New Music: Laura’s Song (Live Demo)

Korri Six-String BanjoThe story of “Laura’s Song” is two-fold. The first part involves a garage sale last spring where we found an ancient German 6-string banjo, branded Korri. Despite it’s less-than-playable condition at the time, we fell in love with it and probably overpaid. Though if I’ve learned anything about buying new gear it’s that, given all the stuff I buy that she begrudgingly puts up with, I damn well better buy the odd thing Laura actually likes.

The second part stems from wanting my partner-in-crime more involved in the writing/recording process. She’s become so integral on stage that it’s time we really showcased her on a release (that and after every show people always say “why doesn’t Laura sing more?” …jerks).

We were looking for a simple, bouncy ditty to end the new album and it seemed Laura was inspired by that beautiful relic of vaudevillian charm we’d had hanging on our wall for months, so the aptly titled “Laura’s Song” was born.

This demo is the two of us huddled in the living room around the on-board mics of our Zoom R24. She’s got the six-string banjo and I’ve got an old Casio.

Laura’s Song (Live Demo) by Dog Is Blue

New Music: Stan & Georgie (Live Demo)

Fostex 812 Mixer KnobsThe closer we get to going into the studio to record the new album the more I feel the need to post demos for some feedback. “Stan & Georgie” in particular has been a live favourite since we started playing it last spring. Personally, I enjoy watching audience members try to clap along and then pull the rug out from under them*.

The song itself is simple in accompaniment and details the faulty foundation and ultimately bitter dissolution of an elderly romance. The bridge lyrics and title are borrowed from the classic traditional tune “Frankie & Albert” (Look up the Taj Mahal version if you want a thrill).

As for the recording, this demo comes from the same live reel we recorded in our living room that yielded both “Tortoise” and “People.” You can hear the old analog trappings at work during the bridge, as the tape garbles lovingly.

For the album version I doubt we’ll add to much, but feel free to leave suggestions!


Stan & Georgie (Live Demo) by Dog Is Blue

*There’s a funny video from one of our recent sets at Broadview Espresso where a good friend of ours started clapping along just as I switched back to the verse. I couldn’t hold in my laughter and had to pause the song to recuperate.

New Music: She Said (To the Robot) Demo

Zoom R24 FadersSometimes a song takes a while settle. This particular tune has been around in various forms longer than just about anything on …Makes Ghost Noises, but didn’t make the cut for that album because it just wasn’t ready. I had pretty much written it off as tied too heavily to a specific time and place.

It’s amazing what a slight tweak can do (…or in this case completely ditching the chorus along with a change in tempo).

Suddenly the newly christened “She Said (to the Robot)*” has become a song that we’re not only excited to debut tonight at Rancho Relaxo, but also to have on our soon to be recorded new album.

As for the demo itself, Laura was away, so it’s just me doing my best “reverberated Springsteen.” It was her decision to put it up as is, but I can assure you that she’s got some backing “oohs” in the new arrangement that will make you melt.

Oh, and forgive the huge cough at the end. I was really sick when this was recorded and could barely make it through the take without hacking up a lung. Whiskey was the only thing keeping me going…


She Said (to the Robot) [Demo] by Dog Is Blue

*The title is still up for debate, specifically the “(to the Robot)” part, so if you’ve got any suggestions let’s hear ’em!

New Music: People (Live Demo)

Fostex 812 Mixer KnobsRemember way back when I said we’d recorded a full reel of demos on our trusty Fostex R8 (the same session that yielded the live demo for “Tortoise”)? Well, seeing as Laura (re: half the band) is away until February, I’ve had time to revisit that reel to see what else was there.

The result is a live demo of “People.” This is one of our newest songs and has only been tried live once or twice, but will probably be the most irreverent and playful on the new album.

As usual, it features yours truly on my Hollowbody Saturn and homemade 5F2-A amp with a tambourine on my foot, and Laura on Polysix—she came up with the idea for the second half based on that sweet organ sound. Oh, and apologies for the f-bombs at the end…it’s a fun way to close out the song, but we’re still deciding if they should make it to the album version or not.

People (Live Demo) by Dog Is Blue

New Music: Happy New Year, Little Dragon Slayer

The Daverne Farm at Night by Joey BruniEveryone’s always optimistic in early January. After all, there’s a shiny new year ahead of you brimming with potential. Of course, you have to wonder what became of the promises of the year before, and the year before that…

This notion was heavy on my mind in November when we spent a few days in the countryside plumping around playing music (and eating very well) at the Daverne Farm in Adolphustown. Hoping to do some recording, all priorities were adjusted when confronted with an amazingly full-of-character, but out of tune piano in the living room.

