The Box Set

Continuing in the same spirit that caused me to post the last set of songs – that a song invisible to the world might as well not even exist – I’m going to post all the studio*-recorded songs from bands I’ve been in. (and because Bobby L’s been posting a bunch of his stuff, I’m inspired to do the same)

There are, in my completely biased opinion, some really good songs in here, and there are also some decent performances. And there are even a couple of songs where the song and the performance are both good! And then there are some real clunkers… c’est la roche.. But I love em all, cause, well, I’m like that.

These are 96kbps MP3’s, which means they sometimes sound a little tinny and strange.

Update: I had to remove the links to the individual songs, because I broke the bank on my web hosting storage limits; so you can grab all the songs, here: Nora (13MB), Hector (32MB), fieldfresh (33MB).

So, in reverse chronological order…



Nora
Nora was a short-lived band that only managed to record four songs before I ran off to get married. After I left, the band kind of disintegrated. That’s unfortunate, since I think there was potential there – even without me! Belly was a big influence, as were the various British shoegazer bands (MBV, Blur, etc.).

These songs were recorded in a real studio, though because of the cost, things were a bit rushed and the mix is a bit weak – like, where’s the bass? and, why didn’t we fix those sloppy sections? Oh well. Two of these four ended up on red-swirled 45s that we made and then failed to sell (I still have a bunch in my closet). I think some of the other band people might have some live recordings that I’d dearly love to get my hands on – I know we had some other good songs, though they’re fading from memory, fast. But, I just don’t know where any of those people are these days. Jen, Mark, Gerry, Will, Me.

Nora’s Songs

  • Dummy. I love this one. The drums are great, as always – Mark rocked. This came from the other guitar player, Will, who’s playing the guitar with the giant-whirling-turbine effect on it. I’m the Cure/REM/Cult lead over the top. This one got airplay… once… late-night… on a Sunday. We didn’t quit our day jobs.
  • Sweet Thing. A ballad! Jen wrote this. It came out pretty good. This, and Dummy, were on our 45.
  • Riot. The music for this one is mostly mine. The guitar lines were things I’d been playing around with for years, inspired, like many things I’ve written by the Sundays’ guitarist. But Jen’s vocals make the song, IMO.
  • Needle. Our big swirly epic. I think this came from Gerry and Will. The performance isn’t ideal – the song’s always better in my head.

Nora’s Songs (13MB).



Hector
Before starting Nora, Gerry The Bassist and I were in a band called ‘Hector’. Hector was a power-pop band, in the style of Big Star and late-era Replacements, formed by singer and chief-songwriter, Don, who started the band with a “guitarist wanted” ad in a local indie paper, which I answered. Unlike Nora, we recorded most of what we wrote; and we did it all in Don’s basement on his 1/2″ Tascam 8-track. We probably recorded more than we played out, even, which is fine – sometimes that can be just as much fun. We had two different bass players, and I think they’re both on these songs, though I don’t think I could tell who’s who on some songs – the time line is a little fuzzy in my head, so many years out.

After the drummer, Sean, became a father and had to quit because of time demands, Gerry and I kind of walked away from the band and started Nora, without formally telling Don that we quit. Sean was a great drummer – a great natural feel – and teaching a new drummer all those songs felt like too much of a drag. It was a crappy way of handling the situation, I’ll admit. But Don and I still exchange emails from time to time, so it’s all cool now, I guess. Don, Sean, Gerry/Nick, Me.

Hector’s Songs

  • Somewhere Else. One of our first, one of my favorites, one of the few Hector songs I contributed any significant writing to. I’m still a little proud of the chords in the bridge: Gmaj7-F#m-E. It’s not your typical garage band progression.
  • Cop Or Junkie. Don wrote and recorded this with an earlier band, but I think our version rocks much harder. For a long time, I thought the name was “Copper Junkie”.
  • Don’t Know. Another good song from Don. I’m not entirely embarrassed by my little solo in the middle of this.
  • Tomorrow Never Knows. It’s not the Beatles’ song, but it’s a good song, anyway. Another of my favorites.
  • Rustbelt. I love Don’s lyrics, though they’re mixed way too low.

