From Track by Track

Track by Track – 10 – Nothing But the Blood of Jesus

I love this song. Not just my arrangement of it, but the song itself. I love old hymns in general, but this song is special to me. The inspiration for adding a non instrumental song to this record came from the band Lights & Motion. On their first album, the last song was the only song with lyrics and vocals and it was a wonderful surprise cap to the album.
For this album I wanted to do something similar, however I wanted it to be a reimagining of a song I loved. I almost accidentally stumbled on this song one day while playing it and I sang it in a different way than I normally did. In a flash I set up my mics, dialed in a tempo and laid down the guitar and vocals.
After adding in the strings, and a few other atmospheric elements, I was happy with the song. There isn’t much variation in it, however thats what I love about it. It’s beautiful in its simplicity, and with a low key arrangement, the message and heart of the song is allowed to really shine.

Track by Track – 09 – The Return Home

This song was the second single I released for this album. And has a special place in my heart. See, the brass and string riffs in the chorus section remind me of westerns. I love westerns, this appreciation was passed down to me by my father. I can’t tell you how many Saturday or Sunday afternoons I would come into the living room to see my Dad watching a move (well, parts of it at least, most of the time he would be napping) on TNT. Usually it would be some movie from the late 80’s or early 90’s (before my time) and I’d sit and watch with him.
One of our favorite genres were westerns. I loved the idea of a lone gunman arriving in town, clearing out the bad guys, getting the girl and changing his ways, or moving on to another town. The heroism and the awesomeness of the movie version of the Old West captivated me.
This song was my attempt to make a modern sounding western soundtrack. The bouncy, verse reminds me of an intense shoot out between our hero and the villain at the climax of the movie. Then at the chorus; triumphantly, and epically the hero returns to the town riding on his trusty steed with the villain in tow, drops the villain off at the jail, sweeps the girl onto his horse, kisses her and rides off into the sunset.

Track by Track – 08 – C183

Children 18:3 is one of my favorite bands. They are an awesome trio of siblings that made some of the best punk and roll I’ve ever heard. It’s an awesome blend of punk rock sensibilities and true rock and roll spirit. Sadly, they just released their last album.
This track is a tribute to them and their awesome body of work. No strings, no synth, no breaks. Just full steam guitars bass and drums, and a running time of 1:48 that still leaves you wanting a little more. Just like that first album.
Hope you like it!

Track by Track – 06 & 07 – Have Peace…For There Is Hope

I’m putting both of these songs together because they are two parts to the same story.
If I had to sum up this album in one word, it would be Peace. It’s the heart and soul of this work. It’s something many of us lack, we often become so overwhelmed with the worries and stress of our lives that we burry ourselves in fret-filled work. Like an over steeped tea bag, that dwelling can leave us bitter and broken.
However, there is hope.
Several years ago, I was in a situation where I really needed a miracle. I was laying in bed, running it through my mind. How is this ever going to be fixed? How do I get myself out of this massive hole I’d dug for myself. I couldn’t sleep. Every time I would close my eyes, they’d snap back open and I would stare at the ceiling. I laid there just staring, sinking into that darkness that often times feels like a warm blanket. I think our flesh likes worry, likes fretting. As if we say, “Well I can’t control the situation I’m in, but I can at least sit here and think up a way I CAN control it.”
After several house of tossing and turning and staring. I had a thought, hey dummy, why don’t you go try that prayer thing your parents are always talking about?
So I got up, grabbed my iPod and found a quite place and put on some worship music. It then started just pouring out all of the pent up frustrations and worry I had been feeling. I called out to God saying, “Where are you? This bible I claim to believe in says that you won’t see us forsaken. I’m feeling forsaken now!” Like a volcano I erupted with all of my thoughts, doubts, fears, and sorrow.
A little while later, I moved to just praise. Singing along loudly with the iPod. My anger and acusational tone gone, and just praise and thanks.
Then, I felt something in my spirit.
There is Hope:
It felt like Aloe on a sunburn. The cooling peace of God washed over me. I didn’t have my miracle, but it was like the burden of it had been removed from me. The burden still existed, but I was no longer carrying it, God was. I then went back to my room and sleep like a log.
Then next morning I had my miracle.
In the turbulent times and in the darkness, reach out to God. Let him bear your burdens, I can guarantee, he’s stronger than you can imagine. This track is a reflection of my Joy at watching God show off in my life. His miraculous intervention in this instance was the first time I had seen God intervene directly in my life. It changed my perspective on God, that he is the truest friend, the best father and he loves you!

