Block Party, And A Secret Admission

So we’re learning about the give-and-take necessary to be in an actual band, that you can’t always push through every idea you have, and you can’t always squash every idea you don’t like so much. I don’t expect that’s unique to us.

I’ll throw out an admission – not everything we’ve done is my favorite thing in the world. Sometimes you’ve got to play your part, not be the captain, and that means that you’re going to have some finished products that you wish were different, or even some where you don’t think the original idea is all that good. But you’re not the band, you’re the player, and if you want your mates to go your way when it matters, you’ve got to be willing to do the same for them.

If you want the product to reflect the band, sometimes it’s not going to reflect you.

All that is a prelude to my thoughts on listening to Gecko’s demo track for the new song that Gator has supplied, “Block Party”.

I am pretty famous at this point for dragging my feet until the mood strikes me to produce some actual work, and that extends in many cases to waiting weeks to listen to the demos that arrive in my mailbox. In this case, I wish I’d listened sooner, because here’s the deal…

Block Party is fantastic.

If I didn’t already know how good the lyric is, I’d push to release Gecko’s demo as an instrumental. It’s that good, it’s moving, and it totally reflects the LFA sound that’s emerged over the last year of work.

This is going to be, in my opinion, the statement track for what we’re going to call the “album”. We’re old guys, and we still cling to that idea that albums are a good thing, a way to group a song collection that has some thematic worth when taken as a whole. And there’s going to be some work involved in making the tracks we’ve collected work that way, certainly. It’s likely to be sort of a self-centered enterprise to do so, I guess, as I don’t picture many people listening to the whole thing as we sequence it, but like I said, we’re stubborn like that.

And in my view, Block Party has already made its case to me as the album closer. What a beautiful song this is. It earns its seven minutes, and I’m probably the strongest supporter of brevity for these songs, so that’s saying something coming from me.

Great work, Gecko. Block Party has done something that happens way too infrequently – it’s inspired me.

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41 Responses to “Block Party, And A Secret Admission”

  1. Hey, Chopper! I’m touched. I also have to say it was Gator’s lyrics that inspired me. They are extraordinary. When I read them this music came to me fairly quickly and wouldn’t let go. It fairly burned a whole in my head until I recorded a demo, even though I said I was taking a break for a few weeks. Turns out I just can’t stop myself.

    There are still things to work on, and it’s hardly perfect (whatever that would be), but I’ll post the flacs this eve so you guys can work on your parts. I’m wondering if you, Newt, can record an acoustic guitar part. Do you even have an acoustic guitar? At any rate, I recorded my electric as I imagined the acoustic, but of course a clean electric just doesn’t quite have the emotional rhythmic impact of an acoustic–but I don’t have my acoustic handy.

    Or you can judge when you hear the music if the acoustic guitar track is needed at all. I think it is, but with the other music in there, and some solid bass guitar, it may not be in the end.

  2. choppernewt Says:

    Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. I can get my hands on an acoustic, I think.

    I don’t think there’s a whole lot to add to this, actually, just a drum track and whatever guitar accents I can come up with. I wish I had an e-bow. That would do the trick.

  3. You have to add the bass guitar, too. I don’t think my electric tuned down works, and I played that part pretty sloppily, too, since I didn’t think it was staying.

    An ebow would be cool!

  4. choppernewt Says:

    Wow, is that what you did for the bass? I figured you’d gone ahead and stolen that one you were talking about. The sound was pretty damn good. I did hear a couple flubs in there.

    I’d suck it up and buy an e-bow if I could be sure I’d be able to make it work like I want it to. They’re too damn expensive for a blind buy. I’m afraid it would be the slide experiment all over again, except the slide only cost like five bucks or something, not a hundred.

  5. Yeah, I’ve seen the ebow played, and heard its amazing results, but I don’t have $100 to blow on something that I don’t know how to use. I’m still hoping to come by a couple hundred to blow on a real Fender tele neck to replace my crappy squier neck (which seems to get worse as the weather gets colder). Of course, a couple hundred will only get me the low-end Fender necks, or the Mexican ones. A high-end American neck is about $600, or more.

    Haven’t gotten around to stealing the Fender bass–I figure I have to ask my brother-in-law for it, and I’m afraid he’ll say no, especially if he figures out how much it is worth! But I digitally tuned down the guitar and it sounded pretty nice. At the time I was imagining no rhythm part for this song, but I needed the bass line to help keep me in time, etc.

    Will upload flacs this eve, then possibly I’ll do a blistering guitar part for Gator’s outstanding new punk lyric! This is in lieu of grading the 70 exams sitting on my floor….

  6. I am also very fond of these lyrics and the music. I fear that I will definitely need Chopper’s vocals prior to any drum recording.

    “Pent: You’re driving me insane.
    I came up with a great piano melody for block party…”

    Sorry Gecko for the insanity inducing, I just “hear” piano in parts of it…but I get it if your vision is “starkness” and “simplicity”.

