“All The Days” (Original Music by Indie Songwriter Chris Moore)

Originally posted 2008-09-10 22:15:15. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

Hello and welcome to my favorite day, a day that comes only once every three weeks for we songwriters of the Fusco-Moore Productions music blog…  Original Wednesday!  Today, I took a trip down memory lane to my last solo release before joining the band MoU (Masters of the Universe with Jim Fusco, Mike Fusco, Becky Daly, and Cliff Huizenga).  Today, I recorded “All the Days,” the penultimate track off my EP Love Out of Fashion.  (Using “penultimate” in my post is my answer to Jim using — honest to God — the word “leviathan” properly and casually in a conversation the other day.  I didn’t even know how to pronounce the word… :-))

This was the first time I really experimented with such recording techniques as lead vocal doubletracking and sound effects such as my ZOOM guitar pedal.  I have a lot of fond memories of rushing home after school or work during the summer to record this album in the basement of my parents’ home.  I finally felt like I had mastered the computer program I used to record at the time, and I can’t count the number of mix CDs I made.  Each time I would finish the recording of tracks for a song, I would burn a CD and listen to it in my car wherever I went — to work, to school, to the store.  I’ve written on the blog here before about pulling over late at night to listen to the songs as loud as the volume would go, making mental notes of changes I would make to the final mix the next chance I got.  Lots of fond memories.

My only regret, particularly on a track like “All the Days” that I felt had a lot of promise, is that I didn’t have a way to record drums.  It’s a well-known fact that a drumbeat never hurts, especially when it comes to my playing…  It was as a result of this regret that I’ve made the resolution to never record another album unless a drummer is available and raring to go.

So, I hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane for me; I probably haven’t played this track since I recorded it.  Well, that’s not true — I think I’ve played it once or twice, but over several years…

Oh, and I hope you’ll take a listen to the recorded version so you’ll understand why this music video starts differently from any other cover song session I’ve recorded.

Okay, that’s all for me.  Don’t forget to hurry back tomorrow for another all-new acoustic rock cover song session from Jeff.  And now, I should check on the Mets who were winning by a lot earlier, then tied, and just pulled ahead…  (Come on, Mets!!)

See you next session!

Broken Social Scene’s “Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-09-05 13:00:39. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  3 / 5 stars

Otherworldly and haunting, yet so pretty and longing.

This is the best way I can think of to describe Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights, the EP that Broken Social Scene tacked onto some editions of this year’s Forgiveness Rock Record.  In keeping with the aesthetics of the tracks, the physical release is plain; if you’ve seen the album cover, you’ve pretty much seen it all, except for a similar back cover and a navy blue disc with white letters.

And yet, there is a simple beauty to the ten brief songs that are appended to the full album.  Forgiveness Rock Record is a solid album, one which I will review before the year is out, and yet it is not as notable as this little, possibly forgettable, largely instrumental ten-track EP.

It is in the concision of its songs that this collection shines.

Unlike its full-length counterpart, which suffers at times from not knowing when to stop, Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights does not let any one track stretch out for too long.  No single idea, riff, or sound is carried out for more than a minute or two, and this is what propels this album.

Broken Social Scene's "Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights" (2010)

Broken Social Scene's "Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights" (2010)

TRACK LISTING:

1)  New Instructions

2)  Sudden Foot Loss

3)  Shabba Lights

4)  Song for Dee

5)  Eling’s Haus

6)  Professor Sambo

7)  Never Felt Alive

8)  Paperweight Room

9)  Turbo Mouse

10) Far Out

“Song for Dee,” in asking, “Good times, where’d you go?,” provides the central motivation for the melancholy that permeates these tracks.  Even the comparably brighter “Eling’s Haus” which follows “Song for Dee” is constrained by the repeated drone that sets the rhythm of the song.

