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Posts Tagged ‘new song’

Twist the Knife is my first foray into writing allegorical lyrics. What I wanted to achieve with the lyrics was have them stand on their own from the surface point of view, but really represent an entirely different thing. On the surface, Twist the Knife is about a lover’s betrayal, but it’s also an allegory of how many were betrayed in the recent financial crisis at the hands of the huge investment firms. The fact that firms like Goldman Sachs recommended risky investments in mortgage-backed securities to their clients, then betting against those same securities – seemingly know that they’d tank – and making a HUGE profit was like stabbing someone in the heart, then twisting it to add insult to injury.

Amps: Aracom PLX18BB for left-channel rhythm, Aracom VRX22 for right-channel rhythm and lead

Guitars: Squier CV Tele 50’s on the left, Gibson Nighthawk 2009 on the right and for the lead

Bass: Ibanez GSR200

Recording Notes: I dig the rhythm guitar parts as they sound like they’re coming from much bigger amps. Jeff Aragaki of Aracom Amps totally “gets” the vintage Marshall tone with that sweet and smooth overdrive. All guitar parts were recorded with no effects whatsoever, and I just added some reverb and a little presence to the guitar tracks to make up for the crappy ribbon mic I used to record the guitars.

LYRICS

To simplify your life that’s what you wanted
Our complications only bring you down
I set you free to satisfy your longing
to find what you’ve been missing
and recover what you’ve lost

I gave a lover’s trust as you turned away from me
thinking you’d be coming back to my arms
But all I’m holding now is this blade you thrust in my heart
You cut me down
My love runs out…

Then you twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife

Nothing’s as it seems with your deceptions
Your love was a veil you hid behind
I let myself be fooled that there was more to us
I guess it’s true when they say
love is deaf, dumb and blind

I gave a lover’s trust as you turned away from me
thinking you’d be coming back to my arms
But all I’m holding now is this blade you thrust in my heart
You cut me down
My love runs out…

Then you twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife

I thought we’d journey to our promise land
where our hearts and spirits unite
but you’ve left wanting
and I keep on calling
you’re just not to be found….

Then you twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife
Twist the knife

Copyright (C) 2010 Brendan Delumpa

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I’ve been sort of operating in a vacuum for the last few years working on new material. I released a Christian album that really didn’t go anywhere, but that really didn’t matter to me because I’ve always felt funny about profiting monetarily from spirituality. The album’s still up on iTunes (if you search on “Brendan Delumpa”, you’ll find it), but I don’t really pay attention to it. That was something that I simply had to get out of my system.

After I did that album, I went on a bit of hiatus in writing, then got the bug again. But this time (it was late 2008), I didn’t want to do another religious album. I wanted to do something with a bit more of a classic rock feel. So I put together a few songs, laid down some tracks, and “kind of” liked what I produced. But I wanted to get some professional feedback. So I entered a few songs into an annual songwriting contest put up by a company called SongDoor.com. The deal was for $10 per song, you could enter your song into the contest, and also get a professional critique.

I actually didn’t care about winning the contest. I knew that the winners would be the ones that write mainstream stuff. While some of my material crosses into the realm of pop, most of it is just stuff that I like to listen to myself, and that’s not really modern mainstream music. My true aim was to get some critique on my songs, and that’s exactly what I got, and that feedback helped guide me in my later writing.

That was back in 2008. Unfortunately, SongDoor got so popular that they couldn’t afford to pay the judges for all the evaluations. I didn’t know that when I submitted a song this round. Oh well… But they recently released a new song evaluation service. For $25 they’ll do a much more in-depth evaluation of a song you submit. That was the answer to my prayers!

The bummer about entering my songs into the contest was that I’d have to wait several months before I got feedback. But with the new service, I could get an evaluation within three to five business days! How cool is that! So I paid for the service and uploaded a song with a lyric sheet yesterday… and got my evaluation back this morning!

Apparently, I was the first person to use the service, so I got mine quick. I have to tell you that the evaluation I got with this service was 100 times better than the feedback I previously got from the contest. It’s honest, and the evaluator doesn’t pull any punches, though they’re pretty nice when hitting you with their honesty. 🙂

The song I submitted was actually a work in progress. I knew going in that my lyrics were bad. They were just filler lyrics. What I really wanted was an evaluation of the music to see if my musical direction was sound. As expected, the evaluator said the genre I wrote the song wasn’t that popular (it’s a jazz/funk piece), and that the lyrics needed work but that musically, it was a good song with a catchy beat. That’s exactly what I needed to move forward with the song.

