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Critique our EP - 6 New Songs!


cuppycup

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These are the tracks for my band's (A Victimless Crime) EP Stuck.

 

I know our mixdown could be better, and any advice is appreciated. We're going to get some help from a student of sound engineering soon. We recorded all of the tracks in digital performer.

 

The sound is a little thin right now, and I think the drumming's a bit weak but I am pretty happy with the lyrics and melodies. I've added my general thoughts on each track below.

 

I hope you enjoy the songs, even if you can only listen to one of them, and look forward to any feedback. We haven't been a band for very long, so I'd like to work toward creating some long term success.

 

These are now linked to streaming audio from SoundClick.

 

Song List at SoundClick

 

01 - Sweet & Vicious | lyrics

This may be my favorite of our current songs. It might be too simple.

 

02 - A Familiar Race | lyrics

The drum beat is kind of hijacked from '50 Ways to Leave Your Lover' but I think it's a good start.

 

03 - Ichthys | lyrics

This is probably the most "rock" out of the songs, and we should probably do some guitar layering and maybe have a more open drum sound.

 

04 - One Flew West | lyrics

This is our latest, and it feels like something is missing but can't put my finger on it.

 

05 - Red-Faced and Blue | lyrics

A pretty simple song. Maybe we can beef up the guitar solo and add in some more interesting changeups.

 

06 - You Are Here | lyrics

This is our first song, and I think it might have the most potential. I enjoy the guitar part.

 

Bonus - I Only F****ed Her 'Cause You Wouldn't | lyrics

This was written as a joke and is very explicit. It finished in the top 25 in the Snakes on a Plane contest.

 

If that's your thing...

http://www.myspace.com/avictimlesscrime

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You should read the 2nd sticky at the top of this forum. You're really asking a lot of people to listen to 6 songs so it would be nice if you abide by some (or better yet, all) of what it is mentioned there. As you are n00b, I'll cut you a bit of slack and I'll try to listen to a little of what you've got later.

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You guys are great! If i was into that type of music, i'd come to one of your shows!

 

Excellent vocals, clean guitaring, and of course clean percussion!

 

Keep up the great work, i listened to the first two songs, so i'm pretty sure i caught the best ;)!

 

And the sound quality was actually quite impressive.

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Sweet & Vicious: the song isn't bad and the vocals are tight for that Vedder-ish style. The mix is claustrophobic and nearly monophonic (I'm listening on headphones). There are gaping holes in-between the vocals begging to be filled with a soloist or at least asking for more interesting interplay from the basic instruments.

 

A Familiar Race: The vocal is too Vedder-like for me to like it, albeit very well-executed. The drumming is kinda nice though. Same comments about the mix.

 

It's interesting that you are going against type in these two tracks, avoiding the full-out raging rock that the singer is probably capable of. I'll check out the other tunes in a bit...

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S&V is a pretty good song ,,, its begging for some back up vocals and some solo work. If you could feed that into the mix it would make it a much better song. Everything on there was really good ,, but it came off as lacking hence a little boring. rat

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Thanks for the pointer, eeglug. I wish I'd only posted one or two songs, but at least I know for next time.

 

Thanks to everyone who's provided feedback so far. Since we're only a 3-person outfit right now, we don't like to add in parts that we can't replicate live. We can definitely work on backup vocals and filling out the band though. We're friends with an amazing trumpet player, but I don't know how it will fit our style. Our best bet would probably be adding someone to play rhythm guitar, while adding more solo pieces to our recorded tracks in the meantime.

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Since we're only a 3-person outfit right now, we don't like to add in parts that we can't replicate live.

 

 

That's a good thing. Hope you can find some way of filling your sound a little.

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Listening to Sweet and Vicious. I think it's very good, but I'm not entirely happy with how the first chorus ends. That part where the notes extended with "sinner" sounds better later on, but I'd shorten the chorus the first time, and probably the 2nd time too. Do you know what I'm talking about? The extended "sinner" with notes running down sounds like a classic end part.

 

As for filling in the sound, I've got a divided mind on that. The spare sound can be cool, and this certainly sounds like a live band. But adding extra players would be cool too. I'd definitely try the horn player because your sound is funky, so horn could work. Once you've got him in the mix, granting that you like it, you may want more (and he probably knows more too).

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eeglug, I went back and changed all of our song links to streaming audio via SoundClick. Now that I'm aware of this community, I'll be adding my comments to other peoples posts soon. Thanks for your help.

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I only had a chance to listen to "Sweet and Vicious" so far...

 

First thoughts: overall level seems low (can be fixed, obviously)

 

Bass is too big and blossoms out... I'm thinking your monitoring situation was bass-shy at the sweet spot, causing too high a level and what seems likely to have been over-EQing.

