A Town Called Malice (Mad City Reviews)

Discuss upcoming, current, and previous song fights.
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erik
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A Town Called Malice (Mad City Reviews)

Post by erik »

Let's jam.
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Post by HeuristicsInc »

Mad City is my favorite coffeeshop around here.
I thought about writing a song about it, but I had no time. Alas!
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Post by Egg »

Mad City made me think of a coffee house too. That and poorly synthesized sounds slightly resembling accordions.

What a strange world we live in.
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Post by The White Hat »

Uh..... Dibs!


Boltoph - Well produced, to say the least. I like your guitar tone. Tight harmony. Possible votoph.

David 'Over - Good song, your guitar's making quacking noises, though.

Hooker & the Drama of Sea Art - Mean those notes, man. Play quiet or play soft, but don't half play. Also, consider getting a heavier pick. It takes a bit of getting used to, but you end up with much better tone. I can hear you start to mean it a little more towards the end of the song.

J$ - The intro reminds me of the cave in EarthBound for SNES that is a good thing. The distorted vocals sound a bit too raspy for me- I'd bring the gain/tone down a little.

Nutwalls - Drags a bit w/ a few pitch problems, but fairly enjoyable for what it is.

Phunt; Don't Tell - LEF? I like the flatware percussion, though.

Ross Durand - Toes were tapped.

Ryan Hardigan - I totally killed that one boss with the lasers. I mean, I killed the boss that had the lasers. I used a plasma cannon to kill him. I think it was stage 9, the one when someone sets you up the bomb.

SFO - Man, I was just getting into this. Then it ends. THANKS, SFO.

Steve Durand - Tonight! On urban buddy cop show! Will Max and Teek make it through another adventure and solve the murder? Only one way to find out, and that's by watching. Hint: Don't trust every mariachi!

Stolar Skye - Good tone during the intro. Not extremely wild about the disto during the chorus.

Me - Anunciate. Make two different tracks for vocals and guitar. Take two chill pills and call me in the morning.

EDIT: Oh, yeah, vote I think goes to Boltoph.
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Post by nuero »

The White Hat wrote: Ryan Hardigan - I totally killed that one boss with the lasers. I mean, I killed the boss that had the lasers. I used a plasma cannon to kill him. I think it was stage 9, the one when someone sets you up the bomb.
Great review! My review of your review is to next time, review something (also make fewer terribly old unfunny jokes)
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Post by The White Hat »


PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 8:33 pm Post subject:
The White Hat wrote:

Ryan Hardigan - I totally killed that one boss with the lasers. I mean, I killed the boss that had the lasers. I used a plasma cannon to kill him. I think it was stage 9, the one when someone sets you up the bomb.


Great review! My review of your review is to next time, review something (also make fewer terribly old unfunny jokes)
In my experience, the older and more terrible the joke, the better it is.

What's more, that was a review of the song. If it bugs you that much, a more overt review of the song would be that it sounds like late 80s/early 90s video game music, a side or top-scroller to be specific. That said, I like it. It also doesn't have words, and it's generally held the songfights should have words. I was lambasted for this with my back from brazil entry. It sounded brazillian, but it didn't have words.
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Modified Mix

Post by Ross »

Ok. So I realized after uploading Sunday night (and without time to change it then) that my song was lacking hand claps - it's a small change in the third verse, but I think it helps give the ending that extra energy burst.

You can hear the updated file here if you wish:

http://www.rossdurand.com/mad_city_c.mp3
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MAd City Reviews

Post by Ross »

Boltoph – Nice melody and changes. You always sound so good – what home recording book do I buy (have you written one?). The harmonies come in and out great. I like the bridge, good structural choice. I’ll call this “THEME 1”: I’m a bum/poor. Solid song, as always. I sigh when I see you chose the same title as me.

David ‘over I like the texture. Nice change around 1:40, both harmonically and with the string patch. I’m having a hard time making out some of the words, which is making it hard for me to give solid review. “down and out”? Second THEME 1 song.

