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New Demos Going Up (Chaotic Neutral)

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To me, it just seems like a waste of money printing two versions of booklets/inserts – with and without lyrics. Just do one or the other. I assume that all the non-autographed copies bought off MapleMusic.com will also have the lyrics or is it just the signed CDs? 

Edited by jackwork

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i'm actually surprised that the booklet at hmv didn't have lyrics, oh well.

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To me, it just seems like a waste of money printing two versions of booklets/inserts – with and without lyrics. Just do one or the other. I assume that all the non-autographed copies bought off MapleMusic.com will also have the lyrics or is it just the signed CDs? 

Nope.  I got a non-signed copy from MM and it doesn't have lyrics either.

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I put in an inquiry to Maple Music regarding a digital download of the full album for those that pre-ordered the vinyl. I usually bought the CD in the past so this was never an issue before, but now the album came out on Friday and I only have the 4 songs that they sent us prior to release in digital for my iPod. Kind of annoyed/frustrated. I assume they don't answer questions over the weekend so I'm hoping to get some clarification tomorrow.

I'm actually surprised that so many artists use Maplemusic. I've had two separate shipments from them go missing and trying to even get someone to respond to me was like nails on a chalkboard. I finally got a response by email after three weeks and they treated me like I was crazy for inquiring so many times.

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I'm in the same boat so I'll follow your lead when you get a response back. This is a different kind of stress compared to the days of waiting for A&B Sound or HMV to open, searching the aisles for the box containing the CD and getting out as quick as possible.

 

So far no response from Maple Music since Friday. I'm starting to think I won't receive the digital download card until the vinyl actually arrives, which won't be until the end of October.

 

Lame.

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Got my signed maple music preorder today. It's got an insert, but it's just notes and who played on which tracks.

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Got my signed maple music preorder today. It's got an insert, but it's just notes and who played on which tracks.

 

OK so I'm an idiot! I guess I was tired when I looked at my CD from MM, I briefly looked, saw each track listed and the assumed this was the lyrics. Upon closer inspection I also have an insert with just the notes and who played on which tracks.

 

Sorry for any confusion.

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This has been an interesting album to digest. I let it soak in for five days and thought about the demo versions of the songs. I thought about the tracklisting and how I felt the finished product stacked up against its demo counterpart.

 

As the title Chaotic Neutral might suggest, I have trouble pinning down this album's identity. When I heard a majority of the demos, I thought he might be heading more in the direction of Lights of Endangered Species. Matt himself indicated that he felt like Lights of Endangered Species was more complete than Arrows of Desire. However, both of those albums have a clear identity, whereas I feel Chaotic Neutral does not. As mentioned previously, the songs are sort of all over the place. Some of the songs contain traditional song structures, with verses and choruses, where others do not. Eschewing traditional structures worked really well on Lights of Endangered Species, because the arrangements were very lush and the songs meandered carefree in a vast sonic landscape. Each song on that album more or less lived in that same landscape. However, on Chaotic Neutral we have songs that range in genus from "Moment" to "Harridan" to "Tiger by the Tail" to "Army of Lions." As mentioned above, the album is definitely a little all over the place, and although I'm warming up to it, it makes it difficult for me to find a cohesive identity in there. It's more like a collection of songs than an album, if you will. I think using "Night Orders" and "Hornets" on the final album while subbing out some oddities like "No Liars" would have helped. Some production choices I talk about below would have helped too. I accept that "Girls in Black" has a place on this album. It seems very personal. However, it's more of a Vancouver-like rocker than the direction this album seems to be trying to lean in.