  • Wow. I wrote the music for the first part of this (I was in a Superchunk mood), and then Don tacked-on that big wide-open jam-on-two-chords at the end. A ton of fun, live. I would literally grind picks into powder, trying to play that high A chord as fast as I could. This and ‘Satisfied’ ended up on a 7″, after remixing at a real studio.
  • Satisfied. A little bit of the Replacements’ ‘Unsatisfied’ at the start. My mom liked this side of the record better; I liked the Wow side.
  • Blood On The Streets Of New Haven. No relation to the Doors’ song – Don just liked to use lines from other songs as titles, I guess. I like this one, too. IMO, Don was a great songwriter. Hope he’s still at it.

  • Naked. I can’t remember if Don confirmed if the lyrics are about a real event or not. Love the song, though.
  • Drag. Yet another good song, but my playing is ass. I’m really sloppy here. I was playing this cheap plastic Yamaha “surf”-style electric guitar that looked cool but never seemed to be loud enough, was too thin sounding, had no sustain, etc.. Should’ve never bought that thing – I was constantly fighting it to get a usable sound. Should’ve used the good ol’ Tele.
  • Skunk. This was one we reworked from a thing I did with my previous band, fieldfresh. It’s a little fast here because we ran out of room on the cassettes we were putting together, so when Don mastered it, he turned up the speed on the 8-track machine, and shortened the song by just enough to make it fit. I’m playing that same crappy plastic Yamaha here, but kicking my trusty American Metal pedal (yeah!) in the loud parts fixed the lack of punch.
  • South. I was never really crazy about this one.
  • Last Night. Really never crazy about this one. Always hated playing it. Don’t even like hearing it. I’m glad there’s that big MP3-stutter near the end.

Hector’s Songs (32MB)



fieldfresh
fieldfresh (named after the Canadian dairy company, by Joe, the founder, singer and bass player, who sometimes visits this blog), was my first official band. When we started, the only person who could really play anything was our drummer, Bobbie. She left, then we got the drummer for the RIT jazz band – who was fantastic. I was always amazed that a guy that good would play with the rest of us (which is not to slight Bobbie, but, well, JoeS was awesome).

The first eight songs were recorded in the RIT music studios by a film student (who is now a developer at Borland – you can’t hide from Google, Mr Stuntz). The drums sound great – very expensive microphones, IIRC – but there’s a lot of effects over everything else. The effects make the finished recordings sound a lot more polished, true, but we really had more of a raw, in-your-face aesthetic, IMO.

The rest of the songs, on the other hand, go all the way to the other extreme; they were recorded in a basement, live, except for vocals overdubbed later (in a film developing closet, IIRC). We were, I guess, ‘grungy’: Mudhoney, Sonic Youth, Dino Jr., the whole Sub-Pop scene. We played mostly RIT apartment parties, for a couple of years. Then I quit, out of the blue, one day – don’t remember why. No harm done, in the long run. It couldn’t last forever! Joe T., Joe S./Bobbie, Me, Jason at the very end.

Note, a lot of these songs have NSFW lyrics – if you couldn’t tell from the titles.

fieldfresh’s Songs

  • Cut Me Loose. This was always the first song of our live shows. I like this one.
  • Blinded. I like it, but this recording smothers the song a bit. It should rock, but gets buried in reverb, instead.
  • JB Is An Asshole. Named after a guidance counselor. This was a lot of fun to do live. Check out those wicked Neil Peart Rototom rolls!
  • No More Words. Great little rocker. And it’s the only solo of mine that I really like.
  • Pissin. 65 seconds of rawk, including the drum solo.
  • Salo. After the Pasolini movie, a little of which is included at the beginning. The whole thing is flanged so much that it sounds like it’s underwater.
  • Dog Poop Bus. Heh. It’s “SubPop God” (almost) spelled backwards.
  • Both Sides. This was a ton of fun to do live. Bask in the glory of the flat-fifth power chord. Pretty happy with how this one turned out; except for all my little guitar clicks and squeaks, it pretty solid.

  • 6 Not 7. This is the first of the basement recordings. These became our “Stinky” cassette release. Don’t remember what the title means. I am reminded, in comments, by Joe, of how this was named: Sonic Youth has a song on their Sister album (Stereo Sanctity) that starts out with Thurston yelling “Seven! Seven!”; so, we did Six, Not Seven.
  • Crocodile. If I remember correctly, I wrote “I am a crocodile. I’ve got a two foot smile. And I will eat all your little cats, motherfucker.” on the whiteboard in our apartment one day. Then Joe read it and used it for the lyrics.
  • Liquor Box. Plumbing the depths of dumb. Still, it’s fun.
  • Bomb / Touch Me I’m Sick. This is a sped-up Mudhoney cover, with a little lunatic Johnny Cash-esque thing stuck on the front. Terrific fun to play.