“New Instructions” provides an opening for the EP that sounds vaguely like the acoustic fingerpicking from a Simon and Garfunkel single, but the subsequent layers that are added steers the track in a new direction.  “Sudden Foot Loss” follows; it is also acoustic in nature, but is much more unified in its sound, with one strong guitar up front and center in the mix.  The picking here is very simple and regular, with fleeting yet also regular flourishes between repetitions of the riff.  The background invites the mood of a dream, which is explored further on the track that follows.

“Shabba Lights” hints at human voices in the ah’s and ooh’s that accompany the horns and bells.  This introduces “Song for Dee,” which would be the simplest and unassuming track in any other context; here it is the only song that sounds like, well, a song.

Unlike the others, it has verses and words.

The second half of Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights drags a bit, with “Professor Sambo” providing ample time and space to consider what else might be said about Dee or other causes of the somber, trance-like tone of this EP.  More vocals arrive on “Never Felt Alive,” but the words are difficult to make out, other than the three that comprise the title.

If regret could be translated into sounds, then it would sound precisely like “Paperweight Room,” a song whose title invites the listener to imagine a space, perhaps composed of memories, characterized by its ability to weigh one down.

The acoustic picking on “Turbo Mouse” is as pretty as the accompanying music is sad and offputting.  It all builds up to the aptly titled final track, “Far Out,” which sounds as though it is set in outer space.

In the end, Lo-Fi for the Dividing Nights doesn’t say much.

Literally.

And yet it is the otherworldly, haunting, and yet beautiful textures that make the EP alluring and compelling.  By saying less, it invites more imagination, and it is unsurprisingly an excellent choice of music to put on after dark.

This Broken Social Scene EP is one of the pleasant surprises of the year.  You won’t hear much about it, but it is one of the most compelling collections of stripped down acoustic instrumentals I’ve heard in a long time — I dare say, perhaps ever.

Michelle Branch’s “Everything Comes and Goes” (2010) – The Weekend Review

Originally posted 2010-09-24 16:32:06. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Chris Moore:

RATING:  2 / 5 stars

Four years since her last album — seven since her last solo album — Michelle Branch has finally graced us with twenty minutes of new music.  These twenty minutes are spread out across the six tracks that survived from Everything Comes and Goes (the album) to Everything Comes and Goes (the EP). 

According to Branch, this is a “bonus album,” as though we should be thanking a professional singer/songwriter/recording & performing artist for releasing new music every four — or seven — years.

Not surprisingly, Branch has opted to work in the country genre, picking up as a solo artist where she left off with the Wreckers.  And, as a testament to her apparent commercial value, her download-only initial release has been followed with a physical release, albeit an unimpressively packaged one, in some record stores.  Her lead single “Sooner or Later” even cracked the Billboard Hot 100.  In the meantime, ex-Wrecker Jessica Harp has receded from public life as a solo recording artist to focus on writing country songs, ostensibly motivated by fluctuating label support and in the absence of any breakthrough success.

So, Everything Comes and Goes is a survivor’s tale of sorts, perhaps to be read as a truth:  some people come and some people go.

In the case of the Wreckers, Branch obviously belongs to the former.

No stranger to single-worthy material, Branch makes it clear through this release that she still has the ability, as well as the desire, to write clear, concise tunes, any of which could be coming to a romantic comedy soundtrack at a music store near you.  The opener, “Ready to Let You Go,” may delve quite deeply into the country genre, Branch affecting the rural inflections that served her so well in her previous role as one half of that aforementioned duo, but this genre jumping is not so extreme as it might seem.

After track one fades, the remainder of the album leans most heavily toward pop/rock, with country flourishes. 

"Everything Comes and Goes" (2010)

"Everything Comes and Goes" (2010)

“Sooner or Later” begins deceptively, subdued and acoustic, yet when the groove sets in, it becomes apparent that this is the same Michelle Branch that recorded 2003’s outstanding Hotel Paper.  It may not be at the level of “it feels like she never left,” but there isn’t much rust to shake off.  And the the country inflections work quite well here, subdued as they are. 

