Tag Archives: recording

Atlantic City

AtlanticCity-cover

Listen on:

I’m excited to share with you a new piece of music – a cover of the Bruce Springsteen classic, Atlantic City.

This version takes the song to a place I don’t believe it’s ever been to before. To me, it conjures up a cold, windy, and desolate evening on the beaches of this classically-tragic New Jersey shore city. It sounds like something you might hear on the Stranger Things soundtrack.

It starts with a dark analog synthesizer sound that pulses slightly, conveying the constant movement of the ocean. Along with a sparse drum machine, this sound makes up the foundation of the arrangement.

As the song continues to build momentum, the bridge arrives, bringing an entirely new sonic landscape; lifting the song with brighter guitars, strings, and sounds of the ocean that propel the song into its closing. The vocal performance is stark, up-close, and at times, just a whisper. It is haunting yet intimate.

As I listen to this arrangement today, it brings to mind the current state of Atlantic City, the city. Having been released from state control, will it be primed for a rebirth? Or continue on the same haunting path?

The casinos can shine bright, but the beach can still get very cold at night.

I hope you enjoy this new interpretation of a classic.

And if you do, I’d be honored if you added it to your music library, one of your playlists, shared it with a friend, or just let me know that you listened. ūüôā

Enjoy,
Josh

Work in Progress

SaveAs

When is a piece of art Рbe it visual, music, writing, or something else Рconsidered finished?

There is always something to add, change, or fix. Always something that could be different or better. And when you’re working digitally, it becomes more apparent. You can theoretically create unlimited versions of any piece.

When does it end? Or, does it ever end?

Is most art still a work in progress?

When Queen recorded Bohemian Rhapsody, they layered so many vocal harmonies and new tracks¬†that they¬†could actually see through the tape. It wasn’t until they were on the verge of physically breaking the technology, the tape, they considered it finished. The technology forced them into it!

Walt Whitman was never truly finished with Leaves of Grass. Each new printing was an opportunity to add, change, and evolve the work. In his third edition, he added 146 new poems. The eighth edition was the final time he altered it, 33 years after the first edition!

It’s been said that a work of art¬†takes on a life of it’s own once it is received and¬†interpreted by an audience. I find it interesting that a work of art also evolves at the hand of the artist. The art has an initial birth, but has the opportunity to evolve over time.

My single, Walking On, follows in this tradition.

It¬†began as a contribution to a benefit compilation album. Banding Together is both a celebration of local music and a benefit for the Spondylitis Association of America. It’s a yearly event organized¬†by Lazlo at blowupradio.com.

For the 2016 compilation, it didn’t feel right to take the same stripped-down approach I had taken in previous years. My live show had evolved. I was¬†experimenting with live looping. Ty Tuschen had been joining me on electric guitar for shows. I wanted to incorporate these new elements into the¬†recording.

So I evolved my recording process. I live-looped a guitar percussion part, played guitar and sang over the loop. Then, I invited Ty to play electric guitar. He added a killer guitar solo, a slide guitar, and some additional atmosphere. I added a bass to fill it out. It sounded great. I released it to Lazlo just within the deadline!

Walking On was officially birthed, but was it finished?

Like Queen, I began thinking of new parts that might make it better.

Like Walt Whitman, I began thinking about what else I might¬†do with the track as part of it’s next release. Send it to all of the major distributors like Apple Music, Amazon, and Spotify. Make it an official single. At the same time, I knew the Banding Together version ought to be exclusive to the compilation.

I went into the recording session file and duplicated it. Just like that, the next evolution of the song was born. A work in progress.

The looped guitar percussion was unique, but didn’t hit you with enough impact. I doubled it with a kick drum (a live sample and an 808) and hand claps.

The lead vocal was recorded live in one take. I knew I could make it better. I learned some new vocal production tips to thicken the main vocal and make it shine.

What about backing vocals? Yes!

Then, I thought the bass should be more present. So I doubled it with a sine wave synth bass.

After (probably) a few too many days of mixing and tweaking, wondering if Walking On was actually finished, I did a final export.

This latest version of Walking On is the one I’m sticking with for now. I’m glad it did not take me 33 years to get there. I’m also glad I didn’t risk a technology breakdown to get there.

It’s available everywhere you can find digital music. Apple Music/iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, Bandcamp, and hundreds more.

I’m in the midst of the next work in progress. Like Queen, I’m pushing the technological limits. I’m working with 100+ audio tracks and my system is on the verge of breaking down. When it’s as good as it can be, I will release it as another single. Maybe when I have enough singles, I’ll have an EP. Or a full-length album.

Maybe when I get to that point, I’ll have another opportunity to further evolve these works in progress.

Silent Night Now Streaming + A Holiday Music Playlist

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I’m happy to announce that my recording of “Silent Night” is now up on all major digital platforms, including Spotify, Apple Music/iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby, and Bandcamp.

In celebration, I’ve made public playlists of some of my favorite holiday music, both old and new. It’s currently filled with 3 1/2 hours worth of music. Perfect to have in the background as you open presents, spend time with family and friends, travel, or any time you want to get in the holiday spirit. Set it to shuffle and enjoy!

