Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

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Cybronica
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

ujnhunter wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 8:18 pm
Are you sure it's a Mic issue and not a gain staging issue? If the Mic is distorting, maybe... but you should ideally setup your recording levels so that the loudest part of your vocal is still in the Yellow... (assuming your meters are Green/Yellow/Red).
For a long time I thought this was the issue, and would address it by turning the gain way down and standing far off (this is what I did for ‘this is fine,’ particularly the chorus). That has the effect of the majority of my vocals get recorded somewhere in the bottom 25% of my gain dial, which makes for a distant, unprofessional sound. I also find that even when I’m doing that AND being really Careful to control my breath/volume while singing, certain notes or even just vowels cause a spike into the red. My loud notes and high notes are always red, even at the lowest gain, unless I stand really far away. I think part of it is it’s a usb mic, and I need a better condenser(?) and maybe a mic that uses an interface(??). Again, I am a neophyte!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

Yes, I understand you’re using a Blue Yeti and that *could be the culprit but maybe a good idea to tell us the rest of your chain. Mic preamps, audio interface, DAW, etc?
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Lunkhead »

Looks like the Yeti is an all-in-one microphone, audio interface, headphone amp, etc. so that's the whole hardware signal chain. Seems like folks have issues with it picking up background noise so maybe it's just got a high gain floor? Do you have issues even with the gain all the way down but recorded from a normal distance from the mic? If not you could perhaps try recording with the gain all the way down and then turning it up in the DAW if the signal is too quiet.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Twitch/comment ... und_noise/

Are you maybe singing really loudly, like, projecting a lot? If you normally sing to fill a concert hall, that could overwhelm mics like that and then yeah, a dynamic mic like a 57/58 might be a better option for you. Or you might do well with an SM7B (also a dynamic mic) which has extremely _low_ gain, if you want to spring for that.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by owl »