 

Now, as far as comparing demos to finished products go, this is a tough one. Am I ever happy he shared these with us. It was really fun and enlightening to follow the development of the album. We wouldn't be able to sit here and state our subjective opinions on all this art if we didn't have access to the demos. When Arrows of Desire came out, I recall people being quite happy with the finished product. We had no demos to compare that album to, so there was no hard feelings concerning missing emotions or "botched" arrangement or production choices. I can't help but think that whoever said that spinning the demos ad nauseam would set the listener-follower up for disappointment is totally correct. We listen to demos over and over again, which Matt probably didn't intend with time-limited previews. He didn't care at all about the mix or clarity of his home office recordings. But while he, Warne, and the production team make decisions about the direction they want to take with songs, we get to use our imagination's versions of the songs and build up ideals in our minds. We remember the small nuances with fondness and when the final product comes out, we're ultimately let down that it doesn't meet our expectations and lacks idiosyncracies we fell in love with. We go back to the originals with that fondness, and consciously recall the possibilities we conjured.

 

With that being said, I think some opportunities were missed on at least a couple of songs. "All You Sons and Daughters" is the first example. Ages ago, I said that I could envision that song as an amazing opener. At that time, I meant of both the album and in a live setting. However, the grandeur has been stripped out of the original demo in translation to the studio. All we have left is a standard rocker. The original Cold Harbor demo felt a lot more complete to me. It had dynamics and instrumentation that the final lacks. The second verse had musical development to go along with the lyrical development in the glockenspiel melody. Not to mention the original had an outro that wasn't just a previous musical idea repeated. The bells also made the song way bigger. Maybe I'm falling victim to what I've described in the paragraph above. A while back, Matt posted a picture of what looked to be a tracklisting for this album and he had "Harridan" opening. The final state of "All You Sons and Daughters" led me to believe "Harridan" would have been a much better opener, so I tried it, and I agree with his original idea. The second slot would have been better for what wound up on the album.

 

"Army of Lions" is another one. Why was it rearranged to be a quick blast and reduce the suspense and tension from the demo? Why wasn't that outro used as a bridge like in the original demo? With that amazing album production, it could have been a monster. Instead, it's just a quick break between two of the softest songs on the record. Using the original bridge progression as a quick outro was a great idea, but the bridge should have remained there too. Like "All You Sons and Daughters," it's just another song that ends abruptly more or less unresolved. I feel like there's a point where an artist has to strive for musical concentration and not oversaturate the listener with the same idea, but rounding out songs with instrumental bridges and outros wouldn't have hurt. I also miss the reverb on the chorus of "Tiger by the Tail," but hey, right?

 

Anyhow, I really enjoy the new album, but I'm trying to relate with some of the people who feel a little challenged by the transition from demo to final form. The production is great and a lot of songs were definitely improved in the studio. The vocals are bang on. One of my favourite moments on the album is when he sings "punched" on "Army of Lions." I can't wait to see what he does with these songs on the tour. I'm hitting three shows and two VIPs, so I'm looking forward to it big time! I'm definitely happy to have some new songs in the catalogue.

Edited by NonPopulus
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I agree that "Chaotic Neutral" seems all over the place, like he went back & found old songs to rewrite (for example All You Sons & Daughters). Definitely doesn't feel like there's a theme throughout the album compared to Avalanche, Hospital Music & Vancouver just to name a few. 

I'm still loving this album though, I'd pay a billion dollars to hear "Harridan" followed by "Zero Orchestra", when you listen to them back to back it's amazing. 

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Guest girl

I just listened to those two songs. The beginning part of Zero Orchestra sounds very similar to Harridan. I was surprised. That would be a seamless transition from one song to another. They're like brother and sister.

Edited by girl

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After a couple listens I have mixed thoughts.  Many of the songs are as good and better than the demos but the album doesn't seem to have a very good flow.  It seems like a pretty random bunch of songs thrown in a blender.  They are good songs so that's a plus.

 

It's weird how such little differences from demo to studio can take quite a bit away from a song.  Los Alamos still sounds good on the album but something is missing.  I think the vocal performance might not be as convincing and haunting as it was in the demo and the subtleties of the music combined with the singing in the demo had a more special impact.  Cold Water has more changes but I can already see those changes growing on me as I really like the more melodic guitar accents and the song captures the essence of the demo better.  I preferred both Cold Water and Los Alamos in demo form though.  It is a pretty big disappointment but maybe they will grow on me.

