Jutze schaut Babylon 5 – Folge 1

Mein Plan ist es, jede Woche eine Folge von Babylon 5 anzuschauen und dann eine Weile darüber zu quatschen, voraussichtlich zwischen 5 und 10 Minuten lang. Los geht es (natürlich) mit “Midnight on the Firing Line”. Ich habe vor, über die ersten vier Staffeln (88 Folgen) plus die letzte Folge plus den Film “In the Beginning” zu podcasten. 90 Folgen also, eine pro Woche – macht knapp zwei Jahre Laufzeit. Urgs. Warum mache ich das? Weil ich es kann! Und weil Babylon meines Lieblings-Science-Ficition-Fernsehserie ist. Und weil es in meinem Bekanntenkreis ein paar Fans gibt, die das möglicherweise unterhaltsam finden.

PS: “Spoo for Christmas” ist der Song, den ich in dieser Folge erwähnte.

PPS: Es gibt einen RSS-Feed für den/die/das Podcast.

Jutze 52 #13 – Nackt vor der Tür

Dies ist die deutschsprachige Idee, die ich letzte Woche erwähnte. Das Video hält zwar nicht, was der Titel verspricht; es zeigt mich beim Aufnehmen (angezogen). Das Lied begann mit der Idee für den Titel. Der Rest ergab sich rasch. Zwischendurch spielte ich mit dem Gedanken, ein etwas längeres Lied daraus zu machen, aber wie so oft nahte das Ende der Woche und wer weiß, ob die Pointe nach mehr als 45 Sekunden noch genauso prägnant gewesen wäre?

#13 Nackt vor der Tür

Nackt vor der Tür steht sie da, doch sie kann nicht rein, oh nein!
Anfangs war sie noch in Eile, doch jetzt steht sie hier schon eine Weile
Nackt vor der Tür
Nacht vor der Tür
Nackt vor der Tür steht sie da

Ich schau aus der Ferne zu ihr, wie sie dort steht vor der Tür
Sie schaut sich unruhig um und klopft an die Tür
Nackt vor der Tür ist sie nun doch sehr erbost
Nackt vor der Tür des FKK-Damenklos
Nackt vor der Tür steht sie da

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #12 – Never the Right Time

This came out when I forced myself to write a song in English earlier today. I currently have a surplus of ideas for German lyrics. Let me rephrase that: I have one idea for a German song waiting to take shape. I had zero ideas for an English song. I’m not really sure about “Never the Right Time” right now, so it should be fun to revisit it at the end of the year. Will it be one of my favourites? Will I denounce it? We’ll see.

#12 Never the Right Time

It’s never the right time to have children
It never feels quite right just yet
The perfect moment always seems to be three years from now

At 18 you’re still in school
At 21 you want to be cool
At 24 you’re looking for a job
At 27 you’re heading for the top
At 30 the two of you break up
At 33 all your online dates suck
At 36 you’re not sure you found the one
At 39 half your life’s already gone

It’s never the right time to have children
It never feels quite right just yet
The perfect moment always seems to be three years from now

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

The Brandos Want Your Money

The Brandos want your money in order to make a new album. I want a new Brandos album to happen. So, indirectly, I want your money. I will elaborate this below, but for the impatient tl;dr folks: I suggest you go to https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/365667282/the-brandos-new-studio-album and give the band your money. Thank you!

The Brandos are one of my five favourite bands in the world. I admire and enjoy they music ever since I saw them live in Stuttgart back in 1995. So far I’ve attended 19 of their concerts. Some were hot (Winterbach 2006), some were accompanied by snow (Stuttgart 1998), some were loud (Stuttgart 1997), others were simply sonic bliss (acoustic gig in Stuttgart 1996). The band awed (“The Keeper”), the band rocked (“The Light of Day”), the band folk-rocked (“My Father’s Gun”), the band stayed true to itself throughout the years. The music tends to be serious. You find dark stories and moody characters galore (look no further than “Hard Luck Runner” and “Partners”). Then again, the lack of stainlessness in our lives (bonus points for anyone recognizing this reference) is also reflected in a manner that moves your heart (“Over the Border”) and gives you hope (“Hard Times”) – and if all hope is lost at least solace (“My Friend, My Friend”), sometimes even redemption (“Hallowed Ground”). The Brandos are equally sincere and passionate, which is what sets them apart from ordinary (classic/guitar) rock bands. I backed the project earlier today. Now I will “Pass the Hat” to you.