Reviews!
It's about a hundred degrees in our house right now and I am DYING so if there are any random unfinished sentences in the middle of these, it's probably just where I temporarily passed out from heatstroke.
Spoiler
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Balance Lost - Oooh, cool panning. I’m listening on headphones now in random order, and had gone through a few songs before yours, and it was immediately evident how much better you were using the stereo field than the other tunes I had listened to--it’s lovely feeling enveloped in those beats and cheerful little synths. The vocals don’t sound as polished as the instrumentation--not terrible, but I mention it because it seems slightly mismatched as far as production values, particularly for the backing vocals where it would sound really nice to have them perfect and soaring. I love that little “oh no” though. Best song I’ve ever heard about a sugar-addicted goat from New Zealand--well, in my top 10, anyway. I’m glad you made the Chupa Chups reference, and this song is cute and charming, although a bit slight. I will have to check out your alternative mix after I’ve finished up the reviews!
Berkeley Social Scene - I figured I would stop nitpicking phrasing stuff for songs that aren’t in English, but I have to mention that the emphasis on the second syllable of “hecho” in “He visto lo que has hecho”/“Entiendo lo que has hecho” really sounded weird to me. The phrasing of “piedra volcada” felt a bit awkward as well, like you were trying to cram too many syllables in without attention to how they would work in the melody. Your arrangement feels complete enough with just drums and bass--I didn’t find myself missing the rest of the arrangement too much. I think the “oohs” are mixed kind of high, though; I get that you want to fill up space but it was hard not to get distracted by them. Those are all nitpicks. I don’t have any huge complaints about this song, but it just wasn’t very memorable for me and we are apparently now at the stage of Nur Ein where “pretty good” gets pushed towards the bottom of the list.
Cavedwellers - I love the guitars in this song--the call and response + guitarmonies parts are lovely, and you do a great job filling in the empty space in the song without overwhelming the vocals. I’m not sure they sound different enough to count as “two instruments”, but I will buy it for judging purposes. The lead vocal sounds generally good, but the backing vocals sounded a bit rough in parts, particularly the falsetto parts. I found the chorus melody awkward--sort of angular(?) in a way that didn’t seem to fit with the style of this song. I like the candelabra/chupacabra rhyme, less of a fan of “the media can’t contro-o-o-o-ol,” which took my mind off all those nice Romantic poets and made me think of 5G conspiracy theorists; also, you didn’t post your lyrics and I wasn’t quite sure how to parse that with the surrounding lyrics in a way that would make it sound grammatical, so it took me out of the song every time.
Frankie Big Face - I like the parallel structure to the lyrics. I think you kept the arrangement full enough with the heavy dose of effects on the bass and vocals (although the vocals are a bit metallic-sounding) and the judicious use of the nice backing vocals coming in here and there. I don’t love the melody for the “ha pasado…” line, which seemed almost random the first few times I listened to this--after getting it into my head, it made more sense, but it was hard to sort out what you were going for phrasing-wise there. I think that might be due to a combination of imprecise performance and the delay on those lines making them sound kind of messy, it’s a cool melody line but a bit hard to decipher on first listen. I do like the melancholy, melodramatic mood of the vocals, but this song dragged for me after a bit.
Glow Worm - I wish you guys had put in a shadow! It would have been interesting to see what you’d do with the challenge, since your songs so far have been so intricately produced.
Grumpy Mike - The harmonies sound nice, and so does the pounding piano, which gives it a good drive. The lead vocal didn't seem quite as good as the layers of harmonies would suggest--the vocals seem to lose the groove of the music or get pitchy at points, and your vocal sounds a little thin and nasally to me in this range. The song itself was way too light on content or lasting interest for me--it's kind of a kids' song, super straightforward lyrically and musically. I would have been happy for this to end after the dropout--I don't think the chupacabra spanking verse or the additional chorus repeats really added anything. I’m a sucker for the a cappella stuff though.
Inflatable Vegetables - Love the story in these lyrics--probably my favorite lyrics of the round, and I’m glad you worked in the narrator’s “lousy high school Spanish,” which neatly eliminates any doubts over accent or grammar. I do think there are moments where you’re expecting to hear a rhyme and don’t, which is really not satisfying (each whole prechorus, basically), but otherwise memorable, cute, and quirky. Not sure if the weeping chupacabra was an intentional conflation with La Llorona, but it’s a vivid image either way. I didn’t find the music particularly notable--my favorite thing about this was definitely the lyrics. Vocals seemed mixed a bit loud and the doubles weren’t very tight, which was distracting.
Jon Eric - Bonus points to you for doing something super different this time around. The ostinato vocal is a cool way to add rhythm within the limitations of the challenge. I like the slide guitar. The "ayudame" vocal is mixed a bit hot, maybe. Clever take on the challenge, lyrically--I like your concept a lot. I’m not super into the execution of the rap, although I liked some of the lines, like “The G.O.A.T. of unbridled ids.” The chorus feels too sparse and the surface level meaning a bit too simplistic (I also keep thinking of the theme song for the “Beat Kids” segment of Wonder Showzen, which doesn’t help) and I think the execution is technically fine but I have a hard time buying into the tough-guy delivery.
Jules Iolyn - I love the general sound here, although like I mentioned for Cavedwellers, I am not sure 2 guitar tracks really counts in my mind as “2 instruments.” The up-and-down-the-scale melody is memorable, although I was really wishing for a countermelody or something to come in during those parts--it was a bit much hearing that same, really simple melodic hook 8+ times. The backing vocal starting around 00:40 seems a bit flat, but otherwise, vocals are generally gorgeous as ever! I like the way you move back and forth between the different parts, with the subtly different rhythmic shifts--just where the little solo starts at 1:50 was my favorite part of the song, the shift from the riff with all its pauses into the constant strumming was really satisfying. I have to say I can’t really see what the lyrics have to do with the title, and some of them sound distractingly awkward to me--”the details are literally hazy”, “of which there does exist,” the oddly short line at “dignity”. I liked this song, but I have a hard time seeing how it connects to either the title or the challenge.
Lowest Bitter, The - I really like the sonic palette here. Excellent mood and textures. I will take your word for it that there are only two instruments, but at various points, it kind of sounded like you had guitar + electric piano + strings going on instead of just two instruments. I really liked your lyrical take on this prompt. I love the chord progression/melody combo on the “How can they make a movie like that...” lines, and sort of wish there was more of a lift in the arrangement there (tough with two instruments, I guess?)--not a lot of dynamic range overall.
Lucky Spoon - This is cute and charming and nicely performed, but I didn’t watch The Mandalorian, so I had some issues getting into what is essentially a filk song about a show I haven’t seen. There are a few too many inside jokes and references for it to really work as a story song for me without the outside context. It’s funny with your description of the concept for the song, and it’s enjoyable to listen to as a kind of novelty folk song, but I couldn’t quite get on board with it as much as some of the other judges did.
Mandibles - I like the instrumentation (dulcimer!!!), and the vocals work really nicely with the style. This sounds beautifully clean and clear. I like the chorus substantially more than the verse--the little melismas and where the vocal soars up high in the chorus are exquisite, reminds me of Maddy Prior's vocals for Steeleye Span--while the verse sounds a bit more like Renfaire pastiche to me. The interlocking vocals at the end of the song are great. I don’t really care about MTG myself, but the lyrics work well enough as “generic fantasy song” lyrics; they’re not too opaque to the listener. And you have a unique angle on the title. I do think with this combo of sound and subject matter, you could probably rake it in playing at conventions or licensing to Magic-themed Youtube channels or something.
Max Bombast - The distorted bass + drums combo make this sound huge, so I didn’t miss other instruments in the overall picture. While you have great energy in the vocals, I can hear a lot of distorted kind of spitty mouth sounds in your esses that keep grabbing my attention as I listen, like “set of armor,” “bad excuse,” “its shadow,” “the beast.” I took the lyrics to be essentially about mental health, but I have not yet watched your "liner notes" video so perhaps I'm totally off. I didn’t really love the chorus lyrics, which just seemed kind of generic to me, but enjoyed the heel/heal bit at the end. This is competent, but not one of my favorite songs from you.
Micah Sommersmith - This is the only song in the batch of Spanish-language songs that felt to me like it was really taking advantage of the language and not just using it as set dressing. I loved these lyrics--lots of lurid emotion and desperation in those words, and they flow naturally. I really like the first verse, and the comparison of belief in the chupacabra to the narrator’s irrational love is really wonderfully done. The guitar playing is nice, I love those flamenco strums, and the two instruments work really well together. Musically, I’m not sure this would stand out to me in a field of similar songs--no really memorable melodic hooks for me--but it definitely does what it set out to do, genre-wise.
Moss Palace - Excellent vocals--clear and beautiful, with pretty little ornaments and touches of vibrato here and there. The instrumentation is restrained and lovely. I love where the melody goes in the chorus, really catchy and unexpected, and probably my favorite melodic hook in this set of songs. The physical details in the first verse work really well to paint a vivid picture. The only complaint I might have is the lack of dynamics across the song as a whole, though the ethereal backing vocals towards the end do help ramp it up a bit. Oh and there’s a punch-in around 2:04 that sounds really obvious (though I guess maybe it was supposed to sound that way--it sounds that way at the end, too, but is less obvious because of the BVs).
Nick Soma - Those winding vocal rhythms and long, rambly lines are fantastic. This is really a goofy and cute song, but it’s also listenable--doesn’t just sound like a kid’s song to me. The guitar/piano combo works really nicely to give this a feeling of warmth and a dynamic build. Your lead vocal and harmonies sound really good, too. (The “mmm”s kind of remind me of that Crash Test Dummies song from the 90’s.) I wish the lyrics had rhymed a bit more, but the loose structure went along with that whole meandering feel, so it didn’t bother me too much in the end.
Nuke Skyblaster Reporting for Duty!!! - Really cute lyrics--I like the angle you took. The vocal processing was weird--it made it really hard to understand your words, particularly when you’re throwing things like “bunyip” and “Brahmapura” in there. There were some nice hooky parts of this, and then a bunch of parts that didn’t really make sense to me, or didn’t feel quite like they fit together. For instance, I’m not quite sure what you were going for as far as the melody on “than the girl for me,” it really sounded odd to me, but I can’t quite tell if that’s an execution issue or if you’re just nailing notes that don’t really seem to fit. I am super on board with the “A Day In the Life” crescendo thing, it was worth using the weird brass just to get that effect in there.
rain - bummer! We miss you. Hope you feel better soon and can submit a shadow or two before this thing is over.
see-man-ski - What a banger. This sounds huge, it’s catchy as hell, and has fantastic energy! When we were throwing around ideas for this challenge, I’d mentioned my theory that most of the entries would be mellow acoustic guitar or piano because it seems easier to pull that off with a limited arrangement. I’m glad to hear you coming in here and giving us all whiplash with this tune. The lyrics are ridiculous and charming… they don’t go really deep, but that’s not what this song is about. This is my favorite of your submissions by far.
The Serviettes - I really like the instrumental, reminds me a lot of The Faint. Very danceable. However, the vocals didn’t feel very well integrated with the instrumental, particularly in the verses--I liked the chorus hook (although I had no idea that was a line in Spanish until I went and looked at the lyrics just now, haha. The gestalt sound was very English.) I think it’s that those long held notes over the uptempo groove give the impression that they’re constantly falling a bit behind the beat, and the vocals are pitchy in spots and mixed a bit loud. The lyrics mostly just faded into the background for me, although the word “antipathy” seemed stressed a bit oddly so I kept thinking about it every time I’d hear you sing it.
Third Cat - I like the first couple of the lines of the chorus, they’re super catchy. The concept of your lyrics is good as well... don’t we all know that one couple where one of them is essentially a hot monster? While I don’t really have complaints about what was there in your stripped-back instrumentation, this was definitely a song where I found myself wishing for more stuff in the arrangement; it felt kind of empty and flat compared to some of the other songs this week.

