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A Realization


Carvel

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Hey everyone, I've lingered around this forum for a while and just got around to registering and posting some feedback on others' songs. I'm 22 and I've been writing songs and playing guitar/bass for about 2.5 years now. In the last months before graduating college I decided to record 3 songs, previously I had just recorded jams with friends of mine.

This is probably my most polished song of what I recorded, though I still have a lot of room to improve as a singer, musician and songwriter. But I've had a lot of people tell me they like the music I'm making and I definitely feel the drive to continue.

 

http://soundcloud.com/joseph-flay/a-realization

 

Thanks for any feedback and critiques you might have, there's an abundance of talent and wisdom on this forum!

 

Edit: Lyrics:

I've been running for so long,

God only knows from what.

I've been searching for a home,

Instead I found a rut.

But I know what I saw when I looked in your eyes,

An affection that made the wrong seem right.

 

Hey, yeah, we all want to live our lives.

Hey, yeah, we need an end to all this strife.

Hey, yeah.

 

I've been lying for so long,

I can only guess at why.

Honesty was my only goal,

But I guess you have to try.

I have learned that all the world's a stage,

But how do we know what role we need to play?

 

Ooh, how I wanted you.

But what do we have when all our dreams come true?

I said what do we have when all our dreams come true?

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Cool catchy rhythm guitar work in the verse and the chorus melody (enhanced with some nice thick vox) definitely got my motor running.

 

Some suggestions.

 

1) The electric guitar in the chorus is too distracting. Either change to a cooler tone, alter the melody or, my preference, both.

 

2) That chorus was the best part of the song, so I'd suggest you do a complete chorus the second time around instead of a fake-out solo thing. Play to your strengths, don't hide them.

 

3) You use a lot of lot of cliches.

 

running for so long

searching for a home

looked into your eyes

wrong seem right

world's a stage

role we play

dreams come true

 

A couple well placed cliches are fine, preferable even, but this many leaves a generic taste. What are you really trying to say? Why should I care? What specific, small details can you give me to help put me into the character's shoes?

 

4) I've done my share of putting "strife" into key parts of songs and poems, so I'm with you on that one. But it was a mistake every time I tried it and I think the same is true here. Give me something more approachable, that you would actually say to someone.

 

All in all, it is a solid effort and I look forward to your contributions. :thu:

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Hey man, that's a great critique, some really valuable insights that I definitely have to step away from the song to see.

 

1. I upmixed the lead guitar and downmixed the vocals on the chorus because I wasn't sure about the quality of the vocals while I thought it was one of the better lead guitar sections I've recorded. Experimenting with tone and effects is definitely something I want to try with, but I wanted to ask what you'd think about putting 2 choruses in the song, and have the first be a bit more stripped down with "thick vox" and bring in the lead guitar on the second one?

 

2. I agree with you, I kind of considered the "fake-out solo thing" a bridge, and it's really meant to showcase the bass in that part but it got a little lost in the mix. I havn't had more than 1 chorus in any of my songs, and I think your insight that this is my "strongest section" will prove valuable when I write more songs and/or go back and re-record the handful I currently have.

 

3. Honestly, I kept it generic and what I considered accessible by design in order to fit the chord progression. However, I do think one of the themes of the lyrics which my title tries to emphasize is what means more, a dream or its realization. The character, John anyyoungman, searches for his dreams and creates an image of himself that he wants to attain, but falls short either due to lack of trying or what I call the traps of youth (girls, drugs, or other wise inefficient/irrational behavior). The last line is sort of questioning whether it's so important to realize these dreams or goals, or just to have them and be progressing towards something, and maybe the traps or pitstops along the way are all a part of that progression.

Either way though, I generally do try to avoid cliches, and I'm not sure if they help me achieve the effect I'm going for here or not.

4. It's funny you say that because I tried to re-record the chorus with a few different lyrics and they just didn't mesh with the vocal melody or my voice didn't sound as good singing them. But, everything you said is true and I'll definitely keep that in mind in the future.

 

Once again, thanks for a great critique.

 

Edit: Just saw your post digg, I think you and Oswlek touched on some of the same (and very valuable!) things. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on adding a second chorus featuring the lead guitar (perhaps with a different tone or dynamic to it), while keeping the first chorus a bit more minimal. The structure would be Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge End Verse. Or maybe bridge into the chorus? Also, I appreciate the compliment on my voice, I'm quite new to singing and still am hesitant to sing around others, I'm sure as my confidence grows so will my ability.

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The idea of a more subdued first chorus might work, but you'd have to be careful with it since the tune starts so upbeat from the outset. If it works, you end up with something really cool, like the chorus of "Ghost of a Chance" by Rush, but it doesn't always work so well.

