Please bash: Socially Distant

Please bash: Socially Distant
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Hi all, for your consideration, a song I came up with last weekend inspired by the world’s current predicament. Nothing subtle here, just a straight ahead, 2-minute rocker with bass, midi drums, two guitars, and vocals. Been a long time since I posted anything, good to be making some music these days…

BTW my years-old E-MU 1212m finally gave up the ghost, so this is my first number made using the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd gen interface that I picked up to replace it.

Thanks for listening!

V1:

V2 after input from @Aef

V3 responding to input from Andrew:

V4 with some further adjustments

V5: Storming the mud castle

Lyrics:

I know I said I’d be there by Tuesday
But a big man stopped me at the gate
Time to stand down, get off the freeway
Go on home, ain’t no time for debate

Got no commute, got no assistant
I’ll wait it out 'n stay socially distant

Don’t touch the door, don’t touch the handrail
Don’t go to the art museum
Don’t go to school, just work by email
Can’t stop 'em and you can’t even see 'em

Pension plans, they were gone in an instant
It wasn’t me, I was socially distant

We don’t go dancin, or to the movies
Got no choice except for dating online
We don’t kiss, ain’t feeling groovy
We got nothin but time

Lookin for love but it’s non-existent
See ya later, cuz I’m socially distant

I wanna help, but I’m kinda resistant
I can’t help it, I’m socially distant

2 Likes

Hey Dave, well that’s a nice bit of Corona Love!
Is “socially distant” already an official part of US policy lingo or is this the first introduction?

Anyway, you want some bashing and I’m used to a high standard from you so here goes:

  • What happened to the bass? I thought it was because I’m listening over laptop speakers but plugging in my headphones was hardly any help. You need to crank it up sir!
  • The vocals are in a reverb space that I don’t find very appealing. Or maybe it’s early reflections that flutter? I’m not sure exactly what I’m hearing. It’s somewhat harsh and concrete basement-like. It reminds me of band practice spaces (under the motorway fly-over) I played in the old days. And of the days before I had any acoustic treatment in my studio and just couldn’t record a good vocal no matter what I EQ’ed or added in reverb afterwards (and I hardly knew what I was doing anyway). Come to think of it, it applies to some extent to the guitars too. Is this the effect of your new studio? The drums haven’t had the concrete cellar treatment it seems and sound like their not in the same space.
    I like the way the guitars interact in the solo. And I like the repeated ‘–istant’ rhyme in the lyrics of course. Brings home the point :wink:

I’m curious where that reverb came from and if you could EQ your way out. I know that there’s plugins that are capable of removing unwanted reverb. Anyway, you need some work on this one I think.
Good luck!

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Ha ha Great sound. So crisp. A riff I haven’t ever heard? How did you pull that off. Wow again on this. Bet it felt good to crank up the ole axe again. I put out a controversial one called free stuff a while back and nobody would touch it. I pulled it down. I would have been nice if someone who didn’t care about the lyrical content to say something like “I liked the guitar tone”
Wait a minute, this post is not about me. So glad to hear new tunes on here. This site has really changed.
Thanks

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I’m sure you remember my post on all my trials and tribulations with my 6 year old I7 (fourth gen) desktop and Focusrite Sapphire pro combination? Well I bought an even older setup: a third gen I5 running the original RME PCI card with Multiface (8 analog ins and outs and 8 more ADAT’s). And all for 150 euro’s. The guy I bought it from ran a (semi) pro studio for singer- songwriters and had depended on it for years. He ran the analog ins and outs through an old Allen & Heath Mixwizard desk, and he sold me the lot for 250 euro’s. It took a while before I got everything in running order (installing all those plugins was the most work). Now it’s working fine and a lot better than my previous set up despite using almost 20 year old technology! Very little latency! Finally! It’s all about the drivers I’m told: RME updates the drivers even for their oldest interfaces!

Curious to hear your experiences with your new Focusrite. But maybe we should move this discussion to a new thread :wink:

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Hi guys, thanks for the input! @Aef, that reverb is quite deliberate, it’s a slapback using Boz Imperial Delay, a slight adjustment of one of the slapback presets that come with the plugin. I’ve used it a number of times before.

Now, in addition to the slapback send, I’m also sending just a smidge to the regular reverb that other instruments are sending to. Maybe that’s overly muddying up the slapback. Maybe a slapback isn’t the right choice… but it feels right to me. I will experiment with other adjustments to make it less harsh.

I’m sending both guitars to the Waves CLA Guitars plug, adding just a little bit in the send, and that does impose a bit of modulation on the guitars. The slide does have a touch of reverb on it, but nothing major.

On the weak bass, this is common for me in my first-draft mixes… I get too aggressive with the HPF, still overreacting to my early experience where I always had tons of junk in the low-mids. Easy to back that off. I’m running it through a Gallo Engineering “Studio Devil” virtual bass amp that delivers really nice grit, so I do want that to cut through.

I’ll be back with an update after I check these out and do some a/b…

Well, “social distancing” is the key tactic right now, so yeah it’s definitely in the lexicon…

OK, that didn’t take very long to make some adjustments. V2 in the OP, see what y’all think. I beefed up the bass, used a different style of slapback, and a couple of other minor things. Thanks again!

