I have been making music since 2009 and have written 12 albums under my own name to date. However, the early albums are mostly hot garbage, and as such, I have never “released” them in the traditional sense. To prove that I’m not just making up big numbers to sound productive, though, I’ve decided to compile a list of all my solo albums here, including the really early ones, which you can now listen to for free (each album title is clickable). Be warned, however. I have not released these albums for a reason!
1. Gesundheit! – Dec. 20, 2009
In 2009 I had absolutely no idea how to write or produce music. All of my musical experience came from playing Rock Band or putting together songs with preset loops in Mixcraft. I had yet to even lay my hands on a bass, much less start learning how to play one. After discovering the power of Mixcraft’s virtual instruments, however, I became determined to create an album full of music I had actually written.
It was a long and frustrating process. I was full of dreams and ambitions of epic instrumental numbers and songs inspired by my all-time favorites. I wanted to write songs that sounded like Peter Gabriel, or Pink Floyd, or Nine Inch Nails. I wanted to turn all those old song ideas I had written down during school into reality. But what I ended up doing was squeaking out a barely 20-minute “album” full of horrendous production values, uninspired riffs, and musical mistakes.
Every song was in the key of C and rarely consisted of more than 3 notes. My vocals drowned out the instruments and contained sharp “S” sounds so loud they hurt your ears (it would take me two years to notice this!). I also didn’t understand how harmonies worked, so my “harmonies” were just two instances of the same vocal track played at the same time, usually with one slightly pitch-shifted so they didn’t sound “weird”. Good grief. It was far from a waste of time, however, as despite the lackluster album I ended up with, I fell in love with the music making process and thus embarked on a journey to write as many albums as I could.
“Without a Care” was later remade on “Sort Of (Not Really)” under the name “Sugarplum”.
“Britannia” was later remade with The Sexy Einsteins and included on “Not Sexy Anymore“.
“Beige Dog” was included on my Greatest Hits collection with re-recorded vocals and a bit of tweaking.
2. Even the Mundane – Apr. 4, 2010
Hot off the heels of “Gesundheit!” I immediately jumped into my next album. This album was much less frustrating to write, as I was beginning to get comfortable with Mixcraft and my own musical ability. It’s still poorly-produced and too ambitious for it’s own good, but it’s a bit more polished than its predecessor and contains some good ideas.
The album cover – me dramatically holding a door open for people who don’t seem to notice – was actually an idea I had been holding onto for a while. We were on a retreat at the time, and a nice man we ran into agreed to take the picture for us after we got into position. Funny enough, the three people in this picture would form the Sexy Einsteins roughly a year afterward!
“I.Q.” was later re-recorded with The Sexy Einsteins and included on “Not Sexy Anymore“.
“Anticonformacy” was later redone and included as a bonus track on “Zeugma“.
3. Semi-Serious – Jun. 25, 2010
This is by far the best of the old albums, because it doesn’t contain any of my singing (Burn!). “Semi-Serious” is largely a collection of odds and ends I had written during the production of the two albums before it. I had originally planned to release an instrumental album before “Gesundheit!”, but got excited once I started inserting vocals into my music and decided to start doing more of that instead.
As such, the stray instrumental pieces I put together slowly piled up until I had a decent-sized collection. My friend Nick was also pumping out some instrumental music at the time, which inspired me to get back in touch with my techno side and put together some instrumental pieces of my own. The more I played around with virtual instruments, the more comfortable and confident I got. The compositions on “Semi-Serious” are nothing to write home about, but they are miles ahead of the previous two albums in terms of creativity and complexity.
The cover is a parody of Silent Hill 2, which I had finished Let’s Playing a year earlier.
“Sizer” was the first song I ever uploaded online and shared on Facebook, I believe. I remember peeps at my school talking to me about it and saying they enjoyed it. It made me very happy. 😀
“Mother Nature” was the first song I ever wrote that extensively included samples from TV shows and stuff like that. Napoleon Dynamite and Batman (Adam West) are heavily represented.
4. The Physics of it All – Dec. 8, 2010
A stark departure from “Semi-Serious”, “The Physics of it All” is a dark, brooding alt rock album. I was a very angry teenager, and I was bubbling over with frustration and anxiety at the time this album was recorded. I put on my headphones, shut off the world, and injected my emotions into my music.
