We’re finally back with another episode of Messin’ With The Music. It’s been quite a while since we were able to get together to start working on tunes again due to the pandemic. It feels great to be recording again and Mule Skinner Blues was a song we’ve been looking forward to finishing. The song has a long history. It was written and first recorded by Jimmie Rodgers in 1930. His version was a pretty straight forward blues tune. He originally titled it ‘Blue Yodel #8’ but it became commonly known as Mule Skinner Blues (or some variation of that) as time went by. Many artists have covered this classic song. The next well known version was by Bill Monroe in 1940. He picked up the tempo a bit and turned it in to a classic bluegrass style tune. The version we used as a template is Dolly Parton’s amazing 1970 version. We pretty much followed her lyrical take and song structure.
Instrumentally we have two different acoustic guitar parts, one hand played and the other picked. To add some flavor we added an electric guitar with some effects and a bass part that has a few effects too. There is a mandolin backing these parts and a banjo riffing throughout the song. There’s also a snare drum and floor tom holding down a beat in the deep background. All of the instruments are a platform for the vocals which are really the heart of the song. As always with Messin songs we recorded ‘straight through’ tracks for a live, loose feel using the same mic and sound path for all the instruments. We want to get the feel of everyone standing around a single mic playing the song.
Here’s Electrostatic Rhythm Pigs playing ‘Mule Skinner Blues’:
We’ve finally been able to get back in to the studio to start working on recording. We decided to start with a live video performing one of our original songs. ‘Details’ is a song we first created when we had the band Conduit. The song had a bit different origin as it was written from the bass line up. So for the album version we started with bass and then vocals with the other instruments being added afterwards. Writing this way definitely gives a song a more rhythmic feel. The song was originally on the Conduit album ‘Superior Olive’. You can find it and the other songs on the album on our Soundcloud account – there’s a link on the blog page. You can also find more about Conduit on our label site – Velvet Wrinkle Wreckerds. For this version we recorded guitar, mandolin, banjo and some percussion first. These tracks were recorded in live fashion – no punch in, straight through tracks. Since the song was written from the bass and vocals, we decided those would be the instruments we would play on this video. The video is also ‘live’ – no edits. As an FYI – you can ‘follow’ our blog. Just scroll to the bottom of the post page and fill in ‘Join The Mailing List’. You’ll get an email whenever we do a post. You wont be swamped with emails – we do a couple posts a month. As always comments, questions and suggestions are welcome.
Episode 14 of ‘In The Studio’ begins our discussion of the use of frequency equalization in the recording process. This video will cover the basics of sound frequencies and EQ. In the future we will post videos showing the use of equalization in recording, mixing and mastering.
**Edit – at 2:23 in the video when ‘human hearing’ frequencies are discussed I said “20 Hertz to 20,000 Kilohertz”. It should be “20 Hertz to 20 Kilohertz“.
We just finished recording a new single in ChurchHouse studio for the band Lather Scream Moment. It’s their first recorded song of original music. They found our studio online and decided to record here after hearing some of our work. It’s great that a bunch of newer bands have continued the culture of low-fi garage music. The truth is that this style has never really gone away. At times it has gone ‘underground’, but always seems to bubble back to the top when a band with great songs breaks through to the mainstream. When I say ‘mainstream’ I’m really talking about getting some plays and recognition. I honestly could not tell you what’s in the Billboard Top 10. Anyway, this gives me hope for the future. You always want to see new bands put their music out in the public arena regardless of what style of music they play.
It was a fun recording session. Lots of noise and guitars. A bit of controlled chaos. They gave me some examples of what they hoped for in the mix. As a recording engineer that’s a huge help. If you have an idea of what you want, let me know ahead of time. If you want me to decide how to produce the song, I’m good with that too.
There’s been a lot of discussion in the news about ‘the suburbs’ lately. They said the lyrics are about people who want to ‘escape’ the cities and when they move out develop ‘suburban paranoia’. As far as distributing the song they talked about putting it out on cassette. There’s been a vinyl revival and I guess some areas and scenes are having a cassette revival as well. Since they’re not from the area, they said they’ll keep in touch and let me know how it goes. Hopefully we’ll get to work with them again.