    I don’t know what an ebow is…I’ll guess it’s a bow but for guitar?
    …and don’t you think a fretless bass would just add some mood on this?

  7. this is an ebow.

  8. Does anyone have any “popular” song references that I could listen to and understand what an ebow could sound like when used within a song?

  9. Not off hand, but you could check out the ebow website.

    But if you really want fun, check out your inboxes for a demo I just did of Gator’s new German-British folk hero rebel sesamestrasse punk lyric!

  10. opening high sustaining guitar part the Edge plays on With or Without You by U2.

    Ebow the Letter: REM

    come to mind…
    the wiki has many more.

  11. I remember back in the 80s when I was just really getting into playing guitar I was baffled by With Or Without You because I could not for the life of me figure out how the Edge played that part. Turns out he uses an infinite guitar, not an ebow (although he apparently often uses the ebow to play the song live–which I can’t verify since, if can you believe it, I’ve never seen U2 live. Bono did come into a bar I was at in Nice, France, though.)

  12. choppernewt Says:

    Yeah, I think I thought the high part was probably Edge just being really good at manipulating the volume knob while playing to get that fade-in effect, although that’s kind of the same effect I’d be looking for from an ebow. More specifically, I’d be wanting the kind of background feedback that permeates Automatic For The People, and I guess I’m not convinced that I’d get it.

  13. choppernewt Says:

    I saw U2 live, but it was the Popmart tour, and I sort of felt like it didn’t really count, as it was kind of like I imagine watching a Vegas showbiz spectacular might be like, which IS something I’ve never done.

    It was awesome, though. Freakin’ big lemon and shit.

  14. So what song are we working on next?
    – Block Party
    – Poster Child
    – 220300

  15. choppernewt Says:

    Shit, Charlie, we’ve been issued a challenge! We’re going to have 258412 done by Friday! Yeeeeee-HAW!!!

    Piece of cake.

    OK, maybe like by after midnight Saturday morning, technically.

    This can be our first official B-side!

  16. Did you listen to the 202330 demo? I’m proud of how well it came out. Chris said he wanted some rock, eh voila!

    I don’t really care what we do next, but in proper order:

    GFW
    Poster Child
    Block Party
    202330

    But we might be skipping GFW for now, and Gator had some notion of getting 202330 out soon. I doubt we can make his deadline of this week anyway, however, so there’s no rush. Much depends on Chopski’s whim, no?

  17. Funny, I had my comment sitting on the computer screen unsent, which I noticed when I walked by the computer (have to take regular breaks from grading or I go mad), and here I see Chopper has in the meantime taken up Gator’s challenge. Killer, as we used to say back in the 80s!

  18. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written out a comment and forgot to hit the submit comment button.

  19. If I failed to mention it before, all the flacs for, well, everything are now posted on the uploader, including and especially the new song, 202330–except for the German Report file, which I e-mailed.

    Finished grading two classes. One to go. Oh, godz, do I need some whiskey.

  20. an infinite guitar.. wow. never knew such a creature existed.
    i stand corrected and intrigued.

  21. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_Guitar

    Everything is on wikipedia. It’s scary. But there isn’t a Lizards entry yet, nor a Cuttlefish one!

  22. I’m not sure I’m comfortable being a disambiguation.

  23. I’ve tried frequently to put us on Wikipedia (and be disambigufied) but those moderators on there LOVE having the power to say what can or cannot be on.
    You’re supposed to be able to have a “hearing” to give your case, but they dumped us off without one even though I requested it.

  24. I’ve got the same problem in terms of leaving things in the inbox. I’ve started to say ‘fuck it’ at work and just download the tracks there so I can be sure to at least hear them … and when I do that, it’s a lot easier to convince myself to sit down and download them into the iPod when I get home.

    I’m really glad Block Party’s going to work out, though I’m also glad we cranked out 202330 in a week! I agree that the music done for it is just heart-rending stuff.

  25. The music tears my bottom a new bottom.

  26. choppernewt Says:

    OK, the vocal is done, and I didn’t get to answer Gecko’s email from home although I read it.

    With regard to the fact that the vocal never goes into full-on Bono overdrive, I did get the telegraph that maybe it was expected to in the last couple verses with the swell of the music – here’s why I didn’t do that. Just in terms of creating a character (which despite what Dr. Ficca may have thought, I do attept to do – no escape from the bubble), my interpretation of the speaker and his situation is that when we get to the EMT part, we are now in the present, and this is the point where he is telling this story – and I wanted to convey a numbness, a lack of that kind of shirt-tearing grief. I wanted this to not have sunk in at all for this guy, and he’s making these weird connections between what he sees and what he remembers as being emblematic of the relationship, the shared breakfasts and likely the jokes that eating that kind of food would kill them.

