Home > Uncategorized > New album “downhill” coming soon…

New album “downhill” coming soon…

September 29, 2020 Leave a comment Go to comments

It feels like a million years ago. For most of us things got really Covid-y in mid-March. It was parade day weekend in Scranton, and there was no parade. “There ain’t no party like a Scranton party” and all that, but aside from the diehards who filled the Scranton bars despite the warnings that doing so might kill them, the party was on infinite hiatus. In a matter of days, I was only leaving my house for long evening walks, and it was possible to safely wander down the middle of what used to be busy streets. My only company were the birds, who only seemed louder because they had nothing to compete with anymore.

Myself and Bret Alexander made records in 2016 and 2018 respectively. We half-joked last year about another in 2020, to keep the streak alive. But this was before everything went to shit. Plus, Bret was just coming back from major surgery. It wasn’t gonna happen.

And then it started to happen.

Bret and I stayed in touch throughout Covid-time, almost exclusively through text messages. (Guys do communicate. They just refuse to talk on the phone. And they don’t know how to use Zoom)

Isolation had forced me to learn how to properly use my Tascam 8 track machine. And I had this song called “What If These Are the Good Old Days”. A little pandemic-inspired ditty with a sugary melody masking its passive aggressive depression (I’m a hoot at parties too..in case you’re wondering). One of its verses was based on something Bret had mentioned to me a few days earlier….

the world turned on its head / the kids laughing on the bed / just a suggestion if I may / what if these are the good old days?

His kids (and mine) were now home together. A bit of silver lining, to see and hear them together, home and safe. The song needed a bridge. I asked him if he had any ideas. He did. He sent them to me. Perfect fit. The song was done. It just needed to be recorded. So I cut a guitar track and a vocal. I sent these off to him asking him to fill it out. He added harmony vocals and some guitar tracks, and mixed it down.

None of this was planned. Or discussed beforehand. But it was fun. There’s something communal about music….and creating it with friends is the world’s best cure for the quarantine blues.

Neither of us was stating the obvious. Yet. But eventually it became apparent that if we could do this once, surely we could do it 9 more times? (10 songs being the magic Flannery/Alexander number for an official record)

So we’d start with an idea. Maybe a title. How about this? How about trying it like that? I’d have a melody and a few verses, and Bret would flesh it out with a bridge. Or I’d have a lyric and simply pass it along. We not only didn’t meet face to face during all this, as I mentioned we didn’t even speak on the phone. So there was no deep discussions. There’d be a text. “I just sent you something.” Then maybe 2 days later…a reply. “Ok….I’ll check it out”. Then another few days and “I sent you an idea”.

I asked him some questions about the town he grew up in, and crafted a lyric based on that. He said…”whadda you hear on this one?” and I’d say “make it sound like Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell” and instead of saying “are you fucking crazy?” he’d say “will do” and the result was “If All I Get Is One Goodbye”.

(A slight digression. Jimi Hendrix once asked his producer to make a song sound like “water” and the guy said sure and took it away and worked on it and when Jimi heard the results he said “that sounds great, but can you make it sound like blue water?” After 3 records together both of us could easily slip into this sort of talk….)

One night we were texting about the loss of civil rights pioneer John Lewis and I suggested that “From Selma To Montgomery” would make a great song title and he said “let’s do it” so I wrote the lyrics and the next day he had the tune. We cut it and he hated it. I asked him why and he said “I hate my acoustic guitar” and I said “well then get rid of it and replace it with piano” and he did and he didn’t hate it anymore. This constituted a major production meeting in Flannery/Alexander world.

Sometimes he sang and sometimes I sang and sometimes we both sang and sometimes he’d add harmonies and sometimes he’d say “singing harmony with you is impossible” and not. The only rule was to not repeat ourselves….to keep it new….which resulted in the unabashed pop of “It Never Feels Like She Cares All That Much” and the Petty-ish guitar/bass/drum workout “Cool It Out”, the latter of which featured rare loud noises from the old men. Boredom is more contagious than Covid-19, so it had to be avoided at all costs.

When we got to 10 songs, we figured we’d stop and release what we had. And then look forward to 2022.

I said “you got any ideas regarding a cover and a title?” and he said “well I had a picture but it won’t work” and I said “why won’t it work?” and he said “it’s an actual Polaroid” and I said “tape it to the wall and take a picture of the picture” and he did and that’s our cover (“With the blue tape or without?” “Definitely with”. Done.). The title is “downhill”. Our album packaging meetings are as long as our production ones.

And so here we are, in the year of the devil 2020. Our streak is still intact. We hope this music helps a little…

It’ll be up on Bandcamp soon, and eventually all the streaming services. We’re extremely anxious to cash that $4.00 Spotify check once we reach 1000 streams, which doesn’t sound half bad when you consider that the same amount of streams on YouTube nets us $1.75

What I’m saying is that we’re clearly only in this for the money.

In a bit..


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