Saturday, January 31, 2009

Putting on accents

Well, the heavy-lifting is done. We spent yesterday at Todd's fine-tuning, and now we're back at Woolly for the first time in two weeks. This next part can be either the most fun, or the most challenging. What to add, and what not to add? What's too much and what needs just a little more?

Some songs sound done, and some sound far from it. With mixing slated to begin Friday, are we really going to hit the goal? Who knows... For now, the goal is to make a great record, not necessarily to make a deadline. So, we'll let this progress naturally from here on out. If something takes time, we shouldn't shortchange it. We will diligently let sounds develop. I like that.

After adding some guitar tracks, we've played around with various percussion today, with attempts by Matt and I, before Dave just took the lead when Matt departed.
Unfortunately, my judgment of sounds isn't good. I'm falling asleep at the studio, since last night was a late one, but I'm hanging tough. Rodfest is tonight, and it's impossible to NOT get up for Rodfest. I'll be all there, on stage. Might crash after. Maybe that'll be one of the surprises of the evening. Come witness.

Bear in mind that we've played Rodfest tired before -- two years ago, the band awoke at 5:15 a.m. to perform on the Fox 25 Morning Show AND I started a new job that day AND I still didn't nap AND we still rocked. So, yeah, I guess you could say I accomplished everything on my bucket list.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Rodfest rolls around again

Hello faithful friends,
This Saturday, Jan. 31, just may be the best day of this young year. It is the 7th annual RODFEST at the Paradise Rock Club -- a night of good-natured debauchery and relentless fun. The evening features some of our personal favorite bands and closest friends: Three Day Threshold, Girls Guns and Glory, and the last-ever show by old pals Rogue Heroes. Plus, starting at 9 p.m., there will be acoustic sets from Sixteen on Center, Shays Rebellion, and Cassavettes' favorite Colin Toomey.

This is one not to be missed -- and is a definite sell-out every year, so get tickets in advance or early. All proceeds will again go to the Greg "Rodney" Moynahan Memorial Scholarships. Full info on the charity here.

Make sure to get there early: Cassavettes take the stage at 9:55 and keep the party moving until 10:30.

Get your tickets here TODAY ($15 advance, $20 day of)!

On another note, for those of you outside of Boston, fear not: Cassavettes is hitting the road for the entire month of March (hopefully with advanced copies of our new CD in tow). Upcoming highlights include opening for Superdrag at their CD release at Exit/In in Nashville on March 14, a hometown show on March 17 at Rubber Gloves in Denton, Texas, some fun at SXSW, and more. Keep your eyes on our MySpace for complete tour dates as they continue to come together.

Also, Cassavettes singer/guitarist Glenn Yoder's solo CD, "Okono Road," was released last week. Pick it up here.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking up is, well, you know

I feel like this is a pivotal time for music. Not just for us as we embark deeper into that big dumb chasm of music hopes and dreams, but more so, for a lot of the bands that have been important to us over the years.

To be specific, it's like everybody's throwing in the towel at once.

Today I went from reading the official (and terse) email from Rogue Heroes that Rodfest is indeed the end for them to reading a post from our D/FW friends Black Tie Dynasty saying that they're cooked, too. There have been rumblings of another big breakup, but I'm not going to use this blog to break the news for anyone who isn't ready to go public.

Now, to be fair, neither of those breakups is extremely surprising. The Rogue Heroes guys have made no secret of the fact that hope has gotten dim, and the fun has left. That's when you know a band is officially through, after all -- when the fun doesn't return. They've been talking for months of a break-up. Similarly, I had suspicions that Black Tie Dynasty was close to the end last year at SXSW when Blake told me they were on the rocks with their label. I believe Cory even solicited for a new label onstage that night. I had high hopes that they'd go it alone for awhile and come up right side up, but that was a bit far-fetched for a band that had already gone through one major transformation in sound and image.

