The Nuclear Family has been released on Hancock Street Records! Ask for it at your local independent record store or buy it here!

30 September 2009

Almost Done

I've got some of the artwork back for the CD and it looks great (Thanks Maren!). On the other hand, Lee from the studio wrote and let me know that the mastering is still being worked on and probably won't be finished until next week. Oh well, I know how projects can drag on. And I'd rather that they spend the time getting the stuff to sound right than they rush it. Of course, this means that I can't post the couple tracks I plan to until next week...

Plus, I feel like I'm coming down with the cold again (at least my sinuses do).

26 September 2009

Almost Over the Cold

This is the first day I've felt human since last Sunday. The cold is almost over - I still have a bit of a runny nose and chest congestion, but at least my head doesn't feel like it's wrapped in cotton and I don't have to take decongestants to be able to breathe.

Work this week has been dreadful, not because of the work part, but because of having to work through a cold. Other than that, things are going well. We have started working on iteration 3 of MNAC 3.5 and all seems well with the world. Actually, since it's the end of the quarter, everyone's working on getting their MBOs done (myself included). I have one more thing to finish by next Wednesday (preferably, by 2:30pm Monday, when my weekly one-on-one with my manager happens) and I'll have completed everything. This will be the first MBO I have gotten 100% on in the past three quarters. Amazing...

Thursday evening, we made tweaks to six songs. This is the end. The changes are now so minor that even those changes didn't take more than an hour and a half (most of which was listening to songs before and after the change to make sure that I wanted to make the change and that the change was OK). Of course, we spent another hour after that trying to figure out why the final song kept trying to be output in PCM, rather than in straight bits, but we finally got that sorted out, I got my CD and got out of there.

After listening at home, one song needed two more tweaks (which I told the engineer about via email, trusting him to make those changes). As far as I'm concerned, the tracks are ready for mastering. The last session should be next week, where I'll hear the final mastered versions and get the tracks. I'm working with the graphic artist now, giving her the go ahead to do everything on the insert, tray card, and CD except for track sequence and final liner notes. She's going to clean up the ADRIAN logo, too, and give it to me in final layout. So, with any luck, by the end of this coming week, I should be ready for duplication.

That's about it for this week. Just waiting for folks to get back to me. I'll restart my jazz guitar lessons this week. I have a couple songs in my head that need to get into the box. I want to beta test the latest version of Melodyne. Other than that, I'm still looking for a good five-string. While I was looking for one on Craigslist, I saw an ad for a house for sale in SW that has a recording studio on the property that I'll probably go look at.

21 September 2009

I have never...

… had a cold come on so fast. Saturday before the AMA gig, I was feeling fine. During the job up until towards the end of the second set, I was feeling fine. During the end of the second set and while we were loading out, I noticed my throat was sore – I chalked it up to the singing. Sunday morning, my throat was really sore and I was starting to feel congested. By Sunday afternoon, I was out of it with a full-on cold. I’ve gotten to the point where my throat (mostly) isn’t hurting anymore and I’m barely functional, but my sinuses are running like Niagra Falls.

And now the politicians in my state have decided decided to put pseudoephedrine behind the pharmacist’s barrier (Why don’t they just do something that doesn’t inconvenience me, like making cooking meth a capital offense, huh?), leaving only phenylephrine or diphenhydramine as a replacement, but the first not only costs more, it also isn’t as effective and the second puts me to sleep (which is why I take it around bedtime).

Bitching about this shows I’m obviously in the cranky portion of my cold. Hopefully that will pass soon. As long as I keep myself medicated (I still have a few old pseudoephedrine tablets lying around), I'm doing OK enough. I hope that I can get past this by Thursday, when I'll probably have the last mixing session for the CD.

16 September 2009

A Very Busy Week...

I didn't make it into the studio on Sunday evening, but I'll be there making tweaks to the final five tracks Thursday evening. If that goes well, we can also do the final tweaks to five of the six we've we got to the pseudo-final state last time. The sixth song we tweaked last time (Perfect Day) seemed to have had the drum track omitted on my take-home mix and, as such, I won't be able to finalize that until next time. So the goals for the next few days are to do the final mix on the last five songs and get take-home copies of Perfect Day and these songs. I'll listen to them over the weekend and then one more set of tweaks and on to mastering. With any luck, we'll have this thing in the can and ready for dupe by the end of next week. I've narrowed down the duplicators to two choices. One is local, but the other one costs less. I'll need to pick by the middle of the next week because I need to get the design templates to...

