Still Shameless: Walking Away 2021 (Draft rework)

©2021 Michael Raven

EDIT: I just realized that I was so tired that I forgot to do the proper chorus from the original version. Silly Rabbit… The song will definitely change now that I realize this error. Leaving the post up anyway just to show how stupid I can get at times.

Here is a rework of a song originally written around 1985, last recorded live in 1987. This is a work in progress and is incomplete. There are no vocals. Current arrangement is mine and does not entirely respect the 1987 recording. This song was actually (I am pretty certain) my first complete song written entirely by me while I was trying to first teach myself how to play bass guitar. There were other lyrical efforts and other “arrangements” before I knew how to play anything and thought I might be a singer.

I had nothing going on tonight and it’s been on my mind to play around with some of the old Shadowspawn songs (and not just those, but a few other older songs as well) for quite some time now to see what I might do with them. I couldn’t tell you for certain what the guitarist did — he did a lot of noodling on most of our songs, so it’s hard to say what he was thinking. So the guitars only passingly resemble what was in that 1987 recording. What you hear in this draft reworking may not be the final version, as I am just playing around still. Here is what you hear and where it might go… All instruments are sequenced by me.

Song section info:

  • 0:00-0:26 m intro | chorus intro w/o vox
  • 0:26-0:44 m verse
  • 0:44-1:01 m chorus
  • 1:01-1:19 m verse 2
  • 1:19-1:36 m chorus 2

Planned:

  • bridge
  • Verse 3
  • Chorus 3
  • Outro

Collaborative music call out

©2021 Michael Raven

It feels weird to do a “call out”, but all this reminiscing about past musical projects over the past few weeks has me itching a bit to do some music with someone besides recording all by my lonesome. Distance does add a layer of difficulty, but I’m not sure that is much more than a perceived problem and quite possibly not a real problem.

Primarily, I am looking for someone with a decent singing voice and a talent for writing lyrics, but someone with other musical skills is welcome to ping me as well. Requirements as far as I am concerned are minimal:

If you are a singer, I would need a clean vocal recording at some point. Something without too much white noise and easy to normalize (louder is better, as long as there is no clipping). Pops and “ess” might be something I could engineer out, but less is better. Ideal would be something done with a digital audio workbench (DAW) along the lines of Raptor, Cakewalk, Reason, or the like. Second best would be Audacity (freeware), but I’ll take recordings off your phone if MP3/MP4/WAV/OGG or another standardized audio format, provided they are mostly “clean”. Because I can slice and dice my way to better timing during mastering and mixdown, even being perfectly on-beat is not required. I may ask for additional audio for overdubs/backup vocals (even if it is nominally the same, there are still slight imperfections and modifications made unless someone is highly trained — and even then). The main rule is you have to be a better vocalist than I am — if we’re both as awful as I am, I’m not sure there is a point to collaborating. I don’t want to embarrass either of us.

If you are a musician, I can work with similar arrangements, but some things are more difficult than others. For instance — it is easier to sequence the drums than it is to overdub something. The most ideal situation for another musician is to give me a file in Propellerhead Reason (one of those DAWs mentioned above), but I know not everyone uses it. I haven’t tried, but a .midi file may work as well for sequenced and keyboard material. The sound profile might be a tad different if sequenced, but I can try to match it to one of the virtual instruments I have on hand. If synthesized, knowing the wave-form profile might help with generating a similar sound. But I’m willing to try to slice and dice, and add post-effects prior to mixdown to clean up or modify the sound — even if recorded as an MP4 over a smart phone.

I fully realize I may get zero responses on this, but I thought I’d reach out in case one of you has a similar itch that needs to be scratched. I would love to do a remote band where the raw Reason files exchanged hands between a few musicians, but that seems like a pipe dream. I’ll settle for one or two songs with one or two other people.

Let me know in the comments or on my contact page if you are interested in trying to musically collaborate over the internet. Let me know your experience in working with digital recordings, what instruments you play (or vocals), and what method you intend to record on.

Additionally, if you are interested in doing a collaborative effort with spoken word, where I write some background music or ambient sounds (and you write the poetry and speak it), please let me know you are interested in that as well and give me an idea of what you have in mind.