Hooker et.al. I think the circular nature of your changes and tune serve the solo acoustic idiom well. THEME 2: Love in the city. I like the way you unfold this and there’s a focus to it that held my attention. I encourage you to ignore any anti-GnG bias you get for this tune. The music suits the words well.

J$ – Great intro. Crap, I’m at my 1985 prom again!!! THEME 3: destroyed city. I like this, I think the early industrial sound fits the theme really well and I like this particular theme (nothing against the others). I like the ambiguity. Is this a defunct mining town? A post-apocalyptic deal? A statement on the destructive force of global industrialization in general? Cool sort of sci-fi thing with idiom appropriate production. This is shaping up into a nice fight.

Nutwalls – This intro sounds like a demo of “Good” by Better than Ezra – I mean it’s RIGHT ON. Is this George Harrison style unintentional plagiarism? I fear we shall never know. On to the song proper… THEME 4: Another day for you and me in paradise (Theme 1 from opposing viewpoint?). I like the idea, but it is somehow coming off as a little trite to me. Pretty good tune, but this isn’t quite hitting for me.

Phunt:DT – I was writing this off a little, but the rhythm of the tea saucer or whatever is totally sucking me in. Darn!!!…It didn’t develop enough for me. THEME 5: huh?

Ross Durand (me) – no comment for now – but I like the way it turned out.

Ryan Hardigan – And this isn’t “Tanker Truck” because??? I have a hard time with the idea of much of this techno stuff being title specific. I believe that you were inspired by the title, but…THEME 6: Frantic

SFO Nice job. Short but to the point.

Steve Durand – Would I watch this show? I think I did when I was a kid – it was ChiPs and I loved the theme song. Great job with the idiom. Nice playing. Sounds a little like a marching band tune to me, too. I wonder what will be on the “Season Finale.” Just kidding. THEME 7: TV theme song.

Stolar Skye – This is ok, but it seems a little light (lite) on lyrical content. Lots of music (good music), not that many thoughts. A combo of themes 3 and 6 Polluted and hectic.

White Hat – I like this a lot – very well pulled off. Variation of theme 3 & 4 combined – city as downfall of society. Great Harp playing, good take. Good word work, interesting layered ending. Very strong, definitely a contender.

Well – I started the theme thing because I thought there would be lots of overlapping takes on this title, but it turns out there’s not. Pretty cool. Good fight. I hope I was fair and constructive.

First Tier (excluding me, but hey! I like my songJ): Boltoph, Hooker et.al., J$, White Hat
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Re: MAd City Reviews

Post by Nut #2 »

rdurand wrote: Nutwalls – This intro sounds like a demo of “Good” by Better than Ezra – I mean it’s RIGHT ON. Is this George Harrison style unintentional plagiarism? I fear we shall never know.
Well, I think the answer is apparent by the fact that I had to download "Good" from iTunes to see what intro part you meant, since I've never listened to Better than Ezra, and By George, it is right on! Definitely unintentional, although I have found that it is a pretty common chord progression. Thanks for the review!

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Re: MAd City Reviews

Post by j$ »

rdurand wrote: THEME 3: destroyed city. I like the ambiguity. Is this a defunct mining town? A post-apocalyptic deal?
It's actually about a man who doesn't realise he is in a coma - the city is his mind, falling to pieces through entropy ... I posted the lyric in the thread for ya .... glad you liked it!

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Re: MAd City Reviews

Post by Ross »

Nut #2 wrote:I have found that it is a pretty common chord progression.
I agree, but it was more than the progression, as you heard. No accusation intended, just more like a "Wow!"
J$ wrote:It's actually about a man who doesn't realise he is in a coma - the city is his mind, falling to pieces through entropy ... I posted the lyric in the thread for ya .... glad you liked it!
Yeah, duh. "Mad City." great take. I'm sorry I didn't hear the ending spoken stuff more clearly. New THEME 3 - the internal city of madness? Thanks for posting the words, I like it even more now. Great lyric!!!
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Post by Egg »