The remainder of the EP slows down a bit, but retains its catchiness and simple beauty.  “Crazy Ride” peaks with the wonderful harmonies Branch layered on top, singing all the background vocals alone for the first time since her major label debut, The Spirit Room (2001).  “Summertime” and the title track are pretty songs, easy listening to be certain and notably underwhelming. 

The sole cover, “I Want Tears,” was written by two members of her musical team, and yet it still begs the question: was it necessary to turn to other writers for this release?  Apparently, the response to that question arrives in the affirmative, as there is but a single track — the title track — that is written by Branch alone. 

This should come as no surprise.  Branch and Harp co-wrote fewer than half of the songs on 2006’s Stand Still, Look Pretty, and Branch only contributed two others, one of which was a collaboration.  To be fair, this Wreckers disc is a truly excellent record, although Jessica Harp (formerly the background vocalist/friend to 2003 Branch) contributes what are arguably the best songs, tracks like “Tennessee” and “Cigarettes.” 

It is uncanny just how similar Harp and Branch sound on record, and yet there’s something to be said for Branch’s staying power as a recording artist.  (Of course, it sure must be helpful having pop-hockers like John Shanks hanging around throughout your career, ready to stitch together a potential hit, a relationship that, at least to a degree, begs the question: how much of Branch’s music is really Branch?)

Regardless, all that is on and around Everything Comes and Goes amounts to this: it is a solid EP, and a disappointing release from an artist who first promised a full studio album would drop in late ’08, then summer 2009.  The reality is a largely digital release of six songs.  Call it an EP, call it a “bonus album,” call it anything you’d like.

It is simply not a release of the quality one would expect from a singer/songwriter who took the roof off with her underrated and underappreciated 2003 solo album. 

Now, comfortably crouched under the Country cabin in the company of writers and producers very much in the habit of turning out hits, Branch’s work only hints at her individuality and potential.  Let’s hope her forthcoming full studio effort Different Kind of Country — scheduled for a 2011 release, which could just as easily become 2013 — is actually a different kind of country music.  I, for one, want something that is, for better or for worse, a legitimate Michelle Branch record.

Music Review: Indie Music Songwriter Jeff Copperthite’s “Greenlight”

Originally posted 2008-04-22 23:54:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

You know, I’ve been putting this off for some time now, but I’ve been thinking of EXACTLY what I wanted to say since the first time I heard Jeff’s new album. When I saw Chris’ review, I really wanted to read it, but I chose not to before I wrote my own, as not to be swayed by his opinions, although 99% of the time we’ll disagree, at least a little bit.

What can I say about Jeff’s album that will put it into a light that those who don’t know him will understand. Well, I’ve already covered THREE songs off of it for the Laptop Sessions series- on two separate occasions, I’ve given up my opportunity to play an original song I’ve written in favor of a song from this album. And that chance only comes once every three weeks for me. That’s the respect I’ve given this album.

As an independent artist, I’ve found that people don’t take our music seriously. They won’t listen to it in the car like every other album they own. They won’t recommend it to their friends and write online reviews. It just doesn’t happen very often. But, I listened to Jeff’s album 11 times, according to iTunes (I use my iPod in the car), and I’ve always found my iTunes play counts to represent only about half the times I’ve actually listened to something (probably because I’m turning the iPod on and off when I get in and out of the car). Actually, I find myself returning to “Greenlight” very often, even after it’s had its initial run in the car stereo.

Yes, I designed the album covers and put the whole thing together. Yes, I made the website for it and did the writeup. But, I still got to listen to this album and experience it like I haven’t done for many years now. Chris and I, in our better days, used to be true companions when it came to creative projects. There wasn’t a thing either of us could do without the other having a hand in it. It was a fruitful time that I know I’ll never get back. That’s the problem when other people, wanted or unwanted, enter your friends lives.

