Archive for the ‘album notes’ Category

two major announcements: bone walker and cracksman betty

So many awesome things are going on right now that I have to combine announcements! It’s crazytalk. But before I get to that, even, a quick reminder: I’m guesting tonight on The House of Julie with Julie Cascioppo, 7:30pm, in Seattle, with several other musicians including Roo Forrest, Elaine Bono, Jean Mann, and Bill White. I’m Julie’s first guest of the night; come see the show!


FIRST: The new album – the remixed/remastered/rerecorded Cracksman Betty – will drop Monday, May 7, 2012. It’ll lead off with a completely new track, “Song for a Blockade Runner/High Barbaree,” the pirate’s version of that tale, recast in the fight for Cascadian independence, musically and lyrically original.

My beta listeners have described the album as “impressive,” “SO MUCH BETTER” [than the work prints], “awesome,” and, in one notable case:

everything I hear in these tracks is totally Next Level from what came before.

Caps of Awesome as in the originals. Fuck. Yeah.

This is our long-promised traditional-music album. But of course, we can’t leave it at that; this “traditional” music is re-cast in the Republic of Cascadia, songs of piracy, riot, and revolution, with new interpretation, new history, and far more often than you’d expect on a “traditional” album, new music.

You’ll hear more about that – and some of our guest performers – this week.

SECOND: We’re doing a soundtrack album. For reals, assuming the Kickstarter makes it. It’s a book companion for the novels Faerie Blood and Bone Walker. We’ve already committed Sunnie Larsen (who has played with several bands including Bone Poets Orchestra and Vixy & Tony) and Leannan Sidhe, with whom we’ve worked before. And we’re in talks with more.

Bone Walker will be a mix of readings, original music, and the traditional music referenced in the books. It’ll be something new for all of us, which is always awesome. And again – more announcements will be forthcoming!

FINALLY, talking of Leannan Sidhe, they have their own Kickstarter running for their second studio album, More to Love. I’ve heard some of the material; these are some pretty subversive fairy tales. So of course, we’re onboard – I’ve backed the project personally, with, you know, money. My money. Not even stolen! So you know I mean it.

Currently there’s an extra incentive package: a signed print of a sketch from the album cover artist (Rob Carlos), a print of the aurora photograph that’s going to be used in that album cover, and a handwritten card from the band. That’s all in addition to the regular backer bonuses for whoever gets them to $2000.

God damn can you believe all this? And we have more things cooking I’m not even talking about here. More than can fit into this post. But one more super-sneak preview, a whisper, a ghost, a rumour of rage, an echo of elfmetal, a part two of a bigger story, a title:

Din of Thieves.

Muah ha ha ha ha ha!

two big announcements coming monday

Two big announcements coming on Monday morning. One’s already up, in audio form. 😀

never when i started

Oh guys seriously I did not think Cracksman Betty could sound this good. Not what’s online now; the re-engineered/re-mastered version that’s in progress. It’s always going to be a bit of a jumble as an album, having been originally just a place to put all my trad-o’-the-week/fortnight/month songs, but it’s so much better a jumble than I ever thought it would or even could be.

And I don’t mean just individually as songs, I mean as an album. It’s actually starting to hang together as a work. I don’t know what to call it – Alternate History Folk, maybe? But that’s awfully long. Regardless, it has a form now. It is shadowy and rough, but it is a beast, of genus undetermined.

I’m even thinking of asking Kickstarter if it wants to pay for mastering. No lie.

Did I mention there’s a new track? I don’t think I mentioned there’s a new track. There is! “Song for a Blockade Runner/High Barbaree.” I’m really excited about it.

Of all the reset-in-Cascadia traditional folk, this is the most changed from its original; it makes “Columbia” sound unedited. “High Barbaree” is about taking down pirates; “Song for a Blockade Runner” is the other side of that story, in 1973, during the Cascadian War for Independence, a goddamn hardscrabble pirate and smuggler anthem. It’s new music, too – not so much a traditional-song rendition as a long-lost fraternal twin, come in from the cold Salish sea.

12 tracks on the CD, if I print one. 13 tracks online, with “S-100 Bus,” which has to be online only for licensing reasons. Eleven songs, plus two “radio edit” versions as bonus tracks.

