Progressing with Friends

Progressing with Friends
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Here’s an update on “Progress” the first track off my next album.
I made a few changes based on the great input I’ve received here and from others. It also has some guest musical input from an esteemed IRD member. See if you can guess who!..

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Sounds good on the Altec Lansing multimedia speakers on my work computer.

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Thanks Al - good to know it translates!

Nice. The flow is feeling really good, intro is killer, and the overall dynamics are moving nicely. Oh this is the first time that i noticed that you pan the drums from the audience perspective. They sound killer as well by the way. Actually it all sounds great, guitars, vocals, drums, bass and the interaction of them all.

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Good job Andrew, you fixed it! The vocals are now nicely embedded in the mix. The kick is just right (no more cliks), there is nothing left to nag about. And I love the added guitar weaving in and out of the chorus and other parts! Not a solo, but some very appropriate ear candy. Love it. The question is who the mystery guest is… There are quite a few talented solo guitarists on our little forum, and I’m not well enough acquainted with differences in their styles to pick him out… But whoever it is: it’s pretty good! Did it have anything to do with the discussion about adding a solo?
Anyway, great opening song for your next album.

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Cool, thanks Eric! Yeah, I’ve always been an “AP panner”… Even though I’ve played in bands for years and experienced the other perspective, AP always made more sense to me when listening to a song. I don’t find it a big deal, though. If someone requests opposite perspective in my mixes, I’d be happy to oblige.

Awesome - thanks Evert! I had a feeling the vox weren’t quite sitting right when I posted the first mix, but the clicky kick issue had escaped my notice.

Yup, pretty damn good, I thought! Cool! I’m really glad you like it. I’ll give you another clue: The soloist is also an awesome vocalist with a very individual style. They don’t say a lot but when this person speaks, it’s worth listening, because it is the voice of experience. :thinking:

Not so much… Here’s how the idea came about: I had tried to create a lot of “build” in the song via the choruses (using added voices and some other added textures in subsequent choruses). But when your first chorus hits pretty hard, it makes it tricky to elevate it from there… and you always want the last chorus to bring the song to it’s highest point.

I’d been thinking about that while I was mixing the song. I really liked the way the first and second choruses were working, but I just felt the last two needed something more. I had settled on the idea of adding some fairly generic Foo Fighters/Radiohead-style high octave guitar lines under the vocals, but I hadn’t got round to actually doing it, because the mix was doing my head in a bit…

In the meantime, the IRD member in question sent me demo of a song they were working on, and we had a few backs-and-forths. I have always admired their guitar work and their songs and vocals greatly, so that lodged in my mind.

Around the same time, I just happened to be listening to the radio when Guns ‘n’ Roses “Paradise City” came on. Now, I’m no big GNR fan, but I just LOVE the energy at the end of that song - it is totally off-the-charts! That sped up repeated chorus chanting the hook, and Slash just soloing like a berzerk madman around it.

I thought to myself: There’s the solution! Don’t do something expected or generic, ask (IRD Monster Guitarist) to guest solo on the song! I asked, and they were more than willing. In fact, they added some solo parts to the beginning of the track and the bridge as well…

When I heard the guitar over the intro, that wasn’t what I was after, but the bridge guitar work was perfect in the way that it presaged the outro solo. However, the guitar work over the musical intro did give man an idea. I a had already added some musical textures to the pure sound fx at the beginning of the song. I thought: What if I got (IRD Monster Guitarist) to do some ambient guitar textures and jamming over that section?..

So I asked, and I received!.. and it was awesome! :laughing:

Thanks for listening and commenting - much appreciated!

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Wow! You’ve been working on this! Great energy and vibe.

The new intro is way cool! LOVE the distant soloing! The waves could fade more as the music swells, but I know you’re just throwing ideas out there. Works great!

I can tell you’re struggling to hit those lower register notes in the first verse. They are kind of grabbing my attention… Sorry. The big gritty loud parts sound great, BTW.

Lots going on with the arrangement and guitars and everything seems to be fitting pretty well. The drums sound magnificent!!

The added soloing at the end sounds good too and adds interest and energy there towards the end of the song. But I’m not sure the panning is working for me though. Maybe if it were 2 different guitars doing an answer back thing or if it were more subtle panning and kind of weaving around back there rather than jumping back and forth? I’m sure Bob could come up with something in a heartbeat. :slightly_smiling_face:

Oh, my guess on the “Esteemed IRD Monster guest” is Bob - Mr. @StylesBitchley:beerbanger:

This is really coming together nicely!

