Category Archives: CDs

How To Make Music (or why ProTools sucks!)

I’m in a ranty mood today. I’ve already picked on a few things today across the social mediasphere but for the blog, I’m picking on music. Or more accurately ProTools.

So Dave Grohl had a rant at the grammy’s (yes lower case g) about fake music, music made with computers, anything where the artist has to fix fuck ups and can make millions. Well dagnabbit he’s right and I have proof.

The background for this post is that we watched Pearl Jam’s PJ-20 documentary last year (and several times since) and we’ve just time travelled back to the early 90s. It’s much nicer here. I can wear plaid in a non-ironic sense. I’ve bought most of the PJ back catalogue as I only had Ten but I was also inspired to listen to Soundgarden again. I have a couple of SG albums but I didn’t have Badmotorfinger. So I bought it. Holy fucking Christ it’s good!

Don’t believe me? Go to YouTube and listen to Rusty Cage. Or how about Slaves and Bulldozers?! But most importantly, listen to Jesus Christ Pose.

But this isn’t just about how cracking Soundgarden are. No, it’s about how talent is better than computers and corner cutting. So check this out. Listen to this vocal only track of Jesus Christ Pose.

Starts at 1:27. Really impressive at 4:39.

Ok, so the fucker can sing, but what’s so special about it?! It’s not just the main vocal line, but the bits in between the lines. The bits where he inhales. The bits where he licks his lips. The silence that isn’t silence, it’s room reverb. Hell, it’s the fucking mustard!

Wait?! What?! Mustard?! What the fuck are you talking about?!

Yeah, mustard!

The missus makes this really great dish. Honey and Lemon Chicken with Cous Cous. If you follow the ingredients, it’s add some honey to some lemon juice with a bit of water, stir in some mustard, fry chicken in it, apply to cous cous. Or, if you like, get drummer, bassist, guitarist, singer, record in studio, burn to CD. How many unsigned bands do this every year? And how many of them actually go somewhere? It’s like 1%. (not accurate).

So what makes one band’s CD better than another? The recording process. I was in a band. We were tight as fuck. We were also broke and not very committed. Our singer could fucking wail! But we never went into a proper studio to record anything with a properly trained producer. It really helps to have someone who knows exactly where the mic should go. Someone who knows exactly how many guitar tracks there should be. The studio makes a difference. Each one has its own sound. Its own personality. And that can make or break a record too.

So, in an ideal world, we’ve got a band with talent and a bit of savings and a good studio and we’ve recorded an album and we’ve made bazillions and toured the world and we haven’t let anyone down with our live show because it sounds like the record.

But what if you take one of those average bands who recorded in a crap studio?! What if you took that little studio and gave it ProTools and an engineer who followed some online tutorials?! Right, studio got no personality? Add plugin, instant personality. Drummer out of time? Meh, MIDI the drum track, drag and drop beats. Done. Next! Singer can’t hold the note on the second chorus? Ok, copy and paste first chorus.

Woah woah woah! Hold up! You can’t do that!! That’s cheating. He wouldn’t do that live, why do it in the studio?!

But what you ultimately get is this fucking piece of turd spinning in your CD player that is note perfect, beat perfect, perfect, perfect, prefect. Make billions off marketing hype and pre-sales. Tour world. Contract cancelled because nobody wants your second album! As it turns out, the band aren’t in time and the singer can’t sing and it sounds fucking horrible. I’m looking at you Alter Bridge! Fuck that gig was terrible!

Which brings us back to Cornell and 4:39. He’s screaming his ass off and it’s not quite holding and it’s just about to crack. But it doesn’t matter. You leave it in. Just like you leave in the lip licking and the inhales. You can’t hear them but they’re there! And the song is better for it. Because that’s the mustard! If you take the mustard out of the missus’ dish, it’s just honey and lemon chicken. It’s ok, but it’s a bit bland. When you leave it in, it’s something else. It’s personality. It’s an error. It’s not perfection. But it is. You go see them live and it’s pretty close to the record and it feels good.

