Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Brushfire War Album Reflection

I wanted to go through all the songs that group C recorded during the semester; which were part of the record, 'The Brushfire War.' Upon the final mix down date, I felt that there were a bunch of overlooked ideas as far as how everything sounded and how instruments were treated. I have been thinking of many ideas while listening to the record for over a month now; different approaches that I can take if I feel the urge to remix the songs in the future. I'm going to listen to the record in real time and record my thoughts as to what went well and what wasn't so the end I also have a section of thoughts that can apply to the overall sound/mixing treatments of the record.

1. Caught Up

The march-in vox and snare rolls should be more together. There are 3 percussion parts at the beginning, make sure they gell better. The vox reverb to the left is a little off. The percussion on right side comes in harsh, maybe they could pump too. The kick and snare just don't sit quite right...too much replacement? Make the second vox mic sound distortion is clear and doesn't mask lead. I feel like the OH's are slightly Left heavy. I think this is the case throughout the album(for the most part...) perhaps the mics weren't at the same level and I don't think we went back and tried to get them balanced... Probably also why some of the tom hits(on right side) seem smeared... probably over compressed toms too. Could be better is they were also sent to reverb, or more sent anyways. The guitar solo has a weird effect on it, making it not up front enough....too much verb! The gates for the snare fills need to be automated better....

Overall feelings: I think this is the most balanced song on the album considering instruments to clarity aspect. The bridge has a great feeling happening and the hard part of the bridge is just slamming. Can't believe that I didn't catch that the OH's weren't balanced correctly. The mix verb seems to be a little lifeless as well, seems like there is a lot of space still (perhaps because we didn't use 2bus compression on the record....

2. Neon Cannonball

Guitar Levels need to be more cohesive. Gates need to be cleaner on the drums. Verb is nicer than on the previous song. Guitar distortion is not quite right. The vocals could me cut more in the lower mids during verses. Kick a little cardboardy... Have the drum flange cut out a little sooner on the bridge. Try using the backwards echo that wasn't used. Click can be heard at the end, before outtro. Vocal compression is a little heavy and is darkening the highs.

Overall Feelings: Song has great vibe. A few level adjustments are necessary, still feel like 2bus compression could help. Automation could give the song more impact.

3. United Tragedy

Let the drum gates stay open when they are the featured instrument! (like beginning). Too much bottom snare in there... Vocal sounds a bit weak, though alright cuz its just the verse. The kick is a little uninspired (kinda farty). Seems like some clarity gets lost during the chorus with drums. Maybe have dual vox wider, seems to be chorusing too much. Some highhat delay might sound great during verse sections. Maybe some rythmic delay on the bells to seperate from guitars. Make bridge have greater impact (maybe bombastic room mic?). Acoustic too loud. Acoustic could fade out to big verb to fill bridge to chorus space. Outtro rolls not very polite and reverse verb to present.

Overall feelings: Somehow the bottom snare got brought up come mix time but I think it's just too present. Other than that I like the feel. A lot different that the others. Very much a Joe song...

4. Lover's Tree

The electric/acoustic guitar blend sounds great. Too much vibrato on lead vox. Song has a dark feel. The snare sounds a little dull, but not it a good way. Aux percussion sounds great. Snare rude for the entrance of 2nd verse and kick is pretty clicky for the song. Snare rolls sounds unpleasant. Verb gives it a huge sound.

Overall Feeling: Like the lush verb, though it would be too much for other songs. The drums sound open and all the instruments sound cohesive in the 'room' sense...great. The guitars sounded great!

5. Cindy Lopper

Like the pumping compression in the beginning, but then the snare just looses its attack once everything comes in. Guitar's aren't loud enough. The bass is too farty...the distortion could be adjusted. Drums could be cleaned up and tuned.

Overall Feeling: Like how different the song is. We just overlooked aspects of the songs because we were rushed...easy to make sound great.

