July 24, 2009 1:10 PM

Very little idea what this is really about....but it sounds like something written by a slightly loopy obsessive. That'll be me then....

Joking apart, I've never really been able to make head nor tail of this one. It has a faintly sinister, voyeuristic whiff that, to me at least, is a little unsettling. Sounds like it was written by someone not quite the full shilling*. On the other hand, the lyric might simply be a bag of old bollocks. Thought about stealing a line from Bowie's "Time" for the title: "The Sniper In The Brain". But that's a bit wide of the mark. I've had bizarre, contradictory reactions to it - someone actually wanted to play it at their wedding. I was both horrified and utterly mystified by that. Anyway - hope some of you like it.

*Brit term for a nutcase, crazy, weirdo. The full phrase is "A penny short of a shilling".

posted by MajorDundee (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I love the acoustic bass--it wouldn't have been the same with an electric. The low amplitude modulation in the left channel electric guit comes in at just the right time--the whole thing is really beautifully structured. Once again, feels like you're back in your comfortable vocal range, too. When you're there, it all just meshes in all the right ways. I'd love to hear you do a Bowie cover or two--maybe something like Sunday.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 2:11 PM on July 24, 2009

Thanks LOOM - your comments are, as ever, constructive and appreciated. The vocal on this isn't top-drawer: the intonation is iffy in places. From what I remember this one was done very quickly, and there was something there so I just let it be. You'll have gathered by now that I've been uploading stuff from my archive lately. Some newer material is in preparation.

Bowie. Can't quite fathom the connection there. I don't think I sound anything like him. But the interesting thing is that as an adolescent he was one of my heroes (pun intended). And what fascinates me is that his influence must, I guess, have seeped into my pores undetected. However it would, to me, be rather pointless doing a Bowie cover. If my vocal is, occasionally, close to his in timbre or whatever as soon as you hear me doing one of his numbers the pale and sickly imitation that I unintentionally produce will be starkly exposed. So....I don't think so..

What I might consider however is a compromise. I'm a huge fan of Jacques Brel (I'm sure you'll be aware of him, but in case you're not: Belgian singer-songwriter who sang mostly in French, occasionally in Flemish - a fucking genius - check out the compilation "Jacques Brel Infiniment" - 'nuff said). So is DB (Amsterdam, My Death - both Brel compositions). So I could have a go at a lesser-known Brel number - maybe something like the sublime Ces Gens-La. Jesus - I'd be terrified tackling something like that though......
posted by MajorDundee at 3:24 PM on July 24, 2009

I've actually performed Amsterdam, and have been trying to work out a version of My Death for quite some time. That would definitely be worth a shot. I have a rendition of Alabama Song (not Brel, but Brecht, and another favourite of Bowie's) around here somewhere, that I wrote for Bari Sax, Flute, and some keyboard instrument or another (I've toyed with electric organ, accordion (which was hilariously terrible, on my part), and a couple others, but can't quite find the right match), which might benefit from your breathy baritone.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 5:32 PM on July 24, 2009

Love the tremolo on guitar toward the end there (I'm a huge sucker for tremolo), and how the song didn't end on the tonic. Listening to the lyrics, couldn't help but think of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins' classic. Gotta see him live, too, if you never have!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:22 PM on July 24, 2009

FJX - thanks - kind as ever. No it didn't end on the tonic, more like the gin and tonic - heh. I don't know what a tonic is anyway, to be frank.

LOOM - is there anywhere you can upload your backing track for the Alabama Song? I'd take a shot at it. The Doors did a version of this too, if memory serves....
posted by MajorDundee at 1:32 AM on July 25, 2009

Holy mackerel, and I thought I was the music theory primitive around here! Anyway, the tonic is the key note, the root: if the song is in A, the tonic is A.

But as long as you're pouring, yeah, I'll have a gin and tonic, as well...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:49 AM on July 25, 2009

My lack of theoretical knowledge is truly embarrassing. You cannot possibly be as abjectly crap as I am FJX. I don't even know what most of the chords I play are called. Once you get past the very basic stuff - minors and majors - I'm fucked, and even with them I have to work it out by the equivalent of counting on my fingers. I was going to say, arrogantly, that it's never held me back because I have a good ear and - I was once told - perfect pitch, but that's utter rubbish. Clearly if I knew what I was doing I could improve and produce better music. But......I'm fundamentally lazy and if my music became hard work it would kill it for me. I kind of like my ignorance......there's a sort of freedom with it - no little voice saying "hey - you can't do that".
posted by MajorDundee at 9:03 AM on July 25, 2009

Theoretical knowledge or not, it's very clear that you know what you're doing, man! Your instrumentation is AWESOME and there are lots of little subtleties that make this definitely worth listening to with earphones.

flapjax mentioned above about your not ending on the tonic, and I'm thankful that he did. The effect it has is to leave one waiting for the next note, so it's kinda like an invisible hook. It really works well in this song.

Good show!
posted by snsranch at 4:24 PM on July 25, 2009

I just love your production and the structure of your arrangements. That bass sounds sweet too. Another good track!
posted by edlundart at 10:31 PM on July 25, 2009

I'm diggin the chorus progression. Just goes to show that music theory has got nothing on the ear.
posted by ageispolis at 2:22 PM on July 26, 2009

My lack of theoretical knowledge is truly embarrassing.

Eh, I know I like to wonk out on the stuff but theory is (obviously) not anything you need to make rock-solid music. There's plenty of people who are great at theory and shit at actual songwriting/composition, at that.

I like the synth string line that comes in at the end, gives it a nice extra lift for the outro.

Bowie. Can't quite fathom the connection there. I don't think I sound anything like him.

I'll back LOOM up, here: my wife and I both thought of Bowie the first time we listened to your recordings on Music. Not like you were separated at birth or anything, and there's lots of timbral and phonetic differences in your voices, but something in your overall tone and your phrasal sensibilities seems very much like Bowie at times. I'd love to hear you do something by him as well at some point.
posted by cortex at 9:01 AM on July 29, 2009

my wife and I both thought of Bowie the first time we listened to your recordings on Music

I always think of Tom Robinson. Great vocals as usual, Major.
posted by chococat at 10:06 PM on July 29, 2009

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