Track by Track…of Sundown’s End by Kevin Robertson
Janglepophub are delighted that The Vapour Trails front man, Kevin Robertson, has agreed to become the subject of our very first ‘Track By Track…’ article.
Here he gives us a summary of the process of writing, playing and producing the tracks on a debut solo album, Sundown’s End, that sold in less than 36 hours after release !
Kevin Robertson – Track by Track of Sundown’s End (Futureman Records / Subjangle)
It’s a tradition of mine post release to post descriptions of album tracks .. Thought i would continue that tradition for my new album ‘Sundown’s End’
Track 1- Into the Black
I wrote this one around a decade ago but never recorded it the way I wanted it . Finally alongside a few others got it released too. I had so many songs to choose from over the years but this one made it .
A song pretty much about having bad times but getting beyond all the folks who may hinder you in getting on with life “Pray for the monkey on your back “
Nick Bertling put these songs in album order as I was being a little indecisive. His idea was to start jangly and chilled then shift things from there . I think it’s pretty much straight forward mellow jangle pop but I didn’t want that all the way through for this album. I think Nick’s idea was/is cool.
Kev Robertson – Vocals ,Acoustic guitars, Electric Guitars
Scott Robertson – Bass, organ , backing vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums , organ., producer
Track 2 – Could it Be?
An old song, I wrote it in 2011 but again only ever recorded a demo so wanted this revamped , I think we did a cool job on this pop song .
I absolutely adore moog sounds so put the theremin moog sound through the song to add an almost The Beach Boys / Wilco Summerteeth vibe … I Remember saying To Nick , let’s see if we can get that Stevie wonder ‘Uptight’ / Motown drum beat into this one (which he did) but if you listen to the drums he mixes it all up sometimes going into really sweet pop territory .
I played all the guitars on this one with Scott doing a great job alongside Nick with that rhythm section .. Think i also harmonised with myself on the verses with Scott adding harmonies everywhere else. Think its one of Scott’s favs on the album
Kevin Robertson – Acoustic Guitars , Electric Guitars , Moog/Theremin
Scott Robertson – Bass Guitar , Backing Vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums , (Producer )
Track 3 – Settle Down
I posted Scott and I playing this one acoustically a few times on Social Media but it was always the plan to record it properly. Another tune I wrote a few years back and it literally is about settling down.
I feel it has a real west coast alt country style. Tali Trow plays Banjo and does some backing vocals on this one . It’s great to be able to record some of these older songs I have never had a chance to release , the feedback I have had so far shows this one to be a bit of a favourite.
Kev Robertson – Vocals, acoustic guitars , electric rhythm guitar , harmonica
Scott Robertson – Bass guitar, electric guitar , backing vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums, electric guitar, organ (producer)
Tali Trow – Banjo , Backing vocals
Track 4 – Silicone Sun
I have 6 songs I wrote some years ago and 5 more recent ones on this album , this is another one of the older ones . Again I have a demo of this at home from way back but this version is much more rocket fuelled.. This was going to be the single till I had a change of heart late on.
Certainly the most power pop type tune on the record and one I truly enjoyed recording .. Nick Mackie from the Vapour Trails often says that when we are rehearsing I get a bit of grit in my vocals where as usually I just relax and sing real natural, the verses on this one have a tad of that grit .
I thought I had all the guitar parts and solos written and recorded till Nick Bertling added that really cool opening guitar intro !! Scott rocks on bass and all the backing vocals here too .. Not much else to say !!
Kevin Robertson – Vocals , Acoustic guitar , electric rhythm , electric lead guitar
Scott Robertson – Bass Guitar , Keys , Backing vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums , Electric lead guitar , Mellotron (Producer )
Track 5 – Big Old Town
Is it Steely Dan ? Is it CSN ? Na it’s just Nick , Scott and myself !
Started off with me adding all the rhythm guitars , bit of lead guitar ,acoustic , singing then Scott added super cool lead guitar parts , bass and harmonies . I thought it sounded a little bit like a Carole King song initially but when Nick added Organ that all changed !
He sent me organ parts with major 7 chords all over it and said “Maybe you could re-record your guitars round this” , I’m channelling my Donald Fagen “ at that point I’m like “ ah man I can’t be arsed doing that “ … He re- recorded the organ the way it is now ! I think this is a groovy tune .. Scott’s response to the final recording was “This is filthy “
For me groovy and a fun way to break up the record
Kevin Robertson – Vocals , Acoustic guitar , electric rhythm , lead guitar
Scott Robertson – Bass , lead guitar , vocals
Nick Bertling– Drums , organ (producer)
Halfway through now so let’s crack on…
Track 6 -Sundown’s End
Why the title track ? Just thought it was a cool name for an album !
