Herewith for your bashing pleasure my first original song in over a year (not counting the two short compositions I did for my friend’s nature videos, those were more ambient type things). The last original I submitted for bashing back at RR was at the end of September 2015! I had some serious creative blockage there for quite a while.
The title of this tune is a phrase that @Greg_L used in a thread about option overload when mixing. I’d had the chord progression/structure for this tune for about a week-- over Xmas weekend, I had a very productive noodling session where I came up with three serviceable song starting points-- and the phrase served as the catalyst to take it the rest of the way. The lyrics are about life in general, but they also have bonus significance for those of us who mix our own stuff…
I was going for a sort of power-pop feel on this. Instrumentation is simple, a classic 2 guitars, bass, drums lineup. Martin 6-string tracked with AT4040, Les Paul (w/P90s) thru Scuffham S-Gear2 Duke amp sim (started with the preset called “That’s MISTER Ford to You” and tweaked some), P-bass thru Amplitube 3 “70s Vintage Bass” sim, Variax emulating a Strat on neck pickup thru Waves GTR2 sim for the fadeoutro lead guitar, AD2 drums, vox tracked with ADK Vienna mic.
Thanks for listening!
Edit: Sorry about the ten seconds of dead air at the end of the song… I’ll trim that off in the next revision.
Son of Edit: Here’s V2, described in the most recent post below. Got that dead time trimmed off too.
Back to the Edit: V3, following additional comments.
Planet of the Edit: V4 with added guitar track and harmony vox on chorus.
My first listen is with Apple earbuds on a Windows 8.1 laptop. I will listen again at my recording workstation, eventually. Have you considered adding some shakers or a cabasa maybe? I hear it in my head during the chorus.
I recognize your loose tempo feel It starts with the hi-hat being off in the intro and it looks like the drums are dragging a bit, or that the rest of the band is rushing. Kind of a trademark style of yours!
Mix-wise I’m kind of missing the bass (listening on PC speakers ATM but I know them well, so it looks like you’d need some high mids in there to make it more defined). The kick is also a bit low.
There’s something weird about your vocal in this one (BTW, you should try to add some harmonies in the chorus, this would lift it up a bit), some kind of resonance, like too much room, or too much low mids in your reverb, or some slapback that is creating some kind of phasing on your vox. I would try to track that down and notch it off.
Fun wah wah at the end. Cool stuff all around! :beerbang:
nice song structure really well written David, i agree the drums to lag behind a bit in the beginning but as the song progresses it seems to glue itself ok. The kick seem almost there most of the song the bass is pretty buried and i agree with Patrick with the high mids. a great song and almost there just subtle things now.
As it happens, the last adjustment I made before posting was to bring the drums up a bit-- sounds like I need to do more there. Good ideas about the bass adjustments too, and I’ll try to tighten up that timing at the start. I generally resist having absolutely everything locked on grid, I want that loose feel in general and especially for this tune. But I don’t want it to be a distraction!
Al, thanks for the idea about shaker or some such, I can see how that might work well in the chorus-- will check it out.
I’m not so sure about adding harmony vox though, I did think about it but reckoned it would be too “busy”. Perhaps on the “when all is said and done” bit? But yeah Patrick, I’ve got a slapback & reverb on the vox. Everything is done in Izotope Nectar, but I could ditch their verb & delay and use something else…
So good to hear you back at it. I would just add to that what has been said. I would pull a little more of the low mids out of the vocals cut the verb. Send the vocals to a bus for the reverb and eq the lows mids and highs out of the reverb bus. that allows you to have the reverb feel with out all of the muck. that is my 5 cents.
Elvis Prestley had lots of slapback but more mojo and emotion in his voice. This is a folk rock song. By fixing the problem in the mixing style, you are trying to make it more folk than rock. By doing another, more pationate take, it is going to become more rock and roll. Pick your route.
Well now, that’s good advice-- sing like Elvis Presley! If I could do that, I’d be in great shape!
But seriously… @Arber87, this vocal is probably about as impassioned as I can get. Most of my stuff is much gentler than this. I really wound myself up to get this performance, so trying to get something more passionate is going to be a serious challenge. I am what I am.
And I’m well aware that at my advanced age, my definition of “rock and roll” is probably not the same as what most modern listeners would say! I’m not too concerned about fitting a particular genre.
But I’m curious, what do you mean by saying it would make it more folk than rock to address the mixing issues? I’m not following you there.
Well, if you present it as a folk song which is your singing style, the very wet vocals would be out of place for its genre. Unless you want to enterprise for a hybrid for which you are determined to stand by. Go with drier vocals. It is a good song,
I have put V2 in the OP – looks like this site does not suffer from the same problem RR did with having multiple mp3s in a single thread, but if it does give you probs, please holler.
