RmalNovember 12, 2023 6:30pm

What a cool vibe. I had a couple of false starts trying to manage the challenge. But this sounds so good in original and cool. I’m amazed by the folks that do this on the site. Well done Nick. Were there a couple of really interesting notes at the very end of the fade out?

nickNovember 28, 2023 10:33am

hey thanks rick. yeah a lot of amazing folks indeed. In regards to the interesting notes, I think it may just be that ghost-traily bendy note over the chords resulting in a sort of Gmin6. Give that thing a whirl.

ryanNovember 3, 2023 2:16pm

This is fun as hell haha. What a great premise for a tune. And the playing really sounds like the premise, which I think is an underrated challenge. Great drumming, great piano work. Is that you, you dirty dog?! Honestly, great guitars too. Lots of little bits joining the orbit and playing with each other in a way that really feels like a live band. @@nurphgunsounds great too! This rules.

I think my major mix call-out would be that the lead vocal sounds a little trebly. Would love for it to be a bit warmer—which I also think would benefit the raspy, vintage-y performance.

BenNovember 3, 2023 3:14pm

yep, thats me on the 🎹, somehow

BenNovember 3, 2023 3:14pm

thanks. and yeah. totally agree about the trebly voice. it could also come down a db or two

BenOctober 23, 2023 2:08pm

right on: “it makes you finish a song.”

The acoustics sound good. Slightly aluminumy i guess, but still warm. How’d you record it?

This song has a really soft warmth to it. Really crafty guitar playing. This sounds like it’s harder to play that it sounds, if that makes sense. Tasteful bass too.

Drums sound great too, nice and quiet and simple. Maybe it could be cool to introduce one more tiny subtle percussion layer starting the moment that dark chord comes in at 2:42, like either an extremely light shuffled tamb/shaker (which is like the hardest instrument in the world to play, especially lightly and shuffledly) OR take a washier approach to this layer and just have a gentle brush on a ride cymbal every 4 or 8 beats, not for a rhythmic element, but for the light extra layer of sound to elevate the feel when that note comes in at 2:42.

Great work, both of yous.

ryanNovember 3, 2023 2:11pm

Recorded it with a big class A condenser, same things I use for vocals. I actually think it’s that I should’ve used a warmer reverb, now that I listen back.

Mm, yeah I like the idea of a brush on a ride starting there! That’s a great call. I was actually chatting with @@Kyle about this track and he was pointing out that it could expand in general — particularly in the chorus and also at the 2:58 mark. Looking forward to trying out some ways to expand the structure.

nurphgunNovember 3, 2023 11:54am

Listening again. This is your best singing – technically and performance-wise. I love that you didn’t hold back at all. It’s such a good range for you. You sound like Paul.

BenNovember 1, 2023 11:41am

ok, so a couple weeks have passed. curious about how *you* interpret the lyrics

nickNovember 2, 2023 10:43am

the lyrics were pretty much a stream of consciousness about someone i’m a few degrees separated from. I’ll roughly say it’s about a rocky relationship, and a friend’s advice along the way.

BenNovember 1, 2023 11:40am

still pretty in awe of the acoustic guitar work.

stonewindowOctober 21, 2023 10:23am

Beautiful. Love the original take.

EliasSZOctober 26, 2023 11:40am

Cheers, thank you!

ryanOctober 25, 2023 5:10pm


First off—this is a rad sheet of lyrics. Kind of works / reads as a poem as well, which I know you often derive lyrical inspiration from, so that makes sense. Well done there.

Yeah, echoing a few things that Ben mentioned, I’d be curious to hear you play this song against a simple quarter-note kick drum that’s keeping time. I bet you would have a bunch of realizations about how you want the rhythm and sections to feel. By no means do I think you should lose the off kilter nature of the main part, but I think being able to glue all of it together a little more would help a ton.

Woo that last verse is gorgeous! Great vocal delivery.

stonewindowOctober 26, 2023 7:50am

Thanks for this Ryan. I think I could use some click track practice. …… for sure. I was also thinking about slowing down the overall tempo, but when I play it I tend to speed up. Thanks for you kind words.

BenOctober 23, 2023 9:52am

i believe “finger picking clusterfuck” is actually the correct technical term.

This is great. I think one thing to make it sound a little more finished: focus a little more on the 1:56-2:18 section. Maybe keep it in rhythm? Maybe make it sound more intentional somehow? Add lyrics? Add other instruments? Shorten/cut it? I understand that it’s functioning as a bridge to get you to a certain chord, but maybe try and “intentionalize” it a little more.

Great stuff. Love “bass notes as the melody.” Good to have you here. Nice pottery too.

stonewindowOctober 23, 2023 6:24pm

Thanks for this Ben. Much appreciated. Your comments are very helpful.

stonewindowOctober 23, 2023 9:24pm

Hey Ben, you’re spot on. That’s a place I improvised and it is should be removed. 🛶🛶🛶

ryanOctober 25, 2023 5:11pm

Getting “intentional” with it is a great to put it, Ben. Agreed.

I think the second break works really well. Could certainly happen that way both times it happens and that would be a step towards more cohesion, I think.

BenOctober 25, 2023 3:16pm

fond memories of playing cher with you.

im really trying to think about the lyrics. They’re kind of less specific that your usual lyricism. Monosyllabic words, short words, words that can be interpreted a few dif ways. Makes the song sadder somehow, almost like it’s hard to sing it.

could interpret it as a break-uppy song

or a song about moving

or a song about changing something major in your life

nurphgunOctober 24, 2023 10:46am

I love this. I think it’s so gorgeous and sweet. In terms of the lyrics and story: I am getting from it a sweet dialogue/collection of unfinished thoughts from two people who like each other a lot and are a little uncertain about how to say it/what to do next. She’s trying to reassure him. I’m not sure it’s “storytelling” in the like, Decemberists song sense where there are very defined characters and a distinct setting of the stage, conflict, then resolution, etc. But knowing the backstory – yes, I think the idea of “please don’t do anything dramatic for me” comes through. My fav line is “Don’t go crying/Don’t go killing time/And acting like you’re dying.”

nurphgunOctober 24, 2023 10:31am

Sadly I wasn’t able to complete this assignment but in the 15 mins I spent considering it, I was going to use the melody from Hanging by a Moment. That song rules. A lesser musician would have run screaming from this vibe but I agree, big win here. The lyrics: I interpret them as a gentle encouragement to accept and not run from difficult truths.

stonewindowOctober 23, 2023 9:39pm

This is beautiful . I like the change in second half. Would love to hear your vocals for the entire piece. Lovely.

stonewindowOctober 23, 2023 9:35pm

Wow. What a great song. It has some lovely surprises and a hook that keeps on giving.

stonewindowOctober 20, 2023 10:35am

I’m amazed by the level and diversity of talent here. Nuff said.

BenOctober 23, 2023 9:44am

yeah that week was such a good showcase.

BenOctober 23, 2023 9:44am

This is the most hardcore song ever submitted to NCBC. How do you get voice to sound like that? How does your throat feel after singing this? This song really captures the energy of having a perpetual runny left nostril, yogurt all over your face, and walking around a carpeted room clutching a sweaty handful of cheese-its. Can relate.

nickOctober 17, 2023 8:40am

this is not easy

nickOctober 17, 2023 11:51am

but my beast is emerging

BenOctober 22, 2023 1:01pm

it’s definitely a beast…

BenOctober 22, 2023 1:01pm

this was an absolute blast

stonewindowOctober 20, 2023 10:25am

Intensity and space. Struggle is well articulated with vulnerability. I dig the end. More space. Nice

stonewindowOctober 20, 2023 10:20am

definitely has a celtic vibe. I want to be in the local bar listening to you

ryanOctober 10, 2023 11:02am

Welcome to NCBC, Bog-man! This is an incredible first submission. Was drawn in immediately. Heck of a voice!

Loved the juxtaposition of the main guitar part with the chromaticisms thrown in. Does an excellent job representing the warmth of friendship but with the chaos of getting older looming / interrupting that warmth. This reminded me a little of Hadestown—a big rock voice over excellent guitar playing, backdrop of delta blues but tweaked toward indie, sense of ominousness, etc. Really rad stuff.

In terms of cutting/changing, I suppose the only thing I’d be curious for you to do is bang around the lyric sheet a little. Is there more color that could be brought in with expanding the story or some of the metaphorical language? More examples of the friendships struggling? Love “we keep on leaning and the chair is out from under you”.

bog berriesOctober 17, 2023 12:11pm

I went very literal and I agree it isn’t that interesting. I tried to to tell a story and have it easy to follow along but I agree my favorite part is when it leaves the story and the “characters” hahah

bog berriesOctober 17, 2023 12:10pm

Thank you all for the comments! Very cool project to be a part of! I am slower than the rest of you but I’m gonna get around and listen to all of them soon! <3

ryanOctober 9, 2023 5:14pm

Made a playlist of all the pop singles from this list because why not! Anybody wanna do the same for R&B and Country? Listening is funnnnnnn.

ryanOctober 9, 2023 10:12pm

Okay actually I made the R&B one too

ryanOctober 10, 2023 4:17pm

Okay fine here’s the country one as well.

nickOctober 11, 2023 10:33am

hey ryan, hope you’re well. i had the same thought, so thank you for being more than thoughtful.

BenOctober 11, 2023 9:48pm

what service!

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:43pm

ooof the whole 4:04 section just rips.

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:42pm

Great listen. Sounds incredible. Though you may not have spent a lot of time mixing, you must have it down pretty well because this sounds polished af. Are any of these software instruments? Super patient too. Can’t be rushed here, which feels very aligned with a slow morning walk upstate. Yeah it’s funny, I don’t feel qualified or capable or melody or structural comments, or maybe I just don’t think this needs any *elated shrug* Really awesome addition to your NCBC portfolio.

zoyaOctober 10, 2023 12:58pm

marry me

zoyaOctober 10, 2023 1:00pm

also yeah it does really need fiddle. i can almost hear it in parts of the tune like some sort of phantom limb situation

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:39pm


nickOctober 11, 2023 3:38pm

love hearing a new side from you, billy. just funny that perhaps the most common writing style is one you have avoided either naturally or on purpose—probably the former. Many sweet moments—favporite being :46-:47, with the melody and the high octave vocal… chef’s kiss. I think the outro Doo-doo is justified by the ooos that follow. All the little background guitar twinklings are wonderful, but hey that’s quite in your wheelhouse ain’t it. Would not mind a few more of these popping up now and again. Short simple sweet. no problem with that.

ryanOctober 10, 2023 3:44pm

Well I’ll tell ya what—this ain’t no Guy With Guitar Singer Songwriter Music. Not to me anyway lol. Too unique, too off-kilter. Too Wilco. Jeff would be proud.

0:29 is a lovvvely moment. Love when the arrangement offers up a little microcosm. Whole world in just a few seconds. Lotta melancholy in that little guitar lick. Love it.

0:42, too. Great bass slide. Changes the whole scene. Lots of little things to love in here. This is great.

1:10 also obviously adorable. Not, like, adorable. But adore-able. Love how natural it feels even though it’s an interruption of sorts.

No idea what this track means, but really like it. One of my favorite Bilverman soups yet.

BenOctober 10, 2023 3:46pm

ah, forgot to add lyrics… will do that.

BenOctober 10, 2023 3:48pm

(it’s about covid and samuel, two new and first-time things in my life, and in each others’ lives)

BenOctober 10, 2023 3:53pm

also wow yeah, re: your 1:10 comment, i’m hearing that vocal line differently than I used to. havent listened since sunday, and you’re right – it’s an interruption of sorts. Originally I was doubling the extension that 13th chord (the chord goes from A7 to A13 around 1:07-1:11), but it became more of its own melody than a layer of the chord. needs to be dropped some dB i think

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:34pm

yeah i think a simple dB drop would be just right

ryanOctober 10, 2023 11:36am

Um, my dude. This is unbelievable. What a beautiful song. I think it would work in any genre. In fact, I definitely plan to cover it. Lyric sheet is crushing—well done. Melodies, arrangement, all great. Vocal takes are killer. So glad this version of you is committed to record. Crashes are not too harsh. Man, is this chorus beautiful.

Only things I’d consider is cutting something from the structure so that it doesn’t clock in at 4:37. I wonder if you could cut the “for the holiday” section (pre-chorus?) the first time around and go right into verse 2. Could be hot, could be hot. Other thing is I wish the kick were more present in the verse? Is there a kick? How were these drums recorded?

Delivery on “obligatory meeting” is the shit. All the background howling is the shit.

Way to crush the aspect of the assignment where you utilize the genre to address something specific. I can’t stop listening to this.

BenOctober 10, 2023 3:45pm

Yeah, i concur. I remember looking at the playback at like 2 minutes and being like “wow we’re not even halfway there. how’s he gonna pull this off?” I think you of course pulled it off great, but i agree with ryan – there’s gotta be a way to shave 20 seconds off so you’re in Round Down to 4 Min territory, not Round Up To 5 land. I think the 4:37 is more intimidating to see on a tracklist than it is to listen to though. Been listening multiple times daily.

ryanOctober 10, 2023 4:03pm

Ok actually one more thing, I want think I want thicker guitar tone in the chorus? Maybe that would sacrifice some of the scrappiness that makes this work, though…. Okay, how about just a few additional layers instead of changing the tone? That could be what I want. Obviously, the real takeaway here is that I care.

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:12pm

hey thanks boys! totally tried keeping it down in time, but ya know, failed there. Went ahead and made a few edits… give it a peep

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:14pm

drums are a combo of programmed and live kit recorded with a one compressor mic

BenOctober 8, 2023 9:13pm

It’s all fun and games and pop and punk and emo until you drop those 2 chords at 1:10 and 1:12, immediately followed by that floor tom beat, and from then on, I couldn’t help also hearing it sort of an an Emo Elephantom song for the next several bars.

My god this is so rocking. And… so surprisingly… long.

Seriously well done. A lesser songwriter and musician would not be able to do this unironically. This is such a good song, and really hits me hard.

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:14pm


RmalOctober 8, 2023 9:28pm

Yikes – I think I’m an emo punk fan. I want more. This is Fantastic

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:13pm


BenOctober 9, 2023 11:16am

Been listening all morning, and decided to write an additional comment. sam started undeniably singing along in the backseat this morning, and it was really something.