I never thought I’d get the opportunity to share an album with someone again. I thought, as with all of my projects in the last two to three years, any independent project I was a part of would be kept a total secret until “release day”. Not so with Jeff’s album, though. He brought his songs to me at every step of the journey, asking for advice and looking for some friendly words of both laud and criticism. I was happy to be that person, especially because I know that in many other situations, I’ve been replaced as that person. So, here’s a great toast out to Jeff’s wife, Sherry- always support Jeff in all his creative works, but thank you very much for not having a clue about music! :-)

So, you would think that this review (I promise, it’s coming) is going to be nothing but a sales pitch with no criticisms. Well, I’m going to be truthful- I’m not putting in criticisms just for the sake of it, but I want to give my honest interpretation of Jeff’s album, “Greenlight”, and here it is.

I cannot comment on the track listing, ie. order of songs. I actually chose the order they should go in, so if there’s any criticism here, you gotta problem with me! :-) But, seriously, the track listing was chosen as a way to present Jeff’s great songs in front, his good songs in the middle, and ending with another great set. Of course, with an album of nine songs, there isn’t much of a cross-section to work with in those three categories. Take my word for it: the “good” section isn’t very long.

The album starts with “Shadows of Your Dreams”, a fast number that fades in (which I enjoy as an album-opener) and then gets it beat. This song is perfect at slot Number One (okay, one comment) because to me, it sounds the most like a song off Quilt’s (Jeff’s band) last album, “Expressions”, where Jeff wrote every song.

The production on the album is simply astounding. The clarity in both the vocals and instruments is nothing less than impressive. Jeff’s talents at ALL the instruments he plays is clearly apparent, as well. He plays some great guitar solos throughout and each song tends to have so much more than just a couple rhythm guitar tracks- he comes up with a different melody all together.

The only problems I have with the sound are minor, but I think are important to point out. I’m not sure if it’s an effect, but some (and “Greenlight” has MUCH less of this than previous efforts) songs have this odd Barenaked Ladies “Gordon” album vocals effect to them. You can hear it clearly on “Home” and it sounds like a fake double-tracking. It almost makes the album sound more dated than it needs to be. I don’t hate the effect, but sometimes I wonder what it might sound like without it.

The second beef I have with the sound is the dated sound of Jeff’s Roland Electronic drum kit. The sound isn’t bad, but some of the toms and cymbals sound very “late 90s”. One other problem I’ve noticed in some songs (most apparent in “What Not To Do”) is the fact that Jeff uses a metronome to keep time in his songs. There’s nothing wrong with that- kids, you should always use one in recording. I don’t, and my songs tend to speed up. But, Jeff is a bass player and a piano player both first and second. He’s a drummer third, at best. So, at various points in the album, I notice him coming in a bit too early or too late on some drum beats. The tempo of certain songs tends to plod, as well, when the metronome is used, as it doesn’t sound as dynamic as it could be. Now, don’t get me wrong- it is INCREDIBLY difficult to play to a metronome- why do you think I don’t use one? But, if you’re going to use one, it has to be correct, or the mistakes will be very apparent.

Now, moving on to more songs:

“Home” is not only my favorite song on this album, but stands as one of my all-time favorites. It has a GREAT tune and a great message about a man who loves nothing more than to come home to that special someone. The backing vocals are spot-on (something Jeff’s struggled with in the past) and the combination of percussion and a great bass line make this a standout track on ANY album. I have nothing but positive things to say about this song.

I also love the title track, “Greenlight”. It’s a bit slower, but I just LOVED it when Jeff played it in Fusco-Moore Studios. The song also tells of a man that is happy where he is, but realizes that there might be something more. The line, “What good have I done, for those that I know” is poignant and I love the way he sings. The middle 8 is a great change from the rest of the song and I only wish there were a high harmony on the “for me, for you” lines. The solo simply rocks on this song- the addition of the reverb makes it sit well in the mix. Jeff also busts out a piano solo in this song, which is also both well-played and fitting. The ONLY qualm I have with this song is the addition of the percussion on the chorus. I loved the way it sounded without the shaker track. The chorus had this great beat that I just gravitated to. The shaker takes that away for me and makes the song “faster” than it’s supposed to be.

