Artist Name: Bobby Dellarocco and Krystal Davis Title: Better Off Just Friends Genre: Pop-Punk Rating:
All tracks were recorded and mixed in Reason 12. Drums are a combination of Superior Drummer and GetGood Drums Modern & Massive Pack—close mics on the shells from Superior Drummer, and cymbals and room sound from GetGood—all kept to a single MIDI track utilizing the combinator device in Reason. The bass is from SubMission Audio DjinnBass running into the KLANK plugin from Audio Assault. Guitars are played live using the Universal Audio amp Diezel emulation as well as Neural DSP Archetype: Nolly. The guitar leads were doubled with the Serum soft synth. Vocals were tracked with a Manley Reference Cardioid into a Focusrite ISA One preamp and the Black Lion Bluey compressor. The tuning was done with the built-in Reason tuning algorithm. This was also used to write the vocal harmony parts, which were then learned and re-sung.
“Better Off Just Friends” is a pop/punk song created by Bobby Dellarocco and Krystal Davis. Krystal wrote the lyrics and Bobby handled the instruments, mixing and production. Structurally, the song follows the classic pop song form (Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Bridge and Chorus/Out), though “Better Off Just Friends” uses a number of production elements and arrangement ideas that make the recording more interesting.
Reviewed By Dave Martin
Though the composers refer to “Better Off Just Friends” as a pop/punk song, I was struck by the number of elements from other styles of music that made their way into the production. The drum/percussion loops, as well as the vocal processing, remind me of contemporary R&B. Other drum parts and the guitar sounds wouldn’t be out of place on a metal record, plus there are a lot of interesting sounds that function as ear candy, helping to keep a listener’s interest for the whole song. Yet, with everything going on in this track, the recording doesn’t sound disjointed; everything melds together into a coherent whole.
A lot of interesting textures are used in this song—clean guitars, distorted guitars, guitars doubled with synths, programmed drums from Superior Drummer as well as GetGood Drums, percussion loops, male and female lead and harmony vocals, group vocals and even the kind of gang shouts that I usually associate with metal records.
The vocal processing deserves mention. A lot of contemporary pop music uses tuning as an integral part of the vocal sound (rather than simply to correct pitch issues), and that’s the way it’s used here—quite well, I might add. Ambiances like reverb and delay are used in a musical way, with the reverb levels changing both in volume and in length, as do the delays. There even is a point where a filter sweep is used to add a little movement (in the last two lines of each verse). It’s definitely NOT a static mix, but it all works together to create interest and excitement in the track.
The production of “Better Off Just Friends” is complex—a lot of moving parts and a lot of disparate elements have gone into this mix, but all of those pieces work together. The only suggestion I offer for future projects is they might make sure that all of their lyrics can be heard and understood. Achieving that goal could mean bringing the lead vocals up a dB or two, or it could be a suggestion to add a bit of EQ to enhance intelligibility. It is difficult to tell, given the complexity of the track.
A well-recorded, well-produced, and well-mixed track from Bobby Dellarocco and Krystal Davis; I look forward to hearing more of their work.
Dave Martin is a producer, engineer and bassist. Dave owned Nashville’s Java Jive Studio for close to 25 years. Dave has recorded, produced and/or played with symphony orchestras, rock and roll icons and country music legends ranging from the Old Crow Medicine Show, The Dead Pickers Society, Porter Wagoner, Robben Ford, Billy Cobham, The Box Tops, Carl Verheyen, Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest), Adrian Belew, Rick Nielsen (Cheap Trick), Eric Johnson, Robbie Fulks, Steve Vai, The Coasters and others. Dave is also a member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame.