Archive for the ‘Music’ Category.

The Bleeding Dragon

Miracously, I made to the final round of SpinTunes #8. The challenge was:

Painful Progression – Write a song about PHYSICAL pain, and do so using a I-V-vi-IV chord progression in the chorus.

My naive assumption is that I can deal with the musical restriction more easily than the other contestants this round, who are a bit jazzier in my ear. Anyway, for this round I couldn’t just throw out a quick song like I did last round. I’m not a good singer, so a “normal” pop song wasn’t my aim. My first idea was to write some kind of Irish folk song, instead. Even before I picked up my guitar I decided to write about the pain of a menstruating dragon. I had this idea for the first time back in 2006, when I took the Hammerfall song title “The Dragon Lies Bleeding” literally. It took me a couple of hours to come up with a jolly chorus. The rest of the song manifested itself more quickly. I had a percussive click track resembling a bhodran, which I kept in the final version. I went a bit crazy with all kinds of keyboard sounds (including some banjo!) but most of them are buried in the mix. Needless to say, I would have loved to have real instruments. Anyway, there was a deadline to meet and I am quite satisfied with the outcome.

What made me very happy was the following review by Dave Leigh:

This sounds like the sort of thing that Hobbits would sing at the pub. Really demented, sick hobbits. Hobbits who need therapy. Who in his right mind writes a song about a menstruating dragon? Nobody, and that should tell us a thing about Jutze. However, this is the form of insanity that’s just really, really entertaining.

Check out all entries! I also filmed a quick sofa video that ended up with an over-enthusiastic preview thumbnail.

Deep under the mountain in the dark and the cold
Sheltered from the wind and the rain
Sitting on a pile of silver and of gold
The mighty dragon is in pain
Maybe it is time to leave this cave behind
Time to get some fresh air

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
Everybody screams, the children are crying
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take
It looks as if the dragon is dying

Only the elders have seen this once before
Almost a century ago
They shut all the windows and they lock every door
Hiding in the cellars below
Maybe there’s a chance to escape the burning flames
Maybe they will survive

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
Everybody screams, the children are crying
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take
It looks as if the dragon is dying

High above the lake the dragon’s breathing fire
Feeling that the cycle is complete – once again
There’s no way around it, no use in climbing higher
The time has come to bleed
Maybe it is time she should start to procreate
It sucks to menstruate

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
In agony and pain the dragon is flying
Nobody knows how much more it’s going to take
The dragon in the sky feels like dying

And it’s raining blood on the town by the lake
Everybody screams, the children are crying
Nobody knows how long it’s going to take
It looks as if the dragon is dying

2014 Creative Commons by-nc Johannes “Jutze” Schult

Dar Williams live in York

Dar Williams played at the Fibbers in York on March 11, 2014. She was her usual charming self and played a wonderful collection of songs. Given her back catalogue, it’s impossible to honour all requests. The upside of this is that pretty much every track is a winner. First, there were some gripping songs from her recent album, “In the Time of Gods”, and standard songs from her live repertoire. I was really happy that she played “Buzzer”, not only because I was there with some other psychologists. “The Ocean” and “February” were also personal highlights. The mix of upbeat and softer songs was perfect. Needless to say, the classic songs like “The Babysitter’s Here”, “When I Was a Boy”, and “As Cool as I Am” received the loudest applause from the roughly 90 people in the audience. I was pleasantly surprised that they sounded as fresh as the first time I heard them many years ago.

The music was great. The guitar was a tad too loud sometimes but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment. And there was, of course, a lot of insightful and funny banter between songs. The unique voice of Dar’s storystelling alone is worth the (humble) price of admission. I do hope there won’t be another eight year until I get to see her in concert again!

Dar Williams - live in York (2014)

Setlist:

  1. The Light and the Sea
  2. The Beauty of the Rain
  3. Spring Street
  4. I Have Been Around the World
  5. Buzzer
  6. Holly Tree
  7. I’ll Miss You Till I Meet You
  8. The Babysitter’s Here
  9. The Ocean
  10. The One Who Knows
  11. As Cool as I Am
  12. Storm King
  13. February
  14. When I Was a Boy
  15. The Christians and the Pagans

Over.

Estimating the Release Date of Richard Shindell’s Next Album

Richard Shindell has been working on his next album for quite some time now. His fans (that includes me) try to be patient. Several new songs have already made their live debut. The album is supposed to be called “Viceroy Mimic” (VM), but a couple of weeks ago he also mentioned “Same River Once” as a contender. Pressed about a release date, Shindell said (during a recent concert in Boston) January 2015. Regardless of this, here’s the statistical perspective – just for fun! The linear trend across all album releases (including live albums, cover albums, Cry, Cry, Cry etc.) suggests that a new album should have been released on November 4, 2013.