This is so good, and manages to be heartbreaking *and* rocking, while being in a genre that has [rightly, for sure] been satirized, criticized, and mocked for 20 years. The urge to pinch your nose and lean into that nasally “she’s cool! I suck! her friends hate me!” tropes must have existed to some extent, but there’s no hackiness here. Yeah, as @@nurphgun said, it’s more altrocky than Blink 182, which maybe helped you keep it nonironic. It certainly helped me, the listener, to not solely focus on the emo lyrics and performance. I could very easily hear it as a song, not Weird Al. That’s part of the genius of this assignment: UNIRONIC. I feel like the meaning of the song takes full advantage of everything that the genre offers sonicly, structurally, and subject-ly.

Still love that it so strongly has your DNA in it though, even if it’s a genre youve never done before.

The lyrics are heavy, man.

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:13pm

thanks buddy. was initially trying to make it sound not like me, but gave that up pretty quick. emo was helpful for blunt heavy lyrics.

zoyaOctober 10, 2023 12:55pm

this is the first emo punk song I’ve ever liked

nickOctober 11, 2023 3:12pm

*black heart emoji*

nickOctober 11, 2023 2:19pm

oh man i want to hear you put this whole thing together… when you’re feeling better, eh? Funny to write for the first time in a genre you’ve performed in so much—definitely contributes to the easiness @ryan mentioned. And yeah, don’t think I have any specific advice except that I wouldn’t describe it as random just yet. Perhaps entangled, but not in a bad way. Plz stick with it 🙂

RmalOctober 10, 2023 6:07pm

I love the raw grit of the guitar with the clean bell of your voice. Never felt wanting for a full band. I felt the rhythm and was drawn into the story. I’ve come back to it a few times. Well done.

ryanOctober 10, 2023 4:00pm

Great to hear that Nora voice again! Unmistakable. A frickin’ madrigral! Who knew, not me.

The easiness that you mention feeling comes across in the sound of this. In a piece of music that could easily sound stuffy, this doesn’t. Sounds care-free, relaxed.

I feel pretty ill-equipped to answer either of your feedback questions, to be honest. But re: cohesion, would the piece work just as well if the section starting with “and her lad was chipper” were cut?

ryanOctober 10, 2023 1:00pm

Rick this is an absolute joy hahaha. Everything about this rocks. Makes me wanna say “let’s ride” in the deepest register I can muster and throw some aviators on… before climbing onto my tricycle.

BenOctober 6, 2023 1:40pm

This song is so swooping. More like “one of us already is flying” am i right? Love that it starts swooping right off the bat. 90M years before bats came out.

This is poppy and radio friendly. The strings are very… I don’t even know. Like, mid-00s pop? The staccato jabs + the string pad + your (slightly filtered?) voice is really effective.

I had this thought at the beginning: This intro is extremely lush instrumentation coupled with fairly unlush vocals (your vocals get way lusher in other verses and choruses). Curious what the intro would would sound like, and what it would communicate if it were: A.) inverted: stripped back instrumentation + fully lush vox; B.) fully ready to go and coming in hot: Lush instr + lush vox; or C.) stripped back and intro-y: stripped back instruments + the filtered vox you already have there.

My gut tells me you have it right but for some reason i’m dying to hear what the other permutations would sound like.

Other thoughts:

The bass and kick sound so good and full together.

The spacing is so good. really feels like its tracked with a full band and orch section in a giant studio. it’s definitely because of your performances but, it’s also whatever you did auraly to make it take up space. there’s some good air in this track.

1:34 “how…” Tom Petty

Could the gtr solo be beefed up like 14.05%?

The final verse hits.

The other thing I’m curious about and would love to hear versions of: Could the hits on the “oh it’s”‘s be slightly different each time it happens? I dunno I’m spitballing here, but it was such a nice surprise when it happened the first time at around 1:00 that I almost wish the surprise could be saved for the second time? like maybe lighter hats/cymbals the first time? and like slightly play through the section a little less “hitty” that first time so that the second time around 2;12 hits? Maybe like one less instrument playing the hits that first time? Not sure. Either way, they’re great hits.

Is there a volume hike at 2:56-57? Not important. disregard.

Lastly and most importantly, I love this type of concept. Like… fish didn’t just gradually morph limbs that became legs; monkeys didnt just gradually stand up straighter over millions of years. Mutations and adaptations happen so randomly and succeed so so so infrequently, and yet, here were are, with legs and good upright posture (well…) and big brains (eh…), and birds and bugs that fly and like flowers. Everything that happens happens because in general, things work better that way. And if they don’t work better, then evolution and co-evolutions continue.

“I began wondering whether the presence of flowers demanded more pollinators and therefore evolution produced birds. Turns out that’s not how it happened, but I still liked the story.” In a way, that is what happened. Sure there were other reasons why some animals that had wings had a specific advantage over others and could better survive and reproduce, but also… flying creatures and flowers both exist today, eons later, and their relationship with each other is still close. When you zoom out and look at mother earth like the big complex united system that it is, it’s not hard to anthropomorphize it and think of it as demanding and producing pollinators to fill a niche (of course passively, over millions of years, through a series of random mutations). Because flowers happened. And birds happened. If by chance pollinators didn’t happen, or for some reason they died off, flowers would’ve either given up and died, or figured things out by continuing to evolve. Dandelions figured something similar out: flying to distribute seeds, no birds needed.

ryanOctober 9, 2023 12:31pm

Love a Bilverman stream of consciousness response.

Yes, great idea on the hits being slightly different each time! I was so psyched on the hits that I forgot to introduce variation. I think your exact proposal would work super well.

Dandelions are the raddest of them all. But what I’m referring to in ‘not how it happened’ is that in the limited research I was able to do for this assignment, it seems that flowers had this figured out both with themselves and bugs long before birds came around. So I was just trying to account for the large gap between flowers and birds that my song conveniently ignores haha. But yes, good gawd is evolution beautiful and magical.

ryanOctober 9, 2023 12:34pm

Oh question on the guitar solo beef: tonal beef, compositional beef, or volume beef?

BenOctober 9, 2023 12:46pm

i think maybe a hair of volume, but mostly just a small bump in tonal meat. maybe like 8% less flower fiber, and like 6% more stegosaurus meat. I think the notes are A+. The tone itself is actually good – it just maybe needs slightly more of whatever it is? maybe just more mids? I don’t actually know.

It’s interesting – i’ve never thought about this before but: The solo’s at that tricky length and has that composition where it’s alllmost short enough and the melody is almost reminiscent enough of the vocal melody to be an interlude, not a full solo. But I think we might be in solo territory here.

Do you have plans for this song outside of ncbc?

ryanOctober 10, 2023 10:47am

Yeah, you’re right. I ended up on a tele for the solo but maybe it should’ve been a humbucker. Keep the clarity, but add some body.

Mm, interesting observation re: the length. I wonder if it could get away with being half the length and stay comfortably in interlude territory. Or, if it were even a little longer (maybe with the strings joining half way through), then it could help drive toward that second pre-chorus and maybe justify the ‘hits’ showing up again.

Yeah I think this one will likely make it into the next collection of tunes I plan to release properly. A big batch of folk-rock-ish songs seems to be emerging.

BenOctober 10, 2023 12:36pm

ah yeah, tele. that checks out.

I think those are the two best options. either a short melody-driven interlude, or a longer solo that functions as a bridge.

I’ve never really put these interlude vs solo thoughts into words before, but it’s definitely a thing.

Now I wanna make a list of some iconic/favorite parts that i’d define as “interludes” and see what they have in common

RmalOctober 10, 2023 12:02pm

I wanna hear more in this vocal range. You’re a closet country cowboy. Come on out, this is a safe space. Flush this kitty out and get her on Spotify.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:24pm

This is so clean. The drums with that light melody in the background in my left ear really reminds me of the Bad Plus cover of “Flim” by Aphex Twin, especially around 0:30-40.

ryanOctober 9, 2023 12:36pm

Oh shit, had never heard this track. This is awesome. Yeah this one was definitely heavily inspired by Four tet / Aphex / Bibio.

BenOctober 9, 2023 12:47pm

yeah, definitely Bibio vibes too

RmalOctober 8, 2023 7:56pm

Ryan – get this on Spotify – I want to be able to listen to it all the time. Spectacular

ryanOctober 9, 2023 11:50am

Thanks, Rick! Definitely plan to record this one with some real live humans and then release it.

nurphgunOctober 9, 2023 10:05am

I love it; beautiful, frustrated, sad, relatable. The Third Eye Blind vibes are palpable – I think the fact that you leaned into the alt-rock end of the spectrum as opposed to pure emo/pop-punk helped make it unmistakably not-ironic/not-a-joke.

nickOctober 9, 2023 7:55am

hahahahahahaha. rick. you’ve gotta post these lyrics. metal is an incredible fit for both you and two year olds. welcome to the club. voice sounds great. i love a lot of the guitar moves—the chunking rhythm, and line with the creepy final note. drum track is really well arranged! i might just switch out some of the swingier funkier moments for straighter heavier moves. “Rock on, papa” -Luca

nickOctober 9, 2023 7:47am

coooop. im blown away. i didn’t know what to expect (and maybe i still don’t considering this was a new genre for you) but just really happy you hopped in for this assignment. right off the bat, great tone with the guitars and @@Kyle and @@ryan can attest that i do not care about tone. The guitar line is really strong, and that chromatic move at the end works so well. Some times little chromatic walk downs can feel tired and overused, but this one feels super fresh and gritty. Funny we both ended up in the emo world, and talking about a relative lack of response as adults. bog berries. so glad to have you!

BenOctober 8, 2023 9:07pm

A Nora caroNA

I knew I wouldn’t be able to eavesdrop since it was midi, so i was excited for the surprise, but somehow i missed the actual vocal tracking too.

alechutsonApril 10, 2023 6:52pm

i really like the textured strumming of the first couple loops! vibe feels like… wandering in the suburbs at dusk. don’t ask me why 😅

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:43pm

love it, honestly makes sense to me

ryanApril 10, 2023 11:42am

Really interesting balance of warmth and unsettledness here. Keeps me on edge in a way that I find pretty engaging. And I’m always a huge fan of the randomness (almost humanness?) of glitchy loops. Only thing is that I wish the piece opened up at some point—a little resolve for all the tension.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:42pm

sometimes i hate resolutions, what can I say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I def can say I love randomness lol

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:22pm

I feel like this is your strongest submission. Feels super complete. It’s got the right vibes and production to transcend a songwriting assignment. Love this.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:42pm


Much appreciated, Ben.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:37pm

I wish I had classes that did things like this in school. Damn.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:36pm

I don’t think this is boring at all. Feels like you could push the arrangement a bit farther if you wanted to, but your production is killer as is in my book.

I love the hit at :30 “It’s so hard to be a kid…” and the fall off that tone, just to hit it again at :40.

agasthyaSeptember 24, 2023 10:32pm

there’s something super charming about this production – I don’t know if it needs much fleshing out. I really liked “burn me up in Mercedes Benz”.

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 12:20pm

Agreed – very charming and authentic the way it is. I guess I could see it expanding into a full band version once the percussion comes in, but I love how sparse and open the arrangement is while still maintaining a driving force.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:31pm

I think if I were to flesh it out, I’d just try to record these parts better, split out the guitar from the bass as @@ryan suggested, and maybe add a shaker and a few other percussive elements. Don’t think it needs a maximalist arrangement by any means, but also was surprised (but happy) to see so many folks seemed to think the demo-ness fits the song –  glad the authenticity comes through!

BenSeptember 26, 2023 10:29am

Man I’m such a sucker for that chord movement from like 0:30 to 0:39. It’s just so David Bowie and it makes me emotional. then it sort of lands at that maj7 chord at 0:40, which was a nice surprise, and then it just keeps going on a ride, which culminates with those harmonies starting at 1:00. The major ones at 1:00, then the minor at 1:06 is reminiscent of Yes harmonies. Cool song. It keeps moving from theme to theme, in a linear way, but still feels like a classic song structure. Love the kick drum pulse too.

Good songing with this one. i think it’s your best one yet.

ryanSeptember 26, 2023 1:36pm

Yeahhhh—that ascending chromatic trick resolving to the maj7 is sooo nice here, Elias.

BenSeptember 26, 2023 3:31pm

and i think the thing i like about the maj7 chord is that it comes in on the 2 of that bar, or at least that maj7 note happens on the 2

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:30pm

Super appreciate the harmonic analysis!! I was pretty proud of it and it kinda came out of nowhere. I’d written the chorus and had started on with the verse and wasn’t sure I was happy with using the chromatic movement as it felt a little to ‘classic’ or something – but when I found the vocal movement that lined up with that maj7 chord it just sorta settled into place for me. Glad that others appreciated it tooooo

nickSeptember 26, 2023 11:17am

oh heck yeah, i love all the demo-y moments: unsynced background vocals/doubles, rhythmic breaks— stumbles or otherwise doesn’t matter. And the tone is super lush and easy on the ears. Excellent job starting the chorus and a really really strong one at that. Unique moves with the melody and chords, but super familiar.. great balance.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:28pm

Hahaha, some of that is because I was recording this last minute – but I also think there’s something intimate or compelling about hearing inconsistencies or hearing sorta two universes of a way a line could be phrased at the same time.

ryanSeptember 26, 2023 1:39pm

This is a fuzzy friend of a track. Super strong songwriting. Agreed with @@Ben that this is one of your best yet.

In response to your question—I love the demo-y quality of this, as @@nick mentioned, but I think fleshing it out could be a blast. I bet you’d get a lot of mileage out of separating the bass and guitar parts. A tight, slightly overdriven bass played with a pick for those single-note lines and then the guitar doing the polyphonic stuff would probably open up the arrangement and tell you what to do with the rest of it. At least, that’s how I would start to approach it. I think you’ve got all the essential components written, though, that’s for sure. Great worrrrrk.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:27pm

Yeah, definitely agree – I def want it on bass, and like the idea of an overdriven picked part for it. Also would open up the guitars ability to do other things and flesh out the arrangement a little more.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:23pm

Did NOT expect those verse vocals. Love the production on those, giving me Bone Machine or Mule Variation Tom Waits, but with a bit more of a dinosaur attitude. Overall, love the use of vocal harmony and different vocal production styles throughout the tune – especially as they support some really excellent lyrics.

