Yesterday’s Music

Here are the two songs I finished recording yesterday.  I mixed them this morning.  I bent my low-fi idea a little and put some more effects onto some of the tracks than I was planning on, but it’s still pretty simplistic.  No doubling anywhere (though there are more vocal harmonies than I was planning to do.  I have a hard time not putting harmonies into choruses).

And just for schnitzengiggles (we watched Beerfest last night) does recognize sets yet?

DOOOD!  IT RECOGNIZED THE SET!  (at least it did in preview mode, let’s publish the post and see what happens)

Addendum: The playlist displays, but it doesn’t seem to play anything but the first track.  That could be my browser though.

What’s Going On With #RPM2020

That was a good weekend.  My wife wanted to do two things to celebrate her birthday.  She wanted to stay in her pajamas for the whole weekend, and she wanted to work.  Those wouldn’t be my choices, but she’s a genius and she’s amazing and if that’s what she wanted to do to celebrate her birthday, that’s what we were going to do!

I cleaned the bathroom, I went to weight watchers, I went to the gym, I went grocery shopping, I did laundry, I washed dishes, I watched Kill Bill vol 1 and vol 2, and I played shit loads of guitar.  All that while my beloved wife stayed in the office solving all of her company’s issues while wearing her pajamas.

When I went to sleep on Friday I had 10 ideas in progress.  Nine had the song form sketched out and two had their rhythm guitar parts down.  Fast forward to Monday morning and I have 13 songs in progress, 12 have their song form sketched out, 10 have all of their rhythm guitar parts, one has all of it’s vocals, and one has some of it’s vocals.  Of the three remaining guitar-less songs, one will be electric, one will be acoustic, and one will… I don’t know yet.  Maybe acoustic?

I recorded the 12-string acoustic guitar using a Shure SM57 microphone and I doubled each track.  I am not very good at recording an acoustic because I am pretty undisciplined and I move around a lot.  I might have the guitar positioned correctly relative to the mic when I start playing only to find when I finish a take I’ve moved about 20 miles away (figuratively).

I’m also woefully under-experienced playing acoustic.  There’s a volume/touch sensitivity relationship that I just don’t get.  When I play an electric through an amp I can use a very soft pick attack and still produce a nutso level of volume.  I just turn the knob and there it is.  When I play acoustic, my brain still expects the volume but I can’t get it by picking softly.  As a result, I find that I am rarely able to pick softly.  I end up slamming the strings like a sledgehammer smashing up asphalt.  I just beat the crap out of the guitar.  That results in two things: a pathetic lack of dynamics in the recording, and very tired arms.

As for electric guitar parts, last year I limited myself in the gear I could use.  I had one guitar, one amp, and three pedals; a Klon style overdrive, a phaser, and a wah.  As things were moving this year I found that I was constantly using the same gear, basically mirroring what I had last year.  I used the same guitar on every track, two amps instead of one, a Klon style overdrive pedal, and a phaser and a wah.  Interesting to note that none of the gear I have used this year was used last year.  Everything is different but somehow the same.

The phaser and the wah are used for effect, not so much for tone.  The stuff I am doing on the recording doesn’t sound like what I do in the band.  In the band there is tons of distortion.  In the recording it’s only a small step or two dirtier than clean.  I made a conscious decision to change that up toward the end of my playing last night.  I brought in a second overdrive pedal and I used a couple of additional effects, just to shake things up.  I still have one electric rhythm guitar part to record, and I hope to add two more to the list before I’m done.  I’m going to try and shake things up on those too.  I’m hoping that one will get a fuzz box.  Maybe not for the whole song, but at least part of it.

The vocal stuff so far has been the same as always.  I sit in front of a mic (a Shure SM57 instead of my usual Shure SM58) and sing the first thing that pops into my head as I listen to the song.  Last year I played with the idea of coming up with a melody using a keyboard and then writing lyrics that fit.  I still want to do that, I just haven’t had the time.

This morning I cranked out a vocal part quickly.  I wrote melody and lyrics for two verses, a bridge, and a chorus, and recorded two vocal tracks for each, some doubling and some in harmony.  It went quickly and easily and I had a few minutes to spare before I had to leave for work so I started a second song.  I came up with something that, in my head, sounded cool.  Unfortunately the rhythm I was singing turned out to be a pain in the ass.  The song is in 7/4 time and I had it so that the end of the first line is sung on top of the start of the second line, and I kept on screwing up when the second line enters.  I eventually got it for the first half of the first verse, but I had to leave for work.

