Knew It Was True

May 6, 2011 1:23 PM

Song description....let's's a pop song. Enjoy.

All guitar parts are a Telecaster apart from a bit of 12-string acoustic colour (or color if you're stateside) here and there. Amp: Fender SuperChamp. Mics: SM57, AKG C414, Rode K2. Preamp: Focusrite ISA1. All other stuff is a Korg Triton. Recorder: Yamaha AW2400.


Across the mythical parade
Our eyes met
You took my hand
I took your keys and your cigarettes

You can dive
You can cut and run
You can fool yourself
You won't fool no-one

Why pretend
Tell a million lies
Like a Russian spy
You metamorphosise

Oh yeah
I knew it was true for you too
Oh yeah
I knew it was true for you

I've spent many days since then alone
Looking round for you and finding clones
Just drones

Why deny ever knowing me
Baby can't you see
Every cliche's free

I might be rough
I might be tough
I might be quite enough
For a girl like you
What will you do?

Oh yeah
I knew it was true for you too
Oh yeah
I knew it was true for you

Why pretend
Tell a million lies
Like a Russian spy
You metapmorphosise

I may be rough
I may be tough
I may be quite enough
For a girl like you
What can you do but fall?

Oh yeah
I knew it was true for you too
Oh yeah
I knew it was true for you

posted by MajorDundee (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

You pop musician, you.

I'm not intimately familiar with all his stuff, so forgive me if this is off base, but I'm reminded here of Nick Lowe. Do you listen much to Nick, Major?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:59 AM on May 7, 2011

Ah, Major, this is my favorite thing of yours so far. This tickles all my pleasure centers. Poptastic. Like the multi-talented offspring of Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, Alex Chilton and Todd Rundgren -- and then suddenly we get a whiff of The Cars right at the end. Brilliant, and a really brave thing to do to ping pong the rhythm guitar all the way through. It works.
posted by unSane at 5:57 AM on May 7, 2011

Thanks very much guys - I really appreciate it! When I'd finished this I was quite excited about it (not least because I thought I'd lost my musical mojo), and I though "if I'd hawked this round the labels back in the late 70's/early 80's one of them might just have taken a punt on it".

Nick Lowe. Interesting comparison Flapjax and not one that had entered my head. The only Nick Lowe record I've ever owned is a 7" single of "Cruel To Be Kind" which I haven't listened to in......oh....20 years.

Graham Parker isn't an influence either, nor Alex Chilton (although that comparison is particularly flattering "September Gurls" being an all-time favourite even if I came to the Big Star party very late). Todd Rundgren is an influence though. For his own work but perhaps more through his production work with the likes of The Psychedelic Furs.

I actually thought this had a whiff of Roxy Music - clearly way off the mark!

Interesting technical point. There is hardly any reverb on this. I used about 22 tracks and there's reverb on perhaps 4 of them. I feel like I've really taken a sonic step forward there because it's a very different approach for me and it sounds really punchy and focussed. There's no aural crap washing around in the back of the mix (all those reverb tails) screwing up the clarity. There's also very little EQ - only on the vocals. Everything else is straight from the mic or line.

I'd appreciate some feedback on the EQ-ing/mastering of this track guys. Through headphones it sounds good. And the same when played in the car. But I played it through our hi-fi this morning and it was a real heartsinker. It sounded muddy and pretty horrible. Far too much bottom end. So I might remix and, this time, engage the HPF to cut out any frequencies below about 60Hz?
posted by MajorDundee at 10:48 AM on May 7, 2011

Low E on a bass is just a hair over 40Hz so leave that out of the HPF, Major!

Let me take a listen on my monitors and AKG phones. Have to wait until the 2yr old wakes up from his nap tho.
posted by unSane at 11:25 AM on May 7, 2011

Yea, MD, this is super crisp and smooth. I'm curious to hear what the post HPF iteration sounds like but I think it sounds great as is both on speakers and headphones. You make the back up vocals sound really easy and natural too...really digging that. Wooo! Inspiring.
posted by snsranch at 4:57 PM on May 7, 2011

I just listened to it again and liked it even more!

The EQ is fine, Major. Your hifi speakers are out of whack.

I love the bass harmonies which I only heard on the headphones. If you do the HPF thing you are going to lose some of that, so don't!

The 12-string zings are lovely.
posted by unSane at 6:34 PM on May 7, 2011

re the reverb, I could hear it on a couple of the double guitars, and it really made a difference

I think there's a strong tendency to use slapback delay instead of reverb on modern tracks, so you get the ambience of the early reflections without the muddying tail of the reverb. It also means the tracks don't sound 'distant', which is what reverb tends to do. I still like it on vocals though.
posted by unSane at 6:40 PM on May 7, 2011

Absolutely - I've no beef about reverb at all (as an arch-exponent of it myself). What really surprised me with this track was just how little I could get away with and still make it sound good. A real eye-opener. Kind of counter-intuitive too. You have to try to resist the temptation to "just put a bit on" when tracking to make things seem a little less dry and lifeless. The problem with that is that you tend then to set a sonic context for the rest of the session that is really hard to move away from down the road a ways (if that makes sense).

Seriously guys - give it a go next time you're recording. Drop the reverb and resist ye the temptation to use it when tracking. And then see just how little you can get away with in mixdown. If you approach reverb as an effect rather than as a kind of default part of your sound - analogous with always wearing socks or something - you may open up a whole noo wurrld o' sound.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:00 AM on May 8, 2011

And there ain't no reverb on those ping-pong guitars unS - no kidding. There's a little bit on the 12-string chords and quite a lot on the little chopped part that goes on in the hook. The 'verb there is a panned one with a fairly long tail (from memory about 1.2 seconds) - so it takes up quite a lot of room in the back of the track and it may be that you're hearing that rather than the main rhythm guitars.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:04 AM on May 8, 2011

Yeah, that's what I was hearing.

Are you close micing your amp? One thing to explore might be using your Rode as a room mic on the amp which would give you some ambience without any tail, and you could also pan them differently to open up a bit of space if you wanted.
posted by unSane at 4:49 AM on May 8, 2011

Yup - close micing. That's good thinking re using the Rode as an ambient source, except that the room I use is a tiny box and it sounds shit. I have to use makeshift baffles when I record acoustic guitars and sometime on vocals so that I minimise the actual room sound, and then I artificially create a space via reverb. My baffles are basically clothes-horses with bath towels! But they do the job adequately. It's tempting to do some "guerilla recording" - you know, sneaking into the local church or village hall with a couple of mics and a guitar and recording on the fly to capture a real space.

It's a pity that there's no software available that would enable you to "sample" the sound of a particular space and then put all the parameters or algorithms or whatever into a computer to create that specific sound artificially. That would be incredibly interesting and useful.....
posted by MajorDundee at 8:50 AM on May 8, 2011

There certainly is that software, Major!

It's called a convolution reverb and the 'signature' of the space is called the Impulse Response. It doesn't just work for spaces -- you can also sample the impulse response of a plate reverb or a speaker cabinet, for example, which (the latter) is what exactly Recabinet does. There are loads of plugins (including free ones) which do convolution. Logic ships with Space Designer, which is what I use for all my reverb.

The actually process of getting the Impulse Response can be a bit finicky but there are tons and tons on them on the web. They sound terrific, much better than a simulated digital reverb to my ears.
posted by unSane at 8:58 AM on May 8, 2011

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