Daughter of the bride of the son of shameless—

©2021 Michael Raven

You might be excused if you thought I was done with these absurd little “gifts” (note: “gift” in German is “poison”) I post, but I assure you, I am not entirely done.

Here is a side project I was pursuing back in 2005 that I called “Vaudeville”. All real instruments aside from the drums, which were sequenced or manipulated, hacked and sliced loops (I forget which). More proof that I probably shouldn’t sing, but I left it on the complete track — just to prove that fact.

Myrrh is not the first time I have used the title for a song. This, fortunately for you, is just a clip of the intro to the song and the only vocals you have to listen to is the pretentious talky bit at the beginning of the song. The song still sticks in my head, so I may go back and revisit the darned thing one of these days and record it properly. There is another section to the song that sounded almost middle eastern, but I’ll spare you because the singing was… eesh. Anyway, I don’t mind admitting that the initial guitar rift (before the rest of the instruments roll in) was lifted from “Rescue” by Echo and the Bunnymen. Shrug. I’m just admitting what many musicians refuse to admit. Anyway, the song was not the best lyrically or vocally, but I did like most of the instrumental bits (except for the bad few notes I hit on the guitar in the lead). I’d pick up the tempo a bit if I redid it, make it a bit snappier. Fun times for all.

Chrome, I hate to admit, has my vocals and there was no meaningful way to clip it to avoid such travesties of sound. It is another tune that, were I to re-record it, I would up the tempo a smidgen (5-15 BPM is my guess) and I would desperately seek out someone else to sing it). I’m not sure who my influence was on this one, although the lyrics were probably inspired by “Rust” my EotB. I was still well into my cups at this period, hanging on the precipice still before falling into utter alcoholism, so most of the thinking from this time period is vague. I vaguely recall thinking that I should have a cyberpunk dystopic feel to the lyrics.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the tidbit — if only to wince and laugh.

Bride of the Son of Shameless Self-Promotion

©2021 Michael Raven

Back from the dead: Shadowspawn

The never-ending horror continues of my myriad efforts in trying to create music. And, lucky you, you are about to be tortured further with the first band I was in that actually got some gigs while we were together. I had been in a few others up to that, most without band names, doing highly intellectual stuff like a cover of “C is for Cookie” in a punk theme, or an equally abysmal punk rendition of “Peter Pumpkin Eater”, or a song that sounded like it was named after the local transit authority, MTC, but really stood for “My Thick Cock” (it was not intended to be taken literally, as you can tell by the other song choices). One band I was in did a cover of Three Imaginary Boys, by The Cure. Another covered 10.15 Saturday Night, followed by White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane (that was a weird transition).

A lot of it was garage or punk, highly influenced by the local darlings: The Replacements and Hüsker Dü.

Most of my efforts were always towards forming a band more in line with Echo and the Bunnymen, The Cure, Joy Division, Sisters of Mercy, New Order and whatnot.

Shadowspawn (originally slated to be called “Killjoy”, but voted down after a lengthy debate), was the first to get anywhere. Here is a playlist from the very first paying gig I did — the cover, unfortunately went entirely to pay the soundman who did a mediocre job of engineering the gig for us.

I wrote all of the lyrics for Shadowspawn. Unfortunately, I was not lead singer material — even by my own estimation (although I tried many times). Michael (from the first installment of this series) sang and played drums for the band and I sang backup vocals, which I could manage. Mostly. Anyway, I was usually the core songwriter (as the bassist, figure that one out), often coming up with the progressions and the lyrics, handing the handwritten notes off to Michael, who would listen to my yodeling on to get a feel for my intent and then make it sound good. The guitarist (then, Gypsy, but now goes by Brian) noodled around to fill in the empty spaces.

While our sound got more refined near the end and sounded more like our stated influences, this was the whole of our repertoire for this setlist. We were uneven and a bit nervous, so there are some really bad notes in there, and we were just starting to get comfortable with each other’s style (and it shows).