 

Drums are way too far down. They need to drive the song from underneath the bass and guitar. Think Keith Moon and the early Who (not the later, bombastic stuff, I mean the early-mid 60s pop stuff -- I think their approach to trio-in-the-studio back then would apply nicely here).

 

BTW... I think all the parts are pretty nice and when you get this thing nudged into place it'll be a real sharp song!

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I only had a chance to listen to "Sweet and Vicious" so far...

 

First thoughts: overall level seems low (can be fixed, obviously)

 

Bass is too big and blossoms out... I'm thinking your monitoring situation was bass-shy at the sweet spot, causing too high a level and what seems likely to have been over-EQing.

 

Drums are way too far down. They need to drive the song from underneath the bass and guitar. Think Keith Moon and the early Who (not the later, bombastic stuff, I mean the early-mid 60s pop stuff -- I think their approach to trio-in-the-studio back then would apply nicely here).

 

BTW... I think all the parts are pretty nice and when you get this thing nudged into place it'll be a real sharp song!

 

PS... I know it's a taste thing but I'm not crazy about all that 'verb on the guitar. I dunno if I'd go so far as to (very carefully lookahead) gate it (I might consider it to "dry up" some of that 'verb) but I definitely would make sure I wasn't adding any in the mix.

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Thanks for the pointer, eeglug. I wish I'd only posted one or two songs, but at least I know for next time.


Thanks to everyone who's provided feedback so far. Since we're only a 3-person outfit right now, we don't like to add in parts that we can't replicate live. We can definitely work on backup vocals and filling out the band though. We're friends with an amazing trumpet player, but I don't know how it will fit our style. Our best bet would probably be adding someone to play rhythm guitar, while adding more solo pieces to our recorded tracks in the meantime.

 

 

 

If you can only add one horn ,,,,, its best if its a sax. If you have a good trumpet player ,,,, get him to find you a sax player, another trumpet will work but i like the sax. Horns are best if you have two, so you can get multiple horn parts and the harmony effect ,,,, horns are best with at least two of them. If you could find horn players that can sing its even better. I would not worry about stacking the band up with members.... if you have the sound ,, you will be able to get the money to pay them. In a world of power trio,,, a full on big band sound would kick butt, ,especially in the original music scene. Horns and harmony and you could really dominate your market place. rat

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PS... I know it's a taste thing but I'm not crazy about all that 'verb on the guitar. I dunno if I'd go so far as to (very carefully lookahead) gate it (I
might
consider it to "dry up" some of that 'verb) but I definitely would make sure I wasn't
adding
any in the mix.

 

 

Thanks for your comments. All of the reverb is from the amp, we didn't add anything in production. I agree with your assessments of our EQ levels, and we should keep improving as we become more familiar with the software.

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OK I'm going to do this stream-of-consciousness style. Brutally honest.

 

My first impression is the singer mumbles too much and doesn't enunciate.

The first song could use a guitar hook or something else periodically at the level of the vocals. It's a little too stripped down to hold my attention but I like its vibe; it reminds me of Pearl Jam.

 

Second song starts out sounding wussy; it needs a touch of darkness, like a tritone or something discordant just at one point in the melody. I'm starting to like it though.

 

Damn, if someone had told me this was a new Pearl Jam CD I'd have believed them. You have a great vibe but I haven't heard anything hard-rocking yet. The singer is really good and I like the second song. Near the end, I noticed this thing again where it gets stripped down, but it's not climactic, it's more like the song slipped out from under me... I don't think you should take something out of a song without giving twice as good in return... Maybe a couple bars of jazzy soloing or anything to hold my attention.

 

I'm hoping for this next one one to be more energetic....

 

So far it's darker and not bad, vocals came in just a little while ago... I think that might have been the chorus.. "Tap on the glass"

 

Yeah it's got a great vibe but again it doesn't have quite enough going on. I wouldn't want a wall of sound, just some cool lead guitar. As long as they all sound good individually, I like to hear more things going on than I can follow than fewer. Otherwise I get bored.

 

You could overdub guitar tracks with some effects, yell, do pick slides, add cymbal crashes, bend or hold the root note of the song on a high fret, grab a slide and make a certain wierd noise to lead in the chorus, whatever. As long as it's tasteful and fits the song. You have great basic songs now and I'm not telling you just to throw random crap in them; I just wish there was something in there that I wouldn't notice unless I listen carefully.

 

Not liking the fourth song so much, that vocal melody in the verse sounds like that one Oasis song when he sings "running slowly down the hall, faster than a cannonball." Chorus doesn't grab me really either. It's not bad, just not good like the others were.