The Brandos Go Kickstarter

The current crowdfunding effort is unlike most other musical Kickstarter/Pledgemusic/Indiegogo projects, because the value of the rewards does not match the price tags. The majority of album campaigns are basically presales in disguise. The Brandos offer a new single (with exclusive bonus tracks) for $25. Commonly, one gets the whole new album for that money and then some. The band is not trying to fool anyone – what is offered in the various options is what you get. The Brandos get the money needed for a proper record. My impression is furthermore that successful funding would facilitate the album production and make a late 2015 release a realistic possibility. Most of the money will benefit the recording process of the album. Only a small share will be needed to fulfill the various rewards.

From the point of view of the band, this is about covering the album production costs (partially or completely I don’t know). The label is going to take care of promotion, manufacturing, and distribution. (These three jobs will be handled external firms, I know; but the label provides the infrastructure and, hopefully, tour support.) From the point of view of the fans, backing the project feels more like a donation than like a trade. It’s certainly no bargain. However, the backers can enjoy the feeling of gratification when the new album is made, because they stood up for good music. Because they made their “Contribution”.

The time frame is short. Right now – with 19 percent funded – it doesn’t look too good for the project. (Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing.) Yet, with more than a week left, it’s still possible to reach the goal of $25.000. “The Last Tambourine” has yet to be dubbed. There need to be 820 more fans chiming in with $25. Or 200 willing to contribute $100 or more. The Brandos have been under the radar for most of the last seven years. Reaching their old audience is a challenge. Hopefully, the band or the label can bring the project to the attention of radio stations that used to play the Brandos. More importantly, though, the current campaign could benefit from some additional options, I think.

Suggestions for Improvements

Add a new cheap option – say $5 – with, for example, an (early) download of the new song that is going to be on the single. This won’t be enough to reach the goal but it might create positive vibes (as fans generally like to support their favourite bands) and bring in at least some more dollars. Bandcamp could be used to fulfill the rewards without too much hassle.

Add more music to the options / more options with (more) music. My first thought here is that there have to be various live recordings – mainly audio, but possibly also on video. As an exclusive reward for maybe a hundred dedicated Brandos fans, a sub-perfect sound and production will deter no one from the band. The easiest addition could be a download of the “Live at Loreley” album (which has been out of print for some time). The album has two bonus tracks from other concerts – those two shows (one from 1987, one from 1998) would be something I’d love to hear, even if it were a quick rough mix. Throwing one of them into all the available options is likely to convince anyone who is hesitant because they feel they don’t get enough rock for their money. There are, of course, many other shows I’d love to revisit – early gigs, rare live cover versions, more Irish songs played by the whole electric band etc. A fan once gave me a recording of an unplugged show from 1995. It’s only Dave and Scott Kempner – and the duo sounds marvelous! Hearing those stunning versions of songs like “A Matter of Survival”, “Partners”, “Cheyenne”, and “Walking on the Water” will make any Brandos fan drool. Offer ten different shows, each for $30, and who knows how many dedicated fans will get some or even all of them.

Speaking of unplugged performances: A video of Dave Kincaid performing an acoustic version of a Brandos song of the backer’s choice would be a very tempting option for me – and probably for other fans, too. I’d set the price tag at $500 – maybe even $400. And maybe offer acoustic Creedence Clearwater Revival cover versions for $600 per piece.

Another attractive option could be access to unreleased demo recordings. “My Way to You” from before the first album was used on the “Contribution” compilation album; “Partners” is supposedly the initial demo version of the song. What about other demos of songs that were rerecorded for the (first couple of) albums?

The one thing that might annoy potential backers for which I have no remedy the necessity of having a credit card and a Kickstarter account (the latter one is free and can be deleted after the project has ended – and the chosen rewards have been delivered).

Finally, if you like the Brandos but not the available options because you’d want the new album itself and then some: The new album will be widely available thanks to Blue Rose Records, so you can quickly buy it for, say, $20 once it’s released. A ticket for a Brandos concert will cost you about $30. Now imagine a $75 option that contains the single, the album, and a concert ticket. Sounds good, right? The only catch is that you will be paying $25 now, then $20 when the album comes out and $30 when the band goes on tour. On the bright side, you don’t have to pay everything upfront and in case the tour schedule doesn’t fit into your calendar, you can actually save the money for the concert ticket. What are you waiting for? Go to Kickstarter and give the band your money!

Final Remarks

How about this: Instead of buying me a birthday present, support the Brandos with your money. It will make me happier than a pair of socks. And you will even get a Brandos single at the end of the year! My birthday is in the summer, I know. Who cares? I want a new Brandos album to happen – and you can help!