Not a lot to add that others haven’t already said. Love the last chorus into the guitar solo at the outro. A very satisfying ending in a less gritty/dark/aggressive zone. That alternation between definite aggression and more vibe-y grit is maybe my favorite thing.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:18pm

Welcome and sorry for my late reply! I, too, am intimidated by the production chops on a lot of the folks in this group – but can guarantee there’s nothing bad that can happen. It’s just fun to share songs, whatever the form.

I second Alec’s bard/storyteller vibe – and to echo Ryan’s sentiment, one suggestion for lyric writing is exploring letting complete thoughts spill over onto multiple musical phrases – ideas starting in one line, yet resolving in another. Great song, welcome!

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 12:00pm

This is a very sweet and thoughtful song. I like that you spent time researching and formulating a hypothesis. Even if it’s not scientifically accurate, lyrically I think this allows for a much more cohesive approach to storytelling which I think you achieved wonderfully.

As for harmonies…you know me – I’m all about thick vocal arrangements. Probably not for the whole song, but maybe some bigger choral arrangements for the later choruses might help it open up more?

ryanOctober 4, 2023 2:30pm

Thanks, Alec! Glad the story worked for you. Yeah it’s true, I should let it get a little thicker. I think that’ll be possibly when I inevitably tap a bunch of background singers for the proper recording of this track.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:10pm

I also wanted something bigger from the vocal arrangements. The cinematic nature of the strings had me craving some giant vocal sections – maybe right after the guitar solo (which was sweet, by the way). Or maybe just on the “Look how long How Blue How Me How You” the choral arrangements could swell, grow, build, leading in to some huge vocal chords on the penultimate line, before it cuts back to just you on the last “One of us was always gonna lose.”

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 2:05pm

This conjures a whole fucking world. So much about the vocal arrangement of this tune just blew me away. The high falsetto vocals add such a beautiful texture, either when they take the lead or when they’re serving as a counter melody for the main story line.

The way your verse starts is fascinating – immediately unsettled, unresolved. And the harmonic progression of the verse in general is so great. Always hinting at resolution but never quite getting there. Also the fading, reverbed quality of the end felt like such a natural way to end a song that didn’t ever really want to settle.

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:31am

Another astounding vocal arrangement. love this one. but hell yeah, what you’re calling the original chorus is totally sick. and eff it, im happy to call that the chorus. but yeah, i say scratch that schmucky intro and this thing’s platinum. seriously tho, that chorus would make a killer beginning. great job, dude.

alechutsonSeptember 26, 2023 10:47am

Thank you! Had to include the schmucky intro, that’s the secret to my primitive percussion 😉

nickSeptember 26, 2023 11:19am

rock and a hard place 🙃

ryanSeptember 26, 2023 1:54pm

Assignment be damned, that intro is rad. Totally shocked me when the next section came in, so if that was part of your vision for this track, you nailed that.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 1:59pm

I like the intro too, but kinda want it out of the way. Smacking straight into that chorus would land really well with me – not cause of the assignment, I just think that’s what I wish the song did. Either way though, it’s a cool section.

BenSeptember 25, 2023 10:46am

this is great. percussion sounds really good, especially when it’s naked at the beginning.

love the aggression of the intro chorus. feedback, then a roar, then a proggy line that ends as suddenly as it started. It’s one of those complex melodies where I’m like, “Ok i need to learn this. it’s so composed and specific. i need to figure this one out and get this under my belt so i can sing along and get the parts right.” Love when i feel this immediately. Maybe the only thing about the chorus i’d add is a slightly more present/trebbly line that stands above the fuzz and adds a little definition? Maybe this is a chorus 2 or 3 thing?

Love the verses. and love the half time at 2:20. that always feels good. maybe some slight tweaking needed of the first bar of the shaker that comes in right after it, or maybe i’m hearing it wrong?

Great Hail To The Thief energy in this song. Love it. Listened to it late last night on my phone in the backyard and it knocked my socks off. Now i’m listening on good speakers. not wearing socks though sadly.

any plans for this song?

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 1:09pm

RIP your socks 💀

Great suggestion re: arrangement, I think you’re spot on there. In general I think I was little sloppy with the drum loops, but I think it works as a demo.

This song is def going into my live repertoire – sadly it’s a little late to include it in my upcoming album release so maybe it’ll be a single somewhere down the line. Glad you like 🙂

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:33am

can totally relate to Ben’s compulsion to learn the melody. feels very natural.

BenSeptember 26, 2023 10:41am

another thought: I think the verse drums are some of your best programmed drums. great ghost notes on the snare. And the swing and feel matches everything correctly i think.

alechutsonSeptember 26, 2023 10:46am

The verse drums (and chorus) are actually live drums loops – a while ago I bought a pack of live drum groove recordings at different tempos and have been using them for my demos ever since. Less exciting than programming then properly, but a hell of a time saver. Feels more like painting by mood

BenSeptember 26, 2023 10:48am

ah, you pair your playing well with it. I’d say my biggest challenge in all of recording is matching the feel/swing of drums with the feel/swing of gtr, and often, the best way to get matching feels is to start with one of them (almost always the drums) and just craft your other feels around that feel.

EliasSZOctober 8, 2023 1:58pm

Late to the game, but think Hail to the Thief energy is spot on the money.

Also agree about the melody aspect – something compelling, familiar, but still unfamiliar about it. Like, I can almost expect how the vocals (and I guess the arrangement too) moves, but yet it still constantly surprises me. It’s a killer tune.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:18pm

so did i just not comment on any of the submissions for this assignment or something? wtf. This is so cool. love when the kick drum enters. It feels radioheady at first, then it becomes Alecy when the Alec comes in. checking in here – what’s the status on the spanking?

alechutsonOctober 7, 2023 7:44pm

Thanks dude! Alas, I am still woefully under spanked 😥

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:25pm

wow i forgot to comment on any of these submissions. maybe because it was spring time and i was excited to go run around outside. these are great.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:20pm

it seems that i forgot to comment on any of this assignment’s submissions. but somehow, a few days ago, this song entered my brain on its own, and ive been humming it around the house and marvelling at how seemingly unrelated the synth line is with the vocals but somehow it works so well. Like when the synth comes in at the beginning, i had no idea that this type of cascading vocals would come in like that with that melody and rhythm. but it does and its fuckin cool.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:16pm

wow, im late to the party here. this is all awesome, and i think – youre right – the bassline could potentially be improved. Maybe a little bassier tonally/less plucky, and then be a little less syncopated at a couple sections? That was such a trippy VM hill mushroom trip. Thanks for that.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:13pm

solid funky intro. fun monkeying around with you here.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:09pm

Listening 3 years later and this is pretty and relaxing. Love the multiple guitars.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:07pm

I missed this one. This is awesome. Very madmenny. Also it’s as close to a cover as possible without having any of the same melodies and chords. almost a stylistic parody. But also holds its own and is badass.

BenOctober 7, 2023 7:03pm

Well that was fun. A first in the NCBC catalogue.

@@nick i’m with you on the V.G. xmas sound. That’s funny.

Well done, Caleb’s students!

ryanOctober 1, 2023 12:03am — maybe the most confident performance of all time?

nickOctober 6, 2023 11:07am

@@Tengo would have to be the judge of that

nickOctober 6, 2023 10:29am

@@Ben @@alechutson @@agasthya take a peek at this

nickOctober 6, 2023 10:29am

Wowie wow wow finally getting to this. Truly brings a little dino tear to my eye. Who knew highschoolers would wanna push the naughtiness envelope?? love it.

The bongo, piano choral spoken word sections are absolutely fabulous. There’s something especially charming about the iphone/macbook compressed microphone capturing the piano and choir together—some Vincent Guaraldi “My Little Drum” vibes.

So glad to have you and the crew involved!

Nate.PissOctober 5, 2023 1:00pm


ryanOctober 4, 2023 2:25pm

Yes! This is what it’s all about! Neon Chef for students! Wooooooot!

Can you please post the lyric sheet? I have a sneaking suspicion I’m missing out on a lot of wordplay. “My arms can’t reach that far apart and yet you crush my jurassic heart” is outstanding. Love the section that follows this lyric, too. Feels like Sufjan Stevens jumped in as co-producer real quick.

The experimental bridge is incredible hahaha. The fun comes across in a BIG way.

CalebOctober 5, 2023 12:52pm

I just added the lyrics to the post. Thanks so much Ryan!!! I just shared these comments with them, they loved it. Sufjan my mannnnnnnnn.

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:52am

couldn’t help yourself :00-:02 😂

no i think this is wonderful, and like alec said, incredibly sweet. That first “oh it’s some kind of pain” is truly excellent, lyrically and musically—really strong harmonies there. In the first verse, I’d find a way to ditch all the non-crucial words… like “Well first”, “The colors” “I couldn’t.” It would make the whole thing sing more speak, which I think would be nice.

Only other thought would be experimenting with a distinct chord change under the repeating outro, at least at 3:01 under that beautiful little high note. for instance some version of a D#7 could be really special. nice job on this one.

ryanOctober 4, 2023 2:29pm

hahaha yeah dude, I love holding hands.

I hear you on removing little words to make it “singier”, and I tried that (because Zoya always wants to erase syllables, too) but I didn’t like what it did for the lyrics. Made them feel heavy-handed. But that smells like something I possibly just need to get over?

Yes to the distinct chord change! Right now I use the relative minor in place of the usual chord in that extension, but it could get even funkier. I’ll take a gander at that 7.

BenSeptember 25, 2023 11:13am

Figured I’d dig in here a little.

Man, this morning I was listening to a clip of Cory Wong interviewing John Scofield and he was talking about musical voices, and how you can identify someone by 1 or 2 notes, often within 3 seconds or less.

Your song came on autoplay last night on my phone (yes, yes, I’ve since listened again on speakers) and I knew it was you almost instantly. I replayed the very beginning several times to explore why I knew it was you, and I’m pretty sure I concluded that the tells are all there in those Magic First 3 Seconds. Here are some of the factors that I think my brain automatically considered just in the first 3 seconds:

1. it’s clean and natural sounding and starts without much fanfare or intro

2. the guitar is strummed and slightly muted in a way that i’ve heard you do hundreds of times

3. the little bass slide at 0:02 is something I’ve been hearing you do for many many years, with that specific feel. It’s a common “move” of course, but I think you put your specific little swing on it, and fret it in a specific way that I recognize. subtle, but recognizable.

4. the “lazy” (not a diss), “nasally” (also, not a diss) voice that I feel like you really started leaning into in your last album, as well as on some BCBCs the past couple years. This tone, coupled with the way you pronounce the “r” in “creep” at 0:02, is a tell that this is your song. the tone and voicing of the lyrics, coupled with it starting simply but confidently, and without a instrumental intro is party of what gave it away that this autoplaying song was by you.

The other 3 minutes and 2 seconds of the song are great too – there’s a lot going on in the story and structure, and it’s exciting and moving, but I’ll let some others review it. Just thought it was interesting, maybe just because I’ve known you musically for so long, that I could identify you in seconds, so I wanted to examine that a bit.

It’s a cool thing when influences definitely do come thru strongly – sure, in the first 3 seconds or less, I do hear shades of Thom Yorke vocals and McCartney bass, as well as some sensibilities from a song from your “TWEMIS” album that i cant remember the name of right now (can your younger self be an influence? why not.) – but the influences combine in a way that is undeniably unique to you. The influences are crucial to the sound, but take a backseat to the actual artist’s voice. Good stuff.

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 11:52am

Agreed – Thom Yorke vocals and McCartney bass are indeed strong in this one, but in a way that help paint a story of apocalypse and perseverance. Love the vibe – the whole song feels like it’s chugging along in spite of the odds. I really dig the line “we found a curve.”

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 2:30pm

I hear some Sharon Van Etten in here too. Especially in the verse. “My boy and I”.

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 2:37pm

Re: nasally vocals—definitely one of your things, Nick. But also dig that there’s a good balance on this track. Lots of fuller, rounder, softer, deliveries too. Really enjoyed the variety.

nickSeptember 29, 2023 10:04am

wowie thank u for this silverdog. would have to imagine it’s this one, considering nicole noticed the same thing. 2-26-11

BenSeptember 29, 2023 12:09pm

that is the one!

stonewindowSeptember 25, 2023 6:38pm

My first impression was a similar vibe to Pink Floyd, would fit nicely on Wish You Were Here. Beautiful song Nick.

nickSeptember 29, 2023 10:07am

thanks, stone!

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 2:36pm

Sheesh, I adore this. I’m on spin 4 or 5 already. Love when the e bass plays as big of a role as the percussion does in a rhythm section—especially when it’s minimal. And boy is that nailed here. I agree with others that “we found a curve” is the moment here. But there are so many details to enjoy. Piano after “stars left to right”? Yum. Shimmering little guitar after “massive body”? Yes please. Busy bass playing at ~2:05? Darn tootin.

nickSeptember 29, 2023 10:07am

thanks brother. and yeah bass had to show up big time with such light percush. i will call out that the lyric is “stars left to rights”, however the melody does follow the lyrics as if it were left to right on a fretboard.

agasthyaSeptember 24, 2023 10:15pm

“i’ve become as old as light” is such a good line. “we found a curve” is my favorite of many excellent moments in this.

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 2:37pm

Yeah what the hell is even going on here? An extra chord and a bass re-harm or something? Spill the deets, @@nick.

nickSeptember 29, 2023 10:02am

mmm thanks. and @@ryan it’s just one of those moments in songwriting where something a little strange came naturally. two bars of 3/4 and i just dont technically know what’s happening harmonically… spidercreeping?

BenSeptember 26, 2023 10:21am

howdy, and welcome! i remember fondly, years ago, being like, “hey what’s this game with the sunburst guitar icon that came with this imac?” So many countless hundreds of hours spent digging around that software. Lots of fun.

Pangea “rupturing” is a cool way to frame it. In fact, that whole verse is some ingenious wording.