So this evening, I totally re-worked the lyrics except for the chorus that I thought was good enough to keep. Here’s the new version of the song:

Frankly, I’m not looking to create the next big hit. But it’s great to get validation and critique on something I love doing, and more importantly, get feedback on how I can improve my song writing. I really dig the service that SongDoor is providing, and if you’re a songwriter, I highly recommend submitting a song or two, and get an evaluation!

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Man! Haven’t written a full song with vocals in awhile. Life happens, and it’s not the easiest thing to get the time to write. So the other day, I came up with a funky groove. It started out as a simple blues in Em, bouncing back and forth between Em7 and Bm7. I knew I didn’t want to just stick to a 1-4-5 kind of pattern, so I added some altered chords to kind of “jazz” it up a bit. The title has nothing to do with the music. 🙂 It’s the subject matter of the lyrics, which is divorce. Don’t know how I got on that line of thinking; maybe it was from people around me who have gone through it. Anyway here’s the song:

Equipment Used:

Rhythm (left and right sides): Squier Classic Vibe Tele (50’s)

Lead: Gibson Limited Run Nighthawk 2009

Amp: Aracom PLX18 BB w/Trem

Notes:

  • I originally laid down the rhythm with Pearl, my MIM Strat. But those Tex Mex pickups were just too bright for an already bright vintage Plexi-style amp. Way too much high-end attack. So, I switched to Blondie. That Tele is just so damn versatile!
  • I just love that vintage Marshall tone. Funny thing, I was never into Marshalls until recently, but since I’ve been playing Aracom amps, that’s the tone I just love!
  • The Nighthawk is just awe-inspiring! The tones that guitar can produce are simply phenomenal. The mix between the P-90 and the Burstbucker is to die for! I love that guitar!

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I’ve been working on a new instrumental for over a month now, called “Strutter.” I think I’ve probably made 50+ recordings of the song, and even though I dig the melody I’ve come up with, I’ve always thought it needed something… more… Couldn’t put my finger on it, but none of my recordings of the song were working for me completely. After I finished recording this final cut which I’ll share below, I believe a lot of my “frustration” had to do with me wanting to only use a single guitar and amp for the recording since I play this song live with only a single guitar.

But it’s different in the studio. I have a lot of options open to me, so I decided to break down and instead of recording the song in its entirety with a single take with a single guitar and amp, I recorded the two different parts of the song with two guitars and two amps. The result knocked my socks off! So the lesson learned is in the studio, you can be truly creative, and for me, I’ll use the tools I need in favor of what I’d like to have. Anyway, here’s the song:

Gear:

Rhythm: Fender MIM Strat / Aracom VRX22 (6V6) Clean Channel
Lead 1 : Squier Classic Vibe Telecaster 50’s (bridge) / Aracom VRX18 (EL84) Channel 2 (Master cranked / Volume 3pm)
Lead 2 : Saint Guitars Messenger (bridge) / Aracom VRX22 Channel 2 (Master 4pm / Volume 3pm)

All guitars were recorded at bedroom level using the Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator, with no effects. Estimated output of any of the amps was less than 1 watt! That unit is absolutely amazing!!!

Small room reverb was added during production to give a more spatious effect to the lead tracks, and absolutely no EQ was applied to the guitars.

Description:

This song was originally inspired by an image of a supa-mac-daddy-pimp dude struttin’ his stuff down the avenue. 🙂 At least that was the kind of vibe I wanted to capture: 70’s-style guitar-plugged-straight into the amp. It’s a raw kind of tone.

From a structure/feel point of view, what I was after with this song was a contrast in textures. The Rhythm track uses the VRX22 clean channel for that snappy clean attack. For the Lead 1, I wanted use the creamy smoothness of the VRX18 combined with a single coil, and take advantage of the awesome decay of the tube rectifier. For Lead 2, there’s nothing like the pure balls-out sound of the VRX22 drive channel played with a bridge humbucker. The distortion though is ultra smooth, but very complex.

I should be the Aracom Amps poster boy!

I just realized that this song could be an Aracom Amps VRX amp line demo! I make no secret that these are my amps of choice (I have three of them). Jeff Aragaki’s amp designs are absolutely killer – that’s why I buy his equipment.

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Song Information

Title: Strutter

Guitars: Rhythm – Strat, Lead/Melody – Saint Guitars Messenger (Goldie)

Amps: Rhythm – Aracom VRX22, Lead/Melody – Aracom PLX18 BB Trem

Guitars were recorded at conversation levels using the Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator.

Effects: KASHA Overdrive, GeekMacDaddy Geek Driver

Audio

About the song

I wrote “Strutter” a couple of weeks ago. Like many of my instrumentals, it started out as a backing track that I could practice over. I was simply experimenting with doing leads over a dominant 7th chord progression after watching more of Chuck D’Aloia’s “Blues with Brains” instructional video and wanted to try out some of the stuff he talked about. Well, one thing led to another, and I started getting ideas that I started running with. So I laid them down.