So there you go. ProTools is the anti-mustard brigade of the music industry. And on that note, I leave you with the final output of a bunch of guys in a studio playing their hearts out:

Stuff I Like Sunday (20)

Ok, a little delayed on the Fings Friday this week. It’s been a super busy few days. I need to be a lot more disciplined with this blogging lark!

1) The Playstation. This week the Playstation turned 15!! I remember being a big fan of alternate systems like the N64 and the Dreamcast and then one day I was introduced to the Playstation 1. This amazing console that you could cheat on and pirate games with. This amazing console that had Gran Turismo on it. This amazing console that in all its incarnations has been a solid feature of my life ever since that day. Happy Birthday little buddy!

2) Big Brother. Well, it’s finally ended. I’ve watched most of/bits of every single year. It has dominated my entire twenties. How sad is that?! I’d go through phases over the summer where I’d actually think cameras were in my kitchen watching me cook. Yeah, that’s not good is it?!

3) Weezer. Oh man I love Weezer! Thanks to Spotify, they have been my most played band of the last few weeks. I should probably do a Music Monday on them.

4) Wardrobe clear outs. I’m a hoarder and I go through weird phases. I’m not into fashion, at all. I see a T-shirt style I like and I buy it in four colours and wear them to death. Then I do it again and again. Same with trousers. My wardrobe was getting full so I decided it’s time to get rid of all the faded stuff. Which is most of it! Now I have lots of space to go buy more similar T-shirts.

5) Lists. Yeah, in case you haven’t guessed, I’m one of those people. I love lists. I love making them, half finishing them, creating new ones etc etc. I love paper lists. For some reason, there is no good computer based list making software. They are all too rigid and completely inflexible. It’s like someone decided to make list making software but this person did not list the requirements. This person is clearly not a list maker. It would be like me, a man, designing tampons.

Fings I Like Friday (10)

Well, I managed one extra post this week!

1. BBQ’s. I love the hot weather and sitting out in the garden eating perfectly grilled meat! This week we had steak burgers and sausages! Also, it’s really awesome finally having a proper garden that I can mow and water the plants and build a washing line and hang out in on my lunch!

2. Summer rain. I love how you can tell it’s coming and then the fantastic smell when it finally arrives and how it cools the air. Lovely!

3. Summer Hoyland. I am a dirty perv! I’m also hopelessly addicted to Aussie soaps and if you click the link, you’ll see why!

4. Moby. We had a declutter at the weekend and I found a special edition CD of a Moby gig from a few years ago. It’s really good. Haven’t listened to him in ages.

5. Yes, you guessed it, the missus! She’s been really ill this week and had to take some time off. I really enjoyed having her around. Looking forward to the future when she’s around more often.

I watched a change in you…

…it’s like you never had wings, now you feel so alive.

So, Music Mondays. I was discussing with the missus earlier today about getting rid of some of the stuff we’ve both hoarded over the years. We talked about getting rid of DVD’s, we have hundreds, and we’re happy to get rid of those. Then we moved onto CD’s and for both of us, despite having a combined total of about a thousand, it was definite no-no.

Why?

Well, we’re a bit obsessive with music. As a couple, music is our thing. It brought us together and connected us. Our mutual tastes, future recommendations and general passion made us realise that we were “mfeo” and for each, set the other apart from the crowd. That doesn’t make a lot of sense but go with it!

For me, each of my CDs has a story. Or certainly, a bunch of CDs such as an artist back catalog has a story. So I decided that rather than just do a boring review of a new CD, I’d tell one of these stories as well.

This week I saw that Spotify is rocking the new Deftones album. I really like the Deftones. I have all their CDs but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a loyal fan or anything. For me, the Deftones have a deeper meaning.

A few years back (quite a few, shhhh!) I met an internet friend in Liverpool. I’d never been. She took me round the sights and then to a music shop. I picked up HIM – Deep Shadows (a story for another day) and while I was looking around, my friend, the massive Deftones fan, suggested I buy Around The Fur. I’d heard of the Deftones before from some singles on MTV but never bothered buying anything. I’m generally not a music snob and if someone suggests I listen to a record I usually will so I bought the album.

