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Whaley not Whalley!
January 14, 2011 4:00 PM   Subscribe

The Smiths Project. 71 Smiths songs recorded in 1300 hours, in 1 year, in billions of layers of 1 voice, by 1 woman.

The music contains no instruments- everything you hear was made using only my voice and basic effects/editing techniques. I use pitch-shift to drop my voice down for bass lines, but otherwise there is no pitch correction involved. Each song contains anywhere between 30-50 layers of vocals and take as many hours to complete over several months. I worked on many songs at once as inspiration struck and time allowed. Janice Whaley

Listen to the albums:
The Smiths
Hatful of Hollow
Meat is Murder
The Queen is Dead
Louder Than Bombs
Strangeways Here we Come

Some of my faves so far:
Well I Wonder
Girl Afraid
How Soon Is Now?
Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me
Oscillate Wildly

She even did the Draize Train! Sounds more like the Live Version (youtube) Than the studio version youtube.

She is currently looking for funding to release a six cd box-set. Details here.

Facebook link.
posted by therubettes (44 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Heaven knows I'm miserable now
posted by metaxa at 4:12 PM on January 14, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow. That's a pretty serious way to spend an entire year. Chapeau bas.

[reels around fountain]
posted by lapsangsouchong at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not everything gels well, but there's a lot of good stuff here: Is It Really So Strange? is particularly nice, and the vocals-qua-vocals have a bjorky quality to them.
posted by boo_radley at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2011


Well, when I first clicked through, all I saw was an advertisement, which put me off a bit, but then I clicked on the albums, and that was cool. I was still pretty skeptical. I'm not the biggest a cappella fan, and Johnny Marr's playing has always been so much of what I've enjoyed about the Smiths. My fears were not soothed by all the Morrissey tags. The Smiths weren't Morrissey and some random backing band.

But then I listened to a few songs, and I've got to say I'm impressed. Hand in Glove, which is not one of my favorite Smiths songs, but has a kind of weird off-kilter feeling that I thought might be hard to capture, was actually pretty good. I also listened to A Rush and a Push, because the beginning is one of my favorite Smiths moments, and it was very well done. She is a bit breathy, and some of the songs kind of sound like Smiths songs as done by Yaz, but that's alright.

This is pretty damn impressive, and the kind of thing I love to see even if I don't love it for the thing itself.

Thanks.
posted by OmieWise at 4:20 PM on January 14, 2011


OmieWise: "the kind of thing I love to see even if I don't love it for the thing itself."

That's a pretty Morrissey lyric kind of thing to say, in its own way.
posted by boo_radley at 4:22 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


This made me sad, and not in the satisfying teenage way. I admire the ambition and dedication but generally a small thing well done is a greater achievement than a big thing ill-done. We have guitars now and should use them.
posted by tigrefacile at 4:22 PM on January 14, 2011 [7 favorites]


And if she'd made an entire album in the style of Asleep, she'd be swatting Sam Rosenthal away with a stick.
posted by boo_radley at 4:30 PM on January 14, 2011


I like this way more than I like The Smiths, who I'm mainly unfamiliar with.
posted by Cookiebastard at 4:41 PM on January 14, 2011


"We have guitars now and should use them." YES!!!
posted by wherever, whatever at 4:47 PM on January 14, 2011


"There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" is great. So is Bandcamp, by the way.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:54 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


On the other hand, we've got voices and multitrack recording now too, so there's that.
posted by nebulawindphone at 4:56 PM on January 14, 2011 [6 favorites]


I listened to this charming man and somewhat naively was expecting her to be plink plink plonk plink plink a plink plonging the riff, i was looking forward to it.
posted by chelegonian at 4:57 PM on January 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't see the wisdom of selling this for $10 an album though. Might work well as pay-what-you-wish, especially since Bandcamp allows for minimums.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:57 PM on January 14, 2011


I don't think Bandcamp allows covers.
posted by statolith at 5:01 PM on January 14, 2011


Wow, after reading the write-up I really expected to like this, but after actually hearing the songs... ooof. I feel like her work just totally enervates the source material.
posted by Jezztek at 5:05 PM on January 14, 2011


I am not a Smiths fan, if only because I've never really listened, but I post my admiration of this here thing because I only dreamed it, and she did it. Many's the time I've had the urge to start a Youtube channel and cover obscure old songs for no one's joy but mine, but I never went and did it, because I thought: who would watch? She didn't ask that question, and now she's accomplished something.
posted by Countess Elena at 5:17 PM on January 14, 2011


I don't think Bandcamp allows covers.

Interesting point, I've done quite some research on Bandcamp but haven't come across anything about that. There are quite a few cover versions on Bandcamp though.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:20 PM on January 14, 2011


Also, let's make this into a giant Bandcamp derail, but here's a nice blog about technical aspects of the site. I just made my first custom player, yay!

(Although still a little miffed that HTML5 player positioning is broken on iOS since the latest iOS update.)

posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:24 PM on January 14, 2011


let's *NOT* make this into a derail, sorry
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:24 PM on January 14, 2011


Some of the songs are definitely more successful than others, but good lord, her cover of 'Reel Around the Fountain' is chilling.
posted by Tiresias at 5:31 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


My favourite Smith's song is 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore'.

Wik: "A unique single, it is the lowest-charting Smiths single, reaching only #49. The repetition and sad tone conveyed are unusual for a Smiths single."