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And how! :sweat:

Cool - I like energy!

I’t probably not as noticeable now, but city sounds, cars, roadworks and building site sounds swell up underneath the as it approaches the song entry proper.

Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t, but I’m happy with how that sounds now. I know I’ll never sound like Barry White, so I’m working with what I have… I re-sang it, gave it my best shot, and I think it sounds good for what it is. I’m movin’ on :grinning:

Yes, there is definitely more than probably meets the ear happening, but it’s not just guitars either - its everything. :flushed:

Cool - that’s good. The nerdy engineer-audio guy-type in me wants every one of mixes to have drums that are ground-breaking, cutting edge, pillars of destruction. The producer-songwriter-arranger in me knows that isn’t possible or practical, so I’m always thinking: “Meh! I could probably do better, but they work as-is” (Besides, no-one takes any notice of your drum sounds except other nerdy audio engineer types! :rofl:)

Cool, thanks for your input there - the panning scheme is a kind of solution in a way.

Indeed! You win the prize!!! It is indeed the marvelously talented and very amenable Mr Robert Cameron (aka @StylesBitchley ) Thank you Bob - you are AWESOME! :beerbanger: :beerbanger: :beerbanger:

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This mix is progress!

The vocals sound more balanced throughout the song. The lower vocals near the start of the song are a good improvement and the addition guitars add a little more shine to the song. I like this intro better too. The little licks are a nice touch there. Not sure if you’ve done some EQ adjustments since your first mix but there some good improvement that I can’t quite identify…The mix just shines more.

BTW, this song keeps me engaged throughout, from beginning to end. Every time I’ve listened to it, I feel it went by so quick for a 4 & a half minute song. That tells you that the arrangements are very on target!

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Cool, glad you’re hearing progress!

Yeah I did a massive amount of changes all across the mix… they all add up, I guess.

Fantastic! That is awesome to hear! Thanks for listening and commenting, W! Much appreciated! :beerbanger:

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Mixing is one of your skills, fur sure!
I really like the intro this time, the reverberated guitar solo really catches the attention and then leads to the first verse, it’s way more interesting now.

I’m still not sure about lonely guitar chords before the chorus, it lets room for drums and main vocal but I would hear some muted chords to sustain the rhythm while drums can play fills… I really don’t know what to say to enhance this part.

I also notice the lead vocalist (you I think) reaches some low notes that seems out of your range… it’s now be more obvious because of the mixing process.
But moving everything up one half-step or two could lead the same problem (with high notes) during the chorus…

And I also found the bass guitar a bit light in the mix, maybe to let room for the lead vocal reaching lowest notes :confused:

By the way, nice writing skills, again!

Great!

From your other comment on the other thread, I think you’re referring to the pre-chorus? I guess it’s just a taste thing. I really like the space there from an arrangement POV. It creates more contrast when the first chorus hits. That first chorus wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the sparsity of the prechorus. I also like the fact that it is just one guitar and the mix leans to the left… again contrast: asymmetry vs symmetry. The second pre-chorus is much fuller, with some fingerpicked acoustic arpeggios happening also… but that progression and variety wouldn’t happen if the first prechorus wasn’t as sparse as it is.

I thought about changing the key. I experimented with a different melody. I have tried just about every different permutation your could imagine (and then some), but I kept coming back to this key, this melody and this range as the best for the song overall.

I like my bass full, and I pushed this as far as I dared. This is one of the things I’ve struggled a bit with. If I push the bass levels any more than they are currently, the mix gets too boomy and muddy.

Thanks, and thanks for your thoughtful comments - much appreciated!

This is something I thought you did in purpose. I wish some variations but you’re the driver of the song and if you think it should be this way, then it is.

Very interesting: I found it a bit absent from the mix and it’s not so easy to distinguish.
And my mixes are too boomy and muddy, I should try to get that feeling in my mixes instead.

Nice job anymay, I wouldn’t be able to do only a quarter of that!

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O Yes! Love the changes and that new guitar just fits in so very well, the descriptor ‘bleeds in’ came to mind, it seeps effortlessly into the mix, such an accomplishment with a musical collaboration!

