Call me severely late to the game, but only recently have I begun to enjoy the music of The Cure. Yes, I grew up in the 80s and was aware of their music, but at the time, that edgy side of new wave wasn’t of-interest to me. Fast-forward to 2021 and after purchasing The Cure’s concert video, Anniversary: 1978-2018 Live in Hyde Park London, I was hooked.
Their up-tempo style and instrumentation inspired this 11-track album of all-new songs. One part of my “Cure” inspiration that didn’t transfer to this album were the bleak themes often portrayed in The Cure’s music. Instead, except for the first track, this album is full of positivity, happiness, and resolve. This was sort of my therapy as the world was trying to pull out of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also a gift to those looking for positivity, whether in dealing with relationships, moving on from tough times, or just listening to your favorite tunes. Lastly, this album was also an intentional sequel/follow-up to my 2018 album, Issues…thus, Issues Resolved! Issues contained quite a few moody songs, many written and all recorded during the Trump presidency.
Like has happened with many of my album projects, a prolific spurt hit me in January 2021 and songs flowed one after another. Between January and March 2021, 5 songs were written and fully recorded. I then took most of April off to gather thoughts and listen repeatedly at those 5 tracks to determine edits, fixes, or mix adjustments. Then, starting in May, I spent time working on several of those first 5 tracks, and then began writing and recording the final 6 tracks. Two of the 11 tracks were previously written decades ago but never released (for good reason, they sucked; they were crude and unfinished). But I felt they had promise, if only time was spent to fully realize the ideas therein. Those songs were Forgive and Forget and 1134. After the 11 tracks were recorded, the rest of May and June was spent mastering and preparing for digital distribution.
Unlike all my previously released albums, this one contains a first: the use of the same basic instrumentation for all 11 tracks: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, electric bass, acoustic drum kit, and retro synths (Roland D-50 being one of them). Wait and See is an exception: it uses an electric drum kit. Some tracks also have old-school Linn LM-1 drum machine sounds as well as rhythms from the Roland CR-78 drum machine (same one Phil Collins used for In the Air Tonight) thrown in as well. One element you will notice in these 11 songs that isn’t very Cure-like is the thick vocal harmony. These harmonies were not created artificially using software or hardware. I recorded each part of the harmony one-track-at-a-time. What you hear is 100% real…some are 5 or 6 voices thick! Everything was recorded in my home studio.
I tried to keep this album within the “alternative” or “alternative rock” genre. There are also elements of 80s new wave too. This album released worldwide on Friday, July 16, 2021 on Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, AmazonMP3, YouTube Music, Pandora, Tidal, and 100+ others. All music and lyrics were written, performed and produced by Michael Barrett Dixon. Below are notes for each song.
This song was originally written and crudely recorded in the late 1980s. I completely reworked it and added some lyrics (it basically only had a few lines originally). Why 1134? That spells “hell” upside down on a calculator, and this year + has been a living hell for many with COVID-19 gripping the planet. Why start the album with this peppy but still lyrically bleak track? I wanted to start with a brief reminder of where we’ve been since early 2020, before we move beyond and “resolve”.
- Red Dot
Trust me: most of us with smartphones have an addiction to tapping an app icon indicating awaiting messages or something. Many use a red dot with a number, indicating how many messages, etc. are waiting. In this song, it depicts a guy who opened up his mouth when he shouldn’t have, and is concerned about the future of a relationship. He dreads looking at what might be awaiting him on his phone. The positive element of this song is his intent on making things right if he could get one more chance.
Ironically one of the last songs to be written and recorded for this album, this song is all about moving on. The lyrics are simple but resolute in the message about staying positive and looking forward to the future. This song has one of the faster tempos on the album.
By far the slowest track on the album, Resolve contains super-simple lyrics about moving forward and putting those bad memories and baggage into the past. This song was also written and recorded quite late in the album project, weeks before the album was considered final, but I felt the album needed a namesake song!
This is one of several tracks inspired by my teenage daughter (18 at the time of the album’s release). I found it cute how she referred to her favorite tracks in a specific playlist were her “vibes”. These were her go-to tracks no matter what mood she was in, triggering happiness and often causing her to burst out singing out loud, no matter who was around.
- Wait and See
This is one of the more electric/new wave tracks on the album and was written as one of the first 3 tracks during the project’s timeline. Lyrically, it’s basically someone convincing their partner that he doesn’t care what others say about the future of their relationship…and to ignore what they were told. It’s all about a positive outlook on a relationship.
- Forgive and Forget
Here’s another dip into my huge vault of songs (600+) written over the past 40 years but never released. Forgive and Forget was written/recorded in the mid-1980s, using Korg Poly-800 synth playing an a ostinato (although using different pitches). Lyrically, it only had a few lines and a heavily repeated chorus so I re-worked the entire song. I also felt it was a good track to follow Wait and See in case the person in that song chose not to stick with the relationship and move on. This song is all about moving on, even though feelings are still quite strong.
- 18 (Eighteen)
Like Vibes, this song was fully inspired by my teenage daughter, who graduated from high school during the time the album was being recorded. She is also heading off to college, so this song is from the parent’s perspective. It’s a warm, loving (positive) message from parent-to-grown child, that may trigger tears for some parents in the same situation of someone “leaving the nest”.
Some relationships can be utterly exhausting. This is about identifying these relationships and, if need be, escaping from them.
Another song inspired by my teenage daughter; Yellow is a simple happy song about the warmth of the color yellow (her favorite color).
- Giddy (instrumental)
One of the fastest tempos on the album, this instrumental (always gotta have one of those!) is just a peppy, rockin’ romp with some speedy drum fills and a slapping bass solo towards the end. It seemed a fitting way to end the album.