To me, these bands represent two familiar stories in the music business, which are all too common. I'm speaking only from observation as a friend and fan rather than a place of any authority, but this is how I see things:

- Black Tie Dynasty transformed themselves from a pop-rock outfit known as Moxie to a New Order-loving 80s secondwave band, and were rewarded accordingly for stepping into the wave. Obviously, such a risky move can either pay off big (like when they ruled the radios in north Texas, got national exposure, and ended up on a billboard in downtown Dallas), but it can also be short-lived and rather abrupt when it ends. As I heard it, the label put all their hopes on them, but I read too many reviews that said BTD's success hinged on the popularity of the next Killers record. When the Killers attempted a Springsteen sound, their next-of-kin were left out in the cold. BTD's label split obviously, though I don't know nor care to know any of those details. Again, I'm just calling it as I saw it. There's nothing wrong with a band being part of a wave, but sustaining that ride is the hard part. They had their success, and then they were thrown out on the shore. That's a tough thing for a band to overcome, no matter who you are. To have accomplished what they did and gotten to tour and touch people lives in the way that they did is truly a lucky thing.

- To me, Rogue Heroes got left behind. That's no one's fault, I don't think, but it is an unfair truth of music. It's competitive. They grew up best friends (and musical collaborators) of the guys in Girls Guns & Glory, and maybe always fancied themselves as the next to hit. When GGG moved into the spotlight (and with authority, lately), I think it became harder to see themselves as competitive. It probably hurt. No one told me that, that's just how I read the situation. I think they also lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, and the dream seemed all the more distant. Music moved from the main focal point to secondary. They are living their lives and have bigger aspirations. That's how most bands wrap things up, and there's no shame in that. It's actually pretty smart.

I wonder how things will end for us. They almost have a couple times already, but I think we all are too intrigued to find out what happens next. But when that feeling leaves, who knows?

For now, here's a final farewell to two great bands who we have been lucky enough to know.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Boy for sale

The recording session scheduled for Cassavettes today couldn't go down because Todd hasn't made the headway on the tracks he had initially hoped to. So, alas, all I have is solo news and sales pitches for you. Sorry.

Here is a testimonial I apparently wrote for Jack Gauthier, who produced my solo record, that I found posted on his website:
Glenn Yoder
"Jack Gauthier is a confident fellow. He doesn't have that asshole-confidence, but instead exudes that pure type of confidence that one only gains through years of experience behind the boards. He knows his equipment back to front, and as I was told in advance, he goes the extra mile. Not to mention he has a cutting sense of humor that keeps the atmosphere light, yet focused. Thus, I have confidence telling you that Jack will give you what you want in a producer and/or engineer -- someone who really cares, who listens, and who will keep you in stitches. That's my testimony to Jack. Now hopefully he doesn't let it go to his head. We don't want him developing asshole-confidence."

Charming, eh?

If you're interested in buying the solo record, you may now do so here...

Finally, I did an interview with Spare Change News yesterday, where we talked solo record and Cassavettes. Keep your eyes glued to this blog for the full text soon.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Last night was the most incredible night of my life

OK that's not true. I just wanted to quote Wayne's World. But it was a good night -- fun hanging with friends. In addition to the backing band of Kiggans, Jeff, and Seth, I had Chris Cerrato join us on piano, Mike came up and played a number of songs with us, Sarah sang and played shaker, and even Todd joined us during my infamous switch to piano on "Home." It was a barnyard jam. Also, special thanks to Matt for passing out the shakers and percussion instruments to the crowd, it made it all the more of a jam. Communal experience. Together we can. The theme of this week, right? That's what it was like.

It's sort of weird to have to talk about stuff onstage, without playing off Mike and Scott, but somehow we still did. We made jokes back and forth since they were sitting close by. And every time I said something dumb (which is frequent of course), you could pick Scott's laugh out of a crowd of thousands (not that there was one, of course). But the crowd was all friends, and that's the special thing, even though there were a few notable absences. It's all good. It was a rushed effort to get the CD out and the show turned out exactly as I expected. What more could you want than to be among friends during such a special occasion? It's a good feeling.

