Sunday, April 13, 2014

How'd you get that Tone, Man?

So, I'm still liking gear, and that probably won't change, but I'll try to fit that into various places- mostly in the other blog. This one fits here, though. I asked several guitarists the same question- can you spare any details about what you used on this specific song?  I found some real surprises, and a lot of interesting notes. Really, though, my point was just that these are some guitar tones that I really like. If you want to stretch it out a bit, I suppose you could say that this is a blueprint for my musical aesthetics. Less of a stretch is to just say that these are guitar sounds that I think you should hear, and then, you should see as many of these bands play live as you can. So, here's some answers:

I almost always play a red 90's "60's style" Fender Telecaster on our recordings. Original pickups have been replaced with some kind of Broadcaster reissue pu's. I'm using the bridge pu for the whole record. GHS Boomers .11s. Live I use a run of the mill OCD distortion pedal but for most of the songs on the record, including "We Should Do This Again", I am using a 70's MXR Distortion + that our recording engineer brought in. He collects them and they all sound a little different. For the slightly boosted over dub after the joke part I think I used a black Dunlop or Dallas Arbiter fuzz face full on and the guitar volume knob quarter cocked. I used a Sovtek Mig 50 that I own as the main amp on the entire record. The second amp on "WSDTA" is a Blonde Bassman going through some kind of Marshall 2x12.

That's Dari from Disasteratti.

So, to answer your question in regards to what was used for the guitar tone, it's a Epi Les Paul hollowbody model w/ the pickups replaced w/ Les Paul '59's pick ups. The amp is an older Fender Deville 50 watt combo w/ the trebles cranked, and the bass & mids at about 5. The amp also has it's own spring reverb, and I believe that was at a 4-- just enough to give it more of 'big room' sound of sound. On top of that, is a EHX Holy Grail Reverb set to it's "hall" setting at about a 4 & an MXR Carbon Copy with moderate mix & some quick kind of slapback. Just was going for something big, droney, and piercing. There was also a 2nd guitar player present (we were once a 5 piece band) in that song, which I believe used a Solando 100 watt head, and a rat fuzz pedal. The specifics of that rig/setup I'm not totally aware of, but it's on the rhythm side in the mix.

That's Grant from War Brides

The amps on SOCO were: soldano avenger, vox ac15, fender dual showman. I used a custom made zvex clone for the bit crushed riff. I used a bunch of odd mics on the cabs so it def helped color the sound. On the new record we used mainly Morgan amps and Orange OR50.The zvex clone was through the fender dual showman. We did us an ampeg svt 4pro with a big muff, rat and a zvex as well.

That's Kemble from Aeges

The introduction is playing his Fender Broadcaster. Using his Carbon Copy delay and distortion (MXR distortion +?). I'll have to let him clarify the pedals/settings. It was recorded using an Epiphone Valve Jr. into a 2x12 cabinet mic'ed with a Cascade Fathead ribbon mic and a Sennheiser E609. When I come in with the chunky chords, it's a mid-70s Tele through a MXR Classic OD and a Zvex Super Hard-on into a Hiwatt DR103 and Hiwatt 4x12 with original Fane speakers. Same mic set up.My Tele was running the bridge PU which was rewound to vintage specs my Lindy Fralin. Hiwatt was running at a much lower volume and gain that live. For the "solo" section, Jason and I doubletracked our parts louder with more gain/distortion (I think recorded with just the 609) and then panned the double track opposite of our main parts. His is a G&L, now known as the ASAT, it was originally labeled Broadcaster, reportedly to invite a lawsuit from Fender in order to ensure publicity. Only a few hundred were made.

That's Russell from Tyranny is Tyranny

I use the mxr distortion for the whole song, kicking on the carbon copy for the notey part. At the end I add a swollen pickle to fill it out. Hope that helps.

