ThornBrainMusic - 10 years of making music sometimes



Alongside my Let’s Plays and writing, I’ve also occasionally recorded music since 2009. My sound and style has evolved with every album, but I’ve always had roots in 70s/80s Post-Punk, Punk Rock, and Alternative Rock, with touches of Shoegaze, Noise Pop, Art Rock, Experimental, and early Industrial. Most of my currently available music can be purchased for cheap on my BandCamp, but there are also a few free releases out there that are more nebulous to find. Here’s a list of all of my musical projects, the stories behind them, what I think of them now, and how to download them if they’re available.

The Early Years (2009 - 2014)

  1. Blackhole Whitespace (Album - January 31, 2011)
    My first album, released on the new-defunct label Futures Passed Free Music. I’d made some demos, scratch recordings, covers etc since Summer 2009 but never had the inkling to do a full record until those recordings got to FPFM’s manager Steve. He asked me to join, and that gave me the spark to do a full ten-song, half-hour-long album. Half the songs were covers, three of which were my dad Mike’s songs, and the others were “Confusion” by Sparks and “30 Century Man” by Scott Walker. It’s amateurish beyond belief with a thin sound, nearly inaudible drums, and no vocal projection from me, but it was the label’s most popular release at the time and had sparks of creativity in some of my originals.
    Due to FPFM shutting down, the album in its original state is no longer available, but the best tracks were included on my ThornBrain is Really Bad at This - The Best of the Worst (2009-2011) compilation. The best stuff will be remixed/re-recorded for a compilation later this year.
    The other tracks are on the free compilation No One Needs Me - The Rest of the Worst, which can be downloaded from this MediaFire link, and I’m considering including them all in a future free compilation that gathers everything up into one place.
    —1.5 Blackspace Workinprogress (EP) - A free EP composed of demos that was included in FPFM downloads of the album. These tracks are also on No One Needs Me.

  2. Saw Beat (Single - February 7, 2011)
    An EP composed of a pair of Plunderphonics experiments I did in 2010 based around samples from Cabaret Voltaire, Peter Gabriel, and the drumbeat from U2’s “Numb”, plus a remix I did of my friend Sawtooth’s song “Industry Standard” that had included me on vocals. My remix actually came out before the original song was done. I still think they’ve all got some cool sounds.
    Downloadable for free here, and I’ll also include them in the large free compilation.

  3. The Right Way to Do Everything (EP - April 23, 2011)
    A noise and ambient experiment EP, much of which was based on noise experiments from 2009 and some of my first ever recordings. Also lost after FPFM shut down, but nearly all of the tracks are on ThornBrain is Really Bad at This. The bookends “No One”/“Needs Me” are on the eponymous free compilation.
    —3.5 Lost Effort (Single - March 1, 2011) - Single release of one of the tracks from The Right Way to Do Everything including a pair of remixes and another noise experiment “The Flint Robot has a Perfect Day” that I had done in 2010 with recordings my friend Dan had made in 2009. These are also on ThornBrain is Really Bad at This except Sawtooth’s remix, which is on their own Best of the Worst compilation.

  4. Nobody Cares Unless You’re Pretty or Dying (Album - December 24, 2013)
    My second full-length album, available right now on BandCamp. My original plan for a second album was called Geizhals and would have been darker, more experimental and had better production than BlackholeWhitespace. I only recorded one song, “Spider”, before I canned that idea and took a more Punk Rock approach to songwriting. That proved more fruitful, and thus Nobody Cares… is a punkier album that sometimes dips into a DC Hardcore Punk tempo, a sound that I called “Hardcore Pop” as a play on Power Pop. Features photography and painting by my friend Ches for the album cover and lyric booklet.
    All of the songs are originals, and most of them I’m still quite proud of, but I bungled the recording for many of them; the drums are still often inaudible, I still didn’t sing or project very well, and at least one of the songs’ plugins kept resetting during mixing without me noticing. I intend to remix/re-record these as well for a compilation this year.
    —4.5 Spider (Compilation - November 30, 2013) - Free promotional companion compilation to Nobody Cares… including some advance tracks, demos, a few covers, and a couple album outtakes. Downloadable from Mediafire with your choice of filetype.

After that, I only re-released the old, unavailable tracks on ThornBrain is Really Bad at This and No One Needs Me in 2014.

Recent Years (2018 - Present)

I didn’t record any new music after Nobody Cares… due to various reasons including writer’s block, burnout, focusing on TheStrawhatNO!, and a failed attempt to start a band that soured the whole concept for me. I’d occasionally get an inkling to do it, but I never got the full motivation to do it until 2018, when I took part in Effigies: A Tribute to Ministry’s With Sympathy, covering “Revenge”. That combined with a pair of hugely inspiring albums that year (smell’s woof and The Garden’s Mirror Might Steal Your Charm) got me back into writing and recording music, starting with…

  1. Buried Secrets & Old Lies (Album - December 15, 2018)
    My first album in five years, a big leap forward in my performance and production skills (you can hear the drums now!), and available on BandCamp. Recorded from July-to-December, it’s a Post-Punk/Alternative Rock subgenre-blender tour de force, weaving through multiple styles of Post-Punk experimentation, Punk Rock angst, early Industrial crunch, hypnotic Psychedelia and Shoegaze, and even the bright ecstasy of Dance Rock.
    The album tells a loose story of the old, ignorant, corrupt, and hopeless ways of the past oppressing those who will inherit the future, starring an amoral preacher and his hopeful, soon-to-be-freed skeleton. Admittingly, the “story” turned out half-baked, but I’m pleased with pretty much all of the songs. My mastering did make the album a bit murky and bassy, but I did manage to keep the album at a solid average dynamic range of DR11.
    —5.5 Quaero (Compilation - October 26, 2018) - Free promotional compilation that includes four advance tracks, demos, outtakes, a pair of covers, and a pair of remixes by Sawtooth. Available for download here, or you can listen to it on YouTube.

  2. Worldbuilder (Album - March 1, 2019)
    I didn’t intend to jump right back into recording a whole new album right after Buried Secrets, let alone entirely in February, but that’s exactly what happened when I learned of the RPM Challenge. The challenge is 10 songs or 35 minutes of original, newly-recorded music entirely in the month of February, and even though I’d just finished an hour-long album that took me half the year, I couldn’t pass it up.
    Worldbuilder has me taking bigger genre shifts with influences from Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion. Inspired conceptually by fantasy video games like Ni no Kuni II, it tells the story of a young, frustrated woman who breaks through dimensions to an empty one she molds into her own, game-inspired ideal. It’s more Rock Opera than concept album in a lot of ways, not the least of which is a Spoken Word track that directly tells the story of her starting to build her new world.
    Technically my first free album since 2011, since you can listen to it on YouTube or SoundCloud, or you can buy it for cheap on BandCamp and a get few more small bonus tracks.
    5.5 “bird ghosts” from smell’s viva lasagna (Cameo appearance - March 1, 2019) - A song I did with smell that appears on their second album. I wrote the lyrics, sing lead, and play guitar and Ebow. It’s a joyous, euphoric, 3/4 ballad about letting someone fall to their death.

Future Plans

I intend to remix, re-record, and/or remaster the grand majority of my Early Years tracks for a compilation later this year. I’d also like to do an Industrial Rock/Post-Punk/Acid Punk album inspired musically by the band Chrome and conceptually by games like Fallout and STALKER in a style I’m calling Nuclear Punk.