 

Personally, I don't think you need to bring it down much, just change what the lead guitar is doing and use a cooler tone that doesn't step on the vox so much.

 

As for your story, just dig deeper. I think it is Marshall that is fond of saying, "tell universal truths with individual stories". When you paint too broad, you lose a lot of clarity and emotional impact. Instead, tell me something personal about this character, some details about what they see or how they look or how they act.

 

Rereading, I do like the final two lines. There is some depth in it and a nice twist on the cliche. But I'd rethink the entire approach of the verses and try to bring the character to life more.

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Good stuff, I really enjoyed it. I'll add that you need to watch your timing when playing to the drum program - it's off here and there, especially at the start. Also, you have a whole stereo spectrum at your disposal, and your producer buddy uses it well with the vocal tracks. But, the main guitar sounds "small" because it's always on one dry track in the center.

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Good stuff, I really enjoyed it. I'll add that you need to watch your timing when playing to the drum program - it's off here and there, especially at the start. Also, you have a whole stereo spectrum at your disposal, and your producer buddy uses it well with the vocal tracks. But, the main guitar sounds "small" because it's always on one dry track in the center.

 

 

I found this comment really interesting, I know very little about the technical end of producing, but I understand a lot of the end effects that production techniques generate. On this song (and most of our songs actually), we add the drum programming last. My general recording pattern is: Rhythm Guitar -> Vocals -> Bass -> Lead Guitar -> Drums. I'd be interested in knowing what others use, especially from people who record actual drums also.

 

Also: Ghost of a Chance is an amazing song! I'm glad a fellow Rush fan likes my music, even if I don't possess a fraction of the technical ability those 3 have lol.

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I found this comment really interesting, I know very little about the technical end of producing, but I understand a lot of the end effects that production techniques generate. On this song (and most of our songs actually), we add the drum programming last. My general recording pattern is: Rhythm Guitar -> Vocals -> Bass -> Lead Guitar -> Drums. I'd be interested in knowing what others use, especially from people who record actual drums also.


Also: Ghost of a Chance is an amazing song! I'm glad a fellow Rush fan likes my music, even if I don't possess a fraction of the technical ability those 3 have lol.

 

 

Whether or not I sequence the drums first, I always record to at least a basic loop. Otherwise you get that slightly off sound when you add drums after recording everything else.

 

In regards to the guitar during the chorus, it's a little too bluesy / minor for the vocal. Try playing something but using the major pentatonic instead of minor (same shape 3 frets down).

 

I love the high "ooh"s / guitar parts around 1.25. I'd like to hear the chorus one more time ebfore the song ends.

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Thanks for the response, Barry, I'll definitely look into recording to a loop, I think it could help some of the timing issues you guys have pointed out. And thanks for the chorus guitar suggestion! I'm not musically-trained and my playing generally eschews the technical/virtuoso, but I definitely have a lot to learn about how to create the right feel for a song, I'll check out how playing it 3 frets down sounds.

I also appreciate the vocal melody suggestion, Monkey, and laughed at the combination of your avatar and username!

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The performance was a tad off, but I totally saw what you were going for.

 

Lyrically speaking, it's unimaginative but that's fine. The only thing I'll say is there's very little to separate this from everything else in the world - I'd take that into consideration as there are many people in the world who are just like you only better.

 

This could play on the radio (if the performance were better and the station played this type of music) but I don't think it would make any kind of impression. Take Jessie J's Domino - generic pop but it has a degree of imagination and identity with the opening line 'I'm feeling sexy and free' and 'knock me down just like a domino'.

 

Reiteration:

 

Lyrically unimaginative but good. Needs more to stick out and be more striking.

 

 

 

Song is fine but nothing new or striking.

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Hey Lord, I think your feedback is pretty spot on. This is the 3rd song I've recorded, and I was going for something that was accessible, poppy, straight-forward even. I've been a writer for far longer than I've been a musician, and I've definitely had some more "imaginative" or strange lyrical endeavors than this one lol. Honestly, if I went back, fixed some of the issues you guys pointed out and was able to get this on a radio station, I'd be through the roof, even if it didn't make too much of an impression (which I think you're right about).

I have a lot of different influences and music that I've liked and learned, from Captain Beefheart, Velvet Underground, Joy Division to bands like Nirvana, The Killers, and R.E.M. I think as I progress I'll be able to draw on a lot more of these and combine them in a way to develop my own style. I'm very much still figuring out what I think is cool and how I want to sound. Thanks so much for your help as I continue to figure out who I am as a songwriter

 

Also, I'll be posting my other 2 songs in the near future, which might not be as polished or catchy as this one, but I think have more elements that separate them from "everything else in the world" so I definitely look forward to your input when I do so.