Links of Interest

Johannes with his collection of Brandos albums title=

Jutze 52 #11 – The Bittersweet Progressive Rock Opera (Part 1)

This is one of those tunes that would never see the light of day if I weren’t forcing myself to post a song every week this year. I put this one together while I was in Norway (under the influence of Wobbler and Änglagard). It’s all digital instruments, 100% programmed, blatantly defying the traditional prog approach. Am I satisfied with the “song”? Nope. The one thing that “rescued” the track was actually the title. I know where the second part will be headed (conceptually) and I hope it will make the dilettantism at least a tiny bit ironic. Anyway, I found it terribly difficult to fit all the different moods into just 52 seconds. No wonder there’s so few single-length progressive rock tracks out there.

#11 The Bittersweet Progressive Rock Opera (Part 1)

Jag skulle vilja spela i en progressiv rock band

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #10 – Fugue

This is indeed a fugue! The second and the third voice play pretty much the same melody as the first voice. I had to transpose a couple of notes to make it sound smoother, plus the ending is what it is. And I might have made a mistake at one point. Once I had finished the MIDI version, I thought it would be fun to play the whole thing on guitar and melodica for the video. It wasn’t fun, but the outcome sound rather nice in my opinion.

#10 Fugue

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #9 – 32 Jahre

Die untenstehende Aufnahme hat ein anderes Ende als das Video. Geschrieben habe ich das Stück so auf der Gitarre. Den Orgelklängen wollte ich jedoch lieber ein freundliches Ende bereiten.

#9 32 Jahre

Alles Gute zum 32. äh 27. Geburtstag!
Dass mir dein Alter gerade nicht auf Anhieb einfiel, ist wohl etwas, das an meinem Sturz lag
Ich bin ja neulich von der Leiter gefallen
Und tat mit dem Kopf auf dem Boden aufprallen
Doch das ist kein Grund, dir nicht zu gratulieren, meine Liebe
Alles Gute wünsche ich dir!

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Jutze 52 #8 – Milk

This is a perfect example for songs produced under pressure. I wrote the song last weekend. It’s a little bit absurd. The recording became much more absurd because my external sound card stopped working. I just recorded the vocals in a hotel room in Hamburg, whispering into my laptop’s built-in microphone. Unfortunately (?), I won’t have time to improve the vocals over the next few days, so I’ll just put this tune out there.

#8 Milk

Honey, I’m home and I had a hard night
I know I should have called but I’m not feeling all right
A had some tequila and several beers
A bottle of whisky I drank with my peers

Now there is no reason for you to raise hell
Because in an hour or two I won’t be feeling too well
But from tomorrow on I will be a better man
No, I won’t make the same mistakes again
So I will drink a glass of milk
And if that is not enough
I’ll have another glass of milk
And I won’t need to pretend I’m tough
I will drink a glass of milk
And if that is not enough
I’ll have another glass of milk
And I’ll be home in time, my love

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

Squirrel

The challenge of the third round of SpinTunes #10 was to write a song with long run-on sentences. It took me a while to get a vague idea what the challenge was about. Loooong sentences are rather common in German, but there was no way I could communicate a German song to the (mostly English-speaking) SpinTunes audience and, in particular, the judges. I was stumped. But hey, what if I sang about German(y)? Could this be a topic worth rambling about? I wasn’t sure. I still don’t know. My only alternative idea was a detailed description of the pain of getting a part of your body pierced (while trying to impress your latest flame that talked you into it). I didn’t want to focus on pain and negative emotions (even in a comical way), so I began writing about my home country. Writing a song about an specific idea/concept is usually work and this song was no exception. Thankfully, I never ran out of inspiration. Most of the lyrics were written in the order I sing them. I only updated a couple of parts before I recorded the vocals.

I began composing the music when I had the first few verses and a rough idea where the refrain was headed. At first I found myself resorting to the chords and melody of a German traditional song (“Der Mönch im Nonnenkloster“) but eventually I found a sufficiently original approach, a catchy chorus, a chorus after the chorus (with lots of room for me to butcher the pronunciation of squirrel), and also a quick bridge to make it all more dynamic. I considered inserting the melody of the Germany national hymn between verses, but the song was already getting long. (I even shortened the second chorus.)