Track by Track – 05 – Go

Right from the get go this song was fun to record. I love the little verse riff with the mirroring horns. Every time I listen to the little run I do a little dance in time with the hits.

I also got to incorporate some arpegiated synthesizers and my favorite organ sound to give the dance part a high octane kick.
The breakdown into the ending verse section with the high picked notes with the organ underbelly is almost reminiscent of The Who’s Baba O’Reilly (commonly known as Teenage Wasteland). I like that feel of a light driving sound with room for a fun riff.

Track by Track – 04 – Victory Us

“Beautiful harmonics, and bittersweet sounds and dreamy spice makes this instrumental music take you away to your dreams. I can imagine this track as a perfect match for travelling movie soundtrack. Perfect performance and production.”
– Music Eye Reviews
This was the first song I wrote for this album and kicked off the whole thing. Through this song I really learned how to manipulate software instruments, in fact the only “real” instrument you hear are the guitar parts. I loved working on this song.
It was also my first time using my Akai MPK, which proved itself invaluable in the process of recording the album.
Where did the name come from? Well the first person I played it for said that it sounded victorious. And so the name kinda stuck (after a little tweaking, of course).
I could imagine this track as the soundtrack to the opening credits of a little indie comedy.

Track by Track – 03 – Rest

Alright, time to take a break. At least from the driving fast rock music, and take a rest. What’s funny is that I wrote this song at a time in my life when I wasn’t getting much rest.

We were heavy into Easter prep at church and I was pulling late nights working on videos and the other media elements for the Sunday.
I had laid down the acoustic guitar parts, but didn’t really have much else. I was kinda stuck. One thing you’ll notice is that this song has the same riff the whole way through.
Even though there is a strumming guitar that comes in halfway through, that initial finger picking phrase is just repeated over and over again.
That happened one night while I was up waiting for some videos to render. I fired up Logic and began tweaking the different riffs and started adding drums and strings.
I promise you I had written more, but I couldn’t find a way to make those parts fit. When I made the decision to just simplify the song, the started working.
I believe I finished the song that night, and it’s one of my favorites from the album.

Track by Track – 02 – Bounce

I really like this song, mostly because I was able to get a software instrument to sound like an actual bassist picking up and down. Like all of the songs on this record, the first guitar riff you hear is what I had first. Everything is built on the spine of that driving bouncing up and down riff.
Midway through the track you get a taste of what is really my first time experimenting with multiple rhythms and melodies playing at once. See, I come from a background of pop punk and hardcore, both genres not really known for the diversity of musical elements.
For most of my life the music I’ve made has been heavily punk influenced. Let me explain what I mean. See, in punk music, which was a stylistic rebellion of music from the 70’s and 80’s where all of the musicians were playing something different.
Each musician would make room for the other players, and the blend of differing rhythms and melodies created the sound of those decades.
Then came punk, where every instrument hit every chord at the same time. The drums even hit with the guitars. This trend has even carried into modern hardcore where the kick drum is practically indistinguishable from the bass.
For this song I wanted to break out of my punk box and try to blend some different elements. I think I accomplished that. Especially when the song picks up, while the drums guitar and bass are in sync rhythmicly, there’s an almost contrasting brass and string line in there.
I was also able to do one of my favorite things, adding synth. The arpegiated lead synth pairs with the stripped down drums and the driving guitars giving the chorus part an almost cyclical feel, like a jump rope.

Track by Track – 01 – Modern Vintage

A little about this track. This was actually the second song I wrote for this album. It was pretty challenging to record.
I had the intro riff first, that came easy. However as any songwriter knows, it’s moving beyond that introductory riff or hook and filling in the rest of the skeleton of the song that is a challenge.
The strings and brass was probably the most challenging part of the song. Getting all of those notes to match with the little guitar run took hours.
After laying down the drums with my little Akai MPK I was faced with the challenge of transitioning from the unison hits, (I guess we can call it the chorus) back into the introductory chunk.  This is where the strings and brass really help to make that transition, less sudden.
Since the big electric guitars have a little breather before that bluesy riff has to come in, I was able to squeeze one more brass run to make that transition.
I love the seemingly bi-polar switch between the two musical themes. On one side you have this tight, controlled vintage big band sound. Then bam! Into a modern sounding, loose rock and roll feel. Ultimately culminating in a pounding operatic crescendo.
Thus the name Modern Vintage, the celebration of what’s come before with the urge to grab what is coming next.