Revolution In The Rain

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
Step out of line, the men come and take you away

We better stop
Hey, what’s that sound?
Everybody look, what’s going down?


© Stephen Stills, ‘For What Its Worth‘, (Buffalo Springfield) 1966


With the exception of This Time (which was a collaborative effort on a BASCA songwriting weekend a few years ago, recorded for the London Road album), I’ve never really been one for protest songs. And, to be honest, This Time was a little bit cheeky in that it was peppered deliberately with buzzwords and was slightly facetious as it wasn’t really coming from the typical protest song angle that it may have initially have seemed to… it was more taking the piss out of a certain type of middle class protester who values being seen protesting a subject for just long enough on the right channels without fully understanding what kinds of sacrifices, what kinds of impacts that the thing they’re protesting about is likely to have on the rest of the society that they’re part of – and ultimately, it will be their kids or the children of their peers who will be left to clear up the crap, to coin a phrase which is something I believe a lot of them to be ignorant of. As usual, no names, no pack drill. I think we could all call to mind a certain group of protestors, regardless of our political leanings who we may see as being less than sincere in their endeavours…

In other words, what certain people may term as virtue signallers. And to that end, it did what it needed to pretty well.

Revolution In The Rain though, is somewhat different and despite it coming to me in the same way as the other two tracks from the Mondegreen EP, is arguably very much driven by the global events of the last twelve to eighteen months. The vision was quite sixties/Beatles/Byrds/Thunderclap Newman but with a lead vocal melody that sounded for all the world like a mature Steve Hogarth, a vocalist that I have admired for many, many years and who is significantly more political, especially in his more recent years, although I see things somewhat different to he does.

So there is almost an original sixties “counter-culture” protest feel to it (very different to the modern day ‘Cancel Culture’, which I frankly despise), and it is very different to anything I’ve written before.

And, as alluded to before in the case of Hate, the only part of it that I got sent was the vocal hook; there is no chorus as such, just a repeating three or four line motif that just repeats over and over again and is broken up by a Middle 8 – so it has an A-A-B-A type format.

The lyrics themselves were not difficult to write and the vocal hook for the song came with it anyway – but a Revolution In The Rain is a quintessentially English thing, so it strikes me, that in a nation as wet and windy and rainy as the UK, if such a thing is ever to happen, it will need to happen when the weather is not exactly on their side. A little like a personification of Roger Waters’ quite brilliant ‘hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way’ line from ‘Time’, way back in 1973. The British do not have the somewhat more fiery approach of the French or indeed the Spanish and seem to have the longest fuse of pretty much any nation on earth as to how much antagonising or provocation they will endure before they snap. So, if any such thing is to happen in the UK (and for the record, because of the nature of how the English are in particular, I do not see it happening in my lifetime), it is likely to be somewhat different to other such events that we may have seen around the globe over the last 100 years.

I have tried as hard as I could to be non partisan about it, but with all protest songs there has to be something that the writer is railing against, in order to make their point and this is no exception. The last great truly musically productive era in British music, one that spawned a level of protest music that spoke to a generation was punk (and the subsequent lead up to Thatcherism) in the late 1970s/early 1980s. There hasnt really been anything since then that has truly caught the imagination in the same way not just the UK, but worldwide, despite the things that have occurred in the last 25 years, let alone 35 – things like the advance of globalism, 9/11, the Financial crisis of 2008, the Arab Spring and many other worldwide events. It is as if the music industry has largely decided to be very selective about what types of writers and performers that it espouses in terms of social commentary; Theres not much of a machine for the RATM boys to rage against any more; Mr Bragg is mostly in retirement in a very nice cliff-side Dorset des res; Mr Dylan has sold off his publishing rights to his back catalogue for multi-millions and even Mr Weller has long since ceased being a strident advocate of a particular political doctrine that he made his reputation as a writer on.

And, without being deliberately provocative: these times that we find ourselves in are probably the most polarised that I and no doubt many others have every known; this is something where I do finally for once in my life, not just as a songwriter but also as a man, have to stick a flag in the ground and say “this subject really genuinely bothers me”, which it absolutely does; but not for the same reason that it bothers other people who are close to me.