The rest of the weekend was awesome. I remember being incredibly shy (it was my first internet meetup I think) and we sat in Walkabouts for a bit not really saying a lot but again, music provided the connection and once we got on to that, it was alright. We went to this massive metal nightclub called the Krazy House and stayed out all night and I had the best time I’ve ever had in a club. I danced with all her friends and got completely wrecked. It was a blast! Something changed in me that night for sure.

I got home late the following day and listened to my new records. I think my reaction to both was something along the lines of WOW!!

The following weekend I went out and bought Adrenaline and then White Pony a few weeks after that. The latter is just an absolute mindblower. It’s one of the most emotional metal records you will ever listen to. It’s up, it’s down, it’s heavy, soft, loud, louder! Without doubt my favourite is Change In The House of Flies.

Since those I’ve kept up and bought the other two albums, Self Titled and Saturday Night Wrist. They’re good but they might as well be the same album. And now this weekend I’ve got Diamond Eyes which I absolutely must order (£9 on Amazon!). It’s fantastic. They got rid of all the Pro Tools fancy stuff and it sounds like all the rawness of Adrenaline with the soul of White Pony. With every new record listen I have that flutter of anticipation and the first 13 seconds prolong that before crashing in with a super heavy riff then breaking into a really melodic bridge and after the first 40 seconds my question of more of the same? is competely smashed. The Deftones are back!

Listening to the Deftones introduced me to new, heavier ways of playing guitar. I dropped all the tunings and set my Metal Zone pedal to some rough settings I found on the web and tweaked a little. Eight years on and my setup has barely changed. My Own Summer was the first song I multitracked in my bedroom. I will definitely be looking up tabs for this record and annoying the neighbours!

Me and the Deftones go way back and it’s really nice to see that they’re back in fine form, albeit with a stand in bassist, and it’s been fun remembering some good times from years past. Best songs on the album are probably Beauty School, Sextape, 976-EVIL and the suprising cover of The Cardigans’ Do You Believe. Big fan of the original (and the album it belongs to) so it was interesting to hear a blinding take on it! Nobody does covers like these guys.

Just Another Manic Monday

I wish it was Sunday!

Out travelling at a clients today and it has been a terrific day, weather wise. Fortunately I spent most of it in an air con conference room!

I travelled by train and went through a whole load of countryside and it was just beautiful.

The weekend weather was much the same and the view out back onto the farm reminded me of an album I haven’t listened to in quite some time.

Corrs – Talk On Corners

Bit of a girly one this, but it has a cute back story.

I remember first seeing The Corrs on the National Lottery when they did live band showcases. They played I Never Loved You Anyway which had me hooked right away. This was pre instant download/YouTube/iTunes/Spotify days and you pretty much had to rely on radio to get your fix.

I bought the album as soon as it came out. At the time I was earning £12 a week in my Saturday job and had just enough. Skipped the haircut that week! Actually, I think I had long hair. That’s another story.

I listened to it non stop for weeks and the singles were all over the radio. The country went Corrs crazy as we headed into the summer. My favourite track is What Can I Do. The video is really nice, really summery and it’s this that always sticks in my mind when we get nice summers.

I remember that while listening to this non stop I also spent a weekend building a Puzz3D french castle thing. I bought it one Friday on my way home from school (I was 17) and on my way out I bumped into this girl who I really liked and worked with and her mate who I also really liked but didn’t work with and who had quite a striking resemblance to Andrea Corr. They inquired what was in my bag. I can assure you that the one way to absolutely not impress two hot chicks is to whip out a Puzz3D in the middle of town.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much of a dork I used to be.

So this is the start of a new series. Music Mondays. Every Monday I’ll be reviewing some new music and re-visiting some old. Hopefully this will give me an excuse to dust off some old records and re-discover some of that passion that has dwindled in the digital age.

Fings I Love Friday (4)

Here we go again…

1) Sunshine. When the sun shines I can dry the washing outside and get it all done in a day!