So here you go: Lather Scream Moment – ‘Suburban Renewal’
For this post we have another remastered song by Steaming Mulch. It’s always fun posting a Steaming Mulch song because you never know what you’re going to get. This tune rolls through a variety of different parts. It starts with live drums, guitars and bass. As you go through the song you’ll hear vocals rolling in and out of the mix. They’re altered in a variety of ways – backwards, raising and lowering the pitch, cut and paste. The song moves in to an electronic beat. The band adds different electronic keyboard parts while the guitar floats along on top. In this song the vocals are used more as an instrument then a lyrical addition. Then live drums make their reappearance on top of the electronic beats. There are parts where the live drums have been cut in to smaller pieces and pasted back in to the song repeatedly or have been doubled. The drums have sometimes been distributed to separate stereo channels. The beats, whether live drums or electronic, tie everything together. As always, this is fun from a recording standpoint. You never quite know what’s going to happen. The songs usually have basic parts created before entering the studio, but a lot of parts are created during the recording process. You get extra credit if you can decipher what the vocals are saying (I seriously do not remember exactly what was being said – they don’t provide me with lyric sheets). Hope you have as much fun listening to it as I did recording it.
In to the second month of 2021. February brought us a lovely snowstorm at the beginning of the week that dropped about 30 inches of snow on us. Saturday has arrived and we’re still digging out. So for this weekend we’re going to deliver another song by The Flank. This song was also on the first album, ‘At Stake’. I’ve always loved this track. It is the only song on the album that was created with a programmed drum track instead of live drums. Although I like the use of live drums on songs, creating a simplified drum track suited the music on ‘Horrible’. The instruments and vocals are played in a very rhythmic manner. We wanted to put emphasis on the melodic side of the instruments and the vocals and we thought that a full drum set might step on them a little bit. There’s always a great feeling working on a project in the studio that has no boundaries, recording what works best for each individual song. I think you tend to produce the best music when you are open to any idea that best serves the song being recorded.
Here’s The Flank’s ‘Horrible’:
We’re back with another remastered version of a song by Steaming Mulch. This song is a bit different from the last two Steaming Mulch tunes we did recent posts on. The band doesn’t worry about maintaining any particular style. Different songs sometimes have different musicians sitting in to add a new flavor. This song has live drums (which are wild just on their own) with guitars, bass and some muted vocals (no movie clips here). Much of this song was recorded live. The players were in a room together to facilitate their ability to interact when playing. The drums were recorded using direct and room mics in the main studio room with the bass and guitar amps placed in other rooms in the studio to eliminate the amp sound bleeding in to the drum tracks. There were some overdubs completed afterwards, such as the vocals, but the main part of this song is pretty much a live take. I remember this recording as being incredibly loose and fun. Also challenging as doing any kind of ‘live’ recording is. Enjoy.
In November we received a new track from Steaming Mulch. During that recording they said that they are working on new tracks for 2021. It had been quite a while since their last recording. Since many of their recordings were from a few years back, we felt that our current blog viewers might not be familiar with their older work. So we decided to remaster and post their older tracks. When you remaster a song, you go back to the previously finished song mixdown and tweak it using EQ, compression, limiting and other tools. One reason is to make the final product fuller and more in line with other tunes on an EP or album (we’ll probably do a full mastering post in the future). For a single song this may come down to compressing and increasing volume so it sounds fuller on internet or radio formats. Since we had mastered the song at ChurchHouse originally, we made some minor changes just for fun. We’re starting with ‘Escape From Mordor’. This was a shorter track, but like their last track it contains some fun movie dialogue along with the music. As before, I won’t give away the movie sources so you can catch them for the first time while listening.
The end of the year is considered ‘the holiday season’. Honestly, hard to find much ‘spirit’ with all that is going on this year. So I thought I’d share something I watch on the internet when I’m down that makes me smile. It’s not musical. It’s from an animal rescue operation that saves foxes and other animals (check them out at saveafox.org). I just can’t stay down when I watch Finnegan and the other foxes laughing and romping around. People who do animal rescue totally rock! Happy Holidays!
Our friends from Steaming Mulch have returned from the ether with a new track called ‘Hasten The Unglued Shadow Appears’. It was good to have them back in the studio. We’re also fortunate because of the way they like to record. They plan out the track well ahead of recording so everyone can show up individually, making it easier to record safely in our current environment. It’s been quite a while since their last recording, but once you start working, it’s like no time has passed. They’ve also said they have other tracks in mind, so hopefully Velvet Wrinkle Wreckerds won’t have as long a wait until more music appears. As they’ve done in other songs, this track also has some fun movie clips in it. But I won’t spoil the surprise. Enjoy.
Episode 13 of our In The Studio series discusses how to record electric bass guitar. When you’re listening to the video, there are a few places where we give sonic examples of the different methods. All of this video was recorded directly to the GoPro camera, including the sound. The ‘amp sound’ is a live amp in the room. The ‘direct sound’ is being heard live in the room through the studio monitors. As a result, the differences in sound you hear on the video aren’t as great as they would be if you heard them after were tracked in the recording system and played back. Keep this in mind if you’re listening and trying to decide what type of sound you might want. Also remember you can do more processing on the sound after it is captured – either before or after mixing. As always, questions and comments are welcome.