DIY Boost / Overdrive / Distortion / Fuzz – Part 1

Ever consider building your own guitar pedal? It’s actually pretty simple, and with a few simple tools and a lot of patience, you can build a pedal of your very own.

Why Boost, Overdrive, Distortion or Fuzz?

Boost, overdrive, distortion and fuzz circuits are relatively simple and a great way to get introduced to the basic components used in guitar pedals. Some fuzz pedals and simple boosts can have as few as half a dozen components as compared to more complicated circuits like delay, chorus or tremolo. While this post won’t go step by step through a pedal build, it will point you in the right direction and offer some resources to help get you started.

To the uninitiated, here are the differences:

  • Boost – increases the volume to boost your signal with little clipping (distortion) or compression
  • Overdrive – softly clips your signal providing slight distortion and compression
  • Distortion – hard clips your signal giving a distorted sound with lots of compression
  • Fuzz – square wave clipping of your signal so the sound is fuzzy, buzzy and super compressed

See this YouTube Video for more.

Continue reading →

I Listened So You Don’t Have To: Odd Monster Reviews the Billboard Top 10

Hello, everybody!  It’s been a while since I was subjected to the Billboard Top 10, but as summer is rapidly approaching, I thought I’d expose myself to potentially radioactive pop music to shield you from accidentally having to check it out for yourself.

I do this for you, people.  I’m what a real hero looks like.

These are the Billboard Top 10 for the week of May 13, 2017. 

(Some of these songs are NSFW if you work somewhere that cursing is frowned on, or you work for people with good taste in music.)

10. “It Ain’t Me” by Kygo x Selena Gomez

  • I have never heard of Kygo, but it sounds a but like a home delivery service for feminine hygiene products.  I know who Selena Gomez is because she dated the Beeb, yo!
  • Holy [REDACTED], it has over 240 MILLION views on YouTube.  You ever feel behind the times?
  • It sounds like someone chopped every third second out of the chorus.  I assume it’s meant to be like that but it sounds like what I imagine having a seizure is like.
  • Honestly, it’s pretty inoffensive. I’ll be nice and give it a C+.  I don’t need to hear it again, but it doesn’t make me nauseous.

Continue reading →

The Worst Song in the World Bracket: Week 3

I tried to find a picture of the Black Eyed Peas that didn’t annoy me. This is the best I could do.

We’re coming to a close on the Worst Song in the World, and things seem to be wrapping themselves up.  We’re coming to some definitive answers here, folks, and it’s been a rocky battle.

  • Just so there’s no tension here (the stakes are pretty low, admit it), the worst song is still “Friday” by Rebecca Black.
  • “All Star” by Smashmouth has fallen from #1 in the first week to #3, but seems to be holding fast in that position.
  • Everything seems pretty much the same, but the Black Eyed Peas have managed to shove their way past the date-rapey “Blurred Lines” with their…uh…party anthem(?) “I Gotta Feeling.”  If you’ve managed not to listen to this song, here are the lyrics ad infinitum.

I gotta feeling (ooooo hoooo) that tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good night
That tonight’s gonna be a good, good night

Tonight’s the night (hey!)
Let’s live it up (let’s live it up)
I got my money (I’m paid)
Let’s spend it up (let’s spend it up)

If they don’t use this song to torture people, they’re really missing out.


Here are the current Top 10:

I’ll swallow your soul.

There is only a week left to make your voices heard!  What’s the worst, teenagers not knowing which seat to sit in, the insidious nature of Scandanavian pop music or Shrek’s theme song? The choice is yours.

Fill out your bracket here, if you haven’t already!


“or” by Eyelids is an Assured Follow Up

The second album by Portland band Eyelids, “or” (produced by Peter Buck) arrives this week with no hint of a sophomore slump, following 2014’s “854”.

The new album consists of all the elements that made “854” great: intricate guitar arrangements, a solid rhythm section and a blend of harmonies that would make any soft psych sixties band jealous. On “or”, Eyelids has found a way to improve or advance their strengths, resulting in an album that feels like a natural organic growth for the band.

“or” starts with a bang, with a re-recorded version of a single they released earlier this year, “Slow It Goes”, their three guitar line up seemingly well positioned with two of them in either speaker, and a third charging right down the middle of the song. On this, and every track of the album the playing benefits from the band’s busy live show schedule. The band is tight, hitting all their parts hard and with more assurance than on their prior album.

Psychedelic aspects are on display as well, as on tracks “My Caved in Mind” and an early favorite of mine, “23 (Years)” a drone piece that starts out side two of the album, offset by a series of guitar hooks, making it a catchy earworm indeed!

Near the end of the album, we have a couple of tracks: “Moony” which seems like pieces of different types of songs by bands like Television & XTC played against each other to great effect…and “I Know I Gotta Reason” with a slow start that explodes in the center with a duel of guitar solos.

At the heart of “or” is the not so subtle fact that Eyelids is a songwriting band. The playing and the harmonies are made better by the fact that the material is so melodious and catchy.

A friend of mine once remarked to me during an Eyelids show that all of their songs could be singles. I smiled in agreement and kept nodding my head to the beat.

To hear some of the tracks of this album listen to an archive of one of my recent radio shows, in which I interview vocalist and guitarist Chris Slusarenko and play some tracks from their new album:



Highlights from final broadcast of Jesuit Bit My Hotdog

Eclecticism is the hallmark of Freeform at its core. A different DJ every 2 hours, genres spanning geography, time and aesthetics and a diverse cadre of volunteer technicians and tradespeople from nonbinary gender and political affiliation ensure surprises each time listeners tune in. For six months between 2016 & 2017, local video jockey Danny Norton scoured his vinyl record crates for some of his most treasured rarities he cared to share over the airwaves.
Continue reading →

Heart & Soul Guide to the Soul’d Out Festival 2017

Portland’s about to get a dose of sweet heat and sultry soul this weekend, with the eighth annual Soul’d Out Festival.

“Some people say this town ain’t got no heart,” to quote The Dead. Portland’s got a reputation for being White – called us “The Whitest City In America”; hell, it’s even referenced on Fox’s New Girl, when Winston won’t come here ‘cuz Portland’s “hella white.”

Portland may have a sullied, storied, problematic past, in terms of racial inequality and tension – which is still being sorted and re-negotiated – but those of us that live here know it’s not reflective of what Portland is actually like. We’ve got people from all over the world, from every culture, color, and creed. For many of us, Portland is the ultimate Sanctuary City, being infinitely more warm-hearted, open-minded and welcoming than a huge majority of North America.

Continue reading →

The Worst Song in the World Bracket- Week 1

A couple of years ago, All Songs Considered made a list of the worst songs of all time (joined by special guest Carrie Brownstein (who may or may not have worn out her Portland welcome at that point).  As with most lists of this type, there are obvious choices (“We Built This City” by Starship) and complete head scratchers (“Africa” by Toto—what kind of monster hates “Africa”?).  As this list is a few years old, and included no participants from my circle of friends, I thought I’d make a Facebook post. It read:

What is the worst song of all time? (Only answer with ONE specific response. Don’t say “Country Music” or “Hall and Oates,” for example.)
Continue reading →