 

Next song is also too slow for me. It sounds more like one of those ballads by Pearl Jam ripoff bands like Nickelback or Staind. That's because of the "passionate" vocals and the slow tempo and there not being much going on in the backing arrangement. I listened to a minute of it, skipped ahead, then skipped the song.

 

Energy!!! This next song is alright so far.. I think this is the chorus... "Where am I going" too country and wussy sounding.. "you are here.. here" After that it just repeats. Not enough energy!! There should be a kewl guitar lead or riff or drum fill or bass solo or anything except the damn intro riff which I've already heard. At least the singer got louder on the 3rd or 4th time through the chorus; I've had to turn up the volume over and over while listening to your songs because it seems like everyone's playing in a quiet subdued manner. "You are here" is sort of delivered in a way that makes it sound like a deep message but I'm not really feeling that.

 

The joke track is heavy, finally some energy... you need to go back and forth between this kind of energy and that kind of slow stuff in the same song!! Don't just jump into it though for the sake of making it sound rocking. Build to it naturally. You have great vocal melodies and nice musical themes and vibes and all that. They just need more energy and passion. I kept noticing parts where the drummer sounded like he was just phoning it in and not really feeling it; maybe that was just him trying to play subdued style. I remember liking the first few songs, but it seems like so long ago after hearing the last four, which I couldn't really identify with. If you don't want to sound adult contemporary, you have to rock harder. Just at certain parts... I kept hoping for an orgasmic crescendo, and instead hearing a repeat of the main riff. One way to get that release of energy is to ride the cymbals or whatever it is drummers do. The build-up and release of energy is the most important element of music, or that's how I look at it, anyway. Think of a song like Stairway to Heaven.. It covers all the bases, from beautiful and thoughtful to orgasmic and energizing.

 

Sorry for being rude at times, but I know how hard it is to ask people to critique your work and have them not want to hurt your feelings. I think you guys have a great vibe going for the slow parts. You aren't one of those bands who tries to rock but can't, who starts out thrashing away on power chords and ends up sounding terrible... You are a band who should keep writing songs in the way you're doing now, because they sound unique and emotional. They (the first 3 especially) don't go wrong, they just don't exactly build far enough. You should just "kick it up a notch." Great work!

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If you can only add one horn ,,,,, its best if its a sax. If you have a good trumpet player ,,,, get him to find you a sax player, another trumpet will work but i like the sax. Horns are best if you have two, so you can get multiple horn parts and the harmony effect ,,,, horns are best with at least two of them. If you could find horn players that can sing its even better. I would not worry about stacking the band up with members.... if you have the sound ,, you will be able to get the money to pay them. In a world of power trio,,, a full on big band sound would kick butt, ,especially in the original music scene. Horns and harmony and you could really dominate your market place. rat

 

 

I see where you're coming from with the sax, but we'll probably try playing with the trumpet player first to see if we can get a good sound. We've played a few times, but didn't record anything. Thanks for the tips.

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Ok, you guys obviously want to try and do something more than gigs at pubs and company parties: if there is one thing shining through this songs is that you are serious. I the hope that you will find my feedback as serious as I found your work.

 

I actually managed to listen to the whole bunch, while I was making the sauce for my Pasta all`amatriciana;)

 

From the first to the last song I obviously came to think of one thing only: Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam and Pearl Jam. I am not sure is a super good thing.

 

Not only the voice is very similar to the one of Wedder, but also the way of using it and building the melodies is very very much similar - if not identical in certain spots.

 

To increase the dose of pearl jam there is a guitar with a sound that very impersonal and very much resembles the sound of Stone Gossard (the driving force of pearl jam, but you know that).

I was a fan of Pearl jam and I would wait for their next release impatiently, until they releaased Vitalogy. I just could not get to the end of that record as I found it incredibly boring, due to the inentical sound that each and every song would bring. I got to the end of your EP, but somewhere along the lines I had that Vitalogy feeling.

 

You are a band trio ; aside from my solo attempts to sound like something, I also play in a band trio also. In that situation what I learned to do is to have some three four very personal and different sounds that I can switch around. I think that resciues me when choreses and bridges kick in.

 

Maybe that could help you too: ... this would give theses songs a bit more life, and would be in line with your band philosopy: what is on the record has to be available live also. Even if a bit of tap dancing is required...

 

And this is the second point I would like to make: the structure of your songs is quite complex: is it better to keep the sounds as they are (maybe a bit boring?) or bring somebody else onboard to give this songs the energy boost that they need? I would go for the second one, even if I am aware of the difficulties of bringing somebody else on board.