None of this is going live quite yet – I’m still twiddling bits and I want to redub another line of vocals. But – it’s coming. Soon. 😀

PS: Anna’s fantasy novel Kickstarter just hit 45% and she’s dropped an excerpt from “Blood of the Land,” another Warder universe story, as a teaser. She’s really hoping to hit 50% this weekend. Check it out!

okay i gotta say something here

So I’ve been working on re-engineering Cracksman Betty this last week. I’ve learned a lot over the last year, I gotta tell you, and that’s awesome. That web album – a collection of live-in-studio and live-at-shows tracks – will sound a lot better when I’m finished. Particularly the live-in-studio.

But then I went and listened to a bunch of little indie band recordings tonight for various reasons, and maybe I’m extra sensitive to it because I’m remastering/re-engineering a bunch of my own learning experiences, but I posted this series of tweets around 1am Sunday morning:


Go to 1974. Buy the song “Pretzel Logic” by Steely Dan. It’s the title track for Pretzel Logic. You don’t need the whole album. STUDY. Now you know how to do aural placement.

Then go to 1984 and buy the song “Only When You Leave” by Spandau Ballet, on Parade. When you can mic like that? Now you can mic drums.

This tweet series brought by FOR THE LOVE OF GOD A ROCK KIT SHOULD HAVE MORE AURAL IMPACT THAN OATMEAL, & hearing one too many mushcordings.

Also, bonus pro tip: reverb is not cruise control for awesome.

Just sayin’.

Because goddamn.

I stand by these tweets, but they’re really basic rock kit micing for pop and rock. There’s nothing bombastic in either, but they’re easy to study, highly competent, and have flairs of art. (I’d swap “I’ll Fly for You” for “Only When You Leave” – same band and album – if you want a drum kit with some folk drums included. My gods there’s so much space and air in the drums in that recording, it’s beautiful. But now I’m diverting myself.)

I want to open the floor for recommendations. It doesn’t have to be drum recording. It can’t be so complex that you can’t learn from it – I pick that Steely Dan track because it’s 1974 and they’ve really figured out stereo by then and have a good grip on it, but aren’t going crazy yet. I pick that Spandau Ballet recording because it’s so very transparent, and also, because mics of the types they’re using which were fantastically expensive then aren’t so bad now. One might even venture “affordable.” Certainly for rental prices.

So. You tell me. What can people listen to in order to learn how to do this stuff right?

a silly little thing

First: I am looking for people willing to host house concerts in February and March. This is very easy – like hosting a small party. I’m looking for crowds of 6-12 people, counting the hosts, and it doesn’t have to be a house per se – it can be a condo or apartment or anything. I can play acoustic sets or can bring my own PA; all you have to do is invite your friends. Check the youtube page to see what one of these is like.

Second: So I kinda went on a bender in the studio? And then it was 3:30am and there were robots. Or I guess technically cyborgs. And robots. Anyway, this happened – and give it a minute, because it builds, the wheels don’t fall off all at once:

And no, you haven’t heard this. You’ve heard parts of it, but this is what actually happened. XD

Finally: Noted Canadian musician Heather Dale, who has a much larger career than I do, called Dick Tracy Must Die “Purity and edge; technical prowess and a kick-ass attitude” and informed you that “This disc will light a fire under you! Check it out!” Please, do. And maybe consider the pay-what-you-like albums Cracksman Betty and Espionage: Live from Mars as stocking stuffers in your end-of-year giving.

Please and thank you!

a new diy pop filter design

I had a hose clamp left over from another project, so came up with a new DIY pop filter design, and now I’ve made a howto video for it:

For those who don’t know, sounds like P and B and D are called “plosives,” and include a rush forward of air that shows up in recordings as kind of a low-frequency thunk. You can go buy a nice pop filter – which is basically just nylon stocking on a hoop – or you can make one yourself.

The difficult part tends to be attaching them to things so they stay in place. This one fits into a standard mic clip, which means no secondary noise transmission, and no futzing around with velco or whatever. Pop it into the clip, position it, and you’re done.

I’ve done some studio experiments with this new design, and it is dramatically better than my old version. I threw some intentionally super-severe popping of plosive sounds at it today (P-P-P-POW, P-P-P-POW, really punching those Ps as hard as I could), and where the old filter could only reduce them, this new design stopped three out of four outright. Under realistic conditions, it stopped everything. AND: it’s otherwise sonically transparent, so far.

So if you know anybody building their own equipment, well, here y’go, have a design. ^_^


This post is part of The DIY Studio Buildout Series, on building out a home recording studio.

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