Graph: Linear prediction of the release dates of Richard Shindell albums (incl. live albums etc.)

The quadratic trend across Richard’s original studio albums, however, would imply a May 11, 2014 release date for “Viceroy Mimic”. The linear prediction appears to be worse in this case; it the lag between original albums is increasing.

Graph: Quadratic prediction of the release dates of Richard Shindell albums (only original studio albums)

Given the projected 2015 release, a cubic function might be necessary, soon. Anyway, below you can find the detailed data and the Stata code to replicate the graphs.

Continue reading ‘Estimating the Release Date of Richard Shindell’s Next Album’ »

Just a Dream

Just a Dream” by Brian Gray is one of my favourite SpinTunes entries. My cover version is clearly inferior to his recording, but this is the internet – I can do whatever I want! Okay, the Creative Commons by-nc license helps. The truth is, I recorded this song many months ago. I’m not happy with my vocals. And I had imagined a glorious video to go with my version. With Lego. And me in a cubicle. Anyway, I figured my singing talent isn’t going to improve and I might as well put this out for all the world to hear. I changed a few words here and there and compressed the bridge. Thankfully, Brian had posted most of the chords on his website. Please ignore my version and check out the original:

SpinTunes #8

It felt like a good idea to join the 8th edition of the SpinTunes songwriting contest. Naturally, I regretted my commitment repeatedly since I signed up. I produced two songs so far, and chances are I won’t advance to the third round. The current task was to write a hate song about someone. Here’s my song:

I read the prompt on Sunday morning and soon found myself tuning down my electric guitar. Half an hour later I had several melodic death metal parts ready. “Black Tears” by Edge of Sanity was a huge influence, although I only went back it after I finished my song. It turned out that it was way more melodic in my memory. Anyway, the song was there, now I needed lyrics. Like some other contestants, I didn’t want to write a hate song. I want to write love songs! Or songs about statistics. I used my initial reaction in the second verse and went back to an older idea for the first verse. They have nothing to do with each other, so I’m curious what the judges are going to make of it. I’m a bit uneasy regarding the mix. My heart says the (programmed) drums should be louder, but my heart is a fickle bastard with timing problems.

The first round was all about missing someone. I toyed with various ideas, all of them glorious, but I didn’t have time to elaborate any of them. Also, I needed music. I even tracked real drums, but the one take I had time to record was noisy and I liked the programmed brush drum set better. As for the lyrics, I ended up with an uneven relationship that was apparently good enough to get me to round 2.

Meet Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer

When was the first time you heard Simon & Garfunkel? Which song was it? Did you like it instantly? Do you want to have a similar experience? Then meet Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer. You will hear beautiful harmony vocals, nuanced lead melodies, a folky-edge, and a reckless passion for original music. You will find lyrics that venture beyond beyond the run-of-the-mill nonsense of mainstream pop music. And be warned: You will end up yearning for more even though you know very well that the duo is no longer making new music.

Just like Simon & Garfunkel, Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer do not have one typical song. They have a dozen or so masterpieces. And yes, they have some weaker songs, as well. The bleak banjo of “When I Go” is a signature moment; the upbeat number “Gentle Arms of Eden” is another one. “Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love” – a haunting ballad – has been said to have attained the ever-ellusive state of perfection. And then there is “The Mountain”, an enigmatic tune that Joan Baez once played for the Dalai Lama. Personally, I would recommend their 2002 album “Drum Hat Buddha” to newcomers. “Ordinary Town”, its opening track, is the sort of simple song which takes a talented songwriter years to flesh out. Dave Carter’s songwriting, however, is effortless. Tracy Grammer’s clear voice brings the song to life and is augmented by subtle harmonies in the chorus. The second song paints a seemingly complete picture of “Tillman Co.”, mostly thanks to the catchy mandoline hookline and Carter’s poignant vocal performance. I could go on, but hopefully you get the picture. The lyrics are remarkably thoughtful, yet the music is mostly positive and uplifting. This is especially true for “Happytown”, the opener of their second album “Tanglewood Tree“.

Sadly, your local record store is unlikely to carry the duo’s works. I suggest you make the effort to get the music through Tracy Grammer’s homepage, webshops, or digital downloads; regard it as an active protest against soulless mainstream plastic songs and music business politics. Or better, regard it as a treat for your ears and your heart.