6. Brainwashed

I felt that we mixed this one the best. Verb sound correct. Lead vox is siting great. Love the bass, drums. Automation could be greatly utilized to get things to pop even more. Things just sit properly and everything is working together. Some of the drum replacement could be moved to become more realistic. The feedback in the bridge was an accident...something weird with the board, but its alright (we spent time automating a high frequency cut at that point in the song.) The cleaner guitar during the second part of the bridge is way to loud. Also the buildup back into the last chorus need a little something else... During the outtro the guitar solo/keyboard solo could use some random automation to spice things up.

Overall Feeling: The levels of all the instruments were almost there. Just wish a few things were caught beforehand. Love the drums, bass, most of the guitar, vocals and all the weird sounds happening. In the future it might be beneficial to use different guitars for each part because it could help to make things more individual... and not all sound the same.

7. Deconstruction of a Hollywood Ending

The guitars could be cut more in the lower frequencies. The 'ohh' s could be brought up, and all the vocals for the intro. Use automation! Song has a good drum sound as well. Love the impact for the first verse, though the vocals are a tad hot though out the rest of the song. The kick has some flab or somethings a little silly sounding. Left side guitar is a little low. Take gates off drums during empty sections! The drum beat is a little iffy during the last part of the second verse. Make the harmony parts during the 2nd chorus more clear and make it speak more. The outtro needs something so that it can be more driving...sounds and craziness!

Overall Feelings: Great ending with the reversed march to make the album more cohesive. Just pay attention to the certain levels.

8. Cherish Your Day

Great clean sound through out. Somehow the bass gets a little out of hand at points. The telephone effect on the acoustic during the beginning somehow got lost...? Kick too loud (maybe use fast compression to make fatter)? Felt that the snare was appropriate considering how bad it sounded to begin with. Like how the song is close to mono and then opens up for the chorus. Vocals are a little low? Solo has sweet tone! Vocal automation into last chorus got lost (super quite)?!

Overall Feeling: Love how clean it sounds compared to what the actual recording was...drums were in the midilab! Pay more attention to the stand up and make consistent.

9. All I Ever Do

Too much lead effect during the beginning. The longer echo probably not necessary. Got that vocal compression hitting well! Clear and up front. A little to much snare verb. Levels are good...maybe drums a little hot. Could use creative delay automation to induce some movement between phrases of verses. There need to be backing vox and just different sounding things during outtro to push harder. The ebow parts could be brought up. Instrumental outtro is cool.

Overall Feelings: Critical and precise production ideas could have made certain sections a little more interesting. Good L/R balance for drum effects outtro. The rain adds a little extra as well.

10.No Man's Land

Drums don't sound so hot...recorded in midi lab. Snare hard to listen to. Vocals seem a little thin. Guitars and electric bass balanced well. Guitars could loose some lower end. Good transition, though its pretty Love the spacious ethereal atmosphere for the middle section. Sometimes the guitar gets masked a bit by the vox. The ending verb and echo are very lush and appropriate. The snare delay cuts out a bit oddly.

Overall Feelings: For such a random and pieced together song, it has an appropriate flow. Without the echo and verb growing through out, I don't think it would have come together as cohesively.

General Findings and Ideas to Remember:
  • Automation
  • Over compressing toms (thanks to me...)
  • L/R OH levels more balanced
  • 2bus compression probably gels things better (this isn't a good example because we didn't use it for the record but I think it would have help a few songs on here.)
  • Take advantage of room mics and automate them with song sections
  • Compressors grabbing too much and making things dull. Use sidechains!
  • Pay attention to the bass and how much impact it is giving to the song.
  • Utilize Sidechains and effects, but don't overdo it.
  • Take some time to dial in verb and then make send levels according to where you can see them on a visual stage. Create a better sense of depth.
  • Understand that the MTA board isn't perfect and be ready for a ton of minor adjustments to make sure it isn't changing sounds on you. Though it might to something surprisingly welcoming like the feedback in brainwashed...embrace the spontaneity of the board!
  • Pay attention to the final limiting application so that you aren't compromising the sound and not just going to the volume.

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