Edited by Manchalivin

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I just listened to the Army of Lions and Cold Water demos to see what all the hubbub is about. Really don't get the fascination with these demos. Album versions are far superior, complete visions. Frankly I would have been disappointed if the album sounded anything like these demos.

 

To each their own though.

 

I do agree that the tracklist a little disjointed, but perhaps the theme really is just "chaos".


One more thought. Cold Water has some of my favorite lyrics he's ever written, I think. Very unique.

Edited by Gomo
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I think the production on Army of Lions is great and they made great instrumentation choices. I just miss the original arrangement. If they would have recorded the original arrangement with the album production, it wouldn't have been perfect. Cold Water, for me, is better on the album than demo form. Los Alamos, I would say is a draw, in my books. I just wish they wouldn't have pounded the life out of All You Sons and Daughters by transforming it into a standard rock song.

 

The sketchpad tracklisting was:

 

Harridan

All You Sons and Daughters

Moment

Kid Down the Well

Tiger By The Tail

No Liars

Girls in Black

Cold Water

Cloudbusting

Army of Lions

Los Alamos

 

Imagine if Hornets and Night Orders were there instead of No Liars. I think that would have been a huge improvement - order and track selection - on an album that's already awesome.

Edited by NonPopulus

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Yeah that's one of the things that makes Cold Water interesting is the lyrics.

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Guest girl

Imagine if Hornets and Night Orders were there instead of No Liars. I think that would have been a huge improvement - order and track selection - on an album that's already awesome.

 

Yes, anything with Night Orders on it would be an improvement. I feel good whenever I hear that song. I heard a portion of Hornets once long time ago, so I don't know about that song.

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A few days ago I may have agreed with the criticism of the album's lack of flow. But that was before I'd listened to it on CD from start to finish. I put it on last night while driving, and for some reason the demos faded away and the songs sounded fresh to my ears. Granted, just about everything sounds better at night behind the wheel, but everything just works for me. Even the less complicated songs still fit due to the production.

 

I understand it may be hard to categorize Matt's songwriting on this one, but maybe that's just the evolution (dare I say brilliance?) of his work. The tracks really do seem to be a hybrid of Lights and Arrows, but that's okay. Right now, I like the album better than either of those. And they were pretty damn great!

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The tracks really do seem to be a hybrid of Lights and Arrows, but that's okay. Right now, I like the album better than either of those. And they were pretty damn great!

 

I agree, and it's one of the first things I thought about this album. This is interesting because it seemed like the people who really liked lights were not huge fans of arrows and vice versa. 

 

I noticed that the track list switched from on the app. It had Girls in Black directly following Harridan, but on the release, TBTT is sandwiched between. I actually really like that change. 

I'm still going through the songs that I didn't gravitate to right away, but they have already grown on me. 

 

I do like No Liars, it's a fun sing along, but I also agree that it doesn't quite seem to fit, or maybe it's the placement? Seems like it would have been better off next to Girls in Black. I would have loved Night Orders or We Have Done This Before...

 

Went back and had a listen to the Army of Lions demo. I get missing that original arrangement but it's not so far off that I would call it a disappointment, but that is just my opinion, everyone's going to like and dislike different things. Also that was one demo I listened to only once and put on the shelf so I didn't have much of an attachment. 

 

Los Alamos. Yeah, the demo had more of that raw emotion in it but it's still a gorgeous song. 

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Guest girl

Here's the "horns" version of Hornets if you're interested, girl.

 

http://youtu.be/TqAL3IjWxCQ

 

Thanks NonPopulus! I will watch it after work.

I put it on last night while driving, and for some reason the demos faded away and the songs sounded fresh to my ears. Granted, just about everything sounds better at night behind the wheel, but everything just works for me.

 

I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I agree.

