Sleeping with Giants
'Listeners may be reminded of Nick Drake's deep plucking style by the opening track, 'Sweetly, Gently,' wherein listeners can actually hear Chartrand's hands sliding across the strings in chord changes. Vocally, Chartrand sounds like a cross between Dave Matthews and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, and his folky, winsome tenor blends nicely with the pastoral-sounding string solo and flute float-out that ends the song. It's quite a pretty little ditty. Other songs, like 'Smiling Strangers,' are a bit darker - this one's a folk dirge about the melancholy of forgetting, complete with icy keyboards and a distant guitar solo that sounds like it's trudging across a vast stretch of desert to pass out at our feet.' Niki D'Andrea Music Editor Phoenix New Times ******************************************* Production Notes: playing with sounds 101 Brian Chartrand: vocals, guitars, strings, percussion, keys, bass, gasps, wheezes, co-producer, co-editor, co-mixer, art director, etc. Mr. Fantastical: co-producer, co-mixer, co-editor, co-conspirator, partner in crime, mastering. Peter Venti: art layout and web site developer. Jon Pyle: legal advisor. Und vielen Dank: a 'thank you' laundry list for a German enthusiast Thanks for your interest in my latest solo album, Sleeping With Giants. Before I tell you about the recording process, I need to thank three people, who, without their help and assistance, this album would never have happened! First off, I need to thank Mr. Fantastical, co-producer, co-mixer, co-editor, and mastering dude. He was the man behind the console; tweaking knobs, adjusting levels, editing coughs. Not only is he skilled in recording, but he is funny as hell. Sometimes I am amazed we got any work done. Mr. Fantastical also wanted me to make the best album I could make. He wanted me to be proud of it. He also trusted my ability and encouraged my creative instinct. I have never worked with someone who so thoroughly respected me as an artist. Secondly, I need to thank Mr. Peter Venti for his help and assistance with the realization of the artwork. Not only is Peter 'drop shadow' Venti a photoshop layering whiz, but I think he helped me to trust my instincts and keep it simple. Lastly, Mr. Jon Pyle, an old, old friend of mine and ex-lawyer turned software developer. I am one of the few that knows Jon's nickname from high school but who feels weird calling him by that name, because the man is WAY more mature and professional than I am. Mr. Pyle is simply a researching machine and cut no corners researching and reporting on the ins and outs of the numerous contracts and agreements and documents I had to sign and read in order to release the cover songs on an album. Let it be known that without these three people, Sleeping With Giants would still live only in my deepest of sleeps. There is also just a list of folks whose support range from the very minimal to the very maximum: me mum and dad and the rest of the Bliss/Chartrand family, rich price and greg naughton (of the 'super group' RGB) for their unwaivering encouragement, my friend and neighbor (and god father to my dog, Rugby) alex krump for being the one person that actually, truly, listens to my music when I play it (and taking care of Rugby when I travel), connell, melissa, and brad out in LA, jamie, tomo, tak and mike back in MA, and new friends that span from LA to Boston. Thanks for supporting the new material and encouraging me to continue to create music. 2007: A year in review 'Sleeping With Giants' was originally intended to be a cover album where I take a bunch of songs from my favorite artists (steely dan, the smiths, billy joel, justin timberlake) and break them down to just vocals and acoustic guitar. However, I was going through a period of change and growth that spurred a bunch of new tunes. I didn't want to wait to release them, so I opted for adding more original material to the album than covers... 2007 was probably the most important year in my adult life. Whenever I look back, I can't believe it was me that was living through that stuff. Without going into sordid details (see various myspace blog posts dated between jan - dec '07), it was easily the coolest year of my adult life and easily the worst. There is kind of a school of songwriting thought that pairs personal tragedy with inspiration and prolificacy. I made a pact with myself NOT to write a ton of terrible, depressing sad songs ('i will not make sadness my muse' was written in my song writing notebook in fact). Main reason being, I don't want to have to perform these songs and be reminded of where the inspiration came from. That's just no fun. But at the time, the bad outweighed the good. So, while these songs are autobiographical, and while I really tried to stay positive and forward thinking, the songs that made the album are about isolation and reflection and that sort of thing (luckily NOT about being unemployed or the loss of loved ones or the falling apart of relationships. Who wants to listen to that?!) It also affected the cover songs I rearranged and recorded. As a result, there is a definite theme throughout the album. And while these songs do reflect a tough time for me, I feel good playing them out and have sufficiently detached the songs from the emotions to perform them live. And ultimately, I think the album ends on a positive, upbeat note. Whew. And now you know. Sleeping With Giants: Comes Alive This album was recorded in fits and starts between July and December of 2007. Mr. Fantastical and I would typically meet on Mondays because that's when he had his day off from slinging pork....literally. I would roll into his home studio out in Queen Creek (where the cotton fields of yesterday meet the strip malls of tomorrow) around 10:30 or so. Around two o'clock we would break for lunch. Subway was always our lunch spot of choice for some reason. I think we both secretly aspire to one day have Jared's figure. After lunch, we would work until about 5 or 6 o'clock and I would make the long treacherous journey back to the hood in downtown Phoenix. I would often listen to that day's work on my crummy car speakers and shake my head in amazement at the sounds Mr. F was able to capture. Once the music was near to completion, I approached Peter to help realize the artwork. I had a couple different ideas bouncing around my head, and took a sketch pad over his place one night. After scanning all my drawings we began to mold what would become the final product. I wanted it simple and peaceful. I think Peter did a great job with the layout. Soon after, I approached Jon to help me battle through the legalities of releasing cover songs. His work is indispensable. I could have really gotten my ass sued! I am proud of this album unlike other albums I have worked on. This album, warts and all, is me; from the music and lyrics of the original songs, to the cover song arrangements, to every note of music you hear, to the artwork. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed creating it.