2) My Virgin V+ HD box. It allows me to get HD TV which is particularly good for sport. It also allows me to not worry about making myself regularly available for TV. Remember when Friends first aired on Channel 4? For me, it was a whole Friday night line up. There was Frasier and I think Eurotrash too. The latter had boobies. I’d have been about 14. Now though, there’s no way I can guarantee regular viewing of anything so V+ is really helpful and when I have time, I catch up on a whole bunch of stuff at once.

3) Ladyhawke. Oh I love her! Apparently she is making a new album. I can’t wait! If you haven’t listened to her first album, do so NOW!

4) Again it’s the sunshine lol! This morning I went for a lovely bike ride to the shops and the sun was beaming down and all the people in their cars looked like they were spiflocating and I was FREEEE! Yeah, it was that good.

5) The missus. I swear this isn’t just a cop out to fill up five points. She is awesome and deserves to be mentioned daily but I’ll stick to weekly 🙂

You can’t run from the future…

..You can’t change the past. You’re not that fast.

A little late with this one but I had to review it. I got the new Slash album a few weeks ago. It’s been described as Slash and Friends. At first glance you think “Oh God not another one of those crappy celeb collaborations (abhorations??!!)” but then you realise it’s Slash, of course it’s not going to suck!

What a blinder!!

Right from the opening track. Ian Astbury on Ghost sounds amazing. I love The Cult and it’s cool to hear him do something new. There’s a new chap I’d never heard of before but have become quickly obsessed with! Myles Kennedy. Apparently he fronts Alter Bridge who are part Creed. His two songs on the album are probably my favourites. He has a great voice. I listened to the latest Alter Bridge album today and it’s amazing.

Chris Cornell’s track is good, “Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother” as he is being referred to everywhere is alright, Lemmy is God and then THE GROHL THE GROHL!! Ah Dave, you rule! An interesting song is Nothing To Say with the chap from Avenged Sevenfold. I’ve never heard Slash play metal but he pulls it off really well.

What I have noted from this album is that most of Slash’s buds are folks who’ve had issues with addiction in the past and have come clean. This has obviously got me thinking…

As I near my thirties *gulp* I realise I haven’t really lived. I have literally wasted my life. To me, it seemed liked most normal kids spent their late teens indulging in drugs, drink and sex. I didn’t do any of that. I worked. A lot. For nothing. I had a small period of indulgence in my early twenties developing a close personal friendship with Mr Daniels, did some stupid shit, nothing to write home about. Had dinner with a bearded lady. Well, didn’t even get to dinner. Bundled her in the back of a cab and sent her back to her cave.

This leads me to my next point. I’ve had a spiritual awakening and it’s fantastic. There’s just one thing. One tiny niggle. Is it for real/have I earned it? So many people have had these horrific lives where they’ve been confused and consumed by their various addictions to sex, drugs and/or rock and roll and then they’ve had these awakenings and turned everything around. Can my awakening be compared given my comparatively clean living?

I’ve been searching for something for the last few months and I’d even contemplated going to church, but then I re-read Darren Main – Spiritual Journeys Along the Yellow Brick Road and something has changed in me. I suddenly feel alive. It’s bizarre and I can’t really explain it. It’s helped put things into perspective and I’m looking at getting back into meditation. I started today and I can see I have a lot to work on!

Obviously, as the other half of one of the most amazing yoga teachers I’ve ever seen, this isn’t my first awakening or exposure to all this but this time I feel it on a much deeper level. I read the book a couple of years ago and it made a lot of sense and helped me but I guess I just sort of fell off the wagon a little and lost my way again. Perhaps my addiction is work and perfection? Yeah, great, I get the lamest of all addictions. Couldn’t have given me a break and let me have been a stud at 19 or anything!

Hmmm…more on this later perhaps.

So, in the morning when the rooster crows…

…pack your bags and get ready to go.

Today I listened to the first Black Stone Cherry album. I love their second one and this one ain’t half bad.

It starts out as a bit of chugfest, which isn’t bad really but they’re so much more than that. Then you get a song like Hell & High Water and their potential really shines through and you can see that they just needed a little bit more time to brew to release the bad ass that is Folklore and Superstition.