The Best Van Canto Songs According to Facebook

Yesterday, Van Canto asked their followers on Facebook to name their top 5 songs (incl. at least one cover and at least one original song). I aggregated the first 337 responses (excluding those that contain less than two songs). Here is the overall hit list (along with the number of votes):

Graph with Van Canto Song Statistics

You can find some more results below.

Continue reading ‘The Best Van Canto Songs According to Facebook’ »

The Best MTX Songs According to Me

Last year I made this compilation of MTX goodness for romance, road trips and overall awesomeness:

  1. Here She Comes
  2. Swallow Everything
  3. Swiss Army Girlfriend
  4. Dumb Little Band
  5. Lawnmower of Love
  6. Even Hitler Had a Girlfriend
  7. I Love You, But You’re Standing on My Foot (live)
  8. As Life Goes on You Get More and More out of It
  9. New Girlfriend (live)
  10. Sackcloth and Ashes
  11. Ba Ba Ba Ba Ba
  12. The History of the Concept of the Soul
  13. Semi-OK
  14. Jill (live)
  15. She’s My Alcatraz
  16. Will You Still Love Me When I Don’t Love You?
  17. I Fell for You
  18. You’re the Only One
  19. Losers Like You (Dr. Frank, live excerpt)

The Best MTX Songs According to Facebook

About a year ago, Dr. Frank asked about the best MTX songs. He never got around to post the final results, so I compiled the frequencies for your entertainment. There were 145 songs mentioned in 211 comments. Despite this diversity, there is a clear winner:

                                   Song | Frequency 
----------------------------------------+-------------
                        more than toast |         33  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                    sackcloth and ashes |         20  
----------------------------------------+-------------
           even hitler had a girlfriend |         17  
 the history of the concept of the soul |         17  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                         ba ba ba ba ba |         15  
                         here she comes |         15  
                     tapin' up my heart |         15  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                       dumb little band |         14  
                               velveeta |         14  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                         i fell for you |         13  
     i wrote a book about rock and roll |         13  
                              king dork |         13  
              she's no rocket scientist |         13  
----------------------------------------+-------------
              ...and i will be with you |         12  
                         deep deep down |         12  
                      fucked up on life |         12  
            last time i listened to you |         12  
                         my stupid life |         12  
                         new girlfriend |         12  
                     swallow everything |         12  
  thank you (for not being one of them) |         12  
                            you you you |         12  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                       at gilman street |         11  
                           love is dead |         11  
                                semi-ok |         11  
                     she's not a flower |         11  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                     book of revelation |         10  
          with my looks and your brains |         10  
----------------------------------------+-------------
            alternative is here to stay |          9  
                           hell of dumb |          9  
i love you, but you're standing on my f |          9  
                              you today |          9  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                       i believe in you |          8  
                      she's my alcatraz |          8  
----------------------------------------+-------------
  a song about a girl who went shopping |          7  
                        checkers speech |          7  
                        danny partridge |          7  
            i just wanna do it with you |          7  
         i'm like yeah but she's all no |          7  
             institutionalized misogyny |          7  
        itching powder in sleeping bags |          7  
                  now that you are gone |          7  
                  swiss army girlfriend |          7  
                       together tonight |          7  
will you still love me when i don't lov |          7  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                   i don't need you now |          6  
                                  naomi |          6  
                            psycho girl |          6  
                     that prozac moment |          6  
                        two-minute itch |          6  
                    you're the only one |          6  
                              game over |          5  
                    how'd the date end? |          5  
                            mr. ramones |          5  
            she's coming (over tonight) |          5  
                        so long, sucker |          5  
the weather is here, wish you were beau |          5  
           tomorrow is a harsh mistress |          5  
                            up and down |          5  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                     dustbin of history |          4  
                      god bless america |          4  
                      hangin' on to you |          4  
                   hello kitty menendez |          4  
                i'd do anything for you |          4  
                    love american style |          4  
          oh just have some faith in me |          4  
                           sex offender |          4  
                some foggy mountain top |          4  
                            spy vs. spy |          4  
                              two of us |          4  
            we hate all the same things |          4  
                       we're not no one |          4  
                    who needs happiness |          4  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                        dictionary girl |          3  
                          disconnection |          3  
          everybody knows you're crying |          3  
           god bless lawrence livermore |          3  
                              hey emily |          3  
                         i feel for you |          3  
                                   jill |          3  
                      lawnmower of love |          3  
                                 london |          3  
                         love manifesto |          3  
                             not guilty |          3  
                            on the team |          3  
    our love will last forever and ever |          3  
                                shining |          3  
                     somebody who cares |          3  
sorry for freaking out on the phone las |          3  
             take all the time you need |          3  
                 the end of the ramones |          3  
    the future ain't what it used to be |          3  
        there's something wrong with me |          3  
                                   zero |          3  
----------------------------------------+-------------
                        all my promises |          2  
                      another yesterday |          2  
           big strange beautiful hammer |          2  
    i don't know where dan treacy lives |          2  
         i made you and i can break you |          2  
 leave the thinking to the smart people |          2  
                       marine recruiter |          2  
                          now we are 21 |          2  
                            one big lie |          2  
                              pig latin |          2  
                              self-pity |          2  
                        somebody's song |          2  
       the girl who still lives at home |          2  
   we are the future people of tomorrow |          2  
                           we'll get by |          2  
                            wearing out |          2  
                          what is punk? |          2  
                        when i lost you |          2  
                              you alone |          2  
----------------------------------------+-------------
             a mind is a terrible thing |          1  
                   a weekend in hogboro |          1  
                        a zillion years |          1  
   are you there god? it's me, margaret |          1  
as life goes on, you get more and more  |          1  
               bitter homes and gardens |          1  
                           boredom zone |          1  
                   bridge to tarabithia |          1  
                      christine bactine |          1  
                                  crash |          1  
                                go away |          1  
          i'm in love with paula pierce |          1  
                            knock knock |          1  
                                 makeup |          1  
                                 martyr |          1  
                master of the situation |          1  
                                perhaps |          1  
                         population: us |          1  
                  reactivate your heart |          1  
                           ready set go |          1  
                     send me a postcard |          1  
                                  sheep |          1  
                                slagbag |          1  
          stephanies of the world unite |          1  
                             supersonic |          1  
                   the empty experience |          1  
                          told you once |          1  
                  two martinis from now |          1  
                 unpack your adjectives |          1  
                         viva la france |          1  
                     weekend at hogboro |          1  
                        what went wrong |          1  
----------------------------------------+-------------