Stairwell was written prior to the band forming, when Brian and I were toying with the idea of starting a band. I barely knew the kid at the time, but we had a class together and he liked the music I was introducing him to, which was more classic rock and folk. It had a lengthy and tedious intro initially, and it was eyerolling in the lyrical department (pretentious AF). I had a “vision” about climbing down a length of stairs to the sea, where dead things washed up and I felt all morose while getting splashed with dark seawater. I think I was going for a Cthulhu eldritch horror feel and it came off as campy. Slightly embarrassed by those lyrics, and you ought to know that not much embarrasses me when it comes to my writing.

Tomorrow’s Day was written before I met Brian, and involved playing chords on a bass, which isn’t as hideous as it might seem. I don’t recall what my motive for the song was at the time, but I think I was influenced by Sanity Assassin (Bauhaus) and Interzone (Joy Division) when I started writing out the bass lines and lyrics to go with it.

I really wish Words had gotten more soundman love. It was one of our later pieces before the gig and I was proud of the lyrics and the results. I cringe when I hear those bad bass notes (my strap had come off the bass early in the song and I kept bending the string trying to hold the bass with my pinky, which is why I hit some sharp notes). I also cringe at the idea of a the reflection of a moon on someone’s eyelash in the lyrics, but I was young and stupid. The song was about being alone, suicidal, and hating on the world.

Requiescat in Pace was influenced by Rozz Williams (C. Death) and Peter Murphy (Bauhaus). I think Michael added a few lines to the lyrics and the dissonance in the bass line was intentional (I used the devil’s tritone to create dis-ease). I got to shout the title at the end. I was happy I could do that. I think we were trying to get across the idea of wanting to be with a dead lover with implied necrophilia (without outright declaring it). Or — at least — I may have tried to get that across. Chances are, the other Mike would have balked at such a thing if he realized what I was doing because…

The song Trips was the only song I sang as lead singer because the lead singer of the band had a hard time singing about whores, condoms, and fucking in cheap hotels. It was another piece I had written, largely in protest over some news story expose that grossed me out about business men and politicians whoring around with everyone and everything. Those activities wouldn’t have bothered me so much except that the expose was about conservative Christian men who used religion as a bludgeon on everyone else they felt was immorally underneath them — only to go do the very things they called other people sinners for doing. I modeled the singing after the Aston boys in Gene Loves Jezebel, mostly because I didn’t sound as awful when I didn’t try to sound good. It was fun. At more than one gig after this one, I would throw out condoms at the folks — and oddly — there were none to be found after we played.

Walking Away was yet another piece written when I first learned to play bass, well before Shadowspawn had formed, just after I realized I was no Simon LeBon, or even Robert Smith and decided I needed to learn how to play an instrument if I wanted to be in a band. I had recorded it with a friend who played drums on the school auditorium’s four-track recorder and overdubbed the vocals. That tape is long lost, but this survives and was the better recording anyway.

The final song is actually waste, in my opinion. A joke gone terribly bad. PGR is a mangled interpretation of Peter Gunn. We needed to fill up a half hour set and we kept it in because Brian could do all kinds of things with feedback and flange to have fun. For the record, he looked at the time much like Gary Oldman did in Dracula — years before that movie was made: dark, circle-rim sunglasses, with curly, back length hair and the beginnings of a beard. So, Brian got to do his antics (splits, back bends, feedback, jumping around) while we looked stoic and unconcerned. Eyeroll. But it seemed fun at the time.

Any unevenness between recordings is because I was trying to digitally “fix” what I could out of a very poor recording. But Chris has asked me to share it with him to satisfy his curiosity and I had time to tweak with everything today. So you can thank him or throw things at him, depending on how you feel about having this aberration appear in your feed.

Son of Shameless Self-Promotion

©2021 Michael Raven

I have mentioned several times how I have played a wide variety of music over the years, from more old-school goth to post-punk alternative to garage punk to straight rock to ambient to dance music. I even loaned my keyboard skills to a friend’s Christian pop band at one time as the token pagan musician for about 5-6 songs in the 20+ song set (every band should have one in the spirit of being fair).

Well, now’s your opportunity to see what I might have sounded like as a folk musician.

