve got the songs and almost have enough money saved up to record an album, but it’s hard to tell if everybody is on board. The guitarist seems uninterested, but hopefully a successful performance will reignite his passion.  The lyrics are bit different from the original demo and now have the same chorus throughout the song and references the song title. I changed “money” to “savings” in the verses, because it sounded a little less silly. I also replaced “washes out to sea” with “fades from memory” in the last verse, because the line didn’t fit with the song even though the project is Washing Away.

Musically, there’s a strong rhythmic emphasis that goes with “break” at the end of the chorus. Also, the interlude is a reprise of the bridge to “Welcome”, referring to the big show, and climaxes violently before subsiding softly. I wanted the song under four minutes and the bridge was a bit long. I cut the interlude in half and took out the intro part that was after the first chorus. The introduction and last verse are a little different, too, with the bass and drums coming in after two measures of the intro and longer notes held out in the verse.

Check out more Songs of the Month and posts about Washing Away. Please e-mail me suggestions for my songs, too. And if you value Write to Remember, consider buying my music.

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Song of the Month – Washing Away’s "Keeping Up Appearance"

This month’s got a somber yet sharp song from Washing Away. Suspicions arise when there’s a new guy playing with the guitarist and their regular rehearsal is cut short so he can go out on a date. The bouncy intro gives way to a plodding verse. The chorus picks up the energy with punctuated chords and the ending takes an intense turn. The bass, guitar and keyboard were recorded as they were written years ago. The background vocal line originally had sort of carnival quality to it, so I dialed that back and did the chorus an octave higher instead. I got to make good use of the “follow” drum pattern in GarageBand to get the kick drum on the off beat with the bass. I hope you like it.

Check out more Songs of the Month and posts about Washing Away. Please e-mail me suggestions for my songs, too. And if you value Write to Remember, consider buying my music.

Click ‘Continue reading’ to see the lyrics.

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Song of the Month – Washing Away’s "Archers"

Here’s another Washing Away song, the first song of Part Four EP. Though “Archers” structure is straightforward, it is unlike the literal storytelling of the past songs – there are metaphors. The metaphor of a vacation to show relational distance was good, but it doesn’t quite fit into archery as a metaphor for goal-setting. Working it into an archery metaphor probably wouldn’t have made sense, so it stayed in. I also thought to use a better word than ‘rift’ in the first verse, but it works out in terms of a ‘break in friendly relations’ like a ‘split’ in a broken bow. The song uses the same combination of instruments and ending intended to transition into the next song, as in past Washing Away songs*. The accents that don’t fall on the downbeat were a bit tricky to get the GarageBand drummer to hit, but ‘Aidan’ is still pretty solid. Since I’m a bit out of practice, I did a lot of editing to get the timing right on the guitar in the verses and transition.

Check out more Songs of the Month and posts about Washing Away. Please e-mail me suggestions for my songs, too. And if you value Write to Remember, consider buying my music.

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Song of the Month – Casual Gaze’s "Hipsters are Zombies"

“Hipsters are Zombies” was inspired by  the rise in popularity of zombies: pub crawls, televisions show, rom-com, and parody of a classic novel. There was also a rise in hipsterdom: lots of dudes with beards, bikes, and beer. While you can accuse me of being a hipster, I am not a fan of zombies, except 28 Days Later. Dreams of being chased by zombies are the worst! Anway, hipsters and zombies seemed related by consumption; buy a lifestyle like eating brains.

I had to do some more research and found a good connection. Journalism on hipsters cited that they go to areas with character (aka vitality or life) and incorporate or take from that character on a superficial level. For example, drinking PBR at a blue-collar bar when you’re working at a design firm or wearing Southwest American Indian patterns because they are in fashion. It seems hollow, like trying to absorb some kind of authenticity to fill the void. The idea of faking it until you make is pretty universal to everyone finding their way in life, so this isn’t completely unique. This just makes a good analogy.

The song follows the Casual Gaze style of just bass, drums, and vocals. While the lyrics are meant jokingly, it doesn’t have the same sense of playfulness, though. The music is still pretty danceable, but is more aggressive, especially the bass chords in the bridge. The chorus bounces back and forth like the chorus in Blur’s “Girls and Boys,” saying, “hipsters are zombies are hipsters are zombies,” in the sense that they are hip. The bridge draws parallels with hipsters coexisting (but not fully integrating) in the community they are imitating to zombies that are human but not really human. Finally, the ending says that once the hipsters or zombies come in and take over, the way of life changes.

Check out more Songs of the Month and posts about Casual Gaze. Please e-mail me suggestions to improve my songs, too. And if you value Write to Remember, consider buying my music.

