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I've Had A Toothache Since 2019

So! I released a -->brand new album a few days ago!<--

A synth-y 5 track bedroom pop EP called “I’ve Had A Toothache Since 2019”. Go listen now and then read this blog post. Or read while you listen, either way :-)

The EP was supposed to come out in 2022 and then I abandoned it for reasons I might get into here. Months ago, I remembered I had a bunch of songs that were turning into something and started working on them again in early 2024, changing quite a bit about all the songs and production of everything. But it was still enough like the old project that I kept the name and album art. The more time passes, the funnier the title gets. Teeth are weird. 2019 is a fake year and also the last real year. The legit fear I have thinking about having a 5 year long toothache. It’s all just kinda funny. Good title, really good cover art imo. I'm trying to work on being kind about the things I make. After all, it’s my work—if I don’t enjoy it, then what’s the point? But other people have responded well to the art on the cover, and also the music behind the cover art! That's important too.

The musical goal here was simple: get over my intense perfectionism preventing me from making any music. Perfectionism mixed with possible undiagnosed ADHD is not a good combo. I have a hard time listening to my old work due to how much I’ve changed as a person and my new work, for a long time, was not as satisfying as I wanted it to be. I was stuck in this loop of not wanting to work on new material to avoid frustration, but the longer I avoided working on new material… you see the issue. Bad loop. I would break free occasionally (see my various summer singles and video games and other things I made/did the past 2 years) but the drive to consistently work on music to get better at what I do would oftentimes be difficult to sustain. Quite frustrating!

I had a few new songs and some 2 year old demos and in December, some really tragic things happened in my family. In January, I tried focusing on something else besides all the terrible things going on around me and just a few months later, I have a brand new EP that I like quite much and have received good reviews for! I enjoyed the process, up until I crunched real hard to finish the last few songs at the last minute. That’s right, I did crunch to myself on my own project. Not doing that shit again I’ll tell you that right now lol. Apologies to myself for doing crunch culture the week before the release date (May 3rd, 2024, 12:01am PDT). Mixing, mastering, and re-writing some songs entirely after delaying the EP for a month… it was fun but also a bit stressful at times. I’m still a tiny bit rusty. But it was enjoyable! 5 tracks resulted from the months long sprint.

Let's go track-by-track

The first song, “Every Hymn Sounds Like This”, is an old one. I like organs, I thought it’d be fun to make a fake Catholic organ tune. That’s all there is to this one honestly. My friend Meys convinced me to keep this one as the title track. Sort of a “Theme From Flood” thing going on there I suppose. I like it and it makes feel both like laughing and crying.

Second song, a brand new one—“Thunderstorm”. This one… is a personal song for me. A lot of them are, sure. This one… Hmm. Well, it’s about cycles of abuse. And not knowing what to say. Like me, right now, about this song. Which leads into my vocoder vox on this track, and throughout the album. And a lot of my discography tbh. I like obscuring my vocals and lyrics in ways for various reasons. Like old REM songs, you might not know exactly what I’m singing and I like that. I also like the sound of my voice becoming just another instrument, and an easy way to get that effect is to modulate that shit with a synth of sizer. It’s fun! You can shape the vocals even further after recording them with the sound design of the carrier synth. Or is the synth the modulator and the vocals are the carrier? I always get that mixed up. I just click the buttons I know how to click on my vocoder plug-in lol. I do most things in music production just because it’s fun to do them that way to accomplish a certain thing. Sometimes, it ends up as catchy as this. I like this track a lot, musically and lyrically. I put it in the traditional single spot.

Track 3 is Photographic Dreams. Just kind of a banger, really. A newer track based on an older demo. Simple enough production but it’s chill and nice and a little melancholy. I’m using a new guitar here and enjoying the process of using a new instrument. I am not very good at playing guitar right now, but I can play enough the lay down some chords and notes and sample myself in Ableton. There’s no wrong way to play a guitar, even if it’s sampled notes on a MIDI keyboard. In my imo. I approached the music like if I had a band but only had 4 other members. There were about 13 different channels in the project file but I bounced things down, basically only working with 5 channels. The lyrics are just slightly interesting words to get people to listen to songs to longer. David Byrne talked about lyrics like that in the liner notes to the Stop Making Sense LP I think? I’ve always thought about that quote I’m paraphrasing when I’m stuck on words. I try not to write bad words! Or words I didn’t think about, at least a little bit. Words accentuate the music, but I’m definitely focused more on the music.

Track 4 is a little ditty called Tasteless Slop. This track’s demo came out on my previous Dial-A-Tune service in 2021. I stopped affording Dial-A-Tune a year ago or so and it was only on the phone lines for about a week. The instrumental demo is on my “Rarities, Vol. 3” compilation record but I figured there was still something there. It turned into a song about poptimism being a system of thought-terminating cliches. It’s a little mean, with the verses being a bit of a uh, what’s the meme… the verses are the virgin and the choruses are the chad? Those memes, where you portray the opposing view as some stock loser and you come in and are like “Well, joke’s on you. I’m the smart one in this cartoon” but in song form. Hey, you know how it is. Let people enjoy things (making songs about an argument I had online once to get it out of my system is one of the things I like). It’s got a fun beat, it's a fun time.

Track 5 is the titular Toothache. Mix of old and new. I like having both an intro and outro track that are very clearly defined as such. Sometimes an album needs bookends. This one was simply just fun to put together. I like pad heavy tunes that sound a bit woozy. Musical novocaine, maybe? The vocal sample is just the NOAA radio broadcast for the Bay Area a few days ago. You know, sometimes you have some themes in mind when you start making something. Sometimes you notice certain things recurring after. Weather and teeth and eyes. Something to think about, maybe.

Are we picking up something good?

Yeah, I feel comfortable saying I think I did a pretty good job on this one. I had a very good Bandcamp Friday rush of support for the album so I think I’ll make a small run of cassette tapes! Some to sell online as usual and some to sell on consignment at local record stores. I’m comin’ for ya, Amoeba! I’m also feeling more ready than I’ve felt in a long time for the next musical project I’ve got cooking up. This shook off the rust, so to speak. I think this is both a good album and was, practically, a good exercise as an artist getting back into the zone. It was fun back in the zone, if a bit stressful towards the end. I mostly just stressed myself out wanting to do a good job. I realized that the best I can do is to just finish something that I liked. It didn’t have to be a perfect masterpiece, but it does help that I think it turned out quite well.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me for the last few years, up to and including getting this album and telling all your friends about it. I am very grateful I have any listeners at all and when they’re all so nice and share my work with others, I feel extra lucky. Thanks, and look forward to those tapes and some music videos soon!

Nicky Flowers - 05/09/24 - Stay tuned for more music in the next few months!