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Current Tape Reviews

Artist Name:
The Federalists
City Girl
Date Posted:
September 2008
Rock and Pop
Equipment Used:

Mac Pro 2.66 GHz Quad Core, Digidesign Pro Tools HD2 with 96I/O interface, two Vintech 273, Trident S20, Grace 801, Focusrite 428 w/ digital card, Tannoy Precision 8D Monitors, Yamaha NS-10 Monitors. Mics: MXL V69 Tube, Neumann KM84, KM184, U87, and U47(fet), AKG C414, D112, and C451, Sennheiser MD421, Shure SM57. Orange County Drums 20x20 Kick, 8x12 Rack Tom, 12x14 Floor Tom, 7x14 Snare, Zildjian Cymbals. Fender Telecaster, Fender Stratocaster, Rickenbacker, De Armond; VOX AC15, Fender Deluxe, Ampeg Gemini II, Gibson Falcon; Fender Jazz Bass, Gallien Kruger Bass Head & matching 4x10 cab.

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Production Notes & Credits:

“City Girl” is a male vocal rock song. Luke Franks wrote the tune, co-produced it and handled the vocals and guitar parts. Dustin Smith co-produced, played the drums and did the tracking, mixing and mastering, Jason Roysdon was on guitars and Wurlitzer while Brandt Walker laid down the bass.

Reviewed By: Marty Peters
Rating: 0
Recording: Man we love this track! From the killer early Elvis Costello style drums (think “Red Shoes”) and bass, to the blockbuster wall of electric guitars and the “Surfs Up” backing vocals, “City Girl” is a superlative effort by a very talented band. And the very fact that it is indeed a band may ultimately be the key factor here.

Dustin and the guys made the decision to use a commercial facility, with its 40’ x20’ x17’ drum room, along with ten mics in order to create the fine drum sounds. The multiple miking setup gave them almost unlimited options at mix time, and by relying heavily on the more distant mics, they were able to use the room’s outstanding natural ambience to their advantage. Once they had their drum tracking in order, they were able to build on that foundation and finish off the remainder of the project at their home studio. Smart!

So after all of this rave up, why isn’t “City Girl” headed for our SPOTLIGHT e-newsletter? Well, it boils down to one word, folks, and that word is sibilance. Any of you who have followed this column over the years will know that we draw the line at this particular vocal artifact. Whether it is derived from compression mismanagement during tracking, or the result of brick wall limiting in order to achieve maximum volume at the mastering stage, it’s never gonna fly here, end of story!

Suggestions: We hope that the sibilance was not printed during the actual vocal performance—if it was then it’s probably best to re-track it. If not, we suggest that Dustin examine his pre-mastered mix and see if it pops up there. If so, re-adjust the attack and release times on your compressor until it disappears. If however, the problem lies in the mastering, we feel that you have more than sufficient volume in your mix to make it competitive. A 0.5 dB drop in the overall level may help you regain the quality lead vocal with very little sacrifice in the marketplace.

Summary: Great song, great band—lose the sssssss’ss please!

Contact: The Federalists,,

About: Marty Peters

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