Looking forward to your next songs.

stonewindowSeptember 26, 2023 8:46pm

Thanks for this Ben. I’m fully intimidated and inspired by y’all and your songwriting skills. But I’m planning to persist. What’s the worst that can happen? Some other form of “rupture”

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:15am

Great primitive outro! Glad to have you onboard. How great is it to start getting comfortable with Garageband, right? Such a wonderful software, and eventually, quite easy to use. Don’t hesitate to google or youtube any obstacles… there are loads of videos for troubleshooting nearly everything on there. Super fun track. Favorite lyric is “The Caribbean Sea was a baby”.

stonewindowSeptember 26, 2023 8:43pm

Yes, I was totally supported by Ryan to get my the song submitted. I was a pain in the ass for his Sunday afternoon. And yes the motivation to dig into GarageBand is a blessing. And it doesn’t produce mp3 files… another YouTube video rabbit hole that was fruitless because I am using an iPad….

The lyrics came pretty fast. They could use some editing. Glad you liked the “ ….. baby”. Attempts at humor are also a challenge. Thank you for creating this opportunity.

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 10:44am

Love the upper register of your voice, Brit. Great tone, great control. Really sounds fantastic.

Borrowing one of Zoya’s favorite pieces of criticism of my own songwriting, here: I think keeping an eye on the number of syllables that work smoothly with your melodies could improve the overall rhythmic feel of the song. Then I think the guitar rhythm and vocal rhythm could settle together.

In other news—I love the idea of being with someone for 200 million years haha.

Great inclusion of the percussion at the end! I think that’s a brilliant outro.

stonewindowSeptember 25, 2023 6:29pm

Thank you Ryan. Your comments are very helpful. Much appreciated.

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:16am

I second Ryan’s comment about your higher vocal range—sounds really strong!

stonewindowSeptember 26, 2023 8:36pm

Thanks Nick, appreciate your kind words.

nickSeptember 26, 2023 11:12am

Maybe it’s so aggressive because it was reincarnated as the lead singer to the B52s but was hoping for Ween? Not unlike your comment to my piece, you have an incredibly distinct style which is on full display here. Funny how that works. You’re not gonna like this, but I can almost guarantee I’ve never seen JP1 from start to finish. Yikes. As egregious as this dino is, I’m actually pretty on board with the vibe. I was gonna say to cut out some of the breathing noises in between lines, but maybe fucking not. fuck it.

You land on a really tight groove at the end (3:41) with that strummy guitar. love that. absolutely feffing love that.

BenSeptember 26, 2023 3:28pm

you’re right, i dont like that.

ryanSeptember 26, 2023 1:48pm

This is awesome. I hear a lot of Return to Cookie Mountain in this and think you could push it even further in that direction. Maybe by using even more chaotic tones for that main poppy melody (1:48). Something really wiry and frenetic.

In addition to addressing the rhythmic nudging, I wonder if it’s a few clicks under the ideal tempo? Once you finish nudging, maybe play around with that. The change in arrangement at 1:05 (which I lovvvvve) feels a little under, which is why I mention it.

But yeah as soon as that aggressive verse comes in, I was like yeeeeup I like where he took this.

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:27am

no not boring, i think it’s charming. and im on board with all the melodic and lyrical inclusions. I think what may be contributing to the “boredom” you’re referencing is that the chunking guitar line is rhythmically ahead of the drums, and then the vocals are a little ahead of the guitar, so you end up with a feeling of the drums holding everything back instead of pushing things forward. I’d hop back in there, take a good look at the wave forms, and start by isolating the drums and guitars and just nudging that guitar until it sits ever so slightly on the back side of the drums. Then id nudge the vocals so line up with the guitar. Just a thought, but may be what you’re looking for!

BenSeptember 26, 2023 10:36am

welp, was literally about to comment on your song finally, after listening for a couple days, but i guess nick and i are both NCBC commenting at the same time this morning, him 4 minutes before me. Which is nice, because he put it well.

It’s absolutely not boring, and it has all the DNA of one of your pop rock songs (except that DNA is stuck in a rhythmically out-of-sync mosquito, and frozen in a chunk of rushed-guitar amber). It might actually be a simple, mechanical fix. Scoot some guitar, maybe drag some snare, insert a little frog DNA, move some vocals.

My theory is that maybe the inability for you to lock deeply into the groove when you’re listening back to it is what makes you think it’s boring (and laborious)?

It’s a compact, fun, catchy song, that fits really well into your repertoire.

agasthyaSeptember 26, 2023 12:26pm

@nick and @@Ben YES i think y’all solved it (“laborious” is exactly right, Ben). I think I’m so used to having the drums slightly behind the beat on my more dilla-inspired productions I didn’t even think to address it. gonna tweak and report back.

BenSeptember 26, 2023 12:36pm

yeah, when you have those 8th note palm muted chords chunking along like this, the drums can’t afford to have the dilla looseness. I use 8th note palm muted powerchord chunking a lot. Usually i start with the drums for these kinds of beats and play guitar along to it, but even then i sometimes run into little micro-awkwardnesses in the feel.

My weird approaches here, which always feel like cheating, but sometimes yield the exact rhythmic feel solution i’m looking for: i remove the highhat, or at least way lower the highhat. yours feels fairly low in the mix already. this removes opportunities for the 8th notes to clash. Then for slightly less poppy stuff, i sometimes even double or triple (triples is best) the snare voices and drag them a little on either side of the beat. I actually dont think either of these 2 things is right for your song (i think you actually have to just get it perfect), but just wanted to chime in about this rhythmic problem because it’s the #1 thing i struggle with

agasthyaSeptember 26, 2023 12:50pm

everyone knows triples is best. triples makes it safe.

ryanSeptember 26, 2023 1:44pm

Just raising my hand here to say I agree with the well-articulated rhythm notes

ryanSeptember 26, 2023 1:33pm

haaaaaaahaha. This feels like a novel where the narrator changes without warning and you’re just helplessly along for the ride. “Why is the stegosaurus so aggressive?” Because it is—eat my shorts.

What a vibe.

Top moment for me is the delayed delivery on “meat”. Very Tom Waits. Also dig the arrangement getting smaller in the “slime” section. “Slime section” is the best I’ve got because as usual with your work, you do a great job obscuring whatever the song structure is here.

agasthyaSeptember 24, 2023 10:27pm

AND THE BEAK! i’m gonna be yelling that all week. this rocks. snare/clap is dirty!!

BenSeptember 26, 2023 11:07am


alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 12:16pm


So much grit and sass. It’s almost like Oogie Boogie voices the Steg

Great guitar sounds. There’s a bit of Pink Floyd energy in this tune. Props for weaving the past in with the present day, it feels like we’re in Jurassic Park with you and then zooming out to see you interacting with YouTube. I love the last bit too – great button ending.

I would maybe have the intro vocals mixed further away – it feels like they could be like a little voice at the back of your head

Feff Goldblum ftw 😉

Clever girl

BenSeptember 26, 2023 11:04am

oh yeah, big boogie man vibes. and i totally agree with you on the intro vocals

agasthyaSeptember 24, 2023 10:12pm

that opening riff/instrumental hook is HEAVY! love the tone the pignose gave the guitar. vocals are super duper clean, and the melodies+harmonies are very Alec (in a good way). all in all I would say this is exactly what a reanimated t rex would do.

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 1:12pm

thanks man! WWRTRD (what would reanimated t-rex do?)

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:34am

it would definitely call the first person it saw a “snack”, that’s for sure.

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 12:32pm

Your production is on point as always. So easy to relate to the lyrical content – so much so that I named my band Death by Comet 💀 I like how positive sounding the chord changes and melodies are, especially contrasting with the lyrics and dirt of the production. I think you could really lean into that dissonance a bit more so that we viscerally experience this conflict of emotions with you.

“It’s so hard to be a killer when your heart isn’t in it” is a great moment, and that lyrical trade really works for me.

I think that the choruses could have more evolution in the rhythm section, or maybe an addition of a counter-melody, especially towards the end. It feels like those are the moments to really imply an oncoming disaster.

nickSeptember 26, 2023 10:27am

“It’s so hard to be a killer when your heart isn’t in it”  Yes I loved this moment too

BenSeptember 26, 2023 10:23am

such a good round of songs

alechutsonSeptember 25, 2023 12:05pm

Hi, welcome!

I’d love to read along to the lyrics, would you mind posting them?

You’ve got a great bard/storyteller vibe to this song. I can almost imagine a group of wide-eyed children arranged in a circle around you as you regale them about cephlopods

stonewindowSeptember 25, 2023 6:28pm

Alec Thanks for your kind words. I just added the lyrics as they currently stand.

stonewindowSeptember 24, 2023 9:45pm

Melodies and harmonies are killer.

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 10:49am

Thanks, Brit!

agasthyaSeptember 24, 2023 10:22pm

wow this is lush! vocals after the guitar solo are really lovely. I tend towards maudlin in my production instincts but I would love to hear a few gratuitous drum fills into the chorus throughout. love the imagery!

ryanSeptember 25, 2023 10:48am

Completely agreed. I was only able to nab about thirty minutes with a drum kit for this, so I played it conservatively. But I really wanted some fills to open up the choruses. Sneaked ONE in at the end haha. Anyhow, yep, good call.

stonewindowSeptember 24, 2023 9:58pm

Ya’ll know how to write songs. I’m gob smacked.

ryanSeptember 13, 2023 8:15pm

The question is: how many of us are going to write the chorus first?

BenSeptember 14, 2023 1:13pm

and how many of our choruses are going to want (beg) to functionally serve as verses and are we going to try and fight that or let that just happen

nickSeptember 20, 2023 3:13pm

If a chorus is sung alone in a forest, is it still a chorus?

BenSeptember 11, 2023 9:58am

👓 “songwriting, uh, finds a way…”

ZSeptember 12, 2023 11:41am

“That is one big pile of songwriting.”

BenSeptember 12, 2023 9:35pm

“must write faster”

BenSeptember 12, 2023 9:41pm

“and uhh here I am now by myself, uhh, commenting on ncbc to myself. uhh that’s, that’s chaos theory.”

atonmasSeptember 11, 2023 5:51pm

I’m more of a Triassic guy myself, so this could get a bit awkward…

peterSeptember 12, 2023 9:57am

everything after the primordial soup has been a waste of time

peterSeptember 12, 2023 10:56am

everything since the primordial soup has been a waste of time

atonmasSeptember 12, 2023 11:21am

ugh #mood

agasthyaFebruary 27, 2023 8:39am

either i never actually submitted a comment last night or @@peter might wanna check something out, BUT i love this. it doesn’t feel like a 5 minute song at all. I love the percussion-heavy section near the end and the bassline at around 2:45 is very McCartney (maybe hints of I Want You/She’s So Heavy?). love it!

BenFebruary 27, 2023 4:18pm

Thanks (and i’m glad i have a couple seconds that are reminiscent of my favorite bassman of all time). I’m usually disappointed in the sound of my bass recordings. i’m fine with my playing, but it’s always fretbuzzy if i hit a note anywhere in the first 3 or 4 frets. I usually have to either scoop out a bunch of frequencies to get rid of the buzz (i’m playing on my childhood Korean squire pbass, which i havent properly had a setup on in at least 20 years) or dramatically change how i play and where i hit my notes. But for this recording i put a capo on the second fret and played with a pick and it sounded kind of nice. minimal effects. Still has the grindy effect that i like and when i swing up to hit an octave on the same string (which is becoming a thing i do a lot i guess?), it wasn’t overbearing (i hope). A little overdriven but fairly well-contained and not gross sounding.

nickMarch 8, 2023 12:11pm

so true, agasthya re she’s so heavy

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:59pm

sir paul, and weirdly chris squire of Yes, are masters of the using-a-pick bass slide up. i feel like something about their style of bass guitars (hofners and rickenbackers) lend themselves to being slid on.

alechutsonFebruary 27, 2023 12:35pm

Ben, this is one of my favorites of yours. Vocals sound great. Loving your choices for sounds and the mix sounds great to me. Maybe the wood block is a little more pronounced than I would have gone for? It’s giving me like Dave Grohl meets Eliot Smith meets Silversun Pickups and they all cook a tasty treat together

alechutsonFebruary 27, 2023 12:36pm

A bit of Talking Heads in the outro

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:56pm

ah yes, i def hear that in the intro.

and yeah, you know, the woodblock can be a very divisive block. im just glad you didnt hear the original mix and arrangement.

froebusinessFebruary 27, 2023 1:46pm

Yeah dude. Big Elliot Smith vibes for me at times. I don’t know why, but “I’m going left” just really speaks to me. It’s such a simple little line but sounds so cool.

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:55pm

now if only i could go left on the bball court

lizzieFebruary 27, 2023 5:05pm

i LIVED for the guitar at 2:20. neither it or the bass is too much at all. this is a song that my friends and i growing up would put on in one of our cars, smoke a little weed to, and just marvel at. i agree with @@agasthya about the percussion at the end. it’s comes after you’ve set the mood as enjoyable/relaxed in a jam kind of way, so it’s not annoying or distracting at all. great job!

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:54pm

as someone who for many years pretty much *exclusively judged music based on how good it would be to smoke weed to in the car,* that means a lot. thanks

ZFebruary 27, 2023 5:15pm

Yeah I hear ya with the mix stuff. I know I end up wrestling with that stuff so much more than I want to. And I have to do quieter singing more often than I’d like to when it’s not what the song needs.

Having that said I have a lot of respect for overcoming those challenges and I think this song totally does that.

Not only is it exciting to hear you lean more into guitar and bass live performances and going outside of your comfort zone vocally, form-wise it feels like a complete thought, there are a lot of ideas in here and none of them get abandoned or un-realized, just feels like fluid and creative AF.

great work man!

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:53pm

thank you! fun to let loose a little in guitarandbassland

EliasSZFebruary 27, 2023 7:54pm

Im getting like a Beatles in the 90s vibe from this. And then that killer guitar solo at 2:19 is so sick leading to those yelled vocals. Great vibes in this tune – there’s some really careful songwriting going on here that I really appreciate it and some wonderful textures in the arrangement.

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:51pm

thank you! drooling imagining what the beatles in the 90s would sound like. id be into it.

TylerKFebruary 28, 2023 11:22pm

Wood block heaven. It takes a real musician to use woodblock tastefully. A little something for the table. A little woodblock tiramisu dessert. Damn cool vocal style too. Really small guitar sound that works to make the solo soar, like a jet. You could probably record an album in a library and it’d still sound sick. Reminds me of The Unicorns and Elliott Smith. Great song Ben.