  • Evening News. IIRC, so-named because Joe’s bass bit in the ‘verse’ sections sounds something like the intro music to a local news broadcast.
  • Hell Is Like A Toothache. Dude, it’s in seven – count it off if you don’t believe me ! I certainly was, when I was playing it. And it’s sloppy !
  • The Legend of John Holiday. This didn’t turn out so good – my fault, I had to do my guitar part separately for some reason and couldn’t seem to get the timing right on the breaks. So we shrugged and moved on.
  • Bend Over. We called our first release (the songs recorded in the studio, and then sold on cassettes) “Bend Over”. Then we wrote this song. Fun to play.

  • Yr Ma. Wow. What a mess. Last verse: “She’s my little love salad / With a double chin / Carrots, lettuce, vodka / Ugly as sin.”
  • People Suck / Don’t Change. “People Suck” was Joe’s chance to rant about the world; and it was my chance to choose what we did in the middle part – we’d get there and I’d pick something, sometimes we’d improvise something for a while, sometimes we’d do a whole song. On this day, I chose INXS’s “Don’t Change”. IIRC, the master tape got fucked up somehow and the levels on this song go all over the place, nearly ruining the middle of it. Still, I love how it turned out – it is Total Rock Action. And it’s my favorite part of this group of songs.

fieldfresh’s songs (33MB)


I’m posting these without permission from any of the people who were in any of these bands. And I hope that’s OK with them.

Many of these photos were done by Carla Hernandez. Two from my mother. One from my stepmother. One by Becky.

* – where ‘studio’ ranges from a professional studio to two mic’s in a basement. That is, these aren’t live shows, these are ‘playing music for a tape recorder’.

12 thoughts on “The Box Set

  1. Bobby Lightfoot

    god DAMN it I was two ‘graphs into a congratulatory and encouraging comment when firefox took a very unusual dive and now I have to edit drum tracks.

    I’ll be biting off chunks of this and digging. I’m still working my way through th’ craggy mountain passes of the mighty and astringent “Decisions”.

    Righteous. Nice white Rickenbacker 4001.

  2. cleek Post author

    …and now I have to edit drum tracks.

    :)
    misery.

    I’ll be biting off chunks of this and digging.

    FYI, i just posted ZIPs with all the songs (by band), to make it easier to download).

    I’m still working my way through th’ craggy mountain passes of the mighty and astringent “Decisions”.

    heh. let the decisions flow over you, don’t fight.

  3. joe

    hey chris, awesome summary of it all. “6 Not 7. Don’t remember what the title means”, uh, a take on the “SEVEN” yelling part on one off those early Sonic Youth (Sister?) tracks.

  4. cleek Post author

    a take on the “SEVEN” yelling part on one off those early Sonic Youth (Sister?) tracks

    ha! yeah, i totally forgot that one. awesome. :)

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  6. Jaron

    Hi Chris,

    This is Jaron, your brother’s friend. I’ve known marky lo since like, 1992 and now hes all grown up, stylin’in nyc, kicking it with his homeboys. Anyway, just wanted to let you know mark gave me a copy of Wow Satisfied when I was 14 and I listened to Hector for my entire freshman year at qhs in ’94. never stop rockin’ and thanks so much for offering the classic songs as downloads. nostalgia!

  7. cleek Post author

    hey Jaron, glad you liked it!

    too bad we never got a chance to play back home (my home, anyway). that would’ve been fun.

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  9. gerry

    You know, i still have that white rick in the pics, but i don’t play that one much anymore – but i haven’t stopped playing.

  10. gerry

    oh, yeah – i’d love one of those bubble gum records. seems like i either never got one, or lost the ones i had. granted, i don’t have a record player, but hey….

  11. gerry

    THE Gerry it is!

    email me at gerry at rockethousemusic dot com.

    maybe i’ll even dig up some of the forgotten rarities i have sitting around. i think i have a few things on DAT (shudder)…

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