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  • Submitted on time! Apr 26, 2020
ryan.mp3
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Thought I’d upgrade from one chord to two. This song is for my older brother. When we were younger, he used to call me when he was having a rough go. I was too young to really know what I was talking about, but I would always remind him that he’s okay—because he really always was. He’s probably the most steadfast person I know.

 

Lyrics

The afternoon when you called

and said that you were freaking out,

you told me to say what I always say—

c’mon, you said, say it

don’t you remember?

 

I don’t.

You’re okay,

you always are.

Maybe less wine?

 

You called again early in the morning

I pretended I was out of bed.

Told me you dreamed that you died—

fell from a cliffside, picked up

by a hawk on the way down.

 

The fuck?

You’re okay,

you always are.

Maybe less wine?

 

Met you in FiDi for lunch

but neither of us really had the time.

The menus were sticky and we had beers

because everything’s a shit show—

might as well have beers

and then go back to work.



Looking for feedback on

Still working on mixing. I like the idea of balancing clarity and everything-in-a-blender. Is it working for you? Separately, do you dig the juxtaposition of big musical colors and a relatively small lyrical world?

Discussion

  • 28 Comments
nick May 10, 2020 12:36pm

Lot of great comments here. Love the ‘set it and forget it’ dynamics. Small lyrical worlds are my favorite places, and this one is especially pleasant. My mixing notes are primarily on the programmed drums, which just inherently can’t match the mangled humanity of the rest of the song, and which more importantly will become moot when you get a live drummer (I know a guy) on this puppy and send it into the rockosphere. Cheers, mdude.

nick May 10, 2020 12:37pm

That being said, overall, really great job programming the drums. But you know what I mean.

ryan.mp3 May 12, 2020 3:59pm

I do indeed know what you mean. I don’t think I’ll ever prefer programmed drums. But I am starting to become interested in the combination of programmed loops or samples in addition to live drumming—though that’s only conceptual. Haven’t gotten to try it out yet. If you start riding your bike now we could probably have drums tracked by Wednesday or so. Something to think about.

Ben May 1, 2020 4:23pm

welp, still listening to this one…

ryan.mp3 May 12, 2020 3:59pm

<3

nurphgun April 30, 2020 6:22pm

Yes. Omg. I think this is my favorite song of yours. It’s like Third Eye Blind without all the elements that can make that band annoying. I’m such a sucker for songs with emo elements that don’t take themselves too seriously. I would have thought those sustained vocal notes would weigh the chorus down, but they do the exact opposite. There is so much space, height, movement, and lightness. The small lyrical world is a huge part of that, but it’s more than just the words themselves, it’s the vocal delivery across the board that is soo beautifully light. The repeating jangly, bendy guitars and the little xylophone bits (?) absolutely kill me. And the piano in the bridge. I love how the whole song comes in hot from the get-go 3 seconds in and it kind of stays there. I could go on. I’m obsessed, well done.

ryan.mp3 May 1, 2020 10:53am

Ah thanks, Nora! I remember one time years ago Zack quoted someone defining rock music as “dynamic-less”, and although I truly love super dynamic music, sometimes having a track come in hot and stay there feels so dang good. Thank you so much for the detailed feedback—a lot of the elements you mentioned have been showing up a fair bit in the songs I’ve been (slowly) writing recently, so to hear that they’re working for a listener like you means a ton.

agasthya April 28, 2020 1:48pm

“the fuck” after the instrumental is blissful. mix is awesome. if anything I would like a tiny bit more stereo wideness but that might be me getting greedy. agree with Chris, single track vocals are v scary (for me at least) and you pulled them off flawlessly.

ryan.mp3 April 29, 2020 2:08pm

Thanks mate. I think you’re right—widening those guitars even a little more would probably give this the nudge toward widescreen that it needs, especially given how much space the bass tone occupies up the middle. Good call!

Kristoph April 27, 2020 9:40pm

Yeup. Yup. I love this song, Ryan. The guitar sounds sooo dang good – love the glock-touches brightening up the place. The chorus vocals take me so high – Like riding a bike down a big hill when I was a kid or something – there’s just so much air in this song and I am here for it. That is to say, the spacing you’ve created in the mix is really working for me.
The lyrics are really sweet – what a nice thing to make for someone. Have been bumping this big time the past two days.
Also, love the idea that you’re taking the single track vocal risk – I get that anxiety – They sound great.
-C

ryan.mp3 April 29, 2020 2:07pm

Ah, thanks man. Love the big hill analogy—I was hoping that sort of outdoor/open-space quality would come out. Psyched that the space in the mix worked for you. It’s funny, I’m realizing in retrospect that I needed that verse vocal to be weird/imperfect enough to get me into it being single-tracked. Glad you dig them. Thanks for the in-depth listen.

aubspeeps April 27, 2020 12:23pm

I keep coming back and listening to this. While the lyrics are delightful every time the production is pretty perfect, I think you did a great job mixing this. I would say you accomplished the balance between clarity and everything-in-a-blender pretty spot on so if that’s what you are working on, props to you!

