White Feather

May 3, 2009 4:02 AM

Slightly absurd to try to describe music in words - have a listen and let me know what you think.

posted by MajorDundee (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

Not really my own particular cup of tea, but very well performed and recorded - I particularly liked the vocals. Excellent.
posted by metagnathous at 7:09 PM on May 3, 2009

One of the poppiest things I've heard around MeFiMu in quite a while. It's very well done, and I think the track has that certain synth-pop 'coldness' that your voice aligns with in a most unexpected way. And your singing is really very good. I personally would've left the guitar solo out, in favor of something, well, different, but then again, the guitar solo only enhances the song's 'poppiness', so it's probably a good thing, in the end.

I dig where you're coming from with the abrupt ending, but it was just a little too abrupt for my taste... just a wee bit of extending that last vocal note, or having, say, one synth note linger and fade for just a little longer, something that just kind of subtly acknowledges an ending, I think that'd be better.

I'll tell you, though, with a sound like this I think you could get some sort of record deal. If that's what you want. I think a lot of people out there would really dig this.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:38 PM on May 3, 2009

Thanks for the comments/ const.crit. guys. A record deal is definitely not what I want - I'd rather eat my own hair than go there again! Thing is - soon as you sign a deal with someone they start trying to push you in a particular direction. And it's not very pleasant. My way means that no-one does that, and I have total artistic freedom. The corporate music business - where the emphasis in the phrase is squarely on "business" i.e. money -
is death to creativity. It would be great if everyone just rejected that and the musicians took control. Contrary to what I sound like, my attitude to the business if very much a UK "punk" ethic - i.e f*ck the suits we're doing it ourselves.
I'll be uploading some more stuff in due course and look forward to more opinions. I write, perform and record this stuff on my own and, like all "artistes", I need to reach out sometimes to get reassurance that some of it's not too bad. Good feedback keeps me keepin' on....
posted by MajorDundee at 10:20 AM on May 4, 2009

I counter you with Black Feather
posted by poppo at 11:57 AM on May 4, 2009

And your singing is really very good

Indeed. The delivery is really perfect for this song. While the song was going I was thinking how round the song was and how every part of the song worked perfectly with the others, but when the solo came in, it was the only part of the song that didn't feel as perfect as the others. It sounds a bit too "metal" in my opinion. It's perfectly well played, but I think it would be better in another song.

Hope you don't mind the opinion, I don't mean it as a put-down.
posted by micayetoca at 1:09 PM on May 4, 2009

Lovely synth-pop! The vocal delivery, as was already said, is perfect for the track. Definitely looking forward to hearing more from you.
posted by potch at 1:59 PM on May 4, 2009

Poppo - I'm sure that I felt the ghostly presence of Mr Morrison in this one. And that's just fine by me! Thought though that the harpischord/clavinet figure was crying out to go up to an E at certain points - kept waiting for you to go there, but no..... Kind of leaves the figure unresolved - but maybe that's the idea (creates tension)? Also thought the vocal could be a little more prominent in the mix. Cool track.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:30 PM on May 4, 2009

micayetoca - no offence taken. Frankly, I was in two minds about that part of the track. But it felt at that point that it needed something to break things up a bit, so I reached for my trusty ES175. Without that part the song would have been pretty linear and boring. Strange that some people really like that bit and think it's the best part of the track (I don't by the way - it's just a bit of bog-standard guitar fill - took all of 30 seconds to write - but I guess it does the "break up" job well enough).

I don't do much synth/keyboard-led stuff (incompetence), so I suspect any other stuff I upload is bound to disappoint!
posted by MajorDundee at 2:43 PM on May 4, 2009

I really liked that, very interesting melody and vocal delivery. Great production, too.
posted by raisindebt at 7:45 PM on May 4, 2009

This is pretty cool! The best new song I've heard in a while (not just on MeFi). It's both rather intricate and catchy, which is really hard to pull off. The vocal is great -- it kind of made me think of David Bowie. Most of all, the production is interesting and extremely well done. I quite liked the guitar part. I agree with others that it doesn't exactly fit, but it's a surprise I didn't mind. With repeated listens I think it helps the track.

Can you post the lyrics? What's the idea behind the song?
posted by edlundart at 10:21 PM on May 7, 2009

A record deal is definitely not what I want

You're not only talented, but smart, too!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:34 AM on May 8, 2009

After listening to it only once, I thought that the guitar fit well, based on what I assumed the lyrics to be. I pictured it being about a soldier going out to war, and someone behind not believing in the nobility of the endeavour. In that case, the guitar sounds like a nod to the music that the soldier might listen to, as opposed to the more liquid, reverby, synth-based rest of the song.

This is probably totally wrong, but hopefully it is useful to hear possible first impressions of the tune.