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:46pm

Thank you! the woodblock is tasteful because i forced myself to cut out like 50% of it.

ryanMarch 14, 2023 8:31pm

Electric guitar tone and piano chaos both sounding hella apocalyptic—nailed that. Cool that some of the vocal lines are barely or not at all finished. That’s a pretty rad solution for reverse engineering lyrics into the tune. Adds to the chaos.

This was a wild ride, I don’t even know where I am. Riding westward with Ben in the Fit, I guess?

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:44pm

i was driving past stamford ct a few weeks ago [“full tank connecticut” “westward”] in the Fit and it was a very apocalyptic scene with trees growing in weird places, not many people, and just creepy vibes and i thought about this tune a little.

nickMarch 15, 2023 12:24pm

ooo that’s a diamond transition at :58 from wee-e-e-e into the guitar. and killer piano entrance at 1:31. why is the outro giving me Going For the One vamppy solo section??? very dope. and lol, breaking the 4th wall at the end is a delicious surprise. great submissh.

i only have airpods right now, but im getting what sounds like some clipping in the left ear at like ~2:05-2:20. may just be my equipment, but id double peep that.

BenMarch 15, 2023 1:20pm

ah yes, Yes making an appearance once again.

nickMarch 15, 2023 2:14pm

and yeah i think it may just be my headphones ^_^

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:41pm


daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:23pm

i love the instrumental here, it reminds me of the good kind of dubstep (before the bros stepped in). like high polish UK idm. the lyrics and delivery fit well and have a restless & hypnotic vibe about ’em. the sonic chaos in the middle shapes up nicely and builds well, sounds really nice in my 2.1 system. lots of dynamics but it feels cohesive & buoyant.

singing feels loud enough, didn’t consider you were being gentle but i know that feeling (!) and never want to be self conscious when i am creating. have you played at all w treating your space w pads/blankets? even as a measure of self-isolation, might be worth considering!

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:41pm

i think thats the next move. it’s just my office with computer stuff and some instruments. havent taken any measures to make it sound good yet. good call. good feedback.

alechutsonApril 10, 2023 7:29pm

i love your use of vocal samples here, you created a really unique vibe with this piece!

i would love to hear an extended version of this that drops into full band halfway through. gr34t jerb!

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:39pm

yeah, for some reason, i feel like this needs 3 drummers on it. not playing complex stuff, but just layering things live

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:38pm

i love how many elements you bring into your mixes, somehow fitting in a whole world of sound into the space of 2 mins 30 secs. i love the show concept, too (cos humans are the real monsters most of the time) and think this is a fitting soundtrack to that world. the guitar at the end reminds of a young jonny greenwood in the best of ways.

p.s. i was also hustling to get my shit together in time for the beginning of the end of succession, and i love that theme song more than i should.

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:36pm

yeah, i listen to the full succession soundtrack sometimes when i’m working. what are some of your fav theme songs?

ZMarch 30, 2023 2:01pm

I’d totally watch this show. The music is great, I l’m glad we get to hear the whole song – I’ve always loved listening to the full twin peaks material. It is interesting to think about how you’d pate down the song to its most essential emotional centers depending on what the time/creative constraints are with the rest of the team, but there’s so much to work with here. Have you ever listened to the entire Bresking Bad intro? It is to me a TOTALLY different experience than what the 15 second truncated version it is.

I think you really nailed the mystery and night-timy feeling, and I love that it morphs into this total beast by the end. Vocals remind me of Son Lux.

nice work!

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:34pm

YES. always SO weird hearing full themes. It’s like you pinch-zoom out of little 60 sec ditty and there’s structure and repetition and you realize what things got unceremoniously chopped and cut to fit the commercial television length. But like 99% of the time, i def prefer the tv theme version because the full version is too eerily long and too specifically, intentionally structured

nickApril 13, 2023 11:51am

Love your stream of consciousness descriptions. Yeah fun moves arrangement/progression wise. I’m also curious @@ryan how you created the progression… keys, guitar, or midi first? And yes of course I would watch this show.

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:32pm

iirc: voice memo gtr -> logic gtr to click -> sounded too much like Exit Music for a Film –> changed everything -> sounded too much like leonard cohen -> changed everything -> in logic: gtr -> bass –> addictive drums -> vocals -> keys –> removed half of the drums –> midi horns etc

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:00pm

Benzo, this is gorgeous. One of my all-time favorite submissions from you. Great musical composition—how did you approach it?

I’m thrilled that it explodes at the end. Totally fitting.

Marketing team at HBO Max: “We are absolutely not calling it Muine Bheag.”

Agreed with @@daeclan that this is all about the wide variety of little voices that appear. Killer guitar playing. Great horn parts, great string parts. So fun.

BenSeptember 11, 2023 2:25pm

writer [who’s currently on strike]; BUT IT SOUNDS LIKE “MOON BIG”

ryanSeptember 10, 2023 10:21pm


alechutsonApril 10, 2023 6:57pm

i love how your loops become more of a texture/ drone than the main structure of your track.

the only part that feels a like it could use some freshening to me is the snare loop, everything else feels like it’s serving a purpose

ryanApril 13, 2023 1:31pm

Thanks, yeah, I was into the loops becoming a texture, too! Keeping the chord progression out of the loops helped a lot. Got to later reframe the length of the loops, harmony, etc.

Totally agreed on the drum loop—kind of ended up locked into using it because it’s a full kit loop and then was dissatisfied with my attempts at making small variations on it. Then ran out of time to experiment more lol. I think it could work if it showed up in one less section. Or if I threw in another kit layer that varied it up? Maybe that’s the move.

nickApril 13, 2023 12:21pm

Cool to see you getting techy! Would not mind hearing some further digital exploration from you. Definitely into some of the glitchy vocal elements, and with your dynamic voice, I think a lot of good be done. But yeah, cool track.

alechutsonApril 13, 2023 1:13pm

🙏 thank you :))

juliapikerApril 9, 2023 9:22pm

OOOoooo Someone is going to get a little spanking for not following the parameters.

alechutsonApril 9, 2023 11:42pm

i’m pretty sure i stayed within parameters so the spanking better be unrelated!

nickApril 13, 2023 12:19pm

Well seems like a spanking for one reason or another is inevitable, and that’s good news in my book. @@juliapiker may be referring to the “non-drum” loop part of the parameters, but curious if you read this a different way.

alechutsonApril 13, 2023 1:12pm

Spanks abound! I didn’t see anything strictly forbidding use of drums. The parameters specified a structure for a 4 voice loop with another line over it, which I had. The drums I didn’t treat as a static loop – they cut in and out, evolved, etc. But even if they were, I still met the requirements for 4 stacked equal length non-drum loops plus a fifth element, introduced one at a time

nickApril 13, 2023 12:34pm

Also, was definitely gonna call you out for the drums so geeze am I glad i decided to do my reading

nickApril 13, 2023 12:31pm

glad you liked this one, and a great submission. I think with these parameters, if something is not referred to as a loop, then hey, it does not have to be a loop. So yes, the 4 loops had to be loops, but the 5th element could have been anything of any length. Or at least, that’s how I see it. Appreciate your determination to nail the recipe—and you did!

alechutsonApril 10, 2023 7:25pm

mmm that string loop is tasty. this whole piece feels like a dreamy summer memory.

i think the bass line could be simpler, more intentional. maybe a different tone as well. what if you used the hanz zimmer BWOW noise, lean a bit more into the Inception vibe?

nickApril 13, 2023 12:26pm

Lol never knew how to spell that noise

nickApril 13, 2023 12:24pm

Ok wow. Thank you for your offering. Strong debut 💰

nickApril 13, 2023 12:07pm

First off, love how thoroughly you describe your approach to each parameter—I definitely appreciate the full scope of that insight. My current mentality in regards to self-mixing is that I’m not trying to win any awards for innovation, and so I try and take advantage of the Logic presets as much as possible. Totally agree with @@Z that throwing the whole thing through a preset master is a game changer. I often mix and even record all with the master bus applied which is ~not recommended~ by the pros, but it absolutely recommends by me.

ZMarch 29, 2023 7:36pm

Yeah I immediately start cracking up when this comes on. In isolation you might thinking it’s a tender Bruce Springsteen crooning about Wendy when we hear “she’s waking me home,” but you’d be two legs short.

The bass slow down into ”all I wanna do” I really like, and look forward to.

I’m most impressed that for all the unsettling stuff about dumping and pissing, sung at pillow-distance, the endearment of it all prevails for me.

and way to truly feature a unique instrument, Kalimba I think grounds it around the airier textures, it’s like I can feel both the interior of the house and the warm-ish night-time poopin’ air.

big one daddy!

ZMarch 29, 2023 7:43pm

Oh sugar I’m sorry I didnt really give mix-notes.

I think everything feels pretty well balanced, I’d try to two quick things-

Vocals performance I wouldn’t change a bit but they stick out a little – I’ve been finding success getting them to sit better with effects, like an 8th, a quarter, and a slap bus, and see if any of those give a little more presence just at the felt not heard level. Maybe even a little saturation?

and then I think l the whole thing could use a little more weight – do you throw anything on your master bus? I like to do that a lot when I’m demoing so I can feel things better even if it’s a bit heavy handed. Like a tape emulator or a limiter and play with that a bit and see if it you can’t score a little extra beef!

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:09pm

Comment of the week: “I’m most impressed that for all the unsettling stuff about dumping and pissing, sung at pillow-distance, the endearment of it all prevails for me.”

nickApril 13, 2023 12:01pm

Ditto to @@ryan ’s accolade

nickApril 13, 2023 11:56am

What a home run! You’ve really excelled with drum programming. Immediately hooked, and that’s what the networks want ya know?? this thing’s gonna sell. Love the bridge—totally imagine us seeing AGUAMAN emerging from the ocean like a submarine, trident outstretched, wink to the camera. Really great stuff.

alechutsonApril 10, 2023 7:00pm

this is fun 😆

ryanApril 10, 2023 11:47am

Lot of great sounds here, holy moly! Love that synth entrance at 0:30. Really all the ethereal sounds are awesome. Synth solo also rad as hell. Evocative track as always, man.

Re: mixing and production — I’m no master. But I want these drums to be beefier. More compression, more saturation, a little darker. And I think the vocal chops and screws should either take things further or be reserved for the synths. I think they’re a little in the middle right now.

alechutsonApril 10, 2023 6:58pm

i totally agree with your analysis!

alechutsonApril 10, 2023 6:48pm

love this one, playful and nostalgic. i second ryan – a bangin drop into a full rhythm section would be pretty great

ryanApril 10, 2023 11:56am

Very “Different Trains” by Steve Reich, and I’m here for it. Love what those vibraphones are bringing. Nice balance between the pensive orchestra and the impatient-sounding vocal sample. This one’s a big win for me.

BenApril 10, 2023 12:08pm

thank you, thank you. yeah, the Kronos Quartet Steve Reich Different Trains recording was basically the vibe. However, the “different ways” “different trains” similarity is just a really cool coincidence.

ryanApril 10, 2023 12:00pm

Oof, I love this vocal melody. And that playful rhythm on loop 2 and loop 4.

Re: expanded version — um, an absolutely banging rhythm section. Think you could be into that? Countermelody on some kind of organic instrument over the synths, too. Maybe for a B section. Yum.

ryanApril 10, 2023 11:54am

Jesus, that first loop is a damn dream. I could listen to it all day. This sounds like a remix of a Washed Out B-side off of Paracosm. I love this.

Re: bassline — yeah, actually, I do think there’s a better option waiting to be found! I think the harmonic territory is dead on, but the rhythmic gestures need work. Too syncopated for its own good, I think. Track feels so damn good to sit in—the bassline should play into that more.

Great work, Juli.

ryanApril 10, 2023 11:48am

So, yeah, I would call this unexpected.

BenApril 7, 2023 10:40am

is this the first ncbc submission tagged jazz or funk?

lol this is great and funny, and CLEAN – both fairly familyfriendly wise, and just not a single grain of dirt anywhere to be found on the recording, i guess besides the honky clav and harmonica. You got Ballito over here, with the spiders and meat (spider meat?), and then you got Robert over here on a nickelodeon marathon every saturday morning.

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:19pm

i love the space and magnetic pull/reach of the instrumental—like a gentle beam from a UFO trying to bring an old friend back up to the mothership. the lyrics paint an impressionist 

the synth sounds feel like home, i like the sound selections and don’t think anything sticks out in a bad way.

is that the same piano at 1:40 and 1:58, just an octave up? seems so much more clear & provides some relief to any prior tension—feels intentional, but i think the more vintage/detuned piano lower sound fits the mood & could continue to fit there if you didn’t want to break out of that sadder vibe.

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:36pm

Damn, I love the idea of a UFO trying to bring an old friend back up to the mothership. That fits well—this song ended up being about the warmth of memories that stand the test of time, so I’m glad you felt a hominess.

It’s the same effect chain on the piano at 1:40 and 1:58, yup, but it’s the lead part from verse 2 that makes a reappearance as an interlude. I also played the same melody on electric guitar (piano on the left, clean guitar on the right). Yeah I wanted to let the sunlight prevail in the back half of the tune, so that change in mood was intentional. I’m hoping enough storminess stayed in the drums to make the whole track cohesive, regardless of the eventual shift.

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 8:19pm

this is so 24

is is very jack bauer

this is giving counter terrorism

i really dig the cinematic nature, and foreboding bass (but hopeful tings and pings). really nailed it, sounds like a friggin show theme song. i haven’t seen homeland in like 6 years but i think this is what i remember feeling during the credits.

re: notes

i think you could do great things at the company, man. they are always looking for the best and boldest and brightest. but be careful, they are known assassins and tricksters.

& side-chaining! i love it here, and in certain contexts (rly just thinking about Flying Lotus tbh). it can be distracting if it is not surrounded by other elements that are contributing to the mix; it has a really powerful hypnotic quality, but i think that goes away if you can focus too directly on it. i think your mix strikes a good balance where it is pushing/pulling without distracting from the Central Idea At play

ZMarch 29, 2023 6:50pm

This is giving counter terrorism = top comment award

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:29pm

Yeah biiiig into this is giving counter terrorism

ZMarch 29, 2023 6:50pm

So. Evocative!

Ken burns effect within the first few seconds, lucky draw for whomever gets to put visuals to this track over at HBO.