Even with a new microphone (my camera!) and a better understanding of music, I had trouble writing enough material to fill the album, which only made me angrier. This writer’s block is perfectly understandable, however, considering I had just spat out three albums in a year and was trying to spit out a fourth. And, in spite of my eagerness and ambition, I still only had a bare-bones understanding of music theory. I still like a lot of what I eventually came up with for this album, however, even if it is dripping with teen angst and beset by my lack of musical knowledge.
This album marks my plunge into “dark” music – a trend that would characterize a good chunk of my music for the rest of this period and beyond. My music became oppressive and even creepy at times, and my friends would act surprised when I wrote a song that wasn’t depressing. I’ve always felt that bad emotions breed good music, however, so maybe it was for the best…?
“Denial” was later re-recorded with The Sexy Einsteins and included on “Not Sexy Anymore“. It also marks the first time I pulled off a semi-successful vocal harmony. An instrumental version was included in “The Typewriter“.
“Penance”, in spite of its somber tone, actually samples dialogue from Resident Evil 1, which I was obsessed with at the time.
5. OP – Aug. 2, 2011
“OP” marks a transition period. As evidenced by the picture on the cover, I had become a changed man. I graduated high school, grew out my hair and beard, started learning bass, and began to think critically about my music.
The dark and somber tones of “The Physics of it All” stayed with me, but this music was much less anger-fueled. I was relieved to have graduated high school, and learning bass was getting me excited about music all over again. As you can see, “OP” also marked a slowing in my musical process. As opposed to the quick 3-4 month gaps between my previous releases, “OP” didn’t come out until a whopping 8 months after “The Physics of it All”. Granted, I was also writing material with The Sexy Einsteins at the time, so I was dividing my time between two separate musical projects.
The production values still needed work, but the compositions and ideas were definitely getting fleshed out at the time. Thanks to my bass practice and time with “The ‘Steins”, I was slowly but surely getting a rudimentary grasp on music theory. I was becoming more confident in my musical abilities and making the transition between my mind and my Mixcraft projects quicker and smoother. My music also began to get more politically-charged as I prepared for my next four years of college.
Perhaps most importantly, my personal musical style began to be refined here. This album’s brand of dark synth rock would set a standard that much of my later music would follow.
“Champagne” was my first political song; Its lyrics deal with mistrust of the government. The title was originally misspelled as “Champaigne”.
“Anarchy Tonight” marks my first attempt to sound more 80’s. I was falling in love with new wave and synthpop at the time, and considered this song to be one of the best things I’d ever put out. This song is also my first collaboration with The Quill, who wrote the lyrics (the two of us would make music together as Flitter 3 years later).
6. Pause For Effect – Sep. 2, 2012
I consider “Pause For Effect” to be my first decent album. That is, the production values and compositions are good enough that I might suggest listening to it. It’s still rough around the edges and not the most creative thing in the world, but all of my practice and experimentation finally came to fruition here.
In contrast to the dark sound I had begun developing over the past couple releases, “Pause For Effect” is astonishingly bright and poppy, considering its anger and anxiety-fueled subject matter. I shaved my beard, got my hair cut, listened to a ton of 80’s pop, picked up my bass, and plunged into a new album. I finally started using a decent microphone on this album (save “The Run”, my last song to still use the camera as a mic) and bravely included some real instruments in the music. Playing and recording with The Sexy Einsteins had finally bolstered some confidence in my bass-playing abilities, and I happily laid down some real bass tracks on a few songs. I even got my Dad to play some hot guitar licks, too.
The real bass and guitar definitely helped freshen up my sound. At times when I jumped back over to the electronic side of things, however, I still managed to keep things fresh by utilizing the new instruments included in the latest version of Mixcraft. When not rocking out with my Dad, I indulged in some 80’s-inspired synthpop with loud drum machines and synth melodies. “Pause For Effect” was the most fun I had had writing music in a long time, as I finally began to put together some music I was genuinely proud of.
“One More Time” has been re-recorded and will be included on a future album. (Oops, shhhhh!)
“The Crusader” is a song about Batman that was inspired by the 1960’s TV show, which I fell in love with that summer. Samples from the show are included.
“Precedent President” (as well as “The Crusader”) contains guitar work courtesy of my Dad, marking the first time we had recorded anything together in around 10 years. (Back in the day we recorded some cassette albums together – him on guitar and me singing while banging on some bongos. Unfortunately, those tapes have been lost forever.)
“Precedent President” and “Yield” show up later on my Greatest Hits collection.
Welp, that covers the first half of my musical journey thus far. See you for part 2, which covers 2013 to today!