And here’s some album statistics:

                                  Album |  Freqency
----------------------------------------+------------
                           Love Is Dead |        136 
       Revenge is Sweet, and So Are You |        110 
                  Our Bodies Our Selves |        101 
    ...And the Women Who Love Them (EP) |         55 
                        Yesterday Rules |         54 
                               Alcatraz |         52 
      Night Shift at the Thrill Factory |         48 
                     Milk Milk Lemonade |         45 
               Making Things with Light |         35 
   Big Black Bugs Bleed Blue Blood (EP) |         33 
Everybody's Entitled to Their Own Opini |         17 
              The Miracle of Shame (EP) |         14 
   Show Business Is My Life (Dr. Frank) |          6 
----------------------------------------+------------

Chris de Burgh live in Trier (2013-04-05)

The concert was the first of the current tour, so the setlist was a complete surprise to everybody. Once again, Chris de Burgh had compiled a nice mix of old and new tracks. I really like how he brings back different older songs every tour. He also presented a new song, The Fields of Agincourt. It was in the vein of his battle songs with various moods that culminated in a forte ending. The audience was attentive and rather relaxed, especially towards the end. I especially enjoyed the Moonfleet songs and The Ballroom of Romance. The cover songs worked surprisingly well and brightened the atmosphere even further. Brother John felt a bit out of place; and The Mirror of the Soul and Bal Masqué had already been played four years ago at the same place. Anyway, it was a pleasant concert with a solid band performance and De Burgh’s impressive voice.

  1. Waiting for the Hurricane
  2. The Spirit of Man
  3. Up Here in Heaven
  4. Missing You
  5. The Traveller
  6. Ship to Shore
  7. The Mirror of the Soul
  8. The Same Sun
  9. The Escape
  10. Greater Love
  11. Already There
  12. The Fields of Agincourt
  13. Tender Hands
  14. Living on the Island
  15. Love and Time
  16. Summer Rain
  17. I’m Not Scared Anymore
  18. Borderline
  19. The Ballroom of Romance
  20. The Lady in Red
  21. Blue Bayou
  22. Let It Be
  23. Lady Madonna
  24. Long Train Running
  25. Africa
  26. Brother John
  27. Bal Masqué
  28. Don’t Pay the Ferryman
  29. High on Emotion
  30. The Snows of New York
  31. The Moonfleet Finale