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A few days ago I may have agreed with the criticism of the album's lack of flow. But that was before I'd listened to it on CD from start to finish. I put it on last night while driving, and for some reason the demos faded away and the songs sounded fresh to my ears. Granted, just about everything sounds better at night behind the wheel, but everything just works for me. Even the less complicated songs still fit due to the production.

 

I understand it may be hard to categorize Matt's songwriting on this one, but maybe that's just the evolution (dare I say brilliance?) of his work. The tracks really do seem to be a hybrid of Lights and Arrows, but that's okay. Right now, I like the album better than either of those. And they were pretty damn great!

 Totally. It has elements from both albums, but seems to capitalize on both. Whereas some songs it can be argued, meandered, on Lights, they reach a satisfying crescendo on Chaotic Neutral. And where it can be argued that there may not have been enough in the way of ballads on Arrows, this record more than makes up for that fact. 

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I feel like this thread would be a good study on what musicians and songwriters refer to as Demo-itis.  :D

 

It's really common among songwriters and musicians - you listen to a demo recording too much, then go into the studio to record the final version, and dislike the final version because it doesn't feel "right".

 

When The National recorded High Violet, they recorded a version of "Terrible Love", but they didn't think it worked as well as the demo they'd recorded.  They ended up putting the demo on the album.  However, their live version was more in line with what they'd recorded for the album, and fans seemed to be clamoring for that version, so they included it on the expanded edition of the album.  (I think general fan reaction is that the second version is better.)

 

For me, I think people generally prefer the version they've heard the most, with exceptions of where the original version has a notable/fixable flaw.  Sometimes I'll go back to a demo or live take that I've loved (but haven't heard in a long time) and realize that I'm no longer attached to it. 

 

(Years ago, I saw Jimmy Eat World do a really early version of "Sweetness" that was like a 2:30 pop punk song, and I loved it.  Shortly thereafter, they doubled the length of the verses and extended the break to almost double the length of the song, and I hated it.  But that live take is on a cassette - not on my iPod, which only has the album version.  I heard that short version again recently, and thought it was just okay.)

 

I actually doubt that Matt listens to the demos anywhere nearly as much as we do.  :)  Myself, I usually download them all, listen to them once, then go back to check them out after the album's out.  I love checking out the differences.

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Excellent insights.  I agree with everything you said above, especially about Moment.

 Thanks :)

This has been an interesting album to digest. I let it soak in for five days and thought about the demo versions of the songs. I thought about the tracklisting and how I felt the finished product stacked up against its demo counterpart.

 

As the title Chaotic Neutral might suggest, I have trouble pinning down this album's identity. When I heard a majority of the demos, I thought he might be heading more in the direction of Lights of Endangered Species. Matt himself indicated that he felt like Lights of Endangered Species was more complete than Arrows of Desire. However, both of those albums have a clear identity, whereas I feel Chaotic Neutral does not. As mentioned previously, the songs are sort of all over the place. Some of the songs contain traditional song structures, with verses and choruses, where others do not. Eschewing traditional structures worked really well on Lights of Endangered Species, because the arrangements were very lush and the songs meandered carefree in a vast sonic landscape. Each song on that album more or less lived in that same landscape. However, on Chaotic Neutral we have songs that range in genus from "Moment" to "Harridan" to "Tiger by the Tail" to "Army of Lions." As mentioned above, the album is definitely a little all over the place, and although I'm warming up to it, it makes it difficult for me to find a cohesive identity in there. It's more like a collection of songs than an album, if you will. I think using "Night Orders" and "Hornets" on the final album while subbing out some oddities like "No Liars" would have helped. Some production choices I talk about below would have helped too. I accept that "Girls in Black" has a place on this album. It seems very personal. However, it's more of a Vancouver-like rocker than the direction this album seems to be trying to lean in.

