When Harry Was Sally....

July 30, 2009 2:08 PM

I can usually get a presentable mix without too much hassle, but this one beats the hell out of me. Sounds good in headphones, complete shit on monitors and even worse in the car. Advice?

Seems to me there's always one element of a track that holds it together - like the keystone in an arch. This track is fundamentally a bastardised reggae and the keystone is the bass. Through monitors it's too hot and in the car it just about causes involuntary bowel movements. But if I pull it back the track dies on its arse and becomes knock-kneed and disjointed - loses all power and energy. Fucked if I know....

For anyone interested here's the lyric:

Sally, queen of the valley cats

Groovin' in the city
Takin' every blind road to nowhere
She's daddy cool in drag
She's a moon in the day

When the night comes down
She's calling your name
You better get out fast
Before you're in the frame with

Sally, queen of the valley cats
Sally, she's so alone

She's lookin' kinda rough
That wasn't in the deal with the devil
Things are getting slow
She wants out, on the level

When the lights go down
It's surprising what you find
Oh sweet jesus
Did you hear those howls...

Sally, queen of the valley cats
Sally, won't you come home

There's been some changes
Some things stay the same
Your old neighbours
Know you changed more than your name...

She was caught by police in a sting
She never confessed to a thing

Sally etc

posted by MajorDundee (18 comments total)

Groovin' in the city...Ha ha! Yea, this bass punches up a nice groove alright. This definitely has a bit of a Caribbean vibe, but it also brings to mind some Latino Rock, like Santana.

I love a big fat bass, so I'm really diggin' this.

Regarding the sound differences on playback: this track seems to be uniformly "hot" to me. This is only comfortable to my ears with very low volume. I'm not a tech and my equipment is crap, but I would bring the volume down and listen again.

I'm sure you'll get more insightful ideas from more knowledgeable folks, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!

Good show, man.
posted by snsranch at 4:34 PM on July 30, 2009

Seems like I hear 'bring the volume down and listen again' fairly often, and while you're setting a mix, listening to it quietly is the most counter-intuitive thing on the menu.
I forget to do it myself, but if you find you're stuck, it's a great thing to try.
posted by man vs sun at 5:54 PM on July 30, 2009

I haven't been able to listen on my monitors yet, but listening on headphones and looking at the meters tells me that the bass is using up a tremendous amount of space in the sub-60Hz range; there's no room for the kick drum. If you handed me this finished track to remaster (which you wouldn't do, because that would be like handing the perfectly acceptable dinner you've just cooked to a McDonald's Fry-o-Lator operator), I would probably stick a heavy multiband compressor on the sub-60Hz region, to rein in the size of the bass, and stick an EQ with a pretty tight Q to boost right where the kick hits (I haven't done much searching, but it sounds like it's around 60Hz, give or take; hard to tell with so much bass).

Given that you've got the multitracks to work with, though, I would probably roll the bass off a little bit below 100Hz, and stick a narrow Q EQ cut on it wherever the kick hits to make a hole. (You can find this frequency by sticking a very narrow EQ on your soloed kick drum track, boosting it hard, and then sweeping back and forth until you find the frequency where the kick really thumps.) You might even want to multiband compress the bass to take some of the super-deep stuff out of it.

This all probably sounds confusing. The thrust of it is that your bass needs to go on a diet.

Also, I really like this song. The feel and groove are really cool, and I love, really love, your voice.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:24 PM on July 30, 2009

uncleozzy, I'm curious, what kind of meters are you using...software/hardware?
posted by snsranch at 7:00 PM on July 30, 2009

I'm listening on a pair of crap headphones right now and the bass is sounding pretty on par with everything else, to me, so it's hard to tell. I'll always defer to uncleozzy's superior EQ IQ, but could it be possible that in a rough mix you just got way addicted to the bass up too high and you haven't been able to hear it any other way since then? It happens to me all the time.
Great track though, I like it. Really standout guitar.

Also, Driver's Seat!
posted by chococat at 7:22 PM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

snsranch, I'm mostly just metering with Logic's multimeter (and the meters on the EQ and multiband compressor). Listening on cheap headphones (right now), the bass sounds up-front, but not out-of-control. I'd actually drop it back a dB or so, listening with fresh ears. I still think there might be a sub-bass problem, though.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:34 AM on July 31, 2009

This is the second time I've mentioned The Clash in one of your posts. I hope you don't mind, but to me it has that Englishman in the Caribbean feel (which sounds horrible spelled out like that, but I don't meant it in a derogatory way at all).

I was convinced this sounded like The Clash until I clicked on chococat's Driver's Seat. Bloody Hell, it's the same song, only not!!! Where did you find that?
posted by micayetoca at 6:44 AM on July 31, 2009

Thanks for the comments guys - particularly uncleozzy's sound advice. I might get round to a remix if I can be arsed.

