Thursday, September 18, 2014

Album Review: Ben Century - Unwanted

There's one major difference between this album and every other album I've reviewed on Classical Gas Emissions.... I made this one! Well, I sorta made this one too, but "Unwanted" is a more serious attempt at musicianship than that other piece of junk which is a compilation of songs I recorded as a kid.

Speaking of which, it's been a dream of mine to record and release an album since I was about 7 years old. This was my first attempt:

It sold a total of one copy! In those days, I didn't have a dual tape deck so I just played and sang the songs every time I wanted to make a copy. I even spliced the cassette myself to eliminate all the dead space! Each song is about 30 seconds long, and there's even a couple of instrumentals!

So what was the main motivation for finally recording and releasing my own album? It was actually the last band I was in. This band constantly teedered and toddered between the names "Apathy" and "Tone Deaf". We actually recorded an "album", but I was at the mercy of the guitar player who wanted to remain in control. To him, I was just a mere vocalist and occasional lyricist. My attempts to have more input on the songs and mixing of the album were turned down like a blister-covered hooker. Because of my lack of input, we ended up with classic songs such as "Fred The Mouse" and the entire album was mixed in mono.

I had more input in my previous band Proper Motion - who's name came from us making fun of the drummer, and a fictitious story of him sitting in the corner masturbating. I wrote a good half of the songs, most of the lyrics, and had some input from the other members to fine-craft our songs into the excellent compositions they were. I still enjoy those songs today, and I'm quite proud of the accomplishments we had as a band.

Anyway, let's get back to the Apathy/Tone Deaf story. The drummer and myself were frustrated with the guitar player and bass player (who were brothers) because they didn't want to go out and play live. Instead, they preferred to sit in the basement and record more albums in mono. The drummer and I came to a point where we'd had enough of the bullshit and quit the band. I still get negative feelings when I listen to those recordings, and I think I actually hate the majority of the songs.

From the day I quit that band, I decided I'd had enough of dealing with shithead band members, their stupid songs, and their shitty mixing jobs. I decided I wanted to record an album all by myself. I started in 2004 and finished last weekend. Yes, it took ten years, although there was a 4 year break in there to focus on raising my son (because his dumbass mother couldn't be bothered). I wrote all the songs, played all the instruments, and sang all the vocals (with two minor exceptions).

So, do I have songs called "Fred the Mouse" that are recorded in mono? HELL NO. I've seen enough bad examples of what NOT to do which I've posted on this blog over the last 7 years. I was able to figure out how to do things BETTER. So the album sounds good, and the songs aren't stupid. One of the songs was written when I was 18 years old. You can tell which one it is because of the dated lyric "I was sitting alone, waiting by the phone". Nobody waits by their phones anymore because we have this new technology called CELL PHONES!!! Just put it into your pocket and wait for it to vibrate pleasure into your pelvis.

Some of you may be saying, "HEY! That album cover looks familiar!" Yes it does, because I originally posted it here. I stole from my own blog! Not only did I steal the cover from my own blog, the liner notes read like one of my blog entries! I should probably sue myself into the depths of my own rectum!

Just look at that fucking craftsmanship!

You can listen to a generous sampling of it here!

It's supposed to be popping up on Amazon any day, and I'll be putting the links up when it does. Until then, you can order a copy directly from createspace. Besides, if you order from createspace, I get more royalty.

Buy it from createspace! Buy it now! You'll love it!

As for touring, I'm not doing it because I don't have the means to. I have a son to raise, but I get a few days off here and there, so I may go out and play a bit for publicity. Even if I don't sell 500 copies, it's an accomplishment that I've dreamed about for decades, and I finally did it. It's a great sense of accomplishment for me, and I'm glad I followed through on it even though it took so long.

In other news, I'll be once again appearing on Kent Davies' Amateur Hour On September 24th. So all you Winnipeggers be sure to tune in to 95.9 FM at 5:00 PM. And for those who don't live in Winnipeg, you'll just have to wait for the podcast version. Poor you.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Album: Polished Turds

When you throw away your computer, you should probably format the hard drive first. If you don't, your contents are likely to end up on Classical Gas Emissions, and that's exactly what's happening in this entry.

First, I must tell you that in the 7 years I've been writing this blog, I've never had more fun putting together an entry than I did with this one. Every bit of putting this content together was fun and enjoyable!

So what did I find?

This computer belonged to a guy named Kellen Guilbault, who I may add is a fantastic guitar player. Kellen recorded a whole bunch of songs, many of them being classic rock covers. These were all multitrack recordings that were made with a piece of software called Cubase.

I initially found a handful of poorly mixed songs that were in various stages of completeness. After the excitement of finding these, I dug around in the .wav files sitting in the software's default recording folder and found more hidden gems, totalling over 80 minutes of "music".

Now although Kellen is a damn good guitar player, that's pretty much all that's enjoyable about these recordings with a few exceptions. The timing is off, many of the tracks were recorded with a cheap microphone, and Kellen isn't a very good singer. For a couple of songs, he sought out the aid of a female singer (name unknown) who does a better job. I also believe that Kellen's brother Marc is the one playing the drums.

After gathering up the songs, I transferred them to my own PC and put them into my preferred choice of multitrack software: Multitrack Studio. I remixed them and put some much-needed effects on the tracks. I could have fixed many of them with extensive editing, but editing is tedious and I would have to send Kellen a bill for my time (I found his address on his resume). Plus, the songs are extremely entertaining in their original sloppy, out-of-sync form.

We've got a bunch of Led Zeppelin covers, a couple of Stones and Beatles songs, and a handfull of other well-known classic rockers. There's also a few of Kellen's originals in this collection. The quality of the songs is all over the place, ranging from excellent to down-right-fucking-awful.

The best ones here are Kellen's "Song Zero", Neil Young's "The Needle and the Damage Done" and The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" which lacked vocal tracks, so I sang them all and mixed them in. This is the only song I did editing on, since there was a bar missing which rendered the song useless for recording the second verse of vocals.

The worst ones are "You Shook Me All Night Long" and "House of the Rising Sun". They're absolutely atrocious renditions.

Since I did such a fantastic job remixing these songs, I Christened the collection with the name "Polished Turds" and made a nice album cover using a couple of photos I found on the hard drive.

Here's some options for your enjoyment:

Download the entire collection! (You WON'T be sorry)
Listen to "While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
Listen to "The Wind Cries Mary"

If you're wanting to know how much I improved the sound, feel free to hear the original mix of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps".

And that's pretty much it!

On September 24th, I'll be making another appearance on Amateur Hour. In the next couple of weeks, I'm also planning on releasing the album I recorded, so there's lots of exciting things coming up! Stay tuned...