Jerkatorium

Jerkatorium

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Jerkatorium Wins SpinTunes 13! And Three New Songs!

Jerkatorium beat out 27 other bands to win SpinTunes 13!  SpinTunes was a four-round songwriting elimination contest and we crushed it. 



We won with our song "Oh No / Sunblock", which you can hear and download for free at:

https://jerkatorium.bandcamp.com/track/oh-no-sunblock

As with our other songs on Bandcamp you can download this one for free by clicking "Buy Now name your price", entering $0, and clicking through to the download prompt.

The challenge for the final round was to write two songs that can stand on their own, play them separately, then play them simultaneously as a single harmonious piece.  We also had to include some mention of or allusion to an eclipse.

We took pains to make the separate songs sound as different as possible while ensuring that they would meld together well for the combination piece.  I had an idea that if you used any given major chord in song #1, but in song #2 you didn't play the root note and instead stressed the third and fifth, then the major chord could sound like a minor chord with the third as the root in song #2.  For example, if song #1 starts on a C major chord (C/E/G) then you could start song #2 on a chord that sounds like an E minor (E/G) while remaining harmonious when the two songs are played simultaneously.  It worked better on paper than in practice, and the illusion is shattered after the first listening, but I like to think that the general gist had some effect.

Special thanks to our guest vocalist Sheri Hinshaw, who is singing the lead in the "Oh No" half of the song, and who had previously helped us out on our "Regime Change" song for Nur Ein.

-=-=-=-=-=-

I'm a little late in updating this blog, and as a result I have two other songs to announce.  First off, our third song for SpinTunes (the one that squeaked us into the final) was "Center Square Redux", which you can hear and download for free at:

https://jerkatorium.bandcamp.com/track/center-square-redux

The challenge for that one was to take our Round 1 or Round 2 entry and re-write the song using the exact same lyrics, with a completely new tune and style.  We ended up re-doing our original Center Square song, but with a very different sound and feel.

We also entered into an agreement where at the beginning of every month we give Brian Raiter a topic, and by the end of the month he gives us a set of lyrics related to that assigned topic.  Then Jerkatorium spends the following month writing a song based on those lyrics, and in the meantime Brian is writing a new set of lyrics based on a different topic we'd assigned to him, and the cycle can continue like that indefinitely.  Anyway the first topic assigned to Brian for June 2017 was "Derp Crew" (a specific in-reference that I don't know whether or not I'm allowed to explain), and the lyrics he submitted to us were turned into this song:

https://soundcloud.com/jerkatorium/derp-crew

So that's the three songs.  Since we're obliged to have a new song finished by the end of every month, we'll have another one out in less than a week - I'll try to update the Jerkatorium blog sooner after that one is finished.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

New Jerkatorium Song "Steady On" for SpinTunes

Jerkatorium has made it through the first two rounds of SpinTunes 13, getting 2nd place (out of 28 competitors) for our song "Center Square" for Round 1.  

The Round 2 assignment was:  "Write a song of advice, sung by your present self to your 15-year-old self, in the form of a letter."  We recorded and submitted "Steady On", and got 4th place out of 19 competitors.  You can hear the song at Bandcamp:

https://jerkatorium.bandcamp.com/track/steady-on

You can download the song for free at that link too (just choose "Buy Now name your price" and set the price as $0 and then click through to download).  I did not make a music video for Steady On.  Not yet, anyway.

No pic or video for this post, but if it's any consolation I can promise more new songs are just around the corner.  We are compelled to have a new song before the first of each month so our next new song is just a couple of days away, and then the SpinTunes Round 3 song will be due in a week.

Monday, July 10, 2017

New Jerkatorium Song and Video: "Center Square" - for SpinTunes

There weren't any Jerkatorium updates for a month, but now you can expect some new releases in the coming weeks, followed by a minimum of one song per month into the foreseeable future.

Jerkatorium has entered a competition called "SpinTunes", which involves writing a song every other week:  nine days to write and record a song, followed by five days of rest while the judges rate the songs, followed by a new song assignment with another nine-day deadline, and repeating like that for a total of five rounds (or until we are eliminated).  Unlike Song Fight and Nur Ein, the SpinTunes song challenges are usually topics instead of titles.  The first topic was "Death Star": write a tribute to your favorite deceased celebrity, but without using the celebrity's name in the song.

