Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lunkhead »

Help and How To thread if folks want to take the "mixing on headphones" chat there:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11810
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by mo »

a couple quick notes, hope I'm not overexplaining things that you guys already think are obvious: depending on the recording and the performance, I find it's often beneficial to ride the vocal track's volume, especially when the song itself has dynamic sections. It doesn't need to be a lot, just a couple dB here and there, but it definitely changes the feel, bc it's not just level, it's tone and how it interacts with the rest of the arrangement. The other thing is that when you're going from a sparser arrangement to a fuller arrangement inside the song, I personally find that some EQ work helps as well, because basically everything's filling up the midrange, right, so you want each instrument, vocal, or each track to basically emphasize its own part of the midrange, which keeps everything audible comfortably at reasonable levels, filling up the frequency spectrum without causing overall clipping, which is a choice--it can sound great in some songs, but most of the time, I don't prefer it.

Low volume mixing is a good exercise in ear testing as well, because basically what's going to happen is that you're going to hear a lot of the upper frequencies and less of the lower frequencies. So once you get used to it, you can sort of know how much bass roll-off you *should be having, and whether you have emphasized your treble and upper mids too much. I am a big proponent of having reference tracks in your ear when you're mixing, just a song in the style of your song that you like, and for me, it really helps me hear things that I'm missing. Because my ears lie to me all the time. When I'm tired, when I've heard the same thing a bunch of times, when I've been working on bass tracks and then move to guitar, when democracy is burning, oops, I mean...er...no recovering from that one I guess. But it's nice to be like, hey, my song is a hard rocker in a power trio so I'm going to listen to The Immigrant Song and try to get that kind of sound, etc. Listening to mixes in different environments is a must in a final process--and as you do it, you'll get to learn what it should sound like in headphones to get that great final balanced mix sound. For Nur Ein I know you don't always have time to do that (or maybe ever) but it's a good habit anyway.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Cybronica »

Lucky Spoon wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 8:12 am

General mix question: When a track goes from simple single guitar/vox into full band double tracked guitar, drums, and bass how to not lose the vox in the full part without having them be too hot in the simple part (especially if it's one take going through both)? The simple solution seems to just lower the volume on the vocal take in the verse and raise it back up in the chorus, but that seems wrong that the overall vox volume is going up and down through the song.
I’d make a comment about singers Formant, but I’m not sure it’s applicable to recorded music. Personally, I’m fine with changing the volume of the vocal lead, so long as it keeps the same dynamic ratio between vocal and instruments throughout the song. You could also bump up the higher partials In the EQ on the vocal track in the chorus to help the voice cut through the mix.

Edit: So, basically what mo said! :)
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lucky Spoon »

Hmmm, sounds like I'm on the right track. Vox volume too loud verse too quiet chorus so turn the whole track up, then lower volume on verse seems like a last minute desperation hack. It makes sense to tweak everything else and make sure the EQs are all playing together nicely. But yeah tough when time is crunched and you know that re-tweaking everything means a lot more renderings and running up and down stairs to listen on all your different reference media players.

And reference track good idea too. As soon as I listened to BSS's mix after songs were up I was like... well shoot. Definitely feel the balance of drums, double tracked guitars, lead line, all being there but not on top of each other.

When I mix vary between head phones, studio monitors, normal volume, very very quiet, stereo and mono (when trying to balance double tracked/panned vocals vs center vox). When I have more time, I'll usually spend a few days listening it in my car or other listening devices and gauge my reaction to certain things every time it comes up and tweak from there. Just wondering if there are some quick things to always do besides what I feel like comes down to guess and test.

I think I need to get better at EQing things? I understand the general concept, but I don't trust my ears and usually just slap on the stock EQ preset for a given instrument on the track. I know I've see EQ analyzer things where I think you can see which frequencies are overlapping and adjust like that, but I haven't gotten into the depths of doing that from a technical standpoint and not just using my ears.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by mo »

the good thing about it is that eventually your ears get used enough to it that you will start saying things like "I think the kick needs +4 dB at 10k and it'll really punch through the mix" and then I will hate you because I can't do that
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by mo »

I promise, last post on this:

https://www.soundgym.co/
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lucky Spoon »

mo wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 1:34 pm
I promise, last post on this:

https://www.soundgym.co/
Yesssss. Now that's what I'm talking about! I didn't want to be productive at work today anyhow.


edit: Paywall, boooooooooo. Looks like it's back to youtube, boys.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by mo »

oh is there a paywall now? it used to be pretty free. sorry about that. there's other free options out there though
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by mo »

This is the first round where I’m having to rank songs I think are legitimately good enough to warrant continuing in the competition at the back of my rankings, so congrats everyone. Overall this round was a little harder to judge than previous rounds for me, as I didn’t feel like there was a really clear top, upper middle, middle, lower middle, and bottom tier. The competition is tightening up, and everyone’s going to need to start bringing their A game a little earlier than the final, just to make the final, I think. Without further ado:

Balance Lost -
Vocal intonation. I like the chorus hook, catchy. I really wanted some kind of treatment to the vocals, or at least one of the vocals, to emphasize the idea of feeling distance, but actually my real thought is that vocals are both mixed so hot. I promise you, I can hear all the detail in the vocals without them blasting at me. It may also be the compression that I’m hearing. The song does have some pretty great moments in the choruses, and a nice overall feel.