Shadows

Brown Word and the Big Whine - This was one of my favorite Brown Word songs in a while. I think the vocals are mixed too low and sound really muffled, but I really liked your vivid and self-assured lyrics, the bass sounds good, and the melody works well with the bassline, with some good memorable hooks.
Goodbye Bandita - This song sounds really pretty--I like the twinkly Omnichord and the interplay between the male and female vocals. The guitar seems a bit out of tune. I think the backing vocals might be mixed a bit loud, but I really like the general dreamy feel of this; it sort of feels like it should be in a David Lynch movie. The lyrics seemed serviceable, but they were not a super memorable take on the title for me.
Hot Pink Halo - Clever take on the title! I like that you got creative with the instrumentation choices, but this song has an extremely... avant-garde? sound. Between the abundance of wind instruments and apparently some weird jazz chords as well, I found it pretty hard to follow what was going on musically. Then again, I don’t know much about jazz, so it could be perfectly cromulent to jazz cats like mo.
Lichen Throat - I like the intro a lot, this got a bit more chaotic once you hit the first verse--the lingering delay on one of those synths seems like it’s causing some issues when you try to change chords too quickly. I’m curious to hear about how this made you change your compositional style. The verse melody seems really unfocused, but the chorus vocals are stronger. I like the unreliable narrator in your lyrics, but the song seemed pretty long, I think it could have been edited to half the length and kept all the same ideas and themes. +1 for chupacabra/candelabra.
miscellaneous owl - I did this the afternoon/evening the songs were due--I spent roughly 50% of the time writing, another 40% of the time attempting to record the palm-muted guitar part and cursing how bad I am at palm muting, and the remaining 10% doing everything else. 0% picking appropriate instrumentation, mixing, adding instrumental interest, etc. I think it probably sounded better before I added the bass in, oops, but I had no time to experiment further. Additional liner notes I forgot earlier: Robbie and John are the first two guys the Species kills in her attempts to mate with humans, I believe she pokes her tongue through the back of Robbie’s head and smothers John with a tentacle while they’re getting naughty in a swimming pool. Also, she gives birth by opening her chest (much like in Alien, but she can close it back up afterwards).
Pigfarmer Jr. - I like the really minimalistic single-note piano that starts out the song--I think it’s unusual and effective and actually loses a bit of power once the chords come in (although it probably wouldn’t work all the way through without a break or rhythmic shift at some point). I like your melodies in general, and the chorus melody/chord progression in particular, although I’m not sure it works super well with the lyrics, that melody feels more like a love song than a breakup song. I do wish the lyrics played with the idea of the chupacabra a bit more than just naming it as a generic bloodsucker.
Rob from Amersfoort - I like the rhythm of the piano, and your take on the title. The shift into an unexpectedly upbeat mood in the chorus was unexpected, but you still kept an overall creepy, weird kind of vibe, so it didn’t feel like it belonged to a completely different song or anything. It has a good, moody feel, and I didn’t really miss the additional instrumentation.
Vom Vorton - This is really great! So sunny and catchy and fun, I loved this one. I would never have noticed the 2-instrument limit; you made it sound really full with the different layers of jangling guitar. I really like that main riff. As you know, I recorded some of the “CHU-PA-CA-BRA” backing vocals for this song without any other context, and I was really curious about how they would be incorporated. Glad to see you’ve put all the guest vocals to good use. I probably would have given this the side-eye as far as the challenge goes if you were a contestant... well, then again, maybe not, since clearly you did put a lot of effort into writing it to fit the concept. But fortunately you sit on the throne of judgment this year and can do whatever you like.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by crumpart »

owl wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 11:14 pm
Hot Pink Halo - Clever take on the title! I like that you got creative with the instrumentation choices, but this song has an extremely... avant-garde? sound. Between the abundance of wind instruments and apparently some weird jazz chords as well, I found it pretty hard to follow what was going on musically. Then again, I don’t know much about jazz, so it could be perfectly cromulent to jazz cats like mo.
I’ll take “avant-garde” as a compliment. :)

I recorded the recorders first, and it was almost like magic how that one choice* made something very jazzy in the sample I was working from sound like a renaissance square dance. Cromwell would have fucking hated it, and therefore I feel like I won.