Naturally our first choice was Moms Mabley, but then we got insider information that literally all of the 27 other contestants were working on Moms Mabley songs so we decided to choose something else.  I wrote most of a song about Hedy Lamarr, but then Chumpy got some great ideas about Paul Lynde so we went for that.  After submitting the song to SpinTunes, I made a video for it using public domain footage from archive.org:


If the YouTube insert above doesn't work, you can find it at the following link:

https://youtu.be/hLWU1YfcdOc

You can hear and download the song for free at:

https://jerkatorium.bandcamp.com/track/center-square

If you're not already hip to Bandcamp.com, you just click where it says "Buy Now name your price" and set the price at $0.  Then, when it tries to guilt you into giving us money again, ignore that and click where it says "Alternatively, continue with zero and download to your computer," and then another download button or two.  Seriously, no need to pay anything for any Jerkatorium music.

Chumpy also annotated the lyrics to clear up any potential confusion about the content:

https://genius.com/Jerkatorium-center-square-lyrics

We have also launched what we hope will be a regular monthly collaboration with our semi-irregular collaborator/wordsmith Breadbox.  This should result in a series of new, original songs about subjects near and dear to our hearts.  Mostly nerd stuff, probably.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

New Jerkatorium Music Video: Tired of Talking

I am happy to announce a new Jerkatorium music video for our Nur Ein XII round 2 submission "Tired of Talking":


[Or click here if the YouTube insert above isn't working:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1XtQNL__-0 ]

This video was made from of edited-together clips from the 1979 move "Driller Killer" -- but with none of the gory or scary parts, just footage of "Tony Coca-Cola and the Roosters" (the fake punk band featured in the movie).  Driller Killer is now in the public domain and available at Archive.org.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Three New Jerkatorium Songs! And Jerkatorium Loses! Twice!

Jerkatorium tied for second place on the Ocean of Blood Song Fight.  It's fine that we didn't win that one, Flaming Tiger had a great song that deserved to win.  We had also won six out of the previous seven fights we'd entered, so it was good to have one in the loss column to keep us grounded.

Jerkatorium also continued to compete in Nur Ein XII with three new songs: Tired of Talking, Regime Change, and A Sense of the Absurd, all of which can be heard and/or downloaded at this link:

http://nurein.songlander.com/bands/625B65FA9A10E109641A9A471F026BE9

As I'd mentioned in previous posts, extra non-optional requirements are imposed on the Nur Ein title assignments:

The lyrics for Tired of Talking had to be limited to one sentence.  The rules stated that run-on sentences were fair game, and that the sentence could be repeated any number of times in the song.  Brian Raiter wrote our sentence for us, and I really liked how that song turned out.  Some of the judges didn't like our approach, but we still made it through to the next round.

Regime Change had the added requirement of two guest singers, plus the added constraint that none of those guest singers could be current or former Nur Ein participants.  Song Fight semi-regular Jeff DeSantis was one of our guest singers, and wow, he did a great job.  Our other guest singer was Sheri Hinshaw, who also did a great job, but the recording quality was sub-par because her lines were recorded on her phone.  We hope to revise the song with a cleaner take in the future.  Regardless, the judges enjoyed the song and I really enjoy listening to it.

The lyrics for A Sense of the Absurd had to be written around a mondegreen (a misheard lyric).  We struggled with this one a bit, working on and subsequently discarding three distinctly different approaches before settling on a direction.  We were still writing parts of the song within two hours of the submission deadline.  In my opinion A Sense of the Absurd was our weakest Nur Ein composition (my fault, not Chumpy's).  We were eliminated from the competition that round by the slightest margin imaginable:  We tied with another band for third-to-last place so the judges voted between us two tied bands, and we lost by one point.  That other band was 73 Keep It Beautiful, and I thought their song was one of the best from that round, so I'm only surprised we didn't lose to them by a wider margin... though I do think a couple of the bands who scored better than either of us had songs that were considerably worse.

So we were eliminated from Nur Ein after five songs.  The way I look at it, we generated five great songs in five weeks, and that's a good thing.  So now it's back to the Song Fights - I'll keep you posted on our upcoming songs.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Two New Jerkatorium Songs: "Fingers Crossed" and "After You"

As I'd mentioned in the last two posts, Jerkatorium is competing in Nur Ein this year.  Much like Song Fight, Nur Ein assigns a title for all competitors.  Nur Ein goes a couple of extra steps by imposing an extra non-optional challenge or constraint on each assignment, and by having a 7-day deadline (which is tougher than Song Fight's 10-day deadline).  Another difference is that Song Fight competitors win if they get the most votes from the public, while Nur Ein is an elimination competition decided by a pre-selected panel of 5 judges.

So far we have done pretty well.  Our first entry was in a 4-way tie for 8th place (out of 20 bands) for the "Fingers Crossed" title, which had the added requirement of including some backwards singing or instrumentation in the song.  We did even better with our third-place showing for the "After You" title, which had the added requirement of a countermelody.