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Cool catchy rhythm guitar work in the verse and the chorus melody (enhanced with some nice thick vox) definitely got my motor running.


Some suggestions.


1) The electric guitar in the chorus is too distracting. Either change to a cooler tone, alter the melody or, my preference, both.


2) That chorus was the best part of the song, so I'd suggest you do a complete chorus the second time around instead of a fake-out solo thing. Play to your strengths, don't hide them.


3) You use a lot of lot of cliches.


running for so long

searching for a home

looked into your eyes

wrong seem right

world's a stage

role we play

dreams come true


A couple well placed cliches are fine, preferable even, but this many leaves a generic taste. What are you really trying to say? Why should I care? What specific, small details can you give me to help put me into the character's shoes?


4) I've done my share of putting "strife" into key parts of songs and poems, so I'm with you on that one. But it was a mistake every time I tried it and I think the same is true here. Give me something more approachable, that you would actually say to someone.


All in all, it is a solid effort and I look forward to your contributions.
:thu:

 

Ignore all of this advice and anyone else that picks on your lyrics. People round here dwell on lyrics too much often missing the point that a song is a collage of interesting sounds not showcase for original words.

 

Also, some of these guys have gotta be jealous of your natural ability to craft enjoyable hookey songs. I certainly am.

 

You have it going on in a big way: Keep doing what you're doing cause you're onto something here.

 

Some People obsess about big bad cliches. Who gives a frig about cliches. Does the song sound cool? Yes. That's all that matters. Your word choices here are spot-on and absolutely serve the purpose of the song. This songs not about saying something deep. It's about feeling good with sunshine on your face. And the words you use enhance that feeling and certainly don't distract from it: So I says the lyrics is good.

 

There's a coherant sense of purpose going on here with a nice flair added by those jangly and somewhat off-kilter guitar lines. That is very rudimentary playing there - but delivered with zest. It reminds me of what the guitars sounded like on Pavements early stuff before those guys got really good at playing their instruments. I love that sound, as it goes.

 

And the Chorus? Yes Yes Yes. Someone has been paying attention to what songs people like is supposed to be like. Righteous. And you only been doing this two years or something? You suck you bastard. And I say that cause I'm jealous.

 

I love this stuff. Its' raw and real - the guide here is passion and intuition more than practiced skill, and it's wonderful cause your instincts strike me as very, very good.

 

LIke that sorta bridge sequeway with all the oohs and aahs!! That's killer. Absurd. And quite clever, actually. Cause that is where the guitar soloing or some other kinda lead fill is supposed to go but since you don't have much else to work with there (I'm guessing) what you do is you have the singers voice kinda hover in a simple but engaging way over that guitar noodling. That's a good trick. I'm stealing that trick.

 

What you get there that took me years to realize is a very simple thing that should be obvious but surprisingly isn't: The voice is the most important weapon in a song - because a song is about the personality of the person delivering it.

 

And you knew to make it the go-to dominant feature of that bridge part there. I don't think that would have occured to me. And you sound like your having a damn good time in that part. If the person making up a song is having a blast so are the people listening to it usually.

 

Songwriting is basically just about using whatever you have at your disposal - your level of talent and whatever instruments are at hand - and figuring out how to make the best of them. And you can write very, very good songs with simple ideas and simple tools arranged in a smart way. That's what my ears hear going on here. You got high songwriting intelligence.

 

What you gotta do that will be very difficult unfortunately is drill down on the mechanics of musicianship: Your singing & I'm assuming that's your playing in there - is just a tad distractingly loose. It's charming - in doses. But childlike charm wears out its welcome damn fast, unfortunately. Just try sitting through Ben Lee's entire first album Grandpaw Would (which he made when he was like 12 or something) past the blisteringly brilliant first couple tracks.

 

But Polishing your mechanism is gonna be tough for you because when you start playing music or an instrument late late you never really get all that good at it. Well, you can, but you have to work three times as hard than if you picked it up when you were a tween or younger.

 

I know people will get pissed to hear me say that but it's a fundamental truth of development: IF you start playing music when you are old you are going to pretty much blow at it. It really is. It's similar to language: Kids learn languages real easy but for adults it is a major pain in the ass to learn a new language - your mind freezes up. LIke, literally: it's a straight up a physical thing involving how the electrical signals move across your brain. It sucks.

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You have it going on in a big way: Keep doing it cause your onto something here.

 

I actually quite agree with this assessment.:wave:

 

Hey, the song is a little rough....third try, eh?;) Nice job!

