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13. 2019 Quartered

Been a long time since I’ve done one of these. It’s been a busy few weeks but I can finally start doing these again without it eating into my time. I had just moved into a campus apartment and wanted to get into a groove, so I recorded this. “Heavy Like The World” is great. Evidently, I didn’t really do the guitar solo justice, but it doesn’t bother me much. I think it’s a great cover of an incredible song. I could say the same for “Gulf War Song”, which may be my favorite Cleaners From Venus song. Let the record show that I covered “Emma’s House” before Black Marble. The cover of Writer’s Block 5 is an homage to a few Field Mice singles, so it felt right to do that one here. I can’t believe I put a feedback solo in it. I remember thinking these covers were pretty sloppy at the time but I’m really proud of a lot of the vocals here. “The Frontier Index” was a tribute to David Berman, who had died earlier that month. It’s funny hearing “Power Bird” on here considering that, at the time, I only liked two Kleenex Girl Wonder songs (that being one of them), and now I like hundreds.

This EP is a mix of Quartered outtakes and Trends outtakes. When I released You Are Not Immune To Trends, I had work that day, and I spent my whole shift agonizing over whether or not cutting “Remember The Imperfections (Version 1)” was the right decision. “Body Scissors” is better than I remember but it wouldn’t have fit on Trends at all. The following songs aren’t forgettable, just not the most amazing things ever, except maybe “The World Open” which I wrote and recorded instantaneously very stoned one night. I also recorded “Strange Victory, Strange Defeat” at night, but I was very sober and very depressed.

“Movement One” was going to open Quartered for a long time. I don’t remember why I axed it, but it might have to do with its sparseness and bleakness. Attentive fans will recognize “Major League Valentine” as “Screening” from Hole Of Infinity. “Third” is good, but I probably cut it because there were too many remakes on Quartered as is. “Every Little Step of the Way” took way too much work to get right, and I cut it anyway because the percussion was too loud.

This is an interesting release, in a sense. The first half is the last of the Quartered outtakes, which I believe to me of lesser quality than Two Shapes. The second half, however, is a live show that happened a few days before Quartered released. “Compass Rose” is good but a bit plain for what the album demanded. “Les Maisons Identiques” is a blatant Stereolab ripoff (specifically “Wow And Flutter”) but I thought it was kind of funny. “I Hope You’re Doing Okay Out There” was actually part of the original Quartered album sequence, and it wasn’t cut until the last minute. I forget where it was exactly was in the running order, but it was near “Run From Heaven”. I really like “Point Forever Knowing” but for whatever reason I didn’t think it belonged on Quartered. I’ll get into more detail later about why that album had so many remakes on it, but I’ll say now that this probably could have fit on there somewhere. The live portion is fine I guess. It is, to date, the last full-band Hello Whirled show, ending a 4-concert streak of such circumstances. I had planned to do this show solo, but a friend offered to play bass and things spiraled. Probably the most interesting thing about this show is that I forgot to tune back to standard for “Don’t Stress Myself”.

Depending on when you ask me, this may be my favorite pre-2020 Hello Whirled album. It balances the more ramshackle aspects of HW with the more thought-out songwriting to make a clear statement. That statement is “please help me”. “Learning” is a monster of an opener. For most of the album cycle, I considered it the surefire hit of the album. “Don’t Stress Myself” dates back to 2013, curiously enough. Yeah, now might be a good time to mention that I re-recorded a lot of songs from my pre-HW projects. This is one of them. I recorded the song by pointing my microphone away from what I was recording, then jacking up the compressor. It sounds pretty lo-fi as a result. Oh yeah, the lyrics are mostly new. The music is all 2013 though. “Remember The Imperfections” returns here. It doesn’t sound the way I’d hoped it would when I cut it from Trends with a different sound in mind, but I think it works nonetheless. “Vibrator” is from 2016 and I don’t think I changed much from the original. “A Daughter Of The Scion Dealership” is an unreleased song from 2015 that always sat in the back of my mind as something to return to. This retains most of the characteristics of the original demo, which may still be online somewhere. By now you may have noticed that the first 5 songs on Quartered match the first 5 songs of the last HW concert. The setlist was actually made first, and when I finished Quartered I realized that order worked to open the album. The fact that my favorite songs on this album aren’t in these first 5 (save maybe “Learning”) is telling of something, I’m sure. “Old Love” was one of the last songs I recorded for the album, and it remains a favorite of mine. It just rules. I don’t want to say I should re-record it but at this rate it may be the only way it’ll get the credit it deserves. “Run From Heaven” is my favorite pre-2020 Hello Whirled song. It was the last song I wrote for the album (I think) and it rocks a lot. “Traction/The 19th” were two songs from my high school band that I always really liked. Although I don’t really like writing “word salad” lyrics like this song has, I didn’t change any of the words. “End Of An Error” is from 2016, and like a bunch of these I didn’t change any of the words. “Change Without Effort” is amazing in that the verse only runs once, and the outro runs for over a minute, and I think it uses its time very well. I never would have expected a relative throwaway like “Hit Me With Your Car” to become my biggest hit. I didn’t promote it, it didn’t get a video or anything, I didn’t say “hey listen to this song”, but I performed it live once (see: next blog entry) and suddenly I noticed it grow in my Spotify plays. It currently has around 2600 plays on there. It’s in a playlist called “SONGS ABOUT VEHICULAR MANSLAUGHTER”. I don’t get it. I’d be happier with something like “Paper Heart Queen” being my biggest hit. “Rock Fucking Bottom” is the saddest Hello Whirled song. I wrote and recorded it at 12:30 in the morning. I don’t really want to describe it, even listening to it tends to make me feel a little worse. “The Slow Dance of Death” is another sort of mental breakdown song (it was meant to be the sibling to “Movement One”). It kind of really drags on, but hey at least it’s the longest song I’ve ever done.

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