New Song - "Special"

Hi, it’s been a while since I posted a track… I usually prefer to post completed release-ready mixes, but this is more of a “proof of concept” work in progress type thing, so I’m open to just about anything - even “scrap it all and start again”!

Hey Andrew,
It’s only rock 'n roll but I like it! It has a lot to offer beside straight up rock 'n roll: nice intro, interesting chord sequences, specially in the solo, and the song structure is anything but predictable. I also like the harmonies on the vocals in the chorus. Nice work!
The only part I thought was less original was the guitar at the end of the chorus (0:57). It’s straight up rock, but if you could think up something of a surprise there it would be great.
Great work so far!

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Thanks Aef! I worked on the song structure quite a bit, so as not to make it bland or too predictable.

The guitar solo bit was an attempt to write an individual chord structure specifically for the solo - I don’t think I’d ever done that before, so I was keen to experiment with it.

It’s interesting you mention the chorus instrumental hook. I originally wrote the song on acoustic guitar, and those parts sounded a lot less “straight ahead” in that context. However, played on electric, I totally get what you’re saying.

The curious thing about that riff is that it basically “bookends” the chorus - the difference being that the riff that starts the chorus has singing over it, whereas the one at the end doesn’t.

In my various experiments with song structure, I actually tried dropping the end riff from the first chorus and going straight into the second verse, but it just sounded way too jarring.

Thanks for your thoughts - I really appreciate you giving it a listen and commenting - I shall continue to try to hone the parts to get a good balance between catchiness and originality.

Well done as usual. As a straight up rock tune it works well.

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Great stuff. Love that intro. You nailed those high notes. Like the way it comes back down. Man this is good as I listen. I knew I would be depressed after this. ha ha Love that choppy piano. That distortion in that lead guitar is like yummy. Might be your best. Big congrats

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Really like the way the song opens up. Felt like something became a touch constricted once the whole band opened up 0:44 or maybe I expected a bit more of an ooomph kickin in with the drums, more snap and kick slap I guess.

Super cool tune, love the guitar tones. What are you using?

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Really catchy and cool guitar tones. While seemingly a straight-forward rock tune, it’s a little unpredictable (in all the good ways.) Only spot that tripped my ear a little was the lead from 2:20 - 2:30. It sounds a bit… uncertain… but then again, it’s not predictable. I’ve only listened to it twice and I’m already humming it. Nice work.

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cool tune, it sounds like the guitarist mixed it… maybe bump the vox (the vocals, not the amp!) up 2dB and see how that goes down :wink:

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I really enjoyed listening to this piece of music. It is a great rock song, and it has become quite hard to come up with something interesting in a genre that has been over-exploited for quite a while now, so kudos for that. I especially like the fills and bits that tie the structure together in a neat and interesting fashion. The guitars and vocals are both rich in content and changes, which play a major role in how you keep the listener engaged until the end. The arrangement in general, and backing vocals in particular, are great.

I think the whole guitar solo needs a little more work, though. The structure is great, the guitar playing is great, but the choice of notes for the solo doesn’t seem to work well for me, it’s like you glued several bits of solos together and it doesn’t “tell a story” like you would expect from a great solo. I also feel like the guitar solo hardly frees itself from the arrangement. I’m not talking about the mix but just the way notes are played, especially in their phrasing and rhythm. I hope you can understand what I mean because I feel I’m not being really clear here.

Since it is work in progress, I assume comments on the mix are not as relevant as it would be if it was final, so I’ll just mention the one thing that really jumped to my ears right from the start and all along the song: the drums don’t sound good, especially the snare that is over-compressed and lacking body. This is emphasized by the fact that the rest, apart from minor adjustments, sound great and organic.

Really great song anyway, one that I will be listening again in the future because it stands out from the rest in my opinion.


Thanks Red!

Thank you, Paul! I’m pretty sure I have better songs in the pipeline, but I’m trying to make this the best it can be. This is pretty much a first draft - I think I still can improve on it…

Hey Descent, thank you for listening & commenting! Yeah, I agree, the drums aren’t the best I can do. They are kind of thrown together placeholders at present. I plan to improve them once I get the arrangement more dialled in. I was tempted to do some automation etc. to make them hit harder, but then thought better of it at this stage.

The main guitars are my '95 Fender Lonestar Strat through Scuffam Amps S-Gear. I really love the “Steeler” Marshall emulation. I actually have the Slate Overloud THU collection, and while it sounds quite good, I still prefer S- Gear.

The left channel is the Strat on the middle pickup for the verses, and the rear (humbucker - Seymour Duncan Pearly Gates) for the choruses. On the right hand side, it’s the same guitar/amp combo, but with a capo on the 5th fret, and all on the rear pickup. There are a few overdubbed parts done with my Duesenberg Starplayer TV and the same amp.