Silent Night

SilentNight_Cover

Last Wednesday, I came home with an idea for a song arrangement. I recorded it right away and today I’m releasing the recording to you. I’m not entirely certain what sparked it, but I suspect it had something to do with having a desire for peace during this holiday season. The phrase “sleep in” stuck in my mind and I had the idea to loop it. From there, the rest of the arrangement came together quickly. The vocal loop offered a sense of motion while also adding a peaceful, sleepy element to the song. Perhaps if we all slept in a little more often, we’d have a little more peace and be a little less on edge?

Here’s to sleeping in this holiday season. The image for the cover you see above is one I captured during the blizzard in NYC on January 23, 2016. The roads were closed and for a night the Manhattan streets were quiet and peaceful.

Please enjoy my interpretation and recording of this holiday classic, Silent Night.

It is currently available to stream and download (pay what you want) from Bandcamp. In the coming days, it will also be available on all of the major streaming services like Spotify, Amazon, and Apple Music.

“Walking On” Now Available Everywhere

My latest single, Walking On, is now available everywhere you can find digital music!

I’ve added it to all the major distributors, including the following:

Add it to your favorite playlist, download it, and share it with everyone you know!

Walking On Is Available to Download Today!

My new single, “Walking On” is available for download today! This single is a modern foot-stomping blues featuring Ty Tuschen on electric guitar. I will write more about the creation process for this recording in the coming days, but for now you can download it (pay whatever you want) from Bandcamp.

Hope you enjoy it!

A Spy Named Stella

Today I’m releasing a new piece of instrumental music – “A Spy Named Stella.”

SpyNamedStella
“A Spy Named Stella” is highly rhythmic, conducive to running for your life from an international spy in a game of cat and mouse. Use it as a soundtrack to get yourself out of danger. The piece juxtaposes samples of acoustic instruments like strings and upright bass against electronic elements. Driven by the rhythms of multiple drum sets and percussion instruments, this track takes you to a new place – one that isn’t quite electric, isn’t quite acoustic, and definitely isn’t safe.

Download it here or stream it using the player below. Pay what you’d like for it or grab it for free by entering 0 in the price box.

You can also check out the other instrumental pieces I’ve sporadically released over the years – “My Favorite Daydream” and “You Smiled Because You Knew.”

Enjoy!

Banding Together 2016 Available Today

I have a brand new recording to share with you today! It’s a newly-recorded version of my song “Walking On,” featuring Ty Tuschen on electric guitar. It’s part of¬†Banding Together 2016, a compilation album to benefit the Spondylitis Association Of America. All proceeds will go to fund research and provide programs and services for people suffering from Spondylitis, a genetic rheumatoid arthritic condition that causes inflammation and fusion in the vertebrae of the spine, affecting more than 2.7 million adults in the United States.

This compilation album features 32 tracks of original music from local musicians and was curated by Lazlo at BlowUpRadio.com. Download the compilation album to support the cause today!

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Download the compilation album >>

Thank you so much for supporting this cause!

Recording Process for Banding Together 2015

Last year, I wrote about the recording process for Banding Together 2014 and how it evolved from 2012-2014. In 2015, the process took another step forward. Here’s how.

In 2012, I put a stereo field mic on my dining room table, sat in a chair, and let it happen. In 2013, I learned a bit about mic placement and I stood up to get some more energy on the recording. In 2014, I abandoned the stereo field mic approach and instead used two mics. This gave me better control over the balance between the voice and guitar.

As I set up to record Banding Together 2015, I started with the same approach as 2014. And then at the last minute, just before hitting record, out of the corner of my eye, I saw that same stereo field mic I had used in 2012 and 2013. I had a thought!

Though I liked the sound of the 2014 recording, everything sounded “up close.” As the listener, I didn’t get the sense I was in the room.¬†There was no ambience, no space, no room sound. So at the last minute, I grabbed the stereo mic, placed¬†it on the other side of the room, and hit record. I didn’t expect to use it in the final recording at all, but I thought it would be a nice experiment. I had changed my approach each year since 2012. It just didn’t feel right to take the same exact approach.

Well… what was just an experiment turned into a revelation.

I was shock when, after having finished recording my performance, I dropped the stereo field mic’s audio into the mix. It made it sound so much bigger! There was a bit of space between the source of the sound and the mic. The room acted as a natural mixing board, blending the sounds of my acoustic guitar and my voice in a natural way. Combining¬†this sound source with the close up sources made the overall recording sound fatter and larger.¬†It sounded like you were there in the room with me. Which was exactly what I was going for!

Having that room sound alongside the closer mics on my voice and guitar really gave me the best of both worlds. I had the detail and presence I needed from the close ups and I also had the room and a sense of space from the room mic.

And of course, after all¬†this, I made a connection I probably should’ve made from the beginning.

It’s a lot like recording drums!¬†The close up mics are for the detail, but the drums don’t sound complete until you hear what they sound like in the room. The room is essential!

Just like anything you are trying to capture acoustically, the room can make all the difference.

P.S. If you’re interested in listening to the final recording, it’s available on iTunes, Spotify, and everywhere else. Check it out here.