SET LIST: The Rain's Not Far Behind / Okono Road (feat. Chris Cerrato) / Just Like You / Til the Wheels Fall Off / A Thousand Ways (feat. Sarah Blacker) / Like Secrets Beneath (feat. Chris Cerrato and Mike McCullagh) / Green & White (feat. Chris Cerrato) / Home (feat. Todd Thibaud) / It's Gonna Take Time / Alone / Broken Beaten & Blue (feat. Mike McCullagh) / Give Me a Moment (feat. Chris Cerrato and Mike McCullagh) / You Led Me Into Your Love (feat. Chris Cerrato and Mike McCullagh)

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Creamer's dream

This, via Matt, is a post that just rips Creamer's looks to shreds, especially in the comments section (who knows why Matt was perusing Barstool Sports?). Initially, I had resisted posting it, as I found it offensive and pointless, but Creamer, who found it on his own, called it "priceless" and was angry that I didn't send it to him. So said Creams: "Stuff like this just rolls off my shoulder." Therefore, I perpetuate the reach of these rude, anonymous commenters by re-posting it on this here blog.

Funny story, though, this photo that they are critiquing was taken by Bill Brett for my section of Creamer, being a man about town, often shows up in Bill's nightlife shots (and as he often mentions, is featured with Theo or Wyc Grousbeck, as he is above). Anyhow, Bill ALWAYS mislabels Creamer as "Bill Janovitz, Buffalo Tom singer" -- which is not fair to either of them (though Creamer delights in this, and told Janovitz they should "switch wives and see if they notice"). I have dutifully corrected this error time and time again. Then, last week, the photodesk here gets angry that Bill Janovitz keeps getting mislabeled as Michael Creamer online. I explain that he is not Bill Janovitz. Are you sure? Yes, I'm sure. I talk to the dude every day, he manages our band, and, oh, this kind of thing just rolls off his shoulder.

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Going it alone

Well, not really. I'll have a full band, as I did at Toad a few months back, but this is my solo CD debut. Oddly enough, the idea of doing this makes me far more nervous than any of Cassavettes' biggest shows. This band only practices once before each gig, whereas Cassavettes obviously knows what's going on. Then again, these guys are quick to pick up, so who knows why I worry? Anyhow, it's at the Lizard Lounge tonight. Ryan's Smashing Life had this to say:
Cassavettes are one of our favorite Boston bands of the last few years - so it's only natural we would be all over the talented Glenn Yoder's solo debut - Okono Road, released today! On the new record, Yoder shines like a star and in many ways transcends his prior accomplishments. On Okono Road, Yoder pays homage and affection for the great American song.

Tracks on Okono Road are original, modern takes on classic song forms. The spirits of great musicians (both past and present) are heard in the background on these recordings. Yoder lists George Harrison, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, and Bob Dylan as inspirations. On Okono Road, the singer-songwriter dabbles (dwelling for just a bit with) traditional folk, the blues and country-western, but Yoder's strongest work here reflect great indie rock singers who also used the previous styles as stepping stones: Elliott Smith, Ryan Adams, Paul Westerberg, Evan Dando, and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.

Everyone who attends Glenn's CD Release Party tonight at The Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, will be given a complimentary copy of Okono Road. Glenn will be supported on stage by members of Girls, Guns, and Glory and Left Hand Does. This one, friends, should be a blast!

Let's hope so! If I don't toss my cookies first. Just kidding (half). The City Pulse also has a small item.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Little time

Lots going in Cassavettes land. Not a whole lot of time to talk about it.

Mike and I have finished most of the vocals, in the 1 1/2 days at Woolly. Not too shabby. I'm liking most of the sounds we're getting, and things are really moving along. We just have to finish one song tomorrow, then start piano and harmony overdubs. Definitely in good shape moving forward.