Whether this is a line that it is possible for a songwriter to attempt to straddle in this day and age of cancellation, or whether I can even get away with what the song is clearly drawing parallels with – lines like “less than a hundred years since ‘Never again'” and the references to book burning are pretty explicit about the historical events they are referring to and those lines were deliberately written to be unequivocal about that. Whether others may see it the same way or not, I do not know. My intention, as ever, is not to be preachy about it, but to say what I feel about something that bothers me a lot, as someone who has spent most of his time as a songwriter writing more about love, loss, healing and abandonment than anger. But, in the words of a certain John Lydon Esq “Anger Is An Energy” and it has its place in the spectrum of human emotions.

My collaborators before me, particularly my very good friend Robert Pearce have been able to write this type of material before and do it very effectively… for me though, its a new thing and I don’t expect to be making a habit of it. As I say, I’m not advocating openly for any particular change apart from that which people want to be for themselves, which I always have espoused; be the change you yourself wish to be, you can change no more than that. And maybe, if we all change to be all that we can be, maybe we will be less easily led by those who clearly do not practise the kind of altruism that they claim to on our behalf.

Revolution In The Rain is to be part of the Mondegreen EP and will be finished later this year.


Revolution In The Rain

{V1}
When you dont know who to believe any more
And you’re wondering just what its all for
All you see around you is your world in pain

When your faces can be held to the floor
For having the nerve to step outside your door
And your world will never be the same again
Waiting for a revolution in the rain

{V2}
When those you followed left and turned off all the lights
And left you in the dark with no end in sight
And all your streets are in drenched fear and broken glass night after night
You wonder when you’ll see your friends again.
Isolation, libation, frustration, negation,
Watching for the revolution in the rain

{Middle 8}
Take another drink
Push it all to the back of your mind
Every time you do, for all the good it could do,
It all seems just a little further behind
No one knows how long it will last
Til we’ve all been made to forget our pasts
A new take on all your childrens dreams
And you learn that Build Back Better aint all that it seems

{V3}
When all the memories of you are swept out of the door
And your body is not your own any more
Less than a hundred years since “Never Again”

You can be just another name in a book thats been burned
Or you can be one that makes your voice heard
Deny the lies that have turned the world around you insane
Be your own revolution in the rain

Never let them do this to you again

Dont let them reduce you to this again

Lead your own revolution in the rain


{Ad lib to fade}



© Words and Music, Steven McCarthy-Hunt 2021

Leave On An Outwave

We had no way to see eye to eye
Through all the walls in their mind
These were the pleasures that terrified
We left them behind

© Gary Kemp 1986, from the album ‘Through The Barricades

This song is another that is intended for the Mondegreen EP and was written in late 2020.

Unlike a lot of its kith and kin, it was a track that just walked in completely fully formed and unprompted and I have no idea where it came from – as there wasn’t really anything going on in my life at the time which would have given my subconscious any reason to come up with it. All i know is what it sounded like in my minds ear as a production; In this particular case, its vision was not so much of a music video in a vivid dream (like how a lot of songs come to me) but like watching a live performance in a rehearsal room.

With this song, the vocal melody and the structure of the song (and the words as well for that matter) were very clear, even if I didn’t really understand who/whatever sent me the song was getting at; the structure struck me as being very simple and straightforward and in a lot of ways it is very much like the song that is at the head of this page (namely Spandau Ballet’s Cross the Line, which was the opening track on the Through The Barricades album from 1986). The vocal melody was very much a Tony Hadley style “dramatic warble” as he himself has been known to describe it.

With the structure being as simple as it is, it was a very easy song to write lyrically and thematically. Those familiar with Gary Kemp’s writing from that time period will probably recognise the songs roots when they hear it – but as usual, the song no doubt reserves the right to end up sounding like something completely different to its inspiration by the time it is finally completed as a) I’m not Gary Kemp as a writer and b) as a producer, I’m definitely not Gary Langan.

The song is intended for the Mondegreen EP and I hope it will be completed later this year.

And, I’m afraid I don’t really know what an “outwave” is. I think the only way I can make sense of it in the context of the song is like a surfer heading out from the beach into the sea. Not that I’m even remotely familiar with surfing speak or whether such a thing as an outwave exists in surfer parlance. I have tried looking at a different set of words or a different lyric with the same vocal melody and that would end up ripping the entire thing to bits and it wont work like it does now.