I gave the JJ72 album another listen, definitely a keeper.

The soaps are a bit dull today. I really dislike Toadie. He used to be cool. What the hell happened? Home & Away’s fashion tale is a little too close to the Neighbours one. Although this murder storyline is pretty cool!

Planet Minigolf didn’t come out on PSN today which is a shame but Prince of Persia was on sale for £3.99 so I got that. It’s a remake of the original and I have to say it’s pretty authentic, right down to the shoddy control system! But seriously, it’s a good remake and it’s in 1080p. I spent several hours in the prep study room playing this game. On the PS3 it’s 117Mb, back in the day we shared it between us on a 720k floppy disk!!! We made so many copies of it until it eventually got a virus and we all lost out. Piracy doesn’t pay kids!

That’s it from me today really. Oh, except this political debate stuff is getting on my nerves a bit. Pandering to the floating voters. That said, I’m a strong supporter of the lib dems, but I don’t really like Nick Clegg and our local MP has changed and I don’t like him either. Gordon Brown’s policies and ability as a politician are second to none but his lack of showmanship is losing him votes. So at the moment I’m deciding between the two, of course I’d never vote for those blue scallywags! (Rach says I have to be polite on a public blog or risk being sued)

She said “Hello, you fool, I love you”

“Come on join the joy riiiide, be a joyrider!”

Eee, what better a way to start a new website than with a Roxette lyric from 1991!

Inspired, of course, by this week’s Glee.

I’m only half way in (V+ is awesome) and we’ve had The Doors, All American Rejects, Lionel Richie and Neil Diamond but I prefer Roxette. Maybe they’re on later?

Awesome AC/DC!

I’m totally distracted. WRITE THE BLOG!

Right, so, this blog is going to encompass everything I’m interested in. TV shows, music, computer games, financial accounting…umm…yeah!

So the last few days have seen me hit all of these in quick succession:

  • TV shows – Still addicted to Aussie soaps, loving Glee right now, coming to the end of That 70s Show, started watching Flight of The Conchords again and still in the middle of The X-Files.
  • Music – yesterday I picked up the first JJ72 album from the shelf. I bought this years ago but never listened to it. I went through this phase of buying 8-10 albums a week (I lived at home with minimal rent and a management salary, needed something to spend it on) and there’s some I haven’t listened to ever! The other day Oxygen came into my head and last night I decided to do the ironing. The missus has banned me from doing it despite never seeing me do it and she keeps complaining about having no time to do it so I figured I’d help out and just do it. I needed something to listen to so I put this on. It’s actually really good!! It definitely deserves a few more listens.
  • Games – I’ve not been playing a lot of PS3 lately. Haven’t had time, working too much. What I have been playing is a Facebook game called Country Life. It’s seriously awesome! And super addictive. And because it’s browser based, I can leave it on in the background and just tend to my stock every now and then. It’s better than all those other games because the crops don’t wither. If they introduce this feature, I’m gone!
  • Financial accounting – Well, this is my job. Sort of. I’m an IT Consultant and I currently specialise in accounting systems. The last few weeks I’ve been working on the biggest project of my entire career. Yesterday we went live and aside from the usual expected technical hitches everything has gone swimmingly. I finally feel like I’ve achieved something in my job. It’s been a complete uphill struggle trying to learn accounting but I’m getting there!

This just in, courtesy of my Google Reader, there’s a new miniature golf game coming out for the PS3. I love miniature golf, both IRL and on the computer. A few years back I was hopelessly addicted to Fuzzy’s World of Miniature Space Golf. This was awesome and in many places difficult. Until now, there hasn’t been anything remotely close.

I introduce Planet MiniGolf from Zen Studios. How awesome does this game look? And it has a course customiser! What more could you want?

Well, that’s out soon and I’ll be first in the digital queue to buy that no doubt. For now though, I’ve been informed not to go over 500 words or you’ll have stopped reading. So you’re probably not reading this.

Until next time…