The band played The Dive in Worcester again last night. These shows every month just keep getting better. It's always a good time, with our favorite bartender working the bar, so we shall keep it up. It's good to have a place to play that's not too far, where you can do a three-hour blowout, and tighten your skills, in front of a totally different audience. It's a really good time. Last night, I was struggling with my voice, after singing at the studio, then doing a long set. I had to preserve for today, so I took the easiest path on a few songs and stayed away from the alcohol. That was a good call. I was definitely more fresh today for having done it.

SET 1: Ordinary Girls / Nothing From You / Don't Get Me Wrong / Lights On / Golden Fleece / The Nadir / Madeline / Research Blvd / Whitewashed / Debts / Someday Darling / Seek Cover / Marie / Carolyn, Don't Leave Like This / The Devil's Arms

SET 2: A Hard Rain / Valley of Gold / Six Hours / Bad Luck / Like Secrets Beneath / Cedar / I Come From the Water / Shotgun Wedding / Shine a Light

The week ahead is looking crazy. I've got to get my shiz together for the big solo show on Thursday, my CD release at the Lizard Lounge. Already some press is filtering in... Sophia, the wife of Mike Epstein of The Motion Sick and fellow blogger, wrote this nice post on Boston Band Crush (and included a song):
Glenn Yoder, of Cassavettes fame has gone solo! No worries about the Cassavettes just yet, as they are still very much up to really great things. Glenn is releasing solo record, which he claims has been a long time coming, entitled Okono Road. The release party is at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge on Thursday, January 22. His back up band for the show includes members of Girls, Guns, and Glory and Left Hand Does. Bonus: everyone that walks through the door gets a free copy of the CD.

The record is alt-country, singer-songwriter, reminiscent of Neil Young and Ryan Adams. Glenn has kindly provided us with an mp3 for the song "Til the Wheels Fall Off" which reminds me a bit of Okkervil River.

That's it for now. Perhaps I can check in tomorrow, if not, see you on Thursday hopefully!

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Patience: a virtue?

So they say. And Creamer and Todd and seemingly every mentor this band has preaches patience like the gospel. Yes, patience is important, particularly when you're chasing a dream that often requires more luck than talent (unfortunately). Waiting for that luck to kick in takes all the patience a band has.

Now, I know that this record is going to be good. We all know that. We waited long enough to do it, so they songs are primed and ready to go. We also know that it takes work and time in the studio in order to make it as good as it deserves to be. Patience, not rushing.

I can have this patience when I need to (for example, booking this tour, you absolutely must have patience since returns on your emails on one response for every 25 sent out). However, I'm not built like that. I like to work hard and fast and soon see the results of my labor -- that's the journalist in me. But also, if you're really putting everything you have into your dream, shouldn't you be putting it all in ALL THE TIME? Nothing wrong with hard, constant, consistent work.

This is why it bothers me to some extent that Creamer told me I need to remove the word "rush" from my vocabulary (oddly enough, I hadn't used the word when he said that). He has a different, albeit effective, way of working than yours truly. He is an old pro, and knows when to push hard and when to lay back and watch the returns roll in. I recognize that, and yet I like to really strike while the iron is hot, or rather do everything I can to put myself and the band in a position to succeed at all times. Is it really wrong that we have these two divergent styles? I don't think so.

Back to the record: Yesterday I wrote that perhaps we'd have to make some decisions sooner rather than later. The band seems to agree. Todd seems to disagree, however he hasn't been concrete on a backup plan. I suppose a lot of this will be worked out soon, when we discuss scheduling with Dave. We know we need at least one more day of studio time for instrument overdubs (piano, organ, etc) and of course, the vocal overdubs. Maybe we will have an extra day of guitar overdubs, too. It all goes by the budget.

But we're rushed by the premise of having this record in time to depart for touring on March 6 (having copies is something we may have to forfeit, as we don't want to be so shortsighted that we don't give the recording process its due diligence). We're rushed by budget restrictions, Dave's limited time, etc. So what's wrong with working quickly and well?

Todd says that we may have to give up on the idea that the record will be done and available in time for the tour. I think that's the opposite of rushing, that's quitting. Who's to say so early that we can't accomplish both? We have A LOT of time left, including 2-3 weeks between finishing vocals and mixing (though if we do need to do extra recording days, it's tough to book the necessary time).