 

The overall result of your work is qualitatively very high; you are all very talented musicians, and the potential is there. If I were you I would leave Pearl jam a bit aside and go my own way.

 

I hope you found what I said constructive: I am not english and it always takes me sometime to put thoughts together in a language that is not mine. If in any way I have offended you I did not mean to. Keep chasing the dream coz as I said you have all the ingredients to pull this right. Thanks for reading this very personal wiev on your work. Should you feel an urge to flame me I have posted a couple of threads with my crap on it. :wave:

Ciao, m

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Snotgut - first, thanks for listening to all of the songs and providing feeback.

 

I see what you're getting at with the adult contemporary vibe, and the consensus seems to be that we need to infuse more energy into our music. I don't think you were rude. I posted here to solicit honest feedback, and I'm grateful that you've taken the time to provide it. Some of our mixdowns are somewhat anemic, so a better mix with more elements might help some.

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I see where you're coming from with the sax, but we'll probably try playing with the trumpet player first to see if we can get a good sound. We've played a few times, but didn't record anything. Thanks for the tips.

 

 

Thats cool ,,, run with what you have on hand ,, and you have a good trumpet player. You should be able to work him in to your sound. The vocal harmony is one thing I think i would try to spend some time on. It pays off big time and not too many original bands have the skill mastered. If you end up having to recruit another voice ,,get a side man type ,, and add a little extra percussion like congas. I think you guys have alot of good stuff going on ,,,,, more is always better in my book. rat

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Thanks for your comments. All of the reverb is from the amp, we didn't add anything in production. I agree with your assessments of our EQ levels, and we should keep improving as we become more familiar with the software.

 

 

I learned the hard way to never add effects until the mix, and record everything dry. You can't change them if you record them that way.

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Pearl Jam, Pearl Jam and Pearl Jam

 

 

While I like Pearl Jam too, I agree that the Pearl Jam vibe might not be a great thing. We really want to differentiate ourselves, and we're still exploring ways to do that. With our next songs, we'll probably make a concerted effort to add more to the sound or change it up a little.

 

I appreciate your compliments on the quality of our music, and thank you for listening all the way through.

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i listened to five songs. My favorite was red faced and blue. i liked the structure, the mix was good, although the drums sounded muddy. Good lyrics and vocal, and i think the simple arrangement really works on this one.

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Thats cool ,,, run with what you have on hand ,, and you have a good trumpet player. You should be able to work him in to your sound. The vocal harmony is one thing I think i would try to spend some time on. It pays off big time and not too many original bands have the skill mastered. If you end up having to recruit another voice ,,get a side man type ,, and add a little extra percussion like congas. I think you guys have alot of good stuff going on ,,,,, more is always better in my book. rat

 

 

We've talked about adding vocal harmonies, but our vocalist is the only one who can sing out of the lot of us. Hopefully, we'll figure something out down the road.

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While I like Pearl Jam too, I agree that the Pearl Jam vibe might not be a great thing. We really want to differentiate ourselves, and we're still exploring ways to do that. With our next songs, we'll probably make a concerted effort to add more to the sound or change it up a little.


I appreciate your compliments on the quality of our music, and thank you for listening all the way through.

 

 

You might consider listening to and exploring other musical styles that have nothing to do with what you play. This is what makes music new and interesting to me. Amos lee, for instance, is a guy who is mixed race, and he grew up with both folk music from his white parent and soul from his black one, and now he plays a soulful folk that not many other people are doing. He plays very folky acoustic guitar, but sings very bluesy.

 

Taj Mahal is another example of a blues singer/player who recently started incorporating a heavy West African influence in his stuff.

 

If you only listen to rock in order to play rock, you're just going to be derivative and repetitive. The true innovators in music listen to everything and incorporate it into what they do.

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Sweet and Vicious---Very nice. I felt maybe a slight gap or lag every once in a while in tempo. I liked the vocals but do agree that there are times it sounds too much like Vedder. Very cool tune overall!

A Familiar Race---very nice composition. You guys have a very good thing going here---needs some work here and there but the most important thing is definitely not lacking---feeling and composition!

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Honestly your stuff isn't poorly written, just poorly displayed. Change up your effects, tone settings etc. A lot of us get stuck using the same settings over and over. Its a trap. Change it up every once in a while. Also, it is common when a singer doesn't have real power behind their voice to record a double track of the guy singing, like Coheed and Cambria. It might be the recording equipment, or it might be the mics you are using, but in general the RECORDING sounded weak. Lyrics are strong and well written for the most part, though you might consider revision.

 

One complaint. Where is the overdrive?

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