So, if Steve Miller can get away with inventing words like pompetus, I’m sure an unknown like me I can get away with an outwave once in a while, LOL. The rest of the lyrics are essentially simple breakup word-play lines. Thats the way they were sent to me by heaven knows who or why and I’m not going to question it; it is what it is [grins]


Leave On An Outwave

V1
It seems that
You’re leaving
We aint got moments to save
We’re breaking
No mistaking
Nothing left I wanna say

{Pre Ch}
Thought we were heading for somewhere
But in the end it was nowhere, baby

v2
The memories
You owed me
Things you promised but you never gave
Just tell me
What you wished for
For love or luck or just to make this go away

{Pre Ch}
Thought we were heading for somewhere
But we ended up nowhere, baby

{Chorus}
(Our paths Crossed) but we leave on an out wave x 2

{Verse & pre ch/instrumental with guitar solo}

{Chorus}
(Our paths Crossed) but we leave on an out wave x 2

v3
I see that
You’re leaving
We’re a calendar that ran out of days
Its a shame, girl
But its your world
And I live to love in another place and another day

{Pre Ch}
What became of our somewhere?
Never thought we’d end up nowhere, darling

{Ch x 2}
(Our paths Crossed) but we leave on an out wave x 2


© Words & Music Steve McCarthy-Hunt 2020

Hate/Bond XXIX



Am I a God or am I Jesus?
Am I a man or am I a boy?
Do I feel love or just possession?
Do I feel holy or nothing at all?


© Paul Draper, 1997 from the album ‘The Attack Of The Grey Lantern’

This is a song that came along early last year around the time of the first lockdown, completely unprompted, as the best ones usually do. And, as I’ve learned from seeing interviews with other writers (namely Barry Gibb who said that the same happened to him with How Deep Is Your Love and You Win Again), the only bit that I had when this one came along, was just one section of it.

In the case of Hate, it was the Middle 8 and nothing else, which played on a short loop but was distinctive enough to be unforgettable.

But, while it was just the Middle 8, in the same way as Manhattan Lullaby, it was like hearing a fully produced record or seeing part of a fully produced music video in your minds eye. And whereas Manhattan Lullaby‘s vocal melody was a Matt Munro vocal and Let It Go was a Peter Skellern vocal, in this case the vocal was a George Michael one.

Not only that, but the feel of the track seemed to be very James Bond-ish in terms of its arrangement and orchestration; when I woke up and started writing down what I remembered of it, it struck me that George never got the chance to do a Bond theme when he was alive.

Given how big a voice he had and considering how talented a writer he was and how he understood orchestration and arranging, I was somewhat surprised that the opportunity never came his way.

So anyway, after the usual digressing, thats how this song came about.

It is, I must admit, certainly since Manhattan Lullaby anyway, the most musically and vocally ambitious thing I have ever written, certainly in terms of what it needs musically to do it justice and there is a lot for me to learn in order to bring it to life, much less get anything even close to the vision I have for the vocal melody.

I mean, how many others have had a punt at trying to write something that could viably be the intro theme for a Bond film and given it a really serious go? But, having said that, there have been a number of songs that came to me as one thing and ended up on No Expectations or London Road sounding somewhat different. So, while this one is kind of tongue-in-cheek subtitled Bond 29, by the same measure, when it comes to having it down on disk, it may well end up being entirely different. But that is the vision for it that I have right now and thats what I’ll aim for.

Lyrically, with the exception of the Middle 8 which came to me fully formed, the rest of it has been compiled from the reserve of lines that I have from other ideas and also from a couple of stream of consciousness writing sessions that I had between 2017 and 2018; mainly late 2017 when I very nearly found myself being cat-fished (whole other story, most definitely not for this blog).

As it stands at the moment, this song is intended for the Mondegreen EP and will hopefully be produced later this year.

Hate/Bond XXIX

V1
As I hear your footsteps down the dark hall
Deep down I will always wonder if it meant anything at all
When the novelty of beauty fades what becomes of it all?
Is it all too raw to say that your pride will go before your fall?

V2
Too precious to tolerate making a mistake
And being seen as the one to blame
Should learn to ride the mood and just not be afraid
What you deigned to fall for not who I was, but what I wanted to say?