*and accidentally changing all the minor seventh chords to dominant seventh chords.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Lucky Spoon »

GlennCase wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 4:04 pm
Lucky Spoon - Fantastic! This is incredibly fun! Lyrics are exceptional. The story had me glued to hear what happened next even before realizing the entire thing is referencing the Mandalorian! The whole thing feels a bit loose, but that works perfectly for what you're doing.
Oh wow, I'm honored. I appreciate the objectiveness of your reviews and how you have a good ear to catch/call out the little things (for better or for worse). I definitely spent a lot of time last week nudging the bass and vocals to line up because I knew you'd call me on it. Then I got to the guitars which were a mess and said screw it, but hey you should know you're challenging me to be better.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

Lunkhead wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 8:49 pm
Looks like the Yeti is an all-in-one microphone, audio interface, headphone amp, etc. so that's the whole hardware signal chain. Seems like folks have issues with it picking up background noise so maybe it's just got a high gain floor? Do you have issues even with the gain all the way down but recorded from a normal distance from the mic? If not you could perhaps try recording with the gain all the way down and then turning it up in the DAW if the signal is too quiet.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Twitch/comment ... und_noise/

Are you maybe singing really loudly, like, projecting a lot? If you normally sing to fill a concert hall, that could overwhelm mics like that and then yeah, a dynamic mic like a 57/58 might be a better option for you. Or you might do well with an SM7B (also a dynamic mic) which has extremely _low_ gain, if you want to spring for that.
Dude I love the SM7B for vocals, both warm and clear sounding. If I had $400 and was not a pathetic vocalist, I'd get one.

Cybronica, I think what most of us are getting at is that if you really want to have the best sounding vocal, you're going to need to spend a little bit of money in upgrading your signal chain. The sound of the mic, the preamp, even the cabling, and the interface into the computer (as well as the DAW itself, to a degree) all provide potential points of improvement for your sound. I am not super familiar with all the current plug and play options but it sounds to me like you're going to want to provide the input gain with your voice, so you need that adjustable, good input pads, etc. Honestly most decent dynamic mics are built to handle a lot of SPL (like a 57 takes the full force of a 100 watt guitar amp without breaking a sweat), so unless you're pushing more than what, like 120 dB I think you should be able to find a mic option that's reasonably priced and will work for you. That's why I mentioned the rest of the chain, bc I'm wondering if the main culprit is in the preamp settings--for the Blue Yeti those are, as Sam said, inside the unit so you probably can't do much with it, maybe it has a way to adjust settings though? But when you mentioned a pro situation, if they were using dynamic mics, even if you were right on them the mics themselves should be able to take your belting, I would think. But if you're going for a lot of dynamic range in your singing, like whisper to full voice, then yeah, you might be challenging what one setting can give you, especially if you prefer the sound you get at a particular distance from the mic.

I should probably leave this to people who actually sing and have more experience recording vocalists though. I clearly really don't want to write this powerpoint.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

mo wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:32 am
Lunkhead wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 8:49 pm
Looks like the Yeti is an all-in-one microphone, audio interface, headphone amp, etc. so that's the whole hardware signal chain. Seems like folks have issues with it picking up background noise so maybe it's just got a high gain floor? Do you have issues even with the gain all the way down but recorded from a normal distance from the mic? If not you could perhaps try recording with the gain all the way down and then turning it up in the DAW if the signal is too quiet.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Twitch/comment ... und_noise/

Are you maybe singing really loudly, like, projecting a lot? If you normally sing to fill a concert hall, that could overwhelm mics like that and then yeah, a dynamic mic like a 57/58 might be a better option for you. Or you might do well with an SM7B (also a dynamic mic) which has extremely _low_ gain, if you want to spring for that.
Dude I love the SM7B for vocals, both warm and clear sounding. If I had $400 and was not a pathetic vocalist, I'd get one.

Cybronica, I think what most of us are getting at is that if you really want to have the best sounding vocal, you're going to need to spend a little bit of money in upgrading your signal chain. The sound of the mic, the preamp, even the cabling, and the interface into the computer (as well as the DAW itself, to a degree) all provide potential points of improvement for your sound. I am not super familiar with all the current plug and play options but it sounds to me like you're going to want to provide the input gain with your voice, so you need that adjustable, good input pads, etc. Honestly most decent dynamic mics are built to handle a lot of SPL (like a 57 takes the full force of a 100 watt guitar amp without breaking a sweat), so unless you're pushing more than what, like 120 dB I think you should be able to find a mic option that's reasonably priced and will work for you. That's why I mentioned the rest of the chain, bc I'm wondering if the main culprit is in the preamp settings--for the Blue Yeti those are, as Sam said, inside the unit so you probably can't do much with it, maybe it has a way to adjust settings though? But when you mentioned a pro situation, if they were using dynamic mics, even if you were right on them the mics themselves should be able to take your belting, I would think. But if you're going for a lot of dynamic range in your singing, like whisper to full voice, then yeah, you might be challenging what one setting can give you, especially if you prefer the sound you get at a particular distance from the mic.

I should probably leave this to people who actually sing and have more experience recording vocalists though. I clearly really don't want to write this powerpoint.
Yeah, I’m looking to make an investment, hoping to keep it under $800/1000 for the whole set up, and I think that should be achievable, depending what I go for. While the yeti has served me well, I do think it is time I invest in a better mic and an interface. My DAW is GarageBand/logic. I guess right now I’m deciding between the SM7B and the SM58, with the question of whether the added cost has a similar added value. This advice is all much appreciated! I also appreciate anyone’s insights on interfaces, as I haven’t needed to use one before with the USB mic.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Lunkhead »

If the SM7B is within your budget, it's a solid choice used on many multi-platinum albums for decades, and you should have a real hard time being too loud for that mic. (Most folks have the opposite problem with it.) Glenn Case uses one too and possibly other folks on here.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by thirdcatmusic »

Mic Gear Talk: I like the SM7 - I have one. But it can be a bit of a pain because of the extremely low gain, I use mine with a cloudlifter to get it up. that adds to the cost of it.

Some Quick Short Reviews:

(sorted by score on nure.in)

Moss Palace: Lovely/strong vocals. Pretty arrangement. Very tastefully done. I wasn't surprised that this one won.