The White Hat wrote:Phunt; Don't Tell - LEF?
Nope. For one, I don't plan on writing any songs trying to ridicule our Sober Irishman. Additionally, I'll probably never rap a lyric about the size of my dick. But they do have some interesting songs with similar elements so I can see where that came from.
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Re: MAd City Reviews

Post by boltoph »

rdurand wrote:what home recording book do I buy (have you written one?).
I wish! I've just been playing around with 4 tracks since I was in high school in the mid 90s. Then I got a digital Akai in 2001 and now have a Mac with a couple different multitrack options. One thing I can say is that everything goes through a carefully-set tube preamp, and I mean everything. All connections are balanced. I put insert compression on everything even if it's only -.5db of overeasy compression (but really use barely any at all on acoustic guitars and distorted electrics). I love outboard gear. I did have a couple books though that really helped me out. My main thing is to compare my song to other songs and listen carefully, then just try everything and anything to get sounds. I sit around for way too long playing with completed tracks. I'll get back to you later when I'm home, with the titles of those books that I really liked. One of them was really great, even had interviews with the engineers for Red Hot Chili Peppers saying exactly what mics and eq settings he used to get which tones and why, for Blood Sugar Sex Magic. The bass drum and snare drum on that album were mic'd w/ SM57's, two AKG overheads, and that's it. More to come...oh and ideally, the main goal is to get the sound you want while recording it, and not to eq stuff or process it too much...I play around with mic placement alot to get rid of too much low frequency tones. Backing mics away and off centering them tends to accomplish quite a bit, I think. Lately I've been using an Octava MK-219 condenser mic for everything (lately, but I have more mics they're just at a rehearsal studio right now)
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Post by Stolar Skye »

The song is about being stuck somewhere you really don't want to be. All the imagery is meant to represent feelings more than thoughts, and relate to social situations more than an actual city. My intention with the lyrics was more to create a mood and atmosphere rather than express a certain idea or tell a story.

I'm not one to vote on a ballot on which I appear, but in my mind, the fight goes to Boltoph pretty much hands down.
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Post by boltoph »

David 'Over
Really like the way it starts. Mad mexican city. The talk of bullets adds to that vibe so much. If there were gunshots in there and a build up toward the end that would really top it off as a killer song, I think. I'd prefer it to get back into the verse quicker, there's almost a little break there, I kind of get lost for the last 3/4 of the song. I'd like to hear you skip that whole bridge part around 1:46 and just use the verse part but maybe change it a little and build it up with more instrument tracks and with a slightly different vocal.

Hookers and Drama of Sea Art
I like the melody in the vocal, think it drags though in between every two phrases, when it could jump right back into the words. Also on lines like "and if all this is real" you could move higher or change the melody a bit. Skip all of the lone acoustic in-between parts, I'd say. Unless you're going to fill them up with vocals or instruments. Just think of Dylan. Makes me feel like maybe in a northwestern city looking out over a sunset and it's cold.

Johnny Cashpoint
I love your melody of the title line even though it's just two notes it flows perfectly over the music. It's really ethereal there. Lines like " Back to front and inside out" and "I've been here a hundred thousand empty years" are intense. I'm glad they were posted, I might gripe that it's tough to hear the words, but I do like the vocal tone. Maybe the ambient intro. could be shortened a little, for a one song sorta thing but if it were on an album I wouldn't want it shortened. To me this is a sort of tale of two cities! Well, one city, like the eerie empty subway and then the street above, bouncing with life.

Nutwalls
There's a catchy beginning going on, and groove with the music. The vocals in the chorus could use more action, instead of just the two title words. Might at least consider just holding out the note anyway instead of dropping it during the chorus and definitely need a moving harmony. You know two backups that move differently than the lead. I can really hear that happening. But think there should be more words about the city. I think that the delay on the guitar solo doesn't fit the rest of the vibe. Almost just put an acoustic solo there instead of electric if you could. Or a clean electric with tremolo or something. I could see this being like St. Louis or something. Perhaps on the outskirts.