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Song of the Month – Casual Gaze's "Must Have a Mustache"

This month, it’s time to bring out a Casual Gaze song. I came up with the structure for “Must Have a Mustache” last year when jamming with a gym mate, Courtney. While it’s just a variation of four notes, the different patterns and brief breaks make a difference. Variations in the drums and singing helped later to keep it interesting in the writing process. While I originally wanted to call it “Mustache Party”, the words ‘must have a mustache’ stuck in my head and would likely do the same for others. It’s pretty fun to say, like ‘skinny jeans’ in “Skinny Jeans”. It was a fun challenge looking up all the names for a mustache and how they could fit into a song. I also got some inspiration for the bridge from a camp song my friend Alicia would sing. As with other Casual Gaze songs, I wanted it to be inclusive, so even prop mustaches work for the ladies or guys whose facial hair won’t cooperate.

Please take a listen and leave a comment. I’d like to make it the best I can before putting it out with a music video later this year.

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Song of the Month – Washing Away's "The Line"

“The Line” is the fourth and last song from Washing Away‘s upcoming EP, Part Three. Although the song had previously already been written, it was a good learning experience with GarageBand‘s drum samples and MIDI synthesizer. For the drums, there were no complicated rhythms, but there needed to be some more dynamic growth at the end. I toggled the loudness and complexity not only as the end builds to a crescendos, but also throughout the song as the music get more intense. The result is a tighter connection between the bass and drums, and more excitement. For the keyboard, there didn’t end up being any chords, because the ones I tried didn’t work. The MIDI editor was helpful in lining up the timing and getting rid of errant notes. The song could use a little something more, but overall, I am happy with how it turned out and I hope you are, too.

Please take a listen and leave a comment. I’d like to make it the best I can before putting it out with the rest of Part Three this year.

Next month’s song could be a Casual Gaze song, the first song from Washing Away’s Part Three, or a completely new project. Stay Tuned! Check out more posts of Songs of the Month and Washing Away. Click ‘Continue reading’ to see the lyrics. Continue reading “Song of the Month – Washing Away's "The Line"”

Song of the Month – Washing Away's "In Between"

This third Song of the Month is another one from Washing Away — “In Between.”  Like the previous songs, I wrote this one beforehand and put it together in GarageBand in March. I didn’t have to make any changes and, other than using keyboards, it’s true to how I first wrote it. The triplets could have been a problem, but I was able to find a couple of good drum beats to fit the tune. I experimented with shifting the keyboard parts around, but let them be. Like “Getting the Story Straight,” this song incorporates call-and-response parts, though here they are in the verses. Admittedly, the vocals are a bit flat, so they need work.  I was already beyond my deadline, so I worked with what I had.

Thanks for listening! Please leave a comment if you have any feedback.  I’d like to make it the best I can before putting it out with the rest of Part Three this year.

Check out more posts of Songs of the Month and Washing Away. Click ‘Continue reading’ to see the lyrics.

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Song of the Month – Washing Away's "Getting the Story Straight"

My second Song of the Month is a Washing Away song, “Getting the Story Straight”.  It was written long ago like “Even the Score,” but was a bit easier.  I thought the syncopated rhythm in the chorus would be challenging, but I was able to find a great drum beat and figured the vocals lined up well enough with the guitar to keep the same. I kept the call-and-response aspect of the chorus, even though I considered having them both sung as one.  I couldn’t think of a melody for the response part that easily suited my voice, and I think having two parts fits the lines well.  I made the organ simple, so it doesn’t have some of the rhythmic complexities of the lead guitar from the demo version.

Please take a listen and leave a comment.  I’d like to make it the best I can before putting it out with the rest of Part Three this year.

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Song of the Month – Washing Away's "Even the Score"

My first Song of the Month is a Washing Away song, “Even the Score”.  I originally wrote and recorded demo versions of the sixteen Washing Away songs a decade ago when I was an undergrad.  While “Even the Score” is by no means new, it did present some challenges and opportunities. I don’t have an electric guitar anymore, so I used an acoustic guitar and adapted the lead guitar part for piano to try something new. Secondly, GarageBand only allows one tempo for the whole song, so I rewrote everything in 4/4.  I extended the second chord in the progression of the chorus and added some raking the the 3/4 bridge to fill the space.  Finally, I worked on how I sang the chorus while taking voice lessons.  I changed the melody to have ascending and descending lines rather than all descending.

Please take a listen and leave a comment.  I’d like to make it the best I can before putting it out with the rest of Part Three this year.

Check out more posts of Songs of the Month and Washing Away. Click ‘Continue reading’ to see the lyrics. Continue reading “Song of the Month – Washing Away's "Even the Score"”