That's Jason from Tyranny is Tyranny

The guitar is a 1978(ish?) Gibson SG played through an early 90s Carvin x-100B tube head. I didn't use any pedals so 90% of the tone comes from there. The rest obviously came from the cabinet which (I think) was a my early 90s Fender 4x12. I've never really paid too much attention to what speakers it has, i just know that I like the sound. There's a slim chance that I used a Marshall 4x12 that was at the studio, but I kind of doubt it since I tend not to like the speaker break-up on most of those. The bass was probably Robert's short-scale danelectro longhorn bass (reissue) played through a Sunn(((o 200s head and the studio's cab (probably something akin to a badass, indestructible, mesa boogie PA cabinet). Robert uses a Tronographic "Rusty Box" pedal that -in my personal opinion- every bass player should own. The drums are Tony's vintage Ludwigs from 1959 (they belonged to his dad who died when Tony was a kid). I can't tell you much about head-tension or shell size, but I can tell you that Tony tunes them A LOT and is super particular about his snare sound (the muscle behind that tone is no accident). All of the instruments were tracked together in a single room to an analog tape machine after HOURS were spent on mic placement and pre-mixing. The hope was to get as much good room sound as possible and fill in with the close mics. I can't tell you how it was done, specifically. Suffice to say: Justin is a smart dude who spent a lot of time and effort to figure that stuff out. Vocals were added later, along with VERY sparing guitar overdubs (obviously we knew we were limited in what we could do overdub-wise since the room sound would be so prevalent).

That's John from Nonagon

My set up was Andy White's Marshall Super Lead Mark II with PPIMV mod running at 50 watts into an Avatar 4x12 with Celestion green backs. 

The guitar at the time was my Les Paul Copy, with a Seymour Duncan JB in the bridge as always. Other than a Digitech tuning pedal, I'm pretty sure I just went straight in, no other pedals. Andy White, again, if memory serves correctly was using his Nash strat style guitar, stock single coils, into a heavily modded old Traynor tube amp - all the amp work done by St. Louis legend, Obeid Khan of Reason Amps and now Magnatone fame among others - running into a slant Marshall 4x12 also with green backs. He may've been using a power soak of some sort at the time on that head, but again, pretty much just straight into the amp and onto "tape." All guitars mic'd with an SM57 and recorded by our drummer Ken McCray, mixed by engineer Ian Whalen and mastered by James Plotkin. No tape, all digital. 

That's Andrew Elstner from Tilts

I guess it depends on which guitar sound you are looking for the rhythm or the leads as they are two different tracks of guitars that are pretty distinctly different. For the Conan part (The rhythm for the most part... the Cheap Trick, Didjits bit/main riff) it's a Ibanez Jet King (two humbucker rip off of Fender and Gibson all at once) in middle position through a MusicMan HD-120 combo with the gain turned up unreasonably high.... most of that is just clean tone until it gets to the leady bits (the Wipers rip off) which go to the higher pitch pickup (neck?) and has a boost through a Ben Adrian Bunnydrive pedal also unreasonably cranked... I forget what he based that circuit on, but I want to say it was a Crowther Audio Hot Cake. Any which way you slice it... the important thing is, high pick up for those bits. Chorus leaves the distortion on and switches back to both humbuckers... and then for the outro there is an Electro Harmonix Small Clone chorus on as well and the melody is mostly played by simple hammer ons. I'd probably have to defer to Shane for his bit, which has all of the guitar heroics and solos and such.

That's Conan Neutron from Victory and Associates

On that song I used a Rat and a Boss Hyper Fuzz through a Sovtek Mig. Tony used a mid 90s Big Muff through a Hot Rod Deville. I played a Tele reissue with P-90s and Tony played his Rickenbacker Dakota, IIRC.

That's Michael from Like Like The The The Death

The guitar on the all the Black God stuff is a Fender Tele Deluxe Reissue with Seymour Duncan Stag Mag in the bridge, occasionally I use the neck pickup which is an SD P-Rail. The main amp is my JCM800 into Emperor cabs with Weber 65 watt British Series speakers, second amp is Twin Reverb with Weber Chicago Series speakers. I think "Ghost In You" has a tremolo on one guitar in first chorus and a wah on the second chorus. I think a third guitar comes on in the end with a Supersonic Fuzz Gun pedal on it.

That's Ryan from Black God

We're not that secretive of our sound. We used stock Yamaha and Ibanez guitars with 10-46 strings, nothing special. The sound that you hear on "Oreol" and all the others songs on the album came out of a guitar modeling software "Revolver". I don't remember the exact preset we used, but I think it was some sort of Mesa Boogie imitation. No mic to amp at all, our friend who recorded the album wasn't familiar/comfortable with the technique (!!!) and preferred to use the computer program instead. There you go, total demystification!

