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Bassline? Put a donk on it.

June 12, 2012, 13:45 -05 by chris
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Garrick is turning a knob

We’re not critics, we just have Internet access

December 8, 2011, 20:25 -05 by chris
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Garrick’s 2011 Top Five

St. Vincent Strange Mercy
Yacht Utopia
tUne-yArDs whokill
Beirut The Rip Tide
The Horrors Skying

Honorable Mentions: Austra Feel it Break, Holy Ghost! Holy Ghost!, Ladytron Gravity the Seducer, Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes, M83 Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, Zola Jesus Conatus, Little Dragon Ritual Union.

Chris’ 2011 Top Five

We Are Augustines Rise Ye Sunken Ships
Death Cab for Cutie Codes and Keys
Yacht Utopia
Austra Feel it Break
Little Dragon Ritual Union

Honorable Mentions: Gotye Making Mirrors, Florence + The Machine Ceremonials, Ladytron Gravity the Seducer, Zola Jesus Conatus, Kate Bush 50 Words for Snow, Lykke Li Wounded Rhymes, Radiohead The King of Limbs.

Notes from Underground

October 14, 2011, 15:09 -05 by chris
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Have we really not updated this thing since…Janua…really? Well then. Time for another rudely sporadic update.

Settling in to new digs – we’ve both moved house again over the past year (from Ballard to Ballard and from West Seattle to West Seattle, with such attendant benefits as no longer living directly above a noisy pub, or blowing much less money for much more square footage in a much nicer neighborhood), which always means more downtime than anticipated. Much, much more. I always seem to grossly underestimate how long it takes to move even a relatively modest ‘home studio’ setup, and this time I seem to have set a new personal record. Going from ‘home office’ to ‘bonus room’ (gotta love those real estate agent bullshi…uh, ‘euphemisms’, no?) to spare bedroom the past few moves was one thing – you’re essentially shlepping the same stuff from one rectangular-shaped room to another.

Now we’re (back, like we were in the early 2000s) in a basement, and along with the too-easy jokes about being ‘underground’ musicians came days-turned-into-weeks-into-months of patching concrete, sealing noise ordinance and heating bill unfriendly holes in walls, attempting to make a basement look – and sound – slightly less like a basement (if you stand here, face North, and squint your eyes just so, anyway), a certain amount of superficial electrical, duct, and plumbing work (“Laundry Room Studios” was already taken, so the washer and dryer had to go), two minor floods (so far), two vanloads (so far) of ASC Tube Traps to keep the existing OC 703 panels from getting lonely, demo-ing and/or moving a ‘workshop’ workbench and shelves (which were built in-place, as no way were they making it through any doorway in the place), and on and on.

Then it was time to move in the gear, get gear out of storage there wasn’t room for before, and work the ‘sunburned sound dude on the outdoor summer festival’ circuit for Monopoly money to buy still more gear, until everything’s just as cramped and elbow-to-elbow as it was before. “If you turn around too quickly, you’ll smack into something and snap the headstock off a guitar”? Ah, feels just like home.

Then it was time to wire everything back up, with actual patchbays, like real motherf*cking adults (hook up ALL the things!). Which somehow always requires more cables than you have, which cost more than you want to spend, even if you’re standing next to a floor-to-ceiling stack of banker’s boxes full of cables, which itself is in front of a wall of shelves of bins of still more cables.

Then I decided I absolutely needed to squeeze a bastardized drum kit into both of the remaining square feet of floor space. This was followed by the “could have had a V8” forehead-slapping realization that if you run a bunch of XLRs back and forth across even a very modestly sized room for headphone amps, three sets of monitors plus subwoofer, tie lines, DIs, mic cables going from the basement to the attic (don’t ask), and the like, you are left with a significantly larger number of microphones than you have mic cables, particularly if you want the drum microphones to be on the opposite side of the room from the sorts of things that microphones get plugged into. And you’ll need more mic stands, too.

More guitar-bass-drums and other instrument and gear aquisitions, more software and hardware updates and upgrades, we’ve currently got a Minimoog on loan courtesy of Glenn from The Walkabouts (Quick! Redo all the synth bass parts!), another small human was brought into the world, and…oh yeah, we really have actually been working on music, and it really will actually be (almost certainly self-) released at some point.

You know how musicians and recording engineer/producer types are always carrying on in magazine interviews about how songwriting, recording, releasing an album, or performing is “like having a baby”? I wonder if any of those people have kids, because trying to put together something album-like and hopefully convince some strangers to listen to it is nothing like having a baby. Curiously, I’ve not yet noticed any kind of significant contingent of female musicians saying that inflicting “music” on innocent bystanders is “like having a baby”.

“Sorry, honey, I know you could probably use some help with the kids right now, but the dudes in the band are trying to have a baby here!”

The chickens are coming / and I just can’t pretend

January 28, 2011, 14:56 -05 by chris
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“There are understandable reasons why clear-thinking people will never love this band. Geddy Lee’s voice can sound like a sea lion getting tasered. Their lyrics are best understood if you have a Dungeon Master’s Guide and the collected works of Ayn Rand as reference material. (Rush once recorded a 8 minute, 31 second song about a guy named By-Tor who fights a snow dog.)”

Read the rest here.