I actually completed the recording several times using different guitars and amps for the lead, but every time I listened to it, I just wasn’t satisfied with the lead. I knew I wanted a bright sound tone, either from a Strat or from a bridge humbucker, but I wanted the lead to have some hair as well. My Strat just didn’t work here because of the vintage-style low power single coils I have in it. And the PLX18 BB was just a bit too fizzy with the stock speaker. So I sat on the song for awhile, though I did keep on refining the phrasing. As far as amps are concerned, I have several to pick from, but their tones are very vintage smooth. Even my go-to amp, the VRX22, was just too “nice-sounding” for what I wanted.

The PLX18 BB got me right into the ballpark. It doesn’t have loads of gain, and while the breakup is smooth and expansive – very 3D – it also has lots of balls for which Plexi-style circuits are known. But even then, the speaker I had in it was just too harsh in the highs, with an overabundance of fizz. In earlier recordings with the amp, I had to bleed off highs. I really didn’t like doing that because I don’t like to EQ my guitar parts. So it wasn’t until last night when I swapped out the stock speaker (Eminence Red Coat Red Fang) with a Fane Medusa 150 where everything came together.

Previous versions of the lead track included wah, but I removed the wah and re-recorded that portion of the song mainly because I just wanted a slightly fatter tone. The amp was already dimed, so I just added a couple of stacked overdrives using my KASHA overdrive and Geek Driver. This resulted in a bit brighter, but fatter tone.

Finally, the cool thing was that I recorded the song in two takes. The second take was the ending. I think my hand was getting tired from all the bending, and I made a couple of mistakes. 🙂 It’s amazing how your playing flows when your tone inspires you!

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goldie41I spoke about Tone with a capital “T” the other day and how your Tone is the combination of your gear plus what’s in your heart. One thing that I didn’t discuss is that when your heart and your gear are in alignment, the visceral effect it has on you borders on a religious experience. Put simply, you become truly inspired. I got Goldie back from Saint Guitars a few days ago to correct some wiring and action issues, and plugging her into my amp, I was immediately floored by her tone. I already was in the first place, but with everything working right, the effect it had on my spirit was tremendous!

So I decided to completely re-write and re-track a song that I had recorded earlier as a demo of the Reason Bambino – turn it into a real composition. But I also wanted to demonstrate the wonderful voice she has. Here’s the song. It’s called “Sunset By the Bay” because it reminded me of sipping a mojito on the beach at sunset:

The opening of the song and the first “verse” demonstrate Goldie’s neck pickup in single-coil configuration. Man, it’s chimey like a Strat! The second part of the song stays in the neck pickup but with both coils working, and adding a bit of crunch in the second channel of my Aracom VRX22. I recently had a mod done to the amp to add channel switching, and remove the Master Volume control from the first channel so it acts more like a Class A amp in channel 1. Continuing on, in the bridge of the song, I switch both pickups and remain in channel 2, then I finally finish up back on the neck pickup.

I can’t believe the sounds that come from this guitar, and my VRX22 just sounds so sweet with it!

By the way, as far as the recording of the melody goes, I recorded Goldie completely dry, just plugged right into my amp. I then added some reverb and a tiny bit of delay to give the melody an airy feel. The rhythm part was recorded using my Strat directly plugged into my Reason Bambino and played entirely in the Bambino’s Normal Channel. I love the natural presence of the Bambino – it was if it was made for a Strat!

I also recorded the entire song at bedroom level using my Aracom PRX150-Pro attenuator. I just love the purity of my tone at any volume level!

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I wrote this song a few years back, and had the hardest time trying to record it. Unfortunately, the stock drum tracks in GarageBand just don’t cover the blues very well, so I finally found some decent audio drum loops that I could use. Ostensibly, this is a song about everlasting love, and how in marriage or even lifelong relationships, despite their occasional downs, if you truly love someone, you’ll return to them.