    In purely musical terms, I wanted the song to maintain a certain kind of tension without release – and I think to let the emotion carry the last verses would provide that release, and I wanted to withhold that. One thing I wanted this song to have – and a reason I see it as an “album closing” type of song, is that I wanted to have the listener hear the potential for loudness and bombast present in a 202330 or Powederkeg – to HEAR that potential for volume, but at the same time to hear that it’s not being exercised – like some big powerful entity which is, against it’s nature, trying to be subtle and more gentle. It’s the kind of sound that made me think of an ebow, that feedback that never bursts into a roar, but just strains against itself and never comes out.

    And yeah, I removed that one line, I just felt like we gave the listener too much information by laying that statement out. It doesn’t hurt that breaking the line the way I did also points to the same controlled restraint by the speaker – he can’t say that thing without losing his calm, so he stops short.

  27. Hmm. Well, that is a good argument. It does create the tension with no release. U2 creates, after all, music that is essentially an orgasm, so to avoid that here is also an intellectual choice that I like–it makes us less into mere musical apes. The music already assumes the anguish, and the refusal to give in to it vocally really creates tension–I almost find it annoying, but intellectually (once you explained it) I like it. On the other hand, however, I know you are capable of belting it out and it would be damned cool to have that here. We’ll have to do another ballad in which you can get some release, pal, but I’ll go with you on this one and let it be as it is.

    So, there are still the drums and what to do about the rhythm guitar. The question is: do we keep an electric guitar rhythm track, remove it altogether, or add an acoustic rhythm track? I’m thinking we should remove it. That would make the first verse quite minimal.

    There’s also the issue of the bass guitar. If we’re keeping what I did, then I have to rerecord it, but I see no reason why Chopper shouldn’t add a real honest-to-the-godz bass line.

  28. choppernewt Says:

    Bless you Metro. May you never pull a John Bonham/Keith Moon/Phil Collins.

  29. Phil is still alive.

  30. choppernewt Says:

    Well, he’s dead to ME! (ba-doom-CHHHHH!)

  31. Stop hating on Phil. The guy is a class act.
    He was courteous enough send his wife a fax to let her know he was divorcing her so that he could marry their nanny.

  32. Hey all,

    I like the choices. I always liked the choice for the understatement, and the creation of the character … it makes a lot of sense to me.

    Chopper, no problem on losing the line. I’ll certainly accept that for the unity of the whole song. Again – the music and vocals are blowing me away.

  33. choppernewt Says:

    Yeah, I was thinking about it more at lunch, while enjoying delicious chicken tacos (it’s TACO DAY). It’s like, the lyric works hard enough to indirectly allude to the main object – dead girlfriend – that by the end you’ve earned the RIGHT to swallow that line, and not have there be any question about what wasn’t said.

    That being said, the point is that she murdered herself by gorging on scrambled eggs, right? And as such, the song is a cautionary tale about how you shouldn’t leave your insecure, morbidly-obese girlfriend alone EVEN FOR ONE NIGHT without calling and checking in, or else she’s likely to eat bacon until her heart literally explodes like a ferret in a microwave. I think that’s what I got, right?

  34. Chopper,
    I think your remarks above are callous and insensitive.
    I would like to officially distance myself, stating that the views and opinions stated in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of the coolest person on here, Sir Pent.

  35. Pent-up-boy is the least cool person here, that’s for sure.

    And as I understood it, the character of this song is gay and is talking about his male partner. They lived good, epicurean lives, the cholesterol built up and BANG there went the heart… except it’s all a metaphor for, you know, other stuff…

  36. choppernewt Says:

    Oooh! Can we change the name of the song to “BANG there went the heart”?

    Never mind, I’m sure Metro already has a song halfway completed with that title.

  37. choppernewt Says:

    How anyone could not want to participate in our comment boards baffles me. This is the highlight of my day.

  38. It wouldn’t be nearly so fun if we couldn’t make fun of the Metrognome.

    Did I mention what happened to me today? I arrived at the goddamned airport after two bus rides (and never mind the subway this morning) to find every direct flight to my home town canceled for weather, they say, although I know it’s because they are incompetents. So they put me on a flight to Philly with a connection back home. The plane boards on time, but the pilot then comes over the intercom to inform us that the tower has just given him a 3 hour delay and that we should just get off. So I get off and find there are absolutely NO more flights I can get. What to do? Book a flight for tomorrow morning and then go back to Brooklyn. I have to first take a bus to the subway, since nobody every thought of building a subway to LaGuardia, then a long subway into Manhattan, then another subway down to the Lower East Side, then another fucking subway over to Dumbo, Brooklyn. Then I have to book a goddamn taxi tomorrow morning so I can get BACK to the goddamn airport in a reasonable amount of time. Then I arrive back at my apartment and open a bottle of beer. Day fucking goddamn over. I should’ve never opened that beer….

  39. choppernewt Says:

    If Metro had a day like that, he probably would have only been able to write five songs during that ordeal.

  40. Another 5 songs that would never get recorded…

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