The result is a first attempt at “Little Dragon Slayer,”* a song based around a guitar progression somewhere between Stan Rogers and Velvet Underground, but haphazardly arranged on the spot for the keys. Laura’s backup vocals and Anna Atkinson‘s viola give a much needed classy contrast to my club-fisted and graceless bashing of the piano.


Little Dragon Slayer by Dog Is Blue

*We couldn’t decide on a name for this one, so opened it up to our friends on Twitter. Their great suggestions (almost went with “No Treasure”) turned us away from the obvious and also helped decide whether “Dragon Slayer” should be one word or two.

Merry Christmas from Dog Is Blue and Santa Wahs

DIY Santa Clause Snow White Auto Wah Guitar PedalMerry Christmas, folks!

In honour of the festive season, here’s a guitar pedal I built a while back that has become a necessity live. It’s a homemade Snow White Auto Wah on one side with an Easy Drive distortion on the other. I call him Santa Wahs (I hope that’s an obvious enough pun for you…)—makes for some very funky Jingle Bell Rock.

In fact, the wah portion featured heavily in the recording of “Hot Air Balloons (and Submarines).” You can hear it mostly in the lead guitar (along with a homemade phaser, for extra warble—starts about 13 seconds in).

Download the track by clicking the arrow button on the right, or buy the whole Hot Air Balloons EP from Zunior for only $2.22 with all proceeds going directly to the Daily Bread Food Bank. Happy Holidays!

Hot Air Balloons (and Submarines) by Dog Is Blue

Here are the messy gutshots—for all you gearheads like me (extra points for those who notice that the Easy Drive side is wired point-to-point!):

DIY Santa Clause Snow White Auto Wah and Easy Drive Guitar PedalDIY Santa Clause Snow White Auto Wah and Easy Drive Guitar Pedal

New Demo: Southern Ontario

Foster 812 Mixer and R8 Reel to ReelAhh, the bittersweet financially-depraved love song. It’s the age-old “baby, I love you, but it’d be a lot easier to do if I was a millionaire.”

We recorded this last weekend in a studio space we just started renting—the usual tactic of throwing mics all over the room and hoping for the best. The electric guitar is, as usual, going through my homemade Fender Princeton amp, this time with the snowman Clari(not) pedal that I posted about recently thickening things up and adding a subtle warble (There’s a homemade phaser in the bridge too).

This song and “Tortoise” (that we posted a demo of last week) are the two that seem to get the most reaction out of our new material at our shows. I’m thinking the album version might need some Anna Atkinson viola.

Southern Ontario (Live Demo) by Dog Is Blue

Also, for Laura’s sake, let it be known that she sat patiently nailing her glockenspiel and vocal parts while I bumbled through take after take (listen to how happy she is at the end to have finally made it through the song). She’s the rock, I’m the roll.

New Demo: Tortoise

Fostex R8 reel to reel and 812 mixer A few months ago we came across an old Fostex R8 1/4″ reel to reel recorder with matching mixer for a great deal. I’ve been wanting to try analog recording for a while, so this was perfect—there’s something just so damn satisfying about hitting a big “record” button and watching reels spin instead of clicking a mouse around.

We set it up in our apartment a few weeks ago and recorded an entire tape of live demos with a bunch of mics strewn about the room. “Tortoise” is the best of the bunch. It features Laura on backups and Korg Polysix/shaker and myself on hollowbody guitar through my little homemade Fender Princeton with a tambourine on my foot.

“Tortoise” is a live staple these days and also likely the title track for our next album.

Tortoise (Demo) by Dog Is Blue

Don’t Think Twice: Ancient Bob Dylan Cover

Sketch of Bob Dylan2005. Taiwan. I’ve got a thrift-store Vivitar camcorder microphone* balancing off the back of a kitchen chair. The acoustic guitar in my hands is an Ibanez that I bought used and wouldn’t make the trip back to Canada with me.

Always one of my favourite songs, this recording of “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is one of the earliest recordings I’ve got that I don’t cringe at. Played and sung in one take (screw-ups intact) while hoping the mic didn’t fall off the chair, the backwards guitar and sputtering distortion was added afterward.

It’s funny the things you find buried in your FTP when building a new website…

Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright by Dog Is Blue

*The box showed a very happy blonde with a ridiculous 80’s perm. Best $8 I’ve ever spent.