One of the more recent songs I wrote , in fact I wrote it just before completing the record . A song about a make believe place where less fortunate people could go to to be more fortunate ‘ if only’…
Wanted the guitar riffs to have that slightly overdriven sound , almost broken.. Love Nick’s solos here too . I had pretty much all the guitars tracked but Nick hadn’t played a guitar solo on the record yet so I asked politely if he would , he said yes and I loved the results .
Love the rhythm section of Scott and Nick too.
Kevin Robertson– Vocals , Acoustic Guitars , Electric guitars
Nick Bertling – Drums , Electric guitar (producer)
Scott Robertson – Bass Guitar , Backing Vocals
Track 7 – See How We Love
Personally (and I don’t say this often about my own stuff) I think this is a very nice song ..I didn’t have an acoustic song on the album (and wanted one) so I wrote it inside half an hour the week before the album was complete . I mean it was a heartfelt half an hour !
I think Scott’s backing vocals on this track are beautiful , they really shine … Not a whole lot of tracks and instruments on this one but still one of my favourites on the record… Jim Shepherd (Jasmine Minks Jim ) messaged me after he heard it and said it reminded him of Dennis Wilson which I was very pleased with.
Kevin Robertson – Vocals , Acoustic guitar
Scott Robertson – Bass guitar , keys , Backing vocals
Nick Bertling – Orchestration and Production
Track 8 -Telepathic Minds
I remember running down the stairs at home with my acoustic and saying to my partner Nicola, “What do you think of this chorus “ Weird that when a tune just comes to you and you get excited !!
I knew it was going to be pretty much a jangly psych song but didn’t realise to what extent . Another thing that sticks in my mind is sending my rough mix to Nick Bertling with basic drums on it and him sending me back what was to be the final track with his drums on it .
I asked him “Are you playing bongos here” his answer was “ No I just went for it , I’m pretty much smashing everything” haha .. He then said it sounded like The Moody Blues on speed with Neil Young on Guitar ‘.
Look out for a magical Buffalo Springfield / The Yardbirds style guitar solo from The Jasmine Minks very own Jim Shepherd.. So cool to have a Scottish indie pop legend on my album .
Kevin Robertson– Vocals , Acoustic Guitar , Electric Guitar
Scott Robertson -Bass , Electric guitar , Backing Vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums , Synth/mellotron , Electric guitar (Producer)
Jim Shepherd -Electric guitar solo
Track 9 – Love’s Blue Yonder (the single)
Short , pretty sweet jangle pop song that in the end I felt would make a great 1st single from the record.
I was between this and Silicone Sun but just figured this started with a bang and kept enough pace and dynamic about it to catch on . At 2min 8 seconds it didn’t quite reach shortest single ever status, but i’d at least like to beat the likes of The La’s Feelin at some point in the short single release stakes.
A song about missed opportunities, being away from home and also that feeling of often being only a number until someone or something bigger than yourself points out to others your value in life . Aren’t we all a little fickle?
Anyway a catchy jangly tune .. Guitar wise I got plenty jangle in my recording but asked Nick to get that early REM sound in the final mix which he did .. Also a word for Scott Robertson who was outstanding all the way through this record, this time with lovely melodic bass lines , organ and harmonies and Nick Bertling who shaped this record alongside me with his studio magic.
Kevin Robertson – Vocals , Acoustic Guitars, Electric Guitars
Scott- Bass, organ, backing vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums , production
Track 10- Custom Made
I wrote this one 10 years ago but only recorded it as a demo in a lower key and with more synth and piano stuff added.
I always had in mind that if it was released properly it would have a more mellow jangle to it . Quite a personal song lyrically and a nice melody which is always important.
I was so pleased Andrew Taylor from Dropkick played on this one . Important if musicians play on your songs they do it to improve the recordings and Andrew excelled here on 12 string and the fuzz solo which i adore. Dare I say this is me showing my full jangle pop /TFC /The Byrds side.
Kevin Robertson – Vocals , acoustic guitar , electric rhythm guitar
Scott Robertson– Bass guitar backing vocals
Nick Bertling – Drums , keys , (producer)
Andrew Taylor – 12 string guitar , fuzz solo , backing vocals
Last but not least !!!
Track 11- Yesterday’s Reign
Literally wrote this in an afternoon .. I wanted one of those songs with fictitious characters so I deliberately chose Tom and Jane as it reminded me of characters from David Bowie and Lou Reed songs .. Both characters dreaming of times gone by.
‘Sleepy traveller Tom , loves to sing his songs,down on memory lane , out of the remnants of Yesterday’s Reign ‘…. Some people have told me it’s like a perfect crossover of a The Beatles Revolver track and a The Byrds Younger than Yesterday track’… To me it’s just the guys and I having fun but I’ll take the compliment and smile !!!
The most Psych song on the record.
Kevin Robertson – Vocals , Acoustic Guitar , Electric Guitar
Nick Bertling – Drums , Electric Sitar , Guitar , Synth, E Bow (Producer)
Scott Robertson – Bass , 12 string Electric guitar , Backing Vocals