(Middle 8)

Now I hate that you’re mad
And I hate that we are through and I hate the fact
That all the things I once loved about you now make you hate me too.
And all we’ve got left is hate…

V3/{Build up to coda}
And now I watch another guy who was fond of you and turned your head
Dont put anything else into my mind, I haven’t forgiven you yet.
Looking brave on the outside, living your life’s lies
But inside you’re dying with every step

Every single day I try to suppress it, second guess it, Jesus its all such a damn mess, isnt it…

And Id’ forgotten how amazing the tension can be
When someone teases out your vulnerability
Leaves you exposed, pulls you out into the light
Right out of the comfort zone and into the choice of flight over fight

But something’s not right
And you’ve given me proof
You gave away pictures of skin that made you cheaper than the truth
Where did you stay?
When you coming home
Cant help but have the feeling that you’re werent really on your own
I could sense the danger but couldnt help being drawn right in
To a web I never knew I was getting into

CODA:

As I hear your footsteps down the hall
Deep down I know it meant nothing at all
When the novelty of beauty fades nothing becomes of it all
All proof that your pride brought about your fall…

© Words & Music, Steve McCarthy-Hunt, 2021

Latest Update

It has been, I must say, probably the most upside down year that I have ever experienced in my life. That is probably the case for most of us, particularly those either the same age or younger than I. Our parent’s generation, particularly those in the UK and Europe who grew up during wartime and rationing and the Cold War may have experienced things that would not be a million miles removed from what we’re seeing now, but I think it can be safely observed that these are times that are alien to the vast majority of us.

I have, like many other non-professional musicians been somewhat financially fortunate to be able to have had a day job to be able to fall back upon and this has occupied the vast majority of my time over the last twelve months or so. The initial lockdown kept my partner and I apart for three months and this certainly allowed me to concentrate on the remix of the tracks for the AlterZero The Road Less Travelled EP; but beyond that, I have to admit that musically, it has been a very quiet time.

Now we have come to what is being sold as the end of the Lockdowns (time will tell whether it actually is or not, but I’m not going to get into that in this blog), and as I am between professional assignments, I have had some more time to come back to both writing and recording and making some progress on the KOAS tracks. Slowly but surely, the lumbering beast that is the KOAS Monochrome project is getting back on its feet and the writing and recording is inching forward. It is still likely to take some time to finish it because as much as I have some spare time to be able to devote to it, the necessity to earn a living and the machinations that go with that have not allowed me to allocate a block of time to exclusively work on the music. And, given how much the world is changing around us on a daily basis, particularly as it changes in a way that I have to admit that I am not really at all comfortable with, there are other things that I must prioritise. One of which is being able to sustain myself financially and the other is my elderly parents.

I cannot explain why I feel on almost a subliminal level as to why I am being guided and reminded by my spirit guides to look after my mother and stepfather and prioritise them above everything else, but that is the message that I am getting. I am lucky in the sense that they are both alive, both are in reasonably good health and neither have what have become known as co-morbidities. But, because of their age, I cannot lie, I am keeping a very close watch on them at the moment, particularly because of their enforced isolation over the last 12 months and the effects that it has had on them and how they see the world these days. As a result, while I am pushing to make progress on the music, by the same token, when they need me, I must prioritise them, while I am fortunate enough to still have them in my life.

Despite that, I have also found time to write and also to consider another project once the Monochrome EP is done. This work, I anticipate, is going to be a half self-written and half cover version EP; the working title is Mondegreen, which is, as I’m sure you know, something that you think you have heard clearly… but you have not heard quite what you may think you have. “Theres a bathroom on the right“, “the girl with colitis goes by”, and so on and so on. The title I think is appropriate more for the three cover versions that are going to be on the EP, which is not something I have done before. The covers that have been selected are… somewhat unexpected, shall we say. But, all three of them are songs which mean a great deal to me and always have done. This is a chance for me to try and do these songs justice and to reinterpret them in my own way.

And, it is not a great leap to announce as well that if half of the EP is cover versions, then the other half has to be self written or collaboratively written. To that end, so far there are three new songs that have come along, which I will detail further on with their own song notes over the next few days.

The most important thing about the Mondegreen project is whether that is going to be the end of the musical line or not, so far as I’m concerned. As I’m not in the flush of youth any more and the opportunities to collaborate as a writer and producer are also shrinking and not least, the way the changing world is ravaging the music industry and how people consume music these days, I have to consider whether I’m reaching a watershed in what I have to say, in a musical sense at least.