Nick Soma: Cool chorus. Vocals sound good. The keys and the acoustic guitar sound really nice together. Good one!

Lucky Spoon: Kind of a lo-fi vibe which works well with this kind of song/delivery. Really cute song.

see-man-ski: This is pretty great. The White Stripes comparison is pretty obvious and I think I saw someone else mention The Hives, I hear that too. Great energy.

Mandibles: The acoustic guitar sounds really nice. Digging this sort of renaissance sound. It fits your talents well. Good vocals and I like how it sounds when the vocals blend together.

Micah Sommersmith: The two instrument thing wasn't much of a stretch for you eh? The accordion definitely fits this song well. Enjoyable even without me being able to understand the lyrics.

Grumpy Mike: I love the way you start this one off with the piano, gets me into it right away. Nice groove. Fun song. I do kind of want more stuff to come in later on.

Cavedwellers: Really great guitar playing and the recording sounds really nice. Clear. The song itself doesn't jump out at me as much, but it's good.

Jon Eric: I like the beat box rhythm. The guitar riff is a cool idea but it sounds a bit too far back in the mix. I like early Beck (and later Beck too, but this reminds me of early Beck) and The Beastie Boys and it sounds like that's what you're going for. It doesn't entirely work for me but there's some cool ideas in here. I like the motherfucker takes kids refrain.

Max Bombast: The production is great. Sounds pretty huge despite the two instruments restriction. I really like the guitar playing. Pretty inventive and really cool tones. The verse is the strongest part of the song for me. The repetitive chorus doesn't work as well for me. This is in a style I don't really love still objectively I think this is very well done.

The Lowest Bitter: I like this one a lot. Has a wistful sound to it that really draws me in and I find the arrangement very effective. Love the synths. If I were a judge I would have had this one much higher.

Frankie Big Face: I don't like the bass tone and since it carries so much of the song that kind of puts me off. Still the drums sound good and I like the bass part itself and I love the vocals. The performance and the mix/production. I think they sound great. I cannot speak Spanish so I have no idea what you're talking about but I like this one a lot. Another one I would have had higher than the judges.

Balance Lost: That "glow worms that glow wo-oh" bit is pretty catchy. I like the cutesy synth/drum machine combination.

Berkeley Social Scene: The drum/bass combo sounds really good. I particularly like how the drum sounds. Nice groove. Vocals sound cool and the harmonies are a good way around the two instrumental limit. Still I don't really love this one. Not quite sure why. Very helpful eh?

The Serviettes: Drums & riffing sounds pretty good. There's some humming in the mix that's a bit distracting.

Inflated Veggies: I like some of the ideas here, pretty cool chorus. The multiple electric guitars kind of seems like "cheating" the challenge. But maybe that's just me.

Jules: I find this one pretty charming. Has a nice lo-fi indie vibe that I dig. While it's not as technically/objectively impressive as some of the others in this round, this is one of my favorites I think. I just like it.

Nuke Skyblaster: Some catchy vocal bits in here. Cool energy. I like the horns. I'd have this one higher than the judges did.
Last edited by thirdcatmusic on Wed May 27, 2020 1:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by grumpymike »

Cybronica wrote:
Tue May 26, 2020 9:38 am
Just out of curiosity, will either of the podcasts be happening this year?
I had intended on not competing this year and doing that instead. I'm starting to have some more free time so I hope to get to it. 40 songs was a bit much.

Buy a SM7b and never look back. We've had many discussions about this and I can't recall people not liking it. If this is a hobby you enjoy, think about the amount of money you spend on entertainment, and then look at the price again. Like, how much is a meal or drink where you live, or a movie? It's worth it. I know I've seen them for $300-$350 on sale before. I imagine the resale value keeps, too.

You'll notice in Adam's videos, he's using one with the foam off. Maybe so you can see his face - maybe so it picks up more clarity. I found that I like having a thin windscreen in front of it (with the foam off).

The real answer is "go to a store and try them all out to see what you like" but unless you get out to a Guitar Center in the suburbs when this pandemic is over, and know exactly what you like to hear in your voice, and have a very patient salesperson, that's probably not going to happen.
Last edited by grumpymike on Wed May 27, 2020 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by mo »

if your budget is up to $1k, you can probably consider getting both the 58 and 7B and still have more than half the budget to spend on an interface with a nice preamp, which, depending on your needs, really doesn't have to cost that much. I mention this option bc if I were a singer, I would want both, a) for studio options, both tonally and for recording with another singer, and b) so that I could have a performance mic and a studio mic.

Also, I'm a gear whore, so my first response is always, BUY THEM ALL
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by GlennCase »

Lunkhead wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 12:48 pm
If the SM7B is within your budget, it's a solid choice used on many multi-platinum albums for decades, and you should have a real hard time being too loud for that mic. (Most folks have the opposite problem with it.) Glenn Case uses one too and possibly other folks on here.
That microphone is arguably the best musical investment I have ever made.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

Thanks all! I guess that settles it- I’m going to get the SM7B. As crumpart correctly points out, nur ein doesn’t need my mic questions, so I’ll be continuing the conversation regarding interfaces on the Gear Acquisition Syndrome Thread!

I’ll be writing reviews soon. The songs were great this week!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by lichenthroat »

Official Entries

Balance Lost—Clever lyrical take. The effects on your vocal fit well with the rest of the song. I can definitely see this as a lighthearted album closer. “Just give me more of the sweetness” is the perfect line for this.

Berkeley Social Scene—I think you guys had it tough this time, with only two instruments to be shared by a whole band. I can imagine hearing this on the radio in a Latin American country. The ooh ooh vocal wears out its welcome after a while, but the two singers singing the lyrics fit well in the atmosphere of the song.

Cavedwellers—This so smooth! It’s not, however, too smooth to be memorable. I like the Shelleys and Byrons line. The dueling guitars approach works surprisingly well.

Frankie Big Face—I like that liquidy thing you’re doing with the bass/guitar. Unfortunately, nothing else in the song really hooks me.

