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  • Escalation

    I just gave a bunch of opinions about song writing in another thread and I feel like I should present a song of my own to either validate or invalidate those opinions.

    First time I've presented something specifically for critique in many many years so -without further ado:

    Escalation
    http://www.last.fm/music/Shadows+of+Birds/boysandgirls/Escalation

    It's just a pop, it's just a little pop
    but it paid for a pop that took a life
    someone you never knew and now you never will, alright!
    Escalation, there's always someone with a bigger stick
    and just as much pride, no one wins

    so why would you feed a machine that feeds machines with lives?

    You could build things, you could love
    you can breathe, you can lie beneath the sun
    as the clouds roll by, so why oh why would you choose to fire a gun?
    Escalation, there's always someone with a bigger stick
    now we can irradiate the world so that there's nothing left alive
    then a second time, then a third alright!

    Why would you feed a machine that feeds machines with lives?

    If you could pretend that the things you do matter
    maybe you're a part of the world, you're a part of the news
    the things on the television screen can be traced back to you
    the things you believe, what you raise your hand for, what your actions support
    you can build things, you can love
    you can love

    It's just a BANG, no one gets hurt, but they do and much worse,
    because the monster that you fed to get your kicks with your friends
    takes a lot of people living and leaves them dead
    You can build things, you can love
    you can breathe you can lie beneath the sun
    as the clouds roll by so why oh why would you choose?

    Why would you feed a machine that's run on fear intolerance and pain?
    Pay tribute to the means of a hundred civil wars?
    Why would you feed a machine that kills human beings?
    Aaron McDonald | Comic Book Music (and not comic book music)

  • #2
    Hmm. That's interesting. At first when I started listening I wasn't quite sure if this was going to be any good. Thought the guitar playing sounded more like something I'd do (and I can't play the guitar, lol), but then it seemed to hit its stride and it sounded good.

    I like this song. It's sort of messy, the quality...but I can't talk cause my quality sucks.

    I quite like the lyrics when combined with the music too. Interesting...yeah. Good work, man! Thumbs up from me.
    All things must pass...

    Comment


    • #3
      I used to disregard sonic fidelity all together, thinking that I personally love listening to old songs that were recorded in the twenties. But I've recently realized that to some people it can be downright distracting, so I've put some effort into improving my mixing skills.

      So if you've got a minute - could you elaborate on the "messy quality"?
      Aaron McDonald | Comic Book Music (and not comic book music)

      Comment


      • #4
        I used to disregard sonic fidelity all together, thinking that I personally love listening to old songs that were recorded in the twenties. But I've recently realized that to some people it can be downright distracting, so I've put some effort into improving my mixing skills.

        So if you've got a minute - could you elaborate on the "messy quality"?


        I think the recording is fine.

        It's nothing a guitar tuner couldn't fix

        Comment


        • #5
          ahahah.. really?

          Okay, there are a few things that could be causing that.
          1: The neck of my guitar is warped.
          2: The chords I'm using for the verses are root/third/seventh triads and the fingering makes it easy to bend the notes out of tune.
          3: The guitar is out of tune

          I don't think it's number 3.
          But that would explain why I couldn't find the vocal melody. I ended up saying f**k it, and singing it with a cold.
          Now that you say that, I can hear it. I think I've just grown accustomed to it.

          A new guitar neck was a few places down on my gear list.. I think it just moved up to the top. Thanks for that incite, sir.
          Aaron McDonald | Comic Book Music (and not comic book music)

          Comment


          • #6
            ahahah.. really?

            Okay, there are a few things that could be causing that.
            1: The neck of my guitar is warped.
            2: The chords I'm using for the verses are root/third/seventh triads and the fingering makes it easy to bend the notes out of tune.
            3: The guitar is out of tune

            I don't think it's number 3.
            But that would explain why I couldn't find the vocal melody. I ended up saying f**k it, and singing it with a cold.
            Now that you say that, I can hear it. I think I've just grown accustomed to it.

            A new guitar neck was a few places down on my gear list.. I think it just moved up to the top. Thanks for that incite, sir.


            The song is great, would be a shame to ruin it (and future songs) with a knackered guitar

            Comment


            • #7
              ahahah.. really?

              Okay, there are a few things that could be causing that.
              1: The neck of my guitar is warped.
              2: The chords I'm using for the verses are root/third/seventh triads and the fingering makes it easy to bend the notes out of tune.
              3: The guitar is out of tune

              I don't think it's number 3.
              But that would explain why I couldn't find the vocal melody. I ended up saying f**k it, and singing it with a cold.
              Now that you say that, I can hear it. I think I've just grown accustomed to it.

              A new guitar neck was a few places down on my gear list.. I think it just moved up to the top. Thanks for that incite, sir.


              The guitar is definitely out of tune. Whether that is due to the neck not being quite right or just simply being out, I can't say. But it is definitely distracting, much more so than any vocal intonation issues. If the vocals became a problem at any point it was around the 4:30 mark, when it sounded like you ran out of gas.