But that is a conversation for another day. As it stands for now, I’m back… and these EP’s will be done. Eventually…

New KOAS Project coming soon…

I normally start off my blog posts with an appropriate stanza of a song that either means a lot to me or is pertinent to the post I’m about to make. Naaah. Not this time.

Well, it has been pretty much two years since the last project was completed and was made available to the world and thank you, if you are one of the original readers of the blog for sticking with me. I did say it might be a while before I came back to music again and that much is certainly true. It has been a while, but given the very strange circumstances we find ourselves in now, this is definitely the time to do something constructive with it.

The new KOAS project does not involve writing any new songs as such, but the creation of the tracks for six that already existed. It is an EP project as opposed to an album one and the project is going to be called Monochrome.  It did have several other working titles that were under consideration, but Monochrome was chosen partly because of the artwork that was picked; all of the pictures used were taken in and around my home town of Coventry and all taken around the time and place where I spent the first formative 8-10 years of my life. At the time Coventry was recovering still from the events of World War 2, and was at the tail end of the swinging 60’s but still had a lot of the old housing, bomb damaged properties, wastelands and even more destructively, the machinations of the town planners who thought they could create something and magnificent to rise phoenix-like from the ashes of war, but in the end destroyed what was left of its history to end up fashioning an albatross that the city still has around its neck to this day.

So, it is about transition from the old to the new, but you dont know quite where the new is going to take you yet, but you’re only seeing it in one colour, through one set of eyes anyway. In the same way, London Road and No Expectations were about abandonment and were about drawing a line under the past, these songs are ones that thematically were not right for either of those projects but are still good pieces of work in their own right that deserve to be made and that to my mind anyway, say what I need to say at this point in time, despite only two of them being relatively recent writes.

The projected track listing is:  The Last Dance; Birds & Butterflies; Scarlet & Gold; Come Back To Me, Money; Hunters Moon; Tomorrow Too Soon and (lastly) The Last Word.

All songs were written between 2014 and 2018.

Im sincerely hoping that it isnt going to be another two years before the completed Monochrome project sees the light of day, but I’ll not stake my mortgage on that, given how strange a world it is that we live in these days, LOL.

I’ve included the artwork in this post so you can see what kind of feel I’m going for.

KOAS Monochrome Album Listing

KOAS Monochrome album cover

 

Oh and incidentally, the first part of the lockdown that has been going on this year was used to remix and re-release six tracks that my dear friends and former bandmates Robert Pearce and Tony Jukes recorded back in 2012 for the Alter Zero project. These tracks date back to the 1990s and have always been great, unacknowledged works that should have been professionally recorded at the time, but were not, because…. reasons *wry grin*… Well, now they have been recorded and remixed to the best that I can get them to be and they are available for downloading from the same Soundcloud site that I used for London Road and No Expectations. They’re great songs, truly they are and all of them hold a special place for me as a Producer and player, as opposed to a writer and it has been a privilege to try my best to do these songs justice. it sure as heck as taken long enough, as it does when normal life tends to get in the way.

Strange then, how it should take virtual house arrest to change that perspective, but (for a change), I digress.

The AlterZero tracks are part of a project called The Road Less Travelled and they are: My Long Distant Past; Silently, Another Broken Dream, Extinction, A Different Meaning (The Deception Of J) and Lost Your Memories.

I hope you like them. They can be found here:

Thank you all for sticking with me and I’ll bring you more developments soon.

Album Release Day

London Road and No Expectations are now released and out in the wild and available to listen to on this website, in both wav file and mp3 formats, depending on your available bandwidth. They should also be downloadable too.

This draws the creation stage of this project to a close and it is almost time to start the next one which I am looking to get going around early June; there are some other production tracks which I have been recording and working on for friends for some time but have been on the back burner while this project has been in gestation. These can now be brought back to life before the next KOAS album project starts.

I’ll start a new series of blog pages as the new tracks are all being recorded and in some cases written and the journey will begin all over again.

Thank you for your patience in waiting for these songs to be brought to life; it was a long old road, but the objective has been reached; a musical legacy to the important people in my life which immortalises their contribution to who and what and how I am.

I hope you like them and are also going to join me on the next musical journey when it comes along.