As always, the vocal part is what scares me the most.  I’m not good at it and I don’t enjoy it nearly as much as I enjoy playing the guitar, or building the bed tracks, or mixing.  It takes the most time and gives me the least reward.  I also can’t take a day off from work to do it all at once because I’m already taking a week off for Disney World.  I need to either record vocals before work in the morning, like I did today, or I have to drive to some secluded place and record while sitting in my car.  I might end up doing both.  We’ll see.

I also need to get all of this done, including the lead guitar and the saxophone, before we leave for Florida.  I’m planning on using bed time in Florida to mix at least some of the songs, and then using the tiny window of time after we get home to finish off the last of it.  I need absolutely all of the tracking to be complete before we leave.  I can’t very well record vocals during vacation… unless Mickey wants to join in.

Thematically, I am still on the half electric, half acoustic bandwagon.  I’m also wondering if I might monkey with the acoustic songs a little.  Once I have all of the mixing done, I might replace the percussion track with an actual drum kit, and add a bass guitar.  If time allows I might replace the sax with guitar too.  I would end up with two entirely different versions of the same song.  Only the acoustic guitar and the vocals would be the same.  Think of the alternate mixes as a mini-album within a mini-album.

That’s a lot of shit to do with very little time left to do it.  What the hell am I thinking?


RPM Challenge Global Listening Day

Today is a big day for RPM Challenge participants.  Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s community radio station, WSCA, 106.1 FM has declared today as the RPM Global Listening Day.  They are going to play one song from each of the 500 or so albums submitted this year.  They are literally playing music from all across the planet.  You can listen to their audio stream at this link right here.

Check it out.  There will be some great music, some not so great music, some music that lives somewhere in between, but all of it was made by people who felt the need to put the rest of the world on hold for a few weeks and let their own creativity shine for a while.  I applaud everyone who finished, and everyone who gave it a shot but didn’t finish, and everyone who thought about starting but never did (because next year they will own this thing).

Everyone, that is, except me.  My project was crap this year.  If you listen to the stream and you hear this song… then you know it’s me.

Finished with 90 Minutes to Spare — #RPM2017

My 2017 RPM Challenge album is finished and submitted. Done, done, and done.

I mixed nine songs tonight and they all sound like cow dung, which is to be expected. Of the 14 songs completed (yeah, I won FAWM too) I dropped two. One was kind of annoying (and I think I forgot to include the lead guitar in the mix… oh well). The other wasn’t a bad song, it just sounded kinda blah and crummy. I could probably do it again and pull it off, but for now it gets the axe.

All in all it’s not a good album, even by RPM’s reduced standards. It’s kinda crappy. I don’t care. I finished on time for the sixth year in a row, once again staving off failure.

Now it’s bed time. G’night, everyone!

#RPM2017 Day 28/28 — PANIC

This morning, I posted the following on my blog over at the RPM Challenge website:

Let’s take stock of the situation…

14 songs.

All of the tracking is done as of about 8:30 last night. I cranked out seven songs worth of lead guitars at a frenzied pace that pretty much guarantees I played the same solo on every song. Who cares, it’s done.

Five songs are mixed. Poorly. I want to have a mix of every song so that I can have my RPM album and a decent recording for for anything that gets cut. Unfortunately I don’t think there will be time to listen back to everything and actually edit the sequence. I know one song is probably going to get dropped from the album, but will I decide to drop others? I should, but I don’t know if I will. The running order is probably going to be the order I finish the mixes. Just like the old days.

I get out of work at 5:30 tonight, if I am lucky. My commute home is a little more than an hour. I will end up having from about 7:00pm to midnight to finish mixing between five and nine songs.

I’ll probably work right up until midnight and then check myself off as done at the last possible minute. After that, just make sure I get a decent burial and all will be well.

Thanks, RPM folks!

Five Down, Nine to Go #RPM2017

I finished the tracking tonight with a marathon lead guitar recording session. Now I have one day to mix everything that is still unmixed. That’s a grand total of nine songs, after I managed to mix two tonight.

This one might be my favorite of the bunch this year, although I literally fell asleep while mixing it (long, long day) so who knows if it sounds okay.