Grumpy Mike—Someone in the listening party thought this sounded like a song from a weird Broadway musical. I don’t have more to add, other than that I’d like to see that show. I applaud your creativity.

Inflatable Vegetables—I’d like that guitar cranked up a more. Some of the vocal phrasing seems a little forced at the end of the lines. I really like your chorus, though. This is a good song, and I’m sorry to see you eliminated.

Jon Eric—Your vocal delivery is good, and some of the lines are clever. I feel like the two-instrument limitation may have been detrimental to the song overall; it seems like the rhythm loop needs something more to sound properly filled out.

Jules Iolyn—This isn’t the most approachable song, but I have to say that I think I like it. It’s quirky enough to have something to offer on repeated listens. This feels like a track that I’d suddenly realize I really like after hearing the album 20 times.

The Lowest Bitter—Your vocal tone is perfect for this song; good job writing to your strengths. The keyboard seems a bit prominent on the mix. Your vocal delivery seems to combine the best parts of laziness and sincerity.

Lucky Spoon—I like the mix. This is fun and well executed. This is one of the times when a novelty song really works.

Mandibles—I actually know what this is about! The vocal style and the instrumental music fit together well. The vocal harmonies sound great. I like the big changeup for the chorus. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

Max Bombast—You can really get a lot out of a bass. It seems like the two-instrument limitation was no problem for you. I think it might have been advisable to use a denser drum pattern in some places; the sparseness seems to drain the energy sometimes.

Micah Sommersmith—This is super atmospheric. I feel like I’m lounging on a plaza in Mexico as I listen. Your two instruments sound good together. Excellent overall execution.

Moss Palace—The vocal is impeccable, which counts for a lot. The vocal melody is great: just the right amount of contrariness to my expectations. The instrumental music is okay, but it seems like a vehicle to present the vocal. The vocal is strong enough to carry the song anyway, though.

Nick Soma—Your vocal always has an interesting, appealing character. I’m not sure whether it’s your faint accent or something unusual that you’re doing with the vocal melody. Either way, I like it. I ordinarily prefer a more rockin’ song, but I see how the tender sound is essential to your concept here.

Nuke Skyblaster Reporting for Duty!!!—The vocal mix is weird enough to be distracting. I mostly like the song, though. I’m not sure the trumpet adds a lot; you might have been better off with a bass or drum to establish a stronger rhythm.

see-man-ski—Way to lay down a groove. This song is really relentless; there’s never a sense of relief. I don’t know if that’s what you had in mind or not. The mix seems like it could use more presence on the low end.

The Serviettes—The effect on the vocal is kind of distracting. This is another song where the two-instrument restriction seemed detrimental. This screams out for a wailing guitar line, but you can’t cut either of the instruments that are in this mix.

Third Cat—I don’t know what to make of the super electronic music paired with such an organic vocal. This feels avant garde, in a good way. I’m surprised this wasn’t ranked a little higher.

Shadows

Brown Word and the Big Whine—I love these lyrics: both fun and disturbing, with just enough enigma to keep me interested. The music seems like it’s leading up to a crescendo that never arrives.

Goodbye Bandita—I got startled by the backing vocal; I’m not sure if that’s good or not. The keyboard seems a little too prominent in the mix. At first I thought the chord progression seemed cliched, but it actually works really well with the vocal melody. I’d like to hear this with a new mix and a full band.

Hot Pink Halo—I like the lyrical take and the vocal. The instruments don’t ever seem they coalesce into a cohesive song, however. I admire your daring.

Lichen Throat (me)—With only two instruments, I felt like I should go for a more naturalistic sound, so I composed this using my little MIDI keyboard, rather than my usual method of writing it as sheet music. I like how my voice sounds on this, but the vocal rhythm doesn’t fit with the instruments all that well. The song feels too long, but I felt like it needed to be a slower song, so it was hard to find anything to cut to shorten it.

miscellaneous owl—The muted guitar has unique sound. I know you implied that you weren’t happy with it, but it’s intriguing. I like your chord progressions, and the vocal, as always, is great.

Pigfarmer Jr—I like the piano. The song feels a bit subdued for the lyrics. It seems sort of like an evil children’s song (which is kind of cool, now that I put it that way).

Rob from Amersfoort—The chorus seems to lack a little musicality. I like how you enhance the piano line as the song goes along. I like the end, too.

Vom Vorton—This is so light and pure. Just excellent. That guitar tone is perfect for the song. It feels like it’s completely realized, despite the two-instrument limitation.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by Cybronica »

Finally got these done!

First off, I want to say I love this round. I have a lot of favorites, and I love how the challenge forced everyone to really examine what their sound is, and what timbres they wanted in their song. Also, I don’t speak Spanish, but I have a lot of experience analyzing songs in languages I don’t know, so thanks to everyone who sang in Spanish to for making me feel like a college student again. I can’t speak to anyone’s accent, but I like how much of a risk y’all took.

In Order of the posted lyrics:

THIRD CAT: this is weird and fun and sweet all at once. The lyrics are more specific than I’m used to from you; the way you sing the chorus is weirdly heartfelt and I love that you took this strange premise and made it a believable love song. The combination of synth patch md drum machine are good; it’s the core of what your sound usually is, and retains your sound. Yeah, it’s more sparse than usual, but I really like how you affect the vocals with echo and reverb to fill in the sound.

Pig farmer jr: I’m surprised you didn’t include guitar in your instrument line up, as you play really well, but the piano is lovely, though at time a little... mechanical. Overly quantized? I bet this would have gone well as piano and guitar; the pair could really lean into the intimate heartbreak you’re singing about. I find the drums to be a bit superfluous. As for the lyrics, you could replace chupacabra with vampire, or some other monster, and it would mean about the same. I find it hard to believe the title is the title, of that makes sense.

Iveg: this is another weirdly sweet song that I can’t help but love. The chorus has been stuck in my head a lot this week, and I’m singing along without ever having studied Spanish. Probs cause my ability with the language would be about at the lousy high school level. It’s a sweet story, and I like how you emphasize the chorus with doubled vocals. The guitar in the play out is too quiet.

