Peter Fedofsky: "Dumb Angel"

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Each February Portsmouth, NH music magazine The Wire issues a challenge to it's readers: write and record an entire album in one month. This year more than 2,000 artists and bands participated in the so-called RPM Challenge, each cranking out original songs at a record pace. Throughout the month of April Second Stage will feature some of the artists from this year's challenge.

Peter Fedofsky writes and records out of his home in Seattle, Wash. Though he went solo for the RPM Challenge, Fedofsky's main musical outlet is the band Curtains for You, a five-piece, retro-pop group also based in Seattle.

Fedofsky's songs draw heavily on the melodies and harmonies of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, ELO and Buddy Holly. "Dumb Angel," the featured track from his RPM album The Curious Flying Machine, is named after the original title for what became Brian Wilson's Smile.

"I liked the phrase because it just sounded so nice," says Fedofsky. "It all started out on the guitar with some really simple chords. The melody came out of nowhere. After tooling around on the guitar, I moved to piano and started really getting into the melody. I'm not a great singer, as I lack any real power to my voice. What I do have is a pretty wide vocal range, and that helped me really capture an airy quality to the verses. Once I laid down some piano and guitar, things were starting to gel, but not well enough. Once I pulled a guitar slide out of my bag of musical doodads, things started coming together. I'm a huge Beatles fan, and I had to slip in some Harrisonesque slide stuff, which really made the song sound whole. Listening to it now, it's as close to Jeff Lynne's production style that I can make at home."

Fedofsky's recordings are a bit rough around the edges, lacking the hyper-polished flair of a big-budget studio album. But call it "character." "Seriously, if anyone saw the 'studio' in my living room, they would laugh," says Fedofsky. "I record at home on my PC. I'm not much of a gearhead, so I don't have scads of equipment. Basically, I played a late sixties Guild acoustic, a modern Les Paul, and an early sixties EKO Viola bass. I'm more of a piano man than a keyboard man, so any other goofy sounds were made with slide-whistles and kazoos and such."

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