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Showing posts from February, 2012

Cheese Curds Dartmouth: Long wait, big burger

In one week, the new restaurant Cheese Curds Gourmet Burgers + Poutinerie has created a bigger buzz than I've ever seen for a new food outlet in the Halifax area. Twitter lit up with talk about the large and interesting burgers, and news editor Ruth said great things. As a cynical reporter, I was hoping to believe the hype.

A movement grew in the newsroom to make a pilgrimage to the Woodside part of Dartmouth to put Cheese Curds to the test. We set out with a Saturday 5pm meet-up time, knowing we'd probably be waiting a while.

On arrival, the lineup was out the door and the people leaving said they'd waited 70 minutes from entry to exit.

True enough, that proved true enough. There was a line to order and pay, a line to line up for food, and a line for food. We waited in line, observing the cooks grilling up the beef patties on the flat-top. At the end of the line is a station to get your burger topped with what I'm told is an impressive array of garnishes, including th…

Writing a song: Part 4: First complete demo is ready for listening

See also: Part 1: The BeginningPart 2: Fattening up, Part 3: Lyrics, EQ, Compression.

First draft is done! Give 'er a listen.

Changes in this version:

slight lyric changes, new performance of vocalsguitar solo! The solo was comped together from ten awful attempts to come up with something. Some slicing and dicing, and I have a solo that almost sounds like I meant it to sound like thatchanges to the drum arrangement, mostly moving the kick drummore compression, EQ and panning adjustmentscompression on the master bus to glue it all togethera quick spit-polish job on the mastering to brighten it up and make it a bit louderNow, I'll have to take it to the car, the living room, the ipod, and other places to check the balance to see if it sounds good everywhere other than the studio. I've had problems before with my monitors deceiving me, and ended up with mixes that were either too bassy or shrill and overly bright or strident. A well-produced song will sound good on all syste…

Writing a song: Part 3: New lyrics, EQ, compression

See also: Part 1: The Beginning, Part 2: Fattening up.

Good gravy, I'm a lousy singer. I got three takes into recording vocals for this song and had to stop because I was losing my ability to sing even as poorly as I was on the first few takes.

Today I put together some lyrics for the Outside song. Yes, they're dark, but the whole album is intended to come from the perspective of people struggling with mental illness.

I edited some of the guitar parts to put them more in time with the beat. I applied EQ to most tracks to help them sit in the mix with other instruments, and tweaked compression and reverb settings.

I replaced the 4Front bass VST plugin with another plugin that sounds more like an electric bass -- in this case, a fingered Fender Jazz.

I added a string synth pad to add drama to two parts of the song using DSK Virtuoso VST plugin.

Overall, the mix is sounding big and loud. I've yet to give it a good listen on other systems, which is necessary to check whether …

Writing a song: Part 2: Fattening up

See also: Part 1, The Beginning

After the Sunday talk show, I fiddled around a bit with the Outside song. It's sounding pretty cool already!

As you can see from the waveform, the levels are squashed all to hell. I have not spent any time on mastering -- just ran it through a rock preset on Ozone to make it big and loud. Even so, sounds good, if lacking in dynamics!

I tightened up the bass part, added some variation in the articulation, and found a decent-sounding amp model for the part.

I re-recorded the guitars for a total of four tracks: two tracks in matching style, and I think I used the 7D:Start Me Up patch on the PodXT. I played open chords on the left track and mostly bar chords on the right with different tone settings on the Strat; these parts are panned about 60% left and right. I recorded a dirty part with patch 10D: Sunshine Of Your Love, which is panned 24% right. I did one pass with an acoustic guitar and a large-diaphragm condenser, and that's panned 22% left. T…

Writing a song: Part 1: The Beginning

I've produced a few records from my home studio, most recently finishing "Mind The Gap" at the end of 2010. Pretty much everything has been covers, but I've intended to do an all-original record with a mental health theme. Problem is, I'm not much of a songwriter. Not much at all, really.

Now I'm working on something original, and I figured I'd share the process as I go through it.

It's a song tentatively titled "I Don't Want To Go Outside Any More" -- I'm going to abbreviate it Outside from now on, simply because the full title is too long to type.

Back in 2007, I had an idea. A melody or something, with a few scattered lyrics. I was using Adobe Audition for recording and FruityLoops for drums back then, and on October 9, 2007 I laid down a bit of guitar so I'd be able to remember what I was cooking up. Here's how that sounded:

The idea stuck with me ever since. From time to time, I've had ideas about the lyrics and was …

Tired but not sleeping

I've felt a little tired and blah this week, but not as tired as I appeared on TV.

I regularly end up standing behind politicians on TV, especially during scrums after the weekly provincial Cabinet meetings. This week, I was on CTV News for a good long stretch. (You can see it around the 3:22 mark of this video.)

I had a visible reaction when Premier Darrell Dexter said he wanted the Amalgamated Transit Union and Metro Transit to get back to the "negotiating trable" to settle the current strike. Trable. Not table, but trable. I blinked. Usually I maintain a stern and flat scrum face, but I couldn't suppress a reaction this time.

As the clip wore on, it appeared that I was falling asleep. I don't remember falling asleep. I don't remember being riveted and on the edge of my seat, but I was certainly awake.