(it's a) cryin' shame

April 14, 2013 9:53 AM

Ahhh good old mefimu - the metaphorical equivalent of the desolate, graffiti'd backland one views from a train as it negotiates the arse-end of a town that resolutely faces the other way. Comments by any fellow-travellers on mix/arrangement etc would be really rather splendid. Tickets please...

posted by Hoops McCann (11 comments total)

I hear you, Hoops. I should have mentioned this a couple of posts ago, but all your recent songs I've tried won't play directly in my browser (Safari), so I have to download them to listen. (Which has made me wonder if I should browser test all my posts.)

Solid writing, guitar, and vocals, as usual! I'd say the vocals could be higher in the mix, and/or could have more bite to compete with the guitars, and maybe the guitars could use a little more low end to help fill out the parts where the bass is absent or playing relatively high. The virtual drums sound pretty good here, but they're definitely on the restrained side mix-wise. Likewise with the organ part, which I didn't notice immediately.
posted by mubba at 6:01 PM on April 14, 2013

I love this. One of the strongest tracks you've ever posted. It's got a strange mix of power pop and prog and blue-eyed soul, and a ton of energy. Deserves to get out of the bedroom (or laundry, or wherever the hell it is you record these things).

I agree on the mix. The guitars are REALLY FUCKIN' LOUD and the melodic one is quite piercing -- a lot of 3k or thereabouts. They don't bury the vocal but they do bury the rhythm section and organ. I really want the bass to drive this song.

I also want to hear the 'cryin' shame' hook in the vocal repeated. Right now you only do it once then that guitar riff takes over, but I think (especially at the end) you could really go for it with the vocal.

Your voice sounds great on this, especially that bit where it comes in on its own.

Come on, man, get a freakin' band already. I'm going to upload a couple of band rehearsal tracks of stuff I posted here that I did solo... it's kind of interesting. And I shot a video of a friend's band on Monday, absolutely stellar musicians, and not one of them under 40. And no-one gave a shit.

mubba, I had that problem but I updated everything and it went away
posted by unSane at 6:31 PM on April 14, 2013

Hey... I think MeFiMu is looking a little healthier lately :)

And that's probably at least in part due to quality stuff like this. This is high fidelity pop with a really nice vintage, slightly soul-y vibe to it, and it's freaking catchy too.

Mix-wise, I agree that your lead guitar is loud, but I think it sits pretty well in the mix - it SHOULD be loud, it's taking the foreground for whole sections with the melody. However, the acoustic guitar is so quiet it might as well not be there, and the organ is also far too quiet, I don't believe in using an organ unless you've got the balls to let it surge up a little now and again, if only to remind people how cool it sounds. If it helps, imagine it live - would you really have the keyboard player standing there playing long note after long note with no dynamics?

Your voice has a lovely tone to it, and I think it would benefit from closer micing, and a little tweaking on the EQ. I want to hear your breath a little more, it's a clean mix with a lot of space, and you sound like you're singing to me from the back of a room. Either put a little more reverb and a touch of delay on it and go with that, or leave it clean, give me more of the high-mid range, and turn it up a bit so you're singing right in my ear. Which, with a song like this, you can do any day :)
posted by greenish at 7:02 AM on April 15, 2013

PS if you want some Hammondy organ on this I can supply, either off your midi tracks or I can play something. The NI Vintage Organs pack has a ton of good sounds, since you can do that stuff now.
posted by unSane at 7:04 AM on April 15, 2013

I'm quite taken aback - many thanks guys. I was in two minds about just putting this into the "oh dear no" pile (a large heap now actually) but thought shunting it into a siding on mefi was a reasonable alternative (kidding, I'm just kidding).

Genuinely interesting comments on mix, which I'll come back to in a mo. Interesting too that no-one seems to be thrown by the frankly weird arrangement of this one. Which is what I was most unsure about. It's sort of lop-sided with all those instrumental passages, no real bridge and only using the chorus bit twice. If it works, it works....I should know that by now.

Ok, to the mix. I actually take a lot of care over production and mixing. And, yup, I do like a lot of separation and being able to hear everything clearly. Not everyone's cup of tea, but there it is. I'm very picky about instrumentation and ensuring that each part or instrument is making a real contribution. If not - it gets the bullet. Point is - that contribution isn't always in-yer-face or obvious, but if it's not there you suddenly notice something missing. That quiet acoustic guitar exemplifies that. Always amazes me how differently people hear things - there no real right or wrong answer to this either. The risk is that you end up confirming the old saw that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Anyway....

Except for a barely audible Strat playing the tremolo bit under the chorus (which no-one has spotted), all the electric guitar parts on this are a Telecaster. It's a lovely Jap Fender '62 Custom reissue - if you want a near-Custom shop quality guitar, go to Fender Japan - they're fantastic. Any of you familiar with Teles will know that if you're not careful using the bridge p/up, you're at considerable risk of decapitating the innocent listener. I take the points about it re some of the lead lines - it's not really volume though (theyre not all that loud actually), it's frequency. I might re-record using a Strat (I was going to do that as an A/B exercise anyway but couldn't be arsed in the end) and see how it sounds.