I consider the lyrics to be just a few looong sentences. I added two more parts with free-style rambling just to be sure that my entry would be run-on enough. The middle-part allowed me to address the issue of sarcasm. I felt this was necessary, because the initial lyrics came across almost serious. I mean, lines like “Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night” might go unnoticed. Finally, I have no idea what people who don’t understand German think of the line “their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long”. Maybe one of the judges remarks on it. Anyway, I was thinking of making a video for the song; I won’t have time for that any time soon, though. Meanwhile, here’s the music/lyrics:

Squirrel

When it comes to building cars, Germany’s the best
And Germans on the Autobahn drive faster than the rest
With the pedal to the metal and reckless as can be
Just like Michael Schumacher racing down the street
Nothing that can stop us on and off the road
Be it truck or airplane, be it bicycle or boat

And with regard to soccer, I’m sure that you all know
The Germans won the World Cup while England had to go
And while we don’t like to admit it, our country makes us proud
‘Cos Germans are the greatest – there is really no doubt
Invincible, almighty and fearless in the night
And if there’s something broken, we can fix it all right
Yes, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Germans built the wall and they tore it down again
And they still miss the Deutschmark every now and then
For example when it’s time to pay at the Oktoberfest
Where schnitzel, wurst and sauerkraut are easy to digest
As long as there is order, as long as there is beer
With Merkel on our side, there is nothing to fear

German maids are beautiful and German men are strong
And their Bandwurmsätze are really, really long
And all the Black Forest cuckoo’s clocks are never running late
So why not book a trip and come to see the Brandenburg Gate
Enjoy some German music: Rammstein, Volksmusik
We rock you like a hurricane until you agree
That there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as a citizen of this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Anyway, Germans are always on time, sticking to the rules, very talented and charming, fantastic singers – like me, for example – builders, engineers, inventors, Nobel Prize winners, Friedrich Nietzsche, you know, and Dirk Nowitzki, Pope Benedict, Beethoven, Wagner, Nena, handsome German people each and every one of them, big fans of discipline, yes, that’s us, and when we use sarcasm, it’s always 100% obvious, smart, efficient, never making any mistakes – and most of all we are very modest!

Ja, there is nothing that we Germans cannot do
‘Cos we know everything so much better than you
But as someone who grew up in this nation
I struggle with the pronunciation of ‘squirrel’

Why couldn’t they just call it “Eichhörnchen”? I mean, they took so many German words for the English language like Rucksack or Kindergarten and we also took some words from them like Handy or like Public Viewing – okay, we misused them*, but anyway, it’s so weird and I can’t pronounce it; it’s a tongue twister and, ah, it’s driving me crazy and did you know that Chip an’ Dale are called Ahörnchen and Behörnchen in German?

* Handy = mobile/cell phone, Public Viewing = broadcast of soccer games in public places

(words and music by Johannes Schult 2015 Creative Commons by-nc 4.0)

SpinTunes 10, Round #3 According to Jutze

Once again, I wrote down my thoughts while listening to the recent SpinTunes round (the third of SpinTunes 10). The challenge allowed us to play “our” style for the most part. So it was interesting to see, how clearly the long sentences stood out in each entry. Once again, my rating are purely subjective. All songs met the challenge in my opinion, so I won’t point this out for every song. (Check out the next post for a song bio of my entry.)

Adam Sakellarides – Too Verbose: The rhythm does remind me of the Weird Al example. The song nicely picks up the challenge and uses it as a starting point for its plot. The upbeat rhythm is partially successful in compensating for the monotone verse vocals. Not that the vocals are bad, but well, they *are* rather verbose. The chorus is good. The ending, however, is a bit irritating in my opinion; I’d have cut off the song before the final refrain. Maybe add some fire noise. Sirens. Honestly, I couldn’t really make out the words to the backing vocals in the chorus. They could have been more prominent in the mix. 7/10

Governing Dynamics – Recursion: Finally a challenge that isn’t at odds with the Governing Dynamics style. The verses and the chorus sound a bit too similar. The words successfully indicate the chorus but the music (including the vocal melody) remains a bit tame. 5/10

Kolton H. – Muse of the Machine: Tough stuff; I mean, I can barely make out the vocals. The songs seems ok. I read the lyrics beforehand and liked them quite a lot. Still, the final outcome is a tad too much soundtrack and not enough song for my taste. 3/10

Dreiviertel Drei – Homosocksual: The contrast between the sinister mood and the pun is fun! A sock-eating monster in the washing machine could have been the cherry on top of the cake. The vocals are off-key every now and then. Jus tlike with Governing Dynamics’ entry, the chorus could stand out a bit more. The final reverb hints at the possibilities. The mandolin (?) works nicely. 4/10