 

I think that with a little work this could be a seriously catchy and imminently listenable pop song.:cool:

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Yes, Max. All us pompous poets in here, obsessing over every minor lyric flaw and putting down anyone who might have abilities we don't.

 

Well, perhaps not everyone, but that describes me to a T :thu:

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Yes, Max. All us pompous poets in here, obsessing over every minor lyric flaw and putting down anyone who might have abilities we don't.


Well, perhaps not everyone, but that describes me to a
T
:thu:

 

Me too I suppose.

 

:wave:

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Yes, Max. All us pompous poets in here, obsessing over every minor lyric flaw and putting down anyone who might have abilities we don't.


Well, perhaps not everyone, but that describes me to a
T
:thu:

 

Is Matximus being a turd again? The ignore feature works great for that. :thu:

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I love this tune.

 

I had a band leader singer songwriter dude and on his demos he'd play this little Yamaha drum machine with pads, a toy, and he'd tap out his drums after his guitar and vocal. No click, just finger tapping it out. Now... it used to drive me a little nuts, but that was just me being anal. Cause really, his demos were real music. I did have to get past my little issue that the drums weren't locked but I learned to like it. A lot.

 

Your tune has some of those cool qualities. Your voice is awesome. You write a cool melody as well. I do agree that the cliches could be cleaned up and played with a little to tickle the ear a little more but... you make it work as is. Really intuitive stuff you've got going here.

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Damn Matximus, that's one of the most stellar reviews I've received thus far, and the comparison to early Pavement put a smile on my face. I actually played piano from ages 9-12, and I don't remember much, but my mom informed me that my music teacher saw a lot of talent in me, so perhaps I'm just picking up where I left off? I don't think I'll ever have the technical ability of a Jimmy Page or Rory Gallagher, and it wasn't until I started listening to people like R.E.M, Nirvana, and Joy Division that I decided to start playing guitar in a major way (I would occasionally join a jam session on drums, guitar or bass, but I wasn't a musician), and I think those are the sounds I try to emulate, simple songs that sound great and strike you in a meaningful way. I find it hilarious that you're jealous of my talent, but I promised myself that I would never look at music as a competition, so I'm thrilled when I find other amateurs, especially on this forum, with talents and songwriting abilities beyond mine.

 

Honestly, I'm overjoyed at all of the reviews I've received, and it's amazing to me that nearly 200 people have listened to a song I wrote and recorded. In regards to the lyrics, I probably won't change a thing, because, heh, if I could've wrote better lyrics I would've! But those were the words and feelings that came to me as I played the music, and while they may not be the most poetic thing I've wrote or heard, I think they fit the tune in a nice way.

 

I'll be posting one of my other songs shortly, and I'm definitely going to bookmark this thread because there was a lot of value in the feedback I received, from the lack of polish and timing issues (btw I did record to a click track on the rhythm guitar, just had a few hiccups + the synthetic drums) to the lyrical and structural suggestions.

 

I'm glad you guys like my voice, I was pretty sure I would have to look for someone else to sing my songs, but, the feedback has given me some confidence and no one can put the same emotion and tone to my lyrics/vocals as I can. I'm looking into finding someone to actually teach me how to sing, but it's amazing to me that people like my voice in its current form. Not to be too indulgent, but I remember reading that Hendrix disliked hearing his voice played back to him, and maybe that's just an artistic insecurity I'll have to overcome (it really helped having my buddy/producer in the room with me, he also had a lot of regard for my vocals which I dismissed at the time as him just being nice).

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In regards to the lyrics, I probably won't change a thing, because, heh, if I could've wrote better lyrics I would've.

 

Ahh, but you can. That is probably one of the most beneficial things you'll get by coming here... lyrical critique. Believe me, lyrics are my biggest weak point... but I definitely think I've come a long way since joining here about a year and a half ago.

 

The Pavement comparison is spot on by the way.

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Yup: Simple songs = Best songs. The trick is figuring out how to be simple without being bland.

 

And your voice is good because you sing in a natural unforced way that sounds like you. That's actually really hard to do for most people. Most people sing in their throats and try to sound like their favorite singer - which takes a long time to shake if you get locked in like that.

 

There's a guy round here that I'd say writes the best songs of anyone round here, a bedroom musician that should probably go pro, - he sings in a natural way to splendid effect, his voice is not powerful but he knows how to use it really, really well: StickBoy, outta the UK. You kinda have a similar thing going on with your feel for songs. Check out his stuff if you haven't.

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Ahh, but you can. That is probably one of the most beneficial things you'll get by coming here... lyrical critique. Believe me, lyrics are my biggest weak point... but I definitely think I've come a long way since joining here about a year and a half ago.


The Pavement comparison is spot on by the way.

 

 

Same thing happened to me.

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