It's a real trick to create a layered wash like that. I'm always afraid to use that much reverb, but you pull it off. It sounds cohesive. Would you mind telling us a little about your recording process?
posted by umbĂș at 6:32 AM on May 8, 2009

Here's the lyric:

I remember that morning
Seems like years ago
Crowds at the docks and people waving
Flags flying

Vainglorious and uniformed
We had brand new toys
"Be home by Christmas boys"
What I lie that was....

She gave me a feather
A white feather
From her pretty feather bed
She said "follow my brother"
I followed her brother
This is where he led

If you hear these words again remember they're a fucking lie
"Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori"

Shouting for water, some shout for a priest
In this godless place
Absurd in no-man's land
Don't cry for you mother boy
It tears me into pieces
Worse than shells in no-man's land

She gave me a feather etc

Are you happy?

What's it about? I guess I was trying to imagine a situation that probably occurred many time during WW1 or any war come to that. A guy who's smart enough to know that volunteering is for suckers but who's girlfriend decides to shut up shop unless he "does the decent thing" and joins up. So, like fool, he does her bidding. And lives to regret it. Hence the bitter final line "Are you happy???". The abrupt end to the track is a rather clumsy attempt at depicting his demise..........snuffed out in an instant.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:27 PM on May 8, 2009

umbu - I too am very wary of using too much reverb or delay. It's normally the hallmark of amateur recordings. My golden rule is that reverb shouldn't be noticeable unless you specifically want it to be for the purposes of effect (if that makes sense). I wanted to create a feeling of space and distance in this track, and a compressed and panned longish 'verb was the right effect. It just worked - and if it sounds good, it is good. There are 4 different reverbs on this track.

Process - nothing out of the ordinary. I work alone, so it's all overdubs. And I don't always do things the same way - it depends on what triggers the creative process. However, in general terms: Start with the basic drums/percussion. Then basic chords. Then bass. Then a guide vocal. Then "proper" chords - guitar. keyboard, whatever. Then "proper" vocal. Then solos/fills/percussion overdubs/whatever. Then rough mix. Then leave it alone for two weeks. Then play it in the car, on headphones, on hi-fi, on anything and see whether it sounds good on everything. Then tweak the mix accordingly. Then do the "testing" again. Then absolutely final, last and once-and-for-all mix. By then you never want to hear the fucking thing EVER AGAIN!!

Seven steps to heaven:
- if the song can be played on an acoustic guitar and still sound good, you're on to
- build the track round the vocal part - do NOT leave the vocal till last;
- keep it simple;
- don't get cute: just 'cos you can play at 90 miles an hour doesn't mean that that sounds good - do what's right for the track and leave the showboating/aural wanking out of it;
- work quickly;
- go for performance over over perfection; and
- if it doesn't sound good from the get-go it's a piece of crap and you're wasting your time!

Equipment used on this track:
Yamaha AW2400
Korg Triton LE
Gibson ES175
Fender Super Champ
Rode K2 (excellent tube mic) - vocal
AKG C4050B - guitar
Korg TP2 - tube pre-amp/compressor
Lexicon MX200
posted by MajorDundee at 3:20 PM on May 8, 2009

Thanks for posting the lyrics. I think they're interesting just like other aspects of the song.
posted by edlundart at 3:39 PM on May 11, 2009

I have been mildly obsessed with this song since it was posted and have listened to it at least twice each day for the past week.

I wasn't familiar with the symbolism of the white feather and actually had to look it up on Wikipedia to fully understand the lyrics. On first listen, I had assumed the lyrics were mystical -- they work well that way, too, and are elliptical enough to let the listener fill in details from their own imagination.

But for those who don't know, as I imagine many Americans won't, in the British Army, the white feather is a symbol of cowardice. As WWI broke out, a tradition was begun in which women would give men who weren't wearing a uniform a white feather, implying they were cowards for not enlisting.

Musically, this is simply brilliant, in my opinion. Very moody and atmospheric, in the vein of David Sylvian or Bryan Ferry; I'm a sucker for that sound. Extremely well produced too, and the vocal's perfect (as is the guitar solo). I'm looking forward to more of your stuff.
posted by kindall at 7:40 PM on May 12, 2009

Kindall - very many thanks for the feedback. I (wrongly) assumed that the white feather was a widely recognised symbol of cowardice. Helpful of you to elucidate for US members. I'll be uploading another track in a day or two, but have to admit to some trepidation given how well received this one has been. Most of my material is guitar-based and, sonically at least, "White Feather" is slightly anomalous and perhaps unrepresentative. But what the hell........
posted by MajorDundee at 1:43 PM on May 13, 2009

It is entirely possible that every American but me knows about the white feather. But just in case...
posted by kindall at 2:57 PM on May 13, 2009

I'm back listening to this song... I just really enjoy it. Thanks, kindall, for the info about the white feather symbolism. I didn't know that either, and it makes the song's meaning that much clearer to me. I love the reverb in the chorus, and the vocal phrasing is so fluid and natural. Great stuff.
posted by edlundart at 11:34 PM on August 11, 2009

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