 

Now, as far as comparing demos to finished products go, this is a tough one. Am I ever happy he shared these with us. It was really fun and enlightening to follow the development of the album. We wouldn't be able to sit here and state our subjective opinions on all this art if we didn't have access to the demos. When Arrows of Desire came out, I recall people being quite happy with the finished product. We had no demos to compare that album to, so there was no hard feelings concerning missing emotions or "botched" arrangement or production choices. I can't help but think that whoever said that spinning the demos ad nauseam would set the listener-follower up for disappointment is totally correct. We listen to demos over and over again, which Matt probably didn't intend with time-limited previews. He didn't care at all about the mix or clarity of his home office recordings. But while he, Warne, and the production team make decisions about the direction they want to take with songs, we get to use our imagination's versions of the songs and build up ideals in our minds. We remember the small nuances with fondness and when the final product comes out, we're ultimately let down that it doesn't meet our expectations and lacks idiosyncracies we fell in love with. We go back to the originals with that fondness, and consciously recall the possibilities we conjured.

 

With that being said, I think some opportunities were missed on at least a couple of songs. "All You Sons and Daughters" is the first example. Ages ago, I said that I could envision that song as an amazing opener. At that time, I meant of both the album and in a live setting. However, the grandeur has been stripped out of the original demo in translation to the studio. All we have left is a standard rocker. The original Cold Harbor demo felt a lot more complete to me. It had dynamics and instrumentation that the final lacks. The second verse had musical development to go along with the lyrical development in the glockenspiel melody. Not to mention the original had an outro that wasn't just a previous musical idea repeated. The bells also made the song way bigger. Maybe I'm falling victim to what I've described in the paragraph above. A while back, Matt posted a picture of what looked to be a tracklisting for this album and he had "Harridan" opening. The final state of "All You Sons and Daughters" led me to believe "Harridan" would have been a much better opener, so I tried it, and I agree with his original idea. The second slot would have been better for what wound up on the album.

 

"Army of Lions" is another one. Why was it rearranged to be a quick blast and reduce the suspense and tension from the demo? Why wasn't that outro used as a bridge like in the original demo? With that amazing album production, it could have been a monster. Instead, it's just a quick break between two of the softest songs on the record. Using the original bridge progression as a quick outro was a great idea, but the bridge should have remained there too. Like "All You Sons and Daughters," it's just another song that ends abruptly more or less unresolved. I feel like there's a point where an artist has to strive for musical concentration and not oversaturate the listener with the same idea, but rounding out songs with instrumental bridges and outros wouldn't have hurt. I also miss the reverb on the chorus of "Tiger by the Tail," but hey, right?

 

Anyhow, I really enjoy the new album, but I'm trying to relate with some of the people who feel a little challenged by the transition from demo to final form. The production is great and a lot of songs were definitely improved in the studio. The vocals are bang on. One of my favourite moments on the album is when he sings "punched" on "Army of Lions." I can't wait to see what he does with these songs on the tour. I'm hitting three shows and two VIPs, so I'm looking forward to it big time! I'm definitely happy to have some new songs in the catalogue.

Very well written. While I don't have a problem with the flow, especially since a lot of MGB albums were of the same vein (see AOB for the best example), I do understand how some people might be thrown off at first by the variations in song landscape and progression.

 

The only thing I would say, regarding All You Sons and Daughters, is to let it marinate longer than a week. I thought the exact same thing you did when I heard the studio version the first time. Some of the arrangements in the progression of the different demos seemed so much more lush and fluid (especially the lead guitar along with the bells), but if you actually do give it some time, it grows on you, incredibly. There is so much soul in that song and ultimately if you compare the demos to it, side by side, I found myself appreciating that the sounds were fleshed out and so much more clear in the studio version.

 

I certainly wouldn't have minded him using some of the lead guitar bits and bells he originally included, but at the same time I don't believe simple is always less. Sometimes it makes something a little more raw. 

 

I don't know, it would be interesting to hear Matt's take on the changes in that song. Did he make them because he thought a simpler song would go better with radio, or did he make them because he thought the song was served better by a simpler instrumentation and progression? 

Edited by daniel_v

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Guest girl

Marcella, I couldn't help but notice this.  :)

 

jpg.JPG

 

Is there a story behind it? Did a moderator do that?

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