Man, that can’t be right…! Everything I’ve ever come up with is highly derivative, or so it always seems to me… something this simple HAS to have been come up with by someone else at some point!

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That’s rockin’ Dave! Love it! :beerbanger:

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Just listening through laptop speakers so no techie thoughts but just totally enjoying the vibe and your creative energy in these weird and troubled days!
Music is SUCH a great translator :sunglasses:
My son is in Washington and it is strange challenging times for sure!

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Good sound @Chordwainer, very straight ahead but it’s not easy to get that sound I know. Totally relevant lyrics but I think it will survive the current crisis which is another tricky thing to do, good work. But I did expect some “jingle jangle” ha ha.

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I love the song, it’s a solid rock tune, with a strong riff and a nice melody. Love the slide guitar solo. I don’t have much to say on the songwriting.

The drums are a little too clean and quantized to my taste, I thinks it sucks a little bit of life out of the song.

In my opinion V1 is better than V2 in terms of tonal balance. V2 is muddy and the bass is too prominent. Besides, on V2 your mix is extremely loud and squashed. Your dynamic range is a mere 2.0 loudness units which is excessive, to put it mildly. You also have a few peaks at +0.4 dB FS, which I’m assuming is a result from the mp3 conversion.

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Hey, thanks for the comments folks! In my usual style of always over-adjusting, looks like I overshot the beef-up of the bass (thanks @Lophophora!). That’s an easy and fast fix, and I just plop the HPF between the first version’s and second version’s, because I think @Aef is right that V1 lacks some foundation. But I also noticed the big drop in dynamic range from having done that, so I agree it needs another adjustment.

I didn’t quantize the drums at all, these are add-on patterns to AD2 played by studio drummers. Yes, it’s a very regular rhythm, but it’s that kinda song… I might put some saturation on them though, maybe add a bit of grit.

Yeah, I’ve got something else in the works using the new electric 12… that will take a bit longer to spin up though!

Cool track, Dave. Good to hear from you (musically) again after quite a while!

I really like the slide guitar flavour in this - just when I was thinking “this needs some slide guitar”… like magic, it appeared!

Mix-wise, the main thing that needs attention is the low end. The kick is just not sitting well with the bass… too much “point” in the 1-2k area on the kick drum, and not enough sub bass in general, with too much happening in the “muddy” area of the bass. The bass and kick almost seem to be working against one another - not really “connected”.

The thing that sounds strange about the drums is the timbral mis-match between the kick and snare. The snare has a nice full “thuddy”, “knock”, whereas, the kick is all “tick, tick, tick”, without much body. I think getting those two to blend better might go a long way in a track like this.

It’s sounding a bit honky in the mids too, and the high end is really rolled off. Overall, it feels too compressed/limited. The transients on the drums are suffering as a result.

Clever, topical song - it just needs a little finessing to get it past the “demo-sounding” stage.

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Thanks Andrew, as always your input is really excellent. Working on this some more today…

OK, new version in the OP. I have changed several things, such as the drums & bass treatments, EQ on the guitars, and changed my approach in the master out (using Izotope Ozone). Definitely a different sound now, but I like it a lot better. Happy for any comments!

Love the song! Love the sense of the empty space you have in your mix. As if singing in some kind of void, or holed up . If that was the intent, nicely done!
With that said, I prefer the “soul of the song” in V1 and V2.

I think you nailed it @Aef , its different but reverb seemed fitting for the song. Not sure if its intended or not but it works imo

Among other things:

V3 is good too but a wee bit too thinned out for my classic rock lovin ears (preference ).

v1 and v2 changes are subtle but V2 seems a bit cleaner on a closer listen but still preserves the “singing into a void” feeling.

The vocal delay / stero double effect on the voice seems to be a bit on the higher side, giving a slight feeling of overproduction. Could check the timing on it just to be sure. It sort of stands out asynchronously over headphones, but not so much on studio monitors in a treated space.

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Thanks Michelle! I’ve made some more adjustments, balancing levels better and cutting back a hair on the slapback, while giving the bass a little more room with EQ adjustments. This is sounding close to me… ya think?

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The drums are working much better in the last two mixes. The bass is still muddy, though.

I tried tweaking things with eq on the mix, but when I managed to get the low end sounding good, the vocals stuck out of the mix like a sore thumb in the midrange. If I pulled the midrange out to compensate for the vocals, it ripped the guts out of the guitars… you get the picture…

I think the prominence of the wide slap echo on the vocal is exacerbating the midrange issue. The echo has a real “oilcan” resonance in the high mids, and it spreads across the whole mix. I even experimented with mid-side eq, so that the guitars would be less effected by reducing the midrange, but that actually made the echo more prominent because there is so much of it in the sides signal.

Maybe try taming the top end of that slap echo…

I think getting the bass low mids under control is the key to the whole thing, though.

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More awesome input Andrew, thank you very much! Low-mids, always my achilles’ heel… I really appreciate the multiple listens. Guess it’s a good thing it’s only 2 minutes long!