I have absolutely no idea what you're getting at mica - I haven't heard Driver's Seat and the "where did you find that?" is mystifying. This isn't a cover - all me own work mate! And being likened to The Clash is a new one on me (particularly as I can't stand 'em!). Not that I'm offended - just perplexed....
posted by MajorDundee at 11:23 AM on July 31, 2009

Cool song, I like the vocals.
posted by starman at 11:27 AM on July 31, 2009

Sorry I wasn't clear enough, the "where did you find that" bit was directed at chococat. I know this song is yours and you weren't trying to reinterpret that one, it's just one of those coincidences, they have some similarities.

Now, I'd like to clarify the Clash thing a little bit. I didn't know you didn't like them and I didn't mean to say you sound like them but, in my opinion, there is a certain "British" quality to the music of both of you. I don't mean this in any particularly limiting sense. What I mean is that, I think that even if I had not read your posts at Music Talk, I would have thought you were British because something in your songs feels "British", and it's definitely not a matter of the "accent" when you sing.

Take, for instance, this song that I really like from here. It's about London, the accent is evidently British, but the song could be from anywhere, it isn't particularly "British". Your stuff, on other hand, in my opinion, has a British feel (which, I know, it's stupid as an adjective, it could mean anything and only makes for confusing conversations).
posted by micayetoca at 12:23 PM on July 31, 2009

That's cool mica - and genuinely interesting. My formative musical influences actually lean slightly more towards the US that the UK, so it's kind of surprising that the Brit feel is so evident. Can you be more specific as to what gives it away - guitar sounds? chord progressions? bad teeth? (just kidding). Fascinating....

I always thought The Clash were a bit contrived - Joe Strummer was a public-school educated diplomat's son pretending to be a working-class geezer. More imortantly I just didn't like their music - and God knows I tried - I just thought they were rubbish musicians with no tunes and unintelligable lyrics, and I never bought the "it's cool to be a shit musician" punk bollocks. On the other hand I loved their "punk" contemporaries like The Saints, The Psychedelic Furs and The Ruts.
posted by MajorDundee at 12:36 PM on July 31, 2009

Oh and as a post-script check out the post I've just put on the Metafilter front page. Beck has been covering the VU+N album and posting it on his site. Wonder where he got that idea from.....
posted by MajorDundee at 12:38 PM on July 31, 2009

Correction - I did post something but they seem to have removed it. There were some naughty words so maybe they got all offended. Here's what the article in today's Guardian says| Meanwhile, Beck has been uploading weekly mixtapes...........to embed on his impressive new beck.com site, where he has also been posting covers of every track on the Velvet Underground & Nico's "banana" album, made with a merry bunch of his musician pals. (page 9 of the Film & Music supplement)
posted by MajorDundee at 12:48 PM on July 31, 2009

Congrats major on what I guess is your first deletion! Hooray! Has anyone given you the scoop on why it was deleted? It wasn't because of any foul language for sure.
posted by snsranch at 3:23 PM on July 31, 2009

Well...I guess if it wasn't for bad language it may be that they thought it was potentially defamatory. Or maybe they don't like people taking a shot at so-called "superstars" - could start a media feeding-frenzy. Although that strikes me as pretty far-fetched. I mean, who really gives a shit?? I was pretty pissed about this though. If the Guardian article is true (and who knows...) I don't like the idea of people snooping around and....er......"borrowing" our threads. Upshot is that I've never consciously heard any of this guy's music and, following this incident, will make damn sure I avoid it in future.
posted by MajorDundee at 3:41 PM on July 31, 2009

mica and choco - I listened to Driver's Seat and....yup....I see what you mean. It's the guitar riff. It's not exactly the same but it's as near as dammit. Fuck. When I listened to Driver's Seat I, of course, immediately remembered it - it was a modest hit here in the UK and the band, I think, were part of the British pub-rock scene in the late '70's. This "movement" produced some other classic tracks like Ace's "How Long". All I can say in my defence is that it wasn't a conscious steal - and, apart from the riff, my track is completely different. It's still a bit of an "oh shit" reveletion though...
posted by MajorDundee at 4:01 PM on July 31, 2009

MajorDundee, right about the time when we decided to go with VU+Nico, someone mentioned in a thread that Beck was doing the same thing on his site. You can probably check the dates and see that he beat us by a couple of days. No big deal. Now that's not to say that yours wasn't a valid post, it was just posted in the wrong place.

Occasionally it does happen that people "borrow" things from Metafilter. When you witness something like that, post it to MetaTalk. That's the place for bitches, gripes, requests and all things Metafilter related.

Metafilter proper, the front page or the Blue as it is lovingly known, is a place to post "the best of the web". Amazing, beautiful, thoughtful, stirring things that spark conversation, interest and appreciation.

I'm probably doing a terrible job explaining this, so please visit the FAQ. It explains everything.

This place has a few very solid rules and some great traditions. I hope you weren't offended by being deleted, it happens and is part of the learning curve. Enjoy!
posted by snsranch at 4:48 PM on July 31, 2009

Hell, I'm not busy...here is the About Metafilter page, and here is the FAQ.

posted by snsranch at 4:55 PM on July 31, 2009

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