That's Boris from Tona



So Far With Coachella

Afghan Whigs. They absolutely destroyed. Both the Pixies and QOTSA delivered a great half-set. The Pixies started out a squalling noise, but the second half of the set, featuring the newer songs was exactly what I want from the Pixies. On the Other hand, sound problems did in QOTSA, so badly that I'd say- stick with it until the end of "In My Head", the come back for the ending version of "Song For the Dead" in which an extremely Pissed off Josh Homme turns the song into a heavy metal industrial stomp, as apocalyptic as the nightmare bird swarm graphic they played under- if that were the last song they ever played it wouldn't surprise- Great way to use the energy that was bringing their set into disaster territory ( they managed to make "Go with the flow" no fun at all.)  really it must be a tough stage, though, because lots of bands have been sucking, hard.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Just a reminder

Coachella streams this weekend. That means if you've got an internet connection and access to Youtube, this is a free festival you can watch in yer jammies. I have a real life event I gotta go to, so I'll be missing most of the live feed, but I'll catch up. I might even try the AXS TV thing.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Planning for Fun is Better than Accepting Boredom

Ok I have a few things, none of which is worthy of a complete post-
First, unless something magic happens, I've got my concert-going planned for the next six months. I was going to see Red Fang, but when I saw that Channels was playing the night before, I debated- I couldn't do both, for multiple reasons, but I went with Channels because Red Fang will be back- I suspect in the fall- but it's definite that they'll be back. Channels on the other hand? Well, I can think of about a dozen reasons  why they won't- and don't get me wrong, most of them are damn good reasons, I can't believe they're playing at all. So, Channels is show one. Show two is the Bloody Beetroots. Why them, again? Because they do the best EDM show going- and it's because rather than go for the lasers and projections of the typical dance show- which hasn't changed since the days of Raves in the late 1980's, he ( and yes, Bloody Beetroots is a "He", ultimately) went farther back- to glam rock - his shows are more like a punk rock Queen or a hardcore Elton John than say Deadmau5 or Skrillex. There's a lot of Artifice, but at the heart of it, it's about real players, playing music for an audience to entertain. The connection to punk rock through dance music is that it's not about elevating the band, or the Artist, but about elevating the crowd- a course correction, if you will, for Rock and Roll. So, on the other end of that, I'm seeing a Festival in September- it'll be the Shindig. I'll be there to see Clutch, Gogol Bordello, and Jane's Addiction. It won't be a loss to see Rise Against, Fishbone or the Mahones, but if I miss their sets, it won't be a loss, either.
Second, I don't write about visual Art much because I'm an admitted neophyte on that stuff, but thanks to the prescient Jonathan, I've got a piece from one of my favorite current Artists- John Dyer Baizley  - in specific, I have the Australian version of the "Swan" Tour poster.  What I like about Baizley's art is that it references decorative art from both archaic, and more current sources- while pushing Figurative Art into Abstraction, as opposed to surrealism- Surrealism is still trying to be "real", but in a psychological sense. What Baizley seems to be going for is making real things, in this case a swan into an abstract object, into a visualization. That's much more intriguing to me.
Third, and finally, for now- I'm looking forward to several things in the works- all of which adds up to creating something for myself that I should have done awhile back- you could call it a work station, but if it comes out like I want it to be, it'll be more the realization of a dream of mine- a little pod of my own reality- a little place that's my expression. Now, even if I fail ( and it's about 50/50) it's worth it to try because that's what life should be about, right?