Love the side-chaining! I’m no pro at it but I like what Daeclan said – it seems like one needs to figure out what instruments are going to be sucked into the sidechain or not. My ear wants a non SC entrance for the cello (? Entrance at 13s) to separate it a bit. I wouldn’t want it totally flat so maybe just splitting the difference or playing with a separate compressor for that track would be where I’d start to explore.

just noticing how the ‘shaker’ sets that entrance up then gets out of the way – really nice touch.

Hi pass section is perfect

Four on the floor kick sounds awesome,

Noticing now that the the fundamental drum part is i think a 2 bar phrase which keeps it interesting – v cool.

Man there are a lot of other goodies in here, like that quivery reflection on the bells? Is that a separate entrance or like a flutter on a delay bud or somethin?

this is really great, going to enjoy it as much as possible before it gets memory-holed by the spooks!

nickApril 3, 2023 11:26am

Evocative is the word

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:28pm

Thanks, mate! Oh yeah fun fact about that “shaker” — that’s me scratching the head of an SM57 with a guitar pick and then distorting the shit out of it. And yeah, the quivery bell reflection I was thrilled with. That is a reverse reverb/delay tail from SoundToys Crystallizer that I added a fair bit of pre-delay to so that that effect swirls back in significantly after the glock attack.

And yeahhhh, good call on that non sidechained cello entrance. I actually tried that for a sec and couldn’t get it to work and then bailed. But I agree that might be best.

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:22pm

“All I wanna do is piss on everything, love on everything, smell on everything” – the Buddha

Some mix notes to consider!

The bass and kick sound are competing for the same space. I’d try thinning out the bass sound so that it’s more consistent in tone when you’re higher up on the neck / using higher strings and when you go down to the woofier territory. Hopefully that’ll also clear up some room for the kick, which you can then add sub and punch to.

Keys are sitting in a great place! Nice and isolated in that part of the EQ spectrum

Vox sound pretty good to me. I agree with @@Z that some wetness (delay, verb) on the lead could be a good thing.

And then yeah, what’s your protocol for a quick “mastering” once your track is done?

This track caught me completely off guard and I kind of haven’t been able to stop picturing you walking around on all fours and taking big shits on lawns ever since. In my mind’s eye, you are smiling.

ryanApril 3, 2023 5:08pm

This is absolutely hilarious. It also came on so, SO loud on my speakers for some reason (maybe following a quieter submission) and I was assaulted by it, making it even funnier.

I can easily picture a young Ryan Kershaw looking forward to hearing “Mmm, what the hell’s goin on?” getting a proper thrill from having heard the word ‘hell’ and being like “oh SHIT I better get my pop tart outta the toaster because my favorite show about a cigar-smokin’ barn cat jazzman is on.”

ZMarch 29, 2023 7:22pm

I’d tap SickAnimation for the video😂.

This is great, so easy and fun to follow, all the parts are so deliberate and clear, the lyrics are perfecto – thanks for putting tin sandwich in my “I look forward to forcing this expression into an ordinary conversation” jar.

Huge shout out to the emotional arc of the narrator – he starts off so grumpy and skeptical and then he just gives in to the groove, I can him rolling his shoulders and crossings his arms and bouncing when we get to “tumbleweed smoke/humble tweed coat.” Wild rhyme.

at the end you arrive at the “Robert kittens” refrain and it feels like the narrator is no longer the focal point but an audience member and you feel like you’ve been brought to the show too, so cool!

Biggest curiosity – that vocal is so clear and present and there’s so much bass in it! Can you share with the class a bit about how you got that sound?

nickApril 3, 2023 12:45pm

can’t tell you how glad i was to come across tin sandwich. was intimated by the corniness of it all, wasn’t sure how much to lean into the rappy nature of the lyric sheet. Landed on a balance of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Snake Farm.

and sheesh thank you about vocals, but it’s always a guessing game on my end. Recorded with the Rode NT1 condenser microphone. Started with the “Tube Vocal” preset on Logic, then on the Pedalboard I took off the Tube Burner and added the SQUASH compressor and Tru Tape delay. A little fussing later and there you have it.

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 8:14pm

okay i am loving the wild animal energy that seems to be coming through on some of these submissions. i feel the barn energy. i see the glow. i smell the barn bar air, drunk animal stink.

really diggin the cinematic storytelling here, could see the lyrics animated for sure. instrumental gives me 70s the doors energy, and i thought the harmonica was a vocoder until i read your description so kudos on making it sound human & dynamic even w one note!

pilot pitch: robert kitten finds his tumbleweed is laced with pcp & has to track down his dealer, for justice

nickApril 3, 2023 12:30pm

right and i just barely show a bit of promise in my detective assistance that Robert offers me a shred of approval which i devour. realizing that Robert may be the cat of (@nick)

nickApril 3, 2023 11:25am

Siiiick but yeah if one of you turned out to be a secret agent it would be @@zoya

zoyaApril 3, 2023 12:01pm

Plus I don’t think the CIA even takes italians?

nickApril 3, 2023 11:41am

I could imagine watching Six Ducks on sunday morning in 1997 and my parents being like wtf is this why are things the way they are.

I think the ducks exclusively quack with subtitles when they’re on their own, but once they’re together in man-form, they take on the voice of celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, cookbook author, and National Best Recipe award winner for his “Turkey and Hot Sausage Chili” recipe in 2003, Emeril Lagassé.

nickApril 3, 2023 11:27am

The sidechaining is very yes working for me. I would look forward to hearing this at the front of each show. No skip baby.

ZMarch 30, 2023 2:19pm

Love how the context of the municipal building, the boredom, really makes whats going on emotionally between the characters pop that much more.

I think “shorter” would be a fruitful instinct to follow in the context of a show’s intro. However this feels to me more like something that belongs in DC or Sam Pearce’s catalogue, in which case it can be as long or as stripped down as needed.

i don’t know much about the show, but if the premise is “sad indie guitar guy” and you’ll be trying out other stuff free of the NCBC parameters, I’d be curious to see what can come of something that provides more contrast. Maybe having someone else sing it? Possibly a female, if you’re going to be playing the lead role? Or a tempo/feel that’s a little more exciting? Maybe no vocal at all? Like what about the feel from “Panic Song” by Greet Death. I say all this because if I’m watching this show, I’m definitely gonna wanna hear some of the main characters music at some point. But if I’ve already heard a very specific tune right in the intro too many times it might undermine the performances reserved for the episodes themselves..

I guess to summarize, I love this as it is, personally want it to be a Sam Pearce/DC track, perhaps performed in one of the episodes itself, and so I think the intro should be in the rock world but it shouldn’t sound like Sad Indie Guitar Guy’s band…

Hope this is helpful, thank you for sharing this!

ryanMarch 30, 2023 10:19am

Jeeeeeeeeesus, yes. Somewhere between Petite Feet and Indiana Jones lies true bliss.

Moments of unbridled genius that I’d like to highlight:

The cymbal wash heading into the instrumental section. Unbelievably perfect.

Strings joining instrumental section. Actually moving. What a MELODY!

Isolated kit moment following the instrumental—this would be who accepts the Grammy and gives the speech

Vocal obliteration on “plan”

Every single brass part

Every single guitar tone

This theme is so good that I finally understand what Robin and Kyle mean when they say they catch zero lyrics on their first ten listens. I cannot stop listening to this. No notes.

ZMarch 29, 2023 7:07pm

I’d consider the karate sounds more of a feature than “bass,” but then again we’re talking about the front man of The Drunken Monkeys 😂

Guitar intro is absolutely hatching’ vibes.

I’m not sure what the pilot is gonna be – I’d recommend a close re-watch of both Beverly Hills Ninja and Three Ninjas to really carve out what’s gone unsaid in the trans-Atlantic ninja comedy dialogue.

Just now appreciating the vocal sample and the harmony at chorus 2, and the 2 claps, the last shake on the shaker.

You are a sum greater than your ducks Joe.

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:47pm

oh man this cooks. the intro is bombastic & the orchestra hits are inspired. loving the strings ~0:50, too. twang fits well, this feels like a southern california super hero and i bet he has an absolute ton of sex. that is probably what he needs hydration for now that i think about it. but i mean, if he has strong discipline maybe he practices retention idk ok i am spiraling great work here man, what joy

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:18pm

so sweet and heavenly. a warm sunday morning sound. i think it works best naked like this, but would love to hear a more beefed up version just to confirm my suspicion.

love the lyrics, says just enough to bring up the sadness and longing underlying this tragedy. just incredible work my dude. sweet. heavens.

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:17pm

love the dad feature (!) and the general approach, it feels like an album outro. the implication of what your father is saying, and how it echos through your music is so rad. it creates a liminal space, i can almost hear the multiverses spiraling out of this like a never-ending mandelbrot set. really cool interpretation of the assignment, and what a deep introspective instrumental to boot. nice!

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 9:16pm

this is fun and i felt it so deeply (cos my grandma lived in Medford all my life and i done seen it change). i love the inspirations, and can hear al & zap & wet sammy here — it is playful & i can hear the space to spice w ska horns or zappa-esque high-polish doo whops. it’s a slice of life when life is kind of poking you in the eye haha, great work & fun sounds. i encourage you to lean more into your instincts–notch ’em up to 10–but love this 🙂

daeclanMarch 27, 2023 8:07pm

i want to watch this show. absolutely love the sound effects & atmosphere that arrive on verse 2. subtle vocal doubling sounds really natural and sits nice in the mix. good work w the shaker, too. only note is that the bass & guitar seemed to be coming from the same source—adding some light panning to either side might give you some more dynamics but it sounds tight, so if that was the intention, tight tight tight.

dreamcast: the kids used to call me ducklan but imagine fuckin’ six of me.

BenMarch 27, 2023 9:37am

Daddy took a big one tonight.

I lol’d a lot while listening to this.

Great kalimba work.

In terms of the chunk/mud of the bass, I don’t think it’s too chunky of a sound, in a vacuum, but it does maybe stand out and take up a good amount space… but also it sounds good to me. It’s a good driving bassheavy song and that is working. Maybe a good way to balance things out a little, while still maintaining the chonk , would be to add a little more mids/highmids to the track. Maybe one more subtle instrument or synth pad, or maybe even just slightly adjusting the keyboard mix? I dunno man, it sounds pretty great though.

This is the second submission on this assignment that couldve been on the “Inside” track list, like immediately following a banger like “Bezos II.”

nickMarch 27, 2023 9:37am

Love the new pic, btw📸

BenMarch 26, 2023 11:03pm

These are all excellent submissions, wow

BenMarch 26, 2023 8:03pm

Best thing you’ve submitted so far I think. So hilarious (and tight as hell) The intro is so good. Big “1985” by Bo Burnham energy (from the Inside Outtakes).

Seriously well done. The orchestra stabs are pretty great too.


TylerKMarch 24, 2023 3:28pm

Vivid lyrics on this. Wasn’t expecting to feel this much but here I am.

I like the just organ and vocals approach a lot. It works for you. My band relies heavily on layering and layering, to the point where we fantasize about “what if on the next album we do a song just guitar and vocals!” but it seems to come so naturally from you. One of those real musicians, damn. If the lyrics weren’t so interesting I’d recommend adding in ear candy or some kinda room noise idk but you don’t need it.

I hope it’s not offensive that I liked the google drive video version just as much, if not more. That’s just where my taste is this week. This is great, I’m a big fan.

TylerKMarch 24, 2023 3:17pm

Brush drums sound great and roomy. I’m right there. With this style of drums, it’s hard to make anything NOT sound human. You gotta be inhuman to be good at brush drums. You nailed the drums!

I read the poem trying to figure out where you got the idea to write a country banger, and I think when I saw the word NOON I felt the same feeling you must’ve. Also maybe the word WHY, if you really stick the landing on the H the way you do in this song wHyyyy.

It’s funny you said you almost put barn noises in this song, when I was listening before I read I was like “damn I wanna tell him to put some country western glass clinking bar fighting noise behind this to complete the atmosphere” haha.

You got a great voice for country. Coulda used some lap steel and harmonica but then again, not every person who performs that genre has access to these instruments at all times either. Can’t carry all’at when you’re takin’ the greyhound to the next town. This is a true blue interpretation of a real ass country song.

TylerKMarch 24, 2023 3:00pm

Love the warm mic’d acoustic and close doubled vocal takes on top of each other. Got me excited for the acapella I knew was coming bc I knew it was gonna sound good (and of course it did). Great lyrics and feel to this song. Great bridge/chorus WOOOOON’T MAAATTER along with the sudden stop at the end. Ties into the theme of the source poem. This could work as a standalone song, obviously. I wouldn’t think of it as a demo even, I like the performance and production the way this is. Great work again.

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 10:12am

Really nice track – the subtle light arpeggiating line feels so distant and really magnifies the sad, dark sound. “All I wanted was a little bit of time to be afraid” is a great line.

FWIW, even though I know it may have been supposed to be a capella – the bass carrying through sounded really nice to me.

In terms of build, an interesting exercise can be looking at your song and thinking about what are the moments you experience as peaks and valleys, in a narrative sense, and what the moments you want to experience as peaks and valley currently are. From there, it can help see how you are achieving what you want (or if you are) in the current arrangement, if it feels like it should be adjusted, if you like something that’s happening unintentionally, etc.

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 10:04am

I wish I had been at this show. The a capella section with the crowd noise killed me in the best way possible – and the whole next bit as everything layered just felt so classic. Realllllly fun.

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 9:31am

Very different responses to the same poem, but seems like it struck both of us for similar reasons. I like how pared down this is – feels easy to imagine someone playing this just with an acoustic at a campfire.

Also props to you for doing drums even though it may not be your key point. I, too, struggle immensely at making drums ever sound like I want them too, so I usually end up just skipping them… I’ll be stealing some of these ideas in your comments for sure.

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 9:25am

Love the vocal harmonies in the opening line and throughout. There’s something very playful about this song that I could also see you leaning into it further – but I kinda like the dry delvoery of the vocals because, to me, it sorta intensifies the absurdity in a way. Never mad when anyone leans into David Byrne though…

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 9:22am

Just getting a chance to listen now. The beat drop at :45 took me by surprise in a really lovely way. The contrast in styles between the sweet acoustic sound and the more produced drums.

