6. 2018 Winter

Immediately, something’s different. I’m using my amp again. I’m using real drums (from here on out, assume live drums are me playing with Signal Valley‘s kit, thanks Signal). Anyway, “Paramount” is interesting because it’s a great instrumental, but it really could have begged for vocals. More on that in 2019. “Decision Drop” uses the Zoom multi-FX into the amp, and it doesn’t work great but it’s an okay song. It’s not the first song I recorded for these sessions but it might be second or third. One of the rules I gave myself around this time was that every song needed to have drums, making the incredibly GBV-esque “A Warm Hello” the only song to break this rule. I regret cutting “Stitchache”. My justification at the time was that I wanted Heaven Doesn’t Send Its Best to be a pure “pop” album and this song was too weird for it. In hindsight this was a poor decision because this song is great. “Reverse Locked” would have been a lot better if I’d been more sure of the beat when I recorded the drums. If I were more keen on re-recording older songs, this would be a fun one to try again.

The goal was to record for five weeks and use the best songs. After getting my wisdom teeth pulled halfway through this winter break, I had awful dry socket and stopped short. I still think the resulting album still came out strong. Some all-time Hello Whirled songs are on here. “Princess” is a rip-off of “Space Gun” but it’s a good opener. “The Girl In The Waiting Room” was about someone I saw in the waiting room before I had my wisdom teeth pulled. I remembered her face vividly for about three days, and I ended up writing 3 or 4 songs about her (albeit in a fairly mystical sense). “Snowing Eyes” is a re-vitalization of an old song from 2014 called “Pacifistic Ambush”. The lyrics were from the first song I recorded for the album, which I think was released a bit later in the year. I recorded the drums first, because I didn’t think it would become this. “Weather Or Not” is great, I love this one so much. There’s a cut near the end that I tried to mask with a reverb-y noise. What I love a bit less is the kick drum only coming through in the right channel. This is because my drum mic setup was a dynamic mic near the snare (left channel) and a condenser mic much further away (right channel). As long as this setup lasted, I don’t think I ever made the drums sound great, but I think by 2019 I’d gotten better at EQ’ing the more egregious stuff out. “Falling Angel” is kind of eerie by my standards. I’m amazed that, almost 4 years later, the organ still makes the song that much more haunting. I don’t have that keyboard anymore, and while I think it would make certain things much easier, it also sounds pretty cheesy and doesn’t really mesh with the kind of music I’m making now. “Moonlight” is the sound of my Zoom amp sim running into an actual amp. It’s the only time I ever did that. It sounds cool but the vocals got really buried in the process and that’s a bummer. “Happy Ending” and “Her Flaming Absence” are two of the best songs I’ve ever written. I love them just as much now as I did almost 4 years when I wrote them. They’re like twins to me. Over the years, a few people have told me “Her Flaming Absence” is their favorite HW song. There’s a universe where both of these became massive hits and I became a Phoebe Bridgers-like indie mega-star that got too much press regardless of the quality of the music (this is not a Phoebe diss, she’s cool, just omnipresent). That said, I really wish I hadn’t mentioned Grimes in this one. It embarrasses me, and every time I play it live, I say something different in that section. “Fear The Future” is pleasant as well. “Fucking Masochist” was written at the end of my first semester of college about feeling isolated from my friends. There’s another song about this exact idea that nails the idea much better, but I think I also just wanted to make a long, melodramatic song. Who doesn’t? It’s been a while since I’ve listened to this song, so I forgot how much the key changes in this song.

I made this to kill time after finishing the album but before moving back for the Spring semester. I think I did an okay job with “Disarm” but it could have been a lot better. I studied “Please Understand” very carefully to let the guitar parts as precisely as I could. It’s surprising that, despite the influence Damon Albarn has had on me, “Broken” is the only time I’ve covered one of his songs. I should try a Blur song on the next Writer’s Block. I listened to a lot of Suburban Lawns during that winter break, hence my cover of “Protection”. It may still be my favorite song of theirs. I had a long-running argument with Jake from Barlow about whether or not “Renaissance Man” is a good song (it is). I wonder if anyone else has covered this song. “Good Books” is a song you’ve never heard of, because it was by someone I called a friend at the time. These days, I call him a piece of shit. “Cherry Chapstick” was a fun song to do because I got to just make awful noise for 2 minutes at the end. Feedback solos are always awesome, unless it’s Sonic Youth.

Oops, all filler! I liked the cover for some reason and wanted to release something with the name “Lovesick Cure”. I ended up writing a pretty good song with that name, but upon finding that my lyrics didn’t fit the music, I called it a demo and dropped it here. “I Will Drift” is an old song that I attempted for Romantic Distance. The waveform for this is pretty gnarly. “The Stallion (Part 94)” is just noise. I called it that because I liked Ween at the time. This EP is probably the only proof left of this mistake. “Ahead (Version 1)” is the original version of the song with too many overdubs. In some ways I actually prefer this version, but I also think it’s, somehow, overproduced. “Bedbug” is a Heaven Doesn’t Send Its Best outtake. I would have liked to give it vocals, but then putting it on the album and keeping “Stitchache” off would have made me a hypocrite. “Maybe I’m Wrong” is from summer 2017. It wasn’t written for Hello Whirled. “Night Parade” is a new version of a song from 2014 that I recorded for Romantic Distance but got axed because it sucked. It’s a killer song that just needs the right lyrics.