Berkeley Social Scene -
Once again you come with a polished sound, which I appreciate. The guitar solo is fine haha. This song is fine. I feel like I wanted a stronger, more interesting frame to the story, as it is I’m not really drawn into the story.

Cavedwellers -
Starts with a good hook. You must really hate your drummer to bury the drums so deep in the mix. A rock tune like this really wants DRUMS no? When the guest comes in and the song goes EVEN MORE 80s, that’s the stuff. The eBow is a nice touch, but do you also find that everything on eBow sounds like everything else on eBow? There’s a couple times where the vocal ends on a line in a slightly awkward way, and one pickup that I can’t remember what the lyric is. But good job overall.

Frankie Big Face -
Moody. I like the bass fills in particular; they add a lot of drama. This particular lyric works well with the feel of the song. That’s been one of your strengths, and you get a great performance from your guest as well as yourself. I still think the vocals are so hot, I tried it with both headphones and my stereo and there’s just so little headroom to my ear. In this case it certainly adds to a feeling of claustrophobia, but I’d have still preferred it rolled back a bit so I could listen more comfortably.

Glow Worm -
Something about the EQ of this track sounds wrong to me, it’s something in the treble roll-off and the overloaded bass synth sound. That being said, this is another vocal tour-de-force, as I’m sure you know. I personally found the “goddamn goddamn” a little cheesy—if this were a Broadway show and I could see a matching performance, maybe I’d feel differently about it. I love your guest’s voice, smoky and very Morcheeba-y. This is a good song, but it’s definitely not your best entry IMO, mostly bc your chorus hooks to now have been excellent and this one feels a bit forced even though the performance is excellent.

Grumpy Mike -
When the harmonies work, they sound epic. There are too many points where the vocal harmonies don’t quite work. The guitar solo is a bit too much on the sloppy side, but also consider a more epic tone to match the epicness of the song. I really have a hard time listening to the vocals be mixed up this high against the rest of the track. While I appreciate you pushing yourself to the edge of your vocal range, it just doesn’t sound that great when you do it, intonation of course, but I just mean tonally.

Jon Eric -
Kudos on finally finding the tone for your voice, this sounds very smooth vocally for you, where normally there’s a bit of strain that’s slightly unpleasant. The melody fits really well. The chords in the pickup into the chorus sound a little off to me, not that fluid harmonically. The vocal mixing is a little unbalanced to me, which detracts a lot from the feel of the harmonies. It probably does need another take on the guest vocals to really nail the notes, but otherwise, very pretty song.

The Lowest Bitter -
I really like the feel. The bass is a little loose overall, I would tighten up those subs. This is another mix that was better on headphones than on the stereo. The mix could’ve used another couple passes to refine it. I like the middle 8 conceptually. The speed-up at the end helps it feel a little less same-samey, but the song does still suffer from a bit of that. The woos et al. are too high up in the mix, and really could’ve benefited from some more playing with the stereo field, make it more immersive an experience. By the end I really don’t have a strong impression of the chorus hook even though there were a lot of things I liked, it didn’t really totally cohere.

Lucky Spoon -
I like a solid rocker, and in a rocker, some slop can be expected, but this has a touch more than what I think of as acceptable level. Some of that is vocal delivery, which I’m sure you can tighten up. Although the guitar solo has a good tone, it’s kind of forgettable. I like the middle eight and how it comes back in to rocking and rolling. The end needed guitar wailing. Seriously, it felt a little anticlimactic, and it would’ve sold the little convo at the end better.

Mandibles -
First chords are really beautiful. The “You Raise Me Up” bits make me flashback to when my downstairs neighbor who taught at the Shanghai Conservatory got a series of gigs for Audi, teaching high rollers about popular music, so he put a band together that was my band plus him (piano/synths), his girlfriend (vocals) and a chamber quartet. We had to play a wide array of music, so we went from “Beat It” (where yes, I finally got to play that solo live in a situation where it was actually fitting) to “You Raise Me Up” and we discovered that his girlfriend was, um, not a singer. Anyway, I don’t like the chorus melody, call it PTSD. The singing is pitchy in the lead vocal, but I think where it is pitchy is in those little transitions, it’s those in between notes that are slurry and where they are accented is off pitch. The guest vocal sounds so completely from a different world that it’s distracting—I assume it’s the mic and such. In the chorus again, “home you used to know” that melody doesn’t work for me, what is it, the 9th of the main scale on the V chord going back to a I, something like that? It’s a little indeterminate and not a strong leading tone to my taste. Then there’s the forced “you’re moving on” phrasing. The timbres of the voices is kind of a strange combo to me, and the relative intonation sounds off. I like this solo though!

