“Shoe Box” (Barenaked Ladies Cover)

Originally posted 2009-03-10 22:49:40. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

By Jim Fusco:

Tonight, another event in my ongoing tribute entitled, “Steven Page, we hardly knew ye.”  Steven Page leaving Barenaked Ladies has been traumatic for me, musically.  It’s like if John left the Beatles and the band went on without him.  They’d still be a great band with three songwriters, singers, and musicians, but you would always wonder if they’ll ever get back together, etc…

At first, I likened Steven Page leaving Barenaked Ladies after 20 years to Brian Wilson taking a self-inflicted leave from the Beach Boys starting in late 1967.  But, I then realized that Page leaving BNL is much worse in a way, but better in another.

You see, when Brian Wilson stopped making music with the Beach Boys on a regular basis (and being the producer), the other Boys (Carl, Dennis, Mike, Al, and Bruce) hadn’t really been accomplished songwriters yet.  I mean, it took them until 1968 to really put together an album and it definitely sounds like a first effort in many ways.  We were all just lucky to discover five brilliant songwriters behind Brian Wilson.  In many ways, for me, Brian recessing in the Beach Boys contributes to my love of the band because, well, they really became a band after that.  You had five songwriting members that played instruments and sang and went out and played concerts- that incarnation of the Beach Boys is almost unsurpassed, for me.

With Steven Page, he leaves the band with three accomplished songwriters (especially Ed Robertson, with a #1 single in “One Week” under his belt) and some fine singers, to boot.  So, BNL has a bit of a head-start.  In fact, there shouldn’t be too much of a hiccup, other than Page’s recent flurry of depressing songs and over-the-top oparetta vocals.

The thing that makes Page’s absence worse is that, at least for the forseeable future, it’s permanent.  With the Beach Boys, Brian was always still around in some form.  He always contributed at least one song to every album, even if they had to dig it up and force him to complete it.  Fans would always hope for the next Brian Wilson gem and it was comforting to know he was there, readying himself for a possible comeback that never really came.  Of course, I say this like I was there- I wasn’t even alive until after Brian’s amazingly talented brother Dennis died- I’m just speaking from what I’ve read in the past.

So, after that whole explanation, I’m really trying to say that I’m having a hard time getting over the restructuring of my second-all-time favorite band.  Tonight’s video is a little tribute to Steven Page.

“Shoe Box” (which I always thought was “Shoebox”) was a single and had its own EP (with includes a decent song in “Trust Me’) and served as a bridge between the style of the first three albums and the albums to follow (starting with “Stunt”).  The song was also on “Born On A Pirate Ship” in a much more subdued tone, much to that version’s detriment.  The rockin’ single version is my choice, and that’s what I did my video after.  How can you tell them apart?  Well, the album verison just starts off with the instruments and vocals at the same time.  The single goes through the chord progression before Steven Page starts in.

Listen to the words closely on this one- a very interesting message to it.  Also, you may have to look up the words, as it took Chris and I about five years to realize that he’s not saying, “And Rumplestiltskin side my shoe box!” and is in fact saying, “When talk turns to single malts and Stilton and my shoe box!”  Who would’ve thought?

Okay- a long post tonight to make up for last week.  Tomorrow night, I have a BIG announcement about my new album and that just means more work for me.  So, you’ll have to stay tuned until another all-new Original Wednesday comes your way!  Have a great night and I’ll catch you all tomorrow!



“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.