Two Penny Dreadful was a folk band inspired by drunken Irish Pub hopping. Except, I had never wanted to be an “Irish” band. I had wanted to play in a folksy equivalent to The Wonder Stuff, poking fun at everyone (and most especially at myself). The other musician, Tucker, wanted something a little more Irish inspired and notably less silly, which is why I we ended up calling ourselves Two Penny Dreadful when I really wanted to be known as Half Penny Dreadful, declaring that I’d be surprised if anyone would pay half a copper coin for us, forget about two whole ones. But, he was insistent that a duo should have the word “two” and then he pushed for more serious folk music — with Irish influences (hence, “Carlow”).

Our first song as a duo was “Whiskey Tonight”, which gives you an idea of the themes I had preferred to pursue: a drunken loser of a fuckwad (e.g., me) who was only going downward in life (pretty much a true story by that time). I wrote a chunk of the lyrics on that one; and most definitely the chorus. I had low hopes for us, and that song basically scratched all the itches I wanted to scratch.

“Exiles Jig/Follow Me Down to Carlow” is a traditional Irish set, arranged in a manner more punk than traditional. Live, it was even more rowdy and, honestly better than this recording. Of the four tracks I am sharing from that time, it is probably my least favorite. I would have preferred if we had recorded “Black is the Colour” or “The Blacksmith” for our “Irish tune”, but it was not meant to be. I think we rushed production on it, which is why some of the levels are off.

“Don’t Turn Away” was a song I had written before we became a duo and it was deemed acceptably serious enough and the lyrics “folksy” enough to be added. There were some modifications to the lyrics afterwards, but the general theme stayed the same and the bulk was mine.

“Re: Saturday (Let It Shine)” was a song that I wrote between rehearsals and brought to see if it would go over, which it did — without many lyrics aside from the chorus. It was one of the more collaborative pieces we recorded. The song was originally inspired by faint wisps of what I could recall of a Sugar Ray song (yes, that song), but ended up sounding nothing at all like the original through the fog of faulty memory. It was deemed suitably not-stupid (I wrote a ton of stupid songs on purpose, some got approval for play, many did not).

Luck for everyone, you don’t even have to pay a half-penny for this cassette 4-track, 4-song demo that garnered zero gigs, although we had a steady biweekly gig at a café which was always well-attended. I swear it was because I would interrupt Tucker’s banter with “Owner of a Lonely Heart” and “About a Girl”, songs that would drive Tucker to scream. But it might have been the old children’s tune without an end, “Rattlin Bog“, at least how we played it (it went on for a full 45 minutes one session before we tired of it).

Anyway… All apologies.

[EDIT: the title of the playlist is the same as the cassette and comes from “The Virginian”, and old western novel. The main character, a gunslinger, says it as he’s being insulted in one scene.]

Shameless self-promotion [audio]

©2021 Michael Raven

I’ve decided to make a migrate a few music tracks from the time period 1991 to the present on SoundCloud from “Private” to “Public”. If you want to torture yourself, head on over. Currently includes a cover of the Mission song “For Ever More”, recorded in 1991 using Cakewalk and a DAT (and sung by a friend with a far superior voice to my own), tunes from an ambient effort I put out in 2005, as well as a few other tidbits.

Also, keep in mind that, while I haven’t added anything lately, I do have some spoken word available at Anchor.

urðr galdr // sceadugenga

  1. urðr galdr //
  2. skin pop //
  3. orchid //
  4. familiar/

Butterfly on a Wheel // The Mission

The story is this song was written for Julianne Regan (All About Eve) after a breakup Wayne watched unfold.

Silver and gold and it's growing cold
Autumn leaves lay as thick as thieves
Shivers down your spine chill you to the bone
'Cause the mandolin wind is the melody that turns
Your heart to stone

The heat of your breath carving shadows on the mist
Every angel has the wish that she's never been kissed

A broken dream haunting in your sleep
And hiding in your smile a secret you must keep
Love cuts you deep

Love breaks the wings of a butterfly on a wheel

Don’t Answer Me // Alan Parsons Project

Feeling a little APP today. I would apologize, but I don’t feel all that sorry about it.

Don't answer me
Don't break the silence, don't let me win
Don't answer me
Stay on your island, don't let me in
Run away and hide from everyone
Can we change the things we've said and done?

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