Also, the ‘a capella’ section is really nice (even if the keys are still there for now).

ryanMarch 14, 2023 11:45am

Elias—I love this. Feels so warm and genuine. Love that it’s not belted. The rhythmic and melodic variations in the vocals are fantastic. Love those little background vocals in the last chorus, too.

The entrance of the a cappella section is so welcome! Lands perfectly. I wonder if the rest of the arrangement re-entering after a line or two would make it stronger.

But in terms of your question—this very much feels like a “real song” to me! I wouldn’t abandon too much of what you’ve got here. The warm, soft delivery and short overall length are paired perfectly with the ambivalence in the lyrics. Could be developed further if you want, but it’s killer as-is, too.

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 9:19am

Delayed response, but really appreciate the thoughts.

I couldn’t figure out how long the a cappella should last and am definitely curious about playing around with it. And glad to know it feels like a real song – sometimes I find I got lost between the imagined possibilities and what I’ve made and have hard time staying objective about it. Which also, in turn, makes it harder to build on. Will continue thinking on it…

nickMarch 15, 2023 12:14pm

“Pushing on like Sisyphus despite the insignificance” is an excellent line. love this gentler intimate vocal delivery style, and the doubling. works really well. whether it’s this song or another, would love to hear this style laid over a fully fleshed out track with other playful elements. also, kudos to you for powering through a rough week and creating very sweet and fun track.

oh also you get my fav acapella section award for what it’s worth.

EliasSZMarch 24, 2023 9:17am

Supes delayed response, but appreciate the thoughts. I think my unsureness came from having ideas for a fully fleshed out track that I didn’t have the time/ability to put together. Sometimes hard to appreciate the trees when you’ve been imagining a forest, or something hahaha.

Sam PearceMarch 17, 2023 3:17pm

Damn dude. Makes me sad. Beautiful song.

Sam PearceMarch 17, 2023 3:18pm

Also really love the last lines

BenMarch 17, 2023 11:45am

this is sick. it’s a vibe and it belongs on TV and you should get a small royalty check in the mail every month.

I agree with nick and ryan in general about the vinyl sound etc.

There’s def no official or correct way to make things sound old (sometimes the best way to oldify a sound is to have no idea what youre doing and just mess up the sound with “bad” EQing, weird distortion, ugly noise etc), but i think the main culprit that makes it not quite sound authentically antique is that there’s too much variation in qualities.

The talking lyrics literally sound like they were peeled off a tape recorder of some weird underground broadcast from 1970. But the guitar sounds modern, or at best like a pretty hi-fi late David Gilmour strat tone. …Which of course is actually cool: The long lost recovered audio of the voice sits well over the modern guitar, and it’s a like a found footage sound collage piece. Very meditative. But if you’re going for one cohesive piece – like you recovered a vinyl recording of a full piece that already had guitar and vocals, both recorded 50 years ago, together, I’d put them through the exact same plugins/filters. And if you already did that, then… maybe dirty the guitar up even more and put them through even more filters together.

As Ryan said, maybe add some drone (or maybe you can add some dirt and vinyl mechanical noises too to really tie the room together.) Then, like Nick points out, kill the master EQ a bit more. round off the brightness even more than you’ve done. Maybe even throw one more verb on the whole thing just to place every piece in the same room (and decade).

Of course it’s so hard to not go overboard or get cute with this stuff. It’s kind of weird when i can hear the fake vinyl or vhs warp on a song that was produced in the 2020s. Because everyone knows it’s fake, what’s the point, unless it’s being ironic or purposely trying to sound fake or funny?

So I guess my only advice for this part would be: Add the dirt or whatever you do to make it sound old, then cut the mix on those effects by like 40%.

Great work on this. Listened to this a lot so far.

ryanFebruary 26, 2023 10:51pm

Yeahhhh! Haven’t heard a full-band Bergen-banger in a bit! This is fun. I do think the guitar tone could do with some taming in the high-end, but it’s definitely in the right territory. The extra harmonics that come with it are pretty rad. Reeeally love the glock or vibraphone or—actually what is that? This gives me big Broken Social feels and I’m here for it.

KristophMarch 16, 2023 7:55pm

nailed it, vibraphone. thanks!

nickMarch 6, 2023 11:34am

im into the guitar tone. i think im game for your inclination that this could follow something with a little more tension, and act as a sort of release. i think the drums work. whenever i use programmed live drum sounds, i add a thin trebly layer of some snare or cymbal or percussion to kind of coat it in a little natural humanness. just a thought. well done, brother.

KristophMarch 16, 2023 7:54pm

love that idea!

BenFebruary 28, 2023 9:13am

ahh yes, the ick-fueled song pivot. I know that well.

This is great, and honestly, your drummer was kind of nailing it. some early tame impala sounding driving beats that just start suddenly with a pretty huge spacey vocal accompaniment. I also love when they cut to half time around 0:24 (and then they sort of go down another notch at around 0:37). very cool and interesting. then they start cooking again. well done.

My one constructive critique is pretty much what you already described. Yeah, it’s either a few dB too loud, or just too present or too thin? What steps did you take to adjust the sound in postprodution?

Great vibes. Getting a little of those anthemic arcade fire vibes.

Glad NCBC is back and i’m glad youre here.

nickMarch 6, 2023 11:31am

tame impala, interesting. im getting a little more broken social scene.

BenMarch 6, 2023 11:42am

the earlier stuff

nurphgunMarch 7, 2023 9:45pm

It’s giving Wilco to me, too. Love this, @@Kristoph! It’s sparkly, shiny, jingly, jangly, triumphant.

KristophMarch 16, 2023 7:53pm

haha the post production steps were… limited, my mixing knowledge is not my strong suit. y’all are too nice tho

nickMarch 14, 2023 3:00pm

oh this is wonderful. love this gentler version of your voice. really nice warbly guitar. honestly im hooked all the way through 1:06. Wouldn’t mind going right into the acapella section right there, then maybe looping back to the section where the drums originally enter. and totally dig the outro. i dunno, something like that, but i really like this whole thing, great job.

BenMarch 15, 2023 6:47pm

“warbly” is a good description. goes well with the fairly straightforward nonwarbly rhodes. good call not making the rhodes too rhodesy and warbly.

BenMarch 15, 2023 6:46pm

I think most of us here agree that this was one of the most challenging assignments yet. And a lot of the submissions seem to be departures for a lot of us. What a refreshing sound you’ve got here.

It’s chill and soft and gentle and pretty, and just as I was getting used to it and getting settled in for a nice sweet acoustic ride, the beat drops (0:46). Still stays chill af but gets a slight edge and attitude to it. I *love* the kick sound and *really love* the rimshot sample. What a great little song. The tension in the chords, vocals, and bass right at 1:23 are amazing.

Excellent outro, too.

I hope to see this song, or some version of it, in a future swelo release. Job well done.

EliasSZMarch 15, 2023 2:55pm

Another great one!

Arrangement-wise, I think one of the beautiful things happening here is that this is a song about emptiness or loss, from my understanding – and mirroring that with these minimalist, intimate parts works so well. I started wanting a larger, spread out atmosphere being created with other elements in the space/track entering to emphasize the intimacy and smallness of the voice and organ as a unit, if that makes sense. Far panned sounds, or deep low frequencies pulsing, or anything else to help the central part of this tune feel smaller and smaller. That being said, I don’t think the song needs it.

Either way, lovely tune, lovely lyrics, thanks for sharing.

nickMarch 15, 2023 3:53pm

hey really interesting idea about working to kind of put the main duo on a pedestal that’s maybe receding or somehow getting smaller, while remaining the focus. i will definitely be thinking about that.

EliasSZMarch 15, 2023 3:17pm

This was a fascinating journey. I get both the lost vinyl vibes, but to me, I also felt the vibes of like an intro to an album that’s about to get insanely heavy right after this ends. Or as if these lyrics could literally just be a character’s opening monologue to a scene in a movie as this music plays behind it, with shots of b-role, etc.

No individual moments that did or did not work for me as the experience was a contemplative journey I was happy to go on exactly as it existed. I’m not a mixing minded guy, so I’ll let you audiophiles speak more to that side of it.

EliasSZMarch 15, 2023 3:11pm

Seconding Nick, that :59 transition is dynamite. Love the growth to the second half of this track and the chaos/hectic vibes in that breakdown are super excellent/disorienting in all the right ways.

Guitar tone throughout is sick. And the use of vocals in the arrangement feels super strong to me – didn’t immediately sound to me like it was just headphones and macbook speakers (though I guess I also just listened in headphones ¯\_(ツ)_/¯).

EliasSZMarch 15, 2023 3:04pm

Totally hear what you are saying about the difficulty of writing lyrics separate from music – felt very impossible for me, and I even scrapped my first lyrics I wrote when I realized I basically written a melody to write them. Very impressed with your ability to get your lyrics to sound so musical, as if this was always the way you wrote.

In terms of the different sounds, I think things generally sound excellent. Love the synth sounds and vocal processing. Not sure the piano sound at :36 totally works for me, but honestly that only occurred to me on second listen when I was intently listening to see if anything didn’t fit, so I might be overthinking it.

Two other things I really liked: the change at 1:59 is extremely satisfying. Really nice. And the line “I’d be a corner / Just to be a part of the fold” is really strong and stuck with me.

nickMarch 15, 2023 2:26pm

good comments below, and kudos to you for attempting your first multi-track recording! like your last track, you’ve got a great natural strumming ability that fits your chord choices really well. curious which line you borrowed for this one—all of them work together cohesively, so well done there. also just realized @@Sam Pearce is sitting next to you in your pic. hey, sam.

daeclanMarch 13, 2023 10:26pm

notes: really dig the sounds and words–you’ve got a lot of good material here. i love the imagery this sound conjures, a darkened bedroom on a quiet empty night. “somebody calls me to tell me why they’re not a bad friend” oof, that one really resonates man. thanks for sharing this

re: shaping/cutting down – as an exercise, you could cut each lyrical section out and rearrange them into a natural crescendo (based on the audio levels on the file you shared) and then re-analyze the lyric sheet to see if there are sections you can cut or combine with others that feel natural and meaningful. that’s the benefit of having a lot of a good thing, you can tailor it down and fit your vision

nickMarch 15, 2023 2:21pm

well said!

nickMarch 15, 2023 2:14pm

I’m guessing that’s you on guitar? love when you play electric. great use of acapella for the intro, and landing where the drums come in. nice and B52sy. totally interested in hearing it faster like you mentioned. combined with some of ryan’s comments, i think that would do a lot for this one. totally relate with playing with pronouns to change perspective without any prompt.

fun to see how you and @@TylerK took this poem in slightly different directions.

ryanMarch 15, 2023 1:32pm

Damn, this is rad. Feels like it should be over a montage in an episode of Peaky Blinders. That big minor chord is a dream.

Love the mix aim — I think it’s almost there but agree with Nick that there are some giveaways. What reverb did you use on the guitars? Sounds pretty modern to me. I wonder if using a big room verb would’ve helped the “lost vinyl recording from a Buddhist poet’s collective” aspect. Absolutely love the fuzzy vocal shadow.

All the chordal stuff in the guitar is A+ for me. I like a lot of the leads, but some of them sound a little post-rock / midwest emo — that’s not inherently a bad thing, but I don’t think it was your goal, so I figured I’d point that out. I think less sliding would help a lot. I wonder what an acoustic guitar droning one or two arpeggios might bring to the table.

Your dad delivers these lines perfectly. Did you guys write the lyrics together? Picturing myself sitting down and getting this deep with my dad right now and I am actually cracking up. Rad that you guys are able to do that.

nickMarch 15, 2023 12:38pm

appreciate your whole description—great read. and so happy that we now have another dad contribution to ncbc. i think you do a great job building up to the the final question, “And what remains after all that I think I am is gone?” MAYBE it would be cool if the music like, had a little key change either right before that question, or maybe for that final set of three questions? would just love to highlight that moment in the lyrics because i think it deserves it. in regards to the decades-past vibe, i think it’s pretty much there—I would only hop in that master EQ and round off the edges a touch. the current level of hi-fi treble is a bit of a give away.

thanks dad!

ryanMarch 14, 2023 12:53pm

Whoa, okay Nora! This is fun as hell. I would love to hear a version of this with a big full mix on it to hear the extent of the vision you described at the top of your blurb.

Songwriting-wise — chorus is great. Really cool harmonic and rhythmic decisions. Drives home the prevailing feeling of the song the way a chorus should. You already identified what I’m most curious about, which is the verse vocal delivery. I think I want you leaning into the fun even more. Given the slightly sociopolitical lyrics, I think the dry delivery comes off a little wry, whereas tapping into a bit more David Byrne might highlight the absurdity of it all in a way that matches your sound world more. Does that make sense? Some occasional doubles, Ben’s background yelps, some big room verbed-out moments, etc. might also serve it well, but that’s mix stuff.

nurphgunMarch 15, 2023 12:35pm

Yes! Absolutely should’ve taken more of a David Byrne approach. After all, these are NOT his beautiful houses!!!

nickMarch 15, 2023 12:02pm

another banger. really great space you’ve created with all the instrumentation/samples/mixing. totally agree with @@Tengo and @@TylerK— very very cool drum sounds and composition. that raspy flappy kick has so much character while still delivering the goods.

i love distinct isolated percussive elements that repeat every so often as part of the drum composition, so the little brushy drum fill toward the end of every bar is a big win for me. however, it sticks out sonically because it’s so natural sounding, so id experiment with effecting it in some way to be less distracting sonically and even more outstanding in general.

Tiny other thing for me is the little mouth noise poppy clicky moments. maybe zap those puppies out.

@@zoya killin it back there

nickMarch 15, 2023 11:37am

just purchased my feature instrument for $12.99

TengoMarch 14, 2023 8:18pm

this is just so sick.

ryanMarch 14, 2023 8:18pm

Gorgeous performance, man. And an excellent, memorable sheet of lyrics. Congrats on whipping these up, especially given the challenge of the assignment. Excellent way to freshen “rain or shine” with the addition of “or sickness”. Found that particularly touching—evoking the rainy feeling of sickness.