Just kidding. My Favourite Smith's song is 'These Things Take Time'.
posted by ovvl at 5:45 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really enjoyed "Last Night I Dreamt", thanks! That composition is genius and she did it proud. I like that sort of sinister-circus vibe she gave it.
posted by facetious at 5:56 PM on January 14, 2011


I'll reference OmieWise's comment, as I approached it the same way. I went right away to Meat is Murder and listened to What She Said. It was decent and interesting. It was impressive for what it was, being a capella and all. The Smiths, for me, is the tension between Johnny Marr's exquisite, sparkling, guitar and Morrisey's equally exquisite and inspired moaning. Sorry, nothing's gonna match that, but A for effort.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:03 PM on January 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


That said, this is a pretty remarkable accomplishment, and very sweet sounding, and true to the Smiths.

What was I complaining about again?
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:12 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, and I thought that *I* was a Smiths fan.

This confirms a theory of mine: one thing the internet has done has been to show us the enthusiasms of strangers.

No matter which direction you look, you will see somebody Further Out There than you are. - Bob's Law of the Internet
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:19 PM on January 14, 2011


There are quite a few cover versions on Bandcamp though.

Right, but they're probably actually giving the money to the songwriters rather than just, you know, selling other people's work and keeping the money.

posted by drjimmy11 at 7:59 PM on January 14, 2011


MetaFilter: We have guitars now and should use them.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:30 PM on January 14, 2011


I'm not sure I understand the notion that the way to measure the worth of a cover is how mummified a tribute it pays to the original. I think this music is both a spirited homage and incredibly creative.
posted by blucevalo at 9:21 PM on January 14, 2011


"William, It Was Really Nothing" won me over. Neat interpretation.
posted by eyeballkid at 9:42 PM on January 14, 2011


otherwise there is no pitch correction involved

I just wanted to say that the lack of Autotune/Melodyne is a really nice change for an a cappella album these days. The result is not out-of-tune, but it also doesn't feel like all of the vocal parts have been ironed flat over a sine wave.

(btw, I like her There Is A Light That Never Goes Out too. It kind of reminds me of the Erlend Øye version.)
posted by en forme de poire at 10:27 PM on January 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


(also, is she downshifting her voice for the main melody on Bigmouth Strikes Again? that'd be a cute inside joke)
posted by en forme de poire at 10:45 PM on January 14, 2011


This is so fun. Take something cool and change it, make it cool in a different way. I'm sure there are people who do not like The Smiths fans who will like The Smiths by Janice Whaley. Went straight for my favorites: Ask, Girlfriend in A Coma, Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want --all very pleasant on first listen. Since I only have a greatest hits Smiths album, I might just get into some of these, then go back and listen to the originals. Yes, I will totally do that.

Sweet job, Janice Whaley. I dig your project more than Bjork's Medúlla and Petra Haden's The Who Sell Out. I hope you make a butt-load of money on it.
posted by millions at 11:00 PM on January 14, 2011


Whoops. Strike "fans" in first 'graph. haha.
posted by millions at 11:01 PM on January 14, 2011


"We have guitars now and should use them."

Guitars are awesome. But before we had guitars or pianos or horns or even drums, we had voices. The human voice is beyond amazing, and it's right there inside you. Everyone can play it, to some extent! We all have one! They're all different! And, my god, listen to what you can DO with it! Why would it ever be okay to stop playing with the myriad of noises we can make with it? Why would be ever, ever stop?

Hi, I'm Honeydew. On Tuesday, I'll be back in the lab, sticking tubes down people's throats to look at their vocal folds. The wonder has not faded at all.
posted by honeydew at 12:35 AM on January 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


The Smiths - Salford 86 (Morrissey with and without shirt, Johnny Marr a goddamn monster on guitar). Sorry, but Janice Whaley doesn't do it for me at all.
posted by wherever, whatever at 2:33 AM on January 15, 2011


This is amazing. Thanks, Therubettes.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 6:47 AM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is awesome, and I normally can't stand acapella anything.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 1:24 PM on January 15, 2011


drjimmy11: "Right, but they're probably actually giving the money to the songwriters rather than just, you know, selling other people's work and keeping the money."

She talks a whole bunch about licensing the songs properly, so, you know, there's that.
posted by boo_radley at 2:53 PM on January 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was on the fence until I listened to her Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want. They're not all zingers, but Ms. Whaley does justice to the mopeyer tracks.
posted by Graygorey at 3:20 PM on January 15, 2011


This is neat and she's talented, but I'm not sure there's enough versatility in the vocal delivery and production style to make this very interesting to listen to for more than a short stretch.

Right, but they're probably actually giving the money to the songwriters rather than just, you know, selling other people's work and keeping the money.

How do you know she isn't paying royalties?
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 5:20 PM on January 15, 2011


I was on the fence, but "I Know It's Over" just won me ... um ... over. Just gorgeous, really.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:51 PM on January 15, 2011


Metafilter: We have guitars now and should use them.
posted by finite at 9:52 PM on January 15, 2011


I was wary clicking on the one of their songs that has deep personal meaning for me ("There is a light..."), but I felt she brought something interesting and new to it while still giving me the same meaning.
posted by Danila at 10:23 PM on January 15, 2011


Article on Ms. Whaley in the San Francisco Chronicle.
posted by The Ardship of Cambry at 10:46 AM on January 16, 2011


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