... the graphic artist who is going to help me with the artwork for the CD. I worked with Maren from Linea Forma Design while I was at UxComm. There's not a lot left to do - mainly clean-up/formatting work based on concept art/liner notes that I've already done and getting it into the form that the duplicator will accept. Even for small jobs, though, working with someone you know and trust is important. I was also planning on making tee shirts and baseball caps, but having 250 CDs in your closet is enough storage without also taking space for additional clothing.

In the meantime, I'm working on the website for the band (Adrian) and my label (Hancock Street Records). Everything but the online shopping portion is ready. Most of you have probably gotten here through the Adrian website already and it's not going to change much (I'll be adding lyrics and a page for the new CD). The label site is going to be more extensive. I hope to also flog AMA's music through it and perhaps one or two other local bands. We'll see how that goes...

I also practiced with AMA last night in preparation for our performance Saturday night at the Sellwood Public House. We've added about a dozen new songs, including a half dozen of our own, four of which are debut performances (the other two AMA had performed previously, but they're new to me). The only drawback to this job is that we have to drag the equipment up to the second floor (of course, there is no elevator). So, anyhow, come on in and see us on Saturday night - 9pm.

12 September 2009

Final Mixes Half Done

The week before last, we completed rough mixes of the new CD, The Nuclear Family. After listening to them, there were substantial changes for most of them (including cutting new/re-comping vocals for about five of the eleven tracks). We made changes to six of the tracks Thursday evening. I took home the "final" mixes for these tracks and now I only have a (very few) tweaks for them. There is even one song for which I have no more changes. We are converging to completion.

If I get confirmation of availability, I'll go into the studio tomorrow evening and we'll finish the main changes for the other five tracks and put the minor tweaks into the six we've got at a "final" state for a "final final" state. All of these mixes will come home with me, I'll listen, get minor tweaks into the remaining ones and then we'll go to mastering (which should not take more than one more (albeit long) session.

As such, I now have to put the tracks in some order for the CD. I have a couple of choices... I can go with a thematic order - I noticed that the songs I've recorded have an order based on the arc of a relationship, from new to broken. This has a certain artistic appeal, but it ends up having too many slow songs together and has some of the less good songs go towards the front, while some of the better songs get buried towards the back. As such, I'm probably going to stick with the second option, which is a standard ordering having a good intermixing of fast/slow songs with the very best songs going towards the front and less good ones trailing back.

I understand that this raises the question of "good song"/"less good song". Let me state that I don't think there is a real stinker in the bunch. I like all of these songs well enough to have spent a good amount of time on each of them and, in the final analysis, all are listenable, all are well performed (or at least as well as I can), and all are good songs. However, to paraphrase Orwell, "All songs are equally good, but some songs are more equally good than others." So, in placing the tracks on the CD, the "more equally good" stuff will go at the front, while the merely "equally good" stuff will be towards the end. However, note that this ordering is produced by taking into account what I think folks will like and discerning listeners might find songs that they actually like better towards the end. In short, listen to the whole CD and you decide.

Anyhow, we're in the home stretch with the CD. I plan to engage a Photoshop jockey this week to compose the final layout of the CD artwork (with track ordering). With any luck we should be ready for duplication sometime around the end of September. Woot!

P.S. I already have three new songs in the works. Come to the AMA performance at Sellwood Public House on September 19 to hear one of them.

03 September 2009

Trying out Melodyne

As many of you know, my vocal skills are somewhat lacking. I would characterize my skill level as "backing vocal" quality. Although I am working to improve and I do sing lead for one or two songs with whomever I'm performing, for the CD, I needed to use pitch correction technology.

Right now, I have Auto-Tune Evo, which is the industry leader in this technology. I realize that I'm still a novice at using the program (basically just moving notes up and down and removing correction on tones that were overly corrected because I still don't understand correction curve editing very well), but the results still don't thrill me. I find there's a subtle distortion in the processed vocals, even when no correction is being done. As such, I'm going to give Melodyne a try. I'll keep all of you posted...