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Get on This

Seriously. Tilts have a kickstarter. I think you should get on it. Why? Because it's Tilts, why else? The fact is, they bring the party rock in a way that has not been seen since David Lee Roth had hair, and you could forgive Dokken for being assholes.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Wrapping up

So, Walking Dead is ending their season tonight, and How I Met Your Mother is ending its run on Monday. You know that old saw about show biz - "Always leave 'em wanting more"? Yeah, neither one would adhere to that. Walking Dead made its point for the season. The group, atomized, is dealing with individual reckonings, and, when they get to the promised land of "Terminus" they will deal with a larger reckoning. I got it, already. Let me guess- Terminus is named such because it's a death factory of some description. Cannibals? Psycho killers? Doomsday cult? Probably all of the above. Walking Dead excels at the details, but the larger plot is cynical, and repetitive. I really think they should change the focus- more episodic, less serial. I think we've seen the journey for most of the characters, so why not see other people's journey. Yes, I'm aware that the comic book is essentially a story told by Rick. So what? They could veer off into new territory. Show us a zombie post apocalyptic story of human survival in Montana, in Winter. Show us how some red state conservative yahoo deals with being stranded in San Francisco after the apocalypse, and how former liberals learn to accept him, or better yet, her.  Give us how old dynamics shift in this new world- a tribe of cold, cruel Amazons made vicious by the new order's lack of opportunity to nurture. See what I mean- there are hundreds of stories there, all complying with mission statement- while we're stuck with Rick and Darryl and Glenn and Maggie.
Conversely, How I Met Your Mother ended two or three seasons ago. I think we're all over the gimmick, and it was a great show, and an even better springboard for the talents of Neil Patrick Harris, and Jason Segal, but the structure of the show is done, and has been done, for years now.I bet the ending is that the Mother is either dead, or divorcing, or otherwise the relationship ends. I bet that people are let down by the finale. Hearing that they're ending this iteration, only to do it all again, simply with new characters? Yeah, that's lousy, and shows just how exhausted the concept is.
So, doesn't anyone know how to wrap it up, anymore?

OFF! Wasted Years

Ok, let's start with the obvious- Off! is Keith Morris' version of Black Flag. From the name ( Black Flag- Bug poison, Off!- Bug Repellent) to the Dan Armstrong guitar tone, this is referencing Black Flag-but, it is not Black Flag- Greg Ginn is negated, here- his misanthropy, his King Crimson-esque atonalities, his Autistic narcissism, all of which is a big part of what Black Flag is- that's not just absent, it's nullified. As pissed off as the lyrics are, they're based around passion, and concern for everyone. This is the voice of a guy who sees his friends being abused, and is striking out on their behalf. So, no, it's not The Circle Jerks, and this isn't a party band, although the videos are hilarious ( and you have got to see them) but it's not the alienated/alienating sort of unfocused threat that Black Flag grew to be, either. Likewise, minus Ginn's excursions into noise sheets, and quarter step 32nd notes completely off the scale solos, The saturated Dan Armstrong sound reads as crude blocks of sound- at times swallowing the bass and part of the tom sound from the drums- but as generic as that might sound, it makes for absolutely zero bullshit power rock- which I think is a good operational definition for Hardcore.
Which is the point, I think. You could argue where Hardcore comes from. Bad Brains, Middle Class, even ,DOA get the credit, however, for my money, Hardcore begins with the Keith Morris version of Black Flag. So, it's only fitting that the last Hardcore band be Off!
That point made, What's the new record like? It's hardcore. Sarcastic, pissed off, frenzied, and ultimately, passionately alive. Yes, you need it, right now. No, I don't think it re-invents anything. No, it's not some breakthrough from the last one. It's H-A-R-D-C-O-R-E. Get it.

Disasteratti- Cerebral Hack Artist

What is it with the midwest and super tight mathy noise rock? I mean, it has ever been thus, and I don't foresee any changes- if you want angular post-hardcore rock music, played with precision, and chops, you go to the Great Lakes region of the US. So, Disasteratti have been a thing for awhile, but I stumbled across them, knowing next to nothing- little did I realize I was going to hear roots math rock, with the best Telecaster tone, like ever- metallic, biting, crunchy and twangy, rubbery and elastic- like the coiled metal of the thing, itself- wire wrapped around magnets, being activated by striking wires wrapped around wires, you hear? The music is based around ye olde 12 bar blues, but at a faster, more adrenalized tempo than what you're used to. The sonics owe a debt to Girls vs Boys and Shellac, and strangely enough, The Gun Club. If that doesn't sound like an awesome combo to you, maybe you should skip this entry. I love it. It's noise, sure- there's that treble-boosted vocal style, like everything is shouted through a megaphone- like mid-period Six Finger Satellite- and yes, that's hardly the most musical thing, but, in context of a telecaster playing bruised, and mutant blues licks over a mean post-hardcore beat? It fits. Other times, you've got a GVSB styled minimalism but with with pedal tones and blue notes galore, hence the Gun Club element- it's almost like they have a slide guitar player, but I'm hearing the fretting. It's like a resonator souped up to aluminum guitar powered by amplification meant for city-wide address systems- like the announcement of rootsrock judgement day delivered by air raid sirens. Yeah, that's it. Go get some.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Afghan Whigs- Do the Beast