(FWIW I’m firmly in the “can appreciate why people like them, just not my thing” camp in regards to Rush.)

Existence is random. Has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long. No meaning save what we choose to impose.

January 27, 2011, 16:12 -05 by chris
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We’re both anxiously awaiting the debut album from Mirrors, which, rather torturously, isn’t out until the very last day of February. Appropriately chosen as the opener for OMD’s recent reunion tour, they somehow manage to pull off nattily-attired electronic pop that marries arrangements reminiscent of Echo & The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, or Chameleons with a four-part Kraftwerk-style lineup of electronic drums / synths / synths / synths, sometimes implying that there’s a guitarist in the band until you listen closely, and find none. Plus they stand all in a row and wear suits and blog about literature and art and manage to appear stylish and sophisticated and geeky and awkward all at the same time. And they seem to be on the verge of cracking up and breaking into laughter just beneath the Very Serious Deadpan Electronic Musicians facade – unlike, say, Interpol, there seems to be a bit of a wink and a nod behind the ties and haircuts. It’s just endearing.

Recently hauled a pair of Ampex 351s, a pair of Dolby A301s, some Metro shelving, and some ASC Tube Traps into the room, and rearranged things a bit.

Now to dig up the appropriate rare / obsolete / vintage power cables (an obsolete type of Hubbell connector for the former, the old British 1950s-1960s toaster/electric kettle but three pin, as found on vintage Hewlett Packard test equipment for the latter), and borrow a variac to “bring ’em up slowly” to find out how much more restoration work we’re getting ourselves into here.

In order to get things rolling a little more efficiently (the working album title “Artifacts” is becoming a bit of an unfortunate in-joke at this point) we’re going to try a bit of an assembly-line division of labor, starting with this evening’s session, in which we hope to spend the majority of the hours when we’re physically in the same room actually tracking, after which Garrick gets sent home with the resulting audio files to edit, arrange, and comp, and I work on mixes and mix revisions of songs that are at that stage.

Reading the new-ish Mixerman “Zen and the Art of Mixing” book, whenever I can manage to get in a chapter here or there before falling asleep in the evenings. Very highly recommended if you’re in the narrow subset of humans who 1) still read books and 2) are actually interested in what boils down to a self-help book about knob-turning.

And there’s another remix gig or two to fit in amongst it all, as well.

Also, life.

“It is not enough to be busy.”

Well, thanks for nothing, Mr. Thoreau.

Don’t worry about that Mayan calendar 2012 nonsense. Tweemageddon is now.

January 4, 2011, 18:50 -05 by chris
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Bad Santa

December 15, 2010, 13:33 -05 by chris
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“A post-industrial alcoholic Xmas anthem for the disillusioned and damaged.”

Sounds festive!

“Why I Drink”, the first track released from the upcoming release by The Loyal Opposition (a side project of Jason Bazinet from SMP and Garrick from Doll Factory) is now available for download exclusively through CDBaby.com.

Go here to get it:


Top Five Albums of 2010 According to Us…

December 3, 2010, 13:23 -05 by chris
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There’s still another month left in the year, but along with the too-soon Christmas music, trees, lights, and advertisements, everyone from NPR and KEXP to Spin, Paste, MTV, and The Quietus seem to have concluded that the year now ends on December First (note to self: don’t release an album in December). Whatever. We’ll play along. Here are our Top Fives of 2010.

Two words: "Shit Sandwich".My Darkest Days s/t
Ke$ha Animal
Susan Boyle The Gift
The Black Eyed Peas The Beginning
Selena Gomez & The Scene A Year Without Rain

Ha. We are the funny. Please to be laughing now. Seriously, though, folks…

Not an easy one for me. There were several albums that I was really wanting to like more than I did, and some that I probably should have given more of a chance but didn’t get around to giving them more listens (Hot Chip, Interpol).

LCD Soundsystem This is Happening
Arcade Fire The Suburbs
Zola Jesus Stridulum II
Crystal Castles Crystal Castles
Sleigh Bells Treats

Honorable Mentions:
The National High Violet
Underworld Barking
Yeasayer Odd Blood
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Before Today
Die Antwoord $O$

I guess I can see how the magazines and radio stations might hope to attract more audience share (and ever so slightly boost album sales) when the “Top Albums of 2010” come out while it’s still 2010 (and while people haven’t finished their Christmas shopping), but shouldn’t these things come out on New Year’s Eve or something?

Initially, I had The Suburbs in my Top 5 as well, until I remembered the These New Puritans album came out this year. The Arcade Fire album is probably stronger as an album, and may stand the test of time better (in the end “unforgettable songs” often trump “novel arrangements”), but Hidden edged it out by a nose for me for its strikingly innovative production, arrangements, mood, and sense of drama. Even if I did have “Ready to Start” stuck in my head more than any other song this year.

LCD Soundsystem This is Happening
The Dead Weather Sea of Cowards
These New Puritans Hidden
School of Seven Bells Disconnect from Desire
Zola Jesus Stridulum II

Honorable Mentions:
Arcade Fire The Suburbs
Devo Something for Everybody
Interpol s/t
Jonsi Go
Maximum Balloon s/t
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings I Learned the Hard Way
UNKLE Where Did the Night Fall
Wolf Parade Expo 86

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