KOAS Album News

I’ve just returned from Florida in the last 36 hours and there was a lot of time not only for contemplating the subject of what to do with the KOAS album/EP releases but also to discuss the matter with two experienced professionals who have been there, bought the T-shirt and much more on many occasions and also to examine some options.

Previously, I had looked at both TuneCore and CDBaby as possible outlets for a formal release of both London Road and No Expectations and I’ve also considered doing a small print run of CD’s. All these options are still in the background and may be taken up on but a number of conversations and reactions while I was in the US have led me to the decision that I have taken today. The first was one that I already knew anyway, but was confirmed by a highly reputable US Producer and Mix Engineer re-emphasising how challenging it is to get songs cut these days by professional artists (and theres no reason to believe that the US and UK are any different in that respect); the second was that given the strongest part of my suit is that of lyricism – and I was aware of this anyway and had been reminded of it before – the words are largely lost on those who were listening. Part of that comes of them being very personal, which I was aware of anyway and proceeded with full knowledge of that fact; and lastly that I never set out to make either of these offerings to make money. That was never a factor. The intention in the case of London Road was for it to be a calling card for collaborative writing, like an actors showreel. The intention of No Expectations was for it to be a cathartic musical legacy to four important people in my life.

So, the decision that was taken was that the albums will be released on here and will be free to download by anyone who wants them, whenever they want them. No need for any registration, no pricing – just simple downloads of either Apple m4a tracks or .wav files at 16bit/44.1khz, which despite being several times the size, are also more open and sound much better as they have more dynamic range. If anyone wishes to donate anything when they download the music, they can do, and if they dont want to, they dont have to. The key thing is that the songs are listened to, regardless. The only person who puts any real financial value on these songs as memories (yet), is me. But their emotional value to me is obviously, much higher than what it cost to record and release them.

Over the next week or so, I will finalise the artwork and the mastering output levels for the files and add the appropriate buttons on this site to enable easy access to the albums. As it stands at this precise moment, everything has been mastered with the requirements of iTunes and the two aforementioned aggregators in mind which are to put it politely, quite conservative – nothing peaks louder than -8.2db, so it never gets really loud at all and if anything for domestic consumption, they’re probably a tad too quiet and can be boosted a bit (this was the main question I had for the Producer/Mix Engineer as he has vast experience of finishing mixes prior to mastering and his Maximizer plugin is permanently glued into the red). These tweaks are minor ones which will take only a few short hours to accomplish, so I’m targeting the May Bank Holiday as a release date for both offerings. I can then close this particular project and then move on to the next one over the summer, which I have to admit, I’m quite upbeat about. I’ll be able to apply all the many lessons I’ve learned during the gestation of these two which should  – hopefully –  mean the time to releasing the difficult second album should be shorter (famous last words, no doubt, LOL).

So.. in closing… watch this space. The release date for both London Road and No Expectations is imminent.

Latest News on Project KOAS

You are far
I’m never gonna be your star
I’ll pick up the pieces and mend my heart
Maybe I’ll be strong enough
I don’t know where to start
But I’ll never find peace of mind,
While I listen to my heart
People…
You can never change the way they feel
Better let them do just what they will
For they will…. If you let them….” 
© George Michael, Kissing A Fool, 1988

Well… its 9.45 in the evening in the UK and as it stands right now…. the mastering work on the albums is now finished.

Its been quite challenging and educational for someone who has largely been a hands-off engineer and aspiring Producer  – when it comes to putting together demos of both my own work and those for others, at least… I’ve had the ideas but there has always been someone who makes a living from engineering or mastering or producing to put that final fairy dust on the finished product.

When it comes to putting together something in your own name though, the goal was always to make it as good as I could with the experience that I had. And…. as I’m the closest one to the project, I can hear all the lumps and bumps and imperfections and things that make me think “… yeah, I should really go back and fix that…” So, it’ll never be perfect. Such things very rarely are. Indeed, some figure that all the lumps and bumps make it a bit more honest and… real. FWIW, I think the jury is out on that.

But, with respect to the other old adage which goes along the lines of  “there are never any finished mixes, only abandoned ones”, I can honestly, hand on heart, listen back to the final 2 track masters and be glad of what I have and I’m happy for them to be let loose on the world as they are… They are as good as I can get them to be (and believe me, I’ve tried, LOL), with my level of expertise as a player, a singer, a writer and a producer… at this stage of my career, that is. Next time… now that might be different. But more of that later.