God, I've missed the Whigs! Greg Dulli writes "confessional R & B" ( as if anyone else does)  in the persona of a man who really has something to confess- his songs convey all the wickedness that men hide, not the flaws that still makes us look good. That's the problem with all the Emo types- it's like that question on a job interview - what would you say are your flaws?- and, of course, you're supposed to go through the verbal ju-jitsu to make up some supposed problem that still makes you attractive to your prospective employer- Gee, Jim, I just work too hard!- or in the Emo-boys case- I guess I just loved my girl too much. Greg Dulli would answer that question with : Well, Jim, I've punched out 8 of my last 9 bosses, and the 9th got his desk burned down. You don't really want to know about my 10th boss. But, you can hear his songs in a multitude of ways. The Afghan Whigs bring down the most brutal funk, blues, and Soul music this side of the Pop Group. Yes, some members have gone, but this still sounds like the evil crew that recorded "Congregation" "Black Love" and "Gentlemen". The only band that comes close to this is Girls Vs Boys, and whereas they're a louder, more traditional alt-rock band, The Afghan Whigs are darker, and deeper. So, why would I miss this collection of demons? Because the devil has the best music. Because it makes me glad I'm not the guy who fits these songs. Because they're the musical equivalent of a hard boiled novel like Jim Thompson used to write. Because too many other would celebrate these guys that Dulli creates, and it's a good thing to know their flipside, left you find yourself rooting for the heel. Because Rocknroll can really be the Devil's music.
If you like the dark stuff, you cannot deny this.

Pixies- Indie Cindy

So, people are calling it the first "Pixies Album" since 1991. I suppose that's sorta true. It's not, in that live lps, and compilations followed 1991's Trompe Le Monde, and if they don't count, then, this doesn't because it's a compilation of their three recent EP's. It is true, in that it's new music by Black Francis, played by Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering, and what else do you call that? But, I still wouldn't put it in line with the new LP by My Bloody Valentine, you know?
With that question hanging over it- let me state, for the record, it's the best compilation of Pixies songs since Bossanova. It's not the equal to Doolittle nor Surfer Rosa, but it's certainly up there with Bossanova and the Purple Tape, and Come on Pilgrim. Which, of course, makes it an absolute essential listen.
However, I'm not blind- I know that every Pixies album has filler, and everyone disagrees as to what is filler, and what is not. So, the format here- three EPS, and then, a collector's edition LP is ideal- if you're just in it for "the good stuff"- you can pick up one or two of the EP's, and call it a day. If you're a slavish fan boy, you can get all the EP's, plus the LP, with the live CD and the book. For me, I have all three EP's, and I think I'm done. I've seen the band live, I don't need the live CD ( plus, this. Great set/interview) and I've never been as impressed with their visual work, as with their music. The music, though, is as good as I could request: What Goes Boom, Greens and Blues, Magdalena, Blue Eyed Hexe, Another Toe in the Ocean and Andro Queen are the highlights, and  only Indie Cindy and Bagboy are minor letdowns. The rest of the songs are good, but not amazing.
Would I like to hear Kim Deal singing on them? Sure. She didn't want to sing these songs. So, are we supposed to deny reality, in favor of our projections?  I think that's unfair and, frankly, stupid. The guys in the Pixies have grown up, have moved on, and are not the same people as they were in 1990. I am not the guy I was in 1990. Expecting 1990 is just plain stupid in 2014. So, in 2014, these songs just destroy any competition in the independent Pop/rock category. I have some other records to talk about- so, yes, there are other great releases, this year- but they aren't in this category ( just so's you know- I've been listening to the new Afghan Whigs , Disasteratti and Off! records- can you see how they're not in the same category?) . As George Michael might put it- listen without prejudice, and you will be rewarded.