Waiting for the Man

July 21, 2009 9:13 PM

VU & Nico Challenge.

FTR, I'm totally pretending that I can play the piano, but I think whatever "clinkers" there are actually work in the tune.

Please let me know what you think regarding mix and whatnot. This one is kind of a plateau for me. Help me move on to bigger and better!

posted by snsranch (16 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

I like your voice more and more. In this cover, it actually first reminded me of cortex' way of singing, then Anders Parker (formerly of Varnaline). I like the slightly "grainy" quality of the vocal.

The piano is mostly good. I might have liked each note's release to be a little slower here and there somehow -- maybe I just miss a reverb tail? I do like what it adds to the sonic picture though, which is dominated by that great lazy-sounding slide guitar. It's very pleasing how it all rolls along leisurely. To me the mix sounds quite good.

In terms of arrangement, I suppose I would suggest trying to set some sections apart more (ie, have the "chorus" lift off a bit, or stop the slide guitar for a quick break in a certain part of the verses... something like that). On the other hand, part of the appeal here is how it just kind of keeps going at its own pace, so what do I know.

I think you did a great job with this -- I listened three times, and I'll probably listen again.
posted by edlundart at 10:17 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

As always, awesome.

In regards to what edlundart said about the piano track... I think why it sounds like their should be some reverb is because the keys sound up front in the mix. It's like you're sittin way back on a chair with your slide guitar, but the piano is right up near the mic. I don't think it really takes away from the song though... it's sort of cool as it is because it makes the piano sound featured.

Definitely one of my favs of the challenge so far.
posted by ageispolis at 1:35 AM on July 22, 2009

Man, snsranch, your voice sounds amazing on this one. Really great.
posted by umbĂș at 6:58 AM on July 22, 2009

Talk about reworking a tune! This is an unexpected treatment indeed!

Agreed, your singing here is very cool, sounds great. I like the clean, dry sound of the vox recording, too.

Ageispolis mentioned the piano's up-frontness: I also think it's too forward in the mix, but mostly only at the top of the tune, and then again toward the end... did you ride the levels a bit? Cause it doesn't feel consistently too loud for me. I'd pull it back some at the top, for sure.

Apart from that, I'd do a little bit of panning. All three elements (vox, guitar & piano) are pretty much right up the middle, no?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:38 AM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

This is my new favorite challenge track. Everyone's comments about the mix are accurate, I can't ass much, other than to say the performance is the highlight of this song. Great job!
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 4:20 PM on July 22, 2009

Ass much?!? Oops. Sorry, that should be ass munch.
posted by abc123xyzinfinity at 4:24 PM on July 22, 2009 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the great feedback guys, you're awesome!

I get what you guys are saying about the piano. That's kinda funny actually, instead of manipulating levels, I just played a bit more softly during the vocals. At the end I faded the guitar down and let the piano be the last guy in the room to contemplate things for a few seconds.

Speaking of rooms, I was thinking about panning, as flapjax mentions, but didn't do it. I'm not really sure how to use the space.

In one scenario, the simplest one, I put one instrument a bit to the left another to the right and vox in the middle.

OR, I can double up the tracks and have an instrument at the far left and right, another closer to the center etc.

Any ideas? And how far out in left field am I?!
posted by snsranch at 4:47 PM on July 22, 2009

I was thinking about panning, as flapjax mentions, but didn't do it. I'm not really sure how to use the space.

Well, with only three elements in play (vox/gtr/piano) you don't want to go crazy with the panning: things will get too separate and artificial, and you'll lose some crucial interdependent relationships in this delicate balance. I'd just edge piano slightly to one side, like around 1 or 2 o'clock, and guitar to 10 or 11 o'clock. That's all. Which is, actually, your "simplest scenario" in your above comment. Simple is usually best.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:32 PM on July 22, 2009

^I'd have to agree with flappy there--You don't want to do a hard pan on them--maybe 20-30%. I was thinking about maybe laying down some soft, brushed drums on top of it; might flesh it out a little more.

Other than that, I really liked this. The balance is nice between the instruments--I wish there was a little bit more low in the mix...I didn't even notice the lower notes in the piano until the song was almost over.

Your vocal delivery fits beautifully. You and MajorDundee could be long lost twins--you have very similar comfortable baritones.
posted by askmeaboutLOOM at 11:00 PM on July 22, 2009

Thanks guys, ALL of this advice will be followed in my next song.
posted by snsranch at 4:41 PM on July 23, 2009

I often get comments where people say my songs evoke a sense of space and the image of a group of friends playing together. I had never understood what that meant until I heard this because it sounds exactly like that. Like there is someone at the porch playing the slide, while another guy is at a bench strumming and singing and there's a third guy inside the house playing the living room piano. Because of that, the lack of perfection in the mix fits it wonderfully and I would say that this is exactly how this is meant to sound. Not everything in the world has to sound like a Val Valentin record. The world already has Val Valentin for that.

And your voice is flawless here, though I wouldn't dare to say it's your best. Not because it isn't, but because I think the voice should not only be judged in terms of intonation, but also sentimiento (delivery?) and many other variables, and there are other songs of yours where it might not have been as neat (like Blessed Every Day), but man, what a delivery. Still, your voice is perfect here.
posted by micayetoca at 6:43 AM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

I think the most important thing here - for your writing or "plateau" as you say - is that you've put your own stamp on this. That's a really precious thing. This isn't, therefore, so much a cover as a reinterpretation. Quite splendid!
posted by MajorDundee at 2:54 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]

micayetoca and MajorDundee, thank you very much for your thoughtful comments! I'd say I'm more than sufficiently inspired to go on to the NEXT!
posted by snsranch at 3:20 PM on July 25, 2009

I listened again through my big speakers and I liked the mix a lot more.
posted by ageispolis at 4:47 PM on July 29, 2009

Great job, snsranch.
I'd third flapjax about the panning. And, of course, effects are to taste, but I'd go even drier on your vocals, because they're great. Maybe a bit of compression so we hear more breath and gravelly throat sounds, since you're singing nice and quiet.
But that's just me projecting onto your stuff, it's great how you made it.
posted by chococat at 10:16 PM on July 29, 2009

Holy cats, this is great. I love it. What an awesome, awesome feel. At first, I kinda dug on the vocal effect, but by halfway through, I was agreeing with chococat: I'd go dry. Heavy, dirty compressor, barely-there slapback delay, real long, but sparse, reverb tail. That's how I'd do it.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:41 AM on July 30, 2009

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