I thought the vocal was too fucking loud! But you want it louder! Jeez. I dunno. Maybe. I could look at EQ perhaps. That's the loudest vocal I've ever released - I seriously don't think the track will stand it any louder without the whole mix being fucked.

The organ maybe could come up a bit. But I wanted just a hint of that in the back of the mix under the chorus, I didn't really want it to be prominent because it only appears there and it would fuck up the overall mix if suddenly there's all this stuff roaring out at the chorus - the subsequent parts of the track would sound too limp and flat. It would unbalance things overall. I'm actually pretty well used to working with Hammonds - I love 'em dearly, but this track is just a cameo role for the reason I've given.

Anyway - very many thanks again for taking the time to listen and comment. If I get that reaction I'll make sure that all my subsequent posts take the piss out of MeFiMu ;-))
posted by Hoops McCann at 12:22 PM on April 15, 2013

Everyone's said what I've had in mind already so there is no point in saying anything, is there?

Like the song. The Tele is a little bit too loud, frequency and all. But only, and only, when it draws the attention from the voice. Just lower the guitar by a few dB's while you switch from the awesome guitar solo-bridge parts to the singing and I think the overall impression would be better!

The voice is the big thing though, greenish recommended that you'd put some reverb, EQ, delay... the point is, your voice has a certain "quality" to it, for a lack of a better word. To draw that quality out, to make it stand out and draw listeners in it needs something, it needs to express that quality that your voice has.

Like the song, it has, as unSane pointed out, "Ton of energy".
posted by AnTilgangs at 12:53 PM on April 15, 2013

I don't think the vocal needs to be louder. I just think the guitars fight with it a bit. Something a bit less icepicky under the vocal might be the ticket. Overall I think the rhythm section could come up... maybe try taking out the guitar, balance the rhythm section with the vocal and then bring back the guitars? It's very close.

I love all Teles unreservedly. My main axe at the moment is a Mex Tele which I stripped the plastic finish off, stained blonde, and put in a couple of Custom Shop Nocaster pups. Oh yeah, and a Bigsby. I also have a sunburst Highway One which looks exactly like yours and also has the Nocasters in it and the 4-way pickup mod, which is cool, but I still think there's more to do with it, maybe another refinish as it's satin, which I hate (I got it in a swap for I can't even remember what now).
posted by unSane at 2:31 PM on April 15, 2013

Hi Hoops,

Nice work.

Here's where it gets strange:

Firstly, I am listening to this on KRK Rockit 8s, which I trust.

Initially, I thought the comments about the vocals being too soft were strange, to say the least.

I called my remarkably non-musician girlfriend over and asked her to take a listen and asked her what she thought. "Vocals are too soft", she said, almost immediately! Wow!

Let's go deeper.

I started to suspect that this could be natural aged-based aural degradation: I am in my late 40s. Said girlfriend is mid 30s.

After the 4th listen, I began to feel more confident of my synopsis.

What I am sure of:

Guitars are too loud. Not always, though. Discretion...ride the sliders. A wide, slow STEREO chorus on those rhythm guitars perhaps...if you have that already, up it!

Guitar solos need a substantial treble cut - this is a biggie!

Drums need a boost - maybe could be solved with EQ.

Bass line, ditto - the essential connection between the drums, bass and the rest of the song is lacking somehow.

6th listen now and I am fairly sure that an EQ overhaul could solve most of these issues.

You know, this might be a fun and productive exercise for all of us if you somehow make the stems available, that we regulars may have a shot at mixing. Of course, I could understand if you find that idea unacceptable.

Anyway, cool song - more please :-)
posted by Zenabi at 1:34 PM on April 17, 2013

What are your monitors, Hoops? It could account for some of the difference in the way we are all hearing this. Mine are Yamaha HS50ms, which are notoriously difficult to mix to (which is kind of the point). Chococat turned me onto them.
posted by unSane at 6:46 PM on April 17, 2013

Thanks very much again for the comments guys.

My instinct with this boils down to a simple answer "give it to a producer - s/he can sort it out". That's obviously not going to happen. In the end it'll never be more than a demo. So in terms of a remix.....I mean, can anyone really be arsed? I'm not convinced the track's worth the hassle (not fishing btw - I think this song has its moments but it's not one of my best. Then again how the hell should I know, I just make the stuff).

My monitors are Alessis M1 Mk2. I confess though that I don't use them very often. Only really to check a mix. Reason: the room I record in is a tiny box room and I can't trust the faithfulness of the sound. So my safest bet (and it isn't a very good alternative really) is decent quality headphones. I tend to play mixes through three or four different sets of cans/buds until it sounds ok on all of them. Then play it in the car. And then through the speakers to see if there are any obvious problems. By then my ears are getting tired, I'm getting a bit bored with the track and already beginning to think about the next project. Like now...!
posted by Hoops McCann at 1:22 PM on April 18, 2013

I hear you.

For balancing instruments I use a mono speaker (an Avantone). It's really shitty, which is the point. I find mixing in cans can fool you about the balance because everything is so spatially separated, you can hear it all clearly. But when it's all coming out of one little grotty speaker it's suddenly much more obvious whether you can hear the vocal etc.
posted by unSane at 4:28 PM on April 18, 2013

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