Megalodon – You Need to Know: Real drums, nice. It takes the song 30 seconds to get going. There’s a progressive rock feeling to the tune that should appeal to me, but where is the standout chorus? The instrumental side is more convincing than the vocals. In fact, I struggle to make out anything. Is this the song about Minecraft? Mh, not that I know anything about that. Or do I need to know about it? The fancy break in the middle is fun; the ending spices things up, but the lyrics are just too repetitive. 3/10

Jurek Mika – Yagi: This song might just work after drinking one beer too many. The challenge is met headon, I can’t argue about that. Sadly, the whole thing becomes too repetitive too fast. The middle eight doesn’t help – unless illegal psychoactive substances come into play, I guess. The instrumental outro could have brought some air into the song if it had been put in the middle of the song. 2/10

Zoe Gray – When the Rain Falls: The mood is a nice change compared to the previous song. However, it’s rather monotonous. This seems to be a side effect of this challenge. Maybe the judges will even reward it. The arrangement could have put some air after the refrain, before the subsequent verses. 3/10

Charlie McCarron – The Animal Song: The sarcastic lyrics are fun – and the music doesn’t get in their way. The rhythm changes provide the necessary possibility to breathe. My ears applaud this approach! I feel bad for the plethora of animals mistreated in the lyrics. Being the second longest song this round, it could have been edited a bit, I guess (maybe sacrificing the A-Z gimmick). Those were my initial thoughts. After watching the video clip, I love this song. The chorus is great (“Screw you!”), the animation is spot on. I’m glad I’m not an official judge, because the video might bias me. 8/10

The Boffo Yux Dudes – Love You: I can’t do this song justice like Sammy Kablan certainly can. Did you guys ressurrect Roy Orbison? The atmosphere is surreal; I might just pretend this is about the afterlife. The vocals have way too much vibrato for my taste. 4/10

Edric Haleen – The Land of No Punctuation: 100% Edric. Excellent. I tried to figure out the meter but gave up halfway through. The lyrics are fab – and unlike some of the other entries in this round, the song takes a (much needed?) break just when the run-on sentence reaches the limits of my patience (after a quick detour to the Land of No Inflection). The middle part itself is pleasantly soothing. The ending is cool. While not a song I’ll listen to on repeat, it will certainly put a smile on my face every time I hear it. 9/10

Atom & EV – Conspiracy Theory: High ranking for idea, low ranking for execution. Similarities to Bob Dylan and Billy Joel are obvious. I like the lyrics, but yeah, the production could be way better. 3/10

James Young at the Bottom of a Well – How Was Your Day?: The vocals are drowned in the backing track. I have no idea how to describe the character of this song. It could rob a bank and I wouldn’t be able to pick from a line-up. There is a mood, but again, unable to make out the lyrics I struggle with this one. 2/10

Jailhouse Payback – Reflections in My Eggs: The music runs on and on like the lyrics, I guess. The guitar solo brightens things up. Sadly, I can’t get a grip on the story/on the song. 2/10
The rat says: Sounds quite good.

Pete Murphy – Liars: Starts out like a Deep Purple song. The vocals start out great but become repetitive. I know, that’s a run-on sentence in each verse. If I were a judge this might make me rank this song near the top. Personally, I’d love to hear a few more hooks in between. Hats off for the organic, clear production. 4/10

Ross Durand – Catch Me: I must confess that I recently watched a Ross Durand live video on his homepage. And now I can’t help but wonder if the song would sound more dynamic, more gripping if it were only acoustic guitar (picked?) and vocals. Only a few moments stand out – I wish I would have listened to this one first to appreciate it more. 5/10

Dr. Lyndike – No Time for Dreams: Another confession: I always imagine Dr. Lyndike as Dave hammering away on his keyboard in the basement (?), because that’s how I first saw him when he played some Jonathan Coulton songs. So now I’m irritated by the band arrangement. I mean, where does the band come from? Why are there tons of guitarists with harmonicas in front of them, but no piano players with harmonicas? I like the approach of the song; the mood suits the lyrics. Packing a whole lifetime into the song was ambitious but they pulled it off. 7/10

Ben Taggart – How Was Your Day? (Shadow): The music is (too) repetitive, but the lyrical approach is fine. 2.6/10

Ominous Ride – After Happily Ever After (Shadow): Again, the music is (too) repetitive. The song sounds a bit boring. No, wait it’s hypnotic. And also a bit boring. And hypnotic. 3/10