8. 2018 Summer

Two outtakes from Tear The Night Apart. I think I probably could have kept “In The Golden Amazon” on the album itself, it wouldn’t have been out of place next to the other fairly repetitive tracks. For what it’s worth, the song revolves a drum improv influenced by the stylings of one Terry Chambers, who played on XTC’s best songs (with very little exception). “River Of Nothing” is a dry mix because the wet mix was going to go on the album, starting a precedent of releasing multiple mixes of the same song. Thank god that didn’t happen. I ran my Zoom multi-FX into my amp to get that really tight compression, but it sounds really artificial to my ears. I’m not one to get into analog vs. digital arguments because for the most part, I don’t care, but in this instance it’s pretty clearly digital, and it does not work. The vocals sound quite good though. I’ve been hard on my 2018 work up to this point but this is a fairly decent stretch right here.

Something cool I tried with this album was to give each song its own cover. This meant having a title ready in advance, so it’s a titles-first album. The idea was to make a more streamlined album, and I think I actually succeeded in that department. Whether each song did it well is another matter. The title track isn’t bad, but it’s not my strongest opener. I think there are strings on this one, which I don’t remember recording so that’s kind of amazing. Oh right, I also declared that every song had to be 3 minutes or longer. Tracks 3 to 6 are all more on the repetitive side but I love them all so much. “Same Space, Different Plane” has a sense of rage to it that really sells it. I wrote it on bass which gives a real drive. I had the album in a more or less finished state by late May, but I felt like I’d rushed it so on Memorial Day 2018, I recorded 2 more songs. I didn’t think I’d go from a title in the morning to finished songs by night but those were the last 2 songs I recorded for the album. “All In Unsure Faith” was one of them. The bit at the end is from a song on The Subtle Collection called “Forever Unsure”. “Silver Hallucination” is my contribution to the endless circle of “Hallogallo” rip-offs (hot take: “Fur Immer” is better). The stereo vocal in the first section is me singing into the mics I used to record the drums. “Skeleton Of Hope” had its vocal fans at the time. I remember being the song Darren Fox used when he awarded me the Bobby Pop Prolificacy Award of 2018. “Where’s The Signal?” is the other song I wrote and recorded on Memorial Day 2018. It has no guitars. I asked Jared from Sun Tunnel to play bass on “Third Generation Diamond” because, honestly, I couldn’t think of a bass part. Just hit a road block. I pushed this as the hit at the time. It’s certainly the most traditional in a sense. “Dear In Headlights” is based on a song from 2016 called “Fade Out”. The old song is the chorus, but the verses are brand new. It’s a solid end to the album.