Thanks again for the great comments, I think the result is a big improvement over the first version. Here are some actions I took:
Thickened the mids on the bass, plus a bit more grit, increased its level while raising the HPF a bit.
Adjusted drum levels & treatment
Addressed the timing in the opening. Turns out the culprit was the clip playing the hi-hat hits just before the vox starts, those needed adjusting. Having that mismatch right at the front really “set the bit”, there is very little issue after that.
Reworked the vocal treatment. I pulled up the same signal chain I used for my vox on the Hiatt cover Tennessee Plates, back in May over on RR, to replace what I had in V1. I think I ditched those nasty overtones Patrick @ptalbot noted. @Arber87, I did try some dry treatments too, but I just like the way the slapback works with this song. Hopefully it’s more pleasing sounding now.
Hi Dave, I’m a bit late to this party so dived in to V2 for my first listen - great country roots vibe for me in this, liking the gutsy tones to your vocals and it’s really cool to have followed your song’s growth from the forum postings…
There are some really cool vocal tones coming through, a nice curling vibrato thing from time to time that I’m enjoying… the overall vocal treatment has something about it that feels a little ‘dulled’… hmmm, maybe because I caught that country vibe I was expecting a drier vox whereas it does feel relatively processed. In that line “and when all is said and done..” I heard shades of Johnny Cash… just saying…
In terms of ‘bash’ I found that the song felt a little ‘wordy’ sometimes, a touch potential tongue-tangling in that last chorus, which also impinged on pitch a little… Hey kudos for managing such an awesomely sibilant phrase!!! And now I’ve gone back and listened to the original version and compared the two, you’ve definitely made cool adjustments to things.
Thank you @Emma! Wow, Johnny Cash? I’m humbled. I know just what you mean though, in his later years he did all those great records where his vocals were just Saharan in their dryness, but I’m not sure my voice could withstand that kind of intimacy!
In your last paragraph you mentioned the “last chorus”, did you mean to say last verse? The last chorus is the same as all the others, so the wordiness is the same, and I think I hear a spot in that last verse where my pitch could use some (more) help. Just want to make sure I know what you’re referring to…
Hey Dave, dunno how I missed this one - I like it! Love the acoustic guitar tone at the beginning too. Just listening to the 2nd mix.
The groove of the song sounds a bit “halting” for want of a better word. I suppose that’s somewhat appropriate considering the subject matter, but I think there might be a mix issue a work here too - simply not enough extended low end from the bass. Since you’ve placed the kick in a frequency position where it’s tight and punchy, without extended low end, to my ears the low end needs a “pillowy” sense of sustain to glue everything together.
If you listen to commercial mixes, you’ll hear what I’m talking about. Kevin “Caveman” Shirley is the master of this kind of sound - here’s an example of what I’m referring to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYl49c3NpnE
Notice how the kick is tight, punchy and articulate, but the bass has this lovely deep, but non-muddy fulness that has the effect of pushing the groove forward, while still sounding relaxed.
I think you might find that the low end of your guitars and vocals may be intruding into the bass’s space and causing a buildup of low mids that robs the mix of clarity when you turn up the bass loud enough to really carry the song in that way. Work on clearing out that space - a little bit from the low mids of the bass and a bit from the low mids of the guitars and vocals. The subtractions will “add up” to more clarity and space for all the mix elements.
Thank you Andrew @ColdRoomStudio ! That’s some great advice, and you put into words what had been a nagging issue in my head about the song. I absolutely want to have the tight kick supported by that kind of fullness, while still having the grit to maintain definition as well. Kind of a holy grail, no?? And I totally get the idea of “addition by subtraction.” One of the best lessons I’ve learned from this group over the years is that EQ cuts are usually far more effective than are boosts…
Random sidebar: Seeing the most recent photos of Cold Chisel in that vid is a stark reminder of how long it’s been since I lived in Oz…! I remember them well from those years and well, we were all a lot younger then.
Nice stuff CW! I think the drums sounds are really good in this one. Agree re the low end of the guitars and that cuts here could make quite a big difference in clarity and result in a more polished sound.
And yeah, definitely a whiff of the man in black in there
Thanks @Firedance Chris! And I’m just putting version 3 in the OP now, having made the kinds of adjustments Andrew recommended. A definite improvement IMO! I also touched up some pitchiness in the final verse per @Emma’s suggestion.
Oh, and I forgot to mention when I posted V2 that I added some shaker to the choruses per @BigAlRocks’s suggestion. Another improvement.
I’m sure I’m not at “Caveman” levels here but I think I got things a good way toward what Andrew had in mind… lemme know!