Whistling in the Dark

January 9, 2015 12:57 PM

Here is my cover of Whistling in the Dark for the Mefi Music tribute to the They Might Be Giants' album Flood, for the album's 25th anniversary.

Man, this was fun to do. Martin Simpson, Martin Short, Mott the Hoople, and Manuel Donayre battled it out in my head, and this is what came out somehow.

posted by umbú (12 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

This is so much fun. Really dig how you pushed the timing on the chorus callouts.

There's some nice Ben Folds "Do It Anyway" vibe in those "be you / be what you like" shouts, too.
posted by cortex at 1:16 PM on January 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I hear Will Sheff (Okkervil River) in those shouts. Love the guitar work on this, love the outro.
posted by valrus at 6:04 PM on January 10, 2015

I really like this. Be like yourself! This is super enjoyable. The percussion bits and the outro make me giddy!
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 9:06 PM on January 10, 2015

Thanks, all! Valrus, that's funny that you say that. When I started this project, I realized quickly that my voice was really rusty, since I haven't recorded or played/sung much (except for learning how to play the piano). My voice doesn't usually do want I want it to, but right now, it was especially unruly, and I knew that I couldn't whip it into shape before the Flood project deadline.

So I started experimenting with a shouty thing, and the thought crossed my mind that if Mott the Hoople and the guy from Okkervil River can do it, so can I, right?

I really like Will Sheff. I was in the Austin airport once, at the Salt Lick Barbecue. They were really backed up, and I ended up waiting for my bbq right behind Will Sheff, and he looked really familiar to me. Okkervil River used to play at Club deVille in Austin over a decade ago when they were starting out, and I saw them there, but really didn't like them at the time. It was only when I heard the record Black Sheep Boy that I realized they were actually something really interesting, and worthwhile.

Anyway, I think maybe it helped that at the time I wasn't a big fan, because it kept me from acting like a starry-eyed fan. We chatted for 20 minutes or so in line, and he was a great guy.
posted by umbú at 12:34 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

That's awesome! I was all sad that it was over and then there was an outro.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:35 PM on January 11, 2015

Thanks, uncleozzy. Save me! What am I doing wrong with my vocal mixing? I messed with it so long, and it still sounds wrong, I think.
posted by umbú at 2:43 PM on January 11, 2015

This sounds like it could have been the apex of outsider music. It's beautiful and full of emotion and interesting twists and turns.
posted by not_on_display at 11:07 PM on January 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

I don't know anything about vocal mixing from a technical perspective, but I, for one, love the way the vocals sound in comparison to the rest.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:45 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

What am I doing wrong with my vocal mixing?

Nothing? Honestly, I think the dark, in-a-can vocals complement the bright, buzzy guitar really well.

I would have done it differently, because I only work one way, pretty much, but it wouldn't have had the same vibe, and I think this is the right vibe for the rest of the arrangement.
posted by uncleozzy at 1:33 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

This is really fun. Love the false ending. I like how you kind of "broke" the chorus. I also laughed each time you emphasized "well". I really like this.
posted by Slothomatic at 10:07 PM on January 12, 2015 [2 favorites]

I really dig the ending to this song as an alternate reading of the original recursive theme.
posted by not_on_display at 11:06 PM on January 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Wow that guitar playing really won me over. The way the guitar starts immediately with the vocal without any time to get used to the pattern was disorienting in a very engaging way and then as I start to get into it the fun percussion parts come in and the whole thing is a great jam. Especially the outro.

I, too, like the way the vocals got mixed on this.

Thanks so much for sharing this!
posted by straight at 11:30 PM on December 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

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