There certainly were some interesting challenges along the way in trying to get the completed .wav files to sound as good as I could when mastering them into “lossy”/compressed formats like m4a, MP3 and so on. That took quite a lot of test pressings to get right and finally getting hold of Mastered For iTunes tools from Apple as well. Once that particular hurdle was out of the way, the rest of it was pretty much a downhill run to the finish line although it did take quite a few late nights, which I think have started to catch up with me recently!

As per the last blog update, the albums have been sequenced, they have all been put through a good mastering package (Izotope Ozone 7) and then treated with another very handy vst, Waves Abbey Road Vinyl which gives them that kind of old vinyl warmth and fuzzyness around the edges, taking off some of the harshness.  They were all recorded, mixed and mastered on headphones (Beyer DT770 Pro) –  the intended listening medium for these songs has always been headphones, never monitors and I would venture that a lot of people who may well listen to this music will do so over earbuds or headphones; it has been mastered with them in mind. I’ve also very consciously made sure I’m on the right side of the loudness wars as well and everything has been mastered very conservatively, peaking at no more than -8.2db, to ensure that if it gets submitted to the likes of iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, etc that the songs can make sure they’re within the loudness restrictions that these providers have stipulated.

Ah yes, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify etc. There comes the big final question and the one that I have not yet decided to answer: After having waved my own flags so hard for the last two years on this project, its not lost on me that I have to make a decision (always a bad thing, LOL) about what to do with these songs now I’ve given them life. Do I keep them locked up in the proverbial basement on a diet of bread and water (obviously not, I’m not that creepy) or do I let them fly with the best chance they’ve got of reaching new shores, but charge them a Club Class ticket price for doing so?

Or…. to be less cryptic/obtuse…. “Do I give them away for free, or do I sell them?”

I’m kinda torn where this is concerned. London Road is and always has been a calling card, almost like a demo album to advertise my ability to to other musicians, writers, producers, etc as a marker of my ability as a songwriter and lyricist, proving that I can play nicely with others, LOL. No Expectations was always a musical legacy to not only my late father (who kept on sending me damned jazz music to write, from the other realm… I used to hate jazz. You’ve no idea how much, hahaha…), but also to three very, very important women in my life who came into it and when they left it, they left leaving huge footprints on my heart that no rainstorms will ever wash away. It was never, ever going to be about money. It was about doing something that I hoped would be remembered, so that neither they nor what I thought of them would ever be forgotten. It is much more thematically coherent than London Road and that was always the intention.

So, I’m in a bit of a quandary. Part of me wants to go the Radiohead way and just put it out there and invite people to just take it and if they want to make a donation, they can, but if they dont, then so long as they give the material a listen, I dont mind. In the most recent distribution from PRS4Music that I’ve had, songs that I have co-written are starting to earn me some royalties, which is great. It’ll never be enough for me to retire on, but I never expected it to. All of the material is registered and if it ever pops up anywhere and gets played where the collection societies get to know about it, a few cents will roll into my hat. And thats fine. I’m happy with that. Limousines, the devils dandruff and private jets are all so passe anyway, LOL. 

The other part of me says that if I’m to put the material where it has the best chance of being heard by not only the wider public – ie, aggregators like Tunecore, CDBaby and so on – there has to be some kind of concept as to how much it is going to cost. So, I have to bring money into it, whether I like it or not. I can distribute it myself via this site or a similar one, but the reach is not going to be as good as what it would be through an aggregator.

Lots of food for thought then, while I go to Florida on holiday to see the family for a week…

Ultimately, what it boils down to is that both albums, regardless of which way they walk out of the front door of my life, to find their place in the world, should be released digitally in early May 2018.

And then onto the next project. I’ve already got half an idea as to what I’m going to call it (but thats for another post) and I’ve already got some tracks that are in gestation that I would like to feature on it and the overall musical direction it will go in. And this will be something that I will record with the motivation of selling it, as opposed to being so open to the idea of giving it away.

The big difference this time, I’m not going to be so dumb as to chain myself to a timescale. It’ll be ready when its ready. When I’ve returned from Florida and that final decision regarding distribution has been made, then I’ll put up another post announcing what it is, and where the material will be available from and so on and so on…

 

Project KOAS Album Track Listings and Running Orders

The decision has been made on the track listings and running order for the upcoming album and EP that have formed the KOAS project. As per the original goal, one album will be comprised exclusively of collaborative material (London Road) and the other will be self written (No Expectations).