This is what I'm saying: I don't think I'm rushing these decisions, though I do think it's good to keep tabs on them so they don't sneak up on us. I think I'm trying to get us to go at a comfortable and responsible pace, while still getting what we want and need from this record. Maybe that's asking too much. Maybe I'm too new to this to know how it truly works. We shall see.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Pulling the plug

Question of the day/next couple days/week ahead: When do we decide to pull the plug on a few of these songs?

It may have to be sooner rather than later. Cutting songs is always painful, but it's quite necessary to ensure a fluid, compact record. Right now, we've still got 14 songs and Todd has stated his intent to get guitar tracks done for all 14 before we make any cuts. Unfortunately, that seems less and less likely.

When all is said and done the record will most likely be 11-12 songs, but could be as short as 10 songs. We have five songs basically completed through guitars (all generally regarded as "keepers": Lights On, Cedar, Nothing From You, Don't Get Me Wrong, Shotgun Wedding), and we are forging ahead on the rest. We have a day and a half to finish them. I firmly believe that we can finish 11-12 tracks by the end of the day tomorrow. Not 14. No way. And Todd, while he is producing this (and his advice is valuable and should be taken as exactly that: advice rather than God's will), is not paying for the studio time. Furthermore, we actually cannot book more studio time, even if we wanted to or had the money to do it.

Dave is tied up the next few weekends. He will not be the engineer to record vocals. Todd (and the band) feel that we can record vocals with someone else, but should not record guitars without Dave present. That is Dave's main strength, and the primary reason he was selected for this project. He's a guitar expert. So, without Dave able to record it, it really only gives us until tomorrow evening to finish these guitar tracks. And again, I don't think 14 is possible without some kind of miracle.

What to do? It's time to take a hard look at the songs we've got and what can go.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

The wall

You pay the price for seeking perfection. Quite literally, in this case. Two days into our second 4-day weekend at Woolly Mammoth and we're hitting the wall a bit. Not that the performances aren't good -- Mike has been playing quite well; I think it's me that's holding us back as we try to get the guitar jams going. But these things take time, and it's really taking A LOT of time. So much that I'm wondering if we'll get this record done in the allotted time. We have a fairly tight budget, but we also want to ensure that this record sparkles like no record we've done before.

This is how it is: We have four days booked to get all the guitars recorded. We have 14 songs right now, each has two parts, which would means we have 28 guitar parts to cut in four days. Yesterday, we cut four. At that rate, we would need SEVEN days in the studio to do it all. The question is, do we start trimming songs this early in the game? That would get the songs down to 11-12, or 22-24 guitar parts. Or do we push through guitars faster? Or, most costly of all, do we bite the bullet and pay for a lot more time to do guitars? Unfortunately, it's probably the ladder, because we don't want to let fiscal considerations ruin a record (again -- we've been through that before).

Luckily, it's still early in the game. We have the rest of the day to see where we get, and we'll know a lot more after Monday (our last day here this weekend, since we have tomorrow off). By mid-Monday if things aren't looking good, we may have to book more time and possibly think about doing all the vocals at Todd's house. I'm not completely opposed to that line of thinking but Todd seems to be, due to the superior equipment of this professional studio.

Either way, some big decisions may lie ahead, and we have to stay on track, both financially and musically. Hopefully those two align.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

Wild side

Today is Scott's day under the microscope. I'm listening to him track "Shotgun Wedding" right this moment. So far he's knocked out everything with relative ease. Should he continue at this pace, it's possible we could try a couple maybe songs, including one or two I've written here at the studio. Unlikely, but possible.

Matt, believing his work is all done, showed up a couple hours late today. Actually, his work is done -- unless he does some percussion or we do another song, of course. He must feel good to be able to relax. But he always looks relaxed.

After today, we'll really have the basics down and can move onto to the work of Mike and I. That starts Thursday and runs through this weekend, with Saturday off. We're trying to nail down how long it'll take in total to do guitars and lead vocals. The rest can be done at Todd's house (mostly backup vocals and tweaks), before returning for mixing. So far, so good -- we're on track.