The lead break is the Strat on the neck pickup. I threw all these parts together really quickly, so I didn’t really go to any great pains over tones… Actually, come to think of it, I never really do, these days - after 43 years of guitar playing, I know what I like, so whatever I have on hand to use usually ends up sounding like me, anyway.

Hey thanks Skua! Glad you noticed that there are a few little deviations from the standard! (For some reason I only noticed that the chorus’ main phrase is a series of three notes a semitone [half-step] apart only recently. When I realised that I thought: ‘that is a very strange melodic motif to put in the chorus of a “rock” song’.)

Point taken about the lead break - I intend to improve that!

Thanks Vaghan!..Haha - maybe so, but then again, maybe you should check the mix in mono, mate! :wink:

Thanks Lophophora! I think it was easier to write a song that came out a bit unusual, because honestly, I didn’t really write it with a rock music arrangement in mind.

I think I get what you are saying - the ideas are a little “scattershot” and lacking cohesion at present. I was tempted to work on it some more before I presented it here, but in the spirit of a work in progress, I decided against it at this stage.

Yeah, I definitely agree with you on the drums - as I said above, they are a placeholder at present, as in fact, are all the other parts in the song. Everything was thrown down really fast - the vocals were all done on my SM57. I’ll probably end up replacing most of it.

Thanks so much for your thoughtful and insightful comments - much appreciated!

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I think the song works well. Definitely worth putting the full production machine behind it. Whether intentional or not, it has a GnR feel to it to me. I think it could have a generally more aggressive feel, especially in the chorus. Those harmonies feel really soft and happy, and I think they could get some grit treatment.

Hey Boz - Thanks! I think I can definitely improve that aspect of the track. I was being rather overly mindful of scaring the neighbours when I was tracking the vocals :wink: Not just the vocals, but I think also the drums and guitars can be recorded to create more impact in the choruses.
Thanks for your input!

Andrew, this is sweet. Very nice.

I think you’re 95% of the way there. Some polishing of the mix and this is an outstanding piece. Specifically, it feels “just a little” muddy to me. The drums aren’t crisp enough. I agree with @Lophophora there. Also, the guitars need a little high end. Some sparkle. I especially feel that on the into, in the guitar coming out of the first guitar. Funny, one of the things I like about S-gear is how bright the guitars are.

I think brightening up the mix a bit is the ticket. Way beyond my pay grade. Outside of that, it’s a done project IMHO. Dang, I wish I could play like that. Wish I could arrange like that. Write like that. Sing like that.

I absolutely love the guitars. Myself, outside of some EQ, I wouldn’t touch 'em. This is a fun song. Love the guitars, the energy. The arrangement is great. It’s catchy. Nice hook. I gotta hear more of your stuff, man. I REALLY like this. Creative. Nice grooves. Ah, I could go on and on. Thanks for posting. Bring this one home, baby! I really wanna hear the finished project.

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Oh, and another thing…

I was in communication with Mike from Scuffham amps and he told me a couple of weeks back that he’s very close to releasing the next version of S-Gear. He said he’s hoping by the end of the month. Knock on wood!

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Thank you for the song reviews! Now your song: I think the intro guitar riff has more of a hook when the drums start. Song gets better when the second guitar kick in. Vocals are good. Generally speaking, the song sounds more impressive when more tracks are playing. Lead guitar is good. Audio quality is nice. At times, the song reminds me of Steely Dan (good). I like the song, it has some good melodies. :slight_smile:

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Hi Tesgin - thanks!

Actually I did brighten up the guitars. :slightly_smiling_face: What I didn’t do (which I normally would do) is apply some strategic cuts in the low mids on the guitars before I compress or boost anything. That may explain why you’re hearing a little muddiness.
I took it that @Lophophora was suggesting the drums (and in particular the snare) sounded a little too bright and maybe thin, but I could be interpreting things wrongly :thinking:

Thanks Tesgin - I appreciate your enthusiasm, but I’m certain I can improve it!

Cool, I was a very early adopter of S-Gear - I’ve had it since 2012 - after reading a Sound On Sound review of the very first release, I trialled it and bought it immediately! Up until then I was a dyed in the wool valve amp purist. I’ve owned many really nice valve amps over the years, (and still do) and I never thought I would be happy just using virtual amps for recording, but S-Gear turned me around.
I can honestly say that I have never felt unsatisfied with it…Mike S really knows his stuff. S-Gear has always been fantastic, so an update is just a bonus.

Thanks Aaron! Yes, Steely Dan are a favourite of mine. I would have never thought of them in relation to this track, though…Although come to think of it, some of their earlier, rawer stuff (Bodhisaltva; Reelin’ In The Years) might bear a passing resemblance.