Max Bombast -
I have had a lot of mixed feelings about you bringing in Pharell to help produce this track, although my understanding is that Marvin Gaye’s estate will sue you shortly and forthwith. I like the mix and the overall sound, but something about the song irritates me as I also cannot help but nod my head along to it. I guess it’s just true that MOAR COWBELL makes everything better. I would have preferred if the news anchor were interstitial, to be more of an ongoing character rather than someone who just pops in at the end, also because having him be in for so long after it feels like the song is over isn’t great to my taste.

Micah Sommersmith -
Ooh a balanced vocal mix. This song is pretty charming, Johnny & June flavors. I like the take, very clever, and that part of it is well executed. Can we talk about the solo for a moment? I am of the school that thinks instrumental solos should tell stories. This solo starts out well with a good lead-in phrase and answer, but when you get to the second half, I think something needs to happen. Too much stays the same—pacing, neck position, playing techniques and feel—and as a result the solo just sort of sits there and doesn’t come to a climax and resolve. For some reason in this round there were a number of unfulfilling solos, and I’m writing about it here, but it’s not just you. It’s just in this case, I feel like a really well crafted solo would’ve taken this song up an extra notch.

Nick Soma -
Nice arrangement. Sounds great, drums a bit muffled though. I mean the song is cute. The changes in sections are really nice. “I don’t know why I should” is a good bit.

see-man-ski -
Nice groove, atmospheric. I like this kind of slower old-school NIN feel, although obvs he would’ve had a lot more interesting percussion. The chorus is a little weak, everything up to the prechorus sounded really fun, and then the chorus kind of lost the energy there a bit.

Third Cat -
The call and response is pretty nice. And the chiptunes too with that guitar countermelody. Once the groove gets going, there’s some good stuff going on. The mix is kind of all over the place though, no? “Wasn’t me/I didn’t do it” is a good bit. I’m not sure this song is that memorable as I seem to forget it each time after listening to it, but every time it comes on, my first reaction is, oh I like this tune. But then I forget it again immediately afterwards.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by crumpart »

My mix was bothering me and I like my song enough that I wanted to fix it, so I actually went back in instead of just thinking about going back in like I normally do. Raised all the vocal levels a touch because I think I reactively went too far in the opposite direction this round, added some more de-essing in the robot bridge, got rid of the terrible crackle near the end that made it sound like Toshiro had an extreme lisp and adjusted the compression and limiting on the master. I think it's much better now.

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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by arby »

Yeah we thought about doing another shadow just to keep our hand in but what with the guest challenge and Mims feeling ill on Thursday thru Sunday we couldn't pull it off this week. Oh well. Might still try again with Carte Blanche just for fun and to get another song out of ye olde Nur Ein.
Generic wrote:
Mon May 25, 2020 5:15 am
If I may throw in another example of a song that illustrates the challenge... I never got sick of this Gotye/Kimbra song, no matter how much it got overplayed.
DUDE! I really liked that song whenever I heard it (in some Duane Reade or someplace) but because I haven't listened to the radio by choice since the year 2000, I never knew who it was by nor did I apparently remember to google the lyrics or think of any other way to find it (did Shazam even exist in 2011? if it did, I didn't have it on my phone, that's for sure). I am so happy to hear it again, what a great song! His voice on the chorus reminds me of a cross between Sting and Peter Gabriel. Dreamy. I am now listening to the whole album and so far it's nowhere near as good, though he does use Omnichord on at least two tracks!
glowworm wrote:
Sun May 31, 2020 8:04 pm
The night before the challenge was announced, I was talking to my friend Jae from my college acapella group (yes, you can make fun of me but we Clef Hangers kicked ASS) about wanting to collab with her.
Um, as a Smith Smithereens member, no shaming here - and we sang with the Clef Hangers quite a bit! Class of '96, Sop II. When we were hanging with you guys, Josh what's his face was doing a killer version of "Hooked on a Feeling"!!! (and sorry to hear about your heartbreak, that sucks.)
Generic wrote:
Tue Jun 02, 2020 5:27 am
When I think I'm done mixing, I'll crank it up high on my studio monitors and see if I still like it. Then I'll turn the studio monitors way down low and see if I still like it. Then I'll listen on my studio can headphones, at both a high volume and a low volume.

Then I'll upload the mp3 to Google drive and listen on my phone.

Then I'll connect my earbuds and listen through those at a normal volume, then again at a low volume.

