I received an email from… er… hang on… it was here a minute ago… ah, yes… Stephen. A chap called Stephen (Hi, Stephen!) emailed me and asked if I wouldn’t mind listening to some songs his band Shark Tape recorded recently. “Indubitably, my good man” I said (but I didn’t use those actual words). “Why, ‘listening’ is my middle name!” (It’s not. My middle name is Malcolm.)
Stephen sent me four songs. I had a listen and then started typing.
Here we go…
“Ambitions Of A Lifetime”
I like this. But I’m surprised that I like this, because to me it sounds very Eighties. Given how I generally loathe the music of the ’80s, I’m confused. I like it. This is very odd. (Note to self: What’s going on in your brain, Peter? The 80’s is your least favourite decade of all the decades in history that ever produced music. What’s the deal, pal?)
Incidentally, at 1:53 the singer sings “I always get my ship together”. It’s nice to know that he enjoys the relaxing hobby of model ship building. And he always manages to assemble his ship. That’s great. What’s that? He’s not singing “ship”? Well, what’s he singing? Oh.
I think I’ve figured out why I like this song. It’s the melodies.
“Eyes Of Mercy”
Another 80’s track recorded in 2012. The drums-and-bass backing is straight from The Early-U2/Cure Playbook. (“Yes, you too can sound just like U2 or The Cure circa 1983!”) I was nowhere near as keen on this one as “Ambitions Of A Lifetime” – not because it sounded like The Cure [yay!] or U2 [shudder], but because it wasn’t as strong melodically. Ah well.
I like how this one doesn’t sound like the previous two. (In other words, it doesn’t sound particularly 80-ish.) Oh-oh. The singing’s started. Here comes a bit of criticism. The vocals at the start of the song sound a little… what’s the word… lazy? No, that’s not the word. A little too casual? I don’t know if “a little too casual” is the right phrase either, but there’s something about the vocals that bother me slightly. The producer in me (lurking just below the surface until I hear something that gets my inner-producer senses tingling) is listening to the singing and thinking “Hmm – I wonder if the singer’s able to re-record his vocals in that section. For example, the “low” in “below” (at 0:16) is a wee bit flat, and the “doze” in “shadows” (0:24) is a little more noticeably flat (the voice tries to get to a high note but doesn’t quite reach it), and the intonation of the three notes that make up “heart” (0:25-0:27) is a tad wobbly. As I’m listening, my inner producer is begging for someone to re-record the vocals there. But then I tell myself “Pull your head in, Peter. You’re in no position to criticise anyone’s singing because their singing is much better than yours will ever be.” However, the chorus kicks in (from 0:40 onwards) and I stop been picky about the vocals because the full band is belting out the music. (I’m guessing it’s a band. It could be another one of those all-done-by-one-person things. I really need to pay more attention to the emails I read.) The rest of the song sounds fine. By the way, the song’s insistent beat reminds me of “Happy Hour” by The Housemartins.
“Put Those Things Away”
We’re back to the 80’s – big drums, cavernous sound, chiming guitars etc. I’m thoroughly enjoying the guitar part in this – not for the sound, which I think is mighty good, but because it gives me the opportunity to say “Hey, that sounds like…!” The guitar part sounds an awful lot of “An Interlude” by The Church. Compare and contrast:
The Church – “An Interlude” (1982)
And that concludes my blathering.
Overall, considering how Eighties-ish all of those tracks were, I enjoyed ’em. Weird.
Thanks, Stephen, for letting me know about Shark Tape.