All of our Nur Ein submissions can be heard (and downloaded for free) at this link:

http://nurein.songlander.com/bands/625B65FA9A10E109641A9A471F026BE9

A new Jerkatorium song will pop up there every week until we get eliminated.

Oh yeah, and take a look at what I found on YouTube:


Sunday, April 16, 2017

New Jerkatorium Song "Ocean Of Blood" Posted At SongFight.org

Jerkatorium submitted an entry for the current "Ocean Of Blood" Song Fight, and you can hear it (and vote for it if you like it) at the following link:

http://www.songfight.org

This song is just acoustic guitar and voice, which is a bit of a departure from our typical style.  Other than the vocal layering, this is a "no-frills" effort from us.  A couple hours prior to submission Chumpy found a neat new trick in Logic Pro X that helped us clean up the song, and we were at it right up until the deadline.  There are some timing issues during the second verse that I'm sure we would have noticed and cleaned up prior to submission if we'd had more time and fresh ears, but I'm still very happy with how it turned out.  The lyrics are darker than usual, but with title like "Ocean Of Blood" you'd have to expect some darkness.

I might post another update as soon as tomorrow, depending on how soon the Nur Ein songs are posted.  Jerkatorium is on track to submit our song for the "Fingers Crossed" round today.

I do not like to update this blog without pictures, so here is a photo of the sunset I took from the plane to Sacramento on January 9.  It's a pretty photo except for the scratches on the window.  It has nothing to do with Jerkatorium music, but here it is anyway:

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Jerkatorium Song "The John Benjamin Band Theme"

As part of a recent "Themesong Fight", Jerkatorium created a theme song for fellow Song Fighter and musical genius The John Benjamin Band:


The song turned out great, and you can hear it here:


The John Benjamin Band is genuinely as fantastic as depicted in the song, and you can hear a bunch of his music at his Johnorama.com website, and you can hear a bunch more in his SongFight archive:


We have another new song coming out soon for the "Ocean Of Blood" Song Fight, and I will update this blog as soon as those songs are posted.

In other news, Jerkatorium is competing in Nur Ein this year, which means at least one new song every week from now until we get eliminated from the competition.  Nur Ein is different than Song Fight because it's an elimination competition (like oh so many reality TV competition shows), and there is a set panel of judges instead of voting from the general public.  It started yesterday and lasts until June 5, so there should be new Jerkatorium songs posted every week until we lose.  I will post regular updates and links to the songs on this blog.


Friday, March 31, 2017

Jerkatorium Wins AGAIN for the "Old Friends" Song Fight

Jerkatorium featuring Micah Sommersmith won the "Old Friends" Song Fight by a wide margin.  As I'd mentioned in the previous post, Micah did a ton of work to make the song as good as it is.  Extra kudos to Chumpy too for his contributions to the lyrics, for delivering a great vocal performance, and for his mixing mastery.  You can hear the song at this link:

http://www.songfight.org/music/old_friends/jerkatorium+micahsommersmith_of.mp3

Early on we'd gotten a lot of good reviews for the song, and the host of the YouTube SongFight Listening Party had obviously enjoyed it (use the link below the image to go directly to his reaction):




Anyway that's four wins in a row (or two wins in a row, if you're counting it as Jerkatorium featuring Micah Sommersmith instead of Jerkatorium).  We'll have another song posted soon for our ThemeFight entry, I'll post a link as soon as that is up.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Jerkatorium Wins The "Ace In The Hole" Song Fight, New "Old Friends" Collab Posted At SongFight.org

Jerkatorium won the "Ace In The Hole" Song Fight by a pretty good margin.  That's three wins in a row for us.

The song evolved a lot over the course of its composition; we had a sketchy original idea that neither of us was really excited about, until Chumpy and I started going back and forth, trading off huge revisions of the content and style until it all came together.  Anyway I hope you liked it, and if you haven't heard it yet you can catch it at:

http://www.songfight.org/music/ace_in_the_hole/jerkatorium_aith.mp3

We also have an entry posted in the current "Old Friends" Song Fight, and for the next week and a half or so you can hear it (and vote for it if you like it) at SongFight.org.  This time around we did another collaboration with Micah Sommersmith, the Song Fighter and accordion virtuoso that we worked with on the "Baked Out Of My Gourd" Song Fight almost a year ago.  This time we went for a friendship/rivalry theme modeled on those Bing Crosby/Bob Hope road movie songs, where they are ostensibly singing about their admiration for each other, but end up insulting each other throughout the bulk of the song.