Phunt; don't tell.
Ornery! Tunics! I was expecting crickets. I start to pick up on the title with the line, "a strange, intimidating place". This could be the foundation for some sweet sweet music to kick in, like a fat bass instead of that accordian, and alot earlier. Or more development in the accordian melody. Tough to say but this may be like some Transylvania or something.

Ross Durand
The lyrics and slapstick humor are really entertaining. I think the structure, the ending is good but how about instead of the repeat of "he's not worried", adding some other lines too. What else might he do in the city, this semi suburban town maybe. Different lines could inspire more melody ideas building off of the original melody. I'd save the tambourine for later too, to keep the sound changing. Also, the way this vocal is swift talking almost, probably wouldn't even double anything to start with, except for that line with "unsettled". Then from there on, do a double instead of a harmony for the chorus, bring the harmony in for "black and white...situation". From there on out you could switch between doubling and harmony. Add a third harmony on the outro line too. All just ideas. It seems like you might need to use compression, or if not then just work on producing very even tones with your instruments and voice. I'd prefer some compression because it allows for more vocal expression. That book I was talking about is a remedial book that I got but it's great because it tells you how to set compressors for different instruments. And the sections by the professionals are good. Um..It's a Hal Leonard book: Mine was the one called Making the Ultimate Demo I like it, I don't care what people think. :P

Ryan Hardigan
This is definitely like the music they play in the old nintendo game rad racer, when it turns to night and the car's in the city. I like the melody though, it really feels like it's moving fast. Could picture a video with city scenes, all sped up. Well now, this would be great in chase scene through Germany, on the Autobahn. Can't really comment much except there could be more dynamics and slight changes in the instrumentation. What would a songfight be without a no-vocal electronica piece?

SFO
I like the vocal movement and development moving toward, and including, "be so angry". and great backups to keep it moving...and classy way to end it quick. New Orleans, perhaps? At least my ignorant impression of it, never been there.

Ross Durand
Really entertaining too. You Durands! Could use vocal catch, etc. I like the 1970's police city chase scene theme. Reminds me of the C.H.I.P.S. theme song. You have to enter that sidefight to write a commercial catch. I can totally hear infomercial-style talk over this. It's creative and even though it's lacking the real vocal line, man it's really creative and still suggests the title of 70's NYC, Detroit, or LA crime drama.

Stolar Skye
I like how the bass line seems to be glued to the rest of the instruments in a way and it's just pumping that E. It's got a real commercial sound during the chorus and I want to compare it to something I've heard on the radio recently. I almost want it to be half time during the verses and have more effects on the guitar during the verse. That would give the chorus a shitload more kick, and the effects could come off the the guitars for the chorus. Drags a little at 2:50 during the solo, maybe more chord changes is what I wanna hear? Then just end it with a kicking chorus. I actually really like your lyrics. They remind of the way I feel pretty much every day. When I go to NYC and see that smog that just lies over all of it, makes me feel like it's the belly of some beast devouring it's people. Your city is a maze. The one with the minotaur in it. The underground of Crete!

White Hat
Are you gonna post lyrics? Because they're great. So many though...ah-ha, this is your way to get me to listen to this 5 more times! Nice. I really dig the vibe, the one harmonica line (and the fact that it drops out where it does). Thin line between deaf and dumb is great. I have to be honest I don't really like the counter vocal at the end. I thought the best part was from 1:09 to 1:26, "not liking it" part. Trying to fit maybe one or two too many syllables in there though? Might be able to skip "incandescent". that bastard is taking up four syllables! Yeah man I can relate to this because I don't get to see the stars that often where I live, but i grew up in the country and even used to work on a farm. You're the town of Lincoln, MA where I used to drive tractors through hay fields all day and where you can be 25 mins away from the city yet feel like you're 2500.