That brings me to another thing I wanted to point out. Jeff is trying REALLY hard on this album. He’s trying to make these both great songs and great recordings. He tried, and succeeded, to stay in perfect pitch throughout the album. He also tried to make these songs sound fully-produced. That said, he may have tried a bit too hard on songs like “Greenlight” with addition of shakers that really didn’t need to be there. I can’t fault him too much because most of his efforts only helped the overall feel of the album and made it sound so professional.

Next, we have an instrumental that I’ve known for years, called “Jam Session”. I can’t say much about the content because, well, it’s an instrumental, but Jeff simply rocks this song. He is a great, professional musician. He plays the life out that guitar and piano, while the rhythm tracks add to the spontaneity of the song.

Next, is the best song ever written. Okay, fine- I’m biased- I WROTE IT! :-) I wrote “What Not To Do” because I was struggling with the idea that even though I don’t want my friends to fall into the same pitfalls I’ve fallen into, they’ll do it anyway because people usually learn from other’s mistakes. Jeff turned my song into a great production. That little guitar riff he plays during the opening chords is very R.E.M.-like and the production is great. If you ever get a chance to listen to the backing track to this song, you’ll realize how much work went into this song.

Another point I want to mention is a tricky one because I don’t want it to come across the wrong way. Jeff’s vocals, in prior albums, have always a bit “lackluster”. He sang the songs “flat”. I’m not saying he sang the NOTES flat- I’m saying that it was a weird combination of being on-key, but sounding a bit monotone. He tends to sing louder, as well, when he’s unsure of notes or having trouble hitting them. I bring this point up to explain how much progress Jeff has made with “Greenlight”. The feeling he puts into the vocals here is great and his voice has a softer quality to it now. Again, he really tried to make this album great, and with respect to the vocals, he definitely delivered.

“$500” is the weakest song on the album, in my opinion. But, I still enjoy it. The palm-muted guitars are great- he got a great sound out of his Fender. But, the bridge (before the chorus) harmonies are a tad bit off. I can’t really put my finger on it. However, the harmonies on the chorus have the same thing going on, but it WORKS! That “you know that I’m not rich” harmony is stuck in my head more than it should be. I love the guitar work on this song, from the acoustic in the background of the verses (great and unexpected) and the little back-and-forth strumming pattern before the “rock out” sections is really cool. Plus, you gotta love the slide at the end of the solo.

Jeff, in previous albums, always had a bit of trouble expressing his feelings in “mainstream-sounding” lyrics. For instance, in one song off of Quilt’s “Expressions”, Jeff explains to a girl that she’s “like a beaver in the heat”. It’s been like five years and I still don’t know what that’s supposed to mean. And the only conclusions I come to are dirty, at best. That said, Jeff really worked hard to make the songs on this album have great lyrics. They never sound awkward (maybe a bit on “$500”) and all are insightful and on-topic.

“Aware” is my second-favorite song on the album because of its great tune, fast pace, and great message about being unable to “see what goes on without me”. It has superb guitar playing and I love how Jeff’s voice shows so much emotion on the last “Oh, I’m not able to see” line. This song really defines the album for me.

“Searcher” is a song that showcases Jeff’s amazing talents on guitar and piano. Not only does he play great solos again, but the sounds he produces for the rhythm electric and piano are so interesting. I usually don’t like instrumentals all that much, but the sound is so captivating, I can never skip by it.

“Easy” is a great song. Not only does the song have a great story, but the chorus is infectious. It’s almost like two different songs, the way the instrument sounds change from the verse to the chorus. I love the “epic” sound to this track and that’s why it was chosen to end the album.

Jeff could charge whatever he wanted for this album because of how solid and impressive it is. As Chris said, “It’s pretty amazing when Jeff Copperthite and Jack Johnson come out with an album in the same week and I’m listening to Jeff”. So true. “Greenlight” makes a real case to case independent musicians seriously and I hope Jeff will continue to be prolific and continue with this amazing progression from album to album.

Buy Jeff’s album by clicking HERE!