This is the first Hello Whirled album to not feature my trusty Tascam DP008-ex. I was using a pirated copy of Mixcraft 7 with a 1/4″-USB cable and a Rock Band mic. It sounded terrible. I used the same setup with Cakewalk later in the year. When I talk about 2018 being my worst year, part of why is just how bad Hello Whirled sounded for most of the year. I wrote “The Benefits of Eating Alone” on my 19th birthday, when all my friends had class that evening so I had dinner alone, and I cut my hand opening a box from my parents full of food I didn’t want. It was a shitty birthday, honestly, but it was more than made up for soon after. “Lovesick Cure” is stellar in its new form. “Hermit Song” is kinda spooky. I dig it. “Eagle Hook” is a mess but it’s a song about the Philadelphia Eagles winning Super Bowl LII. Sorry, I’m a football fan. Hello Whirled and sports don’t interact otherwise, but I like this song. I’d like it more if I’d spent more than two seconds recording it. I always forget “Romantic Distance” isn’t the closing track. It was going to be for the longest time. It’s always something when a HW song has deliberate lead guitar. “She’s At The Parade” represents the remnants of my obsession with Ween’s “Mutilated Lips” that semester. I actually like it a lot, it has a nice psychedelic vibe I don’t often touch upon (probably because I don’t love psychedelic music). The first part of “Seedstepping” was recorded in drop D. It was going well until I hit a wall. Hoping to not waste that sick guitar part, I transposed the song up a whole step and recorded the rest of the song in standard. It’s one of my favorite HW songs from 2018. “Fog” is the guitars from the end of “Night Parade” slowed down several octaves. It’s bad.

The worst show I’ve ever had. It’s $20 on Bandcamp so no one can download it out of curiosity. Also, it means I can set up the “Buy Discography” thing, which is helpful when you have a discography as large as mine. Anyway, I refuse to talk about this. It’s terrible. It also sets off a 3-release stretch of music I’m not especially proud of.

By some metrics, this is one of my most popular albums. It shouldn’t be. It has some incredible songs but most of it is just shit. “Invitation to Love” is one of the good songs on this album. That extra beat in the chorus gives me life. Twin Peaks fans will catch the reference the title makes. “Strangest Night in Will’s Apartment” is only significant for the night it represents. I got a little buzzed in my friend Will’s apartment, watched 2 other friends get blackout drunk (including Will), got a 6-pack of Insomnia Cookies and walked back to my dorm with snow blowing in my face at 2:30am, and not leaving my building the next day because weather canceled everything. “Gone For The Backing” is a mediocre song with 3 other songwriters, so I should probably explain why. I was at a musicians’ club meeting and we had to write a song about a mistake. I chose to sing about how much I hated my roommate. Jake and Amanda played with me then, hence the credit here. Sean gets a credit because as I was singing, he’d interject by shouting his name. After that spirited (and un-recorded) performance, he told me that everyone on my floor hated my roommate, but liked me, probably because I didn’t know them very well and they didn’t know me very well. “The Suits Are At It Again” is about how, for whatever reason, business majors had to wear suits every Wednesday. It was an easy way to tell who the assholes were. “Magic Square” is a song I wish I still remembered how to play, because it’s not obvious but it’s a great melancholic tune. You can watch me record it at an old school project Instagram that I haven’t touched since I used it for that one project. I think I still like “Bad Dream Or Something”. I turned down my computer volume for “The Bridge” because that song truly makes me cringe. It’s the worst original song I’ve released as Hello Whirled. Someone quoted it to me once and I almost punched him (may or may not be true, but I certainly wanted to). It would have been more interesting as an instrumental. God this album gets so bad, but it ends on one of the best songs I’ve ever written. “What’s The Point In Blaming You?” kills. It’s a simple song about going 3 weeks without hanging out with any of my friends but it feels bigger. I invented the “Magna Tuning” (DADF#BC#) for this song and I still use it every now and again.

This is terrible. I made it in 5 days because I was bored during spring break. I gave myself too many rules: 3 minutes or longer, confined to my bedroom, different tuning for every song. It didn’t turn out great. “The Inevitable Slide” is good though. Kind of a Lou Barlow rip-off, but it does it well. The drone is two tracks of me holding down a C key for 5 minutes each. I hadn’t thought to tape the key down. “Revolution Calls” probably should have been the opener instead. “Meet Us On The Field” is a poor Frankenstein-ing of two mediocre songs. It’s a good thing this ends on two great songs, especially the keyboard-driven “Circles In The Desert”. “Winter Marches On” is a really triumphant closer.

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