Balance lost: I have a lot of favorites this week, and this is high on this list. It’s SO FUN. I l o v e it. Hmm a criticism? The badabadabas are a little pitchy. But seriously, I love it all, from the ooh-wee-Oohs to the list of flavors, to the synth you use, to the story. This is my favorite song this week that does actually mention a chupacabra (sorry vom! Please don’t dock me points!). Also, I LOVE your take on the title. It’s really clever. Thi belongs on a children’s cd. Or a chupa chups commercial.

NSRFD!!: I find the connection to the title tenuous at best. It’s an interesting idea, but you until the very end to mention a chupacabra, and even then it’s not very clear how it is more title worthy than, say, drop bear. I like that building swell you at the end with the guitar strings and the horn synth. Also, I think that pairing of instruments is great. They sound good together.

Jon Eric: I have no idea what this is about, but I like it. I’m a sucker (pun not intended but appreciated) for puns and the whole song is based on word play (kid). Beatboxing on the word chupacabra is great, and I like how it frees you up to have a second pitched instrument. The groove in the bass is lovely. This song needs the last 16 bars cut off. The child sample yelling is great for timbre diversity.

Brown Word and the Big Whine: the lyrics are interesting but I find them forgettable. The star of this song is that bass line. I wouldn’t have had the melody match the bass line, though. Theres a missed opportunity for some cool counterpoint there, and it literally makes it one note. I like the double vocals/vocal harmonies you use for emphasis.

see-man-ski: you do a lot with just a guitar and drum set, and it sounds great. The filter on the vocals matches the timbre of guitar, and does a lot to find unity in the sound. The hook is very catchy, but I will say I have one minor quibble: rhyming chupacabra with murderer just bothers me. It is so much a slant rhyme, it’s a horizontal line. It’s especially surprising because the rest of the lyrics are well crafted with an ear to how they sound. This song sounds like someone trying to describe a dream to me.

Lowest bitter: I actually really like the guitar tone. Cutting off the front end of the wave form sounds super labor intensive, so good for you! The only bit thats not great about it is the jarring start- cutting off the attack gives it a click start. A rapid increase of volume on the track in the first milliseconds could help alleviate that. I was kinda luke warm on this song until I read your liner notes, and now that I understand what it’s about, I find the lyrics that much more compelling. Normally I would comment on the energy level of your vocal, but I think it matches the genuine concern of this song. Oh! And I figured out who you remind me of. Your voice is like Rufus wainwright OM his album songs for lulu. Another good reason not to change your voice.

Frankie big face: what a great sound you have right at the beginning! It delights the ear. Ok, ppl have been comparing you to bowie, and as I huge bowie fan, I haven’t heard it, until now! Your voice really matched his timbre on this track. The lyrics are simple, but evoke a lovely sentiment. I really like the end, where you say “Eres cabra
Soy chupacabra
Tendremos una hermosa boda “ that is a great image. Are you goin to eat them? Love them? Have your goat and eat it too? The a capella end is phenomenal, but you’re sharp on the second to last note, so that might be what some of the others were objecting to.

Vowlvom: this is really lovely! I think this was a super clever subversive take on the title (...that you selected?). The advice in the song is both genuine and generic, so good job balancing that! I love the guitar playing in this- it’s easily my favorite part. It lends a folk rock element that tickles my fancy, like if Simon and garfunkle wrote in the 2000’s. The gang vocals are great. I love the judges all coming together! Lovely song, and I think my favorite from you so far this year.

RFA: this is all very dynamically samey, which you can see in the wave form. This isn’t too much of an issue, though, seeing how short it is. I would have liked to have more change up in the vocal. I like the take on the title, and it really makes me want to find out what happened to this guy! I need the rest of the musical. Good piano part.

Lichen throat: the lyrics are pretty good, as we have come to expect. I really like how you have the viola synth in counterpoint with the voice. Speaking of the voice, I think you’re singing is improving! I like how this song explores more of your range. I also think not double tracking your vocals did you very well.l. It is a bit long. It could probably be 2/3 as long, but it doesn’t bother me so much.

Jules Iolyn: i really don’t see any connection to the title. On that note, I didn’t really notice the words until I read them, and relistening, it’s still hard to hear. The declamation and enunciation could be improved. I like the hook, but I would not have put the ladeedees on the main track. They are a bit more present in the mix than I like. The echo effect on guitar is great. It fills out the arrangement well.

The serviettes: this has a nice groove, and I like the tone on the bass. The filter on the voice matches the tone on the bass nicely, but it is often leaving me feel like you’re in the next room. The lyrics are alright, pretty generic, but still good. The drums are the connecting through line on this, and are really good. I think this song really needs som harmonies. Some backing vocals would be nice.

Hot pink halo: hey, an acrostic poem! I really like the lyrics, which makes me a little sad cause I have a lot of trouble hearing them in the actual song. Part of that is the relaxed nasal vocal. Needs More breath support; imagine a little more space in your head as you sing, and support the sound. I refuse to believe you can’t sing out more. The recorder and harmonica combo are a bold choice. I think using one of those with a more robust harmonic instrument would have done a better job of filling out the ambitious harmonic progression you described. I do like the recorders, as they remind me of the clockwork flute organs cabinet I saw in a museum in Austria years ago, but they need more melody in them, beyond just rooting one note at a time.

Micah Sommersmith: I really love these lyrics, especially the double means in them (thanks for clarifying them in the translation!). This song Transports me to the riviera. I’m not sure which one, but it is grassy, sunny, and the guy playing his accordion down the way is tugging at my heartstrings. The emotion in this song is raw, palpable. The vocal harmonies are lovely. My only critique is you are a little pitchy at times, specifically on ai ai ai, which is usually just a tad flat. This song is quite the sing! I love how it goes through so much of your range.

Max Bombast: i am very impressed that you recorded this in one take! Since you weren’t going back to make every take perfect, it leaves an element of raw emotion in the singing. This is most evident in the strained vocals that scatter throughout and get even more pronounced towards the end after the bridge. The gasping breaths are part of this, too, but I find them more distracting than evocative. The falsetto at the end is a nice contrast, and I would have like more of it earlier in the song. I’m not convinced that this song is really about a chupacabra, even as a metaphor (for addiction?). I want that metaphor explored more in the lyrics, beyond that it has teeth. Could also be about a vampire.