Then I'll bring the phone into my car and listen on THOSE speakers and both high and low volume.

Generally by the end of that process, I've found something in need of correction. Not every step in this process is required, but some kind of experimentation on multiple audio sources usually helps root out issues.
This is helpful, thanks! I usually listen on my "monitors" (pretty small but I think halfway decent Bose computer speakers) but my mixes are always plenty loud in Garageband and then when I export them they randomly get SO QUIET! I have to blast the volume on the computer to even be able to hear what's going on. I then put the exported WAV on my iPod and listen thru earbuds. I never have time to listen in the car etc until after submission. I really do not know what I am doing vis-a-vis mixing and it shows, I always get dinged for bad mixes and it's cost us the round more than once. Hmmmmmm!!!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lucky Spoon »

oof. ya hate to go out last place in the round, but ya like to have your free time and weekends back.

Best of luck to the remaining contestants and thanks to the judges for putting in timely and thoughtful reviews. *cough* still missing new ugly podcast *cough*

One round further than last year and even making the round 0 cut a big accomplishment this year. Next year, of course, there will be about 23 entries who are all frantically bringing it hard because there might be 40+ again :D
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Cybronica »

Lucky Spoon wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 9:28 am
Best of luck to the remaining contestants and thanks to the judges for putting in timely and thoughtful reviews. *cough* still missing new ugly podcast *cough*
*cough* *cough* *cough* *cough* *cough*alsothejerks *cough* *cough* *cough* *cough*
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by thirdcatmusic »

echo most of Lucky Spoon's comments - and I was kind of dreading the Bond Theme thing anyway. I hadn't started anything because I figured there was a good shot I'd be cut (I was right!)

Much thanks to the judges for all of the time they put into this thing!

and good luck to everyone left :mrgreen:
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Adam! »

Liner notes! Come join the party, and stay to see me apparently give Grumpy Mike's song the kiss of death. Features a special guest!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lucky Spoon »

Adam! wrote:
Wed Jun 03, 2020 4:54 pm
Liner notes! Come join the party, and stay to see me apparently give Grumpy Mike's song the kiss of death. Features a special guest!
yaaaaaaaaaay! I love mike's collab part in there too!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by grumpymike »

I have to say, this round was all my dreams come true, and I wouldn't change a thing. I had an awesome time collaborating with Mr. Bombast.

Whew, and now I can just stand on the side lines and throw popcorn. What a relief! I suppose you are wondering, where is the podcast?

THE NEW UGLY IS BACK! It is here, friends. I'm sure it'll show up automatically soon, too, if you're subscribed. If you do not know, it is a podcast, about Nur Ein. It is named after Nur Ein IX Round 4 which was a prime example of Nur Ein being Nur Ein.

Caveats: I haven't podcasted in a year, nor talked to another human being since March. Beep beep boop how does I talk like human?

Special note to see-man-ski: I do think there is space in industrial music for laid-back vocals. We just get carried away sometimes.

Special note to Glow Worm: I know you are Alex Clare so don't deny it.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by thirdcatmusic »

love the new ugly podcast ! nice to hear it again.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by frankie big face »

BTW, now that this round is in rear(-view) window, I thought I would reveal that my guest singer (for those of you who don't know) is my lovely wife of nine months. I was really surprised she agreed to do this and I'm glad you all liked her voice. I think she's pretty awesome in general. :D
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by seemanski »

Loved the podcast, I sadly do not own a NIN t-shirt but I feel I should.
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lunkhead »

frankie big face wrote:
Sun Jun 07, 2020 1:55 pm
BTW, now that this round is in rear(-view) window, I thought I would reveal that my guest singer (for those of you who don't know) is my lovely wife of nine months. I was really surprised she agreed to do this and I'm glad you all liked her voice. I think she's pretty awesome in general. :D
Please tell her I thought she sounded great! A+!
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Re: Nur Ein XV Round Three "Rear Window"

Post by Lunkhead »

In response to the podcast, the BSS song actually started off with Ken making a version of the drum track. I went and wrote all the music parts on the guitar, to the drums. Ken wrote lyrics, Geech revised them a lot. Geech sings lead and his kids' piano teacher is the guest vocalist in the bridge. The guest vocalist also revised the bridge lyrics. I'm surprised that it was hard for folks to understand what the song was about. The last line of the chorus, "I've become the guy in 'Rear Window'", seems like it ought to sum it up pretty plainly? Maybe folks never heard of the movie and didn't even bother to look up it's plot ... ? Oh, Ben said he doesn't read the lyrics, so, I guess maybe if you don't read the lyrics and don't hear the words then you wouldn't know what the song is about, haha. Anyway. The guy is turning into a voyeur, unintentionally, and he feels guilty about it. He's watching a couple fighting. The bridge is the guy from the couple telling their story from his perspective, all is not what it seems, etc. etc.
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