My top three (or four) will have to be J$, White Hat, and both Durands, especially if you can get Matthan Minster to be the lead singer and wail out vocals, scream like Shannon Hoon, for a new band that I can play lead guitar in.
Last edited by boltoph on Wed May 18, 2005 7:29 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by vrover »

Nutwalls: I'm so sad.. this entry seemed so promising, but the parts of the singing where the singer goes out of his voice range really ruin the entire thing. The guitar and the beat are amazing, but when you get to the chorus and he's almost squeaking out "Mad City", it really disappoints. Three suggestions: Get a girl or high-voiced guy to sing, lower the pitch of the chorus (it might work) or yell it out. People don't notice as much when you're yelling or at least being slightly louder than that. When you're trying to stay quiet AND go high at the same time, you end up creaking.

Steve Durand: I loved this - I'm a big fan of ska, and while I'm not sure I'd classify this as such I really enjoyed it. The clip at the beginning really worked. Where's it from? The entire thing reminded me vaguely of the Hawaii Five Oh theme.

Johnny Cashpoint: The entire sound of the entry seemed solid, although it got a bit repetitive. If the singing was made a little clearer, it would bring some good variation in. Great guitar.
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Post by HeuristicsInc »

Stolar Skye wrote: I'm not one to vote on a ballot on which I appear, but in my mind, the fight goes to Boltoph pretty much hands down.
I'd say you should vote for him anyway then, vote for which you think is best. Don't worry too much about whether you win or lose... :)
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Post by nyjm »

boltoph
- this really grooves
- impeccable production
- kind of a weird way to end
- good, but doesn't jump out for me

david 'over
- i like the guitar; very "hotel of the rising sun"
- more percussion: i think there's a tambourine or something lurking back there
- an interesting mood piece, but could be made into a more interesting, more complete song

hooker and the drama of sea art
- i like the laid-back feel; it's very honest
- the lyrics are great
- but i keep waiting for this song to break out, which it never does
- might be one of those hidden tracks on a CD; kudos for keeping my interest despite the simplicity of the arrangement

johnny cashpoint
- great beat; i'm grooving from the get-go
- the verse vox could come up in the mix some more
- interesting break there around 2:15

the nutwalls
- i feel like i've heard this song before; at least this chord progression, vamp and the vocal melody
- yawn: there's nothing gripping about this song; the vocals are just telephoned in and the chorus is particularly awful
- a nice guitar solo, there

phunt; don't tell
- what is the rhythmic thing?
- nope, didn't work this week; thank you, come again with something more than just a cut-and-paste sound collage

ross durand
- hahahahahaha! it took me a while to get these lyrics, but man, i LOVE mad magazine and this is a very original take on the title
- good songwriting, but it all seems little too slavish to the lyrics

ryan hardigan
- still sounds like theme music for an old video game
- the manic feel about it might evoke the bustle of a city, but that's still a stretch and still cliche

sfo
- i love how tongue-in-cheek sfo songs can be; it's going to be great to hear this thing in its entirety

steve durand
- steve never goes anywhere without his trumpet these days; it's definitely become part of your signature sound
- sounds like the theme song for a 70's cop show (and apparently, i'm not the only one who thought of CHiPs)
- nice, but the lyrics seem like a tacked-on thing to justify this instrumental in this fight

stolar skye
- like boltoph and j$, i'm grooving right away; good stuff
- bring up the distorted guitars on the chorus a little more; the chorus should hammer in more
- the change from the the chorus back to the verse is really good, though
- sounds a little like tool or candlebox, espeially the vox and this is a good thing

the white hat
- the rapid-fire lyrics are interesting, but you slur them, which kind of ruins the effects; they need to be really, super staccato
- a really good arrangement, but could use a little something more earlier in the mix: a little mandolin or banjo or some strings, maybe
- the change-up at 1:45 is great!
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Post by j$ »

I have a headache so apologies in advance for any grumpiness ...

Boltoph - Nice tune. The words seem a bit clipped - not in recording, just the way you're delivering. Yeah, contender. although the bass is a little slurpy for my tastes.

David 'Over - all your songs sound like brilliant intros to great songs that never actually start. i don't like the Waits/Cave-isms of the vocal delivery. It sounds uncomfortable. Shaker at the end is cool though.