To get a preview of a song we're laying down but haven't released yet, you could consult this video by Casey from our holiday show a couple weeks back at Church, if you want poor quality and a hacked-up solo compliments of yours truly. But you do get to see Shiggins dance and Scott wear his hat.

Not too impressive, but a preview nonetheless.

To kill time in the studio, we've done all sorts of things: read the Onion, books, and whatever else is handy; talked about Uncle Harold Ramis and other nonsense; played the many instruments available; longed to play basketball on the snowed-over court next door; teased Todd; been teased by Todd; and talked nonstop about "Walk Hard." We've searched unsuccessfully for a few videos of classic SNL skits (Leevi's three-legged jeans; Tracy Morgan as Tito Jackson), but to no avail. If anyone can find them, please send them along. It would be of great help.

Also, just found this animation by Mike's wife Julie. Can't believe she never told me about this -- it's great! Still waiting for her project of a bear riding a bike through the seasons, set to (you guessed it) "Seasons." That's sweeeeet.

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Sunday, January 04, 2009

Studio time

The day of reckoning hath come. Greetings to you all from the studio on the third day of our first block of tracking at Woolly Mammoth studio in Waltham, Mass.

And as this is the first post of 2009, why not start it off with the words of our own Mike McCullagh, in resolution form? He was asked by the Globe about these resolutions in the same manner you may recall that Matt gave his thanks during the Thanksgiving season.
The real tradition of New Year's resolutions is that most everybody makes 'em, and almost nobody keeps 'em. So it's moderately courageous that folks from the Boston music community - bands, booking agents, label poobahs - agreed to tell or e-mail us their 2009 resolutions. Pointed and poignant, funny and focused, they're essentially published promises. Now that's pressure.

"I personally have never once kept a new year's resolution for more than a few days, but I go on making them. I suppose I always think I will surprise myself with a previously unused willpower. For tradition's sake, I resolve, in the coming year, to do everything in my power to become just successful enough in music - whether by improving my guitar playing abilities or becoming much more handsome - to quit my day job. Failing that, I will commit myself to becoming a very proficient Internet poker player. In all cases, I resolve to resign permanently from the service industry. I should also stop smoking, but let's not get ahead of ourselves." - MIKE McCULLAGH, singer-guitarist, Cassavettes

Now, let's get down to the nitty-gritty. As you'll recall, we tracked three songs -- "Madeline," "Lights On," and "Golden Fleece" -- on Pearl Harbor Day here at Woolly. We are about to listen in a few moments to whether those recordings have stayed tried and true. Starting on Friday, we tracked 11 other songs: Cedar, Seek Cover, Don't Get Me Wrong, Someday Darling, There's a Reason, Shotgun Wedding, Six Hours, Valley of Gold, Ordinary Girls, Nothing From You, and Like Secrets Beneath. The last of which, "Nothing From You" (name subject to change), we just finished this morning, along with some touches to "Shotgun Wedding." Now we begin the semi-arduous listening process of determining whether the basic tracks we've cut so far will still seem fresh at the end of the rainbow.

Matt has been an absolute warrior so far. In the early stages of recording, it's all about the drums and making sure they really stay solidly on the tempo. Matt has been put through the fire and pushed around countless times already, and yet he's still smiling. Not always, but for the most part. He hasn't lost his head at anyone but himself when he's frustrated, and usually, a little frustration works out to an incredible take. Dave and Todd also are quite good at being gentle, but firm in their criticism.

Now, as we listen back to these tunes, we'll need to determine whether time dictates for us to record a few maybes: songs that aren't in our regular setlist, but we could try and if the right take comes out, it could sneak on the record. Not sure if that's going to happen, but we'll be here through tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.

Creamer is here bothering everyone (Creamer, that's a joke, in case you read this), so I should probably get back. But so far, so good on LP2 from Cassavettes. I'll update soon.

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