Love the extra layers in the entry, a moodier vibe with the guitar integrating things really nicely. Feels to me, like a great concept for an opening track. Cool changes to the entry vox, sounding great to me, very natural smooth low and intimate with a hint of edge that works well… the key sounds great to me too and I’m enjoying your vocal tone. Love the contrast between low and intimate then fierce and raging, the indignant expostulation. :sunglasses:

Cool lyrics and underbelly to this, and the new mix feels much richer with a sense of expansiveness.
I was interrupted while writing this and found myself singing the chorus line, very catchy.
Great stuff!

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Quoting this before I read the rest of the thread, because Bob is immediately who I thought of too… I’ll see if we’re right! By the way, this tune fuggin ROCKS Andrew!!!

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It was, as always, a blast working with Andrew. I immediately heard a lot of energy in the song, and a little bit of sorrow and frustration in the message of the song. I tried to use that to help shape what I was playing, along with his input on what he was looking for.
When it is someone else’s baby, you just try to find a way to enhance what’s already there, and I hope I was able to help.

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@StylesBitchley You did Great!!! Sensitively done, rather than ‘simply’ adding another layer, your playing seems to come from a place within the song… well done!

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Yes indeed! You enhanced an already great production and added some new and tasteful ideas and made it even better. You gave Andrew more colors to paint with. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Thanks CW! Glad you’re diggin’ it! Bob is the MAN! :beerbanger:

Whatever you did, it was awesome - thanks man!

Good call!

:+1: :+1: :+1:

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Hi there! I’m back after a few weeks off due to being swamped with various things. Got a lot to catch up with!

I haven’t read the other comments, apologies if I’m not bringing anything new to the table here.

I like how the song sounds overall “deeper” than what I heard on your previous album, both from a sonic/arrangement perspective and lyrics-wise too, while still retaining your unique personality and sound.

The first thing that strikes me as being the weak link (weak being highly relative in an overall great sounding production) is the lead vocal. It sounds a bit undefined sometimes, which makes it difficult to make out the notes: the vocal tends to float between two pitches at times. This is especially true on the long held notes when they are in the lower range.
I believe the vocals could be made clearer in the mix with a different EQ treatment too. sometimes (especially in the lower notes) even though the volume itself doesn’t really seem to be too soft, it is still difficult to make out the exact words and the vocal sound a bit muddy. An example of this is around 1:18 on the last word of the sentence “anew” as well as “and the…” starting the next section (prechorus I guess?) This only happens in a few specific places, it’s not at all a major issue that keeps bugging me throughout the song.

The layered vocal harmony is slightly out of tune in some places, like on “calling it their …” around 1:37 (sorry can’t make out the last word but in this case it’s probably more my foreign English ear that’s the culprit). Also later on “so be careful what you whisper cause it may just come about”.

I’m impressed by the chorus, the rise in energy is huge and still everything stays balanced, there probably are a lot of skilled moves involved to achieve this. There is just one little detail that doesn’t seem to fit perfectly in place on the last seconds of the chorus. I believe it is a ride bell or something similar, playing on the off beats, and it is just soft enough to leave me wondering what it is exactly but not loud enough to come through as something outright/intentional. Then again, this is typically the kind of issues caused by mp3 compression so it might sound just right in the lossless version.

At the beginning of the second verse there is a vocal FX that sounds a bit like a flange-y doubler. I get what it is meant to achieve but I have the feeling that it could do it even better, although I fail to tell exactly how… maybe by being a bit more obvious, I’m not sure.

I like how the panned guitars bring something new and different during the bridge, but they tend to bury the vocals. I think they could simply be softer, and maybe the arrangement could be stripped (further, since it already is) of some of the things in the background that we can’t really hear clearly anyway, just to help with that and to create even more contrast with the previous and following sections. I love the last chord on the bridge, it is unexpected (in a nice way).

In the denser parts of the arrangement I believe the bass drum could use just a bit more click , although it sounds fine in the rest of the song.

Love the short section after the bridge too, very efficient in moving the song forward, as is the extra half-bar added before the last chorus!

One last comment: this audio file is too loud for me. During the chorus everything is very compressed and there’s barely any dynamics going on anymore, which I find tiring to listen to. I believe this level of loudness is detrimental to the music: the bass guitar for instance is not very audible in the arrangement, and in this case I bet the reason is that it is hitting the limiter first, so whatever transients or dynamic content it had has been entirely flattened. The low frequencies are still very much here (the tonal balance is great) but it is just difficult to clearly hear a bass guitar playing.

There are a lot of other things I didn’t comment, like the guitar tones, the songwriting etc. and it is all because it’s just great. :+1:

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