Here is the best music we heard in the past year. Most, but not all, was released in 2017.
Top 14 (in random order)
The War On Drugs “A Deeper Understanding” (2017)
Sufjan Stevens, “Planetarium” (2017)
Spoon, “Hot Thoughts” (2017)
Vokonis, “The Sunken Djinn” (2017)
Pallbearer, “Heartless” (2017)
The New Pornographers, “Whiteout Conditions” (2017)
Hyborian, “Hyborian: Vol. 1” (2017)
HAIM, “Something to Tell You” (2017)
The Afghan Whigs, “In Spades” (2017)
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith & Suzanne Ciani, “FRKWYS Vol. 13: Sunergy” (2016)
…with h&s guitars as of today. Now am headed to Denver Thursday to record an EP with Cory.
I’m going to take some time to get the h&s sessions in order and do household stuff I’ve been neglecting before starting the next major phase. (Not sure if the next major phase is bass or vocals.)
The sessions are kind of a mess because the drums were tracked in two sessions at the library six months apart, and my Reaper session template has evolved and improved since I started them (probably close to two years ago). I want to update the effects and routing as if the h&s sessions had been done in my current template, and that’s going to take a lot of note-taking and careful clicking. And I want to get some basic sax settings (compression, close/room mic balance) and drum settings (absolute phase, relative phase, panning) set. It will be worth it when it comes to mixing.
Aww yiss for milestones.
Cole gave me some cool vintage pedals to fix the other week, and I learned a lot working on this old Morley WVO Wah-Volume. As he gave it to me the wah effect worked, but the volume control didn’t.
Both effects are controlled by photoresistors. In the image above, you can see them peeking out from under the black hood that’s taped to the green PCB. These are variable resistors that serve the same function as potentiometers (or “knobs”).
Sidenote; you can see how the Morley company used one PCB, enclosure, and drilling template for several different models of pedal to save on production costs. Notice the empty pads where additional components could go on the PCB, and the metal buttons filling unused holes in the enclosure like the one below.
Both the wah and volume circuits are based on light from the little bulb on the left side of the photo above hitting those photoresistors (or not). (The bulb is on the other side of the bracket near the red electrical tape.)
The heel of the treadle is connected to that flap of black fabric. In the heel-down position, the fabric covers the opening of the hood (just heavy black paper and black masking tape); the photoresistors are in near-total darkness and therefore near their maximum resistance. This is shown in the photo below.
As the player pushes the treadle forward toward the toe-down position, the fabric flap is pulled back, gradually allowing light from the bulb to reach the photoresistors and decrease their resistance. The photo above shows the toe-down position.
So Cole’s pedal was, electrically, perfectly fine. The fabric flap had come un-taped from the inside of the enclosure (40-year-old masking tape will do that), so light was reaching the volume circuit’s photoresistor no matter the position of the treadle. Re-taping the flap to the enclosure solved the issue.
I literally fixed a pedal with duct tape.
These old chrome Morleys are built like tanks, sound great, and have an extremely high cool factor. They’re also heavy, and giant; see below, next to a standard Boss pedal for scale.
My P-J bass came with a white pickguard, which I didn’t love, and 14-hole Squier pickguards are hard to come by. You almost have to order a custom one.
Well, if you’re looking at ordering a custom pickguard… why not ask your drummer, who does amazing paint jobs on all kinds of things, if he might be able to help you out?
I wanted something pretty subtle, so decided on flat black on a glossy black background. It took a while to think of a design I felt good about, but I settled on the abstract geometric/space thing from the Dark Satellites sticker. Boom. Has a nice, vaguely 70s/80s rubik’s cube / science fiction vibe. Perfect.
Matt nailed the execution. The design looks perfect, and the black-on-black is exactly what I’d hoped. The clear coat even makes it a little glossier than a standard pickguard, I think, like a little clue that it’s something special.
Custom wiring, custom pickguard; this thing is ready for adventure.
I just spent the weekend on the rock star couch knocking out h&s acoustic tracks, nothing to see here.
Two to go, then I’m back to the electric to finish up guitars. Hoping to have a thorough mix back to Scottie by 1/1/18. That would be finished drums, winds, and guitar, and (background info) moving the sessions over to my current mixing format. They were started a couple of years ago before the current digital mix template existed.
Then: bass, real vocal tracks, backing vox and any final overdubs, mix, master… you get to hear it. Maybe late 2018? That’s optimistic but in range.
Mastering guru Ian Shepherd, the main influence on my own mastering work, demonstrates mastering’s basic principles with three real songs in thirty minutes in this video.
If you’ve ever been curious about mastering, had any of your own work professionally mastered, or wondered if it was worth it, I think you’ll dig this.
We’ll be emailing about just the big stuff, new releases and such.
There is a pop-up reminder, but you should only see it every 30 days. Please contact me directly or comment if you have concerns about that. Hate mail can go to:
1 N 14er Mountain #14er
Near Denver, CO 98765