As far as arrangement goes, after three listens, the only thing missing for me is a steadying percussive element. The ethereal organ is beautiful, but the off-kilter rhythms of the vocal were hard to keep up with / digest in real time, so I found myself just a little taken out of an otherwise transportive performance. There wasn’t anything keeping me tied down, moving along effortlessly. It may seem ironic to suggest a percussive element to a piece that floats so well, but I’m choosing to honor that feeling of being taken out of the moment because I think the song deserves to avoid that.

Great work here, man. And I love the live vid inclusion.

nickMarch 14, 2023 3:22pm

this is a real first for ncbc. so well executed and so fun. just ridiculous and awesome. would literally believe this was phish. my only tiny ask would be let the bass shine through 1:51-2:00 without any drums, and then have drums enter with that fill at 2:00. Just a thought. great job dude.

nickMarch 14, 2023 3:16pm

damn, cowboy. huge props indeed. great poem selection—i missed this one, but i absolutely love it. What you mentioned about the challenge of inconsistent syllable amounts is a perfect example of what made this assignment fun for me. you just end up making something you never would have otherwise.

something you could play around with is perhaps a little organ underneath it all, or maybe some piano (or pedal steel if trinity teaches you how to learn very hard things very quickly)—something to pad out the space and add a little sustain to blend with the ride. I really dig the harmonic composition of the acapella section, and would only suggest cutting it in half, and having the organ (or whatever) re-enter in the second half. The guitar sounds are excellent, deep and twangy. I won’t belabor the good points made below about the drums, but i will say, for a slow melancholy drunken rambler song like this, I wouldn’t want the drums to be too tight. Keep on swashbucklin’, buddy. Well done!

ryanMarch 14, 2023 1:26pm

Absolutely adore the songwriting here. Great job hearing a lyric as having potential for a specific genre and GOING for it. If someone told me this was a cover of a classic country song, I would believe it without question. Also, the zoom-out of the lyrics in the last verse, going from a wasted day to a wasted life (“why did it take all my life to begin?”) is seriously incredible. Huge props.

Glad you’re asking for feedback on how to improve the execution, because the song deserves it. Love @@Ben‘s suggestions on getting a more human drum sound. Can I ask what your process was for the drums that are currently in the recording?

@@nick‘s voice is in my head 99% of the time when I’m writing / recording drums. He’s huge on making sure the drums hit before (or at the same time) as every other instrument. Helps tremendously with feel. Ain’t nobody want a draggin’ drummer. So keeping a close eye on this is key. Hits still sneak through the 1% of the time where I don’t hear Nick nagging me, but I’ve gotten a lot better at this over the years. So I do think a large part of what’s keeping this track from feeling good rhythmically is rushing guitars and the lack of presence in the bass (is there bass? sometimes I think there is, other times I think it’s just another guitar) in lockstep with the drums. Too many fills going on, too. The more fills you allow a fake drummer, the harder it is to sell the listener overall. I think a good programmed drum performance is one that’s pretty unnoticeable. Sample-wise, I’ve not yet found anything I like more than Addictive Drums. Just great, great sounds. Often, I’ll layer other one-shot samples I’ve collected on top of them (did that for s=Flood (@ryan) this week) for additional color.

One note on structure: I think the a cappella section should be cut in half. Maybe even a quarter of the length. Halts the song too much as it currently is. The re-entrance of the band works great, though.

Another thing I think about a lot when going for a human feel (or live feel) when recording track by track is trying to get everything to sound like it’s being performed in the same room. Using the same room reverb on different instruments, panning placement (rarely hard-panning, usually just percentages here and there to insinuate position in a room), playing with the blend of close mics and room mics on drums and vocals, etc. I think this is especially helpful with earthy/live-focused genres (like country!). Picture the band equivalent of several people singing around the same mic. So this could go a long way for you.

Really do love this song, Dec. Great work.

TengoMarch 13, 2023 9:45pm

Damn dude, the production sounds so sick on this one! I love all the sounds you’ve chose on this one, and I continue to be so impressed by your ability to just churn out these super cohesive, well produced, well mixed tracks on the reg.

All the keys/synths/strings sound great, and I love to see you featuring keys parts on some songs and letting the guitar take a backseat. The drum sounds are sick! Truly some of the most interesting drum sounds I’ve heard in a while.

The vocal processing on your lead and the bgv all work for me.

tl;dr it’s perfect

TengoMarch 13, 2023 9:42pm

What’s more beautiful, the song or the mustache?

Answer, the song. Though the mustache is a close second.

Truly, this melody is so gorgeous Nick. I think you dialed in the reverb so nicely and the sparse arrangement still sounds so lush. The descending melody toward the end is so perfect, especially on the word “invitayyyytion.”

daeclanMarch 13, 2023 9:41pm

could 200% see trey anatasio flipping his lid and losing his cool to a pink dolphin fantasy. i love the vision, you captured the energy of a summer show and the lyrics are in line w this phish or dead songs i know (in a good way). mix was present and full, nothing stood out as lacking or out of place. maybe a little de•esser on the main vocal for some of the verses, but that could be an audio quality compression. agree w ryan re: 2’s & 4’s we need to have a little talk w this audience.. but solid work and fun interpretation / execution of this idea 🙂

TengoMarch 13, 2023 9:33pm

Man I’m so late to the party but gd this is wonderful! You and your dad sound great together! Can’t wait to hear this live someday #thecricketsarebettterthanthebeatles

BenMarch 13, 2023 9:38am

Memories of hearing him out the window having one of those wayyy overly-polite but definitely very heated exchanges with our landlord asking him to pay for his new fence that was falling down. He kept saying “I’m a good neighbor! No, you don’t really know me that well yet. I’M A GOOD GUY. I’M A GOOD NEIGHBOR! I just think it might be the right thing if we split it. I’m really a good neighbor!”

*Narrator: “He wasn’t.”

This is somehow one of my favorite things you’ve written. Whenever you’re ready for me to give it the random-insane-background-singer-in-frank-zappa’s-1980s-era-band treatment with some high energy background rock and roll screaming vox, you know where to find me.

BenMarch 13, 2023 9:50am

one of those situations where hey we’re moving anyways in a few months. it’s probably better to just get out of the way let godzilla and king kong fight it out

BenMarch 13, 2023 3:49pm

i was picturing vocals like the crazy guy in this vid (bobby martin)

Sam PearceMarch 13, 2023 1:27pm

Love the addition of the second guitar track at “I’m sad again”. And the electric guitar at “somebody”. Thought I noticed additional tracks in my car but now I can hear it clearly in headphones. If you’re trying to cut it down, I still like the idea of ending on the words “But they still have the nerve to ask for their polaroids”, but maybe sing it four times instead of two. I think that line is strong enough to support more repetitions; or put more simply I wanted to hear it a couple more times. That bass break is nice has a similar effect to an a cappella break. This rocks! Might be my favorite of yours I’ve heard so far.

ryanMarch 13, 2023 1:12pm

And we mean FEATURE it.

ryanMarch 13, 2023 1:07pm

I don’t remember the last time I had such shit-eating grin on my face listening to a recording for the first time. The screaming organ in the big sections aaaahahaha. The honkin’ piano. The dualing guitar solos. And of course the crowd noise—”instant Phish”. Goofy and playful as this is, you still ended up writing a banger of a chorus. It’s so good. Honestly a hell of a verse, too! Your dad’s live Rolling Stones DVD’s finally paying dividends. You’re a melody wizard, Harry.

Okay, mix stuff. Works for me. It’s bright and hot, but I dig it—that’s par for jam town, sugar. I’d bump the verse vocals up a fair bit and throw a slapback delay on there. Great bass entrance after the breakdown—that tone is killer. Guitar solo tones can easily be annoying but these are not. Good job with that. Bashful verse vocal is the only real mix miss, for me.

But also: HOW did the audience not starting clapping on the 2 and the 4 during the a cappella breakdown section?! Not a mix note, just a little disappointed in the crowd for not participating in a more specific way.

BenMarch 13, 2023 12:34pm

WOW i didnt know you had this in you. This is amazing.

The drums. Theyre tricky. And I don’t know the answer. The actual samples are pretty good and your arrangement is great, just maybe could use a few adjustments for humanization.

But, a few thoughts about cleaning and arranging and humanizing.

Thought 1: maybe dont repeat the same fills so often. Change them up. Have some fun and remove or mute a few notes in your list or piano roll, move them around, use various different tomtom samples for fills

Thought 2: adjust the volumes, sustains, and positioning (ever so slightly) on your drum notes.

Thought 3: experiment with panning each drum/cymbal slightly.

Thought 4: dirty them up a little. some minor minor distortion or weird EQing can sometimes make it sound more real.

Thought 5: and this might be the most important, and the toughest: the swing. Around 0:29-0:38 you can hear a little disconnect between the swing of the ride/snare and the swing of the guitar. theres a little bit of not lining up. they both seem swung but at different intensities and style i think?

Thought 6: do the other instruments sit in the pocket? they sit pretty well at most parts, but sometimes various instruments sit ahead or behind the drums. Nick commented that about mine last week. It’s always important (and fun) to close listen to your song and scan for times that things aren’t sitting right. Even if they’re technically perfectly aligned, sometimes the difference between human sounding and robot sounding playing is a tenth of a second of nudging. @@ryan has consistently been creating extremely human sounding drums that really feel like humans are playing them, or at least don’t stick out from the mix. I think he’d have good advice on writing drums, simplifying them, mixing them, and making them sound warm and good.@@nick can also weigh in on Thought 5 and 6 because he is good with this type of thing. @@bop_guncan also speak to pockets and to swung vs straight (and to swung vs what i call “robotic swung”).

This is awesome and i totally was not expecting to listen to this song. Sounds like something from Twelve Golden Country Greats. Your voice is perfect for this and your playing and songwriting was pretty delightful. Hope this isn’t the last we hear of your country tones.

agasthyaMarch 13, 2023 10:42am

obsessed with this. youve got a great sense for bass lines. I’m reading White Noise by Don Delillo (before I watch the Adam Driver movie on Netflix) AND watching last of us, so lyrical content is hitting. piano section is great. love how frantic it gets – especially in contrast with the first few seconds of the track. you captured the energy of speeding away from the apocalypse (but maybe in a universe where the apocalypse is a dark comedy).

first listen was on my macbook speakers as well so it came through well. I’ll bump it in the car later when Miles and I go on a coffee run and see if anything jumps out.

BenMarch 13, 2023 10:46am

thank you thank you! yeah, i think there will be moments in the apocalypse that will definitely be darkly funny, at least sometimes.

TylerKMarch 13, 2023 10:34am

Love the outside kick mic sound on the drums. Been getting super into this sound lately after shying away from it for years. What was I thinking! You also knew I’d like that pulsing synth cmon. Great hi hat sound too. You don’t miss!

Was expecting this to be a breeze for you bc of your background in being well read, but refreshing to know that you felt a similar disconnect that I do between poetry and song lyrics. I feel like I can usually tell when lyrics were written first for a song (Disintegration by The Cure) and I resist that. I don’t know why. It’s not the way I do things, so it’s gotta be wrong. “It doesn’t work that way with songs” hits hard. I had a difficult time but when I ended up embracing “I am fine with this not turning out perfect” is when it turned around for me.

Maybe poems gotta make their own music and whatever we try to musically impose over it will always feel at odds with each other. Write that down.

agasthyaMarch 13, 2023 9:59am

I think the arrangement is great as is – it’s short enough that it doesn’t need anything else. sounds like the melancholy reprise of a big musical number at the end of act 1 of a broadway play. really like “…son in a crash/…driving past”.

BenMarch 13, 2023 9:18am

I’m sure I’ll be saying this type of thing a lot as I leave comments on these submissions, but your worksmanship on the lyrics really struck me: I love that I can definitely hear the active “fitting” of your lyrics into your music, but it also sounds right that way. Works really well. The borrowed line and the line directly before it are perfect examples: The flow is obviously unusual, the syllables are delivered in weird polyrhythms and syncopations with the drums (you’ll also really hear that in the chorus of Nora’s song.

All the unusual non-traditional-songy ways of building your song not only sound great, but they even kind of sound like a style that I’ve been hearing emerging over the past several years. I can’t quite put my finger on what artists and songs are good examples, but your song struck me as not really sounding jarring or surprising.

A couple stray examples of lyric-squeezing that I’ve come to love after the ~3rd listen: The “If you wanna talk about it” tacked to the end of a line in Cadmium. Also, the delivery of “I think his lung’s fucked up” in “Mister, Would You Please Help My Pony?” by Ween gets me every time. It so doesn’t fit but I’m so glad they forced it in.

I also like that you’ve got 2 types of retrofitting of the lyrics:

1. Write fewer syllables into a bar than there are beats – stretching and spacing them out, maybe polyrhythmically.

2. More words into a bar (“…7 words and 4 beats walk into a bar. bartender says hello, this is crazy, but welcome to ryan’s song”) than there are beats – squeezing them, grouping them together, borrowing beat credit from the previous or next bar’s beat bank and paying it back with interest.

“Letting the bigger hand-hold take hold” puts you over your beat credit limit but the space in the two lines that sandwich it give it plenty of room to fit.

The third time of rhthmically retrofitting i think is just continuing the phrase in the next bar (and the next line of paper), as I’ve done several times in mine.

Also in general, less related to the rules of this assignment, I just really really like it when songs stay at pretty much one solid energy all the way thru. No need for an epic build here. We’re just dropping into this vibe that you created, that might have started hours before I hit play, and might continue sort of just chugging and vibing for hours more. That was a huge reason why Jose Gonzalez/Junip hit me so hard the first time i listened to them.

trumpeteer123September 15, 2020 4:57am

which daw did you use to do this in? did you notate it or just tweak it til you were good w it? i am always interested to know peoples processes. the pizz strings are a nice touch and good counterpoint!!

nickMarch 10, 2023 12:45pm

Logic! i had been fooling around with this line for years on guitar and piano, and this felt like a good application for it. pretty much played the whole thing with “musical typing”/entering in midi notes. Don’t know how to notate! also hello 3 years later.

trumpeteer123March 11, 2023 1:48pm

oh hello 3 years later what a surprise! surprised also (in a good way) that you even remember the process at all after this wild time passing!

nickMarch 13, 2023 8:42am

Like it was yesterday

agasthyaMarch 12, 2023 9:32pm

oops. i forgot to take out the keys in the last verse (stanza?) so no acapella moment 😳.

also lead vocal at 1:06 is way too loud