              Other than that I have no major issue with the song.
              Don't listen to Justin.
              LCK - 2/21/2012

              Comment


              • #8
                Just went and listened to a few more of your tunes (or partials if that was all I could dig up) and there is definitely a persistent tuning issue. If your guitar is the problem, I really hope you can dig another one up because the songs are very good, too good to have such an obvious problem holding them back.
                Don't listen to Justin.
                LCK - 2/21/2012

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think the subject matter is interesting, and the lyric has some definite qualities to it.

                  For my taste though, it's a bit too on-the-nose, plus it's more cerebral than emotional like you're thinking about this problem rather than feeling it.

                  There are certain artists who pull this kind of thing off beautifully. Michael Franti comes to mind. He really entices you in to his dialectic because he does it in an honest heartfelt way.

                  Anyway, that's where I think you could maybe improve on a little what you've got now.
                  “Good Vibrations” was probably a good record but who's to know? You had to play it about 90 bloody times to even hear what they were singing about. What’s next? Rock opera? —Pete Townshend, Melody Maker Interview, 1966.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    It's not a songwriting issue, of course, but I find myself needing to join the chorus, here...

                    Some of the guitars are definitely out of tune with each other and the bass. The 'lead' guitar is particularly out.

                    Which is a shame, as this strikes me as a song with a lot going for it.

                    I think your idea about keeping things raw is good and suits your overall style -- but getting things in tune will not hurt that raw feel. There may well be intonation issues with one or more of your instruments but it looks like a more pervasive problem than that. Happily, your vocals seem to not suffer from grievous pitch problems, so this seems like something you can probably work out with a little attention and care. Do you use an electronic tuner?
                    .

                    music and social links | recent listening

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Sorry, I should've elaborated when I said "messy" in my initial response. I meant that the instrumentation just didn't sound "neat", and as others have now confirmed, the guitars are out of tune (or something like that anyway). Since I'm not an instrumentalist or technical musician by any means, I don't tend to notice or listen for specifics like if a guitar is out of tune...I just tend to feel that something in the song is "messy" or "out".
                      All things must pass...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wow.. I've never been a stickler for tunning. But it appears I might need to be. If it was within a few cents it was good enough for me.
                        I just checked the intonation and it's way out of wack (F on the low E is 25cts sharp). I adjusted it a few months ago and haven't thought about it since. I'm overdue for a string change anyway (and a neck change).

                        Another possibility is that the bass is all the guitar pitched down an octave - I think it's probably a combination of all of the above, though.

                        I'm glad I posted this and that was pointed out to me. You'd think I'd have heard it myself, but my ear has always been geared toward relativity.. never the notes, always the distance between the notes.
                        Thanks all!


                        LCK - I hear what you mean. It's due to a lot of things, in part a simple matter of resources. I'm drummer, Guitarist, Singer, Songwriter, Recording engineer, Mixer, Producer and promoter.. It's a balancing act of where to spend time and energy. In part it's a balancing act of the content..
                        Present the idea coherently while remaining Ernest but not naive, as not preachy as possible.. and try to sidestep assumptions or preconceptions about it's author while retaining the point of view.. and in part it's just another area to explore..

                        If you're interested - here's something seven or eight years old from my moody poet days:

                        Let
                        http://www.last.fm/music/Shadows+of+Birds/This+is+a+Record/Let

                        Let the pillars fall down, let the sun burn out
                        there's so much I'd like to say but the words are just a hiding place
                        let the worst of us free, let women be raped
                        let all gods children converge at once and let love be devoured by faith
                        Let the universe fold, let all of history be untold
                        let all my fears fall on the ears of every living soul
                        let them not understand, let them know what I really am
                        let them know when I lie and laugh when I cry and be warm when I am cold
                        Let saints be damned, let saints be damned
                        let misery be a part of me and let it be plain as the desert is sand
                        may I always be alone, may I always search for a home
                        not out of choice or divinities voice but as a simple matter of fact
                        let the canvas be blank, let the words be estranged
                        let me sit here for days with nothing to say and let the world not care anyway
                        drain Euterpe's well, put everything up for sale
                        may you all know humility and of course deny me that as well


                        I suppose it's still a bit on the nose, but I was more into painting images back then..
                        Thanks again, all.


                        P.S. - I just read back those lyrics.. my goodness I was morose. >.<
                        Aaron McDonald | Comic Book Music (and not comic book music)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          let me sit here for days with nothing to say and let the world not care anyway


                          This I adore, I must say. Yes, it's all very morose and "damn the world I'm a poet and no one understands me", but that line I love.
                          All things must pass...

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            At first this song caught me off guard, then everything kicked in an fell together. I really dig it. A couple comments. Why call it "Escalation"? Your "feed the Machines" lines are repetitive so
                            that seems to me to be worth considering. Also there is a spot past mid way that the Vox drop out, I wonder why you did this. Keep sharing

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Thanks for listening.
                              I think the title might have come first and I didn't put a whole lot of thought it into it.
                              The Vox dropping out - I frankly just like playing with space. I don't think it works quite as well in mp3 as it does in 24bit wav.
                              Aaron McDonald | Comic Book Music (and not comic book music)

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