We submitted the song under the name Jerkatorium featuring Micah Sommersmith in the interest of consistency (since that was the name we had for our other collaboration), but I should stress that Micah did so much work on the song that he should get equal billing, or maybe even top billing.  It was a true collaboration, with everyone contributing, and Micah did so much work on the song that it seems inaccurate and unfair to present it as if he were a guest musician.  We were considering reversing the order (Micah Sommersmith featuring Jerkatorium), or maybe coming up with a new band name for the collaboration (Micahtorium?), but Micah preferred Jerkatorium featuring Micah Sommersmith so we kept that.  Anyway I hope you like it:

http://www.songfight.org/index.php

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Jerkatorium Wins The "Dominatrix" Song Fight, & New Song "Ace In The Hole" Posted @ SongFight.org

Jerkatorium won the "Dominatrix" Song Fight.  Only five bands submitted songs to that fight, and we won by a good margin.

We also have a song in the current "Ace In The Hole" Song Fight, and you can hear the song (and vote for it, if you like it) at:

http://www.songfight.org/index.php

Only five bands submitted songs to this fight too.  This is not incredibly unusual - there have been a few Song Fights with over 50 submissions, and there have been several fights with as few as 3 entries, and at least one fight with only 2 bands submitting.  I'm hoping this recent slump is very temporary.  I would rather compete against more bands, even though it would decrease our chances of winning.

We are also participating in a new Themesong Fight, where we write a theme song for a random Song Fighter.  We were assigned The John Benjamin Band, which is great because I have been a huge fan of his work for the past 15 years or so.  The artist assigned to compose a theme song for Jerkatorium is Johnny Cashpoint, an extremely prolific musician who covered our "Watching The Riot" for the 2016 Original Flava Cover Fight.  The theme songs aren't due until April 1, and they probably won't be posted until mid-April at the earliest, but I will put an announcement in this blog as soon as the songs are available.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Jerkatorium Song Posted For "Dominatrix" Song Fight

Jerkatorium has a new song posted in the current Song Fight.  The title for this week was "Dominatrix".  You can hear it, and vote for it if you like it, at the following link:

http://www.songfight.org

Chumpy's idea was to do a take on the Gor novels (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gor).  The novels are notoriously sexist, pornographic 'sword-and-planet' space operas that by all accounts celebrate violence towards women and the sexual humiliation of women.  Chumpy flipped the script to make the male narrator the slave in this song.  Pairing that approach with his catchy, ear-wormy melody resulted in a piece that I'm really happy with.

My cover art was used for this Fight, though I feel like I should explain it and perhaps apologize in advance for any perceived sexism or disrespect.  The Song Fight text block is the main logo for Song Fight:


In addition to that, Song Fight uses a sloppy, hand-drawn pic to accompany the text logo:


So my cover art was a take on that logo, and not some random S&M fantasy of mine (not one that I'm admitting to anyway):



And one last quick item:  I made a 'fan video' for a song called "Motor Scooter" by the Surrealists (a band from Olympia, Washington).  It's a mostly-unknown song that I've been listening to and enjoying for the past 25 years.  The video was put together using public domain footage I found on Archive.org.  Come to think of it, working on another Jerkatorium music video might have been a better use of my time, but this one was fun anyway, and it gave me more experience and practice doing some basic video editing:


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jerkatorium's cover of Sweet's "Fox On The Run"

This winter Jerkatorium participated the Gift Of Music Sidefight again.  Much as I'd described it last year:

The Gift of Music project is an annual Song Fight "Sidefight" or "Coverfight".  Each participating band picks four songs that they would like to hear cover versions of, and those songs were posted on the Song Fight bulletin board.  The songs could be anything except other Songfighter songs (there are other Sidefight/Coverfight opportunities to cover Song Fighter songs).  Then the Fightmaster randomly assigns those sets of four songs to other bands, and each band picks one song to cover.  So it's sort of like a secret Santa combined with a gift registry; you know that one of your four picks will get covered, but you don't know which of the four songs will be chosen and you don't know which band is covering it.


We were assigned to cover one of Paco Del Stinko's 
song picks.  He gave us a choice between four different songs from four different decades, and out of those four we chose "Fox On The Run" by Sweet.  Here is the link Paco gave for the original:



The Jerkatorium cover version can be heard at the link below:

http://www.johnnycashpoint.com/gom1617/jerkatorium_fotr.mp3

The cover song that we were gifted was "Quality of Armor", a Guided By Voices song that was covered for us (extremely well, IMHO) by the very talented Potato Dentata, and that can be heard at http://www.johnnycashpoint.com/gom1617/Quality%20Of%20Armor.mp3.

There is some other really good stuff covered by and for our fellow SongFighters at http://johnnycashpoint.com/blog/2017/01/28/gift-of-music-20162017/.