Sam Pearce April 27, 2020 12:56pm

Me too, coming back to it now after enjoying all sixteen.

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 5:40pm

(: thx! learning very slowly with the help of a few trusted advisors

Sam Pearce April 27, 2020 11:48am

Hey man, this is one of my favorites of your songs. I love a lot of songs that are all, or primarily, the I and IV chord*, but I think it takes care to make that harmony feel fresh and exciting, and this definitely does. I really like the vocal phrasing and delivery. I think comparisons always risk implying things beyond the original sentiment, but knowing you’ll give me the benefit of the doubt here, I have a lot of love for a few emo bands, and this obviously isn’t emo music, but it has the directness and openness that I love about emo, but the story is a grown up story instead of an adolescent one. And yeah, in my opinion you can put any size story in any size song. I think the hardest to pull off is probably a huge story set to huge music. I hope to eventually here this one in the context of an album!
(*first three I-IV songs that came to mind were “Banshee Beat” Animal Collective, “Marry Me” St. Vincent, “The First Song” Band of Horses.

Sam Pearce April 27, 2020 11:49am

*hear

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 1:03pm

Dang, thanks Sam! Was working on playing with vocal phrasing, so I’m glad you enjoyed that. Comparisons can be fearsome, for sure, but a lot can be learned, too—so I appreciate you going out of your way to make some. There is certainly some unabashed/emo stuff going on here. Tried to subvert some of the melodic opportunities to steer away from that, hopefully keeping just enough to make it work. I’ve always adored The First Song by BOH and I think I accidentally re-write it half the time I go to write a song haha.

Tengo April 27, 2020 11:28am

Daddy loves me a Krezbot guitar solo. Especially in the middle of a great song like this one.
Your doing something different vocally here on the verses that I can’t pinpoint but that I love! Maybe it’s that the voice feels a little smaller, more constrained, matching the world of the lyrics.

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 11:47am

Honestly man, I also love a Krezbot guitar solo lol. I used to hate guitar solos so much and now I adore them. I think maybe what I actually hated all along was blues-rock guitar solos. Unless they’re by Mike Campbell. Anyways, I digress.

Dude I thought about you while recording the vocals! You know my temptation is to always double my voice because I’m ~a coward~ but I really wanted a talkative, intimate vocal. So I took my pal Tengo’s advice and let it be all by its lonesome (in the verses). Even left some bunk notes in there because I liked the performance. I’m starting to come around.

Ben April 27, 2020 11:10am

dude this was ROCKIN. big fan of the specific, small-world themes and lyrics juxtaposed a grand colorful ecosystem. Doesnt feel juxtaposed – feels playful and authentic. and the lyrics are sung BIG. works well.

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 11:44am

Good, good. One time Henry Hoagland told me that he was “shocked” with how often I sang whole notes. Never really thought about it that way. But yep, I sure do love letting it fly now and then lol.

aubspeeps April 27, 2020 12:04am

yeah pretty stoked on where you took this lyrically, really enjoyed listening to this

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 11:43am

Thanks!

froebusiness April 26, 2020 10:08pm

I do like this juxtaposition of “clarity and everything-in-a-blender” thing you got goin on here, Shaw. I think the vocals kind of distract your ear from noticing how much is going on instrumentally until it hits the chorus “less wine” part. That part kind of molds with the instrumentation, further back in the mix a tad, which is cool. I think the vocals in the verse sections can stand out even more. Maybe it’s just a simple gain nudgle on those, but maybe something else I dunno. Nice work, daddy likey.

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 11:43am

Thanks, Joe! Just so I’m clear—you think the verse vox should come down or come up? Was struggling with this decision. I love when the arrangement surrounds the vocals, but I was also going for a relatively fuzzed vocal, so I had a tough time finding that sweet spot.

froebusinessApril 27, 2020 2:33pm

I think up a touch.

Z April 26, 2020 10:05pm

Way to upgrade from one chord to two. If we’re talking stats, notice that my title actually had two more syllables than yours.

You know I could (and will, in person) go on about the emotional impact of this knowing you, your family, and it’s total mass in your oeuvre.

I know that this is funny not because we’ve been mates along time, but because I’m confident that “get beers and go back to work” is something Chaucer would laugh at.

Way to ask for precise feedback:

Definitely like the small lyrical world with big musical colors. Although it’s not really “small” so much as it’s compact and high-impact, which is really a strong suit of yours. In fact I think what you wrote is like, one of the strongest possible approaches you could take.

Amazing job as always.
Love,
– Z

ryan.mp3 April 27, 2020 11:41am

Thank you, amigo. Would love to get sauced with Chaucer then go back to work.