Hooker & - I heard this on somesongs and I have the same feeling to it second time round - which is - it is great for about 2 minutes but there is absolutely no way there is enough here to justify nearly 5. Also I get the (possibly unfair) imrpession that all your songs are these slow bluesy acoustic work-outs showing off your sensitive side.

Nutwalls - Oh that melody / chord progression is ever so familiar - and the chorus is one falsetto too far. A little too slow but not a bad tune. With a litle bit more practice it could be a really tight little festival number for when the sun goes down.

Phunt Don't Tell - More of the same. Wooden spoon for you.

Ross Durand - Yes, that's pretty Weezer - but I like it! Guitar should be louder - dirtier. Other than contender.

Ryan Hardigan - Are you following me around? Three fights in a row, man, and every comment from me the same - not bad chunky techno, I suppose, but no words = goodbye

SFO - oh this project is turning into 'who can do the best impression of JoS' - not bad at all, but a wasted opportunity

Steve Durand - good opening - then it becomes the Hawaii 5-0 theme tune. Oh no, actually, it's practically a note-for-note rendition of The Prisoner. And then it becomes The Pretenders theme Tune. Not bad for musical photocopying :) Actually that's a bit harsh, I quite like it.

SolarSkye - j$ sharpens his goth-stabbing knife. No, actually i quite like this, the insistent bass, though tad too loud, is quite appealing, but I was waiting for the 'rock-out' and there it is. This is SOOOOO earnest and therfore I can't help but smirk. Not bad for the genre i guess.

White Hat - in an odd way, this reminds me of an Oasis b-side - not vocally of course. Have to say, if you're going to do the fast words bit, make sure you don't stumble over them? I like the double vocal pan thing at the end though - I was listening to Gang of Four's 'Love Like Anthrax' earlier on today and have decided more people should do left and right pan different voices....

Me is Me ...

i can't really see past Boltoph, although it's not my personal cup of tea
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Post by DramaofSeaArt »

many thanks for the feedback from people. this was essentially the first time we had ever tried to record anything in a true sense of that word. we really are just getting acclimated to the software and such so the production issues were considered a necessary evil at this stage of the game. the tips are appreciated though, and hopefully once we get the finer nuances of mixing down, we'll be able to produce a more refined sound.

we know the minimalist guitar/vocal sound implies an unhealthy level of pretentious acoustic sensitivity, but we definitely had a "alone in your apartment" feel we were trying to achieve. the song definitely needs a faster delivery, or at least a more concise one, but this really was an experiment in recording as much as anything else, so it was presented with warts and all.

thanks again for the thoughts.
Stolar Skye
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Post by Stolar Skye »

j$ wrote: SolarSkye - j$ sharpens his goth-stabbing knife. No, actually i quite like this, the insistent bass, though tad too loud, is quite appealing, but I was waiting for the 'rock-out' and there it is. This is SOOOOO earnest and therfore I can't help but smirk. Not bad for the genre i guess.
Thanks, though I'm on the verge of taking serious offense at being called a goth.

Also, you'd be surprised how much of the deepness in that song is coming from the guitar. The bass actually ended up being barely audible during the verse and most of the chorus, which is why everyone seems to think that it's just continuously doing one thing. It's actually doing quite a bit more than the guitar, elaborating through the root chord and then adding a quartal chord harmony when it moves around. If you listen hard, you can hear the slides on the higher register. But I liked the way the mix sounded overall so I decided not to bring it out more, and I thought doubling it might end up increasing the clipping too much (you said it's too loud as it is).
boltoph
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Post by boltoph »

j$ wrote:I have a headache so apologies in advance for any grumpiness ...

Boltoph - Nice tune. The words seem a bit clipped - not in recording, just the way you're delivering. Yeah, contender. although the bass is a little slurpy for my tastes.
No apology necessary. I know you're not into my style and I appreciate your honesty.
I think the "word clip" may also be due to my compressor having a bit too fast of an attack time for the quickness of some of the deliveries? I think. yes, the bass is slurpy, but...but...i was...so proud of the thickness.... :( It..just felt so ....warm... :) One of these days after I listen to your archive some more, I'm gonna write a song for you.
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