With this song, I wanted to capture a smoky lounge with a jazz quartet kind of groove. And BTW, the guitar in this was recorded using IK Multimedia Amplitube Fender. Damn! That ’57 Champ sounds great! Anyway, here’s the song:

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If you’re a visitor here, it’s more than likely that you suffer from an affliction commonly referred to as GAS or Gear Acquisition Syndrome, which is a uncontrollable urge to buy gear to affect your tone. Be honest, you know you have it. 🙂

This morning, in search of some new material to write about, I came across a new pedal from Elite Tone called the Smooth Boost. You can read the announcement here. What excited me about the pedal was that it’s a handmade pedal for $99! Damn! That got the GAS flowing. After I calmed down a bit, I sang to myself, “I feel some GAS a-comin’…” and that sparked off me humming Johnny Cash’s song “Folsom Prison Blues” playing in my head. Then I started laughing, and writing down some alternate lyrics to the song. After I was done I recorded the following tune:

This one was a lot of fun! I wanted to share it because I’m sure you can relate to the lyrics. By the way, here are the full set of lyrics:

The GAS Blues

I feel some gas a-comin’
It’s comin’ ’round the bend
I haven’t been GAS-less
Since I don’t know when…
I’d said that I am finished
My rig’s as full as it can be
But this new gear’s got me GAS-in’
The GAS keeps hauntin’ me…

When I was just a young man
I had just one guitar
Ole Betsy made me happy
She took me oh so far…
But then I went electric
and needed so much gear
to get that perfect tone now
that’s pleasin’ to my ears…

My wifey always asks me
Just how much do you need?
I look at her and tell her
just one more, don’t you see?
There’s nothing that’ll cure me
from this expensive disease
It’s a curse I’ll always carry
my GAS is never pleased…

I don’t know what to tell you
if you suffer from the same
affliction that I have now
My friends think I’m insane…
No one understands it
Look! There’s another axe!
And it just keeps on comin’
This thing we all know as GAS!

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Fender 60th Diamond Anniversary Stratocaster

I’m normally very methodical in my approach to writing music. But sometimes, I just get carried away with playing that I’ll just create a riff, and jam over it again and again until my fingertips are numb. Writing my latest instrumental was exactly that experience. I came up with a riff, added some bass and a basic drum kit loop to it, and spent the next several hours trying to cop my best SRV. 🙂 Believe me, no one can play like that dude! He was special.

But the point of this is that after hours and hours of playing, I really got inspired to not just let it be a jam track, especially after I came up with a phrase that felt like it could define the theme of a song. So over the next few days I tweaked with the song, and this is the final result. Note that I had a version of this up as of a couple of days ago, but I remixed it, added an echo part for the last section, and removed a bunch of layered on effects from the first cut. I ended up with a much more raw sound, which was really what I was after. Here it is:

All the guitar parts were played with “Pearl” my 60th Diamond Anniversary Strat. After playing ‘buckers for awhile, I forgot how fun it was to play my Strat! My amp, of course, was my ever versatile tone machine, my Aracom Amps VRX22. For effects, I used a Hardwire RV-7 Reverb, a Creation Audio Labs Mk.4.23 booster, and a Voodoo Lab MicroVibe.

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I was noodling around the other day, and came up with a riff. The riff turned into a jam track, then the jam track turned into a full song. I’m still working on the song, but thought I’d post it for folks to give it a listen. Here it is:

Here’s what I used:

  • Rhythm Part: Clean Strat in Neck/Middle position. My Aracom VRX22 in the Clean channel, with the Master cranked and volume at halfway. Used a Red Bear Trading Tuff-Tone pick to get that percussive sound out of the chords.
  • Part 1 Solo: Strat in Neck Position into my MicroVibe and the same amp settings. Also, used the Tuff-Tone pick to get a more percussive attack to the notes.
  • Part 2 Solo: Strat in Bridge Position into MicroVibe. Amp was set on Channel 2 with the Master dimed and volume at 6 for some nice, but not over-the-top breakup. I love that 6V6 breakup! Here I used my V-Picks Psycho to smoothen out the attack and give the bright bridge pickup a bit of extra oomph.
  • Part 3 Solo: Strat in Neck position, nixed the Vibe, into the clean channel with Master and Volume fully dimed. Used the Psycho here as well, but used a percussive attack.

In order to get those kind of high power settings from the amp, I used a soon-to-be-released Aracom attenuator that’s like NOTHING I’ve played through before! This thing is completely transparent because it maintains reactance between the amp and speaker; something that a lot of attenuators have a problem with (please don’t get me started on the UA, which I think is the biggest bunch of hype I’ve ever run across as far as attenuators go).

Another word about the VRX22. When the Master is fully open, and the power tubes are getting lots of juice, this amp just oozes all sorts of tone. And as the rectifier circuit kicks in, this amp feels as if it has built in reverb! As you can tell, I love this amp! Check it out at: http://www.aracom-amps.com.

I know that you might think I’m a bit nutso for using different picks; obviously in a live situation I’d probably only use one. But the in the studio where I can do pretty much anything I want, using different picks to affect my tone is totally cool. Check out Tuff-Tone picks at http://www.redbeartrading.com and the Psycho pick at http://www.v-picks.com. I swear by these two brands, and while I don’t work for either of these companies, like the Aracom Amps, they’ll always be part of my “rig.”

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