Dead Boy | Ben Watson (with REAL brass!)

I’m guessing as home recordists we don’t get to deal with real brass very often.

Anyhoo, this is more-or-less finished but I’m going to use it as a reference for a full album so shout out if you spot any anomalies!

Ver 2 12/02/20

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Everything sounds really good. I’m not crazy about the tone of the lead vocal. I really like the way you got the vocal that low in the mix while still maintaining the intelligibility of the lyrics though. Very nice mix. Only thing that I’m unsure of is the lead vocal tone. Maybe I’ve become accustomed to all these modern day bright sounding vocals. I don’t think you’d be off base to keep that kind of EQ on the lead vocal, though.

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Thank you, the level of the lead vocal did concern me. I think maybe a 1db boost might bring out a bit more of the tone.

edit: Just listened on my laptop - not something I normally do - and the vocals sound a bit high in the mix!

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you had me at brass! Very nice arrangement and brass really accents it well.
I do agree with @Wicked that lead vocals are slightly thinned out a bit. Could be a result of an aggressive EQ. I dont think just increasing its volume would be the ideal fix because I do like that it is sitting deep in the mix, just needs the low end of the voice to cut through a bit. It might need some riding. On a positive note, the vocals are really well enunciated and the style is great!

This song here has a similar vocal footprint and it is rich in the low end

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Thank you. I’ll consider ‘de-thinning’ - I don’t think it needs much though.

Sounding good…

A few points I noticed:

  • The vocals sound quite scooped in the mids, but really pushed around the 4k mark. As a result they have a kind of “frying bacon” sound which emphasises the grit in his voice, but compromises the vocal’s ability to compete with the rhythm guitars in that region somewhat.

  • The background vocals sound great (your vox?) but when they come in, I feel they overwhelm the mix. It’s not so much a problem of being too loud, but rather they create a bit of an “on/off” sensation in the mix overall. The instrumental spaces between the chorus vocals don’t seem to “take up the slack” in terms of maintaining interest. It feels a bit like the song is “treading water” in those bits. Maybe some echo throws on the word “crossfire” would

  • The second chorus improves on the first in the area I mentioned above, due to the horn lines that fill in the space and hold the interest there… but there still is a bit of that on/off sensation.

  • Related to the overall prominence of the summed chorus vocals, I think those horn fills sound a little under done by comparison.

  • The second-verse backgrounds are at at nice level, but the answering vocal (“burning bright”) at 2:30 jumps out a bit too much.

  • Arrangement-wise, the intro feels a bit long IMO. I kept wanting the vocals to come in sooner.

  • The first “tapping” part of the guitar break where it plays along with the horn line @ 3:40 or so sounds a little uneven dynamically. I think each note would “speak” more clearly if that section of playing was compressed more aggressively.

Overall, sounding very nice!

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Sounds really cool! There isn’t much I can add to what’s already been said, but…

  • really really dig the snare sound… great punch and snap! The kit in general sounds great… except…
  • the bell on the ride is bothering me a bit… maybe it’s the frequency it rings at and maybe it’s that the drummer almost exclusively used the bell when hitting the ride (and maybe my ears are just really really tired :rofl:). Feels like it’s not sitting with the rest of the kit in spots. Depends on how busy the instrumentation is at the time though, when there’s a lot going on it’s definitely less prominent.
  • Brass sounds great!


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I think I’ll have another go at the vocals.

Yep I’m aware of these issues. It’s how the client wanted it. (Not my vox, all the client).

Agreed, I think it will wear a drop in level.

Yep, agreed, but it’s another client thing.

OK I’ll check that out.

Thank you Andrew

I tend to use the same samples for all kits. It’s surprising how ‘different’ they sound when they are played by different drummers, and when they are mixed in with the overheads.

He’s on the bell because I asked him to. I’m a sucker for a bell on a ride, but I agree it could come down a bit. The problem is I have to take the whole right side of the overheads down which makes the stereo imaging difficult. It’s a trade-off (as most things are).

Thank you.

I’d definitely focus on the tone of the lead vox. It sounds like you mixed all the instruments, then tried to squeeze the vox in there, couldn’t get them to fit, so you boosted the high mids so that they could at least be heard.

All the other instruments sound like they are well balanced and not overhyped, so the contrast between that at the vocals makes it feel even more extreme.

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Update uploaded to first post:

  • Re-EQ’d LOX and removed high pass from parallel LOX distortion track.

  • Boosted horns in second chorus

  • Levelled first part of guitar solo

  • Automated ‘she’ in chorus to come down in level

  • EQ’d overheads to calm down the ride a bit

Nice improvement on all counts! :+1:

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