Mandibles: Us! This song is a style that is different for us. We have gone toward this style before, but not to this extent. I had fun trying out this type of singing. I think what makes this special is the meter- the verses are in two measures of two followed by a measure of three, while the chorus and bridge are just in three. Made. Hard to count, but the chorus is oh so much more satisfying because of it.

Lucky spoon: this reminds me of a song my parents used to sing (ragtime cowboy joe), so it has a serious nostalgia element for me. The story is great! I thought so before I read that it’s just the mandalorian. Your lyrics are really well crafted- they flow super well, and they have just the right amount of anachronism. The bass adds a lot of whimsy. The break with the spoken word is so good! Again, nostalgia, this time for a bygone era of cowboy movies. The vocal harmonies are delightful and I really like the wide pan you have going with them.

Grumpy mike: yet another on my list of favorites! Any time you do vocal harmonies like this, it makes me super happy! The story is straightforward and I like that about it. May I just say, you have a perfect pure [o] vowel in goats and it makes my ipa knowing ear so happy. I also love how the music follows the story. The quiet chorus is great. I also love the flat you put in the melody of the chorus on “running.” At times the voices do not perfectly match up, which is most obvious on the ‘bum bum bum’ before the quiet chorus. Ends too abruptly.
All in all, your song reminds me of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk5LhR2 ... ture=share


Bss: I really like the doowops, but I agree that the main vocal needs to come up to match them in the chorus. The balance is good in the verse. They have a lovely tone to them- great singing! I’m not inspired by the lyrics, in either language. Frankly, you went for the most obvious take on the title- hunting a chupacabra- and I don’t think it was executed as charmingly or cleverly as, say, grumpy mike or lichen throat’s lyrics. The bass line does a great job of keeping the momentum in the song.

Moss palace: this is my favorite song from you this year. Your singing is so much more interesting in this song- you sing out, and explore more color and range in your voice. It reminds me of the earliest merisan songs in the nur ein archive, which I love. The voice has more emotion and soul. I particularly love how you gradually bring in the second vocal in the bridge on unison, and then let it split into homophonic harmony, and then having a descants on the last chorus. There’s something a little enya about the bloom of bridge vocals. The interplay of the guitar and piano helps create this desperate, intimate sound. I love it. A well deserved win!

Goodbye bandita: I like how you never mention a chupacabra, but the lyrics dance around the concept. I suppose there isn’t any reason it has to be a chupacabra, but I don’t mind that here. The lyrics are soft and morose, and aching. The panning with the backing vocals in the chorus going from wide to center is great, and I love how their harmonies are subtly disschordant, underlining the wrongness of the situation.

Misc. owl: man, these lyrics cut deep. I love how you talk about this topic that is felt by so many, yet almost never gets air time beyond a footnoted joke. The metaphors of the train and chupacabra, though disparate, work really well both in their own right, and the fact that you keep revisiting them makes them the foundation of the lyrics, instead of a random assortment of metaphors to fill word space. Yeah, production is lower than your usual standards, but it’s a darn good demo. A couple notes are right at the bottom of your range, for ex “so I” I’m the first verse. I think the line would be just as good if you sang them a fourth up.

Nick soma: this was a favorite, too. I loved it the first 15 times I heard it, but right now it’s wearing on my ear (I think it’s just too much all at once). I really do love this song- the piano part is very emotional, and the lyrics, those perhaps not completely elegant, are really lovely. They paint a wonderful picture, and the story itself is beautiful. I know more than one person who would not bat an eye in taking in a monster because it has big puppy dog eyes. Your vocals are good, and I especially like the the layering of them with the harmonies. The key change in the bridge is lovely. I like have clear the words are. I have no trouble understanding you.

Cavedwellers: no lyrics posted! :( the interplay of guitars is so. Very. Cavedwellers. It’s really beautiful, and I love a subversive take on a challenge. The singing is great as always, and I love the double tracking on the chorus and bridge especially. The way your voice matches the guitar ornament on control in the pre. The instrumental break reminds me of piano phase, which I love. I want to listen to these guitars all day long.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Two "Chupacabra"

Post by arby »

Cybronica wrote:
Mon Jun 01, 2020 8:59 am
Goodbye bandita: I like how you never mention a chupacabra, but the lyrics dance around the concept. I suppose there isn’t any reason it has to be a chupacabra, but I don’t mind that here. The lyrics are soft and morose, and aching. The panning with the backing vocals in the chorus going from wide to center is great, and I love how their harmonies are subtly disschordant, underlining the wrongness of the situation.
Hey, thanks so much for this very nice review! A funny note about this song - I wrote the chords and melody and my original (totally off the cuff) lyrics were

Code: Select all

"Oh Chupacabra
suck the  pain out of my heart
show me how to start again
oh Chupacabra
don't leave me lonely on the plain
longing for your secret name when I know"
and Nivs was like "I don't know why you made it so literal, when all you had to do was write about a monster and CALL it Chupacabra" and I was like ohhhhhh, I see and then he rewrote all the lyrics and did just that!!! Btw I have no idea what plain I was talking about, perhaps that's where they live in Mexico or maybe it was just an easy rhyme, also what did I know?!?! I never found out.

btw Nivs also really hated that panning choice (originally I had them hard L-R panned - they are actually two different takes of myself and Mimi singing our parts so kinda like a double track but because there were v. slight differences in performance I felt like it was more organic or w/e) but I really dug it because I was picturing the lead singer standing in the front of the stage and the two backing singers behind him, one on Stage Left and one on Stage Right, and the mix reflecting this arrangement.

Also we did not intend for the harmonies to be dissonant (HA!!) but I'm glad it accidentally worked - I actually really enjoy dissonance and super weird close harmonies in general so a lot of times I'll do it just bc I think it sounds cool and then other people are like actually that's flat and I'm like ohhh that's why it sounds weird.
"Not fair, LW+RG get ambience for free every round." - Chumpy


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