Oh boy. I finally made that double album. This is one hell of an album to talk about. There are so many guitar tunings used over the course of the album, which I will not list here. Come to think of it, this whole summer (and as such, everything from here until the end of this blog post) was so influenced by Stephen Malkmus that every release contains a wide spread of tunings. Astonishingly, the Magna tuning (DADF#BC#) isn’t used on any of these songs. The album has “4 sides”, of which each side has a remake of a 2017 EP track and a song with a guest. “Salem View” has such nonsense lyrics that I get a little embarrassed listening to it, but the melody is so killer that I can forgive it. “Another Lonely Villager” is another hit if not a bit bleak. I think the burp at the beginning of “Dead Be The Crown” really sums up this whole album. I don’t know how, I just wanted to highlight it. “White Metal Clad” is a semi-prog Microphones-esque song about two backpackers in love, which is a bold statement to make because I hate prog, and I hadn’t listened to any Microphones songs up to this point (I think, I don’t know). This song featured electric guitar and, to my surprise, backing vocals from Stefan Breuer of The World Of Dust. The song was originally acoustic guitar and vocals, but when he sent me back electric parts, I knew I had to expand the song and recorded bass and drums to accommodate. As for his backing vocals, I’m amazed he did them at all since I didn’t send him lyrics. I forget why the vocals on “Post-Pavement Boy” sound like that. No Hello Whirled song makes me viscerally uncomfortable like “Sky Puppy”. The higher vocals and ukulele were done by Mads McBride, who I would soon date for 1 month and break up with for another month. They’re the best part of the song but god it is not easy to listen to. More on that in the next post. Do not send any disrespect their way, they don’t deserve it. It’s a good song, I just have a hard time with it. I forgot they sang that high. I’m sorry, it just makes me think about how good that summer was (as good as it could have been) and how awful the following autumn got as a result. “Speak First”, incidentally, was about how I felt I wasn’t connecting with Mads, even though it was obvious to everyone who knew us that something was brewing. I cannot divorce this album from the time I spent with that group of Internet friends, all of whom I cut off contact from when I broke up with Mads during the making of Equinox. I figure none of those people are going to read this, or at least I hope. This song rocks so hard. There’s only one guitar for most of the song, but I used a built-in mic on my Tascam alongside my actual mic to make the guitar stereo. I was listening to a lot of Yo La Tengo and thought they did this sort of thing, so I wanted to try it out. I was excited to give “Ace Of Eyes” another go-around but I don’t know what the new version really adds to it. It was perfect the first time, so now there are 2 equal versions of the song sitting around. This one has 2 basses, that’s gotta count for something. “I Sing For The Clouds” was, at the time, about Will Toledo and Lindsey Jordan having Matador contracts. Jokes on me, I loved Lush and still have a soft spot for me. Car Seat Headrest can suck it. “Daymare” was pushed as the hit at the time, and it’s easy to see why. First off, most people don’t know it’s a real word. Second off, it’s catchy. “424 Shape” features the synth stylings of Dominic Linde, someone I didn’t know tremendously well then and haven’t talked to in years. This song gives the album its namesake. The keyboard part at around 40 seconds in is a standout part of the whole album. “Royal Church On High” is the song that inspired me to do remakes for this album. It came out okay enough. The feedback in the beginning of “A Living Room In My Head” was from another song, but not as a sample. I had mixed down a song called “High Functioning Inadequacy” but wasn’t pleased with it so it got cut from the album. I hadn’t yet deleted the song from my Tascam so I just recorded over it. 57 seconds in, there’s an incredible harmony. The song is worth listening to just for that bit. “Updated Devil” remains one of my favorite Hello Whirled songs. It’s a depressed and blunt take on mental health and the way “outsider art” is perceived by the masses. I watched The Devil and Daniel Johnson very late one night and it sure gave me a lot to think about. It’s also the only time (that I remember) that I dared to say “hello world” in the lyrics. It was used deliberately here to represent someone talking to me. “Puzzle Piece” is an Autism Speaks diss track. I’m glad I wrote it. It kicks ass. That’s not a very elegant or eloquent way of putting it, but it has an edge to it that justifies this kind of statement. It’s been over 3 years since I’ve heard that bridge in “Lavender Moon”, I totally forgot that was there. It wasn’t mind-blowing on its own, just that I’d forgotten about it. I’m never sure how to feel about “The Black River”. I thought it was a huge deal at the time, but what I mostly remember about now is that Jared from Sun Tunnel plays guitar on it because I’d written the song on bass and couldn’t think of a guitar part. It’s like the opposite of “Third Generation Diamond”. This isn’t the last we’ll hear from Jared on a Hello Whirled song either, but that’ll be a bit different when we get there.

This is a collection of outtakes from Open Casket Beach and Only Mostly There. There’s nothing really mind-blowing here but it’s cool to hear what could have been. “Swan Cave” is what “Puzzle Piece” started as. The acoustic guitars at the end are too loud but it’s not actually a bad song, it just hadn’t realized its full potential. That and “Just Forever” were among the first batch of songs recorded for Open Casket Beach . “Epilogue” was chopped off the end of “Star Crossed Dreams”.

I bought a bass amp and decided to record all the guitars and basses through the headphone jack of it for the entire album. “What Goes On In Those Houses” remains an all-time favorite of mine. I couldn’t explain why, just that it does something for me that holds up 3 years later. “No More 3AM” is about staying up too late every night (as was “4AM” on the prior release). “ShopRite, July 27” is a collection of notes I wrote in that store on that day. The note on the album cover may have also been from this day, but it was probably from earlier. “Murmur” uses a lot of lyrics from an old song from a side project, but I forget which. It’s a good tune but not the most memorable. “Wedding Bells”, however, is quite memorable. This was one of the first songs I remember finishing for the album, and its simplicity is perhaps its greatest strength. I said in an earlier post that I only ever wrote one song with the 12-bar blues. I was wrong, “Surfing Yeah” uses it too. It’s a joke song that only made the album because I thought it was funny. “Only Mostly There” returns in more powerful form. “Avalanche” may be my only song to prominent;y feature a 12-string guitar. It’s a great tune, feels grand to my ears.

Sometimes I wonder why I made this one. I think it was the rush of knowing I still had some creative juices flowing at the end of summer. The intro from “White Wine Cities” is indeed from the Only Mostly There sessions. The song is about middle-class suburban wine moms. These days, they may be called Karens. “The Eyesore of Towne Square” would be about quitting my awful supermarket job, but the vocals are so buried that the lyrics don’t really land. A recurring theme on this album is me running my guitar through my bass amp instead of my guitar amp, because the distortion comes through very differently. It’s present on “The Meaning Of Life” in particular. It’s not, however, present on “Astral Flyer Come Home”, which is about a child getting lost in outer space and dying alone in the cosmos. I don’t think I feel so fondly about it now but at the time I thought it was beautiful. “Ourselves Be Ourselves” is still beautiful. About time I wrote my big angry queer epic. It still holds up. I still love all 10 minutes and 46 seconds of it. Hey, if that doesn’t sell you on it, how about two guitar solos? That might work.

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