Friday, February 8, 2013

Song #331 of 9999 - Sorry by Frank & Jeff

Song #331 of 9999 

Title: Sorry
Artist: Frank & Jeff
Year: 2013
Album: Beck's Song Reader, Songs 1-10

Alas, we come to the end of our Song Reader collaboration. We close where we began, with a slice of power pop, this time peppered with a "Taxman" bass line and some nice dissonance in the vocal melody. Jeff's organ (added in "post," as they say) delivers a nice eerie quality to Beck's song of remorse and reflection.

And now you have a whole new album of Beck songs by your favorite songfighting internet musicians Frankie Big Face and ADD! Since the entire record clocks in under 27 minutes, you know you'll always have time to give it a proper spin. In fact, I recommend you "flip it over" right now and give the whole thing another go-round.

Have a great weekend and I'll see you back here in the very near future!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Song #330 of 9999 - Old Shanghai by Frank & Jeff

Song #330 of 9999 

Title: Old Shanghai
Artist: Frank & Jeff
Year: 2013
Album: Beck's Song Reader, Songs 1-10 song yesterday. I bet you didn't like that very much. Sorry.

Tonight, the Old American Songbook meets distorted guitars and an 808 (more likely some other drum machine but it sounds cooler my way). "Old Shanghai" is the song Beck has released to the masses for free so there are thousands of recordings of this one out there. As such, it's also the song I can legally share with you so you can see what we were working with—just click here to download.

In my opinion, it's one of the weaker songs of the bunch and for me seemed to lack the versatility of the others. Maybe I just don't have enough imagination but, in keeping with our goal to record what was on the page, we were beholden to the chart Beck laid out, which even includes transposed parts for trumpet, tenor sax, bass trombone and tuba! But rather than use those instruments, I recorded the parts on guitar and Jeff mixed them in to varying degrees with his MIDI keys and electronic drums. It's an interesting combination, I think, but not my favorite of our recordings by far.

Come back tomorrow for our tenth and final song!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Song #329 of 9999 - Rough on Rats by Frank & Jeff

Song #329 of 9999 

Title: Rough on Rats
Artist: Frank & Jeff
Year: 2013
Album: Beck's Song Reader, Songs 1-10

I so rarely get to use the word "rollicking" to describe my music but I think we earned it with "Rough on Rats." Again, with the help of Jake Yoos on bass, we recorded bass, guitar and organ simultaneously for Beck's wordy shuffle. We decided to add a shout vocal on the chorus which adds to the raucous mob tone already established by Jeff's raspy vocal. (I am jealous.) Are there things I'd like to fix in the performance? Always. But the loose spontaneity more than makes up for it.

Only two more tracks left! Come back tomorrow!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Song #328 of 9999 - Please Leave a Light On When You Go by Frank & Jeff

Song #328 of 9999 

Title: Please Leave a Light On When You Go
Artist: Frank & Jeff
Year: 2013
Album: Beck's Song Reader, Songs 1-10

My favorite of the twenty songs in Song Reader, Beck's somber ballad is so good we felt no need to dress it up. Purposely spare with just a vocal and electric piano, Beck's lyrics shine against a simple waltz-like progression. 

While this was not a particularly difficult song to learn, there is one measure that confounds many who perform it. At the moment of the hook, where we actually hear the phrase "please leave a light on when you go," Beck interrupts the 3/4 meter to insert a 5/4 bar, upon which he sets the first six words to quarter note triplets and the penultimate as a single quarter note. This is incredibly confusing first sight and I have noticed that nearly everyone who has covered the song just ignores the rhythmic direction. (Not us!) It's a very interesting and quite unexpected moment.

Originally, we slated this song to be song by Jeff and personally I still want a copy of that version. But ultimately Jeff decided he wanted me to sing it. So I'm kind of riding solo on this one. Jeff will be back tomorrow with my absolute favorite of his vocal tracks. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Song #327 of 9999 - Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings by Frank & Jeff

Song #327 of 9999 

Title: Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings
Artist: Frank & Jeff
Year: 2013
Album: Beck's Song Reader, Songs 1-10

Recording ten songs in two days (about 20 hours really) is hard and sometimes you need a hand. Our pal Jake showed up to lay down some bass on two tracks and we had a hell of a lot of fun even these aren't the greatest songs we recorded. ("Rough on Rats"—coming up on Tuesday—is much better, I think.) Having Jake there allowed us to record all the backing tracks simultaneously—in this case, Jake on bass, me on guitar and Jeff on drums. That's what made it so much fun. We rehearsed for 10 or 15 minutes and then just started recording takes until we got one we liked.

We recorded the vocals later and we were true to Beck's vision, singing the melody and harmony parts exactly as written. There are moments where we really nailed it and others that probably should have been rerecorded but that's the way it goes when you are short on time. I like the looseness of this performance even if this isn't my favorite song of the bunch. And as always, a great vocal track from Jeff.

And so starts side two of Frank & Jeff's Beck's Song Reader, Songs 1-10!