As mentioned before, there is always an exception to every rule and the exception in this case is Five Years, which is a collaborative track between myself and Robert Pearce, but is thematically much better placed to be on this album than London Road.

Track Listing and Running order for No Expectations:

Stay
The Fear Of Missing Out
Stars
Let It Go
No Getting Over You
Doesn’t Matter Now
What Became Of Love
Castles In The Sky
Five Years

Track Listing and Running order for London Road:

Elia
Escape From The Shadows
Come Talk To Me
South To The Sun
Without You
This Time

I don’t expect any changes to be made to these listings following final mixdown and mastering; I’m confident that this is going to be the finished running order in both cases. I also expect both to be completed and available by early May at the very latest.

I’ll share more detail when it becomes clearer.

 

Update on Project KOAS

I normally post some lyrics from a famous song at this point, but right now I’m pretty sure that what I was going to use, I’ve used already somewhere else. Much as I might repeat myself thematically for now where my songwriting is concerned, I try not to make a habit of it when citing other songwriter’s works, LOL.

It has been a long while since I posted an update though, so without further ado, I’d better get to it.

The mixdown of the KOAS albums is going very very well and in a couple of cases some of the tracks are at the pre-mastering/test final mix stage which I’m finding quite encouraging. Much as I’ve done this kind of thing before with either a band or as a Producer/Co-Producer for friends and others, doing it with your own material is a new experience for me and one that I’ve learned a lot from and am continuing to learn. Elia and Five Years are both at a very advanced stage now, pretty much at the point where they just need final balancing/eq’ing before mastering which I’m very pleased about. Others are following close behind, like Manhattan Lullaby (although it does need a new lead vocal), The Fear Of Missing Out and No Getting Over You (both likewise) This Time and Talk To Me. Some I’ve re-done the vocals for several times and as a non-singer, finding a point that you can settle on and decide that you’ve finally captured what you’ve set out to express can be quite an elusive thing. FOMO, NGOY and Manhattan all fall into that category. They’re achievable and the guide vocals have been OK, but are some way short in my estimation and still need another big final heave to get them over the finishing line. All should be happening within the next two weeks though. The music for all of them, I’m completely happy with. Its just the vocals that are requiring of a little more work.

The whole project then, these minor jobs notwithstanding, for both London Road and No Expectations is on course for mixdown and mastering to be complete by early April with a prospective release date very shortly after that. As mentioned before, I will do my best to try and produce a very limited run of physical CD copies of both but the main release is going to be electronic.

So, as opposed to my usual thousand word ramblings, this post is quite a short one. After having moved to Warwickshire in Autumn last year, it has been a long process of getting settled in, having to concentrate on the day job and getting the studio space set up and whatever remaining tracking needed to be done for these projects, but pretty much every spare moment since the turn of the year has been spent on inching forward with this project and it is starting to bear real proper fruit, not just the low hanging stuff. The goal of this project in the first place was to put together a personal musical legacy that my late father didnt really get the chance to do, inspired by both him, my late wife and other significant people in my life and that objective is emerging out of the fog to be realised in its own right. Its taken the best part of two years tracking and mixing and learning and many, many takes and heaven knows how much editing and comping.

But, I can actually put up an album cover on social media these days with the words “Coming Soon” as a strapline and actually mean it. And for someone who started all this as a somewhat accidental bass player nearly 30 years ago, to realise a goal of releasing works that he has singularly and collaboratively written, played and produced pretty much completely in house in either a garage in Aylesbury or in a spare bedroom… Its a personal milestone and for the people who follow my efforts and my writing, plus for posterity, it is only right that I show my face above the parapet from time to time and prove that both I and the goal are still alive and breathing – and even though the day job is still the main earner, it is possible to have a personal musical dream, chase it and make it happen.

I’ve already got half an eye on the next project after this one and its hoped that some of the other tracks that are on this site will see the light of day too, maybe in more than their first iterations – Birds & Butterflies, Last Dance may get brought back to life too, plus others. We’ll see how it goes.